Thursday, January 30, 2014

I’m calling it controlled chaos

Picking, prepping, painting.  Work, work, work.

I can’t even imagine what I’d keep myself busy with in a home that was older and actually needed updates.  Our home is new, built in 2010 and over the past 3 years I have consistently been working on one project after another to change and/or update this home. 

You already all knew I was repainting our living room, so that’s what I’ve been doing after I’ve put the kids to bed the past few nights is prepping the walls for painting, and then repainting in sections.  I usually am a go-go-goer, and can do it all, all hours of the night, pushing through any lack of motivation.  But lately, because I’m balancing a whole lot, I have a little less in me so I have had to redo this living room in stages.

We’ve had floating shelves on the “dining room” side of our living room since we moved in.  I’ve already had to take them down and patch the holes, and rehang them with better supports (post about supporting floating shelves) before this so there’s already been four large holes in this wall.  Now because I’m repainting I’m having to do it again, and the holes are even bigger because of the supports.

I wish filling holes was an easy task, but it just isn’t.  If you use anchors that are small but have that head piece – removing can be a real challenge and you either end up ripping them back out making a really big hole, or spend time and so much effort squishing and smushing the head so you can shove the entire anchor through the hole behind the wall.

Here’s a trick I learned --- using a sharp blade (I remove the blade from my x-acto knife) I cut off the head of the anchor. Then using needle nose pliers push the body of the anchor back behind the wall. It’s minimal damage and so you have less to patch.  Side note- if you see the “paint scratches” from the blade here, that’s because my wall was a little “softer than usual’ because as I mentioned I’ve already patched these exact spots before so technically I’m repatching spackle not drywall. Every other time I’ve done this, I haven’t had the scratch marks on the wall from the blade.
If you saw this post: Battle of the Greiges then you know I went through a few rounds of paint samples to find the color of choice.  I ended up choosing Collingwood by Benjamin Moore and I am so so glad I did.  I LOVE it.  And ever since I painted my daughter’s nursery and found my go to paint – I picked up two gallons of Collingwood in Benjamin Moore’s Regal Select in Eggshell.  We have knockdown texture to our walls so finding a paint line that covers, goes on smooth and provides a good finish has been a challenge but BM Regal Select in Eggshell.  Eggshell finish is my favorite finish too, it’s more durable than flat, but doesn’t have too strong of shine to it. 

So in the after hours of the kids sleeping – I painted….painted and painted more.  PS this is the first time I’ve cut an entire room with no taping, GO ME!

You like when bloggers show #reallife right? Well here it is – this is the state of our home the past few days.  We call it “controlled chaos” – my husbands term of choice for his life for the past 6 years on ship.  Figured it worked for our home life lately too.

This poor breakfast bar always look like a bomb went off on it too --- I think I can spot about 9 different projects sitting on this breakfast bar. 

So there it is… my life at home lately.  I do NOT live the life of the rich and glamorous. I live the life of a mom trying to balance two kids, full tine work, blogging, redoing our home, making signs, fixing things around our home.  Oh – and there’s a reason why you don’t see a picture of me.  Because if my home is “controlled chaos” I am “totally uncontrollable messy nightmare status chaos”.

Enjoy seeing my day to day life? Most of these pictures were originally shared via Instagram so follow me here!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Battle of the Greiges | Colorspiration

battle of the greiges knockout round
Am I the only one that feels like finding a new paint color for a room is like figuring out the results of the room’s personality test?  I always have a “family” of the paint color I want but then 20 samples later I determine the perfect color. 

Our living room was the first room we painted when we moved in over three years ago.  That was a CHALLENGE.  An empty house, cherry wood (reflects and changes paint color A LOT), and figuring out sunlight patterns throughout the day.  I also didn’t know as much about paint color as I know now… turns out painting every.single.area. in your home a different color, you learn a lot!

But I have loved the blue (Sherwin Williams – pure silver) for a while… but first mistake we made was choosing a flat finish.  It was the first time I have dealt with textured walls and the knock-down freaked me out.  Any finishes with even the slightest of shine made me feel like it made the texture so much more obvious so I just wanted flat.  In fact, I wanted even more flat than flat. But the problem with flat paint – it’s not durable… to bumps, to rubs, to toys banging, to food splatters, to magic eraser.  Our walls have taken a beating so it was just time to repaint.  So of course I turn to the pitter patter paint family of my heart – greige. Anything in the grey – neutral – brown tone family is a safe bet for me.

However, I wanted to lean more towards the beige side of the family rather than grey.  Only because this room meets the kitchen which is painted with “mushroom” (a dark toned greige) and our entryway which is a Mocha Brown by Behr. Because of the two dark tones I want something lighter for the big room.

I’m rambling.. you’re all here for paint not me rambling.  May I present the contestants!

The colors were a little hard to truly capture because they’re surrounded by the two windows but it seemed a lot more accurate when I had my dashing son sit in on the picture as a focal point. Hence the next picture. And yes, his face is extremely messy. And yes, he’s wearing a belt, that he calls a “seatbelt” around his body because he’s being the Easter Bunny… oh does that confuse you? Have you seen Rise of the Guardians --- yeah he was being THAT Easter Bunny.

One of the benefits of putting up all the possible paint samples is seeing them in every direction of the room throughout all the times of the day.  It’s unbelievable how much light and angles effect the color of paint, especially a color that has such underlying tones of other colors. 

So what do you think of the samples?  Which would you pick?  If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram I posted the picture below and asked which color they’d pick….

The most popular colors were 2, 5, 8 and 9.  No one picked 1 (which is funny because that was an impulse sample choice in the store…always stick to the plan!)

How I determined my color choices:
My go to color banks are Behr and Benjamin Moore.  I try to stick within these two color banks because I’m comfortable with them, they have a huge variety with subtle hue differences between colors (so if something is ALMOST what you want but not quite, more than likely one next in the color chart will be it).  Also there are SO many color brands out there, if you find who you like and you trust their colors it’s easier to find what color you want.  You start to understand their color choices and find what fits you best. 

First I’ll look online, compare the color swatches, look at the room examples, search on Pinterest/Google Images for “real life” pictures of the paint and get anywhere from 5-10 paint names I want to look at in store.
Then I’ll head to the specific brand store (Home Depot or Benjamin Moore) and find the paint cards that I want.  There I’ll compare in different lighting and the in-person look of the card.  I’ll try to cut typically 1-5 choices from my selection out at this stage.
Next I’ll get the final samples of the colors I want to bring home and see in my home setting – THE MOST IMPORTANT STEP!

Some unknown helpful tips when getting paint samples:Home Depot provides samples of paint in a flat finish.  This is great because you’ll have zero reflection of light so you can truly see the color.  However, because the final finish that I choose from my paint and the fact I have textured walls I actually want to see what the paint looks like with a little shine.

Lowe’s provides samples of paint in a satin finish.  This is great if you are going to choose a finish with a shine to it as you’ll be able to determine how it looks as a final product.  However, this also creates a challenge because of the reflection it’s REALLY hard to get a true idea of the actual color because you’re fighting a glare.

I bought 5 paint samples from Home Depot, and 4 from Lowe’s…. see what I mean?


Paint samples from Benjamin Moore or similar competitors like Sherwin Williams, you won’t be buying a small $3 container, you’ll have to purchase a pint that’ll run about $7.  As you’ve read I usually want to leave the store with 3-7 paint samples from each brand so this could easily run be up to $50+ just in samples.
Instead I take my paint cards from BM and go to Lowe’s/Home Depot and have them pull the formula and I can buy a sample of the color in a more affordable price range (ssshhh I cheat).

But!  I figure it’s okay I do this because, Lowe’s/Home Depot wins for getting my money from the extra samples.  Benjamin Moore wins because I only buy their paint for the final paint product for my walls.  And…the earth wins because I’m not disposing of 10 unused pints of paint every time I paint a room.
Now are you curious about the names of the paint samples I selected for my living room? 

Battle of the greiges
1. Almond Wisp. 2. Collingwood 3. Smokey Taupe 4. Wheat Bread 5. Chocolate Froth 6. Apparition 7. Mineral 8. Nimbus 9. Sandstone Cove

A quick comparison – it’s pretty crazy how some on screen swatches are pretty close to the real color, and some are SO off like Behr’s Mineral….. the online swatch doesn’t show any pink hues…the real sample looks like I’m going to paint a baby girl nursery.

Underlying pink hues is one of the most challenging aspects of trying to pick a more beige-ish greige. Beige does have a strong pink undertone to it so it’s a tricky balance.

My first samples were only the Behr ones and I wasn’t a fan of any once I had them up. Number 9 was the “closest” but didn’t have enough warmth to it…felt cold/stale for my taste.  To me greyish tones add a lot of warmth to color (which to most isn’t true because most people respond with grey is the saddest coldest color there is, yet it makes my heart go pitter patter). 

So…. what color do you think I ultimately choose?  I think I really did choose the “room’s personality” with this one… I think it’s going to look UGH-MAZING.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The REAL Way to Clean the Oven | The Final Truth

easiest way to get a clean oven
Alright ladies and gentlemen (I actually wonder if I have any gentlemen that read my blog)…. Our oven has been a disaster for a really long time.  It’s kinda weird how dirty those things get.  What goes on in there?  I’m pretty sure the food just sits on the cookie sheet… or dish and just cooks??  But the way my oven looked before it was like there was a mass party every single night in there…..and all the residents got sick in there the next morning.  (too much?)

We have tried SO many different tactics to clean it and really..nothing has worked.

easyoffWe’ve tried chemical filled cleaners like Easy-Off.  The only thing that really came off with that was my husbands skin.. yah he got some bad burns from that stuff. Plus it gives off crazy fumes so the kids and I had to vacate the home for quite a few hours.   But what was there after we returned – most of the filth and grime still on the glass.epic-fail


Next we tried the “easy” approach to just dusting the glass with baking soda and using a sponge with a scrub side and warm water to “erode” the filth off the glass.  Why I thought this would work when a can of toxic chemicals didn’t work… not sure.  But you can guess it… it didn’t work. FailedStamp
homemade oven cleaner


Then we tried the infamous Pinterest recipe of the baking soda/vinegar/lemon mixture.  All that did was go through a roll of paper towels trying to clean up the paste that was created. 

failedI was getting so frustrated and was honestly debating just buying a new oven.  But then figure replacing your oven every few years just because you can’t get it cleaned isn’t really practical.

magic eraser
Then I tried the most magic tool I own… the Magic Eraser.  I even upgraded to the extra strong kitchen line…. Did nothing on the build up.

At this point I was convinced my husband and his friends did some type of science experiment and tried baking liquid cement inside a balloon which erupted and that’s ACTUALLY what all the grime was – discolored cement.

So my last desperate efforts… I was strolling the cleaning product aisle of Lowe’s and picking up my favorite degreaser for the stove top (we make a lot of bacon and pot stickers…grease splatters everywhere).  When one of those oven cleaning kits caught my eye.  It was actually made for the stove top.  It came with a stove top safe solution and a little scraper that had a razor blade pop out of the top.  It was safe for stove tops so I thought I’d give it a try on the oven glass.

Cerama Bryte Cooktop Scraper
It all scrapped off so easy it took less than 5 minutes.  Then I just sprayed it with my good ol’ degreaser spray and one paper towel later my window was finally clean again!


So now I have my go to method of the easiest way to get MY oven the cleanest.  And if you’re wondering – no the razor did not scratch the glass either. 

gross oven before shot
clean oven afterwards on pbjstories
Disclaimer: I don’t mean to call anyone out that has done the previous methods that failed for me and worked for others.  I just want to give credit where due for the images use.  I’m glad those methods worked for them because I wish they had worked for me months ago when I tried them!!!


Monday, January 6, 2014

My 2014 Word | Grow

grow title
In 2014 I want to grow.
Not in height – I’m tall enough.

I want to grow as a wife.
as a mother.
as a worker.
as a blogger.
as a communicator.
as a do-er.
as a person.

grow quotevia

We all start the year with big goals, high expectations, and a list full of dreams.  Well this year, I’m keeping it simple. I’m taking it back to four simple letters.

grow bannervia

How am I going to grow?

I’m going to reflect.I want to reflect on the great days with my family, and write down to remember WHY those moments are great so I can do those more often. I want to reflect on what things my husband and I argue about, so I can work on my behaviors to eliminate from making the same mistakes.

I’m going to learn.  I want to research, study and embrace more in the world so I can build my strengths at work, blogging, and as a person.  I’m going to listen to those around me and learn what makes their world go round; I’m going to learn what I can bring to the them to make their days better.

I’m going to love.  I want to be more kind to those around me.  I want to embrace the challenges my children give me.  I want to forgive more and hug often.  I want to embrace that at the end of the day, it’s the people you love in life you want surrounding you.

grow yarnvia

I’m going to keep coming back to this word – grow.  I’m going to remind myself, each opportunity in life is a chance to grow.

Something I haven’t been able to do in quite some time is be able to answer a simple list of questions about myself.  I don’t know my own answers to these types of questions:

Favorite color
Favorite scent
Favorite food
Favorite movie
Favorite sounds
Favorite beverage
Favorite singer
Favorite pastime
Things that excite me visually
The style of art I appreciate
What type of fashion I desire most
If I could travel anywhere in the world, where would I go

Isn’t that weird?  I find that weird.  I hope by the end of this year I can reflect on myself and the world around me enough I learn these things about myself.
Stay tuned, I’ll keep ya posted!

Have you chosen a word of the year for 2014?

Thursday, January 2, 2014

A DIY reflection of 2013 | Top Posts from PB&Jstories

2013 round up
2014 is going to be a year of moving forward as a family.  I have loved being a homeowner the past few years and this year I really jumped ahead and got a lot finished around the house for “makeover” projects. Here’s a quick reflection on a few things I did around our house…. Kitchen Makeover
Our Kitchen Makeover: What I loved about this project was the fact we didn’t have it in our budget to completely redo the face of our kitchen.  No remodeling, no demolition, no new countertops or cabinets.  Not even resurfacing.  All we did was add a backsplash and a few new light and it transformed our kitchen and made it so much more inviting.

PBJstories Baby Girl Nursery RevealThis was one of biggest overhaul project I did of 2013… my baby girl’s nursery.  It’s still to date one of my favorite places in our home though… I loved every element, texture, color and design I brought into that room and love the scheme is something she can grow with.

PBJstories Dipped Outdoor Bench
Next up was a lot simpler of a project, but sometimes it’s the little things that count.  Our dipped outdoor bench scored one of the highest posts of 2013, and I understand why.  Not everyone has the budget, capability or time to makeover entire rooms.  Sometimes a little detailed inspiration is all we need.  I still love this thrifty makeover that I did and smile when I am greeted with it when I come home.

Converting a recessed light
Next up is a useful how to: How to change a recessed light to a pendant hanging one.  Most homes comes with the recessed lighting which are great for rooms with a lot of light, but when you want that accent piece – knowing how to change one out is the perfect how to.

how to break down a pallet
I’m so thrilled my first ever video made it to one of my top posts!  I made this video, sponsored by 3M DIY, on how to break down a pallet the easy way.  With all the AMAZING pallet project inspirations out there, this is a great video to learn how to break down and get yourself some great reclaimed wood.

Gallery wall built with wire and wood using instagram picturesInstagram – who isn’t on it!  My Instagram Gallery Wall display is one of my favorite home d├ęcor projects I did this year.  I love being able to see the pictures of our family and moment I’ve captured displayed in such a fun way.  We don’t have the same for frames all over so this is just perfect for our home.


And last but not least, I’m so happy that one of my favorite places to relax made it as a top post this year.  This transformation added a room to our home.  Our backyard patio makeover was one of the greatest transformations I’ve ever done.  It went from a very blah concrete slab to a relaxed retreat with comfort and design.  I LOVE it… especially since I’ve added the black door to it since.

Thank you to ALL OF YOU who support, read, encourage, share and keep coming back to  Without you, I’d just be rambling to myself… but you truly make me feel a part of a community and continue to make each year of blogging better than the previous.

I’d love it if you had a favorite post of mine this year that wasn’t on this list and let me know in the comments --- I’d love to know what you personally have loved hearing from me!

Here’s to an amazing 2014 and all our new adventures!

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