Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Mini-Basement Update

I talked a bit about the basement update that we've been planning in this post.  We've been working hard to decide the finishes for our 'in the works' wet bar and fireplace surround.

This image represents our final decisions in regards to our main finish choices:

Poplar cabinetry with a chocolate stain, granite countertop and marble/copper tile.
(The carpet was installed in phase one of our basement finish, but is pictured because the cabinets by the fireplace are surrounded by carpet.)

It's happening.  Soon.  I'm so excited!!

Has anyone else found it to be a huge challenge to decide upon the myriad of finish choices for a big project?  I think it's especially difficult because everything is so expensive, and pretty much permanent:).  You've got to get it 'right' (if there is such a thing) the first time! Target clearance purchases are so much less stressful:).  

Monday, September 24, 2012

Patio Perfection!

I know this post is coming at a strange time because it's late September and not 'patio season' anymore (though we did enjoy a dinner of grilled pizza on the patio this weekend anyway:)), but I really wanted to share what's been going on with our patio as of late, so here goes:

While I realize that we gave our patio a little furniture makeover just last summer (see here and here), I wasn't loving it.  I really wanted a table that could seat at least six people, so we could accommodate more people for outdoor meals at our house.  We even picked up an extra round wrought iron table and four chairs last year (on super clearance) with the thought we could set up two table and chair sets, cafe style.  In the end, I decided that was weird, and we sold off both sets in the early part of this summer for $525 (club chairs excluded).


Even with the funds from the sale of our old furniture sets, I quickly realized that purchasing a new table and chair set in a style I liked and in a price range that we were willing to pay probably wasn't going to happen this year.  So we waited a bit and kept our eyes open.  And then Target started to clearance their patio furniture.  We purchased two sets of Casetta chairs on sale for 50% off.  I love the texture of the woven chairs, and had been eyeing them since they first went on display.  We had our chairs, now we needed a table... a really nice and really cheap table that could seat at least 6 people.  So I asked Bill if he'd build me one out of cedar.  He said yes, and we came up with a plan.  With a 10% off coupon to Home Depot, the cost came to $100, which was much more reasonable than similar alternatives we had come across online that ranged from the $300-$700 plus shipping.

Bill built the table in early August, and then we had the kids practice getting on and off the chairs at the table, and it proved difficult for them.  I asked Bill if he'd build a matching bench (cost: $50) so the kids could get on and off their seats with ease, and he said yes.  (I sure love that guy!!)  We've had the table, bench and chairs out for a couple months now, and we LOVE having dinner outside!  Four of the chairs are around the table with the bench.  Two of the chairs are in a mulch bed by our play set for sitting in the shade while watching the kids play, and the last two chairs are set club chair style in the patio area as well.  The super exciting news, is that the bench allows for even more people to sit at the table than we originally planned.  In fact, we've squeezed 9 people (including 3 kiddos) around the table with relative ease.

I read that it's best to let cedar weather a bit before staining it, so we just stained the table and bench two weekends ago.  We had to pick a stain color.  I hate picking colors.  I end up finding two nearly identical colors and fluctuate back and forth between them.  This stain decision was no different.  Bill finally decided for me:).  We picked up the stain at Menard's on sale and ending up choosing Black Oak:

This product was a two-fer containing stain and sealer in one!  Yippee for fewer steps/coats.

Here is how our patio looks now:

Totally lovely, in my opinion:)!!  And the good news for Bill is that I already know that this set is a keeper.  There will be no major changes coming in 2013 on the patio front:)!  Yeah!!

And in terms of new costs for our patio this year, we paid $500 for eight chairs, $100 for the table, $25 for the stain, and $50 for the bench for a total of $675.  Considering we made $525 selling our old sets, the patio changes only cost us $150 this year:)!

And here are a few herb garden pictures because it's so close to the patio:

This caterpillar was enjoying our parsley.  He got named 'Parsley' by the kids:).

We started harvesting this weekend!  Homegrown lavender was cut first!!

We also started harvesting from our main garden too!

Is anyone else trying to squeeze in a few outdoor meals before the really cold weather comes?

Linking up to Thrifty Decor Chick.
Linking up to Primitive and Proper.
Linking up to Finding Fabulous.
Linking up to Miss Mustard Seed.

Friday, September 21, 2012

Charm's Pirate Updates

It wasn't long after we 'finished' Charm's room that he really started to get into pirates.  I felt like I should add a few pirate themed accents to his room.  He already had a big wave canvas that reminded me (and hopefully him) of the ocean:

Charm's room is also home to his treasure chest:


I added to these pirate props with a few DIY projects that I tackled in this past week:

Details to follow!!
Have a fantastic fall weekend!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Refrigerator Canvas

Our refrigerator is huge.  It's stainless steel, but still magnetic.  Usually we have a magnetic pen cup on the front of it and a random picture or two.  Sometimes there is a school reminder or a menu plan.  None of it is very useful:).  I decided to create a canvas of sorts to photos, of course!

Here is the before:

And the after:

I printed off fourteen black and white 8" x 10" photos at the cost of a little less than $1.50 each.  

I used Spontan magnets that I had on hand already from IKEA.  I decided to create a fall theme using both recent images:

and images from the past:

That's Charm in a pumpkin.  He fell asleep in a pumpkin when he was 2 months old:).

For about $20 we have a priceless display that makes me grin every time I see it!!  Is anyone else as photo crazy as me?:)

Monday, September 17, 2012

Our Kitchen Stools Have Been Stained!

Back in June, I wrote this post about my indecision regarding our counter stool situation.  It didn't take long for me to decide to return the Pier 1 chairs that I wrote about in that post, because I was really worried about how they would hold up over time.  I liked the World Market stools, but the color was too light/white/yellow for my liking:

See how much they stand out from the caramel colored granite?

Returning the stools would have been tricky and expensive because we didn't have any local World Market locations at the time (We do now!!  Yippee!!), so I decided to attempt to stain them.  I should be up front and state that I would not normally spend $500 on brand new stools and then alter them.  I would have kept searching/saving for a better alternative.  In this case, I went for it because of the return expense and because the only thing I didn't like about the stools was the color.  I could potentially fix the color of the stools.  I also could potentially ruin them, and I knew that going in, but there was a review on the World Market website indicating a woman had stained her stools with great success.  This review gave me a good deal of confidence and hope:).  

It still took me two months to decide on a color using a spare banana leaf basket as a stain tester.  I also needed to wait until we had weather that was consistently below 90 degrees.  And then I needed a smidge more time to build a little more confidence to take the staining plunge.  Here are some progress images:


 Test Basket

 Stain Winner:
Minwax Special Walnut, although it was pretty concentrated at the bottom of the container:).  I used a cheapo brush to apply it.  It took 2 good coats per stool.

The change was pretty dramatic: 

After staining the stools, I let them sit for a few days while I pondered how to seal them best.  I ended up using this:

Minwax Polyacrylic Spray in a satin finish.  
I applied 3 thin and even coats to the banana leaf surfaces of the stools.

And here is how our kitchen is looking now:

The caramel colored stools blend so much better with our granite.  I am giddy over them!!  I still plan to tackle the whole play-doh on woven stools issue by sewing some slipcovers with laminated fabric.  That may happen in a colder month when we're stuck inside on a more regular basis, and thus playing with play doh on a more regular basis.  (I'm saving my sewing projects for the winter and tackling the paint/stain projects outside now while we still can:)!!)  

What do you think about the stools?  Would you stain brand new stools:)?
Linking up to Thrifty Decor Chick

Friday, September 14, 2012

Spreading Some Major Sunshine: Children's Hospital Style

It's hard to believe that a year has gone by since Lucky Girl's hospital stay last September.  While she has completely recovered from a case of viral meningitis, we still remember how traumatic the experience was, and how grateful we were for a superb staff that took great care of our little Lucky.

We were also extremely grateful for the activities that the support staff provided to keep our little 3 year old girl occupied while stuck in a hospital bed with an IV pole.  Once she was feeling better, she played Bingo with the other kids on her floor through the television and telephone.  She drew pictures for everyone.  She made a princess wood craft.  She eventually got to visit the arts and crafts room for group activities.  She ended up having a lot of fun at the hospital:).

The day we returned home, I counted my blessings and pondered how I could 'pay' our good experience forward.  I'm a deal shopper to the core, so it didn't take long for me to come up with a plan to purchase a nice selection of toys and crafts (on clearance, of course) and donate them the following September.  I tried to focus on toys that could be enjoyed from a hospital bed, and probably ended up spending about $50 overall.  The main stores that I shopped at were Target, Walmart and Fleet Farm.

This week we dropped off these goodies to the Children's Hospital:

Lucky and Charm were so excited to drop off the toys, although Charm was slightly disappointed that he didn't get to hand them out Santa style to kids in the hospital:).  Lucky and Charm definitely received a lesson on the importance of giving, and I think this donation will become an annual tradition in our household.  

I hope you all have a wonderful weekend!!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

An Ombre Shoe Basket

A while back, I saw this post by Jenny at The Little Green Notebook that I thought was really interesting.  She took a West Elm basket and applied white paint to it in a gradient fashion.  Now, I'm not the biggest fan of spending $54 on a basket and then altering it, but when I found a nearly identical basket at Marshall's for $12.99, I thought I could give basket painting a try...after all, I've already painted curtains, painted a rug, and  I may have done something with those banana leaf World Market stools that I wrote about a couple months ago.  More on that later.

For now, I'm focusing on this basket:

Charm and I painted the basket together while Lucky was at Preschool last week.  We used flat white latex paint that I had on hand, a piece of tape as a guide for the top of the paint line, and then we just followed Jenny's instructions.  We dry brushed the paint on the entire area that we wanted paint on, and then put thicker paint on the bottom of the basket and blended the middle area.

The end result is a bit of a modern take on a traditional basket.  I thought about using a different paint color than the white that Jenny used, but I had plans for the basket in our mudroom which is staying pretty neutral. 

Our new basket will be replacing this overflowing shoe basket:

The ombre basket is a larger basket, but it's not too big.  It still easily fits into a little corner of our mudroom, and after removing all of our 'seasonal' shoes (swimming shoes, soccer shoes, etc.), there is a ton of room remaining in the basket.  (And there will be plenty of room for all those seasonal shoes when the reappear again in the spring:).)

The project took about 15 minutes total, even with my helper:).  He's very proud of the basket he painted, and I am too!!  

It feels good to cross that project off my list, especially since we've had the basket for a couple months now!!  Does that ever happen to you?  You have all the materials you need to complete a 15 minute project, yet it still takes months to complete?  Ahhh!!  I'm trying to tackle at least one small project like that per day around here, and as a result I have lots to write about!  Stay tuned...:).

Monday, September 10, 2012

A Piece of Chalk and A Smile

Lucky, Charm and I had a fun photo shoot the other day.  I wanted to do this all summer, and I planned to find a nice piece of black top to use as a background (our driveway is grey'll see:)).  I took the pictures from the top of an 8 foot ladder, and lugging an 8 foot ladder to the perfect black top surface ended up not being a realistic venture for me.  So one day, while Bill worked on a project in the garage, I did a little drawing and then turned into a crazed photographer on the top of a ladder in our driveway, while my cooperative kiddos served as models:).  Our neighbors probably think I'm totally crazy, which is fine because look at these pictures:

I just love them!  I have some major cropping and editing to do with many of them, but I'm pretty sure we'll be having about one million copies of them printed and plastered throughout our house!!:)  I don't think any of us will forget this special photo shoot.  It's amazing to think about how a simple piece of chalk and a couple big smiles can turn an ordinary day into an extraordinary one:).