Monday, February 24, 2014

diy oil pastel on wood board ocean abstract


So in order to comfortably write on my menu board that I made (as seen here) I had to hang it lower than anything else in the kitchen and dining room. Which has left the room feeling kind of off center to me. Originally I bought this wood board to write 'make tea not war' (monty python quote mocking the quote 'make love not war') across, but then my husband gave me a hard time about how I have repetitively said that sayings aren't really my style for artwork. I completely enjoy and appreciate them in other people's homes, just haven't felt like doing it myself. Now I was willing to make an exception for tea and a monty python reference, but feeling thoroughly chastised I looked for an alternative.

Hopefully  it doesn't look like crap because my alternative search took approximately the length of a game of thrones episode. I had some cheap pastels lying around, looked up whether they were compatible with wood, then after some searching ran across this painting by Michelle at AM Dolce Vita, whose home by the way looks like the cover of a magazine.
my inspiration:

First I lightly sanded and wiped off the board. Then I used the colors that I had to somewhat mimic the layering that she created, though clearly not to such stunning effect. I used sandpaper to blend rather than my finger or a blending stick, continuing this process about 3 times, then ending with a few white highlights. I sealed it with Krylon Matte Finish, a very easy and affordable choice to prevent too much smudging as pastels never really 'set.' Lastly, I attached picture wire at the back in 3 places with staple gun and covered them with adhesive felt. I find picture wire so much easier for hanging level pictures and artwork.

Well the room is more balanced but hopefully I made the right choice....


 Here is my attempt to stitch some pictures together to show my attempt at increasing the balance of the wall art height. Hopefully I am not the only crazy person who thinks about these things hah.

A good friend of mine, you know the type that completely and unashamedly gets you and still loves you (miracle), came over for the first time in probably 6 months, due to where she lives and having toddler. While we were sitting in my still unfinished front room/office she jokingly asked if I had thought about how I had arranged the vintage botanical prints that I still have taped on the walls. Clearly she already knew the answer ... there really is no hope for me might as well embrace it as a strength(?) and move forward.

btw the other portion of the board I layered with hooks, given to me by a friend, and a mason jar votive for the front entry way.... to be finished soon hopefully :)

Sunday, February 23, 2014

throwing a grown-up birthday party with a comfort food menu and some bowling

So this week my husband turned 34. He stoically took it all in as usual. He is such a kind and generous person that I selfishly feel, he is pretty universally loved. Sometimes, because he is so low maintenance it can feel like he is putting a lot more in than he is getting out (according to me not him). So, I wanted to make sure that he had a great birthday. The boy wanted workout clothes as his birthday present (kind of lame, but I am also secretly glad that I may be able to remove his current high waters from the rotation), so we outfitted him with some new duds.

On his actual birthday we went out for a family dinner (his side). Then the day after I organized a small birthday get together with our friends. Namely, dinner and some bowling. He loves throw back nostalgic activities.

Dinner Menu

grilled cheese with bacon, avocado, and sprouts

Since it was a party I  wanted to prep as much food as I could ahead of time, by frying the bacon in the oven at 400 degrees for approximately 15 minutes, slicing the white cheddar cheese that I bought, leaving the butter out to soften, mashing the avocado with a bit of acidity to prevent browning, etc. Did this actually happen, not so much ... where does the time go. 

When we got back from bowling, I assembled on most of the sandwiches a couple of Tbsp of avocado, 1/4 C. sprouts, a couple of pieces of bacon, and a couple slices of cheese. Butter the outside slices of bread and fry away on the griddle on a medium heat til golden brown and melty. Mmm 

creamy tomato soup
I cheated and bought pre-made since I knew that we were going bowling first

chocolate eclair cake
adapted from Cook's Country (America's Test Kitchen)

1 1/4 cups sugar
6 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon salt
5 cups whole milk (I used skim)
4 tablespoons butter, cut into 4 pieces
5 teaspoons vanilla
2 tablespoons water
1 1/4 teaspoons unflavored gelatin 
2 3/4 cups heavy cream, chilled, divided
14 ounces graham crackers (I used about 2 of the 3 packages in the box)
2 cups chocolate chips
5 tablespoons corn syrup 
ideally you would make this the day before!!

Combine sugar, cornstarch and salt in a large saucepan. Whisk milk in until smooth and bring to a boil, scraping the bottom with a rubber spatula over medium high heat. Immediately reduce heat to medium low and cook, continuing to scrape bottom, until thick and large bubbles appear on the surface, 4-6 minutes. Off heat, whisk in butter and vanilla. Transfer pudding to a large (don't make my mistake and put it in one that is too small then have to transfer and dirty yet another bowl, since you are going to add the whipped cream to this) bowl and place plastic wrap directly on the surface. Refrigerate until cool, about 2 hours or overnight.

Stir water and gelatin together in a bowl and let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Microwave until mixture is bubbling around the edges and gelatin dissolves, 15-30 seconds. Using a stand mixer fitted with a whisk, whip 2 cups cream on medium low speed until foamy, about a minute. Increase speed to high and whip until soft peaks form, about 2 minutes. Add gelatin mixture and whip until stiff peaks form, about a minute more.

Whisk one-third whipped cream into chilled pudding, then gently fold in remaining whipped cream, one scoop at a time until combined. I used a trifle bowl here, thought it would give a more dramatic effect which is why I probably used additional graham crackers. Cover the bottom of a 13 X 9 inch baking dish with a layer of graham crackers, breaking the crackers as necessary to line the bottom of the pan. Top with half of the pudding mixture and another layer of graham crackers. Repeat with remaining pudding mixture and remaining graham crackers.

Microwave chocolate chips, remaining 3/4 cup cream and corn syrup in a bowl, stirring occasionally until smooth, 1-2 minutes. Cool glaze to room temp, about 10 minutes.Cover graham crackers with glaze and refrigerate cake for 6 - 24 hours. 

Monday, February 17, 2014

homemade nut butter bites

These are an ingenious snack that seems to be all over the internet. You can adapt them however you want with the main foundation normally being some kind of nut butter, oats, and honey. I have made them simply with peanut butter, honey, flax seed, vanilla, and oats or more decadently with nutella.

This time around I used my valentine's treat from my husband, Wild Friends Honey Pretzel Natural Peanut Butter from the Turnip Truck here in Nashville. Yum! Unconventional valentine's treat, maybe, but oh so perfect for me!

Don't feel as if these ingredients and amounts are set in stone, rather use them as loose ideas and have as much fun as I am making them.

1/2 C. Wild Friends Honey Pretzel Peanut Butter
1 C. old fashioned oats
1/3 C. honey (local- a definite help with my allergies)
1/3 C. mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla

Stir the above together til mixed, then I spooned them into muffin cups (as I didn't feel like rolling them into balls), then refrigerate for at least 20 minutes til hardened. If made into 12 servings they are approx. 100 calories per 'bite.' Enjoy!

So many things to try in this basic but delicious recipe - maybe dried fruit or chopped nuts next?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

painting the trim

It's official- I hate painting trim. Especially when it takes 3 coats and you have old paned windows. Sadly, I feel only a tiny elated, because while the kitchen, dining, living room/future office, hall bath, and louvered bedroom doors are painted and only need minor touch ups; there are still 7 interior/exterior windows for the trim to be painted on in the bonus room and the old garage area soon to be part mudroom that we just started demoing as seen in the first wall paper removal post here.

I did all the usual things to prep for painting.
-caulk or use wood filler as necessary to make the trim look smooth and cohesive
-tape*see below for my neurotic nature
-prime with the Zinsser 1,2,3 for the pieces that were bare wood.
-then painted with the trim color we chose ages ago when we first started this process Valspar's Homestead Resort Jeffereson White in a semi gloss, which for me is the perfect white because it is not so bright that it won't go with creamier things. Crazy how many shades of white there really are!!
-razor the windows and clean up everything

*Ok so i am incredibly picky about how I tape things off for painting. Here are my guidelines for taping
-That the edges should line up and all be smoothed down.
-I prefer not to press the tape downwards on corners so that it is flat therefore it can catch any drips.If you fold the tape over an edged surface such as a door frame then it will likely rip in half when you pull it off. See below for my high-jacked photos. I apologize for not taking my own.
-I like to start in a spot and proceed clockwise or counterclockwise. This makes it so that the tape comes off in one gigantic strip. Especially helpful if you are taping the ceiling.
FOLDED from the Daily Home Reno Tips
FLAT from the DIY Network
I haven't tried the trick of painting the color underneath first so that there won't be any bleed, but it sound ingenious. Though I am dabbling more and more in my free hand occasionally using a Clorox wipe to any mistakes up, now that I have a good 1 1/2 inch angled brush.


Mid process with the frosted window pane look and a giant mess. 


  A view from the bonus room through the dining/kitchen to the front living room/office. 
  Hallway to the bedrooms and hall bathroom now that all the doors are painted. I contemplated so many solutions to having louvered bedroom doors. Replacing with ones from Habitat Restore, covering the louvered parts with beadboard and trim, making fabric organizers for the back to help somewhat muffle the sound, etc. I guess for now I am going with option #3. All the others were more expensive that I want to deal with for the moment, so they finally got painted and my vision of cohesiveness is taking steps forward. Yay!
 Hall bathroom with updated trim paint. Still to do replace mini blinds with plantation shutters, replace the vanity, and frame the mirror. Not to mention I need to matte my awesome picture that I got for my birthday last year. See previous post here
  Kitchen & dining room with freshly painted and cleaned up trim. Though it is so superbly bright in here (I love natural light!) that you can't really tell. Eventually I would like to add trim to the cabinets, a potato/onion basket next to the trash can, and refinish the table, chairs, and ladder pot rack. See previous posts here & here
Living room/office freshly painted trim and walls sans wall paper. So excited about this! With a view of my recently painted dining room hutch (seen here). I haven't quite figured out how to actualize my dream for this room. I want to keep the sofa in here for reading in the fantastic natural light the front window offers, but I want a built in bookshelf (or look alike such as this Hemnes case from Ikea ) with additional space for a desk for both of us, since we are both self-employed and often working at home. Above the covered up couch are my new vintage botanical prints! I had them printed on white linen paper at UPS for less that $10! Now I just need to find the perfect frames for them and decide where to hang them in the living room. As you can tell I was testing it out temporarily. I am sure I will elaborate on the details later.

Now to cleaning up that old garage area- a much bigger dilemma than this room despite it taking a couple weeks in and of itself.
I have primed the trim that we are keeping around the doors and windows, but everything else is slated to get ripped out. So that I can create a board and batten mudroom with additional storage for my themed unit toys that I use as speech-language pathologist. Ugh it's so hideous... I need to scroll up and admire those completed pictures instead. This to do list is too long to enjoy enumerate at the moment.


But... maybe we should enjoys some before photos for a moment, especially since I have been blogging for a couple years now and home improving for a little over a year. So here is a small montage of our progress:

Thursday, February 13, 2014

DIY wall prepping and painting after the wall paper

 So last time I was wishfully hoping that there would be some magical primer to level and seal in all of this glue without repeated scraping.... wrong! While the paper came off relatively easily in the front 'living room' it left behind a lot of icky yellowed glue. The walls felt bumpy and looked gross. We started with fabric softener mixed in water with a sponge and the scrapers that I mentioned before. Well it was taking forever and I at times was seriously gouging the walls. You can see the small left section of the wall below that it took us at least an hour to do.
 So Johnny headed back to Home Depot (we had been at Lowes earlier and asked, but hadn't been given any great solutions). He came back with DIF wallpaper stripper by Zinsser and this awesome heavy duty scraper that completely changed our lives! Thank you so much extremely helpful and knowledgeable person at Home Depot! Have any of you guys experienced a difference in knowledge between your different home improvement stores? I like both of their products and they are comparably priced, but this may be the difference that pushes us over the edge.
 The DIF the instructions were really simple. We wore gloves, mixed in the prescribed amount of DIF into clean water, then had a second bucket of just clean water. Sponge it on, wait a couple minutes, scrape off, then wipe clean. It is supposedly pretty nontoxic and low VOC so extra perk! After that we were in business. It still took a while, but not nearly as tediously.
 Following a clean and smoother work surface, I primed with Zinsser 1,2,3 primer since it is bonding (my new favorite thing) to increase the odds and coverage of the previously gluey walls. It worked well and went on very thickly. I intentionally primed the seams between the wall and the trim, though the trim had been painted a year ago, because the wall paper was so old that the trim was laid on top of it and I wanted a cleaner finish.

 As you can tell I painted the ceiling too, and last year when we painted the trim we didn't paint the window trim so it looks more cream.

 There were still gouges to deal with and I decided to putty following priming, once again for better adherence after doing some research on the web. Here it is after I puttied but before I painted the window trim. I wasn't careful or taped as I plan to razor blade them clean after I am finished. I feel that it is faster and I am using the paint to once again increase the weatherproofing between the glass and the wood.
 Then after I sanded the putty. For which I would suggest wearing a mask and vacuuming following.
 Now finally to putting some paint on the walls. I used a flat paint as it is supposed to hide wall flaws better in Valspar Riverbed's Edge. We fell in love with this color when we lived in a condo in Knoxville and used it in the living room. My only regret is that I didn't tint the primer. It is such a dark color that it would have been very helpful. I didn't, due to the fact that I was priming trim as well and at the time didn't want to add another step. I was initially going to go without taping and try to free hand, but then my helpful husband taped for me before I got to my second coat.
 A view from the dining room/kitchen into the newly painted living room. It has been one of my goals to make sure that looking from one room into another that they wouldn't clash too significantly. I felt like I made that mistake in our condo.
 Yeah completion, sort of, now I just need to finish painting the trim and do something with that awful front door.
 I guess that isn't entirely true there is still a long to do list for this room:
-build/buy built in bookshelf system for the wall to the left of the chair right of the window
-build/buy oversized open desk, stain in mineral green
-hang some vintage plant photos
-create a mini entry/mudroom (primary one still to go with back door)
-figure out some window treatments
and eventually the furniture in this room will be recovered and repurposed either to this room or to different ones. I am sure I have more, but why inundate this with minor details.