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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Laura Lately: Versatile Blogger Nomination

Welp, it's that time of the month again! It's time for another Laura Lately where I share about what is going on in my life and also where I want to hear about what's going on in yours.

But this month, It's going to be a little different.

My blogger friend Emily over at Table and Hearth, nominated me for the Versatile Blogger Award.  

Not sure where this Versatile Blogger "Award" idea came from, but it seems to me that it's a great way to get to know bloggers better and discover new blogs too! 

Here are the rules for acceptance and participation. 
  •  Thank the person who gave you this award. 
  •  Include a link to their blog. 
  •  Select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. 
  •  Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.
  •  Tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.

I want this to be a fun little activity in which you all can get to know me a little better and I can give some great blogs some much deserved props.  The blogs I have listed below are either ones I have been following for a long time or new blogs that I have more recently discovered - either way they are all sources of inspiration to me.  These ladies have also become a source of encouragement to me either through their blogs or on a personal level - having connected with several of them about collaborating and feedback about blog stuff! So click around on these ladies' blogs! They are fantastic, inspiring, encouraging, talented, insightful, and downright beautiful people with beautiful blogs.

So do I want to give some blogging friends some plugs? YES!   
Do I want to share a little about me with all of you?! YES!

Hi! I'm Emily, welcome!

Emily @ Table and Hearth

 Thank you sweet Emily for inviting me to participate! Emily writes a blog called Table and Hearth.  She is a thrifter, decorator, crafter, and cooker!.. And Emily and I? Well we share a love for wide open spaces and farmhouse living.  You should check out her blog for awesome ideas and inspiration! 

My Nominations

Elizabeth @ Oak + Oats
Robyn @ Robyn's Nest
Kendra @ Joy in our Home
 Clarissa @ Munchkins & Moms
Katie @ Bower Power
Sherri & Jon @ Young House Love

And here's a little bit about who I am...

7 Things About Laura

1. I'm a leap year baby!
I was born February 29th! And the most common question I get is, "So when do you celebrate your birthday?"  And my answer has evolved a bit, but basically, I say either day! February 28th or March 1st.  I think it can be argued either way but the way I look at it is... If I don't get 1 day to celebrate my birthday... why not just celebrate it on both days! That way, if anyone ever says "happy birthday" on the 28th or the 1st, then they won't be wrong!  And plus, who am I to turn down more birthday wishes... February 29th or not! :-)
On my actual birthday being held by my Grandma Mary Lou

2. I'm an incognito farm girl. 
When you think of farm girl, you probably think of boots, jeans, belt buckles, hats, and trucks.  I'm a little more incognito than that with my polka dots, flats, scarves, headbands, and pearls.    So you may not know it, but I'm a girl who knows how to drive a tractor, clean out a barn, and take care of animals.  I pray for the rain, I worry about the frost, I count down the time until the county fair.  I appreciate the business of the farmers - the everyday-backbreaking-burden they bare to get food to your table - because I see it.  I may not do it.  But it's in my heart.  So I may not wear the boots or the jeans or the dirt but the farm girl is in me.

Me at a college barn party.  I may not always dress like a farm girl... but that doesn't mean I don't know how!

3. I'm an oncology nurse.
Whenever I tell people that I take care of cancer patients, I usually hear the same reply...."Oh wow, I don't know how you do it.  That must be so hard."  And I usually reply with.  "Yeah, it can be hard.  But I work with some amazing people."  It's so true.  My colleagues hold me up when I don't think I can do any more. We give to each other when there's nothing more to give.  It is a hard job.  I won't deny it.  We see the worst, and rarely get to see the best.... except for in each other.  So I'm an oncology nurse, but more importantly, I belong to a community of fantastic people that have changed me forever. 

4. I'm an Extroverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judgment (ESFJ -Myers Briggs) Person.  
Meaning, I am highly social, tradition-loving, peacemaking, people-pleasing, sympathetic, and family-oriented.  But I'm often overly sensitive and react strongly to criticism.  I am a person that loves to give praises but also a person who needs them in return.  I love people and I love caring for them.  I think more and more I am realizing my favorite way to care for others - more than meeting their physical needs - is by meeting their relational needs.  I love a good party, especially one with a theme! I love celebrating people and their achievements.  So if you are looking to plan a party.. count me in! And let me help plan!

5.  I'm a Jesus Follower.  
"I've never read the Bible before!"  - That's how it started.  And then, I was invited to read it.  We read through Genesis, then John, then Psalms, and on...  And I learned that Jesus knows me and that I could know Him.  Like a daughter knows a father, like a friend knows another friend.  I finally knew Him, and understood what true sacrifice, love, and grace means.  And then I became His.  And I was changed forever.  Never perfect, but certainly changed and being changed.

6. I'm an old person person.
I love old people.  Some people are baby people.  Me?  I'm an old person person. And the grumpier, the better.  Its such a challenge to win them over and see them sweeten, even if it is by the tinniest bit.  My first job (outside the family business) was working in a nursing home as a nurse's aid.  And I just loved my residents.  I have no idea where this love for old people came from but it was enough to motivate me away from choosing labor and delivery as my area of interest in nursing (which I had seriously considered until I realized I would miss my old people!)  Maybe my love for old people is also related to my love for cardigans and pearls.... and dressing up like old people. :-) Remember this video?
Michael and I, Halloween 2009. "Purdue Grandma & Grandpa"

7. I'm a dreamer.  
If this house is not a prime example of that, I don't know what is.  Nothing excites me more than re-imagining a space.  After seeing our home for the first time, I was consumed by it.  I would think through every possibility of allowing it to reach its full potential and how we could make it into everything we wanted in a home.  We are just beginning in that journey but we have definitely began to make strides.  Each step of the way, dreaming about the next step.  Good thing I have myself a realist of a husband who brings me back down to earth and helps me get things done.  ;-) 

So that's me ya'll! 

I'd love to hear from you!  Can you relate?  Are you a dreamer or a realist?  Farm Girl or City Slicker?  Do you know your Myers Briggs personality?  Let me hear who you are....

Don't miss a beat.  
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Friday, July 18, 2014

Painting the Living Room

Slowly but surely I am decorating my way around our newly renovated 1st floor.

I started in the Kitchen.

Then I moved to the dining room. There's a couple of things yet to do in there but plans are on on hold until I receive the rug that I ordered in MAY! It was back ordered at the time I ordered it.  
Benjamin Moore Colors: Palladian Blue (Walls), Lehigh green (Table)
So then we turned our attention to the family room. We had paint sample colors up on the wall for months and we finally decided on a color.  Grant Beige by Benjamin Moore. Let's check out the complete before and after shall we?  Throwin' us all the way back to the very beginning when we bought our home in May of 2013.
Then there is this picture (which if you follow me on instagram you may have seen it). These two pictures were taken a year apart from each other, almost to the day.  It's still hard for me to believe, and I lived it!

The biggest reason it took us forever to paint our living room?  Choosing a color. (or, I guess, it could also be because we tore down all the drywall, redid the floors, replaced windows etc..)

Guys, choosing paint colors is so hard! I mean you literally have every option under the sun at your disposal....and then some.  With sneaky little undertones lurking, ready to jump out at you and say "Boo! I'm more pink than you thought!" or "Tada! I'm a snazzy shade of puke green, and you thought I was a soothing earthy olive."  Jerks.  Paint colors are jerks.

I mean, I like surprises but not ones that cost $40+ dollars a gallon and 5+ hours of work just to find out you have to do it all over again.  So what's a nurse and nerd to do?

Well there are a million tutorial on how to choose the perfect paint colors (here is one of my favorites).  And honestly I don't have a fool-proof process (not sure there is one) but I can tell you what I do and maybe it will help you.

1. Consider your room: What is the feel you want the room to have?  Light and airy?  Fresh and clean? Cozy? Earthy? Formal? Bold? Subtle? There are definitely moods that certain colors evoke so starting here can give you a direction of shades and color families.  For this room?  I wanted inviting and causal.  On the kitchen/dining room side, there are a lot of cool colors going on.  So I thought I would warm things up with a light sandy beige.

2.  Search your options: Once you have an idea of the color family you want, google it.  A good starting point is to google a favorite paint brand, for instance: "Best Valspar Blues" -Or- "Favorite Benjamin Moore Yellows" -Or- "Popular Sherman Williams Greys" etc.. I mean, why not use other people's experiences with paint color to your advantage?  There are lots popular colors and they are popular for a reason.  Why would you not want to take advantage of the colors that have been picked out from the huge crop of colors as some of the best?

 Here are all the shades of beige I considered. Putting them side by side like this helped me compare intensity, and tone. For example, it was pretty easy to eliminate Lenox tan right off the bat.

Then look for as many images using that paint color as possible on google images and/or pinterest (if it's a popular color, this should be easy, if not, you might have very limited pictures to sort through).  Pinning these images helps keep color choices in one neat and tidy place and makes it easy to reference back to.  Now pictures can only help to a certain point, but at least you can see how they look in a real room.  Plus, many times bloggers will explain more about what the color looks like in the room, which is helpful when you are trying to avoid certain undertones.  That being said I should probably tell you about Grant Beige.  There are definitely green and golden undertones that I was not anticipating. Look at how much it changes as you go from left to right.

3. Buy Samples and Consider Lighting:  Once you have a couple different options, pick your top favorites and buy sample pots of the paint.  We tested the Grant Beige and Shaker Beige and found that the Shaker beige had way too much red in it. 

Apply a square to each wall of the room (or paint pieces of cardboard) to see how the lighting changes the look of the paint.  It will look different at different times of the day.  And at different angles.  And with the lights on.  And with the lights off.  And depending what furniture and rugs you have in the room.  And no matter what you do.  Paint colors are jerks.  

But at least by applying it to the wall you can have a heads up in seeing that the largest wall in the room looks all wrong.  Maybe that beautiful beige color you picked out had so much red in it (like we found out with Shaker Beige) that it would make Santa Claus himself would say "ho ho no."

4. Paint and live with it.  As you are painting, don't jump to conclusions about how much you love or hate the color.
Look at those awesome helpers!
It takes time to see the full depth of your relationship with your wall color.  Of course sometimes it takes longer than others, but give it time.  Because maybe the sandy beige you were going for is blatantly golden looking for the half hour that the sun is setting and then the gold is gone and you are back to soft and sandy .  So is that half hour really worth repainting your room? - with no guarantee that the next color won't have some other problem?  Nope! At least not for me!

Additionally, as my mom wisely told me.  No one ever looks at your paint as closely as you do, especially when you just painted it.  So step back.  Live with it. And see how you feel! If it bothers you consistently for at least a month, it is probably safe to go ahead and make a change.  How am I feeling a month later about Grant Beige?  I like it! It reminds me of coffee with creamer... and I love me some coffee with creamer!  There are certain periods throughout the day that it catches my eye and I think hmm... not what I was going for (gold/a bit too green)... but for now, it certainly does not bother me enough to make me want to change it. 

So that has been my strategy for choosing paint colors thus's definitely a learning process.

And now that we have the living room painted, we can move on to other orders of business. 

We moved some dressers to fill the space around the fireplace and add some storage.  You may remember that we will someday be adding some built-in bookshelves.  But for now, these guys will do the job. They are primed right now... so I'm not sure what color I will paint them.  Thoughts?  I am kinda digging the white.  I also think they would look good with bin pulls but I also don't mind their current hardware.
We added some art and accessories - basically just things we had on hand for now.  Some of the artwork are just place holders (like that water color that I have turned the wrong way which is driving Michael crazy!! ;-)

But I am really liking how this sailboat art turned out.  It is a wallpaper sample that I stuck in a frame we found in the attic.  I am planning to paint the mat white.

I have other artwork that I plan to hang up too.  Like this pretty water color painted by my Great Great Aunt -she also painted the little apple painting a couple pictures up.

I also sewed some pillow covers for my old pillows. With zippers! I'm so proud of myself!

We hung the TV above the fireplace.  I tried my darnedest to not have to mount the TV above the fireplace but I am really happy now with how it has brought back some much needed symmetry to this wall. 

So things are coming along in the living room.  I still need to order the fabric for the curtains - just some simple white and airy panels.  I am also considering ideas for the coffee table (paint it? replace it? upholster the top?).  We need some lamps, side tables, a slimmer desk behind the love seat, and a couple storage ottomans for extra seating and storage.  So we'll see! And as always, I'll keep you posted!

Do you have any tricks for picking out paint colors?  I'd love to hear about them!

Don't miss a beat.  
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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Weather-Proofing the Adirondacks

So about those Adirondack chairs I talked about WEEKS ago!

Ta Da!

For those of you who maybe missed it.  About a month ago I posted about how we found these chairs in my mother-in-law's garage.

She didn't want them. 
We did. 

But they needed some fixing...
The finish was pretty weathered and not at all weather-resistant. So the solutions I came up with were: stain them, paint them red, or paint them yellow.  I couldn't decide so I asked for your vote! 

The overwhelming majority of you said "YELLOW! We want yellow!"

Then a good solid number of you said "stain 'em!"

And then just a few of you said "red."

And I said "ok, yellow it is!"

... until it wasn't.

You see, when we went in to start looking at yellow colors for the chairs, we were quickly discouraged from painting our chairs both red or yellow...apparently those are the two hardest colors to keep vibrant.  (And that was basically the main purpose behind painting them - bold and vibrant).

But what about all those vibrantly painted Adirondack chairs you see around?  Well they are either some type of plastic/pvc material, or they are not kept out in the sun - where ours will be. 

So I guess, by default, we were going to stain them!

We are hyper-practical people and if I am going to spend the time to refinish these chairs, I want to be happy about how long my hard work lasts!  Durability and longevity - it matters people.

While I was at our favorite paint store, I discussed options for staining the chairs.  And as much as I value their advice, I also value my time.  So when he told me to use 3 coats of gel stain and at least two coats of polyurethane on them... I said no thanks! If you figure that out, between the two chairs, that is ten coats!!! Ain't no way.  There had to be a better option. 

So I started thinking.. These chairs are wood.  Decks are made out of wood.  People stain decks.  Maybe I could stain these with a deck stain that has a built in sealant. 

And that's the direction I went.  I found on Consumer Reports** (all hail Consumer Reports! we love it!) that Behr** makes an extremely durable semitransparent deck stain.  You can get it in a number of colors... so what color did we decide on?  Chocolate of course! Chocolate ain't never let me down before, I don't expect it to start now.

So getting started, the first thing I had to do was clean the chairs. 

See? Dirty...

We grabbed a bottle of the Behr #63 All-In-One wood cleaner.  The stain directions recommend cleaning the chairs first with this cleaner to get the dirt, mold, etc off of the wood so that it is ready to go to receive the stain. (Note: if your piece already has a finish on it, Behr recommends you clean it first with #64 to strip it down to the wood. Ours was already bare wood so we could skip this step.)

I sprayed the chairs down with water, got some acid resistant gloves on and got to work. This cleaner worked really well.  It foamed up right away and then the dirt just sort of pealed off as I scrubbed it. To get the tighter nooks and crannies of the chair I used my husband's tooth brush. - just don't forget to put it back when you are done so he doesn't' get mad.  Kidding, kidding! Better clean it first before you put it back.  ;-)
Cleaning the chairs was a very satisfying process.  Like peeling off dead skin... are you with me? Maybe you are not one of those people... sorry. #itsthenurseinme

I let them dry overnight.  Check out the difference already!

After they dried, I noticed the wood was a bit fuzzy...
To get rid of the fuzz I sanded them down with a 150 grit sandpaper.  Then I gave them a good sweeping to remove the sanding dust.  Not the most fun part of the project but definitely necessary!

To stain them I used a 2 inch angled brush and covered every area I could reach, especially the part that would touch the ground.  This staining process is different than the last time I stained my dining room table.  You don't coat generously and then wipe off excess stain.  You just paint on thin, even coats.  It's important to coat all sides since that is what is sealing the wood. It was pretty challenging at times to coat every nook and cranny, keep my strokes even and straight (since its semitransparent, you have to be a bit more careful in avoiding seeing brush strokes), and avoid drips.  The directions noted that if you apply too thick of coats your finish is more susceptible to cracking and failure in the sealant - so keep your stain application even and thin. 

Here's a couple of examples of difference between the raw wood and one coat of stain. You can see what I mean about the brush strokes.
Also, See that drip there!? I caught it a bit late and couldn't get it smoothed out with my brush all the way.  So after I let the first coat dry, I just lightly sanded it.  And now you can barely notice there was a huge drip there. 

Oh that reminds me! I also did a quick light sanding between coats - just on the areas that you would touch with your skin - the arms, seat, and backrest.  I'm glad I did because it definitely feels softer than areas I didn't do that.  Are you an overachiever? Then sand the whole thing - be my guest!

Apply the second coat.  You can re-coat as early as 1-2hrs.
After the second coat, the brush strokes are much less noticeable - but still noticeable.  And that is especially true if you aren't careful about your application on your first coat.  There were a couple areas on the underside I got a bit sloppy and the finish is not quite as neat and even as I would like.  But really, if you are looking at the underside of my Adirondack chairs... I'm not sure you should be at my house. Creeper.

Then I let it cure for 72hrs.

And now we can fully enjoy these pretty boys. 
And I know ya'll love some before and after pictures!
Here ya go...

And because I was feeling pretty guilty that I asked for your vote and then didn't go with it - I bought yellow outdoor pillows to make up for it.  I got these cuties from an Etsy shop called SayItWithPillows**. 

 Aren't they just the happiest?

They are made of outdoor fabric, meaning they are water and fade resistant. (Also, in the picture above, notice how well the color of the chairs goes with the color of our door!)

So the rest of the summer, if you are looking for me, I'll be sitting out in front of our blue house, sipping on a yummy drink (with a fun straw, no doubt) and reading a good book!

And look who's coming to join me! 

Fun.  Love him!

**This post does not contain any affiliated links.  Nor did I receive any free products or compensation for writing this post.  Just wanting to share my purchase experiences with my faithful and wonderful readers.  

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