Deck Update

I know the blog has been very baby-centric the last few weeks, but some other cool things have been going on here at the Julius house lately!

So remember about this time last year when we stripped and re-stained our deck?  Check out those posts here, here and here.

The deck looked great and we were really happy with it…from the top, that is.  See, we don’t have a shed or anything, meaning we have to keep most of our outdoor tools, equipment, etc under the deck.  It keeps our yard clear of junk, but it makes for a pretty bad eyesore from this view.underdeck

We tossed around a few ideas on how to cover it.  We thought about planting some kind of shrubs around the deck but decided against that idea for a few reasons.

  • First, Bob has to keep his mower under the deck and planting shrubs would make access to it way more difficult for him.
  • Second, we wouldn’t be able to plant shrubs on one of the sides of the deck because it is paved.  You can see where I mean in this picture. (through the steps)dsc01966

We thought of a couple other ideas, but in the end decided to hang some lattice.  We bought pieces at Home Depot that were pressure-treated pine.  First we measured and cut our pieces to fit.cuttinglatticeBefore hanging it, we stained it with the same white that we used on the deck.

Here’s what we have so far.lattice1 lattice3


You may notice that the piece closest to the house is unstained.  We accidentally stained the wrong side (which mattered because we cut the pieces first).  We’ll get to it eventually, but for now, it’s not very obvious.

Bob still has to hang the lattice on the side where he keeps his mower.  He just hasn’t decided yet how he wants to attach it to make it easy access when he needs to cut the grass.

AND…we have some plans to frame out the lattice.  I’ll post pictures if we ever get to that!

Lastly, we hung some flower boxes.  Unfortunately, I didn’t get pictures of them yet so (once it cheers up outside), I’ll be back to post what those look like too.

We’ve come along way since THIS, don’t you think?deckbefore


In other news, I’m heading to the Justin Timberlake and JayZ concert tonight!!!  Girls night out!!!!  I can’t wait!


How to UN-shrink your pants

**Sorry about the absence.  I haven’t had access to my computer for a while because we were out of town for Easter weekend and then we were having issues with our computer power cord.  Luckily, I bought a new one yesterday and we are good to go.  I hope to put up an Easter recap post by the end of next week.

So, right before Thanksgiving, I bought a new pair of jeans.  I literally wore them once before I accidentally shrunk them in the dryer.  (I’m not a pro at doing laundry.)  I tried to rock them anyway, but they were obviously too short on me yet not short enough to look like it was “on purpose”.

DSC03066I was going to toss them in my give-away pile but then I saw this on Pinterest.

Screen shot 2013-04-05 at 10.26.00 AM


Originally pinned from here

After reading the instructions, I wasn’t sure that they would work on denim, but what did I have to lose?

Following the instructions, I first filled up my sink with lukewarm water and some baby wash.DSC03067 DSC03068

I added my jeans and let them soak for a few minutes.DSC03069After I knew the water and shampoo was worked through, I wrung them out (without rinsing).

DSC03071I laid my jeans out on a big towel and rolled them up.  My goal was for the jeans to be damp, but not too wet.DSC03073 DSC03074After I unrolled the towel, I just started stretching the legs.  I found the easiest way to stretch them was by pulling by the side seams.  I only needed a couple inches, so it didn’t take very much effort.image-3After stretching them as much as I needed, I just let them air dry.  DO NOT DRY IN THE DRYER.  That’s what got me here in the first place! 🙂  When they were good and dry, I tried them on.  Voila!!DSC03120Here’s the side-by-side before and after:


Yay! Now I don’t have to buy another new pair.  AND, I’m sure that I can un-shrink them again if I need to.

In fact, this process would probably work on a lot of clothing items.  Anyone else have some tips on righting laundry wrongs?  I’d love to hear them!








Buffet Makeover: Part 2

Our Craigslist buffet is trucking its way towards completion.  We left off with her sanded and ready for paint.DSC02776Okay, so in this picture, she’s not QUITE ready for paint.  Sadly, I didn’t capture her in the buff.

Also, I forgot to mention that we removed all the hardware (knobs, hinges, etc.).  I wasn’t a big fan, so we will probably donate them.

Before we slapped her new coat on, we had to clean her up a bit.  First we used a vacuum hose to get a lot of the sawdust and debris.  Then, gave her a thorough wipe with these tack cloths.DSC02780They are a little sticky (tacky, duh!) so they picked up any dust that we may have missed with the vacuum.  You probably could just use a damp cloth or even some de-glosser to achieve the same result: a clean surface.

After she was wiped down, we moved the buffet back into the living room on top of a couple drop cloths and some “stilts” (a couple of 2×4’s to paint along the bottom).  You’ll see what I mean in the pictures.

The paint we got had built-in primer so we just dove right in.  As I mentioned before, we chose to go with Behr Ultra Semi Gloss (with built-in primer) in Night Owl.  We used a brush for the trim work and along edges.  And on the flat surfaces, we used a small roller.DSC02781You can see in this photo that we didn’t sand the edges.  That would have been a heck of a lot of work by hand and using the electric hand sander could have damaged the trim work.  We did wipe it down with the de-glosser to be sure that our paint would stick.DSC02786Same goes for the drawer fronts.DSC02791Now, I know it looks like Bob did all the work, but that’s only because I’m the one who takes the pictures.  The proof?  My glass of wine, right next to the paint can!

Mmmm...Cab Sav!  Can't DIY without it!

Mmmm…Cab Sav! Can’t DIY without it!

Here’s what she looked like after her first coat.DSC02783 DSC02784See how you can see some of the red peeking through?  We knew we would have to apply at least a second coat.  So we waited about an hour or so and gave it another layer of paint.  Turns out, 2 coats was all we needed.  Thank you, built-in primer!!DSC02804

After everything had dried, we put the drawers back in so that Clark would stop knocking them over and chipping our beautiful work!  BUT, I realized we weren’t quite done.  Here’s a close up where we missed a few places that we thought would be covered by the drawers.


And a couple chips, courtesy of my baby boy!

Oops!  No biggie, I just removed the drawers again (2 days later), and painted those areas.  I also decided to paint the sides of the drawers so they are the same color when pulled out.DSC02817Another place you can see I tackled is behind the cabinet doors.  Let me take you on that journey…

I stared at it like this for a couple days trying to decide what to do with them.


Clark has been using these shelves to play on. I guess he was trying to hide his socks from us.

I thought it would be so cool to have a little surprise when you open the cabinet doors.  Not something cray cray, just something different than the grey.  So I tried white.  We have a lot of semi gloss off the shelf white left over from painting all the trim in our entire house!!  I got to about here and decided it was a bad idea.


BTW…check out my “stilts”

It could have been really cool except for a couple things:

1. The semi gloss white did NOT have a built-in primer, thus making it much harder to cover the “red velvet”. Who knows how many coats it would have taken to get a crisp finish.

2. Speaking of crisp, there wasn’t a definite edge on the side closest to the drawers for me to transition from the white to the grey.  (does that make sense?) Even with a roller, I just wasn’t getting the crisp edge that I envisioned.  So I made it easier on myself (and Bob, who had to listen to me talking/arguing with myself for a solid day and a half), and just went with the grey.  DSC02820I love it!  I’m glad we ended up there.

So now the buffet looks like this.DSC02823I am debating on putting the cabinet doors back on or not.  Clark likes to play on the shelves and now that they are painted, they look pretty good.  Bob thinks we should put them back on and to be honest, we need the hidden storage space.  Plus, we could always put them back on now, then remove them if we change our minds.

Also, new knobs are ordered!!  I’m pretty stoked about them!  We will have to fill the existing holes and drill new ones for them, so I’ll let you know how that works for us.  Yay!  We are getting there!  Here’s a little side by side of before and in progress shots so you can see how far this baby has come.


I can’t wait for the finished product!  What do you think so far?


Buffet Makeover: Part 1

I fully expected our new-to-us Craigslist buffet table to still be sporting her crimson come Clark’s birthday party 3 weeks from now.  But miracle of all miracles, Bob and I started tackling her makeover this weekend!  Here’s what happened:

Saturday morning, Bob asked,

What do you want to do today?

I said,

I guess just clean the house, maybe run some errands.


When Clark goes down for a nap, why don’t you run to Home Depot and pick up a sample size of the color you want to use on the buffet and we can start working on that today.

Uh, YES PLEASE!!  Done and done!

I had already gone through my bag of paint swatches and pulled out one I liked.  I’m glad I grabbed a $3 sample pot to test first because it was a little lighter than what I wanted.DSC02765The sample pot was a Behr Ultra (with built-in primer) in flat (that’s all the samples came in) and color-matched to Sherwin Williams Attitude Gray (how cool is that name??)  Like I said, it was lighter than I wanted, so I just went down to the slightly darker shade on the paint swatch.  Night Owl.  DSC02764When we actually painted the buffet, we used Behr Ultra in semi-gloss.  But we’ll get to that.

First Bob and I moved the buffet into the kitchen.  Our plan was to wipe it down with this stuff…DSC02767…and we didn’t want to drip any on our hardwood floors in the living room.  We plan/hope to renovate the kitchen some day so the old tile laminates (that have seen better days) were not as precious to us.

We wiped down almost the whole buffet with this de-glosser.  I had read some reviews about this stuff and it came highly recommended.  It sort of takes away that shine and leaves the surface clean and a little bit tacky for the next layer to stick.

BUT…there was a slight problem.  As we were wiping (and by we, I mean Bob), we noticed a few “bubbles” of paint in the red.  Apparently, Craig had not used a de-glosser before he painted the buffet, thus leaving a not very durable layer.  We went at it first with a putty knife.  DSC02771We knew the buffet had been hand-painted only a few months prior so we were sure it wasn’t lead-based.

We decided to sand.  Bob used his hand sander.  This was down to the layer of veneer.  DSC02776DON’T SAND ANYTHING INSIDE!!  EVER.  NEVER EVER!!!

That’s all I will say about the matter.

Moving on…I didn’t get a picture of the buffet completely naked without our paint on her.  I guess we were too excited to remember.

And speaking of paint, we still have to get to the cabinet doors, so I will post those pictures and all about that process tomorrow or Wednesday.  Until then, I will leave you with this teaser.DSC02784Looking better already!!  And that’s just a first coat!


Fortunately, we made it through the hurricane last night without losing power.  It flickered twice (that we know of), but that’s it.  My parent’s house (up in PA) lost power, so we feel lucky.

However, Sandy left her mark in our living room by way of the leaky windows. 😦 Boo!

First, we were just using towels to collect the water and we changed them for fresh ones when needed.  But Bob constructed an “apparatus” to collect the water so we could just dump it when it filled up.The water was coming in through the top of the window.  So he taped a trash bag to the wall/window so that it caught the drips.  Then cut holes in the bottom of that bag and taped another bag (also with holes) to the bottom of it.  Then he just put the bag inside something to catch the water.  A trashcan, a bucket, and for the biggest leak – a cooler.  Essentially, the trash bags acted as funnels.  Worked like a charm!

How smart is my hubs?  The whole thing reminded me of a Voyage of the Mimi project or something!  Anyone remember that educational science video series?

Clark enjoyed watching the storm out our new doors!  He thought it was so cool that he stayed up 2 hours past his bedtime!

I know not everyone fared as well as we did.  Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected by Sandy.


Deck: Furnished

After revealing the newly stained deck last week, we had time to move the grill and deck furniture back up.  Here’s what it looks like now.  (Don’t mind the junk in the background.)

I absolutely love how it turned out.  Somehow it makes the deck feel bigger too!

And because he’s such a cutie, a picture of the boss man around here:

A Webby Welcome

Halloween is going to be here soon!!!  WOO!  I’m sooooo excited!!  I LOVE Halloween!  Costumes, candy, pumpkins, spooky decorations…

So let’s talk about decorations.  I don’t go “all-out” when it comes to decorating for any holiday.  I wish I could, I just don’t have the stuff.  But I like things to at least look festive so I work with what I have.

I saw some really cute ideas on Pinterest with ways to decorate your front door like this one:

Or this one:


So I came up with a little something of my own.

What you’ll need:

  • a door
  • black vinyl electrical tape
  • scissors
  • a spider (I got mine from the dollar section at Target)

I started with 5 support lines.  I made mine off center.Then I made the web by cutting smaller pieces of tape, starting in the middle and working my way around in a circle.Basically I kept working until I ran out of tape.  I ended up having to cut that bottom support line shorter.Then I just taped the spider I got to his web.  I just laid the pieces of tape right over the tape that was already there.  I also made sure to keep the peep hole uncovered. (One time I got reprimanded by our contractor for covering it with a wreath.)Finished product:View from outside:It was so simple and I love it. (minus the dated storm door)

And it kind of matches the spider web on our mailbox.Yes.  That is a real spider web.  Gross, I know, but we figured it fits the whole Halloween theme so we don’t have to clean it off until November, right?!?!

**I used the electrical tape because it’s black but also because it won’t chip the paint off the door when I take it down.  If you have a black or dark colored door, frog tape would probably look really cool.

Now I need to get our costumes together.  Clark’s first Halloween!!!!  Did I mention I’m excited?!?!?!


Hitting the Deck: Part 2

We last left off with the deck stripped and ready for stain.

And almost 3 months later we finally got down to it!  We had already decided on the Solid White for the rails/posts so a couple weeks ago, we used a beautiful Sunday afternoon to get the first coat on.

THIS PART SUCKED!  It took forever!

Don’t be jealous of how good I look gettin’ my stain on!

We tried to tag-team it with Bob on the outside and me on the inside, but Clark was awake and the exer-saucer only kept him entertained for about 20 minutes.
So we tried putting him on a blanket in the yard with some toys.  

That worked for a little while, but he got bored and kept crawling over to us.

Luckily, our neighbors were outside playing and volunteered to watch him while we worked.  He’s such a social butterfly!  He loved all the attention!Hands-free, we were able to work much more quickly and by the time the sun started going down, we had all but the last few rails covered.  What a difference already!  I was getting so excited!We called it a day but we knew we would need a second coat before we started on the decking.

Which brings us to this past weekend.  My little sister came up from Bethesda on Friday night and watched Clark on Saturday while we slapped up the second coat.  Again…pain in the arse…but necessary.

Since Ellen was here, we even had enough time in the day for Bob to get the built-in bench and steps stained.We ended up going with the Wood Chip.  It’s what Bob preferred and I am so glad we did.  It has a little bit of red in it that plays off the brick so nicely.  (The picture above was taken around dusk so the colors in it sorta have a blueish tint.)

Sunday my parents came down from Pennsylvania to go to church with us and brunch after.  When they left, we got to work again.

The decking went so much faster than the rails.  Clark was awake so Bob set him up in the yard with an awesome fort.

Clark had mixed feelings about it, but it kept him busy and entertained long enough for us to get the job done.

We worked on one plank at a time from the outsides in.  When Clark didn’t need us, we were able to work at the same time, meeting in the middle.When we got to the last six planks, Bob started working his way towards the steps.Bada-bing, Bada-boom!


The deck is right off of the kitchen and when I’m standing at the sink, I can look out the window at this beauty.  It makes doing the dishes a little bit better.

Oh, and we did use stain, not paint.  (even the white)  It’s just solid as opposed to transparent.

For comparison sake, here’s the before and after side by side:

We haven’t moved the furniture and grill back up yet and we need to hang the flagpole.  When we do, I’ll take pictures and post them.  I have this great outdoor rug that my mom got me for my birthday and I’d like to put some mums in pots flanking the steps or in the corner of the built-in bench or something.

What do you think?  Come on, Fall, stick around for a while so we can squeeze in some more bar-b-ques this year!

Outside the Box

Saturday I went to a bridal shower for a really good friend from college.  When I was wrapping her gift, I wanted to do something different.  Something…cute!

Here’s what I came up with:

And here’s how I did it…
First, I wrapped the gift in brown paper.  I had a whole bunch of packing paper from our Amazon Subscribe and Save shipment this month.  (I always save it to use for stuff like this)  You could also use paper bags from the grocery store turned inside out.

I knew I wanted to spell out “Happily Ever After”, so I cut out triangles from my bag of paint swatches for the little flags.  I cut from a whole bunch of colors and laid them out in the order I liked before writing the letters on them.

Before glueing them to the box, I laid down the yarn and taped the ends to the sides of the box.

To cover the taped ends, I wrapped the box with ribbon.M+J for Mariana and Jeff

…Or as we lovingly refer to them: Spanish and Redbeard!

Cute, right?!?!

Love you guys! Can’t wait for the big day in November!!


Put our service to the test…

I took on a little project yesterday.  The guest room had this big blank wall next to the bed that was begging for some attention.I was inspired by Jen from Jen Loves Kev to do a little nail and yarn art.  She free-handed her letters!  I was not at all comfortable with that so I  printed out the letters I wanted, cut them out, and taped them to the wall.

I used Geneva font and obviously made the word “GUEST” a much larger size than “BE OUR“.  I did use a level to make sure they were straight.  Then I started with the easiest letter: “T“.  I just hammered in some nails at each of the corners, pulled the paper off the wall, and wrapped the yarn around the nails.A couple of things to note:

  1. I “finished” 3 letters before I stepped back and realized it would look better with a couple layers of yarn, as opposed to just one (as seen in the picture above).  This will vary depending on how thick your yarn is.  I wrapped all of my letters twice with my yarn.
  2. Jen made these cute zig-zaggy patterns in her letters.  Bob said he wasn’t a fan so I just “outlined” mine.
  3. The letters with curves are definitely a little harder.  The “U” turned out exactly how I wanted it the first time.  But the “O” needed tweaked after I wrapped it with the yarn.  No biggie, just added a couple more nails.
  4. I chose to hammer all the nails into the wall almost all the way after wrapping them with yarn.  I did this for a couple reasons.  First of all, because I just kind of liked that look.  Secondly, because that side of the bed is pretty close to the wall, so if any of our guests got in to bed from that side, I didn’t want them to be punctured if they brushed up against it.  (Or get their hair caught, or rip a hole in their footie pajamas, etc.)

Overall, I love how it turned out.I added a picture we had up in the attic.  It’s a replica of Picasso’s “The Dream“.  I think it’s from Bed, Bath & Beyond.  I actually registered for it when we got married.  Don’t ask me why.  There’s totally an exposed boob!  But the colors are perfect for the room.  The neon squares are just place-holders for something else.

An artsy angle:

The view from the foot of the bed…

Here’s a view from the other side of the bed.  Remember that pillow I made?This room is in desperate need of some window coverings.  I will hopefully get on that in the next couple weeks.

So what do you think?  Who wants to come stay at Hotel de Julius?  I LOVE hosting!

P.S. The guest blogger on Wednesday was NOT Bob.  I think most people thought it was… What a mystery!!