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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Nursery Project 2: Mobile 

No nursery is complete without a mobile, right? Perusing Pinterest with that search term yields endless results, but I’ve been taken by the ones that utilize colored paper circles. Many of them have the circles perpendicular to the ground, which seemed easy enough. You just glue the string between the two paper circles. 

  
But then I stumbled across some Etsy listings  where the circles seemed to dance.  

 

That’s what I wanted!

Most of the pictures, and this tutorial, I found used embroidery hoops as the structure of the mobile. They’re cheap and easy to find, but sometimes I like to challenge myself to complete a project using only materials I already own. Besides, it’s been flipping cold, and I did not want to run to Hobby Lobby on a cold Saturday. Racking my brain for something that would serve the same purpose as the hoops, I remembered this red lampshade that’s been sitting upstairs, just begging to be repurposed.  

 I think it came on a lamp I picked up at Goodwill, and while it was in great shape, I have no use for a red lamp in my decor scheme. So I stripped off the fabric and wrapped the metal frame in gray yarn. Spray painting would have been way easier, but I didn’t have any gray (remember the challenge), and it was too cold to paint anyway. 

I searched my scrapbook paper stash for a mix of colors that would be gender neutral and used my circle punch to cut out a couple hundred or so circles. I didn’t have enough of each colored page to make each circle double sided, so I took an old book (purchased from the clearance section at Half Price Books specifically for paper projects) and cut circles from there to be the backsides. After glueing them together, I started stringing them on gray thread with a colored seed bead tied in between each circle to keep it from slipping down. It was, in practice, precisely as tedious as it sounds, but it kept my hands busy for a couple weeks when Tony and I watched TV. 

 After I’d amassed a bunch of strings of circles, it was time to tie them onto the lampshade. 

  
I flipped the shade frame upside down so the narrow circle would be on the bottom and started with a few strings there to figure out the spacing. My shade had an inner ring as well where it was designed to attach to the lamp base. To that I tied three really long strings of circles to hang down just a bit lower than the other row, creating a chandelier effect. The top row was last and was the shortest. Then I just cut all the excess strings, and it was done! 

  
Of course, I wanted to hang it right away, but Tony convinced me to wait until the crib was put together and in place. He’s so darn practical sometimes! It’s a good thing I listened to him this time, as my hanging plan would have been an epic fail. Here’s the mobile in place: 

  
As I was tying the strings on, I worried the book page circles would overtake the beautiful colored ones, but I’m actually really pleased with the contrast. 

Tony was adament that I also note what the baby will see, so here’s the crib’s eye view: 

   

No pictures of the crib itself yet. They’ll be coming soon. I went a little crazy last weekend with baby projects… But that’s a story for another day!

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Shelves that Slide – Another Kitchen Project

Our most recent kitchen mini-makeover  (the mudroom corner and relocated fridge) has made such a difference in our kitchen that we’ve decided to scrap our original plan for a full-scale remodel. There are still things that need doing, (new flooring, countertops, and I’d love a big single sink instead of our double) but those items are pretty minor compared to the plan that required running a new electrical breaker, all new cabinets, and an altered layout, which was pretty spendy. Fixing up what we already have means the money we’ve been saving is more than enough to cover the above desires (But don’t tell Tony that, he’s tired of working for now!) and maybe even replace more of the windows (We still have 14 left to do.) throughout the house! 

With that in mind, I finally embarked on a project I’ve been thinking about for over a year – kitchen cabinet shelves that slide! It’s no secret that I hate our kitchen cabinets. Painting and beadboard wallpapering them made a huge difference on the outside, but inside they were these cavernous wastes of space. 

  
The half shelves at the back could only hold so much, and no matter how I rearranged things, they never really seemed to fit. I just knew roll-out shelves were the answer, but to buy a kit is $80+ per shelf. As always, Pinterest to the rescue. I found several posts about how to build and install the drawer-like shelves, many of them created by women, which was encouraging because Tony assured me this was my project and he would take no part in it. In reality he was very helpful as a consultant when I was waffling on how to approach the next step, and he did use the circular saw to cut the drawer/shelf bases for me. Otherwise, all the work was mine. 

The first weekend I laid out all the wood, primed, and painted it. The advantage to painting the wood first was that the roller is a lot faster than using a brush after the fact, but it does mean more touch up is required at the end (if I ever get to it). I was okay with that, especially as there was still snow on the ground that weekend, and we didn’t want to pull the saw out. Painting was the only way to get the project started. 

 It was a surprisingly small amount of wood that was needed. Each drawer was made from a single 8 foot board. And I needed two additional boards for spacing. The base of each drawer was 1/4 inch MDF and I was able to get two small size sheets and just trim them down to the right size. 
The next weekend I began the install. Because we have these bracket things on each cabinet door, I needed to install 3/4 inch shims for the drawer slides to mount to. I used the cheap 1x3s cut to the same length as each slide and 1 1/4 inch screws for this. Of course, my cabinet base was not level, so I figured out where the shims needed to be and installed the left side first. Then I rigged up a system of scrap wood (to hold the right side shim steady) and the old half shelf to determine if everything was level before screwing it in. 

  
This step, installing the shim pieces, was definitely the most difficult and time consuming part of the whole project. It involved climbing in and out of the cabinet A LOT and the mental exercise of figuring out exactly where everything needed to be to fit my pots and pans. 

  

It’s a good thing I started this project when I did. Any more pregnant and it would have been nearly impossible to get in there!  This is what you can’t see through the sweatpants and sweatshirt:

  
Once those shims were in and level, it was pretty easy to install the slides themselves, right in the middle of each shim, with 1 in. screws. Oh, and here’s a tip: I bought my slides on Amazon! I bought a ten pack (Oh, yes. There will be more drawers in the future!) of the 22 inch, 100 lb. full extension slides, and they worked out to about $8 per pair. I would have paid double that at The Depot for a slide that wasn’t as strong, so I considered it a worthwhile investment. 

  

Then it was time to build the drawer/shelves. They were pretty simple 1x4s cut to the desired length and attached with Kreg Jig screws at the corners. 

 

The drawer plans I used called for square dowels attached to the bottom with the nail gun to create support for the shelf base. Other plans I’d seen just had you staple the shelf base on, but it seemed like this route would result in stronger shelves.

  
The last step was to attach the smallest piece of the slides and hope that everything fit… Thank goodness it did! 
  
The drawer bases just dropped right onto the square dowels.

  
Building and installing that first set of drawers took an entire Saturday, and I was super sore by the end of it! But I was able to get all the wood cut for the second set, so it only took a couple hours to finish the project the next day.

   

I’m loving putting the pots and pans away these days! Now, if only I could find a way to love washing them too…

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Kitchen Corner

I’ve posted about our kitchen a couple times before. Very shortly after moving in we updated the room with paint.  

That’s one of my favorite “before and after” pics. What a difference some paint and wallaper (or lack thereof) made! Not long after that I added some decor to warm up the space, but I knew the room would be a work-in-progress for quite some time until we could save enough for a full scale remodel.  

My biggest problem was the fridge. Who puts a fridge behind an exterior door that bangs into it every time the door opens? (And I can’t believe my only before photo is blurry!!) 

 

For that matter, who puts the fridge in front of the only light switch for the room? Apparently the same person who trimmed the wallpaper this way.

  
I get that the behind-the-door spot was the only place with existing water access, (We’re pretty sure that’s where the washer/dryer was at one point, because both hot and cold water were run to that corner.) but really? I loathed having our fridge in that location and having to squeeze my hand into the dark unknown just to turn the light on and off. 

With Tony’s grad school classes starting soon, I was beginning to think this project would never happen, but for Christmas Tony moved the fridge! Best Christmas present ever! Okay, tied with the pneumatic staple gun and the Silhouette Cameo… Tony’s actually very good with gifts! 

His task was particularly daunting because he’d never finished the wall behind the fridge from our new bathroom install… almost two years ago. He and Dad ran the plumbing for the new drain pipe and extended the water access for the guest bathroom through that wall, but when they were done they just pushed the fridge back and left the wall cavity open, like this: 

  
Therefore moving the fridge meant 1) installing a new water line to operate the freezer’s ice maker, and 2) installing sheetrock! I did have a plan, though, to minimize the work factor of the rock. My long-range goal for that corner of the kitchen has always been a little mudroom nook. It’s the main door we use for exit and entry, and it just makes sense that coats, boots, gloves, etc. would be dropped there instead of in the front hallway. Eventually there will be a bench in the corner to hold that stuff too, but for now the deep freeze hides the fact that the flooring doesn’t quite reach the corner – Oh, the joys of old houses. 

Anyway, my mudroom nook involved beadboard and a cabinet hung near the ceiling, so no messy mud and tape/sanding was necessary! Tony was able to complete most of the install in the weekend before we left for Florida, despite being terribly sick. (He even went to the doctor! That’s how you know it’s bad.)

  
When we got back from our trip I caulked, primed, painted, and installed the hooks. 

The cabinet wasn’t quite wide enough to fill the whole corner, and there was that bit of wallpaper and border I never took down, (because it was behind the fridge, afterall) so Tony added a little shelf on the side to fill in the rest of the space. When it’s finished, I think it will be a great spot for storing cookbooks.

  
Not only did we gain an entire cabinet to hide away the kitchen gadgets we rarely use, like the electric knife and the soda maker (I won that on the radio!), but we had enough space between the stove and the fridge’s new spot for a teeny 9 inch wide base cabinet. It’s the perfect spot to set cooking utensils while using the stove and it holds all our baking sheets and stoneware pans – those oddly shaped pans that do better in tall skinny places. 

  
 

We ordered the cabinet from The Depot and put it together ourselves. Then I added about 6 thin coats of paint so it would match the existing gray cabinets.  The top is a marble remnant from a local shop, now by far the nicest countertop in the whole house! 

 The setup’s not perfect, but no layout is really perfect in a room that must balance three doorways on three different walls, windows and built-in shelving on the other one, and retrofitted gas and water lines that come through the floor and not the wall. The fridge is much deeper than the deep freeze was, and it does make the space near the island a little tight, but I feel it’s worth it to be able to open the back door all the way! I’m loving that there’s a spot to put my coat and purse right when I walk in, and I’m particularly excited about the extra space those two little cabinets created. I absolutely love our open shelving, but there are so many kitchen things that just need to be hidden away.

  That little doorway behind the basket leads to the water shut-off valve for the bathroom upstairs. We wanted to keep that accessible in case of emergency, so Tony cut out a square of the beadboard and we used a cabinet lock to keep it closed.

I’m actually thinking that these tweaks will render a full remodel unnecessary. But don’t worry. I’m still not quite done with the kitchen!

Shall we see the before and afters again?

 
  I’m realizing the photo above makes it look like the fridge is in front of the door trim on the right, but it’s not! It does cover the light switch, but that’s the switch for the cellar light, and we almost never go down there anyway!
 

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