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Holiday Season Kick-off!

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving with your family and friends!  We shared the day with my Parents and Hubby’s Grandfather and are all very thankful for the many blessings of this past year.

Ever since I can remember Thanksgiving has been my favorite day! I love the anticipation that comes with knowing next few weeks will be full of seeing old friends, looking at Christmas lights, wearing sparkly things, everyone being extra nice and friendly, eating and drinking rich, delicious things, baking cookies, decorating, cuddling by the Christmas tree and celebrating with those we love! Umm, can you tell I love the Holidays?!? 

Our weekend was full of Holiday Cheer!! We completely stuffed ourselves with a delicious meal, did a little Black Friday shopping and started decorating our home. The kick off to the Holiday Season would not be complete without some pictures! If you follow me on instagram you’ve already seen a few of these, but if not, enjoy! :)

Our Thanksgiving stuffing is my late Uncle’s recipe – might be my favorite-ist food ever!

My Mom got this adorable Turkey Mum for our table.
Our delicious Turkey!
Our latest food tradition – going strong for two years now – homemade cranberry sauce! Yum!
Turkey Butter for the Hubs!
Enjoying a romantic sunrise in the mall parking lot on Black Friday!
Proudly wearing my new shirt from American Signature’s gift bags – this will certainly become my new black friday uniform!
Channeling our inner Griswold’s for some outside decorating!

Do you have any fun Thanksgiving weekend traditions?

A Deck Makeover… part 2!

To tackle staining our deck we chose semi-transparant Olympic Deck, Fence and Siding stain in Coffee. The Acyrlic/Oil formula is supposed to ensure the stain penetrates deep in to the wood, conditioning it and hopefully prevent it from peeling away. It was very dark in the can, and a bit frightening, but the other color swatches just appeared too light for the look we were going for.
Though I’m aware you can spray on stain, and also use rollers or a big push brush I chose to use a 6″ paintbrush.  Crazy, I know, but again I was very nervous about the stain not adhering correctly and waking up to our deck looking like this again one morning:

Yuck!

If you’re like me and have never worked with stain, it is incredibly thin, almost like water!  I stirred it for about 5 minutes expecting it to thicken it up a bit before I realized it wasn’t making a difference.

I started with the top rails after taping off our siding. I took my time and made sure to ‘backbrush’ the stain into the wood.  I also quickly learned that you need much less stain on the brush as you think you do. Since our deck had sat un-sealed for so long the wood was very porous and just seemed to suck up the stain.  Over an hour later I could finally step back and notice a difference.
Even Caesar liked it!

After the rails were finished I was thrilled the “hard part” was over.  I thought the floorboards would go much more quickly since I could use bigger brush strokes and not worry so much about stain dripping off the boards since I wouldn’t see it under the deck.  I figured if the rails took an hour, the floor itself would take maybe a little more than 2 and I would still have time to shower and make a nice dinner for Hubby and I!

The next picture taken of the deck was this,
Notice, it’s incredibly dark out and the floor isn’t even fully stained!

Yes, it took a good 8 hours for me to get this far.  Poor Hubby came home from work to me looking like a train wreck and holding back tears.  That nice dinner I planned on making that night? Umm, we ended up at Chili’s at 10:15.

 I’m still not sure where I went wrong…I focused on 2 rows at a time staining the entire length of the deck back and forth, back and forth, for literally hours!  I think the most time consuming part was coating the sides of the boards – I had blisters from pushing the brush in-between.  Thankfully someone in our neighborhood was hosting a Sweet 16 party and their DJ kept me entertained from about 7pm on.  Now, I’ll be the first to admit I tend to take my time and focus on doing things right, not necessarily quick, but I have no idea what happened that afternoon/night!?! I don’t know why it took me so long!

It was a good thing we had plans that weekend so I was forced to take a 2-day break until from staining.  Finishing the last few rows was not as hard as the previous day.  Perhaps I was just used to it by then? Not as tired? Whatever the reason I was thrilled to be able to complete the remaining boards less than a day a few hours.
Loving the dark stain accented with the white rails I chose to only stain the top treads of the stairs and painted the backs of the stairs with the leftover paint from the rails (Sherwin Williams Duration in Satin White).  I was nervous to use blue tape on the newly stained wood so I instead cut a paper bag from the grocery store apart and used it to prevent the white from dripping.
The stairs were finished in only an hour (quite an improvement from the floors) and are probably my favorite part about the deck now. It looks much more finished and I just love how crisp the white makes it look.
There are a few touch-ups still needed to be made – seems I got a bit cavalier with my staining around hour 6 or so – so I’m hoping to finish that up this weekend!  We are also waiting for our new outdoor rug to be delivered and the deck will finally be complete.  We’re hoping to add some lights to it as well but that may wait till next spring.

Despite the fact that this project took incredibly longer than expected I love that the finish is so smooth because of the brush and I take comfort in knowing the stain was worked into the wood reallllly well.  I pray that it prevents the stain from ever peeling off and would be happy to re-stain again in a few years if the color fades or the waterproofing-ness (technical term) starts to disappear.  However, as I was staining I think I would have happily forked over a million dollars pretty penny to a painter to finish it.  Let’s just say I’m happy I did but am even happier it’s over!

Have you ever stained a deck? Did your project take forever too?!

End of Summer Harvest

It’s gorgeous outside today – no humidity and bright sunshine – the perfect day!

It may unofficially be Fall, but my tomatoes are still going strong! The raised beds I made seem to be a great home for my tomatoes and cucumbers, just look at today’s ‘harvest’…
I had to add a trellis t0 my tomatoes since they got so heavy.  Next year I may invest in some tomato cages but I think the trellis is much prettier!
The cucumbers are still producing veggies as well.  Look at this lil baby that just sprouted over the last few days.

I’m keeping a close eye on this guy – he’s ready to pick any day now!
Unfortunately, my zucchini and pepper plants were not as ‘bountiful’ as the others the other two.  I’ll still give them another shot next year – I think I planted them too late in the season.

Though the calendar says September I’m still holding on to summer – and my garden – for as long as I can!