Thursday, June 28, 2012

DIY Burp Cloths

Don't you just love babies?

Our (extended) family has welcomed its newest member, another girl, and our family couldn't be happier. Poor Tyson now has a sister and two girl cousins! 

My sister-in-law and her new bundle are doing great.  Baby girl arrived yesterday and I can't wait to meet her tonight! And to sniff her little newborn head. :)

One of my most used newborn items had to be burp cloths. Maybe I just had two spitty babies, but we went through loads of burp cloths each day.

I only received a few cute ones as gifts, but those were the ones I always grabbed first, so it's one of my favorite things to give to a new mama.

Some Gerber premium prefold diapers, a few coordinating fabric scraps and some bits of ribbon = a couple of cute new burp cloths.

Tied up with a ribbon and they're ready to give :)

Linking up:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Basement Remodel, Part 3: The Remodeled Stairs, a Tutorial of Sorts :

The basement remodel has been on on-going process.  Check out Part 1 and Part 2

Our house has this lovely orange-y colored wood throughout, courtesy of the original builder. 

With everything else in the basement getting an update, these stair railings started to look downright AWFUL. Besides, they had taken a beating. For whatever reason, they looked rough in many spots. I always thought I would like to restain the railings (mostly upstairs), but it was always one of those "I'd like to do someday" kind of projects. 

When I finally made the decision to take the leap with the basement stairs, I had a weekend to finish the project before the new carpet was to be installed.  Eeps!  There was no way I was getting stain, dust, paint or polyurethane near my new carpet.

Not the best photo, but the first thing we did was rip the carpet off the stairs.  I have those runners going all the way up the stairwell on both sides and since they were already stained, I needed to sand and restain them.  I thought about just painting them the same color as the trim, but we did a little trim paint switch in the basement. 

The trim throughout my house is cream. Not my choice, but I wasn't about to replace every window's blinds because they're cream too. Anyway, when we started the basement projects, we originally went with the cream trim paint. In our basement (that gets no natural light) and up against our lovely new wall color, it just looked dingy. Yellow. Almost dirty.

So we broke the rules and went with bright off-the-shelf white semi-gloss paint for the trim. I'm so, so glad we did because it looks so much better in this space. The wainscoting on the stairs is our transition point between the trim colors. The wainscoting is all cream since it ties into the same wainscoting in the foyer.

I hoped and prayed I would find lovely wood stairs under that nasty old carpet, but no dice.  :(

After ripping up the carpet, I taped off the existing wainscoting, and any places where the stain might meet paint. 

The stain I chose was Rust-Oleum's Kona.  It was one of the darkest stains I could find in stock at my Lowe's.  Supposedly it's a one coat, dries in an hour stain.  That was not my experience in the least.  Remember when I said I only had a weekend to do this project start to finish?  Yeah, that slow drying stain was problematic.  I'm sure user error played a part since I normally love Rust-Oleum products.

Next up was to sand ALL of the finish off of the runners, railings and balusters.  This step was annoying and took what felt like forever.  I failed to take a photo since I was literally covered in dust from head to toe. 

After the sanding was complete and I wiped everything down SEVERAL times (I just kept picking up more dust with each new swipe), it was time to stain!

The first coat on the first side :)  Already looking much, much better.  Ultimately, I had to do 3 coats of stain and 2 coats of polyurethane. 

See how I left the balusters?  My plan was to paint them white for some contrast.  Even though it was (another) giant pain in the you-know-what, I'm so glad I made that choice.

Since I was under the gun, timing-wise, I didn't take any pictures of staining the runners or the railing, but I did those too.  Blogger fail.  :)

They were much easier to work with since I could just slap a bunch of stain on them without having to worry about tons of small nooks and crannies and if I got any stain on the stairs, it didn't matter.  I also think I did a better job of sanding in those areas because the stain seemed to take much easier than on the rest of the railings.

After finishing the stain, I did two coats of wipe-on polyurethane.  I will never use another kind of poly again.  That stuff is ah-mazing.

Painting the balusters was a sloooow process, but in the end, it was worth it.  I had to use a tiny craft brush to get in between the balusters and up against the stained parts.  And, it took 3 coats. 

But the finished product?  Worth my entire weekend. :)


I am thrilled with the way the stairs turned out! 

I love them and they look SO much better with the new wall color (new carpet helps too).  I also have a hella sense of accomplishment since this is probably the only project in the basement that was truly my doing.  With the exception of ripping the carpet off the stairs (Ryan took care of that one and the thousands of staples!), this was all me. 

Start to finish.  :)

And just a refresher...the old stairs...BLECH.

And the pretty new stairs, courtesy of me.

Have you tried a stair remodel/repaint/restain?  I'd love to hear about your experience so I know what to change when I do the upstairs.  Cause they're getting done at some point.

Stay tuned for the built-ins next! 
I'm linking up here: Photobucket The 36th AVENUE HookingupwithHoH

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Sprucing up the Outside, Part 2

I love our front porch.

It's so nice to sit out here and enjoy a drink (of the adult-variety of course!) in the evenings.  Sometimes by myself, sometimes with my husband.  It's always shaded so it's much cooler than our backyard and up until this past weekend, the view was much more pleasant.

Summer annuals are a great way to add color to your front porch.  If you take care of them...sometimes I fail in this effort...they will last all summer.  I usually stick with red for the front of our house because I like the look with the white Adirondack chairs and our navy shutters and front door. 

New additions this year...a $5 garage sale plant stand and $6 paisley-ish pillows on clearance at Hobby Lobby.

I used to do hanging baskets of petunias, but after trial and error, I've learned that Boston ferns do much better in this spot.  They last until I'm ready to start my fall decorating.  :) 

I recently learned how to deadhead geraniums via youtube, of course!  I had geraniums a few years ago and they did not last, but I'm optimistic about these.  I've already kept them alive for a month. Woot!

It may be a record of sorts.  Just sayin'.

See that cheapie white basket of petunias on the left? 

I bought a $4 coco-lined metal basket at Lowe's and repotted the petunias.  Much better!

I also have this planter of petunias right next to the front door.   This planter keeps floating around to different spots, but I think it's here to stay. 

I just need to get out some of my 4th of July stuff!  It's about that time... :)

I've linked up to:

Not Just a Housewife's Outdoor Spaces Event

Monday, June 11, 2012

Sprucing up the Outside, Part 1

Over the weekend, we FINALLY started a project that we had both been wanting to do for a while -- starting some landscaping in our backyard. 

Our house was originally a spec home (built by the builder with no particular buyer in mind) and had one prior owner.  The prior owners ended up separating soon after moving in and they never got around to doing much inside or outside of the house.  We've lived here almost six years and we're slowly moving to the outside.  There are just too many projects.  :)

We had the stamped concrete patio installed a few summers ago but desperately needed landscaping!

Last summer, we had professional landscape plans drawn up by Greensketch Concepts.  I have nothing but great things to say about this company!  They come out and do the plans for you, down to the exact space where you should plant everything + what to plant.  We gave him our wishlist -- nicer, updated landscaping + shade + color but not too much maintenance.  Gary Warren, the owner, drew up plans for our entire property, but we wanted to focus on the backyard for now and specifically, the patio area.

Our lovely patio area, before. 

It wasn't a space that we particularly wanted to hang out in, at least during the day. At night with a fire in the firepit, you don't really notice the desolate landscape!

Before we did any planting or bed prep, we had to remove all of the mulch in the existing beds.  Our little man LOVED this project and had his very own shovel to help out.  Quinny just watched in the shade.  :)

Once we dug out all of the mulch, we were left with this big mess.  :)

Oh, and a big pile o' mulch. 

It can only get better from here, right?

After we removed the mulch, Ryan tilled up the beds with a rototiller.

Earlier in the day, we had three yards of topsoil dumped in our driveway.  Lovely.

The next step was to move all of that topsoil from the driveway into the beds.  While the men were doing the hard labor (thank goodness for help from my father-in-law and Tyson too!), Quinn and I went out to buy plants. 

I got back just in time for the last few cartloads of topsoil. :)  The darker dirt on top of the topsoil is compost.  Once we added the compost, Ryan's dad went through and tilled everything together again to mix it all up. 

The beds are prepped and we're ready for plants!!  We laid out the plants per our landscape plans and measured for planting.

And ta-da...

Plants!  Mulch!  Landscaping! 


We planted 4 boxwoods, a butterfly bush, 3 coreopsis, a hardy geranium, 2 Russian sage (these smell so good!), Shasta daisy, viburnum, and 3 dianthus.

So much better, don't you think? 

It's exciting to have this small section done and it's inspiring us to do more.  Now, we just need to find the time, the budget, and the energy to keep going.  At our current rate, we will be executing our landscaping plans for YEARS.

Stay tuned because I did some updates in the front yard too :)

I've linked up to:

How to Nest for Less; Not Just a Housewife

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

4th of July Playlist

Is anyone gearing up for some 4th of July parties?

I love the 4th of July.  It's one of my favorite holidays.  You can't go wrong when a holiday involves a warm summer day at the lake, burgers, corn on the cob, beer, fireworks and red, white and blue? 

I love holidays and love to entertain.  One of the top things on my to-do list when planning a party is a great playlist.  Music is necessary for just about any party and finding the perfect songs is part of the fun! 

I started my 4th of July playlist a few years ago and add new songs to it every year.  You can almost always count on country stars to come out with a new song that has to do with America or fireworks or red, white and blue, or all of the above!

The requirements for my playlist are simple.  There has to be a mention of America, 4th of July, Red, White and Blue, and/or some combination of those somewhere in the song.  My taste in music is rather broad, so there are songs from many different genres.

In it's entirety, here ya go, my 4th of July Playlist:

If you prefer a text version of the songs, this list is for you:

  • It’s America, Rodney Atkins
  • Young Americans, David Bowie
  • Only in America, Brooks & Dunn
  • Living in America, James Brown
  • Saturday in the Park, Chicago
  • America, Neil Diamond
  • American Boy, Estelle
  • We’re an American Band, Grand Funk Railroad
  • American Idiot, Green Day
  • Last of the American Girls, Green Day
  • God Bless the U.S.A., Lee Greenwood
  • City of New Orleans, Arlo Guthrie
  • 4th of July, Shooter Jennings 
  • Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue, Toby Keith
  • Made in America, Toby Keith
  • American Woman, Lenny Kravitz
  • American Pie, Don McLean
  • Pink Houses, John Mellencamp
  • R.O.C.K. in the USA, John Mellencamp
  • Kids in America, the Muffs
  • Firework, Katy Perry
  • American Girl, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers
  • Born in the U.S.A., Bruce Springsteen
  • Living in the U.S.A., Steve Miller Band
  • Where the Stars and Stripes and Eagle Fly, Aaron Tippin
  • Firecracker, Josh Turner
  • All-American Girl, Carrie Underwood
  • You’re a Grand Old Flag, various
  • American Music, Violent Femmes
  • Real American, WWE Anthology
  • Rockin’ in the Free World, Neil Young
Happy Summer!

Linking up to:
Tip Junkie handmade projects Home Stories A2Z
I Heart Nap Time
The 36th AVENUE