Friday, August 31, 2012

Summer O12 - Part Deuce

Are you ready for round two of Summer O12’ happenings so far?? I’m going to assume that if you’re reading this the answer is yes!

We left off at the 4th of July. The following weekend,  Ace and I visited Homer, NE (which if you didn’t know is little but lively). Our friends Adam and Brian had asked Ace to breed some of their dad’s cows. We spent the weekend at their parents house mostly just hanging out while Ace bred cows (I lead a glamorous life, I know). Jessie and I played a spirited game of Battleship and checkers, and I saw a real Indian.

How many master degrees in meat science does it take to smoke ribs? The answer is four plus two hungry dogs.

Who knew there were hills like this in Nebraska?

I couldn't resist this picture.  I think it looks like a boy band album cover. 

Yes, Ace does cattle work in shorts when it's hot out.  Jealous ladies??

Next, came a weekend in Austin for our Roteract volleyball tournament. I did my best to put together a stellar team after the disappointing showing in last year's tournament. Ace, Jessie, Adam, Johnson, Mac, and my friend Crystal made up my team. I thought we would definitely win at least one game. Sadly, we never left the loser’s bracket and were the first team eliminated. We later played in a loser, loser’s bracket against Holly’s team. We were ahead in the third tie breaker game when we had to quit so the championship game could take place on the court. We went ahead and declared ourselves not the worse team there.. It was a really fun weekend having a house full of visitors. We hung out in the backyard, grilled, and had a bonfire. We then proceeded to burn a cabinet and some random boards from the garage after the firewood ran out. Note to self – next time buy more firewood.

Rob and Brooke fled the heat of Illinois to visit Minnesota. I took off work on Friday to spend the day with them. We ate at this very yummy restaurant called “The Blue Door Pub”. Brooke had seen it on an episode of Driver’s, Dine Ins, and Dives where they featured SPAM balls and a Minneapolis original – the Juicy Lucy hamburger. The food was delicious! The SPAM balls were deep fried balls of cream cheese, pickles, and SPAM served with a pepper jelly. YUM! Then, in some kind of weird miracle, we convinced the boys to go to Ikea and the Mall of America. Luckily, Ikea has plenty of display couches to sit on and MOA has many dining establishments to sit and have a few beverages. It was a great day! Saturday we went tubing down the Root River in nearby Lanesboro. Vacation does weird things to my brother because he even wore shorts! Everyone needed sunglasses from the whiteness of his legs :)

This year is the 75th Anniversary of SPAM.  Betcha didn’t know that!  To celebrate, Hormel planned a big celebration which included the SPAMtastic Challenge.  The challenge was an employee team competition that resembled the TV show "Minute to Win It".  There were various random games that members of the team had to complete within one minute. I found that I have a talent for being able to slide an Oreo down my face and catch it in my mouth. I’m available for bookings if you’d like me to come show off at your next party! My team was the R&D ‘B’ Team (long story behind that name), and we very surprisingly won! The only thing we won with our rare talents were bragging rights. However R&D was so proud of our efforts that they had an embarrassingly large banner made up that is now displayed on the outside of the building.

The B Team in first place!

Holly and I dominating at the "move a pop can with a spaghetti noodle" challenge.

You had to catch three Oreo's to get all of the points. I did just that.

I know my Mom would be so proud.

August has mostly been spent with Mom and Dad. They had a mini vacation that included visiting me, going to a cabin in very northern Minnesota, and then stopping to visit me again. Ace and I joined them up north in Ely, MN for a weekend. It’s very pretty up there. We attempted to fish, but we only caught one fish all day. Overall, it was a nice relaxing weekend. While Mom and Dad were in Austin they were very good workers. We got so many little projects finished and started some new and exciting projects. Stay tuned for more updates!

So that very long winded update brings us to the end of summer. I can’t believe it’s over! However, football is starting and I can’t wait to do some tailgating!

Monday, July 23, 2012

Summer Update #1

I’m not really sure where the time goes anymore! I can’t believe we’re looking at the end of July on the calendar already. I figured I would pop in with a summer update since I’m so good about keeping this updated. Does anyone even read this?? Just wondering :)

I feel like this summer has been one of the best in more recent years. The native Minnesohtans can’t stop complaining about how hot it is, but for me it feels like the first real summer since I moved here three years ago! It’s been warm enough to swim in the evening (thanks Austin City Pool for opening extended hours while it’s been so hot!), the river was of comfortable temperature during tubing on the 4th of July, and I haven’t needed a jacket in the morning once! I realize that the heat that I love so much has brought on the worst draught in years. I’m dreading my next trip home to actually see how bad it is there. Until that time, I’m going to continue to live in my “I love summer” haze.

So let’s relive the highlights of Summer O’12 thus far!

Wait....First let’s back up to Spring O’12

VanDeWalle branding took place the first weekend of May. There were so many helpers this year. Ace reached out to a family friend’s son who brought two of his friends. My friends from Austin, Scott and Holly decided to check out what ranching is all about. Ace’s friend Derek brought his muscles as usual, and McKenzie (AKA Mac) did pretty much all of the work. Throw Ida, Tina, Sage, Aubrey, Jake, and The Pruitt Family in, and you have one full house! We branded 80 calves in a little over an hour and a half, which I’m pretty sure is some sort of record.

The couple that brands together, stays together. 

Please note that the boys behind Schroeder are young, strapping 18 year olds and struggling, while Schroeder got this calf (one of the biggest in the bunch) all by himself, and then smiled for the camera.

Next up – I spent a week in Fayetteville, Arkansas in early May. I started my first class in a series of culinary classes for work. These classes are offered to people who work in R&D to teach you to think more like a chef and less like a scientist. I loved it! We cooked and ate all day. I learned how to make soup stock from scratch, sauces such as Hollandaise sauce, and risotto to name a few. I’m pretty much a gourmet cook now :)

This was the scene at lunch everyday. Do you think we went hungry at all?

Memorial weekend I made my usual trek to the great state of Illinois. I traveled to Champaign to see Cory, Petey, and Lock, then to Rachel and David’s in Clinton, and from there we went to Peoria to see Cassie get married. Rachel, Rachel, Lock, and Bethany were reunited for the first time since Rachel’s wedding! It was great to catch up with everyone. Then I traveled home to Chauncey for the rest of the weekend.

My life needs more of these people.

In June, I golfed in our R&D golf outing. I’m proud to report that our team scored the most points, but apparently scoring the most points is not the object of the game. We still won a trophy – The Dudley. I was also on the board (briefly) for longest drive. It was probably the longest, straightest drive of my golf career. However, it didn't take long for one of our interns, who plays golf in college, to absolutely smoke by my drive.  Bummer.

Since the 4th of July was annoyingly on a Wednesday this year, I couldn’t take the time off of work to participate in the mud volleyball tournament in Ericson, Nebraska. To make up for my absence, we planned a tanking trip the weekend before the 4th. Since the river and electronics really don’t mix, I don’t have any pictures of this year’s excursion. So, I've provided a picture of last year's tank and a picture that was taken after watching the James Lee Band perfrom that night. There’s really no explanation as to why Shark is wearing a leopard tank top.

The kickball season is in full swing.  Ace has even been able to come over for a few games.  I had to document the two of us wearing matching shirts, as he vowed that it would never happen! Apparently athletic t-shirts are the only exception to his rule.

Stay tuned for more summer updates!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Guest Room

The guest room is in the front corner of the house. It may be technically considered the master bedroom, but I didn't want my room to be so close to the street.  In my old apartment my guest room was kind of neglected and filled with random leftover furniture.  I didn't even have a queen sized bed for guests.  When I moved into my house, I knew I wanted to buy a new mattress for myself.  So now my guests have a proper sized bed to stay in. Mom also helped paint this room.  I had yellow curtains from my old apartment and I knew I wanted to go with a yellow and gray color scheme.  

The guest room the day I moved in.

I picked the color "bell tower stone" by Valspar in Sherwin Williams paint.  I love the color. It's rich but not too dark and the yellow really stands out nicely against it.  I lived without a matching comforter for awhile. I found this duvet color set from West Elm and completed the bed with some throw pillows from Target.  Months later I finally hung my favorite Van Gogh prints and other pictures.  The only thing left to do in this room is get a new light fixture.  I've been looking for one that I like, but is at a reasonable price.  But with only one item left on the to do list the guest room is the most complete room in the house! I almost love it more than my master bedroom!

Mom helped make the curtains from fabric from JoAnn fabrics. The wood shelves on the floor are my old 4H House desk shelves.  Maybe one day I'll replace them with something else. Dad made them for me so they have a little sentimental value!

The light fixture is brassy and outdated.  The glass has etched designs on it so the light throws subtle shadows over the room. I really dislike it, but since I'm rarely in here at night I can live with it for now.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Dining Room

The dining room has seemingly been a never ending work in progress. When I moved in, all of the walls in my house were the same shade of white and mostly in good shape. The dining room walls were, however, full of nail holes and covered in scratches. Since I'm the worst at making decisions, but really good at picking up every paint sample under the sun, I decided to patch the holes and repaint over the bad spots. There was a leftover can of paint in the basement conveniently labeled 'dining room', and I could stop obsessing about how bad the walls looked until I could decide what color to paint. This method seemed to work until the paint dried and you could totally see the places where I re-painted. I knew I'd need to paint the entire wall sooner rather than later. One weekend while Mom was visiting she had already painted my guest bedroom and was ready to tackle another project. She forced me to finally pick a color from my stack of 2,323,234 paint samples. After staring at these samples for months I finally just gave up and randomly picked two colors. Mom and I worked out a plan to paint the wall two different colors and to later add chair rail molding to dress up the room.

The top color is Province Blue by Benjamin Moore and the bottom color is Tempered Allspice by Valspar. Mom painted this room in one afternoon. She is the lady to call if you have some painting to do! We then successfully hung a new shelf from Ikea. PS - I'm a real pro when it comes to power tools :) The plan was to use the shelf to make a picture gallery wall.

While I was home for Thanksgiving we picked out trim at Lowe's, my brother cut the pieces, and I picked the pieces back up at Christmas. The pieces then sat in my basement for about three months until I found the closest shade of stain that would match my existing trim. This proved to be a more difficult task than I first thought it would be. I realized that the floor trim and the window trim are just slightly different from each other. I ended up using three coats of stain and I sealed them with polyurethane that I found in the basement left by the previous owners. The end result is very close to the existing finishes. It’s not perfect, but it doesn't bother me that all of the trim isn’t exactly the same. Next came hanging the trim. I borrowed a nail gun from a coworker, and Adam came to the rescue with an air compressor. He helped me hang the trim (and finish some other projects) while he and Jessie were visiting in March. Adam is a pretty good house guest who gets a lot more enthusiastic about my many projects than Ace does. :)

After the trim was hung, the room looked much more complete. However, I started to doubt my original choices of paint. The room just seemed too dark. The brown looked too heavy, and I felt like it didn't fit with the rest of the house. After seeing a lot of turquoise and gray rooms on Pinterest I decided to switch up the paint. I really liked the original turquoise color, but decided it should be the anchor of the wall. I chose Light French Gray by Sherwin Williams to go on the top of the wall. I’m so happy with the results! The room is much “fresher” now and is not at all dark. It flows much better with the other rooms as well.

The final touch was to finish the gallery picture wall. My inspiration came from this blog. I made a trip to Ikea and purchased various sizes of the 'Ribba' frame. I took the paper out of the frames to use as spacers on the wall.  This method was not 100% effective at accurately figuring how the frames would fit, because the frames added an extra inch or so.  But it worked well enough. Some of the frames are a bit close to the ceiling, but it works. The hardest part was deciding which pictures to use. I knew I wanted some of my farm pictures that I've taken along with some family pictures.

I love the final look! I love that all the frames match, and I love how white and clean they are against the gray wall.  The wall looks white in these pictures, but it's a subtle gray in person.  The paint is also more turquoise than blue.

I think the shelf needs a few other items. I have one lonesome Mason jar sitting there now. However, it took almost 6 months to get to this phase so it may take me a little longer to find some shelf accents!

There are still a couple of items on the dining room to do list.  I’d like to find a really big clock to hang on the wall opposite of the frame wall. I’m also planning to take down the chandelier and spray paint it silver. Mom is making a new curtain for the window to better match the new colors.  I've thought about sanding and painting or re-staining my table, and I'm loving the look of mismatched chairs right now.  I've been keeping my eyes open for a good deal on chairs.

I'm calling the dining room a (semi)finished success! 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Old Door Entryway Bench

Ever since I moved in to my house, I've been on the hunt for some sort of entryway bench.  When you walk in the front door, there is a small alcove set back in the wall.  I had a picture in my head for what I wanted, but I was having a hard time finding something that fit the correct dimensions.  After joining Pinterest, I started seeing a lot of ideas using old doors.  I began to think about using an old door and turning it into some sort of hall tree/bench.  The downside is that I am not a carpenter and had no idea how to turn my idea into a reality.  While I was home for Thanksgiving, I mentioned my idea to Grandma Betty. She told me that our relatives,  Larry and Caroline Legg, have been selling benches similar to what I described.  Larry and Caroline make and sale crafts at local craft fairs. Mom and I set out the day after Thanksgiving to stop by their house to see what goodies we could find.  They had a couple already made, but they weren't exactly what I wanted.  Luckily, Larry is a good family friend, and has had a soft spot for me ever since I started showing cattle as a cute little girl (I don't really know if the last part is true, but he does like me a lot).   He quickly started going through all the doors he had in the shop until I picked one that I liked. We went over the desired dimensions, types of hooks he uses, whether I wanted Caroline to paint it or paint it myself, he showed me the choices of door knobs, and in about an hour I had ordered my custom made entryway bench.  He delivered the finished product to Grandma's in a little under two weeks.  I assured him that he could take his time because I wouldn't be home again until Christmas, but this fell on deaf ears :)   Like I said, Larry likes me.   I opted to paint it myself. I forgot to take a before picture, but it was originally a green door with red trim.  Larry takes all the windows out of the doors to make them safer and lighter to handle.  He also cuts the bottom of the door off where he adds the bench to help make it lighter.  He then adds a shelf to the top, and a curtain rod on the back so that a little curtain can be hung.  They turn out really cute.  I primed the door white, and then used the same turquoise paint that I used on the old window picture frame.  I distressed the shelf by sanding it in places with sandpaper.  It looks good, although I kind of wish I would have tried to crackle paint it.  I still love how it turned out!

The curtain rod on the back. I don't have a curtain on there now. I've thought about having a farm picture printed out and applying it to the back to show through the windows.

The back pre-painted

The front after priming.

First coat of paint

The very boring entry way before 

The new and improved entryway.  

Here's a close up of the very cool antique door knob that Larry included. He does several projects with these, and is always on the hunt for them.  This one is antique brass with a glass knob.  

Mr. Pig would like to welcome you!!  
The last few weeks have been full of crossing projects off of the to do list.  Can't wait to show some before and after pictures!