Easy Ninja Turtle Cupcakes

So, our little man turned 4 this week!  And when it came to his cupcakes I wanted to do something a little special.  Yup!  You guessed it!!  NINJA TURTLES!!  Thisismylifelately.

Now, as I was figuring out how I wanted to devise my cupcakes, I trolled Pinterest and the internet for ideas.  Unfortunately, many of the ninja turtle cupcakes I found looked way too complicated for my taste. I mean, super cute, but way too time consuming.  I’m talking detailed fondant with various layers, molded turtle heads…   not so much.  I mean, I wanted to do something special, but I didn’t have an unlimited amount of time to do it.   Then, I want to Walmart and spotted these eyeballs in the cake decorating section….


And the cables connected.

I purchased the following ingredients…


And got going.    First, I simply baked vanilla and chocolate cupcakes from a box (They were the Betty Crocker Super Moist variety).   And, well, if you’re friends with me on Facebook you already know this.  For those who aren’t, allow me to share…


Yeah.   Not my finest baking moment. Heehee!   At least my cupcakes resembled frogs, though.   So, that’s a plus.   Anyhoo, I couldn’t taste the cupcakes myself since they had gluten (I have celiac), so when Joey got home, I fed him about three of them.  Luckily, he said that not only were they miraculously cooked through, they were actually really moist and delicious.

And I rejoiced.

So, with that bullet dodged, I began the frosting process by mixing this green coloring gel into my fluffy white frosting to get a rich green tone….


I really prefer the coloring gels for frosting because they allow you to obtain a rich, bright color without watering down the frosting like liquid food dyes can.   I piped the frosting onto the cupcakes using an extra large round tip so that the frosting was relatively smooth.   I used the same simple piping method that I described in detail in this post from last year.

Once the frosting was piped on, I attached a flat piping tip directly to the tubes of colored frosting.


You guys.  I’m so excited that I found these!!  They make decorating a breeze since I no longer have to mix five different colors to acheive my desired effect.  And since they’re in a capped tube, you can store them and reuse them over and over.  Woot!Woot!   I wanted to simply add one stripe across each cupcake for their ninja turtle masks, so I practiced first on a paper towel…


I applied my stripe to the cupcake and added my candy eyeballs, which left this….


Heehee!   He makes me smile.  I repeated the process with all the different colors so that all the ninja turtles were represented…


And Lucas loved them….


And I mean, REALLY loved them….


Haha!!!  Check out the determination on his face.  He was taking that cupcake DOWN.  Like a BOSS.   Sorry cupcake, your life-saving pleas mean nothing here.  You do not stand a chance.  ;)

So, anyways, these were super easy to make (I think decorating them all took me maybe 15-20 minutes, tops, from start to finish) and I’d gladly make them again.   So, with that, we wish our baby big boy a happy birthday and a brilliant 4th year.  :)

That time I ran off a paint crew…

It’s been a long time since I’ve mentioned our house’s exterior.   Here it is on the day we closed in all it’s mismatched glory…


Now, I’ll admit, the paint color doesn’t look uber offensive in the photo above, but in person… Meh.  It was all one color.  No contrast.  No interest.  Something was missing.  In short, it was a giant yawn.    And it wasn’t even a well-maintained yawn.  The paint job had definitely seen better days.  The paint was peeling in many spots, caulk was hanging off the house in places, etc.  It just looked sloppy.  We were told by neighbors that the last time the house went into foreclosure (it’s been foreclosed on twice), the bank did that quick, cheapo paint job to get the house sold.  Apparently, our home was light green with dark green trim prior to that.  Can you imagine??  I’ll bet it blended right in with the shrubbery.

During our home inspection, the inspector recommended that we get the house painted sooner rather than later to get the house all sealed up and water-tight.  So, after we moved in we got an estimate by the same company who’d painted Joey’s parents’ house.   My in-laws were incredibly impressed by the amount of prep work and care that was taken during the process, so we knew that we wanted to go through them, as well.

We got an estimate, and were told that if we stuck with lighter colors, one coat would do the trick.  Darker colors would require a second coat which would be an additional $1600.   Yeah.  So, one coat.

The sales guy recommended  Sherwin Williams Loggia.  He stated that this would be the darkest we could go while still only doing one coat.   So, after holding up about twenty swatches and really narrowing it down, we ultimately decided that he was right and we’d go with Loggia.   I purchased samples of both Loggia and Loggia at 25% saturation for the trim (this is 75% lighter than the original color).   And we painted samples all over  the house….




…which we liked.   The initial plan was to paint the entire body of the house Loggia and the trim at the roof-line the lighter color.  But then they started painting.   Let’s just say that once the paint was up in larger splotches, there wasn’t nearly as much contrast as I’d hoped.  The colors were very similar (Loggia is on the stucco and the lighter 25% Loggia is on the trim)….


I was SO incredibly bummed.   I was looking for BAM! Contrast.  And what I got was BAM’s loser brother, Meh.   Again with the Meh.  Ugh!  So, learn from my mistakes… When painting the exterior of your house…

#1: The colors will appear lighter than expected, so go darker.  And…

#2: You need to choose WAY more contrast than you’d think to make an impact.  Go bold!

So anyways, here we were, painters at the house, completely disliking the plan.  So, we decided to change course and instead of just using the lighter color on the roof-line trim only, we’d go ahead and paint all of the wood siding on the house the lighter tone and the stucco dark.  We wanted to add interest in SOME way and the contrast was much more apparent when both colors were on the same plane.  Plus, the house is unique and we felt that adding a two-toned effect would help accentuate it’s character.

Now, for how I ran off a paint crew.   The timeline of events went as follows…

On Wednesday, they powerwashed.

On Thursday, they prepped (or at least they were supposed to).   When Thursday came, both Joey and I were shocked when around lunchtime they began painting.  We’d been told that prep would be Thursday and painting would start Friday.   Once the painting commenced, there were some communication issues regarding where we wanted the paint colors.  I would discuss what I wanted with the crew leader, and either he wasn’t communicating to his crew, or they weren’t listening, because I would walk out and they’d be doing the opposite of what I said, so then we’d have to start over.   So, I was somewhat frustrated by this point. Then, came the biggie… very little around our house was taped off and covered up.   We started noticing paint dust on our pool filter and other items surrounding the house.  The final straw came, when I found this…



Dried caulking all over our patio cushions (these are just a few examples), as well as footprints where the painters had been STANDING WITH THEIR DIRTY SHOES.   When they had about fourteen ladders nearby.  Um, no.   I was unable to communicate with the painters due to a language barrier and the crew leader who did speak English had left, so I called the foreman and politely reported the situation and asked whether these items should be covered.   He agreed that they should’ve been covered without a doubt and that he was shocked to hear this.  When the crew leader returned, I showed him the damage to the cushions, and he tried (unsuccessfully) to clean them.  Then, he stated “accidents happen” to which I brought up the fact that it’s not an accident when his crew was standing with their muddy shoes on our upholstered furniture.   He asked the crew whether this was true and they answered in the affirmative.  Then, he looked at me and stated “You tell (the foreman), you get another team for tomorrow.”.   I clarified that I wasn’t asking for another team, I was simply asking that they cover stuff up before painting and NOT stand on my furniture.   And he stated “No, I say you get another team.”   Greatness.   I wasn’t even rude (I mean sure, I wasn’t exactly smiles and rainbows either, but c’mon.).

So, the next day, another crew arrived.   And this crew was like night and day from the first.  They covered and prepped everything, which, FYI, was kind of like being inside a Dexter kill room…


Most importantly, they did a fantastic job painting.  And they were super polite.    They painted the wood siding on Friday, the stucco on Saturday, and came back for touch-ups on Monday.   Given how this company handled the debacle and redeemed themselves in the end, I really think that this was an isolated incident.   Everyone was really shocked by the first crew’s lack of prep and the fact that they just never came back.

Now for the post result.  Honestly, I’m not a huge fan of this picture.   It was taken on a really gloomy day in December, thus I don’t really feel that it does the house justice, but here it is anyways….
232323232-fp83232-uqcshlukaxroqdfv3648--nu=3396-6-9--78-WSNRCG=35-;445884346nu0mrjIt’s definitely more of a subtle difference than we’d wanted, but that being said, we’re okay with it.   The house looks much more manicured and cared for now.  And at least we have peace of mind that our home is all sealed up from the elements.   Also, ignore the hideous (HIDEOUS) front door.   I’m painting it a pretty charcoal color soon.

I’m deciding between painting the entire door area, sort of like this…


Or just painting the front door and storm door, but leaving the trim light like this… House3

From these renderings, I’m leaning towards painting the entire door area, but we’ll see.   After that, I’ll paint the rusty, green gate a sharp black (and fix the hardware so it stays shut), and the lighting fixtures and mailbox will also get a nice coat of black as well.

Then, there’s the roof…. The roof that is currently the bane of our existences.  Joey and I both despise the color.   It’s a faded orangey tan that does NOTHING for the house whatsoever.  And because it’s so light, every flaw is apparent.  It just looks awful.  Don’t believe me?  Come visit.   We were shocked (and kind of disappointed) when the roofer told us that our roof was good for now.  When the time comes, we’ll be going for a richer brown tone which will really update the house nicely.

You can also see that Joey’s been busy trimming things up in the yard.  He added a rock border to the beds and a ton of mulch.  Our sprinkler system was broken when we bought the house and had been for at least 6 months prior.  In this time the lawn really suffered and weeds went crazy and partied it up.   We recently had the system fixed, so hopefully in the spring we can start working on reverting our yard of weeds (yes, those neon green zits on the face of our lawn) back to actual grass.  We have a lot to do, and I totally have a case of the wanting-it-done-yesterdays.   One of these days we won’t be embarrassed by our curb appeal.  Haha!!  One day….

In any case, you can kind of see the direction we’re going when you look at these photos next to eachother…



Much more sophisticated and streamlined.   I can’t wait to paint that door!!!!  :)

Monthly DIY Challenge: Glass Ornament Gift Tags

Hey you guys!!  We’re back with another installment of our (insert announcer voice) Monthly DIY Challenge. For any newbys, this is a challenge where my bloggy friends and I must each create something using the same predesignated item.  You can check out the DIY crate bench that I created for our first monthly challenge and the wood slice tray from last month.  This month, the item of choice was (da-da-da-DAH!!)…


Clear Glass Ornaments

Mission: Just make something with them.

Now, I’ll admit, this time of year is crazy.  Thus, time is definitely of the essence. So, I wanted something useful, quick, and pretty.  And what I came up with were a few variations on gift tags, which then can be used as ornaments later. “Multi-purpose” is music to my little ears.  Plus, a project that can be done in 5 minutes (plus dry time) is a total bonus.   I played around with a few different mediums for variety and here are the three that I ended up with.

First, I utilized paint. I simply squirted some blue and white craft paint into the ornament, and swirled it around, which left me with this…

Reminiscent of the ocean, no? Then, I simply used a metallic paint pen which I purchased at Michaels…

…to write my gift recipient’s initial on it.  I was sure to let the paint dry overnight before putting the ornament’s top back on.  (Sorry guys, I got so involved with my little project, that I kind of blanked out on taking progress shots.  This’ll make more sense in a minute… ). :/

Next, I played with feathers.  I began by stuffing one of the ornaments with white feathers…

This would be for Joey so I simply drew a gold “J” on the ornament with my metallic paint pen.   There was nothing special about my lettering technique… I just simply free-handed the letters since I wanted the ornaments to seem kind of homemade and special.

Next, I decided to add a touch of rustic texture, so I used these cute wooden snowflakes (also purchased from Michaels)…

…and tied one onto each ornament with gold cording and red suede cording, respectively….

Here’s midway through the process, prior to me attaching the red suede cording onto the blue ornament (Aaaaand finally, you get to see my lettering… Haha!  Sorry.).

Lastly, I stuffed my final ornament with green feathers… 

This guy would be transformed into a Ninja Turtle for Lucas.  I mean, it only makes sense.  The boy is completely OBSESSED.  We’re now only allowed to call him “Michelangelo”.  He dresses like a ninja turtle daily.  It’s just normal now.  Get up.  Don ninja turtle garb.  Carry on with daily activities.   So, I thought he’d appreciate a little ninja turtle action for his name tag.   Well… it’s not a “name tag”, per say, but since there’s absolutely no doubt who it’s for, we’ll call it a “metaphorical name tag”.

I started by taping off the ornament with painters tape…

And used red multi-surface craft paint to create the mask….

The smears on the bottom of my stripe were no biggie since I knew that once the paint dried, I could simply use a razor to clean up the edge. Once the red was dry, I straightened out that schmear and added white ovals for the eyes.  This is with coat #1…

I went back with white again, then black craft paint for the pupils once that dried, which left this….

And that was it!  This was a super simple, quick, and easy project that totally floats my boat…

And here are my feather “name tags” in action…

As for the blue ornament, I wanted to demonstrate a cute teachers gift idea using an inexpensive grocery store candle. I simply threaded my ornament through some feather boa cord and tied it below the candle’s lip….

Super cute, right??  In the future, I may either get a larger candle or a smaller ornament for better scale, but you know I like to use what I got.   Waste not, want not.  ;)

Here is my little trio befriending each other beneath the tree…


Lucas already got all excited when he saw the ninja turtle ornament.  Success in my book.

So, that’s my Monthly DIY Challenge project.  Now check out what my other homies came up with….

Christmas decorating… Check!

That’s right. Christmas has arrived at the Spragins abode. And today, I’m here to tell you about it.

Let’s begin with our dining space….

I’m really happy with how it turned out.  It’s just enough glitter and sparkle for my taste.

I reused the wide silver ribbon from last year for a table runner, but crinkled it up to make it seem more casual. For the centerpiece, I used the bowl and glitter picks again, but this time, I added a gold charger with candles and a tall bamboo to vary it up a smidge….

The shelves that I recently styled simply got some glittering red ornaments and sparkly leaves in the milk pitcher. I tried to keep the details on the shelves subtle so that they wouldn’t compete with the centerpiece.

Aaaaaand a little far away shot…

Onto the tree. Now, first I must explain that when one is the poster child for Murphy’s Law, one will inevitably spend forever restringing the branches of the pre-lit tree that decided to burn out on Christmas Eve of last year (#timingfail), decorate the rest of the tree, then attempt to take pictures for one’s blog only to realize that another two strands have gone out in the meantime. Doh! So, in looking at these pictures, I’d like you to imagine a beautiful, evenly lit tree that glistens from top to bottom. I’ll be restringing those branches as soon as I have a chance to get to Walmart and buy more lights. But in the meantime… Embrace the imagery.

Anyhoo, here she blows…

Notice how she’s creatively hiding on the edge of this shot.  Nakedandafraid.  With the craziness that has been going on in our lives this season, I decided to keep the tree decor the same as last year. Silvers, burgundys, greens, faux sheepskin rugs in lieu of tree skirt. It was just easiest. I’m looking forward to changing it up next year, though.

Here’s a view of the entire living room…

We hung our stockings on the various ledges of the fireplace, which I’m totally loving….

Here’s more of a side shot so you can see the different depths of stone on our fireplace….

Joey calls it “rock climbing wall”.  I call it “amazeballs”.   The console behind the couch also got a little dazzle….

A small tree, some lighted garland and a tree star (that sadly was too heavy for our tree).  As for our Charlie Brown tree….

He sits unaltered in our breakfast nook. I love the simplicity of just leaving him bare. He suits the space well this way.

And lastly, our foyer…

I had grand plans for this space, but then I came to the realization that there are NO outlets in or anywhere near the foyer. Total bummer. So, I just reused my reindeer printable from last year and added another small tree set in a simple white and cork tray, atop of our little ex-media cabinet.  Simple but charming.

So anyways, that’s what we’ve got going on this year.  How is your holiday decorating going?   Which of you lucky folks out there has finished shopping?   Which of you are like me and haven’t purchased a single gift yet?

Linked up at: Thrifty Decor Chick


“So, I begrudgingly styled shelves the other day.” – Me

Okay.  I have a confession to make.

Although, I’m obviously a lover of all things home… (*coughcough!*) I do NOT like styling shelves.

No joke.  I really don’t.

It’s the one area of decor that I consistently view as a chore.  Maybe it’s because it takes me forever.  Maybe it’s because I’m picky.  I dunno.  All I can say is that I often look upon those beautifully styled shelves on Pinterest and other blogs with sad, wistful expressions on my face as I think about the hours and hours it’d take me to achieve something remotely close to that.  Seriously…. You never realized that any shelf display that’s ever been posted on this blog took me decades to complete, did you?  And then I realize… wait.  MAYBE those shelf displays took THEM hours, too!!!   It’s quite possible, ya know.   That’s the thing about the internet.   You only have to share the bits that you want to.  You can publish an amazing before and after post and completely glaze over the many weeks and bad language that contributed to that shelf-styling.  I know that I’ve certainly been guilty of that over the past year.  So, here it is.   My admission:

I, Christina Spragins, do not happily style shelves with blissful smiles on my face.   I bribe myself with cookies and force myself to do it with a constant stream of complaints under my breath.

There.  I said it.  I feel better now.

But, and this is a big BUT (I like big ‘Buts’ and I cannot lie…. Oy. Focus, Christina.)… I’m always glad I did it in the end.  It’s like a workout.  I dread it.  Endure it.  Then, strut my stuff like it’s going outta style because I DID IT and survived to tell the tale.

So anyways, after I completed the dining room decor changes described in this post (as seen in this pic)…

…those empty shelves screamed at me.  Repeatedly.   They sounded like those squeaky-voiced ringtones… you know the ones: “Hey! Letme outta ya pocket!”.  Except the message that I got was more like “Hey, I’m NAKED!!! Andnotinagoodway!”   Yep. In case you’re wondering, THAT is the voice of an Ikea Lack shelf.  High-pitched, squeaky, and full of rage.

After weeks of this (told ya… I’m behind on posts), I figured that I’d better get on it.  Obviously, waiting for the shelves to style themselves wasn’t working.  So, it was time to work the magic (Heehee!).

I started by gathering anything that I thought might work in the space.   I collected all the things.  They went on the dining table.   And I began.  I took a few pictures throughout, but honestly, I made so many changes that I missed many stages of shelf-readiness.  The process was a lot of “place an item, step back, place an item, step back”.  I worked on it intermittently throughout the day and continued to play with it throughout the weekend.  I will say that I climbed up and down that chair so frequently that I could barely walk the next day.   You didn’t realize that shelf-styling makes you buff, did you?  Now you know. You are welcome.

Here’s where I started.   I wanted to incorporate dishware since it’s a dining space, so I started there…

I placed larger items first, then started playing around with smaller ones…

I experimented with green, but decided that it didn’t flow with the space.  Plus, that bamboo bowl was drawing my eye right to it, so it had to go.   I tried again and ended up here…

Again, like the yellow bowl, the yellow bike wasn’t working.  It was showboating.  I couldn’t draw my eye away from it.  So, I went more neutral…

It’s not that I hated this one… It was just too busy for the space when I accounted for the painting on the adjoining wall, so I cleared off the top shelf and started again…

I loved the mirror up there.   It doesn’t convey properly in pictures, but the mirror really does a lot for the space in person.  Plus, it pulls out the red tones in the painting on the adjoining wall.    I added a few more touches in the form of a ceramic milk jug and wood car…

But didn’t love the car, so I took it off…

But this felt unbalanced, so I grabbed a few white bowls from the kitchen and a bamboo plant…

And scene.

I was reasonably happy with it for the time being (I’ve since straightened that crooked bamboo)…

Here’s a farther shot…

The flowers on the table totally clash.  I realize this.  But, Joey gave them to me, so I forgive them.  Next up for this space will be painting the table white. Woo-hoo!  I think that’s really going to brighten the space a lot.    Oh yeah, and since I’m admitting that I’m crazy behind on posts, I’ve already modified these shelves again (sort of) for Christmas. They’re more sparkly now.  So, that update is coming soon, too.  Stay tuned…


TDC Before and After

Rug-ged good looks

I love how one awesome find has the potential to trigger that giant metaphorical ball to start arollin’.  This happens to me a lot.   I’ll just stare at a space for a while and do absolutely nothing to it.  Then, out of nowhere, I’ll purchase one item that leads to a much more finished space in no time flat.

Last, we spoke about our dining room it looked like this….


We’d changed out the light carpet for ebony laminate, and basically plopped down our stuff on moving day.   A good start for sure, but the room needed a large dose of softening. STAT.  I’d discussed my plan for the space in this post, which was as follows…

  • Paint table white
  • Hang white curtains high and wide
  • Add a large, natural woven rug
  • Hang Ikea floating shelves above Drex 

And thanks to that one teeny (well, super large) item, our plan now looks like this:

  • Paint table white
  • Hang white curtains high and wide
  • Add a large, natural woven rug
  • Hang Ikea floating shelves above Drex 

…which happened all in one day.

See, I stopped by Lowe’s one fateful morning and saw this fantastic indoor/outdoor woven rug with a simple black striped border.  The border was the kicker for me.  I didn’t even know I wanted a border until I saw it.  Then, I knew.  Must.have.border.   The durable indoor/outdoor quality made it ideal for a dining space what with accidental spills, crumbs, etc.  Plus, the quality was nice… it didn’t look or feel cheap to me.  And the price tag was FABul-oooouuusss!!!


$118 for an almost 8×10 rug!!!!!  And I had a 10% off coupon!!   I took him home and tried him out, which (warning!) may cause spontaneous hanging of curtains.   And requests for already-busy husbands to stop what they’re doing to hang floating shelves….

Which left us here…


RIGHT???!!!  So much better!!!   I love the texture provided by the rug, and the height of the curtains makes the room seem grand.

For anyone wondering about the specifics for hang brackets and shelves, I generally follow these processes….

Curtain rod brackets: I measure 3 inches down from the ceiling and drill my holes for the brackets.   This allows enough space for the curtains to be hung without crowding the ceiling.  Now, if my curtains aren’t long enough to allow for this, I hang them as high as possible while still allowing them to graze the floor.

Shelves:  This is a tricky one.   I eyeball placement depending on the space, but I ALWAYS tape out the potential locations with painters tape first (as shown three pics up).  I use a tape measure to measure out the exact length of my shelf on the wall, then I apply my tape from one mark to the other using a level to ensure that my tape is level and straight (basically, I hold my level with one hand and guide my tape with the other).  Note: This is WAY easier to do with two people.  But, I’m impatient and Joey wasn’t home.  I always end up doing this when he’s not home for some reason. These shelves ended up being about 18″ apart and I think they’re perfect for this space.

Next up will be styling the shelves and painting the dining table white.  Bamboo blinds beneath the curtain rod are also a possibility if I can find the right color.  I also need to hem the curtains.

It’s funny that even though there’s still more to do, I feel like this space completely skipped crawling and went straight to walking in the span of a day.  Of course, like I said, it’s nowhere near done yet, but it’s getting closer by the minute.    And it’s definitely a far cry from this…


And although this is a totally dark picture (it was dusk), I have to show you our view from the breakfast nook through the dining space…

I friggin’ love this house.



TDC Before and After

A Little Christmas Project Nostalgia

Hey Ya’ll!  We’re decorating the new pad for Christmas today and I’m totally stoked about it, too.   It’ll be a day full of decorating in our pajamas while watching Elf and eating cookies.  Living the dream, people.  Plus, the fact that we’re in our new house just MAKES IT for me.   I’ve always thought that this house would be great for the holidays and this was unexpectedly confirmed when my Aunt Terry walked into our living room for the first time and stated (with zero prompting) “This is a great Christmas house.”  BAM!  That’s right.  It’s not just me!!!

Anyways, being the nostalgic sap that I am, I decided to cruise through some of my Christmas posts from last year for inspiration.   Since this is a new house with different decor needs, looking back at old projects helps me visually inventory what I already own in one fell swoop (and provides me with ideas for new ways use these items in our new home).  So, in case these may benefit ya’ll as well, here are a few snippets…

Our Christmas trees.

For our larger tree, I stuck to a silver, burgundy and green theme last year.  Lots of glittery snowflakes, garland and wire ribbon.   In lieu of a tree skirt, I just used faux sheepskin rugs.  I love that look.  It’s like a little snow mound beneath the tree.

Our “Charlie Brown Tree” is a simple silver tree that I purchased on clearance from Walmart years ago (Humph… that cord makes me twitchy.  Just try to ignore it.  Or tell me you don’t see it to make me feel better.) …




I stuck him in this painted basket for a bit of style, then added some stockings and wood ornaments with burlap bows for style.   These guys adorned our hallway nook in our last house, but need a new locale and look for this house.   Hmmm…. Wheels are turning…

Adding pizzaz with free Christmas Printables


This was one of my favorites.  It was free, easy and added a touch of whimsy to our Christmas decor.   I ended up using four different printables throughout the house.  I still have them and will likely reuse them again.   See the other printables that I utilized here.

Christmas centerpiece ideas, PLUS, creating inexpensive snowflake window hangings...



A few simple, cheapo purchases lead to a sophisticated “winter wonderland” feel.   The window hangings tied in perfectly to the trees and centerpiece and really were the icing on the cake!  At least I think so.  ;)

Some quick, low-maintenance outdoor decor...




I reused my DIY frame wreath and jazzed it up with a few simple tweaks.  Plus, I used a gorgeous live wreath in a non-traditional way to add a little Christmas spirit to the seating area on our covered porch.

And lastly, this isn’t Christmas decor necessarily, but since gift ideas are always a good thing, here’s how I created simple busts of Lucas on burlap for gifts.  We gave one to each of the grandparents last year…


So, now that I’m officially in the Christmas spirit, I’m gonna go get my decorating on.   Ya’ll have a great weekend!!  Let’s start this holiday season off right!  :)

TDC Before and After

Lucas got a brand new(ish) bed!

I’ve literally been talking about getting Lucas a new bed for years now.  YEARS!  The bed that we’ve been using for him was a hand-me-down gifted to us from Joey’s grandfather.  It was a simple metal bed frame with a trundle bed beneath.  No headboard or footboard.  Useful for sure and much appreciated, but very basic….

As functional as his bed has been, I’v been craving something a bit more stylish to help set the tone for his room. A good, chunky “boy bed”.

Back when we were in the process of buying our house, my uncle graciously offered up an old bedroom set that was previously used by my cousin Bryan. It was a simple, solid wood set including bed, dresser, and nightstand. For free. Um, Sold!

We didn’t need the dresser or nightstand in Lucas’s room, so we’re utilizing them in other parts of the house. But the bed, oh the bed. It was exactly what I wanted for him in terms of style and simplicity. The only issue was the oaky tone that didn’t quite jive with my plan for his bedroom….

I was originally planning to use Polyshades to darken the wood tone.  I’d assumed that the pieces were oiled or finished with something that would prevent stain from penetrating without prep.  But, after a little experimentation, I realized that the wood readily accepted the stain WITHOUT a stitch of prep work!!!  Total miracle, right??? (Insert victory dance, circa the Snoopy dance from A Charlie Brown Christmas.).  So, with that, I proceeded to apply 2 coats of Minwax Ebony stain that I had on hand….

I left about 12 hours between coats to ensure that the first coat was dry, thus allowing the second coat to fully penetrate the wood. Then, I applied two coats of my newest obsession tung oil following these steps. The result was a beautiful, ebony stain with a luscious, natural looking gloss. I really love that the tung oil lends a beautiful finish without any drips or brush marks.  And it’s basically foolproof!!  If you can wax-on you can achieve a beautiful finish. We’re total BFFs now.  Me and tung oil.  Picture us twirling in a field of daisies.

Anyhoo, the bed didn’t come with hardware, so we purchased some corresponding bolts and washers from Lowes.  Then, we assembled the bed and proceeded to bask in its glow of awesomeness…

I’m ecstatic about how well the bed coordinates with his dresser.   In these pics, the dresser appears a bit more red-toned due to the lighting, but in person, the two pieces coordinate perfectly….

A little before and after bid-ness…



Before the bed (after we changed the carpet and painted)…

And now…

Sorry about the insane glare in these shots… I’m planning to retake them in better lighting soon and post them to Our House tour page, so keep an eye out for that.

Another view…  Before


The bed is a total game-changer for this room.  It’s streamlined and masculine with bonus storage beneath!  It gives the space so much style and function. Plus, the bed is lower than his last, which means he no longer needs a step-stool to get in it. I’m changing out the wood drawer handles beneath the bed for stainless knobs to mesh better with the other furniture in his room, so I’ll post a little update once that’s done.  Now that the main-players of the room are in place, I can focus on wall-art, his desk area, adding curtains and otherwise fine-tuning the space to bring it full circle…. And the fun can REALLY begin!!!!  (Insert crazy cackle) 

TDC Before and After

Time for a tour!

So, the other day I realized that I’ve been a bad blogger. We’ve lived in the house for almost 2 months and I haven’t shown you many of the rooms as they currently stand. Now, I’ll tell ya… We have a TON of work to do still. But, really in the time we’ve lived here we’ve done a lot. New windows were installed in the bedrooms last week, new insulation and radiant barrier before that, new flooring in much of the house prior to move-in, etc. So, now that some of the Need-To-Do things are checked off, we’re finally reaching that sweet-spot where we can start focusing on style and decor.  I’m going to break up the tour into a few posts to keep it from being too overwhelming.  This time around I’m going to show you the kitchen/breakfast nook, the foyer and the secondary bedrooms that you haven’t seen yet.

So, here’s where we started with the kitchen…


And here’s we’re at now….

All we’ve really done here is accessorize. Obviously, this room needs plenty of work down the line. The appliances are old, mis-matched, and builder-grade.  Our black fridge sticks out like a sore thumb.  Plus, the stove works only part of the time. We literally have to jam the burners in and smack ‘em around to get them to heat up. These will be replaced eventually, but we’re trying to make them last as long as possible to allow us to really consider what we want to replace them with. Oh yeah, then there’s the rest of the full-reno.  ;)

On the other side of the room, we have our breakfast nook, which started here…


And now is here…

The large red painting was created by my mother in law, Mac. You’ll see several of her pieces throughout the tour. The table is off center to allow better flow of traffic (although looking at this pic, I can definitely move it a bit closer to center.  Noted.).   The lighting fixture is off center in the opposite direction, which drives me batty.  Plus, it’s way too close to the french doors to allow a table to sit directly under it, so we plan to relocate the lighting fixture over the table (I’m lobbying for a chandelier.  Joey remains unconvinced.).  Speaking of the table, I really think the space is screaming for a round pedestal table to allow for better flow.   I’m keeping an eye out for potential candidates.

Over in this little area by the French door….

We have a charming Ride print that Joey purchased a long time ago. I framed it with a $4 poster frame from Target. Below that we have my chicken-wire Ikea hacked cabinet with the painted baskets that I adorned for our previous mudroom. The baskets hold sunscreen, bug spray, and other outdoor must-haves so we can just grab-and-go when swimming.

A little view from beyond the breakfast nook (You can catch a glimpse of the dining room… I’ll have another post for that)….

And don’t even get me started on that fluorescent light.  It will be so very gone.  One day.

Moving onto the foyer, we started with this…


Which now looks like this…

I’m not convinced that that art will stay which is why I haven’t hung it yet.  I’m still marinating on that.

The other direction…


I’ve simply added a vase with sticks and another awesome painting by Mac (that hallway leads to the kitchen)…

Here’s the view of the painting from further down the hallway… \

I’m still at a loss for what to do with the wall that’s directly across from the front door (this pic is from before we moved in)…


It’ll come to me eventually, I’m sure.

The next two rooms I have done absolutely NOTHING to decor-wise. They both currently boast the same scuffed-up, flesh-colored paint that’s just BEGGING for a change and ZERO style.  But, in the interest of keepin’ it real, I’m showing you guys anyways.  I figure, every room has to start somewhere.  Both spaces have had carpets replaced and new windows installed.  So, they’ve got that going for them.  Which is nice.

The first bedroom looked like this…


And currently looks like this (brace yourself)…

Pretty bad, right?   This is the room where the pipe burst.   You can see the sheetrock work that was done behind the bed.    This room holds a haphazard bed, my beloved desk chair and every wall art piece that I own that has yet to find a home (they’re all unceremoniously leaning against the wall next to the door). It’s kind of a glorified storage room/office right now. I have a bunch of work to do here. Like, a lot.  I’m still deciding how I wanna proceed in this space.

The other bedroom started off here…


And now looks like this….

Again, blank slate. A flesh-toned blank slate that mocks me every time I walk past. This room is going to be painted a similar tone as the rest of the house. A nice, light grey. Since we plan to make this a secondary entertainment space I thought it’d be nice to extend that common-area color into this room as well.  Then, curtains, art, TV will be hung, etc.  Again, I’ve got my work cut out for me here. Lots to do.

Ill show y’all the hall bath and mudroom soon. And once I repaint the master bath AGAIN (finally), I’ll update you on that as well.  Oh yeah, and the dining space has had some changes… and Lucas’s room.  OMG.  You guys.   I’m so behind.  I’ll get you up to speed soon.  :)

DIY Large Scale Italy Art

You guys. This is totally happening right now…




After a week or so of freezing our petoochies off to the tune of freezing weather, our paper-thin windows are getting replaced!!! I read somewhere (where was that??!) the description of 1970s windows as follows “If you lean your head close enough to the window pane you can feel your hair blowing in the breeze”. Very true. True statement right there folks. So, we are more than thrilled to be crossing this task off of our to-do list. Anyways, while that’s getting done, I thought I’d tell you about our new DIY artwork.

Remember when I painted our master bedroom?  I mentioned that I wanted to change up the feeling of the room with different modern/quirky art??   Well, I found one that suits us to a T.   Ya see, I was just minding my own business, checking out Pinterest, when I came across this pin….


Now, I’m not much of a wordy decor person (Wait. Rephrase… I’m wordy.  I just don’t often gravitate towards word ART.  Boom!  Nailed it.), but this quote resonated with me.   I’m 75% Italian.  My grandparents on my dad’s side immigrated from Italy when my Aunt was a baby, so I grew up listening to them speak Italian and hearing stories about the small village where they hailed from.   When I graduated from high school, my Aunt Sera took me to Italy and it was everything (plus more) that I hoped it would be.   It was stunningly beautiful, as were the people.  Not.Kidding.  Seriously, we were amazed that there were no ugly Italians to be found.  The less attractive folks all seemed to be tourists.  Heehee!  Anyhoo, the beauty of the country was rivaled only by the incredible food.   Good gravy.  I would move there for the food alone.  I still dream about the potato and vegetable soup I had in Venice.  Twice.  And don’t even get me started on the gelato.  I ate it at LEAST daily throughout our trip.  So, when I came across this pin, I just knew that it was right.  And the simple, modern style was fantastic!

I followed the pin to the source which lead to this blog post on Brittany Makes.   Brittany actually created the art in Photoshop and had it printed at Kinkos in her preferred size (29.5″x 39.25″ per the largest Ikea Ribba frame).  And much to my delight, she offered it up to her readers as a FREE printable!!   Since her post was published, Kinkos in our area had transformed to the Fed Ex print/copy shop and for a higher quality print, they quoted me around $90.   Not in the budget.   AND they didn’t offer the exact size I needed anyways (I’d followed her lead and purchased the same Ikea Ribba frame).   After doing a bit of research, I found that I could have the good folks at Staples produce an engineering print for around $8 in 36 x 48″ size, which I could then cut down to fit my frame.   (If you do this, be sure that the box that states “Fit print to Frame” is unchecked, otherwise the art will be too large to cut down).

Once I got my frame home, I simply laid the frame’s plexi-glass over my print, traced around it and cut it down with scissors.

Now, here’s the deal with engineering prints… The paper is super thin, so you must back it with solid white paper so that you cant see through it.   Unfortunately, the paper that came with the frame had printing on it…

So, I just scotch taped computer paper to both the cardboard frame backing and the opening in the matting….

I secured the frame and hung my new art on the wall only to realize that the flimsiness of the paper caused it to wrinkle beneath the plexi with the pull of gravity….

So, I removed it.  I thought about adhering the print to the frame’s backing with spray adhesive, but I was afraid that the adhesive would stain the thin, white paper.  In the end, I ended up taping the print to the matting with more Scotch tape to prevent any further drooping. This helped a lot, but just keep in mind… this is why such a large print is $8.   I’m okay with imperfection due to that.   But if it really bothers you, you may wanna spring for a higher quality print.    In any case, my new Italy art is hung and she’s a beaut (albeit somewhat hard to photograph due to it’s reflectiveness)…


It adds a pop of modern sleekness to the bedroom which compliments the lines of my mid-century ottoman and painted wicker chair.   This is exactly in line with the direction I want our bedroom to go.  Personal but modern.  And also, ignore the conflicting brown tones.  I’ll get there.  Eventually… :)

TDC Before and After