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2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,200 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 53 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

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My great-grandmother Florence was an amazing hostess.  We would go to her home and she would put out these beautifully organized lunches, everything set out just so.  In my memory, the table that we ate at was huge.  It had a glass top.  When Florence passed away, her dining room table became mine.  It went with me to my first adult apartment and spent several years at my parents house until it came to live with Justin and I at our home.

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Tell me what you really think of the table, dear.

The finish was perfectly fine, but it felt like it just kind of blended into the rest of the floor around it.  The legs were pretty beat up, too.

I saw this pin on how to create a driftwood finish on wood.  They used a product from Driftwood DIY from here.  I bought the kit with the intention of trying it out on the dining room table and if it worked beautifully, as I knew it would, I had other projects in mind too.  I suffer greatly from “it will work out -itis” and have a concurrent diagnosis of “buy it now because you might need it someday syndrome” as well.  If I didn’t love to throw stuff out, we would certainly be living in a hoarding situation.

The first thing I had to do was drag the table out to the garage as it would need to be stripped.  The woman in the tutorial stripped her table inside her house.  I’m going to assume she does not have dogs or a toddler.

I used a citrus based stripper.  It was as non-toxic as such a thing could be, but did come with warnings about avoiding getting it on your skin because it would burn.  Don’t do what I did, but I applied the stuff while wearing flip-flops and was just fine.  You do want to wear gloves though.  Even I didn’t skip that step.

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After letting the citrus stuff work its magic and spending what felt like several hours scrapping off something, I ended up with…tada!   A table that was exactly the same color as when I started except for some of the gunk on the legs came off.  Boo says I! Boo!  In retrospect, I’m not sure exactly what I thought was going to happen.  Perhaps that it would be restored to its virgin wood status?  Oh well.  Moving on, I wiped everything down with mineral spirits (to which Justin said “ohhh spooky”) and sanded off any leftover citrus gunk in preparation for applying the driftwood finish.

Again, had I put any real critical thinking skills into this project, I would have quickly surmised that since the stripping process did not yield the same light-colored wood as the woman in the tutorial, how would I end up with the same results.

I prepared the packet of driftwood stain as instructed and lightly brushed it on.  The website said that I should see a graying occur fairly quickly, as in twenty minutes or so with the color deepening over a twenty-four hour period.

So 20 minutes in, it looked like this:

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I like how the garage looks like a sad kid holding cell.

The next fifteen times I opened the garage door to look at it, it still looked just like that.  The legs that I spent hours scrapping gunk out of were back to looking dark.  The top went from very orange to a brown orange.  This is where I decided it was a good time to go out for drinks.  Drinks make everything better.

I had officially taken what was a perfectly reasonable family heirloom and done this.  For about a half an hour on Sunday, I thought about how to create a worthwhile story of how the table, that I swore on the family bible to keep forever, managed to be the only thing stolen from our house in an odd robbery.

This is probably a good time to mention that I’ve been over the shabby chic chalkboard painted furniture with the edges sanded down thing for a while now.  It is just so overdone and those pieces really seem to dictate the style of a space in a very, very specific way.  I see a shabby chic piece of furniture and I expect to see your stack of Domino magazines and a bunch of clutter that you call decor, too.

Since I couldn’t in good conscience arrange to off the table and it is Thanksgiving week and we needed it anyway, I pulled out some gray paint from when I thought I might repaint our entire house, added some water and slopped it on.  It was my only choice.

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Immediately after I applied the paint, I went back with a clean rag and wiped off the excess, making sure that the wood grain was visible underneath.  I went back over everything with sandpaper, pulling up some of the paint to give the top a more weathered look.  Honestly, I felt like a failure at this point.  You know how when you are doing a project and you have such great expectations of how it will turn out and at the end of hours and hours of work, it just is nowhere near where you wanted it to be?  I can’t be the only one who has ever felt that way.  I let the table dry and because I just wanted it all to be over, I had Justin help me carry it back into the house.

It will do for now.  I will in all likelihood add a layer of white paint just to give it a little more depth.  At night, the color almost looks blue and Justin swears that it looks purple to him.

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So, I’m sorry ghost of Great Grandma Florence.  They can’t all be winners.

Happy Thanksgiving!

-Kate

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A Fall Tradition

In our house, we tackle our biggest projects in the Fall.  Last year it was parenting and Hurricane Sandy damage.  The year before, the kitchen project that nearly killed me (hyperbole, it was only 20+ stitches to the face).  Wood floors, appliances, hot water heaters and furnaces, it all seems like the short, dark days bring out the project manager side of us.

Labor Day weekend we took a quick trip to Florida to visit my gorgeous sister-in-law, Kate and her family.  We returned to find water coming through the ceiling into our kitchen.  Not ideal.  The  upstairs bathroom that was ugly but functional had gone rogue.

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Justin and I had always envisioned eventually re-doing the master bathroom, but not so much the year after we had a kid and were committed to some seriously crazy daycare costs.  After weighing the pros and cons of dealing with the immediate issue only or a full-scale demo and remodel, we chose the latter.  Our thought process was that if not now, when.  As parents, probably never.  There will always be something else more important to save for.

My husband is on to me.  I bet he wishes that I were more of a candy crush fan versus ardent Pinterest groupie.  He knows that gleam in my eye when I’m quietly scrolling through all the home decor pins means nothing good for him.  He isn’t wrong.

My original plan for the bathroom was white subway tile as far as the eye could see, or in this case, floor to ceiling in a new tub-free standing shower area, paired with a tileable shower pan with a gray hex tile and some beautiful frameless glass doors.  Finish that off with a new white vanity and eco-toilet and call it a day.  I even started a Pinterest board just for the project.

With the contractor hired (About the House LLC of Milford, CT – cannot say enough about how great they are), we were ready to pull the trigger on a massive purchase of white subway tile when Justin said, “Are you sure you want to do white subway tile?”  Well, I thought I was sure.  Those were all the pictures I had pinned, I whined in my head.  It seemed pretty timeless.  Everyone else was jumping off that bridge.

“Are you sure…”

With my designing ego a little bruised, I went back to the Pinterest boards searching.  I didn’t know for what exactly, except that it had to pass the “are you sure” test.  When I am in project mode, I have laser, unrelenting (read: annnnnnooooying) focus.  Ideas fly a mile a minute, emails with links to this and that and how about combining this look with these floor tiles are drafted and sent.  Back before we had the flood that started all of this mess, Justin had once expressed interest in having wood-walled bathroom, like all of those great beach house outside showers.  Real wood wouldn’t work inside, but ceramic tile with wood grain look to it might.  I was off.  We live across the street from the Long Island sound, and because we are in a condo, we can’t have our own outdoor shower oasis, why not recreate that same look and feeling inside.

With those parameters in place, we tried to create a room that captured that “on vacation, just coming back from the beach on a beautiful summer day and standing in that refreshing outdoor shower washing off all the sand” feeling.

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We picked Benjamin Moore’s Palladian Blue for the walls, which shifts from green to light blue, depending on the lighting, a classic white vanity with a light gray granite counter top (an homage to the kitchen), wood plank ceramic tile from floor to ceiling and instead of a tileable shower pan, a solid white one that had a pebble-like detail etched into the base of it.  The shower door, Allen + Roth, 3/4 inch glass, was an absolute steal from Lowe’s, so much so that I won’t tell you the price so that you can think it was much more expensive than it is.

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Now all that is left is adding some useful accessories.  While it would not have been our top choice for a fall project, I am glad that fate forced our hands to get it done.

-Kate

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Pinterest strikes again! I’ve seen a lot of really great closet makeovers lately that have had me drooling. I don’t know how else to describe it, but I literally seem to get a buzz off of a good organization project. There is nothing like it.

Baby Audrey’s closet has been a nightmarish mess for months now. It didn’t bother me so much until we actually moved her into her room to sleep and I now spend a good chunk of every day hanging out in there with her. The closet mess had become unavoidable.

Following a link on a Pinterest Pin, I found a great Rubbermaid Closet kit. I Jedi mind tricked Justin into going out with me to get it. (He needed lightbulbs for his own weekend project: installation of a new dining room chandelier.)

I’m going to be very real with you now and show you the before picture of the closet. Honestly, it wasn’t until I looked at the picture again after everything was finished, that I realized how crazy it looked. All of that stuff crammed in there, no space, no order.

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As you can see, the baby’s clothes are kind of hung up in size order, but everything was so tightly packed, it was hard to see what she has. As I’m sure most new moms will tell you, they grow so quickly, that it is easy to miss clothes just because you don’t see them.

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First I needed to clean everything out.

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Audrey helped out a bit by making me laugh. Her fuzzy orange toy is very soft and she likes to smoosh her face into it. It also makes this terrifying noise and I’m grateful that she hasn’t figured out how to turn it on yet.

Once I got everything out, it was time to bust out my 7th grade shop class skills. I’m glad I paid attention during the ruler class. This was my first solo project with a drill. Thankfully, since it was a closet project, an extra hole or two (or 4) would be hidden.

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Measuring and hanging the brackets took the longest. I am not ashamed to admit that I pulled up a YouTube video on how to insert a drill bit. Now that I’ve got that skill down, I can’t wait for my next project. Anyway, brackets were up and it was time to figure out a set up that would work for little people clothing, but also give me some useable shelving space. As you can see from the hideous before picture, we also use Audrey’s closet for storing our bed linens. I’m sure there will come a time when my adorable little person needs every inch of her closet for her own stuff, but for now, she can share.

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The reason I wasn’t upset about having to drop just under $100 on this set up is that everything is adjustable. If a month from now, something isn’t working or I want to add more shelves, I can do that. The earlier set up of one bar across and one shelf didn’t give me access to the most space.

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With my two foot tall boss looking on, I started loading stuff back in. I tried to be thoughtful about the process. I used the two racks to the left for her current wardrobe and the rack to the right for the stuff that she’ll fit into later. Our linens still found a spot up on the shelves but I also put her collection of hand knit blankets, a basket full of toys and the various baby wearing devices all up on shelves too. I had enough leftover room in the back corners for the stuff we don’t often use, like my collection of gift bags (who needs a baby themed gift bag? I got em!) and diapers. The best part, I had gotten so much stuff up and off the floor of her room and I still had plenty to spare on the floor of the closet.

Here is the final look:

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Ahhhh…now that felt good, so good in fact that I didn’t want to close the doors so I could keep looking at it. The other closets in the house should be very nervous. This was definitely an easy to do makeover!

-Kate

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This past weekend I traveled to the Norwich Inn and Spa with a great group of ladies. If you are in the northeast and looking for a great weekend away, this should be a top contender.

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Apart from being pampered, it was so nice to spend time with such a cool group of ladies. I felt very honored to be invited.

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This was from the relaxation room. I was probably not supposed to take pictures but…it was too fabulous to not mention. I might have also taken a cat nap in there as well.

To cap off the weekend, I had a tarot card reading. I love getting that done every couple of years.

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Norwich Inn and Spa…I heart you.

-Kate

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The countdown to relaxation, laughs, serious chats, spa treatments and good food with an amazing group of women is on.  Tomorrow morning, crummy weather be damned, I’m hitting the open road, with a good Pandora station queued up, snacks and a destination.  Robyn will be there, too! 

-Kate

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The three day weekend and the amazing weather made for some great dog walks.

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Piper and Neuman both go nuts for the beach. Unfortunately, due to some legal restrictions, we can only sneak them over in the early morning or at night. Fine with us since we are a morning family.

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Sunday started off kind of cloudy and turned into the most amazing beach day.

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Of course our little trouble maker had to find the most precarious place to explore.

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My buddy, Neuman, was content to sit and discuss philosophy with me on the rocks.

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All in all, I think this is going to be an amazing summer!
-Kate

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