Thursday, October 23, 2014

DIY Wood Block Tea Light Holder

The wood block projects continue....in an attempt to work through our seemingly endless supply of reclaimed lumber.  This candle holder was inspired by our ladies night (post coming soon) where one project was painted cherry red with a coat of dark brown glaze over top.  It was the prettiest color and I wanted to make something just so I could paint it the same color.  Enter this tea light holder.

We started with a block of our reclaimed wood cut at 24 inches long.  You could use a 4x4 and get the same effect.
I didn't want this to simply look like a plain block, so I asked Brent to cut the sides off at an angle, sort of like a boat.
He set the table saw at 10 degrees.
Insert your own table saw sound effects here.
But it was still looking a little blah, so I had him trim the ends with a miter saw at the same 10 degree angle to give it a little more interest.

Next we laid our tea lights on top to decide where we wanted them to end up.  No exact science here, we just eyeballed the spacing and went to town with the drill.  That's the beauty of "rustic" - doesn't have to be perfect!
Using a spade bit, Brent drilled out holes for the tea lights.
I sanded the entire piece with the orbital sander.  To sand inside of the holes, I wrapped a piece of sandpaper around a wooden dowel.
I checked out a bunch of different red paint samples at the hardware store but all of them were either too orange or too purple.  Turns out they sell this Gloss Cherry in a pre-mixed quart, so I dove in - head first.
Usually I would only use one coat, since I end up giving it a healthy sanding afterwords, but this time I had to do two coats.  Mostly because our wood block got a little "jammed" in the table saw so we were left with some dark burn marks from the saw.  After the second coat of red paint was dry, I sanded the entire piece and applied a coat of VanDyke Brown Glaze.
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Friday, October 17, 2014

Christmas Came Early

About a year and half ago, our Bichon, Stella, died suddenly.  She was 10 years old and hadn't shown any signs of sickness or poor health.  I'm sure the shock of her sudden death made our grief that much more difficult because we had no time to prepare ourselves for that moment.  Owen and I just came home from work one day to find her on our bedroom floor.  I could tell she had died within the past hour but was afraid to touch her - so Owen and I sat together in the living room until Brent could get home.  Every few minutes, I would go back into our room to check on her, hoping she would hear me coming and pop up to greet me as she usually would.  But every time I went to see her, my heart sunk deeper and deeper.  Brent arrived shortly thereafter and ran to her.  When he got there and scooped his big strong hands under her, his tears confirmed what I already knew.
She was almost always in need of a haircut!
After sitting with her for awhile, attempting to absorb what had happened, we wrapped her in blankets and brought her to my parents' acreage.  It began to rain as Brent dug her a grave between two pine trees.  Owen and I sat silently on the covered patio, he was busy wiping the tears from my cheeks, while my heart broke for Brent, who had the solemn duty of burying our first pet.  He came and got Owen and I when he was ready and we watched as Brent laid Stella to rest.  Owen was only 4 at the time, but it was important to us that he see that Stella didn't simply disappear from our lives, and that her body would lay here while her spirit would remain in our hearts.

We returned home and opened the door, only to be knocked in the face with the reality of a household with no dog.  No tail thumping from her crate, no bursting out of her crate to snuggle you.  Empty food and water bowls, and her leash hanging on the hook - that we knew we wouldn't use with her again.  The next few days were spent trudging through our feelings of grief, snuggling with the kids and looking at Stella's baby pictures, talking about the funny things she did and the long walks we used to go on.

Weeks, maybe months, passed until we could begin to discard of Stella's things.  But once we did, we felt like we could really start to move on - especially since we weren't saddened by seeing her belongings all the time.  About a year after her death, we started to have "the new dog" discussion.  As many of you know, life with a dog is very different from life without a dog.  Your schedule is different, arrangements don't need to be made when you travel out of town.  No vet visits or extra haircuts.  So we had slid into a nice, relaxed life without having a pet to be responsible for.  But it felt like something was missing.  Brent and I started reading Cesar Millan's books - he's considered the dog whisperer because of his ability to rehab troubled dogs and owners.  His books were so interesting that we were delighted to find episodes of his TV show, The Dog Whisperer, on our instant Netflix.  The kids, Brent and I plowed through all of the available episodes, learning all about dog behavior and how to understand and train dogs.

Watching and reading all about dogs prepared our hearts and minds for a new puppy.  But dogs are expensive.  Along with adoption fees, there are the supplies needed, like a crate, food and toys.  Plus, a puppy would need to be spayed.  So we had a serious discussion with the kids.  If we were all indeed ready for a dog, it would mean using our Christmas gift savings to do it.  Santa would still come, of course, but we told Emma and Owen that the puppy would be our family gift, so that they shouldn't expect presents from mom and dad.  Surprisingly, they were 100% on board with that plan...especially when we asked them if they could even remember one gift we got them for Christmas last year.
As luck would have it, we found a four month old cockapoo (cocker spaniel/poodle mix) about an hour from our home, so we went to visit her and fell in love!  Never the type to make a rash decision, we all went home to talk about her and weigh the pros and cons before we made a decision.  One week later, Owen and I went to pick up our new little family member, Lily.
 I was trying to get a good photo of her eyes, they are sort of greenish and look like human eyes.
She has been home for a week and is doing great!  I think it has been a bigger adjustment for us than it has for her!  My lunch breaks used to be spent reading at work or visiting with Brent but now I go home each day to spend an hour with her in the backyard, playing fetch, working on the leash and just watching all the funny things that rambunctious little puppies like to do.

Emma and Owen have been getting ready as quickly as they can each morning, so as soon as the sun comes up at 7:15am, they hurry outside in their coats, gloves and hats to play fetch with Lily.  They understand how important it is for her to get some exercise before she has to be in her crate for a few hours.
And how strange is it that we happened to get a dog with the same color hair as our children?!