Thursday, February 28, 2013

Chalk Paint Recipe + Projects

Besides collecting quarters in order for my husband and I to wear clean clothes, another hobby of mine is to buy cheap items at yard sales or thrift stores and give them a second chance at life. 

In the past year, I've noticed a trend on Pinterest that I loved: shabby chic, country, rustic furniture. I'm sure there's a condensed name for this style, but I've yet to learn what it is.

Here are a few of my favorite examples:


I loved this look and had to figure out how to do it myself. So my research began. I realized that all the pieces I really liked were painted with chalk paint. But here's the kicker: Annie Sloan is the only company (that I know of) that sales this by the gallon, and it's about $40 a can. No thanks! As I continued to look, I stumbled upon a few recipes to mix this stuff up myself. After reading review after review I decided on this one:

You can find Plaster of Paris at Home Depot or Lowe's for about $7-$8, and will last you a lifetime. I've used this recipe several times and haven't even put a dent in my carton. So it's a good small investment. 

There's oh so many perks to using chalk paint.
  • It doesn't leave brush strokes.
  • It sands down easily.
  • It leaves a rustic, matte finish.
  • It drys quickly.
  • AND you can just slap it on with a foam brush.
Have I convinced you to try it yet?

If you're considering painting a piece of furniture, you more than likely don't need a gallon of paint, probably not even a quart. My best find so far are the Valspar color samples that you can get at Lowe's for $3 or $4.

You can choose any of the hundreds of paint selections, and they'll mix it up in this 8 ounce container for you. Even if you buy two of them to complete a project, you're still coming out way ahead than if you would've bought a quart. 

Since I usually just use one of these at a time, I adjust the recipe for it. Thanks to my good friend, Google, I learned that 8 ounces is a cup, so I just half the recipe. If you haven't noticed, 5 is not an even number, so just use 2-3 Tb of the Plaster of Paris. No need to be exact here people. We're not mixing explosives. This step is very important! You need to completely mix the Plaster of Paris and water together in a bowl before you add the paint or else it'll be very clumpy. Then I just take a plastic container (recycle the container you get from your deli meat) and combine the paint and mixture. Easy enough, right?

The only con about chalk paint is that you typically have to paint a 2-4 coats (depending on the look you're going for), but since it drys so quickly, it's really not that big of a set back.

After you've slapped on all the coats to your liking, take a medium grit sand paper and let out all your frustration. In my opinion, to make a piece look more natural, you should only sand the parts that would naturally get warn: the corners, edges, places that might get used/touched most often. 

Lastly, if I'm painting a piece of furniture, I'll generously rub Mini Wax all over the piece with an old cloth. I'm not really sure what this does besides protect the wood. I've just been instructed to do this by a few bloggers, so I obey. 

Here's a few pieces I've redone using my chalk paint concoction:

I found this ratty side table at the same dump as my kitchen table. 

These frames were quarter yard sale finds.

This was another yard sale find for $1. It was an ugly gold and red color.
You can read about this project here.

I found these botanical prints at Goodwill. The frames were an outdated brass, so I just slapped some chalk paint on them to bring them to this millennium.

I hope this has been informative and that I've at least motivated you to finally get to that project that you keep putting off. So, get to it already!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

A Long Awaited Deal

This will be one of my shorter posts due to the fact that my husband should be coming back downstairs withing the next thirty minutes from his violin lesson. It's a strange little story actually.

Patrick is very talented when it comes to music. That, along with many other great qualities, is what swept me off my feet. In college, I would go over to his packed house of six guys, and we would just sit downstairs and he played the guitar and sang Avett Brothers songs while I swooned. I'm smiling just thinking about it...

Okay, my brain is back to reality now. I apologize for the gushy moment. So, he had this strong urge to buy a violin a few months ago, so he did. Easy enough, right? Well, he had NO clue how to play it, and a violin is not a very forgiving instrument. But being a good, supporting wife, I just smiled and told him how good he's going to be after a little practice.

Fast forward a few months.

A couple days after we moved into this house, we met our neighbors on the third floor. They're a nice older couple that truly live the simple life. We learned that Mrs. Janet played in the Bangor Symphony for many years, and now she spends her retirement giving violin lessons. Weird, I know. Needless to say, Patrick jumped on the opportunity. It's turned out to be a great thing because they've become our only friends so far in Maine. Mrs. Janet even took care of Walter while we were out of town. It's nice to have friendly neighbors. I truly recommend everyone have them.

SO HERE'S THE DEAL OF THE DAY. It's even better than my Mio deal, so read on.

Today, I had to go the grocery store, and while I was out I stopped by the Christmas Tree Shops. This store is great. One opened in Greenville while we were there, and luckily there's one here as well. As confusing as it may sound, they don't sell Christmas trees (only maybe during Christmas time). They have a little bit of everything for really cheap. My kind of store!

I've been on a scavenger hunt for the past 7 or 8 months trying to find place mats for my dumpster table. I've bought several, and have returned several. They were either too big, the wrong color, or just looked strange laying on the table. But I do believe in a woman's instinct, folks. I now know why the other place mats didn't sit well with me because today I found these at the wonderful Christmas Tree Shops...

Here's another Walter cameo for ya.
I know what you're thinking, "What's the big deal?" "I could find those anywhere." Yeah, yeah, but let me zoom in a little bit for you.

They had been $1.29. Not a bad price. Then they were marked down to $1.00. Even better price. Next comes the big daddy of price drops. $.10. Crazy! So, I quickly grabbed four and darted for the register. Once the lady started ringing them up, she looked up at me and said, "The register won't let me put ten cents in, so I'll just put eight instead." Yes, people, 8 pennies; a nickle and 3 pennies; a dime minus 2 pennies. I think you get it. So, with tax and all, I got four place mats for $.34. That's better than a yard sale deal, y'all!

I think they look they look great, but maybe that's just the receipt that I'm picturing.

Okay, enough of my daily shpills. Tomorrow: the long anticipated topic of chalk paint. Get excited!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

The Little Things

I had a couple topics in mind for today's post, but thanks to my wonderful mom and a couple yummy recipes I've decided to share some happy thoughts with y'all on this Tuesday.

I've spent the majority of my day cleaning, collecting coins, and doing laundry. Collecting coins has recently become a hobby of mine because it takes 16 quarters to do 2 loads of laundry! Who just has 16 quarters laying around? Pat and I live in a house with six other tenants and we all share the same coin operated, monopolizing, thief of a washer/dryer. Needless to say, nothing goes in the hamper after only one wear. So after my trek to the Rite Aide to cash in some dollars, I got two full loads of laundry done. Hopefully that'll last a couple weeks. So, if you want to generously donate your quarters to the Pat & Diana laundry fund just send me a message, and I'll gladly accept.

Next topic for today: crock pots. Are y'all in love with your crock pots as much as I am mine? It takes away from the two hours and six pots of washing in the evening, so I use mine at least once a week. Today I'm making creamy chicken taco soup.

It looks like something unmentionable right now, but trust me on's going to be yummy! 

After my cleaning and crock potting, I decided I needed my daily mid-afternoon snack. I was going to just brew some coffee, but I was mildly sweating from all of my hard work...(sarcasm), so I decided to go with a cold coffee drink. I brewed 10 cups of strong coffee; stirred 1/3 cup brown sugar and 1/3 cup white sugar in a pitcher; added the coffee and stirred in 1/3 cup vanilla cinnamon creamer. 

It definitely beats spending $4 at DD or Starbucks. It only cost maybe a dollar or so to make a whole pitcher worth of a sweet coffee delicacy. Plus, it makes for great sipping while blogging. 

Next, let's talk about moms. Mine definitely gets the "Greatest Mom Ever" award today (and everyday of course). She's constantly sending me coupons, magazines, food, etc., but today I received this at my doorstep...

Without even knowing that I knocked my other Bath & Body Works candle in the floor on Saturday, shattering it to pieces, she sent me a candle that smells just like all good things that comes with spring. Just what I needed!

Have you watched Not My Mama's Cooking yet? If not, check your local listings and watch it already! Bobby Deen takes his mom's (Paula Deen) recipes and makes them much healthier. It's the ONLY cooking show Patrick enjoys watching with me. I really think that he would watch it without me turning it on myself. I mentioned to my mom that I don't have a cook book and I would like to get Bobby Deen's new book, and low-and-behold, she sent it to me. Isn't she the most thoughtful person ever? It makes me want to pass on the kindness. Y'all should do the same today. :)

It's the little things today that's making this ho-hum Tuesday a great day! 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Snow, Spooks, and Spectacular Skiing

What an adventure!

Patrick and I had an amazing time this weekend. Our trip started at The Brewster Inn in Dexter, ME. We were greeted by an overzealous Englishman with a blunt personality and a mean hash brown egg casserole. Besides trudging up a snow-packed hill and getting spooked at about 2 a.m., we had a pleasant stay. 

Am I the only one who over-exaggerates thoughts and dreams in the middle of the night? Everything seems so real, even if it was just a scary dream. Anyways, I woke up with the sound of water running and my immediate thought was: ghost (which I don't even believe in in real life). We were staying in the maids quarters, so I was convinced that a maid died painfully in the room next to ours and would return to wash the blood off the bath tub every night. I may have a sweet face people, but don't let it fool you. I have abnormally crazy stories that run through my head at the wee hours of the morning (I need to keep a journal next to my bed). I tossed and turned for the next few hours, and then remembered the inn keeper telling us that a couple was leaving "dreadfully early." What a relief!

Once the sun came up, and my fear just magically disappeared, we woke to about five added inches of snow. UGH! A snow day is great in the South, but it's just an annoyance up here. The ski resort was about two hours from the B&B, and we already paid for the tickets so there was no going back. Needless to say, it took around three hours of holding my breath and narrow back roads to get to the mountain. But once we got there, the sight of the snow and fog took my breath away.

I wouldn't call myself a "beginner" skier. I've skied a few times in my life and would like to think that I've sort of caught on to the sport a little bit. Don't go thinking I'll be in Sochi next winter or anything, but I can make it down the mountain one way or another. I say all of this to explain my confidence going into this trip. I've never been to a mountain this big. It doesn't even compare to Snow Shoe (The biggest ski resort I've been to), so I was immediately intimidated. The 141 slopes were filled with fresh snow and moguls. A seasoned skier's paradise. After the first slope, I turned into your typical timid Tammy for the rest of the day. While riding the roller coaster of a lift, fear rushed over me every time I looked up the mountain. "What am I thinking?" "I shouldn't be here." Those were a few of the many frantic thoughts rushing through my mind.

Patrick was eating it up...cutting through the snow, racing down the mountain. He even landed a jump at the end of the day. I, on the other hand, was slowly cutting through the snow trying my hardest not to break a leg. By the end of the day, I finally started to breath a little and let loose. 

Overall, it was an incredible experience and was well worth the ghost scares and snowy roads. 

Here's a little collage action for your Monday.

The fog is covering at least 2/3 of the mountain. It was ginormous. 

Saturday, February 23, 2013

An Extraordinary Maine Morning

After a long, hard week of grocery shopping, cooking, a little cleaning, occupying Planet Fitness, exhausting the web with my jobs searches, watching The Chew, and cuddling with Walter (our cat) it's nice to have a nice, relaxing Saturday morning with the hubs. Yeah, I understand that this is a very slow season of my life, but I might as well enjoy it while I can, right? 

Anyways...I like traditions. Now that I have a small family of my own, Patrick and I have tried to start a few traditions that will hopefully carry on when we have a larger family one day. One of those traditions, which is a very common one, is weekend pancakes. I've made them from scratch just about every weekend since we've been married (give or take a few that we've been out of town). It seems like I've tried a different recipe every time, but this morning was exceptionally good. I usually make whole wheat or oatmeal pancakes, but I went with the grand supreme this morning...chocolate chip buttermilk pancakes. Light, fluffy, chocolaty...perfection. Plus the fact that hubs does the dishes, makes them taste that much better. 

This post isn't about pancakes, I promise. But it does add to the simplicity of our Maine mornings. This morning is extra special. We're packing up for a short ski getaway at Sugar Loaf. We're staying at a quaint B&B tonight and skiing all day tomorrow. Pictures to come. 

As we leisurely gather our things, I get to enjoy Walter running sluggishly prancing around the apartment, and Pat sweetly serenading me in the other room. 

This was a time I tried a sweater on Walter. He went limp, so after about 5 minutes of laughs I decided to take it off. I need to find an outfit he can actually run around in. Let me know if you have any suggestions.

I think Walter knows that we'll be out of town for a day. He's been acting very strange this morning. Moping around and meowing a lot (he rarely ever meows). Who knows? It may just be me subconsciously thinking he's going to miss us because we're going to miss him, even though it's just for a day. Weird, I know. We're "those" people. I'm not too good to admit it. 

So to save a few bucks at the slope we decided to pack a few snacks/lunch. Slope food is pricey. I thought I would pack some good fatty protein and potassium (hence the graham crackers filled with PB and bananas) and hubs threw up a big box of oatmeal creme pies. I didn't object. I threw in a couple sandwiches and water as well (not pictured). 

Even though I love my lazy Saturdays with Patrick, I'm ready to hit the road for a new adventure!

Friday, February 22, 2013

DIY Dry Erase Calendar

There were many reasons why I loved living in SC:
  • We were equal distance from the mountains and the ocean.
  • It's not too far from our family.
  • Warm summer/fall nights
  • Friendly people
  • Amazing church family
  • Tons of tennis
Last, but CERTAINLY not least...
  • Yard sales in December!
I probably went to 5-6 yard sales in December. So whoever told me yard sales were only in the summer was a mean liar. I'm not gonna lie, it was a bit chilly, but I'll do just about anything for a good deal. If Maine had yard sales in the winter,  you better believe I would be bundled up early Saturday morning in the -5 wind chills to score an awesome deal.

So in the midst of my winter yard sale rummage I found this...

 An ugly bath picture. I saw so many possibilities. It's a large frame, glass still intact, and only $1. You can't pass these kind of deals up people.

The first thing that came to mind was a dry erase calendar. I've seen them floating around Pinterest world for a while now and thought this would be the perfect frame for it.

Pin board of inspiration::

This one is my favorite!


I started by taking some fabric that I already had, and that I've used on many projects...

        This is Walter's cameo. More on him later.
I laid the fabric over the cardboard insert to make my measurements. Math isn't my strong suit, so I have to be creative when it come to measuring things. I made little marks so that I would know where to draw the date boxes. I was actually pretty impressed with myself when I figured out how big each box needed to be. What would've taken hubs 3 minutes to figure out took me about 15, but, hey, who's counting?


Next, I started drawing my calendar with a pencil and my handy, dandy floppy ruler, then went over it with a fine point Sharpie. QUICK TIP: Make sure to leave enough room at the top to write the month, year, and days.

I used a regular Sharpie to write the month, year, etc.

Then I stretched out the fabric over the cardboard and started hot gluing like a mad woman. 

 I folded in the corners just like you would a bed sheet.

It's not the prettiest hot glue job in the history of hot glue jobs, but it gets the job done.

I added lines of embroidery string because my lines were a bit crooked, and I thought it would fool the eye. I simply just stretched it out and glued it too the back. Well, it wasn't simple. It was actually very frustrating, but it was well worth it. But do you see what I see?

There was a stubborn sticker that was daring to ruin my entire calendar. I'm seriously not a perfectionist...just take a stroll through my messy apartment, but I knew this sticker would irritate me every time I looked at that calendar. It just wasn't worth those 10 second spats of irritation in my life, so I decided to cover it up. 

I took some fabric scraps and embroidery string and make a few rosettes. They are seriously simple to make, but very hard on my poor nubs. I can get quite impatient with my glue gun. 

Most people buy a calendar yearly, which can cost $10-$15 (unless you get a free one from your local co-op), so I don't think my $1 calendar that I can use over and over and over again was that bad of a deal. 

Now, I just need to invest in better dry erase markers.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

"The Green Monster" Smoothie Test

I've been in smoothie mode lately. 

Hubs and I got a Magic Bullet for a wedding, and it's done nothing but take up a magnitude of space in our pantry. It seriously comes with ten parts. Instead of putting my frustration in the fact that it takes up so much vital space, I figured I might as well use it. I've tried a few typical smoothie combinations: strawberry/banana, blueberry, regular strawberry. They've all been quite tropical and sweet. Just the way I like it. 

Since I've had the time to go to the gym 4-5 days out of the week here lately, I figured I put my work to good use by trying to eat semi-okay. That's when I pinned "THE GREEN MONSTER."

Here's Iowa Girl Eats recipe:
1 frozen sliced banana
1 Tablespoon peanut butter
1/2 cup 0% Vanilla Chobani Greek yogurt
1 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Breeze (or other kind of milk)
4 cups baby spinach (or more, or less)

It's packed with super foods, and she claimed that you couldn't taste the spinach. PA-LEASE! I needed to test it out for myself. 

So I threw the ingredients in my Magic Bullet this morning. I changed up the recipe a little bit just because I didn't have soy milk or vanilla Greek yogurt.

So my recipe looked a little like this:
1 frozen sliced banana
1 TBS peanut butter
1/3 cup Plain Greek Yogurt
1/2 cup Skim Milk
A couple handfuls of spinach
Half a packet of Stevia (A new favorite!)

She is definitely right when she says that you can't taste the spinach. I'll just be honest, the first few sips were hard to swallow. It wasn't my typical tropically sweet smoothie, but it wasn't awful. It tasted more like a peanut butter banana smoothie. Will I make it again? Ohhh....maybe...maybe not. But I do feel good about the nutritional facts:

350 calories, 10g fiber, 21g protein 

Okay, now don't go thinking I'm a health nut, or that I eat like this everyday. I popped a handful of M&Ms right after I washed out my smoothie cup. 

I have REALLY good intentions. That's gotta count for something, right?

My Dumpster Kitchen Table + Tutorial

Patrick and I got married last June and combined all of our belongings into a tiny apartment. We didn't quite fill it up if that tells you what I had to work with. Though we were stocked with all of the kitchen utensils and gadgets under the sun, thanks to wedding gifts, we were lacking in the furniture department. So, I went shopping for a kitchen table and chairs. WOW! Do y'all know how much a new table and four chairs cost? Let's just say it was a little out of our budget. I stumbled upon a great antique store in SC and found two super cute chairs. I knew I wanted a rustic set with mismatched chairs, so I wasn't too concerned that I hadn't found a table yet. 

Here's where it gets good. 

A couple days later, I was driving down the path to our apartment building and looked over at the dumpster. Low and behold, a small round table and chairs was sadly sitting waiting for a generous soul to save their lives before they were shaved into wood chips. And boy oh boy do I love the price of FREE!

Luckily, it was in good condition. It was just straight out of 1996 with the light wood top and super dirty white legs. 

The chairs were HIDEOUS! That is red, glittery vinyl fabric you see there. I only picked up one. (Which I later regretted. I wish I would've got the other. Silly me.)  


First, I cleaned up the table as best as I could with Clorox wipes, then applied a white wash to the top (1 part water to 1 part white paint). I'm not sure if this step was necessary, but I just felt like the top needed some kind of binding agent before I stained it. 

Next, I wiped on Mini Wax Wood Finish in dark walnut (a personal favorite). I just used a piece of old sheets I bought at Goodwill. I still use those sheets as drop cloths. 

This was after one coat. {I'll explain how I painted the legs in a moment.} It sat like this for a few days until I decided I wanted it darker. So then came the second coat...

Perfect. This was at our tiny place in SC. The yellow velvet chair is one of the two I bought at the antique store. 

So onto the legs. 

I DID NOT have the patience to sand down that awful white paint in those crevices. I read a lot about chalk paint, and learned that it goes on without sanding the furniture first, you can rough it up with sand paper easily, and it doesn't leave any brush marks. Sounds like a winner to me! Boys and girls, chalk paint is expensive. Way too expensive for me to buy a gallon just to paint four table legs. So I went back into research mode. I found a recipe to make my own chalk paint and ran with it. {I'll post about my chalk paint ventures in the next few days, so be looking for it soon!}

So basically, I just mixed up my chalk paint and slapped on a few coats. When I say slapped, I'm not exaggerating. Since it doesn't leave brush strokes, you can literally just throw it on until you've covered up the piece to your liking. I used a medium grit sand paper to rough up the edges to get that rustic look I mentioned earlier. 

Since I finished painting the table, I found a fourth chair at a yard sale for $3 and painted and recovered the two chairs I found with inexpensive clearance fabric I found at Hancock fabric.  

For my total:
4 Chairs: around $85
Table: FREE
Fabric: $6
Paint: maybe $10

This totals:  $101 (Not too shabby for a dining set!)

Here's the finished project nested in our new place in Maine.


I know, I know...I need a rug to go under it, but it's hard to spend that kind of money on something knowing I'll only be here for a few more months. So, I'm waiting to buy the detail pieces until we have a more settled home.

Anyways, I just love it!