Thursday, September 13, 2012

Whew it's dusty in here!

Why hello blog friends! I am here. Still. I see you all visiting everyday (ummm 300+ views a day??!!). Sorry to be absent the last 2 months (wow, where did all that time go???). I've been prioritizing my life this summer, and Steve/kids/photography had to be in the top 3. Then keeping the house clean. Then sleep. Then blog. Sooooo as you can see, the blog has been left in the dust! I envision more time this Fall though, as we aren't outside as much, and I turn down the dial on photography for a while. So keep checking in every now and then!

Here are a couple quick shots of some of the many projects we have managed to accomplish this summer.

See you soon, tata for now!

The beautiful deck, which made my life so much easier/more enjoyable this summer!
A peek of the project we are finishing up now. Well, this is the before. Purdy eh? You should have seen it with the glass shades!
Our shed that we painted. The color looks beige-ish here, but it is a gray-green. Testing out colors for the house next year! (We'll be going with a darker tone of this)

Friday, July 6, 2012

Little Steps.

I thought I would take a few minutes and talk about a couple of the little things we've managed to cross off our list this week. Baby steps right? And actually, I shouldn't even say it like that because they aren't baby steps at all really! If *I* were doing them, it would take me the next year to figure out! On that note, here we go.

First off, deck. This past week Steve completed all the deck boards on BOTH decks (WOOHOO!), finished the stairs, and completed the fascia boards on the entire upper deck. YAY! So all that remains of the entire deck project, is the fascia on the lower deck, which only involves two sides. We also are thinking of adding a privacy panel to the one side of the lower deck, but that will come later if we do. Looks pretty darn schnazzy huh?

Don't mind the AC unit in the window, we have central air that we added, it's just not 100% ready yet (next project!). We also have the new sliding door to install still. Also, seeing these photos makes me anxious to paint all the trim white, that's for sure! The white railings look so lovely....

Up next is the light fixtures. These are the ones that were installed on the front porch (two) and on the deck (one). YIKES. Rusted, corroded brass torches. 

My handsome worker bee husband.
Just beautiful right?
ANNNNNND here is the replacement fixture:

Such an improvement. There were a couple of other funky ones that I liked, but seeing as we needed 4 of these (two for next to the garage that we want to install still), I went with a classic set that was less expensive.

Here is another shot of our super low maintenance (read: hard to kill, for when you can barely manage to keep your children watered so your plants take a VERY backseat) flowers.

Oh, I can't wait until all that trim is a nice bright white! Not to mention the porch floor and siding being painted/replaced as well. But let's not get too ahead of ourselves here people.

 Ah and the deck light we replaced as well. I chose a more industrial modern piece that I thought was perfect for the deck. I also think these would be so cool as lighting in the boy's bedroom. At $25 it was super reasonable too. It casts a nice bright light, directing downward, which is perfect. These are all iphone pics too, just cuz I'm lazy like that.

OK. Onward. Inside we go for a brief moment.

Although we have been totally focusing our time/money/effort on the exterior of our property, I decided to get crazy and make a mark on the dining room. I call it a dining room because a)it has a table in it and b)that is the technical term, BUT we have yet to eat in it even one time AND it has been our storage area for items without a home yet and craft supplies/ongoing projects (talk about run-on sentence!). Oh and it was a greenhouse/jungle for a couple of months with all of my brother's house plants while he was buying a home of his own. So yeah. It has been a wreck. It is in our plans for the future to open the room up and expand our kitchen, seeing as it is so seldom used/needed, but for now, I needed a clean space. I am a super clean freak and it was making me beyond nervous.

Here is the before.

I can't even call these a true before, because these photos were taken a couple of months ago, when I only had a couple of plants (soon the entire table and dresser were covered) and didn't have the console table in there. But you get the idea.

GAH! That was a lot of junk.

So, I cleared that sucker out and tossed a bunch of crud, put things away, and also carried the unused wall hangings and furniture to the basement. Here it is all cleaned out! (phone shots again)

Today we moved that HUGE dresser out of the room and back to my dad's too. So now it looks ever better!

YAY! So much better. Here it is RIGHT NOW (I just took this photo two seconds ago on my phone), without the dresser. What a difference, it seems so much larger now.

See those ice cubes on the floor? Yeah those are to remove the indents in the carpet. I moved the table over and the dents were annoying me. Free tip right there for you. Once the ice is melted, just swoosh the carpet with your hand and VOILA, dent is gone.

So there you go friends. The lowdown on things going on around here. The dining room will soon sport a new chandelier (well, revamp), artwork, window treatments, and minor changes until we decide how we will be remodeling. At that point we'll paint, remove carpet, add crown.....etc etc. For now it is just marvelous being cleaned out!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

From Nightstand To Play Kitchen.

So I've had a few people in the recent months discuss play kitchens, and a friend today actually. She suggested I repost the play kitchen we made a couple of years ago, for any of you handy folk with children. This is the original post from our old (no longer updated) family blog. So here is a short digression from my usual home decor posts. Enjoy!

Our latest project has been a play kitchen for the kiddos, made from a nightstand!


Let's take a peek inside. As you can see, it has a refrigerator and oven. 


A closer look:

Some details:

This project has been in the works for a while. I first discovered nightstand kitchens a few months ago on a blog (

I knew instantly, I had to make one!

Then I started looking at tons of other kitchens people have made. I pulled bits and pieces that I liked from all over the place! I told Steve I was going to make one of our own.

So, I scoured Craigslist and family houses for a nightstand that would work. I couldn't find the exact style I was looking for (one with 2 drawers), but I did find a useable one at my father in laws. He wasn't using it and let us take it!

Unfortunately, because it didn't have 2 drawers, we had to do a bit more creating than I had planned. That meant that Steve was going to have to take on a pretty big role in "my" project. I suppose he assumed that was going to happen...

So, I got to work finding all the supplies we were going to need. Here is a list of all the materials we needed, and the price we paid for each. It took me about a month to compile it all.

-Spray Paint (white/silver/red/blue/black) $8 (for white primer/paint, the rest we had)
-Chalkboard Paint $4
-Wooden J for faucet $2
-Wooden trivets (4) $4
-Plexi-glass for fridge shelf $3
-Oven Handle  $4
-Fridge Handle $4
-Cabinet Hinge for oven $6
-Shelf (cutting board we had)
-Wood for back & front (Ikea as-is) $5
-Hooks for side $2
-Hinges for Fridge $1
-Magnetic Closure $2
-Support Brackets for back $4
-Towel  $.50
-Wire for curtain "rod" (had)
-Curtain (had fabric)
-6 Knobs (had)
-Stainless bowl (from my dad)
-Cookie cooling racks (2 that we had)
-Gorilla Glue (had)
-Screws (had)
-Photo for window (scoured through books for one we had!)

So, as you can see, the total was just about $50 for everything. We could have made it even cheaper since we had handles, but we opted for nicer ones that fit better. Once we had all the supplies, we got to work!

I spray painted all the accessories, as well as primed the nightstand.

Steve then cut the sink hole and figured out a way to make the fridge and oven. We were originally only going to have an oven, since that is what I had seen in other kitchens. As we started working though, Steve, being the smarty-pants he is, added a fridge! We also added the oven window along the way. He is just so
handy. It took him about 5 nights of working on it, so it was no small feat. My final contribution was sewing the curtain.

Some of the neat details:

-The window with a view (a page from the Golden Book "Wonders of Nature")
-The groove in the fridge that we cut and painted to look like it has 2 doors
-The oven window with plexi-glass
-The painted heat coils on the burners and in the oven
-The cookie cooling racks for the oven shelves
-The adorable birdie fabric for the curtain
-The cute slice & bake cookie set (with removable frosting) & baking sheet
-The chalkboard menu on the side
-Knobs that really turn
-The upside down letter "J" for the faucet

For all the food, I bought Melissa & Doug wooden sets (cutting food, food groups, & cut & slice cookies). The pot & pan are also wooden and from Melissa & Doug. The wood utensils, bowls, and plates are from Plan Toys. The coffee cups and saucers are vintage porcelain ones from the attic of my father in law, and the cake pans are tin pieces I found at my fav antique shop.

The entire kitchen is made from non-plastic materials. Oh wait, the oven window and the shelf in the fridge are made from plexi-glass. Other than that, everything is either wood, metal, glass, or fabric.

The grand total for EVERYTHING- the materials & the play items, was $100. I bought the Melissa & Doug food at AC Moore with 50% off coupons, which made them reasonable. The Plan Toy set was from (I know, weird), and the pans were from Toys R Us (with a coupon and on clearance!). I think that is a VERY reasonable price for items that are going to last MUCH longer than plastic things, and that are much higher quality. Plus, they are infinitely cuter.

Hopefully this will last through all our children, and maybe even be passed on to the next generation.

All in all, I designed (mostly), shopped, sewed, and helped paint. Steve did ALL the building, helped with the design, and did the top coats of white.

I think it was a pretty collaborative effort, but I have to give Steve the credit for the actual construction- he was in the garage for HOURS. The kids absolutely LOVE it and have been playing with it non-stop since we finished it. That definitely makes it worth all the time and effort.

(Sorry some of the photos are blurry, I had a baby in my arms.)

*So there you have it friends! Back before I honed my photog skills. Also, I should add that it has been over 2 years and it is still in GREAT condition. The oven window bit the dust, but that has been the only casualty. I was mentioning today, that it has been the MOST played with, MOST loved toy for 2 years straight. Every child, of EVERY age that has come into our home has absolutely loved it. Definitely worth the work!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Hello Friends!

Hello blogland! Have you been wondering where I had disappeared to? Thanks for all the sweet, encouraging notes during my absence! I am still here, doing just fine. Being that it is summer and wedding season, I have busy with outdoor projects and loads of photography work. Whenever I manage to find time to sit at the computer inside, I have been overloaded with post-processing, editing work.

Some things have been getting done around the house though. We have managed to finish the top, raised level of the deck, woohoo! Steve finished the stair railings last night actually. Now we have to complete the ground level portion, and then also do the fascia and we'll be good to go. Here is where we are now.

We still have to finish the underpart of the deck/fascia. So you won't be able to see any of the wood under there.
Ahhhhhhh so nice! Pardon the rain, by the way. I am absolutely LOVING how it came out! It has been so nice to be able to go out back and relax while the children all play in the yard. When the lower deck is completed, we'll be putting the picnic tables on it after we re-stain them. Eating our meals under the umbrella on a hot, sunny day has been just lovely. We are really enjoying it so far. Which is great because it has been a LOT of work (and as much as I am frugal and love DIY, this deck has NOT been inexpensive)! 

I am extremely happy with the mahogany color we chose, and the white railings. They look great, feel great, and most importantly, won't need to be stained every summer. FANTASTIC. I like how the baby can roll and crawl around and his sweet baby skin won't get splinters. The composite is extremely solid, which is nice. It also is a LOT larger than I had anticipated. For some reason it didn't seem to look that big when it was just mapped out on the grass or even when it was framed. Overall, I am even more pleased with it than I thought I would be!

So now we just have to secure all the lower deck boards (right now they are all just lying on the framing), do the fascia, and put in the replacement sliding door that we purchased already. Oh and I want to look for a new exterior light. The rusty brass one that resides there currently is just not doing anything for me! Same with the ones on the front porch actually. For some reason though, they seem to always slip my mind anytime we are at Lowes...

Here are some phone shots of the progression!
Steve sledgehammering a huge rock standing in his way of digging a post hole.
Noah in the hole. THAT is how deep they are. He is standing! Annnd Steve dug TWELVE of them.
Holes are dug, posts are sunk, framing going up!
Railing posts added.
Holden playing on the "stairs". Boards lying down to flatten.
Steve fastening down the boards. Look at that pretty picture framed edge.
Oh heavens! The table the kids and I put together! Boards done.
Oh goodie! The first railing section.
The boys all helping daddy with the railing.
VIOLA! Our current state.
Now let's see...I owe you a post on wall decor, don't I?? Let's see if I can squeeze that in soon!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Well now, ain't this the truth??

"We women have a lot to learn about simplifying our lives.
We have to decide what is important and then move along at a pace that is comfortable for us.
We have to develop the maturity to stop trying to prove something.
We have to learn to be content with what we are.
As you create a home, don’t get distracted with a lot of things that have no meaning for you or your family.
Don’t dwell on your failures, but think about your successes.
Have joy in your home.
Have joy in your children.
Have joy in your husband.
Be grateful for the journey."

-M. Hinckley

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Think Outside The Box.

Today I thought I would do an intro piece for my post on wall hangings. Later I am going to delve into techniques and tricks for decorating your wall space. I'll go into more detail about how to get it right, and give you a handful of good hints for figuring it out in your home. But that's not for today.... 

When we moved into this house, I knew I was going to have get creative. Especially with the walls.

This house is almost twice the size of our last home, and there is about 100x more blank wall space. In our last home, being a 1900s antique house, almost every single wall had either a gorgeous leaded glass window, a doorway with extravagant wood molding, or a beautiful solid wood door. There was just about zero space or need for any wall art. I had a few spots to fill and that was about it.

Enter this house. Built in the last 20 years, with MUCH fewer windows, no fancy moldings or doors. That left a heck of a lot of wall space that cried out to be filled!

I knew I was going to have to get creative with my dollars and hands in order to fill the walls and add some personality into the very boring architecture. Seeing as I had just a small handful of pieces in my arsenal already. Most of which were mirrors (small spaces=lots of mirrors!).

I have already filled a good chunk of the walls, as you have seen in prior posts. Lots of painted canvas, printables, a gallery wall (which is still empty!), DIY sunbursts, and DIY chalkboards. Not to mention all the many mirrors (I am slightly obsessed with the amazing qualities of mirrors in a home). Besides all those things, here are two new ideas that I have recently used in our almost-finished family room.

I was trying to figure out how to fill the three narrow walls in the family room. We painted the room (well, 3 out of the 4 walls so far) a lovely gray and we have also finished the industrial wall unit. Between those two elements, there is a lot of texture and darker tones. With the walls, wood, & steel. So I knew I wanted to stick to white frames. I wanted all of the pieces on the wall to tie in together, and seeing as I did the gallery frames in white, and the chalkboard in white, it was a no-brainer.

But what to put in the frames....hmmm. I mulled it over a while and one day I just opened up Ebay on my computer and started looking around. Here is where I ended up.

Don't mind the huge white ottoman in the middle of the room there. We haven't gotten around to putting it in the basement yet.

And grrrrr, I see that the frames are slightly askew in this shot. BA! I hate that. I fixed it, but apparently AFTER I took the photo. Oh well.

Moving on! Let's start with this set of pieces here.

Oh I just love them. I knew I wanted something yellow to add a shot of color to the very neutral wall/shelving unit. After some browsing of different ideas I had rolling around in my head, I ended up searching "yellow nautical maps" on ebay and this is one of the sets that came up. I loved it right away because of a)how bright and graphic they are, and b)they are of Lake George NY! Moderately close to me, and a family vacation spot as well. I also loved how large they are. I am going to talk about scale tomorrow, but I wanted something substantial for this wall because of the large shelving unit right next to it, as well as the large window. I also knew I wasn't going to be putting any furniture in that space, so I wanted to make sure the wall pieces would suffice. Perfect, perfect, PERFECT. Know what's just as perfect??

That's right folks. I picked up all four maps (technically they are one long map), for a grand total of $17. SEVENTEEN!!! You saw how big they are right? How bright? How completely terrific?? Yup. I almost cried. What was just as good was that those lovely white frames were on a huge sale at Michaels and I paid under $10 a piece for them. So for all four framed maps, it was under $60. Something like $55. SCORE.

Look at the lovely detail. I really like how they are worn, a little riped and faded a bit too. Totally adds character and life to them. Plus they are just the most perfect shot of yellow for the space.

I made sure they were hung just high enough so that little children wouldn't knock into them accidentally. Yet they are still low enough to take care of needing any furniture on the wall. LOVE.

Here is an example of some of the ones you can find on Ebay on a daily basis. This one (there are lots like this) is a bit more subdued in color, but definitely gorgeous.

Up next is a set of four vintage National Geographic ads from the '50s that I stumbled upon. Again, I was on the lookout for a splash of yellow. I also wanted to add some black & white to help tie in the industrial/modern feel. The camera theme is running high in the room now, which I am totally digging. A couple '50s cameras on the shelving, and now four Kodak ads. There are two more, but they are for the unpainted wall, so you'll see those later. These are my favorite two though. GRRrrr with the slight crookedness!!

I love the vintage look, slightly yellowed and faded. I also think it's pretty neat that they all say Rochester, NY on the bottom (which you can't see here). Being that we are in Rochester and all, it is fun that they found their way back "home".

These were also a steal. I paid $2.99 each for them, and since they were from the same seller, I only paid the shipping for one. Woohoo! This is one of the other ones I picked up. I have no idea why it says sold for 5.99, since it was 2.99, but whatev. There is one more, another yellow one, that will hang with this one. The four frames were $5 a piece. So the total was $37 for all four framed pieces.

So. Point being. You can decorate your walls with unique, fun pieces for CHEAP! No one else has these exact sets and I love that. I love how unique the nautical maps are. I love that I didn't just pick them up at Target or wherever. They are one of a kind and completely cool. Take a look around Ebay, there are SO many great things that you can use to give your home personality. Vintage ads and maps ALLLLL over the place.

I'll be back soon with a whole bunch more advice on wall hangings, so watch out!