Step It Up

I haven’t blogged in about 10 million years.  Okay, so maybe that’s an exaggeration, but you get the idea.  So here’s a quickie–a little update I did that took two naps to complete, so about 4 hours for a regular person (that’s just for the vinyl sticker application; the rest of the steps were slowly completed over the past three years).  First, where we started when we bought the house:

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And where we are today, after stripping the carpet, painting the doors and trim, painting the stairwell and upstairs landing, and adding some chevron-tastic details:

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Big difference, huh?  The chevrons aren’t painted on (I don’t have that kind of patience or time these days, and I also didn’t want something that would take a lot of effort to remove if I didn’t like it); instead, they’re vinyl stickers from here.  Yep, Pot & Kettle Studios made them custom to fit my risers, and they were super easy to install.  And when I’m sick of them, they’ll be super easy to peel off.

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Here’s a shot of them in black from their etsy shop:

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So there you have it–proof that we’re still alive and still making some changes around here . . .

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Mapping my Drawers

That post title could go in a few different directions, but let’s head down the G-rated path, shall we?  Remember this from a few weeks ago:

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Well, what I didn’t tell you then was that not only did I refinish the outside of the desk, but I also added a little special touch to the inside . . .

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I added personalized drawer liners using some spray adhesive and Mod Podge.  Fun, eh?  It only took me maybe a couple hours of Mini B’s naptime, and it was nice to finally use the maps I had been hanging onto from our honeymoon in Spain.  How did I do it?  Easily.

I first made some templates with plain copy paper of the exact drawer dimensions.  Then I laid those out on the maps (which I lightly, and I do mean LIGHTLY, ironed to get out the wrinkles), and used a ruler and exacto knife to cut the maps down to size . . .

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I tried to make sure the maps were aligned so as to include areas Mr. Bunches and I visited in our travels.  Once they were all cut, I then just used some spray adhesive (sprayed onto the backs of the maps–NOT sprayed directly on the drawers) and smoothed the maps in place on the bottom of each drawer.  I used a bone folder to make sure there weren’t any wrinkles and that everything was all smoothness.

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Because the maps were made of such thin paper, there were spots, particularly in the water sections of the maps, where you could kind of see the glue.  But it was minimal.  I let the glue dry for a few hours (with heavy books laying on top) just to make sure it was all good and set.  Then I used a foam brush to apply a light coat of Matte Mod Podge on the tops of the maps (just so they would be extra durable).  As I had been warned by YHL commenters on this post, I was prepared for the inevitable bubbling that the Mod Podge would (and did) cause:

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What had been smooth was now a wrinkly mess.  But no fear, I knew that once the Mod Podge dried, all would be smooth in my drawers again (still keeping it G-rated folks) . . .

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And there you have it.  Just a few hours of drying time (overnight actually), and voila!

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And since it’s been almost a month since initiating our new entry way solution, I’m happy to report that it’s been a success!  We got our cart in, and it’s been working out great.

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Fingers crossed that it continues working out well and wrangling in our mess.  And just because, here’s a shot of Mini Bunches on her recent trip to the beach in Florida (more on that soon I hope) . . .

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Entryway Solution? Maybe

Our entryway has been a bit of a mess ever since we moved in (the one from the garage to the kitchen; the main entrance doesn’t really get used, but this one gets lots of traffic).  So much so that I don’t even have any decent pictures of it.  You can catch a glimpse of it here:

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And then here’s a phone shot from a few weeks ago when we finally hung a mirror.

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The problem is that the piece of furniture we had there (an old server) just did nothing for us storage-wise.  And it also wasn’t really my style.  So I had been on the hunt for a solution, but wasn’t exactly sure what would work.  And with a growing Mini Bunches, I’m also not positive that whatever solution we find now will be something lasting for the future.  Which brings me to my point: I didn’t want to spend a lot of money.  Or time.  Especially if it’s something we might outgrow in a few years.  Enter thrift stores–the cheap solution to almost everything.

And so two weekends ago, when Mr. B was away for his annual Idiot Nation trip to Vegas, I hit up my favorite thrift store.  You know, the one where I found this blue beauty (I’m still regretting not scooping her up when I had the chance, but I digress) . . .

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Unlike my last visit to this particular Salvation Army, this time around it was slim pickings.  But just when I was about to leave, I spotted this:

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Admittedly, not much to look at, but I liked the mid-century lines, the size was right, and it was solidly built of wood (except for the yucky laminate top, but I dealt with that during my last furniture refinishing adventure, so no big deal there).  And the price?  Just right.  Actually, better than just right–just $15 kind of right.  SOLD.

Once I got it home and wrangled it in the house (it’s super heavy so some wrangling it did take), I got to work.  Since I only had nights and nap times to work my magic, I wasn’t planning an extensive refinishing; rather, I was just going to follow the steps John and Sherry took on their TV stand overhaul and hope for the best.  So here’s what it looked like once I got it home and completed the first step: CLEANING.

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I scrubbed the piece down with a Magic Eraser just like YHL did.  And I also wiped down the drawers with a vinegar-soaked rag.  My results?  Well, as you can see above and below, the Magic Eraser removed the finish in quite a few places.

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Again, since I only paid $15, I wasn’t too upset about that, but if you’re trying to fix a piece that you really care about, then maybe test out the Magic Eraser in an inconspicuous spot first to be safe.  But it did remove a lot of grime, so it wasn’t all bad.  As for the vinegar wipe-down of the drawers, that totally worked–it completely removed all the musty old smell.  So we were 1 for 2 at this point.

Up next?  A little conditioning treatment.  Using these (again, just like YHL):

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I first used the Howard Restor-A-Finish to wipe down everything.  It definitely brought some shine back and made the dried-out wood come back to life a bit.

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Much better, right?  It didn’t completely fix all the spots where the Magic Eraser had, er, erased, but it helped a lot.  I then used some leftover Minwax wood stain in walnut to rub in the really light spots, and when even that didn’t fix things, I used a Mr. Sketch Scented Marker in Brown.  That, my friends, worked WONDERS.  I just scribbled it on, and then wiped it away.  It was just about perfect at evening out any light patches.  So once all of that was done it wasn’t looking so bad . . .

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My last step was to give it a good ol’ rub down with some wax–the Howard Feed-n-Wax.  And just like Mr. Miyagi says: wax on, wax off.  That step took less than 30 minutes, and this thrift store find was complete!

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In addition to the desk, we also added a coat rack (from Crate & Barrel here) and a basket for shoes.

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I’ve also ordered a steel truck from Steele Canvas to put on the left-hand side of the desk.  That way we can just drop our bags into it and hopefully keep the area looking reasonably pulled together.

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So there you have it.  Our second attempt at wrangling some type of order in our entry way.  Here’s hoping it works!

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And a little bonus Mini Bunches just for making it all the way through this post . . .

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Love is in the Air

Happy Valentine’s Day!  May you especially appreciate all your loved ones today . . . for my part, I am sure this will be the best Valentine’s Day yet.  So thank you Mr. Bunches and Mini Bunches for being my sweetest Valentines.

Oh, and this Hallmark Holiday was just the right excuse to change out the chalkboard pantry.  So we are no longer Cherishing the Season . . .

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And instead appreciating all the love surrounding us . . .

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Of course, that didn’t seem quite good enough.  It needed something more personal . . . PICTURES!!

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Aaahhh, much better.  Now, Love is in the Air!

DIY Valentine’s: Map out your Love

It’s been a while since I’ve done any DIY’ing (not sure that’s a word, but whatever), so I thought I’d give it a go.  Truth be told, this was a project that I started a couple years ago (how’s that for intimidating–a DIY that takes 2 years to complete!  Yep–a couple hours of actual crafting and two years of procrastination).  I actually just had the idea a couple years ago, took some starting pictures, and then got busy with things like moving to Buffalo, buying a home, and starting a family.  Oops.

But let’s get to the craft at hand: DIY Valentine’s using maps and confectionery hearts.  Here’s a shot of the final products:

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And now, the play by play.  Start with some maps.  I used an old road atlas, but you could use any maps really–as long as they’re maps that mean something to you or someone you want to send the Valentine to.

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Then, get yourself some of those confectionery hearts.  I got a pack of four boxes at the dollar store.  On a sidenote, I think these things are absolutely disgusting–they taste like chalk.  Is that just me?  Personally, my favorite hearts are SweetTarts, but the sayings on those are too hard to read, so I went with these instead.  Then, just pour them out and pick out any with good sayings (you’ll probably have to throw out half of them b/c the printing won’t be centered/legible/make sense/etc).

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Once you pick out some good ones, just put the hearts next to a place with some meaning–I chose to place them near where the recipient lives, and snap a picture.

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I used my dslr to take the pictures, but you can also get pretty great results with an iPhone and Instagram:

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Then, just print out the pictures.  I ordered them online through Snapfish and picked them up an hour later at my local Walgreen’s.  Not the best quality, but since these are just for Valentine’s cards and not destined for frames, I figured that was fine.

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Once I got the pictures, I also grabbed some blank Valentine’s cards in the $1 section at Target.  Pack of 8 cards & envelopes for $1?  Yes please!  One pack had cut out hearts and the other were just plain chevron lovelies.

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Then, I just cut down each picture to center the confectionery heart in the opening, and I gave the pics rounded corners just for a little something extra.

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Once they were cut down, I added some double-side tape, made sure the pic was centered just so, and pressed.

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Now, some of my little hearts weren’t quite centered in the pictures I took, so those I put in the chevron cards.  Which, of course, meant that I had to cut out hearts.  Since my cutting job wasn’t stellar, I outlined it with a black sharpie.  Black Sharpies–they hide all kinds of sins.

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So there you have it, customized cards for your loved ones:

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And I could’ve stopped there, but well, I didn’t.  I was craft-crazy and Mini B was taking an uncharacteristically long nap.  So I embellished.  I got out my pseudo-washi tape (not real washi tape, but close enough–also from Target) and got my embellishing on.

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So much better right?  So there you have it–some easy DIY Valentine’s for your nearest and dearest.

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Oh, and this idea doesn’t just work for Valentine’s Day–I gave Mr. B a framed shot for our wedding anniversary last year (he proposed in Boston Common).

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And for those just waiting for Mini B to photo bomb this post, here you go.  Quite the heart breaker this one, eh?

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Cher is on the Sea

Huh?  Just look . . .

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Clear?  Okay, okay, I don’t actually know where Cher is (probably Vegas?), but it was either that or “Her son is on the sea” and that didn’t sound as catchy.  Still confused?  Well, don’t be–it’s just that I finally finished a home project that I’ve been wanting to do since we were in the midst of our kitchen renovation.  Of course, I didn’t get to finish it then because, well, I had a baby.  I know–weak excuse.  So through the magic of the Internet, let’s go back to the beginning . . .

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I know it’s hard to focus on just one atrocious part of the above pic, but let’s try–focus on the pantry doors in the hallway.  They become even more off-putting once the rest of the kitchen gets a face lift.

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See what I mean?  They were just awful.  The first step?  Painting the trim white and priming the doors as dark as possible.

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Already so much better, right?  Mr. Bunches was all, ‘Oh, we’re going to paint them grey?  That’s awesome–they look great.’  And then I had to be all, ‘No–that’s just the primer.  Puh-leeze.’  But, it did make me think that maybe we should paint the rest of the doors in our house–possibly in some darker shade of grey?  Just sayin’.

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The next step?  Chalkboard Paint!  We used Valspar Chalkboard Paint from Lowe’s.

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They look pretty slick, right?  Of course, they need new handles, but I was under a bit of a time crunch (this all took place prior to the holidays), so I figured the new handles could wait.

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And while you may think that they were ready to be all chalked up with some fun holiday greeting, well, you would be wrong.  See, first they had to be “conditioned” which basically means you have to cover the entire surface with chalk and then erase it.

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And in case you were wondering, yes, this process is messy and DUSTY with a capital D-U-S-T-Y.

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Once the conditioning was done (and the dust vacuumed), then it was time get my artsy on.

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Once I finished chalking the doors up with season’s greetings, I thought they still could use a little more cheer.  So I decided to move my Instagram pics out of Instagram and onto my doors:

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I left the bottom blank since we were expecting some wee visitors at the time and I figured they might like to get their own artsy on (they did).  All in all, I’m in love with the result and I can’t wait for Mini B to make masterpieces on those doors as she gets older.  But for now, we’re just cherishing the season :).

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Mirror, Mirror on the Wall

Remember how we redid our half bath?  If not, you can check it all out here.  If you’ll recall, when we last updated you, we were mirror-less in the half bath.  Womp, womp.

Well, I’m happy to report that the situation has been remedied.  I decided that I could no longer make decisions.  Well, I guess I made that one decision to no longer decide.  Confused yet?  Anyways, I also figured that we should start using what we already owned instead of going out and buying new stuff.  So I went on a mirror hunt in the basement, and I came up with this:

It was the old mirror from our dining room back in Boston (and apparently it was from Bed Bath & Beyond, although I have a hard time believing I spent that much money on it, but whatever).

Anyways, I wasn’t crazy about the black frame.  But the shape and size were good, so I figured I’d try my hand at spray-painting it.  And just to keep everything neutral, I decided to go with silver.  Titanium Silver to be precise.

I then proceeded to tape off the mirror with blue painter’s tape . . .

I used a bunch of smaller pieces so that I could tuck them in along the curves.

Then, I added newspaper to cover the entire mirror so that I wouldn’t end up with paint everywhere.

Then the operation moved outside.  I set the mirror up on a large broken-down box and got my spray on.

Oh, and I also decided I’d spray some old frames while I was at it.  Here it is after one coat . . .

After two coats (I started finding frames everywhere and kept adding them in) . . .

And finally after three coats (I had to actually stop and buy another can of spray paint–I really don’t understand how people cover stuff in only two coats using one can?  Am I over-doing it or something?  What am I missing?) . . .

Pretty good, right?  And little ol’ naive me then just figured I had to let it all dry, remove the tape, and I’d be good to go, right?  So I put it all in the garage to dry for a few days so that it was good and cured.  And then I removed the tape.

And I guess from a distance it looked okay, but that dang spray paint got everywhere!  Including underneath my newspapers.  Grrr.

So out came the handy-dandy razor . . .

And the spray paint scraped right off.  Voila!

All that was left was hanging it.  Now, in retrospect, I think I hung it too high.  That seems a common problem in our house–I think it has something to do with being tall.  Oh well, at least it’s up, right?

What do you think?  It’s an improvement, at least, right?

Now our guests won’t be freaking out wondering whether they’ve got boogers hanging out of their noses.  You’re welcome guests.  You’re welcome.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering who’s the fairest of them all, well, it’s this girl.  Duh.

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