Life Love Larson: January 2014


Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Look for Less Challenge: Faux Fur Vanity Stool

I am once again participating in a "Look for Less" challenge with several other bloggers. The challenge was to find a designer inspired piece and recreate it for less money. I picked up a small vanity stool at a thrift shop a while back, and this challenge was the just the motivation I needed to get it looking stylish again!

My inspiration piece was this Faux Fur Glam Vanity Stool from Pottery Barn Teen, selling for $179!

The stool I picked up at a local thrift store cost me $4.99 and the dimensions were almost exactly the same! My stool does not have the the cross bars in the center, but the shape looked close enough to try to duplicate the look.

I purchased some white faux fur fabric at Hancock Fabrics, and with coupons, a yard cost me about $7.  I only ended up using about a half a yard. I removed the fabric from the top piece and the batting was in great shape underneath. I used the existing teal fabric as a template to cut the faux fur.

I used a marker on the back side of the fabric to trace the circle and attached the new fabric with a staple gun. As you can see the in photo, I also had to "comb" the fur to remove any stray pieces.

Next up, I needed to paint the base of the stool. I chose a cool grey tone to keep with the neutral look of the inspiration piece. I picked up a sample jar at Lowe's (they carry satin finish samples) in the color Comet Dust.

I lightly sanded the base, wiped it down, and painted three coats of the new paint. After attaching the newly upholstered top, the stool looked as good as new!

I love the idea of a glam vanity stool, with it's neutral color, and interesting texture.  This will find a home next to the bathtub in our master bathroom. Not only is it pretty, but having a seat in our bathroom will be functional too!

Would I ever spend $179 on a glam vanity stool? I think you know the answer. :) I will, however, take my $12 version! The stool cost me $5, the paint was $3, and I used about $3.50 worth of fabric. It's not perfect, but it sure beats at $179 price tag!

Don't forget to go check out all of the other "Look for Less" posts from these great bloggers!

Here are the sneak peaks with direct links!

Like A Saturday: DIY Glass Bottle Lamp

Hope you're having a great week - thanks for stopping by!
Monday, January 27, 2014

Completed Hardwoods in Hallway & Landing

I mentioned in an earlier post that we were having some work done on our stairs and in our upstairs hallway. This is a new house, but when we were finishing it, we decided to go with a carpeted hallway, landing, and stairs. After living in the house for 2 years, it was one of those things that I knew we had to change, and I am so very happy we did! I think waiting, and not making these changes when we first built saved us a lot of money too!

All carpet was removed from the stairs and replaced with "stair carpet", or a more durable carpet than what we have in the bedrooms. So many stair carpet choices are way too ornate for my taste. We ended up with a neutral shade with a pattern to give it some interest. The hardwoods and railing are very dark, so I wanted to keep the carpet light for contrast. Even though the carpet is light, it is very durable, and we haven't had any issues. We are very careful about not wearing shoes upstairs, which seems to make it much easier to keep clean, etc.

We chose to continue the same hardwoods from the first floor onto the stair landing and upstairs hallway. The wood is rustic maple. The stain color is a 50/50 cut of Ebony and Special Walnut (SW stain colors). We also had the flooring guys come back three different times to put an oil based sealer on the floors. This creates a shiny, almost glassy look, on the floors, which we love on the first floor. It is so durable and after two years, our floors still look as shiny as ever. I highly recommend the headache of having this done (you can't walk on the floors for 12 hours after this is applied, so we slept downstairs 3 different nights)!

Here is the maple installed before the stain and sealer.

And completed…

For what we paid, this change has made SUCH a difference. I'm not a carpet person, and if we stay here for a really long time, I would like to hardwood the entire house and have large rugs underneath beds, etc. For now, this small change is making me very happy!

I love the look of the dark hardwoods against the light paint color. As with our hardwoods on the first floor, I clean them by sweeping up any dust/debris, and then I use a wet cloth to clean, and a dry cloth to dry/shine.

I touched up the paint in the hallway last week, so I can start thinking about getting some stuff hung in this hallway - finally!
Monday, January 20, 2014

Chicken Pot Pie

Looking for a good comfort food recipe this winter? This chicken pot pie is one of my go-to recipes. It is so easy, and I usually have everything I need on hand. My kids will eat this, and we always have leftovers, so everybody wins! This recipe is from my mom, so I have been eating this for many, many years!

Chicken Pot Pie

1 pkg. refrigerated pie crust
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup diced onion
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 (14.5 oz) can chicken broth
2/3 cup milk
1 lb. chicken (I use whatever I have on hand (rotisserie, shredded, canned)
2 cup frozen mixed veggies

Melt butter over medium heat in a saucepan, add onion, and cook until tender.  Add salt/pepper and flour and mix. Gradually still in broth and milk.  Cook over medium heat until thick and bubbly. Add chicken and veggies and combine.  Remove from heat.

Add one pie crust to the bottom of your pie plate. Pour mix into the plate. Top with second crust and fold the edges.  Be sure to slit the top all around in order for the steam to release.

Bake at 425 degrees for about 35 minutes, or until golden brown. Let stand for a few minutes, serve, and enjoy!

Simple enough, right? If you want to be really fancy, you could make your own pie crust, or make individual pies in ramekins!
Friday, January 17, 2014

Washing Makeup Brushes

In keeping up with my pledge to purge/organize/clean something every day in the month of January, it came time to work on my makeup drawer. I threw out a few items, wiped everything down, and cleaned my makeup brushes.

I pinned this idea, which suggested using baby shampoo (I bought a generic baby wash) and water. Easy enough. And how disgusting to see all that makeup wash down the drain! I need to start doing this more often!

You simply add a small amount of baby wash into your palm, run your brush under water, and start swirling the brush into your palm. Once you feel the brush is clean, run it under water and watch all the grossness run down the drain.

I laid the brushes on a towel to dry over night.

The next day, the brushes were so soft, and clean! This is simple enough to do often! How do you clean your makeup brushes?
Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Winter Porch 2014

After we took down all of our Christmas decorations, our porch just looked sad and uninviting. We put all of our furniture in the garage for the winter, and with nothing on the porch, the house looks like no one lives here!

So, I decided to create a "winter" porch for the month of January just to cozy up the space a bit.  Everything I used is stuff I already had on hand. It seems a bit ironic that the day I did this, I was outside with no coat, welcoming temps in the 50's while all the snow melted. I know it's just a tease and it will get colder again soon enough.

I reused the DIY chalkboard I use for everything and stuffed a black planter with driftwood and cut branches from my Christmas garland.

I decided to drag out the fake tree I found at a thrift store (for $12), and added a burlap bow and snowflakes. I thought the pinecones on the tree looked wintry, without being too Christmasy (although my husband has asked me numerous times why we still have a Christmas tree on our front porch :).

The wreath is a DIY I shared with you last week. I love the simplicity and how it looks off our blue door.

I think the porch looks more inviting now, and hopefully not too Christmasy! I'm happy to do this for $0, since I already had everything on hand!

I think the porch now needs a little snow to make it more authentic! Happy Winter!  xo

Linking up with:,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,
Thursday, January 9, 2014

Home Goals 2014

On January 11th we will have officially lived in our current house for two years.  It is no longer a house to us, it has truly become our home. After six moves, this is the second longest amount of time we have lived anywhere and we love every square inch of this home (and KC).

That being said, there are still SO MANY things on my list of to-do's in our home. Even with a brand new home, making it the way we want takes time and effort, and of course, money. In the new year I have been thinking of all the things I still want to accomplish in this home and it overwhelms my brain. I have also been thinking a lot about priorities and what makes us happy. Home is my happy place. It is where I am at my best. It seems fitting to me to make some home goals for the new year.

1. Priorities.  One thing I know for sure is that I have two little people who are growing like weeds around me. Steve and the kids have been, and always will be my priority, my "work", my life, before all else. All this other fun stuff I get to do everyday in the house is just icing on the cake for me. I keep telling myself I will have lots of time when they are both in full day school to complete things, maybe even take up some new hobbies. This is my last year (lump in throat) that they will both be home with me for most of the day.  Next year, Drew will be in full day first grade and Kate will be in half day kindergarten. I intend to soak up every last moment at home with these two over the next year. If there are things I can't get done, oh well. If I can include them in projects, even better. Finding a balance between getting things done and having kids around has always been a part of my daily life.  I think now I am simply more aware of how precious this time at home with them has become.

2. Give myself a break. I'm a Type A personality. I'm a doer and a busy body and expect a lot out of myself and those around me. I don't ever want to change that about myself, but I would like to give myself a little break this year. I know in my head what I want to get done (too much), but I know realistically that is never going to happen. I need to be better about letting things go and taking things on as they come. Messy house, happy kids, right?! Easier said than done in my world, but I am going to work on it!

3. Entertain more. I think this is a home goal of mine every year. Love your home, share it with others. Care less about things not being "done", and care more about opening our home to friends.

4. Freshen things up. After living here for two years, things have a gotten a little banged up and a few touch ups need done. I would like to clean tile grout, seal our granite countertops and backsplash, touch up several paint spots, touch up the caulk in all the bathrooms. I think chipping away at these tasks now makes you feel less overwhelmed with projects over time.

5. Live in our home. In this crazy moving life we live, we never really know what our future holds. I am guilty of not wanting to do things, hang things, complete things because I think "what is it worth if we are going to move again". The reality is, we don't know if we will ever move again or if we will move again in 6 months.  We really just don't know. I owe it to myself and our family to live in the present. Live like we are never moving again. Finish all things. Either way, we will have our home the way we want it, or it will be staged to sell. I don't think we can go wrong. Something always holds me back, but this year, I plan to throw those thoughts out the window and live in the now!

6. Make a beautiful and functional space. This will always be important to me. Home is where I spend most of my time, and I want it to fit our personality and feel cozy and inviting. I think living in a space you love is so important. I think making a home practical and functional also makes day to day life easier and simpler. We put a lot of time and money into our homes, let's make them beautiful and clutter free!

Home Projects. As for specific home projects, I have started making lists for each room to stay organized and on point. The only large scale project I want to tackle this year is on/around our back patio. For the rest of the house, I would just like things to be more "finished", more details, more function, more artwork. I also really want to start working on the new office space on our first floor. The good news is, I will never run out of projects or ideas or things to work on!

Blogging. As for the blog, I plan to continue on! I love having a online diary, sharing projects, recipes, life events with all of you. The blog has become such a great outlet and motivational tool me for. I am working on another "Look for Less" challenge as we speak, and working on a little post for One Kings Lane. I am not putting any pressure on myself to have a post every day, or to feel guilty if I need a break from it. This is certainly not an income or a job for me, so I am giving myself permission to not stress about it, and keep it a happy and uplifting space for me and you! I am hoping to clean up the blog itself by adding some easy to access thumbnails of past posts. No promises as to when this will get done, but it's on the master to-do list!

This post quickly turned into lots and lots of words - sorry!

I also wanted to give a shout out to:
Knock Off Decor for featuring my CB2 Knock Off Peace Wreath Confessions of a Serial DIYer for featuring my DIY Map Ornament
Two it Yourself for featuring my DIY Gift Tags

You make this blog worthwhile and meaningful to me, thank you so much for stopping by!  xo
Monday, January 6, 2014

DIY: Natural Winter Wreath

Hello Friends!  Hope your new year is off to a great start! All of the Christmas decorations have been packed away, and thank goodness we were able to get all of our outside lights down this weekend before this arctic blast hit us. We are breaking records with low temps here in KC and school was cancelled today. One more day before the routine smacks us in the face! Winter is not my thing, so I am already on a spring countdown!

I was able to complete a quick little DIY project as we were cooped up this weekend. I wanted to make a new wreath for our front door for the month of January that didn't have any red or green on it. I came up with a super simple little natural wreath, which looks so good against our blue door (which looks grey in these pictures, but the lighting is never right on our porch in the winter).

The base is a large grapevine wreath that I spray painted with one coat of gold spray paint, and a thin coat of white spray paint over the top. I found some large faux branches with little "ice pellets" on Christmas clearance for $1.60 each, and I used three. I was able to tuck the branches around and inside the grapevine wreath, and then I secured it with some fishing wire.

I already had a large stash of pinecones and just started randomly hot gluing them to the wreath. That's it! Super easy and super inexpensive. The grapevine cost me about $4.20, and the branches cost me about $5. I already had the spray paint and pinecones, so this wreath came in under $10!

I love the icy and wintry and rustic feel of it!  Perfect for these negative temperatures!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Christmas Recap + Family Photos + Happy New Year

I'm back! I have been away from the blog for too long! I hope you all had an especially joyous holiday and are ready to tackle 2014!

Just a quick recap about our Christmas. The kids seem to be at that perfect age where everything is magical and exciting combined with a curiosity and wonder that I wish I could just bottle. The plan was for the four of us to spend Christmas in KC, and then the kids and I would drive to Chicago the day after Christmas to see my parents and my sister and her family, who had flown in from Singapore. On the 23rd, Steve surprised me by telling me he took off work (had known for weeks) to join us and that we would be driving up on Christmas Eve to surprise my family. He's a keeper, that guy.

We arrived on their doorstep after a 9 hour drive, rang the doorbell, yelled surprise, and they all about fell over. It was so special and a moment that I won't forget! My dad has been sick and had surgery on the 26th, so we were especially happy to be there for him! I also didn't think I would be seeing my sister until next summer, so what a blessing to see them as well.

I have also been meaning to share some photos we had taken this fall. We have never had family photos taken before! With our history of moves, I never got around to finding anyone before the next move happened. I am so happy we were able to capture this time in our lives!

These are extra special because they were taken by a close friend of mine and we shot them at another close friend's family farm. If you are local to the KC area and need a photographer, email me!

In preparation for the new year and thinking about finishing up some projects, I also decided I want to organize some areas in our home. I don't keep a lot of stuff laying around and I am not a saver (wish I was a little more sentimental than I actually am!), but there is always room for improvement in the way the home functions. And don't even get me started on what our basement looks like. Clear the clutter, clear the mind!

I have made a list of 31 items I will organize over the next month, one for each day. Here is my list if you want to join in and tackle a few things yourself! There is no specific order, I will just choose whatever I feel like crossing off the list for that specific day.

1. Take down and pack away Christmas decorations - DONE
2. Medicine drawer (throw out all expired items and organize in a kitchen drawer) - DONE
3. Clean inside and outside of fridge
4. Purge and organize pantry
5. Sort through kitchen cabinets and throw out items that are no longer used
6. Purge toys/games
7. Organize Drew's closet
8. Organize Kate's closet
9. Sort through D's clothes
10. Sort through K's clothes
11. Sort through my closet
12. Sort through Steve's closet (he will be doing this!)
13. Organize master closet shelves/shoe shelves
14. Organize office closet
15. Purge and sort through all unused toiletries
16. Organize office supplies/desk area
17. Call donation center to pick up bulk items (old TV, etc)
18. Get rid of all leftover baby items from the basement
19. Sort through garage to find donation items (if warm enough!)
20. Recycle Christmas tree (happening this weekend!)
21. Sort through kids craft supplies/puzzles/coloring books/markers
22. Organize laundry room cabinets/shelves
23. Clean make-up brushes and organize make up drawer
24. File paperwork and shred old files
25. Sort/purge jewelry
26. Basement organized, purged
27. Basement
28. Basement
29. Basement
30. Basement
31. Basement

I hope you all have good things in store for you this year! As always, thank you for your continued support of this little blog. It is my happy place and I appreciate your readership, comments, pins, emails, and support.  xoxo