What our office looks like today.

It’s been on our to-do list for some time.  To transform and update our office.  It was especially important to get on the ball with this when Dean started working from home over a year ago.  To flash back, here are some pictures from the first months we moved into our house.  Our office space was a catch all for boxes of files and tech junk.  We had a small kid size desk that was from Dean’s childhood. And it was a medium avocado green.  Which I felt was too dark for the space. We also had carpet in here which we later changed out to match the other flooring in our home. (It’s Amtico Limewashed Wood  flooring.)

At this point, we decided it was time to get going on the office. You can see we’d started to pick out some sample paint colors, cleaned out the junk and painted.  A lot of this was recorded in this 2014 post as we went through the process.

BEFORE (circa Fall 2014):


We ended up with the Beach House paint color (bottom left of the colors above).

and here was our MID-AFTER (Nov 2014):

You can see the new paint color, cleaned out space and updated flooring. We also added some color to the closet and shelves for storage to get all those boxes out of the main office room:


So we pick up at the beginning of 2016 – Dean went away for his annual golf weekend with his dad and brother and I had the weekend to myself.  By this point, we’d bought a new ADULT-SIZED desk that we found online and loved!

If you recall my 2015 house goals, I’d really been wanting to add some molding to the sitting room we have near the office but after thinking about it, I thought since we got a big floating desk my original plans for some shelving in the office probably weren’t as good an idea since it would probably be a lot of bumping into those when people sat in the chair. (Also, pat on the back to myself for realizing that we got all of these goals completed and even a few of the extras – not all in 2015 but it’s done!)

So back to the focal wall idea.  I saw something on a few blog posts and pinterest for doing a molding wall and that’s what I wanted to do.  But instead of the sitting room, I decided to tackle it in the office.  While Dean was on his golf trip, I had my parents come over and help me get it done.  It actually went by pretty fast once we got a system.  My dad also helped get crown molding installed. So here’s where the office is today.

BEFORE & AFTER (2016):

This is the office in early January with the new desk in there.

office mold before

And here it is almost complete – I was doing the caulking in the first pic and the last pics you can see the molding wall really well.

office 2016


I really love how it turned out and I think it makes the office look a little more sophisticated without taking up the space of shelving systems.

Thanks to my parents because they really helped me get this done with the husband away.


DIY: Toy Shelf Redo

I love doing little projects around the house to tweak something and recreate it so it fits my space. It can be as quick as a coat of spray paint on a vase or as involved as hanging a wall of molding in a room.

Over the past week or two, I slowly redid a kids toy shelf that I found online.  It was a great find for $50 given it’s a really solid wood piece.  I’d bet it was $200-300 new.

Here’s what it looked like to start: (with the exception that it comes with 6 wood baskets and only two are showing in the picture).


Here are all 6 of the baskets before I touched them.  It was fun bright colors, but I wanted them to look cohesive and match my vision for the play room.


I envisioned white piece with navy baskets to tie into our playroom space.

So I bought some lime green spray paint (Rustoleum Glossy Key Lime) to paint a few coats on the interiors of the baskets. I thought the lime would add a fun, unexpected pop of color when they’re pulled out. (FYI – I only needed two cans of spray paint to do two good coats on the interiors of all 6.)


While I let those dry for a few days, I painted the outside piece to take it from the light wood finish to a crisp white paint.  I just used some leftover molding paint we had in our garage.

Then it was time to paint the outsides of the boxes.  I found a navy color I liked at Lowes and had a small can mixed (Indigo Batik by Sherwin Williams).  It needed two to three good coats to cover all the bright color from before. I just used a small foam roller and it didn’t take long to do it – maybe 45 mins.


I’m always overly cautious when letting paint dry because it always seems to take longer than expected to get a nice hard cure.  So I left them in the garage for about a week.

Then we finally brought them upstairs to their new home in the playroom:

We’ve started filling it with books, blocks, train tracks and other fun boy toys!


DIY Christmas decor: A branchy Christmas tree

I love having a few decorative staples for the holidays.  The things I just pull out and plop in their designated spot.  But I hate spending money on said decorations and tend to hit up the picked-over after-Christmas specials only to find (unsurprisingly) that the good stuff is gone.

So sometimes, I have to resort to making my own décor.  I mean, who wants to spend $80 on a wreath?  (That’s why I made an inexpensive burlap wreath for the front door last year).

This year I needed to do something for my front nook. It’s actually a very large space (about 30 inches wide and nearly 4 feet tall), so it’s hard to decorate, in general.

I decided that I wanted to put a little tree farm in there but knew that buying a big tree decoration would be expensive.  So I decided to make my own.  I’ve seen trees that look similar to this so figured I could just make it myself with some free outdoor branches and a bunch of hot glue gun sticks.

What I thought would take an hour actually took me 3 hours!! And in the end, I really think it needs to be about 6 inches taller so I may hit the wooded area behind my house again to add some more to the base.

It was pretty simple to do. I found some branches and then took them four at a time, cut them to the size base I wanted and made a bunch of squares of branches that I glued together. Then I took the branch squares and glued them on top of each other, slowly narrowing the size of my boxes. I laid them on top of each other at various, staggered angles to create the rustic tree shape.

And while I think it looks really cute, it’s not the most sturdy craft so I don’t know how it will hold up year after year, but I’m going to try my best to get a few Christmases out of it!

Tips and tricks:
– Get a bunch of branches and find pieces that have similar widths to do each square so they are pretty consistent and stable.
– Use varying branch widths throughout so it adds some dimension.
– Use plenty of hot glue – I tried to get 3-4 contact points for each level.
– Take a look at it from multiple angles as you go. I definitely had it veering off to the side but pulled it apart and redid a few sections to clean it up and straighten in.
– Give yourself plenty of time – it takes a while to cut the branches to size (used landscape snips/cutters) and then match them up to each other.

At the end, I added a few silver and red mini ball ornaments. I also think a small strand of battery operated lights would be adorable or a cute topper! (Maybe next year!)


DIY: Nursery Initial Art

We all know I love a quick DIY project.  When I found out one of my friends was naming her son Colin Charles (and their last name also starts with C), the first thing I thought of was “C3” – kinda like RG3. Instead of getting the usual onesie or rattle, I decided to get a little more crafty with my baby gift.

Here’s what I came up with:

C3 tab

I chose orange and gray because she said those were her nursery colors.

It was super simple to make. Here’s how it came together:

1/Here’s what I started with. A wooden “canvas”, a wooden ‘C’ and then a small wooden ‘B’.  Why a ‘B’ you ask? Well, I couldn’t find any small letters, so I figured I could cut the side off of the ‘B’ and turn it into a ‘3’.  I just did this with a serrated kitchen knife. Then I sanded the edges to round them out.
2/ Here’s what the 3 looked like after it was cleaned up.
3/ I painted my C and 3 different shades of orange with craft paint I had on hand.  Then I painted the wood background white. I just used wall paint with primer built in.  I’m sure spray paint would also be awesome to use or craft paint. I wanted to use what I had.  After the white dried for 24 hours, I taped off lines so that I could add the gray stripes.  To figure out the distance between my stripes, I actually traced my background panel and tried out some different sketches on the cardboard. Once I was satisfied with the distances, I made little, tiny marks down both sides of the panel and then taped across. I think I ended up doing 1.5″ gray stripes with 1″ white stripes (which worked well since the painters tape was 1″ thick).


4/ I painted a couple coats of gray.
5/ Then immediately took off the tape to see my stripes.
6/ The last step was just using wood glue to attach the C and 3. I laid them out first to confirm my spacing without glue and then once I felt good about it, I added the glue and let it sit for 12 hours (overnight) just to make sure it dried completely.


I think it turned out cute.  And here is a pic my friend texted of it hanging in her nursery:

C3 final

What other gifts have you given in lieu of the usual baby outfit or toy?

Pinterest: How To – Carnival Games

I posted last week some of the details (here and here) from our Carnival themed party for the kiddos.  Two of the things activities for the kids were games: Prize Pong and Punch a Hole.  Today, I’ll share a quick behind the scenes of how these came together.

Punch A Hole:


Here’s how it was made:

1. Used some scrap plywood that came with a recent furniture purchase.  It worked well.
2. Spray painted with some leftover teal paint which worked with our teal, red, yellow color palette.
3. Used monkey glue to attach some spaced out dollar store paper cups.
4. Made a quick sign on the computer, mounted it on fun paper and attached to the plywood with wood glue. Also filled the cups with small, light (don’t get heavy prizes! this game isn’t that sturdy!) dollar store trinkets. When I was at the dollar store I kinda tested in the store to make sure my prize would fit in the cups before I bought them.
5. Cut squares out of tissue paper that are slightly larger than the cup diameter.  Attach with rubber bands.  (This was key for us because we needed to be able to reset the game in between parties so that it looked great and was easily refilled. We didn’t want Party #2 friends to see a completely busted up game!)
We just set it up on a chair outside so that it was easy for the kids to reach.  They each got to punch out a cup and take the prize!



Prize Pong:

party31 party33

We set up this game on a folding table and it was played similar to Beer Pong.  Kids stood a couple feet from the table and threw the ping pong ball into the water filled cups. Whichever color cup they landed in, they got a corresponding prize from the other side of the table. We had orange paper, green paper and blue paper with prizes. Prizes went up in value so orange were least valuable to the green which were most valuable since there were less green cups than orange. (Who’s kidding though, they were all dollar store items, so some were just 25 cents while green prizes might be a full dollar! Big spenders, I know!)

They were super easy to set up. I just took craft paint in three colors and painted the outside bottoms of the cups. I didn’t paint the inside because I didn’t want the water to wash away the color.

Prize Pong 1

And as I mentioned before, we made the most orange colored, some blue colored and just a few green so that we could make value of the prizes also tier.

Prize Pong 2

Super easy and fun. For the little kids party – 3 year olds – they were VERY close to the table when shooting – i.e. 1 foot away!  The big kids – 5 year olds – were a few steps back.  They loved being able to pick a prize and especially if they got the green cup!


NGATI: Carnival Birthday Party

I know, I know. I hyped up carnival birthday party and then I left you hanging.  Candidly, after all the busyness leading up to carnival party and then the party itself, I just couldn’t bring myself to download all the pics and sort through them – and there were a ton of them.  So many that I’m going to make this a two part post – one post of the fun and then one post of the details. Because other people may want to copy some of the ideas for their own party.

Today, I’ll show you how the party went down. Some of the details and activities we had for the day.  (This was a pretty simple party to pull off since we used this theme for our parents surprise 50th birthday a few years ago – we just modified a bunch of activities to make them kid friendly.  We knew it was unlikely to have success at a football throw and ring toss!) And tomorrow, I’ll share some of the cuteness that celebrated it!

Step right up and come in to the carnival.

Picture yourself as a trapeze queen or the strongest man in the world.


An angle of the yard with the games in the back and the bouncehouse front and center.

The complete spread of carnival eats.

including “popcorn” cupcakes.
The popcorn was made out of cut marshmallows.

All set up on the stand so kids could pick their flavor.  (PS Sams is a great choice for inexpensive cupcakes and you can request colored icing if you order in advance!)

We didn’t serve JUST sugary treats…


we had ‘striped’ fruit skewers of strawberries and bananas,

hot dogs and veggie cups.
And what is a carnival without some carnival games! We set up a punch a hole (super easy to make)
And we had prize pong, which is basically kid-friendly beer pong. Whatever color their ball lands on they pick a coordinating prize!


And all carnivals offer tattoos, so we found some cute coordinating ones on Oriental Trading.


We just pinned them individually onto foam board so that kids could see the options and pick one out!


And of course, a little “thanks for coming” treat of animal crackers and a tattoo for at home.

Tomorrow, we’ll have the action shots 🙂 It really was a fun event and the cotton candy and popcorn machines were a huge hit!

DIY: Cleaning our grout

Dean and I recently undertook a huge grout cleaning project.  We have tile in about 40% of our downstairs level.  It’s a LOT of tile.  And it looked dirty.  Brown poo colored dirty.  I’d used a couple of products in ‘test’ areas over the past year and hadn’t found anything to really clean our grout.  It was especially bad in the kitchen – no shock since that is the most trafficked area of our home and a TON of messy things spill on the floor in there.  It had been dark since we bought the house and it just always made the house look dirty, even when it was freshly mopped.

I’d looked for ideas online and came across blog posts on Young House Love and Chris Loves Julia that showed them using a grout ‘paint’ product to clean their grout.  I checked our big box hardware store and they had it in stock. I believe the brand we used was Grout Renew in Biscuit color.  A lot of the colors were dark and I wanted something lighter but not white.

So far, we’ve had it for about a month and we’re loving how it looks.  It’s made such a difference in the downstairs and how much brighter the room looks. Plus it blends with the white Amtico flooring even better.

Here are some shots of the before and after:

1/ You can see how dirty it was before – this is a close up of the tile and grout.
2/ Here you can see what the original color of the grout was when the house was first built.  It was a light gray-beige tone.  You could still see the light color in the closets and close to the walls where there wasn’t much traffic.
3/ An official before picture – the wide angle
4/ After the first couple ‘shifts’ of application – what a difference!

floor grout1

5/ Here are aerial shots looking into our foyer and then into the ‘nook’ area.  This area wasn’t as bad as the kitchen, but you can definitely see a difference in the before and after.
6/ The nook completely finished.


And here are pictures of the process. I have to give a shout out to my husband for coming up with this technique. If we were still using my technique, we’d still be working on this.  My process was to paint a thin strip, take a craft brush and paint a couple lines carefully working to stay in the lines. Then immediately wiping the wet edges with paper towels.

Dean taught me that if you just brush quickly and really fill it in and let it dry, then you can come back later with a scruffy pad and scrape off the edges. This way worked MUCH faster.  We did 3x the amount of surface his way than mine.

Below you can see the thin bead of paint – a little goes a long way with this stuff an a lot of my beads had breaks in them and I had excess paint that I scraped into other areas.  You can also see how we painted outside the lines to let it dry. Then after letting it dry for a while – maybe an hour or so – we’d come back with the green scrub pad and scrape it up.  If it was really stuck for drying too long, we’d slightly wet the pad and it would help.


Tricks for doing it this way:  Have a bunch of green pads.  Work in sections – we worked one way top to bottom and then after about an hour, let the second person start doing the scrub off while the second person continues with the painting.  Go back when you have good natural light and double check for areas you might have missed some wipe off.  Sometimes when its still wet or you wet your pad, you’ll scrape up the paint – go back and just do a very careful touch up in those areas wiping the excess immediately while it’s still wet.

It took us about 10 hours for us to do this.  Sometimes we were working separately – one doing bath duty while the other worked. But for 70%, I’d say we both worked together.  So definitely time consuming.  Of course, we had a huge chunk of s.f. to cover so we weren’t just doing one little bathroom. We did a foyer, hallway, half bath, nook into the garage and kitchen with eat-in area.

Afterwards, we bought a separate grout sealer and did a quick pass on everything. Because this was clear and had a built in brush tip, it went on very quickly.  (Even though the product has a built-in sealer, we wanted the extra layer of protection. My knees can’t handle 10 more hours of grout painting anytime soon!)

Overall, we love the results and it is still looking brand new after a few moppings!