Sunday, June 30, 2019

Meet Our Chickens

OK, OK for anyone tired of chicken talk, today will be my last blog on all things chicken, but now that you've seen their house (coop) we figured you'd like to get to know the girls a little better, specifically what breed of chicken they each are and what color eggs they will produce. When we started researching chickens we had no idea there were so many different kinds. Their look, temperament, egg production and egg color were some of the main characteristics we honed in on.

Obviously a pretty chicken with pretty eggs was high up on the wish list, but the highest priority to us was the chicken's temperament. Because these animals would be in our back-yard and around us all the time as we grilled, played in the pool, worked on projects outside the shed and just hung out, it was important that our chickens be nice and friendly. There were some that had really pretty hair/fur (ha) but were known to be skittish and broody, so we marked those off the list quickly. Each of our chickens are a different breed and each will produce a different color egg, but the one thing they have in common is their easy going personalities. Oh, and they are all female....we think/pray ;). With that being said, let's get to the introductions...

Up first, meet Lou, she is our Easter Egger. 

Lou has always been the biggest of the 3, as she is older than the others by about 10 days. She is also undoubtedly the leader. We aren't sure if that's because she has always been bigger or if it's just her natural personality, but the other 2 follow her around wherever she goes. We figured out quickly, the fastest way to get the chickens to like us was to suck up to Lou, because if the other girls saw Lou sitting in our lap, then they would follow suit. 

Lou is prettier than most Easter Egger Chickens because she was crossed with a Barred Rock, so her coloring is striking -  black with white stripes. 

Easter Egger chickens typically produce about 200 eggs a year and the eggs can range in color from light blue to green to brown. Though the eggs can be a lot of different colors, whatever color she lays first will be the color we always get. 

Next, meet Dot, she is our Light Brahma. 

Dot was a tiny little yellow chick with fuzzy feet when we got her, but those yellow chick feathers have now been replaced by white feathers with black specs. Her fuzzy feet have remained though. This is a signature characteristic of a Light Brahma and gives them a fancy-schmancy look. She is already really pretty and regal looking. 

Her eggs will be light brown and she should lay 3-4 eggs a week, even in the winter when a lot of chickens don't lay as many. 

And finally, little Pip - Our Olive Egger.

Pip has always been the smallest of the 3. As a tiny chick she had dark black feathers and still has the same look today. She will likely be the most boring to look at of the 3 (sorry Pip) but her eggs should be really pretty. Olive Eggers lay olive green eggs.  Pip should lay 150 - 160 eggs a year. 

We got the chicks from the same farm so they have been together (at least with us) from the beginning. They are very close and travel in a little pack around the yard. They have eaten all of my mint and marigolds and like to peck around at the grass. We try to hold them a good amount to keep them used to human interaction which is working pretty well so far. Of course we have to remind Croix, pretty much every 2 minutes, NOT to chase the chickens and NOT to shoot the chickens with water guns, but all in all, they have adjusted really well.

Most chickens don't start laying eggs until they are 5-6 months old so we probably have a good while before we get our first bounty, but in the meantime we really enjoy just hanging out in our backyard, swimming, grilling and chicken watching. 

All photos are my own. 

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

6 Months of Lot

Today my Lot Thomas is 6 months old. 

This kid, ya'll....he's just so good. Like honest to God the best baby. He is so laid back and go with the flow. Wakes up happy, only really fusses if he's hungry or gets overtired (he likes a schedule!) and is so patient with the sometimes overwhelming "love" from his big brother. Speaking of big bro Croix....

 He has loved Lot every minute since he met him and can make him laugh like no one else.

People warned us that going from 1 to 2 kids would be such an adjustment and a lot more work, but honestly life as a family of 4 has been awesome. Lot fit right into our life and now at only 6 months in we can't imagine life without him. He's the kind of baby that could make you want 10 more. Just saying.....:)

All photos are my own. 

Monday, June 17, 2019

We Have Chickens + DIY Chicken Coop

As we approached the finish line for the shed we took a little detour down the road of, "hey, lets get chickens!" It's really all my sister's fault. We were at a family reunion back in April and she showed us this instagram account of this girl who lives in Greenville, SC that had the prettiest chickens. Who even knew chickens could be pretty?! Honestly, not me, but even better - these pretty chickens produced pretty eggs and lived in the most charming coop. She could tell we were intrigued so she pushed further and said, "y'all should build a coop and get chickens too!" We laughed it off, but the seed was planted and the next thing I knew we were laying in bed perusing chicken breeds and fantasizing about our kids growing up in the middle of Atlanta with a piece of the farm life right in the backyard.

Lucky us, there was enough space on the right side of the shed to add a little coop, plenty big enough for 3 chickens.
Just like the shed, we started with 4 posts in the ground to set the perimeter of the structure.
The plan was to create a chicken run, 5 feet x 5 feet. The run would have 4 walls covered in chicken wire with a door on the front that locks to let the chickens out or keep them safe inside.
Once the chicken run was complete Brent built the coop. The coop sits on top of the run and this is where the chickens sleep at night and lay their eggs.
In the photo above, do you see the 3 little compartments on the front of the coop? Those are the nesting boxes where the chickens will leave the eggs. Brent put a flip down door to cover this portion for easy access to the eggs.
Both the coop and the nesting boxes got the same roof detail as the shed and as you can see from the photo above the roof line of the coop matches that of the shed as well. The chicken wire was installed next. The specific chicken wire was a point of discussion because I thought it might be cool to do something different here. Maybe a black chicken wire in an unusual shape? I was initially opposed to the"standard silver chicken wire" because I didn't think it would go with the vibe of the space aesthetically, but upon more research Brent found that the standard silver chicken wire was really the best because the weave was tighter which kept varmints out. According to a lot of research and feedback from fellow chicken owners, weasels, rats and snakes were the main cause of death for chickens. So, we went with the standard stuff and I'm so happy we did. Not only does it give us peace of mind that the chickens are safer this way,  but aesthetically it just blends in, and I realized after the fact, the lack of  statement it offers was exactly what was needed.
The open counter space you see in the photo above is my planting bench!  We just used 2 x 8 boards and sat them atop the chicken run to create the table. This is definitely one of my favorite details of this addition and one that I have already utilized many times! Brent added 3 holes to the back side of the coop for breathe-ability and I love the charm the little holes with chicken wire bring to this side of the coop. 
Back inside the coop Brent cut a hole in the floor for the trap door. We purchased this door that you can set on a timer to open and close at certain times of the day. The door closes at 9:30pm when it gets dark and opens again at 7:00am. 
Brent built a ladder that connects the chicken run to the chicken coop so the chickens can easily scurry up or down. 
Brent also built a series of perches inside the coop for the chickens to sit on. They like to be up high, so he gave the several options to choose from. 

While Brent constructed the coop, I worked on painting both the coop and the shed. We painted everything the color Kendall Charcoal by Benjamin Moore. I love the color. I'm not sure if it's appropriate to say a shed is chic, but........
She is pretty sharp, eh?

We got the majority of the coop built before we brought the chickens home, but it was a few weeks before we could let them live outside full time. A few weeks ago we showed the girls their new home and we feel like they were pretty impressed with their digs. More on the chickens soon, but for now, here's a shot of the girls headed home. 

All photos are my own. 

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Shed Update

Graciouuuuusss! I am SO behind on blogging. Life has been crazy and we have been chugging along on projects so it has been hard to find free time, but I have a lot to share, so let's jump right into it.

The Shed. 

You know you are getting old when having a whole day or weekend (gasp!) to dedicate to shed building gets you excited, BUT, alas here we are. Between the weather and family activities, the shed kind of got put on the back-burner for a few weeks. Luckily we found ourselves with some good dedicated time to dig in so we did just that. Last we talked the posts had been set in concrete and the floor joists had been installed. Next up, Brent laid a piece of plywood over the floor joists and ran his electrical up through the floor in two spots. We had coordinated to have power pulled to this location of the yard when we were doing the pool, so Brent pulled the electrical first at the back of the shed for outlets that would be installed on the back wall and then again at the front of the shed so a switch could be run to operate the lights on the front wall. Speaking of walls....those were next!

The first wall the guys tackled was the back wall. The plan was to build it, install the siding and get it painted before it was installed.

The shed is only about a foot from the fence, which is why this sequence of events was our best bet; if we had waited until it was installed it would have been really hard to paint as the ladder wouldn't fit behind the fence...

Once that wall was up, the side walls followed. The front wall was the trickiest because it had the door. Brent ended up constructing it in the garage and then some of our neighbors were super gracious and helped him carry it over to the shed. It was HEAVY and not something Croix and I felt we could be super helpful with :)

Once all the walls were up, it was time to install the siding on the rest of the shed.

Next, Brent trimmed everything out with 1x4's which really started to give it a more finished look.

For the roof we originally planned on installing shingles similar to those on our house, but somewhere a long the way I started thinking it would be cool if the roof was metal. Just something different for this structure since it wasn't actually attached to the house. On one of Brent's many trips to Home Depot he came across this corrugated plastic roofing material and brought home a piece for us to consider. It has the look of metal, but will hold up a lot better and won't be too loud when it rains (even though I think that's about the best sound in the world).

The cute factor went up about a million points with the addition of the roof. The scalloped edge detail hanging off the front is just so good looking and we were and are super happy with our choice here.

Last, we worked on the doors.  Once the doors were cut, we played around with specifics on the ground before Brent got everything nailed into place.

The cross pieces had to be really considered here because those pieces would be what the hinges mounted on. After a lot of playing around with spacing, we got it all figured out and set the doors in place.

Now.....this would seem like the appropriate time to start painting, but it was about now that we decided to get chickens and add a coop to the side of the shed. Yep, you read that right, but you will have to wait until next week to see how that unfolded. For now, I will leave you with this shot of the finished shed, painted and all.

Paint color: Kendall Charcoal by Benjamin Moore.

All photos are my own. 

Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Laundry Room - DIY Countertops + Vintage Sink

I'm back with more updates over on the laundry room front! Today is all about our vintage sink and DIY countertops.

Last we talked I explained that Brent made a wood top and back splash/ledge to cover the dryer outlet + the access hole on the side of the washer/dryer cabinet. Well, we got the wood top secured into place and then set out to DIY ourselves some concrete countertops.
The plan was to use the Ardex Feather Finish to achieve the look.  It's a pretty simple process, mix the powder with water, stir and then apply over top the wood tops. 
The entire wood top + the back splash/ledge (separate piece) was covered with the Feather Finish and then left to dry.
As you can see the texture is kind of bumpy and rough, but once it was all dry the next step was to sand everything smooth.
With this product you can apply, sand and then apply again and sand to get your desired finish. Lucky for us, we were happy with the end results after only one coat and one sanding spree.
We have DIY'ed ourselves some real concrete countertops with our outdoor kitchen (read all about that here...Croix ate concrete at 6 months old... GASP!) and it was BRUTAL. This was way easier, cheaper and honestly, gives a much more finished look. 
Let's bounce to the other side of the room. 
The room originally came with a plastic utility sink. It was a good sink and we used the heck out of it, especially when washing out paint brushes. When we got the room cleared out for the tile demo we decided to remove the sink and start the process of looking for a replacement. We talked about several options, the two primary ideas being - making or having a cabinet made to hold an apron sink or purchasing a wall hung sink. We liked the idea of the added storage with the apron sink idea, but the all in cost once you purchase the sink and then either the materials to make the cabinet and or the cabinet itself just started feeling expensive. And the wall hung option was no different. Some of the wall hung sinks we looked at were over $1k which was NOT in the budget for a laundry sink. We kind of put the sink on the back-burner with bigger fish to fry when I remembered  Scott's Antique had sinks. Old, dust/rust covered vintage sinks.  Lucky for us Scott's was in town a few weekends ago so we loaded up our crew and headed down to see what we could find.

We found two whole rows of options in various sizes and condition and plumbing orientation.
While several of the options would of worked we really liked the 51" cast iron sink with side washboard. A classic. It was listed as $425 but Brent was able to get the guy down to $300. Way, way less than a brand new sink and this one was a true vintage piece with history and grit. It was perfect and we were so excited to get it!
Once home we started working on getting it all cleaned up. We started by simply wiping it down with soap and water. Then, we used CLR to remove all the rust. Once this step was done the plan was to get the sink mounted and then paint it with porcelain paint in place. 

This sink is HEAVY so we really had to think through the best approach to secure it to the wall. Obviously attaching to the studs was the name of the game, but we didn't want the stud locations to dictate our placement, so Brent made a brace, spanning the entire length of the sink. It attached to 3 studs and the sink itself is able to lip right on to it for ease of moving. Well, I say ease. The sink is probably 100lb so it's not easy per-say, but you get what I'm saying...

In the photo below you can see the brace I'm referring to. The piece of wood underneath that was another issue we had to over come...
When a sink is planned to be wall mounted from the beginning all plumbing lines are installed in the wall. Because this sink was originally a standard sink, the plumbing lines came from underneath which didn't work with our faucet holes coming from the back of the sink. So, Brent had to create another wood piece to mount the plumbing supplies to. The sink was off and on the wall a few times during this whole thing. In order to get the exact location of the holes Brent laid underneath the sink and held up a piece of wood behind so I could mark the center of each hole. Then, he used that mark to mount the plumbing parts. After that, the sink had to come down so the new board could be mounted. Once the new board was in place we had to mount the sink again to make sure all was lining up...

... and thankfully it was! With all the rough-in plumbing in place it was time get the faucet hooked up. We found the perfect vintage-esque polished wall mount faucet here

  Not only does the sink give off a really cool retro vibe but it provides another counter space for me to stack folded clothes on AND it's the perfect location to sit my plants that need to drain when I water them once a week. 
I mean gosh, does it get more charming? 

All photos are my own. 

Sunday, March 24, 2019

The Shed

The weather was great in Atlanta this weekend so we decided to get started on a project we have had planned for a long time - a shed! Brent has a lot of tools and we have long needed a solution for storing them. Since moving in 3 years ago the tools have been spread around - some in our crawl space, some in the laundry room and others in the hall closet. As we continue to conquer rooms inside the house, we find ourselves moving the tools from location to location to just get them out of the way. BUT we use them a lot so carting them all the way to the crawl space every time is just not realistic. When we began the process of planning our back-yard project last year we knew we wanted to find a way to incorporate a shed in the side yard to organize and store all of this equipment. Close enough to the house for easy access, and big enough to really organize everything so we aren't constantly re-buying things we already have, but can't find (plumbers tape, caulk, paint brushes, nails and these are just a few examples of things we have double purchased as of late - so annoying!)

As the pool finished up late last year we really started talking about the exact location and specifics of the shed. We have a second driveway because our house currently sits on what used to be 2 lots. At the top of the second driveway we had a fence put in for safety reasons as it relates to the pool, but in doing so the perfect section of land was created behind the fence for the shed.
At first we had plans to purchase a shed, but in talking to neighbors and looking at the options, we realized building our own was going to be our best bet. Not only could we customize the specifics like size, layout and finishes but we could add special extras like a little greenhouse on the side for me (eek!) The initial plan was to build an 8 x 12 shed, but after we got a few of the holes dug we realized 8 feet deep was encroaching on the stone path a little too much so we shrunk it back to a 7 x 12 shed. With the exact dimensions of the shed determined we dug 4 holes...
 ... and put posts in each one. We filled the holes with concrete around the posts and then covered that with dirt. 

We let the posts dry over night and the next day we got the frame around the posts put in. I made marks on the frame every 16" and then Brent and Croix cut the floor joists on the saw.
and then carried them over...
Once they were lined up on the marks I made we nailed them into place. 
(Please note Croix entertaining Lot over on the right side of this picture - haha)

 We cut smaller pieces to install horizontal for added rigidity. 
That's as far as we made it today, but not too bad for 1.5 days work with a "helpful" 3 year old and a baby brother who likes to eat every 3 hours or so :) In all seriousness this project is really going to be great from an organization standpoint and I think it might be kind of cute too - bonus! 

All photos are my own. 

Monday, March 11, 2019

Laundry Room Remodel - DIY Shelving + Tile

We are rolling right along on our laundry room remodel! Things started getting pretty a few weeks ago when the floor tile got installed!

Black and White Checked Flooring!!! I have long dreamed of a black and white checked floor. I just love the classic vibe. The tile came from The Tile Shop and was $3.50 a piece (each tile is 12"x12"). I went back and forth on the grout color, but decided on black and I'm so glad I did. Not only does it just "go away" which is what I had hoped for, but the black grout will be SO much more forgiving as this room gets used.

Like the Guest Bath Remodel, we decided to hire out the tile work for this space. This room will be a combination of hired out + DIY, but we have learned, for us hiring out the tile work is well worth the money. The guys got to our house around 10:00 a.m. and by 4:30 the existing tile was removed and the new tile was down AND grouted. The tile installer had to come back the next day to clean things up and re-install the shoe moulding, but 90% of the work was done in 6 1/2 hours. You just can't beat it!

Now, let's talk storage. A few weekends ago we DIY'ed ourselves some laundry room cabinets!

And by we, I of course mean, Croix and I helped, Lot supervised, but Brent was the man with the plan and all the skills (per usual ;)). I showed you all this sketch a few weeks ago....

And this is where we we ended up at the end of the first weekend!

We had a few issues to overcome to achieve our desired layout. First was the location of the dryer vent to the outside. We knew the base cabinet would need to be pulled forward to leave a void for the vent to run from the dryer to the outside of the house, but the location of the duct was an additional 6" off the back wall which caused depth issues for the base cabinet. You see, if we brought the base cabinets out to cover the vent, the base cabinets would be deeper than the washer and dryer cabinet surround. This wouldn't have been the end of the world, but it is always ideal for any cabinetry that will receive countertops to run into a cabinet or wall deeper than the countertop for a clean intersect. Luckily Brent was able to cut into the sheetrock and move the duct pipe back towards the wall a few inches allowing the base cabinet to be 24", pulled off the wall 7" to sit a few inches behind the washer and dryer surround. Brent also angled the corner of the base cabinet so as to allow the duct to connect easily.  Brent cut a hole in the side of the tall cabinet to pull the duct through.

The other issue was the plug for the dryer. The outlet was located above the base cabinets, but we knew we could use the hole cut in the side of the washer and dryer surround to pull the cord through. We even found an extra long cord on-line to ensure it would reach. The problem was that the outlet was falling above the height of the countertop. At first we thought about just boxing in around the outlet and creating a shelf, but then we realized we needed to be able to access the outlet so if we ever need to unplug the dryer or if we ever decided to replace it,  we could get to it easily. We pondered on a solution for awhile, when Brent came up with the idea to box around the outlet with a shelf/ledge, but a shelf/ledge on a hinge that could flip down for access. It's genius! He got it all constructed, but I don't have a picture yet.  We are working on the countertop material for the counter + this shelf/ledge area now, so I will show you more soon!

As for the color, Brent and I both liked the idea of green cabinetry against the black and white flooring. To figure out the exact shade of green we bought 3 different options - Boreal, Alpine Trail and Pine Mountain all by Behr and then tested them out on this new-to-me product - SureSwatch. Each packet comes with 3 sheets and you paint your color right on the film. Once dry you peel it off and stick it right on the wall.

This was super helpful in narrowing down the right choice. Right off the bat Alpine Trail was too dark. We went back and forth between the other 2 for a few days, watching how the colors looked at different times of day as the natural light changed. We really wanted the color to read as green, not a gray that had green undertones or a green that was so dark it could be black, and Boreal seemed to fit the bill best. So, we got the cabinets all primed and painted, working on the painting off and on all week after work last week.

We are VERY happy with the color. It's the perfect shade of green, happy and bright whilst still adding some drama against the black and white floor. We love it!

Once all the paint was dry it was time to get the washer and dryer all hooked up and in place. In order to stack the appliances we purchased a "stacking kit" on-line. It was really easy to install and we had the washer and dryer stacked, hooked up and slid into their new home in less than 20 minutes.

This new set up makes the room feel SO much bigger! We still have a ways to go but I'm so happy to have the washer and dryer up and running. I never thought I would be so thankful to be able to do laundry - ha!

All photos are my own.