Friday, March 29, 2013

Painting Furniture: Take Two

My laptop is back! Hooray for the return of the blog!

Well part of DIY-ing and becoming a homeowner is learning. I'm sorry...did I say part? I meant all. That means a lot of trial and error.

I posted for you about my first real furniture painting project here. Well, the first one where I actually sort of prepared and did some research before I started. I say that because there may or may not have been a very large project that I painted without having a flippin clue or reading any tutorials before hand. And it may be permanently attached to our living room wall. More on that later. Like I said, everything's a learning process and I am definitely learning a lot.

So after I did the nightstands, my next mission was the matching dresser. We got the set free from of a friend of my dad's and they were in amazing condition. The only cost to us was some paint/primer/poly and the new hardware. Gotta love hand-me-downs.

Here is what David's side of the room looked like before and after. I repainted the dresser that matched the nightstand set, so don't be deceived...this is not the same dresser. I'm not a miracle worker.
Evidently I forgot to take a before picture of the dresser, but it was just a larger version of these nightstands, ugly hardware and all. You can picture it.
This time around I changed it up a bit to improve the process, because that's what it's all about right? First, I changed my primer. This type I used Zinsser's Cover Stain instead of the Kilz Odorless I used on the nightstands. Kilz is odorless, Zinsser smells like pumpkins when you sand it. Just saying.
This stuff is awesome and worked much better...I'll probably be permanently switching to it.

Because I used more diesel primer, I didn't even bother using the electric sander before priming...I just did a few thorough sands with my sanding blocks. I started with a coarse block, then a medium one, then a fine one, until the surface of the dresser was completely smooth.

After sanding, I wiped the surface with a wet cloth and then a dry cloth and painted on two coats of my primer. I did two coats because my between-coat sanding skills aren't perfect and I may or may not have sanded a little too much between coats. Oh well....the more complete primer coverage the better.
And as opposed to my slow process last time, I sped up a little this time. I did my two coats of primer in one day because you only need about an hour in between. Then I sanded the dresser again, with just the fine sanding block until smooth, then wiped down.

Then I painted. I only did two coats of paint this time (I did three on the nightstands). Since I used two coats of primer, two coats of paint was plenty. I also changed my main instrument and added the new love of my painting life....the mini roller. I bought the "best" version of the rollers (see photo below) because I didn't want any fuzzies in my paint. For under $6 I drastically changed the way this painting job turned out. The finish was smooth with very few noticeable streaks and looks awesome. I used the mini roller for the coat of poly as well (Minwax Polycrylic).
I did the drawers first and then the dresser frame because naturally it's winter and I'm painting in the basement. With all the projects/storage/laundry going on down there there was only room for one part of this project at a time. (Don't mind my grocery bag that I hadn't put away yet. Oh and the rest of the mess.)
So with splitting it in two parts I think it took 2 weeks or so to paint it. Then came the hardware issue. I wanted to use the same cup pulls on the bottom four drawers as we used on the nightstands, but I didn't want those on every single drawer...that would have been too much cuppage for one room. So my month long quest began for different hardware for the top dresser drawers since they're smaller. We finally found them at Connecticut Lighting Center's Hardware Showroom in Hartford, but they took two weeks to come in. And they were the wrong size (I knew that when I bought them and I bought them anyway). Naturally. And I didn't wood-fill any holes. Naturally. Sooooo we improvised. David bought a few ten cent washers at the hardware store and drilled the holes a little larger...
...and then we just put the screws in with the washers...
...and you can't even tell. The drawer pulls are tight as a whistle and you can't see the holes....ta da!
and now David has a new dresser. It's bigger than his last one, which I appreciate because he was piling all his clothes on top of the old dresser, and now they (pretty much) all fit.
Pretty much. Evidently he still has trouble putting away his clothes. Men.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Our Long Island Weekend

So here's a little recap of our weekend in Riverhead, NY. The drive was surprisingly quick and easy and our hotel was perfect. They had a huge hot breakfast spread every morning and that's pretty much my favorite thing ever, along with Pottery Barn and aquariums, all of which were included in this weekend. Big time score. Yes, I was so excited I had to take a picture of it:
This town has an insane amount of outlets and pretty much every store you could ever imagine. We walked the whole outlet area, got lots of exercise, and stopped in probably far too many stores. David let me try on too many clothes and look at an excessive amount of home decor, but we had a good time. Especially making fun of some of the ridiculousness we encountered, like this stump, which we believe is supposed to serve as an end table (maybe??) in the Restoration Hardware outlet, although I'd hardly call it an outlet.
Yes it's a real stump, and you probably can't read the tag but it really and truly is priced at a "marked down" $486, originally $695. We saw a similar stump in the West Elm outlet but someone was buying it and I didn't get a chance to catch a photo. David now thinks he's in the wrong business.

So in addition to the typical outlet stores, Riverhead also has the aforementioned Restoration Hardware and West Elm, plus Williams Sonoma, and of course, the amazing Pottery Barn outlet. Outlets are hit or miss, so we weren't really sure what we'd find in Pottery Barn, which was the main reason for this trip. We were a little disappointed not to find a winner in the selection of beds and sofas, but we did bring home a few little items annnnnnd this gorgeous patio table, if you can see it under that crazy display.
A while ago I posted briefly about snagging some Pottery Barn outdoor chairs on Craigslist, and it worked out perfectly that the only outdoor table at the outlet was the one that matched these chairs.
So we may still not have a nice new bed or new sofas, but we accomplished something important to us. My parents wanted to give us an outdoor dining set for our wedding gift, and we've now been married for a year and a half. That's what happens when I try to make a decision, because my parents told us to find the one we liked and they'd buy it. Me+Decisions=FOREVER. So my parents are relieved to finally be able to give us our gift, and we're relieved that our big purchase from the outlets is going to be essentially "gifted" back to us so we didn't put as big a dent in our wallets as we thought we would. At some point in the future we hope to redo our deck (which as you can tell from the above photo is in sad shape), and then our lovely patio set will match a little better, but for now it's still perfectly useable and still very very purdy. I just love me some Pottery Barn furniture.

I should also mention one of the coolest things that happened with this trip...on Friday afternoon before we left I stopped home for a few minutes to grab my bags and Oats and then headed to my in-law's house to meet David and drop off the pup. I happened to quickly check the mailbox while I was home, where I was shocked and ECSTATIC to find this perfectly-timed surprise.
Yes I have a PB credit card. No I don't need it. Oh well. But I NEVER get coupons from them. It was like they knew I was coming. So in addition to our patio table (which we used a separate promotion for), we picked up a few cute little household items from Pottery Barn with the coup (a classy seagrass trash basket for the bathroom, a mini clock, and a whale stapler, because everyone needs a couple whales in their home), plus a polar bear cookie jar from West Elm and of course some Yankee Candles (David's one girly guilty pleasure).
The other promotion I mentioned was the awesome holiday-weekend sale (you can't combine promos and coups at PB). We scoured the Pottery Barn outlet on Saturday for what we wanted and then went back Sunday to buy everything because they had a one-day 17% off everything sale in honor of St. Paddy's Day. Thanks St. Patrick for the $51 you saved us off the patio parents appreciate it. West Elm and Yankee Candle also had amazing sales and I think it cost us only around $60 for all that fabulousness, which is amazing, considering how much Yankee Candles, PB and West Elm usually cost. Cha-ching.

But don't worry, we didn't shop allllll weekend. David bought us tickets to the Long Island Aquarium, so we spent a couple hours there on Saturday. It was a nice time of year to go because it's still chilly so it wasn't crowded. It was no Mystic Aquarium, which is the best of all time in the history of aquariums, but it was still really fun and they had some good exhibits.
Then although we failed at our quest to find a mom-and-pop restaurant for lunch, we did get a great tip from our T.G.I.Fridays waiter about a brewery just down the street. We like to try local beers, so we ordered theirs while at Fridays and loved it. I asked the waiter how local they were, and our good luck continued...he said there were right down the street and have tastings on Saturdays. Lucky ducks we are. We drove down and found the tiny little hole in the wall Long Ireland Brewery, which only opened in 2008 but is already making a name for itself in Long Island and beyond (cue Buzz Lightyear voice), and we can see why. The staff was fun and the beer was delicious. We met some nice people and tried a bunch of their beers and got to bring some home.
It was a great afternoon activity and a nice break from shopping, as well as the perfect thing to do on St. Patrick's Day weekend. So we didn't find a mom-and-pop lunch venue but we did get to show our support for this great little local brewery. If you're ever in Long Island and you're a beer-drinker, we highly recommend trying to locate this beer.

The trip was very relaxing and fun, was very successful (outdoor-furniture-wise), and had many of my favorite things: an amazing breakfast buffet, a king-sized bed, an aquarium, outlets, good local beer, and Pottery Barn. Oh right, and David of course. Oops, almost forgot the guy that planned it all.

When we got home Sunday we continued our St. Patrick's Day celebration with corned beef, colcannon and homemade Irish soda bread. If you're wondering, here's the recipe I use for colcannon: - thanks Diane! I did Instagram a picture because I was so excited. We should really eat this more than once a year.
And if you're wondering what I got David for St. Patrick's Day...well it certainly wasn't as awesome as a weekend getaway or the go-ahead to be a shopaholic, but he was excited.
The big box is the obligatory pack of Guinness, but the other is the beginning to a beer tap collection I'm starting for him, which can hopefully someday be a part of a basement bar (maybe in the forever house). More are coming :) Maybe it'll be a St. Paddy's tradition.

And even Oats got something for St. Patrick's Day....
I figured a green fish was appropriate. We named him Paddy, the Irish fish. He's green and they eat of lot of fish in Ireland, so it works right? We think she likes it...
So there's my recap of how we celebrated St. Patrick's Day this year. Hope you all had a great holiday and stuffed your faces with corned beef / lamb / fish / potatoes / cabbage / soda bread / beer. Erin Go Bragh!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Dare to be Different

Sorry that I haven't posted much in the past's difficult without my laptop and access to all my photos. I'm doing minimal blogging for now via my phone and sometimes my parent's laptop but it will be limited until I get my new laptop battery....which evidently takes over a month to ship...sorry guys!

So anyway, remember how I told you we don't celebrate Valentine's Day? Did you think we just cut out a whole holiday and didn't find a more fun thing to celebrate in the boring dead of winter? No, we're more fun than that.

Instead of celebrating in February with the rest of America, we do a special celebration and gift exchange on...........St. Paddy's Day! Seriously, isn't this a much more fun holiday to celebrate than Valentine's Day?!? (Maybe we did sneak in a little Valentine's Day this year though...David found half price Lindt truffles the day after. A man after my own heart. Lindt chocolate? On sale? Yeah I don't care if it has hearts and flowers on the package or not....get in my belly!)

For our St. Paddy's Day celebration we usually do a traditional/delicious Irish dinner, drink good Irish beer and swap gifts....either green or Irish themed of course.

So David gave me my gift early this bag, green bow and green folder with my "travel documents"...
He combined my St. Paddy's Day gift with his winnings from the football pool we did this fall and planned a surprise trip for us to go away this weekend. He knew that if I had won the football pool money I wanted to do the super lamest thing ever and go to Long Island. I know what you're thinking. Long Island? In the winter? Or ever? (Don't be offended Long's just the drive we dread) So let me explain. There's an outlet mall there...a big one. And guess what's there? Oh yeah....the Pottery Barn OUTLET. I've been dying to go to the outlet and this Long Island store is the closest one to us. So a few weeks ago David told me not to make any plans this weekend because we'd be going away, and I was doing some seriously hoping and finger-crossing that we were going to LI. I figured if he decided to take me ice fishing he wouldn't be crazy enough to pretend like that was a "surprise" for me...I think that would have earned him negative brownie points.

So tonight we'll head out on the 2.5 hour trek to Long Island to spend the weekend shopping (poor David) and celebrating St. Paddy's Day together. And we could never travel anywhere without adding an aquarium he also bought tickets to the Long Island Aquarium....iiiiii'm psyched. We head out tonight so I'll hopefully have some pics for you next week. I've got all my house measurements ready to go to the PB Outlet and get stocked up :) Wish me luck!

Oh and Miss Oats? Sadly there were no hotels where we're going that allow large dogs (what is the discrimination against large dogs anyway?) so she will be staying with her best friend Barley for the weekend...
So she's guaranteed to be thoroughly exhausted by the time we get her on Sunday.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Pinterest Challenge

Ok so I'm like a week late on finishing this project, but that's kind of my style. I was so excited to announce my participation in my very first official Pinterest Challenge, and I figure my 5 readers don't really care about the fact that it was supposed to done last Wednesday. The Pinterest Challenge was started by the fabulous blog ladies of Bower Power and Young House Love. I've been reading both blogs for a long time and they started these "Pinterest Challenges," where you actually do something you've pinned, blog about it and link up your project with other bloggers.
Pinterest Challenge
I've learned thousands of ideas and tips on Pinterest but the fun of it is putting your own spin on the ideas that inspire you. People have been sharing ideas forever. When I was little my mom got tons of craft ideas from her magazines - classics like Family Circle/Better Homes/Parents. Some of those ideas even became family traditions. Others she came up with herself or got inspiration from friends, books, television, etc.

I think Pinterest is a wonderful combo of all those things for our today's generation. I still get a lot of magazines in the mail, but I find that many of the pictures/ideas in them are also on Pinterest. It's sad for the future of magazines, but nice for virtually saving ideas in one place as opposed to saving pages from old magazines in my tiny no-storage-space house.

So I'm excited to finally be blogging one of my Pinterest-inspired ideas. For my first official challenge I picked something super simple. I have enough complicated projects going on. For the longest time I've been wanting some Oats-inspired art for the house. We have lots of photos but I wanted something different. So here's my inspiration project from Modern Cottage Blog found on Pinterest:
Modern Cottage Blog

And I've had this one from Etsy in my shopping cart for probably a year now:

But it's more meaningful if you know the dog, right? Of course. So I started my Oats-profile-photo search, which leads me to the reason I'm so behind on this project. My laptop battery died last week and it's a little hard to do a photo project when all your photos and editing software are on a dead computer. But my parents let me borrow their laptop (thanks guys) for a few days, and I'm a photo hoarder on my camera so I managed to get a bunch of photos printed out using my SD card.

So I picked up a sheet of nice textured yellow paper from JoAnn's for 69 cents...
...and cut away with my mini craft scissors.
Then I just put it in a frame....simple as pie. Hahahaha just kidding, sort of. You didn't think I accomplished a project that easily did you? No. I went through hundreds of photos, printed dozens....
and cut about 15 silhouettes of my goober. I even had to go back to JoAnns for another sheet of yellow cardstock. Oats participated by wet-nosing all the photos. Do you see why this took me so long? I never have "simple" projects.
I cut so many because I wanted something that really showed her personality, but many of my cutouts didn't even look like dogs when I cut them, let alone Oats. So in the end I decided to go with of her as a puppy and one of her now. I think it's perfect, and you can really tell it's her. One is very similar to my original Pinspiration project, only because it was my favorite of Oats as a grown dog.

Here's the finished product! What do you think?
And there you have my first official Pinterest Challenge project. Happy Pinning!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Weekend of Sadness & Puppies

On Friday evening, March 1, my family said goodbye to our sweet sweet Aunt Ruth (my great aunt on my mom's side) at the age of 93. She lived a long, wonderful, family and God-filled life, but she was ready to go to heaven. It makes for a bittersweet goodbye. Losing someone is always sad, but easier when you're know they are at peace with it. We will always love and miss you Aunt Ruth.

But....there's nothing that makes me cheer up faster than a puppy. Except maybe TWO NEW PUPPIES. Yes, this weekend David and I got to meet two new furry members of our extended family, and it was awesome. My cousin / our good friend Tim adopted 3 month old mixed breed puppy who traveled all the way from Arkansas. She is sweet, cuddly and super well-behaved. We were immediately BFFs. You may have even spotted her appearance on our Instragram feed on Saturday night. Her name is Lucy. Tim specifically told us she was not going to be allowed on the furniture, but within 10 minutes of bringing her home she was on the chair snuggling in his lap. I don't blame him, I couldn't say no to that face...
Then on Sunday David's brother Andrew and fiancĂ© Jaclyn drove to Portland, Maine to pick up their new floppy-eared bundle of love....Lily, an 8 week old bassett hound. Couple outta towners these two pups. Lily is just a rolly-polly pile of cuteness and she's such a snuggler. Little Oatsy used to snuggle in my lap all the time too but now she tries and nearly kills me, so it was a nice treat to have some snuggle action from these two little peanuts instead of a nearly hundred pound hound. Meet Miss Lily Pad...
Look at those ears! Literally she trips on them. It's one of those sorta-sad-but-you-can't-help-laughing things. She was so tired from her long day that when we got there Sunday night she was literally falling asleep as she walked. Hillllllarious.

So are these two not just the sweetest things ever?!?! It was just what I needed this weekend.
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