Tuesday, February 26, 2013

covering the naked cabinets

After taking the doors off of our cabinets, we were left with this.

A lot less oak, but a lot more... pressed laminate? Not sure, but it wasn't that nice to look at. So I looked up tutorials for covering the backs of cabinets and found this one by Pretty Handy Girl. (What did I do before Pinterest?)

You can look at her post for the full tutorial, but I started by cutting out foam board to the exact size of each shelf.

I made little masking tape tabs to pull them back out. Once the foam board is in place it kind of suctions itself to the back of the cabinet, so that tab saved me from clawing my fingernails off trying to get them back out.

Once the foam board was cut and I had tested to make sure they fit right I ironed my fabric. Then I cut them to about two inches wider than the boards on each side.

Try to line up the pattern when you cut out your fabric. I laid out my boards on top of the fabric just as they would appear in the cabinet only with three or so inches in between them. That way, vertically, the pattern stayed on track.

Then, I cut notches in each corner of the fabric so that it would fold over the edge of the foam board easier. I like this better than the "wrapping the present" method. It's less bulky.

After that, tape time! It would have been much easier with packing tape on a tape gun, but a buttload of masking tape will do. I made sure to pull the fabric taught around the board.

Then, I just popped them in place! It adds visual interest, that's for sure.

Putting the plates in really brought it all together.

Even though this was a more expensive "decorator weight" fabric, with sales and coupons, I think this yard cost about $8 at Joann's. Add that to the foam board, and this project only cost $11! And if we decide we don't like it, we could have the panels out and the doors back up in about 20 minutes.

It'll be a nice way to live with our kitchen until we're ready to make some more drastic changes.

This post is featured on The Pinterest Challenge: Winter Edition with these lovely ladies:

Check them out!

Megan from The Remodeled Life
Kate from Bower Power
Sherry from Young House Love
Michelle from Decor & The Dog

Monday, February 25, 2013


This was my To-Do list last week.

We had a wonderful weekend with family and friends. We dedicated the raising of our little girl to the Lord , and had some yummy food. Taking the day off today.

(yes, the last item does say shower. when i start getting overwhelmed i write down even the most simple tasks. i need to check something to feel accomplished, plus i actually forget to do things like "shower" when my head is that full.)

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

how do i love thee? i baked thee a cake

I did it! I made the Samoa Bundt Cake*! It was Zach's very scrumptious Valentine's Day present.

Those of you who read this post know how much I wanted this cake, but doubted I would get around to actually making it. Well, I said I wanted to make it within a month, and I got it in just under the wire.

As soon as I started I remembered how much I hate baking. It's just so messy, and you end up with, like, 200 dishes and utensils to wash (as opposed to a good stir fry which just takes a knife, a cutting board, a pan, and a spoon). But that means it was made with that much more love, right?!

The last two pictures in the third row show the best kept secret for making caramel. My mom did this when we lived overseas, and it's by far easier than opening up and melting a bajillion tiny caramel candies. You just boil a can of sweetened condensed milk for hours, unopened. And when you open it up you get a caramel surprise! I followed Betsy Life's directions and put mine in the crockpot, filled it up with water, and cooked it on high for seven hours.

I forgot about this step until I was into the recipe, so my loving husband turned off the crockpot at 1:30am for me. ; ) Thankfully it was just for the frosting, so I could get back to it the next morning. Did I mention it took me two days to make this? Just FEEL the love! And the guilt.

Also through this exercise, I found my new favorite snack:

Toasted Coconut. So good. I'm pretty sure I need to have an ice cream sundae party now, just so I can make a ton of this and require everyone to cover their sundaes in flaky toasty goodness. What would happen if I just poured milk on this like cereal? I might try it, it's that good.

So there she blows. Hopefully I can train myself to become a baker, cause this cake kinda blew our minds.

Love you, Sweety!

*Based on the Samoa Girl Scout Cookies. The best ones.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

pining for oak... NOT!

I am so thankful for the size and layout of the kitchen in this house. I love that it opens to both the living room and dining room. I love that it came with both a gas range/oven and a dishwasher. I love that it has a built in desk that I can use as my hub. But I am soooooo over the oaktastic cabinets.

 When we first moved in. Don't worry, 
the birdhouse border came down immediately. 
The ceramic knobs soon followed.

Oak. I'm sure the trees themselves are nice, but I can't stand furniture made out of it. We have oak lower cabinets, oak upper cabinets, and to top it all off, we have that awful oak band around the laminate counter tops. Even our borrrowed-for-a-season dining table and chairs are oak. Sigh. It's all just so barfy yellowy with crazy veins running all through it. I know this is called "movement", and it's certainly making me want to move right out of this kitchen.

As my father told 10-year-old me after I chose the filet mignon for my birthday dinner, I have very expensive taste. But I also can't bear to spend extravagant amounts of money. How's that for dichotomy? It makes for a lot of guilt over purchases and jealousy over magazine pages. Both things God is helping me work on, daily.

So how am I supposed to come to grips with this kitchen situation? What is my approach going to be? A gut job is out of the question. That's way too expensive, and we wouldn't want to over improve for a small townhouse. Every project I come up with seems to have a domino effect on the rest of the room. If I want to paint the cabinets, then we might as well change the counters, in which case we should change the sink, and of course the faucet...

It's enough to really confuse me, so I'm trying to step back and get some inspiration.

Jennifer's Bright and Airy Mish Mash via Apartment Therapy Home Tours

Charley & Jessica's "Patina Clean" via Apartment Therapy Home Tours

Alex & Sarah's Traveler's Home via Apartment Therapy Home Tours

I know this was from Elle Decor, but I can't find the exact page on the website.

Don't you love gathering all of your inspiration photos together and finding the similarities? Obviously I'm digging white cabinets. And while it might not seem like it, there's actually a lot of natural wood represented, only it's on the horizontal work surfaces, not the cabinets. Another feature in nearly every photo: open storage. That is gonna be the easiest way to get the oak away from my eyeline.

So, back to real life, here are some steps we might be taking.

- Change hardware. We've already done this, and it helped a lot. I just wanted something clean and straight, no swirly-whirly, and the cheapest brushed nickel pulls at Lowes worked great for us.
These might not be the exact ones. I'm fairly certain ours came in a 10-pack for only $25.

- Take cabinet doors off. Since I don't think we could sell a house with floating shelves in place of upper cabinets (at least not in Hanover, in a town home community mostly populated by seniors), I'm seeing how I like having the doors off. It took two minutes to take them off, and it wouldn't take much more to put them back on, so it's an easy thing to try on for a while.*

- Paint cabinets. We really wanna do this, but I don't know if we're quite ready to pull the trigger. It's gonna be a LOT of work. Especially for a husband who's only home and coherent about two hours a day. But when I think of saying goodbye to all that pesky oak.... I'm ready to get to it.

- Replace counter tops. Since we'd really like to do this anyway, it only makes sense to replace them while we're painting the cabinets. We're not sure what we wanna get. Butcher block would look great with the white. Polished concrete would be INSANE. In the end, we'll probably do a granite-look laminate. It's pretty inexpensive, and it'll sell well when it's time to move on.

- Replace sink. Anything stainless. Don't ever buy a white fiberglass sink. It will not stay clean. The previous owners put all these scratches in it, and now it always looks filthy. It gotsta go. (Standard sinks are pretty affordable, so I definitely see this happening.)

- Replace faucet. Kinda goes along with getting a new sink. Why are faucets so darn expensive? Goodness.
 I'm digging this one from Lowes. $119 isn't a bad price, considering I saw some for over $1,000!

 So, there's a window into our plans for the future of this kitchen. Now we just have to have the guts to go for it!

*Check back for my post on lining the inside of the cabinets in funky fabric!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

jaina in the movies

We spend a lot of time together...

"Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi! You're my only hope."

"There's no place like home."

"Come on, Dover!!! Move your bloomin' a***!"

Sunday, February 10, 2013

sausage, spinach, provolawesome!

Whipped this up the other night. Can't say I'm not proud of it.

It was a Spinach, Sausage, Provolone Pizza, and it was incredible.Got the recipe from one of my favorite magazines, Real Simple. Here's a link to the online recipe.

Zach giving his thumbs up.

Tried any new recipes lately?

oh valentine

I've always loved "scrappy" crafts; collages, decoupage, ransom notes... I'm a sucker for pretty slips of paper, and I tear apart most every magazine I get ahold of. I've even been known to furtively rip out pages in the doctor's office, shhh. So for my homemade valentines I like to go scrappy.

Back in Victorian days the ladies were really into the collage thing. They would sit around gabbing in parlors while they cut apart old magazines, books, and cards. I read somewhere that it was even a thing to trade your really good scraps, as in, "I'll trade you this wicked dove for those dope violets." The Valentines back in the day were especially cool.

This one's kind of intense. Is he seriously touching her boob?
I'm sure this card would've been "tradeable".

I like finding these online, printing them off, then doing what they would've done; cut up old cards to make new ones. I made a bunch this week, using all stuff I had around the house and pictures I've saved for a while.

 Perfect project to do on the couch with your hubby.

It takes a lot of patience. And very sharp scissors.

I went through my old scrapbooking stash, and found some fun paper. A couple stickers, a little glue, and - ooh la la - Victorian Style Valentines.

I was in such a scrapping mood after that, I dove into my favorite resource: magazines. I buzzed through and found all of the mostly red pages, and started folding paper hearts. Here's what I came up with:

I used this pattern to make the hearts. It was fun to try to fold strategically to get the berries, flowers, or gorgeous Persian rugs to show up on the front. Here's what I finally figured out. The purple bar on step three is what will make the front of your heart. Also I taped down all the back foldy pieces once each heart was done.

I even swiped the string off of a Valentine's present I just got. Ha! Completely free holiday decor. I love it. 

This post is featured on My Life, as Mommy & Wife's blog hop, Spread the Love.

===== photo 

AND on Bower Power's link-up Lovely Crafts Linky Party.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

a truth universally acknowledged

I. Love. Pride & Prejudice.

Someone lent us the  5+ hour BBC version when I was in early high school, and I've been bound by this story ever since (not to mention in love with Colin Firth).

Since the novel was originally published 200 years ago last week, it seems only fitting that I share my little collection with you.

I first started collecting copies of Pride & Prejudice in college. I got the idea from Mel Gibson's character, Jerry Fletcher, in "Conspiracy Theory" who manically buys A Catcher in the Rye every time he's in a bookstore. I wanted to be an un-crazy version of that. However, that gets expensive, plus, the vast majority that I see are cheapy copies with boring cover art. So I tried to limit myself to one-of-a-kind copies or to buying them during important events.

This rather nondescript version is actually pretty special since we bought it right after we were engaged. 
We ducked into a little used bookshop right after Zach flew to Philly and scared me half to death 
by showing up on my doorstep with something sparkly.

This one's so pretty. I got it from my sister and bro-in-law for Christmas last year.
They've also given me this one:

Tons of fun. Definitely the only bit of Marvel that I'm a fan of.

Then there are the weird ones:

 Don't ever read this. It's hilariously awful. I got it as a joke, but it's just sad. 
It's supposed to be about Darcy and Elizabeth after they get married, 
but it's basically juts a sex book. 
If I had to read about Darcy's burning loins one more time...

 And of course you've gotta have P,P&Z. Honestly, I've never read this, 
I got it for Zach. It combines both of our obsessions 
in one gross, so-far-from-what-the-original-author-intended book. 

 I hadn't added to my collection in quite some time, but with the birth of my daughter came another new addition:

 Starting her off young. ; )

 Cracks me up. But who are we kidding? 
This is Mommy's book, Jaina's just borrowing it for a little while.

 It lives way up on the top shelf. 
She can play with it once she learns that books are for reading, not for eating.

 You can tell just how far I let my obsession get by what I let myself make this summer.

 That's right. That's a cross stitch. Hey, I was on bed-rest. I needed something to occupy my fingers and my brain, and this was perfect. 

Do you have a favorite book? One that you don't mind reading over and over? I hope my baby girl grows up loving to read as much as I do.  

Stay tuned for some fun projects we're doing around the house!