Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Uncovering the Hardwoods

Just peeking out of my unmotivated state (have you noticed?) to share a funny little story.

I know I've mentioned this before but sometimes I get in a manic I-need-to-change-something-NOW mood.  You'd think that I'd learn to not give in to these crazy episodes.  There's lots that I could finish peeling the wallpaper border off our bedroom wall (which is a result of another day where I let the crazy get the best of me), paint the trim, touch up paint in the living room where we removed the baseboard heaters or deep clean the house, but none of those would satiate me.  I.wanted.those.floors. I've dreamed of wood floors since the day we moved in and when I discovered them a couple months back it's been itching at me to uncover them.

So the other day, during a very rare two kid nap, I set out to pull up the carpet. I moved the furniture out of the way as best I could, unassembled the sofa (the chaise detaches and the pull out bed comes out) and started pulling it up - moving things around as I went.  It was exhausting.  But I was fueled by grand thoughts of refinishing this beat up flooring to a more beautiful state and had visions of Nicole Curtis egging me on.

I rolled up the carpet (very unprofessionally) and pushed it out the front door.  Then I grabbed the pliers and small pry bar to pull up the tack strips, nails and staples that were left behind.

After I finished the section behind the sofa the motivation and joy of it all started to wear off and I was staring straight into my reality.  I didn't like what I saw.  My mind just kept repeating "This is bad.  This is really bad."

This floor has seen years of abuse (over 100, I'm told.)  That's not a bunch of dirt and dust on the floor (although there is that) but the floor's glorious uneven finish.  It's been stained, painted, worn down and in a few places it's rotting and brittle.  In it's current state it is less than charming and it's not in the cards to refinish it anytime soon.  I sure didn't feel comfortable with the thought of walking around on it with my bare feet, let alone with my kids crawling around on it. (Did I mention the little one is already crawling?)  You'd think these things would have crossed my mind before I got to work...but no.

I stood there staring, sweating and panicked.  I grabbed the broom and dustpan, dumped the debris in the garbage, vacuumed the floor and pulled the carpet back into the house and started rolling it back into place.  Luckily most of the room still had the tack strips attached so it was just a matter of matching it up and stretching it out.  Where we were set on pulling up all the carpet and refinishing these floors I'm now a little overwhelmed by the process and am leaning towards re-carpeting - especially if we were to put down a thick padding and a soft and beautiful loop style carpet from Mohawk Flooring, like the Ensemble.  Of course we'll be living with the current carpet for awhile - oh did I mention the padding didn't survive so now we have thin berber carpet sitting directly onto these old hardwoods.  It is amazing.

That'll teach me.

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Get Fresh // The Bouqs Co. Review

Free flowers in exchange for a review of "The Most Epic Way to Buy Flowers Online. Period." Well, consider me intrigued.  

The Bouqs Co. (the new floral kid-on-the-block with awesome South American flowers picked from the side of an active volcano as well as U.S. grown flowers for those sustainably conscious folks) contacted me about doing a review.  After a quick scan of their website I was in love...with their wit (their flowers were pretty nice too.)  I don't know about you guys but a good sense of humor wins me over in nothing flat.  Don't believe me...see for yourself.

Normally I'd choose a bouquet grown in the U.S. (which they have) but The Bouqs Co. offered me $40 to choose a bouquet from their Volcano collection grown in South America.  Ranunculus top the list of my favorite flowers so the Marshmallow bouquet - a pretty bouquet of white ranunculus and larkspur was a no-brainer.  $40 and an easy checkout process had the "Original" size scheduled to arrive on my doorstep on April 15th.

The flowers arrived from the volcano in perfect condition.  The packaging was both sturdy enough to ensure safe transport and informative enough to ensure proper care.

The flowers were beautiful, but I had trouble finding the perfect vessel for the dainty bouquet. A baby food jar ended up working nicely.

Full disclosure:  When I say dainty, I mean it.  This bouquet was very small (which they fully warn in their listing.)  Just to give you a little size comparison, here's the bouquet next to my iPhone.  If you're trying to wow that special person in your life I'd recommend going with a larger size or a different variety all together.

But even with their small stature, these blooms are gorgeous and were the perfect little touch of spring for our home.

Beautiful flowers, free shipping and a great company philosophy - I know what you're thinking...  where can you get your own flowers from The Bouqs Co.?  FYI:  I'm now a Bouqs Ambassador and every purchase that is made via my affiliate link (any link on this post or the ad on the right sidebar), I'll receive $10.   Shop beautiful volcanic flowers from The Bouqs Co. Click here! 

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The Bouqs Co. provided me with flowers for this review, but all opinions are my own.

Friday, March 21, 2014

DIY // Craft Stick Geometric Pendant Light

March is National Craft Month and to celebrate I'm taking part in Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores' National Craft Month Campaign.  I've been a little unmotivated lately so coming up with a cool craft was not the easiest of tasks.  Luckily, has an amazing spring crafting inspiration website to help get those creative fires burning.

Inspired by the whole geometric trend and my math teacher husband, I decided to finally tackle something I've been coveting for awhile...the good ol' geometric pendant light.

This project was soooo simple.  It only took three items from Jo-Ann Fabrics and Crafts Store and a pendant light kit from Ikea to create.
  • Craft Sticks
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Hot Glue Sticks

Use three craft sticks to make a triangle - apply a dab of hot glue on each corner and glue the sticks to each other.  Repeat this process to make 20 triangles.

Next, glue 5 triangles together to make a pentagon.  Continue to glue the triangles to each other to make an Icosahedron (a poly hedron with 20 triangular faces - 5 triangular faces meeting at each vertex.)  The hot glue is flexible enough to allow you to bend and shape the form as you build it.

Before you attach the last triangle, insert the pendant light with bulb attached into the center of one of the points.  Then, glue the final triangle in place.

Finally, remove all the little webs created from the hot glue.  Hardware is included with the Ikea pendant light kit so hanging it is as simple as locating a place and screwing in a hook screw into the ceiling and locking it into place.

I chose to hang it in our hallway where it would contrast nicely against our slate blue walls.

The hallway can be pretty dark so the light comes in pretty handy.  Plus, it casts some pretty cool shadows across the walls.

Want to get your own craft on?  Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores make spring crafting easy during National Craft Month with a $5 off a $25 purchase coupon and a spring crafting inspiration website.

Be sure to come back and share what you created.

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The following post is part of the Jo-Ann Fabric and Craft Stores' National Craft Month Campaign.  I received compensation for this post; however, this is my personal and honest opinion based on my experience.

Friday, March 14, 2014

DIY // The Kitchen/Mudroom Renovation - What We Love & What We Don't

It's been a good 6 months since we finished our Kitchen/Mudroom renovation, so I thought I'd share a breakdown of what we have loved and what we kind of don't.

Let's start with the positives and a good ol' before and after as a refresher of how much this space has changed since we first moved in back in December 2011.

What We Love // While there are lots of little things that we love - here are three of the big ones.

1 // The Open Floor Plan - Absolutely the best part of this whole reno was opening up the mudroom to the rest of the kitchen.  The natural light that it brings into the room is amazing.  The ability to see outside is both refreshing and makes me feel a little more comfortable when I send Luke out to play.

2 // The Built-In Benches - Perfect for storing bulky kitchen items like our crockpot and things we don't use on a regular basis like our fondue pot.  They are also great for storing family games.

3 // The Mudroom // Laundry Closet - Not revolutinary or particularly exciting to outsiders, but having a designated place to dump all our junk when we walk in the door has been so nice especially in a home that lacks a lot of space and storage.  The laundry closet is another one of those things that's not too exciting but has given us piece of mind by quieting our noisy machines and hiding the not so eye-pleasing stackables behind closed doors.

What We Don't Love // What We'd Do Differently - Funny that three of these items are also in our love rundown!

1 // Cork Flooring - We love the warmth it brings to the space and the cushion of the cork nice to stand on but the super dark espresso color SHOWS EVERYTHING.  Dust, food, cat hair - nothing stands a chance of hiding on these floors.  They have to be swept and cleaned every single day which probably is fine for those that like their homes super clean but I'm more of a laid-back cleaner that thinks tackling the floors every few days is good enough.

2 // Mudroom & Laundry Closet - Funny that this ended up on our love list but it's one of those spaces that works but kind of doesn't.  The mudroom, while perfect for tossing our coats and shoes, is an eyesore and is constantly overflowing with stuff and since it's open to the rest of the room it is pretty annoying.  On that same note, the laundry closet is pretty great but you know how stackables kind of get that musty smell if they're closed up?  Yeah that's the issue with having a shallow laundry closet - you just don't have the space to let it air out without having to keep the closet door open.  A slightly deeper closet would have given us enough space to keep the washer's door open.

3 // The Half Wall - Okay, love that there's separation between the dining nook and the entry BUT it is too long.  We went back on forth on how long to make it and I won out - and now I see that the husband was right.  :)  The length of it makes the nook feel a little too confined and makes it hard to get in and out of the space.  We're hoping that a new table (which we were planning all along) will help alleviate the issue.

So that's our 6-month in breakdown of what we love and what we don't.  Only time will tell if there's more that need to be added to each list.  For all the before/after photos check out our Home Tour page and for all our DIY projects be sure to check out the Project Gallery.

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Thursday, February 6, 2014

This Cold House // Replacing Our Baseboards With Envi Convection Heaters

Old houses - what they offer in charm, they lack in warmth.  Or at least ours does.  This little 1900 cabin is a drafty bugger.  It just might have something to do with it's lack of insulation on the walls and floors.  So when it's cold it is darn cold.

Last spring, when we opened up the kitchen nook to the mudroom, we pulled out our baseboard heater that was mounted along that wall - and the three others that were in the living room, kids bedroom and our bedroom.  Our choice to pull them out weighed on the fact that they take up so much wall space.  With the living room baseboard removed we could move our couch to be placed along that wall and we had already run into issues of Luke sticking toys into them - something sure to repeat with Cal.  So the decision was pretty easy - potential house fire and increased usable space meant they had to go.

Rather than live 1900s style and just rely on our wood stove (that isn't even functioning at the moment) we had to find replacements.  Size, safety and high-efficiency were all things we hoped to find in our new heaters.  I had seen the Envi Wall Mounted Convection Heaters advertised in the back of my home magazines and was intrigued.  After reading a few reviews, like this one, we decided to pull the trigger and ordered 4.  The price wasn't too bad about $120 each (check those home magazines - sometimes there are 15% off coupons in the advertisements section.)

The Envi was designed to improve on the function and form of the flat panel Econo-Heater / Eco-Heater solution, utilizing a protective case around the panel heating unit, maximizing the fanless performance with a dual-stack convection setup within which lets the natural flow of cold-to-warm air rising do the work, all the while improving energy efficiency while maximizing the warmth factor. After less than a minute on, users can feel a current of warm air emanating up from top, drawing from the colder air from your floor at the bottom of the unit, creating a circulation effect which helps warm a room without the need of loud fans.
Installation was pretty painless - just place the template (included in packaging) against the wall, mark where the mounts will be installed.  Screw the mounts into the wall and attach the wall unit to the mounts.  Then plug in.

So how are these working out for us?

As for safety, the unit's exterior shell remains cool to the touch.  Perfect for little ones and for placing behind furniture - although the units are pretty large.  The unit sits behind this small table in the kitchen and is pretty noticeable.  It reminds me of my three year old trying to play hide and seek.  Since it's the coldest room in the house and we spend so much time in there we placed two in the living room - one sits behind the sofa and can't be seen and another on the opposite side of the room behind the green recliner.

As for the heating output - The Envi Heaters take a bit of time to warm up so if you're looking for a heating unit that makes a dramatic change in temperature once you turn them on then the Envis probably aren't for you since they offer a more gradual, even temperature - which pretty much means they need to be on all the time. The Envi heaters work great for mid-temps but on days when the temperature drops dramatically (which we've seen plenty of this winter) the Envis can't keep up.  We've had to pull our space heaters out to compensate for the Envis so in terms of cost savings...I'm not quite sure where we stand.  If our home was better insulated I think the Envis would be enough but they just can't keep up with this drafty home in winter.  I'm curious to know what our savings (if any) will be this year.

Today it's around 20 degrees - not those -20 temps some of you are experiencing - but pretty darn cold if you ask me.  Right about now I'm thinking these Envis aren't working out and I'm wishing our wood stove was functioning so I could shed my four layers.

Any of you have experience with the Envi Convection Heaters?  If not, what similar type heating options do you use in your home?

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