December 22, 2009

Easy Hostess Gift

My office Christmas party was at my boss' house this year and I didn't want to show up empty handed.  I don't like to bring wine since I don't really drink it myself, or know what kinds are good, so I decided to put together a  hostess gift that was a little more my style---a cupcake pan candy buffet.

Here is what you need:
  • One cupcake/muffin pan (Mine had 12 cups)
  • Cupcake liners (12)
  • 12 different candy varieties
  • Shrink wrap bag
  • Twist tie
  • Ribbon
  • Small decoration or Christmas ornament

1.  Place a liner in each of your cupcake pan cups.

2.  Fill each cup just to the top with a different type of candy.

3.  Place the pan in a shrink wrap bag and gather it at a side or near the top.  Secure with a twist tie.

4.  Use a hair dryer or heat gun to shrink the bag loosely around the candy, being careful not to melt any chocolate. This takes away the excess plastic without getting it so close that the bag melts into the candy.

5.  Use ribbon to tie on a bow.  Add a Christmas ornament to dress it up.

And there you have it!  A quick and easy gift any hostess would love to receive!

  • Check out the bulk candy section of your local grocery store to get just the right amount of candy for each cup without having to buy larger, prepackaged bags.  This is also great for buying specific colors.  I was able to pick out red, green and white candies from a bin with lots of different colors.
  • The Christmas candy aisle at Walmart had a great selection of stocking stuffer sized candies in Christmas colors.  I was able to pick up a few varieties and they were a decent amount for filling the cups.
  • I used Christmas colored candies, but this can be altered for other holidays by changing the colors or the contents.
  • I purchased a nice pan at Target for about $7.00.  I figured it was worth it since, if making a gift basket, the price for a basket would be about the same, and I know that the recipient would be able to use the pan confidently for making muffins or cupcakes later on. (or, I didn't want the pan to sell at their next yard sale, if you know what I mean.)
Here are the candies I used:
  1. Red, white & green Gummy Bears
  2. Red, white & green Sugared Gummy Dots 
  3. Hershey Kisses
  4. Red Swedish Fish
  5. Red, white & green Gobstoppers
  6. Mini Peppermint Sticks
  7. White chocolate covered pretzels
  8. Red Starbursts
  9. Red and White Chiclets Gum
  10. Red & green  M&M's
  11. Red, white & green Christmas Star Candies
  12. Red & green Mike 'n' Ike's
I think the total cost for putting this together was about $20 - $25 and I had a little bit of candy left over.  I'm not sure what a good bottle of wine would cost, but I would guess you'd spend about the same.

I really loved how this turned out and it was very well received!  What do you usually bring to parties as a hostess gift?


December 16, 2009

More fun with Polyvore

I couldn't help myself.  Once I started to play around with Polyvore, I just couldn't stop dreaming up inspiration boards for our house.  Here is what I envision for the downstairs rooms.

The Living Room:
Linen Living Room
I'm thinking neutral, linen-like colors for this room.  It will be a serene place where we can relax, read and cuddle up to watch a movie.  I am really liking silvery-blue shades and variations of turquoise as accent colors, but I like how easily other colors, like olive green or rich reds could be used to mix it up a bit.

The Dining Room:

With the dining room sharing a wall with the living room, I was thinking that I might be best to carry the same color palette into this room, but play up the blue hues more and add some dark brown and pewter accents.  I really think this room will need a mirror to help make it seam bigger and I want to get an area rug and long to-the-floor curtains to make the space seem a little more formal.  We have an oak table, which I wouldn't mind covering with a coat or two of creamy white paint.  We also need to pick up some new chairs, preferably ones that are upholstered.

The Kitchen::

Of course, I want to have a super retro kitchen, but this just won't work given our house, appliances and, well, reality.  Although, I still want to incorporate some retro-inspired item, like the glass jars in the board, some old, red kitchen utensils and some fun dishtowels and accessories.  The kitchen shares space (and a walls) with the dining area, so I want it to blend well, but also allow for a little punch of color.  And, with white cabinets and a linen-colored wall, the color is going to come through the accessories and some of my kitchen tools.

I'm sure my ideas will change a few times before we get settled in, but it is way to much fun to create these boards.

December 10, 2009

Dreaming of when it's all done

We are so close to having our upstairs bedrooms painted and ready for move-in.  The downstairs, with the exception of the kitchen, needs a complete paint job and the floors all need to be refinished.  It feels so good to see the light at the end of the tunnel when it comes to completing the bulk of our renovations.

I've been thinking up some ideas for the decor in each of the rooms.  This is so difficult because we have lots of hand-me-down and flea market furniture to work with when putting together a home environment we love.  I'm going to do my best to slip cover, paint and modify where possible to make everything look like it belongs.  This is going to be quite the challenge!

For our Office/Craft room, we already have dark furniture.  I would like to pick up a narrow table for use as a crafting/sewing desk and we'll need some book shelves or an armoire for storage.  Here is a little inspiration board I put together for the space on Polyvore:

Visualizing some ideas for the room is a big help. I also decided to put together an inspiration board for our bedroom:

I worked in a picture of our actual bedding set and ceiling light fixture we purchased.  I have a dark brown bird cage/candle holder I can use in this room and I am considering DIYing an upholstered headboard.  I just don't know if a tufted or simplistic look like the one in the top left photo.

And, why not give it a shot for the other bedroom with the soft meadow green walls.  I decided to play around with white and linen colors in this board.  Here is how it turned out:

Green and Linen Shabby Bedroom

It seems that the more I worked on my Polyvore boards, I think I got better at putting them together.  The last one is my favorite!  That room might actually be something I could pull off.  I'm pretty sure I still have a white down comforter somewhere in size full/queen (perfect!), I could easily whip up some linen accent pillows and sew linen trim onto white sheets, and I could paint one of our dressers in the off-white, linen-like shade.  I also think we have an old rustic window in our garage that I could paint, distress and hang on the wall.

Yeah, it was fun dreaming up ideas for these rooms.  It will be even more fun when we get to start putting stuff in them!

December 9, 2009

Floor Refinishing -- The Sanding

My dad bought a floor sander at an auction for $5 a while back.  He used it to sand down some of the floors in their house, and now we are using it on our hardwood.  With daily rental for one of these babies running at about $85, we are really saving by using my dad's!  And the best part is that we can sand floors when we need/want to and take our time since there's no rush to return.

I purchased the sandpaper from a local equipment rental company.  The heavier grit ran almost $4 a sheet, while the finer grits were between $1-$2.

Dad brought the machine over to tackle the worst floor---our dining room.  If you recall, the floor was carpeted when we bought the house.  When we pulled up the carpet, we found a tile and tar on top of the hardwood.  We chipped it up the best we could, but lots of tar remained.

After two passes with the heaviest grit, our floor started to look much better!

My dad showed Chris how to work the equipment.  He got the hang of it pretty quickly!

And here's my dad changing the sandpaper.  We went through a few sheets just trying to remove the tar.

Clean up!

The results were amazing!

Of course, the sander couldn't reach all the way to the edges, so we will have to rent an edge sander.  But, wow!  Look at the difference!  I am impressed with the results!  It looks so nice and new where we sanded.  We are going to wait until we are finished with all plaster repairs and painting before we stain and varnish the floor.  We would also like to sand the floor in the living room, as well, before we do any finishing.

I'm excited about this!  Looks like our hopes of having beautiful hardwood floors is going to become a reality!  I can't wait to see how it looks once we stain.

December 5, 2009

Kitchen progress

While we've been busy painting the bedrooms upstairs, my father-in-law has been busy with the kitchen improvements.

To recap, we removed the old metal and birch cabinets, removed a wall, took out a closet in the living room to expand the width of the area, did a complete overhaul of the plumbing and electric and purchased cabinets used on ebay.

With the plumbing replacement, some of the wall plaster and the entire ceiling in the kitchen had to be torn down.  New drywall has been installed there and the patching process has begun.  He also built a new wall where we removed the closet.  One of the coolest and most unexpected additions to the kitchen has been the bulkhead above where the cabinets will go.  He put this in to eliminate an area that would only be good for collecting dust.  We won't be able to use any crown molding on top of the cabinets now, but I think the bulkhead will give it a nice, professionally-finished look.  And, it will give us a little bit of wall space we can paint for an added pop of color in the room. (I also have visions of getting a wall cling with a cute saying from somewhere like Uppercase Living---maybe this one?)

Again, crappy iPhone photos, but you can see the 6-inch bulkhead at the top of the wall:

Yeah, the area looks a little scary right now, but the base and wall cabinets, appliances and tiled back splash will cover all of the ugly parts. The ugliness is the result of wood paneling attached with liquid nails.

This is the new wall where the closet once was.

Oh, and he even put in a recessed light above the sink and two above where the peninsula will go. (It will separate the kitchen from the dining room and house the dishwasher.)

We've been patching and sanding for the last few days.  Basically, we have to get this prepped, primed and painted before Chris' dad can do anything with the cabinet and appliance installation.

We still need to buy three more cabinets from Lowe's to match our used set, a fridge, the tile for the back splash and floor, the counters and possibly a new stove.

December 4, 2009

What was once scary yellow is now a peaceful shade of green

Next on our to do list was the scary, school bus yellow bedroom.  While the cigarette damage wasn't as bad in this room, covering the bright colored wall presented a challenge.  We knew our problem was no match for Kilz and primed that obnoxious room with their Premium product, a primer designed to both block stains and hide colors.  It's also good for mildew-prone areas, but we were more interested in its ability to cover up the hideous paint colors left for us by the previous owner.

So, here we go.  Scary yellow wall before primer:

(Yes, there were that many holes and imperfections in this wall.  We had to do a lot of patching)

Scary yellow wall during the priming:

And no more scary yellow wall!

Now, with a blank slate, we began brainstorming on a color for the wall.  Since this room will be our guest bedroom, we wanted to make it a peaceful and serene color that was anything be the yellow it once was.  After looking at what seemed like hundreds of paint chips, we decided on Glidden's Soft Meadow:

And, I think it looks wonderful!

And with the trim painted in Behr's Traditional:

The room looks about a million times better and I can't wait to start putting stuff in here.  We probably aren't going to refinish the hardwood floor in this room because, between furniture and area rugs, most of it isn't going to show.  And, outside of a few pink paint splotches, the floor is in decent shape.

It is so nice to be done painting in at least one of the rooms!  Yay for progress!

December 3, 2009

Painting our house (or making the bad stuff disappear)

Yes, I know posting has been very light lately.  I guess you could say our renovations have been a little less talk and a lot more action for the month of November.  We have been very busy painting. VERY busy painting.

We started in the smallest bedroom.  As of now, we plan on using this room for an office, but it will probably be converted to a nursery whenever we get around to having children.  This room also had the most noticeable cigarette smoke damage of all the rooms.  The walls and ceiling were a slight off-white when we scrubbed them down, but the smoke made them more of a light brown.  It was pretty gross!

We wanted to be sure the discoloration was completely covered by primer before we painted.  And with the amount of smoke damage, we pulled out the big guns to get the job done.

We purchased Kilz Complete because it promised to provide excellent adhesion, hide imperfections and block smoke and nicotine stains on walls.  Just what we needed!  It's an oil-based primer, so it was really thick, smelled really bad and was a pain in the butt to clean up. But, it was worth it!  It did exactly what we wanted it to do.  This stuff really works!

Here is a picture of the room when we just started to prime it.  Since the primer is super bright white, you get the idea of  exactly how nasty the cigarette smoke stains were.  Oh, and  we cleaned it some with soapy water before painting.

The ceiling:

(See?  I told you it was nasty!)

And the walls:

The happy face of progress:

Yes, I was a little to excited to have progress I could actually see.  And to see all of the bad stuff disappear.

Chris is happy to see the bad stuff go away, too!

We ended up going back and priming the trim. (That was not part of the original plan.)  Using this space for an office and possibly a craft room made us want to pick a more energizing and creative color for the room without going too nuts. We wanted something with a little more darker color than what we picked for the other bedrooms on the second floor, but not too dark because of the small size of the room.

We settled on Glidden's Antique Silver.  A nice grayish-blue that would be dark enough to be noticeable without being obnoxious.

And here's the room after we put the color on the walls:

I guess my iPhone doesn't really take the best pictures, but for now, this will have to do.  The color is a little darker than it appears in the pictures.

I really like how it turned out!  I think the dark brown trim will look great and the dark stained office furniture we already have (thank you, The Price is Right!) will fit right in.  The floor will need to be sanded down and refinished in this room thanks to some very bad pet stains.  We'll be painting the trim this weekend and then we'll get started on the floors.  The work never ends!


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