Thursday, January 31, 2013

I made lotion bars!

Before I completed the kitchen project, I came across this on Pinterest (Check out Miss Information's blog - it's pretty awesome!)  Crock Pot lotion bars - I thought I'd give it a shot. No need to boil water and dirty 2 pots like the other recipes I've seen!  And man, while these were cookin', my house smelled wonderful.  Like chocolate and honey treats!  I didn't see any need to add more oils or scents.

I started with organic beeswax pellets (I decided pellets might melt faster), my trusty extra virgin organic coconut oil, organic cocoa butter, and slow cooker liners.  Yeah, something about cooking in plastic seems to make all of the "organic" worthless, but, it was easier to clean that way!


After I made sure the crock pot liner was tightly secured, I added equal parts of each of the products (1 lb. each) and turned it on low.  About 1/2 hour later, everything started smelling really good.  I just left it on until everything got all nice and melty, maybe 2 hours?    


I had purchased a little 8 oz. candy measuring cup ($.99 at Michael's) specifically for this project, so once it was all melted, I gave the yumminess a good stir and dipped the measuring cup into the Crock Pot to get portioned helpings. I poured each dose into mini and regular cupcake pans - with liners of course. I let it cool until everything was all set, and then I loaded them into GladWare containers and stuck them in the fridge. Three pounds of ingredients makes quite a bit, so I used all of these pans twice and one of the larger ones a third time.



It took me a while to figure out just how to package them up to ship and share with friends, I just got that figured out this weekend after we got done with the kitchen - I guess my creativity switch was on.  I didn't want to just mail out some baggies or Saran Wrap.  I picked up some 2 oz. and 4 oz. containers and some kraft paper not-so- "Print-to-the-Edge" labels and went to work.  Man, those labels were a pain - and I couldn't get my printer to print them, until I finally set the quality to "draft."  But, they were just the perfect size.

These are the larger ones.  I also got little cans for the mini ones - we'll call them trial sizes.  They didn't get cutesy labels, or a photo shoot.


My husband says I need to sell them to make some of the loot I spent on all the extras back, but I don't think so.  I'll just share with those who ask - and even with some that don't!  Besides, I think that's just his way of saying they look (and smell) pretty.  And they work, too.  I've been using one since I made it on my hands.  My knuckles get crazy bad in the winter, and along with using coconut oil every day, I do contribute the fact that they're not cracked and bleeding to these.  You just rub it on your skin and your body temperature softens it just enough to leave a little behind.

If you ever make these, just stay in the room while they're cooking.  The smell is SOOOOO worth it.

Word of caution - the cupcake pans were a bit of a PITA to clean up.  This isn't your typical candle wax that hardens as it gets cool, there was no chipping it off of the pans where I dripped, but, I finally got it done.

Sunday, January 27, 2013

The kitchen is done! Well, almost.

After something like 2 1/2 years, the kitchen is done! As I've shared in previous posts, this has been a slow moving process, and as usual, I did it pretty much backwards.

It started with my husband and step dad tiling the floor, then I painted the cabinets, and then it sat for a good 2 years.  All of a sudden, on December 29, 2012, I decided it was time to tackle the wall paper, and every weekend since, I've been working on something to get to this point.  Wallpaper stripping, patching holes, sanding, taping, priming, painting, scraping paint and primer off of everything I got it on, cleaning... all of that led to styling, hanging, and admiring.


This isn't easy for me - starting something and having to stop to focus on real life before it's done.  But, work and life must continue, so many late nights and weekends later - here's the reveal - photo bomb style!  The photos were taken last night and this morning, so there's a mix of lighting in what you're about to see.  Yep, still very much an amateur at both blogging and photography.  I do really love that photo above, though!

First, I have to point out, this part, these shelves, yeah, they're not just not done, they're pretty much a hot mess. See the old cabinet green paint running down the side?  As you see them and the window over the sink pop up in the following montage, kindly ignore them.  Their time is coming.


So here goes - hold on tight!  It's such a breath of fresh air for me.  Here are shots from each corner (using my new awesome wide angle lens for some of them), then I'll share some of my favorite details:




 

*sidenote - that red apple cider barrel on the wall is soooo getting a MS Silhouette refresh!

Pretty cool, huh?  I realize it's not everyone's floor to ceiling tile, granite counter tops, crown molding, etc. style - but it fits me just perfectly! I truly wish I had a before-all-of-this-started photo.  The difference is just astounding. But, out with the old, in with the new, right?  Let's take a look at some of the details....


First - the paint colors.  The walls are Benjamin Moore Chelsea Gray in Semi-Gloss and the cabinets, wainscoting  and trim are all Behr Heavy Cream in Satin.  When I first painted the cabinets, I knew I ultimately wanted a bright but neutral feel, and stark white is just too white for me, so it was the perfect shade.  When I picked up the gray for the walls, I got another gallon of the Heavy Cream and the paint drop on the top of the can looked really pink. To the point that TJ said "We're going to have a gray and pink kitchen?"  But once it's all up on the walls, they look really good together and the Heavy Cream doesn't look pink at all.  And the BM Chelsea Gray looks very tan on the paint chip at the store, but with all of the black details in my kitchen, it shows gray and really, the perfect gray. With a lot of brown, it may look more beige.  My biggest thing is I didn't want a gray that looked blue like so many of them do. The table and chairs and hutch were done when I got them from a local Amish crafter, but I painted any of the black framed pieces on the walls with Martha Stewart Silhouette and it's a good match.  

Of course, as with any good project, I've been collecting new items since I first had a thought of revamping this space as well as making last minute runs to my favorite stores for some final touches.  The Pfaltzgraff set on the hutch is a mix of his mom's, my mom's, and pieces we've picked up along the way, so his-mine-ours!  I'll never forget seeing that his mom had the same set - and that she still had most of the canister lids that had long been broken off on my mom's set.  That Village pattern made it's debut in 1976 and has since been discontinued, so it's very important to me.  The bottom of this thing is filled to the brim with the rest of the plates, cups, saucers and bowls along with my Grandma's Green Spring Blossom Corning Ware she and my grandfather received as a wedding gift.  I don't know why, but I can't part with these old dishes, and I actually picked up this hutch at a scratch and dent sale simply as a place to display the Pfaltzgraff.  This is a darker photo so I could see the lights I have running through the thing because what's a Boho Willow kitchen without lots of little features of light?


The rusted tin piece on the wall next to this was my first ever antique store purchase and since I've had it it's been three different colors and hung in 3 different kitchens.  TJ asked me how many more times I plan on asking him to hang it.  My poor, overworked husband.


Covering the sliding glass door was a bit of a nightmare.  I've had tab top panels on it since we moved in, but they were completely utilitarian, and you can't put all this work into a kitchen and not have something that you love. Layers of burlap and homespun fabric fit the bill pretty perfectly. Apologies, I can't seem to take two straight pictures.  Still learning how to be a better photographer.


The seed bag in the middle is just to break up all that burlap, though it's made of burlap too, I guess.  However, it's good smelling burlap seed sack - it's filled with "Country Pantry" potpourri from my favorite store.  I have since moved the flowers it's holding to the top of the hutch.  I'm one of those "a finished project is never really done" kind of girls.  


My favorite new piece in this kitchen is the key holder.  Yes, after all of this work, this little thing brings me the most smiles.  We basically had a pile of random keys on the shelf (the one that's not finished yet) and TJ wanted to pickup one of those plastic, very "maintenance shop" looking key holders on one of our recent trips to Home Depot and I begged him not to, promised I would come up with a style based solution. Thankfully, Piper Classics had this little gem.  Best splurge ever.


I also picked up those old keys hanging from the bottom of it.  We actually had a key that looked like that in the house I grew up in. It wasn't quite that big, but you get the drift.  Great website and store to checkout if you're into rustic/primitives. 

One other thing I love - the press on vinyl chalkboard.  We have these fun slide out pantry shelves that can't have anything in their way, and the wall that they pull out on is too big to just leave blank.  These fit the space perfectly.

  

That's a lot of pictures and I still have a lot more to share, so check out the final mosaic-o-details below.  I hope you see it as awesome as I do.  I now LOVE my kitchen and want to spend all of my time in it - which is huge for someone who's not a cook!  

Buster and Mati sure approve - now that it's done, they might get a little more playtime :)  


Though I started this process over two years ago, I did still find plenty of recent inspiration on Pinterest - especially this post on the Dear Lillie blog.  If this inspires you at all, please feel free to share any of it!

Linked up at Jade and Oak - Design in Your Home

An oldie but goodie DIY


It's 11:30 and I'm still Pinning.  But, that Pinning took me back to a past DIY project that turned out so well and I still absolutely love.

I was once a fan of keeping unfinished furniture looking unfinished.  Then I became a fan of black accent pieces. So one Saturday last year during Christmas break, the new Amish desk I had just purchased to complete my office revamp was my kick in the rear for this:


I didn't know then that I would someday want to start blogging, so I don't have photos of the entire process, and those I do have were shot with a cell phone, but here's a breakdown:

I started with unfinished wood.  If yours is not, use whatever process you use to get the piece looking like you want.  I removed the shelves and painted the entire unit with Martha Stewart Silhouette in Satin finish - my favorite for painting furniture.  I've done several pieces throughout our house in this paint and I just love it - it's the perfect creamy black, somewhere between charcoal and true black, and it works really well for primitive finishes as well. This bookshelf bottom looks especially shiny because I added some clear coat when I was done.  I didn't want to use my typical distressed finish on these pieces as they take quite a bit of abuse in my work from home office.



OK - so I started with unfinished wood, sanded the entire piece with a Black and Decker Mouse (best thing ever for redoing furniture!) and got it all prepped to paint.  You probably know how to get that far, so I'll move onto the fabric treatment in the back.

The bookcase is just about perfect for a yard of fabric.  I headed to Joann's to find the perfect piece, and then, once all of the paint was dry of course, I simply lined the back of the shelf with the fabric and used an Exacto knife to trim it to the perfect fit.  Add a little Mod Podge, stick the fabric back in, stretch and pull to position it just right, and there you go!  Easy peasy.  I also used a sponge brush to apply one very light coat of Mod Podge over the fabric once the bottom layer had dried just for good measure, and you can continue to add layers if you want it to look like a true painted finish.  I'm quite happy with knowing it's fabric.

By the end of the day, it was all put back together and I now have this in my office!  It really is amazing what a little paint and fabric can do.


Finding these old pictures may have just inspired me to try the same approach with the still unfinished wall behind the shelves built into my cabinets to complete my kitchen.  I've just added another choice - cut boards down to paint the same color as the walls, use those cut boards to do this (maybe with burlap?), tile the walls behind these shelves, or just cut a piece of metal like I want to get for behind the stove to fit? Painting that piece of wall is not an option - too many straight lines and too much white paint on the surrounding cabinets.  I'm looking for easy. Thoughts?

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Homemade relief for sensitive skin.


I have super sensitive skin.  The kind that breaks out in pimples and hives with dry spots all at the same time. About two years ago, I was getting these crazy itchy red, scaly looking patches on my legs and belly.  I went to a dermatologist who diagnosed it as Psoriasis and gave me some heavy duty steroid cream with strict instructions to use it twice a day for two weeks, then two weeks off.  If you continued to use it, it ate your skin off or something.  The cream did help with the itching, but the marks weren't going away, so what was the point of continuing to use something so... whatever that is!!

So then he had me try a Vitamin D cream and said "psoriasis patients are the one group of people you will hear a dermatologist say should get more sun, so to get outside for 20 minutes every day with no sunscreen on the affected areas."

Again, it didn't work, and sitting outside with thighs and belly exposed for 20 minutes a day just didn't always fit in with my day job, so I started some research. I have several friends in the holistic care field, so with their suggestions, I started using coconut oil exclusively as a moisturizer.  And guess what?  The itchy, scaly, ugly red patches were GONE in just three days.  The minute I used it, the itching stopped, and three days later - completely gone. I was SOLD!  Not to mention the frizz tamer it also becomes for my super curly hair in the summer.  I use it for absolutely everything now, and so far, I haven't found anything it doesn't help.


However, I simply can't just use coconut oil straight out of the jar.  I have to mix it up with some Vitamin E and pour it into pretty little jars for my bathroom counter!

Before I start, I always leave the jar sitting by our wood stove for a few hours to get it all melted.  I know the Pinterest and Blog world are full of recipes and ways to mix this up, but you really don't need anything more than coconut oil and a mixer if you want to fluff it up.  That's it. I've found that mixing it does make it just about double it's volume, so you get more bang for the buck.

The coconut oil can seem to be a bit on the pricey side - you want to be sure to get organic extra virgin coconut oil.  I think this jar was something like $12.  But, when you really break it down, for as long as it lasts, it's cheaper than chemical and fragrance filled commercial moisturizers, and coconut oil has a wealth of benefits.  Check 80 of them out here at HealthImpactNews.com.

So, if you'd like to try this, you'll need a mixer, some coconut oil, and some Vitamin E.  I like to use the big, bad ass Kitchen Aid so that I can just let it do it's thing for 10 minutes or so without having to actually do anything myself.  I do have a friend who adds some tea tree oil to hers (been hooked since I sent her a sample of the first batch), but again, I'm Mrs. Sensitivity over here, so I skip it.

I make this is small batches, so I add about a cup of the melted coconut oil and a "squeeze" of the vitamin E oil. (Drives my husband crazy that I don't measure anything, even when I cook.)  I'd say that the squeeze probably equals about 2 teaspoons.

I lower the mixer, set the speed on a medium level to help keep it from splashing everywhere and just let it go, again, for about 10 minutes.  Once it's done, I pour it into my pretty little jelly jars and I'm set!  I love the size of these jelly jars - perfect for not making a mess when I'm dipping in and they hold enough to last about a month each. 

That's it!  As soon as it starts to cool off, it starts to turn semi-solid and white again. (I believe I read that the melting point is about 75 degrees.)  I've found the longer I let it mix, the more air gets in and the more like a real body butter it becomes.  It stores on the bathroom counter just fine and I keep my backup jars in the linen closet. The only bad thing with using the glass jars is it makes it interesting to travel, but I usually just whip some up and put it in Gladware containers when we go anywhere.


If you have any skin issues or just want to try something natural, I highly suggest coconut oil!  I hope you have the same outstanding results I've had!

Hooray for the weekend!

My switch plates were delivered today and installed tonight and I am so happy with them.  The only thing is,  I was short one rocker and got an extra blank instead.  But, I'm sure I can find one that matches close enough at Home Depot.

The plan is to spend the weekend putting all of the other final touches on the kitchen and bring on the big reveal! It's turning out exactly how I had imagined it would.  That said - have you ever tried to come up with great looking window treatments for a sliding glass door?  It's been a nightmare, but 2 sets of curtains and a few bad purchases later (have you ever tried to work with this stuff created by Satan himself - frosted window film?), the final set of window dressings will work with some fine tuning.

I'd prefer not to have anything covering the window, but our neighbors between us and the woods (who are very nice people) decided to build a family room addition that's fit for a house on the side of a mountain with their floor to ceiling windows that face our kitchen.  So, cover ups are necessary. They don't need to see me stumbling out in the morning reaching for the Keurig or my husband prancing around in his boxers after work.  Yes, I said prancing.

I detest vertical blinds, and I've seen some great options with shutters, and even gates over at Funky Junk Interiors, but I need something quick, so curtains fit the bill.  However, there's a special challenge with curtains that hang too low in our house and his name is Buster. As long as he's around, I'll never have the designer, puddled-on-the-floor, look of proper drapery.


He's my little old man (at least 13), and as much as I wish it weren't true, "accidents" are a few times a week occurrence - but they aren't as much accidents as they are "some kind of fabric that he could reach" situations. Other than that, he's perfect.  That's him with his with his bigger, younger sister Mati.  Buster's the little guy in the front.  They, and our cat Sasha, are the fur babies that make every day just a little brighter, even when they do make a mess.  They were all rescues and I can't imagine life without them, even if they (one of them) has nasty habits that I just can't break.  As much as my husband wants me to, I just can't banish him to living out the rest of his life in the laundry room or garage.

Oh - and the sideways gate in the background?  That's the super duper high tech Dogs Getting Into the Cat Food Eliminator.  Something else that I need to try to make better.

Hoping for the reveal on Sunday and I hope there are some folks checking this out to see it.  :)  Happy weekend!!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Who knew switch plates would be so difficult?

Everything is still removed from the painting project last weekend, partially because the painting isn't 100% done and partly because I can't seem to find 13 switch plates that match anywhere.  We have 3 big box home improvement stores and several smaller hardware stores in the area and even between them all, I can't find plates that match.  Time for some web searching!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Painting. Painting. Painting.

I've slowly been redoing our kitchen since 2011. Nothing looks the same as when we moved in.  I HATE painting, but I've spent all weekend priming and painting. I got a couple of quotes from pros, and I just couldn't justify over $1000 for something I can do, I just loathe doing.  Seriously - $1700 for one, and I'm sure they're good and all, but $1700???  The second quote was $1200, and I buy the paint.  So let's say $1300 at best.  No thanks, but man, I'm in the wrong business!  Oh yeah, except I HATE painting. 

I don't have any proper "before" pictures, like an idiot, but here's my stepdad and my husband working on the first project - floor tile.



Now, hopefully you can see a little better than the last post why it needed to be redone!  Very, very country.  I'm a folky willow tree kinda girl, but this was too much even for me.  As a matter of fact, when my husband found this house, he emailed me the MLS information with a note that said "Could you deal with this kitchen?"  I replied, "I can deal with changing it someday!"  In the photo he sent me, it was from the other far corner that you can't see in this shot.  You could see more of the cabinets where the cupboard itself was green, the raised wood was natural, and the inset panel was green and they had these awful bisque and very tarnished and dirty brass pulls. 

I didn't hate that chair rail border, but I really disliked the wallpaper, and both went back the hallway to the bedrooms and bathroom as well.  Every inch of exposed wall in the kitchen had that striped wallpaper, as stained and beat up as it was.

The flooring was cheap tile look linoleum, and the previous owners must have gotten extra, because it's in our bathroom too.  Easy to clean, but ugly!  Lucky for me, my awesome stepdad does tile work for a living, so I found what I liked and he came up to install it one weekend.

Not long after the slate look ceramic tile was put down (as in the next week), I pulled the cabinets apart and painted them with Behr Heavy Cream in Satin finish and replaced all of the pulls with oil rubbed bronze cup pulls for the drawers and 3" straight pulls for the doors.   

Two weeks ago, I removed all the wallpaper over a full weekend, and this weekend, I spent 26 hours painting.  I still have to do the wainscoting and the trim, but already, it's SO MUCH BETTER.

A couple of sneak peeks that I posted to Facebook tonight...

In Progress..


Around the cabinets, all done!


After I get the rest of the wainscoting/trim all done, I need to replace the fan and the island, and maybe add a tile back splash, but I'm not completely sold on that yet.  Once that's all done, I'll be back for the big reveal (with much better photos to share!)


Saturday, January 12, 2013

A most hated project becomes DIY

It's just after midnight, so even though the post says Saturday, to me, it's still Friday.  Tomorrow, I start the painting the kitchen project.  I got a couple of quotes to have pros do it, but it's much, much more expensive than I expected, so it's a DIY even though I detest painting!  Tomorrow is priming everything... then, it's time for the big commitment - the paint that will remain as long as I'm in the house.  I won't do it again, that's for sure!

The floor was redone about 2 years ago, and soon after, I painted the cabinets a nice Heavy Cream from Behr, and I've just been procrastinating on getting this part started (yeah, by 2 years.)  This is the 2nd time I've tackled a wallpaper removal project and the first time didn't go so well.  This time, comparatively, was a cinch!

In order to start this next step, I first had to remove some pretty awful wallpaper that was on every available space in the kitchen and hallway.  I hated this kitchen so much that I never really took any "before" pictures.  I don't like this picture of me at all (always have to take one on a straight hair day!), but it's the only one I can find with the whole wood/green/wallpaper thing going on.  Just to take it a step further, each cupboard door had a bead board insert that was also painted that green - inside the raised wood that you can barely see the edge of on the right.  Lovely!

On top of the green striped wallpaper in most of the kitchen and hallway, there was a border that I probably wouldn't have disliked by itself, but those damn stripes!


I learned a couple of things this time... last wallpaper removal project, we found "1950" written on the wall behind the paper.  That was in 2006.  Needless to say, that paper was coming off in scraps.  It was exciting to pull of a 2" piece at once.  This time was actually nothing compared to that.

Depending on when/how the paper was installed, of course, and assuming it's vinyl paper, there is no need to score and do all that other stuff that can damage your walls.  Peel the vinyl facing off of the wall, spray the left behind glue paper with this awesome WP Chomp solution you can get at any hardware store, and scrape away.  As long as I had sprayed enough and let it sit long enough, the glue paper came off in strips as large as the scraper was wide.

   

I have to say, it was a very easy and relatively quick project to complete.  And to think, I had been putting it off for 2 1/2 years because I was dreading what might be as I started to remove paper.  I've always done the score, soak or steam methods and this was just so, so much easier.

Once the painting is done, it's just finishing touches and my kitchen redo is complete!  Speaking of finishing touches, check out my Pinterest.  Which fan would you choose?

I can't wait to have it all done!

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Flu season found me...

I thought I had been doing a good job hiding from it.  Starting a blog + the flu = ughhh. Try coming up with witty, interesting posts when you're in a Alka Seltzer Severe Cold and Congestion haze.

Anyway, this is share worthy.  I'm not much of a cook, so recipe shares will be far and few between here, though you may see several ideas I like on Pinterest.  Thankfully, my husband is a damn good cook.  We actually met when we worked in a restaurant together.  He cooked and I was a server, but that's a story for another time.  I'm good at one dish meals and baking, that's about it.  I was absolutely starving this afternoon, and I really wanted a hummus wrap with kalamatas.  However, I either threw out my recently purchased hummus, or maybe late-night-sleep-snackings really are leading to weight gain! 

So, I got creative.  I pulled a small can of garbanzo beans out of the pantry and got the whole grain wraps out of the fridge.  I decided getting the food processor out would be too much work, so I dumped the beans into a bowl, smashed them up with a little minced garlic (out of a jar), slapped that on the wrap, covered that up with some baby spinach, shredded carrot, avocado, almond slices, and olives.  I decided to add a little full bodied Hidden Valley Ranch dressing to keep it from being too healthy.  YUM.  I think I just found a new favorite.

No photo.  My camera was CLEAR downstairs and that was also too much work.  Just trust and try it!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

I think I can, I think I can...

Well, hello, world!  I've always had a knack for visualizing something in my scary little head and being able to bring it to life.  These adventures have included baking and cooking, wedding and party planning, planting and pulling, demolishing and building, repurposing and up cycling, mixing, sanding, painting, scraping, you name it - and now, blogging.  To help with the creative hiccups, I've found so much inspiration through other blogs and Pinterest that I've been able to use in my life and home. We just bought our house a couple of years ago, so we are still very active with the "making it ours" projects.  Maybe I could also be of benefit to someone else as so many others have been to me. 

Having grown up in West Virginia and lived in Virginia (yes, they are two separate states), Ohio, Florida, and now Pennsylvania, I have developed a very unique "boho-rustic-modern" style, and I have always been a writer, even if it is only in my own mind, so what better than a blog of my very own?

Here are some ideas of what's to come...  My hope is that someone who doesn't mind digging in and refusing to give up will enjoy my randomness and this funky style and share it with their friends as well. 


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