Personally, I experience the greatest degree of pleasure in having contact with works of art. They furnish me with happy feelings of intensity such as I cannot derive from other realms.
- Einstein -

Monday, December 27, 2010

1st Attempt

Right now Steven is out in the garage measuring and cutting steel to complete the inner wall. But before we get to the inner wall we have to start at the beginning. Why we built the wall, how we built the wall and our initial failure at building the wall.

There use to be a half walled arched opening that partially enclosed my office.

The office is in the very center of the house. On the way to the kitchen for an afternoon snack you pass by the office. Enter the living room and you walk by the office. Walk to the bedroom at the end of the night and you walk past the office. You get the point. Because of the large gaping hole in the wall every time I passed by the office I stopped to check my work. Well that makes for an unhappy husband and a stressed out wife working way too many hours. So we decided we needed to build a wall.

We move quickly on projects. Once we had a plan of building the wall we were out searching for cool ways to enclose the office. On one trip to the Habitat for Humanity Restore we found a beautiful, solid wood, arched door. A real coo at the Restore. The next step was to build the frame of the wall. Steven had just watched an episode on DIY Network where they build an arched door frame. He worked very hard sanding and cutting until he had his first ever door arch completed. The wall was built with see through cubbies where we could put more books. Once we had it filled with books the frame and wall would be solid.

You can see how great it was going to be. The arch was in. The cubbies were just placed perfectly. We were so excited. So we screwed in the door and made a few minor changes to make sure the door fit perfectly. Then we started to paint the frame from one of our spur of the moment "home improvement store messed up" paint cans. After the first swipe we knew it would not work. You could see every flaw in the wood as we painted.

That was our first attempt at the wall.
Later that evening we tore down the wall and that masterpiece of an arch that Steven designed.

"I have not failed 1,000 times. I have successfully discovered 1,000 ways not to make a light bulb." - Edison

Thinking cap time!!!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


How do you display the most incredible gift you have ever received? It takes a lot of thought. Now back to the gift. Steven's brother wrote a letter to John McCain (an Arizona senator). The outcome was the American flag that flew over the US Capital building the day we were married. This is the coolest gift EVER! Steven was a history major. I was a political science major. The gift could not be more fitting. So how do you properly display this awesome flag?

First choice: One of those itty bitty triangle flag holders. Can you hear my enthusiasm in number one?

Second choice: Have the flag professionally framed. Don't get me started on pricing even with a 50% off coupon.

Third choice: Build your own frame.

Fast forward to option three (We priced out framing a 3 foot by 5 foot flag…Ridiculous!). We started by building a simple frame. In our first attempt to decorate the frame we tried to decoupage using maps. It did not look pretty at all. Then we decided to go simple and purchased some chalkboard paint. We thought we could write funny quotes or use it to decorate for holidays. Tip: Once you open a can of chalkboard paint you must use it within a certain amount of time, I want to say 24 hours. That being said, we painted some other items in our house and we'll get to that in another post.

At this point the frame was a bit blah and more than anything, cheap. So the frame sat until one day when we ended up meeting an old man at a swap meet in Apache Junction. He sold us some license plates. We collected a few more plates that my dad had saved from old cars and then screwed them to the frame.

Now we had a 6 by 4 foot frame with a 5 by 3 hole. We purchased the glass, added the flag, finished the backing of the frame and what we ended up with was a 150 lbs framed flag. We had no idea how we were going to lift if up above the fireplace or hang the frame on the wall. With the help of cleat hangers (once you go cleat hanger you will never go back) and four people lifting we were left with a lovely, eye catching piece in our living room.

We love our creations but we do not always think out what we are doing. Hence the previous post on the trip to the paint aisle. This is a 150 lbs example. All we can say is - THANKS SCOTT!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Paint Aisle

Our paint of choice, well that is spray paint. It is smooth and shiny. Also, we do not have to buy brushes, meaning no brush marks. Only issue is fewer color choices. That is not to say we do not use other types of paint. Every trip to the home improvement store we seek out the 'messed up' paint shelf. This shelf has gallons and quarts of paints that were incorrectly mixed, not necessarily ugly paint, the color just does not work for the original requester.

Okay, back to the spray paint aisle. Usually near the end of a project we find out that we are just a few inches short of paint, so we race to the spray paint aisle. On a regular basis the color we need is sold out. Could be that we purchased all the paint in the hue the last time we visited the store.

Now we enter the paint aisle predicament. Drive to all the stores that sell that brand of paint. Be patient and go back in a few days (this one is totally not going to happen). OR find a way to incorporate an additional color. Fast forward to the last option. Steven and I usually agree on a second or third paint color but that is not before 'the look.' He looks at me like I am insane. Like why not just pick white or black? Why pick a totally random color? How does purple, bubble gum pink, and lime green go together? You just gave me that same look! Didn't you?! I promise it works. He agrees to purchase the paint. We go home and spray away. Then we notice at the end of the project, just before the sun goes down that the view we have is of a stately green Saguaro framed by the most beautiful Arizona sunset. Some how our project matches our scenic view.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Bicycle Cemetery

Now that the outlet was up and running it was time to think of the perfect welding project! I had a burning fire within to get that electricity and gas flowing. We had a need for a mailbox but we did not want just an ordinary mailbox. It had to be kookie. On one fateful drive up to Flagstaff we found the holy grail of bicycle cemeteries.

In Rye, Arizona there is a rickety wooden sign that just says 'All Bikes.' Sounds right up our alley. The owner of the salvage yard looked like a greasy Santa Claus and smelled like the city dump. Well the dump actually smells better. Then and there Santa pulled out an old rusted steel bike frame and fork. This was quite the find as steel bikes are not prevalent anymore. I felt like I was at the north pole, searching for the elves, but it was 100 degrees out. I knew I had my mailbox stand.

A few degrees cooler and a few months later we pulled out the Lincoln and went at it. Steven, who has never welded kept turning around afraid something catastrophic was about to occur. The end product, THE MOST AMAZINGIST MAILBOX ON THE BLOCK! Yea, I know the neighbors are jealous!

220 Outlet

After a series of welding classes I was gung ho about MIG welding. For Christmas I got a Lincoln with all the protective gear. I was ready to weld in the comfort of my driveway. My hopes and dreams were crushed when I was schooled by Steven on the 220 outlet.

Well Christmas came again in July when Steven installed the outlet. Our goal during installation: Survive potential electrocution and heat stroke. Installing a 220 outlet in July was not one of our brightest moves. Turning off the electricity and thus the air conditioning in Arizona during the month of July was a sacrifice I was willing to make. Too bad I was not willing to sacrifice welding in the scorching heat. Guess I just had to hold of for the time being.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Welding Class

About a year ago I began working from home. Most people would give their right leg to work from home but after a week I had cabin fever. My field trips were to the gym and grocery store and they became redundant. Then at about week three of Steven coming home to a crying wife he surprised me with an art class. I was going to weld!

Now I am not allowed in the kitchen but I was about to be given fire, electricity and gas in combination. What a potential recipe for disaster. Well let me just mention up front that only the expected small welding fires were created and I have all my limbs. What came out of the class was a beautiful chandelier. Steven found a rusted tractor wheel on Craigslist.org. We had it professionally cleaned and I was off to class with my wheel and steel tubing and rods. I first created the pockets that hold the lighting fixtures. Then I followed by creating the nest that hangs below. Steven wired the chandelier and we were done! Well we thought we were.

Let me tell you hanging a tractor wheel from a vaulted ceiling is heavy and hard. Not that I would know too much about it as I watched from below. What I can tell you is that it is hilarious! Especially watching your husband and brother in law swinging from the ceiling!

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Beginning

When I married my sweetheart we decided that
we were going to fore go a honeymoon and instead buy our dream house. It was the right timing as the house was a family members who had recently passed. I said it was our dream house but it was far from perfect. It was a great base and we knew with a lot of work we could make it special and most importantly a reflection of who we are. I agreed to buy the fixer upper and made my wife promise she would not push renovations, and we would take our time fixing up our fixer upper. Well it has been eighteen months and over 20,000 dollars and we are not going slow but I am starting to love the house. We still have a long way to go but we want to show off our space. We will continually update this with posts of what we have done and what we are doing.

We should have taken pictures of the before but we didn't think eighteen months ago that we would ever be writing a blog. So I will try and paint you a picture with words. There is that old saying that a picture is worth a 1,000 words, but I promise to keep it short. The house is a 1,950 square foot brick house that is sitting on a 10,000 square foot lot. Our house sits on the corner of a street which gives us a large wrap around backyard. It has a large pool and a beautiful concrete paver patio and walkway.The problem was the rest of the yard. When we moved in the house the yard had seventeen trees, a whole side of the house covered in 4 foot thick fig vines, weeds higher than I stand, and most horribly around sixty tons of medium to large river rock. At this point we are down seven trees, no vines, no weeds, and only about fifty tons of river rock. Did I mention we hate the river rock. The back yard is a continual work in progress. Unfortunately we need to get rid of the river rock before we can redo the back yard and no one wants river rock so we take a ton a time to the city dump.

The inside of the house was not much better. The previous owner, and yes she was a beloved family member, had three untrained dogs that had created quite the unbearable odor inside all over the white carpeting. The part of the house that was not white carpeting covered in unbearable odor was covered in mismatching and unlevel pink saltillo tile. Between the stench and the unattractiveness we decided to invest quickly in beautiful Australian Cypress hard wood floors. This made a huge difference in our house and our dog loved us for getting rid of the smells. This should give everyone a little taste of what we started with and you will see more in the many pictures we will post. If you like our stuff or have any ideas please feel free to let us know. We are always looking for creative ideas to try out or adapt to make our own. Oh I should mention our style is far from ordinary, but so far people seem to love it. We really enjoy taking items that would end up in a landfill or on the curb and make them beautiful and interesting. I hope you all enjoy!