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Lots of Reads

February 16, 2017   //  Posted in: HGTV + DIY Network Projects   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment
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For awhile now I’ve been meaning to assemble a list of links so you can check out the articles I’ve been writing for other publications. A few thousand new visitors still find their way to this blog every day, to which I say “hey dudes, I write a lot over on DIY Network which is why there are fewer and fewer posts here.” I’m still all kinds of busy in the blogosphere, I promise.

Busy as I was, I took a few months hiatus from writing late last year to regroup, focus on family and the holidays, and to give myself a chance to get excited about writing again. It worked. I’m rested and rejuvenated and was ready to dive back in right after New Years. Here are a handful of articles and galleries that you can check out:

For when you’re trying to keep the kids entertained:

How to host a painting party for a group of kids. This was lots of fun, and yes we actually hosted the party as a way to validate the concept and entertain our troops. We’re totally planning another shindig.

Kid-friendly stamps made using cut branches and things like brad nails and push pins.

Hosting an indoor movie night. (Daring varieties of popcorn, big screens, comfy seating.)

Easy appetizers (5 ingredients or less!). This was originally a football inspired post, but easy snacks are a must every weekend if you’re an entertaining household.

For when you’ve caught the spring cleaning bug:

If your tool area/shed/garage is a mess, I think you’ll find this post on garage organization pretty handy.

How to clean a fabric headboard. Because be honest – when there are 5,000 things that need to be cleaned in your home, the headboard is probably not high on your list. This is a cold + flu season must-read!

The best knife rack I ever made for $0 using a chunk of scrap 1×3, plus a lazy refrigerator and other ideas bundled as organizational tips for the kitchen.

Rainbow knifes in a DIY knife rack using a piece of scrap wood.

How to clean your coffee maker. Our Keurig was so gross.

Natural ways to keep pests out of your home.

Get those rolls of gift wrap, and stack of gift bags stored away. (One of two photo galleries I prepared for HGTV.)

For those eager to get your garden started:

Herbs, herbs, herbs. (I wore myself out on pesto this year, we just finished our last freezer baggie of it last week. I am officially ready to pause until we can make it fresh again mid-summer.)

Stone garden makers. Ours have held up great, BTW.

For those interested in remodeling and decorating:

How you too can have The Smartest Door On the Block.

What you actually need to consider if you want a gas fireplace. (I overviewed our experience upgrading to one right here, for related reads.)

I can’t even tell you how many frames I’ve made myself in the last few years. Here’s how you can make your own rustic picture frame.

Decorating using postcards (namely, using the awesome WPA-inspired National Park postcard series).

WPA-inspired postcards layered under glass as desktop decor.

10 uses for icicle lights after the holiday season! (Another HGTV gallery!)

When the weather is lame… yarn bomb all of the things.

For your kitchen makeover, when to hire out, and when to consider DIY.

Where to shop for table legs! A seriously good round-up that looks beyond some of the ordinary go-to shops.

And a few other posts that I think you’d like, and might want to pin/bookmark:

How to create a baby photo series. Several of you have asked me directly if I’m doing a photo series with Sam. I may not be monitoring the milestones as closely this time around, but have been diligent enough so far to snap our weekly photos! He was born on a Sunday, so I aim for every Sunday. Below are a few… August, October, January, February. The similar series I created for his sister was my most worthwhile effort of all time. (I even made it into a hand-bound book.)

How to make your own baby photo series.

YES, you can make your own coffee creamer. Go wild.

BIG GAME BINGO. Seriously, a good, free game of Bingo can turn any non-football fan into an enthusiast. Marketed to appeal during “the big game” but honestly, good for every single football game you’ll watch all season.

A DIY Swedish Torch. Chainsaw required, but man, does that make campfires easy.

You’re Getting Very, Very Sleepy.

January 09, 2017   //  Posted in: Bedrooms, DIY, For the Kids   //  By: Emily   //  one response
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Much to my own surprise, I’ve done very little in the way of making my kid’s bedrooms photo-worthy, despite purchasing pretty nice furnishings and pinning inspiration images to my heart’s maternal desire.

Wallpapering the kids’ rooms is still a project on the table, but for now they are white-walled (with some framed art, cool lighting [including vintage treasures], plenty of toys, giant chalkboards). I had the best intentions of making Hattie’s nursery “the homiest” when she arrived home 3 years ago, when we knew whether to buy up stereotypical pink or blue accents. I vied for cushy area rugs and adorable handmade decor, whatever it took to amateurishly mimic a magazine-ready environment in which I could relax and rock and nurse and snuggle and blog happily while she napped. But then life hit, and she screamed a *lot* which was neither relaxing nor creativity-inducing, and my design desires were squashed/muted/forgotten about as I worked my hardest to survive the baby era. To this, I recommend you do all of the baby prep before the baby arrives! There was never even a mobile over her sweet crib! Poor kid, I’m making up for it now with loads of books and all of the Doc McStuffins paraphernalia I can find.

That’s why this little mobile came to be.

A colorful handmade beaded mobile for the baby's nursery.

I always meant to make a mobile for Hattie, and I had a second chance at making the room awesome when Sam arrived. The little man is ~6 months and is having a hell of a time adjusting to this bedtime thing, which is the other reason I made the mobile. We’ve pulled out all the stops including the white noise turtle, extra light jammies, extra warm sleep sack, etc., I won’t bore you with the trials surrounding the nocturnal baby, I’ll just show you this, which is maybe just distracting and colorful and gratifying enough to make him think happy and sleepy thoughts:

A colorful handmade beaded mobile for the baby's nursery.

Here’s what I used:

  • Needle + thread
  • Felted wool balls (~$6 for a bag of assorted sizes at our local big box craft shop)
  • Wooden beads (mostly natural wood, but because I’m resourceful I also snagged some painted beads, leftover from when I made a children’s abacus)
  • A long piece of white string (I had an excess of white candle wick rope, which is strong and heavier weight than embroidery thread; that’s an affiliate link but the only one in this post)
  • A 20″ piece of thin wood (what you see there isn’t a dowel, but a piece of oak spline leftover from when we installed our floors)
  • Drill with 1/16″ bit
  • Measuring tape
  • Ceiling hook

Assembly is a pinch: knot the thread, and string a strand of beads and balls over the needle. Assemble each colorful length through holes predrilled 2″ apart through the wooden crosspiece, and attach another felt ball to the top. Knot the string in place, and enjoy it dangling and spinning with the slightest tap.

A colorful handmade beaded mobile for the baby's nursery.

Ours hangs a safe distance above the mattress, and the white string that hoists it up to a hook on the ceiling can be shortened as the kid grows and grows.

After the crib is gone, it’ll make for a nice wall decoration. (Side note: Sheets are from Charley Harper for Land of Nodobsessed!)

A colorful handmade beaded mobile for the baby's nursery.

Sleepy time. Stay tuned for success rating.

Great Wall of Fire

January 06, 2017   //  Posted in: Living Room   //  By: Emily   //  5 responses
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We finished 2016 off right with the installation of a gas fireplace, and celebrated by blazing our great wall of fire on max heat right into the New Year; considering how much time we actually spend in our living room playing and working from home, I feel pretty foolish for not having had this installed 3 years ago. A functional fireplace is something that we’ve been desiring every winter, but we spent a lot of time overthinking whether or not we would repair the chimney so that it could be wood burning, or make the conversion and go with a gas insert.

I grew up in a home with a wood burning fireplace, and my parents still use it all of the time, but while I’m trying to simplify my life and lessen the chore load, dealing with ashes seems like an unnecessary pain in the ass. Plus, the idea of a live fire near young kids is terrifying, so the cost and benefits of upgrading to the gas insert that could flip on and off with the push of a childproof button was fairly worthwhile for us. I also considered that the wood burning fireplace is a nice option in cool weather, but during cold weather (freezing and sub-zero, a.k.a. December – March) open wood burning fireplaces are less efficient, like an open window letting the warm air out and cold air in. We want to make this little house as efficient as humanly possible, so gas won fair and square, and we can use it every day of the winter without question. It’s here! It’s here!

A new Heat & Glo gas fireplace insert from Heat & Glo with very realistic looking embers and flames.

After 8 years of owning homes with non-functioning fireplaces, it was pretty amazing to see the installers light our new insert for the first time. I didn’t realize exactly how much warmth and life would be brought to that end of the living room, and how quickly I couldn’t imagine the living room without it.

A few years ago I removed the brass encasement that surrounded the old wood burning fireplace and that made a big difference visually (it’s super easy to do, and if you’re living with an ugly fireplace surround I suggest you relieve yourself of it pronto). I staged the empty cavernous fireplace with some pieces of cut white birch sourced from our own yard, and left it as-is in a pile on the iron grate to collect dust for a few more years. It was fine enough but paled in comparison to the movement and warmth of the flames within the gas insert.

Goodbye, gold fireplace covering.

There were lots of different models and finishes at Fireplace Fashions, the fireplace store we were referred to in Rochester, NY. We went into the purchasing process not having done any research or planning on the options available, knowing only that we wanted a few things – matte gray or black, and as with a face as clean-lined as possible.

The discovery process presented lots of options that were clean-lined for sure, designs that were considered modern and contemporary but were still not the right fit for our home (read: rainbow LEDs and flames shooting from a nest of crushed glass). We landed happily upon a product by Heat & Glo that included logs and embers that looked incredibly authentic compared to most of the options we perused in the showroom (if you’re shopping, I’m talking about the Escape Gas Firebrick Insert). Had I taken a moment to do more research, I’d have seen that there was a $100 coupon available on the manufacturer’s website; be aware, people!

A new gas fireplace insert from Heat & Glo with very realistic looking embers and flames.

The heat put off by the fireplace is simply awesome, whether or not the fan is on. We reworked our heating zones a few years ago and actually now find that we can keep the thermostats much cooler, and instead enjoy the warmth of the fireplace throughout the adjacent living and dining rooms.

A work from home setup with a warm gas fireplace.

If you’re shopping around, check back soon. I’m preparing a guide for DIY Network on how to shop for and select a gas fireplace, so I’ll be sure to link to it here when it’s live.

A new Heat & Glo gas fireplace insert from Heat & Glo with very realistic looking embers and flames.