Dining Room Progress Report


Happy 4th of July Friday, everyone!  After a bit of a hiatus {due to starting a new job}, I’m happy to be back on the blog and excited to share some progress we’ve made in our dining room.  We’re only halfway through the projects we have planned for the space, and already the room is feeling brighter and more inviting.  I can’t wait to see the end result once all of the final decorative touches are added.  In the meantime, I thought it would be fun to share what we’ve done so far…


As you can see in the “before” photos above, when we moved in, the walls were painted a dingy salmon pink and were littered from end to end with large nail and wall anchor holes.  We repaired the walls and gave them a fresh coat of paint {Tinsmith by Sherwin Williams}, which did wonders to open up the space.  Paint is always a great way to add big impact without spending a lot of money.  Case in point: our dining room table.


When we bought the new house, JC’s parents graciously gave us their kitchen table set.  Since the finish had some wear and tear, we decided the table and chairs would make a great DIY makeover project.  We didn’t have much of a plan in mind when we went to pick out paint colors beyond wanting something to compliment the new wall color.  After a good hour or so of indecisive hovering over the Home Depot paint counter, we finally settled on a combination of a dark gray-brown and a silvery light blue (Behr Premium Semi-gloss in Burl and Millennium Silver, respectively).


In the photos above, you can see the “before” table {a cream painted finish with light wood top and drawer pulls} in the process of being painted by me this past Winter {as evidenced by my hat, vest, and holiday coffee!}.  A few coats of paint transformed the table from a country basic to a fresh, modern piece to suit our new space.  My favorite detail, though, has to be the new metal drawer pulls, which bring a nice textural element to the room.


Now that the walls and table are finished, our next step is to either refinish the matching chairs {which we’re currently using as-is} or find new chairs to compliment the table.  I think I’d like to incorporate some upholstered parsons-style chairs or something in a metal or natural fiber to add another layer of texture to the room, but I’m still searching for the perfect solution. {You just know it when you see it, right?}


Our remaining projects for the room include refinishing a vintage buffet/sideboard we found to go on the far wall {under the painting currently hanging above}, replacing the underwhelming fluorescent light fixture over the table, and then – my favorite part – adding all of the fun, decorative accents like art, window treatments, and décor pieces.  In the long term, we would also love to replace the wall-to-wall carpeting with all hardwood flooring, but for now, we’ll make the best of what we have.



What do you think?  We still have some work ahead of us, but I’m happy with how things are progressing.  I’d love to hear how you would finish the space.  What would you choose for seating, lighting, window treatments, etc.?  I can’t wait to read your suggestions!

Wishing everyone a happy, fun & safe Independence Day Weekend!



“Chai Love You” Hot Toddy

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During the colder months, there are few things I find as comforting as a hot drink.  With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, what better way is there to keep the cold at bay than with a soothing, soul-warming hot toddy?

I found these adorable mugs at Target for $2.99 each - talk about a deal to love!

I found these adorable mugs at Target for $2.99 each – talk about a deal to love!


This winter cocktail is one of my favorites, and I love that there are so many variations on the classic that can be made with whatever ingredients you happen to have on hand.  To me, this is the best kind of cocktail – one you can just throw together without pulling out a recipe or making a special trip to the store.  IMG_1174

I’ve seen countless variations on the hot toddy, but they usually feature a hot liquid base (water, tea, cider), your liquor of choice (usually whiskey, bourbon, or rum), a sweetener (sugar, honey, agave), and a combination of spices or garnishes (lemon, clove, cinnamon,  anise, or ginger).  I tend to make mine with tea, bourbon, and honey, but in honor of Valentine’s Day, I thought I would whip up something a little more special.


I thought chai tea would make the perfect base for a swoon-worthy cocktail.  Chai tea is sweet, spicy, and citrusy – all of the elements of a good hot toddy.  I used a combination of chai oolong, which has strong, spicy notes, and chai mate, which has sweeter, more fragrant notes to help balance out the boldness of the oolong.  You can really use any tea you like, so feel free to experiment until you find a combination you love.



For this cocktail, I wanted to try something a bit softer and more romantic than the usual bourbon, so I went with Disaronno, an Italian amaretto liqueur.  The sweet, citrusy notes of the Disaronno paired perfectly with the spicy chai tea and added a more subtle warmth of alcohol than the stronger alternatives.



20140209_115400To finish the cocktail, I added a spoonful of honey for a touch of sweetness.  The combination of warm spicy tea and soothing honey makes this the perfect cocktail to warm your heart whether you’re enjoying a romantic night in with the one you love or simply cuddling up on the couch with a good book or watching your favorite RomCom.  Enjoy! xoxo Meg


“Chai Love You” Hot Toddy


  • 2 to 2 and 1/2 teaspoons loose chai tea (alternatively, you can use two chai teabags or whatever style tea you have on hand.  You may need to adjust the amount of tea and brew time depending on the variety of tea you use and the desired strength.)
  • 2 cups hot water
  • 2 ounces (one small shot glass full) of Disaronno liqueur (would also be great with bourbon or honey whiskey)
  • 1 teaspoon of honey (adjust for desired sweetness)

Heat water to just below the boiling point.  When the water is ready, steep the tea for 3 minutes (or less if you prefer a lighter tea).  I used loose tea, so I steeped it right in the measuring cup and used a small strainer to filter out the leaves when I poured the tea into my mug.  You can also brew the tea right in your mug using a tea diffuser or simply use tea bags – whatever method you prefer.  Once the tea is brewed, simply add the liqueur and desired amount of honey and stir until the honey is dissolved.

Serves 2 if using small teacups or 1 large mug.  Enjoy responsibly!



Quick & Easy Ottoman Update


When we moved into our new house, the walls in our main living space {living room, dining room and kitchen} were a dull shade of salmon pink, which made the whole downstairs feel dark and dated.  I just finished painting the living room a crisp shade of gray {Sherwin-Williams Tinsmith}, and the space already feels so much brighter and refreshed.  To compliment the spiffy new fireplace wall, I decided to create a little seating area where we could sit by the fire, read, or enjoy a cup of coffee.  After finding an armchair to fit the space, I started looking for a small ottoman that could double as a side table or extra seating when needed but wouldn’t obstruct the view of the fireplace.


I found this little stool at Ross {if you don’t have one in your area, it is similar to a T.J.Maxx or Marshalls}.  Though the Roman-themed fabric did not match the aesthetic I had in mind, I loved the metal base, and at under $30, the price was right.  I checked to make sure the seat was removable, and since it was, I knew it would be a cinch to reupholster.  For the new fabric, I turned to a slightly unconventional source – a pillow case!  While at Ross, I stumbled upon a discount sheet set, which featured a small geometric print in the perfect shade of blue to compliment my color scheme.  I was sold!



Supplies used:

  • Stool with removable seat
  • Screwdriver
  • Fabric {I used a pillow case, but if you are buying fabric by the yard, how much you will need will depend on the size of your stool.  For most purposes, a half yard to a yard will be more than enough fabric.}
  • Sharpie or something to draw an outline on your fabric
  • Scissors
  • Staple gun

steps 1-4

1) To begin, I removed the seat from the stool.  The seat was attached with 4 screws, so I just had to unscrew them using a Phillips-head screwdriver.  2 & 3) I then spread out my fabric, wrong side up, under the seat.  4) I drew a circle roughly three inches around the seat and then cut the excess fabric.

steps 5-8

5) With the seat facing right side down, I pulled the fabric taught and stapled it to the bottom of the seat.  6) I then pulled the fabric taught on the opposite side of the circle from where I had just stapled and, after checking the front of the seat for any wrinkles, I stapled the fabric in place to the back of the seat. 7) I continued in this manner – stapling one side, pulling it taught, checking for wrinkles, and then stapling the opposite side –  until I had worked my way around the entire circle.  8) Once the fabric was securely stapled to the bottom of the seat, I flipped it over once again to smooth any wrinkles. {You see a theme here, don’t you?}



Next, I trimmed away the excess fabric from the bottom of the seat and reattached the seat to the stool base.  Easy peasy!



Et voila – that’s all there is to it!  The whole project took less than 30 minutes {and it only took that long, because I was stopping to photograph each step}.  I am really pleased with the finished product, and it goes perfectly with my new chair and freshly painted gray walls.  I have already used it as a footstool and a handy spot to rest my coffee, and I can’t believe the whole project cost less than $40!  I have seen similar metal stools selling for four times that price, so I consider this a major win in the budget-friendly decorating department.

What do you think?  Have you ever tried this technique to give new life to old stools, dining chairs, etc.?  How did it turn out?  I’d love to hear from you!




Restyled: Kid’s Media Shelf


Finishing A’s bedroom was first on our to-do list when we moved into the new house.  We thought it would be fun to let her choose her own paint and accent colors – risky business when dealing with a 6 year old, we know!  No surprise to us, she settled on bright pink and purple paint for the walls with accents of apple green.  The combination suits her princess-loving personality perfectly, and she is so proud to have put her own stamp on the new space.


After painting the walls, we set up A’s bed {an adorable headboard/footboard set we scored for under $50 at a local resale shop and refinished a glossy white} and put an armchair in the corner for her to sit and read.  Since remaining floor space was at a premium, we wanted to find another furniture piece that could provide additional storage and multitask as a TV stand, bookshelf, and side table.


On a whim, we grabbed an old, particle board/veneer {i.e. cheap} bookshelf that was once used in my closet to store accessories, and we hatched a plan to give it a quick and inexpensive facelift.


To start, we sanded the entire shelf using a medium grit sandpaper, just enough to dull the sheen and lightly rough up the surface.  After giving the shelf a good cleaning, we then primed it using Behr Premium Plus Interior Latex Primer {I really like the coverage and consistency of this one, but you can use any good quality primer such as Kilz Odorless Interior Primer}.  Once primed, we painted the shelf with three coats of HGTV Home by Sherwin Williams Interior Semi-gloss Latex Paint in Snowbound, letting it dry thoroughly between coats to ensure an even, opaque finish.  To protect the paint and give it added durability, we then sealed it using Rust-oleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover 2x Clear protective spray finish.


For a fun touch, we decided to line the interior back of the shelf with a green and white floral contact paper we found at Walmart for around $5.  To start, I measured the shelf opening and cut a length of paper slightly larger than what I needed to allow for some wiggle room.  A second piece of paper was needed to completely cover the back, so I made sure to line up the floral pattern when cutting the second piece, so the seam would not be visible.  I then removed the backing from the contact paper and carefully adhered each piece to the back of the shelf, working outward from the middle and smoothing any wrinkles or air bubbles as I went.  For the final step, I used a straight edge and utility knife to trim the excess paper from the inside corners of the shelf.


I’m pretty pleased with how the shelf turned out, considering we were able to do the entire project with $5 worth of contact paper and supplies we had on hand!  I love giving new life to old and underappreciated objects, and this project is a great example of what can be done with a small amount of time and an even smaller budget.

Thanks for taking a peek at the new {old} media shelf!  Feel free to share your favorite upcycling tips in the comments or to suggest another furniture update you’d like to see.  We have plenty of projects in the works, but I’m always looking for the next one!

Happy crafting!


2014: Goals for the Year Ahead

Goals 2014

I’ve never been a big believer in making New Year’s resolutions, because, well, I’ve never managed to keep one beyond the second week in January.  I think resolutions put unrealistic expectations on us to become perfect versions of ourselves.  I do, however, love the feeling of excitement the New Year brings to improve upon the previous year and make plans for the year ahead.  With January now in full swing, I took some time to write down a few goals I have for 2014.  They aren’t big, sweeping resolutions like “I will double my salary!” or “I will eat only green foods!”  This year, I’m keeping the emphasis on meaningful yet doable changes I can make and keep going throughout the year to make me a happier, more satisfied person {an important goal in itself}.


Here’s my list:

Stress less about things I can’t control. I have a tendency to let frustration and anxiety get the best of me. When I feel my stress level rising, I need to take a deep breath and ask myself what’s causing the problem. Holding onto unnecessary stress can be toxic. Instead of getting upset over things that are out of my control, I’m going to work on putting that energy to more positive and constructive uses.

Approach arguments as something to be solved, not won.  As JC and I navigate our first year together in the new house, we’re sure to encounter plenty of stressful situations.  When we do inevitably have disagreements, I want to make sure they are productive, not destructive.  For me, this means learning to swallow my pride from time to time and, instead of fixating on a point ad nauseam for the sake of being ‘right’, working to find real and meaningful resolutions.  After all, what good is being ‘right’ to either of us if, when it’s all said and done, we’re not happy together.


Drink more water.  I love coffee.  I know I drink way more than I should, but I have no intention of parting ways with my favorite caffeinated companion.  That being said, I am going to make a concerted effort to drink more water throughout the day to make sure I’m staying hydrated and keeping my body healthy.


Take a cue from William Morris.  The artist famously wrote, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”  I’m going to keep this clutter-free philosophy in mind as we settle into the new house.  It’s not about living without, it’s about living with only what you need or really, truly want.  The rest is just in the way.

And finally,

Be my own biggest fan.  Confidence comes naturally to some people, while others have to work a little harder to keep all of those nagging doubts at bay.  I fall into the latter category.  To cultivate a healthier outlook, I’m going to try relying less on validation from others and, instead, start putting more faith in my own instincts and talents.


Maintaining some of these goals will be easier said than done, I know, but I’m going to work to keep them in mind throughout the year, and hopefully they’ll become part of my routine moving forward.  I think these few small but important changes will go a long way to keeping me level headed and happy in the future.

So, here’s to the New Year and making the most out of 2014!  Best of luck to you as you work toward your own goals this year.  Feel free to share your progress in the comment section below – I’d love to hear how you plan to make this year your happiest yet!