Friday, March 23, 2012

I'm Leaving on a Jet Plane

Happy Friday!  Aren't Fridays the best?  When I quit my job, I was afraid that Fridays would forever lose their zest, that every day would feel like a Friday (well, I guess that wouldn't be so bad).  But that didn't happen.  Fridays are still Fridayish.  I work hard on my home and studying all week and then come Friday, I give myself a little bit of a break to ease into the weekend.  Fridays mean that I get to spend the next two days with my husband, Jake, doing whatever spur of the moment thing we decide to do.  Sometimes we just stay home and watch movies or do yard work.  We ALWAYS make a big yummy breakfast.  Sometimes we take a day trip somewhere, or golf, or ski, or hike...  I love those two days with Jake.

But this Friday is the awesomest of all Fridays because tomorrow we leave for Aruba.  Jake and I are fortunate to travel a lot, but I am so excited for this trip.  Life has felt so crazy busy lately with Jake hiking Mt. Kilimanjaro a couple of weeks ago and playing catch-up at work now and having contractors basically living with me for the past three weeks.  It will be so nice to just lay on a beach and sleep and drink pina coladas.

But before I go, I REALLY want to finish painting my bedroom.  Why is it that painting projects seem to take me so long? I mean, I started this last week. I procrastinate. I write this post instead.  But I really want to finish because while we're away, we're having our hardwood floors sanded and stained, and I don't want to dirty them up with paint when I get back.  I settled on a paint color.  It's a little bit brighter than the color I was originally leaning towards, but in the end, cheeriness won out.  Maybe I was dreaming about the blue waters of Aruba.  The paint is Ace Paint's Palm Springs in eggshell finish.

In other news, the den is almost done.  The last coats of paint are being applied now.  We have new fans in our bathrooms.  We have a brand new electrical panel that's being labeled as I write this.  I'd say it was a productive week.  It feels so good to check this stuff off the list so that I can move on to the fun stuff -the decorating!

If I post at all next week, it will be to show you a picture of Jake and me on a beach with drinks in hand.  If that's too much for your heart to take, I understand, and we'll catch up again in April.  Enjoy the last week of March!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Lights Out (and other things)

I'm racing against time to get this post out to you before I am shut down.

We are having our overloaded and poorly done electrical panel upgraded today and that means no electricity and no water (we're on a well).  So basically that leaves me with nothing to do but paint (but I can't even wash my brushes man) so I will be heading to the beach for a few hours.  It's okay, you can start throwing things at me now, I totally understand.

But before I work on my tan, here's a snapshot of the old electrical panel.  If you're anything like me, I'm sure it doesn't mean much to you either, but here's to hoping the new one makes you look at this and go "wow, that was really bad" or better yet, in regards to the new one, "she's a gem."

We're also having two fans installed in our bathrooms to help with the mold/mildew problem we've been having.  Gross, I know.  I was planning to replace these light fixtures anyway, but now I don't have to worry about finding some stylish light fixtures because fan/light combos selected by the contractor are going in their place.

And that my friends is a 10 minute post, maybe less, but who's counting?

Oh, and I plan to reveal the fireplace tomorrow.  Baby still needs one more coat of paint and I want her to be looking perfect.

Have a great day! 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Light My Fire

We are making some serious progress in the den so I wanted to give you a little sneak peak.

As you may recall from this post,  here's what our fireplace looked like before:

and here's the progress:

Pretty cool, right?  We're working with the guys from L&M Construction and they have been great (I'm giving them a shout out, cause I seriously think they do good work).

They're planning on finishing up the fireplace today, so here's to hoping I have a VERY pretty "after" picture to show you tomorrow.

Here's a quick recap of what we did:

We had to replace all of the drywall in this room (buh-bye icky stucko), so we decided that while we're at it, we might as well reface the top half of the fireplace with drywall too.  This involved removing the brick from the top half of the fireplace.  Important: The brick on our fireplace was purely decorational and nothing structural (we had this checked), so make sure you check that out before you start chiseling.  Also, there is specific code that says how far your mantel needs to be from the top of your fireplace opening, etc, etc.  so it's good to check all that stuff out.  I mean, you don't want to burn your house down in the name of fireplace beauty.

Once they had the top half of the brick removed, they were able to run the electrical that will be used to mount our television over the fireplace.  Once the electrical was in, they added insulation (which we found out we were severely lacking in beforehand), then they drywalled.

I decided to go with random strip tumbled travertine for the tiling around the fireplace opening.  This tile comes in 1'x1' sheets and runs about $20-23 a square foot.  This particular tile needs to be sealed before it's grouted and then sealed again after.  We used an enhancer sealer to bring out the unique colors in the stone.   The travertine will require regular sealing (I've heard do it every 3 or 4 months to do it once a year) to make sure it stays soot free, but we decided that it was worth it.  I'll let you know how I feel about that come sealing time.

Once the tile was done, our contractor started work on the mantle and molding and that's where I leave you today. 

Can't wait to see what a fresh coat of white paint does to this puppy.  Oh, and the door frame around the fireplace opening used to be brass, but a quick sand and coat of black stove paint shot this baby straight out of the 80s.  Welcome to 2012.

Have a great one!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Spring is in the air

The first day of Spring is tomorrow, but you could have fooled me (and my feet) into thinking it started last week.

Here in New England we have been enjoying sun-filled days in the 60s...and I'm not complaining.

In the fall I planted some tulips and prayed that Baxter (and the many deer that call our yard home) would leave them alone.  I'm not sure they all survived (the flowers that is), but I was happy to see these beautiful yellow ones peeking out from the ground.

This is the first Spring that I've had a yard so I decided to try my not-so-green thumb at growing a vegetable garden too.  I planted seeds for cucumbers, green onions, lettuce, and tomatoes.  The veggies are already growing great inside my indoor greenhouses.

How about you? Can you see the signs of Spring at your house yet?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

How to Create a Mood Board Using Photoshop Elements

I've been getting some interest on this post about creating a mood board using Photoshop Elements, and I realized that I showed you what a mood board looks like, but I didn't show you how to make one.  That was very helpful of me.  My bad.  Here is a basic Photoshop tutorial that will help you create your very own mood boards.

There may be a quicker, easier, better way to do this (I'm learning Photoshop as I go), but this method has worked well for me.  By the way, I'm using Photoshop Elements version 10.

1. Open Photoshop Elements.

2. Create a new Blank File (File>New>Blank File).

3. Set your dimensions for the file.  I like to use a width of 10 inches and a height of 7 inches because it fits nicely on a sheet of 8 1/2 x 11 paper if you want to print it.

4.  Open all of the images that you want to use in your mood board (File>Open) and browse to the folder where your images are saved.

5. Your Photoshop should look something like this now:

6.  Some of your images may contain a background that you don't want to show in your mood board or you may just want to show a particular object in the image on your mood board.  The easiest way to select  only the part of the image that you want to use is with the Magnetic Lasso Tool.

7.  The Magnetic Lasso Tool should be included in the left tool bar.

8. Double click on the image that you want to edit and it should appear in the main window.  Click on the Magnetic Lasso Tool and move your cursor to the object in the image that you want to use.  Slowly move your cursor along the outline of the object, tracing it's shape.  When you're done double-click and the object you just traced will be highlighted.

9. Move your cursor over to the left toolbar again and select the normal cursor.

10.  Select your highlighted object and drag and drop it to the blank file that you created.  Resize the image as you see fit.  Repeat this process with all of your images.  When you're done, you should have something like this:

11.  If you want to number the images in your mood board, you can do so by using the Text tool.

12.  Save the file twice.  Once as a Photoshop file (for easy edits) and again as a .JPG or .PNG file that or can use on your website or as an email attachment.

And there you have it!   Hopefully this will help you get started creating beautiful mood boards.  

If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment and I'll do my best to answer.

Have a great day!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Nursery Mood Board

A friend of a friend is having a baby and she asked if I would help decorate her baby nursery.   Of course I said "Yes!".  It was a great opportunity to get some experience and also to learn what a room for baby is all about.

Her must-haves:

1) Gender neutral (not finding out the sex of the baby)
2) White furniture
3) Keep the existing full-size bed in the room

She also picked out this super cute crib bedding from The Land of Nod:

{Image via here}

Based on her requirements, I developed this mood board:

The main color scheme will be gray, white and a yellow/orange, but I thought it would be fun to add pops of turquoise or aqua around the room too.  I think it's a color that works for boys or girls.  

The decorative pillows (#8) are for the full-size bed and I think they will really help to tie the bed into the theme of the room.

I found all of the artwork on Etsy.  There is so much wonderful and unique artwork on there.

It will be fun to watch this room come together.  Once baby arrives, I think it will be easy enough to add more "masculine" or "feminine" touches if desired.

Linking to:

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

If These Walls Could Talk

They'd be saying they've seen a lot of action this week.

In den remodel news, we've gone from this:

To this:

Isn't she a beauty? :)

I decided to go with the tumbled travertine for the fireplace surround.  I was a bit worried that soot and ash from the fireplace would get it all dirty, but I was told that if I put a sealer on it and then seal it every year, it will be okay.  Fingers crossed!  Has anyone used travertine around their fireplace?

We also decided to put some recessed lighting in.  We chose to do 4 pot lights and all of them will be on a dimmer switch.

Today framing and molding is going in and the tiling starts on Thursday.  Woo hoo!

In other exciting news, Baxter got a spring haircut today.  It was his first in about 5 months so "the man" was really overdue.  I may be a proud mama, but I think he looks so handsome! 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

How To Customize Your Blogger Favicon

This is easy peasy, but something I didn't find out how to do until weeks after I started my blog.

This is a favicon:

{Image from here}

It's that tiny little image that appears in the left corner of the address bar and it's used to identify the website. We all know that the one above is for Google.

This is the default favicon for your Blogger blog:

{Image from here}

It's not bad, but it doesn't do much to market your blog.  You can create your own personalized favicon in a couple of easy steps.

1) Find or create the image you want to use for your favicon.  The image should be square in shape and less than 100 KB in size.
2) I quickly created a favicon using Photoshop Elements.  I created a new blank file sized .125 inches wide by .125 inches high.  I added a shape that I liked, changed the color, and saved it as a .PNG file.

3) Once you have the image saved to your computer, login to your Blogger account and go to Design>Layout.
4) At the top left of the Layout page, there is a Favicon link. Click Edit then choose the file you saved.  Click Save and voila, you're finished!

Friday, March 09, 2012

Off Your Hinges

Happy Friday!  I'm happy to say I'm making some progress painting the trim in my master bedroom.  Bax and I did step out for a long walk (yesterday was a beauty), but besides dealing with the contractors here and there, I was all biznass.

I removed the closet door to make it a little easier to paint around it and now I don't want to put it back.

You can't make me.

It makes the room feel so much more open and less compartmentalized.   Like I can breathe.

And you can see the window at ALL times.  Usually the door is left open blocking the precious light we get in that room.

So, I have a solution.  And it's one that DIYers before me have perfected.

I'm hanging a curtain y'all.

Here's a little inspiration for my doorless, curtain-wearing closet:

{Image from Young House Love}

{Image from Ten June}

{Image from Houzz}

You like?

Thursday, March 08, 2012


I failed to mention something that's happening right now that's kind of a big deal.

Jake is hiking Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa.  He had am amazing opportunity to go through a work-sponsored trip.  The hike will take them 6 days and he's expected to reach the summit on Sunday.  They reached a little higher than the half way point today and are taking a day off to rest and recover. I so hope they reach their goal of making it to the top!

{Image via here}

While Jake's conquering Kilimanjaro, I'm conquering our den remodel at home.  (That's quite the stretch, lol).  I've had to make some decisions without consulting him (communication is spotty at best), so here's to hoping he's on board when he gets back. 

The thing about this den remodel is that it's a lot of decision making, but not a a lot of actual grunt work for me.  I guess that's one of the beauties of paying people to do things for you.  But it's leaving me itching to get my nails dirty in another project.  Who am I kidding?  My nails are always dirty.  Well, not dirty, but chewed and gross.  I have a nail and cuticle biting problem.  I need to stop.   

But back to starting another project.  I figure that while my husband is conquering a mountain in Africa, I can probably conquer another room in my house.  So, the rest of the week will be dedicated to project "get that master bedroom painted."  Time to take this room from drab to fab cause there's nothing fab about the picture below.

I think I've finally recovered from the trauma of painting my living room.  So. Many. Windows.

I'm actually starting with the trim first this time.  I'm learning that's probably the better way to go.  Then you can cut-in with the wall paint and hug the brush nice and close to the trim with no icky gaps.  

This room won't be as bad as the living room.  Only 3 windows instead of 6 and no crown molding.  But,  I have to paint 3 doors. I will apologize now for any cranky rantings that might happen during the next few days. I think the official diagnosis is "cranky painter syndrome."  

Oh, and by the way, it's supposed to be 65 degrees today.  That's insanity!  So if I have to put my paintbrush down for a few hours to take The Baxman to the beach, you'll totally understand.  Right? 

Have a great day!

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Gut Job

The crew (2 guys) were here bright and early yesterday and in less than 6 hours our den went from looking like this:

to looking like...

(Drum Roll Please)


Ta Da!!!!!

That's some serious demo.

I think Baxter enjoys the room better this way.

No, but seriously, this makes me sooo happy :)

I went to the tile store today and did some browsing.   Did you know that shopping for tile is as much fun as shopping for shoes?  Well,  Sorta/Kinda.

You might recall, that we're trying to transform our fireplace to look something like this:

{Image courtesy of}

Unfortunately I can't do any glass tile (there are some really nice glass tiles available) because, as the tile girl pointed out, you would be able to see the brick behind it. We're leaving the bottom half of the fireplace brick and tiling over it.  I saw some marble options that look a lot like the tile in the picture above, but they were uber expensive.

So, I selected these 2 bad boy samples instead:

The one above is "random strip tumbled travertine."  I really like the natural stone and the unevenness of it.  Before I saw it in the store, I hadn't even thought of doing something with travertine.

 This one above is mosaic porcelain.   It has a little bit of a sheen to it and matches a bit better to the look in my "dream fireplace" picture.

I think I'm actually leaning towards the travertine now, but I can't decide.  Help!  Which one do you like better?

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