Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Joining the Gallery Wall Ranks

I've joined the gallery wall trend and here's a sneak peak:

I started by arranging things on the floor to get a feel for how things should lay out. Attempt #1 wasn't quite what I wanted.

Attempt #2 was getting closer. I especially liked the gold "S" that had previously been on my front door.

I decided that I liked the two square pictures and the two circular mirrors. I tried to keep an imaginary vertical axis between the two halves. The spacing between the square and the axis is about 1.5 inches.

Here is the 3rd attempt - this is what I ultimately went with.

One more glimpse of the new gallery wall in the living room:

I'll be back to talk about leveling, hanging and selecting frames and objects.

Any gallery walls in your future?  Nicole
I'm linking up at Tater Tots & Jello and Thrifty Decor Chick

Sunday, November 3, 2013

To Paint Trim or Not to Paint Trim - That is the Question

I love the look of white painted trim in a house. I mean, I really love it! But, I seem to be stuck when it comes to painting the trim in my own house.  Why am I struggling with it so much? When we first moved into the house (20 years ago), I was smitten with the natural wood trim. Our kitchen was one of the only rooms with white trim, and I decided to strip the paint. And that, my friends, was a pain in the you know what... Just last year, I painted it back white.

The truth is, painted trim could always get stripped so the wood is back to its natural state.

My husband is open to the idea of painting the trim. It seems that people in the city where I live are attached to natural wood trim.

This picture gives a good shot of the house's trim, but with the old paint color. I've since painted the living room with Comfort Gray.


I decided to take a look at a few houses that show the natural wood before as well as the painted trim after. This might help me with the visualization process.

 




This house uses a combination of natural wood features and painted trim.
 
I think every house that I've shown looks better with the white trim. What do you think? I'd love your opinions!! Nicole

Friday, November 1, 2013

31 Day Infographic

The Nester inspired over a thousand bloggers to blog for 31 days. I took that challenge, and focused on gratitude by connecting gratitude to posts about my house, decorating and DIYing. I completed the challenge, even though I missed a couple of posts.


I really like my little house, but the most important thing is not the actual things in the house but the people – the family and friends – and the love, peace and harmony they create.

I reflected on the 31 day process a few days ago so it is only fitting to do a more statistical type of wrap up.  (Note: Since this is my first attempt at an infographic, I used the template provided at this link as a starting point.


Thursday, October 31, 2013

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Go Back to What You Know

I was talking with a wise friend. She was telling me a story of when her adult child was going through a really rough time. She advised him simply: "Go back to what you know". Back to his foundation, his faith, his family.

I think this is beautiful advice, and as I reflect on this past month of blogging, I think this is apropos to a blog, especially this blog.

In many things that I do, I find myself in an "all or nothing" mode. But that's not good for me. It's not good for me with diet, with exercise, with work, with DIY projects, with household chores, with activities. And so I reflect on that advice "go back to what you know". Moderation in all areas of my life is key for me because it's what I "know" works, and this 31 day challenge just brought that fact home.

My blog posts do not have to be full of DIY how-tos, nor do they need to each be 700 words long. A few words, links, pictures can be okay. I enjoy blogging, I enjoy talking about DIY and decorating, and I enjoy coming up with tips, tricks, shortcuts and a few how-tos.

To go back to what I know, I simply need one word: moderation. I am grateful for the Nester providing this 31 day challenge. When it is completed, I will have missed a couple of days. That is okay. It has pushed me and challenged me to keep going.

What do you know...  Nicole

I'm participating in Nester's 31 day seriesClick here to access the index of gratitude posts.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

It's the Little Things

Little things mean a lot. Especially in the home improvement/DIY realm. In my kitchen, the grout had disintegrated between the tile and the laminate counter top. It just looked dirty.



A little bit of caulk goes a long way, though!

While I don't consider myself a caulking expert, here are a couple of my tips:
  • make the hole in the caulking cartridge smaller than you think necessary because you can always make it bigger, but it's impossible to make smaller
  • once you start with a bead of caulk, keep going
  • your finger and some water does a great job at smoothing out the bead
  • have some heavy duty paper towels or rags to wipe your finger on and to wipe up the excess caulk
I also laid down a back splash in the bathroom with a limestone and glass mosaic. I bought 2 sheets of tile for less than $20. I tried to get the vertical seam to be, well, seamless. I see a lot of applications where the seam is a little bit wider and you can tell right where the sheets stop and start. Even with my efforts, it is not perfect, but I think the center seam looks pretty good.

I used a pre-mixed adhesive & grout compound. I also used a dish scraper to lay down the adhesive/grout and then went back over it with a grout type of comb to give the mix some ridges. I then taped it into place with painters tape while it set up.


After the adhesive dried according to package directions, I grouted it using the same little dish scraper and a sponge to wipe up the extra grout. (And in this picture my hands look just like my mom's hands).

Neither project took very long to do, but went a long way towards making things look more finished.

I am grateful for so many of the little things in my life, especially in the DIY world.

What are the little things in your life?  Nicole

I'm participating in Nester's 31 day seriesClick here to access the index of gratitude posts.








Monday, October 28, 2013

Behold, the Front Porch

The front porch is one of my favorite parts of the house. It is both open to the neighborhood, but gives the illusion of some privacy. During the summer, it houses a couple of wicker chairs and a fern.


When we first moved in, the porch was a glassed-in three seasons-type of porch with a strange striped indoor/outdoor carpeting (wish I had pictures of that!) We removed the glass and the frame and painted it nearly twelve years ago. And, we haven't done much since.

The ceiling and the railing were starting to chip, so, before my son's graduation party, we scraped the ceiling and the railing and used some Citristrip on the railing as well. Then we sanded it smooth.

We primed it and painted the railing and the ceiling with Fawn Brindle from Sherwin Williams' Resilience line.

The porch ceiling is bead board, and my first thought was to paint it the lovely pale blue that you see on many porches. In the end, I simply ran out of time and painted it the same Fawn Brindle color as the railing.
My son scraped the ceiling and my daughter helped me cut in along the edges and in between the boards.

I find myself grateful for help on home improvement projects, that my children are at an age where they are so helpful, and that my front porch is both open and a refuge for reading a good book or the Saturday morning paper.

I'm participating in Nester's 31 day seriesClick here to access the index of gratitude posts.




Sunday, October 27, 2013

Tasty Appetizer - Bow Tie Pasta Stacks

We had our nearly-annual block party recently. We did a potluck-style gathering and featured soups, appetizers and s'mores along with homemade hot cocoa (with a little peppermint schnapps for the adults).

In addition to a tasty vegetable-beef soup, my daughter and I made these adorable and tasty bow-tie pasta appetizers. I chopped the cheese and vegetables, and my daughter assembled the tiny pieces for a back breaking amount of time (these are her words and descriptions :)

I bought these adorable striped, bow-tie pasta on our recent day trip to Galena, IL.

Here is the recipe:

Bow Tie Pasta Stacks
1 package of bow tie pasta,prepared according to the package instructions
1 pound of good quality Mozzarella cheese, cut into approximately 1" X 1" by 1/4" slices)
1 red pepper, cut into 1" pieces
1 can or jar of black olives (you will probably not need all of these)
Sweet, Italian dressing (or your favorite Italian-type dressing)

I cooked the pasta, rinsed it in cool water and let it marinate for a few hours in the dressing. I also let the cheese, peppers and olives marinate as well. Then my daughter back-breakingly assembled the ingredients and placed it into a glass pan. We poured the marinating liquid over the stacks and covered the pan in plastic wrap.

These made a beautiful presentation and went over well!

In the sprit of my 31 days of gratitude posts, I am grateful for wonderful neighbors and grateful for delicious food.

I'm participating in Nester's 31 day series. Click here to access the index of gratitude posts.


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Kitchen Thoughts

I've surprised myself this fall by cooking a lot more meals at home than I have in the past. I tend to want every meal that I cook at home to be super healthy. In my desires to cook super healthy meals, I find myself balking at all of the work it will take to chop the veggies or make my own salad dressing. Instead, this fall I've relaxed a little bit and opted to make meals that are fairly healthy.

I think letting go of my expectations on what a home-cooked meal should be has helped me cook more. I've lost 7 or 8 pounds, but more impressively, I no longer crave sweets and I have more energy. Hmmm...

My thoughts about cooking naturally lead me to the place where I prepare meals which, of course, leads to thoughts about a slight kitchen remodel (okay, it's removing a main support wall to open up the kitchen and the dining room, but that's just a minor technicality).

The kitchen is 10 X 13, has 3 doors and 2 windows. The door on the right swings into the dining room and the refrigerator impedes traffic a little.


One thought is to reconfigure the cabinets at the bottom of the picture and move the fridge to that wall. This would open up the right wall for pantry-like shelves. 


I would loose a little counter space, but the storage that I could gain from a wall of shelves would be enormous. This should also cost less than $100. It would help with traffic flow. This will probably be a project for this winter.

My ideal remodel, though, involves removing that right wall which is load bearing and has hvac running through it. I would also center the back door on the left wall. This should give me a nice galley style kitchen that is open to the dining room. I like my cabinets and would just reconfigure them to get this new arrangement.



In the spirit of gratitude, I am thankful for the kitchen that I do have and that I am able to feed my family. I am also thankful for new insights and for the ability to dream.

It's hard to believe that there are only a few days left in in Nester's 31 day seriesClick here to access the index of gratitude posts.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

There's a new kid in town

There's a new kid in town and her name is T.J. Maxx. And, yes, I was in the throng of people waiting 40 minutes to checkout. I bought bed pillows, a couple of sweaters and these decorative gold sparkly pillows for my couch.

I love these. They add the perfect touch of glam for fall and will take me into the Christmas season. I think I was even more impressed by the light mood that all of the employees helped keep in the store. The store was really busy, yet they kept smiling and being pleasant.

I've decided I may need to add a line item in the budget for T.J. Maxx until the novelty wears off. I'm not even being paid to say that...

How have you glammed things up for the fall? Nicole

I'm participating in Nester's 31 day seriesClick here to access the index of gratitude posts.


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

HGTV's Defend the Trend

I just ran into this hilarious blog on HGTV called Defend the Trend. It looks at various trends and debates if a particular trend is still viable or on its way out. There are posts about the use of barn doors inside, floral patterns, chevron patterns, tree stumps, mustaches on everything, and mason jars.

I'll just throw in my 2 cents...

Barn Doors: These are okay in the right application. I've only seen these online, not in new houses around my area.

Floral Patterns: Get rid of the 80s chintz and many other things are okay. I love my floral patterned china still.
 

Chevron Patterns: I like this in temporary applications - no tile back splashes! I also like when the two colors are subtle like a light gray and a white. I also agree that herringbone is a more classic pattern as the debate suggested. However, I still don't have either pattern in my home.

Tree Stumps: I still think they look neat in home decor, but probably not my style. I think it will look really dated in 10 years.

Mustaches: I thought these were cute when they first came out and showed up on straws or cupcakes. Pillows? Too much.

Mason Jars: I love mason jars for storage because they keep things air tight. I also enjoy drinking out of a mason jar - lots of good memories with mason jars.

What trends are you still loving and what trends are on their way out?  Nicole

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Give Thanks

In keeping with the fall holidays and with the topic of this 31 day challenge, I decided to try my hand at creating my first printable.

To download, click on the picture. From there, right click and choose Copy Image. Proceed by pasting it into a document and printing. (When I use Microsoft Word, I make the margins narrow to accommodate a larger picture). This should fit into an 8.5 X 11 document frame. Or you can cut off the white edges and place it into an 8 X 10 frame.



Giving thanks... Nicole
I'm participating in Nester's 31 day seriesClick here to access the index of gratitude posts.



Monday, October 21, 2013

A little organizing

Our basement is partially finished, and the road to finishing it completely seems never ending. But, I still have books, movies, CDs, games, spray paint that needs organized. I am an avid reader, and while I try to get many books from the library, I have amassed quite a collection. I also seem to have quite the collection of exercise VHS and DVDs. Ahem.

We got water in our basement once - when we got 14 inches of rain overnight. Even though it is dry, that one time was enough and now I want to keep as much off of the floor as possible.

Lowe's to the rescue (and I'm not getting paid to say that!) They have 8' X 1" X 12" boards designated for shelf use. These are just simple pine boards. I got two of these cut and placed them on either side of our TV stand. I attached them with inexpensive brackets. I believe each  bracket cost around $1 while the 8' boards were $11 a piece.

In another part of the basement, I did the same thing. With the spray paint so easily visible, I was able to finish up a couple of projects and got rid of 7 or 8 cans of spray paint. You know you have a spray paint problem when you count nearly 30 cans and know that you have a use for each and everyone...
 
 
As I close this post, I am grateful for an organized space and know that I have quite a few more spots that need organized.
 
Happy organizing! Nicole
 
I'm participating in Nester's 31 day series. Click here to access the index of gratitude posts.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Thinking About Thanksgiving

The other day, I pinned some Thanksgiving table decoration ideas. I've never decorated for Thanksgiving specifically. Instead, I tend to make my Halloween decorations so that they are mostly fall-themed and will last until I pull out the Christmas decorations.

I found a couple of inspirations.

I like this first one (from Midwest Living) because it provides a little bit of glam with the mirror and the candles and a little bit of nature with the oranges, pine cones and pine boughs. This could transition into winter or Christmas, too.


 This next one (also from Midwest Living) uses apothecary jars to display ribbon, coffee beans and nuts. I like the architectural structure and the classiness that the jars provide, while the contents provide texture and the ribbons provide a bit of sheen.

This last one (from Southern Living) doesn't go theme-y. Instead, they have added pears to the table and branches to the buffet. I love the elegance and light, airiness of the room. I also like the symmetry of the pictures around the large mirror as well as the 2 ginger jars around the vase.

I love the 3rd picture, but that style does not really fit my bungalow house; instead, I am thinking about a combination of the first two and then transitioning that to Christmas decorations.

Do you decorate specifically for Thanksgiving?  Nicole

P.S. I went to work on my chalk painted chairs, and scratched the paint off of the arms. So, I need to sand and do the prep work like normal. The chair arms and legs had a fairly glossy finish, and I was trying to take the shortcut way out...

I'm participating in Nester's 31 day seriesClick here to access the index of gratitude posts.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

FREE Floor plan software

I've found a free, wonderful on-line tool from floorplanner.com (and no, I am not being compensated to say this - I just think it's lots of fun). This tool allows you to create a floor plan and add in furniture, light fixtures, doors, windows, rugs, plants, etc.


I had my room like this for awhile after we refinished our hardwood floors. I didn't love this arrangement, but with heat vents and windows and doors, the piano only has a few places where it fits. The bottom step in our stair case actually protrudes enough that I can't fit the piano up against the stairs.

So I went back to my favorite arrangement for the couch. I like this one because our ceiling fan and couch are centered and I just like that symmetry. I also think this flows just a little better and looks more open.

The nice thing with this software, is that you can see how different pieces or sizes of furniture work in your room (and this might help to save some money down the road). 

I am grateful that companies provide free software like this for the average DIYer. And of course, they offer upgrades for people who have more sophisticated needs.

Have a great weekend! I hope to finish up my homemade chalk paint chairs and do a little cleaning and organizing..  Nicole

I'm participating in Nester's 31 day seriesClick here to access the index of gratitude posts.



Thursday, October 17, 2013

Grateful for Gatherings of Family & Friends

I am grateful for gatherings of family & friends. I love the fellowship from such gatherings - visiting, catching up, celebrating.

One other thing that I am grateful for with these gatherings is that it provides the impetus for finishing up those tedious home improvement projects. Take this vent in the kitchen, for example. As part of a remodel on the room on the other side of the wall, we pulled out the old vent and replaced it with this smaller one. And this, of course, left a big gaping hole in the wall.
 
And it sat like that for about 15 years (hanging head sheepishly now). It was always hidden by a table or a cabinet.
 
Thankfully, my son's high school graduation provided that motivation to finally work on this project!
 
This was simple beadboard paneling that I lightly sanded, wiped with liquid sander, primed and painted. We also added a chair rail, caulked the gap between the beadboard and the baseboard, and touched up the paint over the caulk and nail marks.
 
This looks so much better than the gaping hole. Do you find that company provides the motivation to finish some home improvement projects?
 
I'm participating in Nester's 31 day series. Click here to access the index of gratitude posts.



Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Grateful for... Chalk paint?

Today, I note how grateful I am for decorating and DIY blogs. It's opened my eyes to the incredible talent and incredible kindness in the blog world - people freely share, compliment and offer kind but constructive critiques. Plus, they do it all so beautifully.

One of the blog projects that has peaked my interest is a DIY chalk paint recipe. I decided that I had the perfect chairs from Goodwill because if this doesn't work, I think they would look great with a Ballards-inspired slipcover. On blogs, I usually see wood furniture that is painted, but I happened to stumbled across chalk paint on fabric.  I also found this video of Ms. Annie Sloan herself painting fabric with her chalk paint. Now, I must note that I have never used Annie's chalk paint, nor have I used any other brand. Instead, I found this recipe from Twice Lovely. Since I have never used the original before, I do not know if this works the same or not. I also do not know how durable it will be, but promise to report back both the finished project and how it lasts after a couple of months.

Here are the before and in-progress shots:

1. The Goodwill chair in all her 90's forest green, burgundy, navy and gold glory.
2. The x-bottom base is what really captured my eye.
3. After the first coat of paint has been placed on the wood.
4. 2 coats of paint on the wood, 1 coat on the fabric.


This little jar of paint went really far. Now I just need to lightly sand and do one more coat on the arms and at least 2 on the fabric. I will also use a little bit of wax on both the wood and the fabric.

Diane from In My Own Style tested out several different recipes that you may want to check out as well.

Here is my recipe:



Have you used chalk paint? What do you think of it?  Nicole


I'm participating in Nester's 31 day seriesClick here to access the index of gratitude posts.

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