Add a little bit of chunky…

So, I realized that all of my posts have been about the goings-on in the little corner of my dining room….the dresser, the lamp, and the tray.  I might as well round off the corner of the room with my most recent, and probably last project in this space for a while.  You may have noticed in pictures that the wall above the dresser was naked and begging for some attention.

Now, this wall is probably one of my least favorite things in our house. Our dining room is really an eat-in kitchen.  When we had the house built, we chose the additional “morning room” option off of the back of the house/kitchen/dining room for some extra space.  I love this room. All of the daytime light hits the back of our house and this room is so bright and sunny and wonderful.  This wall, as you can see below, cuts off the dining room, and essentially the living room, from the light pouring in the windowed wall at the back of the house (and causes all of my pictures to be dark! Sorry!)

The wall is non-load bearing, just a divider, blocking out my sun. I would love to knock a hole in her and let that light come pouring through, but that is more mess than I am ready to deal with for the time being! So, what better way to create some artificial “light” than with some mirrors?

I love, chunky, substantial mirrors, but my wallet does not like their price! I looked around for something that I loved and was reasonably priced, but I got tired of searching.  I found these mirrors at Target for $5 a piece! $20 for 4 was awesome!

Their price was awesome, but their skinny little selves left something to be desired! I wanted substance!  I wanted them chunky!

I got $14 worth of wood moulding and got to work.  Now, my engineer-minded husband was much more scientific at this then I was…I just grabbed a square (which…for the life of me, I cannot figure out why it is called a square when it is perfectly triangular!!! Funny story – I bought him this “square” for Christmas and when I went to Lowes to buy one, I made sure to tell the nice salesman that I needed a square “you know, the thing that looks like a triangle???”)

Moving on…..I measured my angles and made my cuts.

Only one of my pieces had to be re-cut because it did not want to meet up with the other corners – sort of an outcast!  I used Liquid Nails – Small Projects, that I got at Lowes to glue the moulding to the mirrors.  Once they were set, I used white, paintable caulk to fill in all gaps at the corners and all gaps where the moulding met the original mirror.  Each spot took a few applications of caulk to be fully filled. What a mess! Not a huge fan of the mess that makes!

Once the caulk was dry, I gave the whole thing a coat of spray primer and then a quick coat of satin white spray paint so the moulding and the original mirror would blend together as one!

After the paint was dry, the rest of the process took a few weeks (this is where my boy became involved….not trying to imply anything!!!) Shaun added some picture hangers to the back of each, and was made responsible for hanging the mirrors. He’s not good at multi-tasking when he’s watching a Phillies game so it took him a few tries to finally get the job done!

If you don’t know me or can’t tell by now, measuring and planning are not my strong suits! I would just start tacking up some nails and seeing if it worked (THIS is why I am not allowed to hang anything in our house!)

I just have to show you the sort of insanity that the engineer in the family goes through just to hang some mirrors on the wall! This is all Greek to me! Makes me break out in hives just looking at it!

Yuck!  But the mirrors are finally at home on the wall and I love them!  I could have used chunkier moulding but I think it would have swallowed the mirrors up.   They aren’t quite chunky, just big boned!

I love this little nook! So proud of all that I accomplished to finish this space……

Before we leave this space, I should round it out with a source list of where everything came from…..

Lamp – Thrift Store

Shade – Hobby Lobby

White ceramic bird – he’s hiding next to the light – (really 1 of a set of salt & pepper shakers) Pier 1

Sculptural blue pear jar – HomeGoods (clearance – $10!!! WOO!)

Picture frame & starfish – Old Salt (favorite decor store at the beach!)

Pitcher – TJ Maxx

Tray – JoAnn Fabric

Mirrors – Target

Dresser – Craigslist find from NJ ($20!)

Have you redone anything boring and drab and made it fab?? (Sorry, couldn’t resist!) How about any good finds like the blue ceramic pear from HomeGoods (I love me some HomeGoods!!!) Share in the comments!!!


You got served……

….well you would….. if you came over, I could serve you something on my new, pretty tray!

I have been looking for a cute white tray to help pull some of my knick-knacky items together on display!  Trays just seem to add so much control to potential decor chaos! Trays like these had me wanting my own…..

Greek key tray from Centsational Girl


And this simple but elegant decor wrangler from Katie Bower…..


(Am I the only one who finds it hilarious that she has a vase full of mints in her tray?!?! So funny!)

Trays like these are pretty easy to find, but…..have I mentioned? I’m cheap?!?  Most trays I found were $24+ and those were usually modern looking, plastic trays, rather than soft, clean line wooden trays.  White wooden trays could cost even more than that. No go – I couldn’t convince the hubs or even my own wallet that it was worth that!

I have not visited JoAnne fabrics much (even though my sister-in-law used to work there while in High School/College…..what up B?!?!) One day I went in looking for fabric ideas for a reupholster-y project (not yet started to this day) and a large letter B (which I was told they had there).   While strolling around, I came across their decor section with some cute seasonal items and other miscellaneous home items.  The word CLEARANCE always draws me in like a moth to a flame.  Checking out their random hodge-podge of clearance items, I saw this wooden “beauty with potential” smiling up at me:


The old me would have passed this puppy by, blinded by the tiles that just aren’t my style and the dark wood. But after some quick picking at the tray to see if the tiles could be taken off, I knew that this baby was worth it. And at this price……


$5.22 plus a 50% off coupon, it was fate!  (Down from $24.99 it was practically a steal!)

My initial plan was to pry the tiles out, and paint the entire thing white and be done with it. However, once I started viciously gently prying the tiles off with a flathead screwdriver, I realized that the bottom of the tray would need some work…

A few of the tiles came up nicely, but a few ripped divots down into the MDF at the bottom of the tray…hmmm…what to do?  I had some scrapbook paper that I had bought at AC Moore, but I wasn’t loving it in the tray. My boy was looking around at my plethora of decor items and said “how about the burlap you got when you got the tray?” (Have I ever mentioned how awesome he is?!?!)

I got this remnant burlap on the same JoAnne shopping trip. And look at this deal!

….plus another 40% off. Awesome! I bought this to spice up some picture frames, but for the tray it was perfect too!

The tray got a coat of primer, then two coats of satin white spray paint.  I cut the burlap to size, tacked her down with some craft glue and topped it with a clear piece of plexi-glass.  I priced some out at Lowes…$8….not terrible, but more than the tray alone.  Shaun’s dad did us a favor and got us a piece from work! FREE! Score!

I am totally biased, but she is beautiful with her natural textures and her sleek white lines!


Exactly what I wanted!  And she’s doing such a good job wrangling potential clutter as we speak!

I am linking up at Transformation Thursday!! There is some awesome stuff going on over there too…check it out!

Holy Ravioli!

So, during the week, our meals are cheap and quick. Usually healthy though.  We typically have salads with a bit of grilled chicken at least two nights a week, egg whites another night, and some other quick meals sprinkled in.  Every now and again I cook a “real meal” requiring the oven, for more than just toasting some bread. That usually happens in the winter; however.

Typically, when I am trolling Pinterest (follow me on Pinterest here) Shaun breezes by and comments about the wonderful looking, but totally unhealthy foods posted on the Pinterest.  I never paid them much attention, but after he insisted I started pinning these fabulous treats, I figured we might as well try one.

Enter: the most fabulous and fast ravioli I have ever tasted!

Tuscan pasta with tomato-basil cream sauce! (Originally pinned from here)

You can find the full recipe following the link above, but I left a few things out, changed a few things around and below is what we came up with. It was absolutely amazing!!!  Shaun & I fought over the leftovers (and I HATE leftovers!)


20 oz packaged refrigerated ravioli (we used the cheap Target brand cheese ravioli)

1 16 0z jar sun dried tomato Alfredo Sauce. We used the Classico brand.

2 tablespoons white wine (We had a sweet white wine from a local winery)

2 medium sized fresh tomatoes – chopped

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (I skipped the fresh basil that the original recipe called for – I am not fancy, do not grow my own herbs and did not feel like buying any at the store.- I have also since re-read the recipe and some commenters added a teaspoon of garlic powder to the sauce. This is going to be an addition the next time we make this.)

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese


How To:

1.  Cook ravioli according to directions (i.e. boil until they float!)

2.  While those are bubbling around, pour sauce into medium/large saucepan.  Pour wine into sauce jar. Put the lid back on the jar and give her a good shake (30 seconds does the trick!)

3.  Stir wine into saucepan

4. Stir in chopped tomatoes (be careful when dumping the tomatoes in. I dumped the whole cutting board which had all of the tomato juice on it. I thought it made the sauce extra runny – but if you like runny sauce – go for it!)

5.  Cook over medium heat for 5 minutes or so

6.  Drain pasta and add to saucepan

7.  Top with 1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (Now…I totally skipped this step. Bought the cheese, forgot to get it out of the refrigerator. Didn’t realize it until today when I went to get some other cheese. We did not miss this.  The ravioli tasted FABULOUS without the cheese, so I would imagine it would taste even better with – although I’m not sure it could get much better!!!)

I didn’t take a fancy plate picture…… it looked/smelled too good. We dug in right away. Here is a messy picture in the pan:

Is it weird to be craving ravioli at 10:30 at night?!?! This might have to be dinner some night this week! ENJOY!


I have seen the light!

Lighting can be SO expensive!  At $30 for a lamp base, plus an additional $20 for a separate shade, this cheap girl avoids lighting at all costs.  However, our lights need a DEFINITE upgrade in this house!  Mostly cheap lamps from IKEA, a brushed nickel set as a wedding gift, and, I am sad to admit, college dorm lighting – it was time to classy this place up a bit!

I have been swooning over blue lamps and lamps with curves throughout the blog world like this….


and this one….

This last lamp is sold at Lowes for $29 + the cost of a lamp shade. Not terrible, but I knew I could find cheaper!  One Saturday while the boy (also know as Shaun) and I were on a Hobby Lobby run (oh how I love the Hobby Lobby), we stopped at a local Thrift Store.  Not only was their stuff insanely cheap, they were having a 50% off sale in a few departments, including lighting!  After a quick scan of the lighting section, I came across this nauseatingly 90’s lamp.

I am proud of how I have grown as a thrifter.  I saw past her blinding, Mr. T-esque goldness, and saw her wonderful curves! She had potential.  And at this price….

… 50% off, I knew I had to have her.  Can you see the dust in her curves? It needed some serious cleaning and de-germifying before coming to life!

I found the perfect spray paint color at Lowes to turn her into the fabulous lamps I have been obsessing over. I was alone on my trip to Lowes and the checkout people looked at me like “who is this insane woman smiling so crazily over spray paint!” It was perfect:

I came home and got started right away. I couldn’t wait!  She got a hardcore tape job – no paint was getting through this. It was taped tighter than the Botoxed faces of the Real Housewives of Orange County and Beverly Hills…I don’t judge, that is good TV!

After she was taped up, I gave her a coat or two of my go-to, spray primer, Valspar.  Even in just primer white, I was IN LOVE!  She looked amazing white.  I knew her fate was to stay a nice, bright white.  My blue would have to wait for another project.  I gave her 2 coats of Rustoleum satin white paint and she was beautiful…

I topped her with a $10 clearance linen shade from the Hobby Lobby.  I picked that up the same day I bought the lamp. They are a PERFECT match! I didn’t know it was possible to have so much love for an inanimate object!!!!

Right now she lives here…

…but as we speak, I am working on a potential new home for her in our living room. We will see where she fits best but for now I just sit, and bask her in awesomeness!

Ugly and Cheap to Fab-U-lous!

Oh the joys of finding old ugly furniture and making it into a fabulous new creation to fit in your home!!  It’s fun, challenging, and rewarding right?

I didn’t always know this wonderful world.  For our first apartment, we purchased primarily IKEA furniture, in the blond-birch color. I hated it, but that’s what I had to do to have cheap….right? It wasn’t until we bought our first house and I splurged on a few items that I realized I had no money to furnish the rest with quality. I knew something had to be done.  You live and learn right??

While lamenting that I hated our birch and white dining room table and chairs (a hand-me-down from Shaun’s family) I wondered if I could somehow paint it.  We had stained a dresser that we got at “The Dump” (not the trash pile, but a ridiculously curious furniture store that sells off-price furniture).  How hard could painting the table be??

So rather than attacking the table like a raging bull (how I normally set out to accomplish things) I level-headedly googled “How to Paint Furniture.” I came across the wonderful tutorial from DIY blog super stars, Young House Love.  THUS, my obsession with home decor, DIY blogs began.  I was a mad-woman – obsessed with stalking their blog, finding tips and tricks to make my home as fabulous as theirs (or even half would be fine).

Some day I will share with you my first DIY attempt – the table. That story, however, does not turn out well. In fact, as I sit here blogging on it now, I stare at it with disdain and utter hatred! It was/is horrible.  But why start off a blog with that transformation right? Let’s talk success…..

Our “dining room” is part of our kitchen and is approximately 10×10.  Our house was blessed with only one storage closet on our main floor and that is the pantry.  I have some cabinets (that are full) and an island (full). I still had bridal shower gifts from 3 years ago in a box in our basement (can opener, crock pot, blender, etc.)  These needed a home in our kitchen rather than the basement where they were never used.

After 3+ years obsessing over home blogs and DIY superstars like Young House Love, Bower Power, and Thrifty Decor Chick, I knew I could find some ugly, unloved dresser/buffet that I could totally re-do to finally get some much-needed but chic storage.  This dresser by the always awesome Katie Bower was my inspiration:

I set out to find the perfect, ugly dresser/cabinet.  We live about 2 1/2 hours from the Jersey Shore.  Shaun and I were going to go to the beach one day in May to celebrate our 3 year anniversary (we’re wild and crazy, what can I say??)  I searched the ol’ Craigslist for the Jersey Shore to see what NJ had to offer (expecting a few fist pumps and tans in my search – not stereotyping!?)  I came across a $20 “beauty” that, when I googled its location, I assumed was right outside our beach of choice. WRONG, we drove about 2 1/2 hours to northern New Jersey (think close to NYC) and then another hour+ down to the beach. It was worth it though, to bring this beauty home…..(Sorry, I didn’t take an official “before” shot with the drawers and ugly hardware still on it).

This little find was the perfect size, but needed some major cosmetic TLC. Its previous owners, (who refer to Pennsylvania as Pennsy – totally random) must have restained it at some point b/c it was sloppily painted with hideously sticky stain. Time to go!

Sanding would have been step one. HOWEVER, the hubs is majorly against sanding (all stemming from our dining room table failure) so he thought it would be good to try liquid stripper (so easy to make immature joke here – but I will refrain).  Enter:

We picked up this Klean-Strip Green Safer Paint & Varnish Remover at Lowes.  After reading all of the terrifying labels about how toxic the other versions were, I settled on this. It seemed no different than the others except less toxic and good for the environment!! We painted it on the dresser, let it sit, then scraped it off. It took off the ugly stain but did nothing to rough up the wood for painting. Enter – me, sanding it all down to prime (I dressed up for the occasion, can you tell?)

Do you remember my inspiration above? It was a fully white transformation.  There was no other white furniture in dining room at the time, so I thought to ease the transition into the room, I would stain the top of the dresser.  I absolutely love this stain:

Its stain and poly in one! No wiping, just painting! Fabulous! But I digress….

After three coats of stain to get a dark, rich color, I primed the rest of the beauty-to-be using this.

After a disastrous experience with our dining room table primer (the suspense over this table is killing you isn’t it?) I did some research & settled on this highly recommended primer. Worked fabulously!

If you see above, the back of the dresser is off. Rather than having drawers like the original dresser, I wanted to put baskets in those spaces.  We popped the back off and the hubs made a piece of wood to go over the existing drawer supports to make a shelf for baskets.

After sanding the entire cabinet with 220 grit sandpaper, the dresser got 3-ish coats of Valspar’s Swiss Coffee, color matched to Olympic Premium No VOC paint in Satin.   After some new ORB (oil rubbed bronze) hardware, and a NEVER ending search for the perfect size baskets (17×4), the happy cabinet was moved into its home in our dining room.  ECSTATIC!! Love it! And for MAYBE $40 total, I have a new buffet to store my kitchen junk necessities (which is now totally full – go figure!)  LOVE!

SO much better right?!?!?