This Little Light of Mine

There are a lot of things I adore, among them thrifting, crafting, finding good lighting….and when theses things converge I am ecstatic.  Like, “let’s share it with the world via this blog!” ecstatic.

Since the former occupants of the house we bought down the street ripped out all the light fixtures along with leaving plentiful axe marks throughout, I needed lights.  Builder grade just doesn’t excite me hence my search for unique lighting that doesn’t break the bank (I’m thrifty. Don’t judge.).  For a quick sneak peak here’s the house (notice the plywood where panes of glass should be; also victims of the axe):

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I already purchased this light for the dining room from National Furniture Supply:

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The light I bought today from Salvation Army set me back $45.  Yay!

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I decided to experiment with refacing the white candle sleeves with paper from Hobby Lobby.  This set me back about $.75.  Compare that with ones you get from a company like Kaarskoker that, at their least expensive, still run $4 a sleeve. While beautiful, making your own is still the best bet in my opinion.

I selected a wood plank look paper simple because it was neutral and I was indecisive in the store.  The good news is that they can always be recovered should I want to change the look.

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I meaured my strips using a sleeve as my guide.  I cut my strips then cut them again so each piece would just overlap around the sleeve itself. Using spray adhesive, I sprayed each sheet individually  let it sit for ~15 seconds, then wrapped the sleeves. I was done with all six in less than 10 minutes.

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And the end result?  Let’s just say I think it will look rather fantastic hanging in the living room.

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Going Blonde

Confession: I have had a multi-year love affair with… chalk paint.  Earth shattering I know, but luckily nothing that makes my husband too jealous (wink, wink).  Lately, however, I have found myself looking for something that isn’t the hussy that chalk paint is. I mean it’s everywhere!  I knew it was easy which is why I was drawn to it.  No sanding or priming necessary?  Yes, please.

Perhaps I have evolved or am simply bored, but my new obsession is pickling, aka white washing.  I love the beach you look it provides and the fact it preserves the wood grain look.  Here’s a few examples in the virtual universe that I adore:

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Photo Credit Perfectly Imperfect

I’d love a set of these handsome chairs from Safavieh at my dining table:

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Photo Credit Safavieh

I have a side table I was given my my MIL that I would love to pickle/ white wash.  I didn’t want to mess it up since it was her mother’s so I thought- I need to practice first! This is a new concept for me since normally I dive right in head first, but call it maturity or learning from past mistakes- I decided to try my hand first before I refinished the table.

I picked an old dresser that 1) I had rescued from a trash pile and 2) had been repainted in Annie Sloan chalk paint by yours truly.  Since hindsight is 20/20, I of course forget to take a photo of the piece before I sanded it.  Here it is:

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I used a toothbrush and goof off stain/paint remover to get the paint out of the grooves and edges. Since it was chalk paint it came off relatively easy. I would have used the remover on the who,e piece, but there a lot of divets, scratches, and imperfections that really deserved a good sanding so the final product looked more refined.  For the actual pickling, I used minwax because I am confident in the brand.

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Directions say to use a synthetic bristle brush and to not leave the stain on longer than 3 minutes before wiping it off. Perhaps because it was a hot day, I found I needed to wipe the stain off in less than a minute to achieve the look I wanted and before it got too sticky to wipe off. I also worked in small areas so I could apply evenly and wipe off quickly.

This first pass on the top required a subsequent resanding and do over.   My second attempt worked on half the top at a time (to give you an idea of how big an area you need to work at a time). In parts I reapplied to deepen the saturation of the grain and achieve a lighter look.

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The end result has made me ponder abandoning chalk paint altogether.  It looks fantastic, was relatively easy to apply once I got the hang of it, and brightened the corner its nestled in for the moment.  Three cheers for trying something new!

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Porch Delight

It’s becoming a running theme that by day’s end I am plum exhausted.  As the Lord is  my witness, I don’t do much sitting during waking hours.  Come evening, however, I love to sit on the front porch swing and watch the fireflies come out at dusk.  Except my front porch looked like this:

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Cue Debbie Downer.  Instead of relaxing and letting my mind drift, I was cringing at the need to mend/sand/ paint everything.  After one evening too many looking at my decrepit stoop, I got to work. First order of business was replacing rotten boards on the floor. Not the most glamorous work, but a necessity.  After a good sanding, it was ready for paint.  The good folks at Lowe’s recommended Valspar’s Porch, Floor, and Patio paint.

While pouring it out in my tray I was skeptical about coverage since it was so thin.  Thank goodness I was wrong and it covered like a champ!

Time lapse through the other steps: paint ceiling, reprint front facade, spray paint swing from black to red, stencil outdoor rug salvaged from a trash like, put everything back and- wahlah!  A much nicer place to enjoy a breezy evening.  All in a  day’s work!

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Next in ongoing remodeling is having the columns re-stuccoed.  The old stucco was chunking off; I helped it along with my trusty sledgehammer.  In a few weeks time, our front porch is going to be looking sharp as a tack ( and I will be more than happy to celebrate with a cold glass of Sauvignon Blanc while perched atop my rosy swing!). Cheers ya’ll!

All In a Day’s Work

Folks, fixing up two houses is no joke.   While I absolutely love doing endless house projects- and I say that with only the slightest amount of sarcasm- it can get overwhelming. Particularly when it is summer and your three offspring are clamoring for things to do.  Part of me has considered locking them outside until dark, leaving occasional lunch, snacks, and beverages for their sustenance on the porch.  The other part of me feels guilty and wants to be super mom, providing them the most awesome summer experience ever.  Solution?  Compromise.  Mommy does a project each morning on the house while they play and amuse themselves.  After lunch we go to the pool or some other fun destination.  In the end we are both happy.

So testimonial aside- can I get an Amen?- let’s look at the randomness that has become my projects lately.  Repaint garage? Check.  Repair and repaint back deck?  Check.  Repaint and caulk porch ceiling? Check.  Begin repainting exterior of house? Started.  Hence my neglect in posting lately is completely justified.

Let’s start with the garage.  It had to be pressure washed first due to all the algae build-up on the sunless side.  And painting textured stucco?  Not fun.  My arms received quite the workout trying to force paint in all the nooks and crannies.  Since I didn’t have the original paint color for the house or garage I color matched it to Valspar’s “Autumn Fog” in an exterior flat.  I also used a special roller pad made for stucco.  It’s thick pile soaked up a lot of paint but was quite useful in applying paint to the texture. Behold, before and after.

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On to the next project: painting the deck.  There were several boards that had exceeded their life expectancy and they were duly replaced.  Everything was pressure washed and coated with my new favorite product for weather wood: Rustoleum’s 10x Advanced Resurfacer.  It was absolutely impressive in filling in the cracks.  My only complaints are that it has to be applied thickly and hence doesn’t cover a lot of area.  Two gallons was enough to complete my ~16″ by 16″ deck.

Word of advice:  Shake up the cans really well!  The sand (?) tends to sink to the bottom and as you near the end of the can it gets too thick to apply properly.  Here is the before and after:

I also did a number on my knee with this project.  Another word of advice:  use knee pads!  I unfortunately learned this lesson the hard way.  The good news is that I heal quickly!

Okay onto the next ongoing project: the front porch.  This area is/was pretty rough.  Seeing as how its the first impression of our home I was anxious to improve its curb appeal.  While you will have to wait to see some after shots here’s one that demonstrates how discolored the front facade had become:

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The paint on the left side is the same as used on the garage.  The right side…I’m just not sure how became so dingy (and this is post pressure washing!).   Pollution?  Cheap paint? It remains a mystery…as does the completion of this particular project.  Fingers crossed I continue to stay productive and knocking out my to-do list on this house so I can begin work on the other property.  A girl’s work is never done!

Head in the Clouds

It’s a rainy, overcast day here in High Point.  On these days it can be a challenge to keep the kids occupied and off each other’s- and my- nerves.  Luckily, they have strong imagination skills and conjure adventures for themselves even stuck inside. The good news for me is that while they are busy building blanket forts, going on “official missions”, and otherwise strewing toys throughout the house, I can pull out my bin of acrylics and undertake a mission of my own.

For about a month, I have wanted to try my hand at clouds.  Being forced indoors due to the weather provided the opportunity I needed to tackle the formidable cumulonimbus- aka rain clouds.  I have since learned they are harder than they look.

For my “canvas” I used one of Aaron’s plywood scraps roughly measuring 4′ x 2.5′.  It’s a good size that felt good to tackle.

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First step was painting my sky background using a simple mix of Mars black, cobalt blue, and titanium white.

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Given that this is my first time attempting clouds I am trying to be lenient with myself for the end result.  Next time I plan to paint with a lighter hand for a more ethereal feel. This feels a little heavy and cartoonish if I am honest with myself! Good thing A is always working on some project that leave plenty of scrap to work with!

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Power Up

Today’s topic is all about snacking, but as simple as that subject is, I feel the unnecessary need to give lots of backstory. First, we snack a LOT.  My husband feels that the kids and I nosh continuously all day and he is most likely right.  We are constantly on the move and rarely make the opportunity to sit down for three square a day. In between breakfast and dinner we average 16 snacks a day between us.  Seriously.

My challenge is making sure that those snacks are relatively healthy but still kid approved.  I have done the whole Pinterest route and seen the marvelous snacks other moms make- making all manner of creatures using fruits, vegetables, peanut butter, pretzels, etc.  I mean, who comes up with this stuff?!  My reality is that taking ten or more minutes to create fantastical snacks 4-5 times days equates to almost an hour of time I don’t have to spare.

I found an awesome addition to our snacking repertoire the other day while relaxing   Lake side. Behold, an easy energy bar recipe from the free Canadian magazine, Food & Drink.

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This magazine is produce by the LCBO- Liquor Control Board of Ontario- and it is chock full of awesome recipes.  When a family friend brings down a stack each visit it’s like Christmas.  The energy bar recipe was in the Spring 2017 edition, was super easy to make and can be found here.

I dehyrdrated my own apples since  I had some on hand that were too mealy to be good eating.  I also added a mixed bag of nuts that included pistachios, almonds, and walnuts as opposed to just the pecans the recipe called for. I do declare that this is one of the few times that my attempt looks better than the recipe photo!

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My five years old daughter practically made these herself, they were so easy. The best part?  They are delicious, great on the go, and my kids love them.  A win all around!

Feeling Gray

Summer is hard work ya’ll.  Having to choose between the pool, lake house, or going to the beach makes a girl stress and…..I am being completely facetious.  I love summer and its heat, vegetable and fruit bounty, and glorious long days!  But does that stop me from getting projects done?  Of course not (even if I am slow to post about them).

Okay. So let’s get to one of my many ongoing projects at the moment.  Seriously.  I have at least four different ones going on simultaneously.  Today, however, we will take a gander at the downstairs bathroom.  I failed to get a true “before” photo of the ugly plastic tile board the previous owner had glued on the walls, but here is a section that is in much better shape than the rest of it.  Don’t let looks fool you…it does NOT look tile.  It’s clear from the second you walk in that it is plastic.

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My better half informed me that redoing the bathroom would have to wait, which I knew to be code word for “its not likely to happen in my lifetime”.   So I did what any reasonable person would do and ripped down a huge section, making it absolutely necessary that we would have to work on it sooner than later.  What can I say? What a girl wants a girl should get.

Since we are putting the house on the market soonand we have lots of other things to get done, we were not looking to undertake a full renovation.  We chose to go with a white subway tile for the bath surround (to be completed in the next few weeks by a professional- I have my limitations ya’ll)- and beadboard for the rest of the room.  Here’s the bead board up and ready for paint.

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I painted the beadboard “Passive” by Sherwin Williams in flat- a great neutral gray that pulls in light and makes most rooms look fantastic.  The top half I painted in “Dovetail”, also by SW and also in flat.  I painted the vanity using leftover Annie Sloan chalk paint in French Linen, polying it after two coats.  Last but not least I painted the small nook using the same Dovetail, repainted the trim white, spray painted the existing light fixture a matte dark gray, I stalled a new “throne”, and hung formal artwork (I call it formal due to the heavy gold frames) high so as to draw the eye upward and make the room feel bigger.

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No project is complete without some natural element in my book. In this case, I replaced the store bought towel ring next to the sink with a driftwood “hook”  I picked up on the shores of Lake Cumberland last summer.  It added a nice touch of interest to an otherwise ho-hum space.

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Whoo.  That was a lot and it’s not even done yet! Left to be completed is the tile work as mentioned earlier and the molding that will cap the beadboard, along with finish work like recaulking, etc. Considering the entire project has cost less than $300 so far, I would say that we made the right choice to go with beadboard- from both a cost and labor/time perspective.  When it’s officially “done” I will share more photos!