Saturday, August 25, 2012

kitchen update....part three

About a month ago, I wrote two posts on the progress I've made in redoing my kitchen.
I had meant to write part three soon after, but there were a few small things I needed to finish first.'s part three of my kitchen remodel series. 
Subtitled.....what I did this summer.  :)
Here's what my kitchen looked like back in Fall 2009:
Here's the update I did last summer.....first, painting the cupboards white.
To learn about this process, read this post

Then, late in the summer, I got new black countertops. 
You can read about that process in this post.
This leads us to this summer, and my goal to do the following:
repaint the walls of my kitchen and dining room
purchase new appliances
install a tile backsplash
replace the outlets and switches
install curtains in the kitchen and dining room
decorate the dining room wall
add a few more kitchen "accessories" to coordinate with my vision
 So, I started right away in June so I wouldn't run out of time.  I also wanted to get the painting part done before the heat wave came.  I learned my lesson from last year!
Some people asked me why I decided to repaint my kitchen after it had been that color for less than three years.  The reason was simple.....with the bright white cupboards and dark black counters, the green I had picked seemed too drab and muted.  I wanted something bright and cheerful to match with the changes I had made.
First, I had to tape plastic tarps everywhere.....over the cupboards, over the counters, over the sink, over the hanging light, over the appliances.  I was taking no chances of the paint getting on any of my hard work from last summer!
Here's the new paint color.....I picked the blue because it was a complementary color to the bright accent colors I had in my kitchen- like my orange Kitchenaid mixer.
The second change of the summer was the most far.  In fact, I think it's the most expensive change I've made to my house since I bought it.  But it just might be one of my favorites. 
I got three new appliances!
*My sister, who just moved out, needed a refrigerator at her new house.....and my housewarming gift to her was my old fridge, which still works great but the beige color didn't match the look I was going for with my remodel. 
*My stove had been acting up for a while, taking forever to preheat, and not cooking food all the way through.  Perfect reason to get a new stove!  
*Since the stove hood matched the old appliances and I was going to need to replace that, I decided to go with a over-the-stove microwave. 
Here's what the dreary old appliances looked like:
And here are my fancy-dancy, stainless-steel, beautiful new appliances!

With so many other projects going on this summer, and not having any experience in tiling, I decided to go non-DIY for the tile backsplash.  (Is non-DIY a word?  If not, I'll make it one!)
A friend of mine has a handy husband, and after I went and bought all of the supplies, I hired him to do the work for me.  Smartest decision I made this summer.
 Really, that's hard work.  I don't know if I could have done it without messing up....a lot.
I'm so glad I swallowed my pride and didn't do it myself.
It's JUST how I wanted it to look!!


With the new bright white backsplash, I knew I wanted white outlets and switches.  My multi-talented Mom helped teach me how to install new ones....and let me tell you, it's a great skill to learn! 
You can read about the process in this post when I did it myself in my guest room.

Old beige outlet:
New white outlets:
And a last few other details that I made.....
Taking down the ugly vertical blinds and installing new curtains in the dining room
Kitchen window curtains:

I found this sweet vintage spice rack at an antique store, and knew it was meant for my kitchen!

New wall art for my dining room....described more in this post.

Accessorizing my new counters with bright colors is so much fun now that everything else is how I envisioned it!

What a difference a couple summers and a lot of hard work makes!

And I think I'll finally be done next flooring in the kitchen/dining room and changing the ugly dark paneling in the dining room are the plan. 
But for now.....I'm just enjoying the "new" kitchen that I pictured in my head coming a few steps closer to being complete.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

daily objective dry erase boards.....not just for teachers!

While browsing spending hours poring through my Pinterest boards over the past few weeks, I've been inspired to change up some things in my classroom. Pinterest-inspired (or as I'll refer to it-- P.I.)-- I have been using the term an awful lot lately.  I think one of my friends (and 4th grade teammate) said it best, "it's like Pinterest threw up in your classroom". 
Here's one gem I pinned a long time ago:
I would totally give credit to the website, but this was just a link to some one's iPhone photo.
So.....random iPhone picture-taking teacher-- thank you for the awesome idea.
UPDATE:  Amazing how the power of Pinterest works....the "random iPhone picture-taking teacher" has been found.  Thanks, Jillian for your original post and here's a link to her blog, Our Pinteresting Classroom.
Of course, I had to put my own twist on these daily objective boards.   So here's my quick tutorial if you want to make them like I did.  Or put your own twist on them--- maybe make one large frame with sections, use different shaped frames for a more artsy look--- the only limit is your creativity!
(For those of you who aren't teachers, this can actually be a project you could make, too-- it would make a cute, unique alternative to the dry erase boards that so many of us buy)
On to the tutorial......
Here are the materials I needed:
*Cute scrapbook paper in whatever color scheme/pattern you fancy
*Computer printouts for the "labels" in each frame
*Glue stick
*Paper cutter or good old-fashioned scissors
*Cheap frames
(I got mine from Michaels for $1.50 each-- and just found out that they are ON SALE this week for 50 cents a piece, so I bought a couple extra for backup and future projects)
Step One:  Cut the background paper to fit your frame.  Or think ahead and get the right size frame. 
I accidentally bought 8x10, and the paper was 8.5 x I just did a little trimming.

Step Two: Cut the margins off the "labels" you made on the computer. 
I did mine on Publisher, and used a cute font I found from second favorite website to spend hours searching for cute ideas.....I think you can guess my first fave.
I made six frames-- one for the "title" and five for my main subject areas:  Language Arts, Reading, Math, Science, and Social Studies.  Oh....and I just thought of this-- you could make these frames for listing homework for the different subjects/classes as well. 
Step Three:  Decide which backgrounds you're going to put with each label and glue them on, eyeballing that they are centered on the paper. 
Step Four:  Put each page in the frames, trimming if needed to fit.
Step Five: Hang them up!  
Now here's where it might be different for you, depending on the surface you're hanging them, and the type/weight of the frames.  For me, I knew I was hanging them on a smooth surface (my whiteboard) and I found these 3M Command Picture Hanging Strips:
 (sorry the photo is upside down......I'm new at this)
I attached the strips to the back of the frames-- I played it safe and put two on each, even though the package said it would be okay with one in the center. 
Then I decided the arrangement of my frames.  I took bright cardstock and stuck them on my whiteboard with magnets until I had them set up how I wanted.  I took one down at a time, attached the frame to the whiteboard, and (per the directions) let the strip adhere to the board for an hour before putting all the frames back up.  Waiting that long was tough......but I had lots of other projects to keep me busy!
And here's what they looked like after I got them all up.....I'm SO happy with how it turned out!
I'll be back in a few days with a few other P.I. projects that I've been working on.....soon I'll be too busy to do any projects, so I'm basking in the creativity sun for as long as I can!  :)

UPDATE:  Due to the volume of requests I've had to email the PDF files for the frames, I opened up a Teachers Pay Teachers account and uploaded both the horizontal and vertical frames.

If you would like to get the free downloads for those, go here and here.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

getting crafty

I've been a little Pinterest-obsessed this week.

Okay, who am I kidding....when have I not been Pinterest-obsessed?   If you haven't jumped on the Pinterest bandwagon yet, do it.  If you don't know what it is or how it works, ask me!

But seriously, this week I've spent more time than normal searching through my boards for ideas that I want to implement into my classroom this year, for decorating ideas, and a few random tips that I wanted to try out.

For the past few days, I've been working for a good chunk of my days getting my room put back together.  Taking a computer break on one of those days was either a brilliant idea or a bad choice....however you choose to look at it.  I'm going to stick with brilliant idea.  The computer "break" ended up being hours spent on Pinterest, which led me to a couple websites (Teachers Pay Teachers and Teachers Notebook) where you can buy materials that other teachers have made and are selling, or in some cases download free materials.

There were a few things I pinned that I either didn't want to pay for, or couldn't find a link to download anything.  So, I went with the good-old-fashioned DIY attitude. 

I pinned this, but didn't want to pay for the whole pack that this teacher was selling. Really, I just wanted this poster. 

I also saw this link to a teacher's blog, and I thought- great idea- I can make that!

So I made my own versions of these using blank posters that I had from a pack I bought last summer.  It probably took me about ten minutes to make both of these.....and it was free.  Bonus!

Here are the final products.
Sorry it's not a close-up....this was for my instagram photo of the day and I just took one.

I also finished a project I've been working on for a couple weeks now....little by little, I've been collecting and framing things for my dining room wall.

Through another blog, I found this fantastic etsy shop that sells way cute retro prints, many of which are kitchen-inspired.  When I found this one, I knew I had to buy it.  And the coolest part (for me) was that it was coming from the Czech Republic.....where some of my ancestors are from!  Kind of cool to have a little of my "heritage" in my dining room. :)

I'm guessing since it came from Europe, the measurements of the print weren't equal of any standard frame you'd find here.  So I found a frame which was larger than the print that came with a mat, and decided to customize the frame myself.....instead of paying for someone to do it for me. 

Here's how it turned out:

If you are interested in this print, or others like it, go to this etsy shop:

Since I wanted to have more than just one picture in my dining room, I decided to find some cheap frames and fill them with interesting, colorful prints that I could make (or buy) inexpensively.  To offset the cost of this print and the frame itself.  :)

That's when I remembered pinning this:

I followed this blogger's ideas for hanging up a collection of frames, with a few of my own adaptations or ideas of my own.

First step:  lay out the frames on the floor how you'd like them to be on the wall.

Second step:  flip the frames over....carefully.

Third step:  lay a large sheet of something clear or translucent over the frames (the blogger used waxed paper, I used clear cellophane) and mark where the nails will be. 

Fourth step:  tape the "paper" to the wall (I used painters tape) where you want to hang the frames.  I marked where the center of my middle frame was so I could center it on my wall.

I also marked the corners of each frame so I knew the paper was level when I taped it up.

Fifth step:  hammer nails where you marked them, right through the paper.  I didn't hammer it all the way through, just enough to see where the holes need to be.

Sixth step:  take down the paper and hammer in nails for all the frames.

Seventh step:  hang the frames, check them to be leveled, and step back to marvel in your craftiness. 

Here are a few of the things I crafted to add to the wall:

I found this picture of some adorable owl timers on google images, and added the word art to the bottom to connect it to the room.  Plus I can't resist a chance to play around with fonts.  :)

This was a combination of some cute scrapbooking paper and a google image of teacups that I printed and cut out to scatter on the background paper.  I thought both went really well with the large print.

The other two frames had prints that I ordered (nine prints for $10) from this was a store called "Paris Print Shop" or something like that.  All sweet little pictures taken in Paris with a color theme- I chose the yellow and blue theme so I could use them both in my dining room and guest room.   They will show up in another post soon....

 So....just a few of the crafty things I've been up to lately. 
If you've done any fun DIY or Pinterest-inspired projects this summer, I'd love to hear about them!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

these are my confessions....

After typing the title of my I have the Usher song in my head.   :)

I thought I'd do a quick (by my standards), just-for-fun post today.  It might inspire a reoccurring set of "confessions" posts, or maybe after my first one I'll bury my head in the sand and ask myself what was I thinking the first time....but, as I confessed in my very first blog post, I'm diving in and taking a chance.

And......please feel free to send a quick shout out to show a little freak solidarity if you always helps to know you're not alone, right?

1.  Many of you know about my fear of bees/wasps/hornets.....and I've always thought that I was super brave when it came to everything else.  And then, in the past couple days (after I found a baby rabbit "nest" in my garden a couple weeks ago), I found a crazy amount of wasp nests around my house....and a dead rabbit in my basement window well.....and what I thought was a dead grasshopper fell on me out of my hanging plant when I was watering it.  It wasn't dead.  Just playing dead.  Until I swatted it off my chest.  Eww. confession....I'm really not as brave as I thought.  And I loved having my mom there to help me kill the wasps, get the dead bunny out of the well (I buried it), and laugh at me when I let out the girliest scream after realizing the grasshopper's definitely still kickin' it.

2.  I have probably set an Olympic record myself during these Summer Olympic games.....of hours logged on my couch.  And, I know many of you share in this love of Olympic-watching.  But, it's not only the Olympics.  I've also watched (in the past few weeks) all six seasons of MTV's The Hills.  Every. Single. Episode. 
I really didn't want to watch the last season (loved Lauren, could care less about Kristen), but had to get my "closure", so I forced myself to watch that last set of this ridiculous show.  That's the best word I can use to describe it.  Ridiculous.  I mean.....who else can go out to eat for every single meal, are constantly going to a different club every night, just take off for a trip to Vegas at a moment's notice, find the best apartments/houses to live in when they obviously barely (if at all) work, and speaking of work--can easily get their dream job, internship, or accepted into fashion school- even after having awkward, horrible interviews.   These pretty people, that's who.  But I was riveted.  I admit.

3.  My sister moved out of my house at the end of May.   My basement bathroom was "her bathroom" while she lived with me the past few years.  I rarely went down to use that bathroom, so she was always the one who took care of cleaning it.  My confession-- I just cleaned it yesterday.  For the first time since I moved in.  And it was gross.   But, for fairness.....when you live by yourself, and it's only used when you have company over, it gets forgotten.  I think I won't be "forgetting" to clean it anymore. 

4.  I haven't gone for a run since I got my new tennis shoes-- I wrote a post about it a while back.  I know....I said I was going to do it at my own pace.  But, I hadn't planned on being THIS slow to start.  I've just been so busy (besides the Olympics and reality show watching of course) with projects around the house, or spending time with family and friends.  I haven't given up on it; not by any means.  I just want to admit that I haven't started.  For those of you doing the Mud Run- if you wonder why I'm walking so's because I haven't started my "training" yet.  ;)

5.  I don't like laying out in the sun.  I know that many of my friends are tan-a-holics, and I love how it looks.....I just don't like the actual "laying out" part (I'd rather be swimming), I don't like wearing bathing suits in public (that's my own insecurities), I want to limit the amount of wrinkles I get (I always have makeup with SPF on my face) and I know that's one form of cancer that I have some control over preventing.  I'm always envious of everyone's gorgeous golden skin, and hate wearing sleeveless tops that show off my "farmer's tan".  So, when you see that my face and legs don't match my arms and back of my neck, that's why.....:)

So....those were my confessions for today.

Please....join me in sharing some confessions of your own!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

get lost

I think of myself as a pretty optimistic person.....a glass-half-full, see-the-positive-in-things kind of girl.  Just once in a while.....the pessimism monster creeps in.  I usually kick the unwelcome visitor out of my head, but it's always lurking about, waiting for a moment to wiggle itself back.

I tell you this to understand where I come I see I like to approach life.   But also, to make that connection that we all share.....we have good days, we have bad days.  I can not, and would never expect to, be positive all the time.  I will try my best though to change my attitude when I start hearing that Negative Nelly voice in the back of my mind.

It's a choice.   We don't always choose what happens to us, but we can choose how we react to it.

The reason I bring this up is that today....August 1st (my half birthday)....symbolizes the beginning of the end of summer vacation for me.  Once August hits, I start getting a little sad.   My much-anticipated, much-deserved, much-appreciated break from the hectic school year will be over in a few weeks.  I need to start that transition from carefree-do-whatever-I-want-to-do days, to slowly adding work days at school, planning out my school year, organizing my classroom, preparing for my future group of kiddos, and yes.....starting to go to bed earlier.  Gasp.

I woke up not feeling so great-- headache, backache, scratchy throat-- after a not-so-good night's sleep.  I had planned on going into school to get a little work done in my classroom.  I wasn't looking forward to that.  I wasn't feeling like doing anything.

Then....I opened my curtains and saw the gorgeous day greet me.   With a smile.  And a nudge.  And Negative Nelly had to leave.  I was choosing to forget about how I didn't feel well, and forget about going into work, and I was going to get outside and enjoy this weather.  We'll call the day Positive Polly.....the exterminator of Negative Nelly.

The plan was to sit out on my deck, shaded under the umbrella, and start a new book.

And then I saw them.....a couple of wasps.  Circling around my deck table.  Landing and crawling over the table, the chairs, the umbrellas.....and not leaving.

For those who don't know this about me......if there's one fear I have-- it's bees/wasps/hornets.

I wasn't ready to invite the pessimism monster back, so I grabbed my purse and set out to drive with no specific place in mind.  Just drive.

And drive I did......with the windows all down, the sun shining, the wind whipping through my car.....I drove with a smile on my face.....past everything that is familiar to me.  And I kept driving.  Down paved country roads that turned into dirt roads that narrowed into smaller dirt roads, winding around with 15mph curve signs warning me of sharp turns was both relaxing and exhilarating.

I think there's something about getting lost.  Lost in the moment.  Lost in a new part of town.  Lost in thought.  Lost in the beauty of nature.   It grounds me, and it centers me.  It makes me forget about why I was cranky earlier today, and it gave me some perspective. 

I had to stop off on the side of the dirt road to quickly snap this picture.....this swampy area was SO beautiful....peaceful....serene.   

My summer's not over yet. I'm going to enjoy every moment of what I have left of it. And......when it's over.....I might need to "get lost" once in a while whenever I feel stressed or overwhelmed during the school year. Positive Polly might just need to stay in my guest room to make sure that happens. :)