Friday, March 22, 2013

Our Biggest DIY Project to Date--The Playroom Addition

These have been exciting times around our house.  The 4 munchkins are finally getting a dedicated playroom space!  Our carport has been closed in and converted into what we're calling the "Kid Cave".  Think "Man Cave" for the younger set of dudes.  And a dudette.

A few things first--This is not a tutorial because every home would present a new set of challenges and not only could I possibly address all of them, but I probably couldn't even imagine all of them.  Also, I'm calling this a DIY because we did actually do it ourselves with the help of a friend who was formerly in the construction business. If you don't have a knowledgeable friend who is willing to work for caramel pecan pie (I kid you not!) then please hire out what you can't do.  Seriously, this is your home we're talking about and the last thing you want is to DIY this up and then have it fall apart.

Our county requires permits for this kind of project.  Apparently, not everyone who works there thinks it qualifies as an activity that requires a permit so they gave us one anyway because they figure they might as well.  To obtain a permit, you simply bring a sketch of the plan and an estimate of materials and they give you a permit.  It won't be that easy everywhere, so please do yourself a favor and check into what this type of project requires where you live. 

So far, we've been asked several questions over and over so I'll address those. 
1.  Where will you park?
We haven't used the carport for car storage in years.  In 2008, we moved the furniture that we'd be using in A's room to the carport to stain it.  Since then, one DIY project after the other has gone on out there and eventually it became less of a carport and more of a workroom.  Also, I drive a Ford Expedition now and it wouldn't fit anyway.  Believe me when I say that a playroom is a much better use of space.

2.  What's that on the outside?  Wood or vinyl?
It's neither.  We went with a product called Hardiplank.  It is more costly than vinyl siding in the short term but is worth it in the long run, at least to us.  I could extol the wonders of Hardiplank but I think they do a super job of explaining why it's a great option so just click here and learn more!

3.  Why didn't you put a window in the front?
When this project was in the early planning stages we had planned for it to be a bedroom and that's really the only wall where we could put a closetAs it evolved into a playroom, we found that the front wall was still the only place for toy storage.  And sure, we could put a window there and just cover it up but we could never decide whether the window should be the same size as the living room window (which is the largest window in the front of the house as well as the window closest to the front of the addition), or larger to be the new "main" window, or the same size as the other windows on the front of the house.  But all of that fretting was really for nothing once we realized that the existing header in the carport would mean that any window we put there wouldn't be the same distance from the overhang as the other windows and I knew that would drive me nuts. Moving the header would mean some serious structural engineering and we weren't down for that.  In fact, you may notice in the photos that the window next the the ones on the side of the addition is a bit higher than the new windows.  We're unsure of how we plan to handle that yet and aren't terribly concerned since the laundry room will be overhauled at some point.  We'll make that adjustment (if one is even made) when we get there.

We still have some finishing to do and we still need to paint the addition as well as the trim, but here it as of right now.  The inside is still being worked on so that will be another post.  Barry hung the drywall and I'm finishing it. I'll have that post up as soon as we get it painted...if we ever get there.  It's not a sprint, it's a marathon (or at least that's what I'm telling myself--don't burst my bubble if I'm wrong!).


 After (At the point we're at now):

A little side by side comparison of the before and after:

And how about an interior sneak peek?

My sweet nephew asks me every few days if it's "done already".  I guess I better stop typing and start texturing some walls!  ;-)


Thursday, March 14, 2013

Gabe and Rachel's Wedding Cakes

My cousin Gabe and his girlfriend of 4.5 years made it official last weekend in a fun and relaxed wedding at their home.  I knew pretty early on in the planning process that I'd be making a wedding cake.  Rachel chose a peacock theme for the wedding.  At first, we had some pretty bold ideas for the cake but Rachel's mom thought classic white was the way to go so Rachel and I hatched a plan...classic white wedding cake on the outside but beautiful peacock colors on the inside.  My husband refers to it as a "mullet cake", you know business in the front and party in the back.  Just replace front with outside and back with inside!  HA!  So here's the business side of the cake:

And here's the party side of the cake:

Fun fun fun!  And it elicited oohs and aahs when everyone saw the inside which is always cool!  The cake was white vanilla cake and the frosting was vanilla buttercream.  I colored the cake batter and swirled it in the pan.  If anyone's interested, I'll put up a tutorial on how to do that.  (That tutorial can now be found here.)  Thanks for stopping by.Just message me or post it in the comments!  The cake was covered and decorated in marshmallow fondant.  The topper was not edible (those were real feathers!) nor were the ribbon bands and diamond buckles on the bottom of each tier.

For the groom's cake, I knew I wanted to do something different.  We tossed a few ideas around but I was sold pretty quickly on a cheesecake bar.  We used a no bake recipe and put the cheesecakes in 9 oz. cups and served them with cherries and chocolate so that everyone could customize their cheesecake in their own way.  These went like hot cakes (cheesecakes?) and were terribly easy to make.  We served them from the cupcake tower that I made.

I was a bridesmaid and the morning of the wedding, I found out that we'd be dancing down the aisle as would Rachel and her mom.  I'm sure it was quite a sight to behold and I'm pretty thankful I haven't seen any video of that yet!  I'll leave you with the song we danced to though.  I'd also like to apologize to Bruno Mars in advance if the dancing was as terrible as I'm fairly certain it was!  ;-)