Squared

  You may remember that I helped a friend hang a grid of mirrors last month. I had also been meaning to try it in my own house but I was struggling on where I’d want to hang a grid of mirrors. I bought 10 of the same mirrors we used at Erika’s house and they sat in a pile on the buffet in the kitchen. For some reason I couldn’t commit to a grid of mirrors. Then I realized that the square mirror frames would make the perfect frame for Instagram photos. I started by thing to pry the mirrors out of the frames. Let me tell you- those things are cemented in and I almost lost a few fingers. So trust me when I day that I recommend Modge Podge. You like having fingers, don’t you? Thought so.

What I used:

Ikea MALMA mirrors ($1.99 each!)

-Printed Instagram photos (I use the Walgreens app. They stay in 4″x4″ format, are super affordable and they are usually ready in an hour!)

-Modge Podge

-Paint brush, ruler, sharpie, scissors

-Hammer, nails, level

 First, I laid out all of the photos I had printed. I had chosen to print photos I had Instagrammed of food. I thought it would be a fun addition to the kitchen. I recommend that gallery walls have some so of theme, whether it is a color theme or subject matter. It should make sense to any guest that enters your home. I had about 20 to choose from and had to narrow them to 10. I asked Hubby to help me weed through them. It was easy to toss out photos that were lower quality or had bad lighting. In the end he convinced me that 8 was a better number and wouldn’t clutter the wall we had chosen. He even used one of my favorite design principles on me, “Less is sometimes more.” Sold! Eight it was. We opted for 2 rows of 4. Also considered: 3 rows of 3 to make a square gallery of nine images. These are the 8 we landed on. Hubby pointed out another theme: circles. All of the photos had circular subjects and it wasn’t even on purpose.    Next I measured the mirror space to see if I needed to cut down the pictures. The mirror was just under 3 and 3/4″ so I marked my ruler and got to trimming. I noticed that the photos I had used the instagram filter frame/borders on fit perfectly after removing the borders. Had I known this I would have printed all of my images with borders to save a little effort. After trimming, I was ready to glue the photos directly on the mirrors. I applied a thin layer of Modge Podge to mirror and pressed my photos in place. Some of the photos were snug and needed convincing to fit the corners in but I was patient and gentle. Trimming and gluing took less than 15 minutes! I let it all dry overnight (mostly because of my schedule… you could definitely move directly on to hanging from the point).  Next I gridded out my gallery all on paper with my wall measurements in hand. I moved the buffet and climbed up on a chair. I’m always surprised at how much I enjoy putting nail holes all over my walls… especially since I’ve painted each room in my house at least once since we’ve moved in. Just pounding holes into my hard work but I think you will agree that it was so worth it. Take a peek:

                  All in all I’m really happy with the way it looks and glad I chose to go with photos over mirrors. I even like how it looks as I enter from the family room.

I don’t hate the price tag either! 8 frames x $1.99 each = 15.92! I already had the other supplies. Can you believe this is a $16 gallery wall?!?!

PSST… you can follow me on Instagram by clicking on the Instagram link to the right (in the sidebar) or by finding @hildagotrocks on Instagram. I’m also on Bloglovin’ + Facebook + Twitter which are linked in the side bar as well.

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Bag Lady

Well, we all know I’m a bag lady. But I’m not talking about purses or reusable totes here. Let’s talk Ziplock, shall we? And no, I have no affliation with the makers of Ziplock and the like. I do, however, like to make life a little easier whenever possible. And so I present to you: smoothie bags.

On the weekends I often spend a little of my down time to prepare for the week. Sometimes that means packing bags for our evening activities (swim lessons for O, American Cancer Society meetings for me and Futsal for Hubby) or prepping ingredients and meals ahead of time like this Sunday night meal that makes for great leftovers during the week. One thing that proves to be a lifesaver is smoothies. I can easily pack a ton of healthy stuff into a cool treat. And O thinks they are like dessert: Mommy tricks for the win! Oh, and if you have never heard of Futsal, join the club… my husband suddenly started coaching it… and I had to Google it.

Anyway, to save time and trouble I usually have a few “smoothie bags” ready in the freezer. This helps if we are in a hurry or low on fresh ingredients. Sometimes the bags are made at the end of the week when I have a small collection of fruits and veggies that are “on their way out” or just too many to eat before it all goes bad. It also makes the process easy for anyone to do when I’m not here. I even have been known to pack a smoothie bag and take it to work… and all that needs to be done is toss it in the blender. I wouldn’t say I have “recipes” but I definitely have a system.

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My secret is to take bottled Naked or Odwalla brand smoothies and make them into ice cubes in the days before. That is what you see in the center top of the photo above. This way you can get things that are either hard to blend (like carrots and citruses) or fruits and veggies that are out of season into your smoothie. It also eliminates the need to toss in ice cubes when it’s time to flip the switch. If you’re a juicer you can make cubes out of anything you juice as well. Then I lay out my loot. This is almost always spinach, strawberries (frozen and fresh), an almost-too-ripe banana or two, pears (I can’t seem to keep them long), and blueberries. Lots of other things can work too: pineapples, raspberries, melon, kale, and so on. Some of your choices may need to be softened by steaming or peeling them first. You can also toss in flax seed, wheat grass, supplements and protein powders. I usually don’t because I almost always share these with O but it’s a great way to down things that are just plain unpleasant when you do them alone.

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Next, I cut everything into easy to blend cubes and sort out what I’d like in each bag. Somethings can be put with any flavor… spinach, kale and banana are easy to mix with because they aren’t overpowering flavors and are easy sweetened up with other ingredients. Same goes for many of the juices I used to make the ice cubes. All berries go well together, at least I think. Basically, just mix ingredients into the bags that you would like together. If you would like to have a strawberry smoothie then put in 3 or 4 with a banana, spinach and a cube… in the end you’ll mostly taste the strawberry. I make mine “single serving” sized and they only take up 1/4 to 1/3 of the bag but if you want larger portions then you can fill your bags more.

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Last, I label (with your name or what is in them) all of the baggies and freeze them. When I’m ready to make one I just grab one and toss it in the blender with a liquid in order to thin it out. Consider using soy, almond, or cow’s milk. Sometimes I use yogurt, fruit juice or applesauce too. Why not enjoy a smoothie on your way out the door in the morning, or as a snack before or after a workout? We even treat them like dessert in the summer. The possibilities are endless!

Dew It Right

I should start this post by reminding you that EVERYTHING was brown in this house. Flat paper bag brown. And it was everywhere. The only walls without that color had dramatic colors instead. A single wall in the family room was a deep burgundy. The guest room was Crayola blue (that took 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of paint and primer in one paint). And our bedroom and kitchen had been painted in a rich chocolate. These colors aren’t really that bad… but they weren’t our style and flat paint is not forgiving with kids.  Also, it was drab and depressing since the flat brown sucked a lot of the natural light. Any who, the kitchen is the only room I have left to paint in the whole house. The chocolate color was livable and I had yet to make a color choice or time to paint so it waited a while. I had Friday off as a pleasant little surprise (thanks, Boss!) so I hit up Home Depot and grabbed a gallon of the swatch I had taped to the wall months ago. I got “Dew” Behr Ultra paint and primer in one semi gloss. I guess “Dew” doesn’t give away much as to what color that might actually be… you’ll see it in a minute but first here are a few before shots of the kitchen.

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Painting a kitchen is a little more challenging than most rooms. The prep is grueling. First I wiped down all of the baseboards and chair rails with my vinegar/water cleaning solution. In some spots with dark scuffs or grime (Ew- I though my kitchen was pretty clean) I used the trusty Mr. Clean Magic Eraser. Then I had to take everything off the walls, then take all of the items off the shelves and then take down the floating shelves that I feel like I just put up… which wasn’t hard but I forgot how much time it takes.  Next I moved the refrigerator away from the wall. Want to feel gross? Move your fridge.  A few dropped grocery lists, Christmas cards and crayons were caked in a decent layer of dust. Nothing a little Dyson friend of mine couldn’t fix. I also wiped down the walls behind the fridge because they had a thin layer of dust as well.

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Then I took down that funky valance above the french doors. It served no real purpose and was going to clash hardcore with my new soothing “Dew”. It will be on the curb on Thursday morning with all of our garbage and I will sleep better knowing it is not in my kitchen.

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After I removed all of the switch plates and discovered that these walls have been burgundy, bright blue, deep slate gray, navy and sky blue, I was finally able to paint the trim white. I have an arsenal of white trim paint in the garage so I grabbed a high gloss (easiest to clean) white that I thought might pair well with the semi gloss walls and white kitchen cabinets. Once the trim and door frames were finished it was finally time to DEW it. Har har.

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Within the first few strokes I’m pretty sure the neighbors could hear me squealing with delight. I love this color. Like dew is cake and I’m a fat kid. I love it. MMMMmmmm. I don’t know what kind of justice your screen gives this color. Its a soft green with traces of blue… I think it might be a lighter cousin of Tiffany blue but sort of seaglass green in it’s own right. I did two coats to ensure a solid look and even coverage. And boy, oh boy am I happy with the way it turned out.

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At different times of day it has looked like a really light blue like our bedroom and even has had a little more grey to it sometimes. Its fun to look from the kitchen into the family room at the grey and cream striped wall because the colors are all just the right symphony of tones. I also love the how it picks up the greens and blues in our slate backsplash.

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So now I’m left with the funky faux marble torn wallpaper. No really, its a million pieces of torn faux marble wall paper. The options are to remove it piece by piece. OR Do another tissue paper faux wall treatment on top of it. OR Try a venetian plaster treatment. OR To put up wainscoting/beadboard over it. I think beadboard will look freshest and cleanest with the walls and will probably hold up best in a kitchen. Now I just need to get hubby on board.

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I’m still in awe at how much some paint and a little elbow grease can change a room. Our kitchen is now brighter, feels bigger, looks cleaner and fresher.

Things I’m Loving

Every now and then I post about a few “Things I’m Loving”. I’ve not been consistent with these posts but I enjoy them so much. I like being able to share a few moments of my life where I see beauty, creativity and an opportunity to just enjoy the world. I hope to be able to post about all of these moments more often- I’m aiming for monthly. Here are a few things I am LOVING right now.

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The other day my fantastic barista made a little latte art atop my coffee.

Shout out to Lori at Awakenings Coffee in Hyde Park. Way to make my day!

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This is a natural tumbled Turquiose and red coral beaded bracelet I made.My sister bought it as a birthday gift to her friend and apparently it was quite a hit. Yes, I’m tooting my own horn here. It just happens to be one of those pieces I wish I could have kept for myself :/

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I actually had to wear rain boots last week instead of snow boots. Spring is in the air! These are my favorite and most comfortable rain boots. They are even a bit fashionable! {Chooka boots can be found here}

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Ok, how adorable is this ceramic cream and sugar set {Pier1}? I could just die over it! simple and cheeky…just my style. I kind of wanted to get them to display on my new kitchen shelves!

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My Aunt Kathy (Side note: Not actually my aunt. She’s my Dad’s cousin but that gets complicated and I’m close to her like an aunt) makes these darling refrigerator magnets out of upcycled wine corks! She also makes keychains with them as well. I have a few magnets on my fridge and a keychain too. They can be personalized with charms and decorative paining. The Corcoran one is my fave- It’s my grandmother’s maiden name and O’s middle name.  These would make adorable hostess gifts… so much more creative than a plain old bottle of wine. You can find York’s Corks here. Be sure to check them out!

Pinterest Challenge: Winter 2013

 

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I decided to partake on ANOTHER blog challenge. This time it is a Pinterest challenge. Basically: Pin something and actually do it. How many times have you actually done something you pinned? Be honest. (you can see some of my other pinterest inspired posts here here and here and The YHL Macklemore $20 Thrift Shop Challenge here)

20130224-173020.jpgThe inspiration or pinspiration I should say can be found on my “kitchen” pin board. I kept seeing all this silverware art. There was everything from a painting of a spoon to a chandelier made of silverware. I remember doing a studio study on silverware in art school… it was very hard to duplicate the shapes and reflections of a spoon or fork. As much as I loved the idea of a silverware painting I didn’t have the money to buy the Pottery Barn wall art or have the time to duplicate such a cool piece. What I did have was a collection of yours-mine-and-ours silverware. I chose a spoon and fork from our drawer. Nobody knows where the spoon came from and we have no matching counterparts so it was a natural choice. The fork is one of many from an inexpensive set. It won’t be missed.

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Next I had to figure out what I wanted to hang my silverware on. A plate? Straight onto the wall? I found a small unused canvas in my art supplies. I considered wrapping the canvas in fabric but the scraps that I had were either too busy or not enough contrast. I finally settled on black paint. I have tons of it, black was a fantastic backdrop for silver and it was neutral enough to go just about anywhere I would decide to hang the canvas.

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Now for the hard part: paint the canvas. Obviously it was not that hard. To be honest anyone could do this. Imagine having your kids mix a couple colors and gluing the fork and spoon on. Cute kid kitchen art. Unfortunately O is far too young for such a thing. She’d lick the paint, I’d call poison control. It would be a whole thing that I just don’t want to deal with. Ah, one day.

Anywho, after the paint dried I used superglue to secure the fork and spoon in place. And I was finished!

Total time: 15 minutes. Total cost: $0! Don’t hate.

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The finished project. Simple. Kinda “mod”. Somewhat bold. FREE and recycled. Me likey.

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I decided to hang my new art in our kitchen in the void space next to our new shelves. If you recall, we decided to center the shelves over the peninsula, which isn’t centered on the wall.  We ended up with more wall space to the right of the shelves than the left. I prefer symmetry so the whole fiasco frustrated me. The silverware art is my sort of “band-aid” to the situation.

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While I was at it I hung these two small fruit canvases I had painted ages ago. They are on the small wall near the back door and ad a little “pop” where I hadn’t realized it was needed. By the way, who likes the soft ocean glass green for the kitchen? Its taped on the wall for us to visualized with the floors and slate backsplash along with the strange torn wall paper under the chair rail.

My Mom’s Snickerdoodle Recipe

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My mom has never been a cook but boy, oh boy can she bake. Its something I did with her as a kid. She never cared about the mess while we were baking. It was about doing something together! Of course, one of her famous lines is, “Any mess you make, you clean up!” We did have to clean it all up in the end.

I cherish all of those memories so much that I now bake regularly with Z. I take it as an opportunity to make time just to be with him, let him be the leader and to give him an outlet. Baking with kids may sound hectic and unwise to some, but truth be told there is so much you can do to make it stress free and fun. We always start by washing our hands. Then we get out everything we need including the ingredients. I let Z measure, pour, turn on the stand mixer, stir and even lick the spoon. Isn’t that what its all about anyway? So many lessons can be rolled into baking (pun intended). Z has learned vocabulary such as “ingredients” and “recipe”. He also is getting the hang of measuring and knows the importance of taking your time, following the directions and doing it in order. I also love the little conversation that happens when we bake. He gabs on and on about school, his friends and what he wants to be when he grows up (a baker and a helicopter pilot).  My point is that baking isn’t always about the end product of getting to eat the cookies. It can be about the process just as much as the tasty results. I can’t wait for O to be big enough to help bake too. I love creating these memories.

The following is my mother’s Snickerdoodle recipe in her own handwriting. A classic, she even sent it to my cousin while he was in basic training. Obviously she skips the cream of tarter.

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Mix all of the wet ingredients above the line in a mixer, then add the dry. Mix the cinnamon and sugar in a small bowl. Kids can roll the dough into small balls and roll well in the cinnamon/sugar mix. Place on cookie sheet and bake at 350F for 10-12 minutes. Over-baking these will dry them out but if you get it just right they are super chewy.

Who used to let you help in the kitchen? Anyone have a favorite recipe? DO SHARE!

Road to a Functional Kitchen

It’s no secret that or kitchen lacks storage space. I’m constantly stashing things in new places and trying to find homes for cookbooks, kitchen gadgets and so on. For months I’ve daydreamed about adding shelving to an otherwise naked wall in our kitchen. There is a small peninsula that serves as a breakfast bar and divider into our eating area attached to the wall. Unfortunately this seems to be where everything piles up: keys, mail, tissue boxes, note pads, my purse, etc. We never use it as a breakfast bar and it rarely cleared completely off. I desperately need this space to become functional. Here are a few embarrassing shots:

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This is a view of the wall head on. Lame.

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This is a view from the kitchen.

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And here is a view from the dining area.

Its obviously a collect all and that wall is a wasted opportunity for SOMETHING. Anything really. But we need storage and so I have envisioned shelves here for months. I literally mention it a few times a week and hubby nods in agreement. Of course, this gave me an excuse to visit heaven on earth IKEA. I knew I’d prefer floating shelves since they would fit best with the open floor plan vibe we have going. White was also a must. Black would show any dust, birch would clash with our dark floors and white would match the cabinets (that one day will also be replaced by IKEA products). This is what I had envisioned.

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Originally I thought two long shelves was the way to go. But upon seeing them in the showroom I knew it would be too much. Three shelves centered over the peninsula (which is not centered on the wall) would be a lot more visually pleasing and probably more functional. I bought the medium length shelves … along with a few impulse purchases, but that is a whole different post. They are the LACK wall shelf : 43.25 inches long and $14.99 each. I was excited and wanted to get straight to work but I didn’t have time to start hanging until the next day. After all, I do most everything during O’s naps and rare time to myself. It had to wait.

In the mean time I you tubed a few helpful videos (this one was most useful).

The next day I didn’t get started until about 2pm. Measuring and centering the places I wanted each shelf and quadruple checking measurements took the most time. I played with how close to the ceiling and the counter I could spread them out. With 5 feet to work with, it was not hard to make it work. Then I doubled checked everything. Again. But that’s just me… I HAD to be sure. Then I found wall studs and made sure to mark each one. Ikea recommended that the shelf be mounted into at least one stud. I don’t think I drilled my first hole until 4pm. I used 2 studs and then marked 5 non-stud spots. I drilled pilot holes with a 1/4″ bit and sank an anchor into each hole. Then I had a friend hold up the hardware while I put in the screws (#8 heavy duty drywall screw/anchor sets… they do not come with the shelves so I grabbed some at Home Depot).

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Oh, and I made it a little glamourous too. Champagne with a splash of cranberry juice. Try it, yummy!

*Disclaimer: consuming alcohol while using power tools may be unsafe and is not recommended by Hilda*

Random word to the wise: when working on a wall, be sure to remove art and frames from the opposite side of the wall. My pixel painting had a little tumble while I was mounting these.

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I put up each of the braces according to those oh-so-helpful IKEA directions. Then I slid the shelving on to the brace and screwed them into place with the handy allen key provided.

It should be noted that I often have the vision and rarely have the know-how. I usually borrow my friend Greta’s husband to hang even curtain rods. I got a little brave and it ended up that these were fairly easy to put up. As long as you have the right tools and supplies you can do this. I promise it wasn’t complicated. I did have trouble with the middle shelf feeling a little loose. Turns out a couple of my anchors weren’t totally flush with the wall and I had to redo them. A little extra time and elbow grease but well worth it.

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Next came styling the shelves. I laid out all of the things that I felt could have a good home there (while freeing up other counter and cabinet space) out on my table. The large wooden salad bowl set is too deep for most of my cabinets and has lived on the top of the fridge for too long. Plus, they are pretty. My flour, sugar, baking soda and jelly bean containers clutter my counter space. My vase collection is scattered around the kitchen depending on their size and where I have room for them. Other items: fruit, mason jars, cookbooks and recipe box, mugs, sifter, grater, antique door knobs and napkin rings.

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I played for a while and finally settled on this arrangement. Of course nothing is permanent so a rearrange can happen as needed. I tried to evenly distribute visual weight with the salad bowl, books, and canisters. I also considered how often I use things to decide which shelf height they really belong on. I use coffee, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and fruit almost daily so they live on the bottom with pen and paper. Mugs, jars, recipes and cookbooks are used semi-regulalry so they are middle shelfers. Vases, napkin rings, and salad bowl go on top for infrequent use.

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It was completely unplanned that my Kitchen Aid fits under the bottom shelf but I think its a happy accident 🙂 Hubby is pushing to switch it out for the iHome but I’m not so sure.

UPDATE—-

I forgot this adorable pic of what O was doing while the shelves were in progress. I guess our play room needs a few of these for climbing… she kept going over and over and then she would sit on them and giggle and start again.

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What space could use more function in your home? What are you organizing these days?