Posts tagged ‘DIY’

November 29, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday full of family, friends, and food. Here’s this year’s Thanksgiving tablescape.

IMG_3665 copy

IMG_3666 copy

Every year I try to change/add/improve something about the table. This year, I added gold chargers from Target. I had hoped to add a table runner made from Hmong indigo Batik fabric like these:

find on Esty


find on Etsy

And blueprinted Asian rice bowls like these:

But they were too expensive/unavailable/hard to get, etc, etc. So I did what I usually do: I made myself a runner. Using this tutorial, I cut, tied, and dyed a length of cotton duck cloth.

After all of this indigo dying, and blue printed dishes, I’m beginning to realize how much I really like the color indigo. I’m going to have to start keeping an eye out for this color.

Oh, and just in case you haven’t had enough of Thanksgiving food, here are some snapshots of the dishes I made for the holiday.

turkey brine

apple cider

broccoli salad


Happy Thanksgiving!

May 3, 2013

April Showers…

… Only seem to bring more May showers. Supposedly, it’s springtime. But 34 degrees and raining doesn’t really feel like spring. So my week old plants are covered for protection against the freezing wind…

Covered Plants

What’s that? A new garden bed? OK, let’s take a few steps back. You may remember this landscape plan that I drew up for my front yard.


I created this plan almost a year ago after ripping out the shrubs in front of our picture window. My main objective with this change was to remove the overgrown grass that was impossible to cut and choking out pretty daylilies. Oh, and, ya know, to look nice.

Front Yard Before

But once I started really thinking about it, I realized I wanted to go BIGGER. And I came up with this plan.

Yeah. And I wasn’t scared AT ALL. So two weeks and two freezes ago, I started building a new garden in my front yard. The first day I spent laying out the shape of the bed, which took all of 15 minutes, and digging out 5 square feet of grass, which took 2 hours. It was not happening and I was in over my head. Luckily, there are things called Home Depots and they let you rent large pieces of equipment like sod cutters to help in times like these.

Here I am with the sod cutter whipping around my front yard for another pass at ripping out some grass. I look swift, don’t I? I was not, not at all, swift. I am walking at a speed of about .000000025 miles per hour in this picture. This sod cutter was a beast. The next day, and for 3 days after that, I felt like I had been rowing myself around the Atlantic Ocean. But the majority of the grass was out.

That’s a lot of blood, sweat, and tears right there. But the fun part was coming…


There was so much fun to be had that Rob even got into the spirit of things.

He rigged up a time lapse session to document the less labor intensive bit of this whole project.


February 2, 2013

Kitchen Improvement Baby Steps, Part 2

I promised a full post wrapping up my first baby step to improving the kitchen, so here goes. Let’s start with the Befores.

Kitchen 2011

Kitchen 2011

Kitchen 2011

These pictures were taken in 2011, but not all that much had changed before this past November, including my choice of pajamas. At this point, I was unhappy with practically every surface in the kitchen, but I knew I couldn’t afford any upgrades anytime soon… if ever. So, instead, I started thinking about ways I could improve the feel of the space without putting too much money into it. I came up with a plan, starting with addressing the items I disliked the most about the space.

1. The upper cabinets above the peninsula. I despised them. They got in the way of many conversations being had. I wanted to tear them down, but that meant patching the surfaces beyond. I had to be prepared for whatever state they may be in. I’ve had experience patching gypsum and texturing walls, so I felt confident I could fix whatever happened to the ceiling in the process. The wall, not so much. The backsplash tiles were cut around the upper cabinet, so if I took the cabinet off, the raw edges of the tile would be exposed. I do not have experience in tiling, so I did not feel good about that. Luckily, I had an idea. I designed a wood trim piece to cover the cut tiles and had a friend build it for me. I then painted it and liquid nailed it to the wall. You can see the down and dirty pictures here at my previous post on this subject.

Kitchen Progress

2. The dark and creepy window nook. I loved this window space when we first looked at the house. I thought it could be a cheerful space to grow herbs and other plants. Instead, it became a black hole that constantly felt empty, yet overcrowded. After staring at pretty kitchen windows on blogs, then at mine, I realized a curtain was the first step, and I could make it myself. But first, I painted the window frame to match my tile trim. Painting the trim white helped to brighten up the area and made it feel much cleaner than the old, worn stained frame did. I then got to constructing my curtain. I found a pretty simple tutorial here that is so easy I was able to start and finish the project in an evening. I then took the “less is more” approach to accessorizing the nook by removing everything I didn’t love. I was left with a knife block, a couple plants, three glass canisters (which each hold flour sack towels, dish detergent and fresh light bulbs) and a frosted mustard bowl to tie in my accent color.

Kitchen Curtain

3. Lack of interesting and cohesive accessories. What accessories I had were merely parts that did not add up to a cohesive look. Accessorizing is not my strong point, so I experimented with my accent color in various patterns. I mixed the geometric curtain with striped tea towels and a southwest style rug. Mustard colored bowls, a print with bits of yellow and produce helped add fresh color to the space.

Kitchen Accessories

4. The furniture in the space doesn’t accomodate the activities that take place there. Sure, a dinette table belongs in a dinette, but what if the dinette table only gets used as a mail sorter and a coat rack? The table just took up space and made it difficult to vacuum. What I noticed most was that guests preferred to stand close to the peninsula to watch whatever activities were happening in the kitchen. So how about some stools?

Kitchen Stools

Ok, enough ‘splainin’. Let’s get to the Afters!

Kitchen Progress

Kitchen Progress

Kitchen Progress

Kitchen Progress

Kitchen Progress

Baby step one is done. My plan, now, is to live with this progress a while and decide if anymore steps should be taken. At this point, those steps are painting the upper cabinets or painting all of the cabinets. We’ll see!

November 19, 2012

I’ve Got Swag

Well… I have A swag.

I’ve been working on holiday door decor since the townhouse days and could never get it quite right. I think I’m a little closer this year.

The difference has definitely been the fondness I have for our new front door.  These are our first holidays together (yes, I’m talking about me and my door), and I want to do it up right. I knew a swag style design would work better than a wreath next to our linear doorlite, so I started searching Pinterest for swag arrangements that I liked.

image courtesy of

source unknown – please contact me if you know the source

image courtesy of

All arrangements seemed to have few elements with some emphasis in the center. I have some sort of weird obsession with eucalyptus, so I decided to start there. I did a bit of window shopping, but ultimately found myself in the dried floral aisle of Hobby Lobby. They had several different colors of Eucalyptus, but purple stood out to me.

The purple was dark and moody, just the way I like it. Plus, I’m a huge fan of purple with orange and green – a triad color scheme. I grabbed the Eucalyptus, some barely green Dune Grass, and then paced back and forth through the Hobby Lobby aisles looking for the perfect centerpiece to my swag. Grapevine orbs? Faux bird’s nests? Faux Forsythia branches? All good options, but I ended up taking home a couple nameless faux tropical flowers that were dusted with purple and green. I also grabbed some deep navy ribbon that was so close in color to my moody purple that I could hardly stand it.

Once I got home, I spread all my goodies out on the dining table and started arranging. Jin helped by chewing rouge grasses and promptly vomiting them up.

My first step was cutting down the stems of the nameless tropical flowers and tying them together using twist-ties.

Then I laid out my Eucalyptus and Dune Grass, while Jin sniffed some fake flowers…

Then plopped my tropicals on top and called it good.

I tied it all together with a rubber band and began wrapping the base with my ribbon. I tied one end of the ribbon in a knot around the rubber band then wrapped until I could wrap no more and tied a knot in the ribbon on to itself.

I then knotted one end of the hanging ribbon onto the  knot of the base ribbon. You follow?

The last step was to holler at Rob to hold the arrangement against the door while I stepped into the front yard to eyeball exactly where the arrangement should be hung. Nail ‘er into place (on top of the door) and call her done.

Errr… no. The witch’s broomstick was not what I was going for. I let the swag hang for half a day, just to be sure of how much I hated it, then took it down and fussed a bit with it.

Ahh… that’s better. Simple is always better.

Now to clean up that cat vomit.

March 18, 2012

To Do List

It’s been a long while since I’ve last updated my to do list, so here goes…

Those items highlighted green are those that have been completed since I last updated the list (June 2010)

To Do List

1)  Replace carpet with wood

2) Replace existing tile

3)  Replace all light fixtures

  • Entry – pendant
  • Dining – pendant
  • Living Room – recessed
  • Kitchen – pendant
  • Master Bedroom – pendant/close to ceiling
  • Master Bathroom – pendant or sconces
  • Bedrooms – close to ceiling
  • Guest Bathroom – sconce
  • Exterior Front – sconce

4)  Demolish partial wall/cover existing opening

5)  Replace Living Room doors with windows  (I haven’t decided if I still want to do this.  Originally, I thought the door was inoperable, but the wood had just swelled the door closed.)

6)  Replace window treatments (I’m about halfway through with this one, not enough to cross it off, unfortunately.)

7)  Remove upper cabinets above peninsula in kitchen

8 ) Paint Fireplace

9)  Add Fireplace doors (crossing both 8 and 9 off my list because I’m fairly certain I’ve changed my mind about both items)

10)  Add pocket/barn door to Master Bathroom

11)  Replace Master Bathroom sink

12)  Replace toilets with dual flush toilets

13)  Paint Interior (I decided to paint the kitchen the same color as the living room and to paint the cabinets. I may treat the laundry room completely different from the rest of the house since that room is so dark and depressing.)

  • Living Room/Dining Room/ Hallway/ Kitchen – SW Pearly White
  • Kitchen Cabinets – White (which white, I don’t know.)
  • Laundry Room – ???
  • Office – SW Pearly White
  • Guest Bathroom – SW Worldly Gray
  • Master Bedroom/Master Bathroom – SW Balanced Beige

14)  Paint Exterior (In progress, yes, still.)

  • Trim – SW Black Fox
  • Field – SW Universal Khaki

15)  Replace Kitchen counter with quartz or butcher block

16)  Replace all windows (4 out of 10 of these will be replaced this year!)

I’m hoping this will be inspiring to those who feel they need to tackle everything at once. We have actually made great progress here in under 3 years, but I try not to rush myself. I’ve learned that my ideas change with time (see items 8 and 9) and almost always for the better. If I had tried to tackle my whole To Do List at one time, I would not be as happy with the (in progress) outcome as I am!

Enjoy it!

November 18, 2011

Stamp of Approval

Last week I was able to fulfill another Pinterest desire of mine – stamped gift wrap.


This image caught my eye because I love using mailing paper for gift wrap and hate the typical santa-shaped name tags. Knowing I was going to be wrapping some wedding gifts for friends, I stopped by Hobby Lobby to buy some alphabet stamps (really I stopped by Michael’s first, then later returned the Michael’s stamps to keep my favored Hobby Lobby stamps). Below is a peek at our tiny stamped signature. I’ll share more when Christmas gift wrapping time has come around.

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October 22, 2011


A friend recently asked how long Rob and I have lived in the house on Penny Lane. It took me a while to realize it has only been a little over 2 years. I could have sworn it has been longer. But, boy, does that make me feel better about the little progress we have made in the last year – A.K.A. none.

I did, however, get a little pep in my step when October came around. I’ll be hosting Thanksgiving dinner again and I was hoping the space would be a bit more pulled together and festive this year.

One of the items I wanted to address was a piece of wall art I had created for the living room. The black, white and yellow chevron piece was originally located in the fireplace nook, before I decided I hated it. Seen here:


I moved the piece temporarily to above the cabinet loaned to me by my dad. Seen here:


I never photographed the art and cabinet together because it was genuinely meant to be a temporary placing. Of course, as is typical for me, that temporary placement lasted months. I have other plans in mind for the black, white and yellow chevron piece – namely to repaint it and hang it in Rob’s office – but still wanted something above the cabinet to add height.

Knowing I didn’t want to spend any money, I rummaged through my existing stockpile of frames and art and came across a piece Rob and I had purchased a long time ago, prior to the house. It had previously hung at the top of the stairs at our townhouse. It looked great there, but the coloring is off for this house. So I painted it.





Like my jammies?

I used left over sample paint to cover up the purplish gray that clashed with the rest of the house. It took a bit of time to go over it, but I think it was worthwhile, even if I don’t use it in its intended spot. I’ll post pictures as soon as I’m decided.

My other fun craft was creating some fall decorations appropriate for this minimalist house. You may remember my painted gourds from Thanksgiving 2009.



While inexpensive, the gourds were tricky to paint. I dried them out first, then painted and painted and painted. The natural oils from the gourds would seep through and stain the paint so I was constantly touching them up.

This year I decided to go faux – Michael’s had a ton of realistically shaped pumpkins and gourds for 50% off. I wouldn’t buy them at full price. Just saying. They were expensive enough at half off. I then stood in the crafts paint aisle for a good 15 minutes trying to decide what color to paint my new faux gourds. I ended up choosing the color “linen”, which is exactly as it sounds.

I started with a pumpkin, a gourd and two bottles of paint.



When I was halfway finished painting the two, I decided I wanted to get a slew more.



I finished the gourds by painting the stems a glossy black, which contrasts nicely with the matte, ceramic-like finish of the linen paint.



Now to decorate with them. This may take months…

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February 12, 2011

Enje Shades

You probably read here about our installation of IKEA Enje shades. I did my best to give a brief tutorial of how to cut and install the shades, but I knew most of my audience wouldn’t care, so I didn’t go into a great amount of detail. Luckily, Anna over at Door Sixteen recently posted a detailed tutorial on her own adventures of cutting Enje shades. I actually learned some new things that make me feel a bit stupid… but that’s ok. I’ll pass on the knowledge to you and we can pretend I didn’t do the needless, awkward things I did do.

image courtesy of Door Sixteen

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October 30, 2010

Paint it Yellow.

Way back when, I promised I would stain our Craigslist chairs over Labor Day weekend. Let’s just say I started to stain them Labor Day weekend, but it turned out like this:

Which is not so good.

So then I thought, maybe I’ll just paint the chairs the color of the stain. So I pulled out my Sherwin Williams fan deck, matched the stain to a paint color (which is nearly impossible, by the way) and headed off to the paint store. As soon as I returned, I realized I didn’t want to paint the chairs a dark bronze color.

I wanted to paint the chairs yellow!

(image courtesy of

So I hemmed and hawed over a pile of yellow paint chips. It seems the perfect yellow is even harder to find than the perfect white. But finding the best yellow was a piece of cake compared to the prepping and priming of the chairs.

I started by sanding the glossy topcoat from my chairs, then I cleaned the dust up by a combination of a microfiber cloth and canned air. Finally, I taped off the fabric using painter tape. Which left me with this:

This doesn’t look like much, but it took me 2 months to accomplish. One coat of oil-based primer later,  and I had this pretty duo:

The next step was to paint the topcoat. Easy, right? Unless you’re me, anyway. I brushed on one coat of my first color choice, Quilt Gold, and could immediately tell that it was the wrong color choice. The next day I picked up another can of yellow paint, this time Bee, and it was perfect. Here, I’ll show you.

Now I just need the cats back on them so I can submit my own Pets on Furniture image.

July 12, 2010

Wood Floors Pt. 1

Just to show you how dedicated Rob is to finishing the never-ending flooring project in our house, he’s using a nail gun right now to reattach the baseboards.  Or maybe he’s just wanting his TV back in its rightful home.

Starting Friday, we finally got to that huge stack of wood sitting in our living room.  And don’t overestimate our awesomeness, because we had tons of help.  Our friends, Gavin and Heather, gave up their weekend to help us lay some floors.

Yesterday, we spent the day working in the master bedroom.

The floors are engineered wood strips that we glued together and floated over the concrete slab.

By default, we had to go about 1/3 of the way into the hallway.

Another friend’s miter saw that he’s so graciously let us borrow. Thanks, Dave!

Our beautiful, although dusty, wood floors.

And last, but not least, our sleeping quarters for the last couple of nights. Comfy!