Wednesday, February 29, 2012

4 Simple Painting Tips

The past week has been a flurry of projects as I'm trying to wrap up the major decor items in the girls' bedroom.  Thankfully, the painting is finished! {well, I should say it's almost finished.  There are about 24 inches of the highest part of the vaulted walls yet to be painted, but we're going to wait to get a taller ladder and do that at the same time as the nursery}.  My part is done, though!  I even had enough paint to paint the upstairs bathroom the same color!  Woohoo!!  Bye-bye builder's grade paint :)

Since I've had paint on the brain this week, I thought I would give you a few tips for painting.  I am by no means an expert painter, but I have learned a couple things that have been extremely helpful in my painting endeavors.

1. Use a handled cup with a magnetic bar for cutting in trim.  The first time I painted a room I think I used a plastic cup when I painted around the trim.  This proved to be quite messy, and definitely not professional.  When we moved into this house and started painting, we discovered these handy little paint 'mugs'.  There is a magnetic piece on the inside that your trim brush will stick to {the metal part} so that your brush and paint are all in one small and secure place.

2. Purchase a teflon lined paint tray.  This has proven to be a wonderful investment for us!  Once the paint has dried in the pan, it pulls off so easily.  See image below for proof.

I don't know what brand we have, but here is one that I found on, in case you're looking to buy one.

3. Store paint laden rollers and brushes in ziploc bags in the fridge.  If you're painting a room and don't have time to do it all at one time, instead of washing out the rollers/brushes every time, simply put them in a bag, refrigerate, and they'll be ready to use when you have another spare moment.  I even used several plastic grocery bags for my roller this time, and it worked just fine.

4. Keep baby wipes handy for cleaning spills.  A wet rag or paper towel will work fine too, but I have found that baby wipes are perfect for wiping paint drips off of trim.

Just a few quick tips for you that will hopefully help save you some time when painting.

{For those who may be wondering, this is NOT the paint color that I used in the girls' bedroom!  This was a Glidden paint I received free last year and used it to paint the laundry room.  I haven't gotten any further than that in my laundry room, which is why you haven't seen any pictures of it on this little blog.  Maybe some day...}

What painting tips do you have?

Monday, February 27, 2012

Fabric for the Nursery: Purchased!

A huge thank you to everyone who voted on the fabric choices I mentioned a couple weeks ago.  I thought my mind was made up, and over the weekend, Bradley and I were discussing the nursery again, trying to figure out what we wanted to do.  I had purchased some curtains at Target {on clearance} and thought about cutting them up to make the baby bedding.  Then, when I went online to compare it to my favorite fabric choice, I noticed that Premier Prints fabrics were on sale!!  I quickly perused the options and we definitely liked what we saw.  I had seen these fabrics before, but they were a bit too pricey, so I had ruled them out.  I took the plunge yesterday and ordered the fabric; it should arrive by the end of this week!

So, are you curious as to what I chose??  I ordered some of each of these fabrics, and will put them together, along with some solid white fabric I already have, to create the nursery bedding, window treatment, and other accessories.

What do you think?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Scalloped Red Potatoes with Rosemary

Before I give you the recipe, I have a quick decorating update:  the girls' room is halfway painted!!  I finally mustered up the energy {plus, I think I'm nesting} yesterday to get to it.  Of the 4 walls in their room, two have vaulted ceilings, so I have to wait for Bradley to be home before tackling those two walls, but the other two are finished, plus I cut in all of the lower trim.  It's coming along!

On to the recipe...

We love potatoes at our house, and I'm always looking for different ways to make them.  Since Easter is coming up in a few weeks, I thought I would try a potato dish that would be a wonderful side to an Easter ham.  These potatoes are perfect for that!  Leaving the red skins on makes it a colorful dish, too.

Scalloped Red Potatoes with Rosemary

5 red potatoes
3 tablespoons flour
4 tablespoons butter
dried rosemary
2 cups milk

Wash the potatoes, and leaving the skins on, thinly slice.  Grease, or butter, a 2 1/2-quart baking dish, then line bottom with a layer of potatoes.  Sprinkle 1 tablespoon flour, salt, pepper, and a dash of rosemary over potatoes.  Dot with 1 tablespoon butter, cut into little pieces.  Repeat layers 2 more times.  Pour milk over top of all.  Bake at 350F for 1 hour.

slice the potatoes thinly

first layer, dotted with butter and seasoned


finished product

source:  slightly adapted from The Fannie Farmer Cookbook

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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Weekend Away

Back around Christmas time, I told Bradley that I really wanted our family to go and visit my parents for a long weekend.  We don't usually take time off to be with them, so our time there is usually 24 hours, which is wonderful, but not long enough.  Since my birthday is coming up next week, we thought it would be fun to visit them around my birthday and get to celebrate with my family.  We had a great time!  AND, to top it off, we were surprised with about 6 inches of snow on Sunday!!  Here are a few pictures of my girls enjoying the snow {I stayed inside with my 6 month old nephew}.

No boots, but plastic bags over the shoes worked just fine.

My older sister and her daughter.

My mom started the snow man construction.

Cousins with their creation.

Nini/Nana with her three granddaughters.

Not the best quality picture, but these are my awesome parents who played in the snow for about 1 1/2 hours!

On Saturday, we had a nice visit with some dear friends for breakfast.  Then, my family gave me the day off!  It was wonderful!  I mostly sat on the couch, just enjoying the company of my family, reminiscing over the past 30 years, and being spoiled.  They cooked an amazing dinner for me, and we ended it with some fantastic cheesecake.  My sister, Sherri, captured some the photo below, and other photos of the birthday celebration, so head on over to her blog to check out the festivities!

photo courtesy of lifeofawife

We just got back home last night, to a clean house {yay!} and I'm gearing up to finish the girls' room, hopefully by the end of this month {only 1 week left!}.  I just need a huge burst of energy and then it's on to painting, sewing, and decorating.  Can't wait to show you the reveal!

Monday, February 20, 2012

10 Weeks to Go & Put in Your Vote!

Friday marked the 30 week point of this pregnancy!  Time keeps going by more quickly and I can't believe we're getting so close to meeting this new little one!

I thought I'd share some photos of me at 30 weeks with all three pregnancies, give you some stats, and then you can cast your vote on whether you think this baby is a boy or girl.  {For any newcomers, no, we are not going to find out this baby's gender until delivery}.

This picture was actually taken at 31 weeks with Isabella, but here I am:

This one is 30 weeks with Mallory:

And, this one was taken on Saturday, by my sister, and I was 30 weeks, 1 day:

Okay, some stats so you can compare and make an educated guess :)  I mean, really, you have a 50/50 chance of being right, but this can be fun if you want to participate :)

Pregnancy 1:  nausea until 13 weeks, heart rate was always in 150's or 160's, no heartburn, gained 50 pounds {it was a girl}

Pregnancy 2: nausea until 17 weeks, heart rate was always in 150's or 160's, no heartburn, minimal swelling, gained 40 pounds {it was a girl}

This Pregnancy:  nausea started at 9 weeks and went to 19 weeks, heart rate in 140's, heartburn, weight gain seems to be same as Pregnancy 2....

So, now you can vote!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Cloth Napkin Tutorial {Great for Beginners}

My project list for 2012 is very long!  And, I figure most of it needs to be finished in the next 10 weeks, before I have even less time to myself.  Finding the energy and motivation to accomplish my tasks has been rather difficult lately, so I don't have huge expectations, but it is nice to get something finished.  These cloth napkins have been something I've wanted to do since I made the roman shades for my kitchen, and I finally got around to it.

Most home decorator fabric has very specific instructions on how to care for it; almost all of it requires dry cleaning, or spot cleaning.  So, before tackling this project, I put a small piece of leftover home decor fabric through the wash {using my normal cycles for items of this color} and found that it did shrink a bit, but it wasn't ruined at all.  Perfect!  Coupled with some remnant pieces of drop cloth from my dining room chair slipcovers, I had the right duo for a double-sided cloth napkin.

If you're new at sewing, this is a great project {an relatively inexpensive} to start with, as it only uses sewing straight lines, and turning corners.  And, if you're a pro, then whipping some of these up will take you no time at all!

Cloth Napkin Tutorial:
{I made (6) 12 1/2-inch napkins.  Standard size is 18-inches, I believe, but I was working with leftover fabric, so skimped a bit here, and it's fine, as they are just for everyday use.  If you want larger, standard size napkins, you'll need to purchase more fabric}

-1 yard of fabric for front of napkins
-1 yard of fabric for back of napkins
-coordinating thread

Cut out both fabrics into 13-inch square pieces.

I made a 'pattern' out of poster board so that my pieces would be uniform.
Place front fabric and back fabric right sides together, and pin all the way around, matching the edges.

Beginning in the middle of one side, stitch in a 1/4" seam, all the way around, leaving a small opening, enough to turn the napkin right side out.

Turn napkin right side out, and iron opening under, 1/4" to line up with remainder of sewn seams.

Iron flat.

Pin opening together, so the fabric doesn't shift while doing finishing the seams.  Top-stitch with a 1/8" seam all the way around the napkin.  {This will close up the opening}.

Iron again, if needed, and use.  Wash as you did when you pre-washed your fabric.

*Another great fabric option for cloth napkins is to purchase apparel linen. And, this would not need to be lined with another fabric.  It does shrink, so be sure to purchase more than you would actually need for napkins.  Calico fabrics would also be great, as long as they are lined. *

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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Painting Tip: Paint Samples on the Wall

We moved into a new house last year, and slowly, but surely, we're getting rid of the builder grade paint that was in every room.  Some of the challenge for me has been the fact that our ceilings upstairs are quite high, so in order to paint the bedrooms {and the foyer/stairwell} we will need to rent a taller ladder.  So, I've put off painting upstairs because of that, and we don't have money in the budget to just go out and buy paint for every room of the house at once.

For Christmas this year I asked for gift cards to Lowe's {exciting, I know} so that I could purchase some paint to finish up the girls' bedroom.  With a new baby on the way, and plans to decorate the nursery, I really owe it to my daughters to decorate their room first.  I've had the color scheme in mind since we moved in, and the major portion of their bedding was purchased at TJMaxx last year, but the walls remain bare, and there are absolutely no accessories anywhere!  First step, though, is the paint, which is the purpose for this post.

My number one tip in choosing paint colors is:  PAINT SAMPLES ON THE WALL BEFORE MAKING A COLOR DECISION!!  Colors look completely different on the wall than they do on the paint swatch that you pick out at the store.

When we purchased our first home, in 2007, I desperately wanted a Tuscan yellow kitchen.  So, I bought all of my paint, covered the walls of the kitchen, only to discover that what I was hoping would look like Tuscany looked like a bright yellow school bus!  Ugh!  If only I had known then what I know now!

We went to Lowe's on Monday to buy some samples of paint, and I really liked all 3 colors.  I painted a little swatch of each on the wall, then sat down on Isabella's bed to take a look, and HATED. EACH. ONE.  What did I do?  Naturally, I did what any woman would do:  I sobbed.  Yes, I know, that's very shallow.  And the more I was crying about my dislike of the paint colors, I started to cry about the fact that I was crying over paint.  Has anyone else cried over decor decisions, or am I just really lame??

Bradley agreed that the colors weren't right, and so back to Lowe's I went during the girls' nap time, to pick out two more paint samples and put those on the wall.  Ah, one seemed to work!  But, here comes in tip #2 with the samples.

Not only should you paint the samples on the wall, but it's also good to leave the colors up for a while, so that you can see what they look in different kinds of light.  I left mine up for about 24 hours before heading back to the store to purchase the one I had decided on.

I didn't get their room painted this week, as I had planned, but at least I have the paint, I bought some fabric for pillows and a window treatment, and hopefully their room will be finished by the end of this month {that's the goal at least}.

What painting tips do you have?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Homemade Vanilla Sugar

Happy Valentine's Day!

A couple weeks ago I shared with you my Vanilla Bean Pound Cake recipe, and I mentioned that you needed to save the vanilla bean pod for another use.  Today, I'm sharing with you how to put that pod to great use for some sweet flavor in your kitchen.

Coffee is a staple in our home, and my husband and I both enjoy a cup every morning.  I like my coffee with cream and sugar, not usually flavored, though, as my husband prefers his plain.  This morning, I used this sugar instead of plain, and it was quite yummy.  It would also be a nice touch in a cup of hot tea, if you prefer that to coffee.

Before making the sugar recipe below, wash off the vanilla bean pod, lay it out to dry completely, and then place it in a bowl of sugar for about a week or two.  This will help the sugar to become infused with a vanilla flavor.

Homemade Vanilla Sugar

1 vanilla bean pod
1 cup sugar

In a food processor, blend the bean pod and the sugar until pod is completely broken apart.

Put the mixture through a flour sifter or very fine sieve to get out all of the larger pod pieces.

These pieces were left in the sifter, which is why you want to be sure not to skip this step!

You can substitute vanilla sugar for sugar in any recipe in which you want to enhance the vanilla flavor.  Stir it into your coffee, or sprinkle it on top of milk brushed scones or other breads before baking.


*When I used this in my coffee, I needed a bit more sugar than normal.  When you sift the sugar, it must lose a bit of its strength as it becomes finer.  If you are using this as a substitute in baking, just be aware that you may need to adjust the amount.*

source: Zoe Bakes