If You Give a Girl a Paintbrush

About a week ago, I emptied out my front hall closet with the full intention of making it beautiful and functional.  Then I let it sit for a week.  I told Alex that I was going to finish it over the weekend and when Sunday came my sister and I made the sojourn to Home Depot for supplies.  We stopped by his work to say hi and ask him if he needed anything from Target (we were having a bit of a shopping spree).   He didn’t want anything so we headed out on our way.  Leaving him with the false assumption that the closet was all we would be doing.

When we made it home, she grabbed a paint brush and I grabbed a roll of painter’s tape.  I began working in the closet and she began working in the kitchen.  The full details of the closet’s transformation can be found here.  I took breaks throughout my project to put roller to the kitchen walls.  Go big or go home, right?

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The closet is a breath of fresh air.  It also pushed me to get my room and closet upstairs more organized. It was relatively quick and made a huge impact on the living area.  However, what I’m most excited about is what happened in the kitchen.  After painting the cabinets,  all I could think about what getting rid of the terrible yellow I had painted the walls when we first moved in. It was a mistake.  When the cabinets were brown, it was too terrible, but after they were painted white the walls looked unintentionally yellow. It was a gross look and it had to go.  My sister did a great job.  She really did most of the work and for that I’ll always be grateful.  We went with Bedford Gray by Martha Stewart, if you were wondering.  I’m in love with it.

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The kitchen still has a long way to go. I need to change out the outlets for white ones,  repair the soffet above the stove (water damage), install a backsplash, find drawer pulls, put down new tile, and do something about the brick above the fire place.  I used to worry about what to do with the countertops, but with the freshly painted cabinets and walls, I actually love them!

So that’s the story about how one small closet project became painting the closet and the entire kitchen as well.  Have you ever started a project that snowballed into something bigger?  Any big projects last weekend?

A Modern Scrapbook

There is not a day that goes by that I am not involved with Pinterest in some fashion.   I tend to browse for at least 30 minutes a day and even on days off, my friends send me pins they think I’ll like or I’ll be doing a project for Pintertesting. In the course of a year, it has become a major part of my online life, my entertainment and it’s influence is all over my house.  It all started with my Craftiness board…and has exploded into 29 more boards (3 of them are secret boards).  I have boards for crafts, food, fashion, exercise, funny stuff, stuff that restores my faith in humanity and obviously many more. I have a secret wedding board because having one that’s visible is just asking for bad juju.

In the beginning, all my boards were just like everyone else’s.  Then I made boards for specific rooms in my house and what I’d like to do to them ;).  Which then turned into me making a board for Alex’s birthday.  I needed to keep track of all the things I wanted to do for his party in one place. I created a board for an event. Not for food or make up or things to do with Mod Podge. Now I can look back on that board and remember how hilarious Shot Roulette was or how much fun everyone thought the “Roof Pizza” was.  I don’t need that board anymore and I could delete it. What fun would that be, though?  Now I have what is basically a digital scrapbook reminding me how much fun we had with the added bonus that there are no pictures of me in it.

Alex Board

I’ve recently created boards for my upcoming trip to New Orleans for my sister’s birthday and one for my brother and sister-in-law’s kind of second wedding.  They are group boards so my sister and sister-in-law, respectively, can pin into them.  These aren’t just so that we can plan, but we’ll also be able to look back on these boards and remember the fun we had not only at these events, but also the fun we had putting them together.  In these cases, we can remember our sisterly bonding.

Scrapbook Boards

If I post about these things later, I can also pin those to the boards and share them with the people who follow.  I’m not the best about printing out photos or making those cool shutterfly yearbooks all the cool bloggers make (maybe when I’m married), but having these boards is a way for me to look back on all the fun I’ve had.  I don’t know if this was ever an intention of the people who developed Pinterest, but it certainly a fringe benefit that I’ll enjoy for years to come (perhaps it will help with Pinterest’s longevity if more people start doing this).

My Pinterest account is slowly becoming a giant collaborative scrapbook and I am really digging it. Has anyone else been doing this? Please tell me having 30 boards is normal.

I Got The Power

So January has come and gone and to be honest, I don’t really have a specific resolution.  I don’t want to lose this much weight, or save this much money or achieve this particular goal.  I want to just do a generally better job of being me and taking care of my own needs. My sister and I are both doing this and we are calling it our Power Year.

Power Year

Whenever one of us is doing something we probably shouldn’t (like buying a pack of cigarettes or eating a block of cheese) the other kind of yells, “Power YEAR!” It seems obnoxious and maybe rude to yell this at one another, but it’s how we communicate.  For me it has basically involved asking myself, “Do I need this?”  I could be asking about an adorable tchotchke,  a cupcake, a vacation.  I don’t mean that I think having power this year means depriving myself.  I really want to focus on making better decisions for myself across the board.  Yes I want to be healthier, thriftier, and – let’s be honest – skinnier, but I want this year to be about healing my preconceived notions about how much I should eat or how trendy my house should be.  I don’t think this is really measurable, but more of a slow perspective change.

In the past, I would commit to working out everyday or tracking all my meals in LoseIt! and I still would like to be more conscious of those things, but this year I have more room to breathe. Before, I would do really well for a week, maybe 2 and then get mad at myself when I didn’t live up to my own expectations.  Now, if I miss a workout day, I do my best to do something the next day. If I have a calorie rich lunch, I eat smarter at dinner.  I have A cupcake, not 2, but oh man do I savor that cupcake.

Being solely focused on consuming is not healthy for anyone.  Must eat this, must buy that.  It’s causing me a lot of stress.  I am realigning my priorities to focus on relearning and not on achieving.

So here is to 2014, the Power Year.

Cheers!

Cabinets

I think I might understand why mothers will go through the pain of childbirth once and choose to do it again.  After painting my kitchen cabinets, I feel like I can relate.  Because those two things are extremely similar and definitely equal amounts of pain. I feel like a survivor. These were my kitchen cabinets. I don’t have anything against wood or brown cabinetry, actually I like it a lot.  My cabinets, however, were is pretty bad shape.

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Around every knob, there was a worn away patch were you could see that these were not in fact made of wood at all.  They were also very dark in a house that tends to be rather dark.  In a townhouse, we don’t have many windows.  The kitchen is the room that gets the most light and it still looked dreary thanks to these cabinets.

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I decided to do something about it. I got my handy dandy (brand new) toolbox and got to work.  I just received this toolbox from my dad and step-mom for Christmas. It included this screwdriver, and it was a godsend for this project!  Removing all the hardware would have been the biggest chore without it.

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First, I removed all the doors. Let’s not judge the content of my cabinets, ok friends? I’m 24. I do what I want. We sanded everything down with a sanding block and medium grit sandpaper.  After sanding, we wiped down all the surfaces with a 50/50 mix of water and vinegar to get any residual grease and dust off.

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Alex was incredibly helpful while I slaved away removing hinges and knobs.

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After two coats of primer, things were looking life changing. Every ten seconds I would yell at my sister, “Are you dying right now?  This is the greatest day of my life. I can’t believe this is happening!”   She was instrumental in helping me get this done. It’s definitely a multi-person project. One of us would go around and edge and get in the nooks and crannies of the doors with a 1″ angled brush and the other would cover all the smooth areas with a trim roller for an even finish.

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Here they are after 2 coats of primer and at least 2 coats of paint. We used Behr’s Clear Moon and we love it.  I used the original hinges and the knobs I talked about in this post.  They are both an antiqued nickel finish.  I haven’t gotten drawer pulls yet because finding pulls that are 3 1/2 inches center to center AND in a similar finish is pretty difficult. Lowes and Home Depot both carry 1 drawer pull in that size in the store and neither suited our kitchen.

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Can we talk about how I’m really in love with the lines of the cabinets?  They aren’t something you see all over the place and I like how architectural they are.  I’ve been waiting 2 1/2 years to do this project and now that it’s done it is like a breath of fresh air.  It was totally worth the 4 coats and the sanding and having a pulled apart kitchen for 2 weeks. We had to do most of this stuff after work and the doors had to be done in groups of 5-7.

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Hello Beautiful.

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Hopefully we can get the walls painted a more palatable color (pun intended) sometime soon.  For now I’m going to relish how lovely the cabinets are.

Foyer? I Barely Know ‘er!

Don’t call me Shirley.

I’m pretty sure my inner monologue is written by Michael Scott.  That’s right.  I might be a 24 year old girl on the outside (and I have the cognac brown boots to prove it), but up in this noggin resides a middle aged man whose only desire is to inspire his dreary workforce.  Since I have no workforce, I can only psych myself up.  How do I do that? Is it with rhetorical questions? No, it’s with house updates.  This time I set my sights on our “foyer.”  When you walk in my front door, immediately in front of you is a small tiled area and a coat closet.  End of description.  Aside from the tile, there is nothing that says, “This is the entryway.” I suppose I should call it a faux-yer.  I’m not going to, but I should.

The entryway was never very high on my list of to-dos.  Then I saw this at Goodwill:

Goodwill Bench

This bench retails at Target for $169.99 online.  I found this one at Goodwill for $70, which is normally way above my budget for Goodwill.  However, I saw this bench, loved it, and googled the price.  The box was ripped open and I worried that I would end up with missing hardware or pieces, but it ended up being all there.  So I took it home and assembled it…and it promptly became a dumping ground. This was in early October 2013.  As of December 2013, the foyer looked like this.

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I know that this photo isn’t fantastic, but the point is that my foyer looks organized.  When we come home from work, my sister and I put our purses on the bench and our keys on the key hooks.  The key hooks are empty in this picture because we were literally walking out the door when I snapped this picture.  Can we just take a second to enjoy this bench?  I preferred the symmetrical look of having the doors on either side as opposed to together. The baskets in the middle hold dog toys and winter paraphernalia. The baskets are also from Target, and I had quite a time walking back and forth between the basket aisle and the aisle that had their display bench trying to find baskets that fit nicely into the shelves.

Above the bench is an array of art, photos, organizational tools and whimsy.

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The large frame on the left is a quote I painted in watercolor.  It’s one of my very favorites by Douglas Adams.  “I seldom end up where I wanted to go, but I almost always end up where I need to be.”  I originally did this for a Pintertesting post that failed so I did my own take.  It’s floated around our house for a few months, but I think it’s finally found its home.   I have no idea why this picture is so grainy, my phone usually takes pretty clear pictures.
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To the right of my watercolor quote is the rest of the display.  I framed up some fortunes from a night of takeout that seemed meaningful and fun. To the right of the fortunes is a picture of my sister and I in my grandmother’s hammock when we were young.  This Christmas my grandma went through all the photos she had (which is a metric ton) and sorted them into boxes for all her kids and grandkids.  The box my sister and I got was full to the brim with memories and I wanted to make sure a few of them get special spots in our house.  This is the first I’ve broken out of the box.

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Below the fortunes and our sistren pic, is a key hook and a mail organizer.  At our home’s peak, we had 5 people living here and the mail got out of hand. We also had to move a bunch of cars every morning so getting this stuff organized was pretty important. Good thing I accomplished that after our roommates moved. Ha.

Foyer display

So there you have it.  An organized foyer.  I have another project in the pipeline for our coat closet because it puts the ugh in ugly.  Also, I wouldn’t be a Chicagoan if I didn’t mention how fricken ridic our weather has been.  This Polar Vortex can kiss my grass.  Check out these murdercicles we have on the house.  I run out the door (and in the door) every day in fear of one falling and killing me.

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