September Recap

The past few months have been crazy busy for Jesse and I, so I took an unannounced step-back from blogging. Basically, I cut WAY back on posting and sometimes skipped a week or so all together. And it was nice, but I missed the projects and the crafting and the therapy of sitting down with a glass of wine and typing out a post. Now that I’m settling in to a new routine and the holidays are approaching my crafting and project mojo is back. September was a little taste of me getting back into the groove, but I’m really excited for what October has in store. I’ve got some Halloween projects up my sleeve, not to mention getting back to the bathroom, and a few other things around the house. But before I get too ahead of myself, let’s take a look at what I managed to accomplish in September.

The folks at HomeRight were so kind and sent me a paint sprayer to help with projects around the house. I’ve already used it on our kitchen chairs, and I have plans to use it on some cabinet doors and our pantry shelves in the very near future! HomeRight Finish Max

When I’m feeling under the weather Jesse usually cooks for me, ok he usually cooks for me all the time, but I get to request favorites when I’m sick. One of my absolute favorites is his French-style Ragu. It’s full of vegetables and sausage and just hits the spot when I feel gross. Ragu recipe

This month I was also nominated by Kelly of Corner of Main to participate in the Tour Through Blogland. If you’re new to the blog that post would be an excellent place to get a feel for me, my house, my style and the blog itself. View More: http://marvelousthingsphoto.pass.us/ashleyandjesse

September of course means the start of fall, so I pulled out my fall decorations and put together a few vignettes. I usually replace my fall decor with Halloween stuff in October and then pull the fall stuff back out again in November. autumn mantle 2014

It took a few weeks after starting on my dining room chairs, using my HomeRight Finish Max sprayer, before I actually finished them and set them up for pictures. I took a pretty large step out of my comfort zone and color-blocked the legs of the chairs, but I’m so glad I did! I love the fresh look and the way they compliment my spring green walls. Dining room chairs - finished

I also did a little Throwback Thursday (#tbt) and reposted a newer and improved recipe for my Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip cookies. These cookies and so dang good and have a very cakey texture, almost like a muffin top/cookie hybrid. pumpkin spice chocolate chip cookies

September was all about getting my groove back, and I’m ready to kick October’s butt! In addition to getting stuff done around the house and on the blog, I’m also going to a fun blogger event hosted by my pal Cassie and her shop, Sweet Clover, this Saturday. Can’t wait!

How was your September? Did you recharge from the summer? I don’t know what it is about fall, but it really does bring a fresh perspective to things!

Pumpkin Spice Chocolate Chip Cookies

The people have spoken! After I posted a picture of the pumpkin spice cookies I made over the weekend a lot of you started asking for a recipe. I thought I had posted one, but it was back in my early blogger days and I just gave a link to another site. Well, I don’t quite follow that recipe any more, so I do owe you a new and improved recipe! With new and improved pictures!pumpkin spice cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. milk (I used Almond milk)
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground gingerpumpkin cookies

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, eggs, oil, milk, vanilla and sugar until it’s all blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until blended. Then bake for about 15 minutes, use the toothpick trick to tell you when they are done. They will be a little thinner than cookies, but not as thin as cake mix. pumpkin spice chocolate chip cookies

These cookies have a very cake-like texture, almost like a combo of cookies and muffin tops. I know I shouldn’t have cookies for breakfast, but since they are kind of like muffin tops then they count right? pumpkin spice cookie recipe

I hope you guys give these a try! They are super easy to whip up in about 30 minutes and taste just like fall! Happy baking!

Color Blocked Dining Room Chairs

If there was a prize for being the slowest project finisher in the Universe, I would win it. Hands down. I get 80% done and then things just hold me up from putting the finishing touches on things. This chair project has been no exception, but it’s finally done! And I’m in love. Dining room chairs - finishedI was actually pretty nervous about color blocking the legs because I’m not one to really take risks with color, but after I painted the chairs all white I knew that I had to do something or it would look bland whenever we got around to painting the kitchen cabinets. And man, stepping out of my comfort zone feels pretty good! refinished kitchen chairsThe legs are like the perfect Robin’s Egg blue, I wish I could remember the name of the paint but I threw the can away last weekend. *bad blogger* All I remember is that the color is by Olympic, but we had it color-matched with Behr paint. I usually use Olympic paint, but on that particular day the paint guy at Lowe’s was being extremely rude and treating me like I was a dumb @$$, so I went to Home Depot instead. I’ve had issues with that guy at Lowe’s before, so now I just go to Home Depot to avoid him. I’m really mature like that.

Anyway, back to drooling over the chairs…color blocked kitchen chairsI used my HomeRight Finish Max sprayer to paint the bottoms of the chairs too. I slipped trash bags over the tops and seats to keep those white and taped everything up with some Frog Tape. I got the Frog Tape in my swag bag at Haven and now I’m hooked! I’ve never used a painter’s tape that good! No lie. And the best part is, no blue paint got on the white parts of the chairs! pop of color - chairsI also found these cool chair pads for the bottoms so they don’t scratch up the floors any more. We tried using the little round felt pads, but they never worked since the legs are angled. These are rounded so they are all smooth on the floor, and they slide super easily.new chair padsThe best part of having these chairs done is we can sit at the table again! Nothing demotivates me more in the morning than eating my breakfast and drinking my coffee on the couch before work. I would just sit there and not want to get up. Now I can get a few quick blog things done on the computer while I eat my cereal and then head out the door because no one wants to sit on a wooden chair all day. Or maybe that’s just my weird logic…kitchen chairs refinishedAnd in case you couldn’t tell, I’ve been experimenting with my new 50mm lens that Jesse bought me a few weeks ago. It’s super fun, but I’m still getting the hang of it. dried hydrangeasNow it’s back to work in the bathroom! We started busting up the tile yesterday and as soon as that’s done we’ll be ripping out the chair rail, painting the cabinets, laying the new tile and replacing the toilet. Woohoo!

Fall Decorating in 2014

Guys. Autumn has finally come to Virginia! It was in the mid-60′s over the weekend and I actually needed a jacket at night! I used to be so sad when summer ended, but I find myself loving it more and more each year. Maybe it has to do with getting older, who knows. To celebrate the cooler weather Jesse and I went to a college football game on Saturday night (a perk from my new job!) and I made a big batch of my famous (at least in this house) Chorizo chili on Sunday. First chili of the season

Of course I also started decorating the house for fall. I hit up JoAnn for a few extra pieces, but I mostly worked with what I had this year. (Which has become quite the collection over the years.) My favorite spot to decorate for each season is our mantle and I love decorating it even more after I painted it white. Something about the white and molding just makes it look so much nicer. autumn mantle 2014

I’ve been on the hunt for a mirror to hang over the mantle for awhile but still haven’t found the “one.” But I really wanted a mirror up there for my fall mantle-scape, so I stole this one from the downstairs hall (which led to a game of musical art to fill in the blank spot on the wall). I really love the silver finish mixed with the rich fall colors in the other decor. I think it really classes it up. I also shopped the house, and my fall decor storage bin, for the books and other accessories. The only new thing on the mantle are the hay stalks in the vase, which were $10 at JoAnn. fall mantle 2014

Next to the TV is my favorite fall decoration, the owl that I bought at Home Goods a few years ago. He’s just so cute! The little pumpkin is from the Dollar Tree and the vase is full of faux leaves and hay stalks that I bought for my fall tablescapes last year. Fall decorations 2014

I went very simple with the accessories on the sofa table and just added my other owl statue and another little Dollar Tree pumpkin. fall vignette

I have a few other ideas for around the house up my sleeves, but I’m having a hard time finding all the supplies I need. Does any one else ever have that problem? You have an awesome idea and then can’t find the supplies to make it happen?

I always feel so inspired and creative when the cooler weather kicks in. First I decorate for fall, then Halloween, then back to fall, then CHRISTMAS!! And we also have a ton of real house/DIY projects happening in that time frame too. Again, so inspired and so excited!

Do you guys have any fun projects or crafts in the works? Has fall hit where you are yet? Do you like chilly weather or hot weather better?

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)