Oak kitchen renovation

I’ve been really wanting to update this blog with photos of our house and all the fun things we’ve been doing. Since I’ve been spending so much time in the kitchen with this new diet, it felt right to share kitchen projects first. And, man, did this house need them!

When we saw our house for sale online and looked through the pictures, we were like oh man. That NEEDS TO GO. Wait for it.. Here are some of the pictures from the listing:

So much potential with an open layout and in exactly the neighborhood we wanted. So, crazy tile and oak cabinets here we come!

Crazy Tile.

Literally started this about five minutes after I got the keys. Ran through the whole house and took before photos before getting to work. We had about 6 days before we were moving in and some serious work to do. As you can tell. Did you see the colors of the walls, too? Lots of work ahead.

As soon as photos were done, grabbed my handy screwdriver and REMOVE THESE LIGHT SWITCHES. Yes. Those are custom ceramic light switches & outlet covers, painted to go along with the PEACH AND TURQUOISE tiles. Really now, who does this?

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First step, remove hideous light switches.

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Second step, get to work on the lining of the cabinets. We tasked our lovely friends and family with pulling all this terribleness out of our cabinets before move-in. Easier said than done. It took a full 2-4 hours of tearing this paper out only to find MORE underneath that somehow was even worse (not pictured). Then, it was another few days of scrubbing the stickiness clean and finding a replacement. Longer than anticipated process and we still have a few remnants that we haven’t gotten to (mostly in the bathrooms), but mostly much much better.

Third, destroy tiles.

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Literally hours after we got the keys 

Tile demolition was harder than we anticipated and more destructive. So, it was months of patching the drywall and then sanding it down, cleaning it off. But I’d rather live in drywall than in crazy tile. (see below)

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Finally, Halloween weekend we got to it! About two months in.

We found this nifty sticky paper that eliminates the need for that mastic.

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Cut it up and paste it on the clean, flat and dry walls.

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Normal light switches. Pre grout.

I’m sure you can get a better step by step on how to tile somewhere else, so I’m not even going to try. The paper sticky stuff (Simple Mat) was great, and we rented a tile saw from Home Depot for 24 hours (well, 25, because we gained an hour, thanks daylight savings). Those are my tips. Also, maybe don’t destroy your drywall in the process.

We took a break for festivities Halloween night, snagged an extra hour of sleep (thanks again daylight savings!), and got back to work in the morning.

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We went as Claymation Christmas, in case you were wondering. Not surprisingly, the guy with the axe (YUKON CORNELIUS) was the one who helped us get the tile off. 

And BAM! Tiles up. Grouting done. Way easier than we thought it would be. Project time: 1 weekend (once the drywall was ready and tile was picked out).

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During the time that we took to patch the walls, we made endless trips to our home improvement stores checking out tiles and pricing of different ones and seeing what would go best now and long term. Careful to pick ones that you know the maintenance time of. Like, the stone ones we liked a lot needed to be resealed after a few years, and that wasn’t something we were interested in. So, we scratched everything and bought subway tile with “smoke grey” grout. Anyway, a long process.

The Cabinets

During our two months between tile destruction and new pretty tile we also started work on cleaning the cabinets. They were so worn and dirty that we cleaned and cleaned. Dish soap, all purpose spray/cabinet cleaner (my favorite is this stuff, thanks Shark Tank!), and wood oil. Shocked at the results.

Before photo below.

That was step one. Now, from the photos, you can tell that it none of these have handles. Also, some were hung wrong and/or sideways. So, we flipped them around hung them right and added some nice looking handles. Easier for us and jazz up the cabinetry.

Our reasoning: We have dark molding across the entire house, so it was tough picking #1 a wall color and #2 figuring out what to do with oak cabinets. Oak cabinets and dark molding, you can’t just paint your kitchen cabinets because then you have to  paint all the molding and doors in your ENTIRE HOUSEHOLD. No thank you. Not right now. There’s enough to tame in this house right now. So, here’s our alternative to painting your oak kitchen cabinets – add some seriously functional handles.

We were lucky in that these aren’t hideous by any means. The oak matches the rest of the house, and we don’t mind them one bit. Especially with these handles.

Ok, back to the photos. Are you ready to see the after?!

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So nice! And so much more cleaned up!

And voila! A brand new kitchen!

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Slowly but steadily, upgrading. Next up: sink & appliances. Also those hang down lights! And, maybe some new window coverings soon. Oh, the endless house projects…

Oak Kitchen

Wine Cork Earrings DIY Tutorial

My round up of some of the best wine and cork crafts was one of my more popular posts on this blog, so I thought I’d add another wine craft to the mix. These DIY earrings are so adorably cute and easy to make.

wine cork earrings

Wine cork earrings

The supplies:

  • 2 earring hooks
  • 2 head pins
  • Bead of choice  (large ones like the photo above or 3-4 small ones to stack)
  • 1 wine cork (might be good to have 2-3 in case you have trouble cutting them)
  • A large knife – to cut the cork
  • Round nose pliers
  • 1 thin nail

Process:

  1. Prepare. I’ve read all sorts of things about cutting wine corks. Some places say you should soak them or boil them before cutting, to make the process easier. That’s what I did, and it seemed to work pretty well. Test some things out and figure out what’s best for you, your knives, and your corks. They all respond differently.
  2. Slice. Next step, slice the cork! Give it about 1/4-1/2 an inch and slowly saw the cork with a large knife (non-serrated) until you slice through. It took me a few corks to get the process down, but once you have it, you’re golden.
  3. Make a hole. By slowly twisting the nail in your cork through the cork, lengthwise on the skinny side (not through the circle part).
  4. Thread. Thread the head pin through the hole you just made. Add the bead, twist the pin with the pliers to create a hook. Attach the earring hook to the head pin.

Done! It might sound more complicated than it is after writing all that down, but really it’s easy and happens within 15 minutes!

Crafty Q&A: 5 crochet tips for beginners

It’s official. This blog, now called Organically Crafty, has a new URL and my Facebook page is up and running. It’s been just under 24 hours, and I’ve had my first question come through. So, it’s inspired me to start a new category here on the blog, Crafty Q&A.

This question comes from Kimberly. She asks:

“I really want to learn how to do this kind of stuff. I have a grandbaby on the way and want to learn. Anyone know the best way to teach yourself?”

Awesome question. I struggled with learning how to crochet and knit. I tried knitting and absolutely failed. With the two needles, homespun yarn and endless YouTube tutorials it just wasn’t working. Years later, I came back to my yarn attraction with crochet instead. #1. I seriously think crochet is WAY easier, especially for baby crafts. So here are 5 tips for getting started.
5 tips for learning crochet
5 tips for learning how to crochet:
  1. Pick your yarn.
    Use yarn that is thin and one texture. I started with this baby bernat yarn, but anything in this style, thin big enough for your project – and if you’re lucky, pattern included – is a great starter yarn. The homespun and bulky yarn is great, but you can’t see the pattern as well and you’re about 100x more likely to mess up and get frustrated (and if you’re like me, swear of the craft forever). If you don’t have a baby to craft for, try a yarn like this – it’s beautiful and still easy to work with.
    From a professional craft-failer: Baby yarn is perfect to start with, and babies are the perfect recipients of your first yarn masterpiece. They’ll have absolutely no idea if you screwed up.
  2. Get more than enough yarn and in the same color.
    If you’re new to yarn, you need to pick yarn that either has no dye lot or you examine the yarn label closely (in the store) and pick yarn that is from the same dye lot. Of course, if you’re buying one giant bundle of yarn, it’s no problem. NOTE: If you’re making for a baby – use baby yarn. Anything else irritates their skin, so yes it’s worth it!
  3. Pick your project and follow the pattern.
    My advice: buy the yarn with the pattern or pick a pattern that is slated for beginners. Either pick a baby blanket, or do a scarf. It’s the same pattern over and over and you just go in a straight line, nothing more complicated, like hats or pretty headbands, till you get these basic stitches down. I promise – it will be worth understanding how crochet works. My first project was this hooded baby blanket.
  4. Pick your needle size and type.
    Pay attention to what the pattern calls for and do not switch sizes. I like to get the multipack metal hooks because they’re easy to hold and they’re not slippy. Plus, it’s a minimal investment to see if you like crocheting. A lot of needle variety packs come with a beginner’s guide to stitches.
  5. Start crocheting!
    Just do it, test it out and see what questions you come up with. The first day or two I played with my yarn and new crochet needles, I just practiced different stitches according to the little guide that came with my set. Once you nail how to hold the yarn (MOST important step right here. Find what’s comfortable and do what works for you – everyone does it differently), how to chain stitch (can be another toughie for beginners), and how to single crochet, double crochet, you are set.

Bonus step: Start with a group of friends. Even better if one has a little know-how on knitting, sewing or crocheting. Honestly, stitch and bitches are the best. Have one at work on your lunch break with coworkers or have it once a week as a wine night with your girls (or guys – it was a 20 something guy who introduced me to the art of crochet, and I’ve met plenty of guys who crochet since then, so it’s not an old ladies only sport by any means).

5 crochet tips for beginners

my first crochet project

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DIY Thank You Cards

First off, let’s say that I’m a wedding newbie. I never dreamed of my wedding or what it would be like. So, when I got engaged I really had no idea what to do. We (or maybe only I) just wanted to tie the knot and be married. Our family, friends, estranged family and friends, have been so excited and supportive. Which has really been great, but it’s also been a little overwhelming.

After we sent out our Save the Dates we started receiving wedding gifts. We were SHOCKED. We had just started the registry a few days earlier, so our extra supportive family was right on our tails. Our registry or website wasn’t even on our Save the Dates. You see what I mean? They’re pretty tricky and super excited for us.

As soon as they started arriving, I realized we needed thank you cards. And, instead of just getting a few generic ones for a steep price, we went the DIY route once more. Even better, it was really easy.

I downloaded a few free fonts from this site and started playing around with the design. At this point, we were only a little bit sure of what our colors would be. Luckily, we had those amazing photographs from our engagement pictures to help guide the design.

Have I mentioned that I’m absolutely obsessed with our photographer for the wedding? Catalina Jean, you are amazing.

It’s seriously so easy to do, and for this price and so many thank yous (we had no idea how many to order) it’s totally worth it. Plus, it’s a great DIY project and easy expense at the beginning of the wedding process.

Total Cost: $115.22 for 200 Thank you Cards, Envelopes and Return Address Stickers

  • Google some coupons, you’ll find plenty.

Photographer: Catalina Jean Photography

Design tool: Photoshop Elements

  • Size your canvas to the front page of the card or exactly double the size (we used 5×7 to design)
  • Place your selected engagement photo
  • Pick a color from the wedding and draw a rectangle across the bottom of the card and less than 1/3 up on the photo
  • On top the color, write “Thank You!”

Text: Matchbook

DIY thank you

DIY Save the Dates

There has been so much crafting and so little blogging. Here’s my first attempt at changing that.

For all of you who don’t know me personally, I’m recently engaged! We’re working on a pretty low-cost DIY wedding. And oh my goodness there is so much to coordinate. So, to help me stay on track with the planning I’m going to try sharing all the neat things we’re working on.

First up, our Save the Dates! Instead of going through Wedding Paper Divas, which can run you easily $100+ we just designed them ourselves.

DIY Save the Dates

Easy, D.I.Y. Save the Dates!

 

Total Cost: $37 for 75 Save the Dates & Envelopes

  • print service: $20 VistaPrint (first 50 are free)
  • envelopes: $17 from Etsy
  • stamps: engagement gift from Mother of the Groom – Fantastic idea.

Photographer: Catalina Jean Photography

Design tool: Photoshop Elements

  • I just used two text boxes and the gradient tool (color chosen via eyedropper tool from the trees in the photo)

Text 1: Zapfino (“Save the Date”)

Text 2: Papyrus (for the details)

Turn Jeans into Denim Yarn

 

I was determined to make denim yarn last year. I wanted to crochet a denim hammock, but I didn’t have the patience to cut up that many jeans. Turns out, you’ll need tons of jeans for that.

Instead, you might try crocheting the denim yarn into a granny square to make a small rug. Or something like that.

Any other ideas? Let me know! I’d love to test more things out with this yarn. Plus, it’s extremely easy to make!

How to make denim yarn, you ask? Well, here you go:

  1. Find a pair of old jeans to cut up
    Denim Yarn
  2. Cut along the smaller outer seam of one leg of the jeans. Then, cut horizontally across one leg of the jeans starting at the thick seam and stop about 1/2 an inch before the end of the fabric. See photo below.

    Denim Yarn

  3. Unfold the fabric, and it should look like the photo below.
    Denim Yarn
  4. Next, pick one side and cut through to the seam from the middle cut. Rotate extending the cut from each side, as shown in the photo below.
    Denim yarn
  5. And now you have the denim yarn!!

Denim Yarn

 

Top 10 Favorite Wine Crafts

While your New Years Resolution may be to drink less wine, mine is exactly the opposite. Seeing all the awesome things you can do with leftover corks and wine bottles inspires my crafty side to drink more. I think Pinterest has turned me into an aspiring alcoholic. But, as popular as my “Wine Crafts” board is on Pinterest, I can’t be the only one.

I guess my wine obsession started earlier than Pinterest (Shh… I may not have been 21). In college, my friends and I would bring a bottle of wine to a party instead of a fifth of Burnetts. My obsession with corks started around then, too.  We were so set on saving corks, we’d wake up with corks in the back pocket of our jeans all the time.

We found lots of really creative uses for our wine bottle, too.

Example #1. My friend had a sunburn. We’re in a dorm room, so the only logical thing to do was to cool it with a wine bottle. Obviously.

wine bottle as cold compress

Wine therapy for sunburns

At least Pinterest has helped steer my wine obsession toward classy. But, it’s still not classy to walk into a house and see evidence that this person drinks way too much wine. The solution is not to drink less, it’s just to give all these neat crafts as gifts instead of keeping them all for yourself. And, that brings me to example #2.

Example #2: Decorate wine glasses and give them as cheap birthday gifts. Another friend gave this to me for my birthday a few years ago. I still have it and love it! Perfect birthday gift for the wino in your life. Decorating the actual cup part of a wine glass is a big no-no though. The paint rubs off or falls off as soon as condensation forms on the outside of the glass (Oh, there’s that college degree talking: condensation.).

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Birthday wine glass

Or, you could try one of these prettier crafts found on Pinterest. Here are my Top 10 Favorite Wine Bottle and Cork Crafts, in no particular order.

wine-bottle-fountain

I love this wine bottle fountain using a recycled wine rack. Prefect garden decoration.

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These wine bottles are just epsom salt and spray painted white. Easy, easy.

wine-heart-wreath

This is cute and doesn’t take many corks. Cut them in half to make the corks last even longer (unless you have way too many already).

wine-cork-wreath

What a great welcome to party goers. This is so cute! Click to see lots more wreaths on etsy

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Essential for every college wino, but probably not acceptable in the workplace.

wine-cork-hanging-ball

Now, this is a wine cork chandelier. I would love one of these!

wine-cork-coaster

It can be a little difficult to glue them together, so take your time and make sure not to be drinking too much wine.

wine-cork-christmas-tree

Who can survive the holidays without wine?

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Leftover yarn is always such a pain to get rid of. This is the perfect low-cost solution.

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Spray paint, glitter and stencils is all you need for this one.

There’s my list for now. Stay tuned for a challenge accepted post… Much more wine crafts to come! After all, it is my new years resolution.

How To Dry Lavender: 3 Easy Steps

I saw a recipe for creamy lavender celery bisque this morning. I thought, how cool would it be if I could use my homegrown lavender? I looked into how to dry lavender and found a tutorial on wikihow. Of course, I’ve decided to make this a much more straight forward photo tutorial. See my photo tutorial below about how to dry lavender in three easy steps!

Supplies: Shears/scissors and ball of string
Time Needed: 20 minutes
Until Dry: 1 month

  1. Cut lavender just above the leaves, so you have a long stem.

    How to dry lavender
    Fresh lavender

  2. Tie each stem separately, close to the cut end with a long piece of string and loop the ends. Tie all the loops together.

    How To Dry Lavender

  3. With the loop, hang the lavender to dry. It should be in a dark, dry place. Let sit for one month.
    How to Dry Lavender

Now you can have dried lavender in three easy steps! Also, in one month, stay tuned for my trial of that creamy celery bisque with my homegrown dried lavender.