Category Archives: DIY

Flashback Fridays – Ashley’s Engagement Soiree

Today’s Flashback Friday will be a quick look back at November 2013 when we threw my amazing friend Ashley an engagement party.

Ashley’s fiancé (now husband) ‘s name is Saer (pronounced Say-er) so we thought that a super cute theme would be:

“Ashley and Saer, Love is in the Air!”


It almost makes you want to throw back to your high school jams list and bump some “Put your hands in the a-yerrrr if you’s a true play-errr”

We found a local Pizza Place called Palio’s that is BYOB and had a large room where we could throw the party.  Ashley loves pineapple and this place makes a killer pineapple cashew salad with house dressing!  It was a self serve buffet and we brought mimosa ingredients since it was a day time gathering.



VERDI is a green grape sparkling wine that is a summer staple for my friends and I.  If you like a drink that’s sweet, light and refreshing you should try it!

And for dessert we made a Pinterest Inspired cupcake rose dress! 




The two LOVE BIRDS (part of the theme – see the little bird accents around the table?!) seemed to have a fantastic time!!





And so much thanks to our great friend Nicole who was my gorgeous co-host!!!



Then Jackson made away with my GIANT BAG of wedding magazines I passed along to Ashley so she could start her research 😉 








A DIY Sunburst Mirror – for cheap!!

I’m so OVERLY EXCITED to share with you today a DIY I got from Pinterest that did not let me down!

I’d been eyeing sunburst/starburst mirrors forever but at $200-$300 a pop it just wasn’t in my new house budget.  Then I stumbled upon a pin of this image under DIY on Pinterest…

sunburst mirror


Modern, fun… and, oh my gosh – did they say it is made of POSTERBOARD?!! CHEEEEEAAAAPPPP!!! ::happy dance::

I was able to grab a few colors of poster board, used some E6000 glue (my all time favorite crafting glue), and bought a 5-pack of little black circular mirrors from Home Depot.  A few hours of my time later and LOOK AT THEM!!!!


The flowers… look at the SUNBURST MIRROR FLOWER THINGS… not my husbands shoes all shoved under his side of the bed, which sadly I did not notice until reviewing these photos later on this blog… err…


I absolutely love them.  Now I just need to replace that rinky-dink lamp on my side of the bed… it doesn’t even emit a pretty light.  I believe it was a solid $15 at Hobby Lobby and I used it on my night stand all through college but it’s time to upgrade man.  I’m searching… I need two matching modern style lamps for each of the night stands, that way I’m not always the one stuck turning off the light at the end of the night.  Plus it’ll look more symmetrical and balanced.  But that’s the next update, those of us without pocket books just take one challenge at a time – and if we’re lucky we substitute an amazing piece of paperboard art for the need of a $350 sunburst mirror!  I feel like it filled up the walls of our master bedroom so well!  And no one ever believes me when I tell them what they are made of… they have to walk over to the wall and touch it themselves. 

The how-to is over on a blog post from The Nester – and I highly recommend it 🙂


Have you found any DIY’s on Pinterest that have becoming an overwhelming success?  Something I should try?

What about a Pinterest FAIL?? Do share!!! We all have them!!




Getting Back in Touch with a Lost Art

When I was a kid I loved art.  I’ve found multiple papers saved away in boxes that my mom kept of stuff I did and made in grade school that say “artist” for what I wanted to be when I grew up.  For Christmas, I would beg for large art kits full of water colors, pencils and oil pastels.  For birthdays I would ask to have my party at a Paint n’ Party where each guest chooses something to paint that they can then take home.  I just love it.  Unfortunately, it’s not exactly the most lucrative career path and I’m lucky enough to love a lot of things.  I followed my geek-y math loving side through college and into my current career as a Reliability and Systems Specialty Engineer, but after 40+ hours a week of formulas and pareto charts I find myself longing for creative outlets. 

Finally, about two years (nearly) after moving into our house I have had a few blissful spare moments to catch back up on things that inspire me – like painting! 

After searching far and wide for an extra large painting with the right coloring in a modern style to complement our family room and being unsuccessful (well – unsuccessful within our budget for the piece of art, there was a $10,000 beauty I loved at an art show we attended, but don’t exactly roll that deep!) Mike convinced me to paint a large canvas myself.  I was super nervous after investing all the money in the canvas and paints – what if I messed it up!!  It’s so… large.  Then I told myself there is beauty in any imperfection and I just went for it.

painting 2edit

Having not painted anything in quite some time I was pleased with the outcome – it fills up the blank wall and ties in the colors of the family room, what more could I ask for?

This one painting bit me like an addiction – I had to paint some more.  So within the same week I drug out some watercolor paper, brushes, cups of water, paper towels and I went to work adding this funky abstract for our master bedroom:

watercolor 2

(sorry for the glare!)

And toyed around with some bright flowers…

watercolor 1

And recently came up with the idea to give paintings as a gift.  My younger (middle) sister Mari recently moved into a new place.  I wanted her new place to instantly feel like home so I wanted to paint things that she loves.  Well, she also recently adopted a new puppy named Buddy so he became my inspiration for the painting! 


He was a rescue dog and is always happy and full of life.  I painted him in a field of sunflowers (Mari’s favorite flower) to capture the happiness he exudes when he sees you!

buddy and sunflowers

And finally, the latest painting is one for my best friend since her birthday is coming up next month… Amanda is a pro-women’s soccer player as well as a coach and also loves her dog, Xena. 

xena 2 xena 1

Xena is a spoiled princess and basically Amanda’s child so I hope she’ll be excited when I frame it and give it to her as a gift! 

xena watercolor

I’m still a little rusty but I am so happy to share this creative passion with others!!

If you have anything that brought you tons of happiness as a child it’s never too late to go back to that passion and hobby – you may be surprised at how quickly you fall right back to it.


What’s something that you love to do when you finally find the time?  Were you a painter as a kid?





A Dream Design on a Dime – Faux Granite better than the real thing

I haven’t posted anything in a while.  A lot has gone on in the last year – a new house, a wedding (yes, mine!), a promotion and I’ve fallen behind on the blog.  So what’s causing me to post again?  This DIY was too good not to share.

Gorgeous, reflective white granite
Gorgeous, reflective white granite
I’m being completely transparent with you here.  This will be the facts and the experience exactly how it happened for me.  Read it, take what applies, and hopefully if you are unhappy with your current countertops and are dying for a redo this blog will help you out.

You can afford a granite look for your countertops!
You can afford a granite look for your countertops!
I read dozens of blogs on countertop redos before choosing and completing my own (the benefit of waiting a year to finally bite the bullet and dive in to the renovation – by that time there was already a wealth of information online and several had lived with their countertops for long periods of time and could attest to the durability).  After all the research here’s a quick overview of what the project is going to entail:

1.  $100-$300 depending on the square feet of countertop you’re looking to cover, and depending on the amount of supplies you are going to need to buy (some of you may already have brushes, craft paint, and/or buckets).

2.  A full weekend or split the project into a few hours per day for about a week 🙂

3.  Skill with taping and prepping your work area

4.  Some sort of primer ( all surface)

5.  Your design paints/tools (we’ll get more into this later)

6.  Your high gloss sealant of choice.  We went with Envirotex Lite which  is a water clear reactive polymer compound. It cures to a thick, glossy coating in about 8 hours at 70°F, and reaches full strength and toughness in about 48 hours. As the company states, it’s a durable, resilient material and requires no polishing to produce a high gloss.  What’s even better is that it usually only takes one coat to achieve your finish!

7.  PATIENCE.  You have to let the beautiful shiny top coat cure for quite some time…  I read all different advice on the appropriate time to let it cure.  In my experience it was dry to touch in 24-48 hours, but I didn’t actually set anything back on the countertops for about a week to ensure it was hardened and leveled.  After a week I even set my Kitchen Aid Mixer on the countertops (which is heavy) and had no problems.

Still with me??  Do you want to see this afterwards?!

island side granite

Okay, then here’s the supplies I chose to achieve the gorgeous white granite look I was going for:

faux granite supplies with arrow and text

1. Sandpaper to rough up the existing countertop before applying the primer.  Honestly, I didn’t use it too much just a light ‘roughing’ – so you may be able to skip it depending on the type of countertop you’re starting with, I think ours was some lame linoleum in cream/white.

2.  Plastic Tarp.  Buy it in bulk.  Even if you’re an expert at painting and don’t get paint outside your project area you will need the tarps to catch the dripping Envirotex off the sides of the countertops — and the whole point is to let it drip over.  That’s how it self levels and covers the edges.

3.  Cheap work gloves – you don’t want the Envirotex Lite on your hands.

4.  Metallic Leaf – optional, but I’d suggest it.  Do research on the type of granite you’re shooting for – a lot of the high end granites have metallic flakes in them and some glitter.

5.  Fine Glitter – see above.  I went with a pearlescent sheen white glitter – please use a fine glitter and not a course chunky one which may make your countertops look more like a 2nd grade art project.

6.  Foam brushes.  I’d read on a few blogs that you can use these to spread the Envirotex or to paint your edges but they were so cheap I really stuck to options #  and wouldn’t recommend them.  Actually my favorite spreading tools ended up being the 99cent plastic spreader things in the paint section so scoop up a few of these if you see them!

7.  Natural Sponges.  Buy a bunch!  These are what you’re going to use to create the granite patterns – look for different shapes and sizes.

8.  Painters Tape.  Keeps your edges clean and holds your plastic tarps in place.

9.  Paint brushes and tray for the primer.  Really use whatever type you like – I wanted a very smooth look so I got cabinet/door foam rollers in two sizes and used a Purdy small angle brush for edges and corners.

10.  Plastic containers/pitchers.  This is to mix your Envirotex Lite and then to pour over your counter tops.  You’re going to need a couple so you can keep mixing while one person is pouring!  Unless you’re working with a very small area… which we were not.

11. Craft Paints.  Seriously — that’s what you use.  Cheap, Acryllic craft paints from your local craft store like a Michaels or Hobby Lobby.  Try to pick colors that match the example granite you’re going for!  We used White, metallic silver, black, and a tan.

12. Some sort of primer ( all surface).  I used a warm gray color, and honestly it’s smart to go a little dark on this first layer it’ll just spot through and add depth to your granite pattern.

13.  Envirotex Lite.  We bought 8 of the two bottle 2sq. ft. kits and used 6 for our kitchen, looking back at it I wished I’d used a little more up front but I was so nervous we’d run out!  It covers pretty much exactly like the bottle and website say so just trust the Professional Tips.

14. A Partner (not pictured).  The beginning and prep work you can tackle yourself but a friend really comes in handy for the Envirotex part at the end!

Okay, still with me?  You’re going to start by prepping your work area.  Clear everything off the countertops!!  And snap a nice ‘Before’ photo – so you can do the comparison once you’re done and give yourself an amazing pat on the back.  Or three.  Here are our before shots:

Kitchen Countertop Remodel – BEFORE
Kitchen Countertop Remodel – BEFORE
THIS island is what drove me to try a DIY countertop. Besides that nasty little burn spot in the middle that I used to cover with a slate cutting board, any time people would set down their glasses it would stain the countertop. Even water. I mean, the water ring wouldn’t wipe right off – you’d literally need to break out lifesaver Mr. Eraser every. single. time. LAME!

Kitchen Countertop Remodel – BEFORE
Kitchen Countertop Remodel – BEFORE
And now, tape it off like you would any paint project… make sure you have plastic tarps EVERYWHERE. Like a Dexter kill room. I didn’t take any photos right after tarping, but here’s after tarping and the layer of primer:

IMG_8732 (1)
Kitchen Countertop Remodel – taped off and primed
IMG_8726 (1)
Kitchen Countertop Remodel – taped off and primed
IMG_8727 (1)
Kitchen Countertop Remodel – taped off and primed
We even decided to do the little coffee nook that had white tile just to see how it would take the treatment – so here’s a peak at that area primed and ready to go!

Kitchen Countertop Remodel – taped off and primed
Alright… now comes the artistic part.

By now you should’ve already researched the type of granite you were looking for and know what you’re trying for.  Take out your natural sponges, acrylic paint colors, and paper plates.  I squirted out my paints on the paper plates and got going with my first coat!


For the first (major) coat I used a white and a metallic light silver.  Honestly, the hubs picked the light silver and I was shocked. I’m usually the glitter fiend… and he was so right!  The one metallic paint pick thrown in with the other acrylic paint on the sponge added depth.  He nailed it.

Countertops – after first layer of natural sponged acrylic paint
Here’s what the first layer should look like as you go across the primer….

Countertops – after first layer of natural sponged acrylic paint
Countertops – after first layer of natural sponged acrylic paint
Can you already see the metallic paint glisten a little?

And this is going to be the difficult part for you.  If you did the first coat right it’s going to look pretty good at this point, and your husband may even try to talk you out of the next step “don’t push your luck!!” but push your luck.  The next few layers are what make it so realistic.  I won’t lie to you, it’s going to look WORSE next before it gets better.  That’s because the next step is to add your accent colorsIt kinda ends up looking spotted, like a funky Dalmatian… I really don’t know else how to explain so… here’s kinda what mine started looking like:

IMG_8752 IMG_8753 IMG_8755 IMG_8756

OMG I know — but I warned you!!!! Just be patient…. you still have another layer to go!

Alright, then once it dries you continue with the FINAL LAYER of acrylic paint.  We ended up spanning this work over several nights during the week.  I’d get home from work, do a quick layer of acrylic, and we’d eat dinner etc.  It dries pretty quickly so you could probably knock it all out in a few hours but I was doing my best not to rush the project.  The final layer should be a majority of the color you want to be your main color of granite.  I went back to the white and metallic light silver combo.

Flat granite surface after final layer of acrylic paint – pre-Envirotex Treatment
Flat granite surface after final layer of acrylic paint – pre-Envirotex Treatment
Flat granite surface after final layer of acrylic paint – pre-Envirotex Treatment
Three steps of acrylic painting a ‘granite’ surface – top is first coat, second is spotted ‘accent” coat, then third final coat
When applying your natural sponge some tips are 1) Make sure the sponge doesn’t get too lubricated with the paint because it will stop making a pattern!!  You can always rinse it out and dry it with paper towels  2) Leave some of the DARK colors peaking through… in random sections.  You’ll use these to create depth and interest in the granite!  Note: while the last layer of paint is still a bit damp lightly tap your super fine glitter in certain areas so that it’ll stick.

I ended up using the ‘depth’ spots to decide where to apply my silver leaf.  After the final layer of paint is dry, take some tweezers and apply flakes of the silver leaf down in various areas of the granite.  There’s not really a right or wrong way to do this, go back to the photos you saved of your ‘wish list’ granite and see how the metallic flake shows through.  I tried to focus on adding 1-2 small leafs of silver in the ‘deep’ areas of my pattern.

Once you finish laying out all the metallic leaf pieces to your liking you’re ready to go with the BEST step – the shiny sealant!

After reading about several options to seal your countertops I was sold on the Envirotex Lite even though its application sounded a little demanding because let’s just be honest – the results are unreal y’all.  Make sure both you and your partner have read the tips on the website for how to apply and that you’ve read through a couple of blog tutorials and watched a YouTube video or two and you should be good to go!  I really liked this tutorial where they even detail using a blow torch to knock out any air bubbles that may form during application.  I did not use a blow torch myself, but we did invest it a little Crème Brule torch like this:


It did the trick perfectly and I wasn’t worried about burning/scalding anything.

I also liked the detail in this post and they used Envirotex Lite as well.

When you pour it on and spread it over the countertop you should see something like THIS:


Incredible, right?!  That’s when we knew we had made the right choice!  The hardest thing is not to touch the top while it’s drying.  Well, actually, the hardest thing may be pacing around all the countertop edges in your kitchen after you pour and spread the Envirotex to ensure there are no hardening ‘droplets’ on the edges.  Remember, you want the Envirotex to drip over the sides of the countertops because A: this is how it self-levels and B: you need the edges covered as well.  The best tip I can give for the edges is to wait ~5min or more until the coating starts to feel tacky and slightly hardened, then go back over the edges with your plastic spreader tool.  If you do this too early you’ll have to make a second and possibly third trip around the countertops to ensure you got all the drips, but I promise the end result is worth ALL this work.

Now, remember when I walked you through the major steps at the beginning of the post and we ended with having PATIENCE??  You have to let the beautiful shiny top coat cure for quite some time…  Once again, I read all different advice on the appropriate time to let it cure.  In my experience it was dry to touch in 24-48 hours, but I didn’t actually set anything back on the countertops for about a week to ensure it was hardened and leveled.  After a week I even set my Kitchen Aid Mixer on the countertops (which is heavy) and had no problems.

I’ve seen plenty of faux granite makeover blogs with black/dark granite as well as some earthy tans but I hadn’t seen a white version yet so if you have any questions on how I got the color I was going for feel free to leave a comment and I’ll get back to you!!

Overall I’m even happier than I could’ve imagined with the result.  When I first began this project, I had ideas of white granite to compliment my back cabinets similar to these pins:

white granite pin 2

white granite pin 4

white granite pin 5

And I ended up with this:

Bartop granite
DIY Custom White Granite
island full view granite
DIY Custom White Granite
New granite kitchen countertops
DIY Custom White Granite
And a few close ups near the sink so you can check out the detail and edges…

sink view
DIY White Granite Countertops
We did decide to re-caulk along our back splash after the epoxy fully dried to give it a nice clean line. Now I just need to get up the guts to replace my backsplash one day!!

Overlook granite
DIY White Granite Countertops
Countertop Close up
DIY White Granite Countertops
And if you were wondering how the treatment looks over plain white tile here’s some snap shots of the little coffee nook we did with the same technique:

Faux Granite Treatment over White Tile
Faux Granite Treatment over White Tile
Basically you can still see the lines of the tile but you cannot feel the ridges because the Envirotex Lite self levels over the indentions.  It looks like granite subway tiles to me! 

And just to remind you of the difference it made in the total transformation of our kitchen!

before and after 1b before and after 2b before and after 3b

**Update:  We’ve lived with these countertops for four months now and no sign of wear and tear!  They wipe down great with a simple Clorox disinfecting wipe, way easier to maintain than the sucky laminate we had before. 

**Update: 2 years later – see what they look like NOW here

I’ve shared a lot in this post, but I want to hear from you!

So tell me…. after reading all this, would you try faux granite tops yourself?! 

In your dream kitchen, what type of countertops would you pick if cost wasn’t an issue??

What’s the biggest remodel you’ve tackled in your house so far?



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