Virtual Makeover | Porch Edition

This bathroom renovation is beginning to bore me.  Don't tell Mike I said that!  It's just besides helping carry drywall up the stairs and holding things in place while Mike screws/marks/cuts, I'm not a big help during this behind the wall stuff.  (Although, I'm going to get very involved soon, because we have drywall up!  I'll be back later this week to share pictures of that!).

That's why when the last piece of drywall was moved upstairs on Monday and we had our porch back (which has been Mike's storage space and cutting area, Mike and I wasted no time cleaning it up and getting the cushions out of the attic in the garage.
I shared the furniture acquisition story here, and a couple weeks ago I picked up a sisal rug and planters from Ikea.  So, after a good sweep and putting all the furniture in place here's what we're working with now:

While I've already gotten a couple mosquito bites from enjoying the seating, the space is a little tan-tastic for my taste.  But don't worry, I've got plans.

I got a little bored and decided to do a little virtual makeover of our porch to share my plans.  Not only is it fun to see an after picture without breaking a sweat, (or the wallet), I've learned this is a good tool for Mike as well and helps plead my case for when Mike tells me a (insert any sort of decorative item) won't look good there.

Here's what I came up with:

Big difference, eh?  The bones were there, it just needed some color.

Obviously the big show stopper is the rug.  I've had the idea to paint a sisal rug in my mind for ages.  I've seen tons of tutorials online and fell in love with this modern chevron design, which I pinned here, originally from Joss & Main.

Since we already have a red door, I didn't think this coral color would work, and decided to go with a more navy blue color.  I'm loving the way it looks and hope that Mike feels the same way!

The other big change is a lighter cushion color.  This one is the change I'm the most skeptical about.  I've got some skills on the sewing machine, but I've never made slip covers before and I'd be afraid that they might come out all wonky.  Just for kicks I hide this layer in Photoshop to see what it would look like if I chickened out, and I have to say it's not bad:

Either the tan fades into the siding, or the white into the railing, so either way I think it's fine.

The other additions are a lot easier and include adding some plants in the planters (what a novel idea, I know!), some colorful pillows, and some accessories on the table like a lantern to hold some citronella candles and a small lemon thyme plant, (which also repels mosquitoes, obviously the itching bites from hanging out last night had some consideration in these choices).

So, in between painting, tiling, and styling the bathroom, it looks like some rug painting and accessory buying is in my near future.

What do you guys think?  Should I attempt some slipcovers or leave them for now?  And, who doesn't care, but just wants to come over for some margaritas? 

DIY {Air Freshners}

Awhile back I pinned a quick and easy DIY air freshener idea using baking soda and essential oils (see the pin here).  I thought it was a great idea, but found the idea of having a couple open containers of baking soda around the house a little scary, especially with our little furry (and very curious) roommate. 

Usually Benelli is really good about keeping out of things, but we never know when something will pique his interest.  Like the bowl of corks which have moved from the living room to the dining room table.  He'll go months without touching them, and then one day we'll come home to 15 or so of them scattered around the room.

So, with this in mind, I've been on the lookout for someway to keep the baking soda contained in case of an errant paw tap.  My quest was over when I found some cheap (99¢ baby!) salt and pepper shakers at Target.  Since they weren't the most attractive thing and I didn't want people asking why we randomly had salt shakers around the house, I found these cute metal lanterns (I think they were $3.49) in the outdoor section, that I could "hide" my little shakers in.

That was a really long explanation for a really simple project, so let's get to it.  I gathered my supplies: baking soda, salt shakers, lanterns, and essential oils, (I bought vanilla and lavender).

I used a makeshift paper funnel to pour the baking soda in the shakers and added about 10 drops of oil.  The lavender is a lot stronger than the vanilla so I used maybe 3-4 drops of that.  I was going for a vanilla/lavender scent, but the lavender was overpowering the vanilla so, I just did that for one and vanilla for the other.

I placed the shakers in the lanterns, and although you can still see the tops, they definitely don't scream, "I'm a salt shaker!" anymore.

I placed them around the house, one in the living room, our bedroom, and a pink one (not pictured) in the guest room.

Really simple, but pretty effective and cheap little air freshener!

Bathroom Redo | Part Three - Framing & Electrical

We've finally made some more progress on the world's slowest renovation.  It's hard for Mike to want to work on it when the weather has been so nice and things like beer brewing and motercycling riding sound so much more enticing.

The last time we checked in on the progress Mike had updated all of the plumbing.  Since then, Mike has added the subfloor (definitely a welcomed addition so that we can stop walking along the floor joists), and the necessary framing for the shower wall.

As you can see the shower wall is still pretty prominent when you walk in, but there's nothing we could do about it, (unless we completely reworked the layout which would involve some pretty extensive, not to mention expensive, plumbing).  We were able to reduce the wall length about 6 inches and by switching the handing on the shower, we moved it in farther into the room about 12-14".  So, although the pictures show it right in your face, it's much more comfortable in person.

See how the door is more than a foot away from the wall?  In the old bathroom is was closer to a couple inches.  Which made the area behind the door pretty much wasted space, (we stored our laundry hamper and trash can back there).

Standing in the room and looking back at the vanity area, Mike added some framing to build the wall out, (the old vanity back was beefed up to accommodate the difference on this part of the wall compared to the area that the toilet sits against, due to the toilet stack).  

After this work, we pretty much left it sit like this for a couple weeks, but due to the magic of the internet I already have pictures of the next phase, ceilings and insulation.  Not to mention the tub is in!  Mike and our friend Kyle, hauled that bad boy up and Mike shimmied that baby into place.  It's a little tight, and Mike has to make some minor adjustments, but it's in there. 

We also added the drywall to the ceiling and insulation and vapor barrier to the exterior walls.  The room before didn't have any insulation, so we were very excited to add some and hope to notice the difference in the colder weather.

It's finally starting to look like a room.  Here's a better shot of the tub:

Even though it's an interior wall next to the tub, (the other side is the back of the guest room closet), we still chose to add insulation to keep heat in the shower and tub.  Here's looking back at the wall with the plumbing all ready for the shower head and controls.

When I turn to the right from here and look at the vanity, you can see Mike added the boxes for the outlets and vanity lights.  He also insulated around the plumbing for the sinks, (the pvc pipe behind the vapor barrier with the rag in it).

Mike's got a couple more little things to get the room ready for drywall, but I'm really exicted for that step because the room will really start looking like a bathroom again, not to mention we'll be ready for tiling - something that I'm really excited to learn how to do!

Pillow Talk

It's not all bathroom and honeybees around here.  I have gotten in the occasional crafting project or two.  Something that I've wanted to change for awhile were the pillows in the living room.  The pastel greens and blues I got from Pier 1 just weren't doing it for me anymore.

I found some fabrics from places like and etsy and kept pinning them until I found four that I liked together.  I wanted some bold patterns and bright colors, and something to match my honeycomb pillow

I fell in love with the floral fabric first and found patterns in colors that coordinated with that.  

Yellow Chevron (etsy) & Richloom Solarium ( Blue and white fabric (Joann's) & Amy Butler Lotus Wall Flower Cherry (

Most of the pillows were made with the basic 'machine sew 3 1/2 sides together and stuff pillow insert in and hand sew hole', except for the reddish lotus one which I made an envelope case for.  I'm not sure if I didn't overlap them enough, but the back kinda stays open.  I've got to figure out how to make a button hole on my fancy sewing machine and sew some buttons to keep it close.

The only other fancy thing I did was the navy blue trellis pillow isn't actually printed fabric.  I cut and sewed the pattern with white fabric onto some blue fabric.  Crazy? You betcha.  But, I couldn't find any blue/white trellis indoor fabric that was in my budget, so I made my own, and I felt more comfortable sewing than painting.

I started with a picture of the design that I found through Google,

Then printed it out the size I wanted to fit my 18" pillow form.  After I had the paper pattern, I cut it out and transferred it to white fabric that I had backed with some sewable iron-on adhesive, specifically Heat'N Bond Lite, (the purple colored one).

I then cut it out again and ironed it onto the blue fabric.  Many would stop there, but not me, no, I'm crazy and decided to sew along the edges for extra protection.      

This is probably the most delicate pillow we have, and we're pretty tough on them, and I haven't seen any fraying yet. If I were to do it again, I would probably have sewn a zig zag stitch along the edge to prevent the fraying, but I'm not that skilled on the sewing machine, yet.

Overall, I'm excited for the new look in the living room.  And, for under $20 a pillow, the feel of the room is completely different, and definitely more us.  Now, I just have to convince Mike to let me repaint the room and hopefully I can call this room done, for now.

The {Love} Birds and The Bees

I've mentioned it a couple times, but I wanted to write an official post about our beekeeping.  Yes, Mike and I are beekeepers, and it always sounds funny when I mention it to people.  It's not something that we thought we would ever do, but Mike and I are into DIYing, not just around the house, but we enjoy the processes of making things ourselves.  We've made cheese, wine, sake, and Mike even cuts and smokes his own bacon (our friend's parents have a farm).

Obviously, the biggest example, (and the hobby that takes up a most of his time), is Mike's homebrewing.  And it's this hobby that actually got us into our next hobby, beekeeping.  Mike is involved in a couple groups and clubs within the homebrewing community and he got to talking to one of his friends about mead.  For those that don't know, mead is kind of like a honey wine, it uses honey in the fermentation with water, but can also have hops added to give it a more beer-like taste.  The guy he was talking to actually had a couple hives and used the honey to make mead, and once Mike heard that, as they say, "the rest is history".

We went to a couple beekeepers meetings (our county has an association), met a guy about our age who became our "bee mentor", built our hive late last summer and bought a couple pounds of bees from our bee guy (about 10,000 bees).  We enjoyed watching the hive become active and start to make combs, but we had our share of trials too.  We had a neighboring hive try to take over, (or robbing as Google informed us) and we lost a bunch.  This didn't help the colony with the need to store up the honey for the winter.  That, on top of the uncommonly mild winter, (mild weather just warm enough for the bees to stay active, but too cold to come out of the hive), meant that we had to say goodbye to our 10,000 babies.

We wanted to make sure this summer we started early enough for the hive to grow strong before winter, so this past weekend we received 3 pounds of happy new bees and introduced them into our hive.
One of the packages with about 10,000 bees in it, (with a couple hundred on the outside) and the queen in a small cage in the middle.  Our bee guy put one just like this in a card board box (with no lid) and I drove home by myself, all the while wondering what music bees would like.

Our hive isn't the typical white box (called a Langstroth hive) everyone might be used to.  Ours is called a top-bar hive (which is more a hobbyist hive), and it won't surprise you that we chose this hive because we can build it ourselves a lot easier.  The difference between the two is basically a Langstroth hive has frames already built that the bees build their honeycomb off of, where as the top-bar allows the bees to make their own comb.  There are advantages and disadvantages to both, but for the backyard beekeepers like us, we like our top-bar for the ease of use and less disruption to the bees for caretaking.

Via Bee Pollen Health

Mike built the hive, and I was in charge of the painting.  I thought it would look cute as a little mini house, so I had a small quart of paint color matched to the siding, found a dark gray color for the roof, and used the left over red from the front door as a little accent to our observation window, (something Mike added to his design).  Here is our hive which is located behind the garage.  Since all of our houses are pretty close, this is the farthest from everyone, and doesn't really bother anyone.

After cleaning out the hive from the last years bees, we were ready to introduce our new babies bees to their new home.  We left a couple of the old combs in so that the new bees can clean them out and use them without having to use energy to create new ones.

This process went pretty quickly and once you start shaking the bees and moving the queen around they aren't very happy, so I was standing off to the side wearing my bee suit, so the pictures aren't the greatest.  At one point I realized I hadn't white balanced (as seen above), so I apologize in advance.  It's hard to snap away when you're wearing a giant netted hood with a bunch of bees buzzing around your head!

Mike started by removing the can of food that blocks the opening of the package.  After the can is removed, the queen's cage is removed.  The queen is not from the hive so she has to be introduced separately.  To do this she's placed in a cage with a couple bee attendants and placed in the hive for a couple days to get accepted by the bees and get the hive's smell.  After a couple days there is a candy plug that is in the cage and once we remove the cover to the plug, the bees eat through the candy and she is part of the hive.

Here is Mike with the queen's cage.  And, not to bring more attention to it, but anyone assuming that all bees do is sting when they are disrupted should note that Mike was so into what he was doing, (and I was too busy taking pictures), that his crack was pretty much showing the whole time and he didn't get stung.  Now that would have been a pain the butt, (pun definitely intended)!

Like I said it was all happening so quickly that I wasn't able to focus this next shot, but this is the queen's cage up close while we checked to make sure she was alive and well.

After setting the queen aside, Mike took the package and pretty much dumped the bees into the hive.

Most of the bees fall into the hive, but some are stubborn and stay in the package.  Since we only use about half of our top bar hive, we put the box in the other half to allow them to fly out into the other section on their own.

Once the bees are placed in the hive, the bars are put back on, then the roof, then Mike did a check of everything - making sure the entrance was open and what not.

So there's our bee story.  We'll keep you up to date on the happenings back there and when we finally can start taking honey (we have to make sure we leave enough for the bees over winter).

We'll leave you with a little goodbye from one of our girls, (Mike calls them all girls since the worker's are all female (did you know that? I sure didn't when we started this)).  We check each other before we take our jackets off and Mike found this little girl hanging out on my shoulder.