New Years Eve Black and White Party

In the spirit of a holiday recap week…let’s saunter down (recent) memory lane in reverse chronological order, shall we?


To begin, I’d like to share some details from our New Years Eve bash we hosted earlier this week with some close friends and neighbors. Andrew and I have really embraced the idea of hosting New Years Eve as a tradition and in that spirit, I wanted to host a fun night with our closest pals that was a bit special. We wanted to host a party that had a fun, cohesive element and allowed the gang to get dressed up with some purpose. Ultimately, I decided to keep it simple and went with a festive black and white theme. With a few tweaks to my holiday decor, and some fabulous internet finds, I was able to easily transform our entertaining space. Actually, I’m going to take a moment and brag…more for the fact that I still can’t believe I pulled off this party in literally 10 hours (oh, a big shout out to Andrew who did ALL the cleaning…go team.) The day before new years we returned from our trip to NJ but we were exhausted and I was battling a little cold so I didn’t even lift a finger to prep or decorate prior to 9am on the 31st. From 9am to 7pm I managed to take down 90% of my Christmas decor, procure supplies from Michael’s, craft and assemble the party decorations, and bake champagne cupcakes from scratch in addition to assembling a few other appetizers for our potluck appetizer bar. I felt like it was a design show elimination challenge! You be the judge…


The mantel update was easy to accomplish. I began by removing most of my Christmas mantel decor, seen here. I left the mercury glass pillars and hurricane and one garland with silver berries in place as the look was appropriate to the theme of this mantel. The Michael’s floral department was 50% off so for about $15 I was able to add some white and black blooms. I found the banner from The TomKat Studio. I used my home printer to print it on cardstock and then punched two holes at the top of each flag with a small circular punch to thread the ribbon through. The silver ribbon was leftover from my wedding in 2011…apparently I purchased a lifetime supply.

I have a stash of unused frames lying around and luckily, this black frame was the perfect size for this festive sentiment, also from the printable collection from The TomKat Studio. Again, I just printed on cardstock and placed in the frame. The glass hurricane above was a clearance find at Lowe’s a few days ago for about $5. I placed 4 strands of battery operated star lights I’ve had lying around for several seasons inside. They were from IKEA about 3 years ago.

I purchased some silver tissue paper from Michael’s but otherwise I had the black and white tissue paper stashed in my wrapping supplies to make these tissue paper poufs. I hung them from the ceiling over the bar in our kitchen where the food was arranged.


Some more blooms, a vase I transformed with some metallic spray paint, and some party horns for merry-making.

Some of our goodies…the food flags were also part of the printable collection linked above. new-years-eve-2013-food-1


champagne-cupcakesFinally, we enjoyed some champagne cupcakes for dessert. Stay tuned for the recipe…they were delicious!

Overall, it was a really fun evening complete with sparklers and some real deal fireworks. Yes, that happened, in my backyard. And it was AWESOME. We have a basketball court in the backyard that has now been officially dubbed “the launch pad”…everyone walked away with their fingers so we’ll call it a success.

new years 2013 1 new years 2013 2 new years 2013 3 new years 2013

(photo credit for these four snaps goes to our good friend John M. Thanks again for capturing some fun moments from the evening!)

How were your new years celebrations!? Did you spend a quiet night in or paint the town? If you hosted, did you opt for a theme or special decor or just some jammies, popcorn, and party horns? I’d love to hear about it!

Happy New Year

Hello friends and family (and new friends too!) Happy new year to you and yours! If you’re stopping by the blog for the first time, welcome! With the hub-bub of the holiday’s, I decided to take a little hiatus from blogging but I’m excited to be back online today with some updates, recaps, and reflection.

new years 2013 1


(thanks to our good friend John M. for this photo and the one at the end of the post…great shots buddy!)

The past few weeks have been a whirlwind…work was busy as we closed up shop for the winter break, and then we hit the ground running with social gatherings and holiday travel to see family and friends (New Jersey in the HOUSE). I had big plans for some posts throughout the holidays recapping my cookie exchange party, our “friends Christmas” first annual gingerbread house competition, as well as some decor ideas, projects, and updates…but alas, so many plans, so little time.

So here’s the plan. Show of hands…how many people feel a little sad to see the holiday’s come and go so quickly? Who always feels a little bummed to put away the Christmas decorations? That’s what I thought…me too. So, rather than let some of the photos and ideas I had surrounding the holidays go to waste, we’re going to do a little post-holiday recap this week and make Christmas last just a little bit longer. To top it off, I have some fab details to share from the New Years Eve black and white party we hosted the other night. So consider what is to come ideas for next year…savor the last few moments of the holidays and file away the inspiration for next season.



(Sneak peak from our New Years Eve black and white party…print in frame from The TomKat Studio)


On that note, as I type, there is a message at the top of my screen indicating that my subscription to is about to expire at the end of January which means I have been blogging for almost an entire year! That’s crazy. This little nugget started on a whim and I’m reflecting on how much I have enjoyed it. Yes, I’ve had a little hiatus or two, and I experimented with starting another blog about health and fitness (another big part of my life). I can safely say that this whole blogging thing has really started to become a passion and I’ve learned so much (well, just scratching the surface) in the past few months about photography, site design, writing…I’ve discovered some awesome blogs along the way as well and have already begun to develop some neat connections through this community. So, for the new year, I have officially decided to focus solely on Get Carey’d Away and will let the other blog go.

I have big plans for this blog this year and plan on switching it over to a self-hosted format for more flexibility including a site re-design which will include a new look as well as some new topics including travel and style in addition to things I already enjoy discussing such as home design, decorating, and DIY. I really look forward to presenting more of our lifestyle…for example, travel is a huge passion of ours and our journey’s definitely influence how we design our home and some of the plans we have for future updates. I always gravitate towards home elements or jewelry and accessories as souvenirs from our travels…it’s all related so we’ll discuss it here!

Overall, 2012 was a year of growth, experimentation, and marked our first full year of marriage. It was wonderful, challenging, and inspiring. I’m finally settled in a job I enjoy very much, I have a super fulfilling hobby (this blog), and the best husband, family, and friends a person could ask for…you all know who you are…you are so amazing, some days I don’t even think I deserve you. I’m looking forward to 2013 with an open heart and wide open arms. Some experiences in life recently have made me realize that I need to relinquish some control…not EVERYTHING is up to me. I’m a pretty faithful person privately, but I’m compelled to share a statement my husband makes (I bow down to you again oh wise one…)… He says:

“Work like it’s all up to you…Pray like it’s all up to God”

Truer words have not been spoken. I’m making that my motto in addition to the following mindset which is: plan for life you have and not the life you want. Hubs and I have big plans for our little family and we are realizing timing is not always up to us. We realized we were slowly accumulating a growing list of plans, adventures, projects, etc., but were constantly left with giant “what ifs” hanging over our head. That’s no way to live. So, in the spirit of live in the moment, we’re going to do just that…you can always adjust your course and travel a different heading. Now, someone just please remind me of this post and these words when I get frantic! I’m really bad at taking my own advice.

Love to you all and happy new year!

new years 2013

Make Your Own Holiday Cards with PicMonkey and Shutterfly

It’s that time of year. Holiday cards have begun to arrive in the mail and I especially enjoy the cards that are photo cards. I love collecting all of the wonderful pictures of all of our loved ones. I love admiring the creativity of friends who decided to take special pictures just for their cards, or new babies who have joined the world this year, or even that really great shot of a couple who was married in the past year. Typically, and this may seem harsh, but I don’t keep cards, unless they are from my husband. For example, at Christmas, I’ll display the cards we receive for a few weeks and then into the recycling they go. Here’s where I get a little OCD but I don’t like collecting things. Stacks of paper and cards are one of those things that just eats at me. WITH THE EXCEPTION OF PHOTO CARDS! Those I most certainly keep. In fact, I’ve been collecting those for several years now and finally decided I should get my booty in gear and arrange them in some sort of album as I’ve intended.

On that note, I have never sent a photo card myself. Mostly because I just never felt we had any pictures that were worthwhile enough to share. Last year, I’d hoped to have my wedding photos back in time but that didn’t happen so I went the traditional route instead. No biggie…but it would have seemed silly to use those this season given that the wedding was over a year ago. Either way, as you know, Andrew and I have been on quite a few excursions this past year and have gotten some pretty great shots of the both of us if I do say so myself. Recently, I was culling through some photos and it dawned on me that one or two of these wouldn’t be too shabby to share as a holiday card. Maybe it’s self-centered but I thought family and friends might like a nice photo of us. As I mentioned, I know how much I appreciate receiving this type of card from others so why not join the fun?!

I could have gone the quick and pricey route and used a website such as Tiny Prints, or even CVS or Walgreens. They have some fantastic pre-designed cards but given that I needed 50 of them, it would have set me back about $70 (a quick glance reveals that the average pre-designed card is approximately $1.30 each.) If I had taken professional photos for the purpose of the card then I have to admit I might have gone this route however, I had a personal photo I was using and with a few little tricks up my sleeve, I was sure I could fashion my own card without breaking the bank.

Cue PicMonkey. In case you aren’t familiar, PicMonkey is a free online photo editing program and if you were curious about how I add text and graphics to some of my pictures around the blog, this is it. I have a pretty great photo editing tool call Pixelmator on my Mac but PicMonkey is user-friendly and fast. Don’t even ask if I have Photoshop. I don’t, but I hope to dabble in that someday once I get more comfortable manipulating images in these two programs.

With the tools available in PicMonkey, and the ability to print through a website such as Shutterfly, I was sure I could construct my own cards in a breeze.

Below, I’ve provided a tutorial on how I constructed our holiday card this year using Picmonkey.

My inspiration was chevron, monograms, and soft holiday colors.

Here’s how I made my own :

Go to the PicMonkey website. Click on Create a Collage. 

Screen shot 2012-12-08 at 6.00.03 PMOn the left hand side of the screen, click layouts (the “boxes” icon), then click cards in the tool bar. From the drop down menu, choose 4×8, and the 2 boxes layout.

Screen shot 2012-12-08 at 5.58.11 PMClick open from the toolbar on the top to choose the photo you would like to use from your computer and upload. Then, simply drag and drop the picture into the left or right box. I chose to add my photo to the right hand side.

Screen shot 2012-12-08 at 6.00.35 PM

Looking back to the tool bar on the left, choose textures (looks like a grid). PicMonkey has several great holiday textures or backgrounds. When I saw the chevron pattern I was sold. Drag and drop your desired texture into the remaining box. At this point you will want to save this image to your computer in order to proceed to the next step.

Return to the PicMonkey homepage and click Edit a Photo. This will begin the step where you can add text and some more graphics, etc.

(By the way, you can use the Edit a Photo feature in PicMonkey to make any changes you may desire to your actual photo…such as adjusting exposure, tones, special color effects, etc.

Screen shot 2012-12-08 at 3.50.03 PM

Those will be the first two icons on the left hand side (they look like chemistry symbols) for Basic Edits and Effects).

I then clicked on the snowflake icon to open themes. From there, I clicked winterize to open the holiday photo editing tools.

Screen shot 2012-12-08 at 6.00.35 PM

There are so many fun graphics and themes to play with and they change seasonally. After some experimentation, I chose graphics from the wreathery and holly option to make a template for my monogram.

Screen shot 2012-12-08 at 6.01.36 PM

Screen shot 2012-12-08 at 6.14.32 PM

After opening these icons, simply drag around the screen to position. Then, click on “P” in the tool bar on the left to open the add text feature. You can choose from a wide variety of fonts. Again, you can drag the text box on the screen to position your message and also edit the text using the editing box. It allows you to change the color, size, contrast, etc.

Screen shot 2012-12-08 at 6.03.46 PM

First, I chose the font I wanted for my monogram and typed a capital letter C. I adjusted the size of the font to fit within the wreath and positioned. Using the color editing tools, I clicked on the bar to the right of the color box to open the eye dropper. I then used this tool to pick up the color of the green in the wreath so my text would match. I then set the color. I used another font and a new text box to type my greeting and completed the same procedure with the eye dropper to match my text to the color of the wreath.

Finally, I checked my spelling, made sure everything was the way I wanted, and saved the image to my desktop.

The final product:

christmas card 3

I then proceeded to visit Shutterfly to locate a blank 4×8 card. I simply used the search bar at the top of the home page and typed in blank 4×8. It popped right up. Following the onscreen prompts, I was able to upload my photo, preview my card, and order the amount that I needed complete with envelopes for mailing.

Screen shot 2012-12-08 at 6.35.33 PM

The best part, I used a coupon and received free shipping! While I haven’t done a formal calculation, I estimate that I saved at least 25% by making my own cards as opposed to ordering a pre-designed card.

Overall, I’m really pleased with how these turned out and I look forward to getting them in the mail!

By the way, I was in no was compensated or otherwise incentivized for using, featuring, or singing the praises of PicMonkey or Shutterfly. These are resources that I’ve used in the past and they have worked well for me so naturally, I returned to these to construct my cards. My opinions and experiences are entirely my own. You should also know that when I completed my Shutterfly order, there was an automated opportunity (they did not seek me out specifically) to feature my project in this post. I will be emailing a link to my post regarding this project to Shutterfly for the opportunity to receive a $10 gift card. Anyway, I like to keep things on the up and up with ya’ll so there ya go.

Photo Card
View the entire collection of cards.


If you’ve made a great card or other photo gift using PicMonkey I’d love to hear about it or see your results!

Modern Gilded Glitter Trees

I’m all about the holiday crafts this year. Between items I have around the house, Christmas decor that I already own, and some deals I found on goodies to make a few projects, the house is looking quite festive if I do say so myself. I’ll have some updates to share all week regarding decor ideas and projects for the holiday season but for now I’d like to share this quick little project that I completed last night.

I was inspired by these adorable “trees” from Target.


I love the modern appeal of this little “tree”. Rather than a more traditional interpretation of a mini tree, this type of decor lends a bold, graphic appeal. For my own decorating, I like a mix of more traditional and rustic elements contrasted with bold, modern styling. Rather than purchase a few of these trees, I thought it would be fun to make a few…plus the color scheme that I had in mind wasn’t something that was available. Off to Michael’s I went to gather my supplies.

I purchased three floral foam cones (small, medium, and large), 5 packages of glitter balls, and a can of spray paint. You’ll also need a glue gun. In case you judge the merit of a project based on whether or not it’s a bargain (let’s be honest, I do) the total cost to make 3 of the tree’s you’ll see below was approximately $12.00. Between sale items and coupons I saved a few dollars that made this a very wallet friendly venture.

The day before, I spray painted the cones brown. Inevitably, some of the green floral foam would have shown through the gaps between the balls so I chose a complementary spray paint color for a nice solid background. Obviously, choose a spray paint that complements your color scheme. I used Krylon Short Cuts spray paint. I then allowed these to dry overnight.

modern gilded glitter trees

modern gilded glitter trees

Construction was simple. The glitter balls were of varying sizes so I just sort of picked and chose and hot glued them to each cone. I wanted there to be a slightly uneven appearance for texture and interest.

modern gilded glitter treesmodern gilded glitter treesmodern gilded glitter treesmodern gilded glitter trees

They then found their new home on my console table in the living room. My only complaint is that I wish they were a little taller. The proportion of these trees on the console seems a bit off but they look festive regardless. I may relocate them but for now they’ll stay put.

modern gilded glitter treesmodern gilded glitter trees

Overall, I do love how these turned out. I’m particularly fond of the color scheme and I was happy to have found these glitter balls in that gilded bronze color. I’m all about jewel tones and non-traditional colors for the holidays. Red, green, and silver can be so overrated….don’t get me wrong, I definitely use those colors too…but pops of some unexpected colors go a long way.

modern gilded glitter trees

PS: I say balls a lot in this post. And it makes me chuckle. Grow up Caitlyn.

PPS: I linked up this project to share with the blogosphere…see below. Don’t forget to click through the image to check out the link party hosted by Hi Sugarplum! and take a peek at all the other Christmas crafts. Great stuff over there!



Check out some more great projects here:
Weekend Bloggy Reading

Pinterest Party Success

As I mentioned the other day, the girls (Holly, Sam, Sara, Allison, Christine and I) descended upon my lovely friend Alexa’s lovely townhouse on Friday night to stop pinning and start doing. We had all agreed that this would be a fun way to get in some girl time, relax, and accomplish a festive Christmas project. We had also agreed to more or less complete the same craft so we could share materials and assistance as needed. Cue the burlap bubble wreath I mentioned in this pinterest party

These wreaths were so easy to make and came out fantastic. We spent the evening cutting our burlap squares (go Alexa for doing this ahead of time!) and folding and pinning away (<- pinning with actual pins this time). We learned that burlap is REALLY itchy and kinda smells funny. I also learned that one should use pins with larger pin heads so they don’t pull through the open weave of the burlap fabric. It was taking me twice as long to complete my wreath and that’s because for every one pin the girls were using I had to use five to make my squares stay on. Grrr. Thanks girls for donating some pins to my cause!

burlap bubble wreaths

burlap bubble wreaths

As you can see in the photos, we added some trimmings to the wreaths to make them more festive for the holidays. These items are easily removed and can be replaced with other trim for other seasons…think flowers, etc.

burlap bubble wreath trim

My wreath.

burlap bubble wreath

I loved the color scheme of these bunches of faux berries. The white, green, and turquoise give a wintery/holiday appeal…a less literal approach to Christmas.

burlap bubble wreath

It’s new home on my front door.

burlap bubble wreath

Also, in case you were wondering about the cute berry monogram wreath, Samantha dared to be different and braved the hot glue gun to complete this project. How are the fingertips doing Sam? Also learned on this particular evening…hot glue is HOT. Anyway, the monogram was adorable and I’m looking forward to completing mine soon.

Finally, just in case you were worried about any of these crafters going hungry…definitely a non-issue. We love food. We love making food. We love eating food. We love looking at food. We love wine too. So, we had a festive spread of Pinterest inspired treats including jalapeno popper dip, baked brie with apples, s’mores crescents, and winter sangria.

holiday treats

I highly recommend organizing an evening like this. It was a great change of pace instead of going out to dinner, a movie, or a bar. We wore comfy clothes, it was low key, and we had a chance to catch up and kick back. Overall, it was a great night with great friends and what I think are the beginnings of a wonderful new tradition.

Have you organized any marathon crafting sessions inspired by Pinterest? I mandate everyone do this as it was loads of fun. Also, we’d love to see your finished projects so feel free to share any of your favorite Pinterest success stories!

PS: Recall I mentioned in my initial post about the Pinterest party that these projects were inspired by Pinterest. I did not come up with these projects myself nor devise the tutorials. We gladly followed along with the great tutorials provided on other blogs for each project so please visit this post, and link back to the original articles for instructions on how to complete these crafts.

A Very Pinterest-ing Christmas…

It’s official…the holiday season is here. In fact, I’m REALLY EXCITED that Christmas is right around the corner. I have to admit that the past year or two I haven’t been particularly energetic about Christmas. I think it’s because we were deep in wedding planning and then last year we had just come down from the high of our wedding several weeks prior to the holiday and I was BEAT. No to mention that the past few seasons have been generally hectic for a whole slew of reasons…it took all the energy I could muster just to get jazzed about getting the tree up.

But this year it’s different. I’ve made about 800 trips to Michael’s and have visions of tree skirts, handmade wreaths, and mantle decor dancing in my head. I’ve braved vicious crafters at Jo-Ann fabrics (seriously, those ladies are cray…to be clear, I mean the shoppers were crazy, not the employees…ya’ll were very helpful thank you) and I’m armed with a glue gun, glitter balls, burlap, and wreath forms…it’s go time.

Tonight is the holiday crafting kickoff at my friend Alexa’s. Of course, we are all obsessed with a capital ‘O’ with Pinterest and have been pinning inspiration and ideas for holiday crafting madness for weeks. Alexa came up with the brilliant idea of hosting a Pinterest party for a fun girls night activity. We will be convening at Alexa’s this evening with our materials to construct our Pinterest inspired projects.

This year, I’ve pinned a few projects I’d like to complete.

1. Burlap Bubble Wreath (pin, source)

Burlap Wreath 2

2. DIY No Sew Ruffle Tree Skirt (pin, source)



3. Holly Berry Monogram Wreath (pin, source)


For my project this evening, I’ve decided to make the burlap bubble wreath. I plan to add a few little baubles to mine to make it a bit more festive for the holiday season. Additionally, the beauty of this wreath is that extra decoration can be swapped out throughout the year and I can see this wreath looking adorable in the spring and fall as well simply by changing up the way to decorate the wreath.  More to come when I recap our crafting extravaganza tonight.

Also, if you would like tutorials on how to complete these projects, please click through links/images above to visit the source of my inspiration and their complete instructions. Given that I did not come up with these projects myself and I’m simply completing them for fun because they inspired me, I will not be offering step-by-step instructions on how to accomplish each craft.

Stay tuned for the complete recap of our first official Pinterest party and some eye candy of the completed projects!


…is her name. Painting things yellow is my game. Isn’t she cute?

Huh? Yellow hens? Let’s go back to the beginning.

A few days ago I announced that I’d be participating in the Pinterest Challenge, hosted by Young House Love, Bower Power, and two other awesome blogs Centsational Girl, and Ten June.

Read here to get all up to speed on what the Pinterest Challenge is all about…got it? Good. So to recap, I decided to spiffy up Henrietta a la Young House Love style. (Real quick, Henrietta was my kitchen counter friend that I found on clearance at HomeGoods for $8.00…so I adopted her.) Anyhow, I LOVED the makeover Sherry’s rooster got as you can see here. Surely, Henrietta would look just as smashing with a little paint job as well. So, while the idea of this project wouldn’t exactly constitute a “challenge”, it was definitely a “stop ogling other peoples pretty poultry and paint your own” sort of thing. Here’s my official pin.

Here’s Henrietta pre extreme makeover…looking a little gangrene. Eww.

Then, she was bathed in a coat of spray primer to give the final color a little somethin’ somethin’ to grab on to. (I used Valspar Gray Spray Primer from Lowe’s).

Then I applied a few lightly misted coats of yellow spray paint. I used this beautiful color called Sunny Yellow, also by Valspar. Blondes really do have more fun.

So, she needs a few touch ups but you can’t really tell in the picture. Sherry over at YHL has some great spray painting tips that I definitely agree with. To summarize, keep the can moving and hold it 8-10 inches away from your project. This will prevent large splotches of paint build-up and drips and globs. Also, you may need several coats. Henrietta has full on stage make-up with three coats of spray paint. Also, do your lungs a favor and wear a mask. I did not have a mask. Sorry lungs. I’ll be nice to you next time.

Here’s another glamor shot:

Actually, I’m really excited about this picture just above because it’s a GREAT sneak peek regarding what I have planned color scheme wise for our open floor plan kitchen and den space. Henrietta is posing on one of our new West Elm modern windsor barstools with citron felt cushion. Behind the chair, you see one of our living room walls that was painted the lovely Benjamin Moore Moonshine. We plan on using this color in the kitchen/den as well. My white cabinetry and barstools will really pop against the gray and we plan on continuing to accent with shades of citron, yellow, turquoise and dark gray. I want it to be a more saturated, fun version of the living room which I chose to keep more muted and serene.

Stay tuned for more! The living room is FAR from completed and we haven’t even scratched the surface in the kitchen/den, let alone what we have ourselves into in regards to front yard landscaping and laundry room make-overing. We’re not decor schizophrenic  AT ALL. Wink.

Oh, Were We Going To Talk About Cleaning Paintbrushes?

I was perusing through some of my old posts today (can’t believe I started this blog in January and now here it is, July) and realized I promised we’d talk paintbrush cleaning after we shared some tips we found helpful when completing our living room painting makeover extravaganza. Oops.

Things got a little crazy if you remember at the end of March and through April and May. I left my awful job and we decided to go to Asia and stuff…you know, the usual. In fact, I’m BEYOND embarrassed to admit this, but I haven’t even finished painting the trim! Yikes. I still need to paint the trim around doors and windows and in all honesty, the doors themselves could use a coat of paint too. Soon, soon.

Anyway, here are a few tips on how to properly care for your brushes. After all, good ones aren’t exactly cheap, but if you care for them properly, they will last you project after project.

Keep It Moist: There is a very good possibility that you’ll begin painting and have to stop to attend to something else before you’ve completely finished the project. Don’t let paint dry on your brush…seriously. Wrap the brush tightly in plastic or a plastic bag and it should stay wet for a few days. Cool huh? Either way, dry paint on your brush is a pain to remove so why let it get to that point in the first place.

Rinse: Use fresh water to rinse your brushes. Try not to turn the brush upside down to allow water to shoot up the bristles towards the handle and don’t bend the bristles. This can damage brushes. Boo. If needed, you can use a little dish detergent to get things loosened up.

Brush, your Brush: Remember that wire brush I mentioned in our Painting Tips post? A fabulous associate at Sherwin Williams recommended one of these beauties to me. It was an “if you could only have one more random painting tool, have one of these” sort of tip. It really works wonders for raking paint buildup from around the bristles. Just a few gentle passes with the wire brush and our paint brushes were virtually paint free.

Let It All Hang Out: After gently squeezing water from the bristles (I just take my index and middle fingers and gently squeeze the water out) we hung our brushes from hooks over our utility sink to dry. This keeps the bristles and form of the brush like new.

Wrap It Up: PLEASE tell me you didn’t throw away the cardboard wrapper that your paint brush came packaged in?! If you have, no biggie, but next time hang on to those wrappers! Once your paint brushes are nice and dry, place the cardboard around them once again and store flat or hanging from a hook.

Voila, like-new paint brushes each and every time.

Just as an aside, I feel a little silly typing up a “how to clean your paint brushes” tutorial. Especially because, if you ask me, none of the above actually seems like rocket science. However, if you search the internet for “how to clean paintbrushes” there is an endless series of permutations on how the procedure should be performed. Seriously, could it be that hard? Anyway, we just felt like sharing what worked for us and how much it’s NOT a chore to accomplish.

Pinterest Challenge Time

It’s that time again! The Pinterest Challenge is the brainchild of two awesome blogs I follow, Young House Love and Bower Power. They challenged one another to “stop pinning and start doing”. Genius. I mean, what good are all those DIY pins if you’re never gonna try to make any of them!? I participated in one Pinterest Challenge a few months ago and it was a lot of fun! Refresh your memory here and here. Definitely felt a sense of satisfaction in bringing to life a project I’d admired on Pinterest. Now it’s time for another.

For the longest time, I’ve been smitten with a project completed over at Young House Love. I, like Sherry one of the authors over there, have a small obsession with ceramic animal figurines. When I saw that she took some spray paint to an otherwise ordinary ceramic rooster, it was love at first crow for me. Check at her post on the project here.

And a visual of the original project:

This morning, I’ve officially “pinned” this project to my DIY board and will be laquering up a similar rooster that has been chillaxin’ on my kitchen counters for a while. Come to think of it…it’s more “hen” than “rooster” but, whatever. Stay tuned because in a few days I’ll post the before’s and after’s!


Well folks, the day recently arrived where we were actually, in all seriousness, for real this time, PAINTING!

Here’s a quick run through on some of the steps we took and a little picture progression from out of the gate through to the finish line.

Prepping the walls and priming:

After we completed our wall texture repair (read all about it here, and here) we prepped the walls for priming and painting by first washing the walls with a solution of water and Trisodium Phosphate (TSP). Actually, I should clarify that we use a phosphate free TSP (there are several kinds available at your local hardware chain). We’re trying to do our part to be environmentally friendly and not dump phosphates into the water supply. Anyway, this cleaning solution is fantastic for cutting grease, dust, mold and mildew, etc, that builds up on your walls and helps give you a great foundation to put all that expensive paint on.

We then applied primer. We like Kilz 2 latex primer. Which begs…to use primer, not to use primer…that is the question. We acknowledge there are loads of opinions on this but we stand in the “prime the walls” camp. For us, this has historically provided the best result. Just as an aside, I do not use primer before repainting the trim.

Below, walls are primed!



First, awhile back we’d gone ahead and painted the ceiling. As above, we cleansed the ceiling with the TSP substitute solution and then just repainted it with your basic white ceiling flat. We like Behr Premium Plus Flat Interior Ceiling Paint available at Home Depot.

Anyhow, recall we chose Moonshine by Benjamin Moore (feel free to refresh your memory here). We had this color mixed in a Benjamin Moore base called Regal Select Waterborne Interior Paint in Eggshell.

I realized after the fact that this product is considered a paint and primer in one. However, a few years back we used a paint/primer product that we were so-not-pleased with. Oh well, we had already primed. BUT, this product was such a pleasure to work with I may go rogue and skip the priming step when we move onto painting the kitchen/den area with this same color and product. It provided great coverage and the application was so smooth.

As for trim, we chose to use the Benjamin Moore Ben line of latex paint.

This was a little cheaper than the paint we used for the walls. I figured since the trim wasn’t as gigantic in surface area as the walls, I’d go ahead and save a little green. You see, the Regal Select set us back $49.99/gallon and Ben was only $36.99/gallon. Given that we needed SO MUCH PAINT for the walls, saving some cash was definitely the way to go. By the way, we opted for the color Decorators White for the trim in a semi-gloss finish. It looks so crisp against Moonshine and really pops resulting in a serene, modern, yet classic look.

At this time, we have the crown molding and baseboards painted. Now, we only have to finish painting the trim around the doors and some doors themselves. Our bedroom door, the laundry room door, the coat closet door, and some pocket doors leading to the kitchen are visible when closed and definitely need a coat of paint to finish the look. We’ll plan on using Decorators White on those as well.

Here are some after shots (and another sneak peek at the very beginnings of tackling the decor in here…mind you, there’s a looong way to go on that).