4th Annual Walk for Tish Recap

For the past few months I’ve been raising money for our 4th Annual Walk for Tish. I was hoping to raise $500 and through the generosity of so many amazing friends and family we wrapped up with $810 total raised! I was absolutely floored..seriously. I thought $500 was a reach.

The walk was yesterday and it was a gorgeous¬†day out. The 5k went really smoothly and this was the first year Tish was up and alert the whole time, looking around and humming a bit- it was lovely. After the 5k there’s always a BBQ, a raffle, and then we go for ice cream as well. I think the first year we did it there was 6 or 7 of us there… now look at our herd!

We raised so much money they even printed a "sponsor" sign for us!

We raised so much money they even printed a “sponsor” sign for us!

The first year me, my dad, and my brother walked with Tish. Then we added my sister-in-law and Matt, then Dutch, and now this year Jack-a-roo!

Thanks again to everyone who donated, and particularly to my mom and brother who handle the day to day stuff with Tish- going to meetings, making decisions on her health, even bringing her new clothes (maybe a new hat needs to be next… I’m just saying…). ūüôā

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Glazed DIY Sunburst Mirror

On Monday I shared with you my DIY Sharpie Stencil Wall, and to go with it the art on the wall got a little update too.

A while back I made a DIY Sunburst Mirror out of wood shims, gorilla glue, and an old mirror. After it was spray painted white it looked like this:

hello, gorgeous.

hello, gorgeous.

Once that wall got the stencil treatment though, it was a little too white on white. I decided to shake things up a bit. WITH COLOR. I know, I know- it’s crazy. I painted something a color other then white. I was feeling wild.

After a few light coats of Rustoleum Aqua it was looking pretty stunning so I hung it up on the wall (with the tape still on the mirror) to marvel in the sweet, sweet shade of aqua.

before glazed

If this were a staged shot, with maybe just the chair up against the wall, the aqua would be lovely. But within the room it was like HI! I’M HERE! AND I’M THE ONLY COLOR IN THIS WHOLE JOINT! So I got out my glaze and roughed it up a bit.

sprayed

Once you’ve got your mixture ready get your foam brush and brush it on a few sections at a time, then lightly wipe it off with a damp cloth. If you’ve never glaze before I recommend wiping off most of the glaze then going back and doing a second coat (and third, if you need it). Slow and steady wins the race so you can tweak the look the way you want it.

After the glaze dried I hung it up and fell more in love then I ever thought possible.

oh yeah. much better. RAWR.

much better. RAWR.

And so now here’s some¬†gratuitous¬†shots of the whole room:

wide left

It’s basically impossible for me to take a picture without a cat and/or dog in it.wider

Love, love, love the view of this wall. And for reference, here’s what the other side of the room looks like:

Maybe I got a little over excited about aqua and sprayed a bird too... I couldn't help myself.

Maybe I got a little over excited about aqua and sprayed a bird too… I couldn’t help myself.

DIY Glazed Sunburst Mirror___

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wood shim wall art pennantDIY large frame

How To Draw On Your Walls With Marker… And Make It Fabulous!

You guys, I’m¬†SUPER excited about today’s tutorial. It has been a loooong time coming. I’ve been working at my living room for quite some time, trying to figure out what was missing, and then when I did figure it out it was¬†magical.

how to draw on your walls with sharpie  marker

First, let me remind you what my living room looked like the very first time I saw it:

yikes.

yikes.

When I first moved in I painted the room immediately, and because that crimson accent wall was so THERE I had somehow convinced myself that wall was supposed to be accented. I painted it yellow. Then I realized¬†that is the wrong wall to accent.¬†That wall all the way on the right side of the picture, that you can’t even see because there’s so much stuff against it? THAT is supposed to be the accent wall.¬†So the yellow went away and I’ve been staring at the soon-to-be accent wall for almost a year¬†trying to figure out what to do…

A few months ago Mandi @ Vintage Revivals posted a DIY Wallpaper technique she basically invented out of thin air using nothing but her mind grapes and a gold sharpie.¬†However, her tutorial had a whole lot of measurements. I’m not the measuring type. I hates math (sorry, mom). So I combined it with this awesomeness from Sarah @ While They Snooze.

I took the Sharpie paint pen idea from Mandi and the hand drawn stencil idea from Sarah and mashed them together like a pb & j.

DIY morroccan template pattern made from cardboard

The Sharpie paint pen I bought was just over $5, and it was the only material I paid for. I bought three of them and ended up using 2, and technically I think I could have just used one if I was easier on the tip (heh heh heh). I used the cardboard from the box the pens came in to make my stencil.

Here’s the how to:

  • I printed the stencil on computer paper from Sarah’s site¬†(it took up four pieces of computer paper). ¬†I folded it long ways and cut it to be symmetrical, and I folded it horizontally and cut it to be symmetrical.¬†This is very important, do not assume it will be. Fold it both ways! Snip, snip, snip!
  • Then I traced it onto the cardboard and cut it out with a box cutter (heavy duty scissors would do too)
  • Finally, I got my paint pen, estimated what might be the middle of the wall, and started tracing. I traced it approximately 9 million times and¬†every single¬†time I traced it I first checked to make sure it was level.¬†Always check to make sure it’s level! Don’t get lazy! (Tip: download a level app on your phone, tape your phone to the cutout, and check that way)

That’s it- super easy. No need to buy a $50 stencil, no need to buy a pint of paint. Just put on a good playlist and trace, trace, trace. I spread it out over 3-4 days but if I just focused for 3-4 hours it could have been done all at once.

So here’s what the room looks like now:

DIY sharpie wall

heck YES. This angle is from where the tv was in the “before” picture.

Here’s another glorious look:

sharpie marker wall with DIY stencil

Um… sorry.. there’s a cat in the way. Let’s try that again:
gray and white stencil wall inexpensive

Yes, much better.

So what do you think, are you going to run out and get some Sharpies? Or are you an old fashion stencillin’ kinda lady?

PS- To learn how to make that wood shim mirror, check here! And to find out how to glaze it, check here!

DIY wallpaper - draw on your walls with marker

_____facebook

This Is Where I’m From

Of course you all know what happened in Boston on Monday, I don’t even have words……

I don’t want to post how I feel about what happened, or ¬†where I was and what I was doing, or what I think we should all do about it- that’s all personal, and very close to home. About 5 minutes from home actually, because I grew up 5 minutes outside the city.

Instead, I want to share some awesome times I’ve had in Boston, the things that come to mind when I think of my city- and it’s how I hope you think about it too.

Without further ado, here’s a whole mess of Stephanie’s Boston Good Times Throughout The Years (note: there’s obviously going to be a whole lot of Red Sox in this pic-fest).

A red sox game in 2008 with my papa & brother (pictured) and my parents

A red sox game in 2008 with my papa & brother (pictured) and my parents. Sweet faces, guys.

Britney's "Circus" tour at The Garden in 2009 (don't judge me!)

Britney’s “Circus” tour at The Garden in 2009 (don’t judge me!)

No Rest for the Wicked Funny at Improv Asylum in 2009

No Rest for the Wicked Funny at Improv Asylum in 2009 with Matt and our bff’s Amy & Dawson-Brendan

Red Sox opening day 20009 with my homegirl Colleen.

Red Sox Patriot’s day 2009 with my homegirl Colleen.

Red Sox opening night in 2010 with my homegirl Colleen, our friend Tech, and Matt (a Yankees fan- hisss!!)

Red Sox opening night in 2010 with my homegirl Colleen, our friend Tech, and my man Matt (a Yankees fan- hisss!!)

July 4th on the Charles River, 2010

July 4th on the Charles River with a whole bunch of friends, 2010

Boston Duck Tour for a friend's birthday in 2010

Boston Duck Tour for a friend’s birthday in 2010

A concert at the Bank of America Pavilion in 2011- The Starting Line & All Time Low

A concert at the Bank of America Pavilion in 2011 (The Starting Line & All Time Low)

No Rest for the Wicked Funny at the Improv Asylum in 2012

No Rest for the Wicked Funny at the Improv Asylum in 2012

New England Dessert Showcase in 2012

New England Dessert Showcase in 2012

See- happy fun times! Best friends! Food and drinks and music and comedy! Boston, you’re my home. And where ever you are, it can be your home too. Just turn on some Sweet Caroline, drop your “R’s,” and for cryin’ out loud learn how to drive in a rotary!

How I built a garden bed wall

In my last post I shared all sorts of plans for my yard. The trouble with working on a yard is that things are rarely instantly gratifying. It’s hard to stay motivated. Especially when you have so many¬†years worth of work ahead of you.

For example,¬†I built a freaking wall this past weekend, and I am immensely proud of myself. Unfortunately that wall is on a pit of dirt, in front of a busted up retaining wall, so my pictures aren’t beautiful and satisfying. I’m hoping that’ll change by the end of summer.

Here’s how things looked in the yard from the start of the weekend to the end of it (part 1!):

This is how things looked when I got started on Saturday morning. Oye.

This is how things looked when I got started on Saturday morning. Oye.

Because we are on a hill our yard is two tiers, and the neighbors behind us are over 12 feet above us. It’s kind of weird. It’s a big ass hill. Also, their house is perpendicular to ours, so that’s the side of their house facing us.

Here’s another part of the yard:

More of how things looked before we got down to business. Dutch does not seem to mind.

Dutch does not seem to mind the mess.

Last summer when we sold the above ground pool we were left with all the sand that was under it and all the curved pavers that surrounded it, and instead of getting rid of them I decided to put them to use. But I’m still not going to show you what that section of the yard looks like. It’s too hideous.

To hide some of dirt pit 2 (because we can’t grow grass where it is) and some of the retaining wall (because it’s horrid looking)¬†I decided to make a gigantic flower bed out of pool remnants. It’s about twelve feet long, 2 feet high, and 1-4 feet wide depending on the section. I used all of the pavers from around the pool and some of the sand to build my majestic “Great Wall of Sandpaper & Glue.”

IMG_2386

Some of the pavers are very dirty because I literally had to dig them up from underground, I’m hoping a solid few rain showers will take care of that. All of them were ¬†moved one by one BY HAND and arranged by ME! The bed has a bit of a curve to it just to make it more appealing to the eye, and is closed off at the ends with cinderblocks from other parts of the yard to make it less accessible to the dog. Yes, there are various types of cinderblocks throughout my yard. I don’t know what the previous owners were doing back there.

I don’t have in-process pictures because¬†I was busy carrying all those blocks across the damn yard. But basically I started with about a dozen and laid them out in the general shape I wanted the wall to flow. Then I filled in the spaces between them to create the first row. The additional top two rows were just laid on top, each paver has a lip on the bottom back of it so they interlock with one another.¬†Hint:¬†Stack them in brick formation (like I did), not directly on top of one another, to make it more visually pleasing.

I decided to fill the bed compost style so I wouldn’t have to spend a million dollars on soil, and to make use of the never-ending leaves and sand ¬†my yard has so graciously provided. So far I’ve got it about 1/3 filled and the layers are as follows:

  • Bottom layer: cardboard! I’ve been hoarding cardboard for months to use as a bottom layer to help prevent weeds
  • Leaves (wet, dry, crunched up, whole… whatever you’ve got!)
  • Sand (from where the pool used to be)
  • Leaves
  • Sand
  • Dirt (10 bags of topsoil at $1.50 each was enough to cover just one layer all the way across)
  • Leaves
  • Sand
  • Leaves

Yes, all that fills JUST ONE THIRD high in the bed. I’m estimating I’ll need about 25 more bags of top soil, a few more layers of dirt and leaves, and then also miracle grow for a deep top layer to ensure my plants thrive.

The sand helps to break down the leaves- step down on the bed in between each layer to flatten an even it out.

The sand helps to break down the leaves- step down on the bed in between each layer to flatten an even it out.

By the end of the day it was looking like this:

Any improvement is better then no improvement at all?

Any improvement is better then no improvement at all?

Oh, and if you’re wondering what my man Matt was doing while I was lugging around cement, here’s a hint:

SO LONG MOLD HUT!

SO LONG MOLD HUT!

Come back Friday for mold hut demolition fun times!

Operation: Halfway Decent Yard

Our yard has many sections of awfulness- it doesn’t look too bad in pictures but in person it is one hot mess. We live on a hill, and because of that our yard is 2 levels and most of it is dirt because it’s too rocky to grow grass. Finally the snow has melted and the weather has warmed up, so we can ¬†start whipping it into shape.

Here’s the break down of all the yard sections we’ve got going on (all in less then a fourth of an acre, mind you):

Tier one, from left to right: turf, cement, more turf, awkward cinderblock nonsense, sandpit (where the pool used to be), debris

Tier two,¬†from left to right: dirt section 1 (too shady for grass, includes a hut full ‘o mold), dirt section 2 (too rocky for grass), grassy-ish zone (needs to be reseeded)

Sounds dreamy, right?  This summer we have a lot going on, and  it takes years for things to grow and fill, so the plan is just to get it looking better, then next year to get it looking good, and eventually to get it looking fantastic.

Here’s some diagrams of what I’m going for:

long shotThis picture was taken last summer right before Matt’s graduation party so things were looking particularly nice. But again, don’t forget that that’s you’re not lush green grass you’re seeing- it’s plastic turf. And what looks like a cute little area where our patio set is?- that’s dirt. The pool was sold and where it used to be is just sand, cinderblocks, and overgrown weed grass.

from backThis is a view from the back of the yard looking in. Notice I have strategically left out a close up of where the pool was…. I like to pretend that part of the yard doesn’t exist. It’s disgusting.

Anyway, as you can see- lots of plans. LOTS OF PLANS.

But I already put one into action… in lieu of creating a raised flower bed I used some of the old pool cinderblocks to create a garden wall. I’m basically a mason now. And the strongest woman on earth. Stay tuned!

Dolla Dolla Bills, Yo.

About a week ago I posted about all about how we spent our tax return¬†– well, I got some really helpful comments from you all about how to spend your tax return wisely and I thought I’d gather a few ¬†in a list so we can bask in each other’s awesome and ¬†savvy ideas.

Here’s the whole shebang on how we spent ours:

1. We bought things for the house we really wanted but didn’t really need¬†. ¬†We got a set of skillets, a tool chest, and a leaf blower… which came to a whopping $300 total. The little things add up FAST!

tax collage

2. We also put aside the total cost of our home owner’s insurance so we can pay it off in one lump sum when it’s due and not add another monthly payment to our list (we did this last year as well).

  • Also, I have my car insurance and home owner’s insurance both with one company and once we’re married Matt’s car insurance will be added to it as well. It saves you money to bundle everything with one place and you can still pay things separately (ie, the home owner’s all at once and the car stuff monthly). AND I get 10% off because I’m an alumni of a certain school- so check with your insurance company to see if they have alumni deals too!

3. We set a little aside for an emergency fund, not much- but more then the $0 we had before!

And here’s some reader suggestions:

  • Carly at {IN}Design¬†took a similar approach, she’s getting a dining room table
  • Asia at Cape Cod Dreams¬†used it to make an extra mortgage payment (PS-¬†this is a super awesome idea and everyone should try to do this. just one extra payment a year can take 10 years off your total mortgage!)
  • Ann at Such a Mama refinanced her home with her family’s tax return (and she’s hoping to get a vacuum and deck furniture too!)
  • Emma at Broke Ass Home¬†suggests maybe getting a new mattress or having overdue work done on your car (tired are¬†expensive¬† ya’all!)

 

So now I urge the rest of you to come out of of the shadows and pipe in- what other savvy ways can a tax return be spent?!