Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Picking Paint Colors: Living Room

Ah the living room! I am so excited that the paint colors have been picked, finalized and are up on the wall! What a time we had picking a color. I have a really great curtain fabric that I found at a home fabric store in the Fashion District in Downtown LA last January. It's red!!! I love red. It's such a pretty paisley home dec fabric, and I only paid $2.50/yard. Anyone who knows fabric knows that's amazing! I got 10 yards of it then and there. I was bound and determined to use this fabric for my curtains in the living room. Then we moved in and well...

Don't mind the mess. I've come to terms with a move-in mess. Ours has gone on for a while, but I'm painting then unpacking. 

Anyways, yeah, that green... It's a great color for the blog, but the living room? NOT GOING TO WORK! It's just so green, and the curtains are going to be a lovely red. Hello Christmas! Not happening. 

So, I started trying to figure out paint colors once I finished all of my painting upstairs, and also our couches finally arrived as well. Long story, but we finally got them after three months of crazy. I didn't want to pick out a color that would clash with the couches or the curtains. I went to Sherwin Williams during the last big paint sale and brought home a ton of chips. I thought I had the colors picked. I found this really great greige and a pretty red. Nope! It looked fantastic on the 2 inch paint chip, but once I got the paint samples I realized this is not going to work. The red was too cherry, the neutral too gray.

Isn't that fabulous fabric?

At this point, I was very thankful I had decided to get actual paint samples. I didn't do that upstairs and basically got lucky. I highly recommend paint samples if you really are going for that just right look. After talking to Joe, we looked at pictures online. He was very patient with me and my million ideas. I looked at a lot of living rooms on and realized that I kept gravitating towards the living rooms with neutral walls and great colors in the curtains, rugs and pillows. I decided to scrap the red accent wall. Too hard to match that red or even coordinate it. 

I got another sample of a more yellow neutral. I was sure this was it. I painted it and even loved it. After living with it on the wall for 3 days though, I didn't love it. It was way too peachy.

Wow, does that green look limey or what?

At this point I was pretty frustrated. I'd been looking at paint colors and trying to pick a neutral for goodness sake for a week now. How hard could this be? I took the two neutrals into the nice lady at Sherwin Williams and said I wanted something in the mdlld. Not peachy, not gray. Just neutral.  Ha! What a thing to ask. She was fantastic though and helped me find Softer Tan! Yay!

Here are the pictures of the walls, freshly painted, no kick plates reattached, all of the furniture still in the middle of the room.

Overall, I am very happy with the color. I'm excited to get the outlets and switches all changed out, the furniture in place and some curtains made with my pretty fabric! I'm thinking right now that I will make a Roman shade, but I'm up for other suggestions and ideas. The rest of my to do list for this room include finding THE coffee table for us, finding and refurbishing an old dresser for the entertainment center, possibly finding a rug, and hanging a gallery wall up the stairs and some behind the couches. Yep! That's still a lot of stuff to do, but I'm not going to stress about it. I want it to be right and not just done. So I'll wait until I find the right pieces and make this ours over time.


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Before and After: Aunt Elsie's Bedside Table

Yay! I have a proper bedside table again! My life it complete. Yeah, it was complete and full before this, but it's so great to have this little piece of furniture all finished and by my bed again. My great aunt Elsie gave me this little piece of furniture when I was moving to Arizona forever ago. She's a lovely lady and incredibly generous. She's lived in the same small Nebraska town her entire 89 years of life and calls everyone kid. I'm sure you have a picture in your mind of this wonderful woman. 

She took incredible care of her belongings, so this little piece really didn't need to be painted. However, it just wasn't quite my style. It's a little bit 70's Western for me. 

I decided to go ahead and paint it though to make it fit more with my vision for our bedroom, and I'm pretty pleased with how it turned out. First I wiped it down with a damp cloth to get the moving dust off of it. Then I used sander/deglosser on it to prep it for paint. I did go over it very lightly with 220 grit sand paper just to make sure it was smooth. I gave it a once over with the cleaning cloth again to make sure it was squeaky clean. I didn't want any sawdust ruining my pretty paint job.

I used one coat of my favorite primer to make sure the paint really stuck: Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Water-Base Primer. I've used this primer on walls when I needed to cover hot pink. I've used it on furniture. It's great! 

Once that dried I used two coats of Sherwin Williams ProClassic Semi-Gloss in Dover White. This paint is really nice to work with and will give you a nice enamel finish cutting out the need for furniture wax or polyurethane. I've used this one quart of paint on four small projects now and still have about a 1/3 of the container left. 

Thanks for the table Elsie! And it's totally my style now. 


I'm sharing this with 

TDC Before and After

Friday, July 18, 2014

Fresh Caulk: How to make your tub and sink look new

Be honest, do you have a shower that looks like this? Or maybe a sink? Maybe you have some missing pieces of caulk like my shower.

I'm here to tell you that you can do something about it. Really. I promise. It will take a little elbow grease, but really, only a little, and you will have a new fresh looking tub.

The first thing you'll need to do is remove the old caulk. All of it. I know, yuck. This is the toughest part, I promise. And once you get some of the caulk removed, the rest comes up pretty easily. You'll need a utility knife or a putty knife to run along behind the caulk and the tub. Then you can use the corner of a paint scraper or a 5-in-1 tool to scrape the whole bead of caulk out. It should come out pretty easily in one long strip. If your caulk is seriously moldy, I'd suggest wearing a respirator and gloves and disposing of the old stuff ASAP. 

Once you get the majority of the old caulk removed, you'll need to go back over the area with a scraper and get the rest of the little pieces scraped away. Vacuum the area so that you don't have any leftovers to ruin your pretty new caulk. After you've gotten all of the area cleaned up, you'll need to wipe the tub, sink or tile clean with bleach water or rubbing alcohol. I used rubbing alcohol on a cotton ball. The key here is that you want as clean and dry of a surface as possible for your new caulk to adhere to.

Now you're ready to apply the new caulk line. Don't be scared. You can do it. Get the needed materials at your local hardware store. Depending on the area that needs to be recaulked, you may need more than one tube of caulk. Measure your space and read the tube to determine the linear footage it will cover.

You'll need:
Tub and Tile Caulk (You have a choice between clear and white) $5 
A caulk gun $2
Masking tape $4
(All prices are approximate)

I know that the pros don't even need tape, but for us DIYers, tape is our best friend. Run tape along both sides of your future caulk line. It's up to you to decide how wide your caulk line will be right now. The further apart you put your tape, the wider the line. (I know, duh!) Please, please don't worry about making the tape perfectly straight. I promise, if you do your best, it'll be just fine.

Once you get the tape set, cut open the caulk tube and put it in the gun. The nice people at the hardware store will show you how it works if you really can't figure it out. You'll need to pierce the end of the tube before any caulk will come out, but there is a little piece of metal on the gun designed just for that. Once you get it set into the gun, you're ready to run some caulk. It's going to look messy and awful. Don't despair. You'll clean it up at the end and it'll be just perfect. You will want to have a wet rag on hand though to clean up anything that hits areas that don't need caulk. :)

Here is where you actually squeeze the trigger on the gun. You'll probably have to stop at some point to release the trigger and restart. That's normal. Just one tip, unless you want caulk to keep oozing out, disengage the trigger and reengage it when you are ready to start. 

See what I mean. It looks like a hot mess right now.

To get that nice clean line, you'll use your finger. I've tried the tools that say they are made for cleaning up caulk lines and using my finger has been absolutely the nicest most even finish. Have a tissue and trash can ready to clean up your finger at the end. Get your finger a little wet and then just run it along the caulk line. You'll pull a lot of caulk up with you. That's good! 

See what I mean

Still looks pretty bad, doesn't it?

At this point, you may be doubting that this will look okay. It will. Now you will pull the tape away right away. You don't want to wait for this to dry at all. Just pull the tape away at an angle and throw it in that trash can you have ready.

You should be left with a beautiful straight line of fresh mold-free caulk! Follow the directions on the tube to see how long it needs to dry before you use the tub or shower. If you don't let it dry properly you'll get adhesion issues and then you'll be in worse shape then before.

Do you have any tips on running a clean caulk line? If so, please let us all know with a comment below.


Monday, July 14, 2014

Sewing Desk: From Plain Pine to Antiqued Blue

Hey all! I'm super excited about this project. I can't wait to share the before and after with you. I have to share the backstory though first. When I moved to Tempe and out of my parent's house in Minnesota I took whatever furniture my parents were willing and able to part with. One of the pieces that my mom really had to force on me at the time was this sewing desk. I liked sewing, but I wasn't really sure I needed such a big desk dedicated just for setting up a sewing machine because I really didn't sew that much at the time. My mom basically told me I needed to take it because it was a very useful piece of furniture and really a nice solid piece. I also remember hearing that it was from one of her friends in the Twin Cities.

Yep, this is it. Big, clunky. Lots of stained pine. Not really my style.

Long story short, I took it. I used it some the first few years that I lived there, but then I took up quilting and started using it a lot more. I still really didn't think it was that pretty, but it had become functional and something that I got used to so I didn't think much of it anymore. Enter my mom again. On a visit to my house she suggested that I paint it black to spruce it up. I thought, "Eh, maybe when I get the time." I was in the middle of planning a wedding at this point.
Well, I finally decided to paint it. What better time would there be than right now when we just moved and I haven't even set up my sewing area yet? This was it. Now or never. But, I wasn't convinced that black was the right color. So I put it off until I was painting my bathroom and thought, "Hey, this would be a cool color for that sewing desk." That was May. I let the idea stew a bit more. I even mentioned something about the idea to my sister and great aunt while visiting them and as I was describing it, my aunt remembered that at one time she had a very similar desk. It turns out that it was originally hers and passed through too many family members in the past 47 years for me to get the story straight. Ah, this desk is already the stuff of legends. :-)
Knowing that it was originally my great aunt's desk given to her by her husband during their engagement now motivated me to take care of the piece and do it right. First, I prepared the desk for painting by using sander/deglosser. This was the first time I had ever used that instead of stripping and sanding the furniture. I think it turned out pretty well for a piece that I antiqued in the end. If I really wanted a nice smooth finish, I would definitely invest the time in stripping and sanding down to a smooth bare wood.
For the paint, first I used Zinsser Bull's Eye 1-2-3 Primer. I love this stuff! I'm new to the world of primer, but out of the 5 I've used, I don't think I'll use anything else ever again. Then I used the Valspar Lucy Blue from the bathroom, and I mixed in some cream until it was a more muted blue. I used that on the sides and drawer fronts. And then I decided to venture into the world of chalkboard paint for the top. 

That's right, I just put a lot of drop cloths down in the bedroom and started painting. It worked out well.

After all of the paint was dry, I decided to be brave and antique the sides and drawer fronts. Yikes! I'd never done this on anything I actually cared about before. I was super nervous and did some testing on the back on a portion that would never be seen anyways. I tried two different stains over that. I ended up picking the Minwax Red Mahogany that I used on Joe's side table

Two different stains that I tested on the back. The red mahogany is the stain on the left.

See what I mean? It's scary to cover up something you just painted.

I decided to be brave though and just go for it. First I used my little mouse sander with a 220 grit sand paper and just lightly scuffed the edges and corners. 

This is how bright and clean the paint was before I antiqued it.

After sanding portions of the paint off, I thoroughly vacuumed the entire desk and wiped it with a damp cloth. You don't want little sawdust particles ruining your nice new antiqued finish. Then I put on gloves, wiped the stain on with an old sock, and I immediately wiped it off with a clean cloth. I know that sometimes people leave the stain on for up to 15 minutes before wiping it off, but this was pretty light paint and pretty dark stain and I was getting the look I wanted with the immediate wipe off.  
Finally, I spray painted the original pulls a nice silver color. To seal it I finished the sides with Minwax Furniture Wax. I also allowed the chalkboard paint to cure for a weekend and then rubbed it with chalk before writing anything on it. 
Preparing the chalkboard paint by rubbing chalk all over it in both directions

Now, I just have to get my machine out and start sewing! I'm super excited because I just absolutely love how the piece turned out. I don't even think they look like the same piece of furniture.



This is clearly just after. Drop cloths everywhere!

I love that it has this fold out table top for extra work space.

I love it! I think it turned out so much better than I could have ever imagined. Have you discovered a new piece of furniture recently in your home and given it a new life?


Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Book Review: Wonder

I've had a number of people say that they have enjoyed the book review I did at the end of 2013 and that they'd like to see more. I love reading, but I've really been so busy the past few months with all of my house projects that I practically just collapse into bed each night and can't read. I've been listening to a lot of audio books though which has been a great while painting. The other problem is that I didn't think that there was anything that I've read or listened to that I've really felt strongly about. And then a book popped into my head. Oh yeah, that's right, Wonder by R.J. Palacio!

I picked this book up while subbing this spring from a 5th grade teacher's desk to read while the kids were gone for art class. I'd seen some students reading it throughout the year and was curious. Wow! It was a really good book. All of the 5th graders who saw me reading it said the same thing. I really love how R.J. Palacio wrote the book from multiple perspectives. It's hard to do that well, but she did it perfectly. She was able to move the story line forward and yet continue to circle back to past events to reveal another character's feelings about it. 

This is a coming of age story about Aggie Pullman, but it's really not the typical coming of age story. It's much stronger and more poignant. Let's just say that what he goes through has a hugely positive effect on a lot of other people as well, and he's not the only one who grows up. 

This book was written for young adults, but the lessons in here will affect adults as well. Have you read this book? What did you think of it? 

Have you read anything else lately that I need to read?


Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Restoration Ruby: Free Infinity Scarf Give Away!!!

Hey all,
I'm going to try a new type of blog post today. It's something I'd like to do more of in the future for other people, so I'm going to try with my own Etsy shop first to see how it goes. But if any of my readers like this idea and have a product to promote, please let me know and I'd be happy to discuss running a promotion for you!
Today I'm going to feature my Etsy shop: RestorationRuby. I started this shop last year when I had moved to California and needed something to do. I've always enjoyed sewing and making crafts, but one person can only have so many scarves for themselves. Enter the idea of opening an Etsy shop. It's been really quite fun to sell things online, and I hope that people who have my products have enjoyed them. I'd invite you to go and check out my shop and browse for an item you might love.
If you'd like an infinity scarf for free though, here's your chance. I'm giving one away for free if you enter by next Tuesday, July 15.  All you have to do is enter a comment below about what you'd like to see featured on my blog or what your favorite post has been.

If you want this scarf, please enter! I'll let everyone know who the winner is next week. Also, for my male readers, don't count yourselves out of this, your mom, sister, wife or girlfriend just might think this was a great present!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Butternut Squash Ravioli with Skinny Alfredo Sauce and Candied Squash: Joe's Birthday Dinner

I realize there is so much to this post; I'm not completely sure where to start. So I guess I'll start with a Happy Birthday to Joe since that is what inspired me to make this dinner in the first place. I know, you thought we ate like this every night, right? ;-) 

This dish is actually Joe's recipe. He created it for a cooking class final a few years back. His team won, enough said. That's right ladies, I'm one lucky gal! He came up with the filling recipe and the overall idea. He says it can really be topped with any sort of sauce, I just really like this Skinny Alfredo Sauce from The Comfort of Cooking. Please do check out that full recipe because she uses it on spaghetti squash, and the end result is to die for! So even if you decide that there is absolutely no way on earth that you'll ever make your own ravioli, please try the sauce. It's de-lish! 

Or, if you're not up for the alfredo sauce, try the ravioli filling below on any pasta dish with the candied squash topping. What I'm trying to say is that you've got options and are only limited by your creativity. That's how I like to cook. I don't believe that any of this is exclusive to just one recipe. If you think it sounds good, then it probably will. Be brave my friends!

I also need to give a few thank you's now before I get into the recipe details for making the dinner extra special. Thanks to our friends, John and Kim, for the super awesome KitchenAid Pasta Roller Attachments! We've used these several times now, and wow do we love them. Making pasta is actually really fun with these. So thanks John and Kim for the great wedding gift. It really was such a wonderful gift to get and one we wouldn't have gotten for ourselves for a very long time. Let us know the next time you're in Dayton so we can make some pasta for you!

Thanks also to Bahram and Miriam for the lovely table cloth. Also a wedding present, and it really helped make the evening feel special. And thanks to Kathy and Tom for the excellent wine tonight. We really enjoyed drinking the Castoro Zinfusion. If you've never had Castoro wine, please check it out. It's really really delicious and very reasonably priced. This wine was a double gold medal winner for 2012, and that was very deserved praises.

Pretty white Mikasa table cloth and delicious Castoro Zinfusion

And finally thanks to Jeanie and Vic for the California cutting board. It's such a great memory of our first year married, living in Pasadena!

Isn't it cute?

We're really have wonderful friends and family. What a blessing! 

Sorry, I warned you that there was a lot to this post. :-) But finally without further ado, the recipe:

Butternut Squash Filling
2 1/2 cups cubed butternut squash, steamed
1 1/4 cup freshly shredded parmesan
1 1/4 cup ricotta cheese
Directions: Steam the squash until it is soft enough to mash with a fork, about 15 minutes. Remove from the heat and let cool slightly. In a medium bowl, mix together the cheeses. Add the steamed squash and mash it all together with a fork. Place in fridge until ready to stuff the ravioli.

Homemade Pasta
3 1/2 cups sifted flour
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp olive oil
4 eggs
2 Tbsp water; plus more as needed
Directions: Combine all ingredients in the bowl of the KitchenAid stand mixer (or a food processor) and mix for 30 seconds. Switch to the dough hook (or dough blade) and mix on low for 2 minutes. Kneed by hand for another 1-2 minutes. Set aside for 20 minutes before rolling.

This is what it will look like after mixing in the stand mixer.

This is what you want it to look like once you finish kneeding by hand. It should all combine and be stretchy and elastic. If it's crumbling you need to add more liquid. I've made the mistake a few times now in not adding enough liquid. It's a nightmare!

Once the dough has relaxed for 20 minutes, it's time to use the KitchenAid attachments. Yay! This part is really pretty fun if the dough is moist enough. If it's not moist enough you'll get a crumbly mess and a lot of tears in your dough. You will want to cut the ball of dough into eight approximately equal parts. Some of you may want to measure this with a kitchen scale. I won't stop you, but I won't be joining you either. I'm not that exact of a chef, sorry. Once you get a section cut off, you'll want to flatten it so it's about 3/8" thick. You can see in the picture below what it should look like.

Follow the directions starting on level one working your way up until you achieve the desired thickness you want. I went up to 7 and stopped there. You don't want to overwork the dough or it will become unusable. 

In the end you need a piece of dough that will be long enough and wide enough to go over your ravioli form. 

Finished dough waiting on the drying rack

What if I don't own a ravioli form or these fancy attachments you ask? You can totally do this by hand with a rolling pin and a glass.  Find the directions here

At this point, you want to get your ravioli filling out of the fridge and start filling the ravioli as you have the dough ready.
I put about a 1/2 tablespoon of filling in each of my ravioli, but it will just totally depend on how big you make them. This is really subjective.

I covered the filled dough with a second length of dough and used a rolling pin to adhere the two sides together. I still had to cut many of them apart with a knife, but this sealed them well!

Place the ravioli on a piece of floured wax paper on a baking sheet. Make sure to add more flour to the top of the ravioli before covering them. I put the finished pieces in the fridge until we were ready to eat.

Once you're actually ready to cook them, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add a splash of olive oil to the water to keep the ravioli from sticking to each other. Add the pasta to the water and bring back to a boil. It will take between 5-8 minutes for them to cook. Fresh pasta cooks very quickly. Remove from the water with a slotted spoon and add more pasta as you're ready to eat it. I like to keep the water boiling and add the pasta just before it's going to be eaten.

Now on to the toppings!

Candied Squash
2 cups squash cut into 1/2" cubes
1 1/2 Tbsp melted butter
1 1/2 Tbsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
Directions: Preheat the oven to 375˚. Melt the butter in a microwave safe bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix together. Spread onto a glass baking dish and cook for 40-50 minutes turning the squash every 15 minutes.

Roasted Squash Seeds
Remove the seeds when you are cubing the squash. Place in a bowl of salt water to soak for a few minutes to a few hours. (It doesn't matter how long they soak.) When you're ready to bake them, preheat the oven to 325˚ and place on a baking sheet. Roast for at least 15 minutes. If you've soaked them for a long time, you'll have to roast them for longer. You will know when they are done because you'll hear them popping, and you'll smell them.

Why, oh why do people throw these away? They are awesome and really not hard to make.

Skinny Alfredo Sauce
1 Tbsp butter
3 cloves of garlic, finely minced
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup of fat-free milk
1 Tbsp Neufchatel cream cheese
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 tsp freshly grated black pepper
Directions: Melt the butter in a small pot over medium-low heat. Once hot, add the garlic and sauté 1-2 minutes. Whisk in flour, cooking for another minute while stirring. Whisk in milk until no lumps remain. Once hot, add cream cheese and stir until smooth. Remove from the heat and stir in the Parmesan, salt and pepper.

Plate up the cooked ravioli, topping it with sauce, candied squash and roasted squash seeds.

Bon Appétit