One Room Challenge: Progress is Progress

Feeling sick today… So, here’s just a small peek at the bench that I’m working for our master bedroom. It’s not done yet, but here you go.

I bought the bench 30 thousand years ago at a thrift store for around $7.

DSCF2424 Read More

One Room Challenge: Thrifting Is Fun

We’re making over our master bedroom for the One Room Challenge link-up party and this is week three. If this is your first time here, check out week one and week two.

Nick’s parents are here (you know them as Mom and Dad Vita), our oldest girl’s turning 2 tomorrow, and… well, etc. It’s been hectic lately, but I’ve managed to make SOME progress in our bedroom. However, there’s nothing finished to show you all today… but just know that the bench is sanded down and ready to be primed, the bench fabric arrived today, the ribbon trim for the roller shade has been bought, and I’m experimenting with trim ideas for the tall dresser. Whew. Read More

One Room Challenge: Plans and More Plans

I’ve already started working on our master bedroom for the One Room Challenge link-up party (hint: spray paint is involved) but I still have a long way to go.

I was making changes here and there and realized that I didn’t like how things were going. That’s what happens when you have a vague design plan and think you can wing it. No. You can’t wing it. Actually, let me rephrase. I can’t wing it. You might be able to, but not me.

If you want to really evaluate a room, take photos of it. That’s what I did and it really helped us come up with a more detailed plan, including colors and all that fun stuff.

Let’s start with the wall with the bed.

wall 1 master bedroom Read More

One Room Challenge… Accepted!

This is the first post in the One Room Challenge series. Here’s the latest update.

Linda from Calling it Home hosts this fun one room challenge that I’ve always wanted to participate in. Six weeks, one room from start to finish, one blog post per week.

This time around, she’s also hosting a linking party so anyone can play in the challenge. Strict deadlines and peer accountability? Exactly what I need as a serious procrastinator with extreme decorating ADD.

I mentioned the challenge to Nick and said, “Too bad we don’t have a room that we haven’t started decorating yet. This challenge is from start to finish.”

He said, “What about our bedroom?” Read More

Wrapping Paper + Contact Paper = Drawer Liners!

Ever since we painted Janella’s dresser a pretty teal for her room, we’ve been meaning to line the drawers with some kind of paper. I didn’t find the right one until I was shopping for Janella’s first birthday party and there it was.

diy drawer liners Read More

Our sad cabinet needs a paint job…

A long while ago, we bought this cabinet from a Goodwill store.

thrifted cabinet for entryway

This cabinet makes me feel so very full of regret. We bought it in 2011 and it was sad and lonely in our garage until just last summer. Poor little cabinet. Why did we wait so long to put it to use? Read More


Let me catch you up on the happenings around here from the beginning of 2013 to today. I wasn’t posting much during this time because I generally suck as a person when I’m pregnant. But! I’m not pregnant anymore (for now), so let us begin.

We finally started the first batch of frames for our gallery wall in our stairway. So far, so good. We recently bought our second batch and hope to put it up sometime soon…

gallery wall stairsWe’ve got plenty of space here to spread out! It might take us 5 or 6 or 7 batches of frames (and long trips to IKEA) to finally fill out the wall. When we finish, it’s going to be lots of fun going up and down the stairs everyday. All of our family lives at faraway places, so it’s really nice to see their faces on a daily basis.


Our guest room has turned in a playroom when we don’t have guests. The room is just the happiest room in the house — its always so bright in there and the colors are so… well, bright and happy.

guest room slash play room

Never mind the headless lamp up there — we finally found lampshades for these cute yellow lamps. The room is far from done but it’s by far J’s favorite room in the house, even more than her room. And yes, that’s a futon mattress on the floor. Yes, it’s still there. No, you cannot ask me why. I have no idea. It just feels right in there.


I love a good DIY play kitchen, but we decided to not go the DIY route for our girl. She fell in love with the play kitchen at her “school” and I seriously considered making something for her, but we ultimately realized that J would be 16 before we finished the kitchen. I mean, it took us YEARS to finish the closet bookshelves.

play kitchen

Nick’s parents were so sweet to buy this awesome kitchen for J. We love this kitchen – it’s on the big side, so there’ll be plenty of space for baby Sienna to join in the cooking when she’s older; it looks realistic; it has lots of storage for play food; and it even has a real chalkboard on the fridge. J plays with it everyday.


Sometime during the spring, this happened.

broken fence

broken fence

It gets windy in Austin. Very windy. Our backyard is especially windy on windy days. So that fence fell down. Nick fixed it somehow, with a few nails and a hammer, and it’s upright. But it was crazy seeing that one early and bright morning while standing in the kitchen in my PJs. I thought I was seeing things.


We bought the famous and cheap LÄTT children’s table and chairs from IKEA. I mean, it was $20. I knew I would be giving it a makeover… some day. One of the chairs is already broken in the seat, but I expected that. Again, $20.

LATT children's table

I’m still not sure exactly what I’m going to do to it, but I have some ideas. In the meantime, here are some awesome LÄTT table and chair hacks for you to check out! And this one. And this one. Creative parents are creative.


We are seriously considering this chair.


In this color.


For our living room.



I love the displays at IKEA. They always give me some great ideas. I really enjoyed the wall treatment here:

herringbone wall treatment

And just looking at it today, I realized that it could be a fun backdrop to our entryway. And Nick likes it. And I’ve been wanting to try out this new product from FrogTape (my favorite painting tape) that is designed for textured walls. Yesss… a plan is a-brewing.


This photo is the perfect representation of how life is like for me these days.

life right now

A blurry toddler, a floor full of toys, and a baby.


*This post contains affiliate links. And no, FrogTape is not sponsoring me. Nor is IKEA. I just really love them.

Closet Bookshelves: The Project That Wouldn’t End

We finally FINALLY finally finally finished the built-in bookshelves in our office’s closet. We started this project before I got pregnant with Janella (first child) and finished it just a few days after Sienna’s (second child) birth. Three cheers for extreme procrastination!

Actually, it wasn’t entirely procrastination that severely delayed this project. There was a lot of roadblocks, which included mistaken measurements (me), frustrations with drilling in anchors into walls (Nick), constant changes to the plan (me), and diaper changes (Janella).

But it’s done.

And now I’ll tell you about it. First, a warning. The photos in this post aren’t the best. The closet is tiny and the lighting in there is bad. Oh, well.

We started here:

office closet before

The closet was a nice size, but it was not functional for us.

After we decided to turn the closet into a mini-library of sorts, we painted the closet the same teal as the office. In hindsight, we should have waited until after the shelves were installed to paint the closet, because I had to do LOTS and LOTS of touch-ups afterwards.

bookshelves chalk lines

You can see the chalk marks below the original shelf. At first, we thought we would work with the existing shelf but then decided to rip it out. See what I mean about constant changes to the plan?

The old shelf. Notice the sloppy paint job? Sexy.

bookshelves closet shelf

Tearing down the shelf was fun. I did it all by myself by using these tools.


And then:


Yep, we really should have at least painted it after we took down the old shelf. This project had a lot of “I should’ve done that, IDIOT!” moments. Hence why it took 1,000 2 years to finish.

We re-measured where we wanted to put the shelves and then drilled in the shelf supports.

supports for bookshelves

We used these anchors to hold up the supports. They work well but they definitely gave Nick several aneurysms. Sometimes it’s hard to get them to “open” and lock against the drywall, but now the shelves feel so sturdy that we’re glad we used them.

In the middle of this project, I took a short video of the closet to better show you how everything looked:

Here’s a rough drawing I did on iPages to show you the whole progression of how we built the closet bookshelves.

 closet bookshelves progression

1. The blank slate we started with. 2. The supports on the back and longest wall. 3. The supports on the other three walls. 4. The shelves on the back wall. 5. The shorter shelves on the right wall, along with the small supports we drilled underneath (see arrow) the shelves to support the shorter shelves.

The primed plywood shelves on the longest wall were securely held up by the supports on all three sides, but we needed extra supports for the shelves on the other wall. Dad Vita suggested that we add bottom supports in the corner to help hold up the shorter shelves, and so we did.


We held them together with clamps and then drilled them in from underneath.



Then we put in the shorter shelves and drilled the supports into them as well.

When that was done, I filled all the holes left behind when we drilled into the wall. I used wall putty for this step and sanded it down. After repainting the areas white, the holes were completely covered up.

Then I went to Home Depot to find the right trim to finish off the edges of the plywood shelves.


This was the best trim that I could find. It’s actually for door frames, but it was the perfect size for our shelves.

I borrowed a nail gun from our generous friends (Thanks, Brooke & Brian!) and got to work. It was my first time using a nail gun and I had a hard time getting a handle on it at first! I practiced on some scrap wood and did a better job from there.

Nail guns can be scary. But also cool.

See how the trim covers up the edge of the top shelf, while the second shelf still has the plywood edge exposed:


I’m really glad I went ahead and bought the primed trim. It cost me only a couple of bucks in total and saved me many hours in work. I mean, if I bought the unprimed trim, it probably would have taken me another year to finish this thing.


I used a plastic miter box and saw to make the cuts. The cuts weren’t perfect…


…but no worries. I covered them up with wall putty. I just stuffed it into the cracks and let it dry. Then I sanded it down for a seamless look. Here’s how it looked before painting.



Next, I had to address the large gaps between the shelves and the walls.


I grabbed a tube of caulk that had been hidden in our supplies closet, waiting and waiting for its chance at the spotlight. But procrastination bit me in the butt… as usual.


Did you know caulk expires even if you haven’t even opened it? Now you do.

Caulk is awesome at covering up small gaps.


After everything was caulked, I painted the shelves and trim and supports WHITE. Two coats covered everything up beautifully. Then I had to touch up the teal walls… and then I was done!






It’s really sad how my camera can’t capture all of its glory… Here’s another short video for a better view of the space.

We’re currently organizing all of our books on the bookshelves. It’s amazing just how much the bookshelves can hold! Once we’re done with organizing all the books and other stuff, I’ll share photos.

It feels SO good to finally check this one off the list. It was a lot of fun caulking up a storm while pregnant. And I’m not being sarcastic… I caulked during my first pregnancy, too! Other pregnant ladies might clean their kitchen floors or organize baby clothes when nesting, but apparently I caulk instead of cleaning. Sounds about right.

* This post contains affiliate links.

A Decent Gold Spray Paint… And What I Did With It

I have this round little mirror that has been living in the garage, abandoned but not forgotten, for over four years now. A while ago, I decided to finally paint it and excitedly bought a gold spray paint. I love the Rust-Oleum line of spray paint and I was sure that it would come out great.

But no.

The mirror ended up a weird shade of green-gold. And it was flat, not shiny. What? Ugh.

I did some internet research and found that many DIYers used the Specialty Metallic spray paint, not the Universal Advanced Formula Metallic that I used.

gold spray paint

In simpler terms, the spray paint can with the shiny cap? Good. The one with the non-shiny cap? Bad.

I wanted to test out the new gold spray paint before adding another layer of paint on the mirror. I had a random plastic egg from Easter, so I sprayed that. Ahh, much better. Look at the next photo and you’ll see a clear difference between the golden egg and the mirror.

difference in gold spray paint

The golden egg is yellower and much more shiny. No green-gold ugliness here.

The story doesn’t end here. As I’ve mentioned before, once I go on a spray painting rampage, there’s no stopping me.

I had recently read this post by House*Tweaking and really liked the little side table makeover that she did. And then I found out that the side table only cost $20?! I grabbed J and drove to the nearest Target. There it was, that little side table, all pink and white, and on sale for around $17.

before side table pink

At first, I was really unsure whether to buy it or not. The top didn’t look very durable and the black version of the side table in the store was already worn out. But J grinned big and wide when she saw it and said, “LIKE!” How could I say no to that?

I plopped it down in the living room and immediately loved it. It’s very light, easy to move around, and at the perfect height to put drinks and laptops on while rocking the baby to sleep or hanging out on our sectional. Nick liked it so much that we bought another one. Since our glass coffee table was broken by J a while ago (still gotta tell that story), these two little side tables will do the important duties of holding our edibles and our gadgets.


So we loved them but the hot pink color obviously did not go with our home. We have a gold-bronze mirror in the room and I’ve been meaning to bring in another gold/bronze element to match the mirror.

It was an easy decision – let’s paint the side tables gold!

Disassembling the base from the top took maybe 30 seconds. And that was with a toddler hovering.

unassembled! or is it disassembled?

I don’t know why we still have this cardboard box that our baby’s mattress came in, but it came in handy here.

before spraying, still pink

And after a few minutes of spraying, I got this:

gold now!


gold now!

I wanted to wait before spraying the second table so I could show it to Nick and see how he liked it. I got a gold star from him, so I’ll tackle the second one soon! But the pink side table and the gold side table, side by side, makes for a nice before and after!

before and after

Our living room right now, baby included. And to be honest, I took this photo carefully so that you wouldn’t see all the primary colored toys lined up and ready to be played with on the far left side. Shh, don’t tell anyone.

living room with newly painted table

Guess who else loves the side table?

J playing with side table

She loves to move it from room to room and put her toys on it. It’s the perfect height for her to stand and play. These side tables would be the perfect addition to a play room or a kids’ room. They’re so compact and light and cute!

Thank you, gold spray paint.

good gold spray paint

What shall I paint gold next? Maybe a lamp? Wait, I have just the lamp for it. Yesssss.

*This post contains affiliate links.

Another IKEA Hack: DIY Learning Tower!


I’ve been fascinated with the Montessori approach to raising kids for a while now, largely thanks to this inspiring blog. I’m not going to set up a floor bed (which I do think is awesome) for my kids any time soon, but some of their views on child-rearing and living at the home with children really affected how we raise our girls.

One of the tenets of Montessori is to make the home accessible to the little ones. Some Montessori parents buy this expensive Learning Tower so their kids can reach the kitchen counter and cook alongside them. I’m not rich, so when I saw this great DIY here and got measurements from this blog, we were able to hack an IKEA kitchen step into an awesome and useful learning tower for our toddler who always wants to be involved in everything we do.

I used to get up every morning and make breakfast with this little girl hanging on my legs, begging to be picked up:


This was when she was around 14-15 months.

It was getting tiresome having to either pick her up and cook with one hand or tell her no and watch her fake cry. Sometimes I resorted to putting her on a chair, but I was hyper-aware and always watching her to prevent her from falling off. Not fun.


One day, we finally got our act together and tackled the project. We started with this kitchen step from IKEA.


With the measurements from the blog scribbled down on a notepad, I grabbed the materials from Home Depot. Even though a worker there once told me they didn’t do project cuts, the guy who helped me on that day was very willing to cut all the wood for me. So nice! Always ask, sometimes they say no, but sometimes they say yes! Or maybe I looked especially helpless that day, but whatever works.


You can find the measurements in the second comment of Jenny’s post on her learning tower. These measurements turned out to not be exact for us, so we had to make a few cuts here and there to get everything to fit. Not sure why, but it all worked out in the end. If you want to attempt this yourself, I would suggest you to use these measurements as a guide for you to create your own. But without these measurements, it probably would have taken us a LOT more time to do all the measuring, so I’m really grateful to Jenny from mint in the middle!

First, we took the top part off the step. Knowing ourselves and our tendency to lose small tiny things, I put the bits in a ziplock bag and taped it to the step. Future headache averted.


Then Nick screwed in four posts to the top step.


That was the hardest part of the whole thing. It was a bit complicated trying to screw the posts from underneath, but we survived the ordeal. After that, it was fairly simple to screw in the sides. I don’t have photos of the whole step-by-step but honestly, the photo below will tell you everything you need to know. If we could do it, anyone can.


We weren’t finished yet — we needed to put in a dowel in the back to prevent her from falling out — but we weren’t sure how to do that and were too excited to see it in action.


Janella loved it immediately. She helped us “cook” by stirring our meals, “wash” dishes by wiping a wet sponge on dirty dishes, and put away cut vegetables into a big bowl.

When Dad Vita visited us during the summer, we grabbed the opportunity to ask him to help us finally complete the kitchen step.


He cut the dowel down to size and then notched out two holes on the sides. He and Nick had to push apart the two posts to slide in the dowel. When we build our second one (for Sienna), we’ll attach the dowel at the same time we drill in the posts. That’ll definitely be easier!

When it was finally all assembled, the next step was to paint it. After some extensive research on Google Images to find the perfect yellow spray paint, I chose Sun Yellow by Rustoleum. It’s a nice color, very yellow, but it is BRIGHT.


The paint has already worn out in some areas and the color is still a little too bright for my liking, so I’ll probably repaint in the near future. Plus, the kitchen step has too many surface areas to spray paint, resulting in a lot of wasted paint. I’ll try using exterior paint and a brush next time and report back how that holds up.

But for now, Janella loves it.


When I’m cooking, I can just let her climb up and work alongside me. Whenever I need her to keep away from what I’m doing, I give her some clay or some cut-up food to play with.


Sometimes she mixes real food with her play food. Fine by me!


After some practice, she learned how to climb up and down by herself. She can also slide the step around the kitchen floor.




Sorry about the dirty kitchen floor. Obviously, I was in the middle of cooking dinner when I snapped these photos and I’m a MESSY cook.

Having her stand on her step proudly as I cook is lots of fun. I admit, sometimes it can get crazy trying to put things away from her when she wants to TOUCH EVERYTHING, but I remind myself to give her a task. And then she focuses on that task and I cook in peace and the world is right again.


By the way, I’m done with the newborn haze and ready to refocus my energy on our home. To keep myself accountable, I’m going to stick to a strict blogging schedule of new posts on every Monday and Wednesday. Come back on these days to see what we’re up to around here!

* This post contains affiliate links.