As a first time parent, I’m sure I am overly cautious about what my child can get hurt on around our house. As he started to learn to walk, I pictured him toddling about the house, falling in every direction, eventually losing his balance and falling into the hard edge of our brick fireplace hearth. Leading to an injury requiring medical attention. Because of this fear, I searched for a way to protect my child by childproofing the raised fireplace hearth.
I started my search by Googling hearth covers. The results came up with gates around the hearth or minimal adhesive corners. Neither option gave me the peace of mind I needed. After that, I turned to my old reliable friend Pinterest. Still, the options were not going to work for me. So I knew it was going to be up to me to come up with an idea on my own.
I wanted something that would cover the whole raised hearth and provide lots of padding, in case of a hard fall. High density foam was going to provide that. So, I started by measured the length, height and depth of my hearth. I visited my local fabric and craft store to see what they offered. I decided on 2″ high density foam because I knew it would guarantee my son would not hurt himself on the brick no matter how hard his fall. The 2″ high density foam is not cheap, but with the occasional 40-50% off coupon became much more in my price range.
Foam Size and Cutting
Figuring out how little of foam I could buy was a bit of working a puzzle. The length of the hearth is a little over 61″. Because the foam is 2 inches thick, I added 4″ to the total length, so that each side would have 2″ overhang for the side panels to be glued too. I wanted as clean of a front and top and I could get, so that meant these would be my first cuts. Knowing I would need two long pieces that were 66″ each, I then had to decide how to split to 24″ width of foam. Cutting it in haIf would have made the front just a little short, so decided to cut one piece to be 13″ and the other part would be 11″. I used the 13″ piece for the front.
In order to have clean corners, I worked from the other side of the foam and cut two identical pieces to be 11″ x 12″.
I used the remaining foam to create long, thin pieces of foam to add more the the wall and fireplace side. Using as much length as I could I cut two pieces that were 24″ long to be 3″ wide and made a third piece 18″ long. These were to be used on the fireplace side of the top panel. I also cut one pieces 2″ wide and then cut it in half to have two 12″ lengths. These were to be used on the sides.
Here is the total list of cut peices I used:
1- 66″ x 11″
1-66″ x 13″
2-11″ x 12″
2-3″ x 24″
1-3″ x 18″
2-2″ x 11″
Once everything was cut, it was time to glue. I purchased a clear professional strength foam adhesive that sprays on.
I started with glueing my two largest pieces. Because I used a spray adhesive, I wanted to try and protect areas that did not need glue. I line up the two sections how I wanted them to be glued together and taped off the areas I did not want glue on using old newspaper ads helped protect larger areas. Once the non-glue area was covered, I removed the section I used to measure and sprayed the glue on both edges to be glued together.
Next I glued the two side pieces. This meant more taping and paper, but once they were on it provided a lot more stability.
The final glueing I did was on the fireplace and wall side where I added the thinner pieces. These added a little more depth which made it look nicer.
Once all the glue was dry, I placed it over the hearth. A perfect fit!
The glue does discolor the foam a little, but you will never know once it is covered in fabric.
The final step was to cover it with fabric. I made sure to purchase an upholstery fabric. It is very durable and is thicker so you don’t see the foam behind it. It is more expensive, but you should only have to buy it once versus a poorer quality fabric that you may have to replace due to wear and tear.
I made the mistake of purchasing the fabric at the same time of buying the foam. Because I was trying to do quick math in my head, I purchased 2 1/2 yards. The final product is 66″ long and each side is 13″ tall. 66 plus 13, plus 13 equals 92. 92″ is 2″ short of 2 1/2 yards! Ugh! Don’t make the mistake that I did. Make sure you do your math correctly before you buy.
I had planed on gluing the fabric to the foam, but ended up just laying the fabric over it and tucking it over the edges. It looks pretty good and had held up well. This way if I ever want to clean the cover or change out the fabric I can do it easily.
I am so happy with the final product. It provides such good protection from the hard brick and is easy to move when we choose to have a fire in the fireplace. A bonus is that because I used such thick foam, the whole thing doubles as additional seating in our living room! People love to come in and sit down and join in on conversations.
Can a DIY Bathroom Remodel bring simplicity and organization to your life? Absolutely. You don’t have to have a large space to do it. I’m going to show you how we remodel our very small bathroom. Doing this has brought so much peace and order to my life.
Our house is a modest 1225 square feet. It came to us with one and a half bathrooms. The full bathroom is in the main hall and the half bathroom connects to the master bedroom.
This took a lot of pre-planning, measuring, saving and a little bit of moving some walls and adding some doors. I will be the first to admit that doing home improvement projects take five times longer than it would to hire a professional. Why? Because I am not an expert in what ever field it is (plumbing, electrical, drywall), and I have 10 other things that need my attention, like my full-time job.
For me, I consider a full bathroom to be a space that has a sink, toilet, and a way to wash my body, i.e. a shower or bathtub. The master bathroom only had a toilet and a sink. The last house owners had replaced the the sink vanity and the replacement was tiny and had no storage.
I needed a bathroom that has more storage, and had a shower. In order to make room for a shower we had to move the linen closet that was on the other side of the bathroom. We were able to take some space from one of the bedrooms closet to create a linen closet at the end of the hall so that we still had that precious storage space.
Storage space is important to me. Have you caught that yet?
I broke down the project into these steps:
Move linen closet
Remove toilet and vanity
Demolish wall between the bathroom and former closet and remove drywall
Unplanned detour to have electrical moved (Opps)
Replace former closet door with wall, texture and paint
Remove the flooring, studs between closet and bathroom and drywall
Add new floor underlayment
Hire plumber to rework and add plumbing
Hire shower pan man and have shower pan poured
Remove ceiling drywall and save insulation for reinstall (opps)
Install new wall drywall
Install ceiling drywall and ceiling fan
Install shower cubbies and the remaining tile backer board
Repair the wall where the backer board slipped and punched through the wall (opps)
Tape, prime, texture and paint wall
Install lighting, toilet, vanity and mirror
Plan tile, tile shower, and grout
Enjoy a full bathroom without leaving my bedroom!
I know, that is quite the list. This is not going to be a post about what we did step-by-step. I am going to show you what we did, and some things we learned along the way. Usually the hard way. And how in the end, all the work was 100% worth it and today makes my life so much easier and simpler.
Getting to Work
After we moved the linen closet (that I did not document), we had to demo the bathroom. #demoday
Tearing out walls is a little nerve racking, but it also fells good to be able to envision what the final product will look like.
Starting to Take Shape
Having to re-work the electrical took more time that we thought. But once it was done we could remove the studs and have the plumbing work done. The plumbing work was the single most expensive part of the project.
The Shower Pan
Having the plumbing completed felt so rewarding. It felt like the bones were in place and we could move on to adding other party to the body. Next, the installation of the shower pan. Because the space was a unique size, we could not go to our local hardware store and pickup a fiberglass pan. No, a custom pan was the only option. This meant finding a person who specializes in shower pans to come do the work. I found one, O-N-E, person in my area who only did shower pans.
Installing Drywall and Tile
Oh drywall. I feel like I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with drywall. It always seems like it is going to be so easy to install and is always seems to be a bit harder than I imagined.
A hard learned lesson we learned when we moved the linen closest was that the thickness of the drywall is very important. Drywall thickness is 3/8, 1/2 or 5/8 inch. The difference looks so small on paper, but will create a ton of work, if you are matching it up to existing drywall and don’t get it right.
If you can do a puzzle and frost a cake, you can do simple tiling. My husband and I had both done a little bit of tile work in the past, but we still took some steeps to prepare ourselves.
We took a DIY tiling class at Home Depot. Most of the information we knew, but some of the tips and tricks they taught made the process a lot easier. Like stacking tiles to measure your exact cut.
We watched a lot of Youtube videos on tiling, specifically a bathroom. Our favorites were videos by the TileMasterGA
If I thought that wall drywall was tough to install, I was wrong. Ceiling drywall was the tougher. Drywall is not light. My husband had to hold up the drywall, while I screwed it in as fast as I could.
Matching up new drywall with existing along with texture is a big task and something I was not up for.
Installing shower cubbies are probably one of the smartest things we did. Having a storage space for shampoo and soap not on the floor or a wire rack of some kind is so nice. It looks so clean and is easy to access.
Two things I would have done differently is :
Install the cubbies before the shower pan. I worried what the height would be after the pan was installed instead of just installing them.
Installed a niche for my foot when I shave my legs. It would be nice since shaving my legs is a little tricky without it. But the new shower is still valuable with or without it.
Installing Tile Backer
Wall tile backboard is a beast in weight. There were some “opps” along the way, but it all ended well.
The product that the shower pan contractor used looked like strips of RAM board. I searched and could not find the strips, so we ended up buying a small roll of RAM board and cutting it into strips. Months later while waiting for a rental at Home Depot, I ran across this product: Drywall Shim
When I see contractors taping and mudding walls on TV, it looks so easy. I can frost a cake. I can spread mayo on some bread. How hard can taping and mudding be? A little harder than it looks. It is totally possible to do it yourself. But it definitely takes some practice and patience.
There is also the waiting for it to dry part that can be frustrating as you want to mice on to the next part of the project.
Texturizing a wall is a special skill in my opinion. On another wall we made the mistake of using an aerosol texture spray. This is not a great product for two reasons: 1) it is expensive for what you get 2) it did not give us the end result we wanted. (see the photo below with bubbly end product that did not match the other texture). After doing all the extra work to fix it, we invested in a sprayer and air compressor. Doing some practice on cardboard before you spray your wall will help getting the final results you want.
Back to the Start
Happy Birthday to my Husband! We installed the toilet and vanity on his birthday. (hence the celebratory drink on the vanity).
Installing the light on the wall before installing the vanity so we were not working over the vanity and could get closer to the wall.
Seeing the toilet, light, vanity and mirror it was like we were back to the start. But it was so much better. The vanity is bigger, and the quality is better. Making for a happier place.
At the start, tiling sounded like fun. By the end, I never wanted to see tile again. This definitely took more planning and time, then the floor tile. The end result was worth it.
If we could do it differently, we would have used a standard grout. The one we chose here stated it was antimicrobial and inhibited stains from mold and mildew. Sounds great! Less cleaning! Or so I thought. I have not seen the product live up to these statements. Cleaning regularly to get rid of the pink funk is still necessary. It was also more difficult to install, so in the end it was more work than it was worth.
The Finished Remodel
The final touches are to install the shower fixtures, hang a shower rod, install a small storage cabinet over the toilet and a towel rack.
While the space is small, it is absolutely glorious to have a shower connected to the bedroom.
A remodel is time consuming work, but in the end it is worth it to have easy access to what I need close by.
With Labor Day right around the corner, this potato salad it the best addition to any holiday weekend BBQ or gathering!
For as long as I can remember, it was always served at family get togethers. I knew no different. As a child, to be honest, it was not my favorite. But as I grew into an adult, I learned the deliciousness of my Mom’s potato salad.
I am going to let you in on a little secret. I hate celery. I do not like the taste, I do not like the texture, I do not like it raw, I do not like it cooked, I do not like it Sam I am. Pretty much all store bought potato salads have celery in them, so that is a definite no for me.
That means homemade is always the way I go when wanting to add it to a menu. I also think that when you can, it is always a special touch to bring something homemade to a potluck or party.
This has always been a crowd pleaser and I get many requests for this recipe. I made a few adaptions from my Mom’s potato salad to make it my own and hope you will find it just as delicious.
4 Medium Potatoes
5 Large Eggs
3/4 Cup White Onion-Chopped
1/3 Cup Dill Pickles-Chopped
1 1/4 Cup Mayonnaise
3/4 t Salt
1/4 t (heaping) Black Pepper
Potatoes and Eggs
The first step is to cook the potatoes and eggs ahead of time. They will need to cool completely, so I like to do this the day before and they have plenty of time to cook in the refrigerator.
For the potatoes, I start with putting them in a pot covered with water. I bring the pot to a boil and try to keep it somewhere between a full boil and simmer, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, I pull a potato out using some kitchen tongs and pierce it with a skewer. If the skewers has any resistance in the middle, I cook them a little longer. If they split, they are done cooking and should be pulled out.
When all the potatoes are done cooking, I pull them out of the water. I like to put mine into a colander because I think that it allows air to circulate around them and cool faster.
The eggs are cooked in a similar manner as the potatoes. Place the eggs in a pot and cover with cool water. I like to cook hard boiled eggs using a modified version of what Julia Child did. That is, I bring the water to a boil, and cover the eggs. I like to turn the heat to low and leave them for 13 minutes. After the 13 minutes, I used a slotted spoon to put them into a bowl of ice water to cool. Once they have cooled for a while, I crack them a little in the water. This makes them easier to peel.
Pro tip: Don’t try to make hard boiled eggs with fresh eggs. They will not peel well. It is best to use eggs that are at least a week old, which is most store bought eggs.
Once you have cooked and cooled potatoes and eggs, the potato salad is ready to be assembled.
Peel and chop the potatoes. add them to a large bowl.
Use an egg slicer to slice the eggs, then turn the eggs 90 degrees and slice them again. Add them to the bowl with the potatoes.
Add the chopped onion and pickles to the bowl. Before I chop the pickles, I do place them between paper towels and try to remove as much liquid as I can so the potato salad is not watery.
Once all those ingredients are in the bowl, give them a light stir. You will stir more after the next step, so it does not need to be perfect.
I add the mayonnaise in a very particular way. This is how my mom did it, so this is how I do it. I believe that it distributes the mayonnaise evenly.
I try to make the ingredients level in the bowl. Using a spatula, I add the mayonnaise a little at a time and spread the mayonnaise completely even over the top of the other ingredients, kind of like you are frosting a cake.
Then use a spoon and fold the mayonnaise into the other ingredients. Once it is about half way mixed in, I add the salt and pepper and continue to stir until the mayonnaise is evenly distributed.
I then taste a little and add a little more salt or pepper if I feel it is needed.
I try not to make the potato salad right before eating it. Personally, I think it tastes better when it can sit in the refrigerator for a couple of hours and have the flavors marinate a little.
I hope you will give this recipe a try and let me know what you think!
Classic Potato Salad
This Potato Salad is so simple, but so good. Bring it to any potluck or party and you are sure to get lots of compliments.
Place the potatoes on a large pot and cover with cool water. Bring the pot to a boil. Cook the potatoes for 30 minutes or until cooked throughout.
Place the eggs in a pot and cover with cool water. Bring the pot to a boil, cover and turn the heat to low. Allow to cook for 13 minutes. Remove the cooked eggs from the pot and place into a bowl with ice water to complete cool.
Peel and chop the cooked and cooled potatoes, add to a large bowl
Peel the eggs. Using a egg slicer, cut each egg twice and add to the same bowl at the potatoes.
Add the onions and pickles to the bowl. Stir all the ingredients together.
Level ingredients in the bowl. Add the mayonnaise a little at a time and spread it across the top of the other ingredients covering it completely.
Fold the mayonnaise into the other ingredients. Add the salt and pepper and continue to stir until the mayonnaise is evenly distributed.
“Why do you hate the environment?” I remember the question like it was yesterday. Truth, it was 14 years ago. And for the record, I didn’t, and I still don’t. It was 2005, I was in college and one of my friends from my dorm decided to ask me that really pointed question . We were walking through campus late at night trying to find something to make the night memorable. That one question sure made it memorable to me.
At that time I was not the most environmentally conscious person, but I don’t think I hated the environment. I am pretty sure that friend would be shocked to learn that the person he thought hated the environment, now uses cloth diapers on their child. And loves it!
I’ll admit it, I used to be a skeptic. When I thought cloth diapers, I thought it was for people who had more money and who could afford a diaper service. I thought of cloth diapers as complicated, folding of flat cloth sheets and then securing somehow.
The thought of cloth diapers was introduced to me by a co-worker long before I even thought of having kids. It was a random conversation while she was expecting her first child. She mentioned that she was going to use cloth diapers because while they are an investment upfront, in the long run the are worth it.
When we learned that our family would be growing, I started into my research on the world of cloth diapers. Here is what I learned, and what I love.
Diaper Raffle, diaper registries, diaper cakes. People find all kinds of way for people to give them diapers before, or shortly after, the baby is born. Probably because the cost of diapers seem like then biggest “extra” purchase once you start a family.
When I first was introduced to cloth diapers, the gal who mentioned them to me mentioned what a cost savings they are in the long run. It blew my preconceived idea about cloth diapers out of the water! I had to look into it. And she was totally right. Up front it is a chunk of money, but it is not astronomical in my opinion. Especially when you think about what you will spend on diapers in the first 6 months to year of your babies life.
I’ll admit that our son was too small for the cloth diapers we had when we first brought him home for the hospital. And he was too small for them for about 3 months. He was a little peanut. So until he fit into the cloth diapers, we used disposable diapers. I think we spent at least $150 on diapers in the first month (we used A-LOT of diapers). Our complete cloth diapers ‘stash’ costs about $450. That is huge! Especially when you think that the diapers are going to be used at least 2.5 years for one child, and will be used again on any future children. And some of our stash was a gift from our registry.
We are a family that loves to save money where we can, so spending a fraction on diapers was a huge selling point for us. But after my research, it was actually not the only reason we decided to cloth diaper.
Better For The Environment
Like I said before, there are people in my past that would be shocked that I considered this, but I have grown as a person since then. The more I learned about the environmental impact of disposable diapers, the more I turned my nose up at them.
This is my strongest reason for using cloth diapers: a disposable diaper from my child would out live him, his children, and his grand-children in a landfill. Most resources estimate it takes a diaper 500 years to biodegrade. Five. Hundred. Years. Now times that by the thousands of diapers a child will use.
As a parent, I have started to think more and more about the planet my child lives on, and what it will look like after I am gone. To think that his disposable diapers will outlive him made me so sad. I want to try and make the planet better, not worse. I don’t think disposable diapers help me achieve that.
It also occurred to me that human waste, a.k.a bio-hazards, are being put into the landfill inside those disposable diapers. Yuck! In our house we say, poop goes in the toilet. What do you want your child to think about where poop goes?
As I mentioned before, we did use disposable diapers on our son in the first could couple of months of his life and there are time when we have to temporarily switch to using them. But, by using cloth diapers most of the time we are still greatly reducing the waste that goes into landfills.
They Are Better for Babies Skin
Plastic, synthetic absorbent gel beads, fragrance, lotion. These are all common ingredients found in most disposal diapers. These are not things I felt great about wrapping sensitive body parts in.
It always made me feel crummy when I had to use disposables and during a diaper change would find little gel beads that that had escaped their pocket and made their way on to my son’s skin. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, imagine the end result if you put one of the packets you find in a shoe box in the bathtub. But they are in mini form. Ick.
I do know that there are disposable diapers out there that do not use the gel bead, however they use natural resources like wood fiber from specific trees. Which in my opinion is not great either because they are using natural resources that are limited.
Sometimes babies have allergic reactions to disposable diapers due to the chemicals an/or fragrances used in them. I was lucky and my son did not have a reaction, but if he did, I don’t think I would have wanted to spend time figuring out what diapers would work for him. Switching to a chemical and fragrance free diaper, like cloth, would have been my immediate decision.
They Are So Stinking Cute!
Yes, yes, there are cute disposable diapers available. But I just could not get over how cute cloth diapers are! And the extra padding in the bum area just adds to the cubby baby cuteness.
I find it so fun to look through all the different styles and prints can be so fun. Trying to decide what little bit I want popping out the back of the pants is so fun in the mundane moments of changing a dirty diaper.
At the end of the day I do think that every parent needs to do whats right for them and their family.
Do you cloth diaper? Why or why not? I would love to hear! Comment below, follow and share on social media!
Flipping is all the rage these days, and I don’t mean Olympic gymnastics style. HGTV is full of house flipping shows, showing you how they buy a run down house and turn it into a stunning master piece.
The reality of finding that diamond-in-the -ruff-house with all the other “must-haves” is really difficult. Once we found this diamond-in-the-ruff houses with all the “must-haves” and fell in love with it….for about 3 hours. Why? Because we learned the house had a cracked foundation and was a 100% cash only purchase. A bank would never finance a house with that much of an issue. The cost to repair the cracked foundation was way more than what we had saved for house updates. So we moved on.
What you are more likely to find is something that costs more, does have most of the “must-haves,” but still needs some updates. The house we bought was not perfect, but it was perfect for us at this time in life. Our “must-haves” included location, size, yard size, heating type and a fire place. This house had all the “must-haves” but still needed some updates to make it more modern.
It is amazing what paint, window fixtures and elbow-grease can do. Even better is doing it all with minimal cost.
So lets get to it! Here are the before and after of each of the rooms. Some of the rooms had updates later that I will share in a future post that are not included in the prices of items. We purchased almost everything from major “big-box” stores.
I would like to note that some of the photos are from the house listing and not ones that I look myself.
The living room is the largest space in the house so it offers the most opportunities. One of the issues with the house was consistency, or lack of it. With a small house it is important to have consistency so that there is a visual flow and the spaces don’t feel cut into blocks. Before, almost every room was a different color, all the doors were different and all the window coverings were different, making the house feel smaller and dated. The ceiling is a little lower than standard houses, so it was important to brighten up the room to make it appear bigger. We did this by painting all the ceilings flat white.
I don’t recommend making the entire interior of the house the same color, I do recommend choosing paint colors that are the same tone. We chose some cool grays. For the living room we decided to use two different grays, a darker and a lighter. This adds some visual intrigue. We started it on the wall with the largest window so that the gray would not appear as drastic of a change.
Because this is the only living space in the house, it was important that the room be inviting and offer as much seating as possible. As you can see, the last home owners has a single oversized couch, and a bold red coffee table. You will see in future photos that this then flowed right into another space which actually made the space appear smaller.
By using an area rug and positioning our couch between the spaces we defined the space as more of an individual room. We eventually purchased new couches and made a side table to create an intimate gathering place.
The window coverings were also an issue. They were inexpensive and blocked out light even when they were open. Your eyes were drawn to them, and not in a good way. I have always loved wood-shutters, but those would not work in this house because they would block out too might light. A way to get a similar look is to have wood blinds. We decided to use faux wood for a couple of reasons. 1) cost, it is way more affordable 2) weight, they are lighter and easier to install 3) clean-ability, the dust actually tends to not stick to the plastic as it would to wood. We used these same blinds in all the rooms except for the nook and kitchen.
Front Door Hardware: $45
I consider the fireplace to be apart of the living room, but I felt that it needed its own little section.
It is made of what looks like reclaimed brick and had been abused. Holes drilled into it, side bricks broken off and re-mortared. It needed some help. The first thing we did was to remove the insert. It was U-G-L-Y. It was dated. It was heavy. It needed to go! I am sure that inserts are very useful for people who use the fireplace at a heat source. We enjoy the fireplace for more of the look, so the insert just wasn’t necessary.
My poor husband muscled that thing out. It took strength and a hand-truck to get it our of the house. Funny story; it sat on the hand-truck for a while and weighed so much, the tires on the hand-truck went flat.
Taking out the insert helped so much, but the brick still looked sad. We filled in all the holes that had been drilled into it (tip, don’t make holes in brick. It will never look the same) with a fire safe, mortar sealant. Then my husband surprised me on my birthday and white-washed the brick by watering down flat white paint. Our brick never gets hot enough to react with the paint, so the latex paint works just fine. Awwwwwww, new life, breath of fresh air. The fireplace is now a piece that compliments the room and is not an eye soar.
Removing Insert: FREE
The nook might be one of my favorite places. It might have a better name, but nook is what I have took to calling it. It actually used to be the dining room until the last owners renovated the kitchen area. It is not big enough to be a living area, so nook is what I landed on.
I felt that putting the TV waaaaaay over there was not pleasing to the space. And it blocked half the window. The window covering was installed too low and created kind of a shaggy dog look around the window, am I right? The funniest thing was tiny ceiling fan. It did not move air around, and thought of having a fan spinning dust and who knows what above your food totally grosses me out.
The desk is perfect for when my husband and I work from home, but need to be (or want to be) present in the main living area. We added the book case full of ALLL the books to create a mini library. The ladder shelving unit is a great, but small space to display our personal photos and style.
The window coverings are the only different one in the house. The long, dark curtains add height to the room and dramatic framing of the center focal point of the space.
Light Fixture: $48
You can also just ignore the collapsed basketball hoop for my son :).
The kitchen was actually completely moved and redone by the last home owner. They made a great decision in this. They moved the entire kitchen from what was a galley style, with a door into the now nook, into what must have been a VERY small sitting area? Family room? I never actually saw it, so I can only lean on my imagination.
The cabinets are from IKEA, and if I every get to remodel a kitchen myself, I would still choose IKEA. This kitchen is not exactly what I would want, but it is close. It has toooooons of storage. I do wish it had a pantry, but I always pantry. Once you have lived in a place with one, you will forever want one. They turned the former kitchen space into the dinning area and added a buffet. More storage!!! Yippy!
The kitchen had a red theme that I was not a fan of. Especially in a small space. We decided to paint the whole space a cool green. In fact the paint color is called Cool Cucumber. How fitting is that for a kitchen?
While a continuation in cabinets is usually the standard, the cabinet above the sink needed to go. 1) It had zero use. There is no way I was going to put something up there 2) It closed in the sink and window and make it feel claustrophobic. By removing it, visually it opened up the space.
I have never been one for an open shelving system or glass doors in a kitchen, but I actually appreciate the few that this kitchen has. I love our dishware and love that it can be displayed. The dishware is white, so I added an adhesive backed shelf liner with a gray geographic print to the back of the cabinets to make the white dishware pop.
Shelf Liner: $18
Cabinet Removal: FREE
Oh Mama, the master bedroom. First of all, it took three coats of flat white paint to cover the green on the ceiling. I will say that green will probably jolt anyone awake in the morning so you wouldn’t have to worry about over sleeping. We chose another gray and used it in all three bedrooms. This helps the house feel cohesive.
I am not sure what use the curtains in the room were. The window is east facing, so it gets the first of the sunrise. We changed them to the faux wood blinds as we did with all of the bedrooms and bathrooms.
I want you to notice the closet door knobs. The position of them told us that the bi-fold doors are were installed backwards. The knobs should be on the center panels, not the outer panel.
Ceiling Fan: $75
Door Hardware: $30
Closet Knobs: $2
I am not going to spend a lot of time on the master bathroom because I will later post about the remodel we did. But is was tiny. I am not sure why anyone ever thought it was a good idea to make a master bathroom, a powder room. I guess it is better than no bathroom, but it still had very little function.
The use of the shower storage I thought was, um, creative? You can see that in the reflection of the mirror. You can tell that they tried to update the bathroom by installing new flooring and a new vanity. The wall next to the vanity shows where the previous one sat up against it.
Another thing the builder did was to have you open the door and see the toilet, Yuck!
Door Hardware: $30
Originally I wanted to start ripping into this bathroom as soon as we got the keys to the house. I was convinced we could remodel it and move into the house in about 3 weeks. I think I had been watching a little but too much HGTV. My husband talked me off the ledge. He suggested that we first remodel the master bathroom, since we planned on adding a shower to that one. And then we would remodel the guest bathroom. This was so smart, since the guest bathroom was the only shower we had. That would have been so rough if we had gone through with my plan.
This was the room that probably came to us with the most decorations. They had done a small update at some point, but I don’t think that was the best use of their time and money.
First of all, only put a pedestal sink in a powder room. As you can see they had to have a cabinet in there, and we temporarily added a small plastic storage container because there is no counter space with a pedestal sink. Where is a girl supposed to put on her make-up?
The wainscoting is not my favorite. I think it goes too high, but it would have meant replacing the entire bathrooms drywall. So instead we painted it white with an oil paint. Oil paint is not cheap, but so worth it, especially in a bathroom, on wood. We also painted the ceiling, back to white, and the walls a slightly grayer blue.
I would never recommend using laminate flooring in a bathroom. Bathrooms have the most moisture of any room in the house. Laminate and moisture do not mix. This would be fixed when we renovate the entire bathroom later on.
Small things like updating the shower curtain and light bulbs temporarily helped the bathroom until more could be done. I told my husband I would not feel clean taking a shower in there with the existing fixtures, so we agreed to change them out. That turned into a much larger job than I ever thought. Did you know that you can’t always just switch out the handle? There are different valves connected to the piping for different handle types. More on that later.
Door Hardware: $30
Light Bulbs: $32
Shower Curtain: $20
Oh, the orange room. No, just no. The whole thing was orange, including the ceiling. This room also took more than two coats of paint. Plus there was the chipping off of the temporary-tattoo-like decal that was in the center of the wall.
This room had what some might call “character.” Like the art-deco light switch cover. I don’t know why they didn’t want to take that with them?
The door in this room was interesting too because it had no varnish, it was just plain wood. This was one of the 3 doors we replaced so all the doors matched. I will always wonder why they did not do that before putting the house on the market, along with updating the light fixtures to something more modern.
One thing that we did that is hard to notice, is we changed out the style of closet door from a bi-fold to a 2-panel. With the room door backing up to the closet, you had to close the door before opening the closet. You still have to close the door half way, but at least now you can leave the closet door open if you need to make several trips to and from.
Closet Doors: $62
Closet Door Hardware: $20
Light Fixture: $10
This room was the most neutral of all the rooms. We did decide to paint it so it would be consistent with all the bedrooms. The closet was interesting. The storage unit they had in the closet just ended about 2/3rds of the way across. It was about 3 1/2 feet deep, which is why we decided to make it a small walk in closet and use some of the space to relocate the linen closet. This was done a few months after we moved in, so that project is not included in this post.
Once again, the door did not match any of the others, and closet door was inconsistent with with closet doors. The small corner shelves and shelves along that wall were a pain to remove as you can tell from the patching that had to happen.
One of the most surprising things about this room came when we went to change the light fixture and discovered the dark, dark blue that the room and ceiling used to be. I can’t imagine spending much time in that room.
Door Hardware: $30
One thing I have not talked about much is the floors. These were also strange. But what else is new. Every bedroom and both bathrooms had a different flooring. That equals eight different floorings in a 1200 square foot house. The main goal was to make the house consistent. We did eventually pull out all the different laminates in the bedrooms and had carpet installed. Personally I like carpet in bedrooms. I think it add warms and comfort. And we chose a light gray.
Whew, I know that was a lot. If you are still reading, thank you. Hopefully this has encouraged you to know that a big change can be made without a huge investment.
My all-time favorite Food Network show is Good Eats. With the whole show revival theme happening recently, I am crossing my fingers that they bring it back. Until then, I have found America’s Test Kitchen on my local PBS.
One of the first episodes I remember watching had a recipe for “Foolproof Spaghetti Carbonara.” I don’t think I had ever had Spaghetti Carbonara, but as soon as I saw it, I knew I had to make it. After I did, it instantly became one of my favorite recipes. It is pretty simple and a crown pleaser with ingredients like pasta, bacon and cheese.
I have adapted the America’s Test Kitchen Foolproof Spaghetti Carbonara to be made in an Instant Pot. This has sped up the cooking process, and reduced the amount of dishes I need to clean after. Win and win.
Here is what you will need:
1 lb dry spaghetti
8 strips high quality bacon cut into 1/2 inch pieces
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 eggs and 1 egg yolk
1 1/4 cup grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
3/4 t black pepper
Instant Pot (I have an 8 quart DUO Plus Instant Pot)
You will start by selecting Sauté on your Instant Pot, on normal if you have that option. It is very important that you let the Instant Pot pre-heat before adding any oil or fat. Because the insert is stainless steel and not non-stick, the metal needs to warm up. Stainless Steel has natural “pores” that will close when the metal is heated and create a natural non-stick surface. If you add the oil before the “pores” close, the oil will fall into the “pores” and prevent them from closing. The pre-heating should only take about 5 minutes.
While your Instant Pot is pre-heating, cut your bacon into 1/2 inch pieces and separate the pieces. Once it says HOT, add the bacon and stir every couple of minutes.
Once the bacon has cooked for about 5 minutes, add 1/4 cup of water to the Instant Pot. I know this seems odd, but it allows the bacon to cook a little slower and allows it to be be both crispy and chewy. Don’t ask me how, but it does. Continue to stir every couple of minutes, and allow the water to cook off and the bacon to finish cooking. The bacon should take about 14 minutes total to cook. Once the bacon is almost done browning, you will add your garlic in the last minute. Stir it in, and cook for about 1 minutes until it is fragrant.
Select Cancel on the Instant Pot to stop the heating. Use a slotted spoon to remove as much of the bacon and garlic as you can from the Instant Pot and put in onto a plate lined with a paper towel.
Use a ladle to remove as much of the bacon grease from the Instant Pot as you can. Save the grease for the next steps. About 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease will remain in the bottom of the Instant Pot.
Working in about 3 or 4 batches, break the spaghetti in half and add it to the Instant Pot, trying to spread it out and cross the noodles as much as possible so they don’t clump together during cooking. Once all of the spaghetti is in the Instant Pot, drizzle in about 1 1/2 tablespoons of the bacon grease. Make sure you have at least 1 tablespoon saved for the egg-cheese mixture. Try and stir the dry pasta around a little bit to coat the spaghetti with the oil. This will also help prevent the noddles from sticking during the cooking process.
Add 4 cups of water to the Instant Pot. Cover and lock into position, making sure the valve is in the sealed position. Set Pressure Cook on High for 6 minutes.
While the Instant Pot comes up to pressure and the pasta cooks, make the sauce mixture. In a small mixing bowl add 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease, 3 eggs plus one egg yolk, 3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper and 1 1/4 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese. Whisk together until smooth.
Make sure you use Pecorino Romano. Parmesan will not work in this dish. I find mine at my local “poor-man’s Whole Foods,” if you know what I mean.
Once the pasta is done cooking, manually release the pressure and carefully lift the lid off (as you should always do). There will still be some water in the bottom of the Instant Pot. You want it there, leave it be.
Add the egg-cheese mixture and bacon to the Instant Pot. And stir it all together making sure to stir in the starchy water in the bottom. The heat of the pasta, pasta water and Instant Pot will cook the eggs.
Plate the pasta and enjoy!
Foolproof Instant Pot Spaghetti Carbonara
Salt to Taste Blog
This is adapted from America's Test Kitchen to be made in an Instant Pot. This creamy, cheesy pasta dish is a savory crowd pleaser.
Set Instant Pot to sauté, on normal if an option. Allow Instant Pot to heat up, then add the bacon. Stir the bacon every couple of minutes. After about 5 minutes, add 1/4 cup water to the Instant Pot. Continue to cook the bacon, stirring every couple of minutes allowing the water to cook off and the bacon to brown. In the last minute of the bacon cooking, add the garlic, stir until the garlic is fragrant.
Using a slotted spoon, removed the bacon and garlic onto a paper towel lined plate to drain. Use a ladle to remove as much of the bacon grease from the Instant Pot to save for later. Leaving a little bit of grease in the bottom of the Instant Pot is ok.
Break the spaghetti in half and add to the Instant Pot spreading it out and criss-crossing it so the pasta does not clump together. Drizzle in 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons of the bacon grease over the pasta, making sure to reserve 1 tablespoon for later. Stir the pasta as much as possible, trying to coat the pasta in the grease. Add 4 cups of water to the Instant Pot. Cover and lock into place, sealing the release valve. Set to Pressure Cook on high for 6 minutes.
While the pasta cooks, add 1 tablespoon of the bacon grease to a small mixing bowl. Add 3 eggs, 1 egg yolk, the pepper and cheese to the bowl. Whisk together until smooth.
When the pasta is done cooking, release the pressure from the Instant Pot. When pressure is fully released, open the Instant Pot and stir in the egg-cheese mixture, bacon and garlic. Make sure to stir from the bottom to incorporate remaining starchy water.
As a Mom, who also work 40 plus hours a week in an office, the time I spend making dinner is precious. By that, I mean I want to spend as little of my time doing it, but make the meal healthy, balanced and filling.
This is one of my go-to’s. My Mom made this growing up and it is pure comfort food for me. One of the best parts is it is seven ingredients, and can be made in about 30 minutes.
When you have a toddler who’s love language is quality time and is at your feet trying to get you to play with them, a quick dinner is gold.
So here we go, here is what you are going to need:
12 oz Polish Beef Kielbasa, cut into 1/4 inch coins
1-15oz can of cut green beans, drained
1-15oz can whole peeled tomatoes
1-15oz can tomato sauce
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 cup white rice
Start by getting 2 cups of water boiling in a sauce pan.
While your water is heating to a boil, heat a large skillet on medium-high and add the kielbasa.
While your kielbasa is cooking, your water should have come to a boil. Once it is boiling add the rice. Bring it back up to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for 18 minutes.
Try and spread the kielbasa out so that each piece is touching the pan. Cook the kielbasa, stirring occasionally until it is browned on both sides.
The kielbasa will have released its fat in the form of oil, but leave it in the pan. Add the whole tomatoes, green beans, tomato sauce, garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce.
Stir it all together and bring it to a simmer. Use your spoon to break-up the the tomatoes into smaller pieces. Allow it to simmer while your rice continues to cook.
When your rice it done, spoon some on your plate and top with the saucey kielbasa. Salt to taste and enjoy!
Saucey Kielbasa Over Rice
Salt to Taste
This warm comfort meal will leave you full and satisfied. Even better, it uses 7 ingredients and takes about 30 minutes!
Course Appetizer, Breakfast, Dessert, Drinks, Main Course, Salad, Side Dish, Snack, Soup
Cuisine French, Indian, Italian, Mediterranean
12ozpolish kielbasacut into 1/4 inch coins
1cancut green beansdrained
1canwhole peeled tomatoes
Bring 2 cups water to a boil in a sauce pan.
Heat a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the kielbasa trying to make sure as many of the pieces are touching the bottom of the pan.
Once the water is boiling add the rice. Bring back to a boil, cover the pot and reduce the heat to low. Cook for 18 minutes.
Stir the kielbasa occasionally making sure both sides are browned.
Once the kielbasa is browned, add in the whole tomatoes, green beans, tomato sauce, garlic powder and Worcestershire sauce. Stir together, use your spoon to break the tomatoes into smaller pieces. Bring to a simmer.
Once rice is done cooking, plate rice and top with saucey kielbasa. Salt to taste and enjoy!
Let me know if you have tried this out and comment below what you think! I hope you enjoy this meal as much as I do!
When my husband and I lived in our apartment, our living space was so small, we did not have much room for decorating furniture such as shelving units. What room we did have, we used for a single bookshelf and a DVD rack. This means that all of my husbands knick-knacks and collectables were put in the second bedroom.
It was a great day when we finally purchased our first house and we had the opportunity to spread out all our stuff. I quickly realized I had little desire for my husband collectables to be displayed in the main living space of our house, but the shelves they had been on, I did want to use. This meant I needed to come up with another option. In the guest bedroom. Without taking up floor space. That could hold more than before.
I came up with a modern, but rustic galvanized pipe shelving system. I searched the internet as I had seen them before, but none of them had directions or were something I thought would work for our space. So I had to create something on my own.
Assembling The Pipe Sections
Here are the supplies I used for a 4 foot wide by 2 feet high, three shelf system:
10 – 1/2 inch, 12inch long galvanized nipples (why they have to be called nipples, I will never understand)
4 – 1/2 inch, 90 degree elbows
2 – 1/2 inch tee’s
6 – 1/2 inch floor flanges
3 – 1 inch x 10 inch common boards
24 – 1 1/2 inch wood screws
A long level (long enough to go between your pipe sections)
Before I marked my walls, I assembled the pipe. I chose to use “black” pipe instead of the straight galvanized. I really liked the end look, but it was messier than using traditional galvanized would have been. If you are going to use the black pipe, wear gloves.
I started by screwing one of the nipples into all of the floor flanges . You should be able to do this by hand, without any tools. I also did not use any adhesives.
Next, I added an elbow to four of the nipple-flange sections, these will become your top and bottom shelves.
Once the elbows are on, add another 12 inch nipple.
Also, once I was done, I wished I had taken all the barcode stickers off before I put it together. These stickers were a pain to get off.
I added one tee to two of the flange-nipple-elbow sections. Next, I screwed in one of the flange-nipple sections, that did not have an elbow attached it it to the tee.
Finally I added the second flange-nipple-elbow section to this. When completed, you should have two pipe sections that look like this. With the barcode stickers removed of course.
I placed both sections on a table with the flanges touching the table top so I could make sure everything was level. If anything was wobbly, I tightened the other sections so the whole thing was level. At this time, I also tightened or slightly loosened the floor flanges so that two of the screw holes would be parallel to where the wall stud will be.
Hanging the pipe on the wall was definitely the more complicated part of the project. I started out thinking I could do it myself, but ended up having to have my Mom come over to give me a second pair of hands. I was trying to surprise my Husband, so I couldn’t ask for his help.
We had a desk we wanted to put in this room, but I wanted to put in the shelves first. I measured the height of the desk and marked that with painters tape so I could visualize where I wanted the shelves to start on my wall. I measured up from there and added a couple of small pieces of tape to help with the visualizations, spacing the small tape pieces 12 inches apart. My shelves end up being slightly closer together in height, but this was close enough for me.
Another item that can be tricky, is matching your pipe sections to where you can mount them to a wall stud. Because of the weight of the pipe and the potential load, I wanted to make sure I screwed the flanges into a stud.
The desk was 4 feet 6 inches wide, and I wanted my shelving to be centered above the desk. I lucked out and was able to find a stud 12 inches from the side wall and another stud 32 inches from there. (This is standard as studs are usually 16 inches apart from the center of the 2×4.) This would allow for the board to run 8 inches on the outside of the pipe. I marked the stud location with a pencil on the wall using a ruler (you could used the side of your level).
I used my tape markings and the long level to draw lines on the wall connecting the stud lines. It is very important that your lines are level.
Now that all the planning is done, it is time to hang the pipe. It was impossible for me to hang and take pictures at the same time, so bear with me as I explain how to do this.
I took one section and lined the one screw hole up with a line that is perpendicular to the stud, and the other two to be over the stud line. I started with the bottom. You can choose any of the three, but you need to start with the same intersection on the other side.
I had my Mom hold the pipe so I could screw it into the stud. Once one section is attached, I grabbed my level and held it up to the side of my pipe section and lined another flange up with my stud line. I used my level to double check that my pipe is level vertically. I continued this with the third flange. I had trouble screwing in both flange screws while keeping it level, so I just did one screw while I was getting everything lined up correctly. Once it was secured and level, I went back and added screws to all the holes on the flanges.
I repeated this with the second section of pipe, however, I added a level check between the two pipe sections. When the first section of flange was screwed to the stud, I placed my level on both sections horizontally just to double/triple check that it is level. This is why I used a level that was long enough to go between the two pipe sections.
Ta-da! Attached pipes! To complete the shelving, I just placed the 1×10 boards on top of the three pipe sections.
Once everything was said and done, I did end up making some modifications with my husbands input.
We stained the boards with a black stain.
I did end up lowering the whole system. The top shelf was just a little too high and close to the ceiling
My husband needed more shelf space. So we added another pipe section to the side wall and wrapped the shelves around the corner. Because we only added one pipe section to the side wall, we had to attach the boards. We did so using a small tie strap and 3/4 inch screws.
As you can see, it did not take much time to fill up the shelves.
I hope you found this helpful! Please comment below. I am happy to answer any questions you may have about a shelving unit you want to build in your home. I always appreciate a like or follow on social media. The links can be found on the right side of the page.
I am pretty sure that house buying is like planning a wedding. You can learn all the things you need to do, talk to all the people who have done it before, but you really don’t know what it is like until you go through it first hand.
This means I am not going to tell you “everything you need to know about about buying a house.” But I do want to share things I learned and hopefully they can help you if you are planning on purchasing a house soon.
1: Your Realtor is Your New BFF
When I say BFF, I don’t mean you hug, chat for hours on end and you are always nice and cordial. I mean you need to be able to trust them 100%, you can be able to be brutally honest with them and they can be brutally honest with you, you know, in a professional way. This means they should be able to tell you if your non-negotiable list is too much and don’t meet your top price. But they are getting an income from this, so if they encourage you to make offers on something that is not a good fit for you, find someone new. You don’t want someone who is just looking for a paycheck. They should know what you want, and if you start compromising too much, they should be able to tell you to not settle.
2: Get Pre-Approved
We all love to dream, but if you are serious about home ownership, get pre-approved. It is more of a process than getting an auto loan, so if you find something you love, you don’t want to lose it because someone else had proof of financing.
3: Have a Down Payment
I highly recommend having some sort of down payment. It proves good financial practices and puts you ahead of the game when it comes to selling someday or paying it off. Your Relator BFF or your mortgage lender can help you figure out what the right amount for you is. Don’t get discouraged if you need to save for a little longer. When you are truly prepared the right house will be waiting.
4: There Is No Prince Charming House
Sorry to burst your bubble, but unless you win the lottery and can afford anything you want (which case why are you ready this!?), no house will be perfect. You are not going to get everything you ever wanted on a starter home budget, heck, you probably won’t get it with your second home either. Come up with your must haves list; bedrooms, bathrooms, yard size, location, layout, heating/cooling, etc. Whatever your list is, let your Realtor know, and be open to their feed back. They should know the market and if your expectations meet your budget. You may have to make compromises, but they should be reasonable. What changes can you make to turn the home into what you want? That will make the house even more special to you in the long run.
5: Prepare for Surprises
We were really lucky in that we did not have any huge surprises when we bought our first house. If there were any to come up, we would have been prepared. Have a financial cushion in case you need it.
6: Get a Home Inspection
If you only take one thing away from this article let it be this:
Get a home inspection
I heard of story of someone who bought their friends parents house. They did not get a home inspection. Probably because they thought their friend would tell them if there were any problems. Can you see where this is going? Problems, lots of problems.
I believe that the buyer most likely would have purchased the house in the end even if they knew about all the problems. Having know what the issues were, would have prepared them ahead of time for what was in-store and allowed them to budget accordingly. If the seller hints that doing an inspection will jeopardize them selling to you, walk away. It is not worth it.
7: Attend The Home Inspection
We did attend our home inspection. Unfortunately, I was more concerned with measuring rooms and windows than I was with what the inspector was looking at. Next time, my husband or I will pay better attention to what he is looking at and finding. There was at least one item that was miss marked on the inspection sheet. It was not a problem, just something I wish we had realized before we moved it. Also, the inspector is looking at things that you may want to know in the future. By following the inspector, you will have the knowledge in the future if you need it.
8: Know The Location of The Water Shut-off, Gas, Electrical, etc.
This is something you will learn by following the inspector around. They are going to be checking for these things, and have the best idea of where they are.
One story that my husband and I now look back and laugh at is trying to find our water shut-off. Our house had one shower when we moved in and it was not in the best shape. I was insistent on at the very least changing the fixtures on the shower before we moved in. In order to change the fixtures, we had to shut off the water to the house. There is a little more to the story, but I will share that at another time. The funny part is that I assumed our water shut-off was like the one at my parents house that was built the same year as our house. So we spent 45 minutes walking around the outside out the house, digging in different locations trying to find a water shut-off right next to the house. Turned out, the houses in our neighborhood did not have secondary shut-offs near the house. The only water shut-off is at the meter and you have to use a special tool or key to shut it off.
The good news is, it was not an emergency. But if it had been, you can imagine how frantic we would have been.
9: Clean Before You Move In
The chance of you having the opportunity to deep clean your house without furniture in it after you move in, is slim. Take the extra day and clean. Clean the cabinets. Clean the refrigerator. Clean the shower. It will be well worth it. When you start to move in, and you spend that first night in the house, you will be able to take a deep breath and relax knowing your house is clean.
10: Enjoy The Moment
You did it! You bought a house. That is a big deal. You worked hard for it and spent a lot of energy thinking and planning for this big event. Even if it is not 100% perfect, be proud of what you have accomplished. Take all the photos you want and enjoy!