Thursday, November 30, 2017

Go Big, Go 30 Kitchen Makeover

When we moved into our house in summer 2016, I loved our kitchen. The mint green cabinets paired nicely with my red accessories, and gave off a retro feel. The only thing I didn't love was the painted-on backsplash meant to look like subway tile. It was done freehand, and the lines weren't uniform. It drove me crazy.

Originally, my 30th birthday plans were an epic trip to Disney World, including a stay at the Art of Animation resort and a Disney dining plan to make the whole trip easier. Unfortunately, I didn't start saving in time and that trip is quite expensive. Then we amended it, thinking we'd head to the North Carolina coast and I'd finally see the wild horses that live there. Our summer travel plans then got moved to the fall, and we didn't want to drive eight hours each way three weeks after a 12 hour drive each way to Oklahoma. I knew I wanted to do something big and special for my 30th, I just didn't know what.

Life has a way of delivering an epiphany right when you need it. Shortly after falling in love with those mint green cabinets, the paint started peeling and chipping off. As we've found with many of the DIY updates the previous owners took on, it wasn't done properly. They painted the cabinets, but never sealed them. They also didn't remove them, which meant the hardware was covered in paint. The fake subway tile was driving me crazier by the day, the mismatched dining furniture wasn't helping, and it hit me: I spend most of my time in the kitchen. I create three meals a day, plus snacks, for my family each day in that kitchen. We work on homework in there, we do crafts in there. The combined kitchen and dining area is the hub of our daily lives. Why not make it exactly what we want as my big 30th birthday project?

Here are our before photos, with some special models (why do kids only want their photos taken when they aren't meant to be the subject?!):

As you can see, our furniture is mismatched. This is even after we added the white coffee bar in the back, instead of using an old dresser.

Our kitchen doesn't have a ton of storage, so we use an armoire as a pantry. Because we shop at Costco, a lot of our bulk items don't all fit in it at once and I've been having to use the playroom closet as overflow storage. I discovered during the project that our lack of storage is partially due to another shortcut the previous owners took. When they added an over-the-stove microwave, they cut the cabinets over the stove into 1/3 of what they'd previously been. They also didn't vent the microwave anywhere, so bonus issues there.

I decided I had a few goals with my makeover:
  • For the furniture and cabinets to coordinate
  • New wall color that wasn't matte
  • New, properly sealed cabinets
  • Improved flow
  • Coordinating hardware
I wanted to get rid of the fake subway tile and also use a non-matte paint. All the walls in our house are painted this lovely blue-gray, but they used a matte paint, so every handprint and smudge shows up. It's yet another thing that drives my semi-OCD self insane. Also, the curtain rod doesn't go with anything. The dining area before photo shows the new furniture arrangement, because I was too excited to take photos before getting the new coffee bar and moving the pantry.

If you've been following me on Instagram (@PawPrintsInTheSink), then you've seen a few teaser photos of this big project with the hashtags #GoBigGo30, #BraveNewYear, and #BirthdayProject. I went with Brave New Year because I'm trying not to let things I'm intimidated by stop me from trying them in my 30s. So, I tackled a huge DIY project all on my own!

The first step was to paint the cabinets. I chose to use chalk paint, since it doesn't require priming or sanding. Instead of sealing it with wax, as is typical, I chose to use a hardier polycrilic. I read a post over at the Knoxville Moms Blog about using chalk paint, chatted with my fellow contributor who actually did it, and then followed suit. I removed all the cabinets and hardware, scrubbed them down, and got painting.

I did the upper doors first, then the upper bases. I feel quite close with Jen Hatmaker now, as I listened to her podcasts the whole time. She basically helped me with my kitchen makeover. Starbucks helped one day, too.
One of my Instagram teaser posts

Halfway through the cabinets! 

The first paint stroke was intimidating, on both the doors and the bases. It just felt so permanent, and I wasn't confident with what I was doing. But chalk paint is super forgiving, even if you spill you can wipe it up fairly quickly. I went with Annie Sloane chalk paint from a local seller, so I got to see the paint in person before making a decision. I chose Aubusson blue. I got two quarts, and spent $80 total. I then purchased a quart of Minwax Polycrylic from Amazon for $13, and still have a ton left over of both. I did have to crack open the second quart of chalk paint, but didn't use much. I have enough left over for another project.

I also purchased new hardware for the cabinet doors. I've always loved glass knobs, so I took this opportunity to incorporate them in a small way. I spent $20 on the knobs. I also got a can of Rustoleum spray paint in oil rubbed bronze for $4 to paint the old knobs and put them on the new coffee bar, so the coffee bar and pantry have matching knobs.

That $4 can of spray paint went so far. After scrubbing the caked on paint off of the hinges, I found rust. It looked awful. So I cleaned them thoroughly, and spray painted them. It worked like a charm! I also scrubbed our black, chipped vent covers (registers), and painted them. Now all the hardware in our kitchen matches!

After completing the cabinets, I painted the pantry. I painted it in three coats of linen white from Rustoleum ($17), after priming ($5) over the knotholes.

Once the pantry was done, I took on the walls. It's been years since I've painted walls. I got rollers and a paint tray ($17) and painters tape ($7) from Amazon, and the paint itself (Behr's Frittata with an eggshell finish, I believe) from Home Depot ($40). I did it all in one exhausting day while my kiddos got unlimited screen time and the hubby was at work.
In Progress- taped and furniture moved

I primed over that terrible fake tile
I used the primer left over from the knothole covering to prime over the fake tile. I did two coats of primer, and it still took 3 coats of the Behr with built in primer to cover the awfulness. If you look closely now, you can still see some of the lines, because she put it on so thickly. In time, I plan to do other improvements, including adding a backsplash. If that wasn't in my mind, I'd probably have to go back, sand down the existing paint, and repaint it.

 Once all the painting was completed, I saved up and purchased the dining table and benches I've been eyeing for months. I chose a larger table and two benches, to seat more people, and purchased it. I chose one with a white base and dark wooden tabletop to tie in the existing curtain rod and coffee bar. I'm saving up for the matching chairs to put on each end for additional seating. I found the coffee bar on CraigsList for $35, purchased patterned contact paper as a backsplash, and refinished the old cabinet knobs to match the pantry. I also added a set of 3 dark brown baskets ($20) to tie in to the table, and store things like cleaning supplies that I keep on top of the pantry and out of kids' reach. I added a rolling spice rack to help corral spices ($16), that slides between the pantry and coffee bar. This also allows me to move more of the overflow Costco groceries to the pantry itself.

Of course, there are other improvements. I'd love new countertops, sink, and faucet. The dishwasher and oven don't work perfectly, either. But in time we'll tackle those. For now, I'm thrilled with my new kitchen. I smile every time I walk in, as the sun lights up the room and brings out the light yellow paint. I love not seeing that awful fake tile, and every time I enter I'll be reminded of the hard work I put into making it truly mine.

I spent about 2 months completing the project. I tackled each project in a mini-version, as we were still using the kitchen during the makeover. I finished the cabinets before doing the pantry, finished the pantry before tackling the walls, and finished the walls before bringing in the furniture.

Total cost:
Cabinet paint: $80
Cabinet sealant: $13
Cabinet knobs: $20
Spray paint: $4
Pantry paint: $17 

Wall paint: $40
Brushes/accessories: $17
Painter's tape: $7
Dining table and benches: $320
Coffee bar: $35
Contact paper: $3
Baskets: $20
Spice Rack: $16
Total: $592

Since I did all the work myself, our total cost for a new-looking kitchen was $592. Without the table and coffee bar, the total would've been $237. So if you're looking for a new look, it doesn't break the bank to just paint your walls and cabinets. There were so many small things I didn't realize I'd need to do, like scrubbing and painting hardware and vent covers, but it saved a lot in the long run to not have to replace those. And I'm beyond thrilled with the results. 

Final Reveal:

Monday, November 27, 2017

Coco Review

Pixar's newest film, Coco, released last Wednesday. It was SPECTACULAR.

Olaf's Frozen Adventure was the short film that plays before the movie. I was thrilled to see all my favorite characters return, including Elsa, Anna, Olaf, Kristoff, and Sven. This short had more songs than Frozen Fever, the short that aired before the live action Cinderella. The characters showed growth as they struggled to recall traditions from before their parents' death, and reconcile their expectations with their reality. It was really well done, and I loved revisiting Arendelle. I'm super excited for the Frozen sequel release in 2019.

When I first heard of Coco's theme, Dia de los Muertos, I was disappointed. I loved that Pixar was expanding and telling stories from other cultures, but I was saddened it would be a few years before I could share this one with my boys. At four and two years old, they're not old enough for this film. I was skeptical they would be, and after viewing it without them, I know I was right. The way death and family is portrayed is beautiful and wonderfully done, but my kids just wouldn't understand it at this age. In a few years, when they can see beyond the skeletal visualization of each character, they'll love it. In the meantime, I'm a huge fan!

Coco expertly navigated themes of death, remembrance, and the importance of family with a gentle hand and a broad understanding. It provided a deeper insight, at least for me, of Dia de los Muertos. It was, of course, visually stunning. The characters were flawed and complex, including the protagonist, Miguel. We see and understand where he's coming from, and I spent a good part of the film wondering how he could reconcile what he loves with his family's expectations.

There were many good messages in this film, ranging from respecting your family's traditions, to being open minded, to seeking to understand where the opposing side is coming from. Remembrance played a huge role, emphasizing remembering loved ones and passing their stories along.

I'm not going to lie; I cried several times. Then again, it's Pixar so I fully expect to get teary at least once. They often tackle deep subjects and explain them to minds of all ages.Many themes hit me hard personally, as many beloved members of my family are no longer with us. Seeing grief portrayed, and how those on the other side feel as well, was both comforting and a little heartbreaking.

Coco took me on an incredible journey, through the land of the dead and the traditions of Dia de los Muertos. I'm looking forward to the day when my kiddos are ready to see it, so I can share it with them.

Have you seen Pixar's latest hit yet? What did you think of it?

New Dollywood Insiders Post

Dollywood's Smoky Mountain Christmas is truly magical. If you've been thinking about going, but worry about what to do with the smallest members of your family, fear not! My latest Dollywood Insiders post covers all the fun things for your littles and some not to miss events! Check it out here!

And remember, if you're looking for a discount, you can save $5 per ticket by using my code, DWINSIDERS5. Purchase online, print at home, and you'll be one step closer to experiencing a magical Christmas at Dollywood!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Ice Skating Delights at Dolly Parton's Smoky Mountain Adventures Christmas

Being a Dollywood Insider has already given me so many incredible opportunities. Just last week, I got a behind the scenes look at Dolly Parton's Smoky Mountain Adventures Christmas show. As a special bonus, I got to speak with the fabulous and talented ice skaters. You can read about my whole adventure- and how they taught me a few things on the ice despite my penchant for clumsiness (I told you they were talented!). Check it out on the Dollywood Insiders page!

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Organize Your Life with Baby Wipes Containers

If you buy baby wipes, you undoubtedly end up with a dozen reusable wipes containers haphazardly stacked and frequently knocked over by mischievous little hands. They seem like they'd be super useful, but you only keep wipes in so many places. So what purpose can you give these wipes containers? Here are a few ideas to clear the clutter and simplify your life with stuff you already have.

  1. Backup Clothes: Although my kids are 2 and 4, occasionally leaks, spills, and accidents happen. I like to be prepared, but I hate clutter in the car.

  2. Art supplies: So many supplies. Glue, markers, crayons, special paper only markers, stickers, construction paper, special paper booklets. Wrangle that chaos with wipes containers. Organize the supplies by type, slap a cute label on it, and voila- less mess! When your kid wants to color/paint/etc, just grab the needed box and leave the rest behind.

  3. Blessing Box: Sometimes a mama needs some uplifting. Especially early days with a newborn can be isolating and exhausting. When I have an expecting friend, or a drive to donate to moms in need, I make a blessing box. I put in a letter full of kind words, and then strips of paper with Bible verses, jokes, funny parenting truths, and just encouragement on them. When a mom is feeling down, she can go to the box, pull out a slip of paper, and feel encouraged. This could work for kids with reading abilities too!
  4. Snack Wrangler: My bag used to be a sea of dead goldfish and headless animal crackers. Not anymore! I keep all of their snack cups in a wipes container. It keeps all the snacks in one place, so they're easy to find, and it contains the mess without adding to the weight of my bag.

  5. Travel Medicine Case: We recently went on a 12-hour each way road trip. With changing temperatures and climates, I didn't know if we would have any allergies or small illnesses. So I packed a variety of medicines, from allergy medicine to cold medicine to daily medicines to vitamins, and arranged it all in a wipes container. I put it on top in the suitcase, so I could easily get to it at any point. It made last minute stopping for the night more convenient, and my kids were totally uninterested in it because it looks like a wipes container. I could stash it out of their reach, and they didn't try to climb to get to it.

What's your favorite use for reusable wipes containers?

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

New Dollywood Insiders Post

Hey, friends! Did you know I'm also writing over on the Dollywood Insider's page? My first post is up, and you can read it here. I love all the positive ways Dollywood impacts my community- read the post to find out how! You can even participate, by running or walking in the Light the Way 5K this November. You'll get to enjoy the glorious Christmas lights at Dollywood, get some exercise in, and benefit the local community. Check it out! I hope you like it!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Baking the Semi-Homemade Way

Hey, friends! You can check out my latest post with the Knoxville Mom's Blog here. Learn how to bake with your kids- without the time-suck and huge mess!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Feeling like Fall at Dollywood

Y'all, it is hot in Tennessee. Our August was cool and mild, but September and so far October have been hot, humid, and muggy. Ugh. Not cool for fall (pun intended). It's been hard to get in the autumnal spirit when I'm still wearing shorts and tank tops. Thankfully Dollywood invited the Insiders out for a day at the park to try out the Harvest Festival fun.

We drove in from a different direction, and had a generally leisurely attitude about the day. It was nice to go in without rushing and just enjoy the experience of the drive and the Harvest Festival.

The park is all dressed up and looking beautiful. Hay bales, pumpkins, and fall colors are in full bloom. The temperature may have been in the high 80s, but we still felt fall in the air at Dollywood.

The fall accents compliment the typical Dollywood experience that includes delicious food, fun rides, and plenty of memory making moments. The combined effects of no college game, fall break, and higher temperatures meant the crowds were out in full force. But we still had a blast with the kids riding their favorite rides.

The Great Pumpkin LumiNights are glowing after dark, with fun fall and Halloween decorations placed throughout the park. Bats with pumpkin heads fly high overhead, while intricately carved pumpkins populate the landscape. There's such beauty to be seen.

With Halloween around the corner, there are plenty of spooky-but-not-scary decorations for a less frightful way to celebrate the season. With rides and buildings lit up in red, purple, and green, the thrill of Halloween and the exciting rides at Dollywood combine for a delightful experience.

 The Great Pumpkin LumiNights experience also includes a fun glow maze for kids. It isn't really a maze- there's one entrance and one exit and only one path in between, but the black lights, bright colors, and glow in the dark paint make for a grand adventure for little ones.

 Special shows are currently taking place at Dollywood's Harvest Festival, including the Southern Gospel Jubilee performances. The Pumpkin Boogie Dance Party is fun for all ages each evening. Seasonal food includes the Pumpkin Cupcakes (my personal favorite this season- they're just the right amount of pumpkin!), warm apple cider, Candy Corn Kettle Corn, Caramel Apple Sundae, Candied Apple Slices, and Candy Apple Cider. It's all delicious and the perfect way to make your sweet day at Dollywood's Harvest Festival even sweeter.

What else makes your day sweeter? Saving $5 per ticket! Buy your tickets online here, and enter the code DWInsiders5 when you check out. You'll print your tickets at home and take them to the park with you. This offer isn't available at the gate, so make sure to buy your tickets in advance and save! Then come back and share your favorite Dollywood Harvest Festival memories in the comments!

Monday, September 11, 2017

MyMagazine's #BabyYourBaby Campaign

I received free products to review for this post, but my opinions are my own.

If you're a frequent Kroger shopper, you've likely received their MyMagazine issue in the mail at some point. It contains fun articles, seasonal recipes, and sometimes even coupons! They recently sent me a package of baby items to review as part of their Baby your baby campaign.

I received:

  • Huggies Wipes and coupons
  • Enfamil formula sample
  • Gerber Coupons and baby food sample
  • Pampers Coupons
  • Beech Nut Melties sample
  • Enfalyte coupons
I love Huggies wipes. They're soft, hold up well, and stay moist. I've been using them for years, as I can buy them at Costco and only have to buy wipes once every couple of months. Huggies also has a rewards program, in which you upload a photo of your receipt with a Huggies purchase on it and earn points you can redeem for gift cards, sweepstakes, etc. I like this because I'm buying them anyway, and wipes get expensive, so at least I'm getting a little something back.

As a primary breastfeeding mama that just weened her baby two months ago, I don't have tons of use for the Enfamil sample and coupons so I'm sending them to a friend that just had her second baby. Even if you pump and breastfeed, it can be nice to have a little bit of formula on hand in case of emergencies. If you've pumped but have to evacuate due to an emergency (here's looking at you, hurricane season), or you're out and about and your sitter spills the breastmilk (gasp, the horror, oh no, that would be awful), it's good to have a backup plan.

I also made my own baby food and only used the packaged kind for travel, but it can be a nice thing to have. Gerber is pretty well established as having a good quality of products. I usually used the store brand, because I bought it irregularly and I tend towards frugal.

I'm sharing the Pampers coupons because I'm a Luvs mama through and through.

Beech Nut wasn't an established brand when my babies were small enough for melties. I'm sure they would still gobble them up, but since these are soy and dairy free I want to share them with a friend that has a dairy-free baby. 

Enfalyte is an electrolyte drink for babies that are ill and needing to replenish fluids. I'll use one coupon and share the rest, because school just started and now it's basically germ season.

What brands do you love for baby items?

The Paw Prints in the Sink Zazzle Shop

Hey friends! I'm excited to announce I've started selling some cute items on Zazzle. You can find my shop here.

I'm creating all sorts of fun and fun items, with aprons, tote bags, and more. From my goofy phrases (Put that in your pastry bag and pipe it) to the most appropriate adjectives used to describe the blog (Adorkable, anyone?), you'll find all sorts of interesting and exciting things on all manner of objects. Check it out!

New designs are added daily, so check it out!

Friday, September 1, 2017

Sweet Peach Tea Recipe

Here in Tennessee, it's already been feeling like fall. Rumor has it we had a cool August but Fall will be warmer than usual. Apparently this is good for fall foliage, which is great, but it leaves me hanging on to summer a bit more than usual.

Usually come September 1, I'm busting out the fall decor and baking all the pumpkin things. I'm not quite letting summer out of my grasp, as I'd love a few more pool days with my boys at this age. They're so fun to watch, darting around the pool in their puddle jumpers, and they aren't into rough play in the pool yet. I feel like next year the pool will be a battleground, as the indoor roughhousing is increasing daily, and it's only a matter of time before it extends outdoors.

Since I'm clinging to summer, I thought I'd share my favorite 2017 summer drink- Sweet Peach Tea. This tea reminds me a bit of the Bellini iced tea at Olive Garden, but it's better because I can have it whenever I want! I drink it chilled and iced, because #SummerLoveForever.

Sweet Peach Tea Recipe

Makes one gallon

1/2 gallon filtered water
3 family size cold-brew iced tea bags
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups white cran-peach juice

Can you tell Kroger is my preferred brand?

  1. Fill a 1 gallon pitcher halfway up with water (don't worry, you'll want all of this tea! It's delicious.)
  2. Steep tea bags in water for at least 10 minutes. (I'm basically sacrilege to tea lovers- I don't time my steeping, I use cold water tea bags, sometimes I even let it steep overnight because I'm daring like that and I like my tea like I like my men- strong and able to sweep me off my feet.)
  3. Remove tea bags and stir in 1/2 cup sugar until dissolved.
  4. Add white cran-peach juice, stir. 
  5. Serve chilled and over ice, preferably on a porch with the butterflies flitting about and the promise of an Indian summer in the air.

What's your favorite summer beverage?