Amy’s Notebook 10.28.15: Transforming Your Space M Challenge Syllabus

October 28th, 2015

Transforming Your Space M Challenge

As a wrap-up of each month’s M Challenge theme, we will be using the last Notebook of the month as a sort of “Cliffs Notes” edition of the challenge – a place where you can find a list of all the articles we’ve published for the challenge, as well as more inspiration and links from the web around the challenge theme. Our hope is that this will be something that you can refer to in the future as well as catch up on in case you’ve missed anything!

October M Challenge: Focus on Transforming Your Space

Other Links: Easy Ideas to Transform Your Space

Wood Tile Look via Little Green Notebook

Source: Little Green Notebook


8 tips for nailing wood tile.

27 easy remodeling ideas that will completely transform your home (on a budget!).

Makeover a bathroom on a budget.

Update a brick fireplace in a day.

How to paint a faucet.

DIY vanity makeover using concrete overlay.

How to decorate any room starting now.

Staircase Makeover via In My Own Style

Source: In My Own Style


Update a carpeted staircase to stained steps and white painted risers for only $50.

40 temporary ways to transform your rental.

How to transform a closet into a mudroom nook.

How to frame a bathroom mirror.

Update your tile countertops with paint.

Turn a closet into a home office.

Upgrade your windows with DIY trim (the best tutorials).


I hope you enjoyed our M Challenge syllabus notebook, a collection of the Mom Advice articles and gathered links all around the month’s challenge focus. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

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ePantry: Free Mrs. Meyer’s Seasonal Scents Pack ($29 Value) + Free Shipping!

October 27th, 2015

Mrs. Meyer's Seasonal Bundle

I am such a BIG fan of ePantry and their green offerings for both home & beauty and I have talked about the value in it for keeping your home stocked especially in these busy seasons of life. Today I have a very special offer (valid for the next six days only!) to give to our MomAdvice readers that I am so excited to share with you!!

Through November 1st (9PM EST)  you can get a FREE Mrs. Meyer’s Seasonal Scents hand soap, dish soap, and multi-surface cleaner, plus a Full Circle renewable dish brush with any $20 minimum purchase! Not only that, but shipping will also be free.

This offer is valid for new ePantry customers only, however, existing customers can add a FREE Mrs. Meyer’s hand soap to your next order through this link.

There are three different delicious-smelling seasonal scents to choose from: Orange Clove, Iowa Pine, or Cranberry. You can grab your freebies all in one scent or mix & match to try all three scents!

Mrs. Meyer's Seasonal Scents

Cash In On This Exclusive Offer!

1. Sign-up HERE for Cranberry, HERE for Orange Clove, or HERE for Iowa Pine (you can mix & match once your get to your basket, too). Click on the “get started” button (new customers only).

2. You’ll be asked a few questions to personalize your account a little better. (This only takes about 30 seconds.)

3. After answering the questions, a customized dashboard will pop up with a set basket of suggested items for this deal. You’ll see the Mrs. Meyer’s Seasonal Scents and Dish Brush included. On the right, you will see the discounts for the freebies and free shipping.

What the basket will look like upon checkout

4. Modify your basket to your liking and preferences. Your minimum order amount just has to be $20 or more to get the bonus free products. You can choose any combination of seasonal scents for the freebies, too.

5. Shipping is free.

After the freebies, it’s like paying just $2.33 per item shipped! This is a such a great opportunity to save on festive cleaning products for your home during the holiday season!

Here is a breakdown of pricing:


Remember that this offer is valid only through November 1st (until 9PM EST)! Happy Holidays!

This post contains affiliate links! We only recommend what we love!

How to Easily Stain Furniture

October 27th, 2015

While I usually use paint to makeover furniture, I tried my hand at staining furniture – this sweet table I found that needed a ton of help to be beautiful – and I love how it turned out! It’s been one of my favorite transformations ever, so of course I wanted to share it for our Transforming Your Space M Challenge.

How to Easily Stain Furniture by

Staining furniture seems like a pretty intimidating project if you have never stained before. Today’s tutorial is going to showcase how to easily stain wood furniture and how you can turn a tired piece into that piece of furniture you have been dreaming of with a simple stain technique.

Today I am working with Cabot Wood Stain to share their new Premium Wood Finish, a stain + sealer product that you can use to restore the finish on your furniture. This H2Oil™ formula provides the best of oil and water-based stains and makes for easy clean up with just a little soap and water!

What I really love about it most though is that it conditions, seals and protects in one step and doesn’t require primer or wood conditioner. You can find this stain at your local Lowes store and the stain color I am working with today is their Espresso finish.  Don’t feel like you have to be committed to just the traditional stain though because it can be tinted to nearly thirty different colors including non-traditional colors like teal and purple!

Premium Wood Finish Colors

Let’s get started on our fun project- I can’t wait for you to see the results!

How to Easily Stain Furniture by How to Easily Stain Furniture by

I headed over to our local thrift store and found this beat-up wooden table for $50. I sent a picture of it to my husband and he replied, “Please tell me you didn’t bring that home.” Yes, you know that you have picked the perfect piece if your husband requests that you not bring it home.

As you can see on the top, this was in extremely bad condition. The top of it looked irreparable and the drawers were deeply damaged. I knew that I would have to be creative with this piece, but the legs and pretty drawers made it a piece worth working on for our office. Because this piece is so damaged, my process took a few extra steps, but even with all the damage, I was able to finish it in a mere 24 hours. You won’t believe this transformation.

How to Easily Stain Furniture by

Supplies Needed

Cabot Premium Wood Finish Stain + Sealer (in your color choice- I have used espresso)

Optional : Cabot Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner (I used this because my piece was so incredibly damaged, but it is an unnecessary step if your piece is in better condition)

Wood Filler

Medium & Fine Grit Sandpaper

Sander (or you can do this by hand)



Drop Cloth

Painting Supplies (if adding painted details like me. The drawers are spray painted using this technique here)

New Hardware or Spray Paint for Old Hardware

How to Easily Stain Furniture by

How to Stain Furniture

1. Begin by thoroughly cleaning your piece well with a clean rag. Once the piece has been cleaned, apply stainable wood filler to any gashes you may see on your piece. Allow the wood filler to dry (two hours) and then using your medium grit sanding paper to smooth and make the filler level to the rest of the surface.

2. Using a sander (or you can do this by hand), sand the piece to remove any old stain and any scratches. Due to the damage on my piece, this took a half hour to do which gave me a chance to begin painting the drawers to this piece.  Make sure that you have on gloves and a mask when sanding your piece and once finished that you clean it well with a clean tack cloth to remove any of the sanding particles before staining.

3. Because of the condition of my piece and how uneven the top still looked on this, I decided to brush on some Cabot Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner (be sure to do this with the grain of the wood)  to make sure that my stain really took evenly. If your piece is in better condition though, you can definitely skip this step. 

On larger surfaces, you will want to work quickly in small sections. Saturate wood with a uniform coat of Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner using a clean brush or sponge. Allow no more than 5 minutes for penetration. Then wipe off all excess. Immediately after removal of Conditioner, apply your Cabot Wood Stain If you are pre-conditioning DO NOT allow the Conditioner to dry. Surfaces which are allowed to dry will not accept stain!

How to Easily Stain Furniture by

4. Now we are ready to stain and seal our piece. Before you begin, make sure your piece is clean and free of any debris using a clean tack cloth.  Again, using a foam brush apply the stain with the grain of the wood. Raw wood is very thirsty so it will absorb the stain quickly. After five minutes, using a clean tack cloth, and wipe it down to remove any stain that hasn’t been absorbed.

How to Easily Stain Furniture by is what my tabletop looked like after the first coat. You can see that there is definitely still some unevenness to it, but we are off to a good start. Allow this to dry for 2 1/2 hours before applying the next coat.

How to Easily Stain Furniture by

Sand very lightly with 600 grit sandpaper to smooth wood grain. Remove sanding dust with tack cloth and apply a second thin coat. For full color and maximum durability, apply 2 or more coats. For a muted, distressed look apply 1 coat.  For my table, I applied just two coats so I still had the distressed look that I was after. Since I am impatient, I really love that the Cabot Wood Stain is a fast drying formula that dries in 2-1/2 hours between coats and fully dries in only 6 hours.

Since I also have two kiddos that are rough and tough on my furniture, I also love that it offers a durable finish that will hold up to our abuse and that it protects against spills, water rings and even household chemicals like bleach, alcohol, and nail polish remover.

How to Easily Stain Furniture by How to Easily Stain Furniture by How to Easily Stain Furniture by How to Easily Stain Furniture by How to Easily Stain Furniture by

How to Easily Stain Furniture by

Hello beautiful new table of mine! I am absolutely smitten with this piece and I can’t believe the transformation. We updated the hardware with a couple of new drawer handles since the previous handles were falling apart. The drawers were distressed and antiqued up to match their chippy former days and then I applied my decorative glaze over these spray painted drawers to antique them up a bit more.

How to Easily Stain Furniture by

I swear that this new-to-me table looks just like a table I was coveting in my West Elm catalog, but at a fraction of the price. This has become my new favorite corner in our house and I can’t believe the transformation! For other indoor stain ideas, check out Cabot’s Indoor Inspiration Pinterest board and be sure to follow me on Pinterest for more DIY inspiration! 

Have you ever stained furniture before? What are your tips and advice for updating a piece?

This post is sponsored by Cabot Wood Stain.  I’ve received product samples and compensation for my time and effort in creating this post. All thoughts and opinions are my own.



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The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 6)

October 26th, 2015

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 6)

It’s another delicious week thanks to a day of preparations. I’ve discovered audiobooks are so great for these days because I feel like I am accomplishing two things I want to do at once! Thanks to our library partnering with hoopla, I have been able to really take advantage of this freely through my library card.

I hope these meal ideas have been inspiring to you and your family!

Approximate Time for Preparation- 3 hours plus clean-up! 

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 6- see previous weeks here)

Roasted Turkey Breast (for sandwiches)- I roasted this while I chopped the other food!

Homemade Pizza Sauce (I stole one from our freezer this week!)

Pizza Dough (I bagged the dry ingredients for my homemade pizza)

Greek Lemon Chicken Soup (soup base prepared minus the noodles)

Grapes (removed from the vine, but I didn’t rinse so they don’t get moldy!)

Brown Rice (four cups)- (NEW TUTORIAL!!)

Slow Cooker Pot Roast Italiano (prepped & bagged)

Chopped Romaine Hearts (for salads & turkey sandwich topping)

Spaghetti Sauce

Pumpkin Pancakes (mixed dry ingredients & jotted down wet ingredients needed on packaging)

Chicken Lo Mein (ingredients chopped and bagged separately & sauce prepared in a separate container)

Green Beans (trimmed) & Mushrooms in separate bags- planning to roast them like this

Chopped Carrots & Celery (I store these in water)

Green Smoothie Packets (I use this recipe and froze the strawberries, bananas, and fresh spinach in packets for the morning.)

Meal Plan

Breakfasts- Green Smoothies

Lunches- Leftovers , Turkey Sandwiches, Greek Lemon Chicken Soup


The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 6)

Weeknight Roasted Turkey Sandwiches With Shoestring Oven Fries, Carrots, & Celery


Weeknight Chicken Lo Mein, Brown Rice, With Steamed Edamame

greek soup finish 1

Greek Lemon Chicken Soup, Salad (tossed with red wine vinegar, olive oil, & oregano),  & Grapes


Pot Roast Italiano, Balsamic Roasted Green Beans & Mushrooms, With Roasted Potatoes


Pumpkin Pancakes, Chicken Sausages, & Orange Juice


Homemade Pizza Night

momadvice-make-ahead-meals (1 of 1)

I hope you enjoy this make-ahead feast inspiration! Happy Monday, friends!! xo

Sundays With Writers: This is Your Life, Harriet Chance by Jonathan Evison

October 25th, 2015


Hello, friends! Today I am so excited to share about a new-to-me author that I have discovered this month. Jonathan Evison’s book, This Is Your Life, Harriet Chance!, is a book that I listened to while tackling my meal prep for the week and it was absolutely charming in every way. If you are into audiobooks, the narrator did such an incredible job on this one!  As soon as I finished it, I emailed Jonathan to see if he could share more about it with me. He graciously is joining us today and after researching more about him and his books, I am just so anxious to read another one, in particular, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving, which he told me would really resonate with my mom readers!

This is Your Life, Harriet Chance! by Jonathan Evison

Our must-reads list for the month will be out on Friday, but I couldn’t wait until then to tell you about this incredible book.

There is so much beautiful layering in this book that I just couldn’t put it down! 78-year-old Harriet discovers that her husband had won an Alaskan cruise before his passing and, with an expiration date looming on the prize, she decides to take that cruise with her best friend. When her best friend unexpectedly bails on her, Harriet finds herself on a boat out to sea, but she isn’t alone thanks to her husband’s visits.

We grow to know Harriet in a unique way as chapters alternate with a, “This is Your Life,” game show theme and we jump along the timeline of Harriet learning more about all of the life experiences that have shaped her, the people who have betrayed her, how she was treated when she was a child, how she felt as her marriage and parenting were failing, and what it was like for her to care for a husband who mentally was no longer there.

The book twists and turns, secrets are revealed and an unexpected guest joins Harriet on the cruise. It was a beautiful story that makes you consider what your own, “This Is Your Life,” show might look like- with all the good and the bad moments in it.

I am giving this book 5 out of 5 stars and am so excited to hear that it will be coming to the big screen!

Grab your coffee and let’s settle in with Jonathan Evison today as we chat about his incredible new book!

jonathan evison

In your interview with NPR in September, you stated that you originally had written the story with Harriet having these flashbacks looking back on her life while brewing tea or gazing out the window, but then came up with the concept to mimic, “This is Your Life,” to bring these flashback moments to life. How did the idea of making these flashbacks to resemble the show, “This is Your Life,” come to you?

Really, it just arrived out of thin air, born of necessity. The narrative was too linear. Harriet needed a counterpoint. Since this was a novel about memory, and reflection, and association, all non-linear processes, this was a perfect opportunity to jump around in Harriet’s life. I liked the idea of Harriet being presented with her life at some distance.

As a male in his forties, the way that you capture the voice of a 78 year-old Harriet is so beautifully done and never feels forced, which is a true showcase of your incredible writing talent. How did you develop that voice for Harriet? Did you channel someone you knew or was it a collective voice of women this age that shaped Harriet’s perspective?

I wanted Harriet to be an everywoman of her generation, but yes, she was informed by a number of women in my life. I was raised almost exclusively by women. As I acknowledge at the end of the book, I wanted to honor the courageous women who  nurtured me, educated me, disciplined me, sacrificed for me, suffered for me, and never forsaken me; my mom, my grandma, my sisters, my wife, and my third grade teacher, to name a few. The women who have often settled for less, the women who’ve never quite gotten their fair share, who have soldiered on in the face of inequity, frustration and despair, who have forgiven beyond reasonable measure, absorbed beyond reasonable expectation, and given, given, given with no promise of recompense. I wanted to thank them with this portrait of one woman, inspired by all of them, from the moment of her conception, to her last breath. In terms of getting inside Harriet’s head, it’s mostly a matter of getting out of my own way.

The mother and daughter dynamic that you shape between Harriet & Caroline eerily resembles so many mother & daughter relationships I know. The strain that they each feel towards one another, the competition, and that ability to just take everything the wrong way was really well developed. Why do you think this dynamic was so important to Harriet’s story?

In my first novel, All About Lulu, I explored the father/son dynamic, which in my experience dealt with the implacable distance between father and son, and trying to bridge that distance. Conversely, when I consider the mother/daughter relationships that have informed my life, there seems to be an uncomfortable proximity between both parties, as if they both understand each other all too well. Where the father/son dynamic sometimes seems awkward, the mother/daughter dynamic seems tense. Really, I have no idea what accounts for this, it’s just something I’ve observed.

There are some truly dark moments for Harriet as Bernard’s health begins to decline. You really pull back the curtains on what it would be like to care for someone with Alzheimer’s and the physical & mental drains on their caregiver especially when they haven’t been an incredible spouse before their mind fails them. There are moments where Harriet really wants to inflict pain on Bernard for the pain he is putting her through. When Harriet realizes the secrets Bernard keeps, she really is angry that she had to bear it all alone even more. Were these scenes difficult for you to write? Do you think Bernard deserved Harriet?

It’s always difficult for me to make my characters suffer, but it’s what I do. I love them dearly, and I’ll do everything within my power not to forsake them, but my job is to report on the human experience, and that means pulling the curtains back and laying them bare. I’ve been a caregiver my whole life one way or another, so I know firsthand about the burnout, along with the rewards. As to whether Harriet deserved Bernard, I’d say very few of our relationships are predicated on what we deserve. Generally, they’re more about what we’re willing to accept. That said, nobody deserves Alzheimer’s.

I have a sweet spot for the elderly and I truly mean that!  I am finding that the appreciation for them grows as I grow older and realize the beauty in their stories. You have said that your characters are usually marginalized by society in some way. You even share through this story how Harriet feels invisible as she gets older. How do you think we can work to not marginalize the elderly as people and help them feel visible?

I think it’s already happening. The Baby Boomers are getting old, and they’ve got disposable income. It’s impossible for advertisers and marketers to ignore them, like they ignored the elderly of the Greatest Generation, whom they viewed as too “brand loyal,” and set in their ways. The best way not to be marginalized in America is to be attractive to advertisers.

You have attributed a lot of your success to independent bookstores and their embrace of your talents. Why do you think their support has helped so much with the sales of your books? For other writers out there, were there any particular strategies involved to get them to back you for successful sales?

Nothing moves books like word of mouth. When you figure in the exponentials, personal recommendations go further than big newspaper reviews or advertisements. And at the end of the day, nobody connects writers to readers like an independent bookseller, who is likely not selling books in an effort to accumulate wealth.

I understand that you enjoy a little booze with your book readings which I love since many can feel so stiff and formal. What’s your favorite drink to sip while sharing your books?

Whatever you got, twice.

This Is Your Life

Although I knew of, “This is Your Life,” I have actually never seen an episode of it. Do you have a favorite episode of the show, “This is Your Life,” that you could recommend that we check out?

I generally remember the show and its concept from seeing it a few times in syndication when I was a kid. They call it the original reality show, but it was pretty schmaltzy, really. I intentionally skewed Harriet’s “host” much darker and more penetrating than Ralph Edwards, the host of This is Your Life, which was all pretty orchestrated toward a warm and fuzzy ending.


(Selena Gomez shares a photo on set on Instagram for The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving)

I understand that your novel, The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving,” is coming out in 2016 starring Selena Gomez, Jennifer, Ehle, & Paul Rudd. Are you involved with writing the screenplay for this and how excited are you to see this book come to life?

I was not involved in the writing or production, though I consulted a little bit on set, and appeared in a scene, which was a lot of fun. Everybody involved was extremely gracious. And yes, I’m very excited for the story to reach a new audience. Harriet Chance is also in the early stages of development at Focus Features. I’m tickled pink that film people want to share my stories, and pay me for them.   

If you could tell anyone to read one book (other than your own) what would that book be (we list it with all the recommendations over the year HERE)?

One book, seriously? This question could keep me up all night! My recommendation is that you not be afraid to read outside of your comfort zone, because you never know what’s going to change your life.


You can connect with Jonathan Evison on Facebook or through his website!  I’m always thankful for these moments with writers and I hope you will pick up this amazing book! You can always connect with me on GoodReads,through our books section of our site, and you can read our entire Sundays With Writers series for more author profiles. Happy reading, friends!

*This post contains affiliate links!
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It’s the 3 Little Things: Card Games for Teens, Nighttime Snacks, & iPhone Projection

October 23rd, 2015

Jem & the Holograms

Well, hellloooo, LONG weekend! My kids are off of school for five whole days and sleeping in and not meeting a bus today really tops the happy list. We don’t have a ton planned, but my daughter & I are taking a road trip all the way to Valpo to see the Jem & The Holograms movie. I promised her the outing and I just want to NOT thank you Mishawaka/Niles for making us drive so far to see this. When a mom makes a promise though, she follows through. We are also squeezing in a pumpkin patch visit and I bribed my neighbors to let me set my tripod up on their beautiful property to take our family Christmas photo today. We are going to save a bundle and my family knows the quicker they cooperate, the quicker they can take this painful endeavor off our list of holiday to-do’s!

Here are some other joy givers this week!


Jif Whips on Rice Cakes #winning

I’ve been hitting the gym hard which means I deserve every moment of my nighttime binge. I make no apologies for the balanced life I lead! I wanted to switch up my Nutella + Sea Salt + Rice Cake game and found these Jif Whips in all sorts of different flavors at our store. This Whipped Peanut Butter & Chocolate is a heavenly topper for apples, strawberries, or rice cakes.  It reminds me of a Reese’s Cup, but lighter with a good balance of both flavors. It’s airy like a whipped cream so it is easy for dipping and spreading.  It’s also little lighter on the fat grams than Nutella, but just as satisfying. I’m looking forward to trying some more flavors to switch up my snack game.



Boss Monster- A Game Teen Boys Will LOVE!

If you are local, I just want to share how proud we are of our friend’s Dan & Lydia who have opened a new game store in Elkhart called Secret Door Games. It is a DREAM for parents because unlike ordering online, you can actually have someone who is passionate about games teach you how to play them and introduce you to new games that your whole family will love. If you are holiday shopping locally, this is a MUST-VISIT for fresh Christmas gift ideas.

Secret Door Games

It is through Secret Door Games that my son found his new favorite game Boss Monster. Do you see teen boys getting excited about anything that isn’t a video game? I mean ever? This kid LOVES this game and he loved it so much that my husband treated him to an expansion pack for it.  If you aren’t local and don’t have Dan to help explain it to you, Boss Monster is a standalone card game that challenges 2-4 players to become videogame-style villains and build deadly side-scrolling dungeons. Players compete to see who can lure and destroy the most adventurers. But beware! You must make your dungeon as deadly as it is attractive, or the puny heroes might kill you first! It’s pixel-illustrations are so awesome and this one is recommended for kids 13 and up.

Hearing my husband & Ethan play it together brings me immeasurable joy. I love the break from the screens and I love seeing them bonding over this game. They also got the Boss Monster Tools of Hero-Kind to build upon it.

Have a teenager gamer on your hands? Be sure to get this for them!


iPhone Projection

Netflix has REALLY been rocking this month so if you haven’t dug into Netflix in a long time, may I suggest making a Netflix binge a part of your weekend? My new obsessions include The Great British Baking Show, Fixer Upper, Jane the Virgin, &, most importantly, The Time In Between (almost like a Spanish version of Downton Abbey!!).  Many moons ago I got a 3M Projector to review for the site and it has served us so well over the years. Not only have we used it for outdoor movie nights at home, but it is so compact that we travel with it and take on trips to our vacation homes to create a little at-home theater.  I have discovered that it pairs well with my favorite inexpensive speaker and it plugs right into your phone for Netflix or Amazon Instant Movies.

This is a pricier happy than usual, but it makes any blank home in your wall a theater. The other night we enjoyed a bottle of the ALDI’s wine-of-the-month paired with a flick when we discovered shifting a painting off our little mantle made for the perfect projection spot.

If that wasn’t enough… ADELE is BACK!!!! Check out her new video!

Happy weekend, friends! xoxo

*this post may contain affiliate links- I only recommend what I love though. Check out past editions of  It’s the 3 Little Things

Now it’s your turn! What’s making you happy this week?

How to Spray Paint Furniture

October 22nd, 2015

Some of my absolute favorite transformations in our home have come from simple paint – it’s amazing the difference it can make! Since we are focusing on Transforming Your Home for our M Challenge, why not find a piece of furniture to paint – I’ve got all the tips here to share with you again so you can transform something humble into something fantastic!

How to Spray Paint Furniture Painting furniture can be time consuming that is why I have fallen in love with spray painting my furniture to get a fresh new look with a small time investment. Today I am going to show you how to spray paint your furniture to give an old piece in your home a new lease on life with just spray paint and an easy antiquing and distressing technique.

How to Spray Paint Furniture

Choosing a spray paint can be a lot of fun and Walmart asked me to share about a new product line that they are now carrying at their stores that I think you guys will really like. It is the Rust-Oleum American Accents Ultra Cover 2X paint.

The thing that makes this paint special is that it can cover twice the square footage of other general purpose spray paints.  This new paint contains 44% more solids which creates a higher performance than other paints and gives you better coverage with fewer passes. What makes the paint economical is that one can performs like two cans, so it saves you time and money.  The price also fits nicely into a DIY’ers budget at a mere $3.77 per can

I love this corner in our office, but have not loved this side table for many years. These chairs are so fun, but the table added no personality to this corner. I had planned to donate it to Goodwill, but I wondered if I could give this piece a spray paint face lift that would reflect this fun space. I decided to give the table a makeover with a little spray paint and antiquing.

How to Spray Paint Furniture

Supplies Needed to Spray Paint Furniture


Spray Paint Primer (gray if doing a dark color or white if doing a light color)

1-2 Cans Rust-Oleum American Accents Ultra Cover 2X, any shade (I am using Moss Green), available in the Spray Paint aisle of your local Walmart Store

Rust-Oleum Standard Spray Grip (in the same aisle)

Rust-Oleum Decorative Glaze in Java Brown


Sand Paper


Hardware (optional) or spray paint to paint it

How to Spray Paint Furniture

How to Spray Paint Your Furniture

  • To begin, prepare your surface by wiping the entire piece down with a clean cloth. Disassemble any drawers and hardware to prepare it for painting.
  • Next, give the entire piece a good sanding to smooth out any imperfections. Sand any edges with a piece of sandpaper and use a sander to smooth the top of your piece.
  • Once the piece is fully sanded, wipe it down with a damp cloth to prepare it for priming.
  • To help prevent drips and to make sure we get into every crevice of this piece with paint, we are going to start with our piece INVERTED. I promise, it is going to help the painting process go so much smoother than if you start with it upright.

How to Spray Paint Furniture

  • Starting with your piece inverted, begin spray painting it with your primer. Be sure to give your primer a good shake and begin priming your surface well.
  • Hold your can 8 inches away from your surface and spray your primer in a sweeping motion side to side with a slight overlap. Allow the primer to dry for one hour.
  • Put the piece right side up and finish priming the top. Allow the primer to dry for one hour.
  • Repeat the same process with your choice of Rust-Oleum American Accents Ultra Cover 2X in your favorite shade. Once the piece is fully painted, allow it to dry overnight before glazing.

How to Spray Paint Furniture

  • Using a coarse sandpaper, begin roughing up the edges on your piece to create a more antique look.
  • Using a clean rag, dip your rag in your glaze and then begin applying in a circular motion to your piece.
  • With a clean and damp cloth, remove as much of the glaze as you would like. I again, removed this in a circular motion from the piece until it added a hint of variation to the piece, but didn’t look sponged.

How to Spray Paint Furniture

  •  If you desire, you can spray paint your hardware. As you know hardware can be expensive to replace and sometimes older pieces have more custom fitting hardware so spray paint can be a great way to freshen it up. We chose to replace the wooden handle with a black hardware piece and then spray painted the old gold accessories black with a can I had in my craft supplies. We have spray painted many a handle in our home and you would never know it wasn’t that color originally.

How to Spray Paint FurnitureHow to Spray Paint FurnitureHow to Spray Paint FurnitureHere is my finished piece. I am so darn proud of it and love how vintage this piece looks thanks to the glazing and sanding process that I did on it. In full disclosure, there were some missteps along the way.

How to Spray Paint Furniture

Temperature Changes Effect Spray Paint

If you live in Indiana, you know that the drops and changes in temperature can be quite dramatic and that is just what happened when I painted this. I put a final coat on my perfect table before I went to bed and woke up to a table and drawers that had bubbled in the night. Try to pick a time of day when the temperature is warmer and will hold steady (nothing below fifty degrees) to prevent bubbling of paint. I used the advice provided by Kate, at Centsational Girl, on what to do if your spray paint bubbles and it worked like a charm.

Shake Your Spray Paint Can Well

Having that handy trigger on the spray paint makes it easy to paint quickly, but I forgot to shake the can every so often to keep my paint looking even and glossy. You definitely will want to make sure you shake it very well at the beginning, and shake it every so often when painting with it.

Who Knew You Needed to Be So Tidy?

Make sure after sanding that you really have a nice clear surface to begin your painting, otherwise you will have a crummy surface…literally. The same can be said for choosing a nice clean rag when doing glazing and keeping the piece as clean as you can, which is super difficult if you are in your filthy garage like me!

Distressing Can Hide Flaws

Distressing the piece more not only helped me minimize the bubbles, but it also added character to the piece. For my first spray painted furniture piece, I would definitely recommend it the first time to help you get the hang of how to paint with spray paint.

Practice Makes Perfect

This piece isn’t my best work, but I love it in spite of its flaws. As with all skills, it takes a little practice to get the hang of spray painting furniture. Even though I struggled a bit with my first project, I can’t wait to paint my record cabinet in our office next in the same shade and now I know what to do and what NOT to do when it comes to spray painting my furniture.

How to Spray Paint Furniture How to Spray Paint Furniture

What a difference a day makes? Isn’t she lovely? She has certainly brightened up this corner of our home! I highly recommend giving this new paint a try! Fast coverage and an inexpensive way to add a pop of color in your home!




Have you ever spray painted furniture before? What is your advice?



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Amy’s Notebook 10.21.15

October 21st, 2015

Painted Pumpkins via A Subtle Revelry

Source: A Subtle Revelry


Fun abstract painted pumpkins.

I want to dig into some stir-fry meals this week!

Apple pie breakfast cookies- #winning!

Can you decorate as beautifully as a high schooler? Stunning.

Soup for a friend.

Pom-Pom Solar System? Be still my beating heart.

7 inspiring TED Talks that’ll help you get through difficult times.

How to get away with no make-up. An incredibly moving piece.

Boozy-Pumpkin-Milkshake-Broma Bakery

Source: Broma Bakery


A ridiculously easy boozy pumpkin milkshake.

Adorable DIY mini granite pots.

Matchmaker, matchmaker, make me a match.

Nate Berkus & Jeremiah Brent Home Tour- I die. Perfection!

Easy homemade caramel corn.

Murder on the Orient Express Book Club inspiration. I still need to dig into Agatha Christie and this looks fun!

Slow cooker soup recipes – yep, it’s time for all things warm & wonderful.

For my fellow Dirty Dancing fans. Who knew?

5 books that can turn you into a different person.

This is disturbing.

I hope you enjoyed our notebook, a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, thrifty ways to spruce up your home, and thoughtful reads. Nothing brings me more joy than to highlight other fabulous bloggers. Follow me on Pinterest for daily inspiration!

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room (Tour Our Shed!)

October 20th, 2015

How could I not share my “She Shed” with you again to go along with our Transform Your Space M Challenge? It remains my favorite transformation. ever. I hope you are inspired to take back space and make it work for you!

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

Today I wanted to share with you how we transformed our outdoor shed into a bonus room. Shed makeovers are one of my favorite things to look at, but I had never considered our own shed a bonus room until this summer.  This transformation from a shed that housed our chaos and clutter into a multi-purpose retreat is one of my proudest makeovers we have ever done on our home.

I partnered with Walmart on this project to showcase a unique idea for outdoor living. Since they partnered with me, I did my best to utilize items from their store while weaving in handmade items from some of my favorite Etsy sellers.

Before I get ahead of myself though, let’s take a tour of our shed before the makeover. As an FYI,  I did not gloss this up for you one bit. This is exactly as awful and as embarrassing as it looked. It took me twelve hours to organize our garage, six donation runs, and a whole day to empty this shed. I am ashamed how bad it had gotten, but I wanted to be honest about all of that with you. This took a lot of preparation for me to empty this and rid my life of a lot of junk to execute this space. It was worth every moment of effort.

Shed Before Pictures

Shed Before Pictures

Shed Before Pictures

Shed Before Pictures

Shed Before Pictures

Shed Before Pictures

Shed Before Pictures

Shed Before Pictures

Shed Before Pictures

Our home is a late-sixties tri-level that had an attached shed on the home.  Although the shed is attached to our home, you do have to step outside to access it, but it is close enough that easy access is possible. This might be unlike  other sheds that might be residing further out from your property. After talking with our neighbor who has been a longtime resident here,  I understand that this wasn’t originally part of the home, but was an addition that had been made later to our house. Over the years, as other homeowner’s owned it things like insulation and electrical were added. The space had good bones to be a room, but no one had gotten any further than that. We have resided in this home 12 years and it only occured to me this summer that maybe we were missing out on a golden opportunity to have a unique bonus room.  After getting estimates and ideas from a few contractors, we hired All Pro Renovations to assist in transforming this dumping crowd of chaos into the room of my dreams.  They were able to address getting our space up to code and also got my vision for what I wanted to accomplish with this room.

My idea for the space was that it could be a retreat for my children during the day and a fun entertaining spot in the evenings. The most important aspect for this project was that we utilize every single inch of this 8×12 space in a thoughtful way. I wanted a bar that could fold down, flush to the wall when it was not in use. I wanted to utilize all the space that we could behind the door to house storage. I wanted furniture that could be stacked or wall mounted for entertaining.  Most of all, I wanted it to feel very modern and light-filled with a glass door and a window.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

We painted the door with a bright coat of teal paint that I loved so much that we decided to paint the front door too.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

We quickly figured out that when the kids were in this room that I couldn’t necessarily see that they were in there and would be hunting in the backyard for them. I added a plastic Open/Closed Sign from Walmart that I attached to the trim of the door with a 3M hook so the kids could let me know if they were in there. If they are inside it is open if they go back out to play in the yard, they flip it to closed. My daughter loves to also leave a time on the clock to let me know when she will be back.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

Since our home had aluminum siding, All Pro recommended adding light with a skylight (which cost the same as adding a window), because if we damaged our siding, we would not be able to find matching aluminum siding for this home. They found a glass door that we could use for the space. They recommended doing an epoxy-paint floor with neutral tones that would be durable and ideal for this outdoor space. To warm up the floor, I added this outdoor rug in a 5’3×7’7 (an absolute steal at $77.58)   The room was drywalled, painted, and trimmed to finish out the bones of this room.  My color choice for this space was Benjamin Moore’s Gray Owl for the walls (which I now what to paint my entire house in) and Benjamin Moore’s glossy White Dove for all of the trim.  Although the original intent was to add canned lighting, our ceilings were too low for the space so track lighting was installed which adds to that modern retro feel that I was going for.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

A built-in was added behind the door to make sure that every inch was used. Wine glasses, a rack, and opener are on the top shelves for evening entertaining. On the lower shelves, we have coloring books, crayons, and books. I also added a few of my favorites from our record collection and they fit perfectly on the bottom so we can use our turntable out there.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

The focal point of the room is this beautiful Providence Outdoor Day Bed (priced at $399) from Walmart for the back wall.  This canopy bed is so beautifully made that I almost fall asleep every night on it while I am out there. It is generously deep and the canopy element really adds an eye-catching detail to the room. I switched out the pillows with a more modern printed pillow covers that I scored on Groopdealz as one of their deals-of-the-day. I also added this Too Legit To Quit pillow from Michelle Dwight Designs to add a splash of fun to the bed. I found inexpensive pillow forms from Walmart to create cushions with style for the back of this bed.  The pillow forms are two for $5.15 and feel like expensive cushions.   This bed not only is the perfect spot for a reading nook, but it also can double as a guest room year-round for our guests. I kind of want to stay here as a guest myself.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room


The bar can comfortably seat four people and I found retro Amelia Metal Cafe Bar Stools in red (2 for $159) from Walmart to complete the look.  I actually placed an additional order for two more now that I could see how many I can fit here.  All Pro Renovations created a bar that could be folded down and added a stripe of teal on the edge of my bar to add a little splash of color.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room


We added these modern floating shelves (only $19.95) and I filled them with a few fake succulents and wove in a few of my favorite books and a fake orchid.  It creates a soothing and maintenance-free splash of color over there.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

The turntable I was gifted from my amazing girlfriends was placed on this pedestal table from Home Decorators and it was just the right size for this small space. I added this beautiful 30″ handmade arrow from Junk Art Gypsyz to the wall. We also added a beautiful typography piece that has the lyrics from Elton John’s, “Tiny Dancer,” to that wall.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

Your question might be how we are keeping the room cool in the summer and warm in the winter? I have a great solution for you. We discovered that Walmart offers a Newair NewAir AC-10000H Portable Air Conditioner & Heater unit that not only act as an air conditioner, but a one piece solution for air conditioning, heating, and dehumidifying. The best part is that it can be set on a timer so you can set it for the day and it will automatically shut itself off.  All-Pro got the unit to drain outside of our home and installed a flap for the hose so that the unit is maintenance-free. This was the priciest of the purchases at $471.81, but eliminated the need for multiple units in such a small room.

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

Shed Makeover Shopping List

1. 30″ Marquee Arrow {Junk Art Gypsyz}

2. Too Legit To Quit Pillow {Michelle Dwight Designs}

3. Arrow Apache Blue  & Fynn Cool Grey Pillows {Groopdealz}

4. Tiny Dancer Typography {Concepcion Studios}

5. Safavieh Courtyard Outdoor Rug {Walmart}

6. Chloe Side Table {Home Decorators}

7. Amelia Metal Cafe Bar Stools {Walmart}

8. Newair NewAir AC-10000H Portable Air Conditioner & Heater unit {Walmart}

9. Providence Outdoor Day Bed {Walmart}

10. Danya Floating Shelves {Walmart}

11. Pellon Homegoods Decorative Pillow Inserts {Walmart}

12. Open/Closed Sign {Walmart}

Benjamin Moore Paint Choices


Paint Colors Used In Our Shed

1. Benjamin Moore White Dove (Glossy, Trim)

2. Benjamin Moore Blue Spa (Exterior, Door & Edge of Bar)

3. Benjamin Moore Gray Owl (Semi-Glossy, Walls)


I hope you enjoyed touring our shed.  I have found this room to be so good for my soul. It is so quiet and peaceful in there and is my new favorite place to unwind. Since the room is designed so differently from our home, it truly feels like I am going somewhere else in the evenings. The absence of clutter and our busy everyday life has been very calming to me.  I have been counting down the hours until my kids go to bed so I can escape. I also look forward to entertaining in here with my girlfriends, hosting book clubs, sharing a cup of coffee with good friends, writing alone,  and having a retreat for our kids on rainy days.

I’m thankful to All Pro Renovations for making all my dreams come true and exceeding my expectations for our former junky shed. Professional, courteous, on time (or early) every day, and quick to create smart solutions for this design challenge.  In ten short days, they created a space that I am so proud of and were as equally excited seeing it all come to life. They even came to my rescue when my daughter had a meltdown that her chalkboard door was disappearing and cut it to size for our garage door to surprise her while we were on vacation.  How amazing is that?

How to Makeover a Shed Into a Bonus Room

I could not have asked for more! I am already working on vision boards for other rooms in our home I would like to tackle with them again.

I hope this space inspires you and I’m thankful that Walmart gave me the chance to share about their beautiful outdoor options with you!


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The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 5)

October 19th, 2015

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 5)

They say it takes 30 days to make something a habit. If that is the case, I am so proud to have made it through my first month of make-ahead meals. Our activities schedule has slowed down considerably, but I still saw the value in it this week. I am able to put in more work on the site and I also am squeezing in more time to read thanks to the preparations that I have made for the week. Overall, I still am finding lots of value in it, especially in our family’s dining out budget.

Have you used Mint before to track your spending? If you aren’t sure how much you are spending on the different categories in your life, you can link your bank account to it and it will compartmentalize all of the areas of your spending for free. You can look at little pie charts at where you money is going and it can be incredibly enlightening especially when it comes to your food budget. It is through this program that I am able to see what a benefit these preparations have been for us and managing my other spending in the process. I’m a big fan especially of the email alerts when spending is out of hand. Especially when you are on vacation (GULP!) and the alerts are flying- ha!

Let’s get cooking!

Approximate Time for Preparation- 3 hours plus clean-up! 

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 5- see previous weeks here)

Carnita Meat (prepped the seasoning mix ahead in a container to pour over the pork in the morning)

Homemade Pizza Sauce (I stole one from our freezer this week!)

Pizza Dough (I bagged the dry ingredients for my homemade pizza)

Roasted Chicken (NEW TUTORIAL!! for salads & wraps)

Grapes (removed from the vine, but I didn’t rinse so they don’t get moldy!)

Brown Rice (four cups)- (NEW TUTORIAL!!)

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chili (had this simmering away while I prepped)

Chopped Romaine Hearts (for tacos and side salads)

Spaghetti Sauce

Brussels Sprouts (trimmed)- to be made into Oven Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Broccoli (chopped and bagged)

Cracker Barrel Chicken Tenders (triple-batched the tenders and put in a bag to marinade)

Chopped Carrots & Celery (I store these in water)

Chopped Bell Peppers

Green Smoothie Packets (I use this recipe and froze the strawberries, bananas, and fresh spinach in packets for the morning.)

Meal Plan

Breakfasts- Green Smoothies

Lunches- Leftovers , Chicken Wraps or Salads, Pumpkin Chili


Gluten-Free Slow Cooker Carnitas

Monday- Gluten-Free Carnitas with Tortilla Chips (we also created rice bowls from our prepared rice)

Grilled Chicken Tenders

Tuesday- Cracker Barrel Style Chicken Tenders, Brown Rice, & Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Spaghetti & Meatballs

Wednesday- Spaghetti Night, Steamed Broccoli, & Grapes

Slow Cooker Pumpkin Chili

Thursday- Homemade Pumpkin Chili & Grilled Cheese

Spinach, Tomato, & Mushroom Pizza

Friday: Homemade Pizza Night

Saturday- SAYSFN (Seek and Ye Shall Find Night)

Sunday- SAYSFN (Seek and Ye Shall Find Night)

The MomAdvice Make-Ahead (Week 5)

I hope you enjoy this make-ahead feast inspiration! Happy Monday, friends!! xo