Progress and choices, choices

How is your week shaping up? Mine has been SOOOO crazy busy. It looked busy when I posted my schedule on Monday but since then we squeezed in a trip to our local Museum of Science and Industry on Tuesday (we could get in for free but only if we went by September 30th!) and I remembered that my 6th grader has an all day nature field trip on Thursday. Despite all that, I’ve been pushing forward with my plan of action.

I pulled all the fall decor out of the garage and purchased supplies for a 2nd pumpkin wreath while the kids were at Tae Kwon Do Tuesday evening. I also found an amazing cut glass knob for the night stand I’ve been working on forever. Part of why I’ve been able to squeeze in time to paint is because I can see the light at the end of the tunnel for the night stand project and it is lovely!!

Here’s how it looked when I found it on the side of the road:

side of the road nightstand

Most of it is solid heavy wood but the side panels and the front of the drawer are particle board. When I found it, I was purchasing a table off Craigslist and asked the owner if they minded if I grabbed the nightstand since they had it set out for trash. They said they certainly didn’t care, but thought it wouldn’t be worth my time. They had left it sitting in a garage for a long time and it had a lot of water damage. I just couldn’t pass up those curvy legs. I had to try!

water damage

water damage 2

Without giving away too much (I’ll do a full reveal on Friday), I painted it a soft gray color and decided to stencil a design on the front of the drawer. I couldn’t decide which color to paint the design so I took a scrap piece of wood, painted it with leftover gray, and tried a few different things. I also wanted to practice with my stencil and make sure the bonding spray worked the way it is supposed to work.

I tried three different colors: silver, a metallic white and a white latex.

stencil samples 2

I thought about asking here which color I should choose, but after painting the samples I knew there was only one choice. It’s a little hard to tell in the photos, but the silver almost disappeared into the gray and the metallic white didn’t go on well. The white latex paint was the clear winner.

stencil samples

The work is completely done. I’m just waiting for the top coat to dry and I’ll put everything together and place it in it’s new home. I’m so anxious to see the pretty glass knob on the drawer! Come back on Friday to see how it turned out.

Little things

My kiddos were sick with a cold on Sunday giving us a rare morning at home. I finally had a chance to jump on here and talk about some of the little things I’ve been doing around the house.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to put off minor repairs, especially in the summer. That makes no sense because I should have more free time in the summer to work on little projects. This past summer, however, was gone in a blink. I think I spent most of it sorting through, organizing and decluttering six children’s toys. Of course, we did spend some time at the pool and at the beach.

Fall, however, switches my brain into overdrive. Maybe it’s the cooler air (slightly cooler air in Florida!). Maybe it’s the impending holidays. I don’t know. But suddenly, I’m in the mood to get things done!

The first thing I tackled was the toilet paper holder in the main bathroom. I know. Super exciting. But I put this off forever because I just couldn’t wrap my brain around how to fix it. Here is how it has been for probably six months:

broken toilet paper holder

My brain, which tends to overcomplicate things, had decided the only way to repair this was to remove the inside panel of the cabinet. When I examined more closely, however, I realized that was impossible without removing the sink! So I sat there on the bathroom floor wondering why on earth a builder would make it so complicated to replace a toilet paper holder. Finally, I realized it couldn’t possibly be that complicated and I took a closer look at the part of the holder that fell off. Well. Look at that…

tiny little screw

See that tiny little screw? The answer to my problem! I borrowed a tiny little screwdriver from my 16 yo son’s eye glasses repair kit and unscrewed it to reveal a back panel that would, get this, screw directly to the side of the cabinet!

back panels

I took an extra moment to clean and shine the chrome pieces and then put it all back together.

toilet paper holder repaired

I was so excited I called the whole family into the bathroom to look. They pretty much all said, “That’s great, Mom.” Even my big girl, who almost always gets my weird self, was looking at me in slight confusion. Oh well.

Another thing I’ve put on the back burner for far too long is repairing the back panel of our comfy recliner. It’s been like this ever since we got it eight months ago:

hanging flap

In my defense, I did try stapling it but my staples were not long enough. And I tried tapping in little tacks but they were too short. I scored some longer nicer ones at JoAnn for only $1!

deco nails

Here’s the difference between the two:


Experience is the best teacher. I had no idea what I was doing when I bought the first tacks. I knew the second tacks would work better but I still let them sit on the kitchen counter for weeks before trying them. Seriously, it took me five minutes to tap in the longer tacks.

recliner repaired 2

recliner repaired

I’m not sure why I put these things off. It feel SO GOOD to get them done. Do you have any little things you’re neglecting? Why not take five minutes mark one of those puppies off your list!

This week’s plan of action

There. Let’s try a more empowering title. Remember when I called it the week’s “list of suggestions”? For some reason, that wasn’t super motivating. “Plan of Action” might just do the trick. It’s worth a try! During my little blogging hiatus, I’ve gotten very few projects done and I’m back in the mood, folks!

Here are the scheduled things I cannot change this week:

Monday — Aquarium field trip (10 a.m. until ??)
Tuesday — Tae Kwon Do (leave home at 3 p.m.; arrive back home around 9 p.m.)
Wednesday — Ballet (4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.); Church (7:00 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.)
Thursday — Ballet (4:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.) *Bonus — DH takes dd on Thursdays so this one doesn’t affect me. Whoo hoo!
Friday — Homeschool co-op (7:45 a.m. – 1 p.m.); Ballet (4:30 p.m. – 9:45 p.m.)
Saturday — Blessing of the Animals (8:15 a.m. – ??)

Around those activities, we’ll get homeschool accomplished, keep the house relatively clean and neat, and prepare three meals plus snacks every day.

So how in the world am I going to fit any projects into this schedule? (And now you know why I’ve been scarce lately!) I’m pretty convinced there are a couple of things that have been holding me back:

  • Eating too much sugar which zaps my energy
  • Staying up too late watching Once Upon A Time on Netflix (really fun show but don’t get sucked in if you want a decent night’s sleep!)


I believe if I watch my sugar intake and get to bed a little sooner, I can work on my projects early in the morning. I’m not talking around 7 a.m. I’m talking 4 o’clock in the morning, people. I’ve done it before. I got up at 4 a.m. for 6 months straight when I first started this blog in New York. Since moving to Florida, I’m lucky to force my eyeballs open by 6 a.m.

What am I planning to do with all this extra time? Here’s the plan:

  • Tackle 2-3 small projects that have been put off for far too long
  • Paint my side of the road nightstand (super excited about this one!)
  • Decorate for fall (which will involve a good bit of deep cleaning before it will work!)


The list isn’t too long or arduous. Some of the work has already been completed so it should be do-able. I’ll keep you updated! How about you? Do you have a plan of action for your week? I’d love to hear about it in the comments. Maybe we can cheer each other on to greater accomplishments! Have a great and productive week!!

A coffee table for the lanai

I’m kind of in shock that I actually finished the coffee table for the lanai. Do you remember the first time I posted about it? It was January 23rd!

old bench and table

I went back and forth with myself on what to do with the furniture. I even briefly considered painting it white. But I wanted it to blend with the table and chairs I already have on the lanai. My mom bought these for me almost ten years ago when we were living in Montgomery, Alabama.

m tabl

In the end I decided not to do a drastic change but to try to return the furniture to it’s original glory. I took off the rusty grates.

rusty iron grates

After cleaning them with white vinegar,

cleaned grates

I spray painted them with Rustoleum’s spray paint in oil rubbed bronze. I was a little sad to paint them but knew they’d be better protected with the Rustoleum.

spray painted grates

The table got sanded, stripped with CitriStrip, and cleaned with mineral spirits — twice.

stripping lanai table

lanai table stripped once and washed

Finally, it was ready to stain. I used Minwax stain in Dark Walnut that I had on hand. It took two coats to look rich and beautiful:


The last step was to protect it from the elements since it lives outdoors on the lanai. I applied three coats of Spar Urethane waiting a full 24 hours between each coat and very lightly sanding after the 1st and 2nd coats.

Here’s how it looks now with the grates re-installed:

Lanai table complete

Lanai table different angle

Lanai table grates close up

Lanai table close up

You can really see how far it has come when you see it paired with the matching bench that has yet to be touched.

Lanai table with bench

And just for fun…


Lanai table before


Lanai table complete

I’m so excited now to refinish the bench and put the rest of the lanai together. I can see a beautiful outdoor living space in my mind. It only took seven months to complete the table. The bench will be done in no time. Right?

Baby steps…

Linking to the following awesome parties:
Miss Mustard Seed

Goals for the week

Even though I didn’t “finish” anything last week, I made progress on nearly everything on my to do list. With six kids and a busy life as priest’s wife, that will have to do!

Here is the list I posted last week:

  • Finish lanai table
  • Sand and paint side of the road nightstand
  • Blog about new furniture arrangement in music room or master bedroom
  • Paint with the littles and create new art for the master bedroom
  • Begin decluttering clothes

I talked a little on Friday about my progress on the lanai table. I thought I could get two steps done on one day by painting the third coat of spar on the bottom and immediately flipping the table and doing the first coat on the top. When I flipped it, though, I found a dried drip right on the top of the table. Being the perfectionist I am, I tried to sand it off.

lanai table drip

Which led to me having to apply a little more stain. I didn’t work on it at all over the weekend so the whole three coats of spar are ahead of me this week. Three coats on each side seems annoying (and time consuming!), but outdoor furniture in Florida lives outside year round so I know the effort will be worth it!

The next thing on my list was to sand and paint my side of the road nightstand. The nightstand had some water damage which I originally thought I could just sand down and paint over. It sanded down fairly well but when I added a coat of primer, I realized it wasn’t going to be that simple.

drawer with primer

After some googling, I think the best way to go with this piece is to cover the water damaged areas with wood filler, sand again, and then paint. It will take some time and effort, but I’m willing to try. The water damaged areas are particle board but most of the table is heavy solid wood. I’m super anxious to see this piece finished. Patience, patience!

I blogged about the master bedroom here. There are still plenty of things I want to do in that room but for now I’m just trying to maintain it and not let it get cluttered again!

Paint with the littles. I got this project half done. I painted with the two littlest, one of the middles and even one of the big boys joined in the fun! We had so much fun that we decided to move the art supply cabinet to the kitchen. Why is it in the school room where we never use it?!?! I didn’t finish my painting, but I did get the background done:

master bedroom painting progress

I didn’t touch the clothing decluttering at. all.

This week will be interesting. Dd11 has ballet camp every evening plus we have a day trip planned for the middle of the week. I’m making a list, but I’m keeping my expectations low!

  • Finish lanai table
  • Sand nightstand and add wood filler. Prime and paint if time.
  • Move craft closet to the kitchen
  • Paint again with the littles and finish artwork
  • Do some little things around the house like hanging shelves, “quieting” one of the kids rooms, hanging a stuffed animal net in the girls’ room
  • Maybe work on that decluttering the clothes job!
  • Work on getting the upstairs ready for the new school year

That may be a bit much to expect from this busy looking week. We’ll see what happens! What are your plans for the week?

Slow going in the Florida heat!

I have made some progress this week but it’s been slow! I have a window in the mornings from the time I get up (around 6:30 a.m.) until about 9:30 that I can paint. After that, it’s really too hot. Unfortunately, I waste the first hour and a half sitting around drinking coffee and checking e-mail. Oh well. It’s summer. On Monday, I thought the only thing I had left to do on the lanai bench was put weather protection on it. I bought some outdoor poly at Lowes. If you’re looking for something good for outdoor furniture, the outdoor protection is called Spar Urethane.

Minwax Spar Urethane

The bench looked a little unfinished to me when I got ready to apply the spar, so I put another coat of stain on. I didn’t want to get too dark but it didn’t look done.


And there were a couple of areas that didn’t look great at all…


I quickly applied a second coat and wiped off the excess so the finish wouldn’t be too dark. That was Tuesday morning.


Much better!

Wednesday morning I put one very thin coat of spar on the bottom of the bench.


Thursday morning I lightly sanded and applied the 2nd coat. That brings me to this morning. One more coat on the bottom then I can flip it over and spar the top. This time next week I should be done.

I’m planning to broaden the scope of the blog a little bit. I love to paint and decorate, but I don’t have time for a lot of it during the school year. During the school year, teaching is my full time job and then some, so it only makes sense to talk about it on the blog. I’m going this afternoon to the library to do some planning and will share soon what I hope a typical day will look like next year with kids in 10th grade, 9th grade, 6th grade, 4th grade, 1st grade and 4K!!

Have a great weekend, everyone! I’ll be back on Monday to report progress on this week’s list.

What I like to do on holiday weekends

*This post contains an affiliate link. If you click on the link and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission. You can, of course, go directly to the site to make the purchase.

What do you like to do on summer holiday weekends? Relax? Head for the pool? Hang out with friends? I like to do those things. But I also like to stay home and rearrange rooms of furniture and somehow rope the male population of my household into helping me!

On Saturday my oldest son and I picked up a Craigslist chest of drawers. I’ve had my eye out for a dresser or chest for the master bedroom since we moved. I had only CL dressers in NY so I sold most of them when we moved. I kept the two white ones for the girls and one small one for the little boys and one four drawer chest for the big boys. The boys don’t have nearly enough space for their things but we’ll work on them another time. At least their unmentionables have homes.

Dh and I were making do with shelves and rubbermaid bins in the closet. It was working fine so I haven’t felt pressured to find something quickly. Patience paid off because I found something I love for an amazing price!

curvy chest of drawers

I seem to be drawn to curvy legs these days and was thrilled to find a chest with legs! It isn’t an antique but is still solid wood and was only $40!! The best part is that dh loves it, too! We’re often on different ends of the spectrum with our furniture/ decorating tastes, so the fact that he likes it was icing on the cake!

Recently I took the desk that was behind the bedroom door…

Desk with reveal bulbs flash

and put it in the music room. (I’ll show you the music room soon. I promise!) That spot had stayed empty so when I brought the chest of drawers in I stuck it in the empty spot.

But isn’t it funny how one little new addition can create the inspiration for a whole change? I didn’t love that chest hiding in a dark corner behind the door. I thought about putting it on the wall near the bathroom where the orange chair was…

Orange rocker bar stool

but that idea didn’t feel right, either. I got Nester’s decorating book, The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful, for my birthday last month and just finished reading it. One of the best pieces of advice I took away was to “quiet” your room before you start moving around the furniture.

Believe me, the master bedroom NEEDED some quiet! It had become a major dumping ground. Here is what happened when I moved out the desk:

messy orange chair area

And dh and I both seem to junk up our sides of the bed!

kennys side 300nancys side 300









As Nester advised, I pulled everything out of the room except the furniture and the pictures on the walls.

Quieted bedroom 1

Quieted bedroom 3

Quieted bedroom 2

Quieted bedroom 4

Suddenly I could see exactly what to do. Quieting the room really works. I needed to move the bed! The thought was a little scary. When we moved here the bed was in pieces and took a lot of reconstruction work by a very generous friend from church to even be functional. He helped us set it up in the room and suggested that we may not want to move it — ever. The bed itself isn’t at all heavy, though, so I figured if four people lifted simultaneously it should be fine. Dh was a little concerned we wouldn’t have enough space between the foot of the bed and the door of the bedroom. I used frog tape to show him exactly where the bed would be and eased that concern. (Should have taken a picture of that part. Sorry!)

Once he was convinced, he and the boys helped me move the bed. One kid lifted a little too high on one corner and I was afraid everything was going to fall apart. But it was fine and the new arrangement is so. much. better!! Would you like to see?

new master arrangement 1

The bed is now opposite the door to the room. I’ve always avoided that position because I read somewhere years ago that putting the bed opposite the door is the “coffin” position. I would never have considered it except that the day before I quieted the room, I read a little excerpt in a magazine about the most peaceful way to set up a master bedroom is to put the bed in exactly that position.

And I love it because it gave me room for a seating area in front of the window!

new master arrangement 3

Please don’t look too closely at my poor still un-upholstered arm chairs. I’ve been watching youtube videos. I’m getting braver. Really. I’m going to rip that old fabric off any day now.

It will be a little harder to junk up my side of the bed now that it is right next to the bathroom.

new master arrangement 4

And perhaps dh’s side will stay cleaner, too, with the sitting area next to it. We are already loving that sitting area. It’s been three days so far and I think we’ve had coffee together in that spot every day since the set up!

new master arrangement 6

My mom’s cedar chest is behind the door where the old desk used to be.

new master arrangement 5

I’m not sure it will stay. My white and silver desk would look nice in this room. Although I think putting a desk in the bedroom is supposedly not peaceful…

I’m not sure this room will ever be “done.” I keep tweaking it. Right now I need to adjust some of the portraits to work around the new furniture arrangement and re-upholster the arm chairs. Dh really wants me to add some tiny little pops of red here and there. I’m not sold on the idea but it’s his bedroom, too, so I’m on the lookout. And there is that crazy nook near the ceiling. I’m still getting used to that whole Florida concept of design!

Sharing at the following fun parties:
The Turquoise Home / Embracing Change / Miss Mustard Seed

I’m back and I’m armed with a plan!

I’m ready to try the plan for the week method again. I only have about 5 weeks left of summer break and so many projects I want to tackle! This week should be relatively quiet at our house — only a couple of things scheduled outside the home. Of course, we’ll probably try to go to the pool a few times.

After a long hiatus, I started working on the lanai furniture again. I finished stripping the table, applied wood conditioner, and stained it. I also spray painted the iron side grates. The only thing left to do is seal it for outside use. Here is what it looked like at the beginning of last week:

lanai table stripped once and washed

I’ve also been doing some crazy furniture arranging. I’ve got a completely new arrangement to share in the music room and the bedroom. My ever faithful oldest son has been on a couple of furniture runs with me lately and I have a beautiful piece to show you for the master bedroom plus a cute little nightstand that was a side of the road salvage. Side of the road finds are extremely rare in my new neck of the woods, so I was am very excited. Here’s a sneak peak:

nightstand sneak peak

Look at those beautiful curvy legs! I nearly squealed when I saw it!! I have a lovely vision in my head of what it could look like. I hope to sand it down this week and make it happen!

Lastly, I saw a cute painting idea I plan to add to the master bedroom. It should be fairly quick and easy but also sweet and meaningful. Plus, my 5 year old will love me to pieces if we paint together!

Oh yes. And I need to start going through all of our clothes. I really want to pare down our overabundance in this area in my quest to reclaim the garage. Part of the reason I haven’t painted or refinished any furniture this summer is because I’ve been working on a massive toy declutter. The kids and I sorted every single toy in the house. We’re slowly looking through each bin and pulling out broken and no longer loved items.

Mainly for my own reference, here is a neat little bullet point list of goals for the week:

  • Finish lanai table
  • Sand and paint side of the road nightstand
  • Blog about new furniture arrangement in music room or master bedroom
  • Paint with the littles and create new art for the master bedroom
  • Begin decluttering clothes

That should keep me busy for a while! What about you? Any goals for the week or just soaking in the lovely lazy days of summer?

Happy 4th!

Happy 4th of July!! I hope everyone has a safe and fun day today. We decided to stay home, broil some hamburgers and relax!! People seem to be a little firecracker crazy in Florida, so I honestly believe we’ll be able to see plenty from the back yard. Our back neighbors have been enjoying them every night for over a week now!

I haven’t done a whole lot of decorating this summer. I thought I’d be able to jump right in when school let out, but I’ve spent the last five weeks sorting and decluttering toys. It feels great to have them decluttered!! I’m on to clothes next.

The approaching holiday gave me a bit of a decorating itch, though. That and I kinda neglected some of my porch flowers. Here is how the front porch/ entryway looked the last time you saw it:

Spring front porch

After I took these pics, a sweet friend from church gave me a pot of flowers for the other side of the porch. I did pretty well with keeping them alive for a while. Really, I did. Especially for me!! I’ve probably mentioned my inept at gardening before…

So this happened…


Can you see them? No?

Let me zoom in…




Dead flowers coupled with an impending red, white and blue holiday gave me the push I needed to get back in the game. I almost derailed looking for the 4th decor I bought on clearance after the holiday last year. Thankfully, I found the right box! The update was quick and easy. I took the spring wreaths just as they were and added a string of red, white and blue beads that were 80% off last year at Hobby Lobby.


Then I made a couple of bows out of ribbon I got at the same 80% off sale:


I love how they turned out!


I put white bedding plants in a couple of matching pots I had on hand (managed to get caught in a pouring down rain storm while I was potting them!) and swapped my spring pillows for a couple I found in Lowes in patriotic colors. I was so excited to find the pillows, as they were exactly what I had pictured in my head. I had looked already in three places and found no outdoor pillows in patriotic colors! I paid full price for the ones at Lowes, but happily I had enough money in my personal fund to cover them and the flowers. I also added a couple of pinwheels to make the 5 year old happy.



We had so much rain yesterday evening that the sidewalk was still wet this morning! One more shot just for fun:


I’d love to add a big Americana-type star above the bench and an American flag by the garage. Baby steps, though. Maybe those can be added next year. Now I’m off to help my oldest daughter make a spring breeze cheesecake. Yum!! Have a great day, everyone. I’ll be back next week with some progress on L – O – N – G overdue projects plus a couple of new ones in the works.

How to remove red kool aid stains from carpet

Remove Red Kool Aid 2

Maybe not such a catchy title. But seriously, if you are having a red kool aid emergency, you are not in a joking mood! My preschooler and kindergartner recently ran through the house with a glass and sprinkled red kool aid dots through the entire length of the house of light beige carpet. There are times when I have gotten upset over kid messes. This time I was calm. I had a bit of a warning as it happened right before I arrived home from running an errand and my husband told me over the phone before I walked into the house. I just observed as he led me through room after room after room of now red polka dot carpet.

Red kool aid

more red kool aid

The big kids were already on duty cleaning up what they could with plain water and rags.

kool aid clean up

My husband had already used up the small supply of Folex that we had on hand so I sent him to Lowes for more of that plus some heavy duty stain remover for our Bissell carpet shampooer. While the kids scrubbed, I stripped the white duvet cover off the bed (yes, that got sprinkled, too) and stuck it in the washer with the ottoman cover from the above pic.

Over the next two days I tried roughly sixteen different methods to extract the stains — to no avail. The best I could get was pink polka dots instead of red. The two rooms the kids worked on first were a lot better than the last two rooms. Getting to the stain fast is definitely key. But if you didn’t, don’t lose heart. There is hope!

I was pretty discouraged but kept looking on google for new ideas. I finally found something I hadn’t tried and it sounded a little crazy. But at this point I had nothing to lose! I found it on Yahoo at this link. I tried it and IT WORKED. IT REALLY REALLY WORKED. CAN YOU TELL I’M A LITTLE ECSTATIC!?!?!?!

To extract red kool aid out of carpet (even old kool aid as the link describes a year old stain being removed):

1. Dip a white rag or hand towel in a bowl of warm water and Dawn dish washing liquid.

Hot soapy water

2. Place the sopping wet rag on the stain soaking the stain.

soaked spot

3. Place an iron set on low to medium (the link says a steaming hot iron but I set mine on the lowest setting. You don’t want to burn your carpet!) on top of the wet rag. I started with low but eventually bumped it up to medium to speed things along. The carpet wasn’t damaged by the higher heat.

spread out the rag

iron on rag

4. Wait 15 minutes.

set timer

5. Rinse out the rag and repeat until the stain is removed. This may take 5 or more times. You should see red on your rag when you lift it and that lets you know the method is working. Also, be careful with the rag when you lift it as it will be hot!

It is a time consuming process, but so worth it not to have to live with a polka dot carpet (and not to lose the security deposit!). For visual proof, here are the before and afters:

Before the heat method —

kool aid by the bed

After the heat method —

kool aid cleaned up

I cannot tell you how relieved I am to find something that worked. Thank you, thank you, thank you to the Yahoo contributor that shared her success! I still have a lot to clean up but at least now I know it is possible. Looking back over all the methods I used, most of them were completely useless. The problem with red kool aid is that it is not organic like red wine or grape juice. That dye is totally artificial which makes it so hard to get out. If I had known and been able to act quickly, I think Club Soda would have gotten the stains out better than anything else.