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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, A Glimpse Inside

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.

Monday, July 13, 2015

The one who sleeps through cavity fillings.

I have this boy.  He's wild and crazy.  He's sweet as pie.  I call him my Sour Patch Kid, because first he's sour and then he's oh-so-sweet.  His Daddy calls him the Honey Badger because this kid?  Just.Don't.Care.  He does what he wants, when he wants, and really cannot be bothered with listening to anyone.  Of course, that can be an issue when we're, you know, trying to parent.  

If there's something to climb, he'll climb it.  He has one noise level, and that is loud.  He needs his sleep and will fall asleep within seconds when he needs it.  And apparently, he'll even fall asleep in the dentist's chair.  During a cavity filling.  Twice.  

A few weeks ago, we headed to the pediatric dentist because our dentist found 4 cavities in Kiernan's teeth - one in each back molar.  The pediatric dentist explained that the enamel most likely did not form completely into the very deep grooves of his molars, leaving them very susceptible to cavities.  After I was finished jumping for joy that this was a developmental issue and not a giant parenting fail, the dentist informed me that he would do the 2 left side fillings that day and that we would come back in a couple weeks to do the 2 right side fillings.  

Kiernan was a trooper through the numbing process and only winced and squeezed my hand a bit.  After that, he laid perfectly still in the chair, with his big sunglasses on, while the dentist softly explained what he was doing every step of the way.  When he was all finished with the top tooth, the dentist told Kiernan that he was ready to switch to the bottom ... and Kiernan didn't respond.  The dentist lifted up Kiernan's sunglasses and the kid was sound asleep!  The dentist, dental assistant, and I all chuckled a bit.  He woke up happy and declared that he was excited to come back for the other 2 fillings.  

Fast forward 2 weeks, we happily returned for another round.  My guy was a trooper through the numbing process again ... and fell asleep mid-filling again too.  Of course we headed out for a frozen treat afterward, because everyone should be rewarded with something cold and sweet after dental work.  It's a rule.  

I love any chance I get to spend one-on-one time with my boys.   Listening to stories, chatting about their brothers, or planning weekend fun, it's all priceless memories for me.  I know them better than anyone on this earth, and yet they surprise me all the time.  As I sat there looking at my "baby" laying in the dentist's chair, I couldn't help but stare in amazement at his long, lanky body.  The 4T pants that fit perfectly a few short weeks ago now barely hit his ankles.  My typically fidgety kiddo, was just sitting there, perfectly still while the dentist explained what he was would do next.  It just amazes me how fast these boys are growing and changing, developing their own little personalities and turning into really awesome little people.  I'd be lying if I said that I love every minute of it, but I sure do love days like this.  

Friday, July 10, 2015

Love the Home You Have.

Inspiration from the new book Love the Home You Have - by Melissa Michaels of The Inspired Room

I have a hard time living contently in this Pinterest-driven world.  It's not that I'm trying to keep up with the Joneses -- I really don't care what the Joneses have.  I'm a visual person.  Pretty things make me feel relaxed.  So when I see a beautiful room on the computer screen or in a magazine, I can't help but dream about having "a kitchen like that" or "a bedroom like that" or "a deck like that".

House envy is a dangerous thing, my friends.  You may spend too much dreaming and no time doing.  Or you may spend too much money doing all the doing.  It's so easy to become discontent with the space around you when we are bombarded with photos of beautiful spaces.  I think we all fall into that trap from time to time.


The Inspired Room is one of my very favorite blogs.  The way that Melissa writes is so calming and friendly that you feel like you could walk right into her home and chat over coffee.  She shares beautiful photos of her home and other stunning spaces, but she is never afraid to keep it real.  One of my favorite examples of that is this post about her doggies and their, um, ability to get dirty.  I mean, if there's something that I can relate to, it's dogs and their ability to get dirty!

Jack Lily and Bella and white slipcovered sofa troubles - The Inspired Room

When Melissa sent me her new book, Love the Home You Have, for review, I was thrilled to be able sit down and pour through it.  And then it took me forever to get through it.  Because my life is not conducive to book-reading.  Eventually I decided that life could wait and finished the book in a couple of days.

Inspiration from the new book - Love the Home You Have - by Melissa of The Inspired Room #lovethehomeyouhave

It's such a sweet, simple read.  In it, Melissa walks through various ways to embrace your home for what it is, and encourages the reader to stop focusing on what your home is not.  Lamenting over your messy kitchen?  Stop drooling over the perfectly pristine one on Pinterest with perfectly stacked dishes and snacks tucked into wicker baskets.  Instead, find a way to make your kitchen a little more organized.  Maybe wicker baskets aren't in the budget, but the dollar store may have something cute to make your space a little more organized.  Ultimately, we just need to find a way to love what we already have!


The pages of Love the Home You Have are full of ideas in order to achieve that goal.  Melissa tells the story of the transition through her history of homes and helps us learn from her "mistakes".  She walks us through action steps to guide us all through a journey to loving our homes.  At the end of the book, she includes a 31 Day Love Your Home challenge, which includes small, simple things to help you love your home.

Overall, it's just a great read - simple and refreshing.  It would make a wonderful gift for anyone who struggles to walk that line between Pinterest perfect and perfectly attainable!

**Disclosure - I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are 100% mine.