Thursday, March 29, 2012

Spring Cupcakes

Claire's preschool spring party was today. I was in charge of the mini cupcakes and because I'm terribly indecisive I decorated them two different ways. 

Gumball Cupcakes




Birds Nest Cupcakes

I ran out of room in my mini muffin pans and made some big ones for the little sweeties that kept coming in the kitchen asking when they were gonna get to taste one. These are "milkshake cupcakes". I'll use any excuse to use those adorable paper straws! I would have drizzled chocolate syrup on top but Matt had just finished off the last of it for his chocolate milk. =)





Happy Weekend!!


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

let's chat...

Warning: If you have a weak stomach it's best for you to bypass the first few paragraphs.

So last week was not great health wise for our Modest Homestead. We were all sick at one point during the week and pour little Maddy has been sick the past 3 weekends with one thing or another. She started us off with a stomach virus.

 I had it next and it was AWFUL! I hate being sick and you know when your a mom with young children you can't just lay down and sleep until you feel better. My kids were not taking it well that I was out of commission. Maddy was still not feeling well and was super fussy and hardly napped at all during the day. Claire was upset that we couldn't go outside and ride her bike and she didn't get as long to play in the bath tub as usual. She was however excited when Matt came home on lunch and announced that they were going to have cereal for dinner. (Whatever works...I was just glad I didn't have to cook!) I tried to put Maddy to bed a few minutes early so I could spend time with Claire but she was just not having it. While I was rocking her Claire turned on her own bedtime music and went to sleep. 

By the time the kids were both in bed I ate a little jello which gave me just enough energy to pick up the house before Matt came home from work. I even managed to watch the season finale of the Walking Dead with out getting sick! I don't typically like scary shows but Matt got us started on it and I don't think it's real looking enough to be that scary!

A few days later Claire and Matt got it. The good thing (as if there is a good thing about being sick) is that when Claire gets sick she always coughs before she throws up. She's done it ever since she was a baby and it's a great warning to know when I need to run her to the bathroom or nearest trash can. I'm usually a really heavy sleeper but for some reason I heard her coughing in the middle of the night and managed to jump out of bed, grab the trash can from the bathroom and get it to Claire just in time. Does that take some mad skills or what?

On a brighter note as of right now everyone is healthy and we are getting away to Charleston for the weekend! This will be Matt's third time running in the Cooper River Bridge Run. I'm super excited to go and watch him this year or at least be there to take pictures at the finish line. He has to get up at like 5 to be there on time and the idea of getting the kids up and ready that early wasn't something we've tried to do in the past. Matt's parent's agreed to watch them for us this year so I'm excited to go! 

I'd love to run in a race someday but I should probably start running weekly first. Come to think of it Matt signed me up for a 5k at the end of this month I should probably start training for. 

We're going to a wedding the end April and I'm excited to see friends from college I haven't seen in a while. So of course it's a wonderful excuse to buy a new dress. I've really had a hard time finding something. Not that there is a lack of cute dresses out there but I want something I feel comfortable in with my post baby body.

Here are a few I found via Pinterest. Some of them where pinned a long time ago and are not available anymore but you get an idea of what I'm looking for. 


These first two are not available anymore but aren't they adorable?



The rest of these are from Shabby Apple.





This dress was my favorite but it's not on their website anymore so I'm sad about that.




So tell me, what's your go to place when you need a cute dress?


Well, that's all for today. So sorry if I bored you! And seriously, if anyone knows of a great place to find cute dresses I'd love to know! =)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Kitchen Update: Faux Granite Countertops


So, I've been focusing most of my home remodeling projects on the kitchen lately. You know when you get to a place where you just can't take the ugliness any longer or you're gonna scream? Ok, that was me. When we moved in, the kitchen was the absolute ugliest room in the house. And to make matters worse it's one of the first rooms you see when you walk in the front door. It should have been one of the first rooms I worked on but to tell you the truth I was intimidated by the amount of work and projects that I had never tackled before.

The only natural light coming into this room is from the windows in the foyer and the large window all the way at the end in the breakfast room. It was starving for some brightness. I added the beadboard backsplash to lighten it up a bit (That tutorial is to come). It never got completely finished because I knew before I attached the molding at the bottom I had to decide on what to do with the ugly counters. I got the idea to paint them several months ago while in Lowe's.

I was in the caulking aisle trying to decide what type to get to finish up my backsplash project when this adorable little Spanish lady and her balding husband came up and started talking to me. They were the cutest little do-it-yourselfers ever! She went on and on about all the projects she had done and all the money they saved and even tried to tell me where she lived inviting me to come over and look at her house. I'm not all about knocking on strangers doors so I passed on that one. She said she had found some tile on sale for dirt cheap one day and they hated the color but loved the shape so they bought it and painted them. She said if you don't like something just imagine it in a different color and paint it! And that's when it hit me...I should paint those ugly counters!!

So I started researching painted countertops and to my surprise there was a ton of info on it! Lots of people had painted their countertops with great results! So I took the plunge. I was so nervous to start this project but I thought nothing I do could possibly be any uglier than it already was. So I did... and I failed! I mentioned in an earlier post about my epic failure and this was it. Now don't think I gave up or anything. I was determined to have decent looking countertops if it killed me so I tried again and was very happy with the results! Here is a look at what they look like as of now. Please excuse the ugly floors... that's a project for another day!



Here is a picture of the kitchen before the backsplash and counters. Wow, it looks even uglier in the photo than I thought! There was an entire piece missing off of the front of the counter that I replaced using a piece I salvaged from the backsplash.


Here is my first attempt at the counters. I found a tutorial where a lady had used scrunched up paper towels for her counter tops and they really turned out beautiful for her...just not for me. I didn't like the blotchiness that mine had when I used the paper towels. Back to the drawing board it was and I started all over.


Here is how I came up with what I have now.

Supplies:
  • Rust-oleum countertop paint in cobblestone
  • Primer
  • Acrylic paints in the colors of your choice (mine were medium grey, antique white, country twill and licorice)
  • Sea sponge
  • Polycrylic sealant in gloss finish (I used this instead of Polyurethane because this one dries clear)
  • Foam brush to apply the Polycrylic
  • Sanding block
  • Paint roller for smooth finishes
  • Granite samples

First, find a sample of granite that you like to use as a guide when painting your counters. Here are a few I found online. 





To prep the counters I cleaned them really well with soap and water. Then I let them fully dry and sanded them down. Wipe down the counter again with a wet rag to get all the dust off.

Once it is dry prime the counters with two coats of primer. I used Rust-oleum's countertop paint as a base color and it says no primer is needed on the can but I had already primed my counters from the first time I painted them.

After the primer is dry you will do two coats of the countertop paint letting it dry a few hours in between each coat. Let me tell you this stuff STINKS! I opened all my windows, had two fans going and got the kids and Lily out of the house for a couple hours! Here is a look at what they looked like with the base paint color.

Once you do this it takes two days to fully dry (although it dries to the touch in minutes).


I waited one day and then used my sea sponge to start adding my other colors. I squirted a little bit of each color out onto a piece of cardboard and used that as my "artists pallet". I wet my sea sponge with water and then started dabbing on the paint using straight up and down motions.



I didn't wait to let the paint dry in-between coats because I wanted the colors to be fully incorporated. I watched the Giani Granite video and that's what they did and since I was going for the same look I did it also.


A look at the counter before the clear coat.


Here's a close-up of the edge of the counter. Since true granite goes through and through you want to use your sponge on the corners of the counter to make it look like it was cut straight through.




I waited another day to let the paint fully dry and then, using a foam brush, I added the clear coats. After the first coat was dry I sanded it down lightly and wiped it down. After that I applied several other coats of the poly every one-two hours. I probably did around 8 or 9 coats total. I left it alone to dry for about 3 days before lightly using and waited about a week to put back on my heavy kitchen aid and canisters.


So shiny!!


As you can see I still have to attach and caulk the molding.


I use soap and water for every day cleaning and vinegar to disinfect.


I only did one side of my counters at a time so that I wouldn't be totally without during this project. I'm working on the other side right now and once that is finished I'll add the beadboard backsplash and some open shelving.

To do for the rest of the kitchen:

  • Attach/caulk/paint molding
  • Get Matt to agree on a paint color for the walls
  • Paint
  • New drawer pulls for the drawers (like the ones I mentioned in this post)
  • Towel bar in front of sink
  • New sink (maybe craigslist or thrifting)
  • Pantry redo
  • Light fixtures
  • Floors
Whew, what a chore! But it will be worth it! Not all of the things on my list will be finished anytime soon but I just knock em out one at a time as I can. I've already fooled a couple people with my faux granite counters. They think they're real granite so let's just keep it a secret between you and me... K?! =)

*Update: The countertop in these pictures have been finished for several weeks now and they are holding up perfectly. I had originally mentioned in this post that I didn't prime them before I painted on the Rustoleum countertop paint but I did however prime the counters in the very beginning from the first time I started this project. Remember my "epic failure". I had done them once and didn't like how they looked so I started all over. All that to say I did originally prime my countertops and am changing this post to reflect that.

Linking up with a few of these wonderful parties. Check them out!


Thursday, March 22, 2012

Fabric Covered Bird Cage {tutorial}

This week my little niece turned 4. I heard from her Grammy that she wanted a bird cage with a little bird in it. I looked around for birdcages but really couldn't find exactly what I was looking for so I decided to try and make one. {Apparently Lani thinks her auntie LeAnn can make anything so I couldn't disappoint.} I turned to the internet for inspiration and found a wonderful tutorial here. I altered it a little to fit what I had in mind. 

Ready for a super long tutorial???


You will need:
  • 2 sets of 12" embroidery hoops (you won't need the inside hoop of one of them)
  • 18 gage floral wire
  •  8 dowel rods, mine were 3/16" in diameter by 12" long
  • the cardboard ring from a spool of ribbon with the paper torn off
  • fabric glue
  • hot glue gun
  • ribbon
  • pretty fabric
  • scissors
  • thread
  • wire cutters
  • little fabric birdie



 First I cut several strips of fabric about 1" thick.


I wrapped the outside (larger) rings of both embroidery hoops and the ring from my ribbon spool with my strips of fabric using hot glue to secure it at the ends of each strip.



Then, lay your fabric on top of one of the inside hoops (not wrapped with fabric). This will make the bottom of the cage.


Put the larger hoop over the fabric so that the inside ring fits snugly inside and pull the fabric on the edges so it's nice and smooth on top.


Trim off the excess fabric like this.


Then use your hot glue gun to glue it down.


Now to work on the bars of the cage. Using more strips I cut from my pink fabric I laid each dowel rod on top of the strip. I made sure there was about 3" of extra fabric on each end of the rod. Run a strip of fabric glue along the edge of the fabric.


I pushed the dowel rod onto the glue and began rolling it up in the fabric.


Then on the other end of the fabric run another strip of glue along the edge to roll the rod onto. Then smooth it out with your fingers.


Do that for all 8 rods.


Now your going to attach your rods to the base of the cage. I started by placing my rods at 12:00, 3:00, 6:00 and 9:00 positions. Glue each one onto the back of the hoop with hot glue.


Then finish by gluing the rest rods spaced evenly in-between each of the other rods. I cut off the excess fabric at the end of the rods once they were glued down securely.


Flip it over. (This picture shows the other wrapped embroidery hoop on top.)


Next, I placed my other large embroidery hoop on top of the dowel rods. I did each rod separately placing the hoop so that is sits directly on top of each dowel rod. I glued the dowel rod to the side of the bottom embroidery hoop first and then to the inside of the top embroidery hoop. Make sure to pull the excess fabric on the top of your rod to the inside of the hoop.


So now you have this.


To make the top of the cage I cut more strips of pink fabric and covered eight pieces of floral wire by placing the wire in the middle of the fabric, folding it over and gluing it with fabric glue.



So there you have it. This would make a great addition to any little birdie themed birthday party or baby shower and would make a great gift for the mom to be! You could even put a little owl in the cage. In need of one? You can get him here. =)

Linking up with a few of these wonderful parties! Check them out!