Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Teacher's gifts

I'M BAAAAACK! (Sorta). Whew, all of that painting must have taken it out of me! I have not felt like redoing anything in my house after that! My makeover efforts have been spent on myself rather than my house. I have been on a kick to get healthier and more fit and it has taken a lot of my time.

But I thought I would drop in today and share the teachers gifts I created for my older son's preschool teachers. I am in shock that I have finished registering him for Kindergarten next year! We went to his preschool graduation last night. It was completely adorable! They had the kiddos in little caps and gowns and everything!

I have been so blown away by the changes in him over this past year. He has always been our clingier child and we have watched him blossom into a little social butterfly with play dates practically every other week! His teachers have done such an amazing job at preparing him for this next step in life and I am so grateful to them for all they have taught him!

I put these little packages together with items from my all time favorite store.... TARGET! Seriously is there anything that place doesn't have???

I started with a little plastic tray they had in the kitchen organization aisle. I thought it would double as a great desk top organizer later. I added a candle, (Because who doesn't love  a great smelling candle???) some pretty desk top post it type papers from the Privet House collection and  some pretty spiral bound notepads. I also had my son color one of those little blank men as kind of a self portrait because I love to include something a little personal from him for the teachers to remember him by! And, lastly, because I don't think teachers are paid well enough for their efforts I threw in a small Target gift card so that they can treat themselves just a little! The note reads: "Thanks for all you've done! Because of you I am right on Target for kindergarten next year."  Yes, it includes a play off words for the Target gift card! I'm just nerdy that way and couldn't resist!

I always struggle with ideas for things like Teachers' gifts. I would love to know what kinds of things you all do for gifts!

Friday, February 24, 2012

DVD cases recovered

I have three of these dvd cases sitting on the bookshelves in my living room. I bought them a few years ago at Target. I really don't like for STUFF to take up more room than necessary. And that includes things like the plastic dvd containers when you buy a movie. We purchase more movies than we probably should. Especially now that we have kids! The most full of these cases is the one which houses their movies. The second most full is mine... filled with amazing culture rich entertainment like all seasons of Alias and Veronica Mars! Come on! We all love a good female lead with extra sass and tail-kicking capabilities!! 

I digress! I love these because rather then keeping all of those pesky dvd boxes I can store 100 dvds in these cases with those little envelopes. I know this storage system isn't for everyone. In fact some days when little kiddos go "digging" to find a movie I have a love/hate relationship with it myself. But overall, the pros outweigh the cons for me. What would probably take up at least two shelves of our built-ins with the cases, only takes up half of one this way. But I had bought them to blend in with a dark stained TV cabinet... not my freshly painted white and green shelves. 

The faux leather look started to bug me enough to make a change so I grabbed a scrap of Osnaburg and "reupholstered" them if you will. All I needed was the fabric and some hot glue. Callouses probably would have been helpful too as that hot glue can give you some wicked burns!

I simply removed all of the sides from the case. And actually, if you didn't already have some of the cases I think they would be fairly simple to DIY. With some old cereal boxes or other cardboard and some duct tape, you would have the base. Then just use a little more cardboard covered with something pretty and you would be in business!

But I did have the cases.... so after I removed the outside I cut my fabric down to size, laid my case piece right side down on it and glued down the edges. 

When you have all of the sides done, just glue them back onto the case.

Here is a side by side before and after.

I already thought they looked a lot better, but they were still a little boring! Sooooo, I got out my trusty acrylic paint and sharpie and added a little french grain sack look to them.

Here they are back at home on my shelves. I love that they fit there perfectly!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Annnnnd we're back to white!

So, if you have been keeping up with me and my craziness for a while you will remember the risk I took in painting the surround of my fireplace after we moved into our current house.  My husband told me I could only share this post if I was willing to show the before, after and after after! :) I am a fickle gal!

Soon after we moved in our built ins around the fire place looked like this

Then I painted them black with some brown glaze for a more distressed look.

Then, I painted my kitchen and it was bright and white and lovely! And my shelves just didn't look right. We have a very open floor plan. In fact this is the view of the shelves if you are standing in the kitchen. So the dark just wasn't working for me anymore. 

So I went and got more paint (same color as my kitchen) and painted them back to white. This time with a little twist! The all white was still a little blah for me so I painted the back a lovely, but subtle spring green color!

And now... the after after:

I am smitten!! I have been tweaking a little here and there and there may still be a few small changes, but I really LOVE the results. It is bright and cheerful, but I feel like the green keeps it from feeling as cold as the all white shelves did to me.

I filled in the shelves mostly with what was already there. Some of those items got mini makeovers. A couple are new. And a few are thrifted and therefore, just new to me!

Here you can see my little anthro knockoff pot nestled in its new home on my shelves

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Surprise!!!! Nothing in this post is painted! Not to say I haven't been painting more (wink, wink)! But this was supposed to be an easy little project to pull some of my kitchen colors into my living room area. I spotted the below pot on the Anthropologie website and thought it was perfect. 

Fun and a little different, but with a price tag of $68 for the SMALL, I thought.... umm pretty sure I can make something similar for a teeny tiny fraction of the cost.

I did. But it took many hours. Although, they were mindless hours so I passed the time pretty pleasantly by watching Ryan Gosling remove his shirt a few time in Crazy Stupid Love. That man has GOT  to be genetically altered in some way. I mean come on! 

What was I saying again????? Oh right! Nerdy weekend nights making knock off pots!

Ok, people eyes back on the blog! Sheesh I thought I was bad!

So for this little project I went to Wal-Mart and snagged my supplies for approximately $7.00. I got a package of sisal rope in the home improvement department and some two tone yarn in the crafting section.

I also bought that little pot for $3.00 but ended up using a Mason jar I had on hand because the shape worked better.
I basically took the yarn and wrapped the twine in it. I wrapped and I wrapped and I wrapped. Then I whined because my carpal tunnel was acting up. Man, I'm a catch! Then I wrapped a little more. Then Crazy Stupid Love was over so I needed new eye candy! Enter Castle on Hulu! Nathan Fillion will do in a pinch! :)

After all of that I had this.

The next part was easy. I just took my hot glue gun and wrapped the covered rope around the jar gluing as I went. And voila!

Not an exact replica, but it still adds a fun pop of color to my newly painted bookshelves around my fire place! 

Say WHAAAAA???? Yeah I did. Less than a WEEK after all that painting in the kitchen. I'm a glutton for punishment! I'm still tweaking final touches but will show you the newly painted shelves later this week!

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Is Stainless Steel paint for you?

Ok, I am going to talk a little about my experience with the Thomas Liquid Stainless Steel I used on my stove.

I have had a couple of questions about how it has held up. The answer is, not as well as I had hoped, but I will also say that the only area we have had problems is on the actual stove top and only under certain circumstances.

Too cryptic? Ok, well, it was actually holding up beautifully for the last couple of months. Not so much as a chip. Until one day my sweet husband being helpful cleaned the top with a Magic Eraser. Something that pre-paint job I too would use to clean the stove top. Now, in fairness I don't think the kit came with particular instructions on how to clean it, but I just assumed something as strong as the Magic Eraser would be too risky on it. So anyway, After that we had two tiny chips on the stove top. Annoying, but they were easily touched up because I had PLENTY of the stainless paint left over. But not long after that... maybe a couple of weeks we had an incident where the teapot boiled over and we didn't catch it immediately. I don't know how long the puddle of hot water had been there when I went to clean it up, but when I did, a HUGE peeling of paint came up with it.

I'm not going to lie to you all... I cried. Yes, it is a stupid painted stove. But I stayed up for HOURS painstakingly adding thin layers to that stupid stove. I can only take so much. So after I cried and yelled and lost track of all real perspective in my life. I did what any mature mother and wife would do...... I stormed out of the house dramatically announcing that I had to go to Wal-Mart for more foam brushes to fix this "disaster"!! It was definitely one of my more proud moments!

The good news? I was able to do a decent touch up job on it.  I sanded everything down and redid ALL of my layers. You really can't tell unless you know what you are looking for.

This is the stove top after the touchups. 

One of the small chip areas next to the burner.

If you look closely you can see a small line down the middle which is where the paint stopped peeling off. 

The bad news? My husband and I are both really nervous about using and cleaning the stove top now. As soon as a new stove is in the budget.... which is probably not soon at all... but still as soon as it is I will purchase a real stainless steel stove.

I will say, that at this point I don't regret painting it. Mostly because I really did not like the two tone look of it before. I say at this point, because we haven't had more mishaps and I don't know if I could take touching that thing up every couple of months. I am hoping it was a fluke because of the boiling water... but I will keep you all posted.

Now... all that being said I have not had any issues at all with the stove front or even the drawer below where we keep our pans so it gets handled a lot. So it may be fine if you had a stove that you didn't mind the stove top itself and just wanted to do the door area. Although if you are looking for an easier fix, I have a good friend who recently used the stainless steel contact paper to redo her dishwasher. I have used this stuff as well (on a dishwasher) and was very pleased with the results. However, I knew that I wouldn't be able to use it on my stove top, which is why I chose the paint.

Anyway, I hope this helps any of you with questions about the paint. I guess the bottom line is if you have a decent, updated looking stove already and you are JUST looking for stainless steel I wouldn't try this. If you have the money, or are close to saving the money for a new stove and you are trying to decide between painting what you have and getting a new stove... get the new stove.

These are all of course my own opinions and experiences. I am just trying to be honest and informative. If any of you have or plan to use this paint I would LOVE to hear about your experiences. Let me know if you have any secrets or tips about this stuff that maybe I missed!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Painted countertops

Okay folks... if you are interested in how I painted my countertops then settle in. This is probably going to be a long post. I feel like I should preface this post by telling you a few things. One, is that I am not generally a big fan of faux painting so I was skeptical when I started researching this project. Two, is that I am in no way shape or form a professional painter! And last, I have included a "tutorial" if you will of what I did with my preferences. One of the great things about painting your countertops is that you can play around and get a completely individual look for your space for next to nothing. Seriously. As I mentioned in my kitchen reveal we spent about $100 for ALL of our countertops. And we have a decent size kitchen.

So, how did I decide this was the route to go for us? Well, mostly because our budget really would not allow any other option. But now, I am really glad that was the case because I am really pleased with the final result. So I started doing some research online and pinning different kitchens where I saw end results I liked.  The two I went back to the most were General Splendour and Creative Kristi. Both of these sites had great information about how to accomplish the look.

Then, I started checking out granite samples online. I knew I wanted something that was still light and actually  fairly similar to what we had in our last home. Here are a couple of the samples I used to inspire my look.


Then I painted a sample board. I think this step is important. It helped me get an idea of the order in which I wanted to layer my colors and incorporate them together. I included a picture of my sample board so that you can see my counters didn't end up looking exactly like it, but it was a great place to start and practice my technique.

Ok. When you are satisfied with that it is time to get started. First I gave my countertops a really good scrub down. Then, I sanded them with 220 grit. Just enough to give them a little grip. I used Zinser oil based primer and let that dry really well. Then I used the leftover paint from my sideboard as my base coat. When that was also really dry I got to the fun part. My supplies were really high tech! Paper towels and a paper plate and of course the acrylic craft paint. I later used an old toothbrush, but we'll get to that. (I told you it was a long post) Anyway I discovered that I liked using a slightly damp paper towel. Maybe it was all in my head but I felt like it thinned the paint just a little. One of the things I notice while researching other painted counters was that some really looked like splotches of craft paint on a surface and I did not want that. So I really tried to keep my layers thin and incorporate them together as seamlessly as possible while still getting that random "made in nature" stone look. 

I ended up using six different colors of craft paint, but three of them were in a very similar color family just varying shades or finishes. In order of layers I used Rain Gray, Silver metallic, Champaign metallic, Stone Gray, Cream and a hint of red for an unexpected accent color. 

I started with my Rain Gray and just blotted all over.

And here is what it looked like after the first layer. Then I moved on to my metallic colors. I actually used them simultaneously. I really, really think the metallic colors took the finished product up a notch. They are a little translucent to they added a wonderful depth that doesn't read as well in the photographs. I highly recommend if you do this, no matter what your color scheme is, that you get a complimentary metallic paint. Anyway, I did the same thing with them. I just blotted away until I got the coverage I had in mind.  

Then I used my darker gray color. Creative Kristi recommended using a half paper towel for your darker colors so you don't get too heavy handed. 

Um... I did use a half paper towel but I still went a little crazy with the dark gray. But if this happens to you don't freak out! That is what our next step is for. I then used my cream color to go back through and break up the dark spots a give an overall lighter look. I also was not afraid to just rub a little of the cream color into the countertop. I tried to go in a diagonal direction so it would almost look like the striae of cut stone.

After that step this is what I had. And then,  because I noticed that some of the granite samples I saw had a hint of some unexpected color in very small sections I decided to do this with a tiny bit of red. This is where the toothbrush comes in. 

I put the tiniest bit of red on the tip of the toothbrush and kinda flicked it on. The above picture shows how sparingly I used it. Just a little hint of this color is all you want. 

After all of that I used a very fine grit sand paper... I think it was 400 and sanded the whole surface down to knock down the high spots and combine the colors a little more. For some reason I didn't get a picture of the counter after this step with the little section most of these pictures are from, but I did with another section. 

If you are pleased with your result it is time to seal it all in!

We used the Envirotex Lite from Hobby Lobby. I saved up 40% off coupons and made separate trips for each bottle. I definitely suggest using coupons because this stuff is pretty pricey without them. Also you will notice in this picture we tried to use butane lighters for the bubbles. DON'T do that! I read this warning and ignored it. If you don't already have a propane torch spend the extra $30 and get one. You will not regret it. We got one for the rest of the countertops because using these was miserable!

Now... Cover everything!! Seriously this stuff drips everywhere.

Again with our high tech tools. We used craft paper and saran wrap.  I don't have any pictures of us doing the Envirotex because with a large surface it is definitely a two person job. It starts to set up pretty fast so you both need to be moving to keep spreading and wiping away drips along the bottom. 

Now after all of that work you will end up here.

Look at that shine!! You can actually see reflections in it. And when it all cures, which admittedly seemed to take forever... (three days). It feels so nice and smooth. 

Here is a couple more finished pictures of the area you saw me painting in the pictures. 

If you are on the fence about trying this I hope this informations helps. There were already good tutorials out there but when I was researching this, there was no such thing as too many examples. So I put mine out there hoping to make you that much more informed! If you have any other questions I am happy to answer!