A few Fridays ago Kel and I both took the day off to spend it entirely with Miss J. We went to the aquarium and followed that up with dinner out at the local kids place in the next town over.
The aquarium is just across the river from Philly and affords fantastic views of the city from its front door!
Since it was the middle of the afternoon on a Friday the place was pretty much dead! We stayed in the shark tunnel thingy for about 10 minutes and never saw another person...well, besides the sharks!
The highlight of the afternoon was a 2:30 appearance by Scuba Santa and his helper elf. Again, only a handful of kiddos were there so we all got photos and the kids were able to interact with the big guy. Obvioulsy J liked the underwater Santa 100x more than she did the one where she had to sit on his lap!
Who knows, the highlight may have been sliding through this turtle shell?
I had the unique opportunity to photograph this game, "America's Game" for the 5th straight year. Per usual, the game didn't disappoint. The pomp and circumstance, some amazing flyover's by the Blue Angels and some Apache choppers, even the weather added to the mystique. Unfortunatly for the Army fans, the result was the same it has been for 12 years running now, a Navy victory. Below are a few shots from the day...
Here are a few outakes from this years Christmas Card photo shoot of Miss J. The weather was great and a certain someone was in the perfect mood to smile for us! Win, win! I call them outtakes just because they didn't make the cut for our Christmas card...otherwise, there are some really good shots in here!
It's going to be exponetially harder to do this next year with her and a little one wriggling around!
You all remember our old family room...sure it was okay, but it just didnt have that warm and inviting feeling we would have liked. Thus, we put some money aside in the 2013 Nowak Fiscal Budget and decided to make a few upgrades. Paint, furniture, electronics, and some key decorative items that would really bring it all together.
Obviously those are some "before" photos...and it's a bit crazy to look back to see how it was before the transformation.
Let's start at the begining: The entire idea for the room centered around a long picture ledge behind the couch and a paint color other than yellow...ANY color other than yellow! Check out the illustration below:
You knew I'd draw up plans, right? I'm actually not sure how you no-architects even try to lay out a room without drawing it up first! Really...how do you do it?
My original thought was to build the shelf out of wood and paint it the same color as the trim, but then Kelly thought "what if we made it out of reclaimed wood?". Fantastic idea! An email and a few phone calls later and I was driving down the Schuylkill Expressway with a 12' piece of timber sticking out the passenger side window! Not the safest operation by any means...but it made the journey home. A HUGE thanks to John at Stable Tables for giving me the piece for free! He's the same guy who built our kitchen table, which if you've seen in person, is awesome! He's THE man for all your reclaimed table needs.
Here's a quick peak at the finished product, then I'll tell you how we got there.
With the piece of lumber in hand we got started and used that as the basis for almost everything. Before we go too far, let's see a few photos of the process that got us there. First up was the relocation of a speaker and thermostat to accomdate the new picture ledge. I did the cutting and patching but left the finish work to the Patrick, the pro, who used to do this stuff for a living. Once it was done you'd never know the wall was opened up like that! And yep, had to get a 2nd Nest thermostat!
How nice is it that all 3 items line up? Why the heck couldnt they do that when they built the place?
While John provided the lumber I leaned on Lou, our friendly carpenter, to come over and help [read: do the work] and hang it correctly. There were a series of intricate cuts that he skillfully made, free-hand mind you, with a circular saw. Pretty impressive stuff! [I need a toolbelt like that!]
I hung the TV and fished the wires myself. Details on the products used is at the end of this post.
We decided to add a small accent wall in a 40" recess that is towards the back of the room. A nice way to add even more warmth from some natural wood. The idea was to find some reclaimed wood and use that. I found a great little coffee shop in Philly that had done the exact same thing and realized that they had used wooden shipping pallets. Simple enough, I thought. Well, I have to give a big shout-out to my BIL, Matt, who spent an entire morning with me at an industrial park busting up shipping pallets. Let me tell you, they don't make those things to be taken apart, that's for sure! We were sweating like dogs and our ears were rining from pounding the crowbar with a hammer! It was especially hard to find ones that were a bit more seasoned and weathered and had the look we were going for, but over the course of a few months I was able to round up the amount of wood I neded.
Alright...so those are a few of the behind the scenes type images, now lets get back to the pretty pictures of the finished product!
We of course maintained a small play area for Miss J. Most of her toys are in the finished basement, but it's nice to have some stuff up here for her. Her people are always perfectly lined up on the sill.
The entire process was a very slow slog...probably took about 9 months to get everything done and furnitured delievered. Well worth it in the end if you ask me though!
So our new recliner arrived yesterday and that officially completes our family room renovation! As you can see, Miss J seemed mightly comfy in it. She just needs a beer in one hand and the TV clicka in the other and she'd be all set!
I'm hoping to snap a few completed photos of the room this weekend...stay tuned!