Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Project 365: Week 19

July 25 - Monkeys.

July 26 - Splash.

July 27 - Apparently, the hallway floor is more comfy than the bed.

July 28 - Diamond.

July 29 - Full.

July 30 - Library fun.

July 31 - Summer buzz.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Evolution of a Family Room.

It's kind of amazing to me how far the family room has come in the last year and a half.  Shortly after we closed on the house, when we at the house working, we would lay on the floor while we took breaks from various projects.  We would dream and hash out our plans for our new home while laying on that floor, soaking up the sunshine.

Our plans have changed and grown with time.  And while it feels slow, we've made so much progress.  The first step was a coat of paint.  After living for 2 months with a bunch of paint swatches on the wall, I chose S-W Aqua-Sphere, tinted at 50%.  Next, we ripped up the carpet because our dogs trashed it very, very quickly.  

That fireplace was screamin' for a remodel.  New tile wasn't in the budget, so a little paint fixed it right up. It was plain white for awhile before I painted a little marble effect onto it.  I'll post a tutorial about that too.  

The curtains softened the room immensely.  I was worried about blocking out too much light, so I made sure to hang them high and wide.  

The flooring went down in February and we are still loving it.  I had a really pretty sisal rug in here for awhile ... and then the dogs peed on it.  Sisal + dog pee = rug death.  For now, we're living with just the smaller rug, which I actually kinda like because it allows us to enjoy more of our beautiful floor!

 I wrote about installing the baseboards in this post.  I love how the finish the room!  

The giant mirror came down last weekend, so now we're planning our remodel.  We're planking the wall, mounting the TV, building out a fireplace surround, and building a mantle.  To say I'm excited would be an understatement.  Here's a little preview of what we have planned...

EEEEEKKK!!!  So pretty.  So, so pretty.  I'll post more specific details soon!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Project 365: Week 18

Only 2 photos with my DSLR this week ... all of the others are cell phone snaps (and one screen shot).  Apparently, I was slacking.  I think that sometimes I take so many photos during a few shoots that I burn out a bit. I think that maybe fewer, more well-thought-out photos are in order!

July 18 - My sweet nephew.

July 19 - Father/Son moment on the rooftop.

July 20 - Cell phone snap - Playing doctor.

July 21 - Cell phone snap - pretty pink blooms.

July 22 - A screenshot of Melissa's beautiful entryway - The only "photo" I took that day.

July 23 - Cell phone snap - Grammy's house was apparently exhausting.

July 24 - Cell phone snap - My perfect peekaboo

Friday, July 24, 2015

DIY-ing MDF baseboards.

We have had new floors in the living room, dining room, and family room for 5 months now and we are still loving them.  In true cost-saving fashion, we tried to save the baseboards when Brian removed them before laying the floor, but they were in really rough shape.  Admittedly, my hubby is not the gentlest of creatures, but he was really trying to save these suckers.   Sadly, no matter how gently he tried getting them off, those suckers snapped like wafers.  

Brian put the flooring down and we lived without baseboards for 5 months.  The biggest challenge to living without baseboards was that the boys' K'nex, and Legos would roll into the crack and then I would have to dig it out.  After 5 months of that, I was d.o.n.e.

Deciding what kind of baseboards to install wasn't exactly easy.  I knew that I wanted something tall and fairly simple.  The moulding around our windows and doors is fairly decorative, so I didn't want baseboards that were too fancy.  It's just not my style.  I wasn't sure if I wanted something really simple or with a bit of flair.  After trolling the baseboard aisle at Lowe's, I brought home two 5.5 inch tall samples - one very simple and the other with a touch of curve to it.  We set them on the floor and lived with it for awhile, until I decided that the simple one was the way to go.  

I had a bit of sticker shock when researching these things.  We needed roughly 150 feet of baseboard moulding, meaning that we would need around $250 worth of MDF moulding.  Determined to pay less than that, I floated the idea of buying sheets of MDF and ripping them into baseboards.  Sure, we'd have to sand and prime them ourselves, but after waiting for 5 months for baseboards, I wasn't worried about the process taking a bit longer in order to save some cash.  

Brian purchased 3 sheets of 4'x8' MDF and ripped each into eight 6-inch tall boards.  We sanded the cut edges nice and smooth to prep for primer.  MDF dust is nasty stuff, so don't do what my husband does and wear a respirator!  MDF does, however, sand very easily, so this process went pretty quickly. 

I wanted to have the boards primed and fairly well painted before installing them so that I would only have to do touch-ups once on the wall.  MDF is essentially compressed sawdust, so it'll soak up liquid like a sponge.  In order to prevent this, we used an oil-based primer.  I used the remainder of a can of Kilz until that was gone, then moved onto Zinnser BIN; both worked well.  One thing I love about primer is that it dries insanely fast, but the texture of the dried primer bothered me.  It didn't necessarily look bad, but it was kinda rough.  I took a high grit sanding block and smoothed out the texture before moving on to paint.  

Can I just say that I LOVE the fact that Lowe's now carries Sherwin-Williams paint??  I'm a big S-W girl, but Lowe's is literally 2 minutes from my house.  Now I can get my very favorite paint closer to my house.  Yippee!!

Anyway, I sent Brian to Lowe's to grab a can of Ovation Paint+Primer Extra White in a Semi-gloss finish.  I like a little shine to my trim, especially in a house full of boys.  It's more durable and easier to clean.  Here's a tip - even when you want to use Extra White, ask them to tint it at the paint counter.  It seems to have much better coverage that way.  Brian was unaware of this little tidbit, so he just grabbed a gallon off of the shelf.  It took me 2 coats of paint to get good coverage, but my guess is that it would only have taken one coat with the extra tint in there.  Oh well, husband now knows!

Brian installed the baseboards using a nail-gun and compressor he borrowed from work.  The finish work is usually my job, so I told Brian not to bother with mitered corners, as I was going to caulk the cracks anyway.  

I have very, very little experience with caulking, but every tutorial I've ever read stresses how easy it is.  First up, gather your supplies - caulk gun, caulk, tape, and paper towels.  We just happened to have this caulk in the basement, so I went with it.  I have no complaints about it!

Next, use the painter's tape to create a barrier on your wall, very close to the top of the moulding.  I left barely any wall showing.  If you are caulking a surface that isn't white, you may want to tape the second surface as well.  But since our baseboards are white and I was using paintable caulk, I didn't bother with taping the baseboard.  Only work in 3-4 foot sections, because we want to be sure to take the tape off before the caulk dries.

Now, it's time for caulk.  Cut a small hole in the tip of the caulk tube.  Keep it small, and cut it on a diagonal.

 I found that just a light squeeze works well, and I moved the caulk gun fairly quickly.

As a newby, I was definitely not neat and tidy during this process.  But it's cool, because it still needed to be smoothed.

I took my finger and gently smoothed out the line.  Stock up paper towels for this part!  A little bit of warm water helps for stubborn gunk too.

When the caulk is nice and smooth, it's time to remove the tape.  You want to pull the tape at a 45 degree angle to get a nice crisp line.

Sit back, admire your nice lines, and then move on to the next section!

How pretty is that??  Once I caulked the top of the entire room, I moved on to caulking the floor seam.  I didn't take photos for that, because it was essentially the same process.  After some wood putty to fill the nail holes and a little bit of paint touch-ups, the baseboards are looking beautiful.  I'll share photos of the family room soon!

We definitely saved money doing it this way rather than the ready-to-install baseboards.  Instead of buying $250 worth of moulding, we spent $96 on 3 sheets of MDF.  We had to buy paint and nails either way, and we had primer and sand paper on hand, but even if we had bought those things, we still saved at least $100.  Pretty baseboards at a cheaper price ... I'm in love!!

**No affiliate links, and no affiliations with any products mentioned.  Just linking to things that work well for me!

Linking up with: A Pumpkin and a PrincessArtsy Fartsy MamaHome Stories A-to-Z

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Bigger and Better {Planning for a DSLR upgrade!}.

This spring I proclaimed to my family that I did not want any gifts this year.  Nothing for Mother's Day, my birthday, or Christmas - instead, I want cash because I am saving my pennies for a new baby.  No, definitely not the human kind.  The kind with a lens on the front.  

Two and a half years ago, Brian gifted me a camera for our 6th wedding anniversary.  It was a Nikon D3000 and I was smitten with it.  Since then it has followed me around, documenting my boys' lives.  I went from using Auto, to using the little picture settings, to using the various priority settings, and finally landed in a place where I most often shoot in Manual.

After a year of learning the camera with the kit lenses, I upgraded to a Nikkor 50mm 1.8 prime lens, followed shortly thereafter by a 35mm 1.8 as a gift from my hubby because he wanted something a tad wider for indoor shots.  I have collected and been gifted various accessories - a tripod, remote, speedlight, softbox, etc.  This Christmas my MIL gifted me a Tamron 18-200mm, which I have had a love/hate relationship with until I forced myself to leave it on the camera for 3 weeks until I finally got the hang of it.

Tamron Auto Focus 18-200mm f/3.5-6.3 XR Di II LD Aspherical (IF) Macro Zoom Lens for Canon Digital SLR Cameras (Model A14E)

All this time, I have gotten to know my D3000 intimately.  It's the most basic of the Nikon DSLRs, and has since been replaced my multiple newer models.  It was a fantastic camera to learn with, but now I feel like I have outgrown it.  It just can't do some of the things that I want it to do, even when I nail my exposure triangle for certain situations.

It's performance in low light is so sad.  I have read countless articles that urge readers to "Crank up the ISO!  Don't fear the noise!  If you nail your shutter speed, you'll be fine!"  But my poor D3000 just does not cut the mustard, no matter how perfectly I nail my exposure triangle.  The max ISO is 3200, and when it's cranked that high it's insanely grainy, even with a perfectly placed aperture and shutter speed.  This is by far the biggest reason I want an upgrade.

 It's pretty, but it's noisy.  

There are, of course, other things that would be nice to have: a clearer LCD resolution and faster shutter speed/continuous shooting.  In order to continue to learn and adjust my camera settings as I go, I'd love to have an LCD that is a little more clear.  My 3000 isn't bad, but it could definitely be better.  As far as a faster shutter speed, I haven't necessarily had any problems, but I can foresee some.  I love taking photos of my boys playing sports, and at 5 years old and 3 years old, I haven't had many problems with my camera keeping up with them.  Buuuuut, they're only going to get older and faster.

While researching which camera I would like to be my next, I had to keep price in mind.  We certainly aren't swimming in money, and I'm an amateur hobby photographer, far from professional.  While I would love to have a full sensor, I just can't justify spending $2000 on a new camera.  So that limits me to the Nikon D5000 series or the 7000 series.  The Nikon D5300 is the latest in the 5000 series, and has many of the upgrades that I'm after.  It runs around $650, so it's very reasonable, especially since I plan to sell my 3000 and it's 2 kit lenses to help with cost a bit.  But it just doesn't seem like enough of an upgrade.  I'm kinda feelin' like if were to upgrade to this camera, I would just end up wanting something bigger and better in another year or two.

The latest in the 7000 series is the D7200.  This guy runs between $1100 and $1200.  Quite a bit more expensive than the 5300, but it has quite a few more of the upgrades that I'm after:  the ISO maxes out at 102,400 (holy crap), the LCD resolution is 400% better than my camera, the shutter speed tops out at 1/8000 (vs mine at 1/4000), and continuous shooting is twice as fast as my camera's.  A few other things the 7200 offers that would be nice to have are a longer battery life, environmental sealing, and video!

I can still capture him, but he's only going to get faster!

Another option is to go with the older, but still great D7100.  It offers many of the same great options as the 7200, but one major difference I've seen is low light performance and max ISO.  The 7100 only has a max ISO of 25,600 vs the 7200's whopping 102,400 ISO.  Holy bananas.  Comparison reviews of the 2 cameras generally state that the 7200 has a much better low light performance.  Battery life, color depth, and dynamic range of the 7200 are all also better.  With a price difference of $300, I'm leaning toward the 7200.  I think that I'll be happier in the long term if I wait and save the extra money for the 7200 instead of jumping the gun for the 7100.  And of course in the meantime I'll be watching for good sales.  I think it'll be Christmas by the time I have enough saved, so hopefully that will mean good prices!

In the meantime, I'll keep practicing and learning my 3000 even better.  Patience will most certainly be key in this journey!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Project 365: Week 17

July 11 - Heaven forbid we keep the sand inside the sand table.

July 12 - "Mommy, can I look inside your camera??"

July 13 - Three.

July 14 - First base.

July 15 - Giggles.

July 16 - Raspberries from the backyard.

July 17 - Dreamy.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Project 365: Week 16

July 4 - Swingin'

July 5 - Loves the silly faces

July 6 - Mmmmmm popsicle

July 7 - A little DIY project

July 8 - Grammy snuggles are the best

July 9 - The only photo I took this day ... My kids' interpretation of putting their clean clothes away

July 10 - Boys and trucks.