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

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?

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.

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!!