December 31, 2014

{Wishlist Wednesday} Pinterest Overload

I’m on Pinterest overload ya’ll.

Don’t judge me just yet though. I’m definitely not a Pinterest mom (I’m not knocking those who are, they’re pretty awesome and I wish I could be more like that!)

Surprisingly, even though I have been heavily into DIY projects and reading blogs for as long as I can remember, I was never much of a Pinterest girl until recently.  Something about buying a house turns you into a crazy lady (who, might I add, can’t find a pair of yoga pants without a paint stain to save her life. Seriously, did I have to wear them all to paint?! Whyyy? Moral of the story: If you love your yoga pants just say no to buying a house that needs work).

Back to my point, it turns you into a crazy lady who notices every. single. thing. wrong with every. single. room in a house. I’m not kidding, whenever I was renting I never noticed even a quarter of the crap that I notice now.

A year into living here and we have at least one (unfinished) project going on in every room of the house. What can I say; we’re a glutton for punishment. We haven’t caught on to the fact that you should WORK ON ONE ROOM AT A TIME.

That’s where Pinterest has come into play. I have so many ideas for each and every room of our home. But there is no possible way to get it all done anytime soon. So I have found it super easy using Pinterest to create a different board for each area, and add all the items I like to each one so that I don’t lose sight of the direction I am trying to take in each room.

It’s also great because I can pin a bunch of ideas that I like and then decide what works best together and what I like best. Super helpful!

In honor of my new found appreciation addiction, I’m going to dedicate Wish List Wednesday to my favorite Pins so far!

Lace Window Pane

How darling is this? Since the moment I set eyes on this pin I have been trying to figure out how to incorporate the rustic lace look into as many areas of the house as possible. I might have a problem.

Plank Wall

I love, love and (oh yeah) love this DIY plank wall. Pallet wood is so gorgeous (FYI, this isn't really pallet wood. It’s actually plywood that was cut into planks and stained different colors to look like pallet wood. Pretty great idea, huh?)

Mason Jar Chandeliers

I have been obsessed with Mason jar chandeliers for at least a good 2 years. I've rarely seen one that I didn't like! And pretty soon I’m gonna have my very own because I’m enlisting (OK, more like forcing) the hubby to help me build one. I think the one below is probably my favorite so far!

Door Makeovers

I didn't even know this was possible. I've been sadly eyeing my cheap, ugly, faux wood grain doors for the last year cringing at the thought of how much it would cost to replace them (and realizing that must mean I’m stuck with them because there’s no way I would pay that kind of money for new doors). However, these door makeovers made me realize there is hope! Even the ugliest door can be transformed.

Television Frames

This is another one that I never would have thought of without Pinterest! I've always thought televisions were kind of eyesores, but with these television frames they are more like moving works of art!

Barn Doors

There are no words for how much I NEED one of these. Beautiful!

That's it for me folks (for now). Feel free to share your favorites with me below!
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October 1, 2014

{Free Printables} Important Dates

So about a month ago I mentioned I was going to do a series of limited time free printables. And then (like so often lately) all kinds of stuff happened and I forgot all about it. This has been a really tough and bad year for us so far (we've lost 3 family members in the matter of 3 months). And so it feels like nearly everything has been put on the back burner as we try to just take it day by day.

Butttt today I return with a new free printable! It's one of my favorites because I love having a quick view of all of our important dates throughout the year. I use this for all kinds of things. Birthdays, anniversaries, special holidays (like Grandparents Day!), etc. It's so convenient, and pretty to boot which is always a plus!

I hope you enjoy.

What free printables would you like to see? Let me know!

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September 30, 2014

{How To} Faux Granite Paint Your Countertops

Sooo I'm a little late on this post (as always). Sorry to those I told that I would have it up within a week! The main reason for the delay however is because I was having a hard time sealing my island with polycrylic without it looking like a streaky mess. Those who have tried to use clear gloss polycrylic on a large surface probably feel my pain. It ain't easy!

So therefore I took to the web and tried literally every different technique of applying it that I could find in hopes that I could remedy the situation prior to writing this post (and therefore save you guys the hassle while simultaneously making myself seem awesome and like I actually know what I'm doing). Sadly enough, I still haven't found a solution.

No bueno, I know. 

But I still learned some pretty good tricks I'll share with you. And once I find a solution to that pesky little streaking problem I'll be sure to post an update. If you don't have an island, you probably won't have any issues anyways.

Any who, my counters started out as a very light gray Formica. They were about as blah as blah can get. But our house is just a starter home and we know that we have no intention on staying for the long term. On top of that, it's just not in our budget to replace all the counters anyways. 

So I started looking up alternatives and what I found was granite paint. Giani's granite paint to be exact. The stuff looked awesome and so lifelike! I knew I had to try it.

But when I really started thinking about it, I would have needed 2 kits just to do my kitchen. And at $80 bucks a pop that wasn't exactly cheap. So it was back to the drawing board. I did some more research and found that there were lots of bloggers out there who came up with their own versions of granite paint for a fraction of the cost. After reading tutorial after tutorial I decided to give it a shot. I mean, my counters couldn't get much worse. I say that, but if they had somehow ended up worse, I probably would have cried. A lot. Because I would have had to look at even uglier counters everyday. 

If you're interested you can find the tutorials that I found most helpful here and here

And a few pictures of the before. Please ignore the crappy lighting, jacked up walls and the multiple bottles of wine I have stashed. As I'm sure you noticed I still haven't finished painting my cabinets. Words can't express how much I hate painting cabinets at this point. 

Step 1:

What you need:
Brillo Pads
Razor Blade
Wet Rag
Painters Tape
Plastic and/or Brown Masking Paper

Never underestimate good prepping. I've done it too many times and lived to regret it. With this project I literally took a good 2 hours just to prep. First, I moved everything off the counter tops and found a temporary home for all of it. It takes a good week to 2 weeks of letting the polycrylic cure before anything heavy can be placed back on them. I taped off my wall with some mesh tape where the Sheetrock was tore up. I then gave the tops a quick once over with a wet cloth.

From there I took a razor blade and scraped away all the gunked up caulk leftover from when we tore out the hideous purple tile back splash. If you are painting your back splash as well and you are 100% sure the pre-existing caulk is paint-able then you can skip this step. However if you're not sure, its best to remove it and replace with paint-able caulk.

Once all the caulk was removed, I wet a Brillo pad and scoured the counter tops really, really good. I wanted to be sure there was no kind of grime or grease leftover whatsoever. I then gave the counters another good wipe down with my wet cloth and dried it really well.

I grabbed my trusty sanding block and lightly sanded the tops to give the primer something to stick to. I'm a big fan of sanding blocks but you can use whatever sand paper you like. I put plastic over my stove and the top of my dishwasher to be on the safe side and also took some cheap brown paper and covered the tops of my cabinets to protect them from possible paint splatters. The only thing I really needed to worry about taping off was my sink, but be sure to tape off your walls and anywhere else you don't want paint to get to.

And finally, the prep work is done! (took you long enough)

Step 2:

What you need: 
Tintable Primer
Foam Brushes
4 Inch Foam Roller

Nobody really likes this step (do they? not me) but I have good news. Your primer will actually serve as your base coat too. Yay for time saving! I used Zinsser's PrimeCoat 2 (only $15 bucks a gallon!) and had the good folks at Home Depot tint it to Behr's Jasper Cane. Yep, they can do that. 

However, if you are wanting to use black as your base coat, you will have to do this in two different steps. The man in the paint department told me they can only tint primer to a light color.If that's the route you want to go down I would prime as normal and then use a black acrylic paint over the top of it. 

I used cheap foam brushes to cut in around where the counters met the wall, and then used a 4 inch foam roller to paint the rest. It worked great and gave a very smooth finish. Don't freak if it initially looks kind of bubbly (this happened to me, and I did. Freak that is.). It will level out. Also, you may need 2 coats to really cover the existing color of your counters.

At this point, it was 2 am, I was a bit delirious and I started to panic thinking that the color looked too peachy (not in a good way, like...literally). So I called it a night to let the primer dry for a good 8 hours.

Step 3:
Sea sponge and acrylic

What you need:
Acrylic Paints
Sea Sponge
Paper Plates

When I woke up the next morning, I lay there contemplating what I was gonna do with my big, peach mess. I knew if I didn't love it, it was just gonna have to go because I'm one of those people. It would bug me everyday till the day we sold the house. I walked in the kitchen with my eyes closed, took a deep breath, and opened them. 

The primer was fine! It had dried to more of a light beige which was what I was going for. I heaved a sigh of relief and trudged on.

To achieve the granite look I used 6 different acrylic paints that I found at Michael's. Here are the exact brands and color names:

Americana Multi-Surface Metallic: Chocolate and Champagne
Craft Smart: Vanilla, Black, Espresso and Golden Brown

I used paper plates and poured a little puddle of paint on each one. This makes for super simple clean up and keeps the colors from getting all mixed together. 

I grabbed my sea sponge (I got mine at Michael's but Home Depot has a nicer one for a little more on their paint aisle) and tore it into 6 different pieces. I began with my darkest color and just started dabbing it on the counters. There is really no wrong way to do this part, it really just consists of continuing to layer the colors until you achieve a look that you like.

Here are a few tips though. 

Don't work in too much of a pattern. Random is easier anyways and works just fine for this!

Don't be shy! I can't say this enough; layer, layer, layer! It took me forever to do my first section of counters because I was over thinking it too much and only doing little dabs of each color at a time. I was terrified I was going to mess it up. I'll let you in on a little secret though.

You can't mess this up!

Trust me, if there was a way I would have figured it out. Slop those paint layers on lady (or dude) and you'll notice that in the end it really gives you way more of a 3 dimensional look.

Here are a few close ups of the pattern once I was done adding all the layers. 

Step 4:

What you need: 
Foam Brushes

And so we come to the step in the process that has me a little bummed out; sealing your beautiful work of counter top art. Chances are, if you have read any other tutorials that have to do with sealing granite paint with polycrylic you'll find no mention of them ending up with a streaky mess. And if you read the comments on those tutorials it goes something like this:

Blog Commenter: Wow, what beautiful counter tops! You made it look so easy I just had to give it a try, however now I have a big STREAKY mess. What am I doing wrong?!

Blogger: Hmmmmm, weird! I must live in a magical world where projects never, ever go wrong because I didn't have that problem AT ALL. It was so easy. I'm not sure what you did wrong but better luck next time! 

Ok, that's just my bitterness talking. In all actuality they are a lot more sympathetic and helpful than that, but you catch my drift. It's disheartening when it feels like you are the only person in the world managing to screw something up.

While I haven't fully remedied this issue I can tell you some of the stuff that I learned that helped mine turn out better than it could have. Feel free to use whichever technique you feel best for this part, but this is just what worked best for me. 

The streaking comes into play when you overwork the product. This stuff dries QUICK and if you start going over it again once its started to dry, well, you are going to get streaks in your finish. 
Basically what I mean is most of your surface will be beautiful and glossy but will be marred with matte, un-glossy streaks. If light doesn't really directly hit your counter tops, chances are you wont even see them. 

Its really hard to avoid this though because its tough to determine where you've already applied a clear coat and you also have to somewhat overlap the strokes. I personally used a 3 inch foam brush to apply my polycrylic (I tried a brush as well but I just really didn't like it). 

Work really quickly, sweep the foam brush from the wall to the edge of the counter top for each stroke, and keep your coats thin for the first 5-6 coats. Don't get caught up on it if you notice its kind of streaky at this point because you will need 8-10 coats total. Let it sit for about an hour between coats and then use a green scotch brite pad to lightly sand down. (You can find these with the sandpaper and they are about 2.70 for 2 pads. I liked them way better than sand paper for this.)

Once you start getting down to your last coats I would thicken them up some. This helped me cut down on the streaks a lot. I dipped my foam brush in the polycrylic and pulled it out over the counter without tapping off the excess. Even it out best you can but don't go back over a section more than twice. It's hard not to (I think this was my main issue) but the polycrylic will level, so as long as you don't leave big globs it shouldn't be a problem. 

Let the thicker layers dry for at least 2 hours in between coats. 

And then as mentioned earlier, you will want to let your new counters cure for at least a week before putting anything back on them. 

(They'll be much glossier than this, these pictures were taken after the first coat)

I hope this tutorial helps, and I'll be glad to answer any questions I didn't cover in the comments below. 

Overall, they turned out better than I could have hoped and I love, love, love them! My total cost was only around $100 bucks and other than needing to buy more cheap acrylic paints, I should have enough materials to do all the counters in my house. (A little tip, if you only have a small space you are wanting to try this on you can save a lot by just getting the quart size primer and polycrylic. My cost is based on gallon size)

Stay tuned for a solution to the streaking problem though, because the perfectionist in me is pretty darned determine to find one.

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August 28, 2014

{Free Printables} Family Shopping List

I can't believe it's been almost 2 months since I've posted! Life has been extremely busy over the past few months. Those who know me personally know that my mother passed away unexpectedly 2 and a half months ago and it's been a long and painful road for my family since then. 

Needless to say I haven't had much time to do anything for myself really. Much less work on home projects. But I'm slowly trying to get back on track with my goals for the house. And since I love writing on this blog so much, I thought I would try to start back at it. 

Earlier this year I started creating my own printables to help me keep things a little more organized. I've bought a couple different ones off various Etsy shops, such as a shopping list and bill planner. But none that I have found specifically met me and my families needs. So I thought why not try my hand at making my own? 

I'm glad to say that so far they have worked great for me!

So as my gift to you, I thought I would do a series of limited time free printables! I hope you enjoy them and that they help you with all your organizational needs! 

First up, a family shopping list! I swear by meal planning and writing down everything you need from the store before going shopping. Since I have started doing this I have cut down on shopping time, reduced buying unnecessary items and dinner time is a breeze during the week (most of the time anyways).

{Click here to download your free shopping list}

If you decide to give it a try, I would love to know how it has worked for your family. :)

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July 4, 2014

{Make It} Pretty Coupon Organizer

As promised in my last post, today I'm going to show you how I turned my oh-so-helpful little coupon organizer from plain to pretty.

What you'll need: 

Small 6 Pocket Organizer
Card stock
Washi Tape
Pretty Wrapping Paper
Label Maker
Glue Stick
Double Sided Tape

Unfortunately I dropped the ball on pictures for this one. It's really simple though so just bear with me!

1. Pretty up your card stock: The dividers in my organizer were really flimsy so I wanted to do something to reinforce them and also add a little extra color. Grab a sheet of your card stock, some pretty wrapping paper and a glue stick. Give one side of the card stock a good coat of glue and then apply your wrapping paper and smooth it out until there are no bumps. Flip the card stock over and use the edge as a guide to cut off the excess wrapping paper. 

You can kind of see here how flimsy the dividers were before. 

2. Reinforce your dividers: Either measure the width and height of the dividers within the organizer or just make a guess at it.  I measured mine then grabbed my ruler and penciled some lines on the back of my card stock to get as close to an even rectangle as possible. Cut the rectangles out and use a couple of strips of double sided tape to attach the card stock to the pre-existing dividers. 

Here's a little view of what your dividers should look like after. 

3. Add some color to your tabs: Although I don't have a picture of the before, the original tabs in this organizer were oval shaped. I didn't like that, especially since I wanted to attach a rectangular label. So I brainstormed for a second and came up with this idea. Grab some washi tape and cut a decent size piece off. I cut mine at about 2 inches. (the exact size needed will depend on the length of your tabs.) Then, starting at the end of one of your tabs, press the washi tape along the length to the the other end of the tab. Then fold the washi tape back, making sure it lines up with the washi tape on the front of the tab, and push along the back side of the tab. Keep wrapping the washi tape like this until you no longer have excess. Repeat on each tab!

4. Label it: I used my label maker to make labels for the tabs, however you can write them in as well if you don't have one. The labels may vary based on the needs of your family so really think about what categories you need most. Mine were Beauty, Tuck, Food, Home, Gifts/Returns and Personal/Misc. As I said in my last post, I think I'll be adding an entertainment tab to this as well. 

And that's pretty much it!

This little organizer has really helped me out so much! I actually remember to use coupons now, have a place to keep my return receipts and never lose my gift cards to the abyss also known as my wallet. Win-Win-Win for me!

Do you have another way of organizing important items in your purse?
What extra steps did you take to make it pretty? 

I'd love to know! Until next time...

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June 30, 2014

{Organize It} (Un)Extreme Couponing

I'll never be one of those extreme coupon-er people. That's just something I finally had to accept about myself. There was a time though when I thought I could pull it off. Yep. 

For about 5 (naive) minutes. 

Alas, I realized a few things. I really don't have the amount of free time that's needed to keep up with it. Also, I don't have the extra room in my house to store a bunch of items that I don't even need. 

Most importantly, I just don't think have the level of "shamelessness" it takes to haul 20 tubes of toothpaste up to the register, present the poor, unsuspecting cashier with 45 coupons, and listen to the people behind me huff and puff as I haggle my way into only paying .20. 


No? That's not how it works? Shows how much I know!

Just because I'm not able to pull off the extreme coupon-ing doesn't mean I don't love a good deal just as much as the next person! I love using coupons when I'm able to find one for something that I will actually use. 

My main problem? I just can't remember to use them! Or if I do remember, I end up realizing I've left the coupon at home. This happened to me most recently at Bed, Bath and Beyond. I was browsing for nothing in particular, found a rug that I loved for $100, and when I got to the register I realized I had left my coveted 20% off coupon at home. 

Talk about sucky. 

Luckily the Bed, Bath and Beyond people are awesome and let you bring your coupon and receipt back at a later time for a price adjustment. (If you didn't know that, well, you're welcome!)

Since I've been on a mission to get my life and everything in it organized in a way that works for ME, I decided to take this head on. 

And I was able to come up with a system that has helped me successfully coupon for the first time ever! Find out how I did it below. 

So here's a little back story. About a week ago I was going through my wallet and found all these gift cards that I thought had (obviously) been used and just never thrown away. So I decided to make a few quick calls and just confirm there were no balances. I ended up finding out I had over 30 bucks in gift card money to many places that I shop at regularly.

Don't ask me how you can forget about free money. I don't know, there's just no excuse.

That lead me to realize my issue. It was my wallet. I tend to just shove everything in there and it ends up lost for months until I finally clean it out (usually because I can't shove one more thing in there).

Another issue is that when I look at my wallet it triggers only one thing in my mind which is monies. That's it.

So I realized after some thought that I needed to find some type of coupon/gift card organization, it needed to fit in my purse and it needed to be something that would trigger my mind every time I saw it that I had coupons and gift cards just waiting to be used.

I found this little beauty in the bargain bin at Target. With a price tag of a whopping $1, how could I say no? I actually bought this quite a few months back and never found a use for it until now.

There isn't much to it. It has 6 pockets and I used my label maker to print out labels for each tab. 

The tabs I personally needed most were Beauty, Food, Tuck, Home, Gifts/Returns and Personal/Misc

Most of them are pretty self explanatory, but the Gifts/Returns tab is for all my gift cards and receipts of any returns or exchanges I need to do. It's really helped me a lot so far having these items separated from the rest of my purse. 

Now that I've been using this for a while I may change the Personal/Misc tab to an Entertainment tab so that I can separate grocery food coupons from eating out coupons. I'll also be able to use it for movie, ice cream, and all other coupons for fun things we like to go out and do.

And of course I had to pretty it up some to help me stay motivated to keep using it! So here's the finished product. 

This isn't a new concept by any means, but since it has helped me so much to keep everything organized and actually start using my coupons I thought I would share in hopes that it may help some of you as well. 

If you're interested in a quick tutorial on how to take your organizer from plain to pretty like mine, stay tuned for my next post. 

Do you think something like this would work for you? Let me know!

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