A twenty-something's foray into the domestic arts.

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Family Room Furniture Facelift

When we moved into our home 2 1/2 years ago, it was a mess. We basically had to gut it, as each room had something to tackle. Along the way, the hubs and I picked up a lot of DIY skills and we now have a home we really take pride in.

As we were redoing things, we made the conscious decision to paint every room in an off-white, tan, or light grey. We only thought we’d stay in the house long enough to keep the full $8,000 tax credit and then be on our way. Nearly 3 years later, we’re not moving… and we don’t plan to anytime soon. We love our little ranch close to town.

The Modern Lady's Family Room Before

Unfortunately, now all of the boring, neutral colors on the walls are really starting to grate on me. I am not one for bland or generic, and all of the paint choices feel that way to me. Now that we know we’re going to be here awhile, I’ve started to go room by room and repaint furniture and decor to amp up the color.

End Table Before

Painting furniture is a great way to save money and give a second life to something that has otherwise seen better days. I used the long weekend to redo an end table and coffee table for our family room. Honestly, I’ve always loved these pieces. They are display tables. Each has a glass top, then 5 inches down there is a drawer you can pull out and put things on.

Coffee Table Before

These were hand-me-downs from my parents, who have a farmhouse. They’ve always felt a bit country to me, and they had a very distinct 90s look. The drawer lining was navy blue velvet, which I think was the absolute worst part of them. The hardware was your traditional brass, aged over time. While dated, they were super solid and functional… and free.

To begin, I sanded down both of the units. (I’ll be covering must have tools for furniture redos in an upcoming post.) When I was done sanding, I wiped them clean using a damp cloth and let them “dry” overnight.

End Table After

For the end table, I chose a bright green paint. I used Behr Premium Plus Ultra paint in a satin finish. The color is “Scotland Isle”. Once painted, I gave it a coat of polyurethane.

Coffee Table After

For the coffee table, I went with a royal blue. Again, I used Behr Premium Plus Ultra paint in a satin finish. The color is “Sailboat.” It also got a coat of polyurethane to seal it.

End Table Knobs

To finish both pieces off, I headed to Hobby Lobby for some knobs and pulls. Since I was painting random furniture random colors, I figured some random hardware would do. I found some sweet little ceramic scallop knobs in green for the end table. For the coffee table, I found blue and white striped ceramic pulls and coordinating blue and white flower ceramic knobs. I LOVE them, I could live in the hardware isle at Hobby Lobby.

Coffee Table Knobs and Pulls

Originally, I searched for some matching fabric to line the inside of the drawers that show through the glass. After hitting every fabric store and coming up less than enthused by my options, I decided to go with a basic, off-white home decor fabric. I believe it was from the Waverly Modern Essentials line at Jo Ann’s, but I can’t confirm. Using a combination of freezer paper stenciling and hand painting, I then applied swirls to the fabric in the matching paint color. When I was done, I applied the new drawer lining to the old with some spray glue.

End Table Drawer Lining

The total cost for both tables was approximately $55.00. The most expensive part was the paint at $14.22 per quart. The fabric was 50% off; I got a yard for $9.99. The hardware was also 50% off $2.99 for the knobs and $3.99 for the pulls. We had all of the other supplies like paint brushes and polyurethane lying around from previous renovation projects.

The Modern Lady's Family Room After

After several days of a table-less family room, my husband helped bring them upstairs last night. After we were done arranging them, he said: “Honey, I know you make a lot of nice things… but these tables are awesome. I bet they’d cost a fortune in a store. I’m so proud of you.” While I’m not going to say the process of refinishing these was easy, they certainly were worth that fabulous compliment. He’s the best.

I’ll be sure to tell him how much better they will look with new pillows and lamp shades surrounding them when I go shopping this weekend.

January 19, 2012   6 Comments

Dwight Schrute DIY T Shirt Ideas

We were a little late in our house to stumble upon the greatness that is The Office, so bear with me here. Over the last few months, the hubs and I have watched every episode season 1 through 7 on Netflix. It’s hard to pick a favorite character, but we both really appreciate Dwight’s sense of humor.

For Christmas & his birthday, the hubs asked for The Office t-shirts. I wasn’t really impressed with the selection on NBC, so I decided to make my own.  I made two, each Dwight-themed.

 Dwight Schrute T Shirt - Bears Beets Battlestar Galactica

The first highlights Dwight’s favorite things in life … Bears… Beets… and Battlestar Galactica. Turns out, there are a TON of adorable Dwight items on Etsy. So, it was easy to find cute quotes to run with.

Schrute Farms Beets T Shirt

Schrute Farms Beets T Shirt Stencil

The second shirt is a promo for Schrute Farms Beets. My husband gets a kick out of the legit profile on TripAdvisor. It’s the simple things in life.

For both shirts, I used my Cricut to create a freezer paper stencil, then applied fabric paint to the t shirt. I designed the lettering and graphics in Photoshop. I’ve made them into SVG files in case you’d like to download them and make your own. Enjoy!

SVG Download Links:

January 13, 2012   5 Comments

Christmas Cookie Recipes: Caramel-Filled Chocolate Cookies

The Christmas cookie excitement continues.

I LOVE Rolos. Well… I like anything with caramel in it. These cookies have a Rolo baked into the middle and they are absolutely awesome! You might think that they’re a lot of work, but they are really simple to make.

Image by Taste of Home

CARAMEL-FILLED CHOCOLATE COOKIES

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar, divided
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup baking cocoa
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/4 cups chopped pecans, divided
  • 1 package (13 ounces) Rolo candies

Directions:

In large mixing bowl, cream butter, 1 cup sugar and brown sugar. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa and baking soda; gradually add to the creamed mixture, beating just until combined. Stir in 1/2 cup pecans.

Shape a tablespoonful of dough around each candy, forming a ball. In a small bowl, combine the remaining sugar and pecans; dip each cookie halfway. Place nut side up 2 inches apart on greased baking sheets.

Bake at 375 for 7-10 minutes or until tops are slightly cracked. Cool for 3 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.

Yield: 5 dozen

December 21, 2011   No Comments

Christmas Cookie Recipes: Peanut Butter Blossoms

One of my husband’s favorite cookies is the Peanut Butter Blossom. Around the holidays, it’s a must make. Although it’s an easy cookie to bake, I’m sharing my recipe because my super critical husband has approved it after other versions were tossed out. My secret is putting the unwrapped Hershey’s Kisses into the freezer; that way they stay in tact in the hot cookie base.

Image from Hershey's.com

Chad’s Peanut Butter Blossoms

Ingredients:

  • 48 Hershey’s Kisses
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3/4 cup peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Granulated sugar

Directions:

1. Heat oven to 375°F. Remove wrappers from chocolates.

2. Beat shortening and peanut butter in large bowl until well blended. Add 1/3 cup granulated sugar and brown sugar; beat until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. Stir together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into peanut butter mixture.

3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Roll in granulated sugar; place on ungreased cookie sheet.

4. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Immediately press a chocolate into center of each cookie; cookie will crack around edges. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack. Cool completely.

About 4 dozen cookies.

December 20, 2011   2 Comments

Christmas Cookie Recipes: Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies

I think I’ve come to the conclusion that life doesn’t get any better than baking around the holidays. More so than having your house smell delicious and sneaking a sweet reward right from the oven, I love spending time with friends and family when making them. I have so many wonderful memories of baking that no matter how stressed out or busy I am as the holiday chaos ramps up, I always make time for cookies!

This past weekend, my friend Claudia came over and we tackled peanut butter blossoms, brownies, caramel filled chocolate cookies, and chocolate marshmallow cookies… on our super ambitious list of cookie to dos. Later in the week, I whipped up M & M cookies, oreo Truffles, cheesecake cups, sugar cookies, and coconut macaroons. By popular request on Facebook (I tease with mobile uploads), I wanted to make sure I shared the recipes before Christmas. Today I’m featuring the Chocolate Marshmallow Cookies; the recipe comes from Taste of Home Best Loved Cookies & Bars – which is a fabulous cookbook.

Image by Taste of Home

CHOCOLATE MARSHMALLOW COOKIES

INGREDIENTS:
• 1/2 cup butter, softened
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 egg
• 1/4 cup milk
• 1 teaspoon  vanilla extract
• 1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/3 cup baking cocoa
• 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 16 to 18 large marshmallows

ICING:
• 6 tablespoons butter, softened
• 2 tablespoons baking cocoa
• 1/4 cup milk
• 1-3/4 cups confectioners’ sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
• Pecan halves

DIRECTIONS:
• In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add egg, milk and vanilla; mix well. Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; beat into creamed mixture.
• Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets. Bake at 350° for 8 minutes. Meanwhile, cut marshmallows in half. Press a marshmallow half, cut side down, onto each cookie. Return to the oven for 2 minutes. Cool completely on a wire rack.
NOTE: Both Claudia and I thought these were a little overdone for our liking. We’d recommend doing 7 minutes, then the additional 2 with the marshmallows.
• For icing, in a small saucepan, combine butter, cocoa and milk. Bring to a boil; boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Cool slightly; transfer to a small bowl. Beat in confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until smooth. Spread over the cooled cookies. Top each with a pecan half. Drizzle any extra chocolate over top.

Yield: about 3 dozen

 These were new to the recipe list this year… and I of course taste-tested them. Approved – they are fabulous.

December 16, 2011   No Comments

Baby Bunting Bust

Every once in awhile, I have a major sewing fail. I blame it on my pattern reading skills. I don’t like to read patterns. The only time I break down and do so is when there’s something I can’t figure out on my own. Recently, I’ve tried to get better at this by forcing myself to read patterns start to finish. So, when I take the time to read every step of a pattern in detail, I expect things to work out. This was not the case with my most recent sewing project.

My good friend has a baby due the 12th and I wanted to make her something special. Her and her husband have chosen not to know the sex of the baby, so it had to be something unisex. For the baby shower (Labor Day weekend… yes I started this project in August!), I got them a furry car seat cover and monkey strap covers. To go along with the travel-in-cold-weather theme, I figured a baby bunting would be perfect.

McCalls Pattern M5963

McCalls Pattern M5963 Drawings

I picked design A from McCalls pattern M5693. I thought the hood and the mittens would be more practical than a design without them. Turns out, that was my demise. I redid the stupid mittens at least 4 times and re-read the directions at least 20 before I admitted defeat. On Saturday, I put the trash can up to the sewing table and swept it clean – trashing the baby bunting I’d worked so hard on for two months.

McCalls Pattern M5963

While I hate to throw something away, I hate getting stressed out when I sew even more. Sewing is supposed to be my time to relax and enjoy my work. When it stops being fun, it’s just not worth it to me.

Have you ever had a project you tried so hard to finish… but finally gave up? How did you feel? I am upset at myself for letting it defeat me, but at the same time I’m relieved I don’t have to look at it anymore.

October 30, 2011   3 Comments

Custom Chalkboard for the Kitchen

So, the thing is… if you shop at garage sales, you have to be prepared to buy. Thoughts like: “What am I going to do with this?” or “Will this fit the space?” don’t seem to make it into that quick garage-sale-buy decision making process for fear the item will be gone if you turn around. I find this happening to me a lot. I see something I like, I buy it, THEN I think about what I’m going to do with it.

Since we moved into our house over two years ago, I’ve been on the hunt for a chalk board for my kitchen. I originally loved the idea of these modular chalkboard tiles featured in Pottery Barn. As with all of their awesome pieces though, they well exceeded my budget. They were $136.00 for a set of 4! Additionally, I wanted something custom – something with personality.

Pottery Barn Chalkboard Tiles

This summer, I struck gold when I found a huge chalkboard at a garage sale. It was 48″ by 60″ and love at first sight. The $40 price tag had it in our vehicle and on the way to my house in minutes. Here is the post-buy interview compliments of my dad, who’s on a mission to capture my pre “Hoarders” film.

When I got it home, the chalkboard didn’t fit. It was too wide for the wall I wanted to put it on. My dad came to the rescue and was able to cut the chalkboard down several inches while maintaining the wood trim around it. When he was finished, I customized it using my Cricut and vinyl – an additional $10 in materials.

Custom Kitchen Chalkboard by The Modern Lady

Now, I have a massive customized chalkboard for the fabulous cost of $50! Not only is it aesthetically pleasing, but it also helps our house stay organized with our weekly menu, a to do list, and shopping list. I think my impulse buy worked out perfectly; although I will admit that is not always the case.

Have you ever had a similar purchasing experience? Leave a comment and share it with us!

October 26, 2011   3 Comments

Milk Canister Rehab

Last year, I picked up this milk canister at an estate sale. It was free and I saw potential. Behind those sad, warn off chicken stickers… I knew there could be something great. I brought it home and it sat in my basement for a year; the great idea was still formulating.

Milk Canister - Before

When I saw this post- Expiration Date – on Better After, I found inspiration for my milk canister. This woman sat on her milk jug for 20 years before she figured out what to do with it! I probably would have given up by then. Here is what she did with hers:

I used the following materials for my milk canister rehab.

  • Fine grit sand paper
  • Black semi-gloss spray paint
  • White vinyl

My first step was to sand off the chicken stickers and chipped paint. Then, I washed the canister down and dried it (I let it sit in the sun for a few hours). When it was completely dried, I gave it two good coats of black spray paint from top to bottom.

While waiting for the paint to dry, I busted out my Cricut and cut out my house letters. If you don’t have a Cricut, you could buy precut vinyl letters. Or, you can buy a sheet of vinyl, trace them out, and cut them yourself. Once the paint dried, I applied the numbers. That’s it!

Milk Canister - After

A pretty new way to display our house numbers so they are easy to spot from the road.

October 20, 2011   3 Comments

Halloween DIY Projects & Crafts

Are you getting excited for Halloween? I am. It’s my favorite holiday, hands down. I’ve seen so many adorable DIY projects and crafts ideas in the blogosphere this year! I started a board on Pinterest to collect them all. Check it out if you’re looking for a spooky project.

Isn’t Pinterest the best?!

October 16, 2011   2 Comments

Back to Blogging Giveaway Winner

Congratulations Jenny Chang! You are the winner of my back to blogging giveaway.

Here’s your prize pack: The Modern Lady 101611 Giveaway Winner Prize

  • Black Satin Flower Headband
  • Vintage Button Earrings
  • Ephemera Note Cards

I will be emailing you for an address so I can send you your winnings!

Thanks to everyone who entered; your comments were much appreciated.

October 16, 2011   1 Comment

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