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Kitchen organization

January 2, 2017

I have one set of open shelves in my kitchen, and they’ve been holding bowls, plates, cups and tea since we moved in. Not bad, just not exactly what I wanted.

For Christmas, I received 8 gorgeous Weck jars from my mother-in-law. They are absolutely perfect for holding bulk items, like gluten-free flours, legumes, nuts and the like, and they are sleek enough to be displayed somewhere like an open shelf in a kitchen!

This was actually quite simple. I took everything off the open shelves and out of the cabinets next to it. I decided what items I wanted in my jars (different types of rice, old-fashioned oats, potato starch, red lentils, and walnuts) and used a chalkboard marker to label them all.

After wiping down all the shelves, I also removed one from the open shelf. Though this cuts down on storage space, it makes things feel more airy and open; the jars looked squished when there were three. After a few more minor additions to the shelf, I was done!

Now that I’ve finished organizing a few kitchen shelves, I have a desire to organize every single closet and cupboard in the house. Wish me luck!

Projects

First calligraphy project

October 2, 2016

Last week, one of my best friends texted me and asked if I would handletter her next tattoo! How freaking great is that?!? I was so excited and spent the next week working on her design. She wanted “l’etoile du nord” which is the state motto of Minnesota, the star of the north. Absolutely lovely, and very fitting for her.

After many text messages and a Skype convo, plus pages and pages of lettering, we settled on the final design. She got her tattoo this week and it’s beautiful! I thought I’d share it here.

Love you my dear friend, thank you for letting me be part of you forever.

TaylorTattoo

Projects

Basement makeover

September 9, 2016

As I mentioned in my last post, the husband and I have been knocking out house projects like it’s our job. Not only did we tackle the backyard, we went full speed ahead with updating the basement.

Here’s what the basement looked like before (please excuse the paint samples and clutter, I got a little enthusiastic while drinking wine one night and wanted to see the colors and get moving):

basement_before1

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Our eventual plan for the basement was to get a bar, since we really enjoy entertaining and having friends over and I’ve recently gotten into making handcrafted cocktails. My dad gave me the bar fridge for my birthday, so it was only a matter of time until the bar followed for the husband’s birthday! Once that was purchased, it was time to paint.

Thankfully we already had the colors picked out. While the light blueish color with the white trim and fireplace is popular in home decor magazine and on Pinterest, it was definitely not our style. The basement living room was the only room in the house (besides the bathrooms) that we didn’t paint when we first moved in. It was time to change that.

We went with a deep red with brown tones and paired it with a brownish tan, pulling colors from the rug we had, since those colors were also in the bar. We decided not to paint the trim or the fireplace, and I think it was the right choice, since the white pops and brings some lightness to the room. (Don’t mind the cat, she wouldn’t move.)

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basement_finishwall

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basement_after2

You can see the new bar and pub table, and how the room looks totally different now that it has some depth of color to it.

Future projects down here include updating the light fixtures (bye-bye boob lights) and figuring out what artwork to add to the wall behind the couch.

Wow, no wonder I feel so tired all the time! Looking back, we’ve tackled so many projects over the last few weeks. But they’ve made such a big difference in making the house feel even more like home. It’s a place where we can have friends over to hang out in the hot tub, grill and have dinner outside, have a SuperBowl party or host a game night. One thing I love is how these projects bring my whole family together, from my husband to my mom and dad. It’s such a great feeling stepping back, looking at something you love and knowing you made it happen with your own hands.

Projects

Backyard update

July 11, 2016

It’s been pretty quiet here in blogland, but the next few posts should help explain why. The hubby and I have been hard at working doing a crazy amount of home projects the last few months! Some were planned, some were more spontaneous, but they are all getting the finishing touches and I thought I’d share them with you. We’ll start with the backyard.

Scroll through the photos to see what the yard looked like in April:

We didn’t do too much with the yard when we moved in last year, mostly because we wanted to get the lay of the land, see what we were working with. Turns out we had a few distinct areas: 1. The deck. Definitely a great bonus to the house, very well-used but in need of paint and some deck furniture. 2. The sandbox, garden and general lawn. Loved the vegetable beds, but the sandbox is just strange space and the lawn could use some new grass seed. 3. The playground hole. There was a massive playground on the mulch when we moved in but, since we’re not planning on kids for a few years at least, we sold it last year so we could better utilize the space, though we were lacking vision.

Fast forward two months, and this is what we’ve accomplished!

The deck

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After minor deliberation, we decided to hire out restaining the deck (there was no way I was going to tackle all those spindles!). And boy am I glad we did. We hired TJ’s Painting and they were incredible! They powerwashed the deck, drilled in loose screws (and there were many) and gave the deck two coats of a beautiful brown stain. No more weird red deck, it actually complements the house color!

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We put the deck lights back up because they add such a great ambiance, and they look great with the deck furniture we got from Target. We had a bit of a delivery fiasco (over 3 weeks to get the furniture) but in the end the wait was totally worth it. We’ve already used the table and chairs many times. We finished the deck off with some plants and herbs for color.

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The garden

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Having a wildflower garden is something I’ve always wanted and I’ve slowly been adding to the hostas and lilies that already inhabited the back yard. My dad’s wife grabbed a ton of plants on sale and brought them down as a surprise one day and established this great wildflower garden surrounding the raised vegetable bed! It’s been wonderful having them and I’m excited to have wildflower bouquets all summer long.

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The sandbox is still a work in progress. We were going to take all the sand out, add some dirt and seed the whole area, but there’s a lot more sand in there than we anticipated because the land is sloped downward at the corner. Instead, we’ve started filling it with planters and will slowly start moving the mulch from the playground hole to cover the sand.

The playground hole

This area had us completely stumped. There were three areas here: mulch, rock and the wood slats/concrete area. We thought through a few different iterations but nothing really panned out until we got…a hot tub! Long story, but it fit perfectly on the wood area, so we went for it. But it was leaking and had to be taken back for repairs for a week or so, and Dad decided he and I should build a new deck for it. Why not?

I took a day off work and, after 5 hours of some intense manual labor, he and I had built a new composite deck! I’m so proud of it, this is probably the favorite thing I’ve made so far this year, just because I got to spend some quality time building with my dad. He built houses for many years, and I remember going to job sites with him as a kid, so having these memories as an adult too is pretty special.

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So as you can see, the hot tub sits wonderfully on the new deck. It’s all fixed and has been used for many hours already.

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Whew, that was a crazy long post. Bet you can’t wait to see what projects we’ve tackled inside, huh?

Projects

Recent projects: sliding door part 2

March 21, 2016

Where did we leave off? 20160123_113105 Oh yes, I remember. The door has been stained and put together with the 2x4s hanging off the end.

The plan: Add castors to the bottom of the door, add eyehooks to the top and put a handle on. slidingdoor9 Aided by another helpful friend, we managed to put the castors and eyehooks on the door without much bother (I cut corners and didn’t stain the ends of the boards. Hello lazy Allison). The problem came when we went to hang the door on the sliding rail (for that tutorial, check out my article here). One of the elbows was threaded the wrong way. So back to Home Depot for I think the forth time (there was another visit along the way somewhere). Got the rail hardware in place and the door hung with a few minor tweaks with the height of the eyehooks. Great!

Except.

The 2x4s were hanging off the left side. I wasn’t really sure what to do with them. Then, in a jolt of inspiration it hit me…make a vertical handle! Thankfully our friend was super helpful. We took the door off the rail, swapped the castors and eyehooks and put the door back up, this time with the 2x4s extending to the right. Now all I had to do was get the hardware for the handle.

Home Depot Trip #5

Bought the same piping I used for the rail to make the handle. Brought it home, got it set up and realized it was 2 inches too long.

So close!

So close!

DANG IT! Back to

Home Depot Trip #6

Had them cut the pipe 2 inches, got it rethreaded and brought it home. Was confident, got everything ready to go and found the pipe was TOO SHORT!!! Let me tell you, I about lost it (for the 8th time this project).

Thankfully, my husband is super smart and understanding and a lifesaver. Instead of doing a vertical handle, he suggested we put it diagonally. YES!

Once the handle was screwed in place, I knew it was the way the door was meant to be. After borrowing a saw to cut off the excess 2×4 pieces, the door was finally finished! (Minus going over all the silver screws and castors with some kind of Sharpie or paint. That’s for another day.)

What a trip my friends. I can tell you I learned a ton working on this project, and, while it was definitely frustrating, I know I have more woodworking projects in my future. finishedslidingdoor

Projects

Recent project: sliding door part 1

March 16, 2016

I am a firm believer in just doing things. Jump in, you’ll figure it out. I wanted a sliding door, and my options were to buy a door (used and then refurbish to look how I wanted) or make my own, I decided to make my own. After all, what else is Pinterest good for?

After doing what I considered extensive research (on Pinterest, duh), I put together what I thought was a decently-laid out plan. Are you getting a feeling about this project? Let me walk you through how it went.

The Plan

Buy wood. Stain wood. Screw two 2x4s onto a bunch of 2x6s to create a door. Mount the door onto the tracking system, which I already knew how to build after doing a curtain rod. Seems easy enough so I jumped right in.

Home Depot Trip #1

Purchased 3 14′ 2x6s. Had them cut in half, leaving me 6 7-foot boards. 6 boards at 6 inches across is 36 inches. Bought a 2×4 and had it cut into two 36 inch lengths. Bought my stain, screws, wall anchors, and the piping necessary for the tracking system.

When home, laid out the 2×6 boards. One edge lined up nicely.

Nice and even.

Nice and even.

The other edges were jagged; all the pieces had been cut to slightly different sizes. I also laid the 2x4s to see their placement. The edges should have lined up (remember my 36 inch math above?).

Uh oh.

Uh oh.

BUT NO! Turns out that 2x6s are actually 5.5 inches wide, not the full 6. It has to do with the depth of drywall and it’s better for builders that they are 5.5 inches, not 6. So now I needed another 2×6 and to center the 2x4s.

In theory, the wood would have lined up at the ends of the 2x4s.

In theory, the wood would have lined up at the ends of the 2x4s.

That lead me to my

Home Depot Trip #2

Picked up one more 2×6. Thankfully, we have a friend who lives nearby with a saw. He graciously let me come over and helped me cut the wood to it was all the same size. Time to start.

Attempt #1

Staining in the garage

Staining in the garage

Stained all the wood in our garage over the course of three days. It was the middle of a cold spell in January. 10 degree high days do not make for efficient dry time or warm painters hands.

Once all the boards were finally dried, I brought them back inside (so I could feel my fingers when working) and laid them down to start putting the door together. My plan was to lay down one 2×6 and screw on one 2×4 near the top and one near the bottom. Then add a second 2×6 and so on.

So I started.

On attempting to drill in my first screw, my drill died. Another call to our friend nearby and I had a second drill.

When his drill struggled to get the screw into the 2×4, I went to the internet. Duh, hardwood is hard and you should use a drill bit to drill a hole for the screw to go in first. Upon doing that, my screws went in much, much easier. But I did strip quite a few screws in the process.

Board 2 presented a problem. It wasn’t completely straight. I tried to squeeze everything together as best I could, but I really needed another pair of hands and a ratchet strap. I found another person, but not a ratchet strap. So we used a belt. Needless to say, a belt does not work effectively at tightening wood together and it promptly broke under pressure.

We continued despite the belt. When we got to the sixth board, I realized that I had started my 2x4s at the edge of the 2x6s, meaning they extended beyond the sixth 2×6 but stopped short of the end of the seventh. At this point, I had stripped too many screws to make unscrewing the 2x4s a viable option.

(insert frustration)

We stopped with 6 boards with the idea that we would cut off the excess 2×4.

But the saga continues…in part 2!

See how I rectified the situation in part 2!

See how I rectified the situation in part 2!

Projects

How to: whitewash

September 17, 2015

I have a craft show coming up at the end of September, which isn’t really enough time to do much pottery. Fortunately, I have a few other crafty things I can whip together to fill up the booth space.

One fun and quick make is a cute wooden sign. But instead of leaving the wood bare, I whitewashed it! Here’s my super-quick tutorial for how to whitewash your own wood.

Supplies

Wood

Paint (I used two base colors plus white)

Paintbrush

Cloth rag

Directions

1. Begin by painting your wood whatever base color you want. I had seen a cute tutorial that used leftover blue and green paint samples for the base, which had a nice look when finished. I used one of my teal paint samples I’d used previously in my ombre chairs.

2. Paint your second color over your base color. I used Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in Typewriter, a matte black that I used on my current dining room table. Because it is water-based, I found one layer to be too thin, so I painted a second coat when the first was dry.

You’ll notice in the photos that the milk paint had some bubbles in it. This is because I didn’t let the paint settle after I mixed it up, since I knew I was going to be painting over and distressing it anyway. If the milk paint was my top coat, I would have let the mixture settle before painting to avoid the bubbles.

3. Once your base coat is dry, you can distress it if you like. I didn’t, only because I knew the whitewash would pull some of the black away since it’s water-based.

4. Mix your white paint with water, about a 1:1 ratio. Since I was doing a small project, I added a few tablespoons of paint to a container and mixed with water.

5. Paint your white over top your base coat and let sit for a minute or two. The key is to let the paint set without completely drying.

6. Now, before your paint dries, take a dry cloth and wipe off your white paint. Here is where you can really make some design decisions. Do you want to take off a lot of white paint to let the base colors shine through, or would you rather leave the white a bit thick and only see a hint of the base color? It’s completely up to you!

7. Now that you have your wood painted, you can add whatever design element you like. I chose to paint a variety of arrows because I think they’re adorable, but you could paint words or names or phrases or any other doodle you like.

Projects

Ombre garden chair

June 23, 2015

Last year, my mom snagged two garden chairs from the side of the road. She’s always great about finding fun things for me to refurbish and reuse, much to my husband’s dismay 🙂

These two chairs weren’t awful. In fact, we’d been using one of them for the past two months on our porch (the other was stuck in the garage holding important things like new deadbolts and door handles). Well this past weekend, we finally got our new locks on the doors, which meant the second chair was free. Time to get to work!

All I needed for this project was some Rustoleum spray paint (no photo because I used the whole can and forgot to take a picture, whoops!) and some paint. I used paint samples left over from when we were painting our house. Total cost: $3!!!

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I initially thought I would remove all of the wood slats from the chair and spray paint the rusted white hardware and the slats separately. After a few trials, the screws were quite rusted and impossible to remove (thanks for trying Keith!). On to Plan B: spray the metal and paint the slats after.

I sprayed the armrests and the rest of the rusty white metal black. I definitely forgot to take a before picture, but needless to say things were pretty dismal. This photo is semi-before, since all I’d done was spray paint the metal rods.

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It was a nice weekend, so I did the entire project in my backyard. Perfect for spray paint because it will go away the next time I mow the lawn!

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I let the spray paint dry overnight. To be honest, I didn’t quite have enough paint to do the entire thing, so if you’re ever over, don’t look to closely at the underside of the black bars. You have been warned.

On day two, I painted. I started with a quick sanding to remove the worst of the flaking old green paint. At first, I was going to do a single color, but when I went to look through our paint, I found two blues that I thought could be combined to make a nice ombre, or gradient, effect. I used Behr’s Essential Teal and Sonic Blue.

I started with teal on the seat of the chair, then did Sonic Blue at the top. To create the middle color, I just mixed some white that I had in the basement with the teal. Those little tester jars worked perfectly for this! The color got a bit light, so the white/teal combo is really close in color with the Sonic Blue, but in person it’s definitely two distinct colors. The photos don’t show it that well.

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And that’s it! I do intend on sealing the chairs yet, but that’ll be pretty easy. A few hours in the sun and I’ve got a great pop of color in the backyard.

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Also, this is new: I joined Bloglovin! Follow my blog with Bloglovin

Projects

Recent projects: sweater mittens

January 8, 2015

As most of you are well aware, winter in Minnesota is ridiculously cold! I have a very serious relationship with homemade hats and scarves this time of year, and I’ve decided now is the time to take my mitten relationship to the next level.

Pinterest is bursting with tutorials on how to make your own mittens using an old sweater. One layer of fabric just isn’t going to cut it in the frigid weather we’re currently experiencing, so I added a layer of fleece inside my mittens.

After a few trials and errors cutting my fleece to size (see step XX below), I finally figured it out! And – bonus! – I worked on this project during daylight hours and using my new tripod. Fingers crossed my photos will improve over the course of the year.

And now, without further adieu, my sweater mitten photo tutorial.

Sweater mittens
Time to complete: Approx. 2 hours (depending how quick you are at sewing and how many redo’s you need)

Tools and materials
  • Fleece
  • An old sweater (wool if you want your mittens to repel water)
  • Fabric scissors
  • Pins
  • Sewing machine

Step 1. Make sure your fleece is doubled, then trace around your hand on the fleece. Make sure to leave enough space at the wrist for your hand to get in, and take your seam allowance into account. These were my two major slip-ups during this project, so I ended up retracing my hand about three times, but I finally got it!

Step 2. Cut out your fleece, making sure you have both sides for both hands. You could trace each of your hands, or you could create a template and use that. I just traced twice.

Step 3. Pin your fleece, right sides together (it doesn’t really matter that much for the fleece, but it’s always a good practice to get into).

Step 4. Repeat steps 1-3 using your sweater. Tip: use the bottom hem of the sweater for the bottom of your mittens. This ensures you’ll have a nice hem but you won’t have to hem it yourself. Win!

Step 5. Time to sew. I left about 1/4″ seam allowance. It gets a little tricky around the thumb, but take it slow and you’ll be just fine.

Step 6. Trim off any excess fleece. This will keep your mitten from getting too bulky. Insert your sweater into your fleece.

Step 7. Turn your mitten right-side out and pull tight to make sure they’re fully inside out. You don’t want lopsided and lumpy mittens.

Step 8. Wear your mittens! Prepare your hands to be super warm as you brush snow off your car after work.

Note: I didn’t attach the fleece lining to the outer sweater. You certainly could do that, but I was planning on keeping mine removable and making a second pair of mittens out of another sweater (which you can see in my materials photo). I would recommend sewing the bottom together if you want to keep your two together permanently.