Thursday, December 26, 2013

Great Start to the Holidays

We had a very, very nice Christmas Eve with my family, and a great Christmas Day celebration on the Cape with Dylan's family.  It's very hard to have to split the holidays up, as I'm sure that many of you have to do in order to spend time with both sides of your family.

One of the things that wasn't so great was prepping the food on Christmas Eve.  I offered to do the cooking for my family's celebration, since my parents are in the middle of a kitchen renovation, and I was making the salad, one of the last things to do before heading over to my grandparent's house.  I was cleaning the lettuce, and then slicing it on the cutting board before throwing it into the bowl.

And I bet you can see where this is going...

I had a bunch of lettuce on the board, with my thumb on one piece of wet lettuce, and it happened to slip on another piece of wet lettuce and right under the brand new kitchen knife I was using.

So yeah, at 2:30pm on Christmas Eve, we jumped in the car and sped to the emergency room, where I ended up with a tetanus shot, two shots for numbing my thumb since the first one didn't work, and  4 stitches.

So for the last few days, I haven't been able to do much. Thankfully, the cut was on my left hand, and I'm a righty, so it hasn't caused too much trouble, but I'm having a hard time with the simple things, especially since my arm is bruised and the muscles are super sore from the tetanus shot.  Putting on my pants and taking off shirts is the worst.  Also, I have to be really careful that my thumb doesn't get wet, so I haven't been able to cook or clean either.

I can't wait for this to heal. It's so painful and really annoying, so it needs to be gone, especially since we have so many things to do for the house.  And if you're interested, you can see a picture of the stitches on my thumb here. I didn't want to embed the picture in the post in case you get really grossed out about that kind of stuff.  But, I did a really good job.  Dylan has actually told me that I'm not allowed to use anything sharp anymore.

Anyways, I was going to have a house post for you today, but this kind of throws a wrench in some of the projects we had planned, so I wanted to tell you about this.

Have any of you had an injury that has played into your home renovations and decorating plans? Ever had stitches? These are my first other than the ones I got when my wisdom teeth were removed - and I'm not counting those!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Dylan and I aren't really ones to send out cards, so you'll have to settle with a picture from last year - our first married Christmas.

We hope that you all have a wonderful Christmas, and that you are able to spend time with your families and friends.

Have a great holiday, and we'll be back later this week with another house update and, of course, this week's Flash Sale Friday!

Merry Christmas!!

Monday, December 23, 2013

I Will Never Paint This Kitchen Again

Last Thursday, I teased you with a picture of all of the paint and supplies I was gathering for part 1 of paint-the-entire-house.  And then, a little later, I teased you with some snapshots of our painting progress.

Now, I am ready to tell you that the Family Room and Kitchen are done! And I will never paint this kitchen again.

The kitchen was so awful to paint. The problem was the space itself.  In addition to the walls, we also painted the ceiling, which is not only 15 feet tall at the highest point and also has sloped sides, but also has 6 pot-lights that don't come out of the ceiling all the way, 2 pendants, 2 central air vents, only one of which could be removed (stripped screw), 1 chandelier and a covered fan box to go around, never mind all of the cutting-in along the wall seam.  And while that sounds bad, the walls in the kitchen have 3 doors, 2 windows, 2 wall jut-outs, an over-the-sink sconce, and all of the cabinets.  In summary, this took forever to paint. One layer of paint took us just over 2 hours to complete.  So, multiply that by vacuuming the walls, washing the walls, 1 coat of primer, and then 2 coats of paint = a lot of hours.  In fact, we didn't finish painting until 2am last night (this morning?) and then clean up took another 40 minutes.

So, needless to say, this kitchen will be gray for the rest of the time we live in this house. I am not EVER painting it again.  The End.

But, let's continue, shall we? After all, I know you want to see the before and after pictures, right?!

You already know about my design plans for the Family Room, but if you don't you should check it out, just so you can see how my vision is coming to fruition.  But, just so you know ahead of time, I am already obsessed with this room, and there isn't even any furniture in it yet!

The obligatory before picture, which is followed by...

Just a corner snapshot of the Family Room accent wall, but, what do you think?! Doesn't it look amazing?  My cell picture doesn't really do it justice at all. My actual camera is having some issues with focus, but when that gets fixed, I'll get a better picture for you.  

The kitchen is also a huge difference. You'll remember the post last week about cleaning the kitchen and I had some great shots of the space, including the horrible orangy-peach color that was on the walls. And now, here's the difference the paint color makes.

And a huge change, the after!

We absolutely love the way that this color looks on the walls. It really makes the cabinets and the appliances the main focus, and takes your eye away from the ugly Corian countertops that we aren't replacing right now.

Next, we will be looking at replacement light fixtures that we could still use when we renovate the kitchen completely in a few years, and then we may have a surprise in store still with something bigger in here!

So, what do you think? The paint makes a huge difference, doesn't it?

Friday, December 20, 2013

Flash Sale Friday: Colorful Accessories

It's time for another...

Each week, I will be featuring some of the week's best picks from my favorite Flash Sale sites and creating a room inspiration board for all of you to enjoy!  If you have a room that needs decorating and you are looking for some inspiration, feel free to email me what you are looking for, and I'll see what I can come up with for you, and you will be featured in a future Flash Sale Friday post!

If you would like to become a member to one of the sites featured in this Flash Sale Friday post, feel free to create an account from the links I have provided below.


In honor of my recent acquisition of all the paint I will ever need, I have decided to choose items for this week's Flash Sale Friday that match the colors I will be painting in my home.  These small accessories would bring great color to your home, even in the midst of Winter.  

1. Tangiers Rug in Charcoal via Joss & Main  2. Reve Throw in Char via Joss & Main  3. Martine Storage Ottoman in Wine via Joss & Main  4. Plum and Silver Oval Lamp Shade via 55 Downing Street  5. Jaslene Pillow via Joss & Main  6. Asian Art Imports Stick Stool via MyHabit  7. Blue Leaf Print Drum Lamp Shade via 55 Downing Street  8. Satin Cream Metallic Leaves Lamp Shade via 55 Downing Street  9. Hamptons Pillow in Green via One Kings Lane  10. Yellow Buddha Objet via One Kings Lane  11. Jaune Table Lamp via Joss & Main  12. Timeless Round Table in Yellow via MyHabit  13. Davina Pillow in Tangelo via Joss & Main  14. Orange Floral Silhouette Lampshade via 55 Downing Street

I think my favorite piece in this collection is the green and silver lampshade. I love that piece, and I think I may just have to buy it. I think it would look great in the Guest Bedroom, especially with the tree decal I am planning on putting on the wall above the bed!

Please Note: All of the images in this post have been used with permission. Images were not modified or altered to fit in this inspiration board. Flash Sale invitation links may provide me with rewards if items are purchased by a new member.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Floor Refinishing, Except Not

Well, after I led you on and everything about potentially having our floors refinished, it's not happening.

Unfortunately the cost was too much for us to be able to do comfortably right now, so since it was mostly a cosmetic change anyways, we decided that now is not the time to do it. Maybe down the line we will get to it, but now is not the time.

However a few weeks ago, I was ready to get this done, and we even delayed painting the house and going to IKEA thinking that our floors were getting redone.  Also, we didn't even get a Christmas Tree!! I know, I know, there is still time, but it's really not worth the hassle right now with the holiday being only a few days away now.  Which just means that next year I'm going to get that tree as soon as I can!

We were debating between Dark Walnut and Jacobean, both by Minwax, and as suggested in the comments of this post, we wanted to see each in the light of the rooms.  So, in preparing for the floors being refinished, I went to the hardware store and picked up a 2'x1' board in Red Oak, which is the type of wood that our hardwoods are.  I grabbed a small can of the two colors we were debating for stain and a small can of poly to go over the top.

I prepped the board that I got by sanding it, then wiped all of the sawdust off with a dry cloth, and actually used one of those compressed air cans that you can use to clean out electronics to get the remaining dust particles off.  I then water-popped the board, by wetting the wood with warm water and letting it air dry.  This is done so that the grain opens and the wood absorbs more stain, therefore making the color as dark as the swatch.

After the wood was dry, I used some painter's tape to mark the center of the board so that I could apply one color to each side for comparison.  If you're not OCD like me, you don't have to measure out the exact center of your board, but you know that I did!

Then, it was time to add the stain. I used a small foam brush from the hardware store and applied the stain with the grain of the wood.  Once I had the board covered, I went over it again one more time to make sure that the coverage was even.  I did the same thing for the second color stain on the other half of the board, and then let the stain sit for 15 minutes.  

I couldn't find any of my work cloths because of the shambles that my garage is currently in, so I grabbed a pair of old but clean socks and used them to wipe the extra stain off the boards, again going with the grain of the wood.  I then left it overnight to dry before applying the first coat of polyurethane.  

The next day, I wiped down the board with a slightly damp paper towel, just to make sure that there was no lint or dust on it that would get stuck in the polyurethane. Using a clean foam brush, I applied the poly in a not-too-thin-but-not-too-thick coat, with the grain of the wood, then using the reflection of a flashlight, made sure there weren't any big bubbles on the surface. I left this to dry overnight, just like I did the stain.  

The next day, I repeated the last step, but before applying the final coat of polyurethane, I used some fine-grit sandpaper and sanded down the board gently, making sure that any bubbles that the poly left were popped and the new coat would stick better and finish off all the coverage.  Once that was left overnight to dry, we were ready to remove the painter's tape.  

Since I polyurethaned over the edge of the tape on the board, I used a razor blade to score the seam so that it didn't leave little pieces of tape everywhere. After that, the tape came up very easily.

Just a note about using painter's tape with stain - it might not work the way you want it to.  If you notice in the picture below, I had a lot of bleeding with the stain under the tape. Because this was just a sample board and not a piece of furniture, I didn't mind, but if you're trying to use this technique with a piece of furniture or an important project, you will likely end up with some bleeding.

And with that, we had a finished board to bring from room to room to test the stain colors.  

But, then we didn't use it, because we figured out that refinishing the floors was out of the question for the time being.  So now I just have this board that's stained two different colors for no reason. But, when the time comes to actually have the floors done, I'll have this ready to throw in every room to make sure we like the color.  

Anyone else really get their hopes up on refinishing the floors and then not have them done? I was devastated, but I'd rather hold off so we can do some other smaller and less expensive things to the house.  

Monday, December 16, 2013

Cleaner than Clean

So, hi!  Long time no blog.

Sorry about the lack of posting last week, and especially the missing Flash Sale Friday.  I was elbow deep in soap and kitchen cleaners and ended up with a slight chemical rash on my right hand from using so much bleach (yes, I know I should have used gloves...).  With my house now empty, this weekend, including my day off on Friday, was dedicated to cleaning.  I was able to get all the floors vacuumed and steamed, and wiped down all the window and door frames, and then I tackled the biggest cleaning item on the list - the kitchen.

In total, I spent over 22 hours cleaning just the kitchen. And yes, that is supposed to say 22 - that is not a typo.  I wanted to make sure that it was cleaned properly and every inch was touched.  And when all is said and done, there are only two things that I didn't get to - the skylights and the light fixtures.  I need a ladder to reach the skylights, which we haven't purchased yet, so those will wait until we get one, and the pendant lights haven't been touched yet because I ran out of energy, and I'm secretly hoping we can replace them.  Everything else is spotless, and I don't think the kitchen has ever been cleaner.

I emptied out every single cabinet, vacuumed out the inside, washed shelves and drawers with a bleach solution followed by soapy water, and washed the fronts of cabinets and hardware.  The tops of cabinets were washed and some even scraped down with razor blades due to the awful painting job the previous owners did.  I emptied out the refrigerator and the freezer and washed the entire thing. I even pulled the fridge out of it's cubby to wipe it down and vacuum behind it.  The microwave was completely cleaned, the stove top and oven wiped and de-greased, the trash compartment was bleached, and even the garbage disposal was bleached and scrubbed!

I was not messing around.  But, I am so glad that I got it done! The kitchen looks incredible, and knowing what it took to get it so clean is a huge incentive to keep it clean!

Somewhat related, though, does anyone out there have Corian countertops, or a Corian sink?  The sink in my kitchen is seamless with the countertop, which means that it can't be replaced unless I replace the counters with it.  Since the Corian is just about 13 years old, it's starting to show some serious wear, especially in the sink.  Corian has the tendency to crack in the sink area, and since the sink is white, the cracks are very prevalent.  Does anyone know how I could make them show less? Bleach hasn't worked, and neither has sanding them, as they are pretty deep into the surface.

We are really not in the market to have the counters replaced, as that will be down the line when we gut the kitchen and redo it completely, so finding an alternative is kind of important. I guess if there is no small or temporary solution that it's ok, since it's just the sink, but these cracks still make it look gross, right?

When was the last time your kitchen had a deep deep clean? Has my post inspired you to get into all the nooks and crannies of your kitchen?  Next up - the bathrooms! Ugh!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A New Beginning

Last Spring, in an attempt to find better jobs and recover from some hardships, Dylan and I offered my parents and my sister a place to live, and last year, the three of them moved in with Dylan and I. This past Thursday, my parents and my sister closed on their new house.  After four years of broken dreams, hearts, and stress levels off the charts, they are now on their way towards a brighter future. I could not be happier that they have been able to reach this point in such a short time, and I know that they are grateful for the positive things that have happened for them in the last year. I can only hope that the positives continue to outweigh the negatives and that their house becomes a home very soon.

Yesterday, the moving company arrived at 7:30am and our house was emptied of all of their belongings.  With the vacant rooms on the first floor, Dylan and I also have a new beginning - living alone!  We moved in together when we were in college, and we have shared three different apartments together, our last being in Indiana.  After leaving Indiana, we moved in with Dylan's parents, who were more than happy to have us closer, but also very generous and allowed us to live with them for just over a year. Straight from that living arrangement, we closed on our house, and my family moved in with us.  So, for the last two and a half years, we have shared our home or shared someone else's home.  It will be nice to finally be just the two of us again - I really missed that.

The most exciting thing about this is that I can finally get to work on making our house a home - painting the walls and trim (and ceilings!), buying furniture, tons of DIY projects - I can't wait!  In fact, we have a lot going on already, which I am so excited to talk to you about.  So, be on the lookout for some great posts coming up in the next few weeks about our floor adventures, having a gigantic house to buy furniture for, and all of the little projects I have planned!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Flash Sale Friday: Mid-Century Modern Sideboards

It's time for another...

Each week, I will be featuring some of the week's best picks from my favorite Flash Sale sites and creating a room inspiration board for all of you to enjoy!  If you have a room that needs decorating and you are looking for some inspiration, feel free to email me what you are looking for, and I'll see what I can come up with for you, and you will be featured in a future Flash Sale Friday post!

If you would like to become a member to one of the sites featured in this Flash Sale Friday post, feel free to create an account from the links I have provided below.


As I mentioned in my IKEA Shopping post, I have been on the hunt for a sideboard for our combination Living/Dining Room.  When I was looking at all of the Flash Sale sites this week, this was definitely a popular piece of furniture, and so many of them were the exact style I am looking for - Mid-Century Modern.  

From slatted fronts to the tapered and angled legs, these pieces are beautiful! And the white-faced one with the swirling pattern on it? I love it!  These pieces would work wonderfully in a dining room, but they could also work really well in a living room, and would be a great place to store all of your media pieces.  

Which one is your favorite?  Doesn't number three remind you a little bit of the Bjursta from Ikea?

Please Note: All of the images in this post have been used with permission. Images were not modified or altered to fit in this inspiration board. Flash Sale invitation links may provide me with rewards if items are purchased by a new member.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

DIY: Silver Washer Vases

I've got a really neat little craft project for you today. I still have about 40 vases left over from my wedding centerpieces, and in looking for some way to decorate them, I came up with an idea - metal washers.  I have seen vases decorated with pennies before, but since I will mostly be using silver metals in my decor, I wanted to use something that wasn't copper.  In brainstorming different ideas on what I could use, I thought of both nickels and dimes, keeping in the money theme, but figured that would cost too much, literally.  So, the last idea that I came up with was metal washers from the hardware aisle.

Now, before you head out to the hardware store, do some research on the size of washers that are offered.  You will want to make sure that your washers fit perfectly on all sides of your vase.  Since my vase is square, I measured the width and height of the sides and then was able to determine that my 3"x3" vase could use six #10 washers for both the width and height, since each washer is about a half inch, bringing me to the dimensions of my vase.  If your vase is cylindrical, measure the circumference and the height and then you can do some simple calculations to figure out how many #10 washers (or any other size that you choose) you will need.  If your vase has some shape to it that isn't consistent, I suggest that you go smaller with the size of the washers, rather than larger, as it will be easier to fit more on in tricky spaces and they will lay flat on your vase.  

For adhesive, you have your choice of products.  You could use a really durable glue to secure them onto your vase, but just be aware that some glues do not work well with glass.  For this project, I used silicone adhesive, which is waterproof - important for a flower vase, and dries very quickly.  

So, to start, gather up your supplies. You'll want your adhesive, your clean and dry vase, your washers, and then not pictured below are a chopstick and a small paint brush that you will likely throw away when this project is finished. Chances are, your adhesive will not wash out of the bristles very easily, so use one that you don't really care about, or buy a little cheap one from the dollar store. 

Once you have prepped your workspace, get to work by adding the adhesive of your choice to the back side of the washer.  To make this easier and keep my fingers clean, I threaded the washer onto a chopstick, and it slid about 1/3 down the stick.  From that point, I used my little paint brush and painted the back of the washer (the flattest side) with the silicone adhesive. 

Once the washer was painted with the silicone, I flipped the chopstick over, and placed it where I wanted the washer to be. Just tapping on the front side of the washer with the handle of the paint brush made it slide off of the chopstick and onto the glass vase. From that point, all I had to do was gently push it to where I wanted it to be and then press down with one end of the chopstick to secure it in place.  The washer below is a little gummy with some extra adhesive, but it will come right off with a paper towel if you catch it when it's still wet.

And then you just repeat that. A million times. But in all reality, I used 36 washers per side of my vase, which means that I used 144 washers.  Close to a million, right?

Anyway, when you're done placing all the washers on the vase, let your adhesive dry and then you're good to go!  A plain vase just became something really, really cute!

I figured it was acceptable to use some of the leftover bamboo favors from our wedding to put in this revamped vase that was also from our wedding.  I am really looking forward to making more of these, since I have so many vases leftover. I think they are so cute, and are the perfect punch of modern decor for my home.

And, if you have some extra vases lying around in your home, you could very easily and inexpensively do this as a gift! The holidays are coming up quickly, and what's better than a homemade gift, right?!

What else could you use for vamping up an ordinary vase?

Monday, December 2, 2013

Christmas Without a Tree? No Problem!

This year, we will not be getting a Christmas Tree.  And it's not because Dylan was fired from lighting it last year, which he was, by the way. It's because with the chance that we will be having our floors refinished this month, setting up a Christmas Tree would be silly when it would just need to be taken down or moved somewhere else.

So, I'm here to talk with you about how you can decorate for Christmas without setting up a Christmas Tree.  Before we lived in a house, Dylan and I only decorated minimally and never had a tree in any of our apartments.  So for those of you who are also living in spaces where you either don't have a tree, don't want a tree, or legally can't have a tree, here are some great ideas on how you can spruce up your home for the holidays - no pun intended!

Decorate your Front Door. 

You can buy an outdoor spotlight to illuminate your front door from any hardware store.  The spotlight can just be stuck in the lawn and an outdoor extension cord could be run to provide power.  A spotlight would be perfect if you were going to put a wreath on your front door.

You could also use string lights to go around your front door, bringing the attention to that one spot without going overboard and lighting every edge of your home in string lights. If you don't want to line your font door completely, you could always just light the sidelights. Last year, I used some Smycka sticks that I purchased from IKEA and put half of the bundle on each side of my front door, and strung lights through them.  I loved the way that this looked, and can't wait to set up this part of my decor again when the rain stops.

Make or buy a wreath to hang on your door using 3M Command Strips.  I made one a few years ago out of coffee filters, and it is so seasonal. It's big, white, and fluffy, and I love it. This year, I have it on my front door and it really pops against the purple. While this may not be the best wreath for all of you, I am able to use it here because the storm door protects it from the rain and snow.

If you don't have a storm door for protection, go with a wreath that is made of something other than coffee filters. You could use ornaments, or even go with a beautiful evergreen wreath that you can add a ribbon or some other accessories to.

Light your Entryway or Foliage.

If you have a railing or posts in front of your home, get some rope lighting and light it up!  The addition of even one string of rope lights could help bring the holidays to your space!  If you don't have any railings or posts, you could also use net lighting and go over some of the larger bushes in front of your home.  Rope lighting can also be wrapped around the trunks of some of the trees in front of your home.

Garland and lights for your Staircase.

If you have a staircase in your home, grab some garland, real or fake, and wrap it around the banister or railings.  This welcoming touch can help make guests feel that your entire home is open and cheerful. Adding some lights makes it look really pretty, and can even act as a nightlight for those little ones who may need to go downstairs in the middle of the night.

Do you have a gallery wall going up your stairs?  Take some holiday themed wrapping paper and place a cutout over a few of the pictures that you have hanging in your space to bring that little bit of holidays into your every-day decor.

Fireplaces and Mantles.

There's nothing better than decorating your fireplace or mantle around Christmastime.  If you're looking to bring in some holiday cheer, put a little greenery on your mantle - real or fake. In fact, if you're looking for some real greens, take a trip to a tree farm and take some of the clippings from the farm - they typically won't charge you for these, and while you may not be picking out a tree to bring home, you can still enjoy being outside at the tree farm.

Add some height to your mantle using pedestals with candles or tall tapered candles. If you have any goblets, use those, and if you'd like, you could even get some lighted branches and use some of those to add some light on top.  You may also want to add a wreath to the space above your mantle, or have it rest on the mantle if you are unable to hang it on the wall.  Lastly, if you have a mirror that you can put on your mantle, doing this will really help to make the space brighter and seem bigger, plus, if you add lights or candles to your mantle, the reflection of them in the mirror will look wonderful!

If you're not using your fireplace for an actual fire, place a beautiful vase of greens and berries in front, or place some battery-operated candles inside to give the illusion of a fire.

Finally, and probably the most popular way to decorate your mantle and fireplace for Christmas, is to hang stockings.  If you don't have any stockings, make your own. There are so many different patterns out there for sewing them and some for knitting and crocheting too, and these will not take long to make.  Hang them on your mantle using cup hooks or by using some of the stocking hangers that rest on top of the mantle so that you are not putting hooks or nails into your fireplace.

What other ideas do you have on how to decorate your home for Christmas without having a tree? Which of these ideas do you like the best?  If you don't celebrate Christmas, what do you celebrate and how do you decorate for the season?
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