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Sunday, April 26, 2015

Trading Spaces- Jules Style

Jules here-

The 4 last rooms of my home have been painted! Every night for weeks I have been scraping wallpaper, sanding, painting, and re-painting the children audibly groan when I mention going to Lowes again....  During this journey of wallpaper peeling, paint spatters, and frustrations, I have learned a few tips.  Am I a pro? Heck no. Is my paint job perfect? Nope, but it's done. 

Here are my top ten things I have learned about painting: 

10. If you can paint over wall paper, do.  If the wallpaper is super old, and relatively smooth (no major bubbling/peeling) you can paint over it. Parts won't be perfect- BUT my dining room (with the three layers of wall paper dating back to before World War 1) took over 17 hours to peel.  I chose to paint over the den's wall paper, and though a few spots look rough- the whole room took me 3 hours including moving furniture, sanding, and painting...

9. If you do peel wall paper, skip the chemicals. Invest in a bottle of white vinegar, a dollar store spray bottle, and a car-sponge.  Heat water, add 50% vinegar; soak the walls (every inch) every hour for a couple of hours. Then start peeling.  I bought dollar store scrapers that helped quite a bit, but the kids preferred butter knives.  I did buy the chemical spray, and it worked about the same as the vinegar, smelled worse, and I had to use A LOT of it. 
Note the textured first layer of wall paper in the background...
8. Samples might be a good idea. I have taken 3 kids to Lowes over 10 times in the past 4 weeks, they know us by name.  So, the idea of buying a sample, trying it out, and then returning to purchase a full gallon did not seem like an option to me.  However, after having to re-paint two rooms because the colors did not look the same on the walls- I might consider it next time.  Instead of a grey in my living room, the color tinged a purple/lavender in the afternoon.  And the first time I painted my dining room, it was too dark/bright of a yellow.  Both rooms I had to re-paint.
Understanding the 50 shades of grey title now... it was SOOO hard to find the right one...

7. You can't have enough rags. Luckily, I saved all my old burp clothes/cheap receiving blankets for dust rags.  I used dozens of them to clean up paint drips, drop cloths, and wipe my hands quickly.  I wasn't constantly using paper towels and I could wet them to immediately salvage my floors/trims from splatter.
Carter's 4 Pack Cotton Flannel Receiving Blankets - Puppy with Dots - 44435r
From burp clothes to changing pads to paint rags! Well used!

6. Paint before you move in if you have time.  My dad helped me paint the children's rooms prior to my moving day, and it was much easier to paint without the furniture (and kids) in the home.  He didn't have to re-arrange, squeeze the ladder behind the pushed-in furniture.  I had to sleep on the couch for a night when I tackled my bedroom as I couldn't access my bed underneath the mountain of dresser drawers, clothing, and more.
Girls Room: BEFORE

AFTER: Girl's Fairy Room with Wallies for decoration!

Fairy wall stickers up close- I ordered these on eBay

5.  Buy new switch plates- They are so cheap; they are my favorite thing to buy at Lowes.  With prices ranging from 37 cents to $2 for the big light switch plates, you can change the feel of the room and sharpen up your paint job with crisp new ones. 
Fancy ones cost more, so the basic model worked best for me!

4. Buy the edger. I did not have to purchase tape with this handy-dandy device.  Be careful with getting the right amount of paint on the edger- it can drip if you put too much, and it is ineffective if you don't put enough on.  The key is to do all of the edging of the entire room (I usually used the edger for the top foot of the room as well as above all door frames, windows, etc.).  After edging, it usually only took me about 45 minutes to roll the rest of the room as I didn't have to use the ladder or worry about getting too close to the trim.
Some people swear that they can free-hand with a paint brush. I am not that talented, this was incredible!

3. Use discretion with other purchases. The drop cloths at Lowes are$3-10 each. Do you have an old sheet? A Dollar Store nearby to buy a shower curtain?  Do you really need 3 rollers? Nope. I used two for my whole house. I washed it thoroughly after each paint job.  Do you need the $6/roll tape? Up to you- the edger worked great without tape for me.  Beware of gimmicks and ploys to buy more stuff at the home improvement stores- paint is expensive enough!  The Dollar Store has measuring tapes, sand paper, rollers, paint trays, etc.
Dollar Store rollers

2. Use entertainment. Use the radio, books on CD, Netflix on your portable device, etc, otherwise painting will be monotonous drudgery.  I watched all of Fringe on Amazon Prime (which is a fantastic sci-fi series) while I tackled my many projects.  My kindle was a perfect portable TV to mitigate my boredom.  Granted I listened rather than watched most of the shows as I climbed ladders and balanced on windowsills, but it was still fun.  Side note, I built my Smart TV an Ikea TV stand-- though I mis-assembled it the first time, I did complete it myself :)
Note: I need a throw rug, but for now my workouts have plenty of room!
1. Just do it.  Once you have the paint, supplies, drop cloths, furniture moved, etc.  Don't start it at 9 PM unless you plan on finishing it.  It goes much quicker if you just complete the job at once and don't have to clean up. (Yes, I did wrap my roller in saran wrap a few times when I was way too tired to finish, but it was harder to get re-motivated to tackle the project). 
Dining Room

Master bedroom

My MUDROOM hallway! YEAH! I even stained that wood...
Easy rule #34224- Try not to get too settled in your new place, or you might procrastinate your "projects" indefinitely.

Easy rule #34234- Reward your kids for being patient during home improvements- It's stressful for their home to be turned upside down and having their mom constantly say, "Don't touch that! It's wet!!"  (We only had to do one mid-day shower due to paint-in-hair-incident)

Well deserved museum break!

Free cone day at Ben & Jerry's break!

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Pirate Party!

Jules here-

Big news: I finished my dining room project.  3 weeks of peeling wall paper, puttying, painting, re-puttying- and RE-painting... it is done.  Now three more rooms to paint (of course, I am NOT peeling wallpaper, simply painting OVER it.)
Easter Pic!

In other news, we celebrated TWO birthdays in the past 2 weeks: Grace & Lissie!  With all of the changes, moves, and unpacking, Grace craved her favorite activity: party planning.  For weeks (months actually), she has made lists, scoured pinterest with me, and made homemade decorations for her party.  Lissie chose a "Jake and the Neverland Pirates" theme- and it was so much fun having a less-girly party.

We made a black, white, and red paper chain, a pirate flag banner, and a pirate ship for the wall.

Each child was issued a pirate outfit: a bandana, tattoo, and an eye patch.

Plus balloons and streamers (which I had leftovers from prior parties)
Total cost: $7

The girls had some specific requests for the meal, so we tried to make it "fit" our theme.  We served shell macaroni and cheese (we named it "Golden seashells with sand").  We made octopus hotdogs again for the kids.  For the grownups, I made a salad (one of my favorite recipes) and meatball sandwiches (cannonball subs).  Grace even labeled each juice box "Pirate Punch" and added Jake and the Neverland Pirate stickers.

Please note the beautiful yellow walls in the background...

Total Cost: $30 (I splurged on the pre-made meatballs to save time)

We played pin-the-flag-on-the-pirate ship, walk the plank on a 2x4, and a treasure hunt.  We went to Target and the Dollar Store to get prices and gift bags for each child.
Pirate crew eating food.

Treasure Chest!
Pin the flag game.
 Total Cost: $10

Finally-- I made the cake.... Using two loaf pans and quite a bit of confectioner sugar- they turned out pretty well. I raided most stores after St. Patrick's Day for the gold coins.  I also used sixlet candies for the "pearls" of the necklace:

Cake cost: $5.00 including all the candy. 

So I overspent a bit, I'll chalk it up to rising grocery prices and my inability to resist some perfect pirate themed items.  I tried to keep things under $40, so I was pretty close.   The weather was perfect today so the children spent most of the time riding bikes, eating outside, and just enjoying the sunshine!

 Easy Rule #5324-When your child is gracious and appreciative of your efforts- spending time on frivolous things can be worth it.

Easy Rule #34234- After you spend 3 weeks on one room renovation, take a break.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Monthly Review and a Few Favorites

Jules here-

I know. I vowed to post more, and yet, I have not. I am truly sorry... but truly VERY busy.  This past month I moved to my new home, celebrated 2 kids birthdays, one mom birthday (and sis birthday, but I really didn't do anything but send a card... sorry Ems... not that organized... or rich) AND started minor renovations on the house.

I had all these grandiose plans of posting the before and after with my dining room... from 1960s wallpaper to fantastic bright & cheery dining room. Instead, after two weeks of scraping, peeling, and much child labor- I have achieved only "crack house" decor:

St. Patrick's Day- See Wallpaper behind...

Grace starting the peeling- first layer came off easily!!

2nd and third layer-- we had to bring in the big guns...
And Finally-- after scraping for 2.5 weeks straight.... it still looks like this:

Grace's Birthday Lobster (yes, she has expensive taste).. Note the spray bottle and scrapers in background.   

Every night for 2 weeks I have been scraping wallpaper for 2-3 hours a night. Seriously.  My new house is built in the 1900s and they knew how to glue stuff to walls back then.  Tomorrow, however, I am painting. My walls might not be perfectly smooth, but I hear the textured look is in-- so really, I am in style.

I did want to share some fantastic things about my new home and products that I have recently purchased and loved.  First, I love that I am living between two lakes on a peninsula- the views on my street can be beautiful and the sunrise/sunsets are spectacular:

Our one snow since moving in- I'm out of shoveling shape!
My breakfast view from the window!

 I also bought an Ikea bathmat that is plush, super-absorbent, and very washable! I LOVE it. It's also on sale right now, so if you are in the market for an awesome bathing experience-- get one.  Seriously, after three soaking children dry off on it, I can still take a shower and the mat feels dry!! It's incredible:

TOFTBO Bathmat IKEA Made of microfiber; ultra soft, absorbent and dries quickly.
Here's the link to the website. Awesome.

 I also have an extremely small bathroom- as in, you can brush your teeth while sitting on the toilet comfortably- small. Honestly, it's forcing me to be neater, more organized, and efficient.  Each child has his/her own mini-bucket with toothbrush and paste in it.  We used to share a toothpaste, so this helps with germs and knowing which one belongs to whom.

Yes, this is Ikea too. I got these in the "planting" section

Also, while crashing at my parent's home, I got to use their incredible potato cutter. It enables me to make french fries, potato wedges, and chips in 1/2 the  normal time.  Granted, my parents haven't bought me my own yet... but they promised soon....

New 7-Inch Wide Commercial Crinkle Cutter, Garnish Cutter, Potato Vegetable Cutter Cutting Tool, Stainless Steel
This is the one on It's about $8. Not bad to save a lot of time.
I also bought myself a TV as I didn't have one. I opted to go with a Smart TV from Samsung because I am not getting cable, just Internet for cost-effectiveness.  Now high-speed Internet is not cheap-- but it's still $80 a month cheaper than cable.  Plus if you buy Amazon prime, Netflix, Hulu, etc... it's still cheaper.  I will miss my DVR- but I have my Youtube workouts that I love!!!
Samsung UN46H5203 46-Inch 1080p 60Hz Smart LED TV
Samsung TV- I got a great deal on mine :)

Plus, I get local channels for free! Yeah! Next time, I will try to have some Trading Spaces-style photos with before and afters of all my rooms; however, at  my current renovation pace, it could be next year. Thanks for your patience loyal followers (basically Mom) and bear with Ems and I as we try and deal with all the changes!

Easy Rule #43234- Home renovation looks A LOT easier on HGTV.

Easy Rule #5325- Finally getting settled into your forever home after 6 months of temporary housing- priceless (but thanks Mom & Dad for the temporary place to live!!)