Sunday, October 14, 2012


I finished the living room.  The painting and such was done a long time ago, but I just officially finished this morning, when I sewed the last pillow slipcover.  I'd like to add a few more accent pillows, but I don't have any extra little pillows laying around to cover.  

The final budget total ended up being about $160.  I know this is far over budget, but I decided to spring for the good, thermal backed curtains.  It's Minnesota, for goodness sake, and those windows are drafty!  So while I may have over-shot the $100 budget, I think I still gave the room a much needed update for a very reasonable price!  

And how about that wiener dog photo bomb? :-)

And just in case you didn't know, this is how wild, exciting English teachers like me spend their Saturday nights.  Whoo!  Party!

I would love to say that it was a very productive night and that I got all of my a papers graded, but that would be a lie.  I got like three of the shortest ones done.  I just wasn't feeling it.  I promised to return the papers on Monday, so it's going to be a very long Sunday afternoon!

Saturday, October 13, 2012

A Little TV Time

I don't generally allow my children to watch television in the summer.  But now that the weather has gotten cold again, I've let up a bit.  One of our favorite fall and winter evening activities is to cuddle on the couch in the basement family room with a bowl of popcorn and a good movie.  

This is a great time to take a photo of Mady because not only she will actually stay still for up to a full second at a time, she is distracted enough by the television that she doesn't make those lame "cheese" faces at me.  

Micah, on the other hand, is not as cooperative.  I kept getting in his line of sight.

By the time spring rolls around, I'm sure that we'll all be so sick of cuddling on the couch and watching television we'll never want to see another episode of the Transformers.  But for now, it's kind of nice to cuddle.  

Sunday, July 8, 2012

A break from the redecorating

I've taken a short break from the redecorating for two reasons: 1) It's the 4th of July week, I don't have school obligations, so I've been "vacationing".  2) I can't find my magic roller to do the paint job.  I must have lent it to someone.  I'm going to have to borrow my friend Kristyne's.  3) I'm spending the week in Greenbush for the kids' swimming lessons and then leaving for New York on Thursday evening.  So, in the mean time, here's some pictures of our fun week so far:

Friday, June 29, 2012


The fireplace is basically finished, and I'm fairly happy with it.

There was a little too much contrasted between the top and the base, so I did a little dry brushing of the two colors to blend it a bit. I can still see a bit of the brick pattern of the paneling on the base, but it's really subtle.  I could probably put more stone stuff on it, but that would probably be more of a pain than it's worth.

I also did some digging through my fabric stash and I found something really promising.  I have enough of the floral patterned one to make valances for the windows.  The big windows are 10 ft long, so that takes a lot of fabric.  If I do valances, I will order some chocolate brown sheers.  There is enough money in my budget if I order them from Brylane Home.  If I order four of them, I'll have enough money left to buy a can of that bright green spray paint for spruce up some knick nacks.

With all of the good things that I've gotten accomplished today, there is also some bad news.  The glaze I purchased (on clearance for $10) is oil based.  I might use it anyway, but it complicates the clean up and may complicate repainting in the future.  I hate oil paints.  Ugh.

That was very productive.  I'm going to go take a very well deserved hot shower.


I usually go to Marvin Home Center in Warroad, but I had to do some banking in Roseau and give my father in law a ride back home.  He was being kind of pokey, so I decided to go do my shopping at Ace Hardware in Roseau instead.  Wow, was that the best idea ever. I found two very exciting things to use on my fireplace.  The first is called Sculpture Stone.  It's like a paintable texture stuff that can look like stone.  The second is call Spread Stone.  It is like very runny concrete that can be spread with a trowel or painted on.  It can be used on anything -- even floors.

I looked into these products (via the internet) a couple of years ago.  They were about $50 per gallon, and I didn't feel comfortable ordering a bunch of it and then it not working well.  I had no idea that Ace in Roseau carried it.  Well, not only did they carry it, it is now on clearance.  Yeppers -- I got it for $10 a gallon.  I even found a gallon of glazing medium on clearance for $10 too!

I bought a gallon of mushroom colored paint, a gallon of glazing stuff, and as much Sculpture Stone and Spread Stone as I could get with the $100 I brought with me.  I think I'm going to go back and get the rest of it.

For the sake of my budget, I'm not counting all of the Sculpture Stone and Spread Stone.  I'm only going to count the stuff the I actually use in this room.  Anything I use in other rooms will be added to those budgets.  So, here's the breakdown so far:

$35      1 gallon of paint (mushroom color)
$10      1 gallon Spread Stone
$10      1 gallon Sculpture Stone
$10      1 gallon glazing medium
$3        joint tape

$68      Total

If I really luck out, I might be able to find some curtains at a garage sale or second hand store.  Otherwise, I suppose I will go curtainless.  It doesn't look too bad.

So, here's how it's looking so far:

 This is the third coat, and it's still fairly wet.  As it dries up a bit more, it gets knocked down.  I don't think that it actually looks like stone, but I think it looks pretty good.  Maybe when it's painted, it will look a little more stone-like.

There is a part in the center where the joints didn't cover very well.  I used joint tape and used the Sculpture stone over it.  In hind sight, I probably should have used regular joint compound and worked it like I would a regular dry wall joint.

So I have the top of the fireplace mostly done.  It just needs painting.  So I started the base of the fireplace and troweled the Spread Stone.  This is just one coat.  I think I'll need two coats on the sides of the base, but the top of the base looks good with just one coat.

The Spread Stone is tinted.  It is a little lighter than the mushroom paint, but I got the closest color available.  It was really easy to work with, but it's taking its sweat time drying.  I may not be able to get the second coat on today.

So, it looks as if I will be doing a second coat on the base tomorrow.  If the Sculpture Stone gets dry enough, I'd like to get it painted today.  I'll paint the back of the bookshelves, too.  If time allows, I'd like to start on the faux finish freshening, too, but I'll probably end up doing that one tomorrow.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

$100 a Room?

I'm nearly back from my self imposed hiatus.  I will be done with my masters degree at the end of the month (If I get everything done on time) and I feel like I'm starting to come out of my learning-and-crazy-busy induced fog.  As I began slowly returning to reality, I noticed something that is very alarming.  Over the past two years, my house has gone to shambles.  It is embarrassingly icky.  But, there is one minor problem: we plan to remodel, but the start date is a little up in the air.  So I can either stick with the ickyness until the remodeling starts (this could be one week or one year -- there is no way to tell) or I can spruce it up a bit.  I hate to spend a bunch of money on sprucing up something that may get wrecked in the remodeling process, so I've given myself a bit of a challenge.

I am going to redecorate with a very strict budget of $100 per room.  Crazy, right?  I have SO much stuff.  There really isn't a need to buy any more crap -- I simply do not need it.  Instead, I'm going to re-purpose what I already own.  Fun, right?  I hope so.

I'm starting with my living room.  It is the largest room in the house and probably the one that I spend the most time in.  It's also, arguably, the ugliest.  See:

Yes, that is a Christmas tree.  Yes, it is June.  Yes, it is still decorated with Christmas ornaments.  If you didn't know, I've been really busy.

The room didn't look bad a year or two ago.  I had a funky orange couch and matching funky orange curtains.  Then I moved the couch and the curtains to my Greenbush house, scavenged a bunch of stuff off the walls, and moved the family room furniture upstairs into the living room.  The orange faux finish has lost it's charm.

See the unfinished fire place?  That was installed the week before Mady was born (she'd 3 years old now).  I had hoped to get it tiled around the bottom and clad in wood.  That's never going to happen.

The pony wall was put in shortly after the fireplace.  I'd planned to stain it the same color as the wood-clad fireplace.

There are only three bulbs working in the twin chandeliers.  Mark likes to leave the lights on when he watches TV so that he can read at the same time.  He also likes to fall asleep on the couch and leave the lights on over night.  The built in shelves are full of pictures and there is only one of them that has been updated in the last two years.  The list could go on and on -- this room needs help!

I started by having the kids help me remove the wallpaper from the base of the fireplace.  If I'm going to do this room for less than $100, I need to take advantage of free labor.

I'm not really sure what I'm going to do with the fireplace, but what ever it is, I needed to get the wallpaper off.  It's got this lovely brick-look paneling  that is not removable.  There is a chance that I'll be putting new paper right up again.  I'll have to see what I can get figured out.

I found two partial gallons of paint that might be useful.  One is off-white and one is tan.  My general plan is to just freshen up the faux finish, since repainting the whole room would take up most of my budget.  I'm hoping that I will be able to use the little bits of off-white and tan for that.

Tomorrow, I'm going to pick up a gallon of paint.  I used my trusty Valspar color selector thingy and found one that will be a nice fit with the carpet and couch.  It's kind of a mushroom color.  I held it up the orange wall, and I think it will work nicely with it.

I'm also going to search for ideas on what to do with the fireplace.  The old one was covered with stone-look wallpaper.  I know it's kind of cheesy, but it actually looked pretty good.  I remember I used two rolls, so that would mean a minimum of $45 out of my budget.  That's a big chunk, so I'd like to look for other ideas first.  It would have been nice if they would have re-done the base so that I didn't have to deal with that   paneling, but I guess I'm stuck with it.

So, I am pretty excited about this project.  It's going to be very challenging to stay within budget, but I know with my thrifty skills, my cheep-skate mindset, and my existing cache of home improvement stuff, I can do it.  I just hope I find some good deals!!