Kitchen Renovation Phase 3 - benjamin moore white dove painted kitchen cabinets and absolute black honed granite counters

Kitchen Reno-vate-vate-vate-vate-vate-vate-vate

It’s like I’ve got this music in my mind…

Happy Fall Ya’ll.  That’s what I would say if I were from here, but I’m not, so I would say Happy Fall You Guys, or if I was on my blog I would say nothing.  For two months.  Can someone be my accountability keeper?   I’ll speed up the kitchen stuff since who cares anymore about every little step. Unless they’re Cobalt’s little steps, then I care about them.  They’re cute and they go tick tick tick tick tick tick tick on the wood floors as he trots to you.  Hey, who’s still reading this? Here’s our white kitchen…

kitchen renovation benjamin moore white dove

And here’s our new window!!

kitchen renovation benjamin moore white dove

And here’s a mini dachshund!

kitchen renovation benjamin moore white dove

That’s Nick.
kitchen renovation benjamin moore white dove

I promise I’ll take better pictures, but these are all old and terrible. Things started moving pretty quickly once the kitchen was painted.  We went back and forth between Benjamin Moore White Dove and Benjamin Moore Simply White, but I ultimately liked the slight softer tone to White Dove.  It felt less stark.  What didn’t move quickly was my decision-making.  I’ll pause and let everyone be surprised and confused.

The counters made my brain freeze up the most because I envisioned white in my head all along – either marble or something that looked like that.  Well, guess what? Marble is expensive and high maintenance, and I guess between me and Cobalt there are enough high maintenance things in our house.  The most durable and cost-friendly option was granite, but all the white granite options had too many other colors speckled in them, or they just seemed more beige/grey than white.

I liked a couple of the white quartz options, but those were a lot more expensive than granite, and seemed almost too plain. Basically granite was too busy and quartz was too clean/modern looking for me.  So, I switched gears completely and considered black for a contrast against everything else white in our kitchen.  I didn’t like the shiny/sparkly factor to the black granite though, so I started considering soapstone…also more expensive.

Then, finally, after hours and hours of neglecting my loved ones and being a slave to and on my ipad, I found a new option!  Honed granite. Basically the polishing process stops before the buffing stage and you get a matte finish instead of a slick shiny one.  So I went and looked at some slabs again, and loved it!

absolute black honed granite

Done. Phew. Then there was the hardware to choose.  Which meant there was a lot of this.

benjamin moore white dove subway tile and honed granite

But, what does it look like in the sunlight?

benjamin moore white dove subway tile absolute black honed granite

This went on for many hours. I had narrowed it down to black or brushed nickel.  Black to match the counters and brushed nickel to match the appliances. (I was also trying out a light blue wall color in that photo, and you can also see the quartz sample on the right.)

This seemingly small decision was by far the hardest to make.  I called my friend and got her husband, one-year-old, and lab-doxie involved, and we were basically split down the middle.  So naturally, I polled Cobalt and Miles.  You can see the results here:

Cobalt helped, and Miles was pretty pissed that I was clearly trying to feed him metal instead of food.

Ultimately, I chose…….

the brushed nickel!  Not what I originally thought I would choose.  Actually, my first pick was a more aged finish that didn’t even make the final two because it just didn’t work with the rest of the materials.  I thought the black hardware would pop out a little too much in the small space, and I liked how the nickel ones added some more shine and matched the appliances.

Our next challenge was to find a kitchen faucet.  We knew we wanted a pull down sprayer, but most of those come with the goose-neck style faucet which would impede our new kitchen window. It was actually fairly painless to find a shorter one at a decent price, and the good news is that Cobalt really liked it.

delta cassidy kitchen faucet

delta cassidy pull down kitchen faucetIt’s Delta’s Cassidy faucet if you’re curious.

delta cassidy kitchen faucet

Nick liked it too.

fireman likes delta cassidy kitchen faucet

Now that we have that covered, if you’re wondering where I’ve been for two months, the answer is all of the places. Beaufort, Orlando, Ocean City, Charlotte, and Folly Beach – where we looked at wedding spots!!  I’ll share that with you next time once I sort out how much of the wedding planning  I want to write about.  A. I don’t want to give it all away, but I do want to share the process.  B. It will be a small wedding so I don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings who’s not invited, but I do want to share it with the people I love, all of whom we may not be able to invite.  and C. I hate to even mention it, because I don’t like to ever recognize or talk about it, but I know there are plenty of not nice people out there wanting to hate, hate, hate.  And I don’t want to share it with those people.  Any suggestions?  Please comment your advice so I can sort this out. Meanwhile, I’ll just keep cruisin…


In honor of Cobalt’s 6th bufday a couple days ago, here are all the toys, which are all his.  Not anyone else’s.

Cobalt mini dachshund loves toys especially his yellow long dog

Cobalt mini dachshund loves toys especially his pumpkin long dog

Cobalt mini dachshund loves toys especially his green long dog

Emily and CobNew boat - Hunter 30 Sailboat

We Got a Boat…and Another Thing

I promised an update on our new sailboat that I didn’t get to last time, so here it is!

We’ll be doing updates to the boat too, so stay tuned for that.

OK onto part two.  The “another thing”….

Nick & Emily Engagement

We’re ENGAGED!!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

Cobalt learned a new trick and came running in at just the right moment with the ring 🙂  The only thing is, now Cobalt thinks he is marrying me.  But that’s OK.  We are both so excited and can’t wait to get married!!!  In a word, I am HAPPY.  So, so happy.

I’m excited to be able to share the planning our wedding with lots of DIY and lots of love.

Kitchen Renovation Phase 2

Kitchen Kitchen Ya Ya Da Da

Hey, hey, heeeey.  So, a lot has been going on this summer, but we are finally entering into a couple weeks of normalcy.  Perfect time to give a kitchen update!  This is the phase where we really saw what the overall layout of the kitchen come to life.  Let’s get visual shall we?  More pictures, less words.  Nobody has any time for that.

So here we go clockwise around the room.

Phase 2 Kitchen Renovation - Fridge cabinets


Phase 2 Kitchen Renovation - Sink and Cabinets

Phase 2 Kitchen Renovation - Custom Cabinets


Phase 2 Kitchen Renovation - Kitchen Breakfast Bench Nook

Got all that??  I threw in some pop-up video action for you too.

Anyone have any time left for an update on what’s been going on lately?  Don’t worry we’ll stick with the more pics less words thing.

Mom and dad came to visit right after the last time I posted…

South Carolina Lake Murray Mom & Dad Visit


South Carolina Lake Murray Mom & Dad Visit - Dad


South Carolina Lake Murray Mom & Dad Visit - Mom


South Carolina Lake Murray Mom & Dad Visit - Dad and Nick


South Carolina Lake Murray Mom & Dad Visit - Me and Mom

Nick had a birthday!!!  Mabel says “I’m yo pwesent”  “My mom made me”.

Nick Birthday - Mabel Bloodhound


And I made him this delicious Lemon cake from this recipe

Lemon Cake

Which we brought on the new sailboat and then went out on the lake to raft up with friends and watch the fireworks!

Nick and Emily on the sailboat 4th of July


4th of July Lake Murray Fireworks on Sailboat


4th of July Fireworks Lake Murray


Nick also opened his presents which he should have known were for Cobalt

The next weekend we went up to Rochester, NY for the actual 4th of July with my family.  Cobalt helped us get there.

Cobalt mini dachshund sleeps in the car

After he slept a lot.  Here he goes.

Rochester 4th of July roundup…

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The last picture was the trip home where Emily had to pee and Nick made her go at South of the Border.  Cobalt was not happy.

I think the dogs had the best time of anyone.  Mabel went fetching in the water for the first time…

And Cobalt stole bread from the coy fish, some of which were bigger than he is.  We’ll go ahead and call that your Complimentary Cobalt of the Day….




Kitchen Renovation Phase One

Ooops…and A Kitchen Update

Whoops. So May was a total FAIL on the ol blog….


I’m not sure what happened to Spring exactly.  Between conferences, a wedding, random other travels and illnesses, it flew the freak by. Let’s do a quick recap and then move on to phase one of the kitchen so we can do that big reveal already.


There was Easter, and dying brown easter eggs…
dying brown easter eggs


I went to Nashville for work…
Downtown Nashville


My friend Merideth came to visit and our friend’s dog sang the blues on a sailboat…
Emily and Merideth on sailboat



My BEST FRIEND got married!!!!!
efoc at theresa's wedding
mom and dad




emily and nick at theresa's wedding


We went to Myrtle Beach for Nick’s work…
Myrtle Beach


Nick got the gout…


My brother and sister-in-law Ben & Courtney, and our friend Naomi came to visit!  Fingers crossed that we got them hooked on moving here….
gang on sailboat


girls on sailboat


And today…we got a new boat!  More on that when we get it in the water.  But that does bring us up to today, and it’s actually the motivation for my post.  Nick and his friend, Andrew, went to Oriental, NC today to inspect and buy our new boat, and won’t be home until 9ish.  So I of course, think to myself the whole way home from work about all the productive things I’m going to do while he’s gone.  I’ll write my blog, I’ll work out, I’ll do laundry, I’ll clean, etc.  Well, fast forward an hour and it looked more like this:


couch fall

Followed by



and watching Gilmore Girls…


Gilmore Girls


Whoops. So I decided to do one load of laundry and start my post.  That’s something.
Back to the whole kitchen renovation thing.  We had the best contractor in the whole wide world, and we were actually sad when he left.  Nick said to me “Today is Glen’s last day.  That means he’s not coming over any more.”(insert adult man sadface here).


Glen and I worked on the kitchen design together, and between his squashing some of my dreams and replacing them with other neat ideas, we both agreed that we came up with a pretty great kitchen.   Here is a breakdown of what did and didn’t make the cut:


Island –  No. I wanted this so I could lean on it and drink wine have more counter space for cooking and gathering around, or even put the sink in it so I could be looking out the window instead of at a wall.  But, it just wouldn’t work well with the space.  It’d be too tight opening the oven door and trying to get around it.


Window cut-out – Yes.  It’s in the wall to the dining room – this was Glen’s solution to giving me a view to the outside (front yard instead of back) and a more open feeling standing at the sink.  We weren’t able to open up the whole wall but he cut out a nice sized window that I love.


Wine area – Yes. A glass rack and wine bottle holder – This couldn’t eat up too much valuable space in the kitchen so Glen and I found the perfect spot for it between the new fridge location and the…


Rachel Ray pantry! – Yes. This is what it was called the whole time, and how we now distinguish it from the bigger closet pantry in the dining room.  It is perfect.  It doesn’t take up too much room in the kitchen and it is so functional.  We can grab things we need while cooking without having to go into the dining room to get them.


Slow-close doors and drawers – Yes. I love these and now I assume all cabinets are slow close and end up slamming a lot that aren’t.


Farmhouse sink – Yes.  It’s as great as it sounds.


Marble countertops – No.  I thought the whole time we’d have marble or marble-like counter tops, but when that was no longer an option due to price and functionality, and I realized I didn’t like ANY of the white granite choices, I started exploring other options.  I actually did end up with a granite, but it is absolute black with a honed finish. It looks a little like soapstone, and I love the contrast it adds.


Subway tile – Yes.  With dark grout instead of light.


X Mullion glass cabinet doors – No.  Who knew it was so expensive to put wooden X’s on glass doors? So instead two hundred something a piece doors like this:
We went with the much less expensive classic mullion look like this:


There were a ton of other details and decisions to make, but I’ll go through those and point them out in the finished kitchen.


The first phase of the kitchen happened immediately after demo, and it was so exciting to see our new kitchen come to life!  First was demo, then opening up a wall…



opening kitchen wall


Then the first of the custom cabinets went in!!


custom cabinets phase one


Including the much anticipated Rachel Ray pantry.  Such a fun first step.


Rachel Ray pantry


As you can imagine, there have been a lot of Cobalt photos and videos taken over the last 2 months…so it’s a little hard to choose.


Your long awaited CCOTD:
mom and cobalt at jakes
Mom and nini at one of his favorite spots, Jake’s, where they have “Yappy Hour” and dogs are always allowed on the back deck area!  He says Mom, I want to go to da pwace wheyoh ev-wee-one pays attention to me and fwohs da ball fo me a wot.  


What? That could be a number of places but this time it was Jake’s.



baking glass paint mason jars

A Bachelorette Weekend and A Dachshund Date

In case you were expecting this post to show the next stage of the kitchen, don’t worry, I’m not going to just randomly leave that storyline never to return like some frustrating episode of The Sopranos.  I thought I’d go every other post with the kitchen renovation so I can still include what’s going on real-time.  Or as close to real-time as it gets with me.

I’m excited about this one because some of my favorite DIY projects are the small ones, which are really just arts and crafts, but when you’re a grown-up you get to call it DIY. Today’s project is one that makes me really happy, because simple crafts are reminders of how much I love creating, especially when it’s for someone else.  I always wonder why I don’t do more of it for myself when I’m done.  I think I need to set measurable goals (my friend Ashley taught me that) so that I stop letting things get in the way of accomplishing what I love most.  I tend to struggle with wanting perfection in my projects and my art, but the fact is, that doesn’t exist.   I think I’m starting to embrace that.  The strange thing is, I’ve done more projects, crafts, and decorating in this home than I ever did in the last one…and I’ve been here for less than 4 months.  Take that however you will, but I’m taking it as small proof that I’m finding my happy place.

So, wanna see?  The first thing I did was a banner.  You’ve got to have a banner at a bachelorette party, and when I saw this one at Home Goods I knew I could personalize it for Theresa’s bachelorette weekend.  Her wedding is a grey and yellow theme with all things rustic, burlappy, and shabby-chic meets casual barn style.  Or something like that.  I already had the stencils on hand from an old project idea that never came to life, and I have acrylic paints I use for…um, painting.  So, I mixed up a pretty yellow and stencilled away.

Bachelorette Party Banner painting

I didn’t use any adhesive, just held each stencil down with one hand and dabbed the paint on with a foam brush with the other. The stripes on the banner ended up being very handy to make sure the stencils were centered and straight on each one.

Bachelorette Party Banner stencils

When I first bought the banner, I made sure it had enough pennants to spell out “Bachelorette”, but when I sat down to actually spell it out, I realized I could also fit “Bride to Be” and then it could be used at her shower too. All about the multi-use! 20140318_201028

It also came out looking a little classier and a little more “girls weekend” which is more what Theresa wanted than “Wooo bachelorette penis parrtttyyyy!” Despite my and Danielle’s best efforts to skank it up with embarrassing gifts.

bride to be pennant banner
The next craft was just a simple wood centerpiece sign to put the favors around.  Very easy.  Go to Michaels.  Buy the pieces of wood you like.  Paint them how you like.  Wood glue the little pieces on the big piece.  I decided to do grey and white stripes on the main board, and yellow letters that said “M to O” since she was going from an M last name to an O last name.  I used the same paint method to mix up a pretty grey with my acrylic paints, and used pure white on the whole base board.

bachelorette party craft sign

Then I used painters tape to tape off stripes, and painted it grey:

painting bride to be sign

Then, I slowly removed the painters tape.  I painted the wooden letters yellow and then didn’t take a picture of them, and then I used wood-glue to glue them on.  Actually Danielle did that part for me when she came to Columbia the day before the bachelorette party.  She helped.

And voila!

bachelorette party decorations

bridal shower decorations

Which brings us to the last project – the favors.  I thought cups for everyone to use for their drink of choice over the weekend would be a cute and useful favor.  Naturally, going along with the rustic-burlappy-shabby-chic-grey-yellow-barn theme, mason jars made perfect sense.  I bought Martha Stewart glass paint and self-adhesive stencils which made it so much easier than using regular stencils.

martha stewart glass paint pason jars

Don’t mind the Christmas mug in the background, just a water cup for the paint brushes. I could never actually drink out of a Christmas mug at not-Christmas-time, way to weird and depressing. Plus, we all know I was drinking wine while I did this.
glass paint stenciled mason jarI used the same foam brush dabbing method as I did the banner stencilling.  This definitely took some time to carefully apply the stencils, paint, peel off, and then re-apply to the next mason jar x 12.

glass paint stenciled mason jar

These definitely gave me that “I can’t believe how good it came out and I didn’t mess them up too badly” feeling.

baking glass paint mason jars

In order to get the paint to cure you can wait forever and ever, or you can bake them for about 30 minutes on 350.

painting mason jars with glass paint

Cobalt helped.

And here are a few weekend snapshots, some I stole from fellow TFOC bacheloretters, because I obviously can’t be relied on to take pictures in the moment.


Bachelorette Party in Charleston, SC and Folly Beach













Ahhh these pictures make me want to go back!  Such a great weekend.  Now, moving on from girl best friends, to sweet angel best friend.  I couldn’t mention my fantastic day with Cobalt and not share it here.  He would be so furious.  We started our day with a long walk at the Columbia Canal and Riverfront Park.

Cobalt mini dachshund mom date in Columbia, SC

Warning… the untrained eye, this may not seem like a very narrowed down selection of Cobalt photos.  But it is.  He was just so precious that day.  So, consider these your All The Complimentary Cobalt’s Of The Day.

cobalt the handsome mini dachshund

cobalt the handsome mini dachshund





cobalt the handsome mini dachshund

From here, we went to Lowe’s to pick up some flowers for the front of the house.  Cobalt said he wiked da wed ones.

front porch ferns and flowers

Cobalt mini dachshund front porch flowers

After Lowe’s we went to the pet store to get Cobalt tshirt to wear when he chases the ball in the yard.  His chest hangs low and he gets a rash from the ground, and I say poooorrr nini.

Poor Nana


Cobalt mini dachshund new shirt

They always look like muscle tees on him.  Oh, he also got to pick out a new toy.  Which he’s carried with him ever since.

Cobalt new toy

cobalt mini dachshund new toy

Finally, he got a mani-pedi and his ears cleaned, and then we ended the night with some girl time catching up on DVRed housewives with extra snuggles after a long day.

Cobalt and mom watching real housewives

Cobalt says it’s about time this became more about him.   And is now demanding I get off the computer and hold him.  Or maybe I just want to.  Anyone else love their dog this much?

The time we renovated our kitchen 3 months ago

Hey guys.  Life happens?  It’s amazing how many times you can say I’ll do it tomorrow.  I need to work on that.  It’s finally warm here in SC so my mood is up a few notches 🙂  I am just a happier girl when the weather is nice.  I even got some plants for the outside of the house and bought soil for the first time.  Then I realized I didn’t even have a trowel so I got one of those too.  Cobalt picked out the flowers for the 2 fire hydrant planters on the front porch.  He and I had a total mom-nini day on Saturday, since Nick is at FDIC in Indianapolis all week. It was the most adorable day ever.  More on that tomorrow.

Now that our kitchen has been done for quite some time, I suppose I should show you already 😉 As a reminder, here is what it looked like when we first moved in:

kitchen view from living room hallway

kitchen before view from garage door

kitchen before window nook

You can see all the house befores here.  It was really easy to remove the cabinets, especially since I didn’t do any of it. Nick and our contractor Glenn handled that.  And then we got really accustomed to the dining room being our kitchen, because the kitchen looked like this…fair warning, these pictures are a bunch of blurry suck.  I blame Nick.

 kitchen demo 1

kitchen demo 2

kitchen demo 3

kitchen demo 4

kitchen demo in the garage

Looks like a mess huh?  Don’t worry, pretty soon things were looking more like this:

kitchen step 1

kitchen step 1

We’ll call that step 1 of…like 45?  Don’t worry, I’ll show it in less posts than that.  Unfortunately, that’s all we have time for today, but it’s a start 🙂  See you soon.


On our way home from our Saturdate:
Thanks fo taking me on a fun day.  I knew dis is what you did evwee time you weft da house.

Cobalt in the car

Pallet Shelves in 5 Simple Steps

And then it was March.  That means there are only 11 month’s left of my twenties.  And only 2 months until my best friends wedding. And only 7.5 months until my best friends wedding.  Riddle that.  So, let’s get right to it.  Time’s ticking away.

Easiest rustic project ever.  Pallet shelves.  I was first inspired by these, which I am sure many of you have seen all over Pinterest.


1. Grab a pallet shelf from outside of a store and run like hell to your car.  Or walk, because no one cares.

2. Pry off middle boards on one side to expose the “shelves”.

3. Sand down the splinters a little, or don’t, it’s rustic.

4. Screw that thing into the wall.

5. Style away!

Pallet Shelves

We actually had another pallet shelf so I wanted to try making smaller ones out of it and staining them.  Basically, imagine that pallet above with all the boards still on, then cut across horizontally right under each of the “shelf” boards.  Then the top vertical boards were cut down to just a couple of inches to hold things in, and the back boards left taller as the “back”.  This will all make sense in the photos 🙂  Sorry this one’s so small, don’t know what’s up with that.

After they were cut, I sanded them all the way so they could be stained.

sanding pallet shelves

Then we stained them, and I didn’t take pictures of that, because, I didn’t.   But, we used a paint sprayer and it was way easier than using a brush to get in all the little nooks, which is what I started out doing until Nick decided to bring out his glorious sprayer.  Oh. My. God. I almost deleted that sentence, but instead I’ll give it a Lorelai Gilmore, dirty.

Alright, here is the final product in the old apartment because I still haven’t decided where they should live in this house yet.  I am pretty sure they will go in the dining room, but that still needs to be painted.  It has been taped off and ready to paint for…like…a long time.

You wouldn’t have known this, except that I’m telling you now because I like to voice my frustrations, that it’s been almost an hour since I wrote that last sentence.  Yeah, blogging behind the scenes, it’s exciting stuff.  It’s like the bonus features that come with a dvd, which are always disappointing.  The point of this story is that I have NO IDEA where the after pictures of these shelves went.  So you will have to settle for random appearances of them in the background.  Like this one on Nick’s birthday…

pallet shelvesCobalt says, Oooooh pwesents, fo me?! 

And this spooky one.  The shelves got dressed up for halloween…

pallet shelves

OK that’s it!  Go DO!


I don’t usually do the throwback Thursday thing, but I can’t resist.

Cobalt little baby

Pwease uppies mom, I’m too wittle.

It’s Amazing What A Fresh Coat of Paint and Some Firemen Can Do

Oh hey.  Um, I kept procrastinating got busy?  In reality, I started this at the same time that I started a new book I’m really into, and a goal of going  to the gym more often, plus I still go and do work at a place that pays me money during the day.   I also like to watch shows with Nick, play with Cobalt, try new recipes, and various other things in the evening time.  OK, I know this is where my mom-friends probably get furious, but for now this is the only reality I know, so how on earth do people do all the things they want AND work long hours?  Do you know how amazing I could be at life if I had more free time?  Don’t get me wrong, jobs are good, just maybe like ten more free hours a week would be nice.  Instead, I spend about that much time driving.  Maybe I need to find a way to work out and blog while driving.  I’ve figured out how to do plenty of other things while driving (apply make-up, talk on the phone, check my email at red lights, practice defensive driving, wear a seatbelt, and a helmet, and whatever else makes a firefighter who’s seen way too many bad things feel better.)  Anyway, I’m back now.  Let’s talk indecision.

Technically, I am pretty good at making decisions.  After I consider countless options, narrow them down, throw in some more options I didn’t consider the first time, narrow those down, and then test those options in many different scenarios and talk them through with various people who don’t care.   That’s pretty much how picking paint colors for the house went down.  In a shmillion simple steps this is how I did it:

  1. Searched incessantly for inspiration online – thanks to blogs like the one’s I’ll reference later, not to mention Houzz, on which I have spent way too many hours of my young life.
  2. Pulled out my stock of paint chips, and then realized my taste has changed somewhat in a relatively short period of time.  I hate that.  It makes me think anything I decide I love today I’ll hate in two years.
  3. Took a trip to Benjamin Moore, Lowes, and Home Depot to make sure I didn’t miss out on the perfect color that might be hiding at any one of those locations.  (Am I the only one who’s impressed that I only went to 3 places?  Sherwin Williams and a few others almost got added to the list but my head was spinning enough).
  4. Threw away any colors that I used in my last house.  The reason is two-fold.  One, I shared that house with someone else. There, glad that band aid is ripped off blog style.  And two, it would be really boring.  New house, new life, new colors.
  5. Decided on a basic color for the main living space like either grey, blue, off-white, yellow….I knew pretty quickly that I was drawn to a nice airy, beachy grey.   I wanted something that would complement anything I decided to change later on, and something that didn’t feel too dark or bold, or beige.
  6. Decided on complimentary colors for the bedrooms, dining room, and kitchen.  I wanted to make sure there was a nice flow room-to-room without too many different colors or tones going on.

Pete, the nice man at Benjamin Moore, noticed my growing confusion as I switched around dozens of different combinations of swatches on the table in his store.  So he brought me a piece of white paper and taped one swatch from each color family to it (about 4 colors) and said here’s your pallet.  Aside from switching two of them  to a slightly lighter/muddier shade, he pretty much nailed it.  He even talked me down off of my crazy ledge (Nick appreciated this especially) and convinced me to buy about half as many samples as I originally wanted to.  Pete is pretty much the best ever.  He even came in on a weekend when the store was closed because I called his cell phone with a “paint emergency”.  Those exist right?  I mean, no one forced him to give me his cell phone number…

Here I am practicing Pete’s paper palette (hello alliteration) method for another two hours later that night just to be sure.

Banjamin Moore paint chips
I managed to get the colors narrowed down to no more than 4 per room and tested them on 3-4 walls of each room to see them in different lighting and shadows.
Testing paint swatches on wall Paint swatches on living room wall 

The living room choices were:

Gray Owl

Benjamin Moore Gray OwlThank you Emily Henderson‘s blog for the inspiration and the Ryan Gosling photos

Wickham Gray

Patriotic White

Light or Revere Pewter

The Turquoise Home Revere Pewter Benjamin Moore

The Turquoise Home

If you are scouring the internet for gray paint colors like I was, I suggest visiting this page and this page as well.

The Bedroom & Kitchen choices were……

Woodlawn Blue

A Pop of Pretty Woodlawn Blue Benjamin Moore

A Pop of Pretty

Palladian Blue

Bower Power Palladian Blue Benjamin Moore

Bower Power

Nelson Blue

Nelson Blue Benjamin Moore Young House Love

Young House Love


Alas, the moment no one’s been waiting for!  I made a decision.  See, decision-maker.

The living room, stairs, and upstairs hallway ………


Gray Owl!  

gray owl benjamin moore living room

Before & After Living Room

Reminder, I took crap phone photos when we were first moving in.  Also, I don’t want to show too much of the walls because I don’t want to give away other projects that are coming up, so, random living room corner it is!



Woodlawn Blue!

woodlawn blue benjamin moore

Master Bedroom Before & After


Nelson Blue!

But you can’t see that before and after yet 😉  We’ll talk about that…on another time.


I was right with my gut on the owl gray and woodlawn blue, but the last one surprised me.  I thought for sure I wanted palladian, but it was just a little too bold for the size of the kitchen. Nelson blue was lighter, toned down, and flowed better into Owl Gray.

I suppose, to match this erratic post and go completely out of order, I should mention that I had already painted ALL the trim in the house before purchasing final paint colors.  I skipped that step because I forgot/didn’t think there was any reason why I would need to take pictures of it at the time.  Basically, after we bought the house we had a couple weekends to go over there to paint and get new carpet installed before moving in because we still had our old apartment rented out for another month.

Well, one of those weekends Nick was gone teaching.  So that means I got to paint a whole house of trim for two whole days of a weekend!  In an empty house that I just met.  With no heat.  Oh sorry, Cobalt says he was there too and did most of the work…then he grumbled and rolled his eyes over.  BUT, I did get to listen to obnoxious Christmas, 90’s, and whatever other music I pleased while trying not to fling to much paint as I danced around like a lunatic.


I can’t complain too much because after all the trim was painted and the paint colors picked out, I didn’t have to lift a brush or roller on the rest of the house. Here’s a quick pro/con list to dating a firefighter for those of you keeping track:


  • Saves lives
  • Comes with group of other firemen willing to do labor & take pride in their work…not sure the pro list needs much more than that but…
  • Captain cleanliness anyone?
  • They also have really neat outfits like turnout gear and badges and class A uniforms
  • I’ll stop.


  • Super safety patrol about everything, especially driving (maybe that’s like half a con)
  • Leaves at any given moment for unknown lengths of time (for example, in the middle of the night, or during our favorite shows that I CAN’T CONTINUE WATCHING WITHOUT HIM, etc. etc.)
  • I said I wouldn’t complain too much 🙂

Here are a couple snapshots they managed to get of the firefighter painting party…..

firefighters painting house 

Firemen paint party

 Firefighters painting house

Thank you CFD xoxoxo

There’s nothing like being told later “we decided to go ahead and pry the mantel off with a Halligan bar”…

Firefighter Halligan bar handy work

 And naturally, as soon as the paint dried…

Firemen hang tv

But, they DID refuse to leave behind our Christmas tree,which I loved…

Christmas Tree

I also love even more that they helped paint after they already helped us move.  Seriously, nothing like em.


Ok, glad we’re all caught up.  Next time I’ll have to talk about decorating the living room and address one of my favorite projects, making pallet shelves, which I actually did at the old apartment, RIP, so I can show you more of the walls. I should have added “very handy, comes with many tools” to the pro list.  So, I will see you there, or I will see you on another time.


Don’t fowget me.  I’ll just wait heohw in the box that says wittle stuff.

Cobalt mini dachshund sleeping in moving box

Re-staining a Railing & Dogs in Pants

It’s another snow day in South Carolina…what in the world??  We’ve got a few inches of icey-snowy mix on the ground, and it’s still coming.

Cobalt says nevohmind, I don’t hafs to go dat bad.Cobalt says no to snow

I worked from home today, and no one is supposed to be on the roads except for emergency purposes.  Well, we were out of coffee.  Lucky for me, and for those who have to come into contact with me today, I live with a member of the emergency services.  What a hero.  You can’t have a snow day without coffee, and I was JUST talking about that, and other related Lorelai Gilmore girl-crushness with a friend yesterday, so I was extra looking forward to it. Phew, moving on.

There’s so much I want to share from our move and our house and everything in between, but I had to finally realize I can’t possibly share it all, and I should focus on some actual DIY projects instead.  Or maybe I need to just rename this, Emily’s ramblings and a little bit about what you think you’re going to read…

Gilmore Girls Luke's

First up – the stair railing!  This was a relatively small project, but one I was itching to tackle right away because it is one of the first things you see when you walk in our house, and I was tired of letting it hit me in the face with it’s ugliness.  Because I did this project soon after moving in, I failed at taking before pictures, but I do have some accidental pictures that include the before railing in it.

It is hard to see what it looks like up close, but the stain is really worn and scratched up in a lot of places.  I originally snapped this picture to capture Captain Cleanliness in action.  I like things nice and all, but I can also be accepting of the fact that our kitchen is being worked on and we’ll have drywall dust/etc. everywhere for the time being. Nick, not so much.  He cleaned it up constantly, knowing it would be back in a day or two.  I’ll take it 🙂

stairs railing before

What the stairs looked like at move-in – banged up railings, old carpet, old paint on the walls.


To start out, the long railing was already off of the wall from when we painted so it made that one easier.  The other railing required taping off and protecting the new carpet that was put in by the time I did this project.

I used Minwax Polyshades in Tudor after browsing similar projects like this one from my favorites at Young House Love, and this one from Centsational Girl.

Minwax Polyshades Tudor

All I did for the railings and large post that I stained was give them a light sanding and 3 coats of the stain.  I waited a day between coats just to make sure it was dry, and I could have done just 2 coats but I wanted an even darker color.  After the first coat, I was a little worried that I didn’t choose a dark enough stain but after the second coat it got much deeper I was really happy with it.

First coat of stain on banister

That’s after the first coat of stain – see why I was a little worried?  It was a little light and still showing some splotchiness underneath.  P.S. this is what our garage has looked like for the past 6 weeks during kitchen reno.  Here’s the other banister after one coat:



Much better after another coat!

Railing after second coat

I did a 3rd coat for good measure and let it dry.  The next day I tackled the spindles. At first I thought a light sanding by hand would be fine before paint, but as soon as I started painting I knew it would be prone to chipping.  So, I sucked it up and sanded the spindles all the way down to the wood using a Mouse Detail Sander.

Sanding stair railing spindles

Cobalt knows how to be the center of everything.  Some might say he get it from his mama.

Sanded stair spindles

All sanded and a big mess to vacuum up.  Nick wasn’t volunteering this time.  Selfish.

Stair spindles ready for paint

Cobalt said he’d help though.

So, I got all the sawdust cleaned up, taped off the carpet, painted 3 coats of white (same color as the trim in all the rooms), and just like that (or 4 days and a little more work than I expected later), the railing was done!

Restained and painted railing

Until I realized that the hardware for the wall banister was still old looking.  So I took care of that with a few thin coats of Rust-oleum oil rubbed bronze spray paint.

oil rubbed bronze spray paint

To go from this:

banister hardware before

To this:

spray painted banister hardware

To – hung!

firefighter hangs things       restained banister

Finally, because it’s more fun to do a before and after this way, and because I already had this made from sending a certain sister-in-law sneak-peeks…

Refinished banister

SO. MUCH. BETTER. I think that qualifies as my first actual DIY post.  Cheers to that 😉 It’s wine wednesday after all.

AND this also qualifies as complete spoiler of the carpet I chose for the upstairs.  Shit. Should we just skip that post altogether?  Do you care what I almost chose?  Or how annoying of a process it was?  Cobalt says, Wutevoh mom, move on to moh of me aweady.


In honor of today’s snow day, a throwback to December.  The image text I just entered, “Cobalt snow pants”, made me chuckle.

Cobalt snow pants

That’s my brother Ben and his marsupial.  I’ll even throw in a rare appearance from Miles…

Miles snow pants

Yes, we do in fact have another dog.  But apparently I am some kind of evil stepmother because I supposedly love Cobalt more.

Alright, off to do the snow pants dance for another snow day tomorrow!!

Cobalt’s Mom is Old…Plus a House List

So last time we spoke I was 28 and talking about doing more.  I’m sure you thought I quit this thing by now, but actually I just got the dreaded plague that’s been going around.  When I’m sick I feel like anything that takes any effort will likely kill me and I should only lie around and do nothing.  But fear not, I survived.  I also survived turning 29, and it really wasn’t as bad as I thought. Turns out, next year is going to be the one that sends me over the edge.

I was also lucky enough to turn 29 with an already 29 year-old pretty bestfriend of mine 🙂

best friends

Lorryn and Daniel live in Savannah which is one of my favorite places in the world and only a couple hours away now, so we have been trying to make the most of that.

All-in-all, turning 29 was great because for one, it meant Lorryn declaring she totally knew how to wobble, and proving it:
lorryn dancing

Plus it was one of the last chances to act like this:

birthday boss

birthday shots

No, that’s not a birthday crown.  It’s worse.  It’s a hat that says “BOSS” that was put on my head by Lorryn, who took it off the sweaty man I’m dancing with.  Who is not Nick.  Don’t tell Cobalt, he would be weally ashamed.

OK, getting to the point of this blog already,
Me and Nick birthday dinner

I think we left off with me saying that tomorrow I would post my intentions, aka house list, aka liste de maison if my mom was making my practice my french.  Well tomorrow ended up being a week later.  Woops.  Here goes.  This is an actual list that I wrote up one day that I am using as a starting point for this most official blog list.

house to-do list

Lay off, I realize I misspelled furniture and maybe other things.  I’m talking to you Dad. And Theresa.

Big/possibly contractor worthy stuff:

Renovate kitchen
Replace upstairs carpet
Close off small back door for french doors and open up tiny hallway
Hide TV wires behind wall (vertical studs in the way of drilling it ourselves)
New fireplace mantel
New kitchen door to garage to swing opposite way (want it to swing out into the garage instead of into the kitchen so we can make use of the small wall it swings in toward now)
Renovate master bathroom
Move washer/dryer laundry situation to upstairs hall closet (in the garage now)

DIY Projects

Painting part 1 – living room/stairway/upstairs halls & master bedroom
Painting part 2 – kitchen, dining room, guest room, office
Re-paint front door
Replace teeny tiny fans in the bedrooms
Replace living room fan
Remove kitchen fan
Refinish dining room table (This was Aunt Karen’s)
Find or refinish small round table for kitchen
Remove way-too-big mantel
Re-stain stair railings and paint spindles white
Whitewash brick fireplace and paint decorative trim white
Replace counter tops & paint vanity bases in Harry Potter bathroom (powder room/half bath that is basically under the stairs) and guest bathroom
Remove wall paper in HP bathroom & mater bathroom, and paint both (Maybe beachy white planks in HP bathroom?)
Fix peeling guest tub
Replace master bathroom vanity
Add shelves/storage to all 3 bathrooms & replace hardware
Paint and organize all closets
Replace all light-switches and outlet covers (current ones are all spray painted navy blue)
Maybe one day replace all the door knobs
Refinish or replace some bedroom furniture to better coordinate – would love a big comfy winged headboard
Finally invest in some chalk paint and paint the random pieces of furniture that have been on my to-do list forever

  • Guest dresser
  • Small bedroom dresser (did this once with regular paint and it is slowly showing layers underneath)
  • Mirror
  • Entry table
  • Hutch (This was Aunt Lulu’s)
  • Office shelves

Smaller crafties/decorating

New guest bedding
New pillows/pillow covers for living room
Remove outdated fireplace cover
Get fireplace tool set
Choose fabric for kitchen bench cushions & get custom made to fit (maybe DIY but that might be ambitious for something I want to last a long time)
Frame pretty fabric for some wall-art
Paint at least 2 of my own paintings and 1 drawing for the walls
New pictures for frames/fill ones that currently, seriously, have been hanging up with the artwork that came in them…for about 6 months now.
New lights for living room


General yardwork in front and back yards
Get new hanging plants for the front of house
Remove leftover parts of a treehouse in the backyard
General yard sprucing, and mayyyybe plant some herbs??
Power-wash house and back deck

Alright, before I go into some full blown anxiety, I’ll just stop now and reserve the right to add to/edit as needed.  Did anyone actually read this whole list??  Thoughts/advice?  I definitely struggle with the whole getting overwhelmed and freezing up and doing nothing instead of just doing something…thing.  Hopefully this will hold me accountable and keep me motivated.  Speaking of…I’m going to the gym after work tomorrow, even though it’s going to be late.  Hopefully next time I write that won’t have been a lie.

Finally, before this old-tima bids you adieu….

“Oooohhhh bohfday pwesents!!!  Must be fo me!!!”

Any guesses who wrapped them? 😉  And yes, Cobalt opened both of them all by himself, which was far more enjoyable than me doing it.