Saturday, April 26, 2014

Island Fever

No, I'm not dreaming of Maui with it's lovely beaches and warm weather (although that does sound nice). I'm talking about an island for the kitchen.  

So here's my latest project...

I purchased a raw wood mini island from Ikea on our Denver trip (which I'm sure I already mentioned) and the reasoning for unfinished wood was so that I could make it unique.  Well, I've been so inspired by the stained surface and painted legs of so many blog posts of Miss Mustard Seed, that I decided to try the style out for myself.  Also, if I haven't already said so (sorry if I'm super repetitive, but I'm running on a few hours of sleep for the past couple of days), my mom is also planning on purchasing the same island!  And we didn't even know about our similar interests until I got mine.  Anyways, Ikea is a dangerous place and it's probably a good thing that there isn't one even remotely close! 

Ok, so I started by staining to top portion of the island.  I might mention that I have never stained anything...EVER! It was a bit nerve racking, but I read the instructions (multiple times) and re-read some blog posts and just dove right in.  There were some Youtube videos I might have referred to that mention different types of wood, and I'm no wood expert, but it's definitely not hard wood (which is more difficult to stain according to the video).  The top soaked up the stain like a boss and I only applied one coat! The picture below is after I applied the stain and the piece had time to dry.  I might add that I used the suggested pre-stain conditioner which claims to "soak in to the grain to provide uniform acceptance."  Well, that sure doesn't look uniform to me, but I LOVE IT!  And I'm pretty sure the uniform part would be if the top was all from one piece of wood.  Anyways...

In the picture below you can partially see my utter catastrophe of a guest room that is currently home to all of my projects (in various stages).  That's going to have to change really soon as mom is coming for a visit this next weekend.  The pictures shows the pieces that came with the set and the color "pre" stain.

And below is the finished beauty.  I was experimenting with natural light and attempting to make the photos look fancy.  Fail! Learning photographic skills is definitely on my bucket list! But it at least gives you a good idea of the final product...right?!

I just love blue and white china!  And below is a closer view of the finished top after waxing (a protective coat). So all the steps for the top piece were to pre-stain/condition it, stain it, apply hemp oil (probably unnecessary), and then apply Annie Sloan's Soft Wax (which apparently is toxic in comparison to Miss Mustard Seed's whose I believe is non-toxic). Yes, I definitely applied the wax indoors and luckily was wearing a mask, otherwise I would have gotten high off the fumes.  I had to have the window open and fan on to clear out the chemical smell. And I know that most times this stuff is toxic, but I was thinking it was MMSMP wax and that is odorless and totally safe to use inside. Oh well, live and learn!

The next two pictures show the mediums used on the piece.  The stain is Walnut and the chalk paint is Old White.  I ordered some of Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint in the color "Curio" and will be attempting a stain with that on our dining room table.  Her milk paint blog has a bunch of helpful tips for this procedure and it's so much less toxic than the method I chose.  I'll definitely post my opinion when I finish that project!

Either wax or hemp oil are used to finish and protect milk paint. However, I used chalk paint for the base, so I used the companion wax. 
I hope I have inspired you to jump right in!  I am starting to get excited about all the projects I have been putting off, because I "didn't know how."  Well, I'm learning as I go and everyone has to do it at some point.

Here's a glimpse of another upcoming project:

This baby was half off at an antique shop in Denver as they were closing.  I absolutely love the style and it came with a vanity mirror that attaches to the back.  I can't wait to slap some milk paint on her!

Oh, and I borrowed a staple gun from a friend's dad's tool repertoire.  That project involves a bulletin board, paint, and maybe some burlap. 

Until next time...

Friday, April 18, 2014

San Fran

Well, it sure has been a while (or it seems that way).  I'm typing this post from the lovely mid-seventies weather of Concord, CA. I'm on a surprise super secret mission to see my mom and although it turned out to not be a surprise, I just love hanging out with my mum.  I especially love hanging out in her adorable house that has so much inspiration for DIY projects.  She is an amazing woman and I can feel the creative energy flowing throughout her home!

Just a quick shot of the formal dining room (the only place my suitcase hasn't exploded all over)!
On another note, I know I've been slacking on the entry front, but I have been busy, so that's a good thing right?!  One of my friends just moved to Canada and between attending his farewell outings, working, going to the gym, attending dance class, training on AutoCAD, working on craft projects, spring cleaning, planting, and just enjoying the lovely Missoula sunshine, I've been completely exhausted!

But the good news is that I should have some great projects coming up in the next week or two.  I don't remember if I mentioned, but I purchased a mini raw wood island from Ikea on our Denver trip.  I decided to stain the top a Walnut tone and paint the legs/shelves an offwhite/cream color (Annie Sloan chalk paint).  Since I didn't use a lacquer or sealant on the stain (other than hemp oil), my mom suggested using wax to seal it from the harmful effects of water damage, etc.  This would be my VERY FIRST time using wax, so I think I'll wait until mom is visiting in a couple weeks to complete the project.  

I also decided to try out a harlequin pattern on a TV tray I have had since my dorm days.  It's a simple light wood, but it would be the perfect piece to practice such a design.  As usual, I was inspired by my mother's "breakfast nook" table that she painted a few years ago.  She is beyond talented and hopefully when she's in Mizoo, we will be able to complete that project as well. 

Here's the harlequin pattern in case you had a "what the heck does that mean" moment!

 And the reason I say there should be a bunch of projects coming up is that I always have to get my home in tip-top shape before mom arrives.  I know you all do it too!  Luckily I just purchased a carpet steam cleaner (the fancy professional-grade-kind that was on super sale on Amazon about a month ago) and just finished doing our bedroom (which was DISGUSTING)! I never realized how much dirt you track through the home until you suck it all up with water and see it hanging out in the dirty tank. And I can tell you that our water was black! EEEEEWWW!  But now it's pretty clean, so I can take a breath and enjoy my fresh smelling carpets!  

Next on the list is organizing and painting!  I just got finished with the kitchen and changed out the rugs.  I purchased a natural jute-like rug from Ikea (I love that place!) and it truly gives the kitchen a completely new feel.  The funny thing is that my mom purchased the same island and rugs as I did and I didn’t even know she had!
I also decided that I was over the chair covers that were too white and had a slight floral pattern to them.  Although my dining chairs were free, I kind of like the look they have going on at the moment, so I left them to be naked again and we shall see what happens next!

The bedroom and guestroom are thorns in my side, but the first step I will need to take for our bedroom will be lighter curtains because the walls are pretty dark brown.  Hopefully painting all the dressers a lighter white/cream will really make the atmosphere better.  Eventually, I hope to put up a starched fabric wall to break up all the brown and add a little something extra!  

Of course these are all just ideas floating around my head waiting to be fished out when I'm in an exceptionally crafty and get-stuff-done mood (yes, I forgot the word that would fit there).  Anyways, I'll post pictures when we get home!  I completely went over my data charges this month by taking pictures with my phone and then emailing them.  Yikes!  

Until the next inspired day...

Friday, April 4, 2014

Say Cheese

I wanted to share a few of the outfits from our Denver trip in action and I have uploaded them below.  The key I want to also share is to be comfortable.  For some reason, on almost every trip, I decide I need to take some dress or shirt that I haven't worn in months, because there will be the perfect occasion to wear it.  Well, as you may have guessed, the occasion rarely comes into existence and I end up with an unnecessary garment. The same goes with shoes.  I ALWAYS want to take a pair of heels, and yet even when we attend a show or go to a nice restaurant I wear a simpler pair of shoes.  Moral of the story: take clothes you wear often and you will not only be comfortable, but you will also know how they work with everything else in your suitcase from experience.

This is a repeat from the Capital building downtown, but I wanted to show the black pea-coat I took with me.  A great piece that in my opinion helps with the "blend in" aspect of travel.

I LOVE the green dress I'm wearing in this picture.  I purchased it on Modcloth a while back (a dangerous website for me) and it has a risque open back.  I never would have bought it if I had actually looked at all of the pictures and had seen the open back, but now that I have it, I love how unique it is!  The only problem is that I'm trying to get to the body I want to wear the open back without a sweater over it.  I'm getting close!

Sorry about the blurry-ness!  Kyle must be magical, because he got the elephant to smile too!  Or maybe she likes my pumpkin colored jeans.  I also love this article of clothing and wear them all the time!   

Until the next adventure...

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Packing tips from an over-packer...

Okay, so one thing that probably defines me, is that I am always over-prepared.  Not just with my tire chains in my car and sleeping bag and extra windshield wiper fluid and plastic utensils and mini first aid kit and...well you get the point.  I like to plan ahead for every possible situation which is downright stressful sometimes.  I do it, because I believe that if you are prepared for anything to go wrong or change, then most likely nothing will go wrong.  And I'm starting to drift off topic as per usual :).  So back to the point. When packing I do something similar.  I think about every type of weather situation...will it rain, snow, be 100 degrees, or only 20 degrees?  Will we go hiking or ride bikes or kayak or exercise or who knows what else we could end up doing?  Basically, I have ALWAYS been known to over pack and I'm trying to learn not to do that anymore.

So let's start with this trip.  Usually, my first offense is shoes.  I LOVE SHOES!  My family called me Imelda growing up (after Imelda Marcos, wife of a former President of the Philippines who owned over 1000 pairs of shoes).  Okay, so I'm not that bad, but I'm pretty sure I have at least a hundred pairs of shoes, boots, sandals, slippers, heels, etc.  And to the point again...I just love taking different pairs with me on trips to give them all their turn in the lime light.  Well, for our Denver trip I technically took four pairs of footwear total.  If we had flown, I would have taken only three, but since we drove we had plenty of room for that extra pair of actual hiking boots (just in case).  So the "shoes" I packed were a pair of boots (which are bulky, but I just love boots!), a pair of Tom's, and a pair of Mary Janes.  The most important part of all of these choices is that I can walk for hours in every pair without pain or blisters.  I also took neutral colored footwear to make sure that they could all be interchangeable with every outfit.  Now, a couple of my friends (okay, mainly you Izzy) will die when they see what I mean by neutral.  Yes, I took brown boots and brown mary-janes and wore them with black and gray and I'm not ashamed!  I once believed that black and brown could never be worn together, but I am quickly overcoming that belief and moving forward with more pairing options than ever.  Well enough about shoes, let's move into the actual attire.

A Christmas present from myself and my mom (since they were pricey) and so worth it. These Born-Montana boots have some arch support and are incredibly comfy, so they are perfect for a days worth of walking

I love Mary Janes! They are so comfy and can be dressed up or down.

And the Tom' easy and comfy, but not the best for rain. Perfect otherwise!

Here's a list of everything I packed:

  • 8 underwear (sorry, but my dad's theory about only needing two pairs total and all you have to do is wear them forwards and backwards both inside-out and rightside-out just doesn't sit well with me--No, he does not actually do this either, but is quite the joker!)
  • 4 pairs of socks (3 long, 1 short)
  • 2 bras (1 neutral, one black--you probably only need one depending on the colors of tops you choose, but I like my black push up, so that's that!..and I think colored bras under light blouses usually look tacky--sorry, that's my opinion)
  • 2 pairs of jeans (1 blue, 1 pumpkin)
  • 2 shirts (1 black lace, 1 peach striped)
  • 1 shirt/dress (green and too long to be a shirt but too short to be a dress)
  • 1 green dress (I was lovin' on the green this trip)
  • 1 pair of light gray leggins
  • 1 pair of dark gray tights
  • 1 cardigan (purple)
  • 2 undershirts (1 gray, 1 cream)
  • 1 skirt (striped)
  • 3 pairs of shoes (boots, Tom's, mary jane's)
  • 1 set of PJ's
  • 1 hoodie
  • 1 pea coat
  • 1 winter jacket with liner
  • 1 set of workout clothes (worn only in the car)
  • 1 pair of hiking boots (left in car entire trip just "in case")
  • 2 pairs of earrings
  • 3 rings (including wedding ring)
  • 2 purses (one large one I always carry, and one smaller)
  • 2 belts (one decorative, one for pants)
  • 1 scarf (can be used as a shawl, hood, or decorative)
That just about sums it up besides toiletries.  I know the list looks long, but all of that fit inside a carry on sized bag. Which I might add, was not packed well and had my boots packed in it which I would obviously wear through security at an airport, because they are heavy and take up so much room.  I also brought a traditional workout outfit because I like to be comfortable when I drive, but that's the only time I wore it.  To be completely honest I could totally get away with bringing four t-shirts and 2 pairs of jeans and a pair of tennis shoes or just the Tom's and be completely good to go.  But not really, because as my mom likes to say "I'm her little fashionista" and I HATE sticking out on vacation. I have been on enough trips that entailed tennis shoes, jeans, and fanny packs (not me wearing the fanny pack, but a professor on a trip to Ireland I went on).  It's just so embarassing to instantly be recognized as an American tourist and the way I have decided to delay that judgement is by wearing boots, leggings, and dresses.  No, I'm not a shallow person or care what people think of me!  I love all of those garments as much as my jeans, but they automatically look more put together than jeans and a t-shirt.  Besides that point, if you take leggings and tights, they can be used as another layer under jeans if the weather has a tendency to get cold.  

Okay, so enough of me trying to explain my decisions.  I put together as many outfits as I could think of using the items I packed on the trip and I'll add them below.  I hope this is helpful to anyone trying to learn to pack lighter.  I plan on continually refining and decreasing what i take.  Oh, and a couple more things...all the advice I have read or heard says to wear neutrals and not colors as neutrals can all work together, but I love me some color and I just can't do you will see by my pictures!  Lastly, this packing list is for spring in Denver (or any other state that experiences winter), which means temperatures ranging from 20 degrees to 70 degrees...all of which I prepared for by bringing articles that could be layered or not.  That is the key to a variable climate vacation!


And there you have 30 outfits and I realized I'm missing at least two, so an ENTIRE MONTH! Wow!  I never thought about it that way, but I had the ability to not wear the same outfit for an entire month out of a carry on suitcase.  Well, until the next big adventure (and I'll be prepared!)...