Monday, December 28, 2009

A Mini-Mudroom

Back in August, we were featured on Young House Love's website as one of their infamous Reader Redesigns.  I was ecstatic!  They declared the small renovation of our hall closet into a mini mudroom worthy of mention to the decor world.  Want to see what all the fuss was about?  Check it out here.

And if you just want the short of it, here are the before and afters.  (Remember, I alluded to this in a recent post about my laundry room makeover... the paint color is Glidden's Gentle Tide.)

Before (well, during)


For specifics on products, cost and the DIY work, swap over to YHL.

Friday, December 25, 2009

Teacher Gifts

Am I really old enough to give gifts to my son's teachers?!  Yes, I am.  This fact hit me hard and fast this holiday season.  Here's what I came up with on the cheap. 

$5 scented soy candles from TJMaxx (chocolate chip and sugar cookie, mmmm)...

Plus soap suds and warm water...

Equals a fresh, non-commercial canvas to personalize...

The final teacher-y gift...

Layne really enjoyed passing them out to his preschool teachers and telling them what 'flavors' they were.  And we didn't go broke.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

A Laundry Room Makeover

This is what my laundry room looks like at the moment.

To the left of the washer...

To the right of the dryer...

Our laundry room is on the second floor which I love.  I can take clothes out of the dryer, fold 'em and head straight for the bedrooms (also upstairs) to put it all away in a flash...without so much as a sock appearing in the family room.  Yes, my laundry room is functional.  But I got to thinking that it would be easy and inexpensive to kick it up a notch.  I'm in there enough, heck, I might as well like what I see, right?!  Plus with the kitchen project at a standstill (it's too cold to spray the dang doors and drawer fronts), I need a boost of confidence.  Little rooms are usually a quick-and-easy fix!  May I present, my first attempt at a 'mood board'.

The walls will get a coat (or two) of Glidden's Gentle Tide, my all-time favorite color to use in teeny rooms.  Gentle Tide is a grayish-greenish-bluish hue that makes the walls slip away and feel like you're floating in water.  Ahhh.  (We used it in our mini-mudroom...stay tuned next week!)  The ironing board cover is a custom Etsy buy.  I could browse Etsy all day.  As much as I detest ironing (seriously, I iron maybe twice a year), I'm gonna make that ironing board an artpiece!  The baskets seen on the dryer will go above the cabinets for extra storage and texture.  The IKEA stool seen in front of the washer will get a dark stain for added contrast.  I'll bring in some white geometric mirrors (found at Goodwill) for the wall to the left of the washer.  Hooks to the right of the dryer will add function and slip nicely behind the door when opened.  And I've gotta little trick up my sleeve to hide all the electrical and plumbing uglies just below the cabinets. 

I can see it now... a fresh room where even the wee-wee pj's and muddy socks will look good!

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Table for Three

If you've never heard of Young House Love, now you have.  They are pretty much my idols and Steve thinks I stalk them.  But seriously, they are great.  I 'borrow' ideas from them all the time because 1) I like them and 2) I can afford them.  They really know how to design on a budget.

Here's a little DIY inspiration from the Youngsters:

See that small pedestal table for two in the corner?  It's so freakin' cute and white and all things adorable, so I totally had to have one.  I ran with their idea.  They bought the pedestal base from a thrift store and added a precut tabletop from a hardware store.  It all got primed and painted white.  Voila.  A Pottery Barn look-alike for cheap.  (They already had the chairs and just painted them to match.)

Well, I was starting from ground zero.  I had no base, top or chairs.  But one day last spring while I was scoping out Craigslist, I found my pedestal base...for $15!!!!!  (Somehow I talked Steve into driving to Cincinnati in the pouring rain to pick it up for me... I must have had my fluttery eyelash thing going on that day.)  I landed a tabletop from Lowe's on sale at $35 and a few weeks later scored 3 chairs for $50 from Craigslist.  This is the before priming and painting shot:

The original plan was to invent a makeshift computer desk out of it all by cutting a small hole in the top of the table to run the wiring down through the pedestal base.  But the more I looked at that sweet little round table, the more I didn't want a monitor on it.  (I ended up making a desk out of an old IKEA console seen here.)  So, it's now our card table/extra dining table/eating-Cookie Monsters-on-after-the-kids-have-gone-to-bed table. 

More recently, with all of our kitchen cabinet contents residing on our real dining table...

...(aaaahhhh!!!), this little white table has served as our Taco Bell table.

At any rate, I love this YHL knockoff.  (Can you knockoff a knockoff?)  All for $100.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Cabin Fever

My house tweaking definitely rubs off on the kids.  When Layne and I play, we usually end up building furniture with Knex or drawing rooms on the dry erase board.  Everett's most recent word of choice is 'hoos', meaning house.  With a high of 23 degrees yesterday, we stayed inside all day and Layne busted out the Lincoln Logs.  This is what he created BY HIMSELF (he's 4, mind you).

The House that Layne Built

(Note the carport for the always-present cars in our home.)

I know, a ladder leading to a second story door isn't the most practical entry but did you notice all the windows?  That house would be washed in natural light.  Oh, and the soaring ceilings?!  And I love all the angles in the roofline.  Everett (Layne's one-year-old little brother) must have approved also.  He didn't try to knock it down once.  Steve even got to admire it when he got home from work. 

I am one proud mama.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Deck the Halls...with Balls?!

I'm not a fan of blatant holiday decor.  In lieu of that, I tried to keep our year-round color scheme when I decorated for Christmas a few weeks ago.  I was going for green, white and natural with a hint of glitz... on a budget.

The mantle was easy.  I hung a twig wreath and metal star over the mirror to add some rustic texture.  Two white ceramic pillars ($5 each from HomeGoods) hold matching twig spheres while the green ribbon and greenery add hints of color.  My four-year-old and I constructed the cardboard garland (made from stockpiled paper towel and toilet paper tubes).  I added a thin strand of metallic icicles to the paper garland for some sparkle.

You'll notice stockings are missing.  I decided to hang them from our stair railing in the foyer.  I had the boys press their handprints onto them after smearing them down with glitter fabric paint.  Voila!  Custom stockings!  Just added some glittery swags of garland to the handrail and a snowflake pillow to the bench.

I went glam on the dining console.  A linen runner topped with shiny glass vases, candles, pearls, capiz and glitter twigs really sparkle against the succulent prints.  (I'm thinking next year I can switch out the prints for something more wintry... like black and white snowflake prints...not in the budget this year.) 

We have a live Christmas tree this year that we got for $25.  It is just the perfect size and shape.  I love it's slim profile and the way it tucks nicely into our front window.  Topped it with white lights and gold, ivory and cream glass ornaments (we only broke 2!: I dropped one and my four-year-old dropped one).  A few snowflakes made their appearance too.  Then I simply spiraled wired ribbon down all sides.  I think it looks peaceful.

I even did my version of a Christmas wreath on the front door and windows.  (Steve says I have a ball fetish... c'mon, you know what I mean.)

So, what do you think?  Winter wonderland-ish enough for you?  How do you decorate for Christmas?

Sunday, December 6, 2009

I'm Dreaming of a White Kitchen...

I'm dreaming of a white kitchen.  Just like the ones I see online.

Where the cabinets glisten and hubby listens to paint the kitchen on a dime.

I'm dreaming of a white kitchen.  With every paint stroke that I swipe.

May your days be merry and bright.  And may all your kitchens be white.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Big Box Reveal

Remember this big box?

Well, here's what it looks like now after (awesome) Steve put it together.  (I think he got tired of telling the boys to stop sitting on it.)

Even with missing a knob (one of them came unthreaded; we're getting a replacement), it's the perfect storage solution for our family room.  I wanted something not too deep (this is about 13") that sat up off the ground (a register resides directly beneath it) to allow for heating/air conditioning flow.  White is a great neutral color making this large piece seem not so large.  And the glass doors give it an airy feel.  I can't wait to scour TJMaxx and Goodwill for pretties to dress up the shelves.  (Don't worry, it WILL be functional as my kids are already hiding cars in it.)  I'm not sure what to do above it though... collection of pottery on top or artwork on the wall???  Both? 

Here are some dressed shelves that I may mimic:

Pretty shelves make me happy. 

Monday, November 30, 2009

Got Turkey?

If your families are anything like ours, you have a fridge keeping some leftover turkey cold right about now.  However, your turkey/mayo sandwiches and dried turkey camouflaged with gravy are probably becoming less and less appetizing.  What to do?  Here's what I did (thanks to Rachael Ray):


•1 to 1 1/2 pounds leftover roast turkey meat, shredded
•3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
•1 large onion, chopped
•2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
•1 jalapeño, seeded and chopped
•1 rounded tablespoon chili powder
•2 teaspoons ground cumin
•1 jar tomatillo salsa (16 ounces)
•1 beer, any brand you like
•1 quart chicken stock
•4 handfuls tortilla chips, divided
•1 handful cilantro leaves
•Juice of 2 limes


Heat a heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high heat with the EVOO. Cook onions, garlic and jalapeño until soft, about four minutes.

Add chili powder and cumin, and cook for another minute. Add the tomatillo salsa, beer and stock. Bring up to a bubble and add in the shredded chicken. Simmer for 10-15 minutes.

Meanwhile, grind two handfuls of the tortilla chips and the cilantro leaves in a food processor.  (Or just crush tortilla chips in a Ziploc bag like I did and chop the cilantro finely.)

Add this mixture to the chili and continue cooking until it thickens, about 8-10 minutes.

Right before spooning into bowls, add in the lime juice and serve with some whole corn tortilla chips alongside.

Mmmmmm.... now that's what I call 'tweakin' a turkey.'

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Wife, Happy Life

I have the BEST hubby.  Ever.  He is always supportive of any new venture I want to take on.  (Okay, well, maybe not the time I asked him if vinyl flooring could be painted.  And I'm still trying to convince him...and myself...that 3 kids could be fun.)  Even if it means time away from him or our boys, he still encourages me.  He knows that the time I get to myself to study home magazines, pour over home decor internet 'porn' or just tweak things here and there will pay off in the end - for everyone.  We are a great team.  If I've got a home improvement idea that's metaphorically or literally over my head, he can make it happen.  (It may take a few weeks/months but it WILL happen.)

So today, the day to be thankful for all things in life that matter most, I'm thankful for my hubby and the family and home we have created together.  (And also for him not judging me by my cooking alone!)

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

What's in the Big Box?

...that's what everyone has been asking when they come to our house lately.  Not only is there a huge box sitting in the middle of our great room (it's been there for a week now), but it sat on our porch for about 4 days first.  (It's heavy, I'm little.)  My boys are starting to accept it and treat it as a play table.

Check back next week for the answer.  Hint:  it's white.  (Okay, that's not a great hint but still it's a hint.)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

An IKEA Makeover

When Steve and I first got married 7 years ago, we 'splurged' on an IKEA entertainment console for our (then) basement.  (Yes, IKEA was a splurge for us.)  It suited our needs well for 6 years supporting our ginormous box of a TV and all the equipment that comes with that sort of thing.  When we moved into a bigger home (the one we live in now), I gave Steve the okay to purchase a flatscreen TV... something neither of us regret.  We were able to mount the new TV on the wall in our family room.  Our faithful IKEA console was no longer needed, or was it?! 

It sat in the middle of our living room (okay, so trying to split up a long room with a console right in the middle wasn't such a great idea) for over a year trying to find it's place in our lives again. 


It was fulfilling a very important purpose.  See those baskets?  They held all our mail... one basket for each member of our family.  With the console being in the room closest to the front door, it was functioning quite well as a mail sorter/disguiser.  That orange birch color had to go though.  So, it did...


Since it's constructed of icky (yet inexpensive!) veneer instead of solid wood, sanding and staining wasn't an option.  Instead, I tackled the 3 P's: priming, painting and polyurethaning.  We already had the primer and paint (same as the wall color) on hand, so the only thing I purchased was the polyurethane for about $15-$20.  I repositioned it along the wall (i.e., got it out of the middle of the room...what was I thinking?!), kept it's mail sorting use and then organized all the computer components in and on it.  Gotta love hidden wires and electrical equipment!  It's now a functional AND great looking way to peruse through the mail and pay bills online, on time.  I would like to get a glass top cut to fit as even with the polyurethane, a few chips have surfaced on the worktop.

So, that's how I saved our IKEA console. 

Friday, November 20, 2009

Hide and Seek

Our house is a REAL house.  We have two kiddos that come with lots of toys, books and games to keep them busy (while Mama blogs).  In an effort to save my sanity, we have a system for keeping toys in check.  To begin with, we don't keep a ton of toys in our home.  Every Christmas, it's out with the old and in with the new.  I make my boys go through their toys and pick a few things to donate.  (I'll usually throw in a few more things after they're done choosing... things they don't play with.)  Also, we rotate toys periodically.  Most kid stuff stays in the playroom or unfinished basement.  We only keep everyday favorites in the main floor living space.  When they want to bring in a different item, they select a toy to go down to the basement.  (I know this sounds like I'm a drill sargent but I'm really only talking about the big toys i.e. ball pit, kitchen set, pop-up house, etc.)  This keeps our family room from becoming over-run with kid stuff.  Plus, I find my boys are more apt to focus and have a longer playtime when they have less choices.  And they get really excited when they bring in a 'new' toy from the basement that they forgot about.  Half the time, we even end up playing without toys... family dance parties, rhyming games, wrestling, etc.

The playthings we do keep on the main floor are disguised.  (I like 'disguised' better than 'hidden' because my kids know where their toys are.)  We have dozens of bins, baskets and organizers devoted to this purpose.  There is a console behind our couch chock full of toys but you'd never know by looking at it.

Our entertainment console has even more kid-friendly storage.

We have a small table in our sunroom that stores Lincoln Logs.

At the end of the day, we all pick-up together and everybody knows where everything goes.  All of this makes me a happy girl at the end of the night when I'm sittin' on the couch with my hubby.  Pretending we don't have kids.  Until one of them cries.