Month: February 2014

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.