Weekend Recap: Wheels up!

I really wonder where the days go sometimes. I tried to lasso in the hours I seemed to have "missed" from this afternoon, but before I could round 'em up evening had already slipped into place and I was forced to roll with the clock. Not that I wish there were more hours in the day - that would be far too tiring for me - but I need about one more of me and I'd be good to go.

Alas, there's only one me (you can't duplicate awesome without losing some if it's charm, right?) and it's been busy. Which would explain the lack of posts lately. Last week was a torrid affair of work, sleepless nights and feeling like crap right up until Friday morning. Fortunately I was feeling better by then since the husband and I packed up all four of the critters and our bags and hit the highway to Dallas.

We spent some wonderful time with our parents, caught up with some friends, I attended a bridal shower for one of my close gal pals and we went out on the town until 4am. It's always time to zip up our suitcase and head home too soon on those weekends. We're constantly on the go and if you don't look fast enough, we're gone before you realize we ever arrived!


A photo of our "team" (aka ex-synchronized swimmers!). We've all been best friends for 10+ years.



My cute friend Medley and I.



The bride-to-be opening her gifts at the shower.



Out in Dallas and decided the husband needed a mustache!



Packing up to head back to H-Town.



Our super-sized doggies sleeping on top of each other in the backseat on the way home.


And because I've promised to try and share a few more fashion-related tidbits on the blog, here's one of me peering at our neighbors modeling the latest safari gear post-work meeting. I obviously need to work on my photo taking awareness and when the camera goes off. 


I still owe you guys some more of my Simple Series recipes and parts 2 and 3 of our Travel Highlights. So c'mon on back, ya hear!?

How to Paint Stripes & Install Chair Railing

So if you read the post just before this one, you've been anxiously awaiting my little tutorial on how I painted those lovely stripes in my office, and how my husband installed our DIY chair railing, right? I knew it!

Your worries can wait for another day, help is on the way! ;)


Alright, that may have been a little much, but I was cheesy as a slice of cheddar in the photo above, ready to get down and dirty in the office and finally create the space I'd been wanting!

I have always admired designer spaces (and blog photos!) that are filled with white. It's always so pretty, crisp and clean. And, in my opinion, white is easier to work with because it's easier to find things in white or paint them white, plus the hue is easily compatible with just about any accent color. But, ahem, have you seen my house? White isn't exactly the name of our game.



I love our Texas country decorative scheme, which permeates nearly every room in our home. We love rustic and comfortable, cozy and country. It's literally a part of who we are, and we've been working on collecting the wood furniture found in our home - and seen in the photos above - for years now! (And yes, I realize that's a Budweiser mirror hanging on the wall in my living room.)

Yet, I wanted to change things up a little bit and do some sort of light, fresh color scheme in my office. Something that would make me feel refreshed and inspired. So I came up with a cream-and-tan combination. At first, I was thinking I'd do vertical stripes around all four walls in the room. Once I started researching the web for tips and tricks on how to successfully paint stripes without letting the paint bleed through, I began to realize how time consuming and difficult it was going to be! So I opted for horizontal stripes on the two long walls of the room to elongate the space, solid cream on the two short walls and a cream chair railing around the whole thing with a solid tan color below it.

Before you start, I highly suggest you have reliable help and an expert taper if possible, like my mom. She was great! She whipped around with that tape faster than anyone I've ever seen. Which is awesome, when it takes up to four hours to "prepare" the wall prior to actually putting on the paint.


First, I measured where the chair railing should be and chose 33 inches above the bottom baseboard.


From there, I used a level and a pencil to draw straight lines all the way around the room. Patience is a virtue!


Not every line was perfect, but I counted on the chair railing to fix any mess-ups...


Next, I measured and drew the lines for the stripes. We decided that an odd number was best and made each stripe 12 inches wide. I didn't realize when I measured the first stripe that came after the chair railing that the chair railing would eat up some of the wall space, so I forgot to account for that. Thus the first stripe on both walls is a little under a foot, but it looks fine.


Finally, it was ready to begin taping. However, I still hadn't found any super helpful blogger or web instructions that seemed to be a break through on the stripe painting process. Some folks recommended using clear caulking on the edges of the tape to keep paint from bleeding over, others used two different kinds of tape, some used a paste under the tape for extra stick - and on and on! None of those ideas sounded like a venture I was willing to take, until I had an idea. I had just used a vinyl word transfer on a wall in our bedroom (where you rub a design or quote onto the wall and it transfers off the paper), and I still had the little card I used to put it on. Inspiration struck! Why not use it to rub the tape onto the wall?


It took a while to be sure the tape was going down evenly on the pre-drawn lines then I would follow up behind my mom with my little card to rub on the tape. (In case you're wondering, I used both the blue painter's top and the green Frog tape, the latter seemed to work the best.)



Now time to paint!! We opted to do the cream color first - I chose an ivory-like, high gloss paint to add a little shimmer in contrast with the semi-gloss tan. It's easy to get confused when you're first starting to paint stripes, because you're taping on the outside of one set of stripes to paint inside another. I put a piece of tape on the stripes that we were not painting, so we wouldn't accidentally swipe the wrong one! After two coats of the cream, we carefully stripped off the tape before the paint had dried. This is a very important step to keep the paint from drying and stick to the tape then ripping away when you remove it. Taking off the tape while the paint is still wet is a huge part of achieving straight lines!


We left the paint overnight to dry completely, then came back to apply tape for the tan stripes. I redid my bit with the card, smushing the tape into the wall, then on went two coats of the tan. Again, we carefully peeled away the tape as soon as we were done painting the stripes. There's nothing more gratifying then removing that final piece of tape and admiring a job well done - my mom and I were so happy with the results!




A few days later, I did two coats of cream on the short walls and two coats of the tan below the chair railing. I was also in need of furniture and found a heck of a bargain for a bookshelf with hutch and a wide desk by Christopher Lowell on Craig's List! We moved the furniture in, arranged it, then cluttered everything in the center to install the chair railing.


We purchased our favorite chair railing design at Home Depot then brought it home and I spray painted it Rust-oleum's Painter's Touch satin spray in Heirloom White. Once dry, my husband would measure and hand cut the pieces then attached them to the wall using a nail gun.



When he was finished, he applied a caulking on the top of the railing, smoothing it down with a paper towel. This makes the chair railing appear flush with the wall. In turn, he placed a small amount caulking over the nail gun holes and along the edges that came together at joints in the wall. I sanded the caulk down smooth when it had dried, then applied a coat of the Heirloom White to blend it all in together.


And this is the final outcome:





For a full breakdown of all the trinkets, treasures and DIY efforts in the space, check out my post right here.

Everybody's definition of luxury is different. Mine is running my own company from home in the comfort of an office I created myself! What's yours?

The Lettered Cottage

Office Reveal!

(Drum roll....)

At long last, you patient reader you, I'm able to reveal my newly finished home office!

It's had quite the makeover... since it started out as a completely blank, white-walled room, which we then proceeded to fill with boxes and all the odd and end pieces that seem to just "show up" when you move.

There was tons of hard work and lots of arm-twisting willing collaboration from various parties, including my mom and my ever-supportive husband.

Even after the excellent paint job and chair railing were installed, it still looked like this:



But now, ladies and gents, it looks liiiiike this!



I am so happy with it, and am relieved to now be working in an organized and eye-pleasing space rather than a makeshift storage drop. It's really pulled itself together! I love the stripes on the two horizontal walls, they add a lot of size to the room and a bit of contrast so the place isn't washed out in one color. My mom helped me measure, draw, tape, paint, tape, paint, repaint and tape some more on those bad boys. We also discovered a handy secret to keep the paint from bleeding past the tape. That will be coming up soon!

What's that? You'd love a tour of the room? Why, of course! Come right along...

For starters, my husband and I opted to take off that closet door and install a simple spring rod of curtains instead. All my craft projects are stored away in there and it's much easier to get in and out with the curtain than a door.


My super sweet husband did hang a super sturdy Texas hook in there to hold all my jewelry making supplies. I keep them in one easy-to-tote bag and they're a cinch to grab off a central hook. Other craft supplies and items are stored in two plastic drawer bins, with a few additional boxes at the top of the closet. I would like to figure out how to add some shelves in there one day or make better use of those coat racks, but until then this will do!



Here's a look at the whole wall, adjacent to the closet. (Please ignore the desk drawer and old computer monitor I failed to realize were sitting there. This gal never claimed to be a perfectionist.)


Being a magazine editor and writer, means oodles of magazines everywhere. I often need to access them for reference or ideas, so I decided why not keep them handy in an organized stack rather than a messy pile? So I plopped 'em all down on top of a short filing cabinet I was too lazy to move out and called it a day.



For a rundown of all the items and DIY projects on the top half of the bookshelf's hutch - like a framed chalkboard and custom book covers - click here


The bottom shelves hold various treasured items, like weathered Bibles. The red one is mine, which I've had since I was 10 years old, and the black one is my husband's Grandma's, gifted to her by her children. 


She loved reading her Bible and the thumb-worn page corners are proof.


One of the cedar boxes was made by a very close friend of mine and contain some childhood keepsakes I've hung on to over the years, like my very first pair of ballet shoes. Tiny dancer!


There's also a collection of journals I kept as a kid (who said writing wasn't my first calling?!), which sit on top of a box of mementos the husband and I have saved since our very first date.



The framed deer photo probably won't stick around long, but the colors meshed and it filled the space on that wall for now. (I've already spotted some replacement options at Hobby Lobby!) It's from our former office at our old house, which was geared more toward a "man's space" and not that of a writer. So it'll be joining it's mates in a nice, padded box somewhere soon and wait patiently until our next house. There it can then soak up the light of day above a pool table or something more fittingly masculine.

I purchased those large candlesticks in Scotland and painted them with a fresh coat of white recently. They make me think of our flat overseas every time I look at them.



This little fleur de lis is the cap to the blue jar on the second shelf. It was broken off, so the whole thing only set me back $3 at Hobby Lobby. I glued the top back together (you can spot the seem, but only up close!) and perched it atop an old checkbook from 1935. It belonged to a Betty Lou Robinson in Baltimore, Maryland - but was kept by her mother since little Betty Lou was a minor. I guess mom was making sure her daughter didn't overspend! Some things never change. ;) Beneath the checkbook are more books I covered in calligraphic scrapbook paper.

There's also a frame I spray painted white, which features a shot of the husband and I sipped off one litre mugs of beer in Prague. To get the whole story, click here.


These wooden plates in the back of the first shelf were hand-carved in Germany. I wish I knew what kind of wood they are and what year they were made in, but there's no information on the back. They were a thoughtful heirloom passed down to us by Mike's grandpa one year, he acquired them ages ago when he lived overseas. In fact, he met his late wife in Germany. We love hearing him tell the story still, and are honored to share a memento of his happiest times. 


This ivory basket was a $4 find at Hobby Lobby, which contains a photo of my mom and I, a mint green tea candle and the bottom half of that fleur de lis jar with some bright green ivy. Peeking through in the back is an antique card box I picked up at an estate sale, which you can read about right here!


The third and final shelf contains an old wooden box with some of the husband's keepsakes, a gold bowl for less than $1 from Michaels, and a glamorous photo of my grandma, who I love and adore. She suffered a life-threatening stroke years ago and, while she lost much of her speech abilities, she made a fantastic comeback and is happy and healthy these days. In fact, my mom and my grandmother spend nearly every Friday together, shared on my mom's blog right here.


My desk area has a little work left, as its still being organized and that wall calendar propped in the back will soon be on the wall. But, it's a cheerful little place to spend my hours and I love it. Especially as spring arrives and I can crack open the window for a fresh breeze and the sounds of birds in the tree out front.



These plaques will hang on either side of my wall calendar very soon. They were on sale for under $3 each at Hobby Lobby. (Hi, I'm a Hobby Lobby addict.)



To the left of my desk is a big honkin' black filing cabinet, which we plan to paint white one day, but it holds all those pesky files and other miscellaneous items. I also worked a Texas star in that room (there's one in every room of my house!), and a little greenery. The file holder was black until I attacked it with my can of spray paint, and it's new job is to hold the papers and bills my husband tends to leave in piles all over the house. Now, when I clean up the joint, he can never blame me for "losing" or "misplacing" his stuff, because it all goes into his personal file holder! This little gem has solved a lot of arguments. ;)

I also stack my most recently arrived magazines up there so I know which ones are still fresh, and need to be thumbed through for ideas, inspiration or just for fun.




I love flowers in the home, especially whatever room I spend most of my time in. These bright beauties chill out every day in a tall cylinder glass vase I picked up at a charity shop in Scotland.



In an effort to be cute and organized all at the same time, I stored chalk and clips in cheap-o mason jars from, you guessed it, Hobby Lobby.


The orange pashmina was a wedding favor from a friend's nuptials we attended in Scotland. You can read all about that special day (and my husband's own experience with a kilt) right here!


Well, folks, that's it! You've just seen my office from top to bottom. Whaddya think? I'd love to hear your feedback in the comments section. My next post will be all about those striped lines painted on the wall, and the DIY chair railing my husband and I decided to tackle with no research and half a plan. Stay tuned!
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