Refinishing my deck

I hate that I haven’t been sewing lately, but I have been accomplishing other projects. My mother in law has transformed her backyard into an oasis of fun in the very short time she’s been in her new house. This inspired me to whip our own backyard into a more useable, enjoyable place. First things first – a trip to Home Depot was in order. I may have overdone this bit.

so many projects!

I started with our old, dried out deck. No one goes on this deck – splinter, bug and bird poo haven that it is. So I got to work. First step: Power washing. I don’t know if our power washer is wimpy or what, but I had to basically hold the nozzle against the wood and go back and forth over each 5 inch by 2 inch section three or four times to get the 10 years of grime and mildew off the wood. I can’t imagine trying this without a power washer.

deck power washing

years of dirt

As I power washed, I also used some Behr deck soap. I can’t remember the name now, but it’s a kind of total prep soap before applying stain. I put it right in the power washer and used a hard-bristled broom to scrub tough spots as a washed. The resulting clean deck was such a HUGE difference!

clean deck, ready for stain

Now to go about the staining. I used Behr Semi-Transparent Natural stain and Behr Solid-Color in Gettysburg and Atlantic. If I didn’t live in sweltering Texas in a very snobbish subdivision, I would have painted the whole thing Atlantic (the dark blue). It’s a gorgeous color. But I threaded the needle – adding some color and decoration, but keeping the thing mostly boring and neighborhood-approved. I used brushes to paint the whole thing. It was a big job – but I think using the brush was also worthwhile. I did chicken out and only do one coat of the stain. By the time I got to the end of the deck, I couldn’t imagine going back and doing the whole thing again! So I’ll just save that second coat until next year.

Behr stain in natural, gettysburg and atlantic

I probably should have used the Deck Over product that fills holes and flattens out splinters, but I really wanted the wood grain to come through on most of it. So we may still encounter the occasional splinter. But it’s such a big improvement.

That’s it for part one of my Spring improvements – more soon!

8th Birthday Celebration

For his 8th birthday, my sweet son wanted to have a food drive. So we sent out invites asking friends to bring a few bucks for a present and a food item for the food pantry. I wasn’t sure how he would feel not having a pile of presents to open like at every other birthday, but the whole thing was awesome. We had his party at the Tae Kwan Do studio and it was super fun, and then we took the 67 lbs(!) of food he collected to the food bank a few days later. The TKD instructor gave him a special “community” band for his TKD belt. Very awesome. What I loved the most was that everyone helped to make a big deal out of his food drive idea, which just encourages his giving heart even more. It was a wonderful birthday. And he’s being very patient with the money that his generous friends (parents) gave him – waiting until after Christmas to pick out his birthday toy.

I feel like I should tag this with #firstworldproblems, but we have so much. A safe neighborhood, good friends, plenty to eat. I worry sometimes that my kid’s easy existence is setting him up for trouble as an adult, or somehow not preparing him for real life. But this whole experience has put my mind at ease a little. He was excited to drop off the food, and still excited to have a little money to get a toy after Christmas – excited about both. And that’s fair, right? What more can I ask?

Here are some photos:

Cake and party favors

TKD training

Cutting the cake with a sword

I especially love this one of Grandma’s excitement about the sword!

Dropping off the donation at the food pantry

67lbs!

Lots more pictures here:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/beatyfamily/sets/72157638719977514/

Skylanders party

Working on some goodies for my son’s 8th birthday. He wanted skylanders, but we’re doing a party at a place that provides everything (food, plates, napkins, etc.), so there aren’t so many opportunities for decorations. Also, he doesn’t like regular cake, so I’ve got to somehow turn a pumpkin bundt cake into a skylanders cake?! We’ll deal with that later. Here’s what I came up for the goodies…my kid is crazy about the loom bracelets, so we made one for every kid and used some cardstock and avery stickers to make these little things.

8th Birthday

8th Birthday

8th Birthday

Happy Handmade Halloween!

We had a great Halloween party with the neighbors. Flat-bed trailer with hay, Thriller on the stereo, at least 20 kids and 1000’s of pieces of candy!

Here’s this year’s handmade costume. I took an XS ladies’ sweat suit from Old Navy, cut it way down and embellished. Introducing the Lego Ninjago Green Ninja – a little before and after action!

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Hope your Halloween was awesome, too!

I also took this picture with my phone…no idea what happened, but it’s very creepy!
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Back to school…for a few weeks now.

We’re finally hitting a groove around here. My boy has been in first grade for a few weeks now – our schedules are starting to mellow out and become common place. I’ve been working out! (Seriously, this is big news.) Not just working out, but working out 4 days a week with some consistency. I’m also drinking body by vi shakes – on to week two starting Monday, and I’ve lost 5 pounds. We’re not taking it too seriously – a shake for breakfast, a shake for lunch and then pretty much whatever we want for dinner. I know I should be doing a good, balanced meal for dinner, but we’re still working on that.

I’m sad to say that I didn’t sew a thing for about 4 months! And then, we had Meet the Teacher night and we found out that the new teacher is an Aggie – well, luckily, I already had some A&M fabric in my stash. The stash is SO out of control that there’s a chance I could sew something for any university in the country, but that’s a whole other topic. So anyway, we ventured to Walgreens – one of my favorite places to shop – and picked up everything our new teacher might need. An emergency kit, if you will. And I sewed her up a little pouch! My neighbor said I was buttering her up. To this, I’ll plead, “maybe.” But the teacher is adorable – her second year out of college, she seems to still be excited about her work and loving the kids, and I couldn’t have asked for a better situation. So here’s her Aggie emergency kit. I think she liked it :)

Teacher gift - first day

Teacher gift - first day!

Summer Reading: Ready Player One

I just finished Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and I’m giving it 5 stars out of 5. I listened to the unabridged audiobook, narrated by Wil Wheaton.

Here are the pros – it’s a wonderfully creative 80’s nerd fest and I loved almost every minute of it. I’m proud to say I think I understood most of the pop culture references, and got a particularly geeky thrill whenever the book mentioned Star Trek TNG, because I was picturing Wesley Crusher doing all the talking anyway.

If you have any interest in the 80’s (especially TV, movies and music), sci fi, gaming, role-playing games, computers…(Cline covers a lot of ground), I think you’ll love this. I don’t even really know or care about gaming, role-playing games, etc., and I was pretty young for most of the 80’s, but I still loved all of it.

Find the premise and lots of rave reviews here or here. I highly recommend this for a fun summer read. There’s even a little love story in it – which was my favorite part. Truly something for every reader – male or female. Excellent book, Mr. Cline! And excellent narration, Mr. Wheaton!

**audiobook-specific side note** If I had to give it a con, and it would only apply to the audiobook, it would be that there are a lot of LISTS (top 10 scorers, lists of computers, lists of games, etc.). This probably comes off much cooler in the actual book. I happened to listen to the audiobook, so the lists got a little crazy. If I had been reading the regular book, I would have skimmed.

Mad Men House Party!

Mad Men Premiere House Party

I’ll be hosting a Mad Men Premiere House Party right here on Snippets and Blabbery. Join us March 25 at 7 pm CT for drinks and socializing, and season five kicks of at 8 pm CT.

To get the fun started, head over to Netflix. Seasons 1-4 are streaming now on Watch Instantly. I plan on boning up to refresh my memory and help me get all the lies and secrets straight in my head.

Then head over to AMCTV.com for some fun drink recipes in the cocktail guide – I’m getting the party started with a Pink Squirrel!

Test your knowledge with a Mad Men trivia quiz, or print out your favorite character’s head for a fun Mad Men character masks. (Those pdfs are also in the sidebar).

Can’t wait to “see” you! Please join the party by adding your link below. We’ll all party it up on our blogs. Or, just leave a comment – I’d love to see some pictures or your favorite cocktail recipe!

Update: I had to close the link party – too full of spammers. But I’d still love it if you’d leave a comment to your own blog for your Mad Men Party.

pillow case dresses and matching t’s

I got to do some sewing this weekend (thanks, honey!). My neighbor has four of the cutest kids you’ve ever seen – two boys, two girls. She asked me if I could make them some coordinating outfits for a picture, and mentioned pillow case dresses she’s seen all over the interwebs.

I looked all around at the MANY pillow case dress tutorials (what did we ever do before the internet?) and found two that I kind of squashed together. For the basic shape/pattern size, I used this one from prudentbaby.com. For the arm holes and the ruffle, I used this one from CraftSnob.com.

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I actually ended up not doing the ruffle using her gathering technique, because I pulled too hard and snapped my thread mid-gather. So I ended up folding a quarter inch on my ruffle strip every two inches and pinning a lot.

I also went ahead and made my own tie string/double binding strip for all the dresses using 3″ by length-of-fabric (selvedge to selvedge) folding each long edge in, and folding the whole thing in half. This way, I could match my ruffle and tie strap without going to the fabric store. Not that that would be a hardship.

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I have seen another gathering technique where you lay a piece of thread down on the length of whatever you’re sewing, and then sew a zig zag over it, creating a kind of casing for your gathering thread – that’s worked better for me personally in the past. Also, I’ve seen sewing machines that come with a gathering foot! That would be awesome.

Anyway, for the two sweet boys, I made t-shirts with tie appliques in the matching chevron fabrom. I got the template fro the ties from here at CrapIveMade.com.

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The whole deal, including my rough draft Hello Kitty dress (below), took about 5 hours – most of which was ironing and stiching seams (arm holes, dress bottoms, ruffle strips, binding piece for bows.) The t-shirts took about 15 minutes total.

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In my excitement…

In my excitement to put a button about QuiltCon on my blog, I somehow have deleted half my sidebar. BUMMER. Anyway, look what’s coming…to Austin!

QuiltCon

Be there or be square! Very, very exciting news.

New sidebar coming soon.

So pretty



IMG_3874, originally uploaded by Beaty Family Fun.

I’m pretty sure our plants are all confused around here…my hibiscus are still budding, the trees are just now losing their leaves. Warm winters make for crazy plant life! But we’re enjoying all the color.