Oct 25, 2014

DIY lego vader & leia halloween costumes

Sorry I haven't been around lately. Had my tonsils out last Friday and I spent the week before that getting things organized in case I was out of it for a couple weeks. Good news though, it's been a week and I feel pretty much back to normal. Just have some soreness in my throat (duh) that I imagine will linger for a couple more weeks.

One of the projects I wanted to finish up before surgery was the kids' Halloween costumes. Last year I was pretty lame (ghost and a princess) so I wanted to do something fun for them this year.  I found this tutorial on Pinterest (click picture for link).

Her instructions are great and the supplies cost me about $25. Emily wanted to be a "lego princess girl" and I managed to convince her to be Princess Leia even though she has no idea who that is. I wish I had taken pictures of how I made them but I was in a rush to get them done before the surgery. Feel free to ask questions if you want to know more!

I finished up painting the boxes and doing the detail work yesterday. It took me about 8 hours to do both costumes not including Leia's hair. The yarn hair gave me so much trouble! I really wanted to do the buns but couldn't figure out how to make the hair coming down on each side gather and lay flat enough to hot glue yarn covered foam buns on top. I would have had to hot glue every strand of hair and for something she is going to wear once I wasn't going to invest that kind of time.

Still have to take a trip to the goodwill for some black sweats to go under Vader's costume. Actually, scratch that - - Vader can have navy sweats. And black hi-tops with red laces. Bless you Halloween darkness.

I love how they turned out!

Carson is seriously in character here. See that clenched fist? He's also making excellent heavy mechanical-faux-breathing sounds and light saber effects (mom didn't spring for the sound and light version)

Darth Vader's lego head is staying in place really well because I used matte black acrylic paint for the body and it has enough grip to keep the head from sliding around. I think I need to hot glue Leia's lego head to her lego body because Emily was struggling a little bit keeping that huge head from moving around. Just noticed she is puckering her lips for this picture above. Adorable.

You making any costumes this year? Happy crafting!

Oct 7, 2014


I have to say I love blank walls.  In other people's homes.  A wall that is blank or has just one fabulous focal point is so clean and fresh feeling. Sadly, I've never been able to recreate that feeling in my own home.  I see a blank wall and I hear it crying out for me to cover it up. We've had 3 homes in our 10 years so there's been quite a few blank walls for me to mangle. I'm always up to the challenge.

After our most recent move I told myself I would hold back a bit. Try to keep my walls feeling less cluttered. Sigh. I've filled up quite a few walls and quite a few pinterest boards with ideas for the empty ones. Might be time to give up on that understated modern look I love elsewhere.

When it comes to filling large expanses of wall I'm always looking for inexpensive and creative ideas. We aren't at a point in our lives where buying one of a kind art is practical although really I'm not sure if that will ever be a priority for me.  I enjoy filling our home with things I've made or the kids have made and I especially love displaying family photos.

We have owned our current home for a little over 4 years but rented it out for a year and a half due to a job transfer.  When we moved back home I managed to convince my husband to convert our mostly unused living room into a dining room.  We have plenty of space in the basement for relaxing and the kitchen dining area was too small to entertain our family and friends.  I think we were both a little nervous about how this would turn out but it is hands down my favorite change we have made to our home.

We built our dining table and the shelves around the faux fireplace (the mantle was a craigslist find).  I painted the chairs and recovered the seats.  New curtains were found and a light fixture was relocated.  All small and inexpensive changes that make our home ours.  I love how blogging and pinterest have inspired families to customize their homes and make them infinitely more liveable for the people who live there.  But I digress...

This post is about the big blank wall to the left of our dining table. It used to be where my piano sat before we moved it to keep this room as open as possible for large gatherings. After browsing online for weeks I finally decided I wanted some sort of family timeline on that wall. I knew I wanted it to resemble an actual timeline (love them) but I couldn't find inspiration for exactly what I wanted so I sketched it out then made a list of important milestones to feature.

Our timeline includes:
  • How we met
  • Our engagement
  • Our wedding
  • The first home we purchased
  • Our current home
  • A map that signifies our move from Florida to Tennessee
  • The births of our children
  • Current family pictures
I also included several scripture verses that symbolize important moments for our family. I had to purchase a few frames and print some photos but I already owned most of what I needed so this ended up being a thrifty way to fill a large space. Surrounding each event I included a small plaque with dates and details. I hand painted these and it took a long time but I love how it turned out. There isn't space to add on to our timeline but our family is complete so I feel pretty confident that I can just update the last 2 frames (current family photos) and keep our timeline relevant for years.

As far as how I created the actual timeline I used a Sharpie paint pen (I love these by the way) to create the lines. I hung the frames and plaques them drew more lines with my Sharpie to "connect" the plaques to the appropriate frames. 



Do you try to fill your blank walls or manage to keep them simple and clutter free?  Lucky enough to have gorgeous artwork? Love to display family photos? I'd love to know because I've got a few walls that are still naked!

Oct 6, 2014

painting kitchen cabinets (post #4)

We're finally to the actual painting!  You've probably already gotten into a pretty good rhythm with priming so painting should be pretty straight forward.

I used Sherwin Williams ProClassic Satin Interior paint and had it color matched to Valspar Bistro White.  That's the color of my trim and the fireplace in the dining room and I love it so didn't want to attempt to pick a new white.  It is $65 a gallon but I got it 30% off so it only cost me $45.  I only needed one gallon (and I have a lot of cabinets).

The primer I used was oil based so I made sure to switch to a new angled paint brush and a new 4" foam roller.  Every few cabinets I would go back and double check for drips or runs.  Don't wait too long or you won't be able to smooth them out!  Again, I let each coat dry for 24 hours before rolling the next coat on.  I was really hoping it would only take 2 coats but the 3rd was a must.

I was planning to list the steps like I did with previous posts but it's really just paint - let dry - paint - let dry - paint... get the idea?  I did do a light sanding with a 220 grit block sander between the 2nd and 3rd coats (after the 2nd coat dried for 24 hours).   I wiped them down with a damp cloth after sanding then did the final coat of paint.  The finish was pretty smooth and even but I wanted that last light sanding in case I missed a rough spot somewhere.

The painting took 6 days because of the dry time but actual hands on time was about 15 hours.  I also spent several hours painting all the trim in the kitchen and installing quarter round under the cabinets.  You can see in the picture above that I was still finishing up my caulking and painting on the trim.  That's definitely another thing to consider when painting your cabinets.  You want to do those extra steps that make the kitchen feel cohesive and polished.  

I couldn't wait to put the doors back up on the cabinets and install the hardware.  I thought for sure this would be the easiest part but as I mentioned at the beginning I should have kept track of which hinge went to which door.  My husband helped me put the cabinets up and after a few we got into a groove but it was definitely tricky and we had to drill a couple new holes in the cabinet frames to get the doors level.

It took a couple hours to get all the doors up.  Felt amazing to have my junk covered up again. We had to wait on the drawer fronts because the new pulls required drilling new holes.  I was thrilled with how they looked at this point though.  I think my husband was surprised with how awesome they turned out (why does he doubt?).  A little too much white going on at first but we added black nobs and a new black light fixture and this is my favorite place to be now.

Our cabinets previously has satin nickel knobs but we updated to oil rubbed bronze and I love the contrast.  I purchased my knobs and pulls from Amazon.  You can see the knobs I purchased in my Amazon store - I have purchased this brand several times now and have been so pleased with the quality and price.  We did have to drill two new holes for the drawer pulls but we didn't fill the old hole because it is completely hidden.  To drill holes that would match for all the new pulls we made a template with a thin board and used a level.  It worked great but was a slow process. We spent another 2 hours installing all the knobs and pulls and... we were done.

This little cabinet painting project of mine took about 40 hands-on hours over 2 weeks.  I recommend taking your time.  Because I stopped to clean between steps we were able to use/cook in our kitchen throughout the process.  Letting the paint dry for 24 hours between coats meant that each coat rolled on smoothly and should add to the durability of the paint.  The cost of the painting supplies was under $100.  

Sherwin Williams All Surface Oil Enamel Primer (2 quarts on sale) - $35
Sherwin Williams Advance Paint (1 gallon) - $45
4" Foam Rollers - $5
Crown Liquid Deglosser - $7

If you don't own an orbital sander and sanding/painting supplies, $200 would probably be a better estimate.  You will need paint pans, brushes, sand paper, and a sanding block.  We had those things already.

-- // --

Now how about a before and after?  Love those.  Looking at these pictures makes it all worth it.

A few more of my favorites.

If you've been thinking about painting your cabinets I hope you do!  Such a huge difference for just a little money.  Not hard but definitely tedious.  I'll be back next week with a post about the durability of painted cabinets (one month in).  I will also be sharing how I made my polka dot curtains and more details about our built in buffet.  

Check back soon!

Oct 2, 2014

little bit of fall.

I'm enjoying a new pumpkin scented candle and my fall mantle this morning. Makes me wish I was wearing a chunky sweater and boots but it's supposed to get up to 85 today so shorts it is.

Yesterday was a little hectic as I painted pumpkins, did some grocery shopping, and tried to finish up a cabinet I am refinishing. This morning I got everything cleaned up and now I can enjoy my clean house dining room. {The rest of the house is a wreck.  Always happens when I am in project mode and I promised my husband he would come home to a more peaceful place tonight so I've still got some work ahead of me today.}

I don't have a ton of seasonal decor.  I'm trying to get to a place where I have one rubbermaid bin per season (except Christmas) that I can pull out.  A new wreath and a few quick updates to the mantle are enough for me.

When I opened up the fall decor bin I had a few pumpkins and that was it.  I added a new white pumpkin ($5 at Wal-mart), a medium pumpkin ($3), and 5 small pumpkins ($3 for all).  A couple bags of white beans and some Christmas lights were the only other new additions.  Emily and I fancied up some of the pumpkins with white and gold acrylic paint.  I'd love to find more fake pumpkins to paint and keep in my bin for next year but all the ones I saw were too pricey.  I'll be watching the sales in a couple weeks.

I love how it turned out.  Simple and sparkly and less that $15.  The white pumpkin and the polka dot pumpkin will get carved in a few weeks and I'll add some harvest-y decor in their place.

I finally found my corn husks at Bi-Lo and followed this tutorial to make a fall wreath.  Not sure this will hold up for more than one season but it only took an hour.   The straw wreath form (18") was $3 at Michaels after a 40% off coupon, I already had the pins, and the corn husks were $5 (this only took half of the pack). I think it would be pretty with a burlap bow on it somewhere but I love how simple it is so it's going to stay like this.

We are off to school to bring a soon-to-be birthday boy a special treat. Back soon!

Oct 1, 2014

priming kitchen cabinets for painting (post #3)

I spent my morning searching for dried corn husks.  SO frustrating!  Darn Pinterest gives me these awesome ideas and sometimes finding the supplies is such a pain.  I've already tried 5 stores but looks like I'll be heading out later to continue the search.

I'm back today to continue my cabinet transformation series.  I've already shared how I removed the cabinets doors and sanded them and today I'll talk about priming.

I used Sherwin Williams All Surface Enamel Oil Primer.  It is $23 a quart and I needed 2 quarts but I got it 30% off so I ended up spending about $35 on primer. I needed an oil based primer because the paint on this black buffet (picture from waaay back) was oil based.  I confirmed with the pros at Sherwin Williams that I was good to paint latex paint over this oil based primer.  The paint on the buffet was awful - sticky and uneven and even after sanding I was doubtful primer would cover the imperfections but it did.  I was very happy with it.

I think this product can be tinted but I used it straight from the can.  The description online says it is white but it looked like a light grey to me.  If it had been a truer white I think I may have only needed 2 coats of paint on the cabinets instead of 3.  I applied it with a 4-inch wide foam roller and an angled brush to get in the grooves.

I wanted to let each coat dry for 24 hours.  Since I have 30 cabinet doors I needed to have them all spread out for the painting process (or this would have taken twice as long!).  My basement looked like this for a good 10 days.  It was a great place to paint though because I could open up all the windows and turn on fans.  Bonus... the TV was close by.

I'm not sure it matters what side you start on but I did the backs first {let dry for 24 hours} then the fronts.  I used board games and books to keep things elevated but this primer is sticky so use wax paper between the cabinets and your props.  The primer is sticky enough that I wondered if it wasn't drying but the finish after paint is perfect.  Go sticky primer!

I used the same 4" foam roller and angled brush to prime the cabinet frames.  In this picture you can see the drawer fronts under the sink that I couldn't figure out how to remove.  It was super tricky to paint them without letting them close and then we kept bumping them accidentally.  Definitely try to figure out how to remove all drawer fronts!

I've always wanted to have some open shelving in the kitchen... until I saw this picture.  Yikes!  I'm sure it would look better if the insides of my cabinets were painted.  No way was that happening.  Glad to be certain I am a hide-your-crap-behind-cabinet-doors type of gal though.

I only did one coat of primer.  It took about 6 hours but my husband helped with the cabinet frames so maybe longer if you are on your own.  Or shorter if you don't have kids...

Painting up next!

Sep 26, 2014

how to sand kitchen cabinets to prep for priming (post #2)

Happy Friday folks!  Back at it with my kitchen cabinet transformation "how to."

In the first post I explained how I removed the cabinet doors and drawer handles so next up was getting the finish ready for primer. My research suggested that there are products out there to help you avoid sanding.  I really want these cabinets to hold up so sanding them down to get the finish roughed up was a must for me.  I was dreading this. Big time. 

SECOND STEP // Sand your cabinets to prepare for priming & painting

Before you start sanding... if your cabinets have holes or cracks that need to be filled you will want to use wood filler and let it dry.  Mine didn't. Yay.

I set up a makeshift table on the back deck and took all the pieces outside to sand.  I used my orbital sander with 150 grit sand paper and then 220 grit sand paper on the front, back, and edges of each piece.  I would strongly recommend using an orbital sander.  Mine was around $50 and I love it.  It sits on my special "Becky only" shelf in the garage. It would have been AHmazing if I only has to use the orbital sander BUT my cabinets have a panel and the sander wouldn't fit in the groove so I also used medium and fine grit sanding blocks to make sure all parts got scuffed up really well.  Lucky you if you have flat front cabinets!

You don't need to completely take the finish off - just try to get rid of all the glossy parts and of course any grime on the cabinets from cooking.  You can see in this picture how the cabinets have a kind of dull look to them. It took me a whopping 7 hours to sand my 30 doors and drawer fronts.

Once all the doors were sanded I moved them back inside.  I didn't wipe them clean because I knew they were going to get dusty (like the rest of the house) when I sanded the cabinet frames.

I really debated whether I should move all the dishes down to the basement so they wouldn't get dusty.  It would have taken for-e-ver. After taking them down I probably would have noticed they were dirty and ended up cleaning them anyway so I just left them in place and sanded.  This part took me another 3 hours.

You are going to be SO happy to be done sanding. I felt like my whole body was vibrating for hours after I finished.  I was really excited to start priming and painting but I knew I needed to spend some time cleaning first.

Our family wouldn't make it through this project (it took me about 2 weeks) without being able to use the kitchen.  So... I dusted and mopped and then spent TWO long DAYS washing every plate, cup, serving dish, pantry item, utensil, pot, and piece of plastic-ware we own.  Then I had to move into the dining room and clean the table, chairs, frames, lighting, and all the books.  Oh, and there was a cabinet full of office supplies too.  This was absolutely -- hands down -- the worst part of this whole cabinet transformation process.  Prepare yourself for the dust!!

THIRD STEP // Clean the dust from your cabinets

Once everything in the house was cleaned up I used liquid deglosser to wipe all parts of the cabinets down.  I used Crown Liquid Deglosser that I got at Lowes for less than $10.  Pretty much just pour some on a rag and wipe everything clean. If you missed any glossy spots during the sanding this should take care of it.  Not hard but took me a couple hours because I have lots of cabinets.  I'm sure you could use a wet or even dry rag and wipe down your cabinets but as I mentioned I'm trying to do everything possible to make these cabinets extra durable.  When it came to priming and painting the cabinets were perfect.  I didn't encounter one rough or dirty area.  I'm gonna go ahead and say it was worth the extra time and money.

If you want to keep track we're up to 14 hours now but things are about to seem much more productive.  Priming is next!

Update: Here's the link to priming the cabinets.

Sep 24, 2014

how i painted my kitchen cabinets white (post #1)

I have read about a hundred "how to paint your kitchen cabinets" posts. Guess what? Every single person did it a different way. Ugh.  I really wanted a comprehensive explanation of process, supplies, and time.  I also wanted to know more about the durability of painted cabinets but didn't find much real-life, we-have-kids-who-kick-stuff, the-kitchen-is-a-super-high-traffic-area experience.

So I'm just going to share how I decided to paint our cabinets.  I will definitely be updating here with how the paint holds up (hint: good so far!).  Before I get to the painting process, let's start with before pictures.

We bought our house in 2010 and the kitchen was my favorite room.  I love the space in the kitchen, the bar area, the number of cabinets, and the view of the back yard.  I hated pretty much everything else but we put up a little paint and hung some curtains and lived with it for a while long time.  I'm glad we did because 4 years ago painting the cabinets would have been too big a challenge for me.  Time has made me more patient and more committed to doing things the right way the first time.

I'm sure in the archives of this blog I have pictures of us tiling the room and painting the walls (a couple times).  This used to be a place I shared family photos and casual updates on our home renovation adventures so those posts won't be too helpful but you can search if you are looking for a laugh.

About a year after we moved in we relocated some garage cabinets to the kitchen to make a buffet/desk area.  We have no pantry so the extra cabinet space was awesome.  Unfortunately this was pre-Pinterest, back when finding information about painting furniture was not as easy.  Knowing I couldn't match the cabinets I chose to paint the buffet black and I used oil based paint.  We had so many problems with paint bubbling and the finished paint was glossy and sticky and gross.  So I knew this was another area I wanted to address when painting the cabinets.

Four years after buying the house we found ourselves with a semi-updated kitchen but I was never going to grow to love those light wood cabinets.  No such thing as a perfect time for a huge mess so one Monday morning I just went at it.  My husband was a little surprised when he came home.  Just a little though.  I looove a good project.

So let's get started... if you want to come back and follow the progress I will tell you the cabinets cost less than $100 and took about 60 hours (yikes!).

FIRST STEP // Remove all your cabinet doors and drawer fronts.

This took me longer than I thought, about 2 hours (I had 30+ cabinet doors/drawer fronts).  There were a few cabinet doors (on a corner cabinet) and some drawer fronts (those pull down ones under the sink) that I couldn't figure out how to remove.  It was a little more work to paint them but they turned out just fine.

I put all my cabinet hardware in a bag and didn't pay attention to which hinge went to which door.  I read a lot that said you should number each piece of hardware so you know exactly where it goes.  That way when you re-hang them they will be straight.  I didn't do this because my hinges don't have any adjustment spots on them.  Didn't think it would matter BUT I do think it made them a little harder to hang back up so my advice would be to do it!  Maybe draw a diagram of your kitchen on poster board and tape the hinges to the poster board where they belong?  I didn't have to worry about numbering my doors and drawer fronts because they are all different sizes.  

The next step is sanding and I'll be back with that in a few days so check back!