Mudroom Makeover

It was time to finish my mudroom project.
Clearly it was…lacking. Michigan winter weather is at its peak right now, as is our need for the storage of our “keep warm” gear.

This just wasn’t cutting the mustard anymore.

I had started this project months ago. I painted the walls a grey-blue to cover up the brown, grape wallpaper that the previous owners had picked. Once I couldn’t see the wallpaper anymore, I moved on to the next project.

I wanted something more interesting than just removing or painting over the existing panel on the wall. I decided to reuse the wood paneling from the spare bedroom. If there’s one thing we don’t have a shortage of in this house, it’s wood paneling.

I ripped down a few sheets, and my husband helped me measure and cut them with a circular saw.

I sanded the edges for a perfect fit, and then nailed them to the wall.

I used two coats of primer, and two coats of paint.

I also took down the four hooks that were previously on the wall, and mounted some that I found at Home Depot.

It ended up looking a bit like shiplap, which was intentional. Do I think that shiplap is the shag carpet of our time? Probably. Did it slow me down? Nope.

In the end, it was only about two days of work.

I threw in a bench and basket from Ikea, and I was done.

Plain, simple, and bright. Just how I like it.


The Dresser Makeover 

I wanted something new in our dining room. When I say new, I mean yet another Salvation Army find. 

We brought this dresser home, and immediately got to work. 

I spray painted to mirror with three coats chalkboard paint. I was a little nervous, because I don’t have a great record with using spray paint, but the chalkboard ended up flawlessly smooth. Maybe I’m getting more patient in my old age. 

I did one coat of primer on the whole thing, and then three coats of paint. It seemed never ending. 

I then filled the holes from the old hardware and sanded them down. 

No one needs two pulls on a drawer. 

I bought new hardware, and drilled new holes. 

And three days later, I’m done! 

“Dry Brushed” Dresser

We’ve had this dresser for over a year. The color of it just never seemed right to me. I had never taken on a project as big (irreversible) as painting furniture, but I decided to give it a shot. 

I washed the outside, removed the hardware, and dry brushed two coats of primer. 

This picture is of one coat of primer. My husband said “it looks like it snowed in here!” Not quite what I was going for. 

I used a normal paint brush, just with a small amount of paint. 

For the third and final coat, I used actual paint. 
The most important thing I learned was to build the color gradually. It’s easy to put on, but hard to take back. Each coat only took me about 15 minutes to do, which I loved! I let each coat dry overnight, but that may not have been necessary. 

It really brightened up the room, and we’ve been loving it! 

In Defense of the Reluctant Bride

You’ve just gotten engaged, and isn’t it just magical. By the third day of your engagement, people are asking you if you’ve set a date, booked a church, and when you are going dress shopping.

Whoa there.

I never thought about my wedding as a child. I knew I wanted to be married, but there was never a fairytale scene in my mind. I didn’t have any romantic notions to base my wedding on. I had been to a few weddings, and knew what I certainly didn’t want. I felt like I was drowning in decisions and questions. As an introverted, anxiety ridden 23 year old, I couldn’t make myself what a “bride to be” is supposed to be.

There was so much pressure put on from the people surrounding me. “This will be the best day of your life!” Really, will it? Are you sure? Granted, the day I married my husband and committed my life to him was a great day. Top five, definitely. But a day centered on show-ponying myself around was never going to be the best day of my life.

In retrospect, we should have eloped. We ended up cutting our wedding down to about 40 people and a 2 person wedding party, an early morning ceremony and an afternoon reception at our house. We received a lot of criticism from my all too opinionated family, but it all turned out fine in the end.

It’s okay to not be into it. There’s an expectation that all women will love throwing themselves into wedding planning; the colors, the food, the venue, minor dress alterations, the bridesmaids’ lipstick color. If you do, that’s okay. But if you don’t that’s fine too. At the end of the day, you’re no more or less married than anyone else.

Dip Dye Canvas Shoes

I’ve wanted a pair of blue Keds since I first saw them a few years ago, but I haven’t needed new shoes and I generally try not to buy things unless I need them.

I love white summer dresses, and the notion of wearing them with a blue canvas shoe was well upon me on the last 70 degree day we had.

But then, last night while wandering through Payless, I found these little guys. Marked down and with a coupon, they were mine for $3.20. Oh yes, they were coming home with me.

As a fan of dark wash jeans, I often redye them to help them keep their color, so I was familiar with the dye process. It’s messy, but pretty simple.

I soaked the shoes for a half hour in a mixture of 1 part vinegar 3 parts water.

I then removed the shoes, and heated up the vinegar and water mixture on the stove. I mixed it some blue food coloring, and let it heat until it was steaming.

During this time, I coated the edges of the shoes with Vaseline to keep them from staining, and removed the laces.

The bowl I had wasn’t really big enough for the shoes, so it was quite a process. I wanted them to be ombré, so most of the time was spent just dipping the toes. I let them in a little further as time went on, checking the color frequently.

In the end, the toes were still not what I wanted. I put straight food coloring on a washcloth, dipped it in the warm vinegar/water mix, and rubbed the desired pattern on the shoes.

I then dunked them in salt water, and tossed them in the washing machine on a gentle cycle.

Once they dry, they’ll be ready to go!


Here and there, now and again, I write little “cobwebs” I call them.

They’re little notes scribbled on the edges of my grocery lists and lesson plans. Moments that jogged a memory worth writing about. Little sentences strung together, dominated by a similar sound and brevity. Cobwebs left over from a past life.

I used to be the girl who wrote all the time. As a child, I would dictate stories for my mom to write out for me. When I was older, I taught writing, I tutored writing. I wrote papers on writing. I studied it.  I wrote before bed and when I woke up. My eye would twitch when I had a thought and I couldn’t write it down. I lived it.

I worked. I poured so much into my thesis, and getting work published and my work as editor-in-chief. I took the opportunities that my college offered to me and threw myself into them. When it came time to choose a career, I wanted to continue my writing. I applied to grad school for creative writing and was offered an all expenses paid offer. The work I had put in had paid off.

But then I met a guy. And I decided to choose my happiness and stop running myself into the ground. I turned down my offer from a school 9 hours away and got engaged the following month. Don’t get me wrong, it was a difficult decision to make, and one that received its fair share of backlash. I got a teaching job, and we bought a house. Life continued and  I moved on, somehow without writing in my life.

I began this blog with the idea that it would get me to write more. Sure, I still journal almost daily. But the desire to sit down at the computer and write is gone from me. A few years ago, as I was looking towards graduating with a degree in writing, there were many conversations circulating about how we would continue writing. One of my classmates turned to me and said “I don’t know about you, you’ve always just written for yourself.”

And that is it. I wrote for years upon years to deal with the grief that my young life had handed me. The writing took me places and gave me the confidence that I may have never gotten. It’s less that I’ve “given up” that life, and more that I have been able to take parts of it and use it in a different way.

And who knows, even still there are a few cobwebs lurking around.

Wedding Card Box

There have been so many odds and ends in this last month of wedding planning that I have caught me by surprise. In my mind, the wedding planning was going to be pretty basic. Venue, photographer, dress, the end. The other day my mom said to me “what are you going to put the cards in at the reception?” What? So many little things left to tie up. 

First I thought: let’s build a box! Then I had a better realization: let’s stop trying to over complicate things (sort of).

I skipped off to one of my favorite places for inspiration, Salvation Army. I wanted something with a lid, or at least a door. I stumbled across this old bread box. Yep, that was the one for me. I brought it home and cleaned it up with some Pine Sol and furniture polish.

I removed the panel that said “bread” on it and mod podged a Word document onto the glass. 

Easy peasy.

I love the warmth of the wood and the hinges on the box.

That’s it, on to the next one!

Ardex Countertops

We tried our hand at the Ardex counter tops.

I found the most lovely shade of purple for our bathroom, but the vanity left something to be desired. I found it took away from the notions I had about the color on the walls. So, what was I going to do about it?


A simple search about how to update counters inexpensively led me to the idea of refinishing them with concrete. So, I jumped in.

I began by sanding the counter top. I mixed up a small amount of the concrete, and spread it on the counter. I’m going to be honest, I panicked a little.


When it dried, I sanded again and put a second coat on. At that point, it was starting to look a little more normal. I was still unconvinced and my anxiety had me believing I had made a terribly messy mistake. Then, back to sanding.


I found that the best way to apply the concrete was with my hands. Especially for the back-splash, I had the best control of the application when I used my fingers. I chose not to sand as much as some others did. I liked the character in the discoloration of the concrete.


After letting the concrete dry for 6 days, we sealed the counter with two coats of 511 Impregnator sealer, and three coats of Polycrylic Protective Finish in satin, with a full day of dry time between each coat. Although I had my doubts, it’s waterproof!

The project was time consuming, and somewhat of an inconvenience because it eliminated a bathroom from our house for over a week. But definitely worthwhile! Although it looks rough, it feels smooth to the touch. IMG_7482IMG_7483IMG_7484FullSizeRender (11)

I slapped some paint on the cabinets, and it’s like a whole new bathroom. We’ve been loving it! Next, we will be doing the same thing to our kitchen!

The Lettered Sign

I love words.

I love the meaning of words, and how they sound when strung together. Words carry so much weight.

When the priest gave us the booklet to choose our readings for our wedding, I was excited.  When he told us we could write our own intercessions, I was ecstatic. After a childhood of dictating stories to my mom to write out for me, a B.A. in Creative Writing, and multiple publications, it felt like my life had led up to this. I was going to write something to be read at my wedding. As a Catholic, I had already come to terms with the idea that the structure of wedding itself was going to be out of my control. But this, this was going to be amazing.


I wanted something tangible in our home to commemorate the actual ceremony. I decided to use an excerpt of one of the intercessions that I had written for the liturgy.

I bought an 8 foot piece of lumber, and had it cut into 4, 2 foot sections. I then used wood glue to attach them together.

I stained the wood, and then aged it with a cream colored paint. To do this, I simply used a firm brush with a small amount of paint, and went briskly back and forth over the stained wood.

I purchased stencils, and got to work.

I’m still trying to find a home for it, but I’m so happy with how it turned out!

Coffee Staining Nylon Tulle

I found the fabric I wanted for my veil, but it did not come in ivory to match my dress. It’s a soft, finely netted tulle. Because I did not want to compromise on fabric, I decided to dye the tulle.

I mixed equal parts of brewed coffee and water, and heated them on the stove. I did not let the mixture get too warm, because I did not want to ruin the tulle as heat could. I placed my fabric in the pot, and stirred it around for six minutes. I determined this time by dyeing a small cut of the tulle beforehand.

Don’t worry, it’s going to look dark.

I removed it promptly from the dye, and rinsed it out in the sink. I laid it out to dry.

And once it was dried, it was done and ready to work with!