Country style, country love, country life. Sharing my inspired, vintage, rustic DIY designs and decor on my blog.
Last week, I learned a few things about installing a backsplash while helping out with a DIY kitchen makeover. But before I share the how-to (or not-to-do), a little back-story:
A few years ago, my daughter, Kate decided it might be fun to be on a game show, specifically Wheel of Fortune,
because a co-worker had mentioned that she had been attempting to get on the show for years, and never got the call. Kate recalled that as a very young child, she had watched it with her grandfather and tried to guess the turning letters. My father’s tease was naming Vanna White in whatever color gown she happened to be wearing: Vanna Yellow,
which always delighted her (Kate, not Vanna). So she signed up online, got called almost immediately for an audition in NYC (much to the chagrin of her snubbed co-worker), made it on to the show, flew to LA, wore her lucky red shoes,
and she won! See if you can guess the bonus round puzzle-it’s a thing. +++
When you see a game show hosts tell a contestant “this $50,000 is life-changing money” and you scoff and think its not, think again. Following Kate’s victory (and once she received her winnings), she got one of these:
resigned from her job and was accepted to law school
and simultaneously purchased a 2 bedroom condo in the burbs of Boston with her boyfriend. Since purchasing that condo, they have slowly made significant improvements, including tearing out old beige carpet and installing hardwood floors, painting the rooms and making it their own-all DIY projects. The kitchen, most likely last updated in the 70’s, was functional but not so pretty. But starving (lol) law students don’t typically have the means to gut and renovate a kitchen, even if they do win game shows, so that was tackled piece-meal, changing out hardware, adding new appliances (some DIY, installing the microwave and disposal and faucet themselves) as the old ones finally sputtered and died, and finally adding granite countertops (not DIY) and the backsplash (cue how-to). So these are the lessons we learned:
1. Installing a backsplash is not as easy as it appears on all of those DIY shows where the host hands the trowel over to the homeowner and say “Here. Finish this tonight for homework while I go back to my hotel and sleep.” Make sure you assemble all of your necessary tools first before you begin the grouting process!
2. Use the cardboard backing from the tiles squares to mask the countertop and provide enough space for the caulk to fit once you have grouted.
3. Use a level. Repeat. Use a level.
Which may not be a bad thing if you’re feelin’ a little groovy…
4. When you are installing stainless steel squares, either do not remove the protective plastic until you are finished grouting, or use unsanded grout to make sure you don’t scratch the steel. (After all, it’s called stainless steel, not scratchless steel!) If it doesn’t say unsanded on the package, it’s sanded. Lesson learned a bit too late.
5. Once you have discovered that the float with the grout is scratching the tiles, you switch over to the finger painting method, making sure you firmly press the grout into the cracks without scratching the steel tiles.
Yucky work, but had to be done. Used these wipes to clean up the tiles, which worked very nicely.
6. Make sure you protect all of the surfaces surrounding the backsplash, including your new granite countertops, because the grouting is messy and grout globs fly all over the place. And grab them before they hit the floor, so the dog doesn’t eat them!
7. Have a BIG wet sponge handy to wipe up all the excess grout you are dropping and smearing all over the place. Better yet, cut the sponge in threes and keep a constant wet one handy to wipe and clean as you go.
8. Make sure you account for the NEW DEPTH of the electrical outlets. Because there was no backsplash when the plugs were installed, they were flush to the wall. We were part way around when we discovered this error-woops. So we ended up cutting off these little corners so the tiles would fit snugly. Not sure what those are for anyway…
9. Make an appointment with a nail salon upon completion. You are going to need it.
10. Stand back and admire your sparkly new backsplash-the jewelry of the kitchen!
11. In the overall scheme of things, it’s fun, and cost effective to attempt DIY projects. But in the future, all tile installations will be left to the pros. But for now, what a beautiful, shiny, sparkling backsplash!
Kind of looks like one of Vanna’s sparkly dresses, yes?
And if you ever decide you want to be on a game show, but think, no way, that will never happen, I just can’t do it, do it anyway. You never know where your wheel might steer you! Hope you are having a great long weekend everyone! Susan
+++ JOKES AND PUNS (I know, right!?! How did she get that!?)
As a kid, it was one of my favorite games. The little mouse was caught in the trap and the balls rolled around and if you did it correctly, it would untrap the mouse! Who would want to untrap a mouse in your house-what a nightmare! And, speaking of nightmares…you know when you have one of those restless nights at 3am when you just can’t sleep so you try to read and that doesn’t help so you decide to go down to your basement workshop and paint and as you are descending the stairs, you see this?!?
No? So, that’s just me? The strange part was, he wasn’t scurrying around, just laying belly down on the concrete floor, commando style, but his mouth was twitching. Hmmm. Cancel that workshop idea. Went back to bed, making enough noise so that Coach asked if I was OK, to which I responded: “There is a mouse in the basement, can you go kill it?” I pretty much will do any home-renovating and restoring type projects, being the strong, independent, “I Can Do Anything” type of woman I am,
but that does not apply to rodent control. (Unless, of course, you count the time I captured the squirrel with the trash bag- read that saga here…)
His drowsy response: “You want me to go kill it now?!” So we went back to sleep, and Coach got up first thing and discovered the mouse in the exact same place I left it the night before. I don’t have any poison or mousetraps down there, and we haven’t seen one in quite awhile, so I am not sure exactly what killed the little guy. Coach suggested it was all of the chalk paint I have in my work shop-perhaps he got a taste of Duck Egg Blue or French Linen?
Since I think chalk paint is supposed to be non-toxic, it’s more likely he got a taste of some deadly paint remover or stain. Didn’t he see the skull and crossbones on the can!?
Obviously, I don’t need to set a trap, since I have some sort of mouse killer already in place. However, as a public service announcement, I will share with you my favorite mouse trap: The Ortho Max Defense Mouse Trap. We have tried them all, and this one rocks! This is a no-muss, no-fuss kind of gadget. Just set it, and when it’s done its job the little lever pops up. You don’t ever see the poor little country mouse who just got smooshed. Sad, but effective and necessary to keep your home rodent free. Why don’t they just stay outside with the other woodland creatures where they belong?
So, with that, it’s time to return to the dark and dreary basement to work on some projects-but I’m thinking I need a new workshop! Something bright and beautiful and (preferably) not underground. Like this one I recently spotted on the blogs-can you believe that someone actually gets to create in this space? I’m certain you won’t find any mouses (meese, what’s the plural?) here-unless it’s attached to a Mac.
But a crafty girl can dream, right, even if she can’t sleep at 3am? Have a dreamy Friday, everyone-it’s a long weekend! Susan
It’s Wanderlust Wednesday, so I am sharing a few pics from the Green Mountain State- Vermont. Last week Coach and I joined some dear friends for a few days of R & R in Stowe, Vermont. Although we made a couple of antique and junk shop stops, this trip was meant to be a relaxing and non-working fun time-really?!
No blogging, no painting, pickin’ and hauling cupboards and deer home in my CRV. We headed to Stow, a three hour drive from home, viewing not much along the way except brilliant blue skies and many, many miles of timber lining both sides of the highways.
We made a few stops along the way, including the Ben & Jerry’s Factory Tour in Waterbury.
This consisted of a brief movie detailing the beginnings of Ben & Jerry (yup, that’s their names, for real) and a short tour through the processing plant where they produce and package 250,000 pints per day!! After that came the free sample-Strawberry Cheesecake with chunks of graham cracker crust-yum.
We made the requisite stop at Quechee Gorge, which was quite low, not much water rushing through here!
The support struts were pretty impressive, however.
Here are a few pics of some highlights of our little vaca, including the gardens at the Woodstock Inn,
some sweet yellow wildflowers in Stow
and this cute little cub carved from a log.
(BTW, I have added chain-saw carving to my DIY bucket list, so does anyone have one I can borrow?) On our final morning, we took a gondola ride to the top of Mt. Mansfield, the highest peak in the Green Mountains.
As we were waiting to board, this sign came into view-seriously!?
The only life saving equipment I spotted were some rubber mats wrapped around the bases of the gondola poles. Fat chance that’s gonna stop a runaway car plummeting down 4,393 feet! The view, however, was well worth it : )
And, even better news, I had cell phone service thanks to the mountain top cell towers!!
What’s up with the no service again, AT&T? The “Around Me” App doesn’t really do much good if I don’t have any service!
First Maine, now Vermont and even 30 miles outside of Concord NH, I had no service while my friend sitting right beside me was happily playing Candy Crush with her Verizon iPhone! AT&T, are you not aware that New England is part of your “Fastest 4g Network?!?” Despite the cell snafu, we had a great time with some great friends. We ate out, sunned by the pool, shopped, saw some wildlife,
did a little trivia, at out some more, and just kicked back and relaxed. And, since Ben & Jerry have asked, we will come back again soon : )
Have a terrific Thursday everyone! One more day til the long weekend-yippee!! Susan
It’s been a week since my last post- I can’t believe it! Coach and I had a little getaway with some dear friends, this time to Vermont, and I took just a short respite from my blogging duties.
That is not to say that I didn’t take photos, or shop for “junk-tiques”, but those I will be sharing in the next few days. In the meantime, I wanted to share with you a blog that does more than just share DIY stuff.
I began following One Project Closer’s The Better Half when I discovered their weekly DIY link-up contest.
Loads of DIY blogs host these: you share your own favorite DIY post of the week, and a bunch of others bloggers do as well, and they all get posted on a link page. Then you get to see all the awesome ideas that craftspeople come up with! But this one has a twist: you link up your own before and after projects, and each week they choose a winner who receives a $50 gift card. And on behalf of that winner, they donate $100 to Habitat For Humanity! (I did submit my Oh, Deer Towel Rack, but, sigh, he didn’t win…)
On top of that, these ladies have been involved in a project on a much grander scale. Over the summer, Jocie from The Better Half took part in the GMC Hidden Treasure Adventure, where she, along with 5 other DIY bloggers, ventured along the World’s Longest Yardsale. They drove and shopped and purchased items to refurbish and completely decorate one fortunate homeowner’s newly built Atlanta home, courtesy of Habitat for Humanity. Today was the reveal, and what a reveal it was!
An entire home furnished with reclaimed, refurbished and reloved items! Amazing! This is Jocie’s Living Room.
And this was the boys’ bedroom designed by Liz Marie Blog.
Loving this colorful, sweet girl’s room designed by Carissa from Good N Crazy.
There are loads of other spaces and fresh DIY inspirational ideas- just click here:
And if you want to learn more about Habitat for Humanity in your area, click here:
Well done, One Project Closer and friends! You have taken an empty house and created a warm and loving home for this grateful family. Keep up the great work, and hopefully inspire us DIY’ers to use our skills for the greater good. Have an inspired week, everyone! Susan
Over the weekend, Coach and I had a barn sale to get rid of some old books and old stuff (basically to make way for some new old stuff).
We did quite well, thank you, and managed to make some dough while making some space in the barn, so that’s a good thing. Our two story barn sits adjacent to our home, with a white picket fence and arbored entrance connecting them. The fence separates the driveway, where all of the “junque” for sale was displayed, and our back yard, which is sectioned into a stone patio, a perennial garden with a small pond, a rose garden, a second perennial garden divided down the center by a brick pathway leading to yet another arbor.
As potential customers moved closer to the barn to search for treasures, the gardens were in full view, and I overheard more than a few folks exclaim “what an incredible yard”, “such beautiful gardens” and “it’s like an oasis” that we have hidden behind the fence. Now, I am not going to take any credit for this, as the green thumb in the family belongs to Coach. Other than an occasional “grab a few weeds as I am playing fetch with the dog” kind of gardening, I simply do not have the time nor the inclination to nurse the flowers, shrubs and occasional green frogs that habitate our back yard. This little guy is actually quite noisy!
As luck would have it, I just finished reading “The Language of Flowers” by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. Without revealing the plot, I will share that the book follows the story of a troubled young woman who finds her way in life through the meanings of flowers. Never having given this a thought, I nevertheless found the idea of flowers having true meaning quite compelling, and I started looking at our gardens in a new light. Although we have literally hundreds of varied flora and fauna, I am sharing just a few of my favorites. The Black-Eyed Susan’s that are scattered in bunches throughout stand for Justice. I like having those in the garden.
And the simple Daisy, my favorite flower,
and the name of our much-beloved and now since passed best furry friend. She loved to lay out on the grass in the sun, surrounded by the gardens. Daisies stand for Innocence.
Intertwined with the Daisies are these pretty yellow flowers. Growing in abundance, we have to keep cutting them back or they overtake everything. I don’t have the meaning of them, because I don’t know their name, but I will call them Happiness. (If anyone can identify them, please tell me so I can share their true meaning!)
We do have a Dogwood that just flowered for the first time this spring. Unfortunately, as with much of the garden this time of year, the beautiful flowers have gone by, and we are left with the leafy greens. But they will return next spring, so… Love Undiminished By Adversity.
There is quite a bit of fern that grows naturally in the shady parts of the yard. Simple and green and soft to the touch. Sincerity.
An entire grapevine arbor behind the barn grows larger each season, sprouting curly tendrils that reach out in all directions.
The more you cut it, the higher and wider and stronger it grows, which is great for making grapevine wreaths! Abundance
Just recently, the Hibiscus has blossomed, with massive, stunning blooms the size of dinner plates in multiple shades of pinks and reds.
But they shrivel and die quickly, to be replaced by even more exquisite blooms. Hence the meaning…Delicate Beauty
Along the entire length of the stone-walled perennial garden are the tightly-packed Iris. Message
And along the porch are holly shrubs, like the kind you see at Christmas with the bright red berries. Presently they are yellow, but as the seasons change, so does the hue, a harbinger of winter to come. Their meaning is Foresight.
And then there is Ivy, loads of it growing over the stones surrounding the pond, essentially hiding everything but the water. (I call it the chia pet pond). A strong vine that grows freely but creates strong,protective bonds with everything within its green grasp. Fidelity.
And scattered through all of the gardens are Phlox. In every shade of white, pink and purple. they constantly cross-pollinate (thank you, bees!) and sprouting new pastel shades each year. Our Souls Are United
Periwinkle borders much of the brick walkways and stone-lined paths. For one short moment each season they display their pretty little purple buds. Tender Recollections
The magnificent orange tiger lilies bloom for a very short time, then leave behind a wall of green stalks. But while in bloom, they are Majestic.
And then there are roses. All shades of pinks and reds.
I am not particularly fond of roses. Why is something so beautiful apt to cause so much pain? And yet the messages are of Love (the reds)
and Grace (the pinks).
So, the next time you stop to admire a beautiful garden, or choose a bouquet as a loving gift, just for a moment think about the meaning of the flowers, not just the colors or style. You’ll be surprised at the messages those blooms can convey. Have a meaningful Monday, everyone!! Susan