Pinterest Challenge | Winter Edition

It's that time again.

Like last challenge, we're in the middle of a large scale renovation, (seriously, when are we not in the middle of a reno?), so I didn't think I would be able to do any small DIY project over the weekend in time.  I thought about doing some wedding stuff, but since most of my readers are probably coming, I didn't want to give away all the details, (I think I'll wait until after the wedding to start sharing all the DIY's and details).

That's when I was perusing my Pinterest boards for some ideas, when I realized I've never shared one of my little hobbies here on the blog.  It makes sense, since this blog is about our house and the (sometimes crazy) things we take on making it our home, and my little hobby is definitely not home related.  And, it's pretty girly.

I like to paint my nails.  There I said it.

Actually, having my nails painted is sometimes counterproductive to home renovations.  I used to need hours for my nails to dry before I would (willing) help Mike.  I'd also freak out when I chipped/broke a nail while doing some DIY project.  I gave up having nice nails and usually would sport the DIY'er mani, that I embarrassingly shared on Instagram recently:

My hobbies finally found a happy medium when I started getting shellac manicures.  As always, as I was getting it done I thought, "I could do that".  So, I did.  I bought the supplies off of ebay and have been doing my own shellac mani's for a couple of years now.  In my area a shellac manicure runs about $20-$25.  The supplies were a little pricey up front, (polishes range from $10-$14 and I got a cheap 36w UV lamp for about $30), but after 3 manicures, I made up for the cost and the luxury of doing my nails at home is priceless to me.  And, the best part is, that shellac doesn't chip when I drop a drill bit on my nails, and a swipe with some regular nail polish remover gets rid of paint splatter without messing up the shellac.

This isn't an infomercial or anything, and I don't want any nail technicians to get angry with me, I'm just sharing another aspect of my DIY projects.  Professionals have to be certified to offer the shellac services, and I'm sure there are things that they know that I don't.  But, just like Mike and I taking on our own plumbing and electrical projects, I feel confident enough to paint my own nails.  (Just to be clear, I'm in no way insulting any shellac certification, and I don't perform any shellac manicures for money, I just like doing things myself).     

So, anyways.  Since I've been shellacking for a while, I wanted to start trying new trends that were popping up on Pinterest all the time. I even created my own nail board to keep track of all the cute things I see.

Follow my boards here on Pinterest
I especially like the statement nails, (you know, doing something crazy on the ring finger).  And, even if you don't want to be crazy like me, and enjoy getting shellac manicures done by professionals, I thought I'd share how easy it is to get shellac statement nails by bringing in an extra supply for the technician to add. 

The two statement nail trends that I do a lot are the glittered ring finger and the caviar ring finger, (more for special occasions).

(Uploaded by user and pinned here on Pinterest)

(Originally from here and pinned here on Pinterest)

Whether I'm doing a statement nail, or a regular manicure, the beginning steps are all the same.  First, I get all my supplies together:

I use CND Shellac polishes, but there are a lot more products out there then when I started.

Then, I do a "dry manicure", no soaking in water or using lotions, just a quick file, cuticle push and clip and you're good to go.  I also wipe my nails with some acetone to clean everything off and make sure it's all dry.

First we'll do the caviar nail.  This is a much more trendy look, and I only have worn it a couple of times.  Think a fancy event or special night out with the girls.  Two Christmas' ago, my mom got me some Martha Stewart Metallic Microbeads and I've never used them because they were too fancy to waste on cards and such.  I thought I was a genius by trying them out for caviar nails, but it's all over the internet, so I'm just behind the ball.  Although, a lot of people complain that they only last a day or so when they do it at home, but I found using the shellac makes them stay for as long as you can go without picking it off, (it's really tempting).  Mine were going strong after 5 days, before I decided to peal it off and do something different. 

I decided to do a dark gray mani with a teal statement nail and caviar.  I think you're only limited by the colors you have on hand since the microbeads come in a bunch of different colors, and you could add them on top of coordinating colors, or try mixing for a layered look.

1. CND Top Coat | 2. CND Base Coat | 3. CND "Asphalt" | 4. CND "Hotski to Tchotchke" | 5. Microbeads

I'm sure every salon is different, but I'd think if you brought the microbeads in, they would be happy to add them to the manicure.  You can order microbeads for less than $3 online, so it's only adding a small amount to the manicure price.

I asked my sister to be my model.  I tried doing it myself, but taking pictures and doing one's nails is hard.

First step of the polish is the base coat.  The key to a lasting shellac is thin layers and not getting any polish on the cuticles or skin.  For those wondering, I'm wearing CND Rubble, its a medium gray and goes with just about everything.

Then cure this coat.  My UV lamp cure time is 30 seconds for the base coat.  (Some lamps are different, so it's best to go by the directions).

Next, is a color coat.  To do a statement nail, obviously only paint your ring finger, (or whatever finger you want), the statement color.  It's really important to do thin layers and take your time.  If the layers are too thick they will bubble or crease, (kind of looks like it's melting), after it's cured.  Don't worry if the color isn't opaque since you'll do another color coat next.  Make sure to carefully coat the edge of your nail, as this seals it and helps prevent chipping.  This color coat gets cured for 2 minutes with my lamp.

The third coat is another color coat.  This is where I add the microbeads to the statement nail.  I generously pour onto the wet nail and gently press the beads down.  I usually take a nail stick and clean up around the edges.  Like elementary school, I pour over a folded piece of paper and pour the excess back into the bottle.  If I only used this beads for nails, it would probably last forever since you really don't use that much.

After I've got a good layer of beads, I cure again for 2 minutes.

The last coat is the top coat.  For the dark gray fingers I apply a normal thin layer.  This is the important layer not to get on your skin or cuticles.  If you do, it's likely to peel off quicker.  The beaded nail gets a really thick top coat.  I still keep it away from the skin.  Be careful of stray beads.  One or two may come off on the brush, just make sure to catch them before dipping back into your bottle to keep everything clean.

This is the last cure and is 2 minutes as well.

After the time is up, you wipe all the nails with pure acetone.  This removes the tacky layer.  I've noticed that some of the bead color gets wiped off with the acetone, but it has a metallic color to it, (at least the Martha Stewart ones I use do), so I don't mind it.

And, that folks is an at home shellac mani with a caviar statement nail twist.

To recap: it's a base coat, cure 30 seconds.  First color coat, cure 2 minutes.  Second color coat, add beads to statement nail, cure 2 minutes.  Apply top coat, cure 2 minutes, wipe with acetone.

The glittered nail manicure is really easy and basically the same as above, but without adding the beads.  Like the pin, I like pink nails with silver glitter.

1. CND Top Coat | 2. CND Base Coat | 3. CND "Tropix" | 4. CND "Silver Chrome" | 5. Any silver glitter polish

Like before, apply the base coat, cure 30 seconds, then apply the first color coat.  We did the pink on 4 of the nails and the silver on the ring finger.

Cure for 2 minutes.  Add a second color coat, and cure for another 2 minutes.

Apply the top coat and cure for the last 2 minutes, then wipe with pure acetone.

You're left with a regular shellac manicure with two different colors.

To add the sparkle, I paint the glitter on top of the shellac top coat.  The glitter dries really fast so I usually add 3-4 coats for maximum glitter.  My sister was fading on me fast so I only did 2 coats.

At this point I add a regular fast drying top coat to seal the glitter, or I've even done another shellac top coat and cured for another 2 minutes.  Using regular nail polish doesn't work in the shellac system, but I haven't had a problem with the glitter.

Sorry for being so lengthy, but I wanted to show both manicures, since it's basically the same thing.  I know doing crazy manicures isn't for everyone, but I hope at least one person is inspired to try some statement nails and/or shellac after seeing how easy it is.

I also need to thank my sister since she let me do her nails three different times.  The shellac definitely is a time saver as far as being able to work immediately after finishing, but with the curing time for each layer, it's not a quickie mani.

I thought about stopping here and making her walk around with two different hands, but even I'm not that mean of an older sister.

She chose the pink and glitter mani and we just removed the other polish by cutting up some round pads, pouring some pure acetone on each piece, then covering the nails with the pad and wrapped them with aluminum foil.  Wait 10 minutes and remove, and all the polish easily comes off.

We started off giggling and gossiping about the Oscar's, but by the end, we were both bored and ready to be done.  I caught her zoning out while we waited the 10 minutes to remove the polish.

Hopefully I can con convince her to be my model if I ever need one again.  I thought about asking Mike to model, but then I didn't want people to think I had man hands.

Go check out the host's pages to see what everyone else did for the challenge!

Megan (The Remodeled Life), Katie (Bower Power), Sherry (Young House Love), and Michelle (Decor and The Dog).

Liebster Blog Award

Last week I received a comment from Harlie from Love of Sunshine letting me know she selected my little blog for the Liebster Award.

"Liebster, in German, means endearing, valued, lovely, beloved, etc. This award is a way to acknowledge new, up-and-coming bloggers and talented, long-time bloggers with few followers and to help recognize them for their outstanding accomplishments in design as presented on their blog."

The Liebster Award is given to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers. It's a way to show appreciation to smaller blogs and to help bring in readership that may not have found you otherwise!  Thanks Harlie, it made my day!

So, along with being nominated, there are some rules to play along.  Sort of a "get to know the blogger" thing.
  • Add the award image with a link back to the one who gave it to you
  • Post 5 random things about yourself
  • Answer 5 questions from the person who gave you the award
  • Nominate 5 bloggers (and let them know)
  • Post 5 new questions to the bloggers you pass the award to
5 random things about me:
  1. I have a birthmark on my left knee that's kind of in the shape of Ohio.  It might be hereditary because my cousin has one on his knee too.
  2. I hate most vegetables.  I try really hard to eat them, but they are so gross.  I've started juicing to get some veggie nutrients and seem to be fine masking the taste with an apple or lemon.
  3. I have a tattoo on my right foot.  My sister, mom, and grandma, (who's 87), all have a matching one.  
  4. I love Harry Potter.
  5. When I was in 4th grade a boy ran into me in gym class and broke his two front teeth on my forehead.  One piece got stuck in my head and we didn't notice until the swelling went down and it started coming back out weeks later.  I have a scar about in inch long. 
Answer 5 questions from the person who nominated you:
  1. What would you do if you became independently wealthy tomorrow? Pay someone to finish our renovations!  Then quit my job and become am event planner.
  2. What simple or modern convenience can’t you live without?  I hate to admit it, but my iPhone. 
  3. If you could instantly move your house to anywhere in the world, where would you live?  Is there somewhere that simultaneously is next to the ocean, has mountains for snowboarding, is in the woods, and has nice weather all year round?  If so, that's where I'd move.
  4. What is the longest you’ve been “off-the-grid” since you started blogging (if ever)?  Probably 2-3 weeks.  Sometimes we're just not that interesting, well not enough to write home about.
  5. What is your particular first world problem?  Hulu Plus not having the third season of Downton Abbey.
  6. Bonus: What have you got in your pocket? Nothing, I never put anything in my pockets.  Mike on the other hand has gotten his wallet, knife, and misc. metals washed numerous times because I always forget to check his pockets before washing them.
Pass along the love to 5 bloggers and let them know you appreciate their blog:

I usually only read bigger blogs, since I check mostly at work in my downtime, but this was a good excuse to find some smaller blogs to start checking out.
  1. Little House on the Corner
  2. Little Old House 
  3. Faith, Hope & Love
  4. The House of Bing
  5. Julie Loves Home
Ask 5 new questions to the bloggers:
  1. What is your favorite decorating or renovating tool?
  2. What is your favorite color combination, personal or decorating?
  3. What is your favorite social media platform?
  4. What is your favorite TV show right now?
  5. If they made a movie about your life, who would play you?
  6. Bonus:  What is your particular first world problem? I liked this question from Harlie, so I'm including it too!
I had a lot of fun with this, and hope those that I've pass the award on to do too.  Feel free to play along, or simply appreciate the fact that I like your blog!

Basement Bathroom | Installation of Ikea Vanity

I recently blogged about the general progress made in the basement, I posted a picture that hinted at some major progress in the bathroom.

That's right we have a working toilet!

After my trip to Ikea, Mike finished the floor trim around the bathroom.  He even graciously allowed me to paint it before installing the toilet and vanity.  Although, he did end up jumping the gun a little and installed the vanity before I had touched up the wall paint, but you'll never see it so I'm okay with it, (I paint the trim first, not caring about getting it on the wall, then go back with the wall paint to get a nice crisp line on top, if anyone was wondering).

Once the trim was crisp white the toilet and Ikea vanity went in.  Mike attached the vanity to the wall and siliconed the front feet to the floor to prevent it from moving at all.  He also installed my mirror and I have to admit it's just as awesome in person.

I would have liked it to be a little larger to fit over the vanity below, but I still love it and to be honest, no one's going to be using this bathroom to put make-up on or anything so a big mirror wasn't necessary.

I love the industrial feel of the light and I think the mirror is just enough industrial to tie it together with  the vanity.

I was so excited to have running water and wanted to get a picture of the mirror and light together that I even snapped a rare photo of myself in the new mirror.  I figured a dusty bathroom mirror is enough to hide any blemishes, so why not?

I would like to say that installing an Ikea vanity to standard hookups was seamless, but we knew going in, (from reading about Ikea vanity horror stories online), that it was going to be a bitch.  And, they didn't lie.  Mike was stressed for a good 2 days about how he was going to fit the included Ikea drain and trap.  Mike wasn't happy with the design, so he decided to modify it a bit.  The original trap is designed in a configuration that allows full drawers.  Mike decided to change it and then modified the drawers to fit around the new trap.   

The top drawer comes with pieces to install dividers.  So Mike used some of these pieces to divide the drawer into a configuration that allowed him to remove the center section to fit the trap.  Since we have a ton of storage, much more than we need, in this second bathroom, I wasn't worried at all about giving up this small section. 

The bottom drawer remained the same.  I still don't know what I'll use these drawers for since I've already planned to use the built-in as a surplus storage for toilet paper and paper towels.  Maybe I'll become a couponer and get crates of toothpaste or something and store it down here.  We actually recently had to use our "travel kit" toothpaste for much longer than I'd like to admit because I kept forgetting to grab some at the grocery store.

The toilet is the same model as the one in the upstairs bathroom.  We love the style and the included soft-close lid, as well as the higher-efficiency model.

The trim on the other side of the room, as well as the window is done, but the holes need filled and sanded before I can paint.  I gave Mike and myself until the end of the month to get the basement done, so I should keep my end of the bargain and get my paint on!

Currently the storage and shower is used to store more construction supplies.  Painting this bad boy is going to be a pain in the ass, but I'll be happy when we can call at least one part of this giant renovation done. 

My Valentine

Mike's not one for flowers and chocolate.  He's never really been that big into holidays.  I was impressed when he sent me an email last Thursday morning wishing me a Happy Valentines Day.  It made my day, because it showed he was thinking of me.  Yeah, that's about as sappy as he gets.  And, I'm okay with that.  He's given me flowers exactly once in our 5 years together and it was in the first couple of months of dating.

I, on the other hand, love gift giving and making holidays special.  I made him a card, bought and wrapped a bunch of his favorite junk foods, (we've been eating really healthy lately in preparation for the wedding so, it was a nice treat), and also grilled a steak, (per his request).  I even grilled outside in the 20 degree weather because it's so much better on the grill, and I'm pretty damn good at it too!

I was thinking of how different we are in our "love languages", when I realized that Mike shows me he loves my in his own way - by building me things.

When we were cleaning and organizing the laundry room I mentioned that I would love to have some storage for the laundry items like detergent and the iron.  (I would love to have a fancy shmancy laundry room that I could decorate and enjoy doing laundry in, but I'll settle for some designated storage).  Mike went out in search of a cabinet to fit the space.

When we moved in, Mike put that shelf above the utility sink and it held all our laundry items.  It worked okay, but every once in a while when Mike brewed beer, the sink was over taken with a whole chemistry lab of items waiting to be washed and hanging to dry.  While the major renovations where happening next door in the future family room I had to do my laundry like this:

Unable to find a cabinet to fit in between the dryer vent and water lines and such, Mike decided to build me one, because that's what he does, my crazy furniture building fool.  On Valentines day it was finished and ready to stock up.

It's probably the worst thing to photograph since it's right under the florescent light, but it's too dark in the room to do anything with the light off.

He even earned bonus points for adding soft close hinges.

It's the little things that excite me!

It's not trendy, and even looks kind of awkward in the space, since we were confined to that small space in the middle of the washer and dryer.  But, I think it's the most beautiful thing in the world.  And, it's made doing the laundry a little more bearable.  He measured and made sure even the largest liquid detergent fit.

To bring this story back around, the jar on the top right is actually a spaghetti jar that we cleaned and used as a vase for the first, (and only), flowers Mike bought me.  We were poor cheap college students at the time and it was what was on hand.  I added the ribbon to make it pretty and after the flowers died, Mike cut a slot in the lid and we've used it as a piggy bank ever since.  I thought it was a perfect place to put it so that I can add any change that I find in his pockets! 

And, I'll share the other improvement that Mike made to the laundry room, the pocket door.

He' actually installed the "pocket" part maybe a year or two ago when we removed the old oak built-ins, (seen here in the basement before photo in our home tour).  But, it wasn't until recent that he installed the door and the trim around it.  We figured with repainting the laundry room, we might as well finish out all the details we can, even if it is just a laundry/storage room.

I still haven't painted the trim, but the door is awesome at keeping the sawdust out of the laundry room, and it's working great at keeping the sound from the laundry room out of the family room.  We haven't needed this too much lately, since the sound of belt sanders and chop saws usually drown anything out, but when we install a TV in that room, we knew we wanted to keep the sounds of the washing machine and dryer from being too disruptive.  

Now you see it.

Now, you don't.

Basement Progress

I like to write posts with a complete theme.  If not a project from start to finish, then at least a whole phase.  For example, the bathroom upstairs happened in a lot of stages so it was easy to post all the demo together, or the tile.

This basement is all over the place and my lack of posting is due to the fact that I have no clear idea of what to document.  We've got four different spaces going on, the family room, laundry room, bathroom, and the stairs, hallway and closet.  Instead of working and finishing each space one at a time it's easier to do them all at the same time.  It's frustrating to both Mike and I because at the end of the day there's nothing complete and it doesn't seem like anything was accomplished.  But, in fact a lot is getting done, it's just all the little pieces one at a time.

I figured I'd get over my posting norm and just show you what's going on.

We installed the flooring a couple weeks ago.  I planned to do a whole write up, but then it was covered in drop cloths and tools so it wasn't really a good "after" shot.  I'm going to show you anyways.

I even pulled the cloth away to show you a detail of the flooring we went with, sawdust and all.

Updated: We cleaned everything up over the weekend, so I was able to get a full floor shot without the drop clothes.

We brought home three different samples from our local lumber liquidators and lived with them for about a week before I bit the bullet and picked this one (far left in the picture below), called St. James Meade's Ranch Weathered Wood.

The other ones I liked as well, but each had something I didn't like about it.  The middle one, (St. James Chimney Rock Charcoal), was very dark which I liked, but it was also very smooth and shiny.  The sample was covered in fingerprints and I could only imagine what it would look like a week after installing it.

The last one was really neat, (Kensington Manor Cape Doctor), but I thought it was too trendy and would stand out too much.  It was made to look and feel like handscraped solid wood which I loved, but it was a little too light.    

The Mead's Ranch is matte with shiny grain.  In person it's pretty neat, and it's already been put to the dirt test with all the dust we're making.

 The last test was against the tile.  All work, but I liked the medium gray the best.

All were on sale for $1.99/sqft and were 12mm laminate with a pre-glued underlayment.  They were all floating floor systems with tongue and groove planks.  I laid everything out, (since Mike started without me and chose an alternating joint pattern that I didn't like.  I made him pull up about 5 rows.  He was not happy with me.), and made sure the wood patterns were random and didn't duplicate.  Once the measurements were done for a couple rows, we knew what had to be cut a couple rows ahead of time.  I laid it out, told him the measurements, and he cut and snapped into place.  It was pretty easy, and very rewarding when it was all finished.

The reason the cloths were put down right after installing the flooring was to add all the trim.  Which just happens to be the last stage of the project.  The problem is the trim involves so much, including the windows, baseboard, built-in cabinets, and stairs, and it's one of the most tedious projects.  It also doesn't help that I can't really be of very much assistance.  Mike likes to work at his own pace, and take his own measurements, so I have to just wait until it's all done to get down there with my paint brush.

He started in the little hallway and worked into the bathroom and then back around the nook into the main room.

He works pretty quickly, (when the table saw doesn't break down - ugh!), and we chose to bring all the materials downstairs along with the chop saw to make it even easier.  The table saw stays in the garage, so Mike gets a pretty good workout when he needs long pieces ripped down - up the basement stairs then down the deck stairs then out to the garage.  Then back in reverse.  You can see why we felt it was worth it to bring most of it downstairs and worry about the clean-up later.

We matched the trim throughout the house by ripping down some plywood then adding a cap.  I try to get in and prime and paint at this step before the shoe is added, so that I don't have to worry about getting a perfect line against the finished flooring.

We finished some walls in the bathroom, and this is what the trim looks like when it's complete.

Like I said it's really tedious, but definitely worth it in our opinions.  The rooms that were renovated before we moved in, (upstairs bathroom, kitchen, and basement), all looked disjointed and our goal was to match the rest of the house, and one way of doing that is to continue all the same trim.

A couple weeks ago I gave Mike until the end of the month to finish everything.  With one more weekend left I think we'll cut it close, but we may just finish this bad boy!  Not that there's any liquidated damages, (money the construction companies have to pay the owner if the project isn't finished by a certain day), but he has to finish eventually, because I've got a wedding to-do list a mile long!