feline friday helpful kitty!

Luna has been very anti-social this summer, what with her itchy skin and distaste for Abby’s curious nose. It’s good to know that she still can be her helpful self, though, when it comes to renovations.


She’s always willing to hold down the drop cloth in a pinch 🙂

Hope everyone had a lovely Friday! Can’t wait to show progress on my finger AND the bathroom. Big summer!!!


why you shouldn’t let me have spray paint

If I had known about spray paint as a teenager I could have gotten into so much more DIY trouble. I’m more than happy to make up with it now, though! And tis the season to spray paint!

I don’t have my “spray paint studio” set up in the garage anymore, but I was able to make due with the use of cardboard protection on the lawn (because I really don’t need multi-colored grass). What was I spray painting? Well, this year we switched out my mom’s old, tired, plastic, terracotta colored planters for new, bright, and shiny ones. Most were in okay shape structurally (nothing a little hidden duct tape couldn’t fix) but they were ridiculously faded. Solution? I take them and see how well spray paint works on them!

one of the victims

one of the victims

I had never spray painted plastic before, but I figured it can’t be that hard, right? I prepped the pots by scrubbing them with Mrs. Meyers Surface Scrub and letting them dry in the sun for almost an hour. Then began the fun part: prime and paint!

the weapons of choice

the weapons of choice

I’ve become a devotee of all things Valpsar from Lowe’s after using it to paint our dining room, upstairs hall, and guest room, so I figured I’d give their spray paint a try. It was, as a plus, much cheaper than other products I had used in the past. Although some of their colors say that they’re fine to use directly on plastic, I decided to prime all the boxes with two to three coats anyway. I had a few different places that the boxes were going, so I chose two different colors: Tropical Oasis and Sumptuous Purple.

Tropical Oasis

Tropical Oasis

I could not be happier with the way the boxes turned out! I probably did three to four coats on each box. Both colors came out bright and cheerful. Two of the Tropical Oasis boxes sit in a very shady bed behind Hostas under our cherry tree, and one holds a plant on our driveway.

The Sumptuous Purple boxes came out equally brilliant. Because they’re going along the side of our lawn and sitting directly in the garden beds which are filled with ivy and can get quite soggy, I wanted to make sure they had plenty of drainage, but also weren’t too heavy. Solution?


Pine cones! Doesn’t everyone have a tote full of pine cones just sitting in their garage? Well, this girl has TWO totes full. Over a year ago, I spent all fall picking up the myriads of pine cones that fall from our huge tree because we learned the hard way that if you leave them through the winter, they create horrible divots in the lawn. I can’t walk without tripping on a good day, so my personal mission became collecting them. I figured we’d use them in our fire pit, but they burn so quickly they’re not very helpful. Finally, though, they have a purpose!

Sumptuous Purple

Sumptuous Purple

I filled the bottom third with the pine cones and then added soil on top. I only planted Impatients in the boxes so they don’t have terribly deep roots to worry about. So far, they’re thriving! Now I just had to figure out what to do with the leftover spray paint… but NO WORRIES!


sad chair is sad

We inherited five of these sad looking folding chairs when we moved into the house. They were covered in rust. The first summer we lived in the house, I had spray painted a few tiny clay pots a beautiful lime green, and with paint leftover, I had sanded all five chairs and intended to paint them the same. Only two of the chairs got painted, though, but no worries!


Now we have two more folding chairs to add to our collection for when we entertain! I love how cheerful these chairs are now and can’t wait until we have our first summer BBQ to pull them out.

Today was certainly a dismal, rainy, gray day, but I’m so thrilled with all the things I’ve gotten done so far! Anyone need anything spray painted!?

decisions, decisions …

I’m not quite ready to share pictures of the bathroom yet. You’re not missing anything, though, because all we have to look at right now are studs and some gorgeous 3/4″ ply sub floor! At the same time, though, we have a lot of decisions to make.

The toilet? Easy. The vanity? We’ll find one eventually. Already found a medicine cabinet we like and some potential light fixtures. No problem! The thing that I’m agonizing over? Paint colors.

I’m very lucky in that The Man is so laid back because so far, he’s trusted me on the paint colors. We both picked the color for the dining room, which we later decided to change but no big deal. And when it came to the bedroom, we tried a gazillion samples until finally I went to the store and picked one basically because of the name. What I’ve started to realize, though, is that I tend to gravitate towards very yellow based colors, but then they end up looking WAY too bright in our house because we’re lucky in that we have tons of natural light. So I’m overcompensating for no reason.

I’d like to say I’m picking one neutral color and painting all the rooms on the second floor the same way, but that’s not going to happen. I like the fact that each room has its own identity. The problem is, though, that I want everything to feel like it belongs together. We have to repaint the one guest room I finished (and never even shared pictures of), we never painted the other guest room in the first place, I think our bedroom color is too pale, we never painted the hallway and I need to pick one color that coordinates with the downstairs and upstairs, and my office IS A VERY BRIGHT YELLOW.

So now, I’m trying to pick all the colors at once. Of course, I started trolling Pinterest and have a whole board dedicated to the remodel. This is the inspiration bathroom from my Pinterest.

I love everything about it – the floor, the wainscoting, the color… but then I realized I’d have a yellow office, was planning on a yellow music room (off the living room) and our house is yellow. So apparently I secretly have a passion for the color.

Now, my dining room table looks like this.

IMG_20140917_151232_889While I know all the rooms aren’t going to get painted at once, I really want to have a plan so that if we have a free weekend, we can just go out, grab a gallon and get a room finished with all the agonizing decision making behind us. So wish me luck! If I keep stalling any longer I’m just going to play spin the bottle for the paint color.

why puppies don’t do home renos

As you may remember, we have a puppy – Abby- and having her comes with plenty of joy, and equal measure challenges. As a half joke and half help, my aunt actually sent us the mini guide to Puppy Care For Dummies® (which I thought was a. hysterical and b. actually helpful). The poor little girl seems to have terrible separation anxiety. Whenever we put her in her crate to leave for work or errands, she barks and salivates so much that she ends up covered in her own saliva from her chest all the way down to her front paws. You would think she was showering while we were gone. And we’re talking after 4 hours, after 2 hours, after 20 minutes… it doesn’t matter. Equal saliva/drool/chaos puppy.

happy puppy

happy puppy

So recently we tried a new way to confine her while we’re gone. We decided to loop her leash  – about 4 feet long – around the metal support pole in our basement so she could walk around a little bit but not get away short of gnawing the leash off or pulling over the support pole holding up the house. Both seemed unlikely, and in the week prior she had actually ESCAPED from her cage by getting the latch to pop up. So on the 24th, I put her around the pole, double checked that there was nothing she could reach and get hurt with, and went to an evening event for work dressed in my little heels and cute dress.

About four hours later, I came home, all excited to see my baby, and open the basement door. And see this nothing but a sea of white. White puppy, white floor. Both floor and puppy were previously gray.


**BEFORE YOU SEND HATE MAIL** This was the next day when the paint was dry. See her sit like a good little girl?

Guess who got a can of paint (mostly used THANKFULLY) off the stairs and decided that she didn’t like the floor color? THIS DOG. Needless to say I have never kicked off high heels and ran down my basement steps quicker. You can tell EXACTLY where we ran on the way up.


And where she paced by the back door as I grabbed her by the collar, ran outside, hooked her up the lead, and then hosed her down.


A frantic call to Animal Poison Control and 10 minutes later, I realized that because of the kind of paint it was she would be absolutely fine, and proceeded to give her a thirty minute bath (mind you… still in my dress).  I did learn four valuable things.

1. Keep the number to Animal Poison Control handy. They are ridiculously helpful and the woman on the phone was EXTREMELY patient with me as I sobbed and told her I feel like the worst pet owner ever.

2. When trying to make a puppy free zone, take into account that, in my case, MY PUPPY HAS FREAKISHLY LONG LEGS. (Over 10 inches to be exact)

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA3. Puppies find tape measures VERY amusing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA4. Puppies SUCK at painting. See all the spots she missed?? Her technique is just way off.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI also learned that I am not the worst pet owner ever, because the only thing she was upset about the whole time was that I wouldn’t allow her to jump on me because I was still wearing my dress. Miraculously? NOT A DRIP OF PAINT ON IT. How I managed that I still don’t know. And the helpful thing? She created a radius for us so that now we know EXACTLY HOW FAR she can get.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI guess I won’t be priming anything anytime soon. But hey… now I have a free DIY design on my floor. Thanks, Abby. Always thinking of us.

Oh and by the way? My aunt thinks she bought us the wrong book. She’s now looking for one called Puppies for Morons.

picture perfect

Considering how hot it has been, it’s been hard to bring myself to cook. But we’ve been making simple meals that don’t require standing over the stove too much.  Regardless of what we’ve been making, though, we’ve certainly been enjoying eating in our newly redone dining room.

My family and friends have been bugging me for an update on how it all went, and the stubborn blogger in me was waiting to get the “perfect pictures” of the room when the light is just right and you can truly appreciate how gorgeous it turned out. Well, I’m not waiting for that perfect shot anymore. I want to show you all how it looks!

When we first looked at the house, we knew we had a challenge on our hands but I was thrilled that the dining room was so big.


realtors picture

The only problem was the floor. And the wallpaper. And the light fixture. And the radiator cover. So okay everything other than the size was a problem. But particularly the wallpaper.



A few days after we moved in, a couple friends were helping us unpack and somehow we ended up stripping the wallpaper and scrubbing the walls with TSP.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe light fixture didn’t bother us too much until we realized what it did when you turned it on.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATextured ceiling + beveled glass fixture = AWESOME light patterns cast on the room. OR HIDEOUS.

I would have been content to leave the room as is except for one small problem. On one of the walls, the previous owners had let their kids scrawl their names, phone numbers, and some well wishes (“have a nice f*($#n day”), and we could not get it to scrub off. So, with a house warming bbq a few days away, we hastily picked a paint color and got to work.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATADA! We used Behr’s Happy Camper Green (which comes out really true to their website pics) and absolutely LOVED the paint color. Then we were able to find a new light fixture at Home Depot for $179 and it really changed the look of the room. The only problem was that once we redid the living room, we realized the green did NOT go with the rest of the first floor which were mostly gray undertone colors. But for almost two years we lived with it.

Gradually we added furniture in the room. And by new furniture I mean a child size chifferobe and chest with shelving that I rehabbed.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABoth the chifferobe and the dresser were made of pressed wood, but some heavy cleaning, light sanding, and half a dozen spray paint cans later, we had two very nice pieces.

P7030609This summer, with a week and change worth of vacation, I decided I was redoing and finally finishing off the dining room. First, I had a LOT of spackling to do, which we had neglected the first time around.


The painting was easy. This time around we used Behr’s color Mountain Sage. I have to admit, though, that I had a gift card to Lowe’s so I decided to get the paint from there. With my color sample in hand, I got Valspar’s Ultra Interior Flat Enamel which is paint and primer in one, PLUS low VOC.  I was able to do two coats in the same day, a few hours apart, even though it was at least 80 degrees out and humid. I was ridiculously pleased with how thick the paint was, and as quickly and sloppily as I was working, it did not spatter at all. At $25 a gallon it was a bit more than some of the paint I’ve used, but WELL worth it in the long run.


The only part of the room that was a pain was the wood work.  We have gorgeous dentil moulding around the ceiling and as our chair rail. The only problem? Dentil moulding was created as PUNISHMENT for people who have to paint it.  Now you all know that I’m psychotic and paint my woodwork in oil. What I learned the first time around doing the room was that you cannot paint the chair rail with a normal brush because it splatters and drips like crazy and you can’t get into the crevices. So this time?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYes, that is a paint brush that you would usually use for oil paint on canvas.  The chair rail took me at least two hours. See the X and hashes on the tape above? That’s how I kept my sanity and made sure I didn’t lose track of what dentil I was on. I COUNTED THEM. We have 382.

When all the tape was removed, it was time to dress the room. This definitely happened in stages.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFirst I put everything back in and desperately wished there was a way to hide the hideous tile floor. So I turned to CraigsList. $70 later….

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABRILLIANT!!!!!!!!!!!!! I found a rug JUST large enough to cover the center of the room. It fits almost perfectly inside the white border tiles. I cannot tell you  how happy this makes me. Even though it darkens the room a little bit, it has also worked to dampen the horrible echo we always had. And now some glamour shots for your viewing pleasure!

The metal radiator cover was scored about 6 months ago for $40. Add two cans of spray paint and you have a gorgeous piece.


It is dressed with a Limoges Bird of Paradise condiment dish, a bird and container from Michaels, a Lenox vase we received for our wedding, and a silver candy dish (devoid of its usual supply of M&Ms).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Limoges dish (also known as the Eden pattern) was scored for $15 at an estate sale and matches china that I have.

 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAnd yes, the flowers are fake which I have people ask me all the time.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOur “hutch” is dressed with a handmade bowl we received for our wedding that is personalized, some R mugs, a bird I bought during a trip we took for our first anniversary, a whiskey set from friends, our cake topper, and a few other sentimental items. While the display is nice, the drawers were a huge plus in the room as they house most of our linens.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe refinished chifferobe houses more linens and entertaining pieces like wine glasses and serving trays. The paint crackled when it was drying (as I refinished it last fall which was a mistake because of the cool, humid nights) so some time this summer it will go out piece by piece to get a finish coat.  The red bird is also from Michaels. Can you sense a theme here?


The wall that was so horribly uneven is now smoothed out and has photos I took in Ireland.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI think one of the things that excited me the most about finishing the room was the harmony when you look from the dining room into the living room and see how the colors go together. (Please ignore the drop cloth on the floor in the living room!)  The fact that the rug goes with the valances my mom had treated me to when I had found the living room ones. They were purchased from Swags Galore and I would never buy valances without looking there first. Their prices are AMAZING.

Overall I’m just thrilled. The first few days, as I stumbled into the kitchen to get my coffee, I was overwhelmed by the difference that paint color can make. Before, when you walked into our dining room it said HI! I’M GREEN! and now it says Please come sit down and enjoy a savory meal.


I hope you enjoyed seeing the dining room as much as I enjoy it. Every night as the gloaming approaches, I walk into my dining room and think this is why I do this. This was worth the wait. This is something good and safe and beautiful.


it’s all about nails…

I figured since I’ve tortured most of you with my failure to post pictures of the finished dining room, I’d make you wait just a liiiiiiiiiitle longer. Instead, I wanted to share some painting advice for anyone who is about to tackle a project of their own.

Personally, I think the worst part of painting is the set up and the clean up.  Both can take hours, if not days depending on how much taping, draping, and spackling you have to get done. In my case, I was somewhat lucky with this room because the tile floor meant I didn’t have to set up drop cloths all over. Instead, I used one drop cloth and moved it with me around the room.

When it comes to tips and tricks, I don’t have many, but one of them is to keep in mind nails.


pre-painting nail glamor shot while sitting on the radiator

Yes, I’m talking about fingernails!

After doing work in the house and sharing photos, I’ve actually had people ask me how I kept my nails at the same time, joking that I must not have actually done the work. Now I’m the first person to tell you that my nails are not strong at all – they break if you look at them wrong. But, along the way, I’ve learned some tips and tricks. First, there are a bunch of benefits to having nails when you’re doing painting.

  1. nails make it much easier to rip painters tape, smooth it down, and get it wedged in those teeny tiny corners
  2. nails are perfect for picking off those tiny little fuzzes and hairs that invariably land on your freshly painted wall
  3. nails are great for scraping those tiny little paint splatters off the floor without using a tool that may otherwise scratch delicate surfaces

Now all that is fine and good, but prepping your nails is just as important. If your nails are anything like mine (thin, abused, used as tools) then they’ll be prone to getting paint IN their cracks and crevices, especially at the tips. If you’ve ever gotten latex paint on your nails, you’ve probably experienced the same thing I have: you can’t get it off. Sure, it’ll come off the surface near the cuticle. But if your nails have splits or are dry, chances are you’ll end up having to cut them off to get the dye the paint leaves behind to go away which, as a somewhat girlie girl, I hate having to do.

So, that being said, I do something very counter intuitive the night before painting. I push back and cut my cuticles, trim and file my nails, and then put on a strengthening topcoat, making sure to coat the tips. The day I paint, I also do something very unusual. I SLATHER any part of my skin that will be exposed while painting in moisturizer. Why? It will come off even easier when you shower.

If you are stubborn (like me) and paint with oil, you’ll want to pay attention here. In addition to moisturizing yourself before painting, you’ll also want to invest in Goo Gone. While there are products like Goof Off that will remove oil paint pretty decently, I hate using it on wood, and DEFINITELY hate using it on my skin.  I try limiting my use of all harsh products like paint thinner and turpentine. What I’ve learned is that Goo Gone and a good cotton towel with a nub is FABULOUS for removing oil paint from wood, my glasses, and especially skin without any of the normal harsh side effects most chemicals have. I’ve also soak my brushes in a mixture of really hot water with some Goo Gone to get most of paint out before resorting to paint thinner. (As a side note, I could dedicate a whole blog on all the things I use Goo Gone for from removing label adhesive to cleaning my stove, but we’ll discuss those later…)

Hope you find some or all of these tips helpful! What do you hate most about painting prep?

and for my next trick…

Today officially marked the first day of my staycation and I couldn’t be more excited!!! Being an admission coordinator means that I’m pretty much “on” all the time. There are always questions, interviews, open houses, and applications waiting to be screened. So for the majority of the year, especially because the particular program I do admissions for just opened for the innaugural class, I was running around trying to figure out how to do my job, and pretty much neglecting any house projects I had wanted to do. But not now!

It’s our slow time so I’m on vacation until July 1! When I told some friends this, the first question they asked was “What’s the house project?” So without further ado…



I am finally doing the dining room! Now, some of you may ask “but… isn’t it done?” Well, my dear readers, the answer is… kinda. Within 48 hours of moving into the house a friend helped us strip the wallpaper in here. That taught us a few things. One, our walls are most definitely plaster. Two, holographic wallpaper from the 80s SUCKS. And three, if you allow your kids to write curses and their phone numbers on the plaster walls prior to hanging paper, the next owner will probably find it AND be unable to remove the writing, even with TSP. Solution? We painted right away.

We loved this color green when we first did the room. However, it later dawned on us that the base of this color is WAY too yellow for the rest of our house. In a lot of houses, it probably wouldn’t matter if one color strayed from the palette of the other rooms, but as we’re a center hall colonial, you can stand at our front door and see the hallway, living room, dining room, and upstairs hallway all at once.

I already primed all the woodwork, including the chair-rail-from-hell, so this room won’t take as long as a typical room in my house. I’m just hoping that I can get everything done in one week. And I can’t WAIT to share the results when we finish.

Wish me luck!