Friday, July 29, 2011

Last Day of Summer. Sniff.

Today is my last real day of summer. Next week I have to start going into school to set up my classroom, lesson plan, and attend some meetings. Pardon me while I blow my nose and wipe my eyes.

As I was reminiscing about how beautiful it was to have a whole month off, I was reminded of a little post I did in the beginning of summer about the projects I had hoped to accomplish by this time.

Here's what was on my list and what I actually accomplished.

  1. Paint the living room, dining room, kitchen, entry, and hallway. Update: Primed but not yet painted thanks to our crazy decision to retexture the walls in these 5 areas.
  2. Install living room curtains, hang map, and other living room art. Update: Still pending wall texturing and painting.
  3. Take out header cabinet in kitchen to open up kitchen/dining room. Update: We WILL do this THIS WEEKEND as we prepare for phase 2 of retexturing. (I am really starting to feel like a failure at this point...)
  4. Get rid of all the boxes in the house. This will require setting up the guest room and office. DONE. Can I get an Amen? 
  5. Do something about that hideous and awkward CD tower.  I did *something* (in the most literal interpretation of the word); I moved it to Ryan's office/guest bedroom.
  6. Order and frame wedding pictures (by creating a gallery wall in the entry?). Update: Waiting until the entry is retextured and painted. 
  7. Put up the house numbers that we already own. Update: This is really pathetic to admit because we already purchased them, but alas, no.
  8. Find/make curtains for the master bedroom. Update: I found the fabric...I just have to save up to buy it.
  9. Find a fiddle leaf fig.  We now are the proud owners of Figgy and Figgy Jr. thanks to my mother-in-law Pam and my Aunt Madeleine! 
  10. Refinish coffee table and possibly other living room furniture. Update: Like everything else on this list, it's gonna have to wait till the walls are done. 
  11. Sleep. Done and done.
Okay, so I really only accomplished 2.5 house related projects. But considering that we are in the throws of a major project (our biggest to date), I am going to cut myself some slack. And I have revised my timeline: I hope to have the walls done and painted by my birthday, which is two months away. Totally reasonable, right? 

Well I'm off to enjoy this last true day of freedom with my pooches at our favorite hiking spot. Have a great weekend! 

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Worst Recipe Post in History

Remember how I said the other day that a recipe I had hoped to blog about totally bombed? Well, maybe you don't remember me saying that, which would be good...because today I am going to write about that very recipe. Only I don't have pictures for you; I deleted them the night I made it because I didn't think it turned out. Then this miraculous thing happened: I let it set overnight, and the whole thing came together and was delicious.

So without further ado, here it is: Paula Deen's Gooey Butter Cake, which we have been calling Ooey Gooey. (Disclaimer: Although I almost always bake from scratch, this recipe uses boxed yellow cake. If you are a baking snob like me, you might not want to read any further.)


  • 1 18-1/4 oz. box of yellow cake mix
  •  1 egg
  • 8 Tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 8 oz. package of cream cheese, softened
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 8 Tablespoons of butter, melted
  • 1 16 oz. package of powdered sugar

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. While oven is heating up, mix the ingredients for the cake with an electric mixer. Spread in the bottom of a 9 x 13 baking dish.

In a large bowl, beat the cream cheese until smooth. Add the eggs, vanilla, and butter, beating until combined. Then add the powered sugar slowly, mixing well. 

Spread over cake mixture and bake for 40-50 minutes. (I went 50 mins, and it was still pretty gooey.) Here's the most important part: restrain yourself and really let this guy cool down or it won't set up and it will be gross. It will also burn the roof of your mouth off and make it impossible to enjoy food for two days while your body is regenerating new skin. Was that too much info? Sorry. I just don't want you all to fall into the same trap I did. 

Two more quick warnings: one, this dessert is super sweet, so a little goes a long way. Don't binge or you will have a wicked tummy ache. Second, be prepared for your husband to fall even more in love with you because you finally relented and made him something by Paula Deen, the undisputed queen of Southern cooking. 

Okay, you've been warned. Go forth and bake! 

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Snow Day in July

I spent yesterday sanding the first coat of mud on our walls. It's grueling and messy work. When I was done the floors were looking like they had just weathered a July.

Thankfully I used rolled towels under the doors and plastic to tape off the entry and dining room so the rest of the house was not dusted in plaster.

And when I was all done, I was looking and feeling like a sexy beast.

My face was this eerie combination of red (from wearing a mask) and white from the plaster dust. I was really loving my powdered hair; I think our founding fathers would have approved.

I am back at it today with one wall that was still drying yesterday. Once that is done, we can begin the second coat of plaster.

Meanwhile, the latest issue of Rue Magazine hit virtual newstands. Maybe it's because I am uber focused on finishing as much of this project before school starts (T minus 2 weeks), but there wasn't too much that caught my eye - at least not that I felt I could do in my own home.

However, the ladies at Rue seemed to be having a moment with matchbooks.

Images via Rue

These detailed pics made we want to run out there and start collecting matchbooks from memorable meals and places. It also made me sad that I have missed out on collecting ten years worth of matchbooks from special dinners, hotel stays, and parties. But I guess you have to start sometime. We already have a large hurricane like the first picture that I could display them in.

But then I got to wondering, do restaurants still give out matchbooks? I'll be pondering that as I am sanding the day away.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What to Blog About When a Project is Taking For.ever?

I have been a bit worried this week about what to blog about since our quest to retexture our walls is painfully slow and not so fun to blog about (or read about) daily.

I did some blog hopping this morning as I was drinking my coffee to see what was happening in the blogosphere, and it seems as though my dilemma has been solved for me!

Young House Love and Bower Power have concocted a Pinterest Challenge - a call to make at least one item that you have pinned and saved to Pinterest.

(For those of you who aren't familiar with Pinterest, it's my crack cocaine, my kryptonite...It's an online bulletin board. You can "pin" pictures from anywhere - the internet, your computer, etc - and Pinterest saves them for you on different boards that you create. Those of you already addicted can follow me here:

Like them and many of you, I have been pinning away since I found out about the site about 6 months ago, but I don't think I have whipped up any of that inspiration for my own home. I have decided to change that and participate in the challenge since sanding plaster isn't too exciting for you or me.

What will I make, you ask? A cork ball!

In case you are asking yourself what a cork ball is, let me show you some fine examples.

I already scored all the cork I need thanks to our trip to Healdsburg and Lindsay, who asked for corks at each of the wineries we went to when I was too shy to. And I picked up a foam ball at Michael's a couple weeks back when I made my fabric wrapped cork board. So now it's time to start glue gunnin'! I'll let you know how it goes. That and the sanding...

Monday, July 25, 2011

Playing With Mud

We spent the weekend working hard on step one of retexturing our walls. Unfortunately, we don't have a lot to show for it; it's slow going but I will share anyways.

It's hard to see the difference the mud makes on it's own, hence this shot of a corner. The texture on the left is the dreaded orange peel texture found throughout the house; the texture on the right is one coat of mud.

Here's a close up (that has been exposure and color adjusted, and therefore looks much more textured than it is in real life).

You can see from the scoring on the picture above that the walls are far from smooth now, but they are much closer to the desired texture than the orange peel above.

Step 2 is sanding down the walls, followed by another coat of mud and a second round of sanding...and then we can paint. I am not gonna lie, this is a slow and laborious process that results in there being more mud on us than the walls, but it is worth it already.

We have floated the entry and most of the dining room, so hopefully next weekend we can do the second coat in these areas and I can finally paint.

Meanwhile, the house looks like this.

That said, I am not sure what projects I will be able to share with you all this week. (A recipe I wanted to share tomorrow totally bombed last night.) Once we finish texturing, I will try to put a tutorial together - maybe even a video! Hey, if I can do it, anyone can.

Happy Monday!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fashion Friday: Fall is in the Air

Okay, it's really not. We are still in the height of summer. But school starts in two weeks, and even as an adult, I still get excited about back-to-school shopping and fall fashion. Nothing says fall like the perfect mix of rich colors and textures: kelly green, moss, ochre, mustard, leopard print accessories, chunky knit sweaters, tweed, broken in leather. So I whipped up a little fall fashion inspiration board to share with you all.

Fall Fashion

Now you won't see me rocking any of these outfits unless I hit the lottery or I
have the patience to wait for them to go on sale. But here's the breakdown,
clockwise from top:

The Leopard Sunnyday Sandal from Madewell, Widelegger Jeans in Explorer Wash from Madewell, Wayward Jean Shirt in Desert Wash from Madewell, Fatigue Finery Cape from Anthropologie, Calvary Skirt from J.Crew, Little Belt in Tiny Cheetah Print and 1960's Tweed Jacket from Emersonmade, Nora Calf Hair Ballet Flats from J.Crew, AG Stevie Ankle from Anthropologie.

What are you looking forward to wearing once fall rolls around?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Upcycled Frame and Fabric Wrapped Cork Board

Today continues my adventures in spray painting. I made a fabric wrapped cork board out of a fun frame I found at Goodwill. Here's the finished product, currently chilling on my desk.

I started with this frame, which I fought and beat (not literally) another woman over at my local Goodwill.

At $10.50, it was worth the battle. That chunky scalloped trim reminded me of a good pie crust, and I figured it would look yummy spray painted white. (Please ignore the picture.)

First I wiped the frame down to get rid of any dust and dirt accumulated over the years. Then I sprayed the frame using thin, even coats until it was completely covered.

My weapon of choice was Rust-oleum spray paint in a semi-gloss white. I used a comfort grip spray nozzle attachment to get the even coverage I was going for. The spray paint and the attachment (which I can use again on future projects) were about $10.00 combined.

After the letting the frame dry according to the directions on the can, it was time to remove the picture from the frame so I could apply the cork to the picture (which was printed on a thin piece of wood rather than canvas). This required removing the staples holding the picture in place with a stapler remover.

Next I attached a roll of cork that I snagged at Michael's for about $10 to the picture. In my excitement I forgot to stop and snap some pictures but here's my process: I unrolled the cork and cut it down to fit the picture. Once I had it cut to size, I used Aleene's Tacky Spray to adhere it to the picture.

Then I placed the picture cork-side down and let the adhesive cure for 30 minutes with weight on top of it.

Once the cork was firmly attached to the picture, I wrapped it in my chosen fabric, some Waverly Lattice in Lagoon that I had turned into bathroom curtains at our old house. The only tricky part was making sure the pattern was straight on the cork board. Once I had everything the way I wanted it, I cut the fabric down, leaving a 1" edge around the cork board.

I then folded the edge over the back of the board, making sure the fabric was taught, and stapled it around all sides of the frame.

When I was done, it looked like this.

Last it was time to adhere the cork board to the frame using a staple gun.

With my custom cork board complete, I put it in place on my desk and began pinning away using 1-1/2" silver pins usually used in sewing and upholstery (just because I liked the way they looked).

I love having some inspiration to stare at as I work, blog, and surf the internet.

This project was so easy, quick, and fun that I can't wait to try some variations. Custom mirrors, anyone? 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


I am obsessively working on two things this week: finally priming the living areas of the house so we can retexture the walls and paint, and researching a digital single lens reflex camera to buy.  As a disclaimer, there a lot more words than pictures in this post.

Let's start with the first project I am obsessing over...I am not going to talk about paint colors again until I get one up on the wall, but I thought I would share our progress on our crazy mission to retexture our orange peel walls. I know there are many of you out there who, like me, are loathing the textured walls in your house but might be too scared (for financial or physical effort/pain reasons) to do anything about it.

We are just in the beginning stages, but so far it's not too bad. I have primed the entry, dining room, and (part of the) kitchen so that the mud compound has something tacky to adhere to when Ryan gets going on his part of the job. Today I will tackle the ceilings and the hallway, and the rest of the week will be spent on our living room with the lofted ceilings. Should be fun. I am taking it slowly so as not to get burned out. Once we retexture the walls, then I will have to go over the same areas again with at least two coats of paint, if not primer. Slow and steady so as not to get overwhelmed and walk away.

Looking at pictures like this grey living room by Jimmy Stanton help keep me motivated. It will all be worth it in the end.

I can't remember which online shelter mag these came from. Shame on me!

I love the rustic coffee table with the iron chandelier, the large scale art behind the sofa, and the bowl of moss balls. While my own living room will not feature such an awesome light fixture or a rustic table, I will be rocking some large scale art behind the sofa (hello map!) and moss balls. I have a weird obsession with moss balls. I think it's a color and texture thing...

Meanwhile, I am also researching digital single lens reflex cameras (DSLR's). I want to be able to take better pictures of our home for the blog, as well as of the pooches, and eventually of kiddos when we get there. Ideally, the camera would also have the ability to record short videos. I really don't want to use a separate camcorder because that is just too much gear to haul around, in my amateur opinion.

I have been doing a lot of research, and I have narrowed it down to two or three models. Most bloggers and reviewers recommend either a Canon or a Nikon. I have zeroed in on the Canon EOS Rebel T3i (or T2i, a slightly older model that is almost identical), or the Nikon D3100. Both are entry-level DSLR models. The Nikon has better tutorials for beginners, but it got some negative reviews for not bracketing and I am worried I might outgrow it if I really take to this photography thing. The Canon is approximately $200.00 more but has rave reviews and was the most recommended entry level DSLR by two separate publications. Either way, it will be a huge upgrade from our current camera - I think my phone has more megapixels - so I really can't lose.

But I do want to make an informed decision so I am turning to you: Do any of you have either of these cameras? Or do you have something else entirely that you would recommend? Want to weigh in on the great Canon vs. Nikon debate? Any insight would be welcome!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Patio Furniture Makeover

We were fortunate enough to be handed down this patio furniture before we moved. It didn't really fit with our old casa, but I am glad we held onto it; the bar height is perfect for seeing over the fence and enjoying the views from the backyard. The only problem was the speckled beige paint that totally blended in with our tan exterior. Boring and blah!

So after looking at outdoor furniture finishes at the big box stores, and hearing YHL rant and rave about oil rubbed bronze spray paint, I decided to bite to bullet and get three cans of Rust-oleum Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint.

I had been worried about how light seats would look with a dark base, but then I remembered this chair Janice transformed.

I figured with a fun pillow (that I will make down the road with some outdoor fabric I already have on hand), the contrast might look chic, like Janice's chair, instead of hey-I-was-spray-painted.

But before I could start spraying away, I needed to prep. I hosed down the dirty furniture and scrubbed everything down with a sponge and let it dry in the sun. While everything was drying, I removed the vinyl protectant wrapped around the base of the chairs to protect them from being scuffed by shoes (since they are bar height).

Then I built a spray painting corner in the unused side yard so I could spray outside (for ventilation), without spraying the fence or concrete. Here she is. What a beaut.

I carefully sprayed the table first according to the directions on the can, let it dry for an hour, and turned it so I could spray the opposite side and touch up any spots I missed. While the table dried for another hour I prepped the chairs by taping off the seats. I tell ya, this took longer and was more tedious than the actual painting.

Another can of spray paint per chair, and they looked like this.

One hour later, the paper came off and revealed chairs that looked like this:

(You can see where I missed a spot on the base of the chair in the second picture. I will touch it up, but I was relieved that it just looked a little bit dirty. No one seemed to notice.)

I let everything dry for 24 hours before putting the glass tabletop back on the table and accessorizing with some sand and votive filled mason jars.

The oil rubbed bronze ties into the door and window frames, and the seats tie into the exterior paint. (We hope to paint and install new windows and doors down the road, but at least for now, the furniture looks like it was chosen to complement the house.) Not bad for a set of free furniture and $21.00 for spray paint.

I will share another spray paint project I took on later in the week. Suffice it to say that I am fully addicted. If you come over, I might just spray paint you! I can't believe it took me this long to embrace the aerosol.