Quick Updates Over the Last Week

I’ve been looking for a full time job recently since working part time with my husband works in theory but no longer in reality anymore.  Some couples can work together, some can’t and we squarely fall into the latter category.  Too much togetherness can be a bad thing, like we sometimes want to kill each other.  So while I’m on the hunt, I’ve been crossing off as many house projects on my list as I can because I know that I won’t have nearly as much time later to get them done, especially since I’m now going from part time to full time employment.

So, every day I job hunt in the morning for a couple hours then hit the house project list.  Besides the projects that I posted last week, here are a few odds and ends that I’ve been working on:

I just replaced the light fixture in the laundry room hall about a month ago and didn’t like it at first but thought I’d live with it a while and maybe it’d grow on me.

Old LightWell it didn’t, so I replaced it with something that tied in with the breakfast area light better.  I just ordered the same light as the breakfast area except in a smaller sized flush mount version and I think it looks so much better.  I’ll put the replaced one in the basement since all the lights have to be replaced down there anyway.

Tuscan breakfast tableTuscan loves to photo bomb!!!

I also got rid o f the yellowed smoke detector and replaced it with a white smoke/COdetector that blends much more seamlessly with the white ceiling.  The yellow one stood out like a sore thumb and after spending all that time painting the ceiling and replacing the two light fixtures in the hall, I thought replacing the smoke detector just made sense.

Fire DetectorIt also makes me feel a bit safer to not have a 25 year old smoke detector that only detects smoke and not CO2.

New Hall Detector

And lastly, I finally matted and framed the print that I got from Etsy for my powder room.  The space definitely needed some color since it’s so neutral with all the white, brown, and blues.  Now, it’s a happier spot to uh, do your business 🙂 .


Print in BathroomI’m currently refinishing a table that I bought off of Craigslist and will be posting pics and a tutorial on that soon.


House Project List

All last night, I fought off a mystery gastro virus and got a whopping two hours of sleep.  Luckily, no one else in the family has it… yet.  Anyway, all that staring at the ceiling trying to hold down my dinner got me to thinking that I need a project list for the house to keep me more focused.  And because I still feel like someone took a whisk to my intestines 12 hours later (that’s a nice picture, huh 🙂 ), I figured now’s as good a time as any to bust out the list, so here we go:


Foyer Back

Foyer Little Table


  • Repaint the mirror at the back of the hallway from yellow to gold and hang above entryway table
  • Get artwork to hang at the back of the hall
  • Get lots of accessories to style the entryway table
  • Hang pictures going up the stairs
  • Install millwork?
  • Install a hanging pendant above the stairs since the ceiling goes up so high
  • Find a light fixture for the second light fixture in the foyer (the one behind our crystal beauty)
  • Paint ceiling white
  • Paint the back of the door black???


Office Wide

Leather Chair

Bar Cart

Not a thing, it’s done!

Powder Room:

Bathroom wide view

  • Get a print to put above the little glass shelf (already ordered!)
  • Tile up the wall with Carrera marble to make a half wall all around the room

Living Room:


  • Eventually get rid of the old wallpaper since it’s looking shabby in places
  • Install recessed lights
  • Paint ceiling white

Dining Room:

Dining Room

Dining Room Windows

  • Finally buy a dining room table and chairs!!! (that’s high up on the list!)
  • Eventually get rid of the old wallpaper since it’s looking shabby in places
  • Get some cool artwork to hang
  • Restain the buffet sitting in the garage and move that bad boy into the dining room where it belongs
  • Move the current buffet (which is actually a fish stand) to the covered porch or basement
  • Paint ceiling white
  • Get an area rug
  • Pick up the other curtain from the dry cleaner 🙂


Kitchen Wide Angle

  • Because we don’t know how long we’ll keep this house, we just planning on painting the existing cabinets that we have a white-ish color
  • Replace the rustic Italian back splash with something more modern
  • Replace the black oven and hood with a stainless steel one (those are  the only black appliances left)
  • Refit the “cleaning closet” next to the breakfast area with shelves so that it’s more functional
  • Replace blinds in breakfast area

Family Room:

Room Wide Angle

  • Paint the ceiling white
  • Expand the mural wall since our couch is so much wider now
  • Find a storage cocktail ottoman for in front of the couch
  • Get a new blind to replace the one on the left side of the TV (there just isn’t enough wall space for curtains unfortunately)
  • Get four baskets to go on the bottom two shelves of our bookshelf
  • Get a colorful throw for the chair and also some accessories for the gold and white box next to the chair


I told Thomas that this space was “his” so I’m not touching it!

Basement Bathroom:

Downstairs Bathroom

Downstairs shower

Everything needs to be done in here!

  • Rip out wallpaper and paint
  • Replace toilet
  • Replace vanity
  • Replace tile floor (I like the pattern of the tile but it’s a cream/almond color)
  • Replace the shower surround
  • Replace all fixtures

Master Bedroom:

Oh where to start…

  • Get a new mattress ASAP
  • Buy bedroom furniture to include an upholstered bed, side tables, and two dressers
  • Paint the walls
  • Find and hang cool art
  • Find and hang a mirror on the wall above the bed
  • Get rid of TV cabinet and tube TV and hang a flat screen
  • Make a small sitting area with two chairs and a little table in between
  • Get a storage bench for the foot of the bed
  • Get better storage for the walk in closet!

Master Bath:

Master Bath

Master Bath My portion

  • Paint the walls
  • Find and hang cool art
  • Minimize the greenhouse collection of plants!

Sofia’s Room:

Sofia's Room Wide Angle

Pennants 2

  • Paint top of her dresser with chalkboard paint since it’s got so many blemishes anyway

Trajan’s Room:

Trajan's Room Final

Trajan candy jar

  • Hang egg chair
  • Paint door and window frame semi-gloss white

Tuscan’s Room:


  • The little dude needs new bedroom furniture… his is falling apart!
  • Tuscan also needs to pick a theme for his room so that I can start decorating
  • Paint walls
  • Find and hang cool art
  • Minimize all his toys (or come up with a better storage solution)

Kids’ Bathroom:


  • Eventually replace the vanity
  • Eventually replace the mirror
  • Eventually replace the light fixture

Covered Porch:

  • Find and hang cool art
  • Donate old cabinet
  • Move buffet that’s currently in dining room to wall near door for more storage


  • Get a nice outdoor conversation area for the bottom level of the deck
  • Decorate with lots of potted flowers and plants


  • Install a fence!  After what happened to Butter, this needs to be done ASAP!
  • Mulch all the beds
  • Try to grow grass!
  • Build 2 compost bins (currently our compost is in open piles)
  • Rip out all the evergreens at back of property and replace with something more privacy inducing
  • Build window flower boxes for treehouse

Floors are Done (and now the work REALLY begins!)

We had new floors installed in the office, dining and living rooms, powder room, and foyer and it looks fabulous!  I couldn’t be more happy with the way they turned out.  We installed wood floors in our family room a few months ago and although I LOVE the look, every time I saw a scratch, I’d cringe, and if the scratch was bad, I’d throw a fit!  Especially since those darn floors cost a boatload!  So, when I looked at flooring this time around, I only looked at laminate flooring and nothing else.  I didn’t even want to peek at hardwood for fear of caving in and going with my nemesis again.  Luckily the extreme price difference between hardwood and laminate made the decision easy for me.


To pick out the floors, I went to a showroom that sells only to wholesalers since I knew that’d have a big selection.  I looked until I found “the one” then headed to the internet to get the best deal.  I found it on efloors.com for $2.69 a square foot (which was half of what the showroom as selling at “wholesale”).  #shiesters!


I also got a good deal on installation.  We’d normally tackle something like this on our own, but my husband was projected-out, so we hired installers.  I got quotes from three installers ranging from $6,000 (ouch!) to $2,000 which included the installation of the floors and baseboards as well as ripping out the sink in the powder room.  I called the second best quote and asked if they wanted to beat the best quote and did that back and forth until one guy said, “Lady, that’s the lowest I can go.  I can’t beat that other guy’s price!”  The “other guy” won the job and they were awesome to work with.  If you’re in the central Maryland area, they are PriceCo Floors out of Laurel.  They knocked out the job in one day with three guys working for about 12 hours.


Office Renovation


So now, I just have to paint all the baseboards and put the rooms back together again… and let me tell you, it’s a lot slower than it sounds!  I’m at the baseboard painting stage and my poor forearm on my painting arm is SORE!

Painting baseboards

Tip: If you have long hair, put your hair in a bun.  I ALWAYS get paint in my hair otherwise!

Shoot me now!

Third day of painting…

It’s coming along though.  So far the office is almost put back together:


Da Front

DSC_0024 2

Da Back

Another couple more days of painting then I’m done!

Making the Most of a Small Piece of Artwork

For my birthday, my mom got me a woodcarving of New Orleans from www.scoutmob.com, my new favorite store.  My husband and I met in New Orleans our first year of law school so the city has special meaning for us. When I got the piece though, it was waaaaay smaller than I thought it would be.  (P.S. If you email neighborhoods.com, they’ll make this in a bigger size for you, but I had already framed mine up before knowing this.)

DSC_0003 2

The size is 11.5 x 9 inches.  Hand to piece ratio = not good!


Although I still liked it a lot, it was too small for the wall that I wanted it to go so I racked my brain to come up with a way to make the piece seem bigger while still showcasing it.  A frame with a big ol’ mat wouldn’t work because you’d be focused on the dead space (mat) around the wood carving instead of the actual wood carving.  And then I thought, duh!, a shadow box would do the trick and it did (with some modifications).  Here’s what I came up with:




Even though this is a shadow box where typically items are supposed to lie inside the depths of the box, I propped up the woodcarving to have it lie really close to the glass so that you could see the detail of the carving.  I did that by taking a couple small canvases and gluing them together using spray adhesive and then I glued them to the back of the box.




I used double-sided foam squares to stick the piece to the glued canvases since I didn’t want to damage the wood carving by using glue and viola, the carving stood out from the black background of the shadow box so that you could see the carvings.



Sorry about the terrible reflection but this is where the carving now lives and the size is perfect for the space.

Here’s one more with the wood carving in the background:


Now, on to replacing those almond colored blinds and painting the kitchen cabinets, but one thing at a time!

Pin Art Welcome Sign

I needed some cheap art after just spending on ton on new flooring (more on that soon)…  So, I stalked Pinterest and found some really awesome pin and string art.  Here are some that I really liked:



From: http://greylustergirl.com

relax and unwind

From: http://www.mesewcrazy.com


From: www.mrkate.com

Here is my version with instructions and tips below although, I have to admit that it did not turn out as well as I hoped, but after doing it, I know what mistakes to avoid!  Spoiler: Don’t use patterned fabric!!!

Welcome Sign with arrows

Okay, first gather all your supplies which would be:

  • White Foam Board
  • Fabric (I would use a nice, neutral, fabric with no print!)
  • Spray Adhesive
  • Map pins
  • Gold Spray paint (or whatever color you want your pins to be)
  • Crochet Thread
  • Ruler
  • Copy paper (or if you want to make your life easier, use tracing paper)


Next, figure out what you want your sign to say or what image you want.  I did a google image search for “Welcome,” found one that I liked, then made it BIG on my computer screen and traced it on paper:




This is the sign that I used as a template.


I used Picasa to copy it and then blow it up so that I could trace it off my monitor.  I’m sure there are easier ways to do this, but this worked best for me.

When you have your template, lay it on the foam board where you want it and if you need to, cut your foam board the size you need.  I wanted even spacing all around the image and used a razor blade to cut the excess off the board.

Then, cut your fabric to fit over the board with about a two inch overhang on all sides.  Spray your board with spray adhesive, then carefully smooth your fabric over the board being careful to get out all creases.  Spray the back of the board, then tuck the ends of the fabric under being careful to pull the corners fairly tight.  Okay, because I used a patterned fabric, it was a pain in the rear to get the fabric to line up straight, but if you’re using a plain fabric, you shouldn’t have this problem.

You should also spray paint your map pins if want them to be a different color.  Mine were multicolored and I wanted them to all be gold so I pinned them on the leftover board piece that I cut off and started spraying.


Okay, so now you should have a board with your fabric covering it and spray painted pins.  Place your image on the board then start pinning away.


  • When you’re done pinning the outline of the image, carefully tear away the paper.  Here is where tracing paper comes in handy because it’s thin so it’s easier to tear away.  I used regular copy paper and it was a bugger trying to tear it away.  You also need to pin all around the frame so that your thread goes from the image to the outside of the board.
  • Next, tie the string to one of the pins and start threading the string from the image pins to the outside pins.  There is no right or wrong way to do this.  I kept telling myself that this is pin art, not fine art!  I found it helpful to outline the image in my string first so that it stood out more (e.g. take the string and wind it around all the pins in the image).
  • When you’re done, tie it off on a pin and sit back and admire!
  • Okay, so if it isn’t completely obvious, the reason why I thought it was a bad move on my part to use patterned fabric is because it makes it harder to see the outlined “Welcome.”  In hindsight, I would’ve used a plain fabric and a multicolored crochet fabric, but sera sera, I still like my little project.  I hung it on the wall right next to the garage door so that when our good friends come in through the garage door (as they often do :)), they see the sign.  That’s also the door that we normally use, so we get to see it a lot.
  • FYI: Total cost for the project was about $15.  Not bad!

Chalkboard Message Board

I am a website moron.  I built this website about a year ago and had no idea how to do graphics, but I just learned last week, so yea!, and here’s a very informative graphic that will tell you all you want to know about this post (pretend you haven’t read the title):


I used the Rhonna Designs app on my phone then emailed the graphic to myself so that I could post it.  You can get the app from the App Store.  There are lots of ways to use it and Shelley of House of Smiths has some amazing shots she took and dolled up with the app.  I’d like to find something that I can use directly on my Mac, but like a said, I’m a novice…

Okay, back to my little project.  I am a pretty laid back person and don’t like to be too scheduled (hence the lack of postings lately, ha!).  But, my kids are getting older and doing their own things, like starting a lawn service (Trajan), making more and more friends at her new school (Sofia), and planning his own playdates (Tuscan).  My old system consisted of writing down phone messages for the kids on scrap paper then taping them to the wall in the kitchen.  Messy, messy!

So, I decided to harness my inner type A personality (I had to dig deep people), and make a message board.  Luckily, the project involved lots of paint, so it was right up my alley.  First, I took a trip to Goodwill and found a framed picture that I could re-purpose:


Please ignore the fact that the frame is not fully in the pic… My husband thought it would be more important to have me in the pic than the project I am working on!  I picked this beauty because it was fairly cheap ($20), it was big, and the drawing of the urn was posted on a piece of raised foam board and I thought having some dimension to the message board would be good.

Now came the not-so-fun part…  I wasn’t too sure what color I wanted for the frame and I though that white would be perfect until I painted the entire frame with 3 coats and then decided that the color wasn’t right.  I did the same thing with coral, blue, cream, and yellow.  Sigh.  Nothing looked good until I painted the frame yellow and sanded the frame lightly to expose the other thousand colors underneath.


See the different colors peeking through?


When I finished painting the frame, I painted the inside with black chalkboard paint.  I used a foam roller instead of spray paint just because I didn’t want to tape my newly painted frame and risk the paint peeling off.  Here is the finished product:


Yes, we need vitamins and it’s a happy Wednesday!  It was an easy project and fairly low-budget especially since I posted on Freecycle that I wanted some chalkboard paint and someone came through with some from a project she just finished.  So, the grand total was about $30 for the frame and the couple cans of spray paint I bought that I didn’t already have.  Now I can write the kids notes and feel like I’m much more organized than I really am!

Gold Animal Head (and rear) Artwork

A couple days ago, I posted a mood board with Sofia’s new room design and I included this animal menagerie that I thought was so appropriate for my cutie-pie! animals

I got on that on this weekend and here is my version (with instructions):


And here’s a close up:


After searching, I couldn’t find a site that gave instructions on how to do this, so you’re in luck because, after doing it myself, here they are!

1.  Gather supplies:  frame with 8×10 opening (I got mine from Michael’s)

                                          plastic animals (also from Michael’s)

                                          gold spray paint

                                          white poster board

                                          sharp scissors

                                          superglue or Gorilla glue

2.  First, cut the poster board to the size of the frame opening.  The poster board should go all the way to the inside edges of the frame since it will provide the most support for the animals.

3.  Put the frame together the following way: mat, then poster board, then glass, then back of frame.  You want the glass in the frame but not showing to give even more support since the animals can be heavy.  It should look like:


4.  Cut the animals in half.  Okay, I am a big idiot and at first I broke out my power tools.  BIG FAIL!  Then I used my noggin and thought, hello, the animals are plastic, if I could just melt them a little, I could cut them with scissors, so that’s what I did.  Put each animal in the microwave for about 15 seconds at time.  After a few animals, I learned that 25 seconds was perfect for my animals but yours may be smaller or larger so play with the time a little.  The animals should be WARM but not mushy.  You just want the plastic to be soft enough to cut with scissors with moderate force.  If you can easily cut them, they’re too hot and you could deform them when you cut!

Here’s what an animal does when left in the microwave for too long: DSC_0055

No, that dog did not come with a weiner…. That is a melted dog leg.  Sadly, I had to throw Fido away since he was so deformed.

5.  As you cut each one, check to make sure it’s level by putting the cut side on a flat surface.  If it’s lopsided, then just take your scissors and snip away the uneveness.  If needed, warm up the animal a little to cut (I didn’t have to but you may).

6.  Spray paint all the animals.  I did one coat on each side.  I found that if you spray paint the animals in the sun, they dry super quick.  After about 15 minutes, they were completely dry.


7.  Arrange all the animals the way you eventually want them in your frame.  I did face first then butt next for all of them.  Make sure the spacing is even for all of them.  I had a tendency at first to have the head and butt of one animal close together then put a larger gap in between the next set of animal parts, but that looked bad.  Even spacing is key to have the “art piece” look right.

8.  When you’re satisfied with the spacing, put a thin layer of glue on the cut sides then push them gently onto the poster board.  Don’t use too much glue or it will seep around the animal and cause a shadow.

9.  Admire your work of art!

After I was done, I liked the piece so much that I’m thinking of doing one for the family room to put behind our arm chair or to put in the foyer.  It was also an easy project (don’t let all the steps scare you, I was just thorough!).