Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sleepy Dudley = Good Dudley

Usually, Dudley is pretty high-maintenance as far as needing attention and play-time. He's still a puppy, so that's normal. He's also crated when we're at work, so when we get home, he's got lots of pent-up energy. We try to give him two walks a day and play with him, but sometimes he can still get pretty obnoxious.

So when one of our friends brought his dog to visit yesterday (who, by the way, looks like Dudley's long-lost brother... I should have taken pictures!), I was really looking forward to it.  Why? Because last night, he looked like this:

(Please excuse his lack of dignity when it comes to exposing his privates.)

And one day later, Dudley is still affected from a long day of playing. Oh sure, he's been moving around a lot. But only to end up like this:

And this:

And this:

And of course, this:

And I've been able to do the things I need to get done today, without having him barking at me incessantly. It's been glorious.

I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'm starting to think that Mr. Dudley could use a brother or sister. My initial thought is that it would be twice the work for us... but would it actually be less work if they both wore each other out like this?

Pure craziness, or brilliant logic? You tell me.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Drab-to-Fab Console Table

Remember the new (old) console table I found a couple weeks ago?

The hunter green definitely had to go bye-bye, but I wasn't quite sure which direction to take. Paint or stain? Light or dark? Two-tone? One color? After reading through the comments on my first post, I decided to take Sara's advice (the girl knows what she's talking about) -- paint the bottom white and stain the top darker. It would be something different for me; plus, the top is made of nice oak so I wanted to keep the wood grain and not cover it up with paint.

First, I dismantled the table to make the job easier. It was as simple as unscrewing the top from the base.

I already had some white paint from a previous project, so I slapped on a couple coats of Valspar Satin White latex enamel (in lieu of a primer), then painted two more thin coats of Valspar Powdered Snow, which I had a small sample size of. I finished it off with Rustoleum Crystal Clear Gloss.

One coat down, three more to go!

I didn't want to totally strip the tabletop, so we asked someone at Lowe's if there was a way to  just make the existing stain darker. He recommended Minwax PolyShades (stain and poly in one step). But they only had large cans and didn't have the color I wanted anyway, so I went over to Home Depot. No luck there either. Finally, I ended up at Ace True Value and bought their store-brand Dark Walnut gloss. I found a sample size for a very budget-friendly $3.

I still sanded the oak with 220 sandpaper first to get the clear finish off, then went over it with a finer 320. Then, it was ready to be stained (or at least I hoped so).

It looked pretty good after one coat, but I still wanted it darker, so I applied a second coat several hours later. But apparently I didn't wait long enough. Take note, kids -- this is what happens when you get impatient and add more stain when the first coat is still tacky.
Drat. A hideous light spotch in the corner. Naturally, the more I tried to blend it, the more I kept rubbing off. Frustrated and not sure how to remedy the situation, I gave up for the night. The next morning, I lightly sanded the whole top with 320 paper to try to even it out, and applied one more coat over the entire thing. It's still not perfect, but definitely an improvement.

Base painted? Check. Top stained? Check. But my work wasn't done yet! The dinky little wooden drawer knob just wasn't doing it for me. So I found a spiffy, oil-rubbed bronze pull at Home Depot to bring the drawer up to date. The perfect finishing touch!

Let's recap this project:
Table - $25
Paint - $0 (already had on hand)
Stain - $3
Drawer pull - $3
Total cost - $31

And finally -- the official before and after pics:

Uneven staining aside, I'm pretty happy with the results and how the table looks in the space. And now, I get to decorate it! So what do you think of my second furniture makeover project?

I'm linking this project up to:
Manic Monday Linky Party
Chic on a Shoestring Decorating

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Rock On!

Last month, we took several days off of work over Labor Day weekend. One of the projects we finished up was our sidewalk. The other big project was filling our landscaping beds with rock. For the past two and a half years, we've had dirt surrounding our house. Not attractive.

First, we pulled all the weeds, graded the dirt, and laid down the landscape paper. I've heard mixed reviews on the paper... some people say weeds still grow through it. But we had an entire roll someone had given us for free, so we decided to use it. Rolling out the paper was pretty easy. We didn't really research anything about it, so hopefully there's no wrong way to do it. If so, it's too late now!

Deciding on the rock, however, wasn't so easy. We visited several landscaping centers and agonized over what color that would look best next to our house. A couple places let us take home samples to put next to the house. It was still hard to tell with such a little pile, but they any of them probably would have looked fine.

We decided on the brown river rock on the right, because it would contrast the most with our limestone border. It definitely wasn't as cheap as pea gravel, but it wasn't the most expensive option, either. We figured that since we're doing most of our landscaping work ourselves, we're still ultimately saving money. To avoid a delivery fee, we borrowed a trailer and hauled three tons ourselves.

Three tons of rock doesn't really look like much! But it turned out to be about the right amount to cover everything we needed around the house, at about 2"-3" deep.

Needless to say, shoveling this rock off of the trailer and moving it all around the house was back-breaking labor a good workout. And also very dirty and dusty. The rock looked really dull, which was a little disheartening. But after it finally got a good washing by rain, it made a big difference.
We're creating a temporary rock garden here with our huge, leftover limestone rocks. Eventually, I'll plant some stuff around them.

With our two-tiered landscaping surrounding our Japanese Maple (which is in pretty sad shape right now), we decided to fill the top tier with a different (and cheaper) rock to set it apart.

You can still see patches where some of the rock didn't get a very good washing yet.

I've already shown this picture before, but because I'm so proud of our sidewalk, here's the other side of our house with the rock:

Completing this project was a huge relief, and I feel so much better about our house and our curb appeal! We still need to add more plants and install drip irrigation for the landscaping beds, but we might not get to that for awhile. For now, I'm just glad that I don't have to look at dirt when I walk out the door (or, more importantly, when people walk up to our door).


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