It’s finished!

The dining room table is in the dining just in time for our family Christmas/New Year's Eve dinner and party!

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I am so very excited! Steve, with some help from Jeff, did a magnificent job. This table will probably be in this room until we are blasted out of the house.

Of course a new table brings with it the need for 4 more chairs. I'd love to find chairs similar to the ones you see here in the blue upholstery. We got these 30 years ago at a Danish furniture store. If any of you happen to know where I might find something similar (used is fine!) please let me know. Until then we'll fill in with our wood folding chairs and the arm chairs that really don't fit but are pretty anyway.

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Here you see the table set for eleven (the kids have smaller, colored plates). Dinner is in a couple of hours and we'll be opening presents before that. And the guys are going to jump in the pool! I hope your New Year's Eve is as festive as ours!

 

Let there be light (in the bathroom)!

We read an article in Dwell magazine several months ago about Solatubes. These are small skylights made in Australia that are easy to install and that bring in an incredible amount of light. We found a distributor in the US and got one ordered so that the boys could help Steve install it. That's Jeff, Steve, and Chris (L to R) sorting out the pieces and doing some pre-assembly.

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Holes had to be cut through the bathroom ceiling and – gasp! – through the roof of the house. I was in the garage doing a different chore so I didn't get a photo of the holes being cut. There's Steve, below, putting the bottom piece up through the ceiling. The boys are in the attic joining pieces and screwing them in place.

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There is an amazing amount of light coming through the Solatube!

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The unit came with flashing and instructions for how to nestle the outside part in the shingles. Steve is a big believer in asphalt caulk so to prevent roof leaks so he got back on the roof and sealed all the seams.

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The dome is a hard, thick, clear plastic. The only thing that I'm concerned about is how it will hold up to golf ball or larger-sized hail. I may order a spare dome.

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It's hard to get a good photo of this bathroom but that bright circle in the ceiling is the end of the Solatube and it is providing the only light in the room. Today is a cloudy day – it will be brighter on sunny days! I hope to order at least one more of these next year for our other interior bathroom.

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Porch posts to table legs…

Steve, with help from Jeff, got almost all the paint off of the porch posts and got them sanded smooth. Notice that they are hollow.

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Steve got a 4" x 4" post and ripped boards to fit the hollow center of the posts. He and Jeff glued the perfectly cut pieces into the center of each table leg to make them stronger.

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They cut the ends to make them smooth.

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I got home from shopping in Dallas with Celia and stained these lovely table legs.

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They don't take the stain as well as the table top but that's OK with me and Steve. In fact I almost wish the table top had the same pickled finish – but it doesn't. Here's a nice close-up…

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The square part of the legs are the top, the turned parts will be nearer the floor. Look close and you'll see that they are in 'pairs'. The top of the porch post was one pattern, and the bottom was a different turned pattern. I love it!

 

Working on the table…

Steve has spent much of the last two days working on our new dining room table. Today he realized that some of the boards were not completely flat which meant that that the table top was bowing up in opposite corners. This was not a real surprise since we are working with 60 year old wood that used to be a floor in an airplane hanger but, still, it needed to be fixed. He and Jeff and I decided that a diagonal support was needed.

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My dad built small planes for fun and when he died he left a variety of aluminum 'things'. Steve has held onto them for more than 20 years, using pieces when he found the perfect place for them. This is one of those places. That's an aluminum I-beam that Jeff is screwing to the underside of the table. It is strong enough to pull the table flat! Steve added a couple of additional supports at each end, inside the wood apron.

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He has also been stripping the paint off of the porch posts that will be the table legs. This task is taking an innordinant amount of time but he's patient and thorough and he's making progress. Tomorrow they may be ready to stain.

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And here is the tabletop with apron attached resting on two recycling bins. I've got this part stained. I may be able to start putting the polyurethane on tomorrow or Thursday!

 

Christmas in black and white…

(I named this post before I added the color photos. The black and white images are all the way at the end…)

Steve and I have always made the trip home to visit family for Christmas which means that our boys always made that trip as well. Steve and I go to Oklahoma City on the 23rd to visit my mom and sister. Now that they are married, the trip north is a little more complicated for the boys. They stay in Sherman for Christmas Eve and Christmas morning with their respective in-laws.

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On Christmas day around lunch time they (with wives and children in tow) drive north to Steve's mom and dad's house for the big dinner and festivities. It's not just our family but Steve's brother and sister's families too. The house is full to the brim and the presents take over the living room!

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I didn't take enough pictures – I chose to enjoy the party instead. But that's Jeff and Chris, above, and Steve with our neice Rachel, who has a catering business, busy in the kitchen.

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On the day after Christmas the kids do some more visiting and eventually we all end up back home in Texas. We do our family celebration (with presents!) on New Year's Eve. I've gotten to the point that it feels natural to spread out the Christmas celebration. In fact it's nice to still have New Year's Eve to look forward to.

The image below may seem unrelated to Christmas but it isn't for us. This is the chandelier that hung in my Grandmother's bedroom. It belongs to my sister now and we moved it for her from one place to another on the 24th. I cleaned that thing as a child and I did it again last week. Every time I re-hang those strands of crystal I am reminded of how pretty it is. It reminded me again that it's family and tradition that make the holidays special.

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I hope you all had a lovely Christmas!

 

Orange blossom!

You know that orange tree I brought inside? It's dropping leaves AND flowering! If you look real close you can see a part of a red ornament in the upper right corner of the photo. I decided to decorate it this Christmas because I don't have a lot of luck with potted plants. Who knows – it might be happy and that's why it's flowering!

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I hope each and every one of you has a merry Christmas! If you celebrate a different holiday – I hope you have a lovely celebration as well!