Thursday, April 26, 2012

Foyer Makeover, Part 3

Today's the day...the great reveal! 

We've been working on a foyer facelift to turn our white and cluttered entryway into a functional and beautiful space. We started with this BH&G mudroom photo for our model.

After the prepping our space by removing the furniture and baseboard, we taped and painted. What a difference just the paint made! Then we moved some of the existing furniture around and applied a window film to our sidelight by the front door.

Finally, the new entryway: 

We love it! It is exactly what I hoped for -- beautiful, functional, and affordable. We are not home improvement specialists by any stretch of the imagination, so it certainly took much longer than if we really knew what we were doing. But it is such a great feeling of accomplishment to have done the whole thing ourselves.

Let me take you on a little tour...

The bench was my first big wish for this area. I used to herd my kids over to the stairs to get their shoes on every time we left the house. Inevitably someone would drop a shoe along the way, pick up two that didn't match, or forget that we were going to put shoes on and run off somewhere else. An entryway bench makes the shoes struggles so much faster and easier. Plus, I love the beadboard above the bench!

Both this sailing frame and mirror were in the foyer previously, though on opposite walls from each other. They go together so beautifully and bring the whole wall together. I also picked the fabric for the bench to coordinate with the black and gold in these frames.

This is probably my favorite part of the whole thing! We hung this Ikea coat rack down low so that the kids can hang up their own coats and hats. Its so much nicer than trying to keep them on a hanger in the coat closet, and they can help get ready now too. I think its fantastic!

Here are a few more shots, just because!

I'll go through some more detailed step by step instructions, but I wanted to get these pictures posted first! We still have to attach the baseboard, caulk the gaps, and give everything a little bit of white paint, but thankfully most of those things are not noticeable until you get very close.

I'd love to hear what you think!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Foyer Makeover, Part 2

Yesterday I started detailing our DIY foyer makeover. We wanted to turn our boring, white (and scuffed!), and mostly storage-less entryway into something functional and beautiful. Our inspiration was this Better Homes & Gardens mudroom.

Once we got the foyer painted it was hard to believe we let it go 3 1/2 years! The paint gives the house such a warm and inviting feel, and since the tan is the same as our downstairs it blends the foyer in to the rest of the house perfectly.

After the paint was finished, we moved furniture around to make room for our new shelves. First we switched the entryway table to the opposite wall. 

The wooden box under the table is an old Proctor & Gamble box from my husband's family. On the wall by the garage door is a plate rack that I got at Goodwill. Our project notebook makes its home there right now, along with the week's grocery and drug store circulars.

And finally, we got rid of the curtain with the frustrating magnetic curtain rods and replaced it with Gila sidelight window film.

We found this brand at Lowe's, but I'm sure there are other options that do the same thing too. This was fairly easy to use; I measured the size of our sidelight window, cut to fit, then used a homemade solution (in the Gila instructions) to apply the film to the window.

I used an exacto knife to trim the sides, which proved to be the most difficult part. As you can see, the sides are a little ragged. I probably should have gone a little slower as I cut along the edges.

From the outside the Gila film does a great job making the window opaque. 

And from the inside, the film creates a nice ripple effect on the sidelight that lets in plenty of light and allows us to see outside as well.

The combination of the new sidelight film and the paint really brightens up the foyer! And since we are building ourselves a storage space, we no longer need to pile shoes under the entryway table and dump the mail on top of it. Success!

Next time we'll move on to the main part of our project...

Monday, April 23, 2012

Foyer Makeover, Part 1

We've had a large (at least for us!) home project in the works for quite some time now. It was early March when we started, and then we took turns getting sick, made multiple trips to the hardware store, and learned first hand that the right tools make all the difference.

Several months ago I saw a great photo inspiration on Pinterest for what looked like a doable foyer project for our house. It was a Better Homes & Gardens mudroom project that supposedly was $324 for all the materials. While there were not step by step instructions, Martin and I felt like we had enough details that we could pull it off. Neither of us is a carpenter or home improvement expert, but we ready to give it a shot.

Our foyer area had not had much done to it since we moved into our house 3 1/2 years ago. The walls were still white (at least mostly white...there were quite a few scuffs), the furniture was minimal and not really functional, and even though the mirror and picture matched, they didn't do much for the space. Plus, the small coat closet was not a practical place for keeping shoes; we have to keep the floor of it open so that we can pass through the back of the closet into our storage area. So shoes usually ended up a jumbled mess all over the floor.

Here are a few pictures of the space. Mirror above the entryway table. The table usually became the catch-all for things brought into the house. Keys, etc go in the basket. Underneath we stashed our shoes, but they didn't lay well on the rails and often ended up in a pile.

These pictures were taken right before we moved the furniture, so everything is fairly contained :-)

The other issue with this entryway table is that to center it on the wall, we couldn't fully open the door of the coat closet, which was very inconvenient, especially with all the in and out of Christmas decorations to that storage area.

Our first step after removing the furniture was to paint those scuffed, white walls! See the side light next to our front door? It is covered with a lightweight privacy curtain that really needed to go. The curtain rods were magnetic, which sounded like a great idea until you throw small children in the mix!

Getting things taped and ready for paint.

While I started the taping, Martin removed the baseboard.

It was really simple to do...we used a multi-use crowbar and a small piece of wood to protect the wall.

Everything came off nicely, and then it was time to paint!

Here is my favorite way to paint...roller in one hand, large mug of coffee in the other! We went with the same tan that is on the walls in the rest of our downstairs.

Stay tuned for the next installment...

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Salami and Avocado Melt

I made this amazing sandwich for lunch the other day. It totally reminded me of something that I would get at Panera Bread!

The ingredients: salami and turkey pastrami, half an avocado, sliced, topped with swiss cheese. I spread dijon mustard on the bread and grilled it to make a nice melt.

I think the only way it could have been better is with a thick slice of fresh tomato...mmmm! I always love the challenge of knocking off restaurant favorites at home. Not only is it a lot more cost effective to buy the ingredients myself, but its fun to get to play around with new combinations too.

Do you have a favorite gourmet sandwich combo that you make at home?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Target Shopping Trip

I had a great trip to Target today! Its always nice when everything is in stock, the coupons scan properly, and the deal is great. Here's a look at what I got:

I love Starbucks coffee, and I was happy to get these two bags for $9.50. I used two Starbucks coupons and stacked them with a Target coupon.

Then I used a $3 off Merona item coupon and a $3 off Mossimo item coupon to get two tank tops for $6! Both coupons can be found on Target's site.

Even though these are great deals, our Target is far enough away that I wouldn't make a special trip, so I'm thankful that I had some other errands nearby and was able to snag these items.

Thanks to Money Saving Mom for the heads up on these great deals. These sales run through the end of the week, so hopefully you can grab some coffee or tank tops too!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Dishwasher detergent experiment, Part 2

Last year I compared gel dishwasher detergent to a 20 count of action packs. Both retail for the same price, but the gel gave me 45 washes instead of 20 for the little packs.

The next experiment was to compare powdered dishwasher detergent to the gel. We recently finished up a box so the results are in!

The powdered dishwasher detergent gave us 58 washes, 13 more than the gel. I'd call the gel and the powder pretty close! But the crazy thing is that the 13 washes between the gel and the powder is over half as many as you would get from one 20 count of little packs.

So what is the best value?
This time around I even bought a store brand dishwasher detergent instead of the name brand Cascade, and our dishes came out clean every time.
The specifics:
::We have a builder's grade dishwasher, nothing special
::We rinse dishes if they are going to be sitting in the dishwasher
::We only fill up the detergent dispenser that closes
::We didn't measure how much detergent, so the numbers could be slightly different

Read more of my thoughts on being an active consumer and why I started this experiment.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Spring Cleaning + Easter Eggs

Last week Crystal at Money Saving Mom started a 4-week spring cleaning challenge and I've been having a great time cleaning along with her (great time and cleaning?? crazy!).

Every morning at 9am she posts the day's cleaning tasks. Mostly these are the same each day, but one new "focus" is added. For example, today I cleaned out the inside of our car - threw out the trash, put away the items that don't belong, and vacuumed.

Look at all I vacuumed out of my car!

Every night at 9pm Crystal posts an update on how her cleaning tasks went. It's been a fun way to clean "with" someone...working on the same thing each day. One of the other daily assignments is to get rid of 7 things each day - these could be throw aways, give aways, or sell items. I didn't focus on this last week, but I'm going to this week. I have my 7 things sitting out and just need to move them to my Goodwill box.

After posting about marbled eggs last week, we finally got around to trying them as a family on Sunday. I think I had completely the wrong technique to start! Only 1 of 3 eggs actually "marbled". I didn't realize just how hard I need to knock the eggs to get the cracks all the way through the membrane. It was a great effect on the one that worked. The shell:

And the egg. A far cry from the photos I looked at last week, but we did have a bit of success!

Are you working on any spring cleaning? If not, why don't you join me in working through Crystal's spring cleaning plan!

And if you have had success with marbled eggs, I'd love to get some pointers!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

DIY Bow Rack

I had a lot of fun with this little project last week! I had an odd shaped cheap frame that I could not figure out how to use, so it had been sitting for a while. I took a large piece of scrapbook paper, and that ended up being too small also. So I added two strips of black construction paper to each side.

Then I took three different pieces of ribbon and tucked them in front of the glass but inside of the actual frame. I fastened them to the back of the picture frame as a precaution, but they are pretty snug wedged between the glass and the frame.

Here's a close up: over the glass and under the frame...

Then add on the hair bows! 

Before and After! I love being able to put to good use something that was just taking up space before. And this is an adorable wall hanging in my daughter's room now. Best of both worlds!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

March Goals Update

Here is my goal update for March. I was pretty sure that I didn't meet any of my goals this month, but as I went through I was encouraged to see just where I am. If I was not keeping track of my goals this detailed I probably would have given up several after this past month. But now I'm excited to see what else I can knock out in the coming weeks!

The goals:
Read 48 books. I read some great books this month: The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club, Still Alice, A Conspiracy of Paper, Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and RedemptionMr. Popper's Penguins was my read aloud to Emma, and Martin and I listened to The Fellowship of the Ring. This was our audio book for February, but it took us a while because of having to share the CDs. I'm hoping we can plan a little better for the Two Towers this month. As always, I keep track of my books with Goodreads - a fabulous (and free!) website.

Memorize 52 Scripture Verses. My husband and I are going through the Fighter Verses program together. I have 11 of 13 verses memorized for the year, though March had several that were actually I didn't make a lot of progress this month. Emma is working through the Foundation Verses and has 6 memorized.

Work on our Adoption. Some progress! I contacted one of the foster care agencies in Delaware and did not hear back, which means I need to get on the phone this week. We are moving forward planning to be foster parents with the hope that we can adopt along the way. We are excited and nervous, and are thankful to have several friends with adoption experience to encourage us.

Organize and Declutter. I didn't do any of the specific tasks for the 52 weeks to an organized home challenge in March. We had a number of different illnesses and I felt like keeping up on meals, laundry, and regular house cleaning was enough! However, I did participate in a consignment sale through my MOMS club. Over half my items sold! And I was able to list several additional items on eBay. I call that a productive month even though it was different than I originally planned.

I fell behind on my highlights from 2012 in March also. Thankfully it has only been a few weeks, so I need to go back and write those down. I've kept our family blog much more up to date lately, so that will help me remember specific activities. I love that we will have a way to review the best and most important parts of our year when 2013 gets here.

February goal update
January goal update
Original goal post

Monday, April 2, 2012

Fun for Easter

We had our Easter celebrations with family this past weekend and are looking forward to a quiet Easter with our church family this year. I haven't done a lot leading up to Easter like I had hoped because we have been sick off and on for the last several weeks. Of course, we had a lot of fun mailing our Easter basket pop top can. And Resurrection Eggs are always something I enjoyed doing growing up.

Here are a few simple and easy Easter activities  that I hope to get to this week!

Naturally dyed eggs via The Kitchn

I love these creative ways to get different colored eggs!

Marbled eggs via Kimberly Cun

So awesome! I love the pattern you can get from just cracking the egg before dying it. I think these would look totally great as deviled eggs too.

Homemade marshmallow peeps via This Chick Cooks

Mmmmm I love peeps!

Looking for something fun to do after Easter is passed? Check out this great spring preschool pack from Creative Learning Fun.

Do you have a favorite activity planned for this week?
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