14 May 2010

Piano table

My daughter has been taking music classes this year from The Music Studio in Albany. This program is definitely one of the jewels of our area and we are lucky to have discovered it so early. Savannah loves her classes and practicing on her keyboard at home. Up until now, this has been her keyboard at home...

Yes, I know, it's on the floor of her bedroom so she has to sit down and sort of bend over to practice. And when her little brother decides to attend one of her "concerts" he ends up crawling all over it and inevitably pushes the button to play "Livin' la Vida Loca" at high volume.

A week ago I decided to design my own piano table for her. I built it on Mother's Day and finished it today. It's 24" high and 36" wide and 15" deep to accommodate the keyboard and the space in her room beneath her window. The legs and aprons are 1" x 3" but beneath the aprons are 2" x 2" supports. The top is made from two 1" x 8" pine boards.

Here it is, ready to move into its new home this afternoon! I think she already has enough pink going on in her room, so I painted it with two coats of white paint and two of a satin enamel. The white paint is Sherwin-Williams' Harmony, a no-VOC paint that's great for environmentally minded people and for painting indoors since there are no fumes.

And the after photograph! I'm so relieved my measurements and design plan worked out. There's just one little thing...I forgot to build her a piano bench! But, I bet you can guess what I'll be building next.

09 May 2010

Modern farmhouse bench

I finally finished my modern farmhouse bench. I built the bench during one William nap, but have been "finishing" it ever since.This bench has impressed me with how solid it is. It is only 37" wide to fit the 38" wide hallway.

I wanted a walnut type finish but after four coats of an oil-based stain, I still wasn't happy with the results. Oil-based stains are not nice to work with in my opinion. The volatile chemicals in them require wearing a NIOSH mask and because it's important that the piece remain dust-free while you're staining it, you basically must stain your work indoors, but because you need really good ventilation, the only truly safe place you can do this work, is inside the garage with the doors open. And then after each application it continues to stink for hours. I love the look of stained wood and will try a water-based stain next time I have the hankering for that look. I also like how easy it is to work with and the changing nature of it. If it's not what you envisioned, you can always add another coat.

Finally, I bought a can of walnut spray paint and dusted over the stain with the paint. Then I sanded once more with 120 grit and ended with two coats of an indoor semi-gloss coat. It still needs a colorful pillow or a basket of books beneath it, the window needs some sort of curtain header and the wall, which is recently painted needs pictures and perhaps a floating shelf or two or three...but here it is in the home it was built for.

Here's my lovely bench sitting in the garage back in April, waiting for me to finish it.

Kevin was patient about not parking in the garage for two weeks and didn't make a big stink about my unfinished project that was taking longer than expected. The plans for this bench come from Ana at Knock-Off Wood. Mine is modified to fit a much smaller space though. I wanted a bench to fit at the end of this little-used hallway where there's a nice window view. I recently painted the hallway with Sherwin-Williams "baguette" in Harmony, which is a no-VOC paint, and plan to hang some pictures and redo the trim work in the hall, which I discovered was plastic, sometime this month. Then perhaps it will truly be a finished project!

Update May 22, 2010: Here is the bench in its finished reading nook.

02 May 2010

William is one!

My baby turned one today! For his birthday I made him an over-sized fire engine red sandbox. I held up the paint samples in the store and this was the one he chose. He loves it!

William climbed inside before I even had the chance to fill it with sand. The black cloth is weed cloth that I stretched across the bottom of the sandbox and stapled in place. It permits water to run through it but will prevent the weeds from growing through the sandbox over time.

The frame is constructed from 2" x 12" non-treated pine and the sandbox is 6ft x 6ft. I hadn't yet added the corner seats, but got to it in the afternoon. The corner seats are 2" x 4" picnic bench-style seating, which is big enough for adults and creates extra support. Under the corner seat you might see the snaps I screwed in to the side. A tarp snaps into place to cover it up to keep animals, debris and rain water out. (I designed and constructed the sandbox myself!)

As I filled it, the kids jumped in and got to work with their sand toys.

Savannah was thrilled when I added her little digger. William likes to help fill the bucket. He also likes to throw sand out of the sandbox...

William enjoyed it so much, he thought it might be the perfect place to take his afternoon nap.

Maybe not! At least with a binky in his mouth, he doesn't put sand in his mouth.

For his birthday we ate some of his favorite foods; eggs and pear for breakfast, edamame, oranges and pasta for lunch.

And there was a cake... strawberry cake with fresh strawberry cream frosting and vanilla pudding, made from scratch.

William actually liked his first bite of cake and had five or six bites, clapping in between, which means either he likes it or "more" in his version of ASL.

We practiced our walking (William takes 1-2 steps on his own and then quickly holds onto something as we cheer him on), went swimming in the pond, had a paddle boat ride, played in the sandbox three times, and patted the chickens. The only thing missing was a tractor ride for the birthday boy, but we can save that for next weekend. Happy First Birthday Baby!

01 May 2010

Swisher lawn

It takes an extraordinary amount of time to mow the lawn around our homestead, even on the riding mower. Of course this is time that could be better spent playing with the children, the chickens, or both. Kevin's solution to cut his mowing time in less than half, is a Swisher trail mower.

I know, "swisher" is a terrible name, reminiscent of horse tails swatting at flies, or windshield wipers on a bus, but the contraption, however named, is clever and works well. It attaches behind the John Deere and is offset so Kevin can mow a width of about 100" at a time. He bought it used and saved about $600 this way.

With all this free time, why not take the kids for a paddle boat ride around the pond?