Wednesday, August 29

Bar Stool Dilema

More big news on the kitchen front! Or at least big plans. :) We are about to finish up the drawers and my parents are coming up this weekend  to help us... pour the countertops! So exciting! We're even hoping to squeeze in a little painting while the concrete cures. I've been doing some planning today and started thinking about the new bar area and especially the bar stools we'll need. And I've got a question for you. :)

 Here is the bar area so far. The countertop will overhang farther than the plywood is now (about 10" total) and is marked by the blue tape on the floor. So this kind of gives you an idea of how much space there is. So on to the question...

Sunday, August 26

Pillows - All Dressed Up

During high school, I spent a week every summer on a mission trip down to Mexico to build houses. It was hot and eye-opening and crazy fun. I would love to go again someday. But for now I just have a few pictures and souvenirs to remind me of those great days south of the border. One such souvenir - this dress from a market in Juarez. It was one-size and I couldn't try it on, but it was so pretty!

So I threw caution to the wind and snatched it up. But, no surprise, it looked Ridiculous on me. Yes, with a capital "R". I tried different things to take it in, adjust the straps, make it look decent, but I just couldn't pull if off. But nonetheless I kept it tucked away in my closet for no less than 6 years because I just couldn't bring myself to get rid of it. Which brings us to my most recent house purge. I decided it just didn't make sense to let it take up space in the closet when I could never possibly wear it. It had to go. If only there was some other way I could use, or at least re-purpose the pretty parts. And then it hit me.

A throw pillow! Easy to make, useful, and something I can enjoy everyday (instead of having it tucked in the back of my closet). I made a few quick modifications to my original pillow cover tutorial and was done in no time! My first step was getting the 18x39" piece of fabric I needed for the original tutorial. Since I couldn't get a piece that long in a single cut, I cut two 18" wide panels out of the skirt that could be piece together into a longer strip.

Wednesday, August 22

Stripe Love

I need stripes. Somewhere - anywhere - in my house. Big, thick horizontal stripes to be specific. I LOVE what they can do to a space, they way the add interest, color, boldness. Just ask my husband. This is the conversation that has started almost every room we've painted:

Husband: "What color were you thinking?"
Me: "I was thinking maybe stripes."
Husband: "That's not a color."
Me: "Well, how about green stripes?
Husband: "I don't think we should do stripes."
Me: "What about gray stripes?"
Husband: "I don't think that's a good idea. You'll regret it and just want to paint over it."
Me: "Or maybe yellow stripes?"
Husband: "We're not doing stripes."

Shot down. But the jokes on him, because NOW I want to paint over everything to add stripes! I know, hardcore plot twist. I think it started with the nursery where I wanted to do either gray or teal stripes (it ended up beige). Then when we painted the office I wanted some nice moody gray stripes again (it is gray, but not stripey). Then I moved to the living room, which we actually painted first over a year ago, and asked if we could go back and add some stripes to the green-ish walls. This brings us to today, where I would happily take any of the aforementioned options, but I'm also about to spring kitchen stripes on him (surprise!). I'm thinking some nice, pale green stripes to complement the green living room, but make things a little sassy. While we wait for my stripes to make an appearance, please feast your eyes on a little stripey love from the wonderful world of pinterest....

Did I say bold horizontal stripes? Well, this might be a little too bold for me to bring home, but what a statement! I'm LOVING the black & white contrast. And the frame collage? Be still my heart.

This is what I wanted in our nursery! So simple, and so fun. And the light colors would be great for such a small room.

Just loving the subtle grays, especially with white trim.

Monday, August 20

Base Cabinets - DIY Style

Sometimes taking a project really slow turns out to be a good thing. Saturday night we (once again) had a change of plans for our kitchen! If you want to follow the evolution of our kitchen plans you can see my original inspiration post here:

My original design plan here:

And my most recent plans here:

The footprint hasn't changed, but we did tweak one thing. The space under the window on the right wall was going to be left open for a stool - mostly because the window goes below the cabinet line and because there is a vent there. But after a quick brainstorming session, we quickly decided we couldn't miss the opportunity to add some more storage (and value!). We drew up a plan that would make the most of the space with one large cabinet and one set of drawers, and got to busy that very night.

 We definitely don't have the budget for anything as drastic as moving the window up, but we did find a way to work around the obstacles. We didn't wast to mess with the window trim - it is original and matches the rest of the house, we want it to still be there if we (or the next owners) ever want to open things back up - so we made our new cabinets shallower than standard so they could sit in front of the window and trim. You can find basic cabinet building instruction here, we just modified them to be only 22" deep which left 2" of space behind the cabinet. Here is a basic sketch of the layout:

A couple things to note here:
  1. The space behind the cabinet - it allows it to sit in front of the window frame.
  2. The spacers in the corner - anytime you have a corner in cabinetry (unless it's something like a lazy Susan, of course) you need to have spacers. If you don't your cabinet doors and drawers won't open properly because the knobs will be in the way of each other.
  3. We built our cabinet units first - then we measure the openings before making our doors & drawers to make sure we get a perfect fit.

So this is where the new layout put us. Can you believe how much storage that added? Really, we would have been crazy not to do it. And if you're worried about the window, we only blocked the bottom few inches so plenty of light still comes in and we can still slide it open. To keep things looking pretty from outside, we painted the back of the cabinets white (so no bare plywood is visible).

 My sister S tested out the new peninsula layout by mixing up the best cheesecake ever. Seriously. There is cookie dough in it. And we all agreed the peninsula was a keeper. It added so much work space without feeling too big or crowded.

 Once we got the cabinet built (see how-to build basic cabinets here) we made the face frames. We found it was easiest to assemble them on the floor like this...

 ... and then attach it to the cabinet. It kept things looking more even and tidy.

For our door openings, we just framed the cabinet with 1x2's and will make doors to match later. For the drawers we wanted to be a little more precise. We plan to use 1x6s for the drawer fronts (which are actually 5 1/2" wide) so we framed our drawer openings about 5 3/4" wide, which will inset the drawers and leave about 1/8" of space above and below. We're still working on the drawers, but I'll add a post with more details about that once they are finished!

So this is where we're at. Everything is built and trimmed out! We are working on drawers and doors, and have plans to do countertops during a long weekend next month. I'll keep you posted! :)

This is definitely the kind of project that reminds us DIY isn't all fun and games. I have made so many mistakes already - mostly involving measuring and math. Including making every.single.drawer the wrong size on my first try. Major fail. But fortunately my level headed husband is always there to fix my problems and keep us moving forward! And, you know, do math stuff. And he's cute so that's a bonus. :)

Anybody else tackling some long overdue projects this weekend?

Saturday, August 18

Camping Boy

Warning: this post has no home-related content whatsoever. It is entirely pictures of Baby B from our camping trip earlier this month. The boy LOVES the great outdoors, so we probably shouldn't have been surprised by how much he loved camping. I don't think he had a frowny face the whole time we were there. :) And so for your viewing pleasure....

 Helping Grandma make pancakes.

 Rocking his fancy camping jammies.

 He is a friend to all of nature.

 NOT a friend to hammocks.

 Unless he can sit with daddy.

 Or mommy!

 Beach boy inspecting the lake... from a safe and comfortable distance.

 Mmmm... cherries!

 This is how he said "EH-LO!" every morning.

"Hmmm... I think I'd rather be out here with everyone else..."

 "Mommy's not out here! RETREAT!"

 "Caw, caw, ROOOAARRR!"

A beach nap with grandma.

Hopefully that meets your Baby B requirements for today. You're welcome.

Friday, August 17

Sneak Peeks....

We've been busy....

So stay tuned! :)

"I don't think I can handle the suspense...."

Wednesday, August 15

Squeaky Clean

We're just going to go ahead and get all this crazy hippie stuff out of the way. :) Besides simplifying our personal care products (and choosing more natural options), we've been doing the same things with our cleaning supplies. At the moment, this is my go-to cleaning arsenal:

 My favorite things about this: 
  1. It's so compact! We condensed several specialty cleaners down to just a few multipurpose items instead.
  2. It's safe! No harmful chemicals any where in the mix. We keep them out of Baby B's reach but even if he were to get a hold of them we don't have to worry.
  3. The homemade cleaners are SUPER cheap.
 So let's take a closer look in the basket. What I've been using the most lately (ever since I learned how to make them from my friend Kelsey!) are my two homemade cleaners. So easy to make, and super safe to use. The blue bottle is just a mix of water and white vinegar, about 1/3 vinegar and 2/3 water. This is great for things like windows, a quick wipe down of the counter top, and even my hardwood floors. The pink bottle it a little tougher. It's made by mixing 1/3 white vinegar, a couple tablespoons baking soda (cover it because it will bubble!), a few drops of tea tree oil, and then filled up the rest of the way (2/3) with water. You can also add other essential oils to make it smell yummy. :) I use that for heavier cleaning jobs like cleaning the bathroom and the kitchen floors. I've also found several site with great info about natural cleaning and more recipes for homemade cleaners that I want to try here, here, here, and here.

 Before I learned to make my own, I was using these cleaners from Mr's Jones' Soapbox on etsy. I have Clean and Soapy. I use Clean for everything - counter tops, bathroom, quick floor wipe ups, etc. The soaps I use more for big jobs because it has to be diluted in water - scrubbing the whole floor for example (and for the toilet bowl). Mrs. Jones has great examples of what each cleaner should be used for as well. I have been really happy with how well they work, and they smell great! The only down side for me is that they are a little pricey. I was able to get these bottles from her scratch & dent section for a little less, and refills are a little cheaper than your first bottle.

Also in my basket is baking soda, white vinegar, and some rags. I use the baking soda & vinegar for making my cleaners, but I also like to have them around for tough jobs like cleaning the tub.

I do still have a few less natural items like magic erasers and dawn dish soap tucked away for when I really need them.

 And when I'm not cleaning (which, let's face it, is most of the time) I keep all my cleaners safely tucked away up in the coat closet in the green tub.

 For cleaning our dishes I've been using Seventh Generation dish soap and dishwasher detergent. The dish soap has been working wonderfully! I don't think I'll ever go back. The dishwasher detergent hasn't been as thrilling in its results, but it's doing enough for now. I'm thinking I may look up recipes to try something homemade instead....

If you want more cleaning tips and tricks, you can check out my Health & Home board on Pinterest. And if you're wondering what Baby B and N do while I'm cleaning, here are a couple pics I snapped out the window....

Do you have a favorite natural cleaner? Ever made your own?