October 2, 2015

Dear Diary, Installing a Backsplash Isn't So Bad!

We have been waiting for almost a year to install our backsplash. You know how it goes, one thing leads to another and it seems like it takes forever to finish one room!

That has been the story with our kitchen. Finally we decided to take the plunge and purchase our tile. We planned the following month to get it installed but little did we know the cost behind installing subway tile! We just couldn't justify spending $1500 to install our backsplash. (For the record I am in no way knocking handymen, professionals or anyone else, this just didn't work with our budget and we had to find another way. We use our handyman for a lot of other things, it just didn't work out this time around!)

I did some "research" online and stumbled across a few products that much to my hesitation, seemed to have good results and good reviews. There are two brands out there that I found but I opted for the one I could buy at my local store in case I did have any issues.

 This was my "test" area, behind the microwave. That way if I messed up on my first try (which I did) no one would know. I used the grout float to smooth out any bubbles. I have to say I did not find this material to be temperamental at all. Basically if you can use tape, you can use this. However, I do NOT suggest using your good scissors, It makes them a sticky mess!

This is the handy dandy little tile cutter I bought. I was a tad intimidated by the thought of this but if you can use a paper cutter, you can use this! I will say for the price it's a great value, however, it did present problems when we got to outlets. You cannot do an "L" or "U" shaped cut for example, it will pretty much only cut straight through the tile so if you really don't want that, you better spend the extra $ to rent or buy a water jet cutter.

Here is a shot of the tile going up. I wanted a very minimal grout joint & the tiles were already
beveled a bit so I actually just used the cardboard that came between each tile as my spacer! 
(I think I get points for creativity here!) 
And please note, if you are using a glass tile you need NON-SANDED GROUT! You do not want to scratch that pretty, shiny, brand new tile!

A photo of the grouting underway. I actually enjoyed grouting & wouldn't mind doing it again!

The finished backsplash (minus outlet covers). 
I had never thought of nor contemplated installing tile and to be quite honest was intimidated by the thought of it but this adhesive product is really what made it possible for us to do on our own. So if you're planning a remodel and want to find some ways to save a few bucks, I would strongly recommend considering this route! Here's the breakdown:

Experience Level: Beginner
Cost: Approx $80 (2 simple mat boxes, 1 container of grout, grout float, tile cutter) + cost of tile 
Time: 5 hrs for an average sized kitchen

I hope this tutorial has inspired you to get out there and try a DIY project of your own! You CAN do it!

Yours truly,
The Decorating Diva

September 11, 2015

Dear Diary... How to Install Built In Bookshelves on a Budget

I promised to keep my posts short and will do my best on this one but it's a multi-step project so bear with me!

I've wanted to add built in bookcases since the day we bought our house and finally, one year later, that day came. I was so excited after months of searching for something that would fit the size & budget of our project.

For us, we wound up purchasing 90" kitchen cabinet boxes from Ikea and we then trimmed and moulded the crap out of them!

Here's the breakdown:
Four 90" x 14" x 24" cabinet "boxes" from Ikea
10 packs of shelves (they come two shelves to a pack)
Four packs of legs from Ikea
One 2x2 to use as "blocking" behind the baseboards & crown moulding
Flat pre-finished 1 x 6" boards (find with the moulding) so it matched the crown moulding
Approx 20 ft of crown & base moulding
Quarter Round trim
Flat panel moulding (not shown below)
Eight Door Mirrors
Caulking (3 tubes)

Time: Approx 1 weekend (2 days)

After assembling the cabinets we used these large washers combined with screws and anchors (not shown) to fix them to the walls. They're very tall and you definitely don't want to worry about them toppling over from the kiddos climbing up them! (Not that I would know from experience...)
**Make sure you level the cabinets before screwing in place! The legs were awesome at helping with this!

Here's a pic of the hubs, aren't I a lucky girl?

 Wood blocking & the 1"x6" pre-finished boards in place.
(We did the same step for the base boards)

 I wanted to add mirror for reflection to help make the room feel bigger again after we had impeded 14" into the living room for the depth of the bookcases. They also help to reflect more light into the room which was a great bonus. My mom had the great idea of using those mirrors that are usually hung on the back of a door (super cheap during back to school/college dorm season!) and just removing the frames. We used two per bookcase, they slightly overlapped but by the time I get my books & tchotchkes added it should mostly hide the seams. You can also opt for custom cut glass but it was about 5x the cost so I decided to go this route.

Bub needed a new place to house his toys and lo & behold those economy diaper boxes were a perfect fit for the bottom shelves! I used some scrap fabric to cover 4 of them! #WIN

Here is the nearly finished result, we just have to finish caulking and add the flat vertical trim between each bookcase/wall.

If you found this tutorial helpful or just enjoyed the read, please let me know by leaving a comment!

Yours truly,
The Decorating Diva

September 5, 2015

Dear Diary...How to Make Your Own Pumpkin Spice Creamer

I can't believe how quickly fall snuck up on us this year! But I am happy it's here. For us Floridians, it signals an ending in sight to hurricane season, closely followed by the excitement of all things PUMPKIN!
I recently came across a great recipe for a healthier pumpkin spice creamer.

I decided to try it out this morning since my little decided 6:30 was a GREAT time to wake up on a Saturday morning, I really needed a stellar cup of coffee. This creamer did not disappoint!

1 bottle Natural Bliss cinnamon creamer (this is the only creamer I use bc it's all natural)
1/4 cup pure pumpkin
1/4 tsp (or to taste) pumpkin pie seasoning
More cinnamon to taste


Yours truly,
The Decorating Diva

August 22, 2015

Dear Diary...My Home Needs New Jewelry

I am happy to share that I'm back after a couple of very hectic years on hiatus from blogging! It's been a whirlwind of events from loosing my step-father to the birth of our son to moving into a new home with my family, mother and grandmother!

This new chapter has led me to slightly re-direct my blogging. My purpose for writing these posts is still to show you that you CAN do some things yourself, that it's not always as daunting as it seems. However, at this stage of my life I'm constantly busy chasing a toddler and many days it's impossible to get even the important things checked off, let alone have spare time to sit down and blog!

But I still enjoy sharing tips and tricks to make your home inviting and beautiful as well so I've decided I'll be doing mini blogs (aside from this one) where the talking will be minimal and I'll get right to the point!

If you're anything like me you go straight for the tutorial and skip the excess (so whoever is still reading at this point, THANK YOU!) lol

That said lets get on to the tutorial! Today I'm installing what I like to call "home jewelry" which is all the cabinet pulls, door levers, etc. get it? Check out the videos below for how to remove an old knob and how to install a new one!

(I apologize in advance for my not so professional camera skills, at one point my special helper even came in for a quick camera appearance which just goes to show that if I can do this by myself while watching a toddler, then you can certainly do it to!)

Enjoy and please be sure to leave a comment if you found this helpful.

Yours truly,
The Decorating Diva

January 28, 2013

Dear Diary...Baking Time Again!

I was in desperate need of a dessert for our small group tomorrow night and could not figure out what to make! No time to go to the store means time to get creative! I found a devils food cake mix, some Starbucks instant coffee & peppermint extract (otherwise bake as normal)....*angels singing* I just took them out of the oven & my house smells AMAZING! Can't wait to see how everyone likes them!

This was a short & sweet post, hope you enjoy the recipe!

January 3, 2013

Dear Diary...Happy New Wear!

Happy 2013 everyone! This year I have decided on 5 (FIVE!) resolutions & I'm counting on you to help hold me to them! 

1) Be dedicated to keeping the body God gave me healthy
2) Choose to be happy, regardless of my circumstances
3) Appreciate people for who they are & recognize why God has placed them in my life
4) Explore the world and seek out new adventures with my husband
5) Know and love God deeper than ever before!

Today I'm working on No. 2. I reaaaaaaaaaaaally (really!) wanted to go out shopping and buy a ton of new things to beautify my house but with all of the holiday bills looming I decided it was a better idea to find contentment with a few DIY projects instead! 
I've had this ratty old cardigan lying around my closet for a while and have wanted to re-purpose it. I decided a scarf would be interesting. I really love the blush pink color & the light weight hand of the fabric-perfect for a scarf!

As you can see it was in less than pristine condition...

I carefully cut each piece apart at the seams. 
This was a stretchy fabric so it was very forgiving with my imperfect scissor skills.

First I took the largest/longest piece & sewed the ends together 
to start the infinity scarf.

Next, I cut the back in a circular pattern, you see in the two images
to the right that it creates a nice ruffled look when draped.
I then sewed the ends together as well.

 I also used the sleeves & cut them in a spiral fashion to gain length 
(middle image) and then twisted them together (last image) and
again sewed the ends together.

These are the three components that will make up the final infinity scarf.

I took one of the strings used to keep the cardigan on the hanger
and used it to tie the three pieces together. It worked out nicely that
the original tag was at the top, giving it a more "I bought it this way" look!

Ta-daaaaa! Not too bad for a quick half hour project, huh?

Before & After

In 2013 I wish you all a very HAPPY NEW WEAR & challenge you to see what you can re-purpose from your closet!

Yours truly, 
The Decorating Diva

October 7, 2012

Dear Diary...Cooking on a Rainy Day for a Rainy Day

This weekend has been W-E-T wet! So I decided it was time to put my "culinary skills" (ha) to good use. I had been inspired a few weeks back by Natalie over at ATurtlesLifeForMe.  This super mom posted about preparing freezer meals on less than $100 budget for 4 people!
I knew I needed to try this, so I picked up about $15 worth of veggies from my local farmers market and then about $50 worth of meats from the grocery store.

This was my shopping list:

Farmers Market:
-fresh spinach
-4 cloves of garlic
-2 med. spanish onions
-2 green peppers
-2 red peppers
-2 yellow peppers
-3 ears of corn
-1 bag of carrots
-canned sweet roasted red peppers
-1 head of green cabbage
-1 head of purple cabbage
-5 sweet potatoes

Grocery Store:
-3 lbs chicken breasts or tenders
-3 lbs chuck roast
-sirlion steak (enough for 2 servings)
-1 bag of large cooked/peeled jumbo shrimp
-15 pieces of fresh crab meat (fish section)

What I should explain is that none of the food (except the chuck roast & spinach) was cooked in advance. All the meats & veggies were just cleaned, chopped & sorted into portions (2 servings per bag). I also prefer to cook dairy/salt free as much as possible. The only meal that has added sea salt is the chuck roast.

Meal 1 (3 bags - 6 servings):
-Chicken fajitas (3 chicken breasts, 1 green pepper, 2/3 red pepper, 1/2 onion)
 I added cumin & cayenne pepper as seasoning. Cook and serve with tortillas, chips, etc

Meal 2 (3 bags - 6 servings):
-Mixed seafood (15 sticks of crab cut up, 3 cups of shrimp & garlic clove)
Cook and add to pasta & alfredo sauce.

Meal 3 (3 bags - 6 servings):
-Chicken & spinach (3 chicken breasts, 6 cups of spinach cooked down first on stove top, sweet roasted red pepper, 1 garlic clove) Cook and add to pasta, orzo or quinoa.

Meal 4 (2 bags - 4 servings):
-Sirlion Seak (1 sirlion steak, split in 2 for 4 servings. Seasoned with Worcestershire sauce, sea salt & fresh ground peppercorn.) Serve with a roasted ear of corn (1 ear is 2 servings) and salad.

Meal 5 (3 bags - 6 servings):
-Shredded beef fajitas (3 cups shredded chuck roast, 1 green pepper, 2/3 red pepper, 1/2 onion)
 I added cumin & cayenne pepper as seasoning. Cook and server with tortillas, chips, etc

Meal 6 (2 bags - 4 servings):
-Kung Pao Shrimp (2 cups shrimp, 1/2 orange pepper, 1/3 red pepper, 1/2 onion, fresh garlic clove, red pepper flakes). Cook and serve over brown rice (add soy sauce if desired).

Meal 7 (1 bag - 2 servings):
-Dijon chicken (1 chicken breast, 4 tbsp dijon mustard, 2 tbsp maple syrup, 1 tsp rice wine vinegar). Cook and serve with brown rice or quinoa.

Meal 8 (1 bag - 2 servings):
-Lemon chicken (1 chicken breast, 1/2 lemon sliced thinly, white cooking wine) Cook and serve with pasta and alfredo or a light cream sauce.

Meal 9 (1 bag - 2 servings):
-Beef stuffed peppers (1 cup shredded chuck roast, 1 orange pepper cut in half & stuffed with meat). Cook at 350 degrees for 25 min (oven times may vary!)

-Sweet potato fries  Cut 3 sweet potatos into round thins & season with cayenne pepper. Bake for 1 1/2 hrs before freezing. When ready to eat, pop in the oven for 10 min on broil or toast.

-2 sweet potatoes cooked and frozen to enjoy with one of the delish meals above. Cook at 350 degrees for about 20 min (oven times may vary!)

-Baked green cabbage (1 head of green cabbage, cut into 4 thick slices, 1 tbsp butter, 1 tbsp EVOO, Ms Dash salt-free garlic seasoning). Bake at 350 degrees for 25 min (oven times may vary!) I like mine crispy!

-Shredded cabbage salad (1/4 head of shredded green cabbage-I used what was left over from the baked cabbage, 1/4 head shredded of purple cabbage, 1 shredded carrot). Season with 1 tsp sesame seed oil, 1 tsp soy sauce)

Well, that's it! That's what I cooked up this weekend! It will last my family for about 2 1/2 weeks or so. It was worth the few hours it took to prepare, what a stress relief to know I can come home after work, take out a bag & have dinner ready in less than 20 minutes! If this has helped or inspired you, let me know!

Yours truly,
The Decorating Diva