Hung Over

No, this post doesn't have anything to do with alcohol...or a self-induced nausea fest as a result of too much of it (I don't see how that's "fun"...never have, never will).  Anyway, it does, however, have everything to do with valances.  And it all began with a little bit of this:

and a little bit of that:

I know some of you (eh-hem, Farrah) were hoping I'd have a post on a finished loveseat this lovely Saturday Friday (I know, I usually post on Saturdays but tomorrow my world wide web access will be a world wide won't), but alas, it still sits undone.  I'm at the point with it where I need Anthony's help and he's been swamped with school and work so - no Anthony, no help, no loveseat...yet.  But back to the valances.  It's been on Anthony's to-do list for me to whip up some valances to adorn our dining area windows for like a year.  Finding the perfect fabric took me a long, long reason for the delay in said project...but I did find it.  It wasn't as cheap as I'd been hoping (actually it's the most expensive fabric I've ever bought at $17 a yard) but luckily I only needed two yards to get these babies made.

Here's how it all went up:

First I painstakingly cut out the four rectangles that would soon be sewn into valances and laid them out on our living room floor to make sure they'd look okay...a.k.a. to make sure that there weren't two side-by-side that looked too similar.
I could've made each valance exactly the same - the same floral pattern across each - but that would've required about 4 yards of fabric and I wasn't willing to splurge.  Besides, I liked that they would all be different and since I was using a floral, I could do that without it looking off.

Next up I cut the lining that would be sewn onto the back of each valance.  All I did was lay a large piece of lining fabric (don't know the technical term) over the future valance and then cut it to be about an inch smaller.

After everything was cut I went back and forth from ironing down seams, pinning, and sewing until I had five almost perfect valances ready to be attached to the wood beams that would hold 'em up.

We used two, long (8 ft. I think?) pieces of the cheapest 1x2 pine strips at Lowe's but made sure they were straight before we bought 'em...very important!  Enter handy man Anthony, who cut the wood pieces to the measurement we needed to fit each window.  Because of my little perfectionist personality, I also gave the under side of the wood beam (the side that would show if you looked under the finished valance) a coat of white spray paint, you know, so in case anyone looked underneath they'd look nice too (okay, maybe I'm crazy).  Then, Anthony attached some corner braces we picked up for 75 cents for 2 at our local ReStore.
In comes the staple gun and newly sewn valances.  First, we stapled the valance to each corner.  Since we wanted the valances to wrap around the entire piece of wood, we did this first to ensure the fabric was centered and that the side seams were straight and would be flush with the wall.

Then, to make sure the valance hung level, I quickly measured along the length of it.  When I had measured twice and was certain of it's perfection, we began the stapling.

I held each valance in place while Anthony did the clickety-clicking.

We didn't use too many staples since the valances were super lightweight - about one every 4-6 inches.

And then, after a tough 20 minutes of holding and stapling, we celebrated our 'hang-overs' with a rousing game of hide-and-seek.  Ten points if you can find Anthony!  :)

 Haha...that was fun.  Anyway, we did get around to putting them up and we're thrilled with them!  While we were staring, admiring our work, Anthony said "They look so good.  I can't believe we went this long without anything up there."  I don't did we ever survive?!  : p

In case you were curious as to what they looked like underneath...

 To get the crease on the corners, Anthony broke out the iron and made his own corner...yep, that's what I said, Anthony used the iron...I know, I'm a lucky woman.

And finally, here's the whole shebang:
We also hung an itty-bitty valance over the window above the sink, but lighting conditions and a not-so-great camera wouldn't allow a good pic.  You can take my work for it though, it's darn cute.  Now I just need to dress up our plain jane table with a runner and decor or something.  And, now that we've got valances up, the wall to the right of the windows is looking a little too blank and bland, but don't worry, I've got a collage project up my sleeve and I'm sure you'll be hearing about it.  :)

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Stay tuned in the coming weeks if you wanna see a curb-side rocking chair make-over and painted wallpaper...and, crossing my fingers and hoping for time, an un-antiqued, antique loveseat finito.  :)  That's all.  Have a happy weekend everyone!

Triple Attack

In this house, on this Saturday, we've got three unfinished projects in motion.  One, ze master basroom:
It's painted but not all the'll see what I mean in a couple of weeks.  Also, a roman shade needs to be made and hung.

Two, ze teking-forever lofeseat:
Finally ready to be reupholstered - that's the batting alayin' on top!!!!  Hopefully we're working on that while you're reading this!

Sree, ze valances in ze kitchen/dining room:
Don't remember if this project has been formally introduced yet but we're concocting some valances to adorn our dining room windows.

So, next Saturday, you can expect at least one fully finished project unfolded in a blog post.  I do, however, have one other teeny, tiny project to show and it involves a sweet little bundle named Alex.  Alex just happens to be our one month old Godson.  He's getting baptized tomorrow and we are so excited!  As a reminder of our love for him, I souped up a wee-little onesie with a little paint brush and some red acrylic paint:
And, just for kicks (and to make sure his loyalties are set at a young age), I pulled out the white paint and branded a hoodie with his Godparent's fave team. 

So, if all that doesn't make a smorgasbord of a post, to top it all off, I recently revamped our "Our First Nest" page and ran across these two 'home tour' videos, taken right before we moved down south and courtesy of 'yours truly'.  Take it away Anthony!

Have a great weekend everyone!

Making Granite Out of Laminate

Since the beginning of our master bathroom mini-makeover, seen herehere, and here, we've been tossing around ideas in regards to replacing the dated, cream-colored, laminate countertops.  After shopping around and realizing that nothing we could buy in a store would fit in our budget (or be worth the investment in this house, with this market), we thought we were on track to create some concrete countertops, and then Tuscan Accents from Lowe's came into the picture.  Tuscan Accents is a line of paint products made to give your walls a sort of Italian charm using two different kinds of paint - one as a base and one as a top coat with a cool spotty effect achieved by using a stippling brush to dab on paint, waiting for the paint to semi-dry, and then wiping excess paint from the surface.  You can read more about it and see some examples by clicking here.  We, on the other hand, took the idea to our countertops, thinking that we'd conduct a little painting experiment - if it didn't work, we had the concrete to fall back on and if it did, well, we'd be two happy little jumping beans.  :)

When we decided to paint our tops, we actually toyed with two different techniques before we chose the Tuscan Accents route.  The other idea was to use a spray paint with a stone-looking effect.  So, to decide which idea would win, I tried out both on a piece of backsplash we removed the week before.  First, I primed the entire piece with a spray primer - Rustoleum's White.  Then I went to work using some leftover paint from our living room.  Here's what it looked like when I was done (with a little photoshopping for results sake):       
1 - Stone spray paint - a no go.  We weren't crazy about the colors - speckled ivory with a sort of greeny-beige - and couldn't find another color we liked.
2 -  Tuscan Accents with a semi-gloss white base - I liked it, Anthony didn't.  The lines between the dried, stuck on paint and the wiped off paint were very obvious.
3 - Tuscan Accents with the white primer as the base coat - nope.  I put too much paint on here so that when I wiped the excess off several minutes later, most of the paint was still wet and therefore came off leaving large splotches.  It really wasn't bad but in the end we liked...
4 - Tuscan Accents with the white primer as the base coat - winner, winner, chicken dinner!  Just the right amount of paint was dabbed on, left to dry, and wiped off to create this look.
5 - Tuscan Accents with the white primer as the base coat - nada.  This was actually my first attempt at the Tuscan Accents but I didn't wait long enough to let some paint dry and it ended up just looking like one big smear. 

So, after we decided on #4, I applied a glossy polycrylic finish (more on that later) over the area make sure it wouldn't yellow the TA finish and to see the look of it.  It worked great.  Then came the real test.  I pulled out my curling iron and straightener to test the durability of the future bathroom countertops, thinking they would be it's biggest ransackers.  It passed with flying colors!  Even though the surface became pretty hot after I left the straightener sit on it (on it's highest setting for 10 minutes), the surface was unscathed!  So anyway, on to the good stuff after I just rambled on for about a million words to set the stage...

First, we prepped by removing the sinks and covering all surrounding areas (thank you Catholic Weekly) since we'd be using the same spray primer as on the test strip.

Then I took a hand sander to the top to remove any sheen and build-up and to create a surface the primer would stick to.

After wiping any and all residue caused by sanding, we were ready to prime.  We made sure the window was wide open and even set a box fan in it, blowing any fumes outside.  While I sprayed, Anthony held a large piece of cardboard underneath the front lip of the top to protect the cabinets.  Here it is, all primed and ready to go:

Next up - painting or should I say, stippling.  I mentioned above that the TA look is achieved by dabbing on paint with a stippling brush.  They sell the brush at Lowe's for 20 bucks.  But, I wasn't going to spend 20 bucks for it considering it was basically a glorified scrub brush.  On the tester strip I 'tested' with a scrub brush we had on hand and it worked wonderfully, so why not continue using that same scrub brush, right?  It saved us $20 and now can brag that it's multi-purpose - "for all of your cleaning and painting needs".  :)  
All I did was dip the brush into a tupperware dish filled with paint and dabbed it onto the top.  I worked in sections, dabbing one section, waiting 17 minutes for it to dry, wiping excess paint, then moving on to the next section.  It was hard to get good pictures of the process as the paint we decided on was so light, but I tried... 

Waiting for it to dry:

Right before wiping (see how some of the paint is dry and some is shiny and wet?):

(Side note:  I might be worth mentioning that to wipe, I used an old, cut up t-shirt of Anthony's and also used a fresh, dry piece for each section.)

To do the front face of the tops, Anthony ran a line of tape underneath the lip to protect our freshly painted cabinets:

Here it is, all painted and ready for poly:

For added protection and to achieve the glossy sheen we were looking for we used Minwax Polycrylic.  After searching "painted laminate countertops" on Pinterest, we decided to go with the popularly used, non-yellowing polycrylic over epoxy ($$$) and polyurethane (yellows).  Using our best paint brush, I painted on seven coats over three days, leaving at least 2 hours of drying time in between each coat.  I also lightly (and I mean lightly) sanded down each coat before painting on the next because the poly directions said to and to get a smooth surface (in the beginning, the paint was a little bumpy so sanding each coat eventually leveled the top out).

This is after two coats of poly:

And this is after the lucky seven coats:

We are SO happy we decided to take the painting route.  You'd have to see it for yourself, but we honestly think that you'd have to take a second glance to realize it wasn't quartz or granite.  As for what it cost us:
Primer - already had
Paint - sample size at $3
Scrub brush - already had  :)
Polycrylic - $16.50 at Wal-Mart (cheaper than the same stuff at Lowe's) and we only used about half of the can bringing the total down to $9 
Paint brush - already had
Grand Total = $12

Some other possibly pertinent information:
1.  Our countertop is 18 square feet.
2.  The paint color we used for the top coat is called 'Oatlands Subtle Taupe' by Valspar.  (I had them add only 75% of the color at Lowes so that it was a little lighter but then added more white at home so really it's a custom light grayish-tan color.)

[Three years later, the countertops are still doing good!  Read the update post here!]

Anyway, I feel like I just wrote another ba-jillion word post about diy but I hope you enjoyed our little, muy successful painting experiment!  As I type these last few words, Anthony is putting the sinks back in (muttering "I hate plumbing" under his breath) so I'm gonna skidaddle and help him and then I'm off to play hair dresser and make-up artist for the day for some teens as Homecoming is this eve.  :)  Have a great weekend everybody!  I'll be back next weekend with more diy craziness!

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P to the S:  If anyone has taken on the task of revamping their laminate countertops with paint, please send us pics and tell us how they've fared so far!  We'd love to hear from other peeps who are as paint crazy as us!  If you're contemplating it, we encourage you to take the leap...and then send us your pics!

Extreme Makeover: Clothes Edition

A few sessions of sewing during the past couple of months, and especially this past week, have brought me to the realm of clothes.  I'm only just a beginner, but I'm the kind of person who has the personality of the Dumbo train - "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can" - so I just kind of dove in and came out with a couple of pretty good alterations and one colorful creation.  Before I spill the deets though, I must say that I've mulled over the thought of taking my machine to clothes for months and months but finally just went for it after being majorly inspired by a friend from college and her incredible ability to make Goodwill clothes look like boutique-wear.  You can see Grace's awesomeness for yourself by clicking here.  Sew, onto the good stuff.

Creation #1 - The One-Shoulder Wonder
I actually got the inspiration to make this cute shirt from  I loved the idea and it just happened that I had a plain blue t-shirt on hand:

And a must-have-shrunk, immodestly-small, green "Daddy's Little Girl" t-shirt, given to me by my little sis Rock one Christmas many moons ago:

So, with the tutorial in mind, I snipped a little here:

Cut a few strips there (don't worry Rock...I have plans for the "Daddy's Little Girl" part):

Pleated, sewed, and pleated a little more:

And ended up with this little number:
Bright?  Yes.  Different?  Definitely!  Homemade?  You got it!  Just wait though, there's more...

Alteration #1:  Trimmin' Trees
I found this cotton, cherry blossom print dress at a close-out store for ONE dollar.  My thought?  "This would be a perfect dress to practice altering in hopes that it might lead to more alterations...right?"  It WAS a large:

But, after I quickly zipped several inches off each side, it's now ready for a summer day:

Add a little belted flair and we've moved up in the world:

Alteration #3:  Spot
This one's my fave.  I have this love for gray and white and couldn't resist not grabbing this cute skirt from a local Goodwill a few months ago for a couple of bucks.  It WAS a size 20 (I know, betcha can't wait to see this one):

 But, one night whilst Anthony was a-workin', I gathered up my courage, the sewing machine, and a little of Grace's gumption and gave this little pearl an overhaul:

And that's all...for now.  You can be sure of seeing more ruffled shirts and down-sizes here in the future though.  :)

Of course I won't sign off before giving an update on the home front.  As I type, this is what I'm looking at:
Slowly but surely...

And this is what our bathroom currently looks like:
 Also slow going...painting to begin tomorrow? 

I did get a chance to put the finishing touches on our newly painted cabinets though, some clear bumpers.  I put two on each door and drawer to make sure no matter how hard they were shut, all of my hard work would be protected. 

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That's all I've got this weekend - a few new wardrobe additions and a lot of work to be done!  On our over-achieving, weekly to-do list, we've got painting, as mentioned above, foam cutting, and finally some reupholstering to check off.  You'll see how we did next week!  Until then, have a great weekend everyone!

Shade-y Business

I wish I had progress to write about and show regarding the master bathroom mini-makeover, or even the loveseat this week, but alas, the only thing we've accomplished in the bathroom this week is ripping off the backslash and the loveseat is just chillaxin' half covered in foam.  So, we explore the tangent of a project I've been meaning to take on for a few months now but just managed to squeeze in this week.  It regards lamp shades.  Last year I scored some off-white, satin-covered, drum lamp shades for like four bucks each at a local discount store.  They were a teensy bit banged up (hence the low, low price) but nothing that a little bit of fabric and a glue gun couldn't hide...even though the 'hiding' happened several months later.  But anyway, on to the good stuff.  I decided to recover them with burlap, white burlap.  Only I found out that the 'white' burlap I ordered from JoAnn's isn't really 'white', it's more ivory.  I took it home anyway, brainstorming on how to make it white.  First, I tried soaking a small piece in pure bleach.  Fail.  It actually changed to a more tan color.  (I know, I'm as confused as you.)  Then I tried soaking another small piece in a bleach and water mix.  Fail.  No change.  I had one last option...spray paint.  Semi-fail.  My burlap turned 1/10000000 of a degree lighter.  So, I threw white to the wind and just worked with what I had.  

First, I cut out my pieces by wrapping the entire chunk of burlap around one shade, making sure it was fitted tightly around.

I then secured my tight fit with some clips and cut around the shade, leaving an inch of extra fabric around the top and bottom.
       (I really could've used another hand for this project when it came to picture taking.)

For the second shade cover, I just used my first cover as a pattern and cut away.  Behold my two pieces:
Know that they don't have to be perfect.  All excess fabric will be cut off at the end, leaving a perfectly fitted fabric cover.

Next, starting with the seam, I glued one side down.  (Side Note:  The burlap I bought had a great finished seam along the ends so I made sure my top seam was made with that pre-finished end, making the bottom seam an unfinished end that would be covered up.  You also need to make sure that your seam is straight up and down.  Before gluing, I made sure the pre-finished top seam was straight and then cut my bottom unfinished seam to be straight.  Comprehendo?  I hope so.)

Then I wrapped the rest of the fabric around, made sure it was tight, and glued the other seam down.  I might also mention that I glued my new fabric seam right over the existing seam of the shade just to keep things cool. 

On I moved to the inside of the shade where I began gluing down fabric by squeezing a line of glue into the crevice there and using the tops of my fingers to press the fabric into place,  holding them there until it dried and the fabric was firmly attached.  I worked in three inch sections so that I had enough time to glue, put the glue gun down, and hold fabric.  Had I tried to work in larger sections, it would've been hard to get the fabric down before the glue cooled and dried, leaving me with no stickage.

Little by little, I made my way around...

...until I had one side done and moved on to the next.

When I ran into a hardware rod, I cut the fabric so as to fit around the rod like so:

It was lookin' good, but my fingers, not so good:

After I was done gluing, I simply cut off the extra fabric inside the shade.  It still looked a little unkempt for my taste though so I think (another day, another post maybe?) I'll get some thin ribbon to cover the inside ends of the shade but for now, they're livable.  :)

One shade down, one to go.  See the difference? 

They're not much of a change in color, but they definitely scored points in the texture area.  And who knows, some applique or some sort of border might be in these shade's futures.  Who knows what I'll think of next?  :)

For now though, I'm happy with what I've got.

Total Cost:  Around $12.  ($10 for the shades and $2 for a little over half a yard of 'white' burlap (purchased with a coupon at JoAnn's)).  Not bad considering these...
 burlap shades from Pottery Barn will run you back at least $29 (the shades that are the same size as mine - large - are $59 each...ouch!)  Now THAT'S some shade-y business if you ask me!  :)

Anyway, I've got two new, long-awaited shades after completing a pretty simple project that didn't require a ton of time or energy.  The best part about this project is that you can use any fabric you want - bold, patterned, solid, textured - add appliques, ribbon, fabric flowers, or whatever lights your lamp to get a bright impact.  Haha...pun intended. 
Anyone else taken up the task of switching up a lamp shade or two?  I'd love to see them!  I have a little bit of a lamp obsession (just ask Anthony) can check it out by clicking on my lamps label under Hot Topics up there on there right.  :)

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So that's all folks!  I hope everyone has a great weekend!  If you're in the mood for some make-believe, a tid bit of diy, a super cute baby, and a few laughs, head on over to my sister's blog -