Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Backyard Camp Birthday Party: DIY Ideas

Back in October our sweet son turned 5 - I'm still trying to process that. Just like we have done over the past several years we had a little DIY party for him.  This year he chose the theme - he wanted a backyard campsite, a fire with marshmallows and a tent.  That sounded super fun to us so we went with it and came up with several easy and fun DIY projects for the day!  Here is a little recap and some ideas for hosting your own backyard campsite party (or any diy party)...Welcome to Camp Silas!

For his parties I try and make several things, reuse other party items and purchase just a few new ones.  The DIY elements included some wood slices, a few chalkboard items, his pallet board campsite sign and a rustic tent.

Since I was making a lot of things for his party and reusing a bunch of things (like the striped banner and little crepe lanterns) I didn't mind splurging a little on this deer.  Now that I'm thinking about this, besides the food and paper products I didn't spend anything on decorations besides this deer.   I stalked it at Target for a while until it went on sale and now that the party is over it has found a permanent place in our spare room - so I felt ok with it.  

This was just a simple painted pallet board sign we made - so easy but so cute!  

The red buffalo check table covering is just a blanket I already had.  This was a last minute thought but I loved it.  I just walked around the house looking for things that might work (this is pretty much what I do every time I do any sort of party planning).  Always use what you already have first!

So probably our favorite thing was the simple tent Justin made.  How precious did this turn out?  Silas and Justin went on a hunt for the tree branches and he used a simple canvas painting tarp we already had.  Justin secured the tent with some heavy duty rope/twine.  I was not really involved in the making of the tent process so I really don't have a how-to for it.  But it came together fairly easily.

The kids loved it and was a great place to play, eat and laugh together!  We added a little lantern and a string of lights, oh and a little slice of wood turned chalkboard sign...such a fun spot!

So we had lots of different food options but we did this fun little make your own trail mix station inside.  I bought some blue paper bags and cut them almost in half for a cute little "grub" on the go snack.  It was nothing fancy and as you can see I used a various selection of bowls and jars - it didn't have to match or be perfect.  The kids loved choosing and making their trail mix (and the adults loved it too).
It was such a sweet and fun night celebrating Silas and as a family we had a blast planning and doing it together.  Silas has already picked a theme for next year and we have been talking about different ideas we could come up with.  Its so fun to get your kids involved and encouraging that creativity inside of them.  Thanks for visiting today!  If you are looking for more easy diy party ideas you can check out Silas' dinosaur party, race car party and safari party!   I also have some ideas for hosting a sweet 16 party , a "tweens" pirate party and global themed going away party.  Go grab some ideas!

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Installing an Ikea Sink

 Lately I have been sharing about our current diy kitchen remodel project in steps, from demo to prep work to installing ikea butcher block counters and today I get to share about installing our farmhouse sink.  You guys, this sink is the - (and yes I was teenager in the 90s.)  But seriously, I really can't say anything bad about it.  If you are in the market for a farmhouse sink no doubt you have looked at this one - its the domsjo sink from ikea.  By far it is the best priced farmhouse sink for its size out there.  Its such a great deal that we had to wait on a list for months to get one.  So know up front your closet ikea may not have one in stock if you just randomly show up.  Call before you go!  Now to be clear, we have currently been using this sink for about 2 weeks so I can't speak on longevity - but still I love it.   

For a little background (if you are just joining in) we decided recently to upgrade the majority of our kitchen - pretty much everything has been replaced besides our cabinets.  This made installing counters and this sink a little different since they are from ikea and made to install really easily into their own (ikea) cabinets.  But it can easily be done and we are living proof.  It just took a little extra work.

The fist steps in this process was back in our demo days which involved removing the old plumbing and cutting out the area in our cabinets in which this sink was going to sit.  Next, we cut our counters to size and cut in the notches for the sink.  After that we secured our counters in place and we were ready for the sink to go in.  So that brings us to the picture below - the mini beams.

This sink is massive and heavy - no exaggeration- and needs really good support.  If you look at the instructions from ikea you can see that the cabinets you buy from ikea have this support already built in.  To make it work for us, Justin built two "mini beams" (one for each side of the sink) under the cabinet for it to rest on and to be secured to.  Honestly, this was the most complicated part of the whole process...besides maybe the plumbing portion..but this is all about the pretty stuff right now.  

After the sink was firmly in place the next thing we did was seal around it (not pictured).  We used a caulk gun and some silicone based sealer around the edges of the sink.  There are some great tutorials out there but basically we taped off the sink and counters with painters tape and ran the caulk down the crease, wiped with a damp cloth and removed the tape.  I'm not going to lie I was pretty sure I was going to ruin the counters at this point but it all worked out.  Just take my advice and have some damp cloths readily available. 

We still need to fix the bit underneath the sink - its on our immediate to do list.  I'm also seriously considering painting the lower cabinets a darker be continued.  

But look how far this little kitchen has come!  I just love this before and after.

Cool thing is, we still have a few more things to do and it already looks a bajillion times better.  

I am a believer that a little goes a long way and patience pays off.  We have slowly worked to get this thing to where we want it and have not broken the bank at all.  Everything we have done has been within a small working budget.  Remodeling a kitchen does not have to be the biggest deal ever and all those little things make a major difference.  I'll share more soon about some of the little details!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Installing Ikea Butcher Block Counters

I'm excited to continue sharing more of our little diy kitchen remodel today.  Last week I shared about the demo and prep process so today its getting into more of the fun stuff - installing the countertops! Since moving in to our home almost 5 years ago I have been researching different counter options.  I went back and forth with the whole butcher block idea but ultimately decided it was a great choice for us.  To keep the costs down we are not replacing our cabinets (just painted them) and we wanted to install the counters ourself - butcher block just made the right fit.  Ikea has some great options and really great prices so we went with the karlby counters in walnut.

The installation process was pretty straightforward for us.  We really just needed two cut pieces, plus the sink notches cut out (more on that later).  To keep things even more super simple we also chose the domjso farmhouse sink.  This sink sits on top of the counters so any cuts we made would be covered, kind of perfect for first time kitchen installers.

The countertops come in two sizes - we needed two of the larger size to make it work.  So we measured our cabinet length and got ready to cut.  I should say too that we also had the sink out and did a lot of measuring the sink and cabinet lengths - it is nerve racking to make a big cut on something you only have just enough of.  So when we felt confident we went for it.

It was a nasty weather week (so-much-rain) when we got into this so we had to do it all inside - this picture looks deceiving but we did have the countertop raised off the floor while Justin was cutting it (also pay no attention to the lack of safety going on here).  After making the big cut the moment of truth had arrived and we nervously placed the countertop in and held our breath - thank goodness it was correct!  We did another check on the level to make sure it was all coming together right.

Once we had the length cut we had to cut in notches for our sink (it won't fit without these).  So we measured the area (a billion times) and made the cut.  Here again, the sink will sit on top so no need for an absolute perfect cut.  We cut the notch on both sides and sat the sink in to make sure it was correct - not that there was any fixing anything at that point.  Oh and just a little tip - you need to measure both notches - the sink we had was not perfect and the notches were both a little different.  So don't do one and think you can just use that as a template for the other side.  I don't know why but that would not have worked for us.

It was actually fairly simple and only mildly stressful.  We really had an easy set up to work with.  

The final step in installation was fastening the cabinets underneath.  It was just a few screws and bolts and now everything is in place and not going anywhere.  I am so loving these counters. It fits the feel and look of our house so well.  Counters = Complete!!

The next step of this diy process was our sink - and man, do I love it.  I'll share with you tomorrow how we made it work in our existing cabinets!  Have a great Monday!

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Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Installing Ikea Countertops: Demo & Prep Work

I'm so excited to begin to share with you the fun things we have been up to in our kitchen!  As I began to write this post I was prepared to write a full installation of the ikea countertops we purchased but- as I began editing things and thinking through this I realized that would have been the longest post ever.  So I have decided to break down this whole process into several posts.  Today is all about the demo and prep work we needed to do to even begin to think about the installation.  Its not a glamorous post with beautiful before and afters but this is a big part of the diy process and something we spent an entire day doing so I hate to just skim over it.  

Before we get into the nitty gritty I feel like I should say this - 
1. We are by no means experts or professional kitchen remodelers.  This was a total diy project and we learned as we went.  But I'm hoping that through our process you can get inspiration and encouragement to tackle your own projects!

2.  Each house is really different (obviously) so what worked for us may not work for you.  We have a tiny kitchen with not a lot of special corners or pieces so this was fairly straight forward.  We do know that old houses can be a pain the the rear when it comes to getting things straight, level, etc so we feel your pain.

3.  Personally, I was not the brains behind this project - my wonderful husband was.  I was there each step of the way but mostly to lift things, hold things in place, double check measurements, say yes or no to what I wanted (be bossy) etc.  So as I'm typing this I will mostly likely leave something out or not know how to exactly explain each step.  I will do my best in hopes that it helps you visualize what all may be needed for a diy kitchen project. 

Ok, so now you know where I'm coming from so lets get to this thing.

First thing: ripping stuff out - this is when things get real.  This was actually a really exciting thing for us to do because after months of waiting we finally had some time to get started.  Back up just a bit - we are prepping to install the ikea karlby butcher black countertops in walnut finish and the domsjo farmhouse sink.  Here are the steps we took to get things out and prepped and ready:

1.  Remove all your mess from the cabinets - it will be everywhere and you won't have a clue where everything is but then you get to purge and organize everything when it goes back in!
2. Disconnect the plumbing (I'm not even going to pretend I know how to do this)
3. Remove the countertop - Our countertop was held in by a few screws/bolts underneath.  It was actually really simple to locate them, unscrew and lift off.
4. Check how level your cabinets are - (this is not really pictured) But we needed to see how level the base cabinets were before we started putting stuff back on.  Ours was surprisingly level except for the very end cabinet - we were able to just use a wood shim under the countertop to get things level on that end.
5. Remove the faux cabinet pieces (they pretty much just popped out)

After all of that was done we were left with a really crazy hodge lodge gross wall behind where the old countertop had been.  Out next step is to install a tile backsplash but we were not going to get there during this portion of the project and I really didn't want this nasty wall in the meantime.  So we set out to remove wallpaper, smooth out the wall and paint everything white.

Yay! Everything was all bright and clean and way more livable for the time being.

The final step in this whole process was the cut out the portion of the cabinet where the sink was going to fit.  We had already measured and knew this was going to be a good fit for the sink.  We just simple cut out the portion where the faux drawers used to be.  And with that we were ready to start the install process!  Tomorrow I will start sharing more of the fun part when you actually get to see our new countertops looking all pretty and fancy.  Can't wait!

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Replacing the Range Hood

You guys, we have been up to some crazy things over here.  Our kitchen is getting more updates and we are closer to being completed with some of our kitchen goals than ever before.  As I am sitting here typing this we have installed new countertops, a farmhouse sink (just a few little things to finish with this), new faucet - oh and a new range hood (hello, this post). Also, we are preparing to get started on a kitchen backsplash, building an extra cabinet and who knows what else.  Why does the list keep extending?  Mainly because we are really enjoying this kitchen remodel thing.  This has been a slow process but I'm thankful for that because I've enjoyed each step and we really have a good grasp on the final goal now.  Each step has been a labor of love and something we have enjoyed doing together.  Everything we have done has been within a budget we have set and we have tackled each diy process and learned a ton.  So stayed tuned for more kitchen posts/oversharing coming soon...

Ok, so rewind from the picture above - before we started ripping out countertops and sinks we removed and replaced our old range hood.  Within the last year we were able to upgrade our appliances to stainless.  We were super thankful when some close friends offered their range/oven to us (they were upgrading to gas) and that kind of started a trickle effect on each appliance upgrade.  Our dishwasher was on its last leg so we set out for a new one.  Another friend of ours is an appliance manager at a big box store and was able to help us get a great deal on some discontinued floor models.  We pretty much were able to score all 3 appliances for less than the cost of a new fridge (crazy).  My advice for upgrading appliances on a budget would be to check places like craiglist, buy/sell/trade and such.  Also, we learned that discontinued floor model appliances are very negotiable.  You never know what prices you might be able to score if you are willing to negotiate and look at something not brand spanking new.  

So back to the range hood - this was actually a really easy upgrade.  Removing it pretty much involved unscrewing it and disconnecting the wires.  Also - please make sure and switch off the breaker when you are removing the hood since you will be disconnecting the old wiring and reconnecting the new wires.  Before you buy your range hood take some measurements!  Usually our house has weird pieced together oddly shaped things and I was really worried this would be the case- but thankfully it was really standard.  But, I would measure just to make sure - standard has not always been the case for us (old house status).

The ultimate goal for this space behind the oven is to install a tile backsplash (that will run the whole length of the counters) so we went ahead and removed the old plastic piece that I guess was serving some sort of purpose.  Of course it was gross behind there.

Since we are working towards tiling I just decided to grab some white paint we had and paint over the ugliness.  After that we installed the new range hood - and tada! Done.

Its nothing incredibly fancy but its nice and everything is now back to matching.  Its a little addition but something I really think makes a big difference - something maybe you don't even realize until you do it.  

If you want to check out what we have done so far in the process of remodeling the kitchen- we have painted our knotty pine cabinets, replaced the cabinet hardware, installed a tile floor, replaced some lighting, painted the walls and painted a chalkboard door.

Lots more to share about with our little kitchen remodel!  Stay tuned this week!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

12 Winter Wardrobe Favorites

Its finally full blast winter in NC so I've been thinking about what pieces should go and stay in my wardrobe.  This past year I have been sticking to a more simplified closet and paring things down quite a bit.  I did a big purge back in the Spring and each season I have purged a little more (and added a few things in that work better for mixing).  Its all about creating a closet of fewer, more versatile things that I love and will wear over and over.  So below I have 12 of my favorite winter items that fit all of those categories.  I love having items that can create many outfits together and also mix and match with other pieces to make even more!

Here's my list (sources linked)

1. Thicker Cardigan Sweater (similar)
4. Plaid Neutral Flannel Shirt (similar)
5. Moto Jacket (similar), (similar)
6. Jeweled Statement Necklace (similar), (similar)
9. Cognac Ankle Boots (similar), (similar)
10. Chunky Cable Nit Sweater (similar), (similar)
11. Dark Wash Distressed Jeans (similar)

These are just a few ideas for transitioning your wardrobe to winter.  Picking out 10-12 pieces out of your closet and finding different ways to mix and match is a great way to maximize your wardrobe.  There were a lot of combos from these pieces I had never thought to wear.  You probably have way more outfit ideas than you realize!  Just from these 12 pieces I have at least 20 outfit options and using these pieces with other items will create even more options.  Try it out and see what you can come up with!

If you are lacking a few key wardrobe pieces this is a great time to check out the sales and score some great winter basics for a lot less.  Last year I picked up the black moto jacket for $9 on clearance during the end of season sales.  I also like to check out the consignment shops first to see if I can find what I'm looking for there.  The gray plaid flannel is a j crew consignment find for just a few bucks!  A great thing to do is to make a list of key basics you are in search of that will give you lots of variety...that way you aren't just buying random items that will not work with many different things you already own.  Having a cohesive, simplified and versatile closet is always my goal.  Have fun getting dressed this winter!

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