Monday, October 31, 2011

In the Very Beginning

Happy Halloween! I hope you had a great weekend! 

While visiting family this weekend I spied my very first painting project; a painted sign that I made for the gift exchange at my husband's family Christmas last year. While driving home I thought about how ironic it was that the saying on the sign is "With God all things are possible." Fast forward to today and though this "hobby" isn't where I would like it to be yet, I have come a long way, and I have a feeling He had something to do with it.

After looking through some of the pictures of my first renovations, I thought I would post some of the before and after pictures. These were completed before I started my blog, therefore, I will apologize in advance, but there won't be much in the way of tutorials..or quality pictures. (I hadn't even begun to think about those yet!)

The first project I referred to above was made out of an old cabinet door that I found at the Habitat for Humanity Restore. I painted it white, distressed it and actually used a dollar store cling and some spray adhesive to secure the wording.                 

Now on to some projects that followed. It will primarily be pictures (only) but I will try to fill in the blanks when I can.

Coffee table that was very, very dirty. Used bleach water to clean it. Decided to turn it into a bench.
(with an expert upholstery instructor-my mom)
Veneer Buffet-wanted to keep the wood top but paint the rest Heirloom White. I used wood putty to patch any chips on the base and tore off, and refinished the laminate on top (my first experience with laminate!)


Cute little desk but wanted a light blue, shabby chic look. The blue was a mistint so I don't know the color, but it was antiqued and handles were sprayed Oil Rubbed Bronze.

Ugly estate sale lamp $5

Base painted black and shade was covered with fabric, glued on with spray adhesive.

Coffee table with pretty design on top
Bottom was painted black & distressed, the top was left as is
(poor picture of the whole piece, sorry)

Ok, so that's it for tonight. I have more but don't want to overload you. 
This was my beginning, but certainly not the end. There is so much more to come and I hope to grow and improve with each project.

You can also view this project, and many others, on Miss Mustard Seed's blog. She is the queen of furniture makeovers and interior design. You won't be disappointed with your visit!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Festive Fall Acorn Cookies

Hello my lovelies. This fall weather has me in the mood for Christmas shopping (half way done!) and baking. A little fact about me, I LOVE to bake. Probably relates to my wicked sweet tooth, regardless, I used to bake every week in high school and take the treats to the bank I worked at.

Anywho... my obsession with Pinterest led me to these adorable little acorn cookies.
So cute, right? And they are delicious! I'm not a huge peanut butter & chocolate fan but I really enjoyed these.

Now, I really, really hate when the original source is not listed on Pinterest, such was the case here. I even tried to search elsewhere, to no avail. So my apologies to the creator of these little cuties for not linking back.
So how do you make them? Easy peasy...
You need:
   -Snack size Nutter Butter
   -Mini, semi-sweet chocolate chips
   -Hershey's Kisses

Melt a 1/2 cup or so (I winged it) of the mini chocolate chips in the microwave, stopping to stir every 30 seconds. These melt quickly (and burn quickly) so don't skimp on this. Then you take some of the extra (whole) mini-chips, dip them in the chocolate and place them in the center of the Nutter Butter cookie.
 Just a tip: dipping them didn't work well for me because I couldn't grip them well. So instead, I used a toothpick, dipped it in the melted chocolate, spread it on the bottom of the mini-chip and then put it on the cookie.
I then refrigerated them to harden the chocolate. Next, unwrap the number of kisses you need and set aside. Reheat the chocolate to melt it again. It shouldn't take long. Finally, dip the kiss in the melted chocolate and stick it to the other side of the Nutter Butter (make sure the mini chip has hardened & is firmly stuck first, otherwise they will slide off). I placed them on a cookie sheet covered with wax paper to dry. Put them back in the frig for 10 minutes to speed up the drying process if you wish.

Voila! Cute little snack with very little difficulty!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Painting a House & Other Things I Get Myself Into

Painting and priming and scrapping, oh my.
My, oh my, oh my. Have you ever offered to help (your mom, your friend, your grandpa's dentist..) with a project out of the goodness of your heart and then when you jump in it takes WAAAAY more energy and time than you expected? That's where I'm living <sigh>.
 Earlier this spring my mom mentioned that her house needed painted but that it would cost between $2,000-$3,000 (if I recall correctly). Years ago in high school, I painted our small, one-story, ranch house and therefore figured I could save her the $$ and do it myself (Note to self: think it through for a week..or month..before volunteering next time). On the contrary, this is a two-story with a walk out basement (3 story in the back) and steep, downward sloping sides (not so great for stabilizing an extension ladder).

Ok, enough of the whining and complaining and on to the details. I painted the front with a brush and flat sponge combo. That was time intensive! However, it seemed easier considering all of the windows I would have needed to cover if using a sprayer (it may have been that I will still scared of using the sprayer at this point). After that I got smart and used the sprayer as mentioned in this post. My little brother even helped!

Now on to the trim. When they say the devil is in the details, they weren't kidding (who is 'they' by the way?). The windows and trim were in desperate need of attention. When you got up close they looked like this.
Oh yes, and do you see the overspray on the window? That's where I was lazy lax on covering the windows properly when using the sprayer. I have no patience for prep work. It's a terrible habit, but I would rather go back with a razor blade and scrape off the paint than take the time to cover it all perfectly.

Back to the scraping. In order to do it properly (and avoid re-doing it next year) you will need to be thorough and scrape until you remove all loose pieces. In some places it is likely that you will be down to bare wood. Now, and this is important, you will need to prime the areas with bare wood with an oil based, exterior primer. This will keep the moisture from the snow and rain out and protect the window from rotting. Replacing rotting wood is no fun (which we also have to do on some windows)!  The scraping alone will take several days, particularly if you have a tall house requiring an extension ladder. You will also need to allow the primer to dry for a day or two prior to applying the top coat.

Can you tell where I have scrapped/painted/primed and where I haven't?
 I must have been falling over when taking this one (sorry).
I know it's hard to see if you aren't close, but I have completed everything on the front except the two peaks and the trim under the gutters (which need cleaned first). Getting the ladder up to the peaks has proved challenging, particularly with the little red tree there.

So if I am absent for a few more weeks days, you know where I am (behind the house, working on the windows you can't see from the street). Don't mind all the 'stuff' laying around, waiting to be put away for the winter (a girl can only do so much), as well as Bill, the dog, sneaking in to the picture. Did you see him in the one above, too?
On the flip side, I am so thankful for the abnormally warm weather! It has been beautiful and has allowed me to work on the windows much longer than would normally be possible in Iowa this time of year.

I would love to know, have you ever volunteered for something that turned into a much bigger job than you expected?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Follow Me...

Hi there!
So I thought that some of you that may not be veterans to the blogging world might wonder what the "Follow Me" button entails. Are you signing away your first born? Will you receive text, facebook and email messages three times a day? Oh my gosh, what will happen!?!?! No way am I touching that button!

Take a deep breath. In through the nose, out through the mouth. Ahhhh.... that's better.
Ok now, there are two ways that you can follow a blog, depending on what they are offering. One is "Follow by Email" and the other is to "Follow Me," through Blogger.

Say what? So anyone who has a blog has the option to offer their readers a follow by email option, follow through blogger option or both. AND they have the option of "naming" them something different. For instance, I called my follow button through blogger "Follow Me." Now, what's the difference?
  • Blogger "Follow Me" allows you to bookmark my (or other) blogs, if you will. You can use a current twitter or google account to sign in and see the updates as you see fit (1x a year, 1x a day, whatever..)
  • "Follow by email" means that you will be sent an email anytime there is a new blog post
I personally like the "follow me" (Blogger) version because then I can control if and when I look at the blogs I like. But by all means, if you prefer email then follow a blog via email (too). However, keep in mind that you can always remove yourself from either at any time. Oh, thank goodness... (I know you are thinking it!)

So I hope that you are confident and comfortable to "follow me" in the future. Check out some of the blogs I follow as well (which are listed in the sidebar at the right).

Paper Mache Barstools

Yep, you can paper mache just about anything.
In this case my mom was about to get rid of two barstools that she thought were at the end of their lives. They had a big, heavy back but the grandbabies (yes, my kiddos) would often tip over in them. Not good. So after removing the backs we were left with a simple stool, but with a hole-laden, unfinished top. Not pretty, but I just couldn't see throwing perfectly good, solid wood stools out. I finally found some of the before pictures.

The stools were a golden oak color that matched the kitchen, however, since my parents replaced their flooring with a red mahogany look, I thought the stools should match. I prefer dark woods anyway, so that's what they were getting. Lucky for me, the finish was wearing off, as was the stain. That's a good thing only when it means less work for me! I gave them a light sand to get the remaining stain off, then wiped them down to remove all dust. I stained them with Minwax Red Mahogany stain. Now I was getting somewhere. Except the top was still a mess. Hmm... I had to cover it in some way. I couldn't simply fill the holes with wood putty because it would show up when I stained it. In comes the paper mache! 

I found some pretty scrapbook paper at Michael's that had a 'Family' saying on it. Perfect! Still, the holes had to go or my monsters someone would inevitably poke something through the paper eventually. So with the help of my trusty, motherly assistant we cut some small dowel rods down to fit in the holes. Add a little wood glue and problem solved! After allowing it to dry, it was on to the paper mache.

I flipped the stool upside down onto the paper that I had placed on the counter. Draw around the circle top and you have a near perfect cut out. However, if you buy a piece of decorative paper that has words on it make sure to align the stool to the wording so that you can read it when it's finished. I had a bit of a time with this since my paper wasn't big enough to adjust the wording any further. Next, put a layer of Mod Podge on the back of the paper with a foam "brush", flip it upright, and center it on your stool. Smooth out any bubbles very carefully and quickly. I then put another layer of Mod Podge on top. Again, work quickly when smoothing the paper. After it dries do another two to three coats to seal and protect the top.

Tips and warnings: If you mess with the paper too much while it's wet you will tear the top layer of paper off. I tell you this from experience. I ended up tearing a piece off entirely and starting over. Ugh! So, if you see some bubbles while it's drying... leave.them.alone!! It is normal to have some bubbles while still wet. So wait until it's dry and then take a look. If you still have some bubbles I either slit it with a sharp razor blade (not the kind you shave with) or poke it with a small needle and then put a bit of Mod Podge in the hole, then press down.

Friday, October 14, 2011

To Keep or Not to Keep

This is often the question.
When I purchase pieces to refinish of course I choose things I like, some more than others, but 
when they are finished there is often the question as to whether I should keep it or send it to a new home.
Such was (ok-still is) the case with this bedroom set.
Bare with me- I'm not sure who took these before pictures. Obviously someone 
with serious sleep deprivation.

Yuk-I don't know if the pictures or the original finish are worse.
I couldn't resist the familiar pull of Heirloom White spray paint on these, but also decided on some distressing and antiquing with Ralph Lauren's Tea Stain glaze. I wanted the handles to pop a bit more than what they were in the present state so I sprayed them with my other go-to, Oil Rubbed Bronze (or ORB as known in the blogger world).

 I don't love the mirror on it, as is, but I think it would be cute hanging on the wall above the dresser- and perhaps the other direction.

So now, do I put these in my youngest daughter's room, which I am currently making over? Grandma says 'Yes!' but then again, my lovely mother thinks I should keep everything I finish. Oh mom, thanks for your support. I may need it when I'm on an episode of hoarding...

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Frenchy Blue Desk

Oh, how I love the French, curvy look on my furniture. So when I found a "french provincial desk" on Craigslist I pounced. Of course I didn't pay the price they were asking- who does that?! (Ok, I do...sometimes) It was the old yellow color with gold accents. Very pretty... in the 70s. She was bound to be painted, and that she was.
Of course I didn't think to take a picture before I painted it. I was in too much of a hurry. You will learn this about me very quickly - In my defense, I had just purchased my first Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and was anxious to try it out (I also used it on the headboard in my previous post). So here is a similar before picture that I borrowed from Charming Creations.

Not the exact same piece, but you get the idea. I decided to try out the ASCP in Louis Blue with Old White accents. What I hadn't decided on was if I should age it with dark wax or simply put a clear wax on it. So I slapped on a couple of coats of chalk paint and lightly sanded between them. I liked the idea of the blue but it looked really flat so I tried some dark wax on two of the drawers, followed by a clear wax to reduce the darkness. The results looked like this (2 points for me for remembering to take a picture!).

Too dark. My mom didn't like it either and that's the end all be all (kidding,.. sort of). So those drawers got another sanding and repainting. I finished it all with a clear wax and put the handles back on in their original state. Then came the chair, which I chose to do in Old White and replaced the fabric with a creamy white and blue toile fabric. 

She turned out very nice, at least I think so. I also had the pleasure of joining the Feathered Nest Friday at the French Country Cottage. Check it out and be inspired by all of the beautiful projects!

Sunday, October 9, 2011

White, Distressed Headboard

Happy Sunday! I hope you had a wonderful, relaxing weekend. We hit the pumpkin patch today and had some great family fun.

Today's post is another Craigslist find. I'm really terrible about writing down the amount I pay for things. Ok, before you judge, I do the mental cost/profit calculation prior to purchasing things (I have some sort of strange ability to calculate things in my head faster than I can put it in a calculator). I just forget to put it to pen and paper. I'm working on it. My husband insists that I work on it. Love you handsome hubby...thanks for keeping me honest.

This was such a simple, but gratifying, project. I just recently purchased my first quart(s) of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint (ASCP). Since it requires no primer or pretreatment (I know, awesome!), I simply cleaned it with some TSP and coated it with 'Old White' ASCP, left it over night, and did a 2nd coat the next day. After the paint was dry I did a rough sanding on the edges to distress it, followed by a light sanding all over in order to remove any brush marks. Finally, I covered it with a layer of Fiddes & Sons 'Light' wax, which I ordered from John Millen Hardware, and buff with a clean, lint free cloth after it dries.

That's it! I hope you enjoy and appreciate those curves like I do.

Friday, October 7, 2011


Happy Friday!
This week seems to be dominated by photography tutorials in the blogger world, forcing encouraging me to focus on my photography skills (or lack thereof). I don't know about you, but as a point and shoot kinda gal, it has been quite a transition to learn all the in's and out's of a digital camera and I gotta admit (as if it isn't obvious)...I still have a long way to go.

With all that inspiration, I decided to take my digital camera outside and just see what happened on different settings. My pretty little assistant (aka my youngest) agreed to be my subject, as if she had a choice.
 She is actually standing against the glass, front door and the tree & street are reflecting off of it.
 I wish I could say she got those lashes from me!
 Oh, the faces..

I don't care for the coloring on this one but I just repainted this chair for a photographer friend and LOVE the bright blue (see the chair 'before' on the picture above)

I used Picnik to play with the effects on these pictures. I'm hoping to purchase Photoshop soon but just haven't gotten there yet, not to mention I will have to give up an arm, and possibly a leg to get it. 

It was fun to try different things but I still don't have the different settings down and I really need to get experience working with aperature and shutter speed. I saw a great tutorial series on The Pioneer Woman. Her blog is just all around amazing, and as you will see, she knows how to work a camera!

So what photography successes and challenges have you had?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs Quote on Life

I hadn't planned to post anything tonight (or this morning..depends on how you want to look at it), but I saw this profound quote by Steve Jobs. Seems so obvious, but something many of us forget.

"No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. ......Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."
-Steve Jobs

I couldn't have said it better myself...

Monday, October 3, 2011

Fall Wreath & Glue Gun Mishaps

I don't know about you, but I can't seem to do a project involving a glue gun without burning at least 2 or 3 fingers. Well, it was worth it in order to add a little fall color to our front door. I got the idea for this square, fall wreath from Thrifty Decor Chick (we even have the same 'Welcome' sign on our doors). I love that the wreath is square instead of the conventional round!

Anyway, down to the nitty gritty. This is a really simple wreath, I promise. Items you need: foam core board (Walmart $1.97 for a 20x30 piece), fall colored leaves (Family Dollar $1 each x 5) and a glue gun (perhaps some burn ointment as well).

I cut the foam core board to be 20 x 20 which looked rather big, but I loved how Thrifty Decor Chick's looked, so I went with it. I then cut out the center, leaving a 4 inch wide border to glue the leaves on. The leaves I bought were 2 styles; 1 package of really flat, lifeless ones and the other 4 were on a vine, which I clipped off as needed. I went around the perimeter with the flat ones first, just to cover up the foam board. I then went back and tried to place the more dimensional leaves on top. Here is the result:
Did you notice that it's just balancing on the door knocker? I can't seem to locate my wreath hanger at the moment so I thought I could snap a picture quick before the kiddos come home from school.

I think it's really pretty, but I must admit that I don't like my leaf selection as well as Thrift Decor Chick's. They seem a little too flat - but then again, when it's your own project you seem to notice all of the flaws. Also, I may have to glue some thin wood pieces on the back to make it a bit heavier. There is no chance that the light foam board I used will survive an Iowa fall.... or my little monkeys going in and out 17 times a day.

So that's it. What fall projects are you working on?

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Paint Sprayer Goodness

Let me introduce you to my new best friend....
Let me tell you how our story began. Earlier this summer I agreed to paint my mom's house, thinking I could save her the money of hiring a contractor. That being said, the summer was either really hot or really wet, only allowing me to finish the front (and the easiest) part of the house. Silly me- I did this with a brush. Yes, by hand, with a brush. Painful! I just couldn't see painting the sides (which slope downhill in a major way) and the back (a two-story with a walk out basement = 3 stories) on a ladder, with a brush.

So, instead, I decided to try out the sprayer that my mom has had on the top shelf in the garage for the past 2 years. WHY on earth didn't I do this before!?! Not only that, my little brother has the same one so he agreed to come down and we could both paint at the same time. Woo hoo! It took us two weekends but we got her done. (Well, sort of- I still have to paint the trim)

We used the Wagner Spray Tech 0151500 for painting the house. It made the job so easy and much, much quicker. The only downfalls were that when the paint started getting on the low side (not empty) it would spit and spray in globs until you added more paint and the filter wouldn't allow our paint (quality stuff from Sherwin Williams) to go through the tubing so we had to water it down. The other downfall- cleaning it took awhile. So, I think I may look into some other styles for furniture painting. Ones that are quicker to clean and don't have a huge canister/tub. Overall though, it was great and I'm pretty sure that I will never, ever paint a house 'by hand' again. nice to have that "little" task done, but perhaps even more importantly, I made a new friend and I think (s)he is going to make my life MUCH easier.