It’s a Boy!

  
We’re excited to announce the arrival of Edmond Oliver Snethen, born May 23rd, 2016, at 10:19am. Edmond entered the world at 7lb. 7 oz. and 20.5 inches long.

  

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Everything and a New Kitchen Sink!

  
The last step to the kitchen counter reno was to install the new sink and faucet. Check out the countertop painting process and the beadboard backspash, if you haven’t seen those already. This part of the project really fell on Tony… And during finals week, of all times! While he did remind me several times that he had wanted no part of this project whatsoever, he was a good sport and indulged his very pregnant wife despite his jam-packed schedule. I’d picked out two sinks and two faucets from Lowe’s and The Depot previously. At one point we had a sink in the front hall (the one that went back), a sink in the dining room (the one we kept), and one on the back porch (the one we got rid of)!

Since this fell to Tony, and he doesn’t like to have his picture taken… And there were a couple issues that made it harder for him… I mostly just have before and after shots. Here’s the old sink:

  

It was just your standard stainless steel sink – not much to it. It was fine. 

  
But since we were taking it out anyway to redo the countertop, it just made sense to put in a nice new one! I’d had my eye on a sink with one gigantic bowl. It always drove me nuts to try and clean baking sheets and large pans that didn’t fit in a standard sink, but Mom convinced me that it’s nice to have two bowls for those times when you just want to use a little water, so I picked a sink with one really big bowl and one small one, like a 75/25 split. 

  

It’s fantastic! I can fit an entire cookie sheet, or in this case my oversized cutting board, in the larger side. The right side has been a fantastic place to thaw meat or put pots that are drying without having to leave them on the counter. Even Tony commented that the sink was pretty sweet – high praise from him! 

Our one stipulation with the faucet was that it needed to have a pull out sprayer, and I loved the old fashioned shape of this one. 

  

Once everything was installed I used wood glue and a few nails to install the final piece of trim, and this project was a wrap! 

  
Here’s the same view just 2 1/2 years ago:

  
Cabinets, walls, trim, and countertops painted, new backsplash, new sink and faucet. Yay!

  

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Painted Countertops

 
I may have mentioned before that I wanted new countertops in our kitchen. It really wasn’t a necessity. Our existing countertops did a nice job of holding things. I hated them, so I didn’t mind using the crap out of them. And to be completely honest, I secretly kind of like linoleum. It’s not cool or chic, but it’s super durable, and that’s really the most important thing when it comes to a countertop, right? Our linoleum had two major issues though. First, the wall in the kitchen is terribly uneven, to the point that whoever installed our existing cabinets and countertop had to install a tapered 2×4 just to get the cabinets to sit flush with the side walls, and that was pretty ugly. 

  
This is the thickest part of the 2×4, right under the windows and over the sink, and it’s probably an inch thick or more. (Side note: we think these windows were installed where there was once a back door. When you look at the siding from the outside it looks like it’s been repaired (rather poorly, obviously, since we can see it) to cover an old doorway. We think that might also explain why the wall is so bowed in this particular spot, as the wood piece tapers down to about a 1/4 inch thick underneath the open shelving and remains relatively consistent the rest of the way down the wall.)

The other countertop issue was this giant seam. I always felt like food particles were going to fall in the crack – gross! 

  

In addition to function, I also appreciate pretty, so a few months ago I went out to price new countertops in a linoleum (because it’s cheaper and it’s more durable than the wood countertops I really wanted) designed to look like Carrara marble (because it’s pretty). I nearly had the order placed at The Depot when the kitchen designer lady mentioned the countertop would come in two pieces, and where would I like the seam? To which I said, “No thank you.” The seam was the worst part of the existing countertops, and a big part of why I wanted them replaced at all, so I left. 

At that point I was prepared to let the project go… for awhile… at least until after Baby arrived. I know, letting things go isn’t really my style, but this time I was going to, I swear! I mean, this is my ninth month of pregnancy after all.

Speaking of, some maternity pics:

   

 
But then I asked my friend about her DIY countertop experience. She painted her countertops a little over a year ago, and I wondered how they’d held up. She gave me all the details, and said, “Oh Lindy, if you’re going to do it, you’d better do it before the baby comes, because you’re not going to want to wash dishes and bottles in the bathroom sink with a brand new baby.” Well, crap, I thought. I guess I’d better get on this! And since I was going to be doing the countertop, it just made sense to do the backsplash and upgrade the kitchen sink and faucet at the same time! Poor Tony just shook his head and said, “What do I have to do?” Thus began this latest kitchen remodel. You’ve seen the backsplash (Phase 1), and this post is about the countertops (Phase 2)!

Last weekend I prepped the counters by filling the seam and the joint where the 2×4 meets the back rise of the countertop with woodfiller. 

  

Then I sanded it as smooth as I could.

 
Based on my friend’s recommendation, I had ordered a Giani countertop refinishing kit from Amazon. The kit is designed to create a granite look, and I was looking more for marble, but they had a little YouTube video that covered that. 

Step 1, after sink removal, was a thorough cleaning and a coat of black primer. 

 

I kind of liked the look of the black, but I pressed onward with the original plan after the primer dried overnight. Since I was going for Carrera marble, I started Saturday morning by rolling on a layer of white paint, then sponging on”white flows” in random patterns.
  

It was a little zebra stripey, but I just kept going! The next step was to add the veining. There were a lot of different techniques mentioned online about how to do this. Many people used a feather, but I just couldn’t figure that out, so I played around with a couple options. The combination that worked best for me was to mix a little of the black primer and the white paint to make a dark gray. Then I used a fine tipped artist brush to paint lines through the gray spots on the counter. The lines were very uneven, on purpose, then I sprayed the lines with water and they kind of took on a life of their own.  The difficult part was that rise at the back. I wanted the marbling effect that the water created, but the first time I tried it, the water (and therefore the black paint) just dripped straight down.  It looked awful! So I would paint the veins, spray a light mist on them, then use my sponge to catch the extra water as it fell down. It worked pretty well.
 

As the veining dried I sponged over the whole counter with more white to mute the veins a bit and lighten the whole thing up. The scariest part was the next step. I mixed water into the white paint and was supposed to pour it over the whole countertop! I thought this sounded like a terrible idea, but that’s what the directions said to do. So, when Tony went to bed, I snuck back downstairs (just because I knew I wouldn’t sleep for thinking about this next step) and went for it. I used the foam brush to spread the watery paint around, but I was concerned about brush marks, so I also gave it a couple sprays with the squirt bottle as well. Then I used the foam brush to keep the excess paint from dripping off the front of the counter or from pooling where the counter met the rise. When I was satisfied that there wouldn’t be any more drips, I went to bed and hoped it would be okay in the morning. You can see a bit in the photo below how wet it was.

  

This is what it looked like in the morning: 

  

That day I applied 3 coats of the clear that came in the kit, and we began the wait. The directions said we could use the counter after 24 hours and put appliances back after three days, but we’re waiting the full two weeeks for the paint to completely cure before we put anything back to sit on the counter.


The review:

This is probably the first house project I haven’t been totally in love with. It’s good. I like it. I just don’t love it. 

Pros: 1. The 2×4 at the back of the backsplash is totally covered; it looks like one consistent piece now. 2. The seam is mostly covered as well. I don’t feel like crumbs or juice are going to get in there anymore. 3. It was a relatively quick project, completed in just one weekend, and we were without a kitchen sink for less than a week. 4. The price is pretty fantastic –  a complete makeover for under $100.  

  
Cons: 1. It’s not quite as white as I was wanting, but more gray. If I could do it over, I’d roll on 2-3 coats of white before sponging in the “zebra stripes.” 2. I sponged some of the Pearl Mica color over the top, and that was a mistake. I couldn’t really see the pearl color when I was sponging it on in the morning, but by the afternoon it was catching the light coming through the kitchen windows, and it makes the counter look dirty from certain angles. 3. Despite my best efforts, some of the watered-down white paint ended up pooling at the base of the rise. I tried sanding it out the next morning, but it didn’t work. The thicker band of white is probably only noticeable to me, but it’s still a con.

  

At this point, I’m still glad I tackled this project, despite not loving the outcome. I love the idea of painting anything and everything, and the new sink and faucet are fantastic. Our two week waiting period will be up this weekend, and then we’ll see how this stuff holds up over time! 

 

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Kitchen Backsplash

You know how sometimes you think and think about something but you just never do it? Well, I’ve wanted to do something about our kitchen backsplash for a long time now. When we moved in it was this row of cheap, ugly tiles that I just hated. But we were planning a full kitchen remodel, so it seemed silly to try and mess with the wall that we were pretty sure was plaster. You just never know how those plaster walls are going to take a reno project, and boy is it messy! 

Then a few months ago someone commented on an old kitchen post (someone I don’t know – that’s always exciting!) suggesting I just cover over the tiles with beadboard wallpaper. It was a good idea, but the tiles weren’t installed very well – they’re kind of uneven and I thought the grout lines would show through the wallpaper, so I just dismissed it. Then one day, it hit me. Why use wallpaper when I could use actual beadboard? I still didn’t want to take the tile down, so I just didn’t! And let me tell you, this turned into one of those projects that was so flipping easy, and fabulous, that I can’t believe I didn’t think of it sooner!

My dad had some extra beadboard from building the bench seat in the baby’s room, and we already had the paint, so all we had to buy for this project was a tube of construction grade adhesive. Dear, sweet Tony, who’s in the middle of three(!) graduate classes and super busy, has been very supportive of his crazy, pregnant wife, and he cut all the beadboard for me. I’m pretty good with a miter saw, but I’m just not yet wild about taking on the circular saw freehand. 

A coat of primer and two coats of paint, and these babies were ready to go up! Here’s the adhesive.  

 We pressed the wood paneling straight onto the tiles and held it there for a minute or two. Then I came back and just pushed on everything every few minutes until there weren’t any more air bubbles. There was one spot where the tile was installed particularly unevenly, and the beadboard wouldn’t stay put. Rather than one of us sitting there for ten minutes waiting for the glue to dry, Tony grabbed some 20 lb. weights and we leaned them against the trouble spots. 

  
A quick coat of caulk and a topcoat of white paint finished it all off. What a difference!

  
There will be a piece of trim along the bottom of the beadboard, so that will take care of the gap that is visible in a couple areas, but this project ended up being the first in a series, so I haven’t gotten to that detail yet. More to come soon!

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Baby Shower

Let me just say, I have some amazing friends. Holy cow. Last weekend they threw me the most fabulous baby shower! Monica even flew in from Colorado as a surprise! 

 
I was horrible about taking photos – bad blogger! Amy and Emilee had put together a delicious spread of muffins, cinnamon rolls, quiche, yogurt, fruit, and mimosa/mom-mosa. Makes my mouth water just thinking of it! 

Then we decorated onesies. A couple months ago several of us got together to dye said onesies. I have very little experience with RIT dye, so it was a bit nerve-wracking. Tony pulled out some 5 gallon buckets and paint sticks for stirring, and we moved the kitchen island off to the side so there was plenty of floor space. 

  
It took the better part of a Sunday afternoon, but when we were done we had some beautiful colored onesies! 

   

This was about 1/2 the stash we dyed that day. The other 1/2 were for the baby shower of our friend Anna, who now has twins girls at home! 

Anyway, at the party, each guest picked a onesie and a design and ironed it on. I had each person take a selfie so I’d know who made each one. It’s been fun for me to look back at the photos because so many of the designs people chose are so reminicent of their personalities! 

  
Check out the finished designs, all laid out on Charlie’s kennel: 

  
After onesies it was time to open Baby’s gifts. I’m still overwhelmed by everyone’s generosity. 

   

And look at this great baby washcloth wreath that Amy made!

  

That afternoon Tony’s mom, Jeanne, and I unpacked everything in Baby’s room. 

    

The bookshelf is full of new board books.
  

The blankets are all unpacked and washed, including two beautiful hand-crochetted blankets. 

  
The artwork has been hung on the wall.

  
Even Baby’s closet is filling up!

Thank you Emilee and Amy, and all my sweet friends and family! 

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Simple Organization Upgrades

  

We’ve been taking things pretty easy around here lately. Tony’s been doing homework like crazy, and when he’s not working we’ve been playing KC tourists a bit – staying on the plaza, visiting the zoo, eating out and seeing friends, etc. I have been experimenting with some DIY maternity photos. Hence, the photo above.

Over Spring Break I did get Tony to add a shelf over the laundry.  

 

It was a very simple affair, and I didn’t even finish the plywood since it will be hidden behind the curtain most of the time. The extra storage will make a great place to keep Charlie’s 30lb. bags of food, getting them out of our front hall closet. 

  

I’ve also been trying to figure out how I can tidy up all my craft supplies in the office, now that it’s also a guest room. The open shelving was just so messy! 

  

Eventually this room will get a full makeover, (I’m thinking a light grey with yellow curtains.) but I just can’t get myself to do the wall repair that would be necessary before painting. In the meantime I needed something cheap and easy. Not every project has to be a big ordeal, right? When I found these storage bins at a fabulous price, I decided they were the best option to clean things up. At some point I’ll add some labels with the contents of each bin and will do something with the plastic storage drawers behind the door. This is a good start, though. 

  Now the guest room looks nice from the entry door, at least! 

  
If you ever stay here overnight, please just pretend you don’t see this disaster zone!

  
Yikes! I do have a plan for this side of the room, but it will probably be a late summer project. I’ve got some things going on in the next few weeks… Like welcoming a new little human into the world.  ; )  We aren’t planning to have overnight guests  again until Christmas. I think I should be able to pull something together by then!  

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Nursery Projects  4, 5, 6…

Phew! Baby projects sure involve a lot of sewing! 

It all started with this nursing pillow.  

  
 I wasn’t even going to get a nursing pillow, but a friend raved about hers, so when I saw this one on a quick run through the local Goodwill store, I couldn’t pass it up. It’s was only $2.50 after all. Then I stopped by Hobby Lobby for some other things and just dropped through the fabric section. They had these gorgeous quilted fabrics on clearance for $5 a yard. They’re fleece on one side and a soft microfiber on the other. I fell in love with the turquoise and flowers one, but that screamed anything but gender neutral, so I also nabbed up a yard of the navy and a zipper for each. Here’s the girly cover:

  
 

And the boyish one:  

  
A yard of each fabric was easily enough for a nursing pillow cover in each print, but then I had all this extra fabric. I couldn’t just let it go to waste! I pulled out some old ribbon and cut a rectangle from each fabric. By folding the ribbon in half over the edges of the rectable, I was able to seal the seams of these little mini-blankets.  These are just chilling on the back of the crib until we know boy or girl!   

 I still had more scraps of fabric though, and I had a ton of ribbon, so I pinned it all together for one of those tag blankets, adding some washed chip wrappers to the inside so they crinkle. Apparently babies like that kind of thing?? 

  
I still have more scraps, and with all the people I know having babies, I just might use them to make a few more tag blankets!

Working with all that ribbon led to another project – burp clothes! Pinterest has told me that prefold cloth diapers make the best burp clothes, so I added some ribbon to dress them up a bit. The rest were dyed with RIT dye, a project totally worth doing again sometime!

   
 
Finally, I whipped up a couple little hair bows. Since we’re only investing in gender neutral clothing at this point, I figured a bow will be what initially tells people it’s a girl, if Tony’s prediction is correct, that is.  

  

I’m running out of baby projects to do at this point, so hopefully I’ll have a few other things to share with you soon! 

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Bridal Brunch

My sweet cousin, Erica, is getting married! Unfortunately for me, the wedding is just days before Baby is due to arrive… And it’s in Wisconsin. I’m super bummed that I’ll be missing the wedding, but since Erica lives here in town, I was able to throw her a bridal shower! 

  

There have been no recent house projects as the last couple weeks have been spent trying out blueberry muffin recipes and finalizing the menu:

Monkey Bread

Mini Quiche

Mini Blueberry Muffins

Veggie Pizza

Build-Your-Own Yogurt Parfaits

Fresh Fruit Bowl (Thanks Mom!)

And for dessert, an Italian Lemon Cream Cake – Yummy!

On the Beverage Bar we had several juices for mimosas, as well as the normal coffee and tea options.

  
Here’s me with the beautiful bride-to-be!

  
And my other sweet cousin, Erica’s sister Lissy, flew in from Green Bay for the event! 

Boy, do I look short standing between these two. 

  
The groom-to-be stopped by at the end to help load up all the loot. They received some beautiful gifts to help them start their life together! 

  
It was a joy to throw this shower for Erica and her friends, but I was pretty exhausted after all that baking. Once everything was put away, I took a nice, long nap on the front porch swing! 

 

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Nursery Project 3: Crib

  
I did not build our crib. I didn’t even upcycle one. A little piece of me hurts to admit that I found this crib on walmart.com and loved that it had a solid back (for storing things in that corner) and didn’t cost an arm and a leg. I did DIY the crib skirt and the teething rail cover though! 
First, the crib skirt.  

 

I’ve had this gray fabric for ages. It was the shower curtain in our first house, and I love the material. It’s thick and has this subtle texture, and it’s just fantastic. I used half the curtain for another project, but I had just enough left for the skirt. I wanted a little something extra though, and a little scrap of leftover curtain fabric seemed like the perfect accent. I just hemmed the bottom of the shower curtain in three seperate pieces, cut a slit through the middle of the largest piece, and sewed the hemmed polka dot fabric to the back. 

I used safety pins to attach the skirt to the bedrails. That way, when the mattress needs to be lowered, I just move the pins.
 
For the teething rail, I bought some of that minky fabric and this really nifty device to attach plastic snaps. The fabric was very easy to work with because it doesn’t fray at all. I probably didn’t need to sew the simple seam around the four edges of the long rectangle, but I thought it would add stability. 

Then I used my new tool to attach the snaps. The first step was to poke a hole through the fabric. 

 
The snap comes in two pieces. One goes through the hole in the fabric and the other meets it on the underside. 

  

The minky fabric is thick, so pushing the plastic pieces together did tear up my nails! Once the pieces were connected, the little device fit right over the top and squished the pieces together. 

 

I put a set of snaps every 5 or 6 inches apart so they were evenly spaced between the crib slats.  

 
To help keep everything tight and add some cushion, I laid a piece of felt on the inside before snapping the cover onto the crib rail. It still wasn’t quite thick enough, so I topped it off with some packing material from the crib until I can get more felt. 

  
There’s not too much left to do in the nursery. The essentials are ready to go (the crib and the glider). I’ll change out the artwork that’s currently in there with this great project my friend, Amy, came up with. The rest, though, I have to make myself hold off on until after the baby shower, so I’ll be looking for some other projects to occupy my time. We’ll see what I come up with! 

  

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Broken Pipe

So, sometimes your husband calls you and says, “Wifey, have you left for work yet?”

“Not yet,” you reply, “why?”

“Would you go out in the yard and see if you see any water? I saw some ice on the sidewalk this morning, and it’s been kinda bugging me.”

“Ok,” you respond. And sure enough, there’s a little stream of water bubbling up from the ground beneath the tree – right where the water line runs from the house to the main. Goody. 

Maybe that conversation hasn’t happened to you… But it has definitely happened to us, now. On the first day of Parent Teacher Conferences, no less. The day when we work from 7:30am to 8:30pm. Fantastic.

I called the city to turn off our water, and Tony spent the day calling plumbers and haggling… When he wasn’t teaching, of course.  

What do you do, you might ask, when your water line needs replacing? You turn the water back on just long enough to fill your fridge with pitchers and water bottles and lug a 5 gallon bucket up to the bathroom. At bedtime you heat some water on the stove and fill the sink basin with water to wash your face. You temporarily institute an “if it’s yellow, let it mellow” policy, and you pour water from the 5-gallon bucket into the toilet bowl when it’s time to flush. (It felt a bit like a flashback to Tortola power outages!) 

The next day you thank the nice men who came out on a frigid cold day in February to dig up your yard and give you back the gift of running water. But don’t thank them too profusely. You are about to give them all your money. 

Then you leave for work, not showered, with the door unlocked so the workmen can get into the cellar and your yard like this:

  

You get home late that night, and the next morning your yard still looks like this because they couldn’t get an inspector out late yesterday:

  
But, thankfully, you now have running water again, and now it’s running into your house, instead of your yard, and just when you tell it to. Phew!

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