Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Where Have I Been? and Some News...

There is nothing like packing up and escaping to where the sand is powdery white and the water a perfect shade of blue...

Ahem, especially when your own town is in the midst of a terrible, record breaking drought!  Our youngest was so overjoyed to see water in such large quantities that at first he just sat in it for a good five minutes, laughing with glee. That's what a drought will do to ya folks! 

Ah yes, it is good to get away every now and then to a place by the sea...

Sandcastle competitions bring out the kid in all of us....

Note to self:  must plan out every homeschool year from now on while relaxing on a beach somewhere :).

On the home front I have exciting news; our kitchen remodel will be starting soon! We are planning to tackle it ourselves and I look forward to sharing the process with all of you. At the moment I am totally digging  the farmhouse sink with butcher block counter top combo....
 House and Home

We have decided to reuse as much of the current cabinetry as we can so it will be a challenge!  As always The Lettered Cottage is a great source of inspiration. Have you seen what they did to their kitchen?  Fabulous! Love the idea of adding molding to bulk up plain cabinets. 

My computer has yet to arrive from the repair co. so I apologize for the infrequent posting and commenting. The good news is that it should be here some time next week, just in time to share regular updates of our kitchen saga with all of you.J

Friday, August 5, 2011

Dealing With The Unexpected

Last week the hard drive on my computer crashed. Yes, I am still in a state of complete shock. All of my files were lost and I just found out yesterday that because of the type of damage they cannot be recovered. I have spent the last few days trying to take inventory of all the family pictures I have saved on discs to get a better idea of what was only on my computer and consequently now lost forever.
I am sharing a computer with hubby and the boys while I wait for mine to get fixed so, although I have been able to keep up with your lovely blogs, I have not been able to comment or write posts of my own (it is hard when five people are using one computer!) I miss interacting with all of you but hopefully things will return to normal soon.

Having to sift through all of the pictures we have taken over the last five years is the only good thing to come out of this whole hard drive fiasco. The boys and I have been going through them together and we have had a wonderful time reminiscing! Here is one from three years ago when Mr. Z was smack dab in the middle of  'The Terrible Twos' ......

 I caught him in the act and he was so proud of the mess he made that he even showed me his hands!  Um yeah, I never left him alone with chocolate syrup after that one =).

Hope every one has a great weekend and if you are in north Texas don't forget that good ol' fashioned way to beat the heat right in your front yard... sprinkler runs!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

You Know It Is Bad When....

-the leaves on your Crape Myrtle begin to curl -
-the temperature AFTER the sun has set is 101-
-people start baking cookies in their cars-

Yup, we are in the midst of a record breaking summer here in north Texas and we are surviving it one local splash pad visit at a time...

I really enjoyed reading this post by Ann of On Sutton Place .  It reminds me of how quickly the desire to whine about heat and drought dissipates when we count our blessings!

These, my friends, are but a few of the simple pleasures carefully noted by an ever thankful heart this week...
  • little wet kisses upon my lips
  • awe inspiring sunsets
  • frequent hugs from strong manly arms
  • summer sounds of cicadas and whirring fans that lull me to sleep
  • jars of freshly squeezed lemonade
  • the promise of fall 
  • "I love thalking to you mommy!" exclaimed by a mouth missing two front teeth
  • the sufficiency of His grace
What "good things" are you thankful for today?

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Changes In The Living Room

 While searching for art prints to use on the wall above the T.V. in our family room I found The Graphics Fairy .  It is a blog that has a great collection of vintage images you can print out for free.  

I printed and framed these natural history prints of antique seashells. I love that some of the shells are the exact same shade of blue found in the painting above the fireplace.

These two pictures were taken after a very looong day so you will find that the round coffee table is not centered and that there are two Wii remotes somewhere on the floor. My boys are always playing in this room so things get moved around a lot in there and I have decided to embrace the imperfections during this busy season of my life. J

So what do you think of this new addition to the family room? Should the prints stay or should they go? 
All opinions welcome! :-)

Friday, July 15, 2011

My Life Unscripted

 Moments I Want to Remain Etched in My Mind Forever

Because we all dream of flying.....
This morning I found him standing perfectly still in the blazing Texas heat, arms outstretched, waiting...

Then suddenly "I know why I am not flying Mommy. It's because it is summer and there is no wind. Come Fall Momma I will fly!"

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

The Something You CAN Do

 I often dream of  kitchens that look like this one...
 and this one...

but for now the reality and the dream have yet to meet.  Upon moving into this house of ours we agreed that it was best to wait a year or two before starting kitchen renovations. After all, there were walls to tear down and pink fireplaces to cover up. We were going to be busy!

Then 4 months after we moved in, amidst much hard work, the breakfast nook that is right next to the kitchen went from this...

to this...   

and that my dear friends is when this ....
                               ( kitchen pic from our initial house tour)

became quite unbearable indeed. Pink cabinets and dingy pinkish walls, ugh there is just so much a girl can take!
Something needed to be done, but that something had to cost not a single penny since we were committed to waiting one more year before making any major changes to the kitchen.
Fortunately, I had  plenty of primer and white paint leftover from a previous project. My first goal? To banish every last bit of pink from the room. I removed two upper cabinet doors for some open shelving and lightly sanded every cabinet surface.  I then applied two coats of primer and two of paint.

After all the priming and painting was done I unpacked a box of  kitchen items that I acquired at estate sales and different retail stores while living in The Temporary Apartmant

As I surveyed  the items a color scheme began to emerge. Its seems that inadvertently most of what I bought that year for the kitchen turned out to be either red, white or pale aqua blue!  I was determined to use only what I had so I went with those colors as accents. This was the end result.

Much brighter and happier don't you think?  We ended up only buying some cabinet hardware for this 'spruce up'.  It is hardware that we plan to reuse when we renovate the kitchen next year. 

And now dear reader it is your turn to take a closer look around you, for there is always you will find, that  little something you CAN do to bring beauty and light into your space.
Yes, even while you wait for those grander dreams that are still yet to be.....

To read more about the breakfast room makeover go here. If you like the quote print on the wall learn how to make one here.

I just found out that I was added to Involving Color's Room Gallery!
 Hop on over there and check out all the lovely homes she has featured.
I am also linking this post to Addicted to Decorating and Homework link party.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

WWYD? To Part With It or Not..

That is the question. 

This little rolltop desk of mine is a constant reminder to our family of the importance of faith. Yes, this one little ol' desk that I bought while living in a tiny two bedroom apartment , is a testament to the fact that resilience is buried deep within us, that hope is the last thing to die.

You see after 10 years of living in a little red 1950's ranch house, where all three of my babies were born, we were forced to sell.  It was necessary, but oh what a trial the trying to sell became. Four weeks into the big housing market crash three years ago our realtor put the sign out on the front lawn, and we prayed for a miracle.  The miracle came exactly one year later.

One whole year of trying to keep an old house in perfect condition for prospective buyers, with three little boys underfoot.  One whole year of hopes dashed time and time again.  There are no words, my friends, to adequately describe that year.

(Blurry picture of the retro kitchen we lovingly remodeled in that little red house)

But finally the much awaited moment arrived, the house was sold and we put all our possessions in a storage unit.  We thought we would surely find a new house in no time at all and so the only things that went into the two bedroom, temporary apartment we rented were our mattresses, on the floor of course, and our clothes.  Little did we know that the wait in that small apartment would stretch into thirteen whole months.

Here are two of my boys Christmas morning in the aforementioned apartment, five months into our house search. Note furniture-less living room and plain tree, devoid of  beloved ornaments and a tree skirt, that were at the time buried somewhere deep in the storage unit. (My eldest with his retainer on, just lovely!)

Around month number six, when frustration levels were mounting and despair was starting to set in I decided that for all our sakes I needed to make an attitude adjustment.  I calmly announced to the four men in my life that I would begin searching for furniture for our new home. Yes, furniture for the new home that was as of yet nowhere in the horizon. It was a leap of faith, a way of holding on to a dream. The furniture would consist of pieces I could transform with a little paint once we had a garage again .  I loaded our three small children in the mini van and  the treasure hunt began.

The first piece I bought was the small desk.  I lugged it up the stairs to our second floor walk up and immediately began searching for items to display on it. Decorating that desk top became for me a much needed creative outlet during those remaining months, it kept me sane.  The children began to look forward to seeing a new arrangement atop it every few days or so and even the mister complimented my efforts regularly.
 Here it is in all its unpainted glory on the eighth month of our apartment stay.

On month number thirteen the time came to say goodbye to that small apartment.  We had a house again!  I promptly  painted the little desk upon moving in and found a place for it between two wing chairs in the formal living area even though I knew a larger piece of furniture was what the space really needed.  I did not want to part with it. 

Now I have in my garage, waiting patiently, the perfect large piece for that space.  But what to do with the little desk?  Another good spot for it in the house cannot be found and it is only used nowadays to hold the countless 'treasures' the boys find at the park each day.
Butterflies and bark and other woodsy finds...

and yet to me it serves another purpose.  It serves to tell the story of a particular season in our lives, a season where clinging to faith was all we had, a season that taught me lessons I do not want to soon forget.

Have you had to part with any one piece of furniture that for you had great sentimental value?

Stuff and Nonsense

Sunday, July 3, 2011

How To Paint Particleboard / Laminate Furniture

Remember these sturdy Broyhill bookcases I got on Craigslist for our schoolroom? Well, they were hiding a little secret....

While the front and the drawers were made out of real wood, the sides, shelves and backs were made out of what I like to call the fake stuff. Yup, there was particleboard all over the place!
After seeing this inspiring image....
I decided that painting those babies white and putting them on either side of the window was just the thing to do.  But what about the fake stuff?  I knew from the start that the paint job needed to be indestructible. It needed to withstand three boys and the constant friction of books and other school items for the next 15 years. ha! Yeah, I did NOT want chipping paint and since we were dealing with particleboard (laminated wood?) I decided to do a little research.  I combined the advice of different painting experts just to be on the safe side (I was scared remember :-) I bought what I needed and took the plunge.

Here they are after eight months of daily use, nary a scratch to be seen....

I was so impressed that I recently painted our dining room table using the same process even though it is made out of solid wood.  I did not even sand it beforehand!



Here is the scoop on how I did it: 

First I cleaned the bookcases thoroughly with a damp cloth. I then applied two coats of this primer...
This oil based primer is key!  It allows you to prime without sanding or 'roughing up'  the particleboard beforehand.  The odor is strong so I only use it out in the garage with the door fully opened.  I would not use it indoors, especially if you have little ones running around. To apply the two coats of  primer I used a small foam roller similar to this one..

This primer dries quickly, in about 2 hours, but I waited 12 hours between coats as a precaution.  After all the priming was done I applied one coat of Olympic's Zero-voc, white, latex paint in semigloss.  It can be found at Lowes.
After the paint was fully cured I applied two coats of Varathane Floor Finish, waiting about 12 hours between coats. It was boiling hot and bone dry here in Texas when I worked on this project, so it took only three days for the paint to cure. If you try this project in a cool or humid climate you might want to wait a bit longer for the paint to dry.

I used the brand Varathane recommended by the talented Holly from  
Life in the Fun Lane . It has not yellowed the white paint yet and it is so easy to apply! I now coat all my painted pieces with it. 
 So with just a little elbow grease the bookcases, fake stuff and all, went from this..

to this...
and best of all they have withstood the test of time amazingly well!
I am more than happy to answer any questions in the comments section below so ask away.  If you want to see more of my makeovers go here or here or even here :) Happy painting everyone!

Linking up to Miss Mustard Seed.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Sometimes Those Walls Must Come Down!

As I stepped through the front door of this house with the realtor for our initial walk through I immediately thought "Houston, we have a problem", you could see the kitchen sink from the front door! Now I don't know about you but as a homeschooling momma of three lets just say my kitchen sink is not the first thing I want people to see when they walk into our home!  Below I drew the layout of that part of the house so you can get a better idea of what I am talking about.

This is how the dining area looked on that first day we saw the house with our realtor.

As we conducted the house tour I quickly realized that we could make a wider opening to the right of the kitchen doorway since the breakfast nook was on the other side. Oh what difference it would make, I was sure of it! I loved the location of this particular house above all the others I had seen and I knew we could more or less transform the whole feel of the house with just that one simple (not so simple?;)) change.  This is what it looked like after hubby removed the old carpet and tore that section of the wall down to create the new opening.

Former entrance patched up and flooring being installed.

We decided to make the spot where the former entrance was a big slate colored chalkboard and painted all the other walls a light cream color. We also painted the dining table and chairs in Creamy a Sherwin Williams color.  To read more about how we painted them without sanding go here.
I still have to move the chandelier and hem the curtains but we are so glad to have most of it done!  Here is the after (So sorry for the glare created by the windows. I love all the light that streams through them during the day but it is not good for picture taking!)


A better view of the wall to the left.

Before ( Looking in from the breakfast nook side, realtor picture )


Close up of opening
Moral of the story? Don't be afraid to tear down a wall (or two), sometimes it can make all the difference!
If you like the print on the breakfast nook wall learn how to make it here. You can also see more of our makeovers, Before and After's here and here.

I am linking up to Modern Country. Check out her blog for lots of inspiration!