Monday, September 23, 2013

Biker Babe

A few years back my dad bought a motorcycle and he and my mom have enjoyed some summer rides.  I don't know about the rest of the grandkids, but my kids have been strongly hinting every year that they would love to have a ride at some point.  I didn't know the rules of the road involving bikes, so we graciously heaped all the responsibility on my dad to decided if/when they were ready for a little tour.

Dad mentioned to Mike and I that he thought Maddie was tall enough now to ride with and asked if we were okay with him taking her on a short spin around the area.  We were fine with it and when he asked Maddie if she was interested she was SO excited for the following Monday to arrive.

Dad gave her a quick rundown of how things were going to work and a little of what to expect and what her job would be as a passenger.

You can see she was properly equipped with the perfect riding shoes.

I was a little jealous that her ride included a microphone.  Mine a couple years back involved no communication because they weren't that hi-tech back then.

Notice the white knuckles?

She was a bit nervous.  My mom thought this was funny and pointed it out to me and then proceeded to tell me this was exactly how I had looked when dad took me around the neighborhood.  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, I guess.

They were gone maybe 15-20 minutes.  Maddie came back with a huge grin on her face and said she LOVED riding it and that it was so comfortable.  She said she totally understood how Grandma goes for long rides and starts to fall asleep sitting in the back.

Thanks, dad!  She had lots of fun!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Project Life Week 36

It's late and I'm ready to call it a day on this project.  I had more pictures than I thought so that's good.  The following week might be a bit anemic...we'll see.

Monday, September 16, 2013

End of Summer Field Trips

Now that we have the beauty of schedule and routine back since we are in school, I can happily look back at the end of summer and think how great it was.  (Actually, the last couple of summers I have not really been itching to go back to routines as much as in prior years.)  We did have a great summer with a few small field trips thrown in throughout and we managed to pack a few in the last week when Mike and I both had vacation.

First up was the annual State Fair trip.

This year we got a far later start than normal.  We attended the first day of the fair because the upcoming days all forecasted 90+ degrees.  We are not a family that handles heat well, so we opted for the 87 degree day instead.

This year was much more laid back than normal.  We went off our usual path which may or may not have been good; I haven't decided.  I think it meant that we missed some of our "normal" eateries, but we made up for it in other areas we hadn't tried before (the below picture NOT being one of the ones we missed).

We also stopped and saw a few more "exhibits" rather than just the food we normally have.  It was, overall, a much more laid back attendance for us than we have previously had, and I definitely enjoyed that.

We all like the radio show "Garage Logic".  Seriously, we ALL do.  Even the kids will request listening to the podcast in the car when we have a big drive ahead of us or when we have a radio on in the house while hanging out.  It's always fun to see the voices of people you imagine only to find out they look nothing like what you imagined!

The boys headed in to Northern Tool & Equipment.  Maddie convinced me that lady luck was on our side and we should definitely enter to win a new car from Ford.  Just in case it should come in handy when we maybe need one in about 1 1/2 years.

We are still waiting on that call from Ford.

We walked a lot.  We ate A LOT.  We spent $6 on 3 pieces of bacon covered in chocolate when I remembered that when we had it a couple years ago we decided it definitely wasn't worth the price.  That's took us spending $2 per SLICE of bacon to remember that nugget of wisdom.

We managed to find shade several times and just relax though because the BEST thing to do at the fair is people watch!

I did capture this image though and it's my favorite from the day...

Not too many moments of those left!

The next day we finally made it to Fort Snelling which was a field trip request Jake had made during Spring Break.  We are nothing but timely here.

The kids and I took part in a practice drill that the soldiers would have gone through.  We didn't get to fire any muskets though.

We sat through a laundry demonstration and explanation of what the enlisted wives' jobs were.  Maddie and Jake were the only kids at this area at the time and they got to take part in the presentation.

Toward the end of our visit, we were in the Colonel's house and were told we had to leave because they were going to be firing the canon.  We walked outside to sit on the porch and view everything from the shade.  We were talking and Mike mentioned that the canons were going to be going off in a couple minutes.  So we started talking more and all of the sudden....BOOOOOOOMM!!  It was SO incredibly loud - I jumped about a foot off the ground as did both kids.  Mike thought it was hysterical.  He had been watching the canons and was prepared....we had been discussing what we had seen and not watching anything.

Our last field trip was to a Twins vs. Royals game at Target Field.

We had super seats along the third base line.  They had the Budweiser horses in and we got a very close look as they trotted past.

Just before the game started an older woman asked Maddie where she had gotten the box of popcorn.  The woman had been walking all around looking for popcorn.  Maddie and Mike explained that it was back up the stairs (of which we were at the bottom) and around a corner. It was pretty darn hot and this woman was not up to heading back up all those stairs so she sat down in front of us.  Maddie got up and walked over to her and offered to head upstairs to get the woman a box of popcorn.  The lady handed Maddie some money.  When Maddie got back to give her the change the woman thanked her and told Maddie to keep $5 for making the trip for her.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we bought a rootbeer from a beerman on the stairs.  It was $4.50 and Mike handed him $5 and told him to keep the change.  Jake offered up that he had 50 cents for Mike to use.  I explained that they price things to make it easy to make a tip for all the walking they do.  Jake said, "I think I'd give him a quarter."  I told him it was worth it to some people to pay the 50 cents.  He just shrugged and said, "It's worth a quarter to me."  I admire his honesty.

A week later we were back in school.  Mike and I tried to head out for our annual golf game, but the course we arrived at was closed for aeration.  The managed at the bigger course next door informed us this was a date that most golf courses set up for aeration.  Boo.  Looks like we'll have to plan ahead a little better next year!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Project Life Week 35

Now I'm only two weeks behind.  Whew.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Project Life - Week 34

I had two weeks off from teaching and generally stayed away from the computer.  Mike and I each took a nice long vacation and apart from filling it with furniture recovering, not much else got accomplished so there's a bit of catching up to do!

Monday, September 2, 2013

Redone and AWESOME!

We started with 42 yards of fabric, one couch, one loveseat, one chair, one ottoman, four to seven people working over the course of five solid days and we are FINALLY FINISHED!

Get ready for a giant post!!!

After our day of staple removing, picture taking, note taking, and figuring out our plan of attack, we were left with this:

And this...

Little did we realize how clean this would be in comparison to the coming days!

Day #1 saw Mike working away from home (well played, Mike!).  My mom, Tracy and I began the process of covering the chair.

Thank goodness for Tracy's crazy long legs because there were some contortions to get the staple angle just right!

I don't know about anyone else, but when we got to the following part...I thought we had a chance to actually pull this off!

It actually resembled a piece of furniture!

By the end of day one, we had the chair completely recovered and the back pillows made.  We only had to work on the bottom cushion, which I was expecting to be the worst part.

My mom is extremely good at sewing and pattern reading.  The problem was, we didn't have patterns other than the 11 year old stretched fabric pieces we ripped apart.  We used all the old stuffing and pillows.  Somehow she made that cushion come together, though it took the better part of the day and lots of re-dos because absolutely nothing was square and nothing that should have measured the same did.

While she worked on that (and I assisted when I could) during day #2, the rest of the family worked on taking apart the couch.  This was the piece my mom and I were probably most nervous about because we had guessed in the store on how much fabric would be involved.  We had looked at a chart on their wall, but nothing matched my furniture.  Based off the numbers I knew from the chair, we hypothesized what the couch and loveseat would take for yardage.  We figured finishing the couch would be able to give us a good answer as to whether we needed to hightail it back to the store and pray they had some more of this fabric left.

This de-stapling went MUCH faster than when Mike and I tackled the chair.  They weren't having to stop and take pictures or notes during every deconstruction step so that sped things along.

Fun fact?  Here's the staples from just about everything - minus the few hundred we probably dropped onto the floor...can you guess how much weight in staples we removed?

1.9 pounds.  Of staples!!!

I grabbed the following picture while they were working and this might have been a clue to how punch-drunk we all would eventually get...Maddie's face is awesome as she looks like she's about to whack Jake.  (NOTE:  no siblings were harmed in the remake of these couches.)

Well...almost all of us got a little loopy at some point.  A few of us remained comatose.

Just as we had done with the chair, we labeled all parts of the couch as we took it apart.  As Mike was writing out the instructions on this piece, he had us all come and look at how much our furniture had faded over 11 years:

We no longer had tan furniture - I had forgotten how dark it was when we started.  It had faded to dirty cream.  Heavy on the "dirty".

While the couch was being recovered, the loveseat was stripped.  There was never any going back - the next piece of furniture always seemed to be waiting in the wings so that we had no down-time!

This is what the typical cutting times looked like...

And by the end of most days - this was what our living area looked like:

Full disclosure?  Our life came to a screeching halt during these past few days.  It was "get up/recover/go to bed".  It was exhausting.

For everyone.

On the last full day, Mike and dad started on our last piece - the ottoman.  I had originally thought this would be the easiest piece, but once we looked at how they had covered it, I quickly decided it might be the most difficult.  There were no less than 12 different pieces to sew and somehow staple back together.  Like I said: we were all tired.  We quickly came up with a new plan that involved far less sewing, far less measuring and far more pulling and stapling.

Mom had started mass-sewing pillows and Maddie took over the job of stuffing all seven of them.  It was her favorite part.

Mike's favorite part was vacuuming each finished piece.  He likes things tidy.

Jake's favorite part - probably the part where we forgot we had children.  He had free reign of the computer games for quite a number of hours.  Happy end of summer!!

The dog's favorite part - the massive amount of fabric and pillows spread everywhere.  It was heaven to her!

Right before the boys finished stapling the bottom of the ottoman, Maddie decided to write a bit of a time-capsule on it and have us all sign it.

She made sure to include the dog and all her hard work...

I think that was a very fun addition to our project!

So...ready for our finished project?  Let's refresh your memory on our couches....below is the picture I took a few years back when we first redecorated this room and banished the chair to the basement:

It was "light tan" with a bunch of dirt, stains, and a few holes (new and old) thrown in for good measure.  It had been well loved and well lived on.

Here it is in it's new glory today....

What started as this:

Ended in this:


The decorative pillows will probably be replaced down the road.  The brown blanket will probably be replaced with something more colorful I might knit this winter.  But they work for now, and we are willing to wait for what we like.

For those crazy enough to try this at home and wondering if we'd do this again, here's some thoughts:

* We were quoted $4000 by one company (we only got one quote because I practically cried upon receiving it) to recover all of this same furniture.  We reused just about everything - including the tack strips which we rebent by hand to make usable again.  We bought about $12 in staples and about $6 in thread.  We spent $390 on the fabric and probably have $30 of fabric leftover.  Doing the math for everyone - that is less than 1/10 the cost of that quote.  Quite a savings.

*  We are do-it-yourself types of people for most things.  I had read a couple blogs that gave a general idea of what was involved so I wasn't going into it blind, but we had no real instructions for how to do this.  We just took lots of notes and pictures as we took things apart.  If you plan to do this, then KNOW: you cannot have too many notes or pictures or labels.  I had a set of five pages of pictures I'd put together with notes on each step of uncovering things for us to work backward.  I had even more pictures on our computer and Mike and I had put together a written out plan the night before of how to reassemble everything.  We still had questions at certain steps of how things worked.  We figured things out, but not without constantly referring to our pictures.

*  I knew going into this that it would be a fairly big undertaking.  I also knew that I had a really great support team in various family members who were either crazy enough to try it like me, or just had the chops to handle a lot of hard work and loved us just enough to do it.  If this support system wasn't in place, there is no way we would have finished everything in this amount of time.  It was exhausting.  By the end of the third day I could barely think.

*  This was NOT a beginner's project.  But that's how we typically roll.  I don't like to waste my time and money with tons of little projects to get used to things when I only have one thing I really want to get done.  I don't plan to go into reupholstering so I knew this would be a "one and done" type project. Not to toot our own horns, but I know our work ethic and that we don't put out a crappy end product.  I also knew that I was asking people to help that had the same way of thinking.  If you are the type that needs to be an absolute perfectionist or is easily frustrated, start with something MUCH smaller.

*  We have a goal that this furniture last us at least five more years.  We reused the foam and cushions, but aren't naive enough to believe they will last much longer than that.  That's about 21 cents per day we have invested to get us through that time frame.

*  If I would have to buy all new foam, batting, and tools I would seriously reconsider this.  Time spent just to find it, plus the actual cost of everything might make me rethink the effort.  We gave up a week to get this done.  More time than that in research and driving, plus the additional cost of supplies (which would have quickly added up) and I think shopping would have been more up our alley.

And for thank yous:

Tracy - you popped in when we needed you and I'm very thankful you did.  You were the best-dressed reupholsterer in your skirt on Friday!  I'm glad you kept telling me all along that this project would be doable.

Our kids:  You're pretty awesome, plain and simple.  You jumped in to help when you could, stayed out of the way when you should have, and even took over the responsible adult duties of feeding us dinner some nights.  We hit the jackpot with you two!

Mom and dad:  Words can't say how much we appreciate your non-stop help.  You were here bright and early each morning and left looking completely tuckered out each night.  We completely took advantage of your generosity and I'm glad you still love us to let us get away with that!  Thank you!!!

Mike:  Thanks for giving up your week of vacation to help with one of my hair-brained schemes.  You're a pretty good catch and we make a great team.  PS: It was nice to see you being able to catch a nap in your favorite chair again this afternoon!

One more time...this:

To this:


Linking to:
Sugar Bee Crafts