Sunday, January 30, 2011

DIY Photo-Booth Alternative

It seems like photo booths are showing up at more and more weddings lately. Ian even looked into renting one for the Winter Ball that he was planning at SAHS...but then he found out they could be a bit pricey. Jessie (my little sister) really wanted a photo booth for her wedding in April but it just wasn't working out. Then a light went on! I remembered an incredible wedding blog I had StumbledUpon a few months ago. The most beautiful barn wedding you've ever seen with a perfect photo booth alternative...a photo-wall! Yes, a photo-wall. It's beautiful, unique, memorable, and oober-fun for the guests. I only wish we had thought of it for our own wedding. We had until April to build one for Jessie, but then Ian realized that this would be perfect for his Winter Ball...and a perfect excuse to buy all kinds of power tools and man-toys. So a project that I thought would take a couple weeks, took us less than a week! Our workspace was makeshift (to say the least) and the weather was a hindrance, but we got it done.

Here's what we did...

First, we bought picture frames, toys (ahem, tools), and materials and
started a fire to keep us warm in the mudroom/man-cave/workspace.

Then we played with power tools...I mean, cut the pieces we needed to build our frame. I think we both have a secret crush on the new miter saw.

Then we assembled the frame.
Ian absolutely loves the new dog bone wrench my dad got for him.

We knew we would need some sort of base for this thing so we hinged 2 2x4's to the frame that we can collapse for easy this point we were very proud because we thought we had thought of everything!

Here's the frame, completed. We hinged the middle of the frame on the top and bottom so that we could fold it for easier carrying, as well. I don't like it, but those 2x4's have to get screwed in every time we put it together for support. This was a point of contention for Ian and me (yes, it's me not I) because I didn't want to keep screwing and unscrewing things, but he won in the end. I still don't like it, but it works!

Next step, get the frames together! I couldn't wait for this part! It was finally coming together. We really scored with our frames. We got a long, ornate gold frame from an antique shop for $12. Pricey, but it was too perfect to pass up. Then, we found a beauty at the Black Rose (one of our new favorite antique shops). This one was expensive, but we love it so much that when all of the weddings and balls are over, it is going to find a home at Quaint Oaks. We got one frame at the thrift shop for $2 that had a mirror in it. The frame is junk but someone did a bangin' job with the mirror. It was sealed in the with the sticky super glue...I didn't know if we'd get it out but a with my utility knife and strong fingers, I finally picked it all off.

We traced the holes of the frames onto our plywood. It took me forever to pick an arrangement. I'm still not sure if I like it, but I have grown to accept that I'm indecisive and never happy with my own work.

Here is where Ian's second toy tool makes an appearance. Drum roll please...the jigsaw!

Lucky for Ian, he got to really put his jigsawing skills to the test.

Ta-da! This was a very exciting moment.

Ok, so this was the point where we knew we were either going to do this or we would have to throw in the towel. We originally wanted to wallpaper the wall so it would have vintage look. Have you tried looking for wallpaper recently? Don't. It doesn't exist. We would have had to order it. My wheels started turning...fabric! We would put fabric on the wall. We were in JoAnn's (my new favorite store) and I started questioning the appearance of fabric on knotty the wheels started to turn again. Felt lining! We bought Loctite spray adhesive. The directions said to spray and let it sit for 10 minutes until it got tacky. This didn't seem to matter with our materials so we just sprayed and laid.
...the fumes are a killer so open a window

We used a wood block to smooth out all of our wrinkles and sags.

Once that was dry, it was time to put on the beautiful prints that we bought. The colors are awesome. I ironed out all of the folds...I hate to iron. Then we sprayed and laid it onto the felt liner.

You might have noticed that the plywood is not 6'x6' like the frame. It was actually 3'x6' so we had to figure out a way to do this in 2 pieces. Chair rail! One piece of plywood would be the bottom half with a solid color fabric (we went with blue) and baseboard, and then the top would be this beautiful semi-damask print with beautiful spring colors and a crisp white chair rail molding. Beautiful!

The next thing we had to do was cut holes in the fabric where the frames would be. Ian stapled the fabric back so it wouldn't get saggy in the back.

I just thought this looked cool.

Ah! Something that finally resembled a future photo-wall!

We decided to put hooks on the back of the two pieces of plywood which would then hang on the frame that we built. This worked perfectly!

The only problem was lining it up just right.

Still not quite there, yet...but getting closer.

We went through some trials with hanging the frames. First, we hung them just as you would any other frame, but when we realized that people would probably be reaching through some of the spaces, we would need to attach them better. We ended up just screwing them in from behind the plywood.

So, here it is...our almost-photo-wall. Still plenty to do.

My obsessiveness would not rest until the back got cleaned up so pulled out my handy dandy spray adhesive and added some black felt. Doesn't that just give it the polished look it needed. I'm sure that the people taking pictures will be very happy that I took the time and the care to do're all welcome.

Yep, gotta cut out the frame-holes. We just cut little slits to slip the hooks through so you wouldn't see any screws or anything. Thankfully, Ian is very patient with my undiagnosed OCD.

You might have noticed in the picture that started it all, that there was a beautiful silky semi-sheer fabric. I looked all over JoAnn and could not match a print to our "wallpaper" so I just bought a light fabric that matched the yellow and green that runs through our photo-wall. I'm still not sure if I'm thrilled with how this came out, but part of me thinks it looks better with it than without.

We used these great decorative tacks to hold it in place. It's all about appearances, after all.

Added some molding. Doesn't the fabric in the frames look nice?

Added the other frames...but still short some pictures.

Finally, some baseboard and crown molding and I think we're done! Doesn't it look great? Sorry we couldn't get a better shot. The mudroom/man-cave/workspace didn't allow enough room to get a straight shot, but you get the idea.

We love the way it came out! It will make it's big debut this weekend at Ian's Winter Ball. If all goes well, it will make a special appearance at Jessie's wedding. Can't you just see your face poking through those frames???

UPDATE: Last night Ian and I set up the photo wall at his high school's Winter Ball. I have to admit, not everyone used it...there were about 700 kids at the dance! But, the ones who did really got a kick out of it! They loved the props that we there. I think Jessie will love it for the wedding!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

To-Do List

Ok, so Ian and I started this list long before we started our blog. We thought we would hold off on posting all of our to-do's until we knew we were in a position to start crossing some off. Well forget that! You've got to set goals to meet goals. So here they are, in no particular order.

Shouldn't be a problem...
  • Apply molding to the baseboard
  • Add baseboard in library
  • Apply trim and proper door frame the French doors into the mudroom/man cave
  • Re-hang plants indoors...we just need nicer hangy-things
  • Run water pipe to the dryer so we can finally use the steam function!
  • Repair heating duct insulation
  • Set-up proper workshop in the garage
  • Install motion light near garage
  • Install automatic garage door opener
  • Repair gutter leaks
  • Power-wash the aluminum siding...and hopefully replace eventually!
  • Fish pond fountain
  • Finish fish pond landscaping
  • Fix sink drain
  • Replace ballcock toilet; add dual-flush system
  • Install carpeting under the bed in the upstairs bedroom
  • Figure out a headboard for the bed
  • Black and white photo wall
  • Fix the lawn mower starter pull-string
  • Run a cold water line to the refrigerator
  • Replace heating duct room plates
  • Floating shelves around sun-room door frame
  • Paint kitchen cabinets and change hardware
  • Fix coat hanging area in library
  • Find a cleaner way to run cable upstairs
  • Rugs - large area rugs in living room and guest room, and a runner for the stairs
  • Find wall decor for the wall above the stairs, across from the bed
  • Change overhead light in library

May take some time...
  • Run water pipe to the outdoors
  • Run electricity to the outdoors
  • Run electricity from front yard lamp-post to the house
  • Paint and spruce up bathroom
  • Extend chimney
  • Remodel guest room
  • Build bench/storage in sunroom
  • Replace bathroom sink with pedestal sink
  • Replace bath tub/shower
  • Install outdoor lighting for evenings in the backyard
  • Install a speaker system throughout the house
  • Add shutters and window boxes (?) - especially to the sunroom windows

One day...
  • Finish hard-woods in every room
  • Install air conditioning using our in-house spring
  • Finish stone foundation
  • Patio

To buy... (my favorite category!)
  • New grill
  • Reading chairs for sunroom
  • Pull-out sofa to replace futon in guest room
  • Speaker system

    Maybe by jotting it all down in this handy-dandy list and sharing it with all of you, we will feel a sense of urgency to start tackling some of these projects.

      Tuesday, January 25, 2011

      Our 1st Lull

      Ok, so in this blog's infancy, I already find myself getting busy with other things and allowing my posts to fall father and farther down my list of priorities. Well that simply won't do. I am going to commit to posting regularly.

      What's been keeping us so busy??? Oh nothing. Just a little DIY project for my sister's wedding. Ian and I are building her a photo-wall. She desperately wanted a photo booth, but they're pricey. Then I found the perfect alternative. Check out this phenomenal photo-wall! Ian and I said, "we can totally do that!" So, I started drafting a plan. Ian went out and bought all kinds of power tools, lumber and plywood. For the past 3 days, we have been working to build the perfect photo wall! It is just about done so we will post a blog about the details soon. Here's a sneak peek...

      Yes, that's me with a miter saw. Scary, right?

      Our first photo-wall frame! This frame was a great find at our new favorite antique shop, the Black Rose in Allentown, PA. It was a mirror, but we took out the actual mirror and saved it for later. After Jessie's wedding, this frame will probably find a place somewhere at Quaint Oaks.

      Next time I write, I will absolutely share more pictures! I am also dying to share some other DIYs that I have been working on for Jessie, but this being a public forum and all, it will be hard to keep them a surprise. They will all be shared soon!

      Tuesday, January 18, 2011

      Snow Day

      I love me a good snow day. Ian and I got our text messages around 5:15 and after a brief hip-hip-hooray, rolled back over for a couple more hours. (This is one of those moments that I think there are some perks to not having a baby just yet). Anyhoo...I thought this would be a great chance to share some of our snowy Quaint Oaks pictures. Here are my favorites!

      Whenever I see a cardinal, I think of grandma. She would love this picture!

      Can you find our four-legged friend? I love deer-spottings in the snow!

      Here comes the plow...a blessing and a curse. He makes our streets safe, but he also makes it possible for me to get to work.

      Ian does such a good job keeping our bird friends fed.

      It looks so beautiful once the sun comes out! Everything takes on this crisp blue hue. Love it.

      Check out that icicle!

      And favorite part of the yard in all seasons.
      Our creek looks so neat in the snow.

      Ok, time to make some snow-days treats and do school work that has already been put off for too long. Maybe I'll even get to post another recipe...mmm. Perfect day to try something new in the kitchen.

      Monday, January 17, 2011

      Giada's Chicken and Avocado Napoleons

      I love sick days...not the sick part, but the part where I have time to try new recipes. Today, I tried a gem that I saw Giada de Laurentis make on her show. Chicken and Avocado Napoleons. The minute I saw it, I knew I had to have it. Puffed pastry, with chicken, spinach, avocado and a cayenne mayonnaise. I mixed it up just a bit because of what I had on hand, but I am very excited about this new light lunch! Are you ready for this???

      First, I let my puffed pastry thaw out on the counter for about 45 minutes. I laid it out on wax paper so that it wouldn't stick to my counter/butcher block. I also took out 2 chicken breasts to take the chill off of them a bit and seasoned with coarse salt.

      While I waited for my puffed pastry to thaw, I lined a baking sheet with aluminum foil which I sprayed with all-natural extra virgin olive oil cooking spray. I also prepared second sheet of foil which I also sprayed to lay on top during baking. Once the puffed pastry was thawed, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees and cut each sheet into 6 rectangles. Place the pastry on your baking sheet, cover with the second sheet of foil, greased side down), and then place a second baking sheet on top so that your pastry doesn't puff too high! Stick those in the over for 25 minutes. (I just forgot! Giada recommends pricking a bunch of holes in the pastry with the tines of a fork. Oh time).

      While the puffed pastry is baking, crank a pan up to medium high heat and get the chicken cooking. I would have loved to grill the chicken but I don't have a grill pan and it's too cold outside for me today!

      While this cooked, I prepped the fixin's. I mixed low fat mayonnaise with cayenne pepper...add more if you like a little kick! Then, I sliced some avocado and red onion. Giada says to use baby spinach, but I had spring greens on hand. And that's it!

      Let the chicken cool and the cut thin slices from the top. This guarantees you nice, juicy, thin pieces of chicken in every bite.

      Time to start layering! Puffed pastry, chicken, lettuce, avocado, red onion, cayenne mayo, puffed pastry. This would have been plenty on its own, but if you want to make a true Napoleon, repeat!

      Doesn't the cayenne mayo have a great color! So tasty.

      This came out absolutely delicious! Sort of flaky and messy, but I love a messy meal! Maybe if I had pricked the pastry it would have been less flaky. Also, some bites felt dry and I kept hoping for a big taste of that spicy mayo. I could add more, but I'm not sure how my thighs would feel about that. Next time, prick the holes, have parchment paper on hand, and try spinach instead of greens.