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House Tweaking


I don't know about you, but I find myself constantly making changes to my home - some big, some small.  Sometimes the small things are all you need to keep your home feeling fresh and just a wee bit more updated and new.

I found this deer head at HomeGoods (how I love thee), and switched out a clock in my basement gallery wall to make space for it.

Pre-deer gallery wall:

And here it is now.  See what I mean?  That's the great thing about gallery walls - so easy to change things up with new finds or meaningful items.  A small tweak makes me happy.  I'm already envisioning a scarf around this guy's neck for the holidays.  (I'm a dork like that).

While some people in my family (who shall remain nameless) were mocking my faux deer, I love how it looks in the context of my gallery wall.  So, Mr. Deer, I'm glad you're here.

I have continued my "Stain Without Pain" project (a great house tweak).  With a little time and effort, it's giving much of the woodwork in my home a new lease on life!

Here is an old photo of the front doors, dressed up for the holidays.

I took a photo before I got to work, so you can get a glimpse of what it looks like now.  Sorry for the late day shadows.

One side stained with the first coat - already an improvement!  I was on the fence as to where to "stop" with the stain, and carried it up to the crown molding.

When I dragged my husband outside to admire my work, I told him, "Why do I get the feeling that I'm going to end up staining this whole area, ceiling and all?"

Are you a house tweaker?  What do you do to keep your home feeling fresh?

Linking up:
Thrifty Décor Chick - November Before and After Party


A Halloween Birthday Party

Happy Monday!

I hope you had a great weekend and are ready to kick off a new week.  It was a great weekend around here, and we celebrated my daughter's 8th birthday with a Halloween/costume party themed birthday party (even though her birthday was earlier this month).  I'm thinking I need to go this route every year, as it's so easy (and fun) to come up with Halloween themed activities!

We went with a cute party invitation from Shutterfly.

My daughter went with a vampire costume this year - a stark departure from her usual (more girly) choices.

We had a lot of fun putting together the party games and gift bags.  We had goodie bags for all of the girls ready to go:

I found cute little Halloween brads in the scrapbooking section of Hobby Lobby, that paired up nicely with the ribbon we found to embellish the orange bags-o-treats.

And fun Halloween prize bags that I scored from Target to hold the party prizes.  At $1 each, I couldn't pass them up!  (The bat is my favorite.)

I spotted some adorable cupcake ideas from Better Homes and Gardens via their Pinterest page, and showed them to my uber-creative and talented friend, Vanessa.  She has been taking a cake decorating class, and whipped up these adorable cupcakes.

Aren't they the cutest?

I made sure to have party games ready to keep these girls occupied, and found a great resource here.  We played Hot Potato (using a small pumpkin, of course), and a version of Halloween Bingo (a good call, since they had to sit still and listen). ;-)

I managed to gather the girls for a photo op:

But not without the dog getting in on the party action with a photo bomb...

He made sure to take advantage of all of their attention.

Then I let the girls get their crazy on.

Suffice to say, I was pooped out after the party, but it was so much fun to plan it with my daughter.  She appreciates the details that go into it and was as enthusiastic about it as I was.

Any tips on surviving future crazy girl parties? ;-)  Next time I will invest in more helpers - I underestimated the Crazy Factor when it comes to corralling 16 second graders.  My husband had to take my oldest to a baseball tournament game, so my 12 year-old was my backup support.  Lesson learned!

Linking up:
A Stroll Thru Life - Inspire Me Tuesday


Front Doors: Stain Without Pain


Since I'm a glutton for punishment and must secretly thrive on chaos, why not add another project to the mix?  For the longest time, I have wanted to stain our double front doors in a richer color.  I have ogled front doors like this stunner - what's not to like?
And this:

Or this:

One more - bear with me on the front door crushes I'm having:

All gorgeous, right?

However, the thought of stripping my front doors was daunting, and not something I was looking forward to tackling.  You can see in this photo that the exterior side of the front doors are looking a bit faded.
Inside isn't quite as faded, but still isn't as dark as I would like.
So, you can see that they're taped off and ready for action, but yet, they're not sanded down to the bare wood.  You're probably thinking, "What is she doing?  How can you possibly stain a front door without sanding off the old stain?"
Enter General Finishes Gel Stain.  The magic stain of my dreams.
After stumbling upon Monica's amazing oak to espresso bathroom vanity makeover, I was obsessed.  Seriously, I don't even remember how I found her blog and this project.  I think I was reading a Houzz article and one thing led to another.  I wasn't even looking for it - I like to think it found me. :-) 
I was in awe of her transformation.
Amazing, right?  And she did this without sanding off the original honey oak finish.  "Impossible!" I thought.  I had to read her FAQ more than once to believe it myself.  But, it's true.
So, I hustled out around town in search of this miracle product.  It must be popular, because one shop told me that about 10 people had recently inquired about it, and another store even knew the color that I was looking for before I said a word.  I think the jig is up and word is travelling fast.
I snapped up some of the stain, and got to work yesterday.  Even with one coat, I'm loving the difference.  The door on the left has been stained - sorry about the photo quality, I was trying to work quickly to maintain an even stain application, and was taking this picture with a sock full of stain on one hand.  But, you get the idea.

So, I am going to get my beautifully dark front doors without the back breaking work of sanding off the old finish entirely.  I'm really excited to get to the outside of the front doors since they are looking the most faded.
Of course, this also has my wheels turning on staining other areas...  Like the banisters.
And the dining room built-ins (you can see the outside of them here).
Here's an old photo of the opposite side of the built-ins, in the dining room.
Our kitchen breakfast bar is the same color, and it's also on my list.  So many possibilities!
So, have I just been under a rock and am behind the curve in discovering this gel stain?  Have you used it?  Or did you go the hard route and sand down a piece to the bare wood before refinishing?
Linking up:


DIY Stone Fireplace Progress


I'm pleased to share that we are making some tangible progress on the fireplace, and with any luck, we'll have it done within a year of starting this never ending project!  But, sometimes that's the way the DIY cookie crumbles.

For starters, we have stone.

It's pretty and it's heavy.  We opted for Brighton Ledgestone from Heritage Stone.  The end goal is for it to look like this when it's done.

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a wee bit nervous about doing this ourselves.  Redoing the kitchen cabinets was a project to say the least, but this one seems more daunting.  But, I take solace in talking to the folks who sold me the stone, since two of them in the office did their own stone work and neither of them are stone masons.  So, there is hope.

We got the top portion of the fireplace framed, and are in the process of finishing off the cement board.  From here, we will attach a lath (rhymes with "bath" - not bathe, as I learned).  Then we will do a scratch coat over the lath before attaching the stone.  Although I'm still reading/researching other methods.  I think we will go with the lath approach.

We have also put up a box that will eventually be the mantel.  We're still refining the final design, but we're getting closer.

Still need to figure out the best set up, but diagrams like this one are helping me envision a possible final product.  It's really a blank canvas!

I still love the look of this fireplace mantel from Simplify, even though our fireplace will be stone.  Clean lines and so classic.

This fireplace (and room) is just a show stopper, isn't it?  Definitely one of my inspiration photos in pulling this fireplace together.

A wood mantel is also appealing.  But that means that all of your cuts need to be uber-precise.  I'm a big fan of caulk to hide the inevitable imperfections.  But isn't this stone fireplace spectacular with it's stained wood mantel and wood ceiling beams?

This is another gorgeous look.  See, endless possibilities!

I'm really getting excited about knocking this project off of our to-do list.  While working with your spouse can make you crazy be a challenge, I think we'll both be proud of the end result.  I'm already mentally accessorizing the fireplace - it's been so long!

What is the biggest DIY project you've tackled?  Was it a success or an epic fail?  Did you have setbacks along the way?  What did you learn?  Do tell!


Fall Home Coziness

Happy Friday!

We have an exciting weekend ahead of us - we're seeing The Eagles in concert, and I. can't. wait.  After watching their "Hell Freezes Over" concert on DVD, we made a pact with my parents that if they ever went on tour again, we would go.  Well, that time has come! 

I mentioned earlier this week, that HomeGoods was opening their new store in our area yesterday, and I managed to sneak over and snag a few things.  It was crowded, but not insanely so, and I have to give them kudos for being very organized.  My only complaint was that if you saw something and didn't pick it up, it would be GONE by the time you went back!

That said, I still picked up some goodies.  I spotted a pair of these chevron-esque pillows and knew they had to be mine.  I love that they're high quality, and the colors are perfect for my family room, or even my basement.

I think the fact that yesterday was one of our first truly chilly fall days that had me in the mood for warm and snuggly things - like this teal throw.  Plus, it matched the pillows perfectly.

And then there's this guy.  Still not sure where I'm putting him - lots of options!

He would look handsome in my indigo powder room, don't you think?

To give you an idea of how fast things were going, this was how the "deer head" shelf looked when I was picking out one for myself:

And later - semi-pillaged.

This is another item I missed out on by being too slow.  I guess it's for the best, because while I love it, I'm not sure where I would put it.

But it reminds me of this cool bathroom from this summer's Homearama:

Oh well, I'm sure I will be back at HomeGoods on a regular basis, and they are sure to replenish their supply of loveliness.

Have a beautiful weekend!