Friday, June 29, 2012

Random Friday

1. Flowering baskets.
      Since we've moved in, I've been wanting to put up hanging baskets on our front porch. But for the past two months, we've just had some pitiful chains hanging from the top of the porch. So the other day since my dad is here, we made a trip to Lowe's and bought some pink vincas and white petunias, potting soil, and some hanging baskets and made our own. It makes the house look so much more homey. Plus, a ton of the plants around our house are flowering and it looks so pretty right now. 

2. Newsroom.
     I am so excited about this TV show. The first episode aired last Sunday, but it's been replaying on HBO pretty often this week. I really liked the first episode and am so happy that I finally found a scripted fictional show to watch this summer. I am so tired of all the reality shows, like The Bachelorette, Big Brother, The Glass House, Hell's Kitchen, and all that stuff. Here are some things I loved about the first episode: the quick, smart dialogue, the mystery behind the main character's past relationship, and the excitement surrounding the characters as they gather all the info on a developing news story (in the first episode, they are breaking the news about the BP oil spill of 2010). As a journalism major and former newspaper writer, I sometimes miss the research and digging to find all the information behind a story so this show was really fun for me to watch. The show has gotten some bad reviews from the media, but that's to be expected considering this show hit on the fact that the news media has changed a lot in the past few decades (for the worse in many cases). 

3. Sew what?
       This week I worked on one of the projects from my For the Makers craft box. I made the poppy fields pouch (on the left below) and then I went to the fabric store and bought some fabric and another zipper so that I could make another pouch (the one on the right). I'm still not the best at sewing, but I had a lot of fun making it and I'm getting better at making my stitches straight and even. I have two more projects to make from my box, a hanging luminary and a flower hair pin. I highly recommend For the Makers if you or somebody you know love making crafts. 

4. Cravebox. 
      Cravebox is a newer subscription box that has various themes each month. This summer, Cravebox is offering several special edition boxes that you can enter to win. You can sign up to be notified when the lottery to win a certain box is open and then you can decide whether or not you want to try to win it at that time. If you win, then you are charged $10 for box. I entered to win the Summer Spruce Up cleaning box and got it for just $10 the other day. It came with Mr. Clean Bliss cleaning gloves, Bar Keepers Friend cleanser and polish, a coupon for a free box of Glad tall kitchen bags, Sprayaway Glass Cleaner (best glass cleaner EVER!), and a Dawn Duo Sponge Cloth. It was actually pretty awesome because we were cleaning up the house before my parents came into town and I had just been saying that we didn't have any cleaning supplies when we checked the mail and found these goodies. There are four other special edition boxes this summer if you want to try for one: Summer Beauty, Pet Lovers, Summer BBQ, and Back to School. Check it out here.  

5. What's on my Nook.
      I'm currently rereading "Hourglass," the first book in the Hourglass series by Myra McEntire. The second book "Timepiece" came out a week or so ago, but I thought I needed a refresher before I started to read it. Here's the synopsis: "For Emerson Cole, life is about seeing what isn’t there: swooning Southern Belles; soldiers long forgotten; a haunting jazz trio that vanishes in an instant. Plagued by phantoms since her parents’ death, she just wants the apparitions to stop so she can be normal. She’s tried everything, but the visions keep coming back. So when her well-meaning brother brings in a consultant from a secretive organization called the Hourglass, Emerson’s willing to try one last cure. But meeting Michael Weaver may not only change her future, it may change her past. Who is this dark, mysterious, sympathetic guy, barely older than Emerson herself, who seems to believe every crazy word she says? Why does an electric charge seem to run through the room whenever he’s around? And why is he so insistent that he needs her help to prevent a death that never should have happened?" If you're interested in starting the series, now is a good time because the first book only costs $1.59 on the Nook and Kindle. There are a lot of books that are going to be released this summer that I'm interested in, so stay tuned as those are published and I'll let you know more about them.
6. More paint choices.
      The paint dilemma has gotten more confusing now that we've put some paint swatches on the walls in our kitchen and living room. We tried out the paints I mentioned last week and also two from below: Moonshine and Gray Horse. These two paints are more cool grays while the others are warm grays. And the sad part is I can't even choose whether I want cool colors or warm colors. And the funnier part is that I like one of the cool colors best in one room and one of the warm colors best in the other room, but they don't look good together so we can't choose both of them. Ugh. Eventually we will make a decision. But right now it looks like a gang broke into our house and graffitied our walls. 

7. Cute Owen Pic of the Week. 
      As I was cleaning our guest bathroom the other day before my parents came into town, Owen kept following me around trying to get into the cleaning supplies or pulling out his bath toys over and over. I left the room for a moment to get something and when I came back, Owen had discovered a roll of paper towels and was literally tossing it around the room. He was having so much fun that I had to run get my camera and take a picture. 

8. Peek-a-boo Farm. 
     If you are the mother of a toddler and have a Nook, Kindle, iPhone, etc. you need to buy the app Peek-a-boo Farm. Owen loves it. He first played it on my cousin Johanna's iPhone at Christmas and when I found it on my Nook the other day, I just had to buy it. Basically Owen taps on the doors to an animated barn and then the doors open to reveal a farm animal that makes a noise and then a child's voice says the name of the animal. Owen loves playing it and it is so cute watching him use both hands to "open" the doors of the barn. It is a great way to occupy him (relatively) quietly for a few minutes and I think it would be really great for traveling. And the little kid voices are so cute. But don't let your kid grow up saying "wooster."
9. Newest renovation to the house. 
     While my dad was here this week, Tim decided to work on yet another upgrade we wanted for our house: a garage door opener. We had to have our garage door fixed by installing new springs before they could do it, but now we have a garage door that opens with a remote and once we get it all cleaned up in there, we can park our cars in our garage. Yay! They are also breaking down a room in the garage that makes it so you can't park two cars in there. I think they are secretly enjoying destroying it with saws and crowbars. 

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How to paint your cabinets (a.k.a. a job not for the faint of heart)

     We’re finally done! Our cabinet painting adventure has taken the past month and maybe a bit more. So much for that online tutorial where it took only 15 days... 
     We started the project on the day we moved in by taking down all the cabinet doors and removing all the ugly brassy hardware and hinges. Tim was so gung-ho about starting the project that he had most of the cabinet doors taken down before I remembered to take a “before” picture. We tag-teamed the process. Tim took the cabinets down off their hinges with his drill and then I used a screw driver to unscrew the hardware from the doors and drawers.
The doors in their original condition. 
The original cabinet facings. Pardon the mess.
We also tore off the decorative woodwork on the top. It was too dated for the look we wanted.
Another look. Tim also took the plug-in box for the microwave and set it into the back wall of the cabinet and that looks much better now too. 
     Then the next day, I filled the holes from the previous handles on the door because our new pulls would only need one hole compared to the two from the old handles. I used Elmer’s ProBond Professional Strength Wood Filler. I just applied it with a putty knife and then scaped it flat. 
Wood puttying the original hardware holes. 
This is the box full of our old brass hardware.
     After a day to let the patched holes harden, we began the sanding. The neverending, monotonous sanding. So much sanding that we broke one palm sander and had to go buy another. (Actually two, because we wanted to replace my dad’s which broke and have one for ourselves). We did a first round of sanding using 60 grit sandpaper to really rough them up and then a second round of sanding using 220 grit sandpaper to smooth anything left. We used the electrical palm sander for the flat parts and then sanded by hand any curves and parts the palm sander couldn’t reach well. Halfway through the process, my aunt gifted us some supplies including sanding sponges, which we hadn’t known existed. And they make sanding by hand sooo much easier. I highly recommend them versus just folding up a piece of sandpaper to use. 
We sanded all the doors and drawers outside in the garage.
Sanding sponge = Greatest invention since the lightbulb. And indoor plumbing.
We created a barrier to prevent sawdust from getting all over the place while we sanded in the kitchen. Tim said it looked like we were going to murder someone like on the show Dexter. 
      After sanding for what seemed like an eternity, I wiped all the cabinet doors, drawers, and the cabinet facings down with a liquid deglosser to remove any remaining sawdust or dirt so we had a completely clean canvas before we began priming. Greasy kitchen cabinets are the worse for having gunk all over them. 
The deglosser helped remove any sawdust residue.
This is what the cabinets and drawers looked like before we began applying primer. 
     We primed the cabinets with a light coat of INSL-X Aqua Lock primer from our local Benjamin Moore retailer. You apply a really thin coat. It almost has a sticky, gluey texture which helps the paint to adhere. We primed the backs of the doors first and then the fronts. The guy at the store said one coat should do the trick. 
We applied primer with a foam roller and a brush. 
Then we set them outside in the sun to dry. Be careful of bugs, which love to come die on your freshly painted doors. 
We put each door on a couple pieces of scrap wood so that we could easily prime and paint the sides. 
     And then came the paint. We chose Benjamin Moore’s Advance Paint in Cloud White (a slightly taupey white) in a satin finish. It’s low-VOC, self-leveling, won’t discolor, and is really durable. We applied two coats, starting again with the backs of the doors and then finishing with the fronts.
Our paint was self-leveling, so it doesn't show brush strokes at all!
Freshly painted doors.
    After letting the painted doors and drawers cure for 4-5 days (read the instructions on the can), we began installing the new hardware and hinges. We bought hinges exactly like our previous ones except in brushed nickel so they would fit in the holes that were already there. We used 1.25-inch sized mushroom knobs in brushed nickel for all the cabinet doors and brushed nickel cup pulls for the drawers. We bought the knobs in bulk in packs of ten, which saved us a lot of money. One thing that really helped us was a guide by Liberty Hardware that has holes in it so you can line up and mark your holes for your knobs on the same place on every door. 
I used the hardware guide to mark the spot on the doors where I wanted the knobs. 
Then Tim just drilled through the door on the pencil mark I made.
Screw on the new knob and it's done!
Finished doors, ready to be hung.
     Then we matched up all the doors and drawers and attached them to the cabinet boxes. This wasn't too hard because most of our cabinet doors are different sizes. Afterwards, we did a happy dance and collapsed into comas for 3.5 days. 
Here's the finished product!
I think the white cabinets look much better with our wood floors. 
I have always liked the look of cup pulls on drawers. 
Finally we have so many cabinets in a kitchen, that I can store our wedding china.
We are so happy with the finished product and can't wait to see them with new paint on the walls. 
Here's the best "before" and "after" I could find.
      In case you're wondering how much this cabinet makeover cost us, I typed up a budget breakdown for all the materials we needed to do the project. Because either refacing or buying entirely new cabinets can cost several thousand dollars, we saved a lot of money by doing it ourselves.  

Here’s our entire budget breakdown:
Wood filler (Elmer’s ProBond Professional Strength Wood Filler from Lowe’s): $11.35
Liquid deglosser: $6.28
New sander: $29.97
Sandpaper: $27.39
Primer (we used INSL-X Aqua Lock primer from a local Benjamin Moore store): $40.59
Benjamin Moore’s Advance paint (in Cloud White in a satin finish): $48.79
New paint brushes (We used Wooster Silver Tip 2-inch angled brushes): $19.78
All new hardware (from Lowe's): $84.36
All new hinges (from Lowe's): $57.69
Hardware templates (by Liberty Hardware from Lowe’s): $3.97
Labor: Free!

Cabinet makeover total: $302.78

Monday, June 25, 2012

Wittlebee review

  I received my first box of my two-month subscription to Wittlebee last week. In case you don't know, Wittlebee is a subscription clothing service for babies and young children size 0-5T where you receive eight (now six) items of clothing a month based on your child's size, style, and favorite colors and patterns. I ordered mine through a special deal on Plum District and was able to basically get two months for the price of one. Normally, the subscription costs $39.99 a month. When I first ordered this I couldn't figure out who would do this every month, but after shopping with an energetic toddler the other day, I'm beginning to realize how little shopping I'm going to be able to do at actual stores now. 
    When I filled out the questionnaire of Wittlebee's website during my sign-up process, I told them Owen's size and requested preppy and hipster style clothing. The other style options for boys are casual, sporty, and mix and match (whatever that is). You also get to tell them your favorite colors and graphics. I picked blue, green, and red. For graphics, I chose animals and stripes. 
     We received only six items of clothing in our original box. This was surprising because Wittlebee is supposed to send you eight items of clothing. A press release went out recently telling customers that they were going to be decreasing the number of items in the boxes for new customers starting July 1, but it shouldn't affect existing customers. I sent an e-mail to the company about this and they took forever to reply, so I called and couldn't get through to an operator and ended up having to leave a message. I posted about it on their Facebook page and they got back to me later that day. I have found recently that companies really keep up with comments on their Facebook pages, so if you ever have a problem with a company, I would recommend commenting on their Facebook page because they seem to reply to them really quickly. Wittlebee said they would send me ten pieces of clothing in my box in July. It seems to me that Wittlebee really wants to fix any problems as quick as they can, but they are a growing company and I think that causes them to get a little behind.
      In our box, we got four shirts, a pair of shorts, and a pair of casual, almost pajama-type pants. Brands in the shipment included TeddyBoom, American Apparel, and Carter's Kids Headquarters. I was a little surprised at some of the brands because they weren't exactly unique and high-end like many I had seen in other boxes. I was also a little disappointed because they seemed to send me a weird mix of types of clothing. Generally it seems like they are trying to give you a couple outfits, especially with the girl's clothing, but none of these things go together. Even the plain blue t-shirt and pants are different shades of blue and don't really go together. Also, they sent me some 18-24 month size things, which are way too big for Owen right now. I notified my "personal stylist" so hopefully we'll get more things that fit next month. I also requested no more skulls. 
    We'll see how I feel about the program after I receive my July box. Even though this is a service that is sort-of a splurge every month, I really like Wittlebee for the ease of receiving clothing in the mail. But as I have found out since having a boy, the cute clothing options for them are quite limited compared to all the cute clothing options for girls. When I see the clothes inside Wittlebee boxes for girls, I get all jealous because all the outfits match really well and are so cute. The boy stuff is still pretty basic. 
     If you're interested in trying out Wittlebee for your little one, you can use my link and receive a $10 discount off your first box. 

Friday, June 22, 2012

Random Friday

    My parents are coming to visit for a week starting tomorrow. Tim and I are both very excited because it's just so much fun being able to see Owen playing with his grandparents (either set) and both Tim's and my parents have been really helpful anytime they come visit. Either by helping with one of our projects around the house or helping watch Owen so that we can work on a project around the house. I'm hoping that while my parents are here we can do at least a couple projects. I'd really like to repaint Owen's room, buy some curtains, and hang his art and have his room finished. Tim wants my dad to help him put in a garage door opener so that we can open the door with a remote and not have to lift the door the old-fashioned way. It would also be nice to be able to do a little more painting in the kitchen. While the cabinets are done, we need to put a fresh coat of white paint on the wainscoting, the molding, and the window frames to match. Then hopefully, we can paint the kitchen walls and start decorating the kitchen and dining room with final touches like art and curtains soon. Anyway, here are some other things that have been going on in our lives.

1. Goin' to the chapel. 
     I got a text on Monday night at about 10:30 from my cousin Johanna. She and her boyfriend Stephen are engaged! I'm not sure how long they've been dating, but it seems like forever. I know that he came to our wedding with her almost three years ago, if that says anything. I don't know when they'll plan to get married, but I do know that she typically pins fall wedding styles on Pinterest. Maybe a fall 2013 wedding? Anyway, I'm very excited for the both of them and I can't wait to see Johanna begin all the wedding planning fun!

2. Let there be light! 
     As part of our ongoing kitchen renovations, we are replacing some of the light fixtures in the kitchen. We are also hoping to take down the ceiling fan in the kitchen and replace it with a light fixture. We recently finally decided on the pendant light that we want to place above the sink. The light that used to be there was a really outdated flush mount light. After looking online and at Lowe's, we finally decided on a pendant light from the online site Shades of Light. They have a ton of really unique and interesting lights. The one we decided on is made from recycled glass that was blown around chicken wire to make a really beautiful pattern. I love it and can't wait to see it in our kitchen. Unfortunately, the light is on backorder so we aren't supposed to get it until mid-July. 

3.  In the bag. 
     I meant to post this last week, but forgot. Tim was a super sweet husband and got me a new purse for my birthday. I told him that I was over carrying a diaper bag everywhere and that I wanted to carry a purse again. The purse that I got is the Ruth satchel by Shiraleah. Shiraleah makes eco-friendly, leather-free purses and handbags. My purse is actually a darker tan color than in the picture, but it is really cute and what you can't see in the picture is that it has a really pretty magenta silk inside. There are lots of pockets inside too, so I can stash some diapers and wipes in it whenever I go out with Owen. It's also big enough that I can carry whatever I might need along with a few toys and a snack for Owen. I love it! 
4. UMBA love.  
     My mom got her second package from Umba Box this past week for her birthday. Inside was a handmade refrigerator magnet with a tiny vase for a flower and a necklace with a piece of vintage lace in it. The necklace is from the online shop That Old Blue House on Etsy. I think the necklaces I've seen on her site are really pretty, but I can't wait to see which one my mom got. All of these necklaces are so unique. I think they would make perfect bridesmaid's gifts if you had a vintage wedding theme. 
5. Night owl. 
     Every once in a while, Owen has a night where he just does not want to go to sleep. No matter how full his tummy is, or how much we rock him, or how busy a day we had. The other night I felt bad leaving him in his crib, but I put a stuffed animal and a book with him thinking he would play for a short bit and then fall asleep. Well, after a while, he stopped making noise and I decided to go check on him. This is how I found him. Sitting in his crib in the dark.
Reading in the dark.
Oh good, Mom. Glad you're finally here. Can you read this?
What? It's 9 p.m. and I should be asleep? It's his fault!
6. Citrus Lane Love. 
     I got my first Citrus Lane box earlier this week. And it's safe to say that I'm in love! The box was art and music-themed and had so many fun things in it for Owen. It included fingerpaints, a music CD, a toddler-sized tambourine, and more! We have had so much fun trying out all the things in his box this month. The fingerpaints were really fun in particular because they are made from powdered vegetables and fruits so they are completely safe for munchkins. In case you missed it, I posted a review yesterday. 

7. What I'm reading now.
      I just finished reading "Warm Bodies" by Isaac Marion. Here's a synopsis: "R is a young man with an existential crisis - he is a zombie... After experiencing a teenage boy's memories while consuming his brain, R makes an unexpected choice that begins a tense, awkward, and strangely sweet relationship with the victim's human girlfriend. Julie is a blast of color in the otherwise dreary and gray landscape that surrounds R. His decision to protect her will transform not only R, but his fellow Dead, and perhaps their whole lifeless world." I could hardly put this book down. I just couldn't wait to see what happened in the end. I think it took me three days to read it. Though it's a little gruesome in parts, R.'s love for Julie is so sweet and endearing. The book is told through R.'s perspective (and a little of the dead boyfriend's) and it is his eloquent internal narrative and surprising will to live that made this book for me. I cannot recommend it enough. I saw online that they're making a movie of this book that will come out next year and I am interested to see how this translates to film. I always wonder how a movie can really capture a book when so much of the narrative takes place in the main character's thoughts.  
     Anyway, I don't really have any books on my radar to read next. Any ideas? What have you been reading?
8. You've nailed it. 
     Last month when I joined the Julep Maven program for nail care products, I didn't really like any of the June monthly boxes. None of the colors really spoke to me. But on Wednesday I got an e-mail announcing the colors for the July boxes and this month's picks are all winners! I had such a hard time deciding whether to stick with my normal "Classic with a Twist" box or switching to another box. In the end, I decided to switch to "Boho Glam" because I really love the coral-y pink color Mischa and the red color Georgia. The other cool thing about this month is that everyone is getting a free patriotic color in their boxes in time for the Summer Olympics in London (and the Fourth of July). The limited edition colors America the Beautiful and O Canada! are so neat. And free! My box is also going to come with a voucher for a free nail color as a special thank you for signing up last month. So you see, Julep offers perks practically nonstop! If you're interested in trying Julep Maven and want to get your intro box for just a penny, you can click here to fill out your style quiz and then just use the promo code COLOR2012 to adjust the price of your first box to just one penny. I know I talk about subscription boxes a lot, but Julep Maven is one of my favorites. There are just so many options to decide exactly what you want to get and they give out fun surprises constantly. Each month, you also have the possibility of winning a gold box, which includes every color from all the different boxes for that month. How awesome would that be? Plus, the ability to skip a month anytime you want and not get charged is really unique for subscription boxes. 
9. Paint indecision. I feel like I have been looking at paint colors for an eternity, but I haven't made any final decisions. It is just so hard to make a final choice and slap the paint on the wall. Obviously, if it looks bad we can start over, but there's just something about making that final choice that has me paralyzed. Currently, I am toying with two colors, one for the kitchen/dining room and one for the living room. They are in the same color family so I think that they will look good with each other since the rooms are adjoining and you will be able to see them together. Right now, I like Benjamin Moore's Rockport Gray (marked with a 1) for the kitchen and Copley Gray (the one above it) for the living room.