Tour Through Blogland

Hey there! I hope you all had an awesome weekend! Jesse and I had a date night, got some stuff done around the house, and celebrated a friend’s birthday, so I’d say it was a success. But now, it’s Monday and I’m so excited to kick this week off by participating in the Tour Through Blogland! The Tour Through Blogland is basically a chance for you to get a glimpse into our home and learn a little bit more about how I blog. My buddy Kelly from Corner of Main passed the fun along to me after she shared some details about her gorgeous Colonial-style home. 4julyhouseRoundedOne of my favorite rooms in her house is her gorgeous dining room. I especially love the pops of yellow! diningroom1And of course she has an adorable toddler, so that’s a plus!KevoIf you’re visiting from Kelly’s blog, welcome! I hope that you like what you see and stick around! Now, let’s get this party started! My husband, Jesse, and I bought our home on Valentine’s Day 2012. View More: http://marvelousthingsphoto.pass.us/ashleyandjesse

The house was in great shape, and adorable on the outside, but the interior was a little outdated. houseOne thing that really dated the house were all of the beige and red colors paired with thick wood trim in every room. We decided to keep the natural wood trim, so the best way to update the interior was to add a mix of contemporary colors and design elements, mixed with traditional options, to the space. The best example of that is our recently redesigned living room. I painted the room gray, with a dark gray accent wall, a modern sectional sofa and a classic armchair. Living room cornerMy favorite room in the house is our dining room. I painted it a green color and have accessorized with colorful plates, fun curtains and a classic farmhouse table and chairs. I slowly add more plates to the walls on either side of the window as I find them at thrift stores, HomeGoods, etc.IKEA-dining-room-curtainsOur bedroom is on my hit list to be repainted something darker and more cozy, if I can convince Jesse. For now I’m still loving the light, soothing color on the walls and the bright bedding. Master bedroom January 2014

For more photos of our house, check out my home tour page because we have to get to the question part of the blog tour!

What am I working on right now?

Right now, I’m finishing up the dining room chairs. But the real project on the horizon is our guest bathroom. We found some issues with the flooring and are going to have to redo the floors and replace the toilet. While we’re at it I’m also hoping to paint the cabinets, repaint the walls and finish off the space. We were supposed to start on this a few days ago but hit a few speed bumps. We should be starting soon though! We’ve even picked out new tile! broken tiles in guest bathroom

How does my work differ from others in my genre?

Hmmm… I feel like the biggest difference is that we work at a really slow pace. Jesse and I both have full time 8:30-5 jobs, so after a long day at work it’s hard to get the energy to go out to the garage and work. Weekends are our most productive times, but sometimes you need a date day, or just a day off. I don’t mind crafting on the couch after work, but sometimes craft supplies can be expensive. I’m not one to dump a lot of money on a project for the blog, this is my hobby and I’ve got bills to pay. And bills trump ribbon and plastic pumpkins.

How does my creative process work?

My process is kind of all over the place. I get inspired by things all around me and of course, there’s Pinterest and when inspiration strikes I’m all in. I will spend nights and days working on something, but if the inspiration leaves then I can let something sit half done for weeks. I also run most of my ideas, especially if they are for the house, by Jesse and sometimes he kills my creativity a bit with his analytic brain. Sometimes he has awesome ideas and is fantastic at helping me execute things, like our farmhouse dining table. dining-room-updates-table

How do I write/create what I do?

I do all of my blog writing from the comfort of our couch. I usually turn on the television, pour a glass of wine or grab a snack, and sit for a few hours to edit photos and write a post. And… I write all of my posts the night before I publish them. I’ve tried scheduling posts in advance, but it’s hard to keep up with. I’ve always worked better under the pressure of a last minute deadline, even in college I wrote my best papers the night before.

And now it’s time to pass on the love! I’ve nominated two of my closest blog friends to participate next: Jess of Little House. Big Heart. and Samantha of Designer in Teal.

Jess and I were roommates at Haven and she is just awesome. Her and her husband ripped their ONLY bathroom down to the studs and have been totally renovating it. They are DIY beasts. beals-126

Samantha is a local Richmond blogger that I met at a blogging event last year and she’s a very talented interior designer. It’s so nice to have a local blog friend that I can talk shop with and she doesn’t think I’m a weirdo. designer in teal

These ladies will be sharing their posts next week, so make sure you check them out! Happy Monday!

French Ragu and a $100 gift card giveaway!

Something I’m sure you’re tired of hearing if you’ve been around here long, but I’ve got the best husband ever. He’s so kind and caring, and always puts my needs before his own. One of my favorite ways he does that is when he cooks for me, especially when he cooks French food. Nothing beats his pain au chocolat, or macarons, but for dinner I prefer his French ragu, especially if I’m not feeling well or have a bad day! Ragu recipeThe dish is a really simple, light meal consisting of broccoli, cannelloni beans, red peppers, onion, garlic and sausage. And way better for me than the usual pizza or burgers I crave when I’ve had a rough day. Jesse found a similar recipe in a Jacques Pepin cookbook and just tweaked it until he got it right.Ingredients  – 1 head of broccoli – 1 red (or orange) pepper – 1/2 cup white onion – 2 cloves of garlic – 1/4 tsp. of salt – 1/8 tsp. red pepper – 1/2 cup white wine – 2 links of mild Italian sausage – 1 can of cannelloni beans (Keep the juice!!) – Pepper, to taste – Top with Parmesan cheese Prepping Ragu ingredients Let’s Get Cookin’ – Start by removing the sausage from the casing and cooking it in a small stock pot. – Once the sausage is browned add the juice from the can of beans and the wine and bring to a boil. – Then add the broccoli, the veggies and spices, turn down to a simmer and cover for 4-5 minutes. – Bring back up to a boil, add the beans and cook uncovered for 2-3 minutes. – And done! – Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top and serve! Cooking Ragu I usually request this dish when I’m in need of a comforting meal after a stressful work day, bad news, or during “that” time of the month. And for dessert there’s usually chocolate, pain au chocolat if I’m lucky, but I would accept a chocolate bar, orange soda and a bag of dill pickle potato chips! And maybe that burger or pizza the next day. ;)  Pain au chocolatSo what do you like to do after a bad day, or when Mother Nature is visiting? Are you a junk food junkie? Or do you prefer healthy food?

 

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My New Favorite Toy – HomeRight Finish Max

I hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day weekend! Jesse and I were hard at work on some projects around the house, including refinishing our dining room chairs. I got these chairs for a great deal two years ago when we finished building our farmhouse table and they are a perfect match for the table and the dining room.Dining room chairs - before

I just wasn’t digging the color of the wood on the seat, or the paint and nail polish stains all over them. So after two years, we finally got around to painting them.Paint stains on chairsBefore I could start painting the chairs I had to sand off all the shine and the stains to even things out and get the chairs ready for primer and paint. I even got Jesse to help with the sanding. He’s way faster at things like that than I am. Handy HubbyNow, what makes refinishing these chairs even more exciting, because I get excited about things like painting chairs, is that I got to paint these chairs with an awesome paint sprayer. I met some folks from HomeRight at Haven Conference back in July and we talked about how Jesse and I are going to be painting our kitchen cabinets sometime this fall and we exchanged business cards. A few weeks ago I got an email from them asking if I’d be interested in testing out their HomeRight Finish Max paint sprayer. I said something along the lines of “heck yes!” HomeRight Finish MaxI was so excited to test out the sprayer and was giddy at the thought of cutting the time it would take to refinish furniture in half. Now imagine my disappointment when that wasn’t the case the first time around. It was mostly user error on my part. I used Kilz oil-based primer for the first coat and it was a HUGE mistake. Not only did I have to clean the machine with mineral spirits, but the primer still didn’t come out of the nooks and crannies and it took over an hour to clean. STRIKE ONE. I went off to the store and got some water-based primer and then tried again. The second annoying thing that took forever was determining how much to thin out the paint. The directions on the can call for way less water than the instructions for the sprayer, so I was scared to add too much. But after I sucked it up and just followed the directions for the sprayer for the proper “viscosity” of the paint, all was right with the world. Viscosity testingThen came the true test, spraying the chairs. The coats went on smooth and with a great spray pattern, after I took the time to thin everything out according to the sprayer instructions. It took me about 30 minutes to spray all of 6 of the dining room chairs and a table that we’ve been working on. No lie, 30 minutes. HomeRight Finish Max in actionAfter cleaning the sprayer for the 3rd time, NOT using anything oil-based, I now have cleaning down to about 30 minutes. So all in all, 1 hour for 6 chairs and a table is pretty good timing. I couldn’t have done it that fast by hand, that’s for sure. And the chairs came out perfectly. It seriously looks like I bought them white, which is definitely not something I could have accomplished with a brush on all the details of these chairs. If only I could speed up the fact that it takes paint 2-3 hrs. to dry between coats, then maybe it wouldn’t have taken me most of the weekend to do them. HomeRight sprayed chairsAfter I finished painting the chairs white I brought them in, before sealing them, to see how they looked in the dining room. I’d been wanting to do something fun with color on them but couldn’t decide what color or where to put the color. I snapped a few pictures and sat on the floor waiting for inspiration to strike. Chairs painted with HomeRight Finish Max sprayerWith the white legs and apron of the table, the white chairs, and the fact that the cabinets will be white in a few months, there was just too much white. I loved walking into the room and seeing the white tops of the chairs so I decided to leave those and paint the legs. I managed to bag and tape the chairs and get in one coat of paint before we went off to have some fun for the holiday weekend. Are you as excited as I am about this color?! (Obviously, I’m going to need to paint the fronts of the legs and do a second coat.)Going blue with HomeRight Finish MaxSo the verdict for me on the HomeRight Finish Max is: I love it, but we had a bad first date. Here’s my advice for buying this paint sprayer, or any sprayer for that matter:

  • Do NOT use an oil-based primer or paint in it, it’s just not worth it and there are tons of great water-based options out there.
  • Take the time to follow ALL of the instructions the first time, it will save you lots of time cursing and wanting to throw the sprayer across the garage. 
  • Thin the paint to the sprayer’s instructions. This will give you a more even spray and looks way better.
  • Don’t give up after the first 2 or 3 uses. It could take a few times to get your groove.
  • Start buying random furniture to spray and drive your husband crazy.

Ok, maybe you should do that last one, but I’ll admit furniture refinishing projects seem a whole lot less intimidating now that I’ve got this thing!

Have you used a paint sprayer before? What kind of sprayer do you have? Are you as excited for me to finish the chairs as I am?!

*I was not paid for this post. HomeRight sent me the Finish Max to try out without compensation, aside from the free sprayer. All opinions expressed above are my own.*

Let’s Tear It Up

Something exciting has happened recently. Well kind of exciting, and also bad. Jesse and I recently discovered that the toilet in our guest bathroom (which we barely ever use) is sinking into the floor. After further investigation it turns out that there is no backer-board under our tile. Yep, that’s right. They put the tile right on the plywood subfloor. *facepalm* broken tiles in guest bathroom

Making this discovery lead us to further investigate the tile throughout the bathroom and we found that a lot of them were loose, probably because plywood doesn’t make the most stable base. So now this means that we need to rip up the tile, possibly replace the subfloor, put down cement backer-board and then get NEW TILE! I’m kind of excited about the new tile part. I’ve got a bunch of different ideas as far as tile goes, but Jesse and I can’t seem to agree. I love the look of hex tile and fun patterns like these: small bathroom hex tilelarge hex tileherringbone tile

But Jesse wants normal, plain squares. Boring.

Maybe some rectangular tile laid in a not so boring pattern could be a good compromise? rectangular tiles

While we’ve got the floors ripped up I’m planning to paint the cabinets. And probably the walls after we’re done. Jesse thinks I’m ridiculous for wanting to paint again already, but I told him that I have to make it a full makeover. Now if only I can convince him to let me paint the room pink… ;)

So, here are the “before” pictures, and I can’t wait to share the durings and especially get to the afters!

guest bath2 11.2013guest bath 11.2013Also, this is Jesse and I’s first huge renovation project, so any tips on how it’s done (and how to not rip each other’s throats out in the process) are more than welcome.

How was that for a Friday teaser post? Can’t wait to get to work this weekend!

 

Weekend Recap – Sorry I Dipped Again

Hey ya’ll! I’m back. Again. I’m sorry to disappear on you guys. I wish I had some actual reason or excuse, but I don’t. I’m just tired. And sad. I don’t say sad in a “boohoo feel sorry for me kind of way” just in a, I’m not motivated right now kind of way. You see, the weeks that I’ve been disappearing have been weeks where Jesse is out of town for work. I HATE to be alone, so when he’s gone I try to go out almost every night with people or with my mom and I get home late and don’t do projects. Then there’s nothing to blog about. We have a grocery list of projects coming down the pipeline, so things are coming to the blog. Just not this month. And that’s the honest to goodness truth.

The good news is that Jesse is done traveling for awhile. Which means that I will have my muse and motivation back! In fact, I pick him up from the airport tonight! It’s funny how much more he motivates me, you’d think that I’d get more done without him around, but I don’t. I thrive on being around people and being home alone, and knowing I will be for weeks, just demotivates me and puts me in a creative rut.

But, the rut is over! Jesse is on his way home and I’ve got a ton of projects coming! I’m painting our kitchen chairs, finishing and selling our first farmhouse table, oh and redoing a bathroom. Stay tuned, things are just getting good.

To be continued…

(I’ve obviously been watching too much tv this month)

DIY Wine Rack

Whew! It has been one hell of a week! Starting a new job is definitely an adjustment, and to make this adjustment even worse I’ve been spending the last 45 minutes of every work day in traffic. It takes me 25 minutes to get to work, but almost double to get home! Yesterday, I tried to avoid the traffic and ended up sitting on a back road for even longer. Soooo… I went home and poured myself a big ole glass of wine. Now I’ve been a wine connoisseur (I use that term VERY loosely) for years and I usually just put my bottles on a shelf in the pantry. Which is disgraceful. But imagine my excitement a few weeks ago at Haven when Home Depot handed me a kit for building a wine rack. DIY Wine RackThe rack came in 6 pieces, 2 for each shelf and then 2 sides, plus all of the screws to assemble it. Home Depot could not have made it any simpler. Seriously. I could have built this rack while drinking wine. I DO NOT CONDONE DRINKING WINE WHILE USING POWER TOOLS OF ANY KIND. DIY Wine Rack by Home DepotNow some of the cuts on the pieces were a little rough. (It’s ok Home Depot, I don’t blame you. That much.) But it was nothing the sanding attachment on my handy dandy Dremel couldn’t fix. The Dremel was my tool of choice because the small, round attachment worked perfectly in the curved areas of the shelves. Dremel Sanding attachmentAfter I Dremeled (Is that a verb?) the curved areas, I hand-sanded all of the flat areas to prep them for staining. I stained the rack using another goodie from Haven, Minwax Wood Finishing Cloths! These cloths are amazing and currently my most favorite toy. I love just slapping on a pair of gloves, grabbing a wipe and smearing on the stain. Simple.Minwax Stain WipesThe wipes I got came in a beautiful Dark Mahogany. My favorite Minwax color is Dark Walnut, but I’m still very happy with the Dark Mahogany. Dark stain is my jam.Wine Rack piecesAfter the stain dried I put the whole thing together and filled it with wine bottles. I also poured a glass for myself. For photography reasons of course. Now this rack isn’t very large, which is fine for me right now because usually I drink them more than I store them. When we go to vineyards and buy several bottles this will really come in handy though. Hopefully when Jesse stops traveling every couple of weeks we can plan a little vacation to go wine tasting. Mmmm… wine.DIY Wine RackNow the above pictures are pretty lovely, and staged. But it’s all a lie. The wine rack does not normally live on my kitchen table. It lives on the counter, between the refrigerator and the microwave. Glamorous, I know.DIY Wine Rack - real lifeRight now the dark stain doesn’t match anything in my kitchen. It’s rich and elegant, and my kitchen is not. But it will be, one day. Hopefully one day soon I will have a gorgeous kitchen. One with white cabinets and a fun backsplash. It’s the American Dream, and when that dream comes true I will have a lovely little wine rack to go with it.

Speaking of dreams, if you dream of mason jars then you’re going to want to enter the Ball giveaway in honor of International Can-It-Forward Day. There’s 3 sets of different kinds of jars, Sip and Straw lids and an infuser. Go enter now! And have an awesome traffic-free, wine-filled weekend!

Canning It Forward with Ball Mason Jars

If you’ve been around my blog for any length of time then you know that I love to incorporate mason jars into my vignettes around the house and for parties. I’ve spray painted jars gold, filled them with wine corks, used them to hold toothbrushes, and filled them with flowers. Seriously, I love them. So when the folks at Ball Mason Jars contacted me and asked if I’d review a few of their products, including the green American Heritage collection jars that I’ve been coveting for awhile, I jumped at the chance! Look at how beautiful they are! 

Ball Mason Jar vases

Along with the awesome green jars, can you tell I have a thing for green?, came their Sip and Straw Lids. These lids are awesome for taking mason jars on the go, not only because they look super hipster, but because the jars are glass instead of plastic and the lids are BPA free. I’ll be using the jars for my iced coffee instead of the plastic cups I usually use. Ball Mason Jar Sip & Straw LidsAlong with the lids, I received a few Mason Jar Mugs, which are a little less convenient for me to take in the car because of the handle, but I prefer the handle for using them at home.

Another goodie that I’m really enjoying is the Mason Jar Infuser. The infuser is BPA free and made for Wide Mouth mason jars. You simply fill the infuser compartment with cut fruit, herbs, you name it! After the compartment is full, attach it to the green lid and screw the lid onto your wide mouth jar. The jar can be filled with water, juice, vodka, whatever you’re in the mood to drink. Mason Jar InfuserI filled my infuser with some watermelon and blueberries that we got at our local farmer’s market over the weekend. The taste wasn’t super strong, but it was still yummy! It may be because watermelon isn’t super strong.Ball Mason Jar InfuserNow, I feel kind of silly writing this post about Mason Jars when I have never used them for their original intended purpose, canning. Lucky for me on Saturday, August 16th, Ball is hosting their 4th International Can-It-Forward Day, which will not only include classes on crafting and mixology (woot!) but also, canning! The event is hosted by judge of Bravo’s Top Chef, Hugh Acheson, who will also be doing a preserving and mixology demonstration. You can find more information on Can-It-Forward Day, including the schedule for Saturday’s demonstrations, by visiting their website or by checking out the event hashtag, #canitforward, on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

And now, what you’ve all been waiting for, a giveaway for all you lovely Ball Mason Jar loving readers featuring all of the products I mentioned today!

· The New Limited Edition Spring Green Heritage Collection Jars (Both pint and quart sized): These limited edition jars commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the Ball brothers’ “Perfection” Jar and come in a beautiful green tint.  These are being produced only in 2014 and are available in both pint and quart varieties.

· 4-pack 16oz Drinking Mugs: Research shows people prefer drinking out of glass to plastic, I know I do!  These sturdy handled mugs are perfect for entertaining and serving mocktails, cocktails or simply infused water!

· Mason Jar InfuserThis sturdy BPA-free plastic top fits on any wide mouth mason jar and is equipped with a hanging basket which you can fill with your favorite herbs, fruits, etc to add a hint of flavor to water, tea or spirits.

· Sip & Straw Lids: Fitting perfectly atop any Wide Mouth or Regular Mouth Ball Jar, these easy sip lids allow you to enjoy every last drop of your beverage. Use along or with the included reusable green striped straw for convenience on the go. Ball Mason Jar giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Check back in on Monday to find out if you won! And don’t forget to tune in for Can It Forward Day on Saturday!

Weekend Recap… Kind of

I’m baaack!! I know I disappeared for awhile, but with the whole I got a new job thing I really needed some time off. I start my new job today, so I’m ready to jump back into blogging, DIYing, working out and creating a general day to day routine to go with it.  Over the weekend Jesse and I started on a few projects and did a lot of brainstorming for even more projects. Exciting things are coming to the blog, things like:

  • A giveaway
  • Refinishing the kitchen chairs
  • Redoing the guest bathroom (we found some unfortunate issues with the floors and possible water damage)
  • Painting the kitchen cabinets
  • Painting our stair treads
  • Finally finishing our first table to sell
  • And much, much more!!! (Said in a game show announcer voice)

I’m seriously so excited for everything that is happening! While I was gone I was busy having a blast though. I went to a wedding for one of my very close college friends. Jenny's wedding SHBS

I chopped off all my hair, twice. New haircut

Jesse went out of town for two weeks, and came home. Jesse comes home!

I also signed up for The Color Run, which is coming to Richmond in September. I haven’t worked out in weeks and my new job comes with a gym membership so I’m going to be hitting the treadmill and getting ready to run! You can find out if the run is coming near you by checking their website, and I will have a code for $5 off posted later this week! 580613_574873962566653_444842236_n (2)

Sorry today’s post is a short hodge podge, but good things are coming! Woohoo!

Out in the Open

Hello friends! Sorry to skip the Weekend Recap on Monday! We didn’t do much, just down time with friends and each other, which is always nice just not very exciting. ;) Things have been a bit hectic around here lately because…. I GOT A NEW JOB! This may not seem super exciting, but if you know me then you know how bad I’ve been wanting this! I started the hunt almost a year ago and I’ve been on several interviews in the past 6 months, but nothing panned out. Getting a “no” almost every week was one the sources for my “blues” back in May. It’s so disheartening to sit at a job everyday and feel pointless, which is where I was this Spring. I couldn’t move up, there was no opportunity for raises or more responsibility, and my boss and I didn’t get along. It sucked. Well, it didn’t all suck, I’ve made a TON of great friends at this job over the years (most of them left before me haha) and it has been a lot of fun. I’ve also learned a lot about myself, about the web and about responsibility. And if it wasn’t for this job I never would have started blogging! It’s just time to move on. funny picture

The week before Haven I had a phone interview for the new job and they called me back right before I left for the conference to schedule an in-person interview for Monday. I got off the plane from Haven late Sunday afternoon, had dinner, prepped for my interview and crashed into the bed. The next morning I felt like a zombie, so I loaded up on caffeine and headed to the interview. On the way there I hit traffic (naturally) and a big box truck knocked down some phone lines right in front of my car. By this point I was late and freaking out. I finally made it to the interview, did my best and crossed my fingers when it was all over. This Monday, I got the call that they wanted to speak to my current boss for one last reference, awkward. So I had to tell him I’d been looking and anxiously hope that the phone call went well. I guess it did, because officially was offered and accepted the job yesterday! I’m now fulfilling my last two weeks at my current job, and will start the new one on the 11th!

I’m so excited for this new adventure and all the opportunities that come with it! This new job does have a longer commute and there wont be downtime to do things like read blogs, write posts, and update social media, so it will definitely be an adjustment as far as the blog goes. If things get quiet, you’ll know why! I’m hoping this new job will force me to be more organized and actually make a real schedule here. I’m hoping to finally write posts a week or two in advance and be better about scheduling social media posts. I also plan on setting aside a few evenings a week for reading blogs and commenting, just like you make time for coffee with friends! Bear with me over the next few weeks! I do have big plans for projects and things as far as the blog is concerned, it just may take awhile to get there!

Thanks for all your support! And as always, thanks so much for reading! :)

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