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!

Layered Window Treatment in the Living Room

After a couple years of no privacy in the living room, I finally installed blinds.  No more dashing by the window in my PJs at night or feeling self-conscious that I was being “watched” while lying on the sofa to read at night.  Now I can just pull down the shades and viola, nekkid dancing in the living room time anytime I want… Just kidding :).   I don’t dance.

The reason why it took so long to install blinds is that I didn’t want to shell out another $6oo for blinds like we did in the office.  The office bay window is the same exact size as the living room window and I paid waaaaay too much for the office blinds at Home Depot.  Well, when I was shopping for blinds for Sofia’s room, I came across some at J.C. Penney that were exactly what I was looking for at an awesome price.


Here is what the living room window looked before the blinds:



 (Don’t mind the lack of curtain on the right.  The dry cleaners washed it in water instead of dry cleaning it, ruined it, and are paying for another.  I’m just waiting for it to come in.)


And here’s the after:







Yay, privacy!

Sofia’s Room, Progress!

Check ya later beige!  That’s basically what I was chanting for the 20 hours it took to paint Sofia’s room.  That’s right, I said 20 hours…  “Wow, your daughter’s room must be enormous!” you ask.  No… really, really it’s not, but I decided to stencil chevron stripes on an accent wall and it took FOREVER!  But, if I had to do it all over again, I would because I love it, and more importantly, Sofia loves it!

Sofia, being the 12-year-old she is, had set ideas on some of the things she wanted in her room (GREEN AND PURPLE STRIPES and NO pink), but not so much on other things (no opinion on artwork, bedding, etc.) and she told me that I could that figure out.  Yea!  Pretty much free rein on what I could do.

Here are the before and after pics of her room:


Sofia's Room Before

Sofia After on bottom



Her room’s actually bigger than the picture conveys…  She’s got a queen sized bed in there with plenty of room to spare.


I went with green and purple as the main colors with orange accents.  The bookcase went from an oak color to purple and the walls are painted Horizon Gray by Benjamin Moore in satin sheen since Sofia is hard on her walls.   Here’s a close up of the accent wall:







I used a base coat of purple then added Martha Stewart’s purple glitter paint on top to give it some shine.  Sofia said she wanted green and purple stripes and I knew that alternating those colors would look too busy, so instead I did an ombre look with light green stripes at the top then medium green stripes in the middle and dark green stripes at the bottom with one accent purple stripe with a little glitter near the very bottom.


The bedspread is from Wake Up Frankie and I think it goes great with the wall.  I added a two orange pillows that I got from Marshall’s and want to sew a couple of puggle puppy appliqués (as soon as I find out how to do that, thank you You Tube!).  The orange ties into the rug I got from Urban Outfitters that I got for a steal for $20!   The curtains are also from Urban Outfitters and they tie into the gray walls without overwhelming.  I also installed some black-out blinds behind the curtains since my girl likes to sleep!  She’s growing :).


Here are a few more pics from different angles in her room:













And here’s Sofia enjoying her favorite activity!




I still have a few more prints to frame and hang above Sofia’s bed as well as a mirror that I need to find hopefully at a thrift store to mount above her dresser (hence the lack of pics of the other, undone side of her room).


I’m aiming to finish her room in one more week, then it’s off to the next project…  re-screening the covered porch for Thomas for Father’s Day.  It’s been wanting me to do that for a while so I just have to figure out how, but that’s the story of my DIYing 🙂




Pantry Challenge

I wanted to paint and organize my pantry and when I took a peek inside to decide on a paint color, I saw that holy crap (!), there’s a lot of stuff in there that I bought a while ago that has been forgotten.  Dried figs, a giant bag of sesame seeds, half a box of barley, various half bags of dried fruit, and the list goes on.  So, this vegetarian family is going on a “Pantry Challenge.”  There’s been lots of blog posts written on pantry challenges, but the basic premise is to use the food in your cupboards, in your pantry, and in your freezer first before heading to the grocery store to purchase food.  If your house is like mine, you could live off of the stuff in your pantry for a couple months without having to spend money at the grocery store, but I’ve just been too lazy to use the more “exotic” items and they’ve been sitting there staring at me.  The goal of the challenge is not to eat tasteless garbage food but it’s to save some cash by not going to the store (hold out as long as possible!) and to come up with some creative recipes that you wouldn’t normally think of to make.


If you’re going to do a pantry challenge, you’ve got to fit it to your lifestyle so that’s what we’re doing.  We’re vegetarian (me and the kids, and mostly my husband) so we NEED our fruits and veggies every week and because of that, I have to buy those weekly.  I’m also going to buy necessities (soymilk=necessity, brownies=not so much!) but everything else that we eat will come from what we already have in the house.


Some people who do this like to take an inventory of what they’ve got in the pantry that needs to be used.  I am not that organized!  I just pull out a few things that I could make a menu around and put them on the counter and stare at them until inspiration comes (or I just plug in the ingredients into  For example, I really wanted to get rid of a half a box of barley and some mushrooms that I had no plans for and that were on the downslide so mushroom barley soup is what we’re having tomorrow for dinner.  I haven’t made that in a long time and it’s tasty and easy to make.  My kind of dinner!


I will try to post the recipes that turned out the best.  I’m busy and also a lazy cook so the recipes will be easy and quick!  I always work off of a base recipe that I find in a cookbook or online, but I modify it to maximize the amount of stuff I can use in my pantry.


First recipe of the challenge:




Super Easy Mushroom Barley Soup


1 cup barley (I used quick cooking barley but you could use slow cooking too)

6 cups veggie broth

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 carrot, thinly sliced

2 (10 ounce) packages sliced mushrooms

2 cups of any veggies that are about to go bad! (I did half a green

pepper, parsley, some thinly cut spinach, and a few diced squash)

1 cup of sherry or white wine

Salt and pepper to taste


1.  Heat olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat, stir in the onions, carrots, and the rest of the veggies MINUS the mushrooms; cook and stir until the veggies have softened and turned translucent, about 10 minutes. Stir in mushrooms and cook 5 minutes more.

2.    Pour in sherry or white wine and cook for a couple more minutes.

3.    Pour in the veggie broth, and bring soup to a boil over medium-high heat, then stir in the barley and continue simmering until the barley is soft.  Season with salt and pepper before serving.


I’m serving this with the three half eaten boxes of crackers that I found in the pantry.  With this recipe, I got rid of the mushrooms, the half box of barley, the veggies that I had in the fridge that were half eaten/used, and a few half eaten boxes of crackers.  Not bad for one recipe!


My goal after a month is to save some cash and to have a more minimized pantry so that when I do paint and organize, I’m not throwing away a bunch of perfectly good food to make room for my OCD organization!


Here is my pantry before the challenge:





It’s almost too embarrassing to post!  But, there it is in all its messy glory.  I’m really hoping that by the end of this challenge, it’s much more minimized and organized!

Knock-off Designer Living Room: Layers

When we moved into our house from the townhouse, I realized that there were a few extra rooms that we were gaining that I didn’t have in the townhouse.  A formal living room was one.  So, I started buying a few pieces here and there and storing it in the townhouse.  There wasn’t a lot of room in the townhouse to begin with so you can imagine I was looking forward to moving ASAP to get the extra furniture in their proper rooms and out of our way (there were a lot of bruised hips and toes for a couple months).  Our formal living room is one of the first rooms I started designing in my head, and buying a few pieces for, even before moving.


I wanted to have an eclectic living room and I really liked the below living room designed by Elaine Griffin published in Better Homes and Gardens:

Living Room Inspiration

Using my inspiration photo I came up with this living room arrangement, which seeing them side by side, I realize that they are very different, but I think the flavor is similar.  I’d like to take down the wallpaper that came with the house and paint the walls either a soft blue or soft green.


I used a lot of layering in this arrangement mirrors, stool, chair, side table.  Everything is layered.  I think that’s important when you have a small room that is essentially just a rectangle with no real architectural features except for the bay window.


The piano occupies the other side of the living room.


Side couch view


Close up of the side of couch


Coffee table objects


Pics of the kids above the piano (I still have to put a photo into the gold frame)


And finally the teal dresser that the website is named after!

     There’s a space next to the piano that I need to fill with a comfy chair, but I haven’t seen one that I like for the right price.  In addition to tearing down the wallpaper and painting, I’d also love to replace the carpet with hardwoods and find a beautiful area rug to add even more color.

     Creating this room was a lot cheaper than the designer room that I based the room off of.  The teal dresser was a free piece of furniture that a friend was going to throw away.  It was sort of an eyesore since it was old (it belonged to her grandfather) and it was dusty, but it was well built so I asked her to have it and a few coats of paint later, it was fit for the living room.

     Most of the knick-knacks were from Target, Pottery Barn or West Elm (when I had a coupon), or Michaels with a coupon (the vases on the teal dresser) so I saved money there.  I got the two light blue chairs with a Groupon for a furniture store in my area and the mirrors were either from Home Goods (the large brownish mirror) or from my childhood (the gold mirror).  The end tables and little bee stool near the mirrors were from Ballard Designs (it was one of their “Bring Home Ballard” deals).

     Curtains were from Pottery Barn (again on sale).  The only truly costly items were the couch (Ethan Allan) because I wanted it to last a long time and I knew it could withstand the stomp of our family since it was in the “formal” living room which is used a whole lot less than the family room.  The piano also cost a boatload but my kids all take piano lessons weekly and Sofia has a “gift for piano” (her instructor’s words, not mine… I don’t know diddly squat about playing piano) so I wanted them to have a nice instrument that they could grow with.  Our first piano I got from Salvation Army for $100 because I didn’t know if the kids would be interested enough to stick with piano but then we upgraded when I saw the motivation kick in.  So, oddly enough, our current piano is actually the most expensive piece of furniture in the house which doesn’t say a lot!  Good luck truckin’ off with that robbers!

     Still working on what color to paint Sofia’s room.  She’s thinking green and purple.  I’m thinking not… but it’s her room.  We’re off to look at paint samples after school today and hopefully it will be painted in the next few days.

Beachy Bathroom on a Budget

In the spirit of making the house presentable without busting our budget, the kids’ bathroom is the first room to get a coin-friendly makeover.  The bathroom was not touched by the previous homeowners in 25 years so it was an outdated ’90s nightmare.  I hated going in there to occasionally clean it so, I made the kids’ clean it so I wouldn’t have to claim its existence.  Here are the befores:

DSC_0017Lowdown: Builder grade cabinet, yellowing sink and countertop, outdated hardware, cracked toilet (but it didn’t leak), beige stained walls, beige tub, beige tile, black grout, outdated fixtures, huge old mirror, dark shower curtain (I took it down so it’s not visible in pic), the list of atrocities goes on and on…

And here are the afters:


Better, right?


Another one




The vanity

It turned out so much nicer than I thought it would on a budget.  Initially, I wanted to gut the entire thing, but because I wanted to have some money for other rooms, here’s what I did instead:

Painted the walls Palladian Blue by BM            $25

Painted the vanity Stratton Blue by BM         $15

Painted the ceiling white by Behr                        Leftover so FREE

Changed the hardware on the vanity             $12

Scrubbed the crap out of the grout                  FREE

Sealed the grout using grout sealer                  $5

Put up artwork (Target and Home Goods)    $50

Shower curtain                                                               $50

Towel Hooks (Target)                                                  $23

New bath mat (Target)                                               $20

Hamper (Bed, Bath, and Beyond)                        $24

New soap dispenser                                                     $10

New outlet and light switch                                       $20

Grand Total                                                        $254

Now for the deats:  I wanted a beach theme for the bathroom but not the “hit you over the head” kind of theme; I wanted subtlety.  I also wanted the bathroom to be coral and blue/green with hints of tan but I wasn’t sure which colors would be the leads and which would play supporting roles.  Then I saw these ombre, coral curtain panels at Target and I had my color scheme: walls-blue/green; shower curtain- coral; accessories- tan.  So beachy, right?

The window curtains went from this:


to this:


with a little sewing.  I just bought two curtain panels and sewed them together the same width as the old shower curtain then I shortened the curtain again using the old shower curtain as a template and presto!: a new ombre shower curtain.  Because it’s not made from typical shower curtain material, I Scotchgarded the crap out of it so that it’s more washable.  I’m also hoping that the steam from the kids’ shower will pull out the wrinkles in the curtain, because I wasn’t about to iron it!

     I painted the walls Palladian Blue because that to me is a perfect blue/green bathroom color and because my sister recommended it and she’s got a great eye for wall color.  Thanks Nancy :).  I also painted the vanity a couple shades darker than the walls because initially I painted it white but it clashed with the countertop which is staying (for now).  The vanity is Stratton Blue and it looks great against the wall color.  I also put on new handles that I got at Lowe’s.  It really classed up the vanity.  The ceiling also went from beige to bright white.  It’s amazing how much more open and bigger a space looks with a fresh coat of bright white on the ceiling.


Now the not-so-fun part:  I spent three hours scrubbing the dingy grout with bleach gel from Clorox and by the time I was done, I ruined a pair of pants, and couldn’t smell anything but bleach for hours… but, the grout went from this:


to this:


It was a huge difference!  After all that scrubbing, I didn’t want the grout to turn grimy again in a few weeks, so I applied grout sealer.  Hopefully, the grout will stay white…

     Back to the fun part: Artwork and accessories.  I got the coral prints from Home Goods and was so happy that they were coral and tan, my accent colors (that was just luck as is most finds at Home Goods!).  The towel hooks under the artwork is from Target.  There was a traditional towel bar initially hanging, but it could only fit two towels.  The new towel hook can fit 5 towels which is so much better since three kids are sharing this bathroom.   DSC_0013

On the other side of the bathroom, I hung some shell artwork from Target which also had tan in it (the burlap mat) so it tied in perfectly.


A tan bathroom mat from Target rounded out the accessories.  BTW, the mat was so soft and plush that my son took a nap on it in the bathroom.  Should have snapped a pic of that one… darn.

     Overall, I’m so happy with how the bathroom turned out especially for the money I spent.  I think it’s definitely presentable now and phase 2 will be a while off yet but here are the to-be done additions:

  • New vanity (I LOVE how this one turned out, but there’s still not enough storage for three kids, so it eventually has to go…)
  • New floor (Even with the shiny, white grout, the floor is still outdated so I’d love to install marble tiles eventually)
  • New tub (white please!)
  • New tile in shower (marble subway tile would be perfect)
  • New toilet (even though ours is cracked, it doesn’t leak so it’s staying for now)
  • Scaled down mirror
  • Shelves over the toilet for more storage

That list is easily another $1K which is why it’s a list and not reality!  On to making the next room presentable!!!


Let There be Light!

The chandelier in the foyer is gone and in it’s place is some serious bling!  But, as usual, there were some mis-steps on my part before arriving to the final light fixture.  Here was what was originally in the foyer:


It’s the Belora Chandelier from Pottery Barn and I loved it when I got it but I’m an idiot and didn’t take into account that our ceilings are low, so it ended up hitting anyone in the head who was over 5’9″.  Luckily, my family consists of short people, but when “normal” people came over, we always had to warn them to watch their head.  And in the case of the kids’ piano teacher who comes once a week and who is tall, he hit his head on the thing just about every week even with the warning!

It was also too wide and when we opened the front door, the door banged into the light.  About half the time, the really heavy crystal balls would fall off when that happened and either land on the ground (“whew”) or land on someone’s head (“sorry….”).  What a way to welcome guests into your home, right!  “DUCK and try not to break our chandelier!”


See the heavy, concussion-causing, crystal balls?!

So, I knew that I needed something that was either flush against the ceiling since the ceilings are low, or maybe semi-flush if it didn’t hang down too low.  I went to Lamps Plus online and found a light that I thought might’ve worked, but as my husband ALWAYS points out, I’m really good at getting things right the second time around.  So here’s what didn’t work:


It was super easy to install but I didn’t like it because it didn’t go with the “theme” of the foyer… It was too modern whereas, the foyer, and really the whole house except for my husband’s traditional office, is eclectic.  It was a nice fixture and I liked it but I just didn’t like it in MY house.

I went back to Lamps Plus because their selection is huge , their prices are reasonable, and I knew I’d find something else when I came across this light for about $300:

Chandelier in foyer


It was love at first sight!  It’s a little fancy because of the crystals but it’s also eclectic because of the “cage” around the crystals.  After a quick 20 minute installation, viola!



See how well it goes with the dentil detail in the crown molding?   And, I love how I can see the light from the two mirrors in the living room.  It also puts out major wattage since the bulbs that came with it are halogen so when it’s turned on, the entire foyer is bright, bright, bright!



This is a picture of it looking up which I did a lot the first night I installed it because it was mesmerizing!  Also, when the light’s on, it makes a pattern on the ceiling that is an extra little plus:



Now everyone’s happy, my piano teacher with the soon-to-be lump free head, the kids because they love the pattern the light makes, my husband because of the price, and me because it really is a beautiful light!