Category Archives: Projects

Candle Remake Again

Candle Remake Again

My love affair with candles continues. The other day, I was in the mood for vanilla soy, not the beverage;  rather, the sweet essence of a vanilla soy candle permeating through the air. But I was all out. I had exhausted my supply.

candles

Instead of heading out to the store, I knew I was long overdue for another candle remake as I did here using all  the candle remnants I acquired over the last few months.

leftover candle remnants

 

When I did my last candle remake, I realized I used the wrong wick resulting in a tunnel burn down the center.

The type of wick matters and although a tunnel burn is good for certain types of candles, it’s not the desired outcome for a jar candle. Fortunately,  I  had purchased  this wood variety  on my last visit to Michaels; they are  especially made for jar candles.

 

wood candle wick

 

The “how to ” instructions on how to reuse your candle remnants can be found here.

candles

Now I have many more candle burning present moments ahead of  me to enjoy. It’s a reminder to appreciate the simpler side of everyday life.
 

candle remake
Do you share my candle love? Have a favorite candle aroma?

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Dining Room Table Part 2

Dining Room Table Part 2

I finally finished the dining room table I started a few weeks back.

Dining room table IMG_0473

This is how it looked when I spotted it in a thrift store.

Thrift store dining room table

 

I took my time experimenting with this table. I didn’t want a solid painted surface and wanted some of the wood grain to be visible yet I wanted the parquet tiling to disappear.

dining room table paint experimenting

I tried various colors of  Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and then lightly sanding it but the parquet detail just didn’t want to go away.

So I thought I would try a wood graining tool to create a faux wood grain instead.

Dining room table IMG_0168

Annie Sloan paired with a  wood graining tool? Unconventional? What can I say? I’m just an unconventional kind of girl! LOL

I used  Annie Sloan Old White and a thin layer of Paris Gray, followed by subtle distressing and a few coats of clear wax, Finally, I achieved the look I had envisioned.

Dining room table IMG_0473

I cleared everything out of the dining room and moved it in from the garage..

Dining room table IMG_0465

An easy task since it meant relocating one piece of furniture,  the sideboard.

I just wanted to start from scratch,

Dining room table IMG_0463

like the empty frame hanging on the wall. Rather symbolic, wouldn’t you say? Now I have two blank canvases to fill and layer slowly and thoughtfully over time. I think it’s obvious what’s top on my list? Yes, the 70′s or is it *80′s ceiling fan.

dining room table blank canvas IMG_0469

Having gone chandelier shopping too many times,  purchasing a vintage chandelier on impulse and later falling out of love with it,  I think I finally found “the one”. Anxious for it to arrive from World Market.

Until then, I’m enjoying my unconventional Annie Sloan Chalk Paint finish.

Dining room table IMG_0473

I hope you do too. What do you think?

 

 

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Between Naps on the Porch:Metamorphosis Monday

Kitchen Makeover-Part 1

Kitchen Makeover-Part 1

Before i begin,  I would just like to acknowledge everyone who was affected and/or lost a loved one on 9/11. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

Last November, two weeks before Thanksgiving, I had a grandiose plan to revamp my tiny kitchen in time for the holidays. LOL LOL LOL I laid out a detailed plan on paper and convinced myself that it can be done in a two week time frame. Although my mental clarity was not compromised, looking back on it, I don’t know what I was thinking. Through it all, I learned a lot about myself and what I really love, and what I don’t really love which is always a good thing. I realized that I enjoy DIY with limits. I now know, if it involves plumbing, electricity and gas, I’m out.

Let me start from the beginning. I moved into my home 13 years ago. During that time,  I did 4 kitchen facelifts, mostly with paint,  replacing kitchen counter tops and trimming the cabinets. Unfortunately, I have very few pics of the original kitchen and the previous facelifts as I wasn’t blogging back then. Our home was built in 1947 and the cabinets were a dark brown laminate with  light grey/beige Formica counter tops and back splash and a white linoleum floor that was impossible to  keep clean and all white appliances. And  there was no dishwasher!

original kitchen montage 2a

When we moved in, immediately,  we replaced the old refrigerator with another white standard fridge and pulled out one of the nine cabinets to make room for an apartment size dishwasher. I was more than willing to sacrifice a cabinet for less dish washing. And then there were eight, cabinets that is.

Quickly, I painted the cabinets in desperation. At the time, I was pregnant with my second son. I have to say this disposable camera shot did not do this first attempt justice.

kitchen reno 2 pic 6

It was a step in the right direction and, I assure you, it get’s way better with facelift #2. I finally got up enough courage to rip the Formica backsplash off the walls. And after some patching, I was glad I did.

 

Kitchen reno backsplash removal

I added trim to the cabinets and painted them white, replaced the counter tops and painted the walls Benjamin Moore Bradstreet Beige  This began a love affair with all the shades on that paint strip. Various shades, including Jackson Tan started popping up in every room of our home. I did a faux tile paint treatment behind the stove atop vinyl sheeting that I didn’t want to mess with. I like how this makeover turned out, however, after a few years, I got tired of having to scrub the cabinets all the time so I opted to go dark again.

2nd kitchen facelift

The next attempt was a disaster! I’m amazed that I even took a picture. I was going for a faux wood look but instead it looked like someone smeared you know what all over these cabinets. Yuck!

Picture 095

I was rather distraught over this botched paint job and decided to rekindle my love affair with Jackson Tan since Bradstreet Beige was already on the walls..

Benjamin Moore jackson tan bradstreet beige paint chipsSo I painted the cabinets Jackson Tan.

kitchen reno 3 before

I just wanted to give you the back story before showing you my latest update.  As I write this, the new stove is sitting in the middle of the kitchen waiting patiently for the plumbers to hopefully shorten that gas line enough so that the stove can fit flush against the wall instead of sitting out as the previous one did. Wish me luck, as it has been the bumpiest of rides this time around.

How about you, do you have any DIY limitations?

Fine Dining Takes Time

Fine Dining Takes Time

I am so happy to be back in the garage stripping furniture again. It’s been a while, a long while. Now that the clutter has been eradicated, I have room to work again. I’m working on a dining room table  that I purchased some time ago. It’s been waiting patiently for it’s transformation.

dining table IMG_9985 cropped

 

When I saw it in the thrift store, I immediately thought about it’s Pottery Barn cousin, selling for a whole lot more.

pottery barn Tivoli dining table

 

 

Of course I saw beyond the dated parquet top.

 

 

dining table closeup IMG_9987

I wanted a light finish table this time around since my previous dining room tables have had a dark finish. My dining room is really small and I think a light table might help give the illusion of more space.  I saw a bleached wood table I saw in a magazine years ago and always wanted to give it a try. However, After sanding and bleaching it, however,  I didn’t quite get the results I anticipated. Yes, it is a blotchy mess.

 

dining table sanded bleached  IMG_9989

 

So I have to decide, do I give in go with a dark stain or do I paint it ?  I’m a light color. I’m actually on the fence about it. I also was thinking about a two tone finish, with the pedestal base in a different color. I can always try a dark stain and if I don’t like it, paint over it. Decisions, decisions; sometimes, I just can’t make up my mind and get paralyzed by all the options playing out in my head. What can I say, fine dining take time :)

Are you ever unsure how to proceed with any of your projects? What do you do to get off the fence?

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Miss Mustard Seed: Furniture Feature Friday

Funky Junk Interior: Party Junk

Coming Out of a DIY Slump

Coming Out of a DIY Slump

The last few months, I took an unintentional break from DIY . Let me rephrase that, I’ve planned, I’ve started, I’ve dabbled but I haven’t completed anything  that I was inspired to write about.  Hence the blog posts have not been forthcoming because I’ve been in a DIY slump.

Happily though, I think I am now back into the DIY spirit and started finishing a project I started last November, my kitchen. It was suppose to be a two week facelift but one thing lead  to another and it turned into a mini makeover.  I have a ways to go and will post about it soon.

Mr. DIY and I have been tackling the dreaded garage for three consecutive weekends.

garage clean out IMG_8531

I realize this before shot could qualify for an episode on Hoarders and  is rather shocking. But we are ready for change.

We devoted two hours each weekend  and we made real progress. We donated a lot to Build It Green

garage clean out IMG_2904

Doing our best to spare the landfill as much as possible..

garage clean out IMG_2907

Then week 2 and  another trip to Build it Green, minus the dishwasher which is going to the salvage yard.

garage clean out IMG_2928

And, finally, week 3 and another donation.

garage clean out IMG_9934

As, the clean out progressed we were throwing away less which always makes me happy.

garage clean out IMG_2931

 

These days, things are a little more orderly now. Not pretty, just orderly. I can find things again! Yeah!

garage clean out IMG_9947

One more weekend and we should be done and then it’s garage sale time.

garage clean out_9939

And, of course,  whatever doesn’t sell will be donated.

Our Summer plan is to turn the garage into a functional workspace . That is a DIY dream that both of us share. Oh that would be such blissful goodness:)

Do you have one of those spaces that always seems to turn into a dumping ground?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Spring has Sprung!

Spring has Sprung!

I think Spring has finally sprung and so have my seedlings. Yeah!!

seedlings IMG_9886

I know I’m a long way from success but I choose to focus on the possibilities rather then the end result.

 

seedlings IMG_9882

Whether or not these young tender plants establish themselves and hold their own outdoors awaits to be seen.

 

 

seedlings IMG_9880

I planted everything at the same time yet the tomatoes are ahead of the game. The eggplant and peppers are taking their sweet time.

 

 

seedlings IMG_9877

Can you see the little guy there trying to pop up?

I’m waiting patiently.

seedlings IMG_9876

I resist the urge to be a helicopter gardener:)

seedlings IMG_9873

So I placed this pretty peachy Begonia next to my young seedlings for gentile encouragement.

 

seedlings IMG_9884

Again, win or lose, I focus on the possibilities.  I will be cheering them on all the way.

Have you planted your garden already? What’s growing in your garden? Have any tips to share?

The Meaningful Memories of Our Lives

The Meaningful Memories of Our Lives

In my continued quest to scrutinize all my home’s belongings, it is now time to deal with the ephemera of or lives.

ephemera IMG_0332

This, by far, will be the toughest challenge. I have saved a lot of snippets from my children’s lives and have my own memory boxes filled with the remnants of my life too. Letters (who gets those anymore), programs, cards and …….. There’s a lot and way too much to continue storing.

organized ephemera watermarked

The good thing is it is it’s all organized and much of it is labelled or in folders and archival boxes. And then there are the photos.

ephemera memory boxes and photos IMG_0365

Trust me, that’s not all of them, there’s more. I attempted a few albums here and there. however, the majority are in photo boxes rarely viewed. That doesn’t serve me or my family. I can do better.

So I’ve decided to reevaluate, purge, reorganize, digitize and assemble these meaningful remnants of our lives in a way that can be appreciated. I want to create containable stories of our lives that we can peruse instead of having to pull them from boxes in a closet to reminisce.  And so I have been perusing the internet looking for ideas and advice. I encountered this divide between those that save everything and those that save very little or nothing.

Aside from report cards and awards, I plan to ask my children what they value and evokes meaningful memories. And I’m sure this report on Mesopotamia won’t make the cut..

ephemera framed archival boxes IMG_0368

I want it to be about them and for them. And if they don’t want to be bothered in the decision making  then I will have to rely on my own discretion. Hopefully,  a memory box, a binder and a photo album should suffice. The rest will be digitized and only a click away from their viewing pleasure if they would like  to take an all inclusive trip down memory lane. art page I get paralyzed by the artwork, though. I just love these chalk prints. Their masterpieces in my mind. I know, I know,  it’s not about me, it’s about them.

art page evan

 

 

I titled this one “boy floating in water”. I framed and hung it up on No 2 Son’s bedroom wall.

 

 

 

He painted it some time ago and has since taken it down and replaced it with this one. That’s a tell tale sign of what’s important, wouldn’t you say?

 

 

 

And it has gone beyond my children and extended it to my nephews and their basketball careers.

ephemera nephews IMG_0371

My sister’s youngest is currently playing for the Boston Celtics.

And then there’s the sand art No. 1 son and I did together.  He was both Batman and Robin for Halloween. Hmmm, the creative wheels just started turning!  These might be  a nice added touch to a scrapbook page!

ephemera sand art  IMG_0415

Once framed and hung, I recently discovered.a poster from elementary school in the recesses of a closet. That handsome guy with the missing teeth is now  23 years old.

ephemera poster  IMG_0339

It’s going to be hard to let go of some things, but it’s time and very necessary. I know it  will be in our best interest  to downsize our family’s memories into treasured keepsakes, manageable and in plane view, for our everyday enjoyment.

Okay so now it’s your turn!  Can you relate to any of this? Do you have a tough time letting go of life’s remnants and ephemera of yesteryear? What are your secrets for both enjoying and containing the memories? Please leave a comment below, I would love to know your thoughts.

 

 

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My Home is Almost Cured!

My Home is Almost Cured!

I haven’t been online too much because I am trying to keep up with my assignments for the Apartment Therapy January Cure; I started it at the same time I vowed to explore minimalism; actually both work hand in hand beautifully and shoving things in a drawer or closet is no longer an option.

So this past weekend, the assignment was to deep clean the living room. It wasn’t too difficult because my living room was already in a good place. To be true to the assignment,however, I did move all the furniture and vacuumed thoroughly including the baseboards. I’m still in the process of doing a family photo collage wall (Assignment 6 Making Your Home Your Own: Prep Artwork for Framing & Display). Haven’t located all the photos just yet and have to paint some of the frames but I’m just glad that I am on my way.
photo collage IMG_0230

I recently did a collage on the other wall after painting, but I’m altering that as well. I guess I have a thing for collage walls; perhaps because they can be rearranged and edited pretty easily.

Assignment #12 was bedroom  and wardrobe cleaning which I blogged about here and almost completed with the exception of my closet. Oh my closet, as tiny as it is, was a disaster. I’ll spare you the before pic. I took everything out and dove in.

 

bedroom closet IMG_0099

As I mentioned in a previous post, I want to try Project 333, limiting your wardrobe to 33 pieces of clothing for 3 months. You can read more about it here. It’s suppose to include shoes, but I didn’t take it that far, although I did downsize my shoes collection and donated 10 pairs and plan to list a couple I never wore on Ebay. The beauty of the Project 333 challenge is you can adjust it to your comfort level. There are no hard and fast rules. You decide what works or doesn’t work for you. So here’s my tiny closet that makes me smile each and every time I open it!

bedroom closet IMG_0138

I now have empty hangers!  And the top shelf  is devoted to most of my out of season clothing stored in those two grey totes.

bedroom closet IMG_0130

 

Assignment # 15, Declutter and Organize Bathroom Cabinets Cleanout,  which includes the linen closet, since there’s just no storage space in our pint size bathroom. Let.s just say it was another disaster that happened over time.

 

bedroom closet IMG_0162

You can see why it took me the better part of the day to get the job done and restore order.

linen closet  IMG_0278

And yes, my heart sings once again. I’m in love with the order of it all.

linen closet IMG_0259

For those of you who may not know, square footage is a premium when it comes to New York real estate. I just went to an estate sale this past weekend. The home looked fine from the outside, but the entire inside needs to be gutted and the unfinished basement has some serious water and foundation issues; it was over-the-top moldy. The asking price is $869K. Realistically speaking, it would take at least $250K to fix it up. I know I digressed but I just wanted to explain why the majority of us live in tight spaces, real estate is very expensive. Even the million dollar homes are small and can still need work.

Back to the linen closet , would you believe I found a pair of my earrings stuffed in a bag of toiletries, left over from one of our family travels? They almost got thrown away!

linen closet IMG_0209

Here’s my outbox, a designated spot to put things to be donated tossed or waiting for a new home, looked like after a few of my assignments and decluttering sessions.

out box IMG_0243

I dropped off most of it off over the weekend. And a local animal hospital was as happy to take my old sheets and towels as I was keeping it out of the landfill. Yeah!

Flowers area a part of the weekend assignments so I picked up some from  Trader Joe’s. Their flowers are reasonably priced and I usually separate them and make two arrangements. One for the dining room table

flowers IMG_0296

and one for the bedroom.

flowers IMG_0288

Although this is the last week for the cure, I have a ways to go. The room by room project list I created at the start of the cure will take a while to complete. But in the meantime, everything is looking up! My home is almost cured and I am steps closer to my goal, keeping only what truly matters:)

 

 

Making Progress

Making Progress

Well I am making progress following Apartment Therapy January Cure and my quest to embrace minimalism. Although I am not completing all the assignments as scheduled, I am making a world of difference in my home and retaining only those items that serve me and donating the rest. Speaking of donating, I found a couple of new places like Project Linus, which takes quilting fabric donations and the New York Public Housing Authority which takes furniture and household items for  residents in need. It takes a litte effort and a few phone calls to locate the right places; however, it is well worth it. Not only does it  spear the landfill, it also is helpful to people who need help.

Back to the Apartment Therapy January cure, I decided t spend a day restoring my bedroom to it’s former glory. It never got back to normal after painting it.

bedroom IMG_9955

This says it all. Aside from the messy desk, notice the headboard behind the chair. It never got attached to the bed after the bed was moved to the front of the window. How sad. Never rehanged the curtains, mostly because I didn’t want to use the same ones that I had taken down.

bedroom IMG_9966

And the shelves have become overloaded with too much stuff.

bedroom IMG_9968

I belong to a book club and  I donated most of the ones stacked back there.

So, I tidied up the desk and vowed to stop  using it as a dumping ground anymore. Those vertical surfaces are so inviting and become magnets for anything and everything, don’t they?

bedroom IMG_9978

Attached the headboard to the frame.

bedroom IMG_9986

 

By the way, this headboard used to look like this.

headboard-before_2503 copy

You can see the transformation here

Next, I tackled the shelving and got rid of the excess clutter.

bedroom IMG_9967

So much better now.  Changed the lower fabric containers since they were getting a little too floppy with these sturdy replacements.

bedroom IMG_9999

I didn’t bother to style the shelves in my effort to keep it real. The books, binders and paperwork hidden away in the magazine holders are used regularly.

As  for the drapes, I have amassed a large collection of drapes over the years but,I just wanted something different and my color and design aesthetic is changing AGAIN. I was  a  brown, cream, blue fanatic, however, these days I gravitate more toward all shades of blue, various shades of white and cream for a  more airy and soothing pallete. And, I am only interested in furniture and  furnishings that are versatile and will work in almost any room. I like to have the ability to mix it up when the creativity juices start flowing..

So I  hung these Ikea sheer curtains I haven’t used for a while.

bedroom IMG_9979

I love them! In the daytime especially because they let all the light in.

bedroom IMG_0003

And now, I have a blank canvas to work with. The board you see leaning on the desk, actually there are two,  will serve as my inspiration boards.  I need to hang them and decide what else to hang on the other walls as well.

 

bedroom IMG_9984

 

Also want to purchase some adjustable arm lighting fixtures for each side of the bed. Just haven’t found any that I like just yet.

bedroom IMG_9986

Oh and yes, those temporary vinyl shades need to be replaced; yet another thing that i have procrastinated about all because I keep changing my mind about what type of shade to get. Lastly, although I changed the dust ruffle, I didn’t get around to changing the rest of the linens. I have a collection of shams, blankets, quilts and throws to choose from. As you may have guessed, I have a thing for linens and I have to get in check because they take up way too much space and conflict with my new minimalist mindset. A lot has already been donated. Future purchases will be scrutinized or maybe I will just stay out of the home stores because, quite honestly, I’m a linnen addict.

For now, I’m just glad the bedroom is decluttered and ready for the final touches.

bedroom IMG_9979

 

How about you? Any decluttering or changes going on in your home?

Happy 2014!

Happy 2014!

 

2014

I have a real good feeling that 2014 is going to be a great year for everyone, including you! Although I am always optimistic, this year I am over-the-top optimistic and I’m welcoming the feeling with open arms because it feels good . Every year, I take time to reflect on the past year and think about what I want to focus on in the coming new year.

This year, I decided to focus on separating what really matters from the things that no longer serve me and hampers my creativity. My creative abilities and insight is a huge part of who I am and serves me in my everyday life. Recently, I discovered a collection of podcasts at Untitled Minimalism containing very meaningful discussions about living life to the fullest.  The timing couldn’t have been any more perfect for me. By the way, please don’t let the name  or subject matter deter you; the discussions go way beyond eliminating the excess in our lives. After listening to several of the podcasts, my take away has been a heightened clarity about how meaningless stuff interferes with your life’s true path.

Spending way too much time looking for something I know I have but can’t find because it got lost in an abyss of clutter in our two problem areas, the unfinished part of our basement and the garage doesn’t serve me. Both areas have turned into a chaotic nightmare that is both overwhelming and anxiety inducing. Realizing that when you have a home, even a small one like ours, it enables one to save stuff, too much stuff, for a “maybe one day” that might never happen. What’s the point? It’s my hope and mission to have in my home only what matters.  I intend to spend the year scrutinizing everything, deciding if it has purpose and whether it serves our family. If the answer is no, it got’s to go! Hey that rhymes:) Nothing will be off limits, including my creative supplies; trust me, that’s going to be very hard but I’m ready for the challenge!  I even plan to whittle down my wardrobe even though it is fairly small to begin with. I rather have a few pieces that I wear consistently than hold on to things that rarely see the light of day and may be of use to someone in need.

As always, I plan to take a creative approach to my first steps to a clutter controlled life. You see, I always fantasize about living in a one room cottage surrounded by nature.

dream cottage
courtesy of tinyhouselistings.com

with and outdoor area that looks like this

outdoor bliss

I will keep these retreats in mind as I scrutinize my belongings. Furniture aside, I will keep only the meaningful items that I would actually take to my fantasy dream cottage. I sure hope you will check back regularly to see how I am progressing. Yes, 2014 is going to be a good year!

What are your plans for the new year? Wishing you a very Happy and Blessed New Year!