Pink Lemonade Birthday

My little ducky loved her first bite of cake.

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Guests enjoyed tea sandwiches, tomato and cucumber salad, pan seared asparagus with lemon vinaigrette, fruit salad in a mint simple syrup, and deviled eggs.

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The headliner – strawberry lemonade. The sidekick – the ombre cake that’s been circulating pintrest.

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The mantel featured my favorite little ducky photo, a paper birthday banner, and fresh flowers. Those owls? A thoughtful gift from my husband’s college friend.

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My sweet one year old, playing the small business owner.

I build cool shiz. This year, it will be better.

I’m a digital producer, and I get to check out Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram professionally. How cool is that? If I’m on a team where I build something, and I can’t take a step back and say “that’s cool shit”, then I failed. This year, I’m upping the ante. My 2012 resolution will be to take a step back from a project and say “Is it cool?” The answer better be yes. But even further “Is it meeting a need for someone?” The answer will be yes.

You can build cool shit, but unless it’s useful, no one cares. I’m not saying everything has to have some sort of utility, like a mortgage calculator or monthly bill tally. I’m saying it needs to demonstrate something valuable. And the way to build it so it does that is by asking smart questions before you start building. Things like:

  • What problem are we solving? Always keep this in mind in every step of the project.
  • Why is this a problem in the first place? It’s a good baseline.
  • Can you describe the people that are using or will be using it? I want to get in their brains. Not unlike a zombie.
  • What are their lives like inside/outside of the problem space? Yes, I care about how they will be viewing our solution. It’s a mobile world we live in, and it’s like the wild west out there.
  • How are they currently getting things done without this product/service (if they are)?
  • For further reading and inspiration, check out www.uxbooth.com.

    Painting a Fireplace

    Don’t get me wrong, I love brick. I just didn’t love it in my living room. With a small space that doesn’t get lots of light, it made it feel darker and smaller. Megan at Wade Update shared a post from Young House Love detailing how to paint a fireplace. After a trip to our local Sherwin Williams, we were all set. If you haven’t been to Sherwin Williams, I highly recommend it. Their service is top notch, and they really know their stuff. All of this work took 1 not-so-Lazy Sunday afternoon.

    Materials List:

    • Craft Paper
    • Painter’s Tape
    • 3/4″ nap roller, the thicker the nap the better getting in those crevices will be
    • caulk
    • 1 gallon paint, tinted masonry primer
    • 1 gallon paint of your color, semi-gloss latex

     
    1. Using the craft paper, block out areas you want to protect. Secure with painter’s tape.
    2. Clean off the fireplace. Dust it, wipe it down, whatever it needs. Make sure it’s dry.
    3. Put on a coat of Masonry Primer. Sherwin Williams asked us if we wanted it tinted. Please know that doing this made a huge difference in getting the color on correctly. Do it!
    4. Put on a coat of color. You may need 2.
    5. If you’d like, paint your mantel a different color. We went for the color of the wall behind it. If I had to do it again, I would’ve gone several shades darker than the wall color.

    Check out the video for a step-by-step:

    Refinishing a Chair

    In our house, we have a no-shoes policy. To make it easier, we keep a chair by the front door so we can quickly kick off or put on a pair. I found a funky 50′s chair for $40 at a going out of business sale years ago, but the color red has never been my favorite. We have a burgundy sofa within eyesight of the foyer, and I’ve been wanting to match it up for awhile. I found a blog post by Pink of Perfection, which encouraged me to check this project off the to do list.

     

    Materials needed

    • spray paint, primer
    • spray paint,  color of your choice
    • drop cloth
    • screwdriver
    • pliers
    • staple gun
    • decorator fabric of your choice
     

    1. Flip the chair upside down to locate the screws. Remove the seat using a screwdriver.
    2. Using your screwdriver, wedge one end under the staples and pull up. It’s easier if you wedge the screwdriver to one side of the staple rather than the middle. This will get one end of the staple out of the seat.
    3. Using your pliers, pull out the staples completely. It’s easier if you grasp the end of the staple and using a rolling motion to pull it out.
    4. Using the old cover as a template, cut out a piece of the new fabric.
    5. Recover the seat, pulling the material tight. I stapled each piece in the middle of the four sides, then stapled each corner. From there, I just pulled and stapled all the way around.
    6. Now it’s time to go outside. Wash down the chair, and dry it off. Put it on a drop cloth so you don’t paint your grass. Use as much primer as necessary to cover the frame. Give it 5 minutes and spray it down with the color spray paint.
    7. Once it’s dry, balance the seat and screw it back in. For some reason, the seat didn’t fit as nicely as before, so we used a drill to do some new pilot holes and finished it off.

    Saving Money in a Down Economy

    News story after news story of record unemployment has got me cutting corners around the house. Our normal modus operandi is pretty frugal anyway. I also cook as much as I can, maximizing the weekly specials and coupons at the grocery store to give that dollar an extra stretch. After noticing how much seltzer water we were drinking, we invested in a SodaStream machine. If you compare that to drinking 2 bottles of San Pellegrino a day, the machine pays for itself in a month, not to mention saving yourself from lugging heavy beverages from your car to the kitchen. This is in addition to the no-brainer stuff like brewing our own coffee and bringing lunch from home during workdays.

    Most recently, we wrestled with the decision on whether or not to move. We just had our first baby, and now we’ve got a whole new world to think about. What schools in the area are the best? What neighborhoods are most family friendly? Given the uncertainty right now in the job market, we decided to spend a bit in updating our current home rather than organize a move. We figure we have a couple of years before all of those questions become super important.

    Take a look at this study about need vs. want. How does this compare to what you’re doing now?

    Nursery is done!

    Very happy to say that the nursery is 98% complete. If it wasn’t for a late delivery by zulily.com, we’d be at 100%!.

    The crib bedding was custom made with Robert Kaufman fabric – Urban Zoologie. If you like it, instructions on how to make your own bedding is in a previous post.