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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Laura Lately: March Edition

Hi everybody! Welp, there goes March... and here comes spring! That means that the temperatures are getting warmer and my belly is getting bigger! So lets do a little recap as to what I've been up to lately. 

Lately I can't get enough of...


Who am I!? I don't think I've ever said that in my life! 

I just really have hit a major nesting streak that has motivated me to mop, dust, clean, etc.
Next up? Windows! I think that since we are about two months out from a lot of craziness, I am trying to find some peace and cleanliness around the house. 

Lately I've been watching...

I've always been into American History, so it doesn't surprise me much that I've been really into some of the History Channel documentaries on Netflix.
In particular,  The Men Who Built American (about the great -and at times not so great- euntrapenuers of the industrial age).  Michael and I are super into it.  The vision and ambition of these men is amazing! And it's highly entertaining the way their stories intertwined and created the America that we know today. 

Lately I've been shopping for...

I've been working hard to update our baby registries and make sure we have what we need on there... but not more than we really need.  It's a hard balance, you know?  Plus, I have no idea what we need for the most part, so that's challenging.  Other than that, we have finally purchased most of the big items for the nursery: light, rug, glider, ottoman, changing table.  I'm excited to update you on all of that next week!


Lately I've been munching on...

Some of you may have seen via instagram that my mom came over this week to teach me her spaghetti sauce recipe.
Every weekend that I work, we have a carry-in.  It was my turn to supply the main dish and I really wanted to bring in something delicious and hearty.  And all I could think of was lasagna.  In particular, my mom's lasagna.  Which gave me a perfect excuse to finally learn the secrets to how my mom makes the most delicious sauce and lasagna.  I don't know if you know this but I'm going to be a mom soon too, so I should know things -like how to make a delicious lasagna. 


Lately I've been looking forward to...

April Showers! And not the kind that require an umbrella! I am lucky enough to have three showers coming up in the month of April and I really can't wait! I just love a good shower... the games, the food, the fun, and hey, I'll admit it.. the presents!  I've been doing a really good job of not buying clothing for our little guy! I've only bought two things.  Two! One onesie and one pair of shoes.. because, um.... little shoes!!

Lately I've been thinking about... 

I'm going to be honest here.  If you would ask me if I am excited for this little guy's arrival, I would say "Oh yes, of course!"  But I figured out that, for me, being excited about becoming a mom is kind of on the same lines as being excited to start a new job.  I'm excited in theory, but sometimes the reality of it - the parts of motherhood that I know are coming and that are easier for me to understand- doesn't get me excited.  I don't truly understand the overwhelming and deep love that I'm told I will undoubtedly experience.  But what I do understand is sleep deprivation, a crying baby, and a new overwhelming sense of responsibility.  So I'm praying that everyone is right.... that my motherly instinct to love above any level of difficulty will kick in. 

But I will say, that as time has been coming closer to our due date, I have felt myself feeling more and more bonded with the idea that this little man is our son, and I'm his mom.. and that is something very very special. So I guess it's a lot of mixed emotions, which I'm assuming is normal.  Right?

Lately I've been posting about....

In case you missed these March posts:
5 Things I learned When I Made a DIY Chalkboard
Bob Vila & Our Master Bath
Our First Built In Bookcase
Golden Week
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Sunday, March 22, 2015

5 Things I Learned About Making A Chalkboard.

Michael and I are big into doing our research.  We love consumer reports, we love reading reviews, we love hearing people's advice, we love to learn from experts.  So when I get a bright idea to start a project, that just means that it's time to start researching.  

A couple weeks ago I shared our bookcase project with you.  Remember?  It looked like this:

It took quite a bit of research on our part to accomplish this build.

My next ideas was to utilize the side of the bookcase in a different way - a magnetic chalkboard that we, and our little guy, could use.

In discussing this project with others, reading some online reviews, and looking at tutorials I found on pinterest, I learned a lot about the Magnetic Chalkboard DIY process.

And today, I'm going to share with you all the things I learned, in case you are ever interested in pursuing a similar project:

1. You can buy magnetic primer but it requires a lot of coats in order to be effective.  

I was very excited when I purchased magnetic primer at Michael's.  When I told my mom about my plans, she quickly shared with me her experience with it.  She said that she had applied three coats (which is recommended on the can)  and found the magnetic effect was very weak.  I went online to read other people's experiences and the consensus was, unless you apply 6+ coats of the magnetic primer, you can expect a very weak magnetizing effect.  And even then, only certain magnets will work. 

2. To get a good strong magnetic surface, use sheet metal.  

From tutorials I have read, it seems like the most effective way to get a magnetic surface is to purchase sheet metal.  We looked at Lowe's to get some for our surfaces and it looked as though we'd have to spend about $60 for the sheet metal.  We decided that we may just save that project for later.  In the future though, if we are really craving a magnetic chalkboard, we'll buy the metal and then paint it up with some chalkboard paint.

3. Chalkboard Paint.

I had originally purchased the chalkboard paint at Michael's, but it was pretty pricey.  I read good things about the Valspar brand of chalkboard paint which costs significantly less than what I paid at Michael's... even with a 30% off coupon.  While I was planning to return my originally purchased paint to Michael's and go back to Lowes for the Valspar brand, I ended up using some of my mom's left over chalkboard paint that she had - which was Valspar.  I applied 3 coats using an angled brush and foam roller. The coverage was really good and cleanup was easy. 

4. "Season" your chalkboard

Another big thing I learned in researching this project was about "seasoning" your freshly painted chalkboard.  For any DIY chalkboard, it is important to apply an all-over coating of chalk before drawing or writing on your chalkboard.  Why?  Well if you don't, it will be VERY difficult to erase the first things drawn/written on the chalkboard - a DIY chalkboard is porous and will hold onto the chalk that you apply.  Note: This is true for DIY chalkboards and some store bought ones, but not all.  So I would say, if in doubt, season's better to be safe than sorry.

To season your board, simply run some chalk across the surface of your board horizontally and vertically to cover it entirely.  

 Then erase.  I used a wet rag to wipe it clean. 

See how it leaves some residual chalk?  That's a good thing! That will prevent your words/drawings from being permanently engrained on your board.

5. DO NOT use chalk pens on a DIY'ed Chalkboard

Because many DIY'ed chalkboards are painted on either wood or drywall... stay clear of chalk pens.  Yes, they are nice and neat and easy to use, but they are not meant for porous surfaces - such as wood or drywall.  They will become impossible to erase.  The only way to get rid of it is to repaint.   Bummer.

So then how do you get a pretty detailed drawing or lettering on your chalkboard?

Here was my solution:
- Select your lettering and print from your computer
-Tape it to your surface to act as a spacing guide
-Use a chalk pencil.  I purchased these at Hobby Lobby.  It was easier to be more accurate using these compared to working with regular chalk, plus it was a lot less messy.  

-Lift the paper and start freehanding your lettering, using the printed paper as a guide.  Once I started my lettering, I moved the paper below where I was writing so that I could more easily see the example for scale and spacing. 

Now to be fair, this probably wouldn't be the best strategy for more intricate lettering or drawings but for the purposes of what I was doing, it worked super well. 

And just what exactly am I doing here?

Well, for our little "Great Scout-Doorsman" nursery, I wanted to put the Boy Scout Law somewhere in the room which reads (or which your husband recites from memory):

"A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent."  

What wonderful things to be praying and hoping for our little guy to be.

And would you look at that... it's Boy Scout approved! 


I love how the black chalkboard adds another color/texture element to the room.  And it's fun!

So what do you think?  Are you ready to Chalkboard it up?! I think you are!

Linked to: Talented Tuesday,

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Bob Vila & Our Master Bath

Something exciting happened this week.  And it's not just the fact that I decided that I'm never too young (or too proud) to start filling in my eyebrows to make them look fabulous.

No, the exciting thing I am referring to is that Kathleen, an editor from, emailed me earlier in the week wanting more information about our Master Bath renovation.  She really liked what we did and wanted to interview me about it in order to feature it on the website.

I was surprised and thrilled to get her email, and happy to do it.

To see the article click here

Grab me a Q-tip, I got thankfulness comin' out ma ears!

Thanks Kathleen for the feature, thanks Bob for the website, and thanks to all of you wonderful readers for reading, commenting, pinning and following along.  I love keeping you all up to date on what we are doing around this little house-o-ours.

Side note: Does anyone else think of Tim the Tool Man Taylor's constant rivalry with Bob Vila, any time you hear his name mentioned... or is it just me?   #childofthe90s

For more posts on our bathroom renovation click here, here or here for the complete before and after

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Monday, March 9, 2015

Our First Built In Bookcase

Guys Guys Guys Guys Guys.  I'm SO excited to present to you the most ambitious solo project we have ever attempted, let alone conquered!

Building A Built In Bookcase, Nursery

So a couple weeks ago when we were working on the planked wall for the nursery, Saint Steve and my Aunt Janet came over to check out our project.  We got to talking about this little area next to the door to the nursery.  I talked about how I felt like the space was wasted and I wasn't sure how to use the space to get the most out of it.  Not sure who mentioned it first but eventually we got to talking about building a bookcase there.  And SS talked us through some of the materials, tools, and process of building it.

The big picture girl that I am... I was sold.  "We can do this!"

But Michael in his detail-oriented-ness, he needed to figure it all out before he joined the built-in bookcase train.

Which, you know what?  Is a really good thing.

It took a lot, let me repeat, A LOT of planning.  A LOT of measuring.  A LOT of list making.

So if you are looking for a "Step One" to building a built in bookcase, that would be it.  Plan plan plan.

One problem with our space was this little air return that we had to contend with.  Do you see it?
I really wanted my bookcase to be about 12inches deep but that meant that the left side of the bookcase would be interrupted by that air return.  After several weeks of discussion, my fantastically smart husband suggested we bump out the bottom part of the bookcase and extend it past the air return.  We just won't put anything too obstructive in front of the air return.  And even if we did, there is an air return right down the hall and right around the corner in our bedroom.

So we decided to build 18inch deep shelves at the base, and 12inch deep shelves at the top, extending them up to the same height as the door.  The bottom will provide a nice space for larger toys or bins of toys while the upper storage will be great for books, pictures, and more precious nick nacks that need to stay away from clumsy growing hands.

Like my rough sketch?  If I were a better blogger it would be a neat computer generated image using photoshop or some such fanciness.  

Once we figured out our measurements, we had to figure out materials.

For this project we bought:
 1 sheet of 0.75" pine plywood (used for our side panels and some shelves)
 0.75" whitewood (used for shelf cleats)
 0.75" kiln dried pine panels (for the rest of the shelves)
 0.75" pine board (used for face pieces)
 2 x 4 (used for building base)

We bought wide enough whiteboard and pine boards in order to cut cleats that were 1" x 0.75" and the face pieces were 1.5" x 0.75".  For all the cutting, it was great to have access to a table saw - we borrowed one from SS. We used our trusty miter saw to cut everything to length! 

Our first step was to tear out the baseboard in the area we were going to build out the shelves.
That hurt a little bit.  It hasn't been too long since that very trim was just set in place and painted.  Oh well, can't cry over painted trim. 

Once our baseboard was out of the way, we cut our first side panel and screwed that into the studs. 

Then we built our base.  Some right angles and some screws, that's all it took. 
 We leveled it out with some shims to make sure we were building on a good, even foundation.
 Once the base was built we nailed our bottom shelf down and our back cleats.

But that was after I had the bright idea to make a bit of a time stamp for this project!  

Then we attached the right side panel.  We used 2" brad nails to attach most of the pieces.
Then we attached our side cleats and the shelves.  We mirrored this process for the top section of the shelf as well.

Attach left panel to the wall.
Attach back cleats.
Attach side panel.
Attach side cleats.
Attach shelves.

On the top section of our shelves, we made the bottom shelf spacing 15", the middle spacing 12", and the top spacing a bit over 12".  We had read the tutorial on Young House Love and they had suggested the bottom spacing be a bit more generous in order to visual look more balanced.   We tried it out with some of painters tape up on the wall and agreed.  It looked better with more space on the bottom then with equal spacing between them all.  The top spacing was a bit more generous because we wanted our shelves to line up with our door frame and used that as a buffer.  We like the way it looks plus it will account for different size books and accessories.

Once we had the basic bookcase built, it was time to add the pretty to it....Meaning the trim and face pieces.  We started at the top. We allowed for a 0.25" overhang past the crown piece for our top shelf. 

But before that went on we had to add what I called the header piece which we attached from side panel to side panel.  Then we moved down the bookcase adding the vertical face pieces first, followed by each horizontal face piece.
Building A Built In Bookcase, Nursery

Then all we had to do was add the baseboard back on and the shoe molding. 
There may have been a lot of high fiving at this point!

One nice thing we did, that I was SUPER glad about, was cut a lot of the boards the weekend before we did most of the building.  That allowed me to prime and paint most of the boards before it was built.  This was a huge help to me and my growing belly! That way, I only had to touch up the spots where we filled nail holes and caulked. 

Oh and guess what else got painted.... the roooooooom!!

How 'bout that planked wall?! I loved her white but I'm digging her new color! 

The color is Benjamin Moore Louisburg Green.  I am absolutely in LOVE with this color.  My mom came over this last week and helped me knock out the painting (THANKS MOM!!!) and I kept saying.. with a deep sigh... "Have I mentioned how much I'm loving this color."  :-) It's the nice army green color I was hoping for with a smidgen of blue in it to keep it from going poop or pea in color (see what I did there?).   

Fun fact about this color, if you are a fan of the show Modern Family, it is also the exact same color as Cam and Mitchell's living room

Building A Built In Bookcase, Nursery

Building A Built In Bookcase, Nursery

Building A Built In Bookcase, Nursery

I can't wait to get the book shelf filled with books, pictures, nick nacks, toys, etc.. I plan to get some canvas bins for the bottom so we can hide away toys in there.  Here are the ones I'm thinking of.

And because I love going back and seeing the old before pictures from when we bought our house - before our renovation: Here's the before and after of this room when it was still the master bedroom.

Building A Built In Bookcase, Nursery

See the door and air return are in the same place but we built out the closet and stole some space from the room for our master closet.  :-) Memories.

And then the before bookshelf and the after bookshelf picture.
Building A Built In Bookcase, Nursery

In total, we spent about $125 on building materials.
That does not include the cost of the small crown piece that we used at the top of the bookcase or the baseboard pieces at the bottom because we had some of those left over from our renovation.   And of course, we are definitely saving a bundle conquering the job ourselves!... not to mention gaining the immense satisfaction in seeing our project come together! I don't think it will be our last project of this magnitude... did someone say "fireplace built-ins?!"

It was me!!... (definitely wasn't Michael!)

This was a big week for getting things done in the nursery! I also purchased a rug for the room and a light.  But more on that another day. 

Interested in more of our nursery projects? Click here and here.

Linked to: Pretty Pintastic Party, Oak&Oats, On Display Thursday, Think&Make Thursday, Talented Tuesday, Thrifty Decor Chic-Before & After Party

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