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Posted by on Jan 10, 2017 | 4 comments

Brad and Heather’s DIY Wooden Porch Remodel

Brad and Heather’s DIY Wooden Porch Remodel

I did a double-take the first time I drove past Brad and Heather’s home and noticed their handsome gleaming wood porch. Later, I learned that they designed and built it themselves and were willing to share their experience with us. Here is the porch the way it looked when they first purchased their home. Brad initially did his planning on paper and with computer software. He went through many drafts before​ c​oming up with the perfect design. Once they had the final plan, Brad spent several months ​drawing the interlocking wood panels using a key to indicate the differen​t e​lements. They then ordered enough white oak to build the railings and to replace the ​five original pillar​s that were removed. They salvaged the old yellow pine for other DIY projects.​ While Brad worked on the wood pieces, Heather prepared the flooring by removing many layers of paint by using a floor grinder and pressure washer​. They installed slate tiles, a choice they admitted to regretting since they said it...

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Posted by on Jan 3, 2017 | 0 comments

Writing Messages with Fireworks

Writing Messages with Fireworks

Our friends, Rachel and John and their three kids came to visit for New Year’s Eve bearing sparklers that they picked up at a roadside firework stand. Rachel mentioned her idea of writing words or “2017” for the New Year with the sparklers and taking photos using a technique where you slow down the camera shutter speed in order to capture the number or letter shapes. The activity is really fun and the results truly spectacular. We realize sparklers are illegal, but we supervised the kids closely and trained them on safety. We read a tip about using a flashlight to illuminate the subject’s face to make it easier to focus the camera. When you don’t have a powerful flash, on a phone camera say, the flashlight also helps you take photos in the dark in general. We then got the kids to stand side by side so they could practice writing and I could try different manual settings on my camera. I knew that in order to blur...

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Posted by on Dec 20, 2016 | 0 comments

Kate’s Custom Crochet Doll: The Rainbow Lady

Kate’s Custom Crochet Doll: The Rainbow Lady

If you live in Del Ray and have kids, I can all but guarantee you’ve heard of Rainbow Rock. They’re local musician Kate Moran’s band that has been performing for children since 2012 at parties and festivals, in cafes, and at the annual festival that Kate also produces in the spring, the Tot Rock Fest. When Kate performs, she transforms into “Rainbow Lady” in a colorful bob, rainbow t-shirt and hoodie, sky blue skirt with rainbow appliqué, and black-and-while saddle shoes. What would be more fitting than for Rainbow Lady to have her own lookalike plush doll. The idea came to her in a moment of serendipity, when Kate was browsing the booths at Del Ray’s annual Art on the Avenue last fall and met crocheter Sarah Potter from Hooked and Loopy. Sarah specializes in amigurumi, the Japanese art of making knit and crochet stuffed toys. Kate says, “I walked into Sarah’s booth to buy a penguin and I noticed she had these superhero dolls which were SO cute!...

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Posted by on Dec 7, 2016 | 0 comments

Going Solar in Alexandria

Going Solar in Alexandria

Steve and Michele have joined a growing list of families in Alexandria by adding solar panels to their home last summer. It didn’t cost a fortune, and they’ve already seen an extraordinary drop in their energy consumption. I met with Steve and Michele the other day to hear about their experience. They told me they spent about $13,500 to purchase and install the panels, which is the typical price for the average size of homes in this area. But, they say that they decided on installing panels mainly to avoid wasting energy and to be more resource conscious in general, to make as they say, “an investment in our lives.” The roof attachments have rails that the panels sit on, as well as waterproofing in the roof shingles. They showed me their Dominion bill for September to October, 2016, which was only $15.36. What’s most notable is that when it’s common around here to run the A/C the most often, during August, they only paid $25. Virginia provides for...

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Posted by on Nov 29, 2016 | 1 comment

A Charlie Brown Christmas in Del Ray

A Charlie Brown Christmas in Del Ray

In the next few weeks, many of the businesses along Del Ray’s Mt Vernon Ave. will feature winter wonderland-themed murals on their windows. For the mural at Del Ray Pharmacy, my friend Candi and I offered to paint an ode to one of our favorite holiday stories, A Charlie Brown Christmas. Our supplies: Washable tempura paint and black tempura pen (not shown). Powder tempura paint. Adding about a tablespoon of powder to about a cup of the premixed paint makes the paint thicker to allow better saturation of color on the windows. Dish soap. One squirt in the mixture also helps the paint to stick to the window better. Paint brushes of various widths. Hair spray (not shown here). Spraying the final artwork will help protect it from the elements. First, we found images online and had them enlarged in black and white (we got ours printed at Affordable Signs) to the actual size we would paint. We then taped the images in place on the inside of the...

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