Monday, July 29, 2013

Sara and Andy's Wedding!

*Warning, this is a SUPER long and picture heavy post!* :)

Hello! I hope you all had a great weekend! Joe and I headed to St. Louis this morning to celebrate with Joe's family for our new nephew, Albert's, baptism. I'll share pictures from this weekend in the next post hopefully. Tonight I finally want to show you some pictures from our trip to Seattle for my sister, Sara, and her new husband, Andy's, wedding. This was my second time in Seattle, and Joe's first time and we could not have asked for more perfect weather for the trip and the wedding! We arrived in Seattle on a Thursday afternoon and left on the Monday after the wedding. The trip wasn't all fun and games though, I had a job to do! My task was to make the wedding cake. Sara had arranged with her friend, Juliet, to let me bake and decorate the cake at her house and she had an amazing kitchen. I wish I could bake all my cakes there! Thanks again to Juliet for letting me invade your house and mess up your kitchen!

When we arrived on Thursday, we headed to Sara and Andy's house for a BBQ with all the family who were already in town. Sara and I also went grocery shopping for cake ingredients that afternoon. I don't have any pictures from that night, but we had a great time visiting with everyone and getting psyched up for the rest of the weekend! Then on Friday, all of the guys (including Joe) headed out at 4:30am for a fishing trip in Oregon. The went sturgeon fishing and they each caught two. Though they didn't get to keep any of the fish, they did get a few pictures to prove they caught some HUGE sturgeon! Joe got one that was over 7 feet long, and my dad hooked one that was about 9 feet! I don't have any of those pictures to show, but I have seen them, so I know it's not just a fish tale :)

While the boys were fishing on Friday, the girls started the day with brunch at a place that specialized in local products. The french toast, waffles and pancakes were amazing, and there was a toppings bar with all the best local fresh fruit and berries. It was delicious! After we stuffed ourselves, the bridal party headed to Banya 5 spa where we had fun going through a series of Russian bathes. We started by sitting in a hot tub for a bit, then we sat in a super hot sauna before jumping into a pool that was only 47 degrees! It was breathtaking to say the least :) But for some reason, it was hard to do it just once! I know it sounds crazy, but I did the hot to cold jump twice and it was actually really refreshing haha. After sitting in the hot tub a bit longer, we left the spa and went to get our nails done. The rest of Friday and the first half of Saturday was spent baking and decorating cakes at Juliet's. And then, I finally started taking pictures haha. We'll start with the rehearsal dinner on Saturday night.

The rehearsal and dinner were at the Alki Bathhouse at Alki Beach. The food was soooooo good and we ate every last bit! The views of the Seattle and the sunset were beautiful too.

Mom and Dad at Alki Beach

Hey Gracie!

Sara's Matron of Honor, Stephanie with her husband, Scott, and daughter, Savannah. 

L-R: Cindy Buckner, Mimi, Aunt Margaret, Ellis Buckner
Uncle Harold and Mary

Grandma, Sara (the bride), and Grandpa

On Sunday, the boys worked on decorating and setting up the ceremony and reception venue and Mom and I delivered and set up the cake. Then we picked up Mary and Grace and headed to Sara's hotel room where she was getting ready for the wedding. We helped her get into her dress and out the door, before making a mad dash to get ourselves ready! Dad picked us up and it was time for pictures. After a photo session at the Seattle Sculpture Park, we headed to the ceremony and it was showtime!

The beautiful bride!

Sisters getting beautified too!

Gracie made sure Sara got all hooked in. 
And Mary tied her up :)


The wedding went smoothly and we ate and danced the night away at the reception. I don't have a ton of pictures, but that's because I was to busy dancing :)

The Bride and Groom with our Great Uncle Harold. Thank you Michael for taking this picture!

The cake! It wasn't as yellow as it looks here. 

Yellow butter cake with Nutella filling and cream cheese frosting. 

All the Trowbridge cousins who were there. Back Row L-R: Thomas, Patrick, Kate Alice, Lisa, Sara, Mary.
Front Row L-R: Andrew, Matthew, Grace

I had to include this one. Joe is responsible for taking it. I just think it's funny. 

On Monday we went up in the Space Needle for one last view of Seattle before heading home. Oh, and we also made Grace run around this maze while we timed her. She made pretty good time!

Lookin' good, Grace!

You did it!

Downtown Seattle as seen from the top of the Space Needle.

So pretty. 

I didn't have any group pictures that didn't have the spot on Joe's face! Sorry, Joe :( 

It was so great to see everyone, and although it was a bit of a whirlwind weekend, we had a blast. We're looking forward to doing it all over again in December for my other sister, Mary's, wedding in Louisiana :)  Congratulations again to Sara and Andy! Good night!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

One Direction Sugar Cookies

Hello! It's been several days since I've written on here, and we've been pretty busy. Joe and I spent this past weekend in Seattle to celebrate my oldest sister's wedding with my family. We had an awesome time, and the weather there could not have been more perfect! I plan to write a post about the wedding and the cake I made soon, but that will be a long one and I need to get some sleep tonight :) In the mean time, I'll just say congratulations to Sara and Andy!

Pretty much as soon as we got back from Seattle I had 2 baking projects to work on. One was actually a cake order from a coworker, and the other was these cookies that I wanted to make for my little sister's birthday since she and my parents would be passing by our house on their way home from Seattle to Ohio. You see, Gracie is a HUGE fan of the British band One Direction and she even got to see them in concert a couple weeks ago. I'd seen the idea for these cookies on a blog called The Sweet Adventures of Sugarbelle, and made a mental note that I had to make them for Grace some day. The lady behind the Sugarbelle blog is a cookie genius and some of her creations are just amazing and way too far out of my league. But for these, she actually provided a template that she used for each member of the band, so I felt like I could tackle it.

I started by making her sugar cookie recipe and baking some circles and hearts. Everyone who tried these cookies loved them, but I have to say they honestly weren't my favorite. Something about the texture was funny to me, but I was the only one who thought so. Oh well. Then I made a batch of her royal icing. And started mixing my colors. (You can find all of her recipes in the FAQs section of her blog by clicking the link above.) The first step was to flood the circle cookies with white icing. Then while those were setting up, I decorated the heart cookies. Once the white icing on the circles was dried enough, I cut out all the little faces from the template, and used a food safe marker to trace them on the cookies.

Then I filled in all their little faces. One tip from the Sugarbelle blog is to use squeeze bottles instead of icing bags. I did that for the boy's hair and faces and it really was MUCH easier than using an icing bag.

Then I added the hair. This required mixing a few different colors, and some even had highlights :)

Finally, I outlined everything in black and added their names!

These cookies did take a few hours, but overall they were easier than I expected. Grace said she could have told who was who even if the names weren't there, so that's good. :) I think she liked them! Happy Belated Birthday, Gracie!

Now that I know they're not too hard, I'll definitely try decorating more cookies in the future. I guess that's it for tonight! I hope you all have a great week.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

DIY Brass Chandelier

First of all, thank you for all the nice comments about the piano room! I'm glad to hear that you seem to like it as much as we do. Today I'm going to share a little "how-to" for the light fixture. I think you'll be surprised to see how easy it is. With all the brass fixture part options, you could totally customize this to fit your taste or style! I originally saw this flight fixture in this post on a blog called One King's Lane. They mentioned that they had made it themselves, so I immediately commented on the post saying how much I loved the light and that they MUST post some instructions :) As you may know, I'm a little impatient. So when they didn't respond within an hour saying they would be posting instructions, I started doing a little research myself. A simple Google search for "brass lamp making parts" led me to Grand Brass. I dug through all the parts they sold and quickly figured out the basic parts I would need to build it. Luckily they eventually did post a tutorial, so I was able to verify the parts. After running this idea by Joe (and him agreeing to it much to my surprise), we ordered the parts according to their list.

Unfortunately, our first attempt at making this fixture was a failure, for a couple reasons. One was that we bought 18 gauge doorbell/thermostat wire at Home Depot instead of ordering light fixture wire from Grand Brass. Though 18 gauge was the correct size, the insulation on the wires was inadequate since it was supposed to be used for very low voltage applications. The other problem was with the size of the body we ordered for the chandelier. When the One King's Lane folks originally made the chandelier, they used 26 gauge wire which is MUCH too small for this fixture. The 26 gauge wire uses smaller wire nuts which will fit inside the large chandelier body. However, the size of wire nuts needed to connect two sets of five 18 gauge wires are much larger and required the jumbo chandelier body. We had to re-order the part and get the bigger size. We also bought new wire from the Grand Brass website that had the correct insulation. Then Joe made the light a 2nd time! And it worked perfectly :)  I'm very grateful to have a husband who makes these things for me and who understands electricity haha. Though this probably wasn't the kind of electrical engineering he expected to be doing. Now we'll get to the instructions! (It's kind of like a recipe for a light fixture haha. And you can thank Joe for all the nice pictures!)

Here's what we bought (I've included the Grand Brass part number too):
(1) 8" x 1/8" IPS Hollow Brass Pipe, Threaded Both Ends (PIBR08-0X8)
(1) Flat spun unfinished brass canopy, 5" wide x 1 1/2" deep w/ 1 1/16" slip hole (CAS45)
(1) 1/8" Pipe pendant hanging cross bar set (CB208)
(5) 2" Solid Brass Cup to cover the sockets (CU578)
(5) Edison E-26 Porcelain Sockets (SO10045)
(5) 1/8" x 1/8" IPS 90 degree turns
(5) 4" x 1/8" IPS Hollow Brass Pipe, Threaded both ends (PIBR04-0X8)
(5) 10" x 1/8" IPS Hollow Brass Pipe, Threaded both ends (PIBR10-0X8)
(1) Five Outlet, 1/8" Jumbo Turned Cluster Body (BOJ5)
(20 feet) White 18 Gauge Fixture Wire (WI18AWMW)
(20 feet) Black 18 Gauge Fixture Wire (WI18AWMBL)
(1) 1/4" threaded brass plug (we actually got this in the plumbing dept. at Home Depot)
(5) 40 watt, clear glass G25 Bulbs (also from Home Depot)

First, Joe cut all the lengths of wire he'd need. Five pairs of white and black wire that would run from the socket of each arm to the main body. He figured out the size by pulling the wire though the tubes for one arm and then cut the rest to the same size.

Then he used scissors to strip a little bit of the insulation from the end of each wire (a little bit over half an inch or so). Though we have an actual wire stripping tool, Joe found that a plain pair of scissors worked better.

Next, he attached the black and white wires to the top of each socket. They're hidden under the medal plate in this picture. The metal plate actually has to be removed and and then reattached with the small screw. There is a better picture on the One King's Lane site.

After that, he placed the brass socket cover on, then threaded a 4"  piece of tubing to each socket.

Then he attached the elbows.

Then the 10" pieces of tubing were threaded on. He didn't completely tighten the tubing since it was difficult to tighten one connection without another one coming loose.

After all the arms were made, he threaded them all onto the chandelier body.

Then it was a matter of connecting all the black wires with a wire nut, and all of the white wires with another wire nut. He also included in these connections a 6th black and white wire that would run up the 8" tubing piece and be connected to our wiring in the ceiling.

The wire we used was a stranded conductor, but you can also get a solid conductor wire. The stranded kind has a bunch of tiny wires bundled together. This makes the wires easier to bend, but Joe said it makes the wire more difficult to connect to the bulb sockets and wire nuts.

Before complete the fixture, Joe tested the wiring with his multimeter. The first time we made this using the doorbell wire, the insulation wasn't enough and the current actually would have been coming right through the brass tubing! Meaning we would have been zapped big time if we would have actually wired it into the ceiling.

Finally, he attached the 8" rod and the fittings that would connect it to the ceiling.

I don't have a picture of us actually installing it but we used a crossbar piece that screwed into the lighting box in the ceiling. The lighting box was part of an overhead light/ceiling fan retrofit kit that you wedge between ceiling joists (like this). We made the hole for this with a 4" hole saw that attached to Joe's drill.

That's it!  We're thinking of making a variation of this for the dining room as well. You can be sure I'll keep you posted if we do! I hope some of you decide to try your hand at one of these, and if you do, please show me!

Oh, and can we talk real quick about how it's practically cold here tonight! I'm sitting here in the piano room with the window open and my feet are freezing! This time last year we were absolutely baking. Oh well, I shouldn't be complaining, it'll make for a nice 4th of July. I hope you all have a great holiday celebrating America's birthday!

Monday, July 1, 2013

The Piano Room Reveal!

The piano/living room is done!!! Well, except for cabinet doors on the built-ins, but who needs those anyway. Joe says he needs them, but he can wait. I am working on getting the cabinet doors painted, but they're not at the top of my priority list. Before we get to the "after" pictures, let's take a look at where we started with this room back in 2009.

Immediately after buying the house, we took down the wallpaper border and painted the area behind it with paint that the previous owners left. We also took down the curtains, but that was about the extent of the work done. There was zero lighting in the room, and the switch on the wall controlled the top plug of all 4 outlets. For a long time, this room didn't really have a purpose for us. It was a craft and sewing room of sorts, and it mostly held a lot of junk, as you can see in this post from last year. When we bought the piano, we decided that eventually it would be nice to add some built-ins to this room and make it a sort of piano room and library. It only took a year to complete, but that's just what we did! Here are some of the after shots. Then at the bottom of the post I'll put a list of what exactly we did. There will be some individual posts later about certain parts of the room. 

Same picture as above but at night and with the lights on and dimmed. 

I'll definitely be doing a post on the light fixture. Joe built it for us!

All of the shelves except for the bottom one on each side are adjustable. 

We managed to get the counter stained to almost the same color as the flooring.

I love our little recessed spot lights!

What we did (mostly in order):
- Paint the ceiling
- Paint the walls 
- Rip up carpeting
- Replace window trim
- Paint the cabinets I bought on Craigslist for the base of the built-ins
- Move the outlet that would be behind the cabinets up the wall about 3 feet
- Build a base for the cabinets and secure them to the wall
- Rewire existing light switch to make a double switch and add the electrical workings to include an overhead light and 2 recessed lights for the book cases
- Build the brass "chandelier"
- Install all three new lights
- Build the book case boxes
- Build, stain and poly the countertop
- Paint the book cases and shelving
- Install counter, book cases, and shelving
- Install crown moulding and baseboards
- Paint all the trim, then re-cut in with the wall paint
DONE! (except for those pesky cabinet doors)

Joe and I are very happy with and very proud of this room. It may have taken a while, but we figured it out as we went along and the result is even better than I think we both imagined. There is still plenty of "decorating" to do in this room, but for now we are happy to admire our handy work everyday. I even wrote this post while sitting in it! If you stop by to visit, you can bet we'll show it off to you :)