Books I’ve Loved

Recently I’ve been on a mission to start loving to read again. As a child, I could spend hours wrapped up in novels, once in a while even choosing to sit alone at lunch just to read a few more pages. It wasn’t until I became a mother that I REALLY hit the brakes on reading. My mom brain just could not focus on even one more thing. I would often order books with good intentions (I am not a library kind of girl. I love the smell of bookshops and fresh pages!) only to let them sit on a shelf for months, some totally forgotten.

Thankfully our trip to Europe changed that. For the 17 day trek I packed 3 books and several magazine that all came back home completely finished. It felt SO GOOD spending hours with my nose in a book rather than eyes glued to a screen. Instead of taking weeks to finish up a book, I was finally back to polishing them off with speed. My husband and I decided to make it more of a priority in our family to spend less time watching television and more time reading – and to be seen reading by our son who thankfully already has a healthy love of books.

Now our coffee tables are littered with books and magazines that aren’t just for decor, and my soul feels alive again from reading about new ideas and getting fresh motivation. While I still pepper in novels here and there, I’ve spent most of my time the last few years reading for personal development, anything to better myself as a child of God, wife, mom, and friend. Unfortunately, they weren’t all hits. The one I am reading now is dragging on, and with a little under 70 pages to go, I can’t wait to finish. I’ll spare you the details on that one – but it did inspire me to share with you the great ones. Ones that I felt changed me or pushed me in the right direction. The ones I just know I could read again.

Below you’ll find my picks divided into categories with links through to Amazon for ordering. If you’re local, feel free to borrow any of them but just know they may be marked up and highlighted to no end! I love each and every one of the ones on this list and I hope you find one that is helpful and inspiring to you. Feel free to leave me a comment of a book that you think I need in my life. I am always looking for the next best thing! ❤

 

HEALTHY EATING/LIFESTYLE

https://www.amazon.com/Made-Crave-Satisfying-Deepest-Desire/dp/031029326X/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=Made+to+crave&qid=1570560218&sr=8-1

 

HOMEMAKING

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0736963111/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_asin_title_o02_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

 

BECOMING YOUR BEST SELF/MOM

https://www.amazon.com/Uninvited-Living-Loved-When-Lonely/dp/1400205875/ref=asc_df_1400205875/?tag=hyprod-20&linkCode=df0&hvadid=312132072158&hvpos=1o2&hvnetw=g&hvrand=6883181581093699483&hvpone=&hvptwo=&hvqmt=&hvdev=c&hvdvcmdl=&hvlocint=&hvlocphy=9010054&hvtargid=pla-433825286827&psc=1

 

 

3 Tips for Toy Storage

Well hey friends! It sure has been a while since I’ve sat down to share a real post with you. I am so thankful for my new computer and I really hope that it motivates me to blog more often. I am also so thankful that this winter flew by (in retrospect – because let’s be real, January had 83,263 days while we were living it). Now that spring is officially in the air I am finally feeling like getting around to sharing my most requested post: Toy Storage.

I have to be honest, I am no pro. We do not live a minimalist lifestyle by any means, but I am always intent on making sure everything has a place. Having a home for every item not only makes it easier for the boy to find what he’s looking for, but it also makes a huge difference in how quickly we can tidy after play. There are a few solid rules we live by that would work for any family in any home.

1. Reduce, Reduce, Reduce!
(Don’t worry, it’s all downhill from here. Once you conquer this step it will make working out the other details so much easier.) I am sure most of us are aware that our kiddos have more than they could ever need. Studies show that children actually function better with fewer toys. Does your family, like ours, need to dial it down a notch?

Whenever we bring in a new toy, I try to put something to the side to donate or trash. Thin out the toys that don’t get attention, that are above or below your child’s level of play, and keep small clutter at bay by not collecting happy meal toys, party favors, and other odds and ends. You can also help this effort by speaking to family and friends about showing love to your child in other ways (college fund, anyone?). If your child has outgrown a nice item, consider selling it to put towards other needs. This is a win win!

If tossing some of the items seems overwhelming, try boxing up toys that are rarely played with and putting them away for a while. If they are missed, rotate them out with other items to keep play fresh. If not, donate or toss them. I would probably be the one to forget they were in the attic so we haven’t tried this method but it seems like a great idea.

2. Multifunctional Furniture
This idea played a huge part of how I planned our move into this house last year, but even if you’ve been in your home a while, I am sure there are ways to repurpose pieces you already have. For example, we purchased a vintage buffet table for our family room television table. The height worked perfectly under our wall mounted TV, and the drawers and cabinet doors are the perfect place for stashing away race car tracks and trucks. We also added baskets in both sides inside the doors to take the organization up a notch and make access easier for the boy. We also took the same approach in the living room by reusing an old dresser as a TV cabinet.

Both of these pieces of furniture, along with the built-in cabinets in the family room, allow toys to be put away behind closed doors. Instead of having adult furniture and kid furniture, we just have multifunctional pieces. While a lot of currently very popular console tables or bookshelves will have storage space for baskets there is often still a lot of visual clutter. Put the toys away behind closed doors and let your eyes rest!

3. Every Thing in Its Place
From a very young age, the boy has been responsible for helping clean up his own things. The best way to help him do this has been having storage space for everything and putting it back in that exact spot each time. For example, his wooden puzzles and other wood toys go inside one cabinet in the family room. He knows exactly where to find these things when he wants to play with them, and he also knows where to put them away. The never-ending “Mama, where is my…” is asked much less but also easy to answer.

The key to this is organizing everything once by grouping like items, then continually putting things back where they belong. If you are running out of storage space, go back to Step #1. We also try to keep things with small pieces out of the toy box that stays in the boy’s room. Small items are easily “lost” and are hard to find in deep storage boxes. We reserve that space for stuffed animals and dress up toys.

There are a few odds and ends, like baskets of balls, ride on fire trucks, and the food truck (and a basketball goal in his room) that are impossible to hide, but that’s okay. We are a family. A kid obviously lives here too! Not to mention that the dog has bones thrown across every room of the house. Our goal is simply to make it a peaceful environment for everyone, family members and visitors alike. (Peaceful environment = save mom’s sanity!)

I hope that some of these tips are helpful for you. If you have any other fun ways you keep your little ones organized I’d love to hear them in the comments.

Happy weekend!

Easy DIY Floating Fireplace Mantle

I could not believe how easy it all came together. The change to the feeling of the entire room was instant!

Y’all! Finally! I am so excited to tell you that at long last we have a fireplace mantle. With the holidays on the horizon I just could not stand living without one another second. How could I decorate if I couldn’t even hang my stockings? Priorities, people!

For months the process has seemed daunting, but in reality it was so easy that I am actually mad at myself for going so long without tackling it. If a floating mantle is on your to do list, jump on it! Within just a few hours you can totally transform your fireplace. The total cost for our project came in under $50! We are in love with it. What do you think?

Getting Started

The issue that had scared me away for so long was how to attach a mantle to the brick masonry. It turns out we were lucky enough to be able to reuse the two old anchors that someone else had previously drilled into the brick. (I have to wonder what the old fireplace mantle looked like and why someone would ever remove it?) If you’re hanging on drywall or wood, your project will be easier, too!

Once you’ve settled on how you will attach your mantle (Google this if you need help!) you will also need the following:

– Three 1×8 boards
– 2 end cap pieces (leftovers from cutting your 1x8s)
– 1 2×4 support board
– bolts/screws to attach to wall
– Liquid nails
– a nail gun and nails
– clamps
– sand paper
– tools to distress your wood
– stain

It turned out that with my dad’s help, we only needed to purchase new sandpaper, the 1x8s, the 2×4, and the bolts that screwed into the brick anchors. Easy!

With the help of my handy (and often mentioned) painter’s tape, I was able to determine map out what I wanted the mantle to look like and I determined I wanted it to be 8 inches thick and 55 inches long. We cut the 2×4 support piece just shy of the 55 inches and attached it to the wall with 1/4 inch bolts, being sure it was level along the way. At this point we pulled, wiggled, and did all we could to be sure this support piece was sturdy and secure enough to hold the future mantle and decor. I can’t lie, I was so nervous the whole thing would come crashing down but no such horror happened even when my husband was basically hanging from the board.

Once the support board was in place it was time for the fun to begin! My husband had already cut the 3 1×8 boards to 55 inches and trimmed the end cap pieces to fit to form what is basically a box. Once I had sanded down the rough cut edges I was able to to start distressing the boards. Using nails, a flat head screwdriver, and a hammer, I dented, chipped, scratched and banged away at the boards so that they no longer looked new. I also used two different colors of stain to create a more custom look. (I always wear gloves and use a rag when staining. I feel like this gives me more control of the saturation than a brush would.)

We left the boards to dry overnight and started again the next day when my dad arrived with the air compressor and nail gun. This project could be accomplished without the nail gun, but let’s be honest, it made it a whole lot easier. At this point all we had to do was clamp the boards together to form the mantle, being sure that the front of the mantle showed no edges so that once hung, it would look like one solid piece of wood. We used liquid nails for extra security and nailed the “box” together. We took extra care to be sure that when nailing the boards together that all the edges lined up as smoothly as possible.

Once the mantle was fully assembled, I hammered down all the sharp edges of the 1x8s to give it a more rounded appearance and add more distressing, especially on the corners. Then it was time to install! We centered the mantle over the fireplace on top of the support board we had already installed, made sure it was level, and then nailed all along the back of the mantle to attach it to the 2×4. Voila! It was done. I could not believe how easy it all came together. The change to the feeling of the entire room was instant!

The fireplace is so much more impressive with the mantle right? All along it was just lacking in character and getting lost in the room. Now it feels like the star of the show, finally standing out from the built-in shelving, wood beams, and sliding doors.

Also recently I have gotten a lot of new questions about the painted brick on the fireplace. The whitewashed effect was created by using water to thin out leftover white paint from our bathroom and lightly brushing it on, being sure not to saturate any one area. Once I had one coat finished, I stepped back and decided to go over it all again. The whole process did not take long at all, but I didn’t take photographs or videos at the time. Trust me, it is so easy to do! Don’t be scared. I didn’t buy or use anything special, just what I had on hand. I literally did it the first day I had the keys to this house, just jumping right in to get it done. The impact is dramatic as you can see in this photo below…

Can you believe how far we’ve come? Now that we’ve knocked this big item off our to do list, I think I can settle in and enjoy the holidays without thinking of too many other projects that need to get done. I will say though, tackling something I was scared to try has me more confident and curious as to what else we could accomplish!

Don’t forget, you can always check my saved stories on Instagram to see videos of this project if you’re more of a visual learner. Easy. Peezey. Go for it, friend!

Bathroom Refresh: Stenciled Tile Floors

Hey friends! Whew, it’s been a while!

I’ve been easing back into social media after a much needed break. The change of season has me feeling creative again and I think I am finally ready to tackle a few more projects around the house. Before I start on any of my new ideas I just had to take time to share with you our “new” bathroom floors.

I remember touring this house for the very first time and day dreaming about the ways I could spruce it up. The bathrooms had mostly been left out of the real estate listing photos and for good reason. Some aspects of this house were pretty shocking. Even still, I just knew this was the home for us and that the issues (for the most part!) were purely cosmetic. A little paint here, a little paint there, and viola! Home sweet home.

First, let me start with a disclaimer: My floors have only been done for 3 months as I am writing this. I am in no way a professional, nor have I lived on them long enough to know how they will really hold up. That said, I read a few blogs and watched several Instagram stories on the topic and almost everyone (that’s had success!) has used this exact process. Everyone must be on to something, right?

Let’s Talk Supplies!

My stencil was custom ordered in 14″ through Cutting Edge Designs – their Augusta pattern. Many sizes are easily available online but the custom size wasn’t much more in price. Picking out a pattern was the hardest part! I suggest going ahead and ordering two stencils while you’re at it. Save yourself some shipping, especially if you plan to do more than one floor.

Next, through a combo of Amazon shopping and Lowe’s, I was able to collect the other necessary items. You’ll need a few small foam rollers, an artist’s brush, a regular paint brush, and painter’s tape, along with whatever paint tray and liners you’re comfortable using.

The important products I used were:

Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer in white
Rust-Oleum Chalked Ultra Matte Paint in Linen White
Rust-Oleum Chalked Ultra Matte Paint in Country Gray
Minwax Water Based Polycrylic Protective Finish in Clear Matte

Getting Started

The first step is to clean your floors really, really well. I swept, mopped, scrubbed, and vacuumed (and I repeatedly used a hand held vacuum to pick up debris that made it into the room over the course of the project). Next, I used painter’s tape to tape off any areas I was concerned about like baseboards and the toilet and then I got down to business.

Using my foam roller I spread the first layer of the Bull’s Eye Primer over the tile and followed up with a second coat of primer once it was dry. Using a foam roller and a 3″ angle brush (with a short handle!) I put down two coats of the Chalked Ultra Matte Paint in Linen White with at least an hour of dry time between coats. Chalk paint is famous for its quick drying abilities! I was in love with how much brighter this room looked with the new white base coat.

Fun tip: wrap your brushes in saran wrap in between coats to save on washing and clean up time. Simply unwrap and get back down to business when you’re ready for your next coat. (By the way, I really kind of hate the word “coat.”)

Next it was time to stencil. I was so NERVOUS about this part. I had to remind myself that the look I was going for was handmade, concrete tiles and those would not be 100% perfect either. There were guidelines built-in on the stencil to help you line it up properly with your existing tiles/space. I used the foam roller to put down my Country Grey and was thrilled once I saw 3 tiles in a row. A few small pieces of painters tape were helpful for holding the stencil in place. I immediately had a “blob” of grey paint go through the stencil, but I knew I could clean those messes up with an artist’s brush. Don’t sweat it!

I worked my way around the room being sure not to put the stencil down over an area that was still wet (since the stencil is large and overlaps other tiles). The process moved rather quickly. Another quick tip I have for you is to blot the back of the stencil off on a old towel after each tile so that you don’t build up excess paint. This was a HUGE help to me. Don’t skip this part!

I wound up cutting my stencil at the end to fit more easily into the odd areas, especially around the toilet, but it wasn’t anything you can’t manage! If you’re unsure of how it is going, just pick the stencil up. Take a break! Don’t press on if you think you’re making a mess. It’s okay to pause. This is also when I broke out the artist’s brush. I used it to both touch up areas where paint was out of line, as well as to create lines that didn’t go through on the stencil. It takes some patience but the results pay off! The transformation was unbelievable.

Once the floor had really dried well I began the process of putting down the protective poly. I used the same 3 inch angle brush to put this down, being sure not to put it on too thick. I was also sure to go in a different direction with each layer. I settled on three coats of this, following the dry time on the can, but I have heard of others doing up to five. Three has held up fine for us in the last three months. It isn’t a forever fix, anyway. One day we will remodel both bathrooms.

For now I am loving the new look the stenciled floor gives our bathroom. It tied in perfectly with the DIY concrete counters and shiplap backsplash, and has brightened up the room in a wonderful way. I would love to do this process again in our small bathroom and perhaps the laundry room where we had the same beige tiles.

If you have any questions feel free to ask or hop over to my saved Instagram stories to see the videos about process. I hope if stenciling has been on your radar that I can help inspire you to finally get it done!

Fresh Cut Hydrangeas

A tip on how to help your cut hydrangeas bounce back

Boy! It feels great to be back home in our routine after a wonderful (but exhausting) vacation in Wisconsin. I’m a creature of habit and being out of my own home for so long really takes a toll on me mentally and physically. We also had some unexpected travel drama so needless to say I slept nearly 12 hours our first night home and have been taking extra care to have quiet time this last week.

To help us get back into the swing of things we stopped by Trader Joe’s and Costco on the way back from the airport. Of course we stocked up with delicious, healthy food, but what I’m most excited about are the fresh flowers I picked out at Trader Joe’s.

After the long car ride home my beautiful flowers weren’t looking so great and I set out to find out how to help them bounce back. I knew some folks were able to keep hydrangeas looking gorgeous for long periods of time, but what magic did they have up their sleeve?

The best advice (and easiest!) I came across said to submerge the blooms in water for up to 45 minutes. That felt too long for me so I trimmed the stems under water at an angle and went for 15 minutes of soak time. Let me tell you, it worked! Those blooms bounced right back and here we are an entire week later and they’re more beautiful than they were to start with!

Aren’t they gorgeous? They’re exactly the breath of fresh air our family room needed. I’m curious to see how long they’ll last. I’ve never had flowers look BETTER after a week than when I got them. Do you have any green thumb tips to share for keeping cut flowers fresh?

Transformation Tuesday

It’s been a busy week around The Pinewood Cottage playing catch up after a wonderful “staycation” for the 4th of July. I’m just not sure how I feel about middle of the week holidays but I think I’m not a fan.

Yesterday I got to work putting some of the final touches on the guest bathroom and I can’t believe how far it’s come! I will post a full tutorial on how we did the counter (and plank wall!) in a few weeks. For now, let’s just focus on the new shining star… the wood mirror frame!

Once the walls were painted (SW Pale Bloom on the planks and SW Eider White on all others) I knew the old white mirror frame wasn’t going to cut it. The problem were that it was the perfect size, we had two in the house already, and I’m cheap! I wish I had a true before photo showing the mint green walls but let’s take a moment to appreciate how far this tiny room has come.

As you can see above, the white on white mirror left a lot to be desired. I needed to add some life back into the room and tie the vanity area into the wood shelving on the opposite wall. That’s when my thrifty-by-nature creative side came up with a plan.

First, I sent my husband off to Lowe’s to pick up 1×4 planks. We’d measured and his math skills (much better than mine!) determined we’d need 3 planks to cover 2 mirrors. They came in around $7 a piece so this entire project was completed for around $21. That’s a winner in my book.

Next I measured twice and broke out the trusty old saw to start my cuts. Pre staining I laid the wood out to be sure I liked where the design was going. For more of a rustic look we didn’t worry about corners, just two longer pieces across the top and two shorter sides fit in. Building actual frames is not my speciality, but this method is easy and anyone can do it.

Now for my favorite part, staining! I find staining so much easier and more rewarding than painting. I gave a full run down of this process and saved it on Instagram but here are my helpful tips for staining:

– use 2 or more stain colors

-wear gloves

-use a cloth instead of a brush

-blend your stain colors

The stains I used were Classic Gray, Early American, and Jacobean.

As you can see, using multiple stains helps give the brand new pine boards interest and age they wouldn’t have otherwise. I was nervous about attaching the boards to the existing frame, but it went so smoothly. I just used predrilled holes through the existing frame with screws in each end of the boards. The screws come in through the back and I love the clean look. Now I have a brand new look for less.

Would you consider repurposing something you already own like this? It doesn’t always workout but when it does it’s such a great feeling! Every time I walk by the bathroom I’m so pleased with how it’s turning out. One more big project to go: stenciled tile floors. Stay tuned!

Friends, family, & my most FAQ

Thanks for joining me! If you asked my friends they’d say I’m about two years too late in making this leap into blogging (Hi, Brooke! Hi, Whitney!). While it’s been something I’ve always wanted to do, I’ve never had the confidence to push publish until now. I have each of you to thank for that! Every comment, like, and message with questions or suggestions as I’ve been making our new house a home has made me certain this is the right path for my life right now. With my Instagram slowly (very, very slowly) growing it just seems right to start a blog to track all of our fun projects and adventures.

Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton

The best part of this journey so far has been hearing how my ideas have inspired friends in their homes. While I’ve gotten a lot of feedback on different projects that I’ve done (which I’ll be sharing on the blog later!), the most frequently asked question is “Where did you get your rug!”

I love being able to share that this beautiful rug is from Amazon! At an already affordable price, Prime offers free shipping right to your doorstep. Who could complain about that? It’s made settling in to a house with a hard floor so much easier on the little babe and our dog. The polypropylene is easy to clean and the thickness is just soft enough for on the floor play. I did pair the family room rug with a thick rug pad because I knew we’d spend more time playing in there.

I actually did a “crazy” thing because I loved this rug so much. I ordered several different sizes and have it all throughout our house. I honestly couldn’t find another rug (that I could afford) that spoke to me the way this one did. Even with the distressed print and beautiful blue and gray colors, it becomes almost a neutral backdrop for the other furniture and decor. I also know tons of friends have the same print in a different color. It’s a very friendly rug for all different styles.

Have you ever ordered a rug on Amazon? While I love supporting small businesses, it definitely makes small town mom life much easier. Let me know if you’ve ordered this one. I’d love to see it in your home!