A sneak peek

I am having such a great day today working on one of the many projects for our basement makeover.  It involves this lonely corner in the basement,

Before-reading-nookA newspaper pattern and 2″ foam.


A little measuring and some cutting.


Sewing, sewing and more sewing.


And this gorgeous material I bought last weekend.


Can you guess what project I am working on?

Basement Makeover – Step 2

We are making progress!!!  I last left you with this:


We (by that I mean the Mr, aka DA) added an additional electrical box and moved the boxes lower down the wall. Additionally, we (by that I mean DA and friend Paul) repaired the drywall where the entertainment cabinet was and put a primer on the new drywall.


Then we (by that I mean DA and myself) got up close and personal with all the trim in the basement by doing the “cutting in” work.  No masking tape for us, just an angled brush, paint bucket and a wet cloth for tidying up the trim when our hands were not so steady.



It took us about 10 hours of work each over the course of a week but by Saturday afternoon we had completed all the painting.  YEAH!!

Our next task is to order the carpet which I have been trying to do for a week.  Do you know how many shades of taupe carpeting there are in this world?  I am now on my second round of samples trying to pick one I like.  The room has been measured so they are just waiting on me to make my final selection.

Step 3 of the makeover involves the use of my sewing machine but I will save those details for a later time.

Basement Makeover – Step 1

We have officially started the basement makeover project this past weekend by knocking down our built-in entertainment center.  The cabinet seemed like such a great idea fourteen years ago when we finished our basement.  Who knew that TV’s would totally change their shape and size?

Here is the before picture…….


This is what it looks like today……


I guess I really am getting new carpet considering I now have a big chunk of the current carpet missing from the middle of the room.  I am so excited to finally get this project started after talking about it for several months.

Besides painting, new carpet and a new tv, I am going to refinish a couple of tables and hang pendant lights over the bar.  Here is a mood board showing a few things I am thinking about.

Mood Board

Can you guess what my new favorite color is????

Monogrammed Pillow

Since I made the poinsettia pillow for Christmas, I have been wanting to make another pillow out of the tea stained muslin I purchased for that project.  I really like the texture of this fabric and it I found it very easy to work with.  I have had my eye on a monogrammed pillow for a while and decided now was the perfect time to try it.

The hardest part of the project was selecting the font I wanted to use for the monogram.  I went through all the fonts I have loaded on my pc (several times) and finally narrowed the choice to one of these.

Fonts-for-pillowI really had a hard time deciding.  By the way, a great source for free fonts is one of my absolutely favorite blogs, Kevin and Amanda.  Amanda bakes incredible sweet treats and is definitely my photography inspiration.  Her travel pictures are awesome.  Amanda has many free fonts that are available for downloading and I find myself continually selecting one of her fonts for my projects.  In fact, my final choice for the monogram pillow was the ‘Hey Gorgeous’ font.  I use that one all the time,  including in my grocery, menu and planner templates.

To make the template, I started by printing out the ‘G’ in the Hey Gorgeous font using the biggest size that would fit on a piece of paper.


Unfortunately that still was not big enough for the space I wanted to fill on the pillow.  Plan B then was to get out some craft paper and free hand the letter.  I am certainly not very artistic but got a semi-close approximation of  what I wanted.  I used this template to cut out the letter on the white felt I had leftover from the poinsettia pillow.


Since I was making an 18 inch pillow cover, I cut out 1-18 inch square of the muslin and 2-18×11.5 inch pieces of fabric.  Notice I did not cut extra for the seams.  Cutting the fabric the same size as the insert pillow will ensure the pillow is firm and plump when inserted into the cover.

I then pinned the felt  ‘G’ to the muslin, then basted it in place.



There are several ways you can adhere the monogram to the pillow including the use of fusible interfacing,  fabric glue or even applique.  I have always like the combination of felt and a blanket stitch so that is what I decided to do.  It has been several years since I used a blanket stitch so I did a quick look-up for a tutorial on you tube and found several to choose from.  Once I had the hang of it I sewed the letter to the pillow front.


To assemble the pillow cover I created a hem on the two smaller pieces of fabric by ironing down 1/4 inch and then another 1/4 inch on one of the 18″ sides and then top stitching.  These two become the back of the pillow.

I then laid the pillow front with the right side facing up and laid the two smaller pieces on top with the right side facing down, overlapping the two hems.


I pinned around the edges and then sewed a 1/4 inch seam around the entire pillow cover.   I clipped the corners, turned it right side out and inserted my pillow.


I probably spent about an hour and 1/2 in total making this pillow and that included searching for the font.  Since I had the felt and muslin left over from my poinsettia pillow and reused a pillow I already had for the inside,  I only spent 37 cents on some white embroidery thread to complete this project.  Pretty thrifty don’t you think?


Linking to Savvy Southern Style

A Touch of Christmas

Are you ready for Christmas?  Just a couple more weeks until all the festivities begin.  I have been planning and making lists (what a surprise) with the goal of having every present purchased and wrapped, every meal planned and shopped for, every cookie baked and decorated, and the house ready for guests by Friday, Dec 21.   From my perspective the partying starts on Saturday, Dec 22 and I can not wait!

In preparation I have been adding a few Christmas touches to the house including the new pillow covers I made this weekend.  The poinsettia pillow was inspired from the Taste of August blog.



I had some fun with the chalkboard that usually hangs in my office and decided to display it on my entryway chest along with just a few of the snowman from my collection.  The chalkboard was a total copy of one I saw on-line but unfortunately I did not write down the source.


I added a few candles, some greenery and a little bling to my dough bowl.


And speaking of dough bowls, the last time we visited my brother-in-law Steve’s workshop, we found this in his scrap pile.  He felt it had too many imperfections, I thought it was perfect for a candy dish.


I also added some fresh evergreen to a few places in the house.



Now on to tackle that mountain of presents waiting to be wrapped.

Bathroom Project Complete

Finally, our main floor bathroom remodeling project is complete.  Well, 99% complete.  We still have to install some baseboard and repaint some trim.  But it is once again a working bathroom, yeah!!!  We learned a lot of things from this remodeling project, for instance, the next time we need to skim drywall we will be calling in professionals!  Overall we are happy with how it turned out.   Here are the before pictures.

The hardest part of the project was removing the wallpaper from unsized walls and repairing the drywall.  It took forever and required much patience, and as most of you know, patience is NOT one of my virtues.

Here is a peek at a few of the new details in the room.

We have a unique space in this bathroom that the new vanity had to fit (notice the angled wall at the backof the vanity in the before picture) so our choices were to build our own or purchase an expensive custom built vanity.  My brother-in-law Steve generously helped us build our own based on exact specifications we provided.  Once it was installed, there was a slight difference between the vision in my head and how the new vanity appeared.   I was originally thinking the bottom shelve would be a little higher and the vanity apron would be a little lower so there would not be as much space to see the plumbing under the shelves.  After thinking about how I could resolve this, I remembered in my search of vanities several months ago seeing a towel bar across the front of a vanity.  I went to Lowe’s and came home with a standard size tension shower rod.  It fit perfectly into the space under the vanity.  Here is the finished bathroom.

Whew, I am glad that one is done.  Now what should we tackle next?

  1. Rebuilding of two built-in entertainment centers?  Who knew 15 years ago when we built this house that TV’s were going to be a totally different shape?
  2. Garage storage and painting?
  3. Basement carpet and painting?
  4. New patio?

Decisions, decisions.

Restored Antique Pie Safe

My brother-in-law Steve recently attended a farm auction and spotted three very old and in need of refinishing pie safes that had been stored in a barn for many years.  Several people were interested in the cabinets and the first two sold for about $200 each.  About the time the third was coming up for auction a large wind whipped through the area and sent the already fragile cabinet over on its side.  What was left of the cabinet was not very pretty and most of the other potential buyers felt the cabinet was beyond repair.  Not Steve, he was silently cheering inside and was able to purchase the cabinet remains for about $60.  This is what he brought home…..

The first thing he did was to power wash the cabinet to take the years of grime, cobwebs, spiders and paint chips off of it.

Next he started gluing, clamping, repairing with wood filler and sanding.

He also sandblasted the tin panels in the door with crushed walnuts to remove the paint that was once applied.

In removing at least four layers of paint that existed on the cabinet, he was able to see that the original color was a pale, chalky green.  In order to restore the pie safe to as an original condition as possible, Steve decided to try and match the original paint, even to the point of making the milk paint by himself.  You can purchase milk paint in powder form and mix it with distilled water but from Steve’s viewpoint, it is not nearly as fun.  He is kinda crazy like that!

First he primed the cabinet.

Then he made the milk paint by mixing a gallon of fat-free skim milk with a fourth of a cup of vinegar and letting it sit on the counter over night.  This process separated the curd and whey in the milk.  He drained the whey and mixed the curd with about a cup of lime powder.  Next he added about 220 grams of powdered color pigment until he achieved the same color as the original paint.

After the paint was applied, Steve distressed it a little with a fine grit sandpaper to tone down the paint and give it an aged appearance  Here is the finished product, isn’t she a  beauty?

Bathroom Redo

I mentioned a few months ago that I was starting a new project to update my main floor bathroom.  Dave and my bother-in-law Steve have built a new vanity that I am going to use, but we have been so busy that I have not had time to do much else towards this project.

Here are the before pictures of the bathroom.

I just learned how to create mood boards in Photoshop so I decided to pull all my ideas for the updated bathroom together in one place.

I had so much fun putting this together.  I would probably be much further along on my project if I did not spend so much time on the computer!!!

Well, this weekend I finally got started by spending about 5 hours stripping wallpaper.  I have both hung and striped wallpaper many times in the thirty years I have been a homeowner. I have tried several different techniques but the method I have found to be the most effective is to use a scoring tool that perforates the paper, then applying a stripping chemical such as DIF to dissolve the adhesive.

Unfortunately, no method works very well if there was no sizing applied to the wall when it was hung, which appears to be the case with the wallpaper I was stripping today.  When this wallpaper was hung the house was new and the drywall had never been painted.  It appears that the paper was put directly on the wallboard.  I had a few choice words for that contractor as I peeled miniscule pieces of paper off the wall bringing the drywall right off with it.

Now we will now have to spend several days spackling and sanding the walls before we can paint it again.  Fortunately the room is fairly small.  Anyone love to spackle?  We would love to share the fun!

I would really like to have this project completed before we go on vacation at the end of June, however at the rate I am going, I will be lucky just to get the wallpaper down.

A Cabin in the Woods

Anytime Dave and I start a project that is related to woodworking, we always start with a visit to my brother-in-law Steve.  On this particular visit, Steve walked Dave through the building of a new bathroom vanity.  There will be much more on that project as we progress.

Steve and my sister Linda live on 5 wooded acres which is a perfect spot for someone who can pick up a fallen log and turn it into something beautiful.  A few months back I posted some photos of several items Steve has made from the wood on his property.  You can see those by clicking here.

Today I thought I would give you tour of their little “cabin in the woods” and a peek of a few of the many projects they have completed.

Here is a view of the cabin from the end of their driveway.

All visitors are greeted by Bogie, one of the sweetest (and largest at 130 pounds) puppies I know.

The next shot is the front porch followed by the peaceful, quiet view when sitting in one of the rocking chairs.  I always feel like I have gone camping in the Ozarks when I am at their house.

A couple of years ago Steve purchased an old barn that was going to be torn down and reclaimed the wood for building projects.  One of those was the storage shed on the right where the mowers and tractors are held.  The potting shed on the left was built for Linda and all of her gardening supplies.  Isn’t it adorable?  I really love the red pump.

Their most recent project is a new flower bed next to the potting shed.  Notice the thin edge of blue at the back of the shed?  That is one of several rain barrels they have on the property to catch rain water for watering all their plants.  I love how the flowers are cascading out of the old wheelbarrow.

Next to the flower bed is a current project they are working on.  Besides the great tree trunk flower pots, they are laying down a bed of wood slices.  This is one of the coolest things I have ever seen.  I absolutely love it!

The next shots are of the back of their cabin and the firepit.

Next to the firepit is another garden area complete with tractor seat benches.

They have done so many fun things on their property.   One of these days I will do a post about all the cool things inside their house….one I just have to show you now because I love it so much………it is a wood carving Steve did for the front of their kitchen sink cabinet.

They are a very creative and talented twosome.  Click here to check out Steve’s Etsy shop.

Upholstered Headboard for the Guest Room

A few weeks before Christmas I had mentioned that I was redecorating our guest room.  Although I still need to accessorize the room, we did get the room painted and the upholstered headboard finished in time for it to be used for Christmas.  Here is the room before we started painting.

For the walls I chose Network Gray from Sherwin Williams.  Although a little dark for a basement room without a window, I really like the contrast with the white trim.

Since my children keep taking their beds with them when they leave the nest, we purchased a new queen size mattress set from “The Mart” the last time we were in Omaha.  It seems we find an excuse to go to Nebraska Furniture Mart each time we are in Omaha.    The original store is just a couple of blocks from my place of employment so it is soooooo convenient to stop by, much more convenient that the 45 minutes to an hour to get to the Kansas City store from our house.

I did not want to spend a lot of money for a bed or headboard that would probably only be used a couple of times per year so I decided to try and make an upholstered headboard.  I started at Joanne’s Fabrics and bought two yards of white suede fabric that just happened to be 50% off that day.  YEAH!!  Dave went to Lowe’s and bought a sheet of 3/8” plywood and had it cut into a 32”x60” rectangle.  I made a template out of newspaper to cut a curved section out of each side and traced it onto the plywood.

Dave used the jigsaw to cut around the tracings.

I then laid the microfiber fabric on our dining room table, layered on two layers of batting then put the plywood headboard on top.  I used an electric staple gun to first attach the batting, then the fabric to the headboard.  I never knew how much fun it is to use a staple gun!!

I probably should have started with a rectangular piece of wood instead of trying to get fancy with the end cutouts.    I was having trouble getting the fabric not to pucker around the curves and ended up pulling out all the staples and redoing the curves a second time.  They are still not perfect but it looks better than the first time around.

I had purchased some nail head trim and had planned on putting it around the edges of the headboard about 2” from the edge.     As we started putting a few of the nails in we had issues getting them to go in straight.  The bigger problem was that we were making marks on the white suede.  I decided I did not want to go down that path now, but maybe later I will add the trim.

The final step was attaching legs to the headboard.  In several of the examples I had seen, the headboard was attached directly to the wall, but Dave decided he wanted to make legs and attach them directly to the bed frame.  Here is a picture of the painted room with the finished headboard.

The headboard cost about $28 to make which is significantly less than the $250-$300 it would have cost to purchase an upholstered headboard.  I am still searching for the perfect wall décor but am pretty happy with the way the guestroom has turned out so far.  Now I need to find a reason to use that electric stapler again.