Spice up your life…

every boy and every girl. Spice up your life? No? Okay. Well, then maybe spice up your kitchen?

Pallette Spice Rack

Jeff woke up last weekend and declared he was going to make a spice rack out of the extra pallet we had leftover from the wine rack he made last spring. And make one he did!

Palette Spice Rack 1

This is where it all began.

He got to work sawing, sanding, nailing, staining, etc… You know the drill by now.

Palette Spice Rack

And I got to work finding spice bottles and labels to make it look all cute. You’ll be surprised to know that Jeff didn’t care so much about that step in the process. Boys.

DIY Pallet Spice Rack 2

In addition to finding the spice bottles with the black lids at Bed, Bath & Beyond (with a coupon of course!) and the ones with the white lids at The Container Store, I came across a handy and creative blog with FREE printable spice labels. Are these not the cutest?

Spice Labels 1

Spcie Labels 2

Oh and because I had different spices then there were pre-made labels, I also sprung for the five dollar blank labels where I could type in my own text. For someone slightly neurotic like myself, this was a dream come true. It might also be somewhat sad that these are the things I get excited about nowadays.

Jeff even included a few handy hooks on the rack to hang pot holders and if ours weren’t old and crusty (TMI?) I’d have those on display too. I guess it’s just another reason to go shopping!

DIY Pallet Spice Rack 3

So there you have it, our latest DIY project. In a tiny kitchen like ours, any little storage space is a huge help!

P.S. Jeff tells me this is something anyone could recreate themselves, but if you have any questions let me know and I’ll pass them onto him. I don’t think I’m qualified to help.

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This is where you come in…

and I meant to ask your opinion sooner, but with the excitement of last week I kind of got sidetracked.

You may remember that Jeff and I are setting out to re-do our kitchen countertops on our own, not only to save money, but because Jeff really likes the polished concrete look and he’s slowly convincing me I like it too.

So over the past few weeks, he’s made four samples with the four different color pigments he ordered from Direct Colors. In addition to the different colors, Jeff’s varied the type, size and color of broken glass in each concrete square.

Polished Concrete Kitchen Countertops Samples

Here’s exactly how the samples breakdown (Jeff thankfully weighed-in on this part of the post):

*All samples were polished using diamond polishing pads starting with 50-grit and ending with 3,000-grit.

1. The concrete was pigmented with Direct Colors pigment #649 with a concentration to match their color “walnut”.  This was the first sample where we played around with different color glass and different size pieces. This sample contains blue, brown, clear, and a little bit of dark green glass.

2. This was the last sample completed, using pigment #653 and is supposed to be a “cocoa brown” per Direct Color’s chart.  This has mainly brown and clear glass pieces (we invested in a tile nipper to help make the glass pieces even smaller). The aggregate, or stone pieces in pre-bagged concrete are more prevalent, because we made sure to vibrate the concrete in the form really well.

3. Made at the same time as sample #2, this one was created to match Direct Colors’ “deep bronze” #680, and turned out much lighter than the color from their color chart. Again this one has smaller glass pieces, (mainly brown and clear) and more pronounced aggregate.

4. One of the first samples we used, pigment #500 is the “wildwood buff” color. This has varying sizes of glass in clear, brown, blue, and dark green.

Since these are just the samples, once we complete the actual counter tops there will be more consistency to the amount and sizes of the broken glass in the final product.

As a reminder, this is what our kitchen looks like with our newly painted cabinets.

Kitchen After 2

Now, this is where you come in (finally)…tell us what you think.

I have a favorite and I’m really hoping you share the same opinion, but I’ll try not to hold it against you if you don’t. 😉

We’re taking this roadshow to the chapel…

aka we’re getting hitched!!

Engaged 5

This past Friday, Jeff really surprised me on date night and you know, proposed. No biggie really. 😉

Engagement 12

Loved that a few of my friends dragged me to get my nails done a few days before. Smart thinking!

Not only did he pop the question, but he went above and beyond with the help of some of our best friends. It was perfect. I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Engagement 1

Without boring you with too many details, I thought I’d share the quick(est) story of our engagement.

It started out as a date night with dinner at a favorite local restaurant. Jeff told me ahead of time that since I complain (only occasionally) he doesn’t plan enough dates in advance this date was his opportunity put it all together without my help. I tried my best to play it cool all week, but I was skeptical anything was being planned. Little did I know what was yet to come.

I’ll be honest, Jeff had been acting a little nervous and weird, both before and during dinner, so I’d be lying if I said I didn’t suspect something. In fact, during dinner I think I asked Jeff no less than ten times if he was feeling okay. He was sweating a lot! Poor guy.

So as we left the restaurant to head home (though he hadn’t admitted yet that’s where he was taking me) Jeff made me slip on a blindfold. I got pretty nervous and excited at that point! As we parked at our house, (by that point I’d figured out where we were and Jeff confirmed) he led me out of the car and down the stairs to our patio.

Engagement 13

As Jeff opened the fence and we stood on our patio, he took a few seconds and then told me to take off my blindfold, and when I did, there he was on one knee, ring box open, and all of our friends snapping photos in the background! I was shocked. I screamed and then stared at him in disbelief. I may or may not have dove for the ring too. 🙂

Proposal

After proposing and me answering “yes, of course!” all of our wonderful friends cheered and popped open the champagne.

Engagement 14 Engagement 16

Little did I know that Jeff had coordinated this proposal with our friend Grace (the one that just had a baby) a few weeks ago, so she could help plan and decorate. Let me tell you, she did a great job. The patio had lights, balloons, paper flowers, and pictures of us on clothespins everywhere. It was so romantic and thoughtful.

Engagement 17 Engagement 3Engagement 6

Not to mention that the same group of friends we’d just hung out at the lake with the weekend before knew the whole time we were there and didn’t slip any details. Also, they all were able to make it to the celebration and it meant so much to us.

Engagement 7

It really was such a shock to learn how many people were in on the secret for over a week!

Thank you to all of our friends and family for their love, support and well-wishes this past weekend. It truly meant a lot.

Engagement 15

Had to make all the phone calls to family telling them the good news!

And at the risk of sounding super cheesy, a huge thank you to Jeff for making the evening perfect. I felt like the luckiest girl in the world!

Engagement 2

Engagement 4

Next up, just a little wedding planning and home remodeling. But that’s nothing, right?

It’s just like that movie “Couples Retreat”…

except, minus the tropical location and the whole talking about our feelings part. But hey, Lake Anna is not a bad substitute for meeting up with great friends, enjoying the sun, and drinking a few adult beverages (just a few).

CR 2013 1

What, you don’t have a wine koozie? You should probably get one.

So in this small world we live in, my best friend from high school, who also lives in D.C., happens to date Casey (pictured above) who’s good friend from high school Brandon, is one of Jeff’s good friends from college. Still following me? Basically, we have a little circle of friends from several walks of life, and having all that in common we decided to turn this get together into an annual thing! Second annual, to be exact.

CR 2013 8

Seriously, how cute are these ladies? My high school friend Amanda on my left, and Brandon’s sweet wife Lee on my right.

We met up at Jeff’s parents house on Lake Anna for the weekend and spent lots of time on the water,

CR 2013 12

They’re basically Simba and Nala.

CR 2013 9CR 2013 10indulging in great food and drinks,

CR 2013 7 CR 2013 3 CR 2013 6

Nothing like making a good S'more!

Nothing like making a good S’more!

and of course spoiling the dogs, Piper and Cosmo, and Amanda’s collie Wynter.

CR 2013 4Oh and because we’re all getting old, there was a nap or two in there.

CR 2013 5Love spending our summer with great friends, but it wouldn’t hurt if time slowed down a little bit. Now, it looks like it’s back to more home repairs. I’ll clue you in on a little project we’re working on later this week!

Hiking meets a little history…

especially in a state like Virginia. I guess when your state’s home to one of the Thirteen Original Colonies, and the old Capital of the Confederacy there’s a little history to discover.

Manassas Battlefield Hiking Trail 8

Having never been till our day trip on Saturday, Jeff suggested we take the dogs for a long hike along the Manassas National Battlefield Park. Not only was it beautiful and rich with Civil War history, but it was a nice change of pace from our normal dog walk/ workout routine. Besides, anything that makes the dogs sleep for the rest of the day is a-ok in my book.

Now, I’m not usually one to be excited about activities that require a lot of nature, but since Jeff’s been working so hard on the house lately I thought it was only fair to participate in an activity he wanted to do, and turns out I kind of loved it.

Here’s a few photos from our little adventure.

Manassas Battle Field Hiking Trail

I might have circled a certain crazy dog that photobombed Jeff with his excitement over the hike. That one loves to be one with nature.

Manassas Battlefield Hiking Trail 4

Mansassas Battlefield Hiking Trail 2

For Piper and I, nature’s not always our best friend.

Manassas Battlefield Hiking Trail 5Manassas Battlefield Hiking Trail 7

If you’re in the northern Virginia area, I highly recommend the trails. Just a quick forty-minute drive from D.C.!

Checking things off the list…

is all part of the process, or so I’m told.

Sander

Throughout our work on home improvement/renovation projects I’ve realized that sometimes I let my expectations get the best of me. A revelation that probably shocked all of you. 😉 It turns out we usually can’t get everything we want done in one weekend. Life and dogs tend to get in the way. But…I’m learning how to temper those expectations of mine (just don’t ask Jeff how I’m doing, he might disagree).

Unfortunately, I don’t have any great “before and after” shots for you today, but we (mostly Jeff) made some progress on that LONG to-do list of ours. If you can’t tell, this past weekend we took it step-by-step (cue the theme song from the classic TGIF show. Oh the 90’s.).

painting the stairs 2So while today’s update is less exciting, I’m hoping you’ll stick around for the good stuff still to come! If you’re anything like me, patience can be a tricky thing and this home renovation concept is sure testing that virtue.

Some of the best bbq and frozen custard I’ve had in a long time…

if the title didn’t give it away, I’ll go ahead and warn you that unfortunately this post is not for someone watching their calories. Don’t worry, Jeff and I have to watch our waistlines 99% of the time (we’re still waiting for those fast metabolisms to kick-in), but we decided to have a little fun on Friday and check out a few places in Alexandria, Va.

Banana pudding custard anyone?

The Dairy Godmother Alexandria 6

I’m cheesy and love any date night, but this one was especially great because, who doesn’t love bar-b-Que and ice cream? Jeff being from Texas and myself from Kansas City – known for their excellent bar-b-Que (ahem, KC anyone?) – we can be kind of snobbish at times. On Friday though, we found a place we both loved, and as a bonus got warm weather and a nice date out of too!

I’d still be just as happy if all I did was spend time with this guy… 😉

Jeff on Date Night

Though I’d say he’s equally lucky for finding me. In fact, I think I was going for another bite of some bbq when he snapped this photo.

Me on Date Night

So for starters, we ended up at Pork Barrel BBQ in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria. Jeff heard about this place and suggested we check it out.

In the name of giving you all a proper recommendation, we ordered LOTS of food. Which of course was the only reason we had enough food to serve a small army. 😉

Pork Barrel BBQ Alexandria

Pork Barrel BBQ in Alexandria 5

^^^Let me tell you, those BBQ nachos were amazing. Two of my favorite foods in one sitting? Yes, please!^^^

So even after the brisket sandwich, baked beans, sausage and macaroni and cheese (yikes, it doesn’t sound so good when I write it all out) we still found some room for dessert. It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it. 🙂

The Dairy Godmother Alexandria

Long lines are always a sign that it must be good.

The Dairy Godmother Alexandria 5

The Diary Godmother’s banana custard (pic at the top of this post) was out of this world, but that marshmallow was quite possibly the softest one I’ve ever eaten. I’m not exaggerating, you should probably try one if you ever stop there.

And then…we went home and ran ten miles.

The last part might’ve been a lie, but since we enjoyed both places so much we thought we’d share them with all of you. Just doing our civic duty.

For those of you reading this outside the D.C. area, use this as motivation to come visit. I’ll happily take you there.

P.S. Thinking about all those in Boston.

Refurbishing a desk in six easy(ish) steps…

it depends on who you ask. I thought it was a little challenging at times, but for Jeff it was a piece of cake.

Jeff Sanding Desk

In case you were wondering (I’m sure you were on pins and needles), this is the project we worked on in the SUN last weekend that I bragged about sharing with all of you. I might have oversold it a tad, so I hope you’re not too disappointed. 🙂

Last week, Jeff and I took to Craigslist to see if we could find a small desk that would work for my little room. Luckily, we ended up buying the first one we found for only $30 dollars! Doing this instead of purchasing a new desk is more time-consuming, but definitely more budget-friendly. And these days, Jeff and I LOVE budget-friendly solutions. It’s all part of that being young and poor thing, right? At least that’s what we keep telling ourselves.

Desk Before

Since this project is more user-friendly than some of the others we’ve worked on, I thought I would walk you through our process in case you wanted to try your hand at a desk or other piece of furniture. If you’re as lucky as I am, you have your own version of Jeff around to help.

Here are the steps we took to refurbish the desk (with Jeff’s consultation of course):

1. Remove the old handles and knobs. I knew a head of time I wanted to replace the old ones, but if you plan on reusing them that’s great. Besides, you’re probably doing the environment a service too. 🙂

Removing Desk Knob

2. Sand off the old finish. Jeff says you can do the entire desk with sandpaper, but it’s much easier to use an orbital sander (don’t worry, that’s a new term for me too). Start with 80 girt sand paper and follow-up with 180 grit. Sandpapers with lower grit like the 80 we used are best for removing old stain. The 180 grit sand paper is best for preparing furniture for the stain and finish.

Jeff with Sander

3. Apply the stain. On this particular desk we used two coats, but it’s totally up to your discreation. You brush on the stain, let it sit for a few minutes and then wipe it off.

Staining Desk

Wipping Off New Stain on Desk

Wood Stain Can

In case you’re wondering we used Minwax Wood Stain in Driftwood

4. Apply the polyurethane. Once the stain is completely dry brush on a coat of polyurethane. Jeff also says to look out for dripping, because you don’t want drip marks to dry on the furniture.

Polyurethane Can

5. Let the polyurethane dry overnight, do a light sanding with a high grit sandpaper, and apply one more coat of polyurethane.

Polyeurathane on Desk

6. Last but not least, put the knobs and hooks on the drawers. I chose ones from Anthropologie, which you can find on their website, here and here. I’m slightly embarrassed to admit that these cost more than the desk, but I guess that’s what happens when your desk is only $30.

New Desk Knobs

7. And this is completely optional, but show it off to all your friends! In 3, 2, 1…

Desk After 2

I’m still not 100% sure if this is going to serve as a desk, vanity or both, but as soon as I figure it out you’ll be the first people to know!

Desk Before and After

Hopefully this post came just in time for your own weekend DIY project! Let me know if you have any questions or advice for others.

Hello Spring…

Where have you been? I’m still not convinced you’re around to stay, but at least we got a full day’s worth of sunshine and warmth.

Cosmo Smiling

Can you tell someone was a little excited about the sunny Saturday?  He wasn’t the only one.

I don’t have too much room to complain about a harsh winter (remember our snow day?) compared to some of my friends and family in the midwest, but gosh am I just as ready for Spring to stay around for good.

Jeff Painting

We literally spent our entire Saturday outside working on a little project I’m excited to share with all of you later this week. It’s not quite finished, but as soon as it’s done I’ll be sure to highlight Jeff’s handy-work (and a tiny bit of mine) for all of you. It definitely has Pinterest written all over it.

I know the suspense is probably killing you, but I promise it will be worth the wait. 🙂

Piper 03.30.2013

So…after a long and productive day in the sun we were exhausted. It’s hard work chasing around Jeff and the pups all day photographing their every move. Sadly, I’m still not sure who has more patience for my hobby, but I’m hoping they’ll all thank me for it some day. 😉

Also, it’s worth noting it’s baseball’s opening day (Nats won in case you were worried) and if that doesn’t say Spring, I don’t know what does.

A Look at the Lavatory…

yep, you read that right. Besides, it’s the only room in our house that’s 100% complete (please don’t ask Jeff his opinion, he might disagree).

Bathroom Before and After

It all began last May when we shipped Cosmo off to Jeff’s parents in Texas (trust me I was pretty dang sad about it too), while we (mainly Jeff) began the big bathroom remodel of 2012. It was something Jeff had been wanting to work on since he bought the house, but it’s not very practical to ask your roommate to go without a bathroom for a few weeks. So Jeff waited for a time when he was without a roommate and dog where he could pick-up and stay at his wonderful girlfriend’s place, (see what I did there ;)) while his house remained bathroom-less.

Jeff being the brave guy he his even let me tag along to Home Depot to help make tile and vanity choices. We tend to have differing opinions on home decor – Jeff prefers the modern look and myself less so – but we survived the trip with ease! And I’ll never forget walking out of the store and Jeff saying, “now don’t take this offensively, but you were surprisingly agreeable.” He’s a real charmer that one.

Now bear with us, because when we took the ‘before’ pictures we weren’t thinking about this little blog of ours, but hopefully you’ll get the gist of what it used to look like.

Bathroom Before 1

Bathroom Before 2

So over the course of four weekends and some weeknights, Jeff managed to replace the window, shower and floor tiles, vanity, shower head, toilet, faucet, and towel racks. Once all that was complete, he gave me the green light to start accessorizing the place. You might remember, I talked about my vision for this room a little while ago. In case the abundance of anchors didn’t give it away, I was going for a nautical theme.

Bathroom After

While I promise I asked for his opinion every step of the way, Jeff assured me that he didn’t care what I chose. I wanted to clarify that for the record, in case you’re all reading this thinking I just came in and took over. (That doesn’t even sound like my personality ;))

Bathroom After 3

Bathrom After 2

Jeff made sure to point out that he was glad we put that “Bath” sign up, otherwise he might not have known what room he was in. Always love that sarcasm of his.

Bathroom After 6Let me know what you think! So far, I think we’re liking the outcome. Just writing this post helped me appreciate how far this little room has come.

We also made our 100,000th Ikea run this weekend, so it’s fair to say it’s all slowly coming together.