Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Happy Birthday David!

Yesterday was my little brother, David's, 21st birthday!

Right now he is serving in the Georgia Atlanta North mission.

He goes home to Utah in November.

David has always been a happy kid.
See, proof. Here we all are, sick of my dad taking a million pictures...
(although I'm now glad he took millions of pictures, thanks Daddy)
...and David is the only one who can keep a smile on his face.

Yeah, Lane and David had matching bowl cuts for the longest time.
When Tony joined our family he received a matching haircut.

David as a newborn.

He's the only one looking at the camera.

Happy Birthday David!
I love you lots and hope the day was a good one for you.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Driveway: Concrete 101

We have a driveway now.
It's pretty spiffy. It will be more spiffy when it cures enough that I feel comfortable driving on it.
{fun fact: concrete takes 28 days to cure to its rated strength}

The next (and last) major step that the builder has left to do is to grade the lot.
Then I can play gardener in the yard.
We'll see how that goes.

This is today right after they came and saw cut the middle line.

Well, I'm going to take this moment to get on my soapbox and provide some education.

Don't worry, not too big of a pet peeve, but I would love it if more people understood the difference between concrete and cement.

So, concrete and cement are two different things, but most people use the words interchangeably.

Cement is an ingredient in concrete. It's the glue that holds all the "stuff" together.

The following is a cross section of concrete from my book about the subject.
{yes, I have read over 300 scintillating pages all about concrete and its additives}
{portland cement association's "Design and Control of Concrete Mixtures", 14th edition, if you're interested :) }

See all the rocks? That's not cement, the cement is some of the gray around the rocks.

Surprisingly enough, cement is actually a relatively small part of concrete, the bulk of it is comprised of gravel, sand, and water. (see below)

Choosing a mix of concrete is a bit like baking.
You choose the ingredients by what you are trying to make.

You can add air entrainment if you are pouring a slab (like a driveway) that is going to be outdoors in a cold climate (like Michigan or Utah). It helps to prevent spalling and cracking during the freeze-thaw cycles.

Or you can add a plasticizer if you are pouring around a whole bunch of rebar, therefore needing it to be more runny. Plasticizer makes it more workable without drastically affecting the strength of the concrete like adding water would.

I could go on and on, but I will refrain as I know this topic is cooler to me than to others.
But thanks for lending an ear.

2 things...

Grr....Blogger is good about saving things while you write them...except for this time. The laptop got unplugged without me noticing until it was too late (the battery only lasts like 30 seconds).

Anyways...I recently read a good book: Panic: The Story of Modern Financial Insanity edited by Michael Lewis (the same guy who brought us such classics as Liar's Poker and Moneyball). It's a pretty good compilation of articles about and from around the times of a few major market catastrophes (October 1987, The Asian Currency Crisis, The fall of Long-term Capital Management, the Internet bubble, and the most recent market drop, which may be too young to have a name, but it will probably have the word 'subprime' in it.). One article I liked was this one by Michael Lewis for Bloomberg in 2007 called "A Wall Street Trader Draws Some Subprime Lessons". Please don't read this if you don't have a sense of humor. Also, if you wonder what his definition of 'poor' is, it's pretty much anyone who doesn't meet these requirements. I got a kick out of the article, enjoy.

On an unrelated note, tonight we went out for a run (just over 4 miles in case you care). I'm getting ready for my first 10k later this year. The finish line is in The Big House on the 50-yard line. Pretty cool, eh?. Anyways...have you ever been running, biking, etc. and run into a cloud of gnats and swallowed one? Yeah, I would have preferred that to what happened tonight. I totally had a bug fly right into my eye! I kept running, and thought I had gotten it out because it stopped hurting. When we got back in the house, Carmen looked at me and got totally grossed out...it was still in my eyeball!!! It wasn't the biggest bug around, but it wasn't exactly a gnat either. Anyways, we got it out, but it was stuck in there pretty good, so much so that my eyeball is a little sore from all the poking and prodding required to get it out. No worries for the squeamish, pictures are not forthcoming (nor did we take any), just thought I would share.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Fireplace Remodel

When we were picking options for our house we picked the basic finish for the fireplace as the builder's option to upgrade {to a mediocre} mantel cost $800 {$800!?}.

Well, I thought that I could do better than that so this past Saturday we went to Home Depot and spent under $100.

It went from this...

...to this.
I'm pretty happy with how it turned out.
{*note: not permanent decorations, I just took these out of a box and popped them up there for a picture. It will probably end up having completely different stuff on it}

So my first step was to take off all of the existing trim.

Then I took my miter saw and nail gun to the pieces above.

To make this.
I initially cut the pillars long and then messed with everything, taping pieces to the wall to see how they would look and then making several more small cuts to get to where I was happy with it.

But now I love it.

The builder left us almost a full gallon of the trim paint {how handy!}, so I was able to match everything in the house perfectly.
The bad about this is that it is an oil based paint, what a pain.
It made these drips and overlaps of thicker paint. Grrr.

So I got some steel wool and sanded everything down after the first coat.

I took a piece that looked like the one on the left and made it into the one on the right.

And made a mess doing so.
So after vacuuming/wiping up really good I did a second and a third coat.

And I'm pleased with how it looks.

And look, we have a fun view out of our living room.
We are so lucky!
*Update: I am participating in Shanty2Chic's "I made it without my hubby" party*

Monday, June 15, 2009

Nice weather and a cool new website

Ever since it started getting warmer here, we've been going to the gym less and exercising outside instead. In the past we have never run together because I tend to run quicker and longer than Carmen. We've tried biking together, but she likes to go slower than me so as to not miss looking at everything she passes. We've found an excellent compromise though. I run, and she bikes alongside of me.

We have been going on a particular loop through our neighborhood, but I've had a hard time figuring out exactly how far it is (I know, I could just get in the car and watch the odometer...it's just not a route that I ever really take while in the car). As great as Google maps is, it doesn't have anything to be able to map out short distances that are really round-about ways of getting from point A to point A (at least, not that I've been able to see). So imagine how excited I was when I came across www.mapmyrun.com. On this site, you can map out where you've gone and it will tell you how far it was. I'm going to have to play around on here some more, but so far it's exactly what I was looking for. Pretty cool stuff. Tonight, I ran 5.15 miles in about 44 minutes while Carmen finished up a recent project. I won't spoil the surprise, but she is very pleased with her handiwork, and I like it too.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Tutorial: Oil Rubbed Bronze Finish

Since we built our house we were able to choose the finishes throughout.
For all of our metal finishes we chose oil-rubbed bronze.
It's the trend right now.
That being said, I try to stay away from trends that I think are a fad and will date a look.
Think "that is soo 80s".
I think oil rubbed bronze has the potential to look classy, even 10-20 years down the road, which is why I chose it in spite of it being the trend.

Slight problem, a lot of our metal accessories happened to be not oil rubbed bronze.

I fixed some of them, here's how:

First, I spray painted the finishes this brown color.
The can said that it was a "hammered" finish, but it looks pretty smooth to me, pretty puzzling as I've used this stuff before and its always gone to the finish shown on the spray paint cap. Oh well, I was happy with a smooth finish for this project anyways.

The paper towel holder was previously white and the toilet paper holders were a dark satin nickel. Yeah, I pulled my typical dig-right-in-and-forget-the-before-picture thing.

I have almost a full quart of black paint from this project I did in our Murray home, and I have a quart of faux finish glaze from the loft project at this house.

I just took a couple spoonfuls of each and mixed them in a paper cup.
Even with just mixing this little bit I had a ton left over. A little bit goes a long way.

Then I took my small stippling brush and tapped on the black glaze until I liked the look of it.
*Tip: the dark glaze will look much lighter than it should until it dries, don't worry...it looks good when it is done.

Part way through the treatment.

Final product.
So, it looks way better in real life. The flash makes the undercoat and the black glaze look very different giving a splotchy effect, but the difference is actually much more subtle and good looking.

These shower hooks were shiny, shiny chrome.

Now most of the stuff is matchy matchy and pretty.
Just don't look too closely at the shower curtain, I need to iron it.
(Stace I think of you every time I look at this, great wedding gift)
I'm sure I'll find more things to do this finish on as we go along.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Driveway Precursor!

They dug out in preparation of giving us a driveway while we were at work today.

And they gave us a cool temporary wooden walkway so we don't have to get our feet in the dirt.

My plants have gotten big, hopefully soon this means I can plant them in the ground!

And look at the cute little thing they moved the dirt with, ahhh.

Pretty Caterpillar.

One last shot...

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