Posts Tagged ‘Homemaking’

Notebook Experiment: Can I Make A Pretty Wreath for Our Door?

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009


Experiment: Can I make a pretty spring wreath for our door OR can I attempt one of the most craftiest crafts ever for Mother’s Day?

Experiment Taken From: Notebook Entry03.18.09

Materials Needed: Please see A Soft Place to Land for the full instructions. I did everything that was instructed by Kimba to create this beautiful wreath.

Results: This has to be one of the most ambitious projects that I have ever done, but it certainly does make for a great story.

My best friend & I decided to attempt Kimba’s infamous lemonhead wreath after I featured it in our notebook. We agreed to split the cost on supplies and each make three of these wreaths- one for ourselves and two for each of the moms in our life.

First, we ordered SIX POUNDS of ping pongs. I swear, the guy that we ordered them from (off of eBay) thought that we were throwing the world’s biggest beer pong tournament. I can’t say that explaining we were making wreaths out of them cleared up any of the confusion. After we spent $65 to buy enough ping pongs, we then set off to buy the rest of the craft supplies to complete them.

Spray paint, flowers, glitter, adhesive, wreath forms, ribbon, hot glue- another $65 was spent to get these babies yellow and sugared for our front doors. Kimba never said that this was the most frugal craft, but wreaths are expensive and our mom’s are worth it so we got the supplies and headed over to my house to start plugging away at putting these together.

Spray painting ensued, 144 ping pongs glued around each wreath, more spray paint, adhesive, glitter, attaching flowers, bow-making craziness. Two days of truly hard work, but my gawd, I was getting this craft done and they were going to be the best gifts in the whole dang world.

After all of the blood, sweat, and still picking the yellow paint out of my fingernails, here is our final look:




And one more picture that is exactly the same, but I deserve it after all of that work:

Conclusion: I am so happy with my wreaths, but trying to tackle three of these might have been a tad bit TOO ambitious. In all seriousness, I am so proud of these and I know my moms will absolutely love them. May I also say that if THIS happens to any of these precious wreaths, you may need to lock me up in the mental institution.

This will go down in history, as the most ambitious Mother’s Day craft in the history of my life!

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I am so excited to open our Notebook Experiments up to everyone and I hope that you will be able to participate this week or in weeks to come! I will be posting this each Wednesday so please mark your calendars if you plan to participate. You can post your entries at any time throughout the week and then leave your entry in the links below.

We have this handy banner that you are more than welcome to use, but it is not a requirement! It is just something you can add to add a little sparkle to your entry.

Rules for Participation:

1. Choose anything from any of our notebook entries (past or present) to do with your family. We have hundreds of bookmarked links of crafts, ways to save money, and organizing ideas.
2. Complete an experiment from the notebook and share about it on your blog or website. We would love to see pictures of what you accomplished or a detailed description of how your projects turned out. Please include a link to this entry, a link to the original posting of the entry (at the original crafster’s blog), and (to help us relocate the project) the date or link of the notebook entry where you found it. You can use the same formatting as our entries or you can just include that information in your post in your own unique way!
3. Post a link below. Please include your name or blog name & a fast description of your project. Example- MomAdvice (WHO bread)

I can’t wait to see what you create and what you find inspiring!

Personalizing Our Home

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

Living Room Before

We have been living in our little tri-level home for over five years now. When I think back to the house we moved into, I can honestly say that there is very little that has not been touched and retooled. We have a few things lingering that will require some time and money, but our house barely resembles the home we moved into.

The very first room that we tackled was our front living room. We had never done any real painting before and chose a neutral color that we thought would look good on the walls. The art in the room said little about our family and more about Linens ‘N Things. The color, just one tiny shade away from white and had pinkish tones to it that I just did not like. I did not have the heart or time to rethink our decisions, but five years later we have returned to that first room to revamp it.

This lamp, for instance, was one of my least favorite pieces in the room. The lampshade was dirty from years of use and abuse from my children and the brass spoke of another era altogether. I purchased a $3.99 can of black spray paint and visited Hobby Lobby where I found a new lampshade (marked at $40, but on sale for $20) and gave this little piece a makeover.

This tired old lamp now looks positively perfect in my house. With the coat of black paint and chocolate shade, it reminds me of a piece I would love in Restoration Hardware. Notice the walls? That is the new color we chose Dutch Boy in Honey Bear. It was the perfect neutral yellow that brightened our room up and made it look more modern.

That Linens ‘N Things art that spoke nothing of our family and our life has been replaced with three black-and-white 8×10′s that I had printed at Sam’s Club for a total of $4.38.

The first picture was taken just a couple of weeks ago of Emily’s foot dangling as she was swinging in the air at the park. Her little lacy socks and Mary Jane shoes were too perfect not to photograph. It spoke volumes about Emily’s girly-girl attitude even for a day of playing in the mulch.

The second picture, was a shot I took this fall of my entryway with all of the pretty fallen leaves and my sweet little white pumpkins. My favorite fall boots are resting in the corner after I had come in from raking.

The last picture was my most glamorous day ever- a photo shoot in my home with Redbook Magazine. Those shoes aren’t even mine, they are my friend’s, Kathy Friend from Flourish Boutique, who had supplied the wardrobe for the day. It was one of the most fun & exciting days for our family and that moment sealed the deal on our credit card free life.

I found beautiful picture frames at Hobby Lobby in black, to match our “new” lamp for $8 each. When you walk in, it brings people into a conversation about what those moments mean to us, who photographed them, and that our family is more than stock art from a home supplies store.

The furniture remained the same, but the curtains were switched to a cotton beige that would match the lampshade in the room. I found these for $19.99 at Target, but did four panels instead of two since this window is larger. The only other addition to the room was the leather ottoman resting next to our new personalized corner to add a little storage space for $59 from Target.

Faucet Before

Faucet After

Some of the changes we have been making, have been necessary ones because of the age of our house. A new roof was installed last summer and new gutters because they were broken, old, and leaking.

Little changes like a dripping and corroded faucet replaced with an oil-rubbed bronze one was a quick simple fix that brings me a lot of joy and less hassle when washing my dishes. We could have bought another white faucet, which would have been a lot less expensive, but it didn’t speak of our personal taste or have our personal stamp on it. These add personalization to our space and with each project behind us, the house becomes more about us and less about the previous owners that owned it before us.

With each project, we are able to modernize the house that I thought said nothing about our family. As we complete these projects that personalize our space, I find myself falling in love with corners in our home that I never thought I would love.

What have you done to personalize your home that you are most proud of?

Related Links:

Patio Renovation on a Budget

Our Kitchen Makeover

Our New Double Workspace

After Photos: Making Our Home More Inviting

Maximizing Your Space

Notebook Experiments: Will A Loft Bed Save Us Space?

Thursday, January 29th, 2009

Experiment: Will a loft bed save us space?

Experiment Taken From: Notebook Entry 01.22.09

Materials Needed: Please see Ohdeedoh for the full instructions.

Results: I can admit that I am totally cheating this week, but when I saw the post on Ohdeedoh, I thought it would tie in perfectly with showing you our son’s new big boy bed. Now that his bed had moved over to his sister’s room, we had to find a bed for Ethan.

My new rule for furniture buying is I will NEVER again buy something online without seeing it in person first. His first bed was the biggest fiasco ever. We got it home, it was the wrong thing, it was damaged, it was 300 pounds, it had to be loaded piece by piece back into our car, it had to then be unloaded and returned to the store. The whole thing ended with me trying to get the trundle bed out, as a substitution bed for our son, and the trundle releasing under the other bed, pinning my hands between the two beds. We had to make a call to 9-1-1, I was nursing jammed fingers for three days, and cursing my bright idea to order a bed online. NEVER again!

The next day, I decided to head down the road to our local Oak Express and found a bed within minutes. I paid for the bed and sprung for the people to come and put it together for me. It was an easy decision, as I clutched my swollen hand and swore to myself that whatever the price it it would be worth EVERY penny. And it was. It was so worth it. Lesson learned.

Without further adieu, our fabulous new set-up:

We have a tri-level home with very small bedrooms. These small spaces require much thought to make the most of every square inch. A loft bed seemed like the perfect solution for his room. With his new bed, we were able to create space underneath for his own desk to study at. What you can’t see from this angle is that there is also a shelf for his books and water at the very end of the bed which he really loves.

Here is Ethan’s demonstration for how he climbs into his bed. When he gets older, the ladder can be removed and he can just climb up the side of it. Basically, it will look more grown up for when he is too cool for ladders.

They had two desk choices for this model of bed and we went with the smaller one so he still has room to play underneath. I still need to buy a good chair for him, but he is so thrilled to have his own little space to study his schoolwork.

Conclusion: A loft bed is a great solution for small spaces. Despite having to pay more for the bed than I intended, it is still cheaper than moving into a new house to have bigger rooms. We are thrilled with our purchase and Ethan has been sleeping like a dream in his fancy new bed.

Have you ever had an online purchase go bad? Have you ever regretted buying something online rather than in person?

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I am so excited to open our Notebook Experiments up to everyone and I hope that you will be able to participate this week or in weeks to come! I will be posting this each Thursday so please mark your calendars if you plan to participate. You can post your entries at any time throughout the week and then leave your entry in the links below.

We have this handy banner that you are more than welcome to use, but it is not a requirement! It is just something you can add to add a little sparkle to your entry.

Rules for Participation:

1. Choose anything from any of our notebook entries (past or present) to do with your family. We have hundreds of bookmarked links of crafts, ways to save money, and organizing ideas.
2. Complete an experiment from the notebook and share about it on your blog or website. We would love to see pictures of what you accomplished or a detailed description of how your projects turned out. Please include a link to this entry, a link to the original posting of the entry (at the original crafster’s blog), and (to help us relocate the project) the date or link of the notebook entry where you found it. You can use the same formatting as our entries or you can just include that information in your post in your own unique way!
3. Post a link below. Please include your name or blog name & a fast description of your project. Example- MomAdvice (WHO bread)

I can’t wait to see what you create and what you find inspiring!

Big Girl Room on a Budget

Tuesday, January 20th, 2009


We are still getting Emily settled into her big girl room, but I thought I would share some of the ideas we have had so far for her new space.

First, Ethan’s bed was moved into Emily’s room and Ethan is getting a loft-style bed for his room with a desk underneath to make use of his smaller space. We had a bed fiasco, better left for another post, and he is now sleeping on the trundle part of this bed until his bed comes in.

We swung the daybed around so that the back of it becomes the side to keep her more secure. It is great because it still has the security of the crib, but has more space for her to sleep in. She has been in it for a couple of weeks now and hasn’t attempted trying to get out of bed by herself yet.

The room was already painted a cheery yellow and I already had the curtains which were a set of eyelet lace curtains from the Shabby Chic line at Target. The comforter has been in a chest in our basement since we first got married. This bed was originally our guest bed and I used this comforter for it. It was a tad too girly for Ethan so we put it away, in hopes we would be adding a little girl to our family someday. It was a steal for $19.99 from TJ Maxx and is a Tommy Hilfiger comforter. It is reversible with another pretty flowered design on the alternate side. The addition of this “Sweet Dreams” pillow was bought with some of her Christmas money from the grandparents from Target (also from Shabby Chic).


The art in her room is courtesy of her big brother. These were two pictures that Ethan made at school and donated for his sister’s room. I found these frames at the dollar store so these were the perfect budget-friendly decor for her new room.

We made a banner with her name on it for one of the walls. The color didn’t turn out very good in this picture, but it is a pale pink with dark pink polka dots. The scrapbook paper and ribbon came from my craft supplies and I had my husband pick a pretty font for it. I used my circle punch to punch out these circles, but you could also trace a drinking glass to make them all uniform in size.

We bought new rugs for each of the kid’s rooms. These are bamboo rugs that we purchased from Walmart and I absolutely love them. I have a fondness for bamboo rugs because they wipe off easily and are easy to vacuum or broom sweep. Underneath the bed is a basket of toys and a basket of diapers. We are hoping one of these baskets will be no longer needed…can you guess which one?

This set of table and chairs relocated from our playroom downstairs. Ethan was getting too big to sit in these so we put it in her room along with a basket of books for her to read.

This step stool holds an extra set of pink sheets for her bed. This stool used to be her brothers and it is one of my favorite little storage solutions for keeping a spare set of sheets.

This little lamp was also bought at Target and I used her Christmas money from her grandparents to buy it. I really wanted to bring the pink into the room and this was a cute little addition to her big girl space. You could implement the same idea with a basic white shade and a little grosgrain ribbon and some glue.

The perfect room for our sweet little princess!

What budget-friendly ideas are you proud of in your kid’s rooms?

Gardening for Fall

Wednesday, October 1st, 2008


My flowerbeds have been looking a little tired. The long dry spell left my beds dried out and the Day Lilies were taking over the beds with their dried out leaves. It was time for some fall sprucing.


I just love adding some fall mums for a frugal bit of color. For $2.48 each (at Lowe’s this week), I was able to brighten my bed up with a little bit of color. Best of all, the mums come back every year and when I see their bright colors start popping up in my beds, I know that it won’t be long before my favorite season is here.I trimmed the Day Lilies down for the year. They could have lasted a few more weeks, but it made it easier to pick a good placement for my mums. I put eight mums into the front flowerbeds and marveled how something so simple can make a girl so darn happy!


I am still loving how we solved our barren spot in our lawn with this boxed in tree. I planted four mums in and cut our sad little Hostas down. I am hoping that they do better next year because they looked pretty sad this year. A fresh bed of mulch (an extra bag tucked in our garage from the last project) and my tree looks a little bit brighter.

How do you prepare your flowerbeds for fall? Do you plant again or just cut things down? I am a newbie gardener so I am always looking for tips!

Dressing Up the Front Step For Fall

Tuesday, September 30th, 2008

I loved the white pumpkins featured in A Soft Place to Land and gained some inspiration from that post for my own doorstep. Of course, I took the lazy and cheap route, but I think they turned out beautifully.

I purchased faux pumpkins at Michael’s Craft Store. The were on sale for 40% off this past week. I found two pots to rest my pumpkins in and a bolt of black ribbon to dress up the pots.


I used my glue gun to attach the ribbon around the outside of the pot. With the leftover ribbon from the bolt, I made a bow and then tied it off with a little raffia. The pumpkins wedge perfectly in there.

I am hoping it will be something that I can use each year. I have found most of our guests think they are real pumpkins when they come over and have spent a lot of time thumping and touching them. I am not usually one to pick things that aren’t natural for decorating with, but I love being able to store these and use them year after year. If they are fooling people, then that works even more to my advantage!

Of course, if those pumpkins don’t last until next year, I have these two little pumpkins that I can set out there on occasion to dress up the step!

What are some creative ways you decorate your home for fall?

Clay Cookery: A Frugal Chef’s Dream Come True

Tuesday, September 23rd, 2008


A long time ago, I read a post from Meredith, at Like Merchant Ships, about her clay cooker. Since her post, I have been on the lookout for a clay baker of my own, but have not seen one on any trip to the thrift shops. I am sure that I probably passed a million, not knowing what the heck they were, but when I finally figured it out…there were none to be found.

Until last week, that is! I actually spotted two of them sitting together on a shelf. I lunged to grab one and took home the one that was in the best condition. It was marked for six dollars, a bit more than I usually spend on a single item in housewares. After months and months of waiting though, I was willing to fork over the six dollars.

The lid was tightly taped shut and, I prayed that there was nothing wrong inside of it. What I discovered was that the clay cooker had never been used and all of the information packets were neatly tucked inside waiting for the next owner.

Today we roasted a chicken for our family in it. A good old Aldi chicken was stuffed with rosemary from my garden and seasoned with a little salt and pepper. I slid the chicken into the cold oven, after soaking my baker in water, and baked it at 450 degrees for 85 minutes.

I had read the packets cover to cover, praying that I wouldn’t screw it up. Would the chicken really be moist and flavorful? Would it be brown or would it be light in color like my slow cooker chickens? Was it really true that it didn’t require liquids?

We held our breaths as I lifted the lid…

What was unveiled was better than I had imagined. A juicy and flavorful chicken- full of color and just as good as any chicken I have bought in a store.

After we were all done applauding… well, maybe that didn’t really happen, but I will say that we were all really impressed with just how good that chicken tasted.

I can’t wait to try other things in the clay cooker and, just in case your thrift store find does not come with a booklet, here are a few of the tips that were provided for using your clay baker:

  • Soak it in water- Completely immerse the top and bottom in water for ten to fifteen minutes before each use.
  • Place in a cold oven- After adding the ingredients, place your clay baker in the center of the cold oven.
  • Time cooking according to your own preferences and oven- tastes and ovens vary. Time your dishes according to the way you want them and don’t hesitate to vary the recipe slightly. Recipes usually can be converted for clay pots by increasing the cooking temperature by 100 degrees and deducting a 1/2 hour of cooking time.
  • Put the clay cooker on a cloth when you remove it from the oven- Sudden changes in temperature should be avoided. When the clay baker is removed from a hot oven, place it on a towel, hot pad, or wooden board rather than a cold surface.
  • Clay bakers are ideal for the microwave- Because microwaves vary to such a great degree, it is impossible to state any rules for converting recipes for the microwave. Use the oven manufacturer’s guidelines for cooking times.
  • Clean with a hot water and a brush- Use hot water and a stiff brush to clean your clay baker. A little baking soda will cut any grease. Translation: NO SOAP! Never scour with a scouring powder or metal scouring pad. It can block some of the pores of the clay, reducing the water absorption.
  • Don’t use it on an open flame- It is designed only for the oven.
  • Place the lid upside down on top of base when storing- When the clay baker is not in use, keep it in a place where the air circulates. Place the lid upside down on top of the base, so the air can reach inside the bottom.

But, why is a clay baker helpful for a frugal cook? Here are a few reasons I think this can be a good addition to the kitchen:

  • Cooking food in a cooker requires no additional liquids. It pulls all the natural juices out of your dishes so no need to add cans of chicken stock or extra ingredients to make your food flavorful.
  • Clay bakers allow you to prepare quick, healthy, high quality meals that cost less and taste better. My Aldi chicken looked and tasted better than any other preparation I have tried before and it browned the chicken beautifully without any extra steps at all!
  • You can cook very nutritiously. You can cook all kinds of foods without adding any fat. Due to the low cooking temperature the aroma, vitamins and minerals are preserved within your food. As someone who is trying to eat well, this is an important feature for me!

I can’t wait to try other things in this clay baker and I hope you can score one of your own for your kitchen!

Have you ever tried cooking in a clay baker before? If not, what are some items you use in your kitchen that may seem unconventional to others, but have saved you time or money?

Ask the Frugal Momma: How Do You Organize Your Pantry & Cupboards?

Thursday, September 4th, 2008

I know you guys were most impressed with the way we organized our closet, but what you *REALLY* wanted to know is how do we organize our pantry.

Remember when I revamped my laundry system and my yard sale system? That day I hit up the same college student for a great bookcase that she was getting rid of for only $20! I knew right away what I wanted to do with it and couldn’t wait to bring it home and put it in our basement.

First, let me give you some background information on our house and previous storage solutions. My kitchen does not have very many cupboards or pantry space so I have had to be more creative with my storage. Our big dream is to expand my tiny utility closet into a walk-in pantry, but until that happens I have been storing the majority of my pantry items in our basement.

Previously, we had a dark wood bookcase that was extremely deep that we were using to store the pantry items. We had ripped this “bookcase” out of our closet that we had turned into an entertainment unit. Yes, you could say that we are pretty creative with our smaller home. We have tried to maximize the space in places that were not being used properly instead of moving into a bigger home.

Due to the depth and darkness of the unit, what had ended up happening was that I found myself doing the repeat-buying. I would look in the unit and say to myself, “No tomato paste?” And then I would rush to the store and buy tomato paste. When I would pull items out though, I would see twenty cans of tomato paste that I had already bought. This was not frugal and the bookcase was working against me.

The location of the unit was also not the smartest place for me. With a quad level home, I was already making the trek down all of our stairs to retrieve items and then walking into the farthest corner of the basement to get what we needed. It was inconvenient and not a functional storage solution.

Welcome to the new home for my canned goods! This bookcase rests just at the bottom of the stairs in a well-lit area of our basement. The light wood color makes it easier to see what is in my pantry and the labels (created with my label maker) make it easy for even my husband to find what we need out of the pantry.

Our upstairs cupboards needed revamping as well. We have the same problem with our cupboards as we did with our former basement storage solution. One cupboard was extremely deep and items would get shoved back there until we said, “Hmmm… do you think that this is still good if it expired in 2003?” Obviously, we were wasting food and valuable cupboard space.

Repeat the same scenario above with the Lazy Susan unit that we had, but just make the items revolve in mass chaos. Clearly, we had a serious problem!

I got these handy storage baskets for less than two dollars each and divided our pantry items into categories. The storage baskets made it much easier for me to pull down exactly what I needed, rather than climbing up on a chair to try and dig through the back of the pantry. It also makes throwing items out quicker, when I need to clean out the pantry, and makes tasks easier because I had grouped like items (or cooking projects) together.

Here is how I grouped the items:

Spices- All of the spice containers were gathered together and imagine my surprise that we had plenty of repeat performers in this category. I wiped down the spices and consolidated them into one container. The spice container is residing in the cupboard closest to the stove. I can pull the small basket down and take out whatever we need and slip it back into the cupboard when I am done cooking. This is much easier than rifling through fifty teeny bottles and makes shopping day easier too!

Cake/Cookie Decorating Supplies- These are items that are used less frequently, but still needed a home. I put these higher up in a basket with handles. Piping bags, piping tips, cookie cutters, food coloring, sprinkles and the birthday candles (that no one could ever find) all went into this container.

Baking Supplies: This is a pretty general category, but it was all of the items that I needed, but could never find. In this larger basket went our baking powder, baking soda, confectioners sugar, shortening, and cocoa powder.

Rice/Pasta: These ingredients went into a larger basket and all of the boxes were consolidated and smaller pastas and the rice were placed into clear Mason jars. The mason jars were labeled and have the cooking instructions labeled on them (unless I knew the directions by heart). In the Mason jars were white rice, brown rice, jasmine rice, orzo pasta, macaroni, and couscous. Larger pasta included linguine, angel hair, and thin spaghetti. Everything fit more neatly and anything extra went into the downstairs bookcase unit.

Flour/Sugar: This organizing unit went into our Lazy Susan. This included wheat flour, white flour, self-rising flour, cake flour, brown sugar, and white sugar.

Syrups/Oils/Vinegars: This organizing unit also went into our Lazy Susan and included corn oil, vegetable oil, canola oil, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, white wine vinegar, red wine vinegar, molasses, honey, and maple syrup. Using this unit eliminated the “sticky” factor, which usually occurred, making a huge mess in the bottom of our pantry. Any extra condiments also get put in there, as they are often used in recipes.

Finally, the items that I like to keep on hand upstairs all go into our pantry door. We bought one of these wire units that mounts on the door and keep items that I might need on hand. A smaller unit, that clips onto the larger unit, houses all of those little packets that we might need to assemble a meal. I try to keep what we need for the week in the upstairs pantry door and then the excess (or whatever doesn’t fit) ends up going downstairs.

If you want, I am happy to share where we keep appliances and stuff like that, just leave me a comment!

I hope that this will help give you some creat
ive storage solutions for your pantry!

Note: You can click on the pictures to expand the size.

Related Readings:

Free Up Pantry Space & Make a Snack
Making Your Spice Rack Usable
Getting the Car Organized
Gettin’ Quick in the Kitchen
Living Out of Your Pantry

Sound Off: What storage solutions have you found work in your pantry?

*Originally aired July 25, 2007*

What a Difference a Day Makes

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

I decided to hit the thrift store this Saturday in search of a china cabinet or unit where I could rest my laptop for our kitchen. I have been hunting for awhile, but just haven’t seen anything with the good bones that I was looking for. I walked around for awhile before I saw IT. You know? The one! The one that I have been hunting for ages looking for? Well, I basically threw my body upon an old eighties cabinet and requested the crew help me load it in my vehicle. The cost was only $99 and the units that I had been looking at in the stores were a minimum of $250 and upwards of $600. This piece looked like it was going to be perfect and I headed over to the hardware store and got all of the supplies to tackle this project.

I was inspired by Meredith’s recent post about a project that was done on Notes from a Cottage Industry. This blogger had painted her unit black and had gotten hers for a mere fifty bucks and made it look like a million.

This was my first attempt at refinishing a piece of furniture and I was pretty nervous at first, but my tentative paint strokes turned to fast swipes as I became more confident with what I was doing.

This particular piece was a knotty oak wood and had worn brass handles on it. We prefer a more contemporary look with clean lines and a silver finish to our pieces so that is what I wanted to achieve when I refinished this piece.

I decided to leave the piece with the knots in the wood, opting to skip the spackling step altogether, and purchased a primer tinted grey to give us a good start on the piece.
I sprayed the unit with a liquid degreaser to get all of the grime and muck of off the wood. Next I primed it with primer and allowed that to dry for a couple of hours. The next step was to put on the black paint and then another coat. Then another coat. Finally, another coat was applied before I could do the final touch-ups to the wood.

The hardware was the type that had been dropped into the a cut-out in the wood of the piece so there was no way that I could replace it. The worn dingy handles received a face-lift with a coat of stainless steel spray paint that was made especially for metal. Fifteen minutes to dry and only four dollars to redo all of the hardware. We are going to be spraying some other ugly brass fixtures around our house that need a little TLC, rather than purchasing new pieces which would cost us a lot more.

I started the project at six o’clock in the evening and painted until 2:30 in the morning. I collapsed in bed and then picked it back up at nine and had it fully assembled with my dishes and cookbooks on it by six the next evening.

It was a bear of a project, but I can’t stop glowing or patting myself on the back for what I accomplished in a single day. The unit is absolutely enormous and I did all of this by myself with the only help from my husband being the help with moving and reassembling it.

The finished product reminds of something you would get at Pottery Barn or Restoration Hardware and I doubt that it would be only $99!

The history of the piece was as interesting as the furniture was itself. A quick discussion with one of the employees seemed to indicate that it was repossessed. After pulling it all apart we found a very mysterious hole that at been cut out of the bottom. A hole that would have no purpose except to hide something. Weed, perhaps? Who knows!

What has been your biggest accomplishment that you have done in or around your house? Have you ever attempted to refurbish a thrift store or yard sale piece? Any blunders refurnishing anything?

* Originally aired April 2, 2007*

Our Kitchen Makeover

Wednesday, September 3rd, 2008

When we moved into our house, one of the big things that attracted us to it was the size of our kitchen. Now that we have lived in our house for four years, I don’t think my kitchen is as big as I would like, but it seemed enormous when our last house had only a galley kitchen. Isn’t that funny how accustomed we can become to more space?

The thing that I was not fond of about the kitchen was the dated look of it and the lack of storage and cupboards. The walls were white, the floors a really light pine color, and the cabinets were oak with no hardware. We didn’t have enough cabinet space, the appliances all needed to be updated, and the kitchen lacked the style I wanted. If this was a reflection of the “heart of our home,” it was certainly missing something. The owner before us had completely renovated the kitchen, but it wasn’t our style and wasn’t cohesive or finished the way we would have liked.

Our kitchen makeover has been a gradual process and we are still working on the details of it, but it has come a long way from the dated eighties look. We would replace things as they went out and updates would come when we had a little extra money. I did want to show where we are at now, with the updating process, and to share how we have renovated our kitchen on a budget.

I wish I would have taken more before pictures of the kitchen, but I hope my descriptions will help.
These are the pictures of our cabinets before the makeover. Nice, but not much to write home about. We had received a $50 Lowes gift card for Christmas (thanks, mom & dad!) so we thought we would put the money to good use. I used the steps provided in this tutorial to paint our cabinets. This meant no messy sanding and so it helped to save a step and saved me a lot of cleaning too!
We took all of the doors off and gave them a really good cleaning with a liquid degreaser that I had purchased from the hardware store. Once cleaned, we applied two layers of primer to each side of the doors and to the outside of the cabinets themselves. We allowed the primer to dry one day and then we began painting them the next day. The color that we chose was a Martha Stewart “Wainscot White.” It wasn’t a true white, but was definitely not a cream either.

The hardware for the cabinets was purchased from Target. They have ten packs of knobs that very closely resemble the stuff at Restoration Hardware, but they only cost $14.99 for ten versus $5-10 each. The drawer pulls were $4.99 each (also purchased from Target) and they all were in oil rubbed bronze.

These are the cabinets after. What a difference a weekend can make! The cupboards are so beautiful and have brightened the kitchen up so much. Not only that, but the whole space feels so much larger because of the white cabinets. The walls were also painted a pretty gray blue to bring the more up-to-date feel to our space. We left our counters the same, but hope to one day replace them with a more high-end material (or at least make them look more high end).

We replaced our dishwasher with a new GE dishwasher that we purchased from Sears. It is the stainless steel look instead of the real stainless steel, so little hands can smudge away without mommy having to clean the surface as often. We actually won the dishwasher in an advertising contest that was sponsored by Sears. Technically, all of you AWESOME people helped us earn the dishwasher so we thank you for that. This one is so much prettier than the other one and better yet…it works! What a novel idea!
Next to my stove are hooks for my aprons. This was a great way to add some “art” to the walls without making an investment. $3.99 to display a few of my favorite things in the world.

We updated our stove with this fancy stainless steel number. It has everything I could ever want for this space and, while not free, I was able to get a killer deal on it. The stove was marked for $1K and I was able to get them to accept $500. Always pick those floor models, I say, and point out any and every flaw you can…even the stupid stuff. That is how we were able to score this stove.

The range hood was free and part of our Sears shopping spree that we won. Our refrigerator is the last of the white appliances to make an exit, but we are watching Craigslist to see if we can score a good deal on that.
Since cabinet storage was an issue, I was able to find an old ugly eighties desk with a hutch from a thrift store to remedy the problem. I did my makeover work on it and it is now my favorite piece in the house. This was cheaper than buying new cabinets and I just love how it is open for guests to grab their own dishes. The white dishes really make me happy and make me feel like a little Martha when I am entertaining! These dishes were priced at $14.99 for a service for six, including all of the serving dishes! They aren’t the best quality, but I love the clean lines and design on them.

I also have my new china from my mother-in-law that looks so elegant on our tables. She recently brought this over to add to my dishes and I was so thrilled.

While it can make our seating a little more cramped, we did add a narrow table along the back wall to keep our computer. This has our dinner music on it and I can watch the television while I cook. The two plants on either side were purchased from Target, clearance to $14.99 each. The basket on the table, normally brimming over with fruit, is empty since I need to head to the grocery store. The basket was also a clearance item that I purchased from Marshalls along with some of the decor for our walls.
Like this piece that is centered along our back wall! This was a clearance item at Marshalls for $9.99. It got discounted with some of their summer pieces and I thought it would be a perfect focal point in that open spot.

I hope you enjoyed the tour of our kitchen!
We could not be more proud of the space we created…on a budget!

*Originally aired on January 2, 2008*