High Five for Friday (sort of)!!

Hey hey!! It has been two weeks since my last post.  I was away last week on vacation and somehow needed a week to recuperate/do laundry/get back into work/the gym, etc. House projects have totally taken a back seat, hence no posts!!  I definitely need to get myself moving this weekend!

Rather than my normal High Five for Friday post, I am going to do a High Five for Vacation post and share my whirlwind week of vacation with my fella and his daughter.  If you follow me on Instagram you may have seen some of this adventure already.

First stop, Philadelphia……we went to the Philadelphia Zoo and Dave & Busters (restaurant and huge arcade) on the first day….

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I haven’t been to the zoo in years. I loved it!! The giraffes were awesome. I just love them (although the whole time I thought about what an awesome pattern their coat would make for a jacket – faux of course!!!) The flamingos were pretty busy, but the polar bears and gorillas were not.  Check out that guy sleeping with his leg up on the wall! Hilarious!! We spent a good half hour watching two monkeys fight while a giant orangutan just watched in disgust.  Definitely my favorite part of the zoo.

We were staying overnight in Philly so that night we decided to trek down to historic Philadelphia and took in the Liberty Bell (from outside – after hours) and Independence Hall.

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Yes, that really is my fella’s giant nose and glasses. KIDDING!!! I just choose to not put him up here on blast!

Living right outside of Philly all my life, I have never had an authentic Philadelphia cheese steak.  So for dinner we decided to split one from the infamous Pat’s Steaks. We couldn’t decide between Pat’s or Gino’s but the longer line outside of Pat’s sold us.  It was definitely yummy!

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The next day we went to the Franklin Institute (I haven’t been there in years either, but I definitely remember sleeping over for school one time!) and the Camden Aquarium.  IMG_2758

There was some sting ray feeding from the other two in my group but there was no way I was putting a headless fish in the water for those things to eat out of my hand. I just took pictures!!

The next day was an “off” day, but that night I went to my first Phillies game of the season with my mom. I got free tickets and haven’t been to a game yet this year so I had to do it! It was the first time I have gone to a game that they won!!!

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I didn’t realize I took that first picture when a Cubs player was on the screen. Whoops! And I totally love the Phanatic.  He is hilarious.  If I ever find myself out of a job, I’m applying to be the Phanatic.  Fun job!!

The next day we were off to the beach for 3 days.  That is my perfect vacation!! I could spend a lifetime relaxing on the beach listening to the waves and sunning!!

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We did some sundown seashell searching, ferris wheel riding and walking on the boardwalk.  The weather was decent on day 2 and our 3 days flew by.

Next we were off to northern New Jersey to my fella’s sister’s house.  We took in a Yankees game – since he is a Yankees fan.

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Me? Not so much.  He made me wear this shirt after I threatened to wear a Phillies shirt to the game! At least I paid my respects to my home team earlier in the week!

The next day we hit up the NJ State Fair in my fella’s hometown.  That was quite an experience!!!  First up, the animals…..

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There were pig races, a petting zoo, hilarious chickens with mohawks, pigs, and sheep wearing t-shirts.  I just kept walking around saying “look at that one!!!”  This city girl didn’t grow up around animals and my fella just laughed at me the whole time.

Then there was deliciously horrible food to be eaten and interesting sights to be seen……….

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I devoured that corn dog (yes I realize the irony when there were plenty of live pigs to be seen at the fair!) and that funnel cake. I taste tested my fellas sausage and pepper sandwich just to make sure it was okay!!!!   I definitely needed to hit the gym hard when I came back home this week.  But it was delicious!

You could also pay $1 to get into see Spidora the living spider woman (she talks to you!) and the headless woman! It took all self-control to not shell out the $2 to see these wonders of the world! HA!

And then there is this wonder of the world………

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While waiting for the kids on the rides we posed in our bathing suits and got this gem taken.  Hilarious!!!!

Overall it was a good vacation. Lots of time in the car traveling from here to there, but it was fun!!

I’ll be back next week with some house related stuff (hopefully!!)

Happy Weekend!!!!

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High Five for Friday!!!

Happy Friday everyone!!!

This week went pretty fast but was pretty uneventful!  Here goes my top fives for the week!

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1.  I read online about an app called Slice.  It advertises that it keeps track of everything you buy online.  I buy a fair amount of things online. Clothes from J Crew Factory, some various home decor items, and books from Amazon.  I like to track my packages but hate scrolling through my email for the various tracking emails.  Slice will access your email account, identify shipping emails and keep track of all of your shipments in one place. It includes shipping estimates, delivery notifications, etc.  I love it!! Much handier than checking back through my emails all of the time.  And it’s free!

2.  I have been working out 4 times a week for the past year and a half.  If I don’t go to the gym on my normal days I feel grouchy and in need of some exercise.  However, the gym gets boring and tedious.  Flowers like this make running outside so much better than running at the gym!! And short breaks to snap pictures always helps too!

3.  I went to an “indoor” pool party (rain forced us to have the party away from the pool and inside) with a group of new friends.  I had heard about how AWESOME grilled angel food cake is and found this recipe on Pinterest.  I took angel food cake for grilling, key lime pudding and raspberries to the party.  This picture is NOT mine.  Me and everyone else ate our dessert too fast for me to snap a picture!! The grilled angel food cake was amazing and smelled even more amazing! I want to just grill some up to make my house smell heavenly!

4.  My fella lives in an area of Pennsylvania where produce stands are plentiful.  I stopped last weekend to stock up on tomatoes, zucchini and cucumbers.  I decided to make toasted cheese and tomato sandwiches.  My dad used to make these for me when I was very little and to this day I love them! A slice of bread, American cheese, tomatoes and pepper, toasted in the oven for 4-5 minutes. DE-LICIOUS!!! I have been craving more ever since I had these for lunch!

5.  And lastly, today is my last day of work!! I am on vacation next week and absolutely cannot wait! I will be spending a few of those days at the beach.  My soul is aching for the beach!! If I don’t get to the beach each summer my life is incomplete!!! Come on 4:00!!!

Hope you all have a fab weekend!!! Happy Friday!!!

Linking up with Lauren.
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Staining Ikea Veneer Furniture

We all love Ikea.  Why? Because it’s cheap.  But the downfall of Ikea? It’s cheap!! You won’t find high quality, solid-wood furniture in rich, dark tones that will last until your grandkids move out of their parents house and you can pass down the heirloom furniture. But for a young person furnishing their first apartment…….Ikea is perfect!

When I got my first apartment out of college, I needed some furniture. Cheap.  I bought this Ikea birch veneer tv stand.  It served me well and was even used in my first house in the bonus family room.

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Two months before I bought my house last year, my fella also bought a house for him and his daughter but he was short on furniture.  I was moving into a house that was half the size of my old house and I had furniture I didn’t need.  I volunteered to let him have my tv stand.   He wasn’t a fan of the color (neither was I really but when you’re a poor college graduate anything will work!) So I said my favorite words “I can paint/stain that!!!”  He decided he wanted it stained a darker wood tone so I got to work.

I did some research and read lots of different techniques for painting/staining Ikea veneer furniture.  Most reviews I read said it wouldn’t work, but I decided to give it a whirl anyway and see what happens.

1.  I sanded the entire piece with an electric sander and 100 grit sandpaper.  Because it is cheap veneer, you will never really get the “wood” roughed up enough to absorb the stain.  I sanded to get as much shine off of the wood as possible.

2.  I used a foam brush for even coverage and brushed the stain on relatively thick, but also as smooth as possible.

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3.  I let the stain sit for 30 seconds just to give it some time to HOPEFULLY soak into the veneer a little.  I wiped off the excess with a paper towel.  The key is to wipe lightly, removing excess stain but leaving as much color on as possible.

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I used Minwax Red Mahogany stain.

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4.   I gave each coat at least a day to dry in between.  If it is still tacky when the next coat is applied, the color will just get pushed around.  Because it is veneer, the stain is not absorbed into the wood.  It is actually just being painted on.  Adequate dry time is key to getting an even, long-lasting finish.

5.  After the last coat was fully dry, I applied a LIGHT coat of Minwax Clear Semi-Gloss Polycrylic.  This coat needs to be applied as lightly and evenly as possible to not cause the paint to smear.

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The stand was left in the garage for 4-5 days for the poly to dry and cure.  Since it was having a tv and other electronics put on it, I wanted it as hard and cured as possible.

Once we brought it in, I thought it looked amazing. And my fella loved it!! $10 for stain and poly and my fella had a “new” tv stand!!

I think it looks amazing!!!  So much better than its former life as a birch colored, new college graduate tv stand!  And its super easy to do!

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And since his house needs a bit of a woman’s touch, I cut these hydrangeas from his garden to spice up his tv stand and make it a little more homey!

Aren’t they gorgeous?!?!

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High Five for Friday!!

Happy Friday!! Here’s my 5 highlights of the week! (No wasting time this week!!!)

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1.  When I was in Vegas a few weeks ago, my fella paid for me to get a manicure at the Bellagio (isn’t he sweet?!?)  I opted for a French manicure and the woman used Essie polish (I was shocked!!) When I came home I vowed to re-create it with my own Essie polish.  For my first try, not too shabby!! Now I can get at least 50 manicures for $14 total!! Instead of 1 manicure for close to $50!! WOOT!

2.  Last weekend I went shopping at Ikea (see here) with my mom.  She got me this gorgeous orchid for my house and so far, 5 days later, it seems to still be vibrant and alive!! I haven’t killed it yet!!

3.  Say what you might, I was pretty darn excited for Kate to have the royal baby this week.  True story, when I was in middle school, my life’s mission was to marry Prince William and be queen someday. I had books about him……total stalker style.  Well, that plan obviously didn’t work because Kate is totally living in my spot!! But just like I watched their wedding, I was totally excited for her to birth the tiny prince or princess. I was pulling for her to have a girl because can you IMAGINE the adorable way she would dress her?!?!

4.  My fella and I started a subscription to Netflix a few months ago (with every intention of splitting the cost!! Note: I sort of avoided ever paying!! HA!).  We did a one month free subscription so we could watch Breaking Bad.  After that I sort of gave up on it, but this week we started watching The Walking Dead together (too scary for me to watch on my own – this girl is a chicken!) and I started watching Orange is the New Black! Let me tell you, this show is AWESOME!! It’s a Netflix exclusive and if you haven’t checked it out yet, you totally should.  I should be done the first season in 2-3 days. Yes, that’s a lot of watching! But Netflix totally feeds binge TV watching tendencies!

5.    HGTV Design Star wrapped up last Sunday and I was super excited to see who would win. I was totally pulling for Tiffany to win.  Her design style was more my taste and her personality is awesome.  She beat out the other two finalists and will soon have her own shown on HGTV.  Her personality will be perfect for TV and I can’t wait to watch her own show! And with a name like Tiffany she has to be fabulous!!! This is one of her rooms in her design portfolio.  I am not in love with the purple but together it all looks amazing. Swap out the purple for navy blue and she can put this room in my house any day!!

Well now……my high fives were awfully TV centered this week! I swear I do more than watch tv!!!

What plans do you guys have for the weekend? Do share!!

As always, linking up with Lauren!!!

HAPPY FRIDAY!!

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Ikea Crazy!

Hope you had a good weekend!! I had hoped to accomplish some blog-worthy projects this weekend, but sadly, a day at the pool Saturday and a lazy Sunday won out over being productive!  I DID however venture to Ikea with my mom to pick up a piece of furniture for an upcoming project. I’m super excited about it, but not motivated enough to built it yet!! Ha!

I did have a good time taking in the Ikea showroom eye-candy with my mom and taking some pictures to share with all of you!! And now, virtual Ikea shopping!! (These are all iPhone pics b/c I draw the line at taking my big camera into the store and looking like a crazy woman! So instead I covertly take phone pics when people finally move out of my way!)

My Ikea was working on building some new displays and the ones they have finished were pretty impressive.

They created a really cozy, romantic, girly bedroom that I just wanted to lay in all day….

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That cozy duvet cover with the canopy and soft lighting…I’ll take it!

And not to mention that wall of fake succulents behind the bed…..how awesome is this?!?!

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Ikea is putting some more “live-able” colors (not rainbow-hued colors, or things that everyday homes would have trouble incorporating) into its decor pieces. Like this adorable blue clock.

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I loved the clock gallery, I just wish the clock had a less “yellow, old-school” face.

They also had this adorable blue serving tray….

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That was part of the SUPER cozy living room….

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I totally wanted to move in and live on that couch. And sweater blankets? My obsession.  Move me in!

These white kitchens had me swooning. Makes me itch to get on my kitchen reno! If only I had a money tree in the backyard right?!?!

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Comfy seating areas were plentiful. This first one makes me want a movie room in my house with these cozy seats!

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My mom loved all of the funky light fixtures they had including these….

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There were some pretty great lighting options that weren’t so…..creative!!

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These small mercury glass lights were adorable. I should have gotten one for $7 but I was being good!

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And I totally brought home this little gem……

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The perfect addition to my “girly” bedroom…..SIKE!!! Seriously though, if you own this, can you please send me a picture of the room it is in??

Like I said, I walked out with a piece of furniture for a future project, along with this $5 storage cube for my “seasonal” shoes…

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Which was supposed to fit under my bed and doesn’t (so it lives in the closet).

And this GORGEOUS orchid for my house.  My house has needed some “life” other than me and this beauty is just the pop of life and color I needed!

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Now hopefully I can keep it alive!!!

High Five for Friday!!!

Woot! It’s Friday. Hot, 94 degree but feels like 104 degree Friday!! It has been sweltering here in PA this week. But that doesn’t stop me from having some highlights of the week!! Here goes….

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1.  I had a work picnic last Saturday and couldn’t show up empty handed, so I had to make something. Well, I have had a disastrous track record at both cooking & baking lately so my fella made cookies for me/us to take. A, they are delicious. B, they weren’t burned or undercooked because I didn’t make them! He’s awesome! And no I’m not ashamed that my fella can cook & bake better than I can, because I can change electrical outlets and build furniture!!

2.  I finally put up some shelves in my living room and personalized my space a little more since moving in a year ago.  They make me happy and the space so much more “homey.”  See that post here.

3.  It is the middle of July and I am pale. White. Like Casper.  Normally, by this time, I have at least gone to the beach once or twice and have been outside. This year, summer is escaping me and I have no tan. I planned to hit up the community pool in my fella’s town this Saturday to finally get some outdoor color, but alas, it is supposed to storm. Chance of rain, 70%. At least I won’t be sweating outside right?!?

4.  I got my iPhone 5 in February and since then I have been on the hunt for the perfect case. It’s sort of a sickness.  Since I got it, I have been using a spare case from my fella. Recently, I saw J Crew outlet was having a clearance sale and saw this pretty little case for $5. I snapped that baby up. It came in the mail this week and I like it! Do I love it? No. Will I probably still be looking for THE case? Definitely. But for $5 this one ain’t bad!

5.  There are so many great blog conferences out there that I would love to attend including the Texas Style Council conference in August, the Alt Summit in NYC in June, and Haven Conference also in August.  I missed out on them this year but can hopefully make one next year.  Alt Summit also provides online seminars throughout the year for people who can’t travel to the in-person sessions.  I took an online conference for $15 on Thursday night on using photography on your blog.  It was a good one hour information session, and worth the $15. I could even watch it on my couch on my iPad.  The schedule of upcoming classes can be found here.

Well, that’s my week in a nutshell!! Hope everyone is staying cool and had a fab week and an even better weekend!!! 

Happy Weekend!

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Making it home….one shelf at a time

Sunday marked the one year anniversary that I have physically lived in this house.  I settled on the house a few weeks before moving so I could get some things done like new carpet and painting before moving furniture into the space.  Paint and new carpet are the “critical”  things for me to start with to help a new house feel like my space instead of like I’m living in someone else’s house.  Up until this point, most of the personal touches, designed specifically around the new spaces, were done in my bedroom.

My living room has just been a space filled with furniture from my last house, put in an arrangement that just “works” and nothing really personal or different from where I lived before.  One day I finally got the itch to makeover this space.  I had a good number of things already on hand, so I got to work.

I don’t have any progress pictures with my furniture in the living room – the wall above the old owner’s couch, with two piddly picture frames has sat empty for the past year in my house.  My couch is in the same place and that empty wall was begging to be filled with something fabulous.

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In my former house, I made Pottery Barn inspired Hudson shelves here…..

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I originally stained them a dark walnut and they hung in my dining room with white plates.  I had no room in this house for the same setup so they sat in the basement unused.

I have been eyeing gorgeous gallery wall ledges like these for years……

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My house has been lacking serious personalization, with little to no pictures or things on the walls.  I figured this blank wall was the perfect space for my own gallery wall.

I got to work priming and painting my shelves in my dining room paint studio.

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(That could quite possibly be the worst blog picture ever. The painting happened during my days of the broken camera lens so this is all I got. At least I have that solved now!!!)

I used Valspar’s Swiss Coffee color matched to Olympic’s Premium paint.  Once they were dry and ready they sat in my dining room for a few weeks. Now, I will DI-myself a LOT, but hanging heavy shelves while drilling into my plaster walls was something I needed man-muscle for. When I could get my fella’s schedule to work to be able to come to my house (I normally go to him), we got hanging.

Note:  Hanging anything on plaster walls is quite tricky (Let the record stand, if I move, I NEVER want plaster walls again!).  We had 1/4 inch screws but started off drilling with 1/16, then 7/64 inch bits.  This gave the hole time to work into becoming bigger rather than just going gangbusters at the plaster to prevent cracking.  While drilling, we only got about a half an inch into the plaster when the drill wouldn’t budge.  The fella realized we must have been hitting cinder block because it wasn’t going anywhere.  A quick trip to Home Depot for a masonry drill bit and we were back in business.  For all 6 holes we followed the same steps of working up to the 1/4 inch hole, finishing them up with the masonry bit.  Hammer in some anchors made for plaster and we were good to go!!!

And now, the finished product!!!!!

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I am IN LOVE!!! They make the house feel 1,000% cozier!! I walk in the front door or down the steps, and I just smile. Heck, I round the corner from the dining room and smile!!!

See, this is rounding from the dining room…..

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And some more….just because I can’t get enough!!!

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Family vacation shots!

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Sidenote: I totally love this picture of me (not the one where I am trying to eat my fellas head) – the little me. I would totally rock that coat today if I had it in grown-up size!!!

So, what do you think?!?! As I stated above “IM IN LOVE!!!!!” They really helped up the “homey” factor of the living room. I can’t stop staring!