15 September 2014

Patio Door Swap

When it was decided to replace the door to our patio, I was kicking around the idea of doing the installation myself.  The manufacturer's website rated it as a "2 Hour Install" which I am guessing would mean at least half a day for me.  So when I got to Home Depot and was informed that they were running a sale for $50 off the install fee (usually $97), my decision was made.  Save me the time and having to get the tools and supplies.  The door we wanted was out of stock and so we had to wait for about a month or so, but finally, we got the call and the installer came to swap the door for us.  I'm glad we had them do it, as he had to add a small trim piece of wood to the top of the frame to get the right fit.  It looks fantastic, is super quiet (no more slamming) and best of all - you can slide the top pane of glass down and a screen rolls out!  It helps a bunch with getting a breeze through the house.  We took this opportunity to scrape and repaint the interior door to get rid of the scratch marks from the previous owner's animal. 

03 September 2014

Ice Bucket Challenge

I think the microphone got covered up at the beginning.  I just said that stoppable had challenged me and I did not complete the challenge within the 24 hours, so we will be making a donation to ALS.  I challenged Sylvia and Isa.
It is quite a shock to the system!  And a negative side-effect is that we didn't have any ice in the house for the rest of the evening. 

02 September 2014

Photo Challege #2: Labor Day



25 August 2014

Photo Challenge #2: Labor Day

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social & economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity & well-being of our country. Photograph is due by September 2nd.

21 August 2014


So, even though I don't have a ton of tools, and I'm not churning out the home projects, I could not suppress my need for organization.  (And my need to clean up the basement and make better use of the space down there.)  I moved all my tools from a table/workbench on one end of the basement to a lower, wider workbench on the other end of the basement.  I wanted to put up a pegboard for organizing my tools and getting them all up off the bench and not just on shelves.  The only part that posed a slight challenge was that I was going to have to mount it onto a concrete block wall.  I did my research and went on a very fun trip to Home Depot (using some wedding gift cards) to pick up what I needed.  I came home, cut my boards to size and started in.  And got no where.  I'd read a few blogs (including this one from the great Young, House, Love blog) and, while a few talked about mounting on concrete, none of them mentioned anything about needing a hammer drill.  Luckily, a friend of mine had one to loan me.  ("Use ear protection" was his only advice)  Once I had that, everything went smoothly.  After it was up, there were many rearrangings needed to get the tools in the best alignment and incorporate some good ideas I'd seen on Pinterest.  And there is space to the right to add one more panel of pegboard if I need to expand down the road.
Overall, I totally love it.  Total cost of the project was ~$60.  Those three wire baskets alone were $10, so don't get those if you don't need them and it could easily be a <$50 project! I got the small glass jars for free from a friend whose dad worked at a water treatment facilities and had tons of water sample jars laying around.  Sylvia hooked me up with a small clipboard to hang on there as well (in the spot that is empty in the photo) with some paper at the ready for sketching or figuring.
I wanted there to be some unique touch to my board and decided on adding a quote to the front edge of my board.  After a quick hunt and a little help from stoppable, I selected "Give us the tools and we will finish the job" which were delivered by Winston Churchill in 1941.  I used a projector and some paper on the wall to see how big I should make the letters and get my spacing down.  Then I free-handed them while looking at them on my computer.  Outlined in pencil and then filled in with a Sharpie pen.  I love how it turned out.  I should probably give it a coat of clear stain to protect it and make it last longer.
I just go down and stand and look at it sometimes.  Now I just need some projects to work on!  And maybe a few more tools to fill on those spaces. :)

17 August 2014

Photo Challenge #1: WATER




09 August 2014

Family Photo Challenge

Several months ago I had an idea to try a family photo challenge. Isa has always shown an interest in photography so I thought giving her a topic or prompt might be helpful since 99% percent of her pictures consist of her toys or our backyard. A photo challenge would help her (and possibly others) learn about framing pictures, the rule of thirds, zooming in and out, lighting, angles, perception, creativity etc…

Okay, here are the rules:
Each week (or so) a photo prompt will be assigned and communicated by email & text. I’ll try to make the prompts wide ranging so no one has an advantage. You then have a week to find an image that you feel embodies the prompt.  You can use your phone, your camera, whatever works.  Email that picture to middleson.  Only one picture can be submitted per person and the picture must be taken during the week of the photo challenge. Looking in the your archives for old amazing pictures is not allowed. (Sorry Jake.) 
He will gather the pictures and share them on his blog (and will text you a notification when he does).  If people want we can also vote on our favorites.

Photo Prompt #1: Water
Enjoy your photo hunt and send us your pix by next Sunday.  Good Luck!
If people have ideas for prompts, let me know!

Clever Cliches

On a recent trip to Kansas City we made a stop at the Federal Reserve Bank.  We watched thousands of dollars be processed, learned about the economy and enjoyed some interactive displays. middleson served as our tour guide since he used to teach economics. Before leaving we received a souvenir bag of shredded currency and a money museum fun guide.  The fun guide had puzzles and games to test your money knowledge.  One of the games gave you the first half of a common money cliche and you had to fill in the ending.  Here are Isa’s attempts...  They’re too good not to share.

1.     Money doesn’t grow ….it blows
2.     Put your money where… you know.
3.     Money burns a hole…lot.
4.     A fool and his money …make a robber.
5.     Money is the root …to paradise.
6.     There are some things that ….make money.
7.     Money makes the world…happy.
8.     Money can’t buy …a creek.
9.     A penny for…you.

Sylvia's Comment Today....

"This music is music to my ears."

29 July 2014

Wedding: Printing Recap

In an effort to accomplish several things (restart my blogging habits, capture some of the memories from our wedding before they fade, and share what has been the biggest project of design work for me so far), I give you...a printing recap.
1.  Save the Date: the creation of this seems like so long ago now!!!  I don't honestly remember where the idea originated, but at some point Sylvia saw this old class photo of me and loved it.  She later gave me one of hers.  When it came time to make a Save the Date, we both knew we did not want to do the standard theme, and seeing them both got me thinking of a page in a school yearbook, and it all just evolved from there. I grabbed a layout of a page of photos from the 60's thanks to the internet and plopped us down on it.  I had to work with the backgrounds to get us both to match and changed us to black & white.  And it is the first time I used Comic Sans in a design project.  It provided the perfect classroom feel to the page.  On the back side I used a little logo I had put together for fun months before and also unveiled our wedding website.  We printed these through Vistaprint and they were super affordable.  I think they were ~$30 for like 100 of them.

2. Invitations: there are a lot of great options out there and for a guy who loves design, typefaces, and quality paper, there are a infinite slew of mind-blowingly awesome options that look fabulous on paper that is equally delicious to your fingertips.  And you can really get into some large dollar amounts too.  Luckily, we both wanted a pretty simple invitation suite.  No fancy gauze paper, bow ties, confetti or letterpressing.  (OK, actually I would've loved letterpressed invites but they were not in the range of our budget.)  While I was doing my Skillshare class with Jessica Hische, I explored her website and saw that she has designed some invites for Paperless Press, so I checked them that website and they had several options we loved.  We went with "Macaroon".  Sylvia loved the style and the color palette, just vintage enough for her.  I loved the typeface and the style too.  We ended up having to rush print these and overnight ship them so that inflated our final bill a little but they were still very affordable, and so easy to create using their online tools!

3. Programs:  In fact, I loved that typeface so much that I found it on Jessica's website and purchased it.  The first typeface I've ever paid money for!  Buttermilk.  So rich, distinctive and fabulous, I decided to make it the central font for all our wedding printed items.  Using a few examples provided by the church, I put together a simple half-sheet program.  Again, no frills on this one, but I like the details we added.  The relation to the wedding couple for each of the wedding party members is in Spanish as a nod to Sylvia's heritage. I added a Celtic cross at the top of one page and a Celtic knot at the bottom of the other page as nod to my Irish heritage.  I also included one of my favorite church hymns in Latin, "Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est." ("Where charity and love are, God is there.") [side-note: I did not know until I wrote this that song was used in Prince William & Kate's wedding also.] We printed these on a card-stock at Kinko's and since we got two per page, even with printing front and back, these were crazy cheap. Don't forget to ask about their educator discount!

4. Escort cards: Setting up a template seemed to be the biggest hurdle with this one.  Trying to figure out how to line up four folding cards on a page, with bleed area, that would need the fewest cuts possible took a bit of thinking.  Once I got it though, I was able to replicate that page 20-some times and then go back and start filling in the names as we got the table seating arrangements nailed down.  I loved the way these simple designs looked once they were finished and put out, ready for people to pick up on their way in.  The focus is totally on the beauty of the typeface.  It made me happy to see people wearing their cards around during the reception or picking theirs up to take home with them.

5. Table numbers:  I got my inspiration for this project from Pinterest.  I liked the idea of pairing pictures of us at different ages and using them for the table numbers.  Each table would have a different pair of pictures to enjoy/laugh at and wandering among the tables to check them out would give people something to do as they waited for us to arrived from the church.  This project actually led to Sylvia and I having a ton of fun when we each pulled out boxes of old family photos to go through.  We shared memories as we shared the photos and got to know each other even better.  We made stacks and I took them to Kinko's (I was a regular customer at both locations) to digitize.  This was actually very affordable.  You can scan in as many pictures as you want and you only have to pay for the CD to burn the files on to (I think it was like $5).  I know there are other, better options if you really want to get serious about scanning in old photos (higher resolution, image improvement, etc) but for the time and cost and for what we needed them for, this worked out perfect.  And we actually ended up adding all the scanned photos to the slideshow that would play on the TV at the reception.  I took the files into Photoshop and put them together (color corrected some, cropped others), added a table number & a little white border that Sylvia felt looked Mexican-ish and fit our reception theme, and that was about it.  Then it was back to Kinko's to print the pictures.  Sylvia found some wire holders online and that was that!

6. Hashtag sign: This one was not really much of a real project.  I put it together the night before the wedding in my mom's hotel room.  I downloaded an announcement card from Vecteezy and moved the pieces of it around, changed the text and was done.  I definitely wanted to try and harness the power of social media and gather all the pictures I knew people would be taking with their phones, so I wanted to share a hashtag.  We came up with #sylviaandjake, by not including the word "wedding", we felt we could keep using it for other fun things.  I also used a fantastic web tool called IFTTT (If This, Then That) that allows you to set it to trigger when something happens and it will make something else happen.  So I created a rule that anyone someone posted a picture to Instagram with our hashtag, it would save that photo into my Dropbox, and I would get a notification on my phone. It actually was a lot of fun to see the pictures as them came in.  I printed the sign at Kinko's the morning on the wedding and stuck it in a wire frame Sylvia had at home.

7. Favor CD sleeves:  We were both so excited and involved with this project.  It was decided that CD's would be our favors very early in the planning process.  It would be our way to say thank you to all our guests, and would be a favor that people could enjoy for years. "Great songs for great people."  Jamming out as we shared songs with each other was a ball and Isa was dancing along with us.  Music is such a personal thing, I won't say there weren't some frustrations when a song got the cut, but we came up with a great list of tracks from a variety of genres.  Country, oldies, rock, soundtracks, folk, etc. Sylvia really took the reins on this one and learned how to sew the paper into sleeves.  The design layout was something fun that I hadn't really done before, finding and incorporating a variety of premade vector objects.  The music, the sewing, the graphics...this was a project that was so fun and one that we too will enjoy for years to come.

8. Large photo & quote print: Pinterest has changed the world of wedding planning (among other things) and it played a vital role on many of our decisions.  This is another one that was born amongst its pins.  I saw a pin that had this fantastic C.S. Lewis quote (from the  end of The Last Battle, the last book of the Chronicles of Narnia series) overlaid on a picture of a forest. Weeks later as we were having some pinning time together, Sylvia randomly mentioned that she really loved that quote.  Nothing else was said about it but the wheels were turning in my head.  I selected a photo from our engagement shoot and set to work creating a print with it that would include that quote.  I framed the finished product in an IKEA frame and gave it to Sylvia at our rehearsal dinner. We sat the print at our gift table for people to see at the wedding and now it hangs on a wall in our house.  Just reading the quote and looking at the photo is enough to put a smile on my face, regardless of how many times I've read it before.

9. Thank You's: We kept it simple for our Thank You's, using Vistaprint again.  We used a fantastic shot by our great photographer, Shana Drake, put together a little banner and a little text, using Buttermilk again of course (along with Hagin Caps Thin) and there you have it.  The picture is the focus and it was one that we both knew we wanted to use for the thank you as soon as we saw it.  The tree in the background was beautiful that day and her bouquet is the perfect pop of color.

Edit. note: After I wrote this, I won't lie, I shamelessly tweeted the link to Jessica Hische and she (or her publicist) tweeted back a very kind reply that shows that she at least looked at my work. :)