Thursday, June 20, 2013

stenciled dresser makeover

I always get so excited for moving and decorating a new place. I just sometimes forget how horrible the moving part can be! We've been in our new apartment for about two and a half weeks. Most everything is settled, but lots of my crafts and scrapbooks are still packed away. 

Our new place is definitely a fixer-upper. We did a lot of wall scrubbing, wall patching, and floor cleaning. In order to not go insanely crazy, we've decided to attack one room at a time. Our first big focus was our bedroom, which is on the smaller side.

I spent our first full weekend patching and painting the walls. It is this gorgeous deep purpley plum color that Jacob thinks is sexy. I'll take it! It's also super calm and sophisticated. (You can have a sneak peek of our wall color in the next shot.)

After painting the walls, I picked the next biggest room project - a dresser makeover. 

I bought this wooden dresser in high school from an antique shop. It's been painted a few times, but this time I wanted it to be fitting with our new space. 

Here is my weekend-long stenciled dresser makeover process:

First things first: Pull out the dresser drawers, take off the knobs, and give the dresser a fresh coat of paint. I stuck with a basic matte black. Excuse the grocery bags. You use what you've got handy!

After giving the drawers a fresh coat of paint, it was time to stencil! I bought the stencil I used from Michaels for around $5. I used in in this decorative box project. I absolutely loved the look then, and figured it would go decently with our damask bedspread.

Grabbing a few things before sitting down in front of Chicago Fire episodes was necessary in order to avoid getting up and down. I grabbed a pouncer paint brush, a paint tray, bright white and tan paint to make a slightly creamy color, double-sided tape, and my stencil. 

The easiest way I found to use the stencil was to put a few small pieces of double-sided tape on the backside. This helped keep the stencil in place while applying paint. If anyone has a suggestion that works for them, please share! I'm always looking for more insight myself. 

I decided to, with much encouragement from Jacob, use the stencil across the entire drawer space. I measured the length of each drawer (25 inches in my case) and make a small mark in the direct center of each drawer. 

I popped my stencil down and started painting away. To view the technique to applying paint on a stencil, view my post on the stenciled boxes. I applied the creamy white to all of the outside bits and the purple that our wall color is to the center. I started with creating the center stencil on each of the 4 drawers. I then completed each drawer one by one. I simply eyeballed the stencil to the left and to the right, with the outer stencils going over the edge of the drawers. 

I love how this looks! It's such a bold look. I have a bit of minor touch-ups to do with black paint, but I figure I can do that whenever I get a moment to breathe. :) I originally had plans to paint the knobs with some purple accents, but ultimately decided against it as I didn't want the knobs to compete with the overall design. 

Completed. It's such a rewarding feeling when you finish a project! The dresser has been moved into the bedroom. Now to just accessorize and add in some decor pieces to accent this beauty.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

cucumber ranch pasta salad

After moving and going through one of my busiest times at work, to say these past two weeks have been exhausting is an understatement! (But sometimes, food can be a blessing!)

I spent all last weekend painting our bedroom, we just got new windows thanks to our apartment management company, and we still have unpacked boxes to deal with.

Sneak peek at the color we picked. A very royal and luxurious purple. More photos to come!

We've also been social butterflies and have had plans every evening. I love to be on the go, but I think an evening on the couch sounds equally fabulous right now.

Jacob and I with the TBS "Just for Laughs" mascot. Got to see Russell Brand at the Chicago Theatre for free!

When I am that busy or slightly overwhelmed with life, grabbing something that is already made in the fridge when I'm hungry is like an answer to my prayers. (Jacob's too!)

One of my favorite summertime things is pasta salads. This recipe for cucumber ranch pasta salad was passed onto my from Jacob's uncle a few summers ago in the aisle of a grocery store, and it's stuck around ever since. Although I love pasta salad with an Italian dressing, I adore the variety that this version brings.

Cucumber Ranch Pasta Salad

What You Need
1/2 lb. small shell pasta, cooked, drained, and cooled
1/2 cup of Cucumber Ranch Kraft Salad dressing, added in 1/4 cup increments
1/4 cup of real bacon bits
3 oz. of pico de gallo, or similar
1/2 tsp. garlic powder

Seriously, it's that simple!

Boil water, salt it, and cook 1/2 lb. of small shelled pasta as directed on it's package. Drain the noodles, and toss them into the fridge in a separate bowl for half an hour if you have the time.

I always like to pour cool water over my pasta after it's drained to speed up the cooling process.

With the cooled pasta in hand, mix in 3 oz. of pico de gallo, or similar. I used a small container from Chipotle (oh the joys of having connections), but any will do. Add in 1/4 cup of real bacon bits, or you could cook and crumble some bacon yourself. Sprinkle in 1/2 tsp. of garlic powder. Add 1/2 cup of Cucumber Ranch Kraft Salad Dressing 1/4 cup at a time. 

Then, mix all the ingredients together. Give it a little taste test too.

After I mix everything together and give the initial test, I toss the pasta salad back into the fridge for a few hours. Inevitably, the pasta will soak up quite a bit of the dressing and you'll want to more of it, along with possibly some of the other ingredients. I always add a few more squeezes of dressing to make it the right amount of creamy.

This is such a tasty alternative to more traditional pasta salad. I love this as a snack or adding it to my lunch. Full of flavor and quite the spin on something everyone loves.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

nail polished keys: make life simpler

My blog and creativity has been neglected as of late. We officially moved into our second Chicago apartment on Sunday and are going through the settling in phase. Our new digs definitely need some work, so I smell some projects, home decor, organizations, and crafts coming on.:)

Our first task when we moved in was get our one set of keys copied. We did in a downpour that trapped us at The Home Depot. At least we had many somethings to look at while we waited for the rain to subside!

The problem when you copy keys is that everything is generic. The problem with living in an apartment is you always have a whole slew of keys (I have 4 from the apartment group and one of my own). I used to have the small colored rubber grippers that went around the top of the keys so you could tell which was which. Mine were too big and were always slipping, making it a mess to try to unlock anything.

Whoever started this brilliant idea of using nail polish on your keys instead: I bow down to you. 

This couldn't be a simpler project. I painted the centers of each key with a contrasting color so it would be easy to identify. I started off with purple, blue, red, and gold. 

I discovered the gold I was trying to use just wouldn't show up, so I changed to a hot pink instead.

See? Pitiful.

In between unpacking a box here and there, I would layer up another coat. I think I did about 3 total to get the full saturation. 


In process.

These turned out perfectly. While I painted them I left there paper backings on and labeled which key went where.


Considering each key went to different things, and sometimes multiple things, I took things a notch further and carefully labeled each of them with a Sharpie. 


Perfect solution to something that shouldn't require much thought!