Something for Nothing: Cleaning Checklist

As a nod to my goal of pumping out a weekly freebie for you guys, this week I designed a cleaning checklist of sorts. I know there are quite a few of these out there, but I wanted to create one that worked for me and my cleaning habits. I’m not one to make sure every Tuesday the toilet gets scrubbed down, or vacuum the floors three times a week. So I went with this “less accountable” approach. I just jot down a few tasks that need to get done sometime soon and tackle them as my schedule allows. Easy-breezy.


It’s an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet, so no crop marks or cutting required! My favorite kind of printable.


I’m hoping it will help me stay on top my spring cleaning this year.


The color inspiration was from my all-time favorite swatch source, a site called Design-Seeds. It was this picture to be precise:


Geode Brights, love those colors! I always tweak them just a bit to get exactly what I’m looking for. I think they are nice and spring-y. Here’s the cleaning checklist file for you, it’s a PDF. Hope you enjoy as much as I do!

Cleaning Checklist


Accent Table

Awhile back, I found an accent table I liked at Target. It was a bit dark for my taste, but I needed something that would spruce up a corner in our living room. So I sprung on this dark wood, modern table and added accessories over time:

Accent Table

Looks decent, but it was just sucking up tons of natural light that we couldn’t afford to lose. I decided to play around a little bit.


I took of the front drawers and unscrewed the hardware. Oh, I should mention that my FIRST attempt to lighten this piece was to spray the hardware gold, to match some various accents on the table already (like the picture frame, the vase and the mirror). And it was a good attempt, but it wasn’t enough!


I brought the two drawers to the garage and used 60 grit sandpaper on a palm sander to get the darkness off. Then I went over that with 150 grit. I would have used 3 different grits and ended with a higher (like 180 grit) finish, but I felt that it was sufficiently smooth with what I had available. Once it was sanded I used odorless mineral spirits and rag to wipe off the dust and debris leftover on the drawer front. 



Once the drawer fronts had “dried” (the wet look that the mineral spirits left) it was time for primer and paint. I usually use Kilz Primer. We pick up a big bucket at Home Depot whenever we’re low. Then I went over it with Behr Ultra Pure White in a semi-gloss finish (which was left over from another project). I trial-ed a foam roller this time around while painting, and I must say: I will never go back! They are perfect for a smooth surface. Probably would have looked even more amazing with self-leveling paint. Next time…




I popped the hardware back on after everything had dried nicely. And I’m VERY happy with the results.



It’s like a brand new piece of furniture! Very awesome DIY for cheap. What is everyone else working on? Anyone updating with paint?

Something for Nothing: Sympathy Card

In light of recent events, I was compelled to design a card for those suffering a loss or are recovering. Check out the bottom of this post for your free printable!


It’s a card to give to friends, relatives or someone close to you. Ideal uses would be for those in grief, pain, sickness, or are suffering a loss. The outside says “Believing, Trusting, Hoping, Praying” and the inside is blank. I always find that a personal, handwritten message means much more to someone in pain. Even if you feel like you’re not good at writing something personal. Something short and sweet is always good to hear, like  “I can’t wait to see you back on your feet” or “I miss our conversations!”. Maybe even jot down what you are hoping for or a quick prayer.


This card is to be printed on 8.5″ x 11″ paper and has the crop marks to trim it down to the correct size of 10″ x 7″. Once you have your 10″ x 7″ card cut out, use a scoring pad to create a fold mark down the middle, right at 5″, like pictured. You could also fold this by hand.


And now you should have yourself a nice, folded sympathy card! As for the color inspiration of this card, I found an image at the website “design-seeds” called milk tones (pictured below). I always tweak the colors a bit to work for me, and that’s how I ended up with gray, wavy oval and fun dotted “confetti” border.


Here’s the free sympathy card printable link:

Sympathy Card

Hope you enjoy it! Feel free to tell me how you’re using it!

The Science of Cabinetry

Cabinetry installation. Some might say it’s tough. I’d have to say it’s on par with a Special Ops assignment.


We started by deciding exactly where to place the cabinets. We actually had a pretty good idea of this when drawing up plans with a cabinetry design person at Lowes. There had to be at least 30″ between the first cabinet and the wall to fit the standard size of an oven.


So, we placed the 3-drawer cabinet 30″ from the wall. Easy breezy. Next we pushed the sink base cabinet flush with 3-drawer one. We had to drill them together at 2-3 points. Using a few vice grips we picked up at a local hardware store for $3 each, Kevin made sure the two cabinets had a nice, even seam and used 2.5″ screw to attach them at 3 points.



They say “Start installing at the highest point of the room”. Picture Kevin crawling around the floor with a 6′ level muttering under his breath. We eventually concluded that this was the small 3-drawer cabinet in our situation. We marked the studs in the wall behind the cabinets and started jacking the cabinets off the floor with wood shims. I should mention that we started with the assumption that it’s important for the backside of the cabinets to be flush with the wall. So our job started looking like this:


If the cabinets are jacked off the floor a few inches at the HIGHEST point of the room, how high will they be off the floor at the lowest point? We didn’t think about this at the time, and it was about at this point that the project took a nose-dive. We collectively spent about 12 hours working on getting the cabinets level by adding and taking away shims constantly. Every little change shifted the way something else looked. Finally, Kevin insisted we had to unscrew all the cabinets and take away all the shims. It wasn’t a good moment, but it ended up being the right choice.


Making sure those cabinets are level is of utmost importance. It decides how level your countertops will be installed, and it IS very noticeable. Even 1/8 of an inch is significant.


In the end, we only put 1-2 shims under each cabinet, and ended up shimming between the backside of the cabinet and the wall more. Also, we switched to a plastic shim, just so that if there were ever to be unseen water, the shims wouldn’t rot and fail at supporting the cabinets.


We used a 3.5″ cabinet screw to attach the cabinet to the stud. It might not look like it, but we stuffed enough shims between the cabinet and wall so there wasn’t any free space in there. You don’t want to have any free space or when you drill, it will end up “sucking” the cabinet to the wall, giving you a warped cabinet. Not a good look.


Once everything was all screwed in nice and tight, Kevin used an oscillating tool with a cutting attachment to shave off the exposed part of the shim. Some people snap them off, but that technique wasn’t working that well for us.


Pile o’ shims and some fabulous-looking base cabinets. Happy day! But wait… that’s only half the job!


We didn’t get out cabinet duty that quickly… We had to install some uppers too! We needed some heavy lifters for this job, so we called my dad and brothers over for some help lifting those awkward cabinets up onto the wall. Here, my dad is getting ready to install a scrap piece of lumber to the wall.


Basically, that piece of scrap has to be drilled into the studs super level, and with enough space for the cabinet to fit snugly between it and the ceiling. That way, back of your cabinet can rest on it, and you can avoid bearing the weight of bulky cabinets while trying to level and shim the cabinet into place. Here’s Kevin, clearly posing for a drill-that-into-the-wall shot.


The eyes give it away. Nice, honey. Somehow, I missed capturing the installation of the first cabinet and jumped back into it after they had installed and removed the scrap wood. Here’s the jump:


That piece of scrap wood collected quite a few names while it was here. Shoe. Cleft. Shelf. Foot. Hunk’a Junk. I don’t know which is technical. Anyways, next step was to lift the shelf up onto the wall.


Once we knew that it fit nice and snug, we took it down and drilled some pilot holes.


Then we drilled it up there with those 3.5″ cabinet screws. And so on and so forth for the other wall cabinets. And now the kitchen looks like a kitchen. Sort of.



Pretend you don’t see the tile. That’s a post for another day, and it’s definitely not finished yet. But we have a deadline… because the countertops are going to be installed in T-minus 12 days! The major kitchen remodel portions will be completed ON the anniversary of the first day we got the keys to our home sweet home. Ahh! I simply cannot wait to get our stove back in there and make a box of Macaroni and Cheese. I know, I’m ridiculous.

Super Post

It’s a super post friends! It has a little bit of everything. We’ve been busy on our vacation week off of work! So… my family has been coming over occasionally these past few weeks helping us drywall in our kitchen. We had quite a big job after removing a wall, and tearing some trim out in there. The drywalling is mostly done, except the seam where the living room ceiling and kitchen ceiling newly meet up. That’s going to take a few more coats to smooth out. Let’s talk about the floor though. This is how we prepped our kitchen for porcelain tile.


We bought a bag of Versabond dry mix. Then we added water. Our end result was slightly thicker than pancake batter and it worked great. Oh, if you ever have to mix something like this up, invest in a “mixer” drill attachment. Our’s is that fuzzy metal piece you see in the picture. Pro: It’s heaven-sent. Con: It wears out your drill battery.


We swept and vacuumed our plywood subfloor and then poured a small puddle of the Versabond onto the surface. It doesn’t take much to cover a 3’x3′ square. We had purchased a trowel tool with 1/8″ teeth. I used the flat side to smooth my puddle over the plywood, and then went over my work with the grooved side, kind of combing the mixture into a lined pattern.


I won’t lie. It’s a messy job. I was the first person to try it out and found my groove right away, so I “mudded” most of the kitchen while Kevin assisted with pouring more mud and also laying the concrete board over the surface and drilling it into place.


Our concrete board (or backer board, rock board, or whatever other name it has) had indentations where we should drill. It was about 60 screws for a 3’x5′ board. Remember extra drill batteries or find a corded drill if you are doing this yourself! Once you start mudding, you shouldn’t stop. We drilled while the mud was still wet and got great results. Walking on it right away didn’t seem to be an issue either.


That’s about how far we got before running out of the Versabond mixture. Not bad. We were back at it first thing in the morning.


It didn’t take long before getting to the point of having to make custom cuts… which is not our favorite. The board cracks pretty easily. Kevin found it best to make a very deep score in the board before snapping the cut you want to make. We managed… and finally, finally the concrete board was down. Woohoo!


I don’t have pictures, but we did use a mesh tape to cover the seams and use more versabond to seal the tape to the floor. Without getting super specific, our next step was priming. Then we popped into Home Depot and found a product I have since fallen in love with.


Homax texture in a can. See… the walls and ceiling in our living room are an orange peel texture. Maybe sand. We’re not sure. The walls in our kitchen are flat. Homax in orange peel, when used at the “fine” setting makes an identical, seamless surface on the areas where the two rooms join. It’s amazing. A+.


Here’s after we primed and sprayed the flat wall in the kitchen. The texture is subtle, but I think the camera does a good job of picking it up. It feels like it’s been there all along.


Next up is kitchen cabinets. And shims. Lots and lots of shims.


I will be sharing more very soon. We are tweaking the finishing touches on the cabinets as I type this. Now… it’s your turn! Encourage me by mentioning something you’re working on!