Friday, April 22, 2011

How To: Concrete Counter tops

Yipee for my very first ever guest blogger!

We all know how I brag on my uber-awesome husband and how handy he is not only in the OR but also around the house. Without him, we simply couldn't do all of the renovations that we do. He's pretty cool. AND, I am gonna brag a little more - just because I can. There is a dress that I really, really wanted but would never buy for myself just because, well - you know as a Mom, you don't buy clothes for yourself. You wear things that you've had since high school and take the background as your chirrens look all cute. Well....he bought it for me. He got online and ordered it (after he sneakily asked me my size) and surprised me with it. I mean, ladies...he IS taken. Thanks. I'm just so proud.

Anyways - he poured our concrete counter tops in our kitchen and they are fantabulous. And we have had so many people ask about them, that I asked him to write it down so I could put up the how-to on the blog. I mean, people...you CAN do this! And not just by paying someone $100 a square foot!!

But since we all know I can sometimes be a control freak and it is my blog, I added my two-cents in italics. You know, just to make the twitches calm as I gave up the reins for my blog. So, here goes.

Welcome to the exciting world of concrete counter tops!

First, let me say that my writing doesn’t compare to Amy’s. (whatevs, he uses punctuation, and I mean properly like he's supposed to) I would love to tell you about Louisa and I’s trip to taco bell (shizzles. busted. we eat way healthy people) the other day. However, the discussion about how Honduras and the airport aren’t the same just wouldn’t be as funny if Amy doesn’t tell it.

So I will stick to writing about our foray into making concrete counter tops. It wasn’t as hard as I thought that it would be (there is nothing this cracker can't do); however, they are as heavy as you can imagine. Plus the costs are not bad at all. I think that we did our whole kitchen for under $200 not including the tile back splash. So here is my best attempt at describing what I did for anyone else feeling up to the challenge!

Step 1 – remove the old counter tops and measure, measure, measure.

If you house if like ours, old and not level or straight (shantified...but it's fab, so buy it when it's on the market next year - it's harmless character), then you may want to use the old counter tops as a template for the new ones. This will help you to duplicate the size. At this point you may want to ensure that the base counters can support the weight of the new concrete.

Actually the first thing I did was buy a book on concrete counter tops. I bought mine at Lowes for about $20 and it was worth every penny.

It goes into much more depth that I do here. In short, there are 2 ways that concrete counter tops can be made – either poor in place or build them in a form. I chose the latter method in hopes of keeping as much mess out of the kitchen (and keeping the peace in our house). (I mean, dripping sugar he's so sweet...plus he doesn't like my psychoses brought on by reno dust in my house)

Step 2 – build the form

For me, this was the toughest and most time consuming part (insert bad words here). I used melamine to build the form. For those not familiar with melamine, it is the stuff of prefabed closet shelves and dry erase boards. By using melamine, you can poor the counter top upside down and produce a very finished surface without much work. You can buy melamine at Lowes, which is where I got all my supplies. (Lowes is to Byron what Target is to me) I went with 1 ½ inch thick counter tops which is a common thickness. It makes for a strong counter top without being too heavy.

I ripped the melamine shelves into 1 ½ strips with the table saw. I then cut these to length understanding that the inner dimension of the form is the size of the counter top. I then secured these strips to 4x8 melamine sheet (the dry erase board) which is only about 3/16 thick so I stabilized it with some old plywood. One tricky part here is making sure the form is square and level.

Step 3 – mix / poor the concrete

The reference I used recommended pure Portland cement; however, I used a half and half mix of pure Portland cement and quickcrete 5000. (because he's handy like that) This has some small pebbles in it but I think makes for a stronger counter top that just Portland cement. When mixing the concrete, adding too much water will make the mix soupy and weak. Fill the bottom half of the form with concrete and try to tamp it down to get rid of any air bubbles (these can ruin your counter top). Once the form is about half full you should add some metal support for strength. I chose metal lath on the two smaller counter tops and ¼ inch rebar on the other one. Once the metal is in, fill the form the rest of the way.

Step 4 – tamp it down

Begin by screeding the top of the concrete. (WTH?) A screed is just a board levels the concrete out. (oh, yeah...I knew that) Next, I used and orbital sander (anything that vibrates will work)

and moved it around the form to allow the air bubbles to rise to the top. This step is crucial. Not only will bubbles weaken the counter top, they will cause it to be porous and unsightly. (this has me giggling) Once the water rises to the top of the concrete and then disappears, you can use a trowel to smooth out the top (which will be the under-surface when you are finished) so that the counter top rests evenly on the base counters.

Step 5 – remove the form

I let the counter tops sit for a couple of days before removing the form. Begin by removing the screws of the sides and then gently pry the counter top up until you can get your finger under it and flip it over. You may need help depending on the size since these jokers (crackers) are heavy. (Note - ask your 9 month preggo wife) I then let them cure for a couple of extra days – there will still be some water that will evaporate. Once they are fully cured, they are ready to be set in place. I didn’t do anything but set them on the base counter because mine are so heavy they won’t move anywhere.



Step 6 – finish them

I used an epoxy finish designed for counter tops that you can buy at Lowes.
I tried a penetrating sealer but it wasn’t going to stand up to Louisa. (no joke) The epoxy was easy to apply, is impregnable, and provides a nice shine that Amy seems to like. (is it obvious who wears the britches? hehe, just kidding. it isn't me, but sometimes he lets me think i do) Just follow the directions on the box and viola, you have completed the counter tops! Fast food may be in order as the epoxy takes a couple of days to cure. (aha, no wonder we were eating taco bell...hehe)

The good thing about concrete counter tops is that they weren’t too hard to make and look a million times better than our old off white Formica! (hell to the yes!!) They are supposed to be non-uniform as you see above. That isn't moisture, but difference in color of the stone. And while they weren’t expensive, if you mess up you will likely have a 75 pound dud that you will have to find some where to dispose. My dud is still sitting outside…(haaaa, 'tis true)

I mean, awesome right! Now how many of you are gonna do these now? You should!!!

Oh, and try this at home. We are not professionals. Hehe.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Head Over Heels

Do you remember back when I first found out I was having a little boy? I do. I was scared to death. I don't know boys, I knew girls and I knew that I wasn't really into change. I kept wondering if the next ultrasound it would show that baby was a girl, etc. I was scared.

I had numerous mommies of boys tell me that as soon as that little boy got here I would be in love. I would be smitten and never again wonder about having a little boy.

Oh, I doubted these girls. You see, I really, really thought that I would be the exception. That I wouldn't really jive with a boy. Well.....

2 months later and I am smitten. Head over heels in love with this little boy. He can do no wrong and he has me wrapped around his finger like no other. It's almost embarrassing. This face right here

makes my day. He knows how to work his Mommy. I am mushy when he looks at me and smiles that toothless grin that I could just eat. Now that he is talking and cooing, I swear I could squeeze him. Just eat him up. It's bad. And you know what - although I know he loves his Mommy, methinks I know someone he loves just a smidgen more.

Louisa. He is SMITTEN with her. If he is awake, and he hears her voice he is suddenly looking all over for her. Loves her. He just grins at her and she can do no wrong. Yesterday, I had him on his little mat playing and Louisa was down there with him singing to him and teaching him animals in a book. I almost lost it. I became that uber-emotional-prideful mom that teared up. Watching my 2 kids playing together almost made me high. Is that weird? I never, ever in a thousand years thought I would be that emotional Mom. But, my heart soared and I was on cloud 9. I just couldn't stop looking at them. They are as different as night and day, but they look just alike. Watching them interact gives you that feeling in which you want more and more and more...then you think about 3 years down the road when they will start fighting too. And then you think, hmmmm....Norris party of 4 is just fine. But I am so thankful that I am able to stay home with these kiddos so that I can witness moments like that. I wish that I could make a part of my brain this memory-safety-deposit-box in which I can store times like that and never, ever forget them.

Okay, enough mush for me. But really, how can you NOT love these two? Look at those noses, exact replicas of one another!

Until next time when there will be no mush...but a DIY for how to make concrete counter tops from my guest blogger, my hubs! :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Smack-Down

This Momma has HAD it with poor behavior.

The sass coming from the mouth is enough to make my toes curl. The disobedience is making my hair fall out. The manipulation is making my eyes cross. Arguing with a blade of grass is causing my skin to wrinkle. Having to have the last word is slowly making me twitch. Refusal to follow the rules is raising my blood pressure.

And I am not talking about myself. Believe it or not, it isn't me this time. Yes...I do possess all of the above qualities - but let's face it, I am the grown-up...I make the rules now. :)

I am talking about this sweet little thing.

We are having some issues in our house with discipline. It didn't just start with the arrival of little boy sweetness in February. It has been going on since, ummmm....4 years ago. Really. She make look just like Byron, but unfortunately...she acts just like me and methinks that is why we butt heads so bad all.day.long.

But, this...this little $8 investment is gonna turn things around.

Did you ever know how cool magnetic stars are? Well, if you are unsure...come on to my house as I am talking them up like they are $100 bills. We are going to start living by these things. Or else...Momma is gonna go live at the loony bin.

Wanna join me?

Sunday, April 10, 2011

The Corner Grocery

You see this...

I earned every.last.drop plus a few more. All in a simple trip to the grocery store.

One would think that I would have learned by now that I seem to be that character from Peanuts (Charlie Brown) that has the dirt cloud following him. Ever since I had Louisa...it is like drama and disaster is around every corner, it follows me. When I walk, I leave a wake of crap behind. Never, ever a dull moment.

But I haven't learned. Instead, I just experience things over and again and blog about them to hopefully entertain all of you. Let's talk about today's grocery trip.

I mean, how hard should a grocery trip be? Really? Ask me before kids and I would say I could do it with eyes closed. Now, let me say I should go with my eyes closed, maybe even blind-folded and in a mask so that no one knows who I am. Maybe like this.

And you know...she wore that the entire grocery trip. She did.

My corner grocery store has been blogged about before. It is more expensive, kinda dirty sometimes, I have to double-check the expiration dates, etc. But it is WAY to convenient for me to pass up. It is right around the corner, they know me there, they help me out with my groceries and the ignore the pile of destruction that I leave behind. For those of you that have been with me for a while...yes, this is the same grocery that Louisa pulled my pants down at. Lovely, so they really know me there.

So, I feed Nash and then get ready to head out the door. This is how I have done every other grocery trip. It's nice. He is asleep by the time I get there, and he sleeps in his car seat the entire time. And this quiet and cooperation makes up for the fact that I no longer have room left in the buggy to put groceries and I have to get creative in where I put things without looking like I am shop-lifting. Well, not today. I get there, put him in his seat in the buggy and he wakes up. So, I plug the mouth with the paci and get maybe 3 minutes out of it. Yes, I could have just left him screaming while I shopped...but I didn't. Instead - I got him out, held him cradled in my arms and had a buggy that was now taken over by an empty car seat. So, much to Louisa's happiness, I told her she could walk (eeeeekkk) so that I could put the carrier in the front part and have the back of the buggy wide open for groceries. Mind you, this store isn't a busy place. That is why I enjoy it. I don't have to worry about moving around peeps the whole time.

Well, let the fun begin. First of all, I quickly realize that I have a buggy that has definitely seen better days. It doesn't steer correctly and the wheels wiggle and carry on like it is their business. So, as I am trying to push it and look over the car seat (remember...I tend to be on the short side) to avoid knocking over any displays - I do the unthinkable. And, oops...I giggled when it happened and I am giggling again. I ran over Louisa. Like - plowed her down. She was face-down on the floor with the buggy over her. Oh dear. So, we all know Lou. Everyone within a 20 mile radius heard about that incident. So, the manager comes over (remember...I told you were are known there) and offers to get me a new cart with a smile he is obviously trying to hold in the giggles as I am bouncing a baby that is half-way dangling in my arms and trying to soothe a 4 year old drama queen with tire-marks on her back. Did I mention she is still wearing the glasses with the nose?

So, I get a new cart. Well, this one isn't as bad...but isn't much better so I just decide to pull it from the back. You know this set me up for numerous times in which the metal part that connects the wheels bumped my achilles and created a bouncing effect for the cart and some choice words from me that is still balancing a newborn, a cart and a 4 year old Groucho Marx. I am over in the produce section trying to figure out what I may want for the week since I realize that I have no clue where my list has gone (I think I lost in in the running over of the toddler incident). I glance to find Louisa right about the time she goes to grab an avocado and say, "ooooh mommy - you lub dese!" Well, you guessed it. It was like a cascade. She couldn't have picked a better avacado to grab if she tried. So, here I am bent over with baby dangling in arms picking up avocados off the ground. Well, Murphy peeks in and makes the paci that is in Nash's mouth fall out...and you know I've blogged before about how those Soothie pacis bounce. Well, I am chasing down the paci and here comes the manager again and tells me not to worry - he will get the rest of the produce. I apologize a bazillionk times and I know I am red in the face because I can feel my ears burning. Ugh.

So, we carry on. I make my way down the chip aisle, the lunch meat aisle, pick out some meats for the week and I am doing good. Well, I speak too soon. As I am rounding a corner (I was again pushing from the front, even though I should have learned lesson) and trying to tell Louisa that she doesn't need to help me pull the buggy and that I've got it...I hear it. Boom and then the rolling of canned veggies. We all know my sailor tongue. I had done so well up to this point, and when I peek around the buggy I see an entire display of green beans on the ground and some still rolling. Well, I say it. Shit. And then I stomp my foot and say it again. Well, here comes the manager again and this time he is laughing. I am begging for forgiveness and asking if he is going to ban me from coming again when it happens. Lou walks over to the fallen veggies, stomps her foot, puts her hand on her hip and looks at us and says, "Shit. Shit, shit shit." Dying here. Oh my gosh...dying here. The manager has to turn his back because he is laughing so hard. OH MY GOSH I am mortified. And so, I calmly explain to Lou that Mommy said a bad word she shouldn't have and that I should never say it again and that Lou definitely shouldn't say it when she says (with the manager still in ear-shot), "Oh Mommy, you say dat all the times!" Note to self...soap in the mouth.

It is at this point that I decide I am no longer doing any good at the grocery. I need to leave. I don't have my list so I have no clue of what I need and what I don't. I still have a baby dangling in my arms. I still have Groucho with me and I am defeated. I almost went over to the beer section and grabbed a cold one and popped the top. I think the manager would have encouraged me at that point. So, we head to the check-out line with all our disaster following close. Well, I put Nash back in his seat so I can unload and pay and of course he starts screaming. And this gets looks from others in the store like, "why aren't you picking him up?" "shame on her, why is she letting that baby scream" etc. Crackers. So, I am on the verge of tears anyways, and then Lou decides to push the buggy backwards to me and it rolls over my poor flip-flopped toe that I have just recently lost my toenail and it is super painful. I cringe, and somehow manage to pay and get out to my car in one piece.

Then, as I am walking my buggy back to the designated spot in the lot this lady comes up and says, "Honey. PLEASE let me take this. Bless your heart. You and all those kids." Wow. I really only have 2. Do I look that bad? But, I thanked her and didn't mind the pity she gave me.

So, you see my friends...this Corona is just fine right now. In fact, I may need a few more. I mean...my toe does hurt. :)

Oh, and you know Nash fell asleep before I even got home. Maybe 2 miles away. Little stinker. And I think there was a lot more that happened in this horrendous trip...but I am done thinking about it for the moment. Maybe I need to give that particular store some space...just like I did for a while after Lou pulled my pants down. I thought for sure I blogged about that time, but I couldn't find it just now. Oh wells....time for another bevo.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Noteworthy

Okay, I promised last post to share with you some awesome stationery that I got in the mail from an old sorority sister. I almost fell out when I opened it. I loved it. And then I saw she did them herself and I loved them even more. You know me, I am a crafting dork. Anyone that takes the time to make something from the heart just melts me. Well, then I thought...wow, this girl is awesome because not only does she have a newborn but 2 other kiddos at home! But she says this is her creative outlet and something that she enjoys doing so she makes the time. Good girl. With that inspiration...I am gonna try my darnedest to get up in my sewing room today!!

These notes are awesome. They are hand-crafted, hand-stamped, hand-colored and amazing. She pays so much attention to detail and they even come with matching stamped envelopes! I haven't put all of them up here, but I had a hard time choosing faves. I even told her that I plan on framing some to put in his room! She said I wouldn't be the first.

Well, I was way happy when she agreed to let me 'advertise' her because these are waaaay too cute not to have. She says she does all different designs and with her custom-making each and every one, I am sure that the possibilities are endless!

I mean...look at these! I want to eat them they are so cute (and I am staaaarving, must eat lunch soon)!

Here is her info. If you know of someone having a bebe soon, or a little one needing some stationery, or if you need some...give her a holler! You will be so glad you did.

PS - photos taken on my concrete counters that I am in lurve with that my hubby did all by self! I have had so many people ask about them and how to do, etc....he has agreed to write it all down so I can blog it. Wahoooo! Yay for DIY blogs. :)

Monday, April 4, 2011

"Dad, I Miss My 3's."

First of all, let me just say nap training day 1 is kicking my bootay. It is so hard to put the paci back in little sweetness's mouth while he is sticking that bottom lip out so far and looking pitiful. I just want to pick him up and snuggle. But no, must hold my ground. Go back to sleep little boy. As I type, he is screaming in the background. Ugh. I don't understand how Byron and I produce chirrens with no need for sleep. Chaps my rear. He has slept for a total of may an hour and a half all day. Grrrrrrr. And yes, he is dry and full. Promise.

UPDATE: since it now takes a few days to compile a post (haha) it turns out that my sweet man was screaming because he didnt feel well. :( That mean-ole-unwelcomed fever came & snuck up on us and is making baby sweetness not feel his best...along with some snot & a "post naval dip" (as Lou calls it) cough.

Second of all - Louisa turned 4 last week. How in the hizz did that happen? She actually told Byron one day that she "missed her 3's." It was like the day after she turned 4. :) She is so cute. And so bad. Someone told me that 2's and 3's were bad...but the 4's were so great. Well, unless it takes some time - I might need to find that person and wring their necks. We have seen no change in behavior, if there is any change...it is for the worse. I cannot get over the amount of sass, back-talk and disobedience that comes from her. No matter the discipline. People think that I must just let her walk all over me, but no sirree. We discipline, she just could care less. The child would argue with a blade of grass. Have NO clue where she gets all of that from. Geeze.

Let's see...week in review since I have been so busy twiddling my toes and eating Bon-Bons and not blogging. :)
  • Fondren's 1st Annual Zippity Doo Dah Parade featuring the Sweet Potato Queens. This was way fun. And I think I enjoyed it mostly because we could walk to it. Also, it was really, really nice to see all of the turn-out supporting not only the Batson chirrens hospital but Fondren as well. Louisa was a bit confrused when it came to the Sweet Potato Queens, but I had read a book or two so I knew the eccentricities that would be out and about. All she kept talking about after was a man that was wearing pink high heels. Ha! She fully enjoyed the parade on Byron's shoulders. Nash and I stood back from the crowd mostly to avoid having his eyeball punctured by bead throwing. I also saw some pork-rinds being thrown. Made me giggle. Then I read where the SPQ used to throw sweet potatoes at un-expecting by-standers. Haaaaaa! That would have made my day. :)

This is how Miss Lou does a parade.

And this is how she does soccer.

If she gets my athletic ability, she better make sure she looks nice because the skilllllzzzz might not be there. In fact, one day when Byron & I were swinging in the hammock we asked Lou to run go get something & between you & I, there was about 5% running and 95% sashaying going on, pinkies out and all. Gotta love Lou.
  • Lou turned 4. I am still trying to process that one. Yikes. But she did, and we had a bakery-themed birthday party for her and a few other little girls. The ironic part is....her Momma (who did all the baking) is not a baker. At all. I have a reputation of burning cinnamon rolls and slice and bake cookies. However, I have found a crutch to my ignorance of the oven. Parchment paper. Wow. I actually made cookies without burning them. Watch out Martha, if I ever find time...maybe I will start baking. Nah, never mind. It is waay to easy to go to Campbell's around the corner. She is such a serious child sometimes. This is how she looked when everyone sang to her. Geeze.
Speaking of baking...methinks Louisa Kate may not have a future in baking either. This is her creation. She had to make sure every last square inch of whatever sugary creation is under all the icing was covered by a jelly bean. No, I didn't let her eat. I think her teeth would have fallen straight out.

After the party, we all crashed.



Well, for like 5 minutes maybe until Nash decided that he wasn't really up for napping. Boo! I mean, even Barbie and Polly Pocket couldn't even stay standing!

  • We started cloth diapering the cutest booty in the house. Noo, not mine. Nash is now a cloth diped bebe. So far, I am loving it. It is not nearly as hard as I thought it was going to be. I think the hardest part was all the research on the front end. However, for those of you out there that maybe thinking of CD'ing, I am gonna make it easy for you as I will be posting a blog ALL about it soon. You know, when I am not eating Bon-Bons and twirling my hair. I have my friends Anna and Lauren to thank as they have helped me out a ton with research, info and a learning curve. I mean...how can you resist this?
  • Louisa informed me that my cooking was apparently sub-par. I was getting her dressed and she asked if she could eat at "Deana and Beana's" (our fabulous neighbors) every night. I asked her why, and she cocked her head to the side, put her hands out to talk and said...."Ummm, because eberyfing you cook kinda grosses me out." Honesty is always the best policy, right? And not long after she informed me of this, she began to tell me that it was necessary to remove all the polish from her fingers and toes and re-do them all since one nail had gotten chipped (ah-hem....picked) off. I was half-listening as I tend to do oh so often with her until she insisted that I look, and my dear friends....this is what the sight in front of me looked like.
Oops. Must have a discussion about a certain middle finger and how it is not nice to put it up alone. I mean, how do I back that up to the child that asks why when I ask her to breathe! Oh, and the sassy look on her face - that is like an all the time look now. Grrrr. I know she is going through some adjusting with Nash, but the sass, defiance and arguing is k-i-l-l-i-n-g me. For reals. But honestly, when I am not about to string her up by her toes...the child takes my breath away. Like this pic. I cannot stop looking at it.


  • Tornado season. Gag. I have blogged before about how this little Momma is not a fan. Well, April is always a fun month for these little boogers to creep up. And Byron is NEVER home when they tend to come. But, on Monday I knew we were supposed to have bad weather, so I went ahead and had all flashlights and pillows and blankets in the hallway as well as Murray's carrier since she FREAKS when weather gets bad. Well, I was sitting on the couch feeding a little boy when I heard them. Those sirens. Ugh, just thinking about the sound makes my skin crawl and the hair on the back of my neck stand up. I wasn't expecting this so quickly - and I have learned before, when you hear the sirens...don't play. Get your bootay in the hall. So, I am running to grab Murray to put in her carrier, corral the labradors off the sofas & a toddler who "UGGGGHHH MOMMY I am NOT finished wif my stickers, otay!" all the while with said infant in arms and a bottle propped between his mouth and my chin. (For all those in health care, forget I just said I had the bottle propped, I've got this, okay?) Well, we all get in the hall and I am shutting doors (only a select number of doors in our house actually shut, one doesn't even have a doorknob, hehe) and asking Louisa for the bazillionth time to sit down and be quiet. And I get my tv set up so I can watch the radar and all is good to go until I realize, crap - what do I do with a newborn? How do I duck and cover him without risking suffocation? Shizzles. I hadn't prepared for that! So, I ran and grabbed his car seat and just happened to look out the window and almost fell out when I saw all the trees in our backyard swaying like they were pieces of pine straw in the wind and buckled him in and sat him in the hall. I figure, these seats are supposed to with-stand automobile impact, certainly this will work now??? I get him all settled, figure out how I will prop pillows over the handle and sit down and let my blood pressure begin to fall just a bit as I listen to the wind howling outside...and even worse, the sound of my house rocking in the wind. It is the eeriest sound ever. Well, I happen to look over at little firecracker, and she is rocking on the floor. Shit. I ask the dreaded question. "Lou, do you have to go potty?" Of course she did. And she had to go RIGHT then. Well, you know that our bathroom has a window (of course) and you KNOW that she decided to take her sweet time while I am on the verge of a slight panic attack. Ugh, after a few hundred times of her whining and telling me she was bored, the sirens stopped and the bad weather had passed. Thankfully, oh so thankfully without throwing off any tornadoes. Geeze. It was for shizzle beer-thirty then.
Speaking of beer-thirty...ha, just kidding it is only lunch time but I just heard the washer stop and I must get on it all before Nash wakes and I am unable to do anything without sweet bebe in arms. He does love his Mommy. :)

So, stay tuned for a cloth diapering post and also some FABULOUS hand-made note cards that a sorority sister is making that you MUST have. Trust me.