Thursday, December 30, 2010

Happy New Year

Tomorrow is New Year's Eve.  I have taken some time off from blogging to enjoy my holiday.  Two weeks off from work, left us lots of time to celebrate our first Christmas and New Year's together as an official "family".  We had a great Christmas, spending time with family and friends and tomorrow is no exception.  We are having a "Very Snuggie New Year" Party at our place.

Good food and friends and everyone wearing their very best snuggie attire:

Image Here: Link
(This could literally be a pic of Matt, he has the same snuggie and an almost identical phone :])
We plan to ring in the New Year in style!

After the New Year we will be back online with all new ideas and projects.
Lots of luck and love to all of you in 2011!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Refinishing Kitchen Cabinets

We are no where near working on our kitchen, but it is definitely time to do our homework for the project.  The planner in me says so!  One of the major renovation components and expenses, is refinishing the kitchen cabinets.  As I said before, there are three different kinds of cabinets in out kitchen, and I think that painting them will make them a little more cohesive.  The big question is - are we going to refinish them by ourselves?  It's a big undertaking.

Photo Credit: Link
 Part of deciding if we will do our own work on our kitchen cabinets is really researching the way to do the job correctly.  After reading a lot, and using my own home renovation smarts, this is the best step by step I have come up with.

1. Empty all of your cabinets.  It will be easiest to work without all of your pots and pans in the way.

2. Remove all the doors.  I plan on drawing a quick elevation of each set of cabinets & numbering each door in the elevation.  Each door will have a piece of masking tape on the back with a corresponding number.  This will help greatly when trying to put everything back together.

3. Remove all hardware.  There is a method to this too.  Get a handful of plastic zip bags.  Number each bag with the number of each cabinet door.  Put all hardware into the corresponding bag.  This also helps you to keep things organized.

4. Clean cabinet doors and frame.  It's important to get all grease, food residue, etc. off of the cabinets.  You can use just about any cleaner here, but be sure to wipe down all cabinets with a wet rag to remove all of the cleaning agents.  It is also important to remember the cabinet frame.  You can't just paint the doors!  This is much easier to take care of when the doors are off, but it's important not to forget about it when scheduling the order of your project.

5. Sand cabinet doors and frame.  The purpose here is really to knock off the varnish or paint from the existing cabinets.  Most sites that I found recommended 150 grit or finer.  I plan on investing in a sander if we decide to undertake this project.  Sanding by hand would take forever.

6. Add holes for new hardware.  This is a step that I am adding.  Our current cabinets do not have any hardware, they have under cabinet reveals.  I think that super sleek brushed nickel cabinet and drawer pulls will really add another element that unifies the cabinets.  Because I don't want to mess up the finish paint, I think that this is the time to add this step.

7. Fill in dents & nicks.  You want to use a wood filler to fill in any imperfections in your doors.

8. Prime doors & frame.  Buy the paint that you want to use first.  We will most likely be using a latex paint for our cabinets, so we want to be sure to buy a primer that is appropriate for a latex finish coat.  It is important to use the right type of primer. 

9. Apply the first finish coat.  Everyone says that  more thin coats is the way too go.  Goop-ing on the paint super heavy on the first coat will not keep the finish.  We are probably going to rent or purchase a paint sprayer for this part, as I don't really want to see brush strokes.  There are some paint additives that you can put in the paint to prevent obvious brush strokes, but in my opinion, the sprayer is the way to go.  After this step you can do a quick finish sand with 400 grit sandpaper - especially if you decided to brush on the finish.  It will give the second coat a smooth surface to adhere to.

Photo Credit: Link

10. Add the second/ final finish coat.  Two coats should be all that you need, however some darker colors may require a third thin coat to get complete coverage.

11. Reinstall.  This is where being organized pays off.  Get out your sketch and put all the doors and hardware in front of their assigned openings.  Reinstall.

Then sit back and enjoy your new cabinets.  We still might get a quote to see how much it would be for two guys to come in one weekend and do this, because this project will probably take several weeks for us to accomplish on our own.  Things to think about.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

I'm Dreaming of a New Kitchen

So our kitchen is tiny, and by tiny I mean the room is an okay size, but it's poorly laid out.  It's no ones fault, really - there are so many doors off of the kitchen, there is no room for continuous counter space.  There is an opening to the old breakfast nook, the Living Room, the Dining Room & the basement.  It's also not wide enough to add an island - bummer since I'm in love with islands.

So we do the best that we can with what we have.  When we moved in the kitchen was partially renovated.  There were laminate stick tiles on the floor that were new.  The countertops weren't awful & the cabinets were a nice natural honey color.  So we decided to go with a yellow wall color - buttery yellow actually.

But I have a dream.  This is my dream kitchen.

Photo Link: Here

Crisp white cabinets & sleek black countertops.  Unfortunately it doesn't work exactly for our kitchen... that's why it's my dream kitchen.  The white and black is too harsh for this house - it just wouldn't look right without redo-ing the entire first floor.  So we'll save that vision for the next kitchen.  So began my quest to find a kitchen that would work in our house.  That's when I came across this happy compromise.

Photo Link: Here
It even has a similar wall color.  The warm floors and cream colored cabinets are perfect for our house.  We plan on restoring the wood floors under our carpet eventually and while we have dreams that they still exist in good condition under the layers of kitchen laminate - we aren't entirely sure that there will be anything salvageable left. 

Right now we don't have a lot of money, so this is something for far down the road - but this is the plan.  All of the work will be done by us, and will we scrimp where we can without sacrificing the look. 

We will paint the cabinets this cream color.  You can sand and prime and paint your own cabinets and doors, however it's incredibly time consuming, so we will get quotes to have them done.  If it's outrageous, we will be doing it outselves!  Our existing cabinets, while all honey colored, actually have three different styles.  You have to look closely, but they are all there.  I think that painting them will help unify the different styles a little more.

We will do a dark countertop.  Because we have so little countertop, we might actually be able to do granite!  If not, we'll go with a high grade laminate.  I'm envisioning a black-brown color. 

We will leave the walls a yellow color & get new floors.  Tile floors would be great, but they are pricey.  There are some amazing vinyl sheet flooring options now that really look like tile.  This might be the direction that we go.

The only outstanding question is appliances.  What color do you do?  White probably just wouldn't look right & black would be too stark. Or maybe we use a cream color that is compatible with white.   Is stainless our only option.  It is becoming more affordable, and would really complete the look, but this isn't the house that we plan to live in forever - do we want to put that kind of money into our appliances?  We might try white appliances and use the stainless appliance coating.   Maybe we'll buy some to try out on the old dishwasher before we throw it out.

That is the plan.  Look out for it down the road.  You never know what 2011 might bring!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Quick Holiday DIY: Striped Soaps

Here is another winner from Martha.  Holiday Scented Soaps.  This is a quick and easy thing to make.  If you'd like to spruce up your powder rooms for your holiday guests, or stuff a stocking, these are great.  I'll be keeping them on my to do list for next year, but in all honesty, these would be great in any colors for any holiday!

Photo Credit:

Striped Soaps How-To
1. Melt the glycerin according to the package instructions, using 1/4 cup at a time.
2. Stir in a drop of peppermint oil (available at most health-food stores) with a plastic spoon; for the clear glycerin, add drops of red food coloring, stirring until you get the desired hue.
3. Pour the 1/4 cup of melted soap into the loaf pan. Let cool for 20 minutes.
4. Score the top with a fork. Repeat, alternating colors, until the pan is full.
5. Let set for 4 hours. Pop soap out of pan, and slice into bars.
6. Wrap each bar in cellophane; tape it shut, and tie with bakery string.
7. Cut holly-leaf tags out of green construction paper.

Read more at Striped Soaps - Martha Stewart Holidays

Friday, December 17, 2010

CasaSugar's Weekend DIY

It's Friday, and you know how much I love Casa's Weekend DIYs.

Photo Credit: Link

1. Succulent Wreath
2. Pipe Cleaner Name Tags
3. Snowflake Garland
4. Candycane Candlesticks
5. Balsa Wood Mini-Tree
6. Blingy Garland
7. Ornament Mobile
8. Book Inspired Decorations
9. More snowflakes!

I wish I had seen these name tags last week!  If any of this sounds fabulous to you, check out the website here for all of the how-to's.

Color Inspiration: Bold Blue

For me there are two schools of thought when it comes to where to apply color in your home.  You either go bold on the wall, or bold with your furniture, so because it is much easier to change the color of your walls, I usually go bold on the wall, neutral with the furniture and accent with another bold color.

Today I want to attack a wonderfully bold color - navy blue.  Navy blue can be tricky.  If you pair it with red, it looks very "Americana".  It can end up looking a little too country-style when paired with yellow.  I also wanted to incorporate our color of the year into a palette & I think that this is the perfect time.

One of the hottest wedding color combos out there right now is navy and fuchsia... so I am going to take that idea, and put together a room.  I am going to stick with the living room, because I think that with these ideas, the color scheme can be easily translated into a bedroom or dining room.

Wall Art: Steel Circles - Bed, Bath & Beyond, Sofa: Henry Sofa - West Elm, Chair:Lucy Upholstered Chair - Target,  Tables: Parsons End & Coffee Tables - West Elm, Lamp: Pebble Table Lamp - West Elm, Throw:, Pillow: Room Essentials - Target

A bold blue on the wall will make the room seem romantic.  Stick with a white trim - semi-gloss will give you a little bit of shimmer & make the flat blue dark and luxurious.  They honeysuckle is merely an accent, but can be used wherever you feel it fits.  A pair of pink chairs would be amazing in this room, and not too overwhelming if the walls are blue and the other furnishings are kept very neutral.

Add some mercury vases to the end tables & a silver bowl filled with wicker balls sprayed pink to the coffee table.  I love this combination of color & being that honeysuckle is the color of the year, I thought it was perfect to do this board now.  And I think that everyone can agree that this is not an overwhelmingly feminine room.  I think that pairing it with a masculine blue make the room perfect for everyone.

This absolutely makes me want to change a room  in our house!  Hopefully it insipres you as well.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Last Minute DIY Gifts

Many of us leave a big chunk of our holiday shopping until the last minute, myself included.  And even now, we don't know what to get everyone on the list.  So I thought I'd put together a post with some great last minute gift ideas for you friends and family.

Etched Glass:
You can buy an inexpensive set of wine glasses, or a beautiful vase & do you own etching.
Here is the how-to on Martha's website.  Etched Glass It seems like all you need is some etching cream and a small paint brush!

Stamped Glass:
Another easy glass project.  This can be used again on glasses, vases, or candle holders.
Here is the how-to - Stamped Glass

Cookie Kits:
Who doesn't love chocolate chip cookies, brownies or blondies.  You can put together all of the ingredients, very artfully, into a mason jar.  Attach a label with the recipe on the back, and you have another easy gift.

Photo Credit: Link
Themed Basket:
I'm a big fan of these.  Have a movie lover in the group?  Try a large popcorn bucket for the basket.  Fill it with a fleece blanket, a new movie, movie tickets, popcorn, candy & soda.  How about an Italian pasta lover?  Buy a colander and fill it with pasta, garlic, a garlic press, and a couple wooden spoons.  Or if you have an avid gardener in your family, buy a watering can and fill it with veggie seeds, flower seed & a set of hand tools, gloves and even gardening shoes. This gift is super easy and very customizable for each individual.

Neck Warmer:
If you can sew, this one is a great gift.  You can use any fabric, I've even seen these done with pretty or seasonal long socks!  I've seen them filled with rice, but honestly, what works best is corn - not unpopped popcorn kernels, but corn from a feed store.  You can also add essential oils, so that they smell pretty when they are heated.  There are lots of options!

Photo Credit: Link
You can even add a ribbon so that you can tie it around your neck, so it stays in place!
Here is a tutorial:  Neck Warmer

There are literally millions of ideas here.  You can make cookies, cakes and other seasonal things, but think outside the box.  Try making Chocolates, Truffles, breads, granola, DIY power bars... another gift that can be totally customized.

If you have a container, you can make candles.  You can use old vases, glasses, jars, even beautiful tea cups or fun coffee mugs!  Craft stores sell wax and wicks.  They are easy to make.

Homemade jam is a little time consuming but easy to make.  Make several different flavors & put them in pretty mason jars.

Photo Credit: Link
Flavored Alcohol:
Last year Matt made some flavored vodka.  You just buy a good vodka, Matt chose VOX.  You pour them into any great container that you have, but you have to be able to close it.  He chose several size mason and jelly jars.  Fill each jar to the desired height and add things to flavor it with.  Some of the ones that he did were coffee, candy cane, pineapple & cinnamon, but you can flavor it with just about anything.  The instructions that we saw said that you could remove the ingredients after about a week, but we left ours in.  Lets just say, that pineapple was pretty potent at the end!  I've seen jalapenos, berries, lemon, lime, cherries, just about anything you can imagine.

Photo Credit: Link
Just one warning, some things might totally disappear.  The candy canes totally dissolved within a few days, leaving a pink vodka, but I don't think that it disappointed.

You can also make easy oil and vinegar dressings, and put them in great bottles as well.  Add a few sliced veggies or herbs and they make a beautiful display.

If all else fails, there are always gift cards!
Happy Holiday Shopping to all!

Monday, December 13, 2010

Quick Kitchen Nook Renovation

So I wanted a quick project for the weekend, something that would be cheap, but make a huge difference.  I decided to update our kitchen nook.


I told you that you would see that kitchen table again.  This table had become the catch all location for pretty much everything.  A box of receipts, you can see the two tier fruit / veggie holder, even the two new black boxes I got to help organize.  But somehow, none of it was helping.  This room needed a make over.

With the help of a newly painted table:

And a couple boxes from my trip to Ikea:

And a shelf from Home Depot, we had a new room.


The storage ottoman that you see there isn't permanent.  It was borrowed from our Dining Room.  A new one, darker and faux leather is on our next "to buy" list.

Here is the breakdown of the transformation:

Shelf: $5.50 (Home Depot)
Brackets: $10 (Home Depot)
Sandpaper: $4 (Home Depot)
Primer: Free from our basement
Paint: $10 (Home Depot)
Black boxes: $5 (Ikea)
Raspberry Box: $3 (Target)
Storage Bench $70-$80 (To be determined)

The addition of the storage bench will allow us to put away all of our hats, scarfs, extra bags, etc, so that the coat rack will be left empty for coats!  The shelf now leaves room for all of our cookbooks, making more room on what's left of our other counters.  Overall, I love the transformation.  When all is said and done, it will be just over $100 for the entire thing... pretty good right?  I love the change & can't wait for the next project.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

DIY Kitchen Table

This weekend my husband is studying for exams, so I came up with a few projects to keep me busy while he was studying. 

We have a breakfast nook, but in the three and a half years we have been in our home, we have never used it as such.  It has become the mudroom, where we throw our keys, our bags, our coats.  It is where we keep our receipts, and often used over the counter allergy medications as well as our darts, and our two tier food tray that is too large for our countertops.  It has become a very busy, messy space.  My project was really to transform that space.  I will show the whole project soon, but today I will tell you about the bigger project in that room.

One piece of that puzzle, and the focus of this post, was my old kitchen table - the place where most things were collecting.

This table has been a dining room table, a living space desk, and finally a place where all things in our kitchen collected.  because it was so full of STUFF all the time, you really couldn't see how bad of shape it was in.  I got this from Target about 8 years ago,  maybe more.  It's just a wood laminate table, that every time you put something wet on it, it bubbled the finish, until it ended up looking like this.

So I decided to make this table look a whole lot better, so that it would help to serve a better purpose for our new "mud room and more" look.

First I sanded and wiped it down with a lightly damp rag.  There were two reasons that I bothered sanding a laminate table.  One, so that the bumpy finish that was left from the watermarks was knocked down and smooth, the other was to rough up the surface so that paint would adhere.

It may not look sanded, but it is.  The table was much smoother.  As you can see there are two leaves that fold down, making the priming and painting take a bit longer than if it had just been a simple table.

The next step was to prime and then to paint.

I put on one thick coat of primer on the top and leaves, and accessible sides of the legs.  Then I folded the leaves up and painted the underside and the other sides of the legs.  It looks much better already!

I let the primer dry for several hours & then applied the first coat of Satin White paint.  Then this morning I applied the other half of the first coat and a second coat to the table top, to be sure that it was coated well.

I was so excited to take the picture, that the paint hadn't even dried yet!  Here is the finished table though. 

However, this will not be the last time you see this table.  There was so much more to do to the kitchen nook to get it ready!  You'll see it again soon when the entire renovation of that room is complete!  It will be back in it's happy spot in the nook.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Weekend DIY

It Friday and it is the Christmas season.  That means that it's time for CasaSugar's Weekend DIYs! And this week has a holiday theme.  If you haven't gotten snow where you are, we have gotten your fair share of it here.  So to get everyone in the Christmas Spirit, even those without the fluffy white stuff, check out Casa's list here - Weekend DIY

Photo: Apartment Therapy
 Items for this weekend:
1. Christmas Tree Skirts
2. Mirror & White light garland
3. Snowflake Coasters
4. Sheet Music Christmas Ornaments
5. Yarn Wreath
6. Votive Candle Wrap
7. Photo Ornaments

Wrapping Your Gifts: Present Adornment

One way to really make your gifts stand out is to use a simple plain color wrapping paper and go extra special on the adornments.  Before I mentioned using brown paper bags or Kraft paper to wrap your gifts.  You could also use a simple dark grey wrapping paper, or a dark cranberry or evergreen paper.  A simple color palette will really make what you add to the gift stand out.  You could even go with an alternative color, like purple, turquoise or pink.  Add a splash of silver and gold and you will bring even the craziest colors into the holiday season.

You can add a simple ornament to the package.  This dark grey paper and silver snowflake ornament are a striking combo.  Just as easy to do with any other combination of colors!

 How about some crinkled paper and a couple sparkly stars.  How great does this package look?  And it again uses a blue color, not traditionally a Christmas color, but I don't think there is any mistaking this package for any other seasonal gift.

Photo - Real Simple
One of my favorites, and one that I might be trying this holiday is the yarn pom.  Yarn is incredibly inexpensive, but these gifts are very unique and easy to make! Have one big pom or group several together.

Photo Credit: Link

Here is a quick tutorial on how to make these adorable adornments! Yarn Poms

You can do a simple large bow and it will look elegant, but if you are feeling up to it, step out of your comfort zone.  Try grouping pine cones, making scalloped edge tags, making small wreaths.  Use a sprig of evergreen or mistletoe.  Make felt leaves and attach a few red bells for holly leaves.  One that I really love is after you have simply wrapped your gift, make a belly band around the gift in a really festive paper and finish it up with a simple topper. 

Photo Credit: Link
 Here are a few more images to inspire your holiday wrapping.

Photo Credit: Link

Photo Credit: Link

Photo Credit: Real Simple

Photo Credit: Link

Wrapping Your Gifts: DIY Wrapping Paper

Another easy way to make each present special is to make your own wrapping paper.  Whether it's with something you might have laying around, or something that you put a little effort into making, it will make your gifts stand out, and make each one special.

One really easy way is to wrap all of your gifts in brown paper.  Whether its from extra paper shopping bags, or if you buy a large roll of Kraft paper, it's a simple way to wrap a gift.  You can stamp the paper, draw on it, or simply adorn it with a great decoration.

Photo Credit: Link
Another simple thing to wrap your gift in is a linen napkin, or an old linen table cloth.  If the gift is small you can wrap the entire gift, if it's something that you would like to be seen, simply wrap the middle of the gift with the napkin and add a contrasting bow.
Photo: Real Simple
Clear cellophane is a great way to wrap something and give it a little shimmer.  If you don't want the gift to be visible, line the cellophane with a handmade stamped tissue paper, for a little something extra.

Photo Credit: Link
Of course an old favorite is to use newspaper to wrap the gift.  Even the comics for a child's present.  Decorate it with a big bow and it's inexpensive, festive & easy.

Photo Credit: Link
 You could even try sheet music for the music lover in your family:

Photo Credit: Link
 And the list is never ending.  You can make your own print with paint.  You can blow up photos of you and the person that you are wrapping the gift for and wrap the present in their photos.  You can use a shirt or sweater or even a blanket to wrap the gift.  
Photo Credit: Link
You can use any and all of these ideas for your holiday wrapping.  I'm a big fan of the brown bag wrapping.

Next up: Present Adornments!

Wrapping your Gifts: Holiday Gift Tags

In this time, when people are cutting back on the number of gifts they are giving, they tend to want to make each gift feel that much more special.  I decided I was going to do a set of blog posts on how to make each present special, decorated and show you how to put a little more of you into each gift.

So for the first post in this series, I decided to troll around on Martha's site again and find some wonderful DIY gift tags that can spruce up any package.  These are simple, don't require a lot of supplies, or shopping, and can add something very special to your gifts.

These tags are great to add to a small package and even tuck in a gift card if you need to.  Here is the link to the how to:  Gift Card Tags
Photo - Martha Stewart
These next tags can unify all of your gifts, so they are easily recognizable at a party.  Here is the link to these gift tags:  Holly Gift Tags

Photo: Martha Stewart
The next photo actually shows Button Snowmen Christmas cards, however I think they would be just as adorable as gift tags.  Here is the link:  Snowmen Cards
Photo: Martha Stewart
How about these. They are made out of gingerbread cookies!  Gingerbread Gift Tags

Photo: Martha Stewart
 Or even a great monogram, using old Christmas cards, wrapping paper, felt, etc. Monogram Tags

Photo: Martha Stewart
Simple and cute, all of these ideas can make your present just that much more special, not to mention that they will look great under the tree!

Next up: DIY wrapping paper

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Color of the Year:

So every year, Pantone comes out with their prediction for "color of the year".  Last year's color was turquoise.  I remember it well because it is my favorite color.  However I realize that I can live to allow room for all kinds of fun colors into my life.  I am a huge fan of color, so I'm always excited to see what they come up with.

This year Pantone selected "Honeysuckle". 
At first I thought it was going to be a beautiful vibrant yellow shade, but much to my surprise, Pantone's honeysuckle is bright pink!  I am sucker for all jewel tones, so I was excited to see another jewel tone make the color of the year.

Check it out:

Photo from Forever 21
Since Matt and I have lived together, I've always been afraid to decorate with pink, sometimes feeling that it might be too feminine, however I think that this color could be a powerful accent in a simple color palette.  You all know that I love grey & white, and I think that this color would be a great accent.

Photo Credit: Link
Photo Credit: Link

Photo Credit: Link

Photo Credit: Link
Great, right?  Yes, it's sort of feminine, but when done boldly, it's less feminine and more festive.  And as perfectly depicted by the last photo, this color is perfect for a nursery.  In the second photo, the pink is a little too pale to be "honeysuckle" but you could easily substitute a brighter pink into that photo.

It looks like I might need to do an inspiration board with a little honeysuckle sometime soon!

What do you guys think of the color of the year?  I think I'll be incorporating more of it into my wardrobe this year, than into my house, but I LOVE the color.  Great pick Pantone!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Weekend DIY

So I totally missed CasaSugar's weekly DIYs this past weekend, since I was visiting my sister.  So here is a link to the crafts of the week for the last week of November:  Weekend DIY

Photo Credit: Sweet paul
Click the link above if you are interested in any of the following DIY projects:

1. Measuring Tape Dishtowels
2. Evergreen Bough display
3. Poinsettia Pillow
4. Cost-free holiday decorations
5. Paper Leaf Wreath
6. Holiday Paper Designs
7. Tree Topper from an old sweater