Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Halloween 2013: Katherine made me do it

A few weeks ago my friend Katherine called and confessed, "I just sold my soul to the Devil...." 
"I bought my kids Halloween costumes.
We were at TJ Maxx and they had these really cool princess/renaissance/gown dresses and they were really beautiful!  For only $30!  And I caved."

"Oh man.  I need to cave too."
And I totally did.

This year we did a storebought Halloween!
And everyone seems happy.
And I'm not saying I'm swearing off homemade costumes forever.  It really is rewarding to see a unique creation come together.  And I'm so happy to have previous posts to remember the kids throughout the years:
2009: Sam I Am and Cat in the Hat
2010: Alice in Wonderland and Mad Hatter
2011: Austin Bats
2012: Indecisive Princess and Mace Windu

But you just can't do everything.  And at the moment, the new home project, and the current home project (prepping it to sell) have taken over my life.  So I swung by TJ Maxx and came home with this pretty purple gown for Lucy.   She had mentioned at one point wanting to be Padme from Star Wars (Queen Amidala) or Rose Petal (a childhood toy I recently shared with her).  So I told her that if she really wanted me to make her a costume, I still would....but that she should just take a look at this purple dress and tell me what she thinks....
Annnnnd, yep.  She loved it!  The velvet, the fur collar, the flowy sleeves.  She thought it was the prettiest thing she'd ever seen (and she's come into my closet every day to just gaze at the gown and touch the sleeves.
These pretty gold sandals from GAP matched perfectly.  And then Lucy exclaimed, "Mom!  This dress is exactly like Padme's senate dress!"
(we know the various wardrobe changes for Natalie Portman?  Definitely gone to the dark side)
Wow.  Whatdaya know??  Pretty close!
SO....Mom did good.  Lucy is Padme afterall, just as she had planned.
With a slightly different but royal headpiece.
And for Owen?  It was even easier.
"What do you want to be this year?"
"Luke Skywalker."

"Okay.  But which version?!  Tatooine Luke?  Or Jedi Luke?"
(Cause we know he's got last year's moves down pretty well)
"Luke from Return of the Jedi....from the part at the end, right before he fights Darth Vader, and the Emperor does storms on him."
("Storms" = crazy bolts of electricity from wrinkly hands.  Makes me laugh every time he says it)
"Okay, so what do we need to be Jedi Luke?"
"It's easy.  We have everything!"
And here's what he put together:
The important item being The Glove (or the animatronic droid hand).
And we did throw in a piece of homemade costumery....the capes I made for the kids two years ago!
It was the perfect piece for a pensive Luke, contemplating the task before fight his own father.
"I will never turn to the Dark Side!"
And there you have it.
Honorable Luke and Happy Padme.
But....if you want to know what they REALLY look like?
I'd say they're going as Buttercup and Wesley.  Cause it wasn't long before this was happening....
Oh these two.
There are the best of friends.
Lost without the other one.
Happy Halloween!

(Oh and yes, I have one more child.  And I really took the easy route there....she's dressing up as a 20 month old Toddler!  Sorry Clara.  We'll dress you up next year)

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Building a new home: stucco, shingles, and a pretty paint job

Hello friends!
It's been a while since I shared about our home adve;postID=7824706641310881630nture.  And much has been much so that it feels like (another) full time job.  At least I get to do the fun part!---design, plan, pick things out, and then watch skilled crews do the work for us.  I  kinda love that.  
It's liberating for someone who loves a good DIY project.
If you're just joining us here, the short version is that our family is building a custom home in the Austin, TX area.  We're not physically building it ourselves (we've hired Lake Hills Custom Homes to do the hard part) and we're along for the decision-making ride. Check out my 3 previous posts about the process:
We're building a new home!
Groundbreaking Party
From foundation to frame

Here's where we're currently at: the outside is mostly done; the inside has a way to go.
And in my last post the house looked like this:
It had just been framed, and we thought it was the coolest thing we'd ever seen.

Well, apparently home building gets cooler and cooler as you go....because then they put up wooden walls all around the house and on the roof, and with every step it starts to feel more like a real home!
Construction is amazing.
And smells yummy like Home Depot.
In fact that's what my kids often tell me, "Mom I want to eat Home Depot"
"It just smells so good"
 And so do donuts. 
I thought we'd enjoy those over eating wood.
And we thought they should be sampled in a guest bathroom built for two, with his and hers milk.
We've spent many Saturday mornings and after-school-pick-ups driving by the house to check out the progress. It's so much fun.

Once the exterior walls and roof were covered with wood, then came the Tyvek wrap.  Tyvek is a lightweight and super strong fabric-like paper that protects the home from outside water and air.   And if you remember back to our swag bags from the Palm Springs trip?...they were made from the same material!  I had to buy them.
 Yay Tyvek!
And yay for massive piles of debris in your front yard.  I'd invite you over for a marshmallow roast.  But that's probably not wise.
Nor is wearing flip flops at a construction site, and walking on planks to the front door.
Living dangerously.

In my previous post some of you asked why the foundation was poured so tall. 
The land we're building on is sloped---which really drew us to it because it adds an interesting dimension to the property.  So the foundation had to be built and up and poured to create a level surface. 
These side and back view photos give you a better visual.  The garage door is at ground level and the Master Bedroom is 7 feet off the ground.  

And Lucy and Owen are tiny specs in the Studio room doorway.
After the Tyvek wrap, roof shingles were laid on most of the roof.  Some of the roof was finished after the stuccoing process since workers had to walk around on it with messy shoes.
And then came one of the most exciting days....scaffolding and stucco! 
 They placed white box-like forms around the windows and stuccoed right over them to create "frames",
and worked quickly to cover the house in gray concrete looking stuff.
So cool!...almost as cool as pouring concrete with the elephant snout into the foundation.
The stucco was done in two stages....first a raw/gritty finish (on the left below) and then a smooth sandpaper look (on the right).
And after a few days of drying I was left with a difficult request,
"we need your final exterior paint color selections".
This process is fun but can feel creatively stressful.  It's a merry-go-round of making selections, rethinking, second-guessing, reassuring, confirming, and then still wondering if you made the right decision.  I originally planned to go with a light-gray exterior.  But then after seeing the raw stucco color on the house, I really loved how the dark gray looked.

Cause I don't have a thing for gray or anything.
So using my very novice Illustrator skills I did a mockup of the house to see what dark gray paint, with a charcoal roof, and white trim would look like.
 (and what an orange or green door does to the house.  I think I'm digging the green)
 aaaaand....I went with Sherwin Williams 7067, Cityscape color!
and everyone cheered.
And then we moved on to one of the final steps: Stone work.
Another fun process to watch.
And more workers to torment with my photo-taking.
These guys were great though. They didn't mind me snapping pics.  And when I asked one of them if they could "just pause for a second and act like you're doing stuff" he laughed and said, "I'm always doing stuff!"
Fair point.  They worked around the clock in 100 degree weather, one of them singing country music songs (slightly off-key) the whole time.  Home building is great.
 And that brings us to this moment....a mostly finished exterior!
I painted the front construction door green to get a feel for look.  And I love it. 
The trim around the widows and under the roof were painted with Sherwin Williams 7005, Pure White.  And the support beams were painted black.
It's coming together!
And now begins the Interior fun.
We have plumbing, electrical,
 and a big pile of sheetrock sitting in the great room.
Next update should have beautiful white walls!
Have a great day.