Thursday, March 29, 2012

Tiffany-Blue Re-Do

I have a live-in sister.  Noah has a live-in Auntie.  My husband has a live-in Sous Chef.  Jack (my dog) has a live-in dog walker.  But after two years, my sister still doesn't have a place that feels like her own (though she will never admit that).

Truth be told, it was actually my sister that found the house we live in now.  A little over a year ago, we were touring some new homes on the north side of Bend to meet the needs of our "modern family" of four.  I wasn't sure about the houses we looked at, so we drove around the neighborhood "to see what if we liked it."  Just a block away, a house was staked with an Open House sign.  What luck, especially since it was Halloween!  My mom said, "Don't can't afford it," but my sister egged me on: "Come on!  Why not?  You never know..."  So my mom waited in the car, and my sister ran ahead, threw open the door and said, "This is it!  This is the one!"

We "ooh-ed" and "ahh-ed" over the view, the stone fireplace, the wood floors--our mind was made up before we even saw the bedrooms.  As it turns out, the home was meant to be, because when we hit the upstairs, we discovered it in fact had a second master; perfect for a live-in Auntie!  It even came with three bike racks in the garage.  It was "perfect."

I think my sister has never asked for anything for her room because she's just so happy about the move from our 1,300 sq ft ranch home with a bathroom we shared to our now 2,500 sq ft home with four--yes four--bathrooms, including her own private bath and a walk-in closet.  But let's face it, she deserves more!

My sis helps with the cooking, cleaning, taking care of my son, and appeasing my pain in the butt dog.  And she also always empties the dishwasher which is probably my least favorite thing in the world to do.  So, she deserves a room with as much class, cool, and pizazz as she has.  Hmmm...what color?  Why, Tiffany Blue of course!

What says "you're priceless" more than Tiffany's?

So, here you go!  The before and after of a Tiffany Blue Sister Room Re-Do!

BEFORE: Wow!  I guess I never realized how depressing this room was.  Maybe it's the lighting?

More Before Pics.  We chose a bright "Tiffany Blue" after seeing some inspiring ideas on Pinterest

This side table has seen better days.  The top is damaged, so we decided to also paint the top a new, fresh blue.

Time for the Painter's Tape: A sloppy painter's best friend!

AFTER: A little Tiffany Blue, some art, and some $25 shutters can really make an impact. It just feels like my sister's room now!

My sister bought these lanterns from Ikea years ago, but never hung them.  $5 of chain and some hooks later, and what a cute little decoration they became!
The table post-paint...much better!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Candyland Cake

I just wanted to share this beautiful cake my hubby made for a neighbor of ours. His son turned four last week.

The inside was five layers: Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, and Lavendar.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Paver Patio Update

Ten looonnnggg days later this is where we stand!  My husband recovered with a bath of Epson salts, a big meal, and 10 hours of sleep.  Not only did this project give me a new backyard, but a new husband, too!  He's lost a whopping 25 pounds!

The weather permitted the last pavers to be set yesterday morning.

Once the pavers were set, the sand was brushed on the top and into the cracks.

Using a rented compactor, the sand was compacted down into the pavers.

Then the sand was brushed off, leaving a paver patio that is up to five times stronger than concrete (according to the cement warehouse we bought the pavers from).
 A big thanks to Cement Manufacturing Products in Redmond, Oregon, who delivered the pavers, showed us how to do the entire project, and even came back to move the pallets for us to a more convenient location.  What an awesome crew!

Also thank you to Jesse Anstat who helped my husband excavate the entire thing.

Thanks to my husband, who worked his butt off to do this whole thing!

I only have one "no thanks" for you.  A big "no thanks" to Hooker Creek Equipment who we rented the excavator from.  They asked us for $300 to repair a toe that broke on their excavator within the first hour ( you think it was cracked to begin with???).  We argued with them that if we were renting a car, and the tire blew, we wouldn't be charged for that, so we shouldn't have to pay to weld a toe that broke on a excavator, especially since they do not offer insurance on the equipment.  They did not give in, but did lower the repair cost, so it only cost us $180 for the fix, plus $350 for the rental, so over $500 to rent an excavator for the weekend!  No thanks!


Now for decorating the darn patio, which I haven't a clue on how to do.  Can anyone offer suggestions?

Thursday, March 22, 2012

We must be crazy putting in a paver patio in the snow!

We will never admit when we've bitten off more than we can chew.  Note that I said admit.  That doesn't mean that we've never had to tear down one of our projects and re-do it when we figured out the correct way.  Or, the serious moment of buyer's remorse when we entered our newly purchased home and realized it was merely a set of stringers and logs on the water.

Yes, we've definitely taken on our share of challenges.  And what doesn't kill you, is likely to grow your property value.

This is the latest project: a paver patio and set of stairs for our sloped 1/4 acre desert backyard.  We were planning on hiring out the work using some of the cash from the sale of our houseboat.  But after a $4,000 bid for the stairs alone, we retreated and decided to do the work ourselves.  Ok, so my husband decided to do the work himself.

Here are the pictures from beginning to now:

The Stairs to the Patio.  I didn't know how we were going to tackle this.  It's just a hillside made of lava rock with no way down to the bottom.

Days later, this is the only progress made trying to "carve" steps out of the hillside.

It was about this time that I was screaming, "What the ---- have you done to our yard!"
Bring in the heavy machinery!  With an excavator that we rented, we were able to dig a pathway down too the bottom in a matter of hours.  Now for the steps...
Using some old railroad ties, concrete blocks, used all-thread from my husband's work, and make-shift scaffolding from two car jacks, my husband has managed to build two stairs in two days.
Each step requires drilling through the railroad tie, and sometimes the lava rock below, and holding into place with foot-long all-thread.

All the meanwhile, work on the paver patio begins.  We were worried that the snow would prevent us from excavating, but thanks to an expert friend, we plowed through the excavation and gravel laying in two days.
Day two of the excavation and the site was leveled, gravel was down and compacted.  We ended up having to make our patio two levels because the ground was too uneven and too much dirt would have to be excavated to make it a single level.  The step down was finished, and we were ready for pavers on Sunday.  Then it snowed until Thursday.

After the ground was compacted, my husband spray painted the dimensions of the patio out so we could get a visual.  It's actually much smaller than anticipated!  Yeah!  Less money!

A view of the patio and where the staircase will come down.

All compacted and ready to go--pre-snow.
My husband decided to add a ramp to one side of the patio stairs so we could move things easier, like lawn equipment.
Waiting for pavers...
Thursday (Day 7 since excavation).  Snow is finally melting enough to install pavers (on the right side of the picture).

Patio install begins.  This is the easy part!
Stay tuned for updates on how the project is going.  Hoping to have it close to done by the end of the month!  Given it ever stops snowing!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

St. Patty's Party

What do mini leprechaun hats, gold coins, mint cake, and Ruben sandwiches have in common? They were all part of our St. Patty's party on Saturday!

I found a recipe for a spinach-inspired appetizer.  It was super-easy.  Just take frozen spinach, Muenster cheese, Parmesan, bacon, salt, and green onion and spread on Puff Pastry sheets.  Roll up and cut, then back at 375 for 10 minutes.

Puff Pastry Roll Ups

The hosts: Even my dog got in on the holiday, with his green "faux hawk".

My son and I donned mini-leprechaun hats.

I added gold coins to my hurricanes and topped the candles with mini-hats.  Then I added bowls of beer chips and pretzels to go with our green beers.

I found clear plastic plates for easy clean up, and made each party-goer a green shamrock cookie with their name on it and used it as a place marker.

On the menu?  Mini Rueben Sliders.  They are better than the real thing!  Just buy the mini-loafs of Rye bread, add corned beef, sauerkraut (be sure to drain first in a napkin), Swiss cheese and Thousand Island dressing.  Bake at 450 degrees for a few minutes.

For dessert? Try this pretty mint cake.

Monday, March 19, 2012

How to Make a Pretty Mint Cake

Disclosure: I suck at baking.  The good news?  My husband is great at it!  So when preparing for Saturday's St. Patrick's Day party, I made the food, and he made the cake.

I found this great recipe on Pinterest for a Mint Chocolate Cake.  It turned out amazing (thanks to my hubby) and it was beautiful to boot.

Here's how you do it.

St. Patrick's Day Mint Chocolate Cake



2 Boxes of White Cake Mix (and the eggs and oil to make it)
2 TSP Mint Extract, separated (we couldn't find plain "mint" so we used peppermint)
Green Food Coloring
2 TSP Unsweetened Cocoa Mix
Dark Chocolate Bar (like Hershey's)

1 Stick Softened Butter
1 Pound (Half a Bag) Powdered Sugar
1/4 TSP Salt
1 TSP Vanilla
1 Pint Whipped Cream


Make white cake according to mix directions.  Separate into four bowls.  Leave first bowl as-is.  In second bowl, add cocoa mix.  In third bowl, add 1 TSP of mint extract and one drop of food coloring.  In fourth bowl, add 1 TSP of mint extract and four drops of food coloring.

Pour equal parts of the four cake mixes into two 9" cake pans, swirling with a spatula as you go to create a pretty swirled pattern.  Bake according to cake mix directions.  Let cool.

Once cooled, cut off the cake tops so each cake is perfectly flat on both sides.  We chose to keep one of the tops in place, so the cake had a dome shape, but good practice is to make it flat on top.  Make the frosting.

To make the frosting, beat the whipped cream until stiff.  Set aside.  In a mixer, blend butter and vanilla.  Mix together salt and powdered sugar and add to butter mixture.  Beat until well mixed.  Fold in whipped cream. 

Place frosting atop one of the cakes, and then stack the second cake atop the first frosted cake to create a double-layer cake.

Frost the outside of the cooled cake and refrigerate until time to serve.  Garnish with flakes scraped from dark chocolate bar.