life

Beyond the Basics – College Must Haves

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If you’re a parent who’s counting down the days until the car is packed and your freshman is headed off to college, you’ve probably already hit the stores with a long list of Must Haves for the college.dorm-feature1

My dining room is quickly filling up with boxes bound for college, so I thought I’d pick the brain of my favorite college sophomore for her recommended Must Haves, beyond the bedding, laptop and office supplies.

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After they’ve lofted their beds, it’s time to get down to some serious unpacking, organizing and decorating!  The following items can help make their freshman dorm-life experience more comfortable. As a parent when your kid’s life is good, so is yours!


Beyond the Basics – Must Haves

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After you loft your bed, use storage bins to stash towels and toiletries or clothes for cooler weather. Dorm storage is limited, so make the most of the space you’ve got!

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A few inches of memory foam can improve the comfort of the typical dorm mattress.

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A small fan for less than $25, keeps a dorm cool and doesn’t require much space. In the northeast part of the country it can feel like summer up til October!

 

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 TJMaxx and Homegoods carry area rugs to make your room cozy and add bit of color. A rug will protect your bare feet from the cold tile flooring!

 

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Don’t risk damaging walls, use Command Strips to hang everything from posters & bulletin boards to fairy lights.

 

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Headphones are a must in shared dorm space!

 

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Prevent back and neck strain by using a laptop stand.

A mini fridge and a place to store snacks for when the dining hall is closed!


  The goal for parents and students is to make the transition as stress-free as possible! Good luck Class of 2020! Don’t forget to bring some Kleenex.

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blogging, DIY art

Oldies & Newbies Blogging Network

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Blogging, whatever your niche, is so much more than charting a journey or creating interesting content. In two decades the blogging universe has become well established.  Most readers have a higher expectation of not only content but the overall quality of a website. Our visual communication standards are that of magazine worthy photos. That means, honing some serious photography skills, not to mention taking on the whole technical side of running a blog.

Many blogging superstars have built a business around their blog. Whether through good timing and luck or hard work and crazy talent, they’ve moved the bar of achievability from sharing with a large audience to creating a brand and a company.

Still, there are even more blogs and bloggers you’ve never heard about or stumbled upon. This is my group. New(ish) and relatively unknown.

In an attempt to run a better blog and improve my social media reach, I’ve signed up for a group called Oldies and Newbie Blogging Network. It’s a mentorship/partnership/networking opportunity. A chance to learn about blogging from someone who’s established.

I’m pairing up with a seasoned blogger, Robin from Redo It Yourself Inspiration. I had liked and followed Robin on IG even before I joined the O & N group because her work is eyecatching!

As you can tell by her blog title, Robin is a DIY blogger. Redo It Yourself Inspiration is filled with so much eye candy!  She has a modern/farmhouse aesthetic and a true appreciation for wood furniture. Here are a few examples of her amazing talent.

before and after carriage bench

before and after wicker rattan chair collage

70s table before and after collage

secretary desk repair and makeover by redoit

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Before and After Country Bench RD

Robin’s been blogging for three years. She comes from a family of makers and crafters, so it’s no surprise that she’s talented and has tackled projects most people would pass on. In addition, she’s a Mom and a new Grandma – Congratulations! A rescuer of dogs and birds. Check out the dog sofa she made for her Husky, Danny, here. One lucky rescue pup!

Robin has already given me several suggestions for improving my blog, as well as a lovely compliment on my content! I appreciate both!

There is so much to learn when blogging, be it coding, SEO, social media, monetizing. I’ve just begun scratching the surface. My hope is to get to know Robin and work with her to fine tune things, continue building content and growing my social media. I’d love to give making DIY videos a try.

I am so looking forward to this opportunity and all that can be learned!

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DIY art, Thrifting

Teak Bowls for the College Girl

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Last month I participated in the Thrift Store Challenge with an awesome group of DIY bloggers. You can read more about the challenge here.

I received a box of thrifted items to use for the makeover challenge. Of the four items, I used three during the challenge: the pear, tiles and napkin rings.

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My daughter who will be headed back to college in two weeks was eyeballing a trinket bowl I bought from Wayfair. She thought that I made it for Jeff and wanted one for her room. She’s so sweet to overestimate my skills!

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Well, Wayfair doesn’t stock these anymore but I did have some teak bowls just waiting to be used!

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We decided to add to black and white paint to the outside to match her minimalist decor.

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To add another layer of interest without adding color, I used the bubble technique for a fun way to add white over the black paint.

Mix a teaspoon of dish soap with some water and paint. Using a straw, blow bubbles like kids do when they drink chocolate milk, until it overflows the cup. I held the bowl up to the bubbles turning it while the bubbles made a pattern on the side.

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Prepare for paint to splatter your face/glasses, or use a longer straw! You can apply more white to change the pattern or even layer on colors. But my instructions were black and white only, please!

I did used the same technique with the white, but snuck some grey in with the black.

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They’re a nice contrast of teak wood and glossy paint!

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They’ll be such a cute catch-all for her dorm!

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I love making things that are functional! Even better when you can make something for those you love! #madewithlove

 

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home renovation

Planning for a Bathroom Renovation

Almost a year ago we started tearing the carpet off the stairs kickstarting our first floor renovation.

We gutted our dining and living room to the studs. Much of the dirty work was done by professionals and you can read about the transformation here, here and here.

The result of months of tweaking is a fresh blend of modern and vintage.

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Living in an old house, there is no shortage of improvements to be made. So, far we’ve finished the attic making it our daughter’s bedroom, updated the powder room, replaced the worn wooden deck with composite decking, in addition to the dining and living rooms.

Our house only has one full bath and it’s in need of some serious updating. Previous owners decided a bit of popcorn would look great on the ceiling AND walls! You can still see the wall tile peeking through the thin spots. Ours is a tiny full bath at 8′ x 5′. To make the bathroom really awesome would require increasing the floor plan. Doing so just wasn’t part of the budget.

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Instead of expanding the footprint we’re improving upon the small space by giving it a much needed welcome to the new millennium. The goal is to bring the same mix of modern and vintage appeal to the dated space. Clean lines and white tiles. My mood board is heavy on white but that just allows for any color to work for us and future owners (fingers crossed).

 

Tiny white bathroom
We hired a contractor to do the bulk of the work because of time management and only having one shower. If all goes well this should take no more than ten days to turn around to be ready for baseboard and painting.
We have a few weeks until our renovation start date, so in the meantime, I’ll be working on a mini update for our kitchen. Phew!
Now, it’s time to do a little tile and hardware shopping!
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Furniture makeover

Paintbrush Upkeep-Protecting Your Investment

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If you’re into refurbishing furniture, you almost always need to invest in some paintbrushes. When you’re dropping down around $12 for a brush, you need to take good care of it to make it last.

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My personal collection includes some well used brushes. Well used but until this weekend, not well loved.

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These guys have all seen tons of painting. I am guilty of using the plastic bag in the fridge trick and forgetting about them until they dry out. Or sometimes it’s just the old soak in soapy water for too long mistake.

Finally, I decided to try my hand at getting them back to as paint free as possible.

Here’s what I did to better protect my investment.

  • Soap and water are good for clean up immediately after painting. An old toothbrush or plastic bristled paint cleaning brush/comb is helpful to remove stuck on paint and unstick the bristles. Unless you have one and don’t use it, like me!
  • For dried on paint-Placing brushes in an old container, pour boiled white vinegar in just enough to cover the bristles. After 30 minutes take out and brush/comb off dried paint and wash with soap and water.
  • When the above doesn’t touch the dried on paint, it’s time to go for the paint stripper. Yep, the same stuff used to remove it from your furniture. The same precaution needs to be taken to protect your eyes and skin. But a good coating over the paint caked bristles will break down the paint so it can be carefully brushed off.

For my brushes vinegar got most of the old paint off all but the two most neglected brushes.

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After using the paint stripper…

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So much cleaner!

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You can see that even the worst offenders came away pretty free of paint. Well, maybe not the handles!

Let your take away be:  A good job of cleaning up after each use goes a long way in preserving the life of your brushes! Do it right the first time!

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I’ve learned my lesson! With proper care, these brushes will be around for many future project.

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Uncategorized

Red Geometric Side Table

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A couple of weeks ago I featured this geometric table in a post covering the process to prep furniture for paint or stain. You can read more about that post here.

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We needed a chairside table to rest our coffee cup on and this former shellacked cutie would be perfect. Since this little octagon table was ready for some paint, I was happy to oblige.

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While out shopping I found this chalk paint on sale. I loved the red color and thought it would stand out nicely in the sea of mostly blue in my living room.

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I used a chopstick to stir the paint and while wet it looked really bright, like classic red nail polish. The wood surface of my table still had lots of dark stain deep in the grain. I sanded it like crazy for two hours. Getting nowhere near completely bare wood, I went with the standout grain. When I painted I decided on only one coat to let that grain show through.

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The color looks a little more tomato red than in real life. The true color leans more toward a barn red and with the dark grain underneath it has a rustic look.

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It’s so perfectly functional that Jeff didn’t even notice it when he placed his coffee mug down until I asked how he liked it. A common occurrence in our house. Could be because I’ve introduced so many “new” things to our downstairs. Or could be his keen skills at observation! He’s a purpose over style kinda guy!

I think is has both function and style! Who doesn’t love a pop of color!

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Furniture makeover, Thrifting

Breathing New Life into an Art Deco Hutch

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Two things that I’m a huge fan of are getting a great deal on secondhand items and giving those things new life! Painting, especially using your favorite shade of white, gives a fresh perspective on dated furniture.

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Since our current home’s garage-less, this art deco styled hutch spent a few months covered by a tarp on our back porch. I was quite surprised that the resident squirrel’s didn’t find it the perfect place for storing acorns! Guess that’s what all my potted plants are for.

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Other than some chipped veneer, the cabinet was solid. Deco isn’t my favorite style but in my area of PA there seems to be an abundance of furniture from this period. For $30 you can’t go wrong!

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A bit of patching and a little clean up and it was ready for the white paint transformation. I don’t have much white furniture in my house, but find that giving something a coat of white can help in visualizing the piece in other colors or use in unexpected places in your house. This guy doesn’t scream “put china in me!” as some hutch styles do, so it could become additional storage in a larger bathroom or for books in an office or living room.

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The hardware was initially painted white. Looking for a bit of contrast, I distressed them a bit then added a bit of gold rub’n buff. A little bit of bling was just what was needed.

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The side by side:

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For now, I’ll be keeping the inside in it’s natural wood state. I think when the time comes to change up the paint color the inside will probably get a coat of paint or maybe some wallpapering.

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I was worried it would be a bit too big for our dining room but it fits perfectly! Now I have terrific spot to display my collection of crystal vases, stoneware and silver barware!

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Thrifting

Thrift Store Challenge Part II

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The Big Reveal – #Thriftstorethrowdown

It’s so exciting to finally be able to share Part II of the Thrift Store Challenge. In case you missed Part I you can read more about the challenge and see who else is participating, here. As a reminder, these were the goodies sent to me.

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Of the four items, I chose the napkin rings, the pear and the tiles for the upcycle.

Thrift Store Challenge Reveal!

Napkin Rings to Mini Succulent Pots

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First, I sprayed the rings with white spray paint. I used cork cut into circles that would act as the bottom; then filled the tiny pots with dirt for succulents & cactus plants.

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I superglued the magnets but once glued, be sure to keep the tiny pots a fair distance apart or they will spin around and connect magnet to magnet! Tossing dirt everywhere.

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Right now these cuties are hanging out on my fridge but they can go on any flat metal. I’m looking for a rectangular metal tray to hang on a sunny wall so these guy get plenty of bright light!

In case you’re wondering how I’m watering them. A plastic pipette (like an eyedropper) allows me to drop enough water without spilling it everywhere.

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2016 has been the year of the houseplant in our home! I’m especially loving the hard to kill succulent & cactus plants-I try hard not to overwater. So, these tiny potted plants are my new fav!

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Brass Pear to Marbleized to Silver tone Pear

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I absolutely loved this heavy little pear when I opened my challenge box but wasn’t sure how to up cycle it. I thought giving it a glossy marble-like makeover and using it as a bookend would be the way to go.

In theory it was, in reality, not so much!

Here’s what I did.

Sprayed the brass pear with some gold tone paint.

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Used some nail polish and a lined bowl of water. Dropped in a few colors, swirling for a marbleized look.

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Slowly submerging the pear, the paint colors adhere and when lifted out….

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So close, but OH NO!

The swirling pattern was okay but the clumps were not! I let it dry then used nail polish remover to go back to square one. In doing so I removed the original brass and was left with a brushed silvertone.

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This I liked even more than the idea of a glossy marble. So my upcycle is more a make(under) since I didn’t add anything.

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Stone Tiles to House Numbers Plaque

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A bit of glue easily patched up the broken tile pieces.

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A coat of gray blue chalk paint camouflaged the teacup stamps.

Since there were only two tiles I thought using them for a house number sign would be perfect.

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I used a pencil rub to transfer the numbers, then went over them with a sharpie marker.

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Black paint filled in the lines.

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A bit of constructive adhesive holds the tiles on a piece of woods and it’s ready to hang! I’ll keep this on the wall in my office.

I do have plans for the the two salad bowls. After a bit of tweaking they will be going back to college with my daughter in August. Details to come in a later post.

#ThriftStoreThrowDown

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This challenge was a lot of fun to participate in and see how creative I could be with random items.

So, how do you think I did? Don’t forget to check out the before and afters of the other challengers!

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Shepherds and Chardonnay

Salvage Sister & Mister

All Things New Again

Lovely Etc.

Three Little Greenwoods

Dukes and Duchesses

One More Time Events

Rachel Teodoro

Shop at Blu

One Mile Home Style

 Sweet Pea

Farmhouse 40

My Life From Home

Paint Yourself a Smile

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DIY art

DIY Glass Cutting & What I Learned

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OR something so easy, done the hard way!

It all seemed so easy. I found three vintage botanical prints at a NJ flea market that I wanted to frame and hang in my living room. Pretty straightforward, right?

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I went ahead and made some basic mitered corner frames and painted them black. Their dimensions were for a 12″x 18″ opening. Not a standard glass size that I could buy precut. So, I decided to try my hand at cutting my own pieces of glass, using a 24″ x 18″ piece-the closest available size at HD.

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First I practiced on some old 8 x 10 glass I had removed from an old exterior window. A few attempts and I pretty much had the technique.

  • clean the glass
  • place on old cardboard
  • press down firmly as you score the glass-you need to hear a crackley sound
  • carefully place score line on edge of table and as you apply pressure to snap the glass

I cut practice pieces several times with good results; it was time to try the big piece!

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I followed all the same steps but when it came time to snap along the score line I guess the downward pressure wasn’t equal because the break didn’t follow the line. I wasn’t able to salvage the piece for this large project but can always re-cut it to fit a smaller frame. (sadness)

Realizing the definition of insanity was applicable here, I went to the local mom and pop hardware store and had them cut the exact size glass that I needed. Some say quitter. Maybe, but I say saving myself the frustration! *Know your limits!

With all the parts ready, it was just popping things together. With a little command strip magic, they’re up on the wall!

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Even though the glass cutting didn’t work as well as I’d have liked, the end results are still terrific, don’t you think?

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It’s hard to get an angle where the windows aren’t reflected.

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I had to adjust their spacing a bit wider.

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So what did I learn? You don’t have to DIY everything, all the time to claim it’s a DIY project. Spend a little money, spare your sanity!

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home renovation

Clean Lined DIY Pine Radiator Covers-Reveal

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You may recall my post two weeks ago about my  DIY living room radiator covers. If you missed it, you can read about them here. I had the pine frames built and even primed but was awaiting my cloverleaf aluminum sheets to be delivered.

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*This post contains affiliate links, which means if you click on one of the links and make a purchase I’ll receive a small compensation without impacting the cost to you.* 

Well, the delivery came and with it some seriously hot weather. Not the best for painting outside. I wanted to use my spray gun but it was too hot and humid. This isn’t a complaint, just a fact. Hot weather over frigid anyday, for me!

So, I patiently waited a couple of days and sure enough we had a gorgeous summer’s day. Dragging out my compressor, I cut and stapled the aluminum, then gave the covers two coats of the same Ultra White I used on all the living room trim.

 

Here they are now, all shiny and white!

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I’m getting much better at using my paint sprayer, just need to remember to paint on a drop cloth to prevent dirt from blowing up onto furniture. #lifelessons

Now that they’ve been finished a few days, the radiator covers blend into the walls, no more silver eyesores.

One more task checked off the list of things to do until the room’s makeover is complete.

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If you missed the July 11 post for the #thriftstorethrowdown – Thrift Store Challenge, just keep scrolling down until you see it or use the search box up top. See what I’ll be working with, then stay tuned for the reveal on Monday, July 25th. I’ve already started the upcycling and am loving how it’s turning out!

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