Holiday Projects

January 6, 2014

I’ve been keeping pretty busy over the past few months with various reclaimed wood projects. Usually I see an idea online or one comes to me then I get to work immediately and finish it within a couple days; nothing like immediate gratification :)

To add to my fall/autumn decor I built these two wooden pumpkins. First, I cut out the outline from a scrap piece of particle board then I screwed the boards into the back and trimmed the excess with my handy jigsaw.

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After a good sanding I attached part of a stick to each of the pumpkin tops to act as stems. They sat outside by our front door for a few months and held up great!

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My largest project to date was our Christmas tree. We originally wanted to buy a live tree like we did last year but due to the hassle of getting it into and out of our third story apartment, the $50-$60 price tag and the fact that it would only be up for a couple of weeks before we left for Texas, we opted for something a little more simple.

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I had a pile of leftover fencepost scraps from my brother that I hadn’t found a use for yet so I lined them all up from largest to smallest, creating a tree shape. Using the jigsaw I cut the ends of each board at an angle to form the limbs of the tree then I attached a long, vertical board down the middle to tie it all together. After drilling some holes I poked each individual bulb from a 100 light multi-color strand through a hole from the back. Right now the lights are just held in by friction but I’ll be making it more permanent with some glue or silicon caulk soon.

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And here she is in all of her reclaimed, multi-color glory! I think this was my favorite Christmas tree ever, probably because it was 100% free and I didn’t have to unpack, hang and repack my ornaments, haha.

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A few Christmas-y signs were also in order; I made a couple of each of these to sell and raise money for Team World Vision {the charity that Mark and I ran our half marathon for}. They all ended up going home with some of our small group friends…I’m probably going to have to make one of the NOEL ones for myself because I love it so much!

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The dream/hope/goal for 2014 is to open an Etsy shop and sell these reclaimed goodies online. We’re working on the initial logistics now…hopefully more news on that soon!

Quick Trip Home

December 17, 2013

Well it seems that blogging has gone by the way side lately; time has been speeding by so quickly and all of a sudden it’s been two months since my last post. Eek! This can only mean one of two things: our lives have been unusually boring and therefore nothing blog-worthy has been happening OR our lives are full to the brim with things I wish I had time to share, but don’t…the latter is definitely the case :)

On a sad note, our sweet Otis went to doggie heaven a couple months ago. I honestly believe that the bigger the dog, the bigger the heart and our loving buddy was no exception to this rule; he was a big, tough guard dog on the outside and a cuddly marshmallow on the inside. I’ll never forget how he would bark and growl at Mark the first few years that we dated but over time Otis grew to trust him and finally they could wrestle and play together in the yard. You’re definitely missed sweet buddy.

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Mark and I went to Rogers for an extended weekend as sort of a pre-Thanksgiving visit and got to enjoy some relaxation time on the farm. It’s so nice to get away and just do nothing! Dad showed off his new remote controlled airplane and even let Mark fly it, I took some photos of the garden and of the newest litter of kittens and we went on walks around the property with pellet guns (our favorite).

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We also got in a little bodark bowling with Ben, a classic Baecker family pastime. If you are new to the sport, it is basically this: gather a wheel-barrel full of bodarks (aka: horse apples) after they’ve fallen from the Bodark tree, wheel them down to the top of the driveway hill and take turns bowling them down the gravel road to see whose can go the furthest.

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It actually takes more skill than you would think, after all the gravel is bumpy and the road curves a bit so you have to hit the rocks just right and keep your horse apple from bouncing off to the side. As kids we would do this all the time and then leave our leftover bodarks in the road for us to drive over later. I’d say our design this time was the best yet.

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Of course a Rogers visit wouldn’t be complete without a pic of our favorite feline, Mr. Jack. Here he is posing while he sits in the kitchen sink, patiently waiting for someone to turn the faucet on so he can drink from it (just a slow dribble, not too fast or he won’t drink). He’s definitely spoiled rotten.

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And our favorite canine as well, my Sadie May. She kills me with her sweet jealousy…I was sitting in a lawn chair with a cat sleeping in my lap and she comes over, puts her head on top of the cat and wags her tail, wanting a scratch behind the ear. Sweet, silly dog :)

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Maine 2013

October 17, 2013

Here’s a few pictures from our 4th of July trip to Boston and Maine this summer {crazy late, I know}. This being my third visit to camp, so many of my photos are looking identical to previous years but I just can’t get enough of that view.

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We ate lobster three times and it. was. glorious…I try to never have lobster anywhere else besides Maine, I just know I would be disappointed with anything less than the best.

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Brandy Pond was gorgeous as always, smooth as glass in the early morning. Our first few days were threatened with rain but we made the best of it and ended up having quite a few sunny days.

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We ended up buying a boat this year; it was such a good deal that Mark and Pat couldn’t pass it up. Now we’ll be able to have a boat no matter when we go up for a visit.

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This year was memorable in that it was Lilly’s first time at camp. She swam near the dock, slept on the boat and had her first taste of Dairy Bar.

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Logan rode on the infamous disk for the first time {with the help of Uncle Chris, of course}. Immediately afterwards he asked if he could do it again next year, not wanting to ride again on the current trip, haha.

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Lilly and I had some fun snapping pictures with my iPhone, she couldn’t stop staring at herself on the screen!

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Beautiful sunset from the marina dock while waiting for the fireworks to begin. We all watched from the comfort of the boat but stayed tied to the dock in case the kids needed to leave.

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Both Marks went out for quite a few early morning ski and wakeboard runs, it’s hard not to when the water is so perfect. Of course, I played spotter since I am officially terrible at all things water sports :(

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Lilly in her pretty red, white and blue dress watching Grandpa, Uncle and Logan move rocks in the water.

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And one of my favorite sights of all, my handsome hub behind the wheel of the boat on a perfect day on Brandy Pond :)

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Lately

August 31, 2013

We’ve been pretty busy this summer and individually each event isn’t blog-worthy but all mixed in together they are! Here’s what’s been going on around here lately, in photos, of course.

We finally used our electric ice cream maker again {we’re averaging about 1-2 uses per year, haha}. Using some of the Mexican vanilla that I bought while we were in Cabo, we made Mexican vanilla chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream…with homemade chocolate chip cookie dough…it. was. delish.

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For the first time I had a legitimate excuse to use my Texas-shaped cookie cutter; some friends of ours were about to move to Houston and I baked these for their going away party. After some experimentation I found that baking sugar cookies for 6-8 minutes at 400 degrees versus 10-12 minutes at 350 degrees sets the cookie dough faster and helps the cookies hold their shape.

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The finished product with icing and a heart on Houston.

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Mark’s mom and her friend Cindy came to visit for a few days. They spent some time in the city, we went wine tasting, showed them around the San Ramon area and did some hiking on Mt. Diablo.

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The views from the summit are absolutely incredible…you can see for miles and miles in every direction since it’s the tallest peak around.

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Almost on a whim, Mark and I spent an evening at the California State Fair; we were already in the Sacramento area so we figured, why not?

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It was a surprisingly fun evening which we spent mostly people-watching and dropped-money-searching {Mark is notorious for finding $$ but we left empty handed}.

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There were a million food stands with everything from chocolate covered bacon to turkey legs to churros. Similar to the Texas state fair there was a strange selection of fried items as well.

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My favorite part of the state fair was seeing the livestock. They had a newborn animal area where there were less than week old piglets, goat kids and calves; the kids jumping all over their mothers were my favorite!

Currently in the livestock pens were pigs, sheep, longhorns and…wait for it…llamas and alpacas. I had no idea that people actually raised and showed those funny looking animals. They were very entertaining and we even got to pet one too!

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The longhorns made us feel a little more at home :) They are such beautiful animals up close; they are also very, very large…

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Our local farmers markets have been great this summer, the one held in Danville is our favorite. It almost feels like Austin with the live musicians, caricature artists and pets on leash. Last week we spotted a guy having a caricature drawn of his humongous, fluffy orange cat.

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The Red Sox came to play the Oakland A’s and since the tickets were really cheap we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see them play. Our seats ended up being great, front row in left field, perfect spot to catch home run balls {but we didn’t see any}.

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We did get booed a little since we were wearing our Red Sox gear but we kind of expected it, we’ve got to represent our team!

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Elia’s Nursery

August 25, 2013

My dear friend, Tricia, asked for my help with decorating her daughter’s nursery and I was so honored/excited to help! She didn’t want the nursery to be pink and overly “girly” but more simple, neutral and modern.

I started out by making her this reclaimed wood wall art with the verse Psalm 139:13; it stands out beautifully against their soft cream paint color.

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My next, larger project was inspired by this image that Tricia found on Houzz.com of a large tree wall decal:

The actual decal could have been purchased online but it was pretty expensive and I knew that I could create something similar using wallpaper…my plan was to order one roll for the trunk and branches and also order a bunch of samples online for the many green patterns of the leaves. I tried ordering the roll for the trunk through Lowe’s but it kept getting back-ordered {3 months, what??} so I ended up finding a similar pattern online that worked perfectly. The samples I ordered from three different wallpaper sites, they were on average between $1-5 per 8.5×11″ sample and one site had the option to order over-sized 20×20″ samples too. I made a cardboard template and used it to trace the leaf shape onto the samples; it took me a few hours of tracing/cutting/TV-watching to get them all cut out {there ended up being about 100 total}.

As a dry run before committing to actually cutting my wallpaper I made a template for the tree trunk out of white paper. Here it is on the floor with a few leaves placed around…

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Once I was sure the shape of the limbs would work well with the room I traced the template onto the roll of wallpaper and cut everything out. Then it was time to hang some wallpaper! I have to admit that I was a little afraid because I’d never messed with wallpaper before but it was actually pretty simple since I made sure to buy pre-pasted wallpaper. Most websites recommend completely submersing your pre-pasted wallpaper in a tray of water to activate the paste and then booking the paper before hanging BUT thanks to a small test piece I discovered that I could get away with simply using a spray bottle to wet the back of the wallpaper and after 30 seconds the paste was activated and gooey enough to hang.

With a drop cloth on the ground I laid out each piece of the limbs, one by one, sprayed the back with water, allowed it to sit for a minute, then lined it up on the wall with the trunk and smoothed it out a bit with my fingers. Then with a rubber wallpaper roller I smoothed it out even more, making sure to push out any bubbles and seal the edges. Here’s the trunk and limbs up on the wall…

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After a few days of drying time I came back to apply the leaves. Now with the full roll that I ordered I could ensure that it was pre-pasted but with all the samples I had no idea if they would be or not…turns out the samples were not pre-pasted so I had to actually apply paste to them. I bought the smallest bottle of paste that I could find and it came with a tiny roller attached to it making application super easy {Lowe’s actually has a wallpaper section with all the tools you’d need, HD didn’t have anything in store}.

With all of my leaves laid out on the floor making it easy to grab whichever pattern I wanted, I got into a rhythm of applying paste to 4-5 leaves and then finding a place for them on the tree. I tried my best to keep the layout looking random, making sure to keep like patterns and colors separated.

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And here’s the finished product! I love the many shades and patterns of yellows and greens, they all work together so well! I think the best part is that this is something that can grow with little Elia for many years to come, it’s not just limited to the baby years.

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Reclaimed Projects

August 24, 2013

Remember my first reclaimed wood project using boards from an old pallet? Well since then I’ve made a few more and I’ve managed to streamline one step in the process…weathered board acquisition. Literally prying dry, brittle boards off of pallets didn’t make much sense because not only would at least 50% of the boards split but the patina and color aren’t consistent from pallet to pallet. So I did some searching on Craigslist and found a fencing company nearby that sells the old, weathered fence boards that they remove before building a new fence.

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It’s a nearly endless supply and their prices are great, not to mention I can sift through piles of boards to find the exact ones that I want.

This one was made from two wide fence boards for a friend’s nursery {separate post coming soon!}.

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And this was just a small, quick project for a friend back home. I’ve always loved this quote :)

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The next step in making this process faster will be to buy a Silhouette cutting machine, it’s basically like a printer that cuts designs out of paper. With a $300 price tag I’ll be saving my pennies for a while but I’m definitely considering it because I could use it for a million other things too!

Rohrs Baby Shower

August 19, 2013

This is waaay past due {little Elia is already 2 months old!} but here are a few pictures from a dear friend’s shower back in May that I helped organize.

Tricia’s sister, Audrey, did an amazing job organizing the whole event down to the very last detail; I helped out with the decorations and baked some cookies as well. There was a ton of delicious food, made by their mother and family, not to mention the yummy desserts. The party favors were those little yellow boxes which each held two macarons from La Boulange, a local French bakery.

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The small chalkboard wall was all drawn up for the shower as well! I hope to have a chalkboard or small wall like this in my home someday, it’s so much fun to doodle on and customize for whatever event or season is happening.

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Tricia with her mom, grandmother and sister…now that Elia is here they’ll have to be sure to take another picture with all four generations! This reminds me of the photo I have of two-month-old me, my mother, grandmother and great grandmother :)

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Every guest was asked to bring a book to build up baby’s library. There were book tags at the front door for everyone to fill out and stick on the inside cover of their book.

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And of course there was the opening of the gifts. Elia is definitely the best dressed little girl I’ve ever seen thanks to all the cute dresses she received.

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Una Vez Mas

June 18, 2013

When we honeymooned at an all-inclusive resort in Cabo three years ago we loved it and knew that we wanted to come back, but we also knew that there was one thing that could make our next trip even better…friends! It’s hard to believe that we’ve only known our new California friends for a year and we’re already vacationing together but it was totally meant to be, we had such an amazing time.

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We stayed at the La Bonito Pacifica resort and it did not disappoint one bit. Our room was lovely, the beach was gorgeous, the service was excellent and the food was beyond delicious.

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The Krouts and the Stearns…our new favorite vacation buddies!

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Just as before on our previous trip to Cabo, the beaches were stunning but the waves were harsh and the wind was strong enough to sandblast your legs; not exactly ideal for laying out. Our resort had two great pools though and we all spend plenty of time lounging around them reading, napping and working on our tans.

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Mark had fun trying to outrun the waves while I kept my distance and picked up shells instead. A few mornings we went for a walk on the beach and as we walked we could see crabs all over the place, scurrying away into their holes for safety.

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One day we all shared a cab to downtown and the marina where we did a little souvenir shopping {I bought a huge bottle of Mexican vanilla for only $9!}. From there we chartered a boat taxi for just the six of us – beers included – to Los Arcos; the water was the most perfect aqua color and the day couldn’t have been any more beautiful.

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Mark and I  bought this cute little wooden crab because it reminded us of the crabs we saw on the beach and on the rock walls at the marina. He matches the small, wooden pelican that we bought on our previous trip.

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We never wanted that week to end…great time spent with great friends, relaxation to the max. We’re already dreaming up our next Rand/Krout/Stearns vacation…Hawaii???

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Baking, Lately

May 26, 2013

Thanks to our weekly small group meetings and two recent baby showers I’ve had the opportunity/excuse to bake…A LOT. It’s been so much fun! I love to find new recipes, try them out and share the goodies with all of my friends. This cake was for a friend’s birthday, it’s dark chocolate with chocolate buttercream frosting.

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These are sugar cookies that I made for my friend Elisha’s baby shower. I used a biscuit cutter instead of a cookie cutter and the icing is thinned out Royal icing that I simply dipped one side of each cookie in {super easy way to ice a bunch of cookies quickly}.

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These mini cakes were also for Elisha’s shower, they were given away to guests as party favors. I found the little paper loaf pans on clearance at Joann’s and filled them with classic yellow cake topped with chocolate buttercream frosting. They were really fun to eat because when the paper wrapper was removed they looked just like twinkies!

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My latest batch of cookies were inspired by some that I saw in a restaurant’s dessert case, they are salted oatmeal white chocolate chip cookies and yes, they are as delicious as they sound. The recipe I used came from Smitten Kitchen {every recipe of hers that I’ve ever tried has been amazing}.

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Gosh, I sure do love baking :)

You Might Be a Texan if…

May 20, 2013

As much as I love California I’m a Texas girl through and through, always will be. I heard somewhere that you become more Texan once you leave the state and I couldn’t agree more; there’s something about living in a place where people don’t have much {or any} state pride that makes you want to stand out and be even more Texan.

Some of our close friends here just found out that Chevron will be moving them to Houston and they seem to be a little nervous about assimilating into the Texas culture. I assured her that I would help her learn to love the Lone Star State and so I’m sharing a list of all things Texas that I’ve been compiling over the past few years.

You Might Be a Texan if…

– you buy your groceries at HEB
– your favorite ice cream is Blue Bell
– you know at least one person who wore cowboy boots under her wedding dress
– you don’t think it’s hot until it’s over 100
– you can smell the rain coming
– your soda of choice is Dr Pepper
– you know that tea = sweet tea
– you have an inexplicable desire to own/drive a big truck
– you’d rather take back roads than the interstate

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– in school you pledged to two different flags every morning
– you took at least 3 years of Texas history classes
– you spent summers as a kid playing in the sprinklers
– you’ve gotten stuck behind a tractor on a two lane road
– you’ve taken family portraits in a field of bluebonnets
– you know that small towns are speed traps
– you know who Reveille and Beevo are {and which one is best}
– you say yes ma’am and yes sir

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– you open all the doors and windows to let your car cool off before getting in
– you have been branded by a seat belt
– you have laid out in a bikini in February and November
– you have witnessed snow/hail in late April
– you think 70 degrees and below is chili eating weather
– you know there’s no better place to be on a Friday night than at a high school football game
– when buying clothing, you consider how well it will hide sweat or if it will show sweat
– you pull into a small town and instantly know their high school mascot, school colors and if they’re in the football playoffs
– your high school released early on Fridays for away and playoff games
– your high school is closed during the county livestock show week
– BBQ or fajitas are served at every school function

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– you pull over onto the shoulder to let someone pass
– they wave thank you :)
– you’ve worn shorts on Christmas morning
– you think that Dairy Queen started in Texas
– you know that Chicken Express serves Dublin DP
– you once went on a vacation to San Antonio to go to Sea World, Fiesta Texas, the riverwalk and the Alamo
– you know not to keep chocolate in your car in the summer
– you know that the true value of a parking space lies not in it’s proximity to the door but in its shade

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– you know several people who have hit a deer or cow with their car
– you can find orange jello salad with marshmallows at every potluck
– you know how to pronounce Mexia, Waco, Humble and Bexar
– you’ve brewed tea in the sun
– you measure distance in minutes
– you learned how to shoot a bb gun before you learned to multiply
– you know that making a trip into “town” is a special occurrence
– you’ve ever paid back favors in cookies or banana bread
– you’ve ever been on a field trip to see the Capitol or tour the Blue Bell creamery

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