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Carmen San Diego

Anyone remember that show?


Because I was kind’ve banking on the fact that the song would now be stuck in your heads.

[you’re welcome!]


Well, I feel like I’ve been singing that song a bit too often, lately, because every post that I’ve written and either published or scheduled to publish the next day has apparently not actually done so.


Every.  Single.  Post.


What in the world?!  I didn’t realize.  In fact, I never even double-checked because I just assumed that when wordpress told me it was publishing that it wasn’t a big, fat, liar-pants.


So I’m sorry for disappearing after saying that I was finally back.  And frankly, I’m not sure I even remember everything that I posted on because… well… nothing is stored anywhere!


Regardless of the list of excuses (ex: “I swear it wasn’t my fault – wordpress ate my homework!”), I’m hoping to post some projects that I’ve been working on here and there for friends and family as well as my own house, and also hope to finally get some half-decent pictures of the house up for y’all so that you can see what I’m working with.  The goal is then to put out some ideas and feelers and see if any of you have some tips for decor or ideas for where I can score some great finds – the plan is for this to be a bit of a collaborative effort, rather than just another DIY page.


I’m also planning to post some half-finished or not-yet-begun projects to get some opinions on where to take them.  A kind of “reader’s choice” for some things, with some already completed projects and how-tos mixed in for giggles.


Well… that’s all.  I know it seems like another excuse, but I swear I thought I had posted at least 3 times within the past couple of weeks, so I’m sorry to seem MIA again… I actually wasn’t this time!  Now this time, I’m copying everything and verifying it has published from a difference device.

Because fool me four times…. and I’ve really just earned it at that point.




Color Theory, Part III

I finally did it!

I took out the camera (read: not the iPhone) and took some pics of the Master bedroom so that you can see how the color actually translated in our space.  This is the moment of truth… this is when you either decide I’m super crazy and possibly color blind, OR you join me in my sorrow and admit that it’s not just me!

Don’t know about you,butI’m really pulling for that last one.

Anywho, instead of stretching this out too much further I will jump right to the chase.  As a reminder of how far we’ve come, here’s the “before” collage again:

Yeah.  It IS just as bad as you remembered.  That part is unfortunately not only true, but forever burned into my memory.

And now for the big reveal, here’s the “after” picture (and hopefully soon just a “progress” picture in the journey to a winning, permanent color

*drumroll please*

Agh!  See how not warm and greigey it is?  Not. At. All.

Remember, THIS is what we were hoping for when we picked Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter:


But instead, we ended up with some kind of iced blue-grey color.. which may not be bad for some spaces or tastes, but this is quite a large room, and having all of the walls this ice-grey just turns the space into a cold, wintry, uber boring space.  And that’s SO not what I was going for.

I wanted the warmth of the image above.  The crisp, neutral color that would play well with pretty much anything I put in there.  It’s lighten up the space, but keep it feeling cozy.  It it isn’t too brown or yellow… but it is JUST right.

Welp – that perfect color still eludes me.  And for now, I wake up every morning to quick albeit fleeting, a moment of panic that I’ve been thrown unwillingly into an insane asylum.  And that’s NOT a fun feeling… especially for someone like me who occasionally wonders if they aren’t too far off from being qualified for an extended stay.

So for now, this is what we are dealing with:

In the interest of full disclosure, there are very brief moments in the day, in very small corners of the room, where the sunlight hits the walls just right and we see a tinge of that warmth we were looking for when we decided to pull the trigger on this color selection:


And it’s JUST enough to drive me absolutely batty.  Because when I happen to be in the room during these fleeting moments of warmth, I wonder how it could possibly have translated so poorly throughout the majority of the day and on the majority of the wall space.  Because THAT is eXACTly what I wanted to walls to look like!

But noon.  That’s WAY too easy, Hope.

So when I see this warmth peek through, there’s a part of me that wonders if I should just try sticking with this color, but having it mixed at 125 or maybe 150%.  Perhaps going just a skosh darker would be just the ticket to bringing out more of that warmth we were hoping for.

But instead, we have this.

Although it is definitely temporary, we’re not sure when it’ll bump back up on the priority list enough for us to actually repaint the room (especially considering it took us about 2.5 days to do it the first time).  And frankly, when that time does finally come, I’m not sure I’ll be comfortable enough with committing to another color that may end up steering me wrong yet again.  Because doing this a THIRD time just sounds crazy!

So… that’s where we sit.  I keep from hanging any decor in our room because I just want to repaint it anyway.  Well, that and the fact that I want to find and refinish a dresser to replace the one we currently have, so it seems almost silly to put a room together with all of this still up in the air.

And don’t get me wrong – the change from the before to the after/progress pics is still a HUGE improvement.  And waking up in a stark cold room seems like more of a clean slate then dealing with the baby poo yellow ANY day of the week.  I just wish that I didn’t feel like we wasted 2.5 days of work for nothing.  :/

Now that you’ve seen it… What do you think?  Has anyone else had such bad luck with picking paint colors?  And let’s hear it – do you think I”m crazy for being so disappointed, or do you agree that it is MUCH colder than it appears in the inspiration pictures?


The Nooky

Breakfast style, that is.  Get your minds out of the gutter, people.

tsk. tsk. tsk.

Today is all about the breakfast nook.  More specifically, the little table that sits in it.  Because what good is a breakfast nook if you can’t actually enjoy your breakfast there, right?  Right!

From the day we moved into this house, I new I needed a round table for the breakfast nook.  You see, the room itself is shaped like an octagon, and even though it’s large, I thought it was seem silly to put a square or rectangular table in it.  In a dream world, I’d love to have some kind of booth-able situation… you know, a room where having a table with a booth could make sense.  But with low windows, a walkway cutting through, and a broad shape… there was no way to make that happen here.  Enter the round table plan.

I’m not sure if you’re aware, but finding a simple round pedestal table with four chairs for less than $200 is NOT easy.  Especially not when you only have a few weeks to find one.  And what I really wanted was a nice table that I could refinish myself.  I had just bought my new Ryobi orbital sander for a ridiculous amount of money (I practically stole the thing, you guys.  Seriously – $11?  How is that possible?!) and was itching to try the thing out.  Plus, we had so much deep, dark wood in the adjoining kitchen that I was hoping to something a bit lighter for the breakfast nook so that things didn’t feel so weighed down.

I looked ALL over.  After all the searching, I found a couple options in our area on craigslist, but they weren’t the best prices, and even then… I never got a response.

Do the people want to sell the thing, or what?!  Get it togetha!

FINALLY I stumbled upon an amazing situation.

Not only did I find this 48″ round pedestal table for $150, but it was also raw wood.

Did you read that?!  RAW WOOD!  That meant even LESS time prepping the thing so that I could refinish it as planned… which was perfect, because this was also about the time we found out that we were hosting family Christmas and we only had 6 weeks to get our house ready.

Umm… hold please.

I need to be sure you understand – the 6 weeks was not the amount of tie we had to wash the sheets for the guest bed, run a vacuum, and fluff a few pillows… we had a MASSIVE undertaking with purchasing and refinishing a kitchen table, dining room table, and sorting out the entertainment center situation, purchasing a queen-sized bed, painting the guest room (the walls were covered in planets and personal notes… be sure to look for that post in the new future.  smh), buying and installing shower curtain rods in the guest bathrooms, unpacking the rest of the boxes that were still living in said guest rooms, and decorating for Christmas somewhere in there.  Umm… no big deal, right?  Did I mention that we both have full-time jobs that tend to have us working longer than 40-hour weeks?  Yeah.  I was gonna lose my mind.  No doubt about it.

Anywho – hopefully you can know understand the amazingness that is us having found this raw wood table.  Exactly the size we needed, in raw wood, and available for pick-up immediately.  SOLD!!

Although I once again have crappy pictures (I promise that I finally charged my camera battery, so these awful, yellowy pictures should stop, soon… just gotta catch up on the posts and then I promise that you’ll have some better pictures to look at), here’s a quick iPhone photo of what I brought home that day:

I know it may not look like much, but it was EXACTLY what we needed!  And it didn’t take long for me to whip out all of the stuff I needed and get to work.

Now I’m sure that some of you may be wondering why I needed to sand the table since it was raw wood to begin with.  Well, I’m glad you asked.  😛

You see, even when working with Raw Wood, you want to sand the wood as a way to prepare the surface.  If you were going to apply something like paint (esp. chalk paint), this wouldn’t be necessary.  You’d get to skip this part and go straight to wiping it down to rid the piece of any dust or dirt, or anything that would get into your paint and irritate the mess out of you… because we ALL know that’s what’ll happen.  Lesbionest. (sorry… just channeling my inner Fat Amy. movingrightalong)

Also, when working with Raw Wood, there’s bound to be a knick or mark somewhere on the piece.  So a simple sanding will help to level out these marks and rid your piece of any of those marks so that you can end with a beautifully stained piece and you won’t see those marks peaking through.  Here’s a simple before show so you can see how little the marks and knicks were on mine.

The fact that they were little didn’t really matter, though.  When you put your time into fixing up a piece, you don’t want some junky black mark jumping out through the finish, so that’s why we nip it in the behind right from the start.

In my case, since I was planning to paint the bottom of the table, I skipped the sanding step for the base.  I’ll be honest, though… taking one look at all of those nooks and crannies really just pushed me right on in to painting land.  Sanding all of that mess was not on my list of ideal tasks, so… paint’ll do!

One thing that I didn’t take any pictures of, and I really wish that I had (constantly kicking myself for missing the obvious), is the difference between using and not using wood conditioner.  So I’m going to steal a few example shots from the interwebs (click on pics to link to original posts) because it is a MASSIVE must-do when it comes to staining your wood…

Can you see the difference there?  No, it’s not your screen.  Wood, on it’s own, is going to absorb your stain and finish in a really blotchy and uneven manner (left image).  Applying wood conditioner will reduce this effect greatly (right image).  Here’s another couple of examples, just to drive the point home:

Amazing different, right?  Basically, if you are as invested in the pieces that you are finishing as I am to mine, you do NOT want to cut corners and skip this step.  Now that this poor horse has been killed 3 times over, it’s probably safe to move on.  Aaaaaanywho

I started staining (and once again, forgot to take a progress shot) the top of the table, and planned to paint the base and such between coats.  This, I learned the hard way, is not the ideal way to finish a piece you plan to stain AND paint.  Take it from me… and I’m sure you’ll hear many different preferences and version of this story, but in my experience paint and THEN stain.  You can always touch up paint, but touching up stain is not an option.  Unfortunately.  *le sigh

So I applied the first coat of stain to the tabletop and then moved to the base to apply the first coat of paint.  (Note:  If you have a paint sprayer, your life is better than mine.  Also, this is a good use for it.)

For those of you that are CDO like myself (hint: CDO is like OCD but with the letters in alphabetical order like they should be), you’re probably thinking “did you use Wood Conditioner?  Because that looks pretty dagger splotchy to me.” Yes.  Thank you for that.  But this is WITH wood conditioner and only one coat of stain (laid on pretty thick, might I add).  I’m sure you can imagine how nasty uneven and splotchy this baby would’ve been without the wood conditioner.  MmHmm.  Exactly.

Oops… did I just beat that horse again?  My bad, dude.  My bad.

If you look in the background of the above picture, you can also see that the base has it’s first coat done as well.  Woot!  *selfhighfive

Another coat on each, and it was looking even better:

Hey there, pretty.

Now she just needed me to paint her trim and then we were golden.  Trim?  Ledge?  Neck?  I think we all know what I’m talking about.

Well, this is where I discovered that painting the TrimLedgeNeck before staining would’ve been better.  Not only does stain take a LOT longer to set and dry then paint does, but because it’s also less forgiving, it makes me a heaping mess of “IT’S NOT GOOD ENOUGH!!” while trying to tape everything off underneath.

And I really don’t want you to have to go through that.  Save yourself.  Protect your loved ones.  Paint before you stain!

Now… you guys wanna see something hott?!  You know you do…



Hey there, good lookin’.  Wanna some over to my place and stay a’while?


And there we have it.

Now there’s still a LOT of work to do in this breakfast nook, so don’t judge me for the room… just focus on the table.  Simple.  Pretty.  And finished.

I should probably point out that I used a satin poly finish on this table.  I’m not sure if you can tell, but that’s what helps it look so glossy.  I was tempted to try out a matte poly to give it a more rustic look, but since I didn’t have time to rough up any other bits of the table, I feared it would actually just look dull rather than rustic, and then I’d be super bummed because of all the work I’d put into it.

See?  I get a little too attached to the projects I work on, so it tends to take some time to really finalize what I want to do before starting things.  Hopefully that won’t translate to taking forever to do things, but… I suppose we shall have to wait and see.

For now I’m still recovering from the 6 weeks of jam-packed pre-Christmas house preparation, so Lord only knows when I’ll be picking up another project.

Then again… knowing me, it won’t be long at all.  I’m kind’ve a sucker for this stuff.

Maybe it’s the drama of it all that keeps me going in the end.  HAHA Wait… no… it’s the lack of money and ability to find what I’m looking for most of the time anyway.  Yep… that’s definitely it.  If you can’t find it, just make it yourself.

So what are you all working on these days?  Any big projects around the house?  Are you still recovering from Christmas with the family as well, or is it just Studly and I that take about a month to bounce back?


Kick In The Pants

That’s exactly what I need, these days.  Someone really needs to just light a fire under this bum of mine.

I have all these ideas and plans and this big vision… but that’s where it has ended for this chick.  I have no “get up and go” to go with it.  It’s ridiculous.

We’ve been focussing on creating heather habits, which is awesome, of course.  But we really need to tsp up our game.

Sadly, we still have a few boxes that haven’t been unpacked (I’m ashamed!)… and we haven’t done like ANYthing in the way of decorating.  All of this translates to this place not really feeling like home yet.  And that’s almost 3 90 days after moving in.  And since we live in a new city and don’t really no anyone, feeling like home is kind’ve a big deal.  So I really need to get it in gear and start “moving in” to this place.

The problem?  I’m one of those people who doesn’t like to make decorating decisions in a room where we plan to replace big, key pieces of furniture.  Like our living room – our plan, within the next month or two, is to get a new entertainment center.  And that will really change the feel of the room AND mean relocating the things that I hang around that space.  So my “default” would be to hold off on hanging things in that room until that happens.  And then I think “Well, what I even want to put in there could change.  Right?”  I typically look at everything I have, and put things in a room that fits it.  But changing up the room could mean that different pieces would work better in there.

Well this is exactly why I hadn’t even started on this stuff thus far.  BUT the fact of the matter is that I need to get over it and just patch walls when necessary.  Luckily one of my favorite tricks is to not put nails into the wall unless I really have to.  So here’s what I normally use for wall art that isn’t too heavy:

BOOM!  I promise you – it makes ALL the difference.  AND it makes life sooo much easier for the following reasons:

  1. No more measuring for nail holes to be in just the right location to match up with the hanging hardware.  You just pick a spot, put the velcro pieces on the back of the art piece, and push against hard the wall for about 30 seconds.  Wah-lah!
  2. No more swinging art pieces and slamming doors or bumping into walls and knocking pieces off of the wall.  Using the velcro pieces on the top and bottom of the piece provides a layer of security that a couple nails just can’t offer.
  3. No more spackling, sanding, repainting just to move or switch out wall decor.  You just pull the piece off, remove the velcro piece from the wall, and reapply just the wall-pieces in order to re-hang in the decor a new location.

It’s worked so well in the past, so I’m glad to know that there won’t be any issues.  I can solve our problem of not quite feeling at home without committing to permanent decor placement in a room that is going to be changing in a pretty short period of time.  It’s exactly what we need here.

So… assuming that I can get off my bum and just get stuff done, we’ll be in great shape to start cozying up to our homey home (not to be confused with a homie home… ’cause we aren’t quite that cool).

What kinds of tips/tricks do you guys rely on when moving into a space?  How long do you typically take to “move in” to your space?  Am I the only one that still has unpacked boxes in the house?

This week, Hope is Trying to make a house a home.  What are you up to?


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