Sunday, December 1, 2013

Furniture Revamp: From Two-Toned to Too Fabulous

Several years ago when we were back in college, my husband (then fiancé) built a ladder shelf and matching A-frame end table for my birthday. Probably because I was always complaining about needing some shelves for all my stuff. He had stained the vertical supports a dark reddish color and left the shelves natural (with a poly coat) for a two-tone look. They were solid, well-made pieces and easily the nicest furniture that I had back then. The shelves traveled with us to our new apartment after we got married, and then to our current house where they reside in our living area.

In the meantime, we’ve acquired a lot more furniture and most of it is either deep brown or black with a worn/antiqued finish. So the two-tone look of the ladder shelf and end table started to seem a bit outdated and mismatched. And as you can see, the shelves kind of blended right into our gold-ish wall color. But giving them a makeover wasn’t really a top priority, so I didn’t do anything about it until recently when I was feeling motivated and needed a new DIY project.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

DIY Candy Bar Taste Test

Halloween is over, but if your sweet tooth still remains intact after all of the candy consuming, then I've got just the thing for you!

I recently wrote two articles which were published on Lydia, a new lifestyle site for women. Check out my candy bar taste tests to see if the homemade version stacks up to the original, and then be sure to browse around the rest of the site while you're at it!

Enjoy, my fellow sweets-eaters! 

Monday, October 21, 2013

Easy Pumpkin Decorating for Fall

I'm a little late to the game, considering fall has been here for a month already. But this past weekend, I finally gave our front porch a proper (albeit cheap & easy) seasonal makeover.

The star players in my display are the perennial fall favorites: pumpkins & mums. I bought three big pumpkins at Aldi for only $3 each, and four potted mums at Dillon's for $3 each. I prefer pumpkin painting over carving, but I had already done the black & white thing a couple years ago. This year I decided I wanted to go for the gold instead, so I bought a gold paint marker at Hobby Lobby for about $3.50. 

The first thing that came to mind was polka dots, which were simple enough to do freehand (and no one would notice that they weren't perfect circles). 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Fall Baking: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Today I realized it's been two months since I've posted anything, and this makes me sad. There just haven't been a whole lot of new developments with our house, despite the fact that our unfinished basement keeps taunting me every time I go downstairs to do laundry.

One thing I've found myself doing a lot of lately, however, is baking. Since it's officially fall (albeit unseasonably warm), I felt the need to use some of the canned pumpkin that's been patiently waiting in my pantry since last year. In search of a recipe containing ingredients I already had on hand, I found one on Pinterest for Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies (via fifteenspatulas).

Since I followed the recipe word for word, you can just head to the original source for the instructions. Basically, all I'm here to say is that they're delicious! The combination of the spices with the gooey chocolatey goodness was perfect. I had one (or three) fresh out of the oven with a glass of milk, and I was a happy girl. They're also probably the softest cookies I have ever made, and they stayed soft even after a couple days. (Although I'd recommend popping them in the microwave for a few seconds to make them warm and melty again.)

One thing worth mentioning is that the original recipe states one batch makes one dozen cookies. Since I felt this was not nearly enough, I doubled the batch. Well, I found myself putting cookies in my oven all evening until I ended up with about 50 of these babies. They were big, too. Don't get me wrong, you can never have too many cookies. Just be forewarned.

So in order to avoid temptation and premature winter weight, I sent some with my husband to take to his office and also stuck some in the freezer to be enjoyed later. And since I only used one cup of pumpkin for these cookies, I still have quite a bit left to try out another recipe!

What's your favorite fall treat? Pumpkin recipes welcome!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Going Paperless: A Window Treatment Transformation

For the past five years, I’ve been on a mission to destroy all of the temporary paper shades that we put up to cover the windows when we first moved in our house. It’s been a slow process because A) I just don’t want to spend a lot of money; and B) some of our windows are odd sizes which makes it a bit tricky. But so far I’ve gotten through our living room and master bedroom, and this past weekend I finally de-papered the guest bedroom.

Close-up of the shade in all its pleated, papery glory

This particular window is about 45” wide by 46” high. Based on my experience, I hadn’t seen any window treatments to fit those dimensions, and I wasn't going to pay to custom order something. So I was going to have to get creative. There's definitely no shortage of DIY curtains on Pinterest, from drop cloth curtains to tablecloth curtains to no-sew roman shades.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Baby Shower Gift Idea + Pretty Packaging

When it comes to gifts, sometimes I’m a buy-it-off-the-registry-and-stick-it-in-a-gift-bag type of person. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) Other times I like to have fun and be a little more creative with my gifting, if only for my own enjoyment. Case in point: my sister-in-law’s baby shower this past weekend. I had seen a couple cute ideas on Pinterest and this was a perfect opportunity to try them out.

1) Onesie Cupcakes
(inspiration pic below)

2) Washcloth Lollipops
(inspiration pic below)

Adorable, right? So first I went out shopping in search of some onesies. The only challenge was, because they don’t know the sex of the baby yet, I had to find something gender-neutral. On top of that, it was very hard (in my experience anyway) to find something gender-neutral and colorful. So, I ended up with some white & tan ones with little monkey designs on them. Not very cupcake-y looking, but they would have to do. I also had to settle for white socks.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Summer Cooking: Philly Chicken Sandwiches to the Rescue

I like cooking, but I don't like cooking in the summer. It's just too hot, and there are other things I'd rather be doing. Sometimes this means we end up scrounging around and dining on culinary delights such as cereal or yogurt parfaits (which are actually quite tasty). Other times we might get really lazy and just go out to eat (although I hate spending money on that). 

This weekend I decided it was time to be a responsible adult and make an actual meal. Since I refuse to turn on the oven in 90+ degree heat, I turned instead to my Pinterest board just for crockpot meals. My interest was sparked by a recipe I had recently pinned for Philly chicken sandwiches. It required tossing only 5 ingredients in the slow cooker, so how can you go wrong?

Well, you can't. It's that easy. And that good. Which is why I felt compelled to spread the Philly chicken goodness and share it with you. 

In fact, in re-reading the recipe a little closer right now, I realized that I used dry steak seasoning instead of the liquid steak seasoning that was specified -- and it was still delicious. I also used Swiss cheese instead of mozzarella.  And, I even got crazy and toasted our hoagie buns by spreading butter on them and putting them on a griddle for a few minutes. Totally not necessary, but I think it made the end result even better.

I managed to snap a picture before I scarfed it down 
(because I'm also an obsessive Instagrammer now).

My husband even raved about these sandwiches, even though he usually gives me a hard time for making too many chicken dishes and not enough steak (he's a red meat kind of guy, aren't they all?). The chicken mixture had great flavor, and it was just as yummy left over the next day. Would Philadelphians approve of this non-steak version? I'm not sure. But if Philly chicken sandwiches are wrong, I don't wanna be right.

I would definitely try these sandwiches out if you're looking for an easy meal this summer (or anytime). Check out the recipe from Cat at Food Family & Finds! Oh, and I haven't tried it myself, but I'm willing to bet that if you weren't in the mood for a hoagie, this would make a pretty tasty Philly chicken pizza, too!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Basement Inspiration: Part II

Last week, I decided to start sharing some ideas that I have for our future finished basement (partly to help keep myself motivated as we DIY our way through this looooong process). Well, it turned out I had quite a few ideas and had to cut my post short. So now I'm picking up where I left off!

As I mentioned last time, we'll have a small room that will serve as our office (and/or my craft space). We've framed out a door opening for it with something like the photo above in mind. 

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Basement Inspiration: Part I

Can you believe it's officially summer already? The temperatures around here definitely tell me that it is, but this year is just going way too fast. We haven't really done any big projects lately, but we manage to stay plenty busy with the usual everyday things--especially now the lawn & landscaping need a lot of attention.

So, since I don't have any completed projects to share this time, I thought I'd daydream blog about an ongoing project in the works: our unfinished basement (cue dramatic music). We're DIY-ing everything as much as we can, but I'm about ready to fork over the money and pay someone else to take over. Right now we have most of the framework finished, as well as part of the plumbing. We still have to finish putting insulation up on the ceiling and outer walls (a tedious task that neither of us is motivated to do), then electrical. None of this is very exciting to me.  I just want to get it done and get to the fun stuff quicker.  
Which is why I've been saving design ideas for our future finished basement (thank you, Pinterest). In case you're curious, the layout will include:
- 1 bedroom
- Office (or hobby/craft room)
- Living area
- Wet bar
- 3/4 bath
- Laundry room

Time for some pretty pictures now, yes? Here are just a few of the ideas I'm loving and may have to put to use in our own basement!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Easy Kitchen Update: The Faucet Factor

Although I'm not a huge fan of our kitchen sink (or countertop… or cabinets…), there have been other more important things on our project priority list around the house. It's not like our kitchen is out-of-date or anything like that, but let's just say that if time and money weren't an issue, I'd love to give it an overhaul. 

Anyway, recently an opportunity to make a small change presented itself, and we couldn't turn it down.

Here's our current faucet... nothing special here, folks. 
Just your standard chrome fixture.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

DIY Jumbo Dog Bed Under $30

My latest DIY project was one born of necessity, not just the urge to be crafty. And it wasn’t even to benefit me – it was for the fur-kids.

We have a boxer and a big mutt (I say that with love), and at about 45 pounds and 75 pounds respectively, they require a sizable dog pillow. In fact, up until recently we had one 30” x 40” pillow for each dog, which took up a lot of space on the floor of our small living room. And half the time, they just ended up squeezing onto the same pillow anyway (they love to snuggle).

Overall, our dogs are pretty good about not chewing things up. But something must have gotten into them because they started chewing on one of the corners during the day while the hubby and I were at work. And once they discovered the stuffing inside, it was all over. We would come home to pillow guts all over the living room. Not good.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Fun with DIY Mercury Glass

Whew! It's been a busy few weeks, but I finally found some time to sit down and blog (before I fall asleep on the couch, probably). 

This is a project I actually did awhile back, in an effort to dress up my new display shelves in the living room. I'd seen the DIY mercury glass idea all over Pinterest and thought this would be the perfect excuse to try it out for myself. The only thing I had to go buy was the Krylon Looking Glass spray paint

It's a little pricey, but the cost was outweighed by my intrigue of the mirror-like effect it promised. Since I had several cheap little glass vases, I though I'd better test it out on one of those first.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Shelf Display #1: DIY Decorative Vase Filler

A couple weeks ago, I revealed our new (albeit empty) floating shelves in the living room. Well, they're slowly filling up with a combination of DIY projects, travel souvenirs, and yes, even a couple of items that were just bought from the store (gasp). So I thought I'd go through shelf-by-shelf and give a closer look at each display, starting with this one:

As you can see, the glass vase contains some decorative balls, which is a project I've been wanting to try ever since I found it on Pinterest several months ago. Depending on where you go to and what they're made out of, store-bought vase fillers can run anywhere from $5-10 a piece, which can add up pretty quickly if you have a big container to fill. 

Sunday, February 17, 2013

DIY Pom Pom Bib Necklace

If the title of my post threw you off a bit, I understand. Usually when I have a DIY project in the works, it has something to do with furniture or other home decor. But this weekend, I expanded my craftiness into the world of wearables for the first time.

I don’t sew, so I can’t make clothing. But with this project, I found out that accessories are thankfully not out of the realm of possibility for me! Just give me a glue gun and let me go to town.

This necklace has been on my mind ever since I saw it on Pinterest several weeks ago (and repinned it, naturally). It is just so dang cute and definitely more of a “statement” piece than the simple jewelry I normally wear. I was just itching to give this one a shot!

The materials list was pretty simple: felt, 100% cotton fabric, a necklace chain, and hot glue. (This is the kind of project during which you will develop a deep and meaningful relationship with your glue gun and fabric scissors.) I ended up getting the felt and necklace chain at HobbyLobby, and the fabric (1/2 yard, which was more than enough) at Hancock Fabrics. Most of it was on sale, so the total cost was under $5.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Floating Shelf Installation: More Space for More Stuff!

Until we finish our basement, I'm kind of running out of room on our main floor to display pretty things, which makes me sad. That means there's less opportunity for me to make fun DIY crafts, because I have nowhere to put them when I'm done. This is a real problem, people.

But I recently realized a solution... floating shelves! Since we can't fit any more standing shelves or other furniture pieces in any of our rooms, it's time to start utilizing the walls. I've had the idea for awhile but never bit the bullet because these kinds of shelves are so dang expensive. And yes, I know that we (i.e. my handy husband) could just make some if we really wanted to, but there's plenty of other projects on our/his plate right now and frankly I didn't want to wait six months for them (no offense, honey).

Additionally, I had extra incentive thanks to $50 in Lowe's gift cards from Christmas (thanks, Mom & Dad!). So, after much deliberation and multiple trips to Lowe's, I finally decided on four allen + roth shelves (two 18" and two 24") for our living room wall. Even with the gift card, I still ended up spending about $60.

Don't mind the lamp sitting on the floor in the corner; 
this was taken before I finished my side table makeover.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Exploring My Dark Side: A Side Table Makeover

Just call me butter, 'cause I'm on a roll! 

Sorry, I couldn't resist. I'm just feeling pretty good about myself and the long overdue projects I've been tackling lately, after what seems like weeks (if not months) of getting nothing done. Well, nothing fun, anyway.

Last time, I showed you my Goodwill cabinet makeover. And now that I've crossed over to the dark side... I like it there! We actually have quite a bit of dark/black furniture, and I'm on a mission to make some of our random pieces of furniture fit in a little better. Case in point: this little side table. (Or is it an end table?)

You can hardly see the table in these pictures because it's practically blends in to our wall color. Blah. I believe it was a hand-me-down and it's really nothing special, but I've kept it around thinking that it would make for a good project someday. And that someday finally happened last week. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Drab-to-Fab Goodwill Furniture Makeover

I can't believe it, but it was already over a year ago that I blogged about finding this little treasure at Goodwill for $30. I didn't expect it to be quite this long before I gave it a makeover, but time really does fly. 

In any case, I finally just decided not to do anything too crazy and instead just give the cabinet the best kind of makeover possible: a free one! Since the existing color was flat and drab, I wanted to go much darker and richer. We already had some stain left over from previous projects, so it was kind of a no-brainer.


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