Slightly South of Simple - book review

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Whether you like it or not, summer break is sneaking up.  In just a few weeks you're going to find yourself by the pool, the beach, the backyard, or maybe on a fabulously relaxing vacation.  You're going to need a book, and I have just the book for ya.  I was so excited to be asked by the author, Kristy Woodson Harvey, to read her brand spanking new book, Slightly South of Simple!  Kristy is the same talent behind Dear Carolina and Lies and Other Acts of Love.  And, is also the voice alongside her mother behind the interior design blog, Design Chic.

Let me start by saying I'm not a HUGE book person in that I don't finish one book and immediately go on to another.  I may only get to one or two books a year.  But, when I find a good book I have a hard time putting it down.  Slightly South of Simple was like that for me.  I couldn't wait to get to the next chapter!  This is your perfect read this summer!    

Slightly South of Simple follows Ansley, a mother of three grown daughters: Caroline, a non-sugar-coating New York socialite who has just been publicly dumped by her husband (and father of their unborn child); Sloan, a military wife raising toddlers whose husband is deployed yet again; and Emerson, the youngest daughter who has just landed a lead role in an upcoming movie.  After loosing her husband in the 911 attacks in NYC, Ansley moves her then young girls to the small Southern town of Peach Tree Bluff and tries to start over.  Years later, well after all of her girls have grown and left, a man from her past shows up and starts to rekindle a relationship.  One that holds a huge secret.  I'm still reeling at the thought of it!  Of course, just as things are starting back up, Ansley receives a call that all of her children and grandchildren are going to be coming back to Peach Tree Bluff to stay with her for an extended period.  I love how the author, Kristy, developed these characters.  You can relate to each of their struggles in one way or another.  Their bond as sisters and the love a mother has for her children is so strong throughout this novel.  I was so pleased (trying to think if pleased is the best way to describe an incredible cliff hanger??) to find out that this is going to be a series so I can find out more about the different stories behind these women.  Who doesn't love a good series?!       

Check out this quick clip of Kristy talking about her new book:

If you have a list of books your going to read this summer, or if you're like me and only read once in a while, do yourself a favor and grab this book.  I have no doubt you will fall for these women like I did.  I'm also picking up a copy for my mom for Mother's Day.  She just finished up reading Lies and Other Acts of Love and is looking for her next read!

Ok, Kristy, when can we expect the next book?!!  

bedside table makeover with liming wax

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

We've been using an old desk as a nightstand for my husband's side of the bed in our master.  It was once my parents, and I remember it sitting in our basement holding a very old school IBM computer as a child.   I loved the size and shape.  Didn't love how beat up it was.  What you can't see in this first picture is how badly it really looked.  

Fair to say it needed some love.

Funny story.  My sister carved her name into the top of the desk as a child.  When she realized she it would be obvious who did it she carved my name below hers to throw my parents off her trail.  Luckily for me it didn't work!  But, I've been staring at this too long.  Time to fix it.

Some sanding paper and a little liming wax later, I have a beautiful new nightstand!

I love the little areas where I didn't get all of the old stain sanded off.  I think the imperfections make it more interesting.

How I Did It:

First, I sanded down the entire piece with a high grit sand paper to remove all the varnish and almost all of the stain.  You can see there are some darker areas in the corners and near the feet where not all the stain was removed.  I then wiped down the entire piece with a wet rag to remove all the sanding dust.

Next, I applied a layer of liming wax to the entire piece with a lint free rag.  I used the same Briwax liming wax I used on my kitchen table.  

And if I'm being completely honest, I panicked at this point.  For whatever reason this table sucked up all that liming wax like a thirsty sailor.  The piece was very white at this point.  Not quite what I was going for.

To soften the look and to bring back a little more of the natural wood color, I went over the entire piece with a medium grade steel wool.  This takes some elbow grease but it's well worth it.  The steel wool pulled off just the right amount of wax and made the wood soooo smoooooth.  You'll need to wipe off the dust after this step as well.

I then finished off the table with Minwax Paste Finishing Wax in Natural.  To do this, I rubbed a thin layer over the entire table, and then used a new rag to buff.  This made the wood appear a little more rich and gives it a bit of a sheen in-between a matte and satin.  In the photo below you can see where the top half didn't have the finishing wax and the bottom half did.



No more carvings!!!  And, the lighter color ties in better with the mismatched, skirted nightstand on my side of the bed.

This skirt hides one of our old nightstands.  

Instead of buying a new nightstand I simply added a piece of plywood to the top and stapled painter's drop cloth to the plywood as to not damage the nightstand.  I used the same method that I used on our skirted dining sideboard.  I was able to make it appear like a larger nightstand by using a piece of plywood that was larger than the nightstand.  Such an easy way to update a nightstand you no longer love.

And now I love them both!

SOURCES: ceiling fan // DIY picture frame moulding // rug // headboard // white duvet // grey blanket // black pillows - made by me (similar) // white drapes // bamboo blinds // DIY skirted nightstand // lamps - TJ Maxx (similar here


DIY modern bookcase

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

The thing that kicked off my daughter's bedroom refresh was this DIY modern bookcase.  The girl needed storage for all of her stuff in a bad way.  Cluttering the top of her dresser, nightstand, and desk with all of her knick-knacks and collections worked for her, but made me cringe every time I entered her room.

I knew that a bookcase was the best route.  As soon as I saw this one from CB2 I was smitten.  It was different from the everyday bookcase and had a pretty, modern look.  And, while it wasn't an outrageously priced piece of furniture, I knew I could easily build one myself and save the extra cash.  All in, this was built for under $100.  Of course the other benefit of building this yourself is that you can customize it to whatever size and color you want!

How to do it!

  • 6 wood boards 1"x12"x4' (I used finger jointed pine boards)
  • 1 wood boards 1"x12"x6'
  • tape measure
  • wood glue
  • screws + screw driver
  • drill for pre-drilling screw holes
  • wood filler
  • sandpaper
  • caulk
  • primer
  • paint (I used Benjamin Moore Simply White)

STEP ONE:  Set aside five of the 4ft. boards.  These will be your horizontal shelves.

STEP TWO:  Cut down the remaining 4ft. board to three 12.5" long sections.  These will make up some of the vertical supports between the shelves.  

STEP THREE:  Cut down the long 6ft. board down to five 12.5" long sections.  These are the remaining vertical support pieces.  You should now have a total of eight 12.5" supports

STEP FOUR:  Sand down the edges of your cuts.

STEP FIVE:  Start attaching your pieces.  You will want an extra set of hands for this part.  Starting with a 4ft. board (your bookcase base), measure in 9" from the outsides and mark a line with a pencil.  This is where your first vertical support pieces will be attached.  Apply wood glue and attach one of the 12.5" support to your 4ft. board.  Have someone hold it in place while you pre-drill and then screw.    Repeat on the other side.

STEP SIX:  Add a 4ft. board on top with more wood glue, pre-drill, and screw.  Sink your screws down into the wood just enough so you can cover with wood filler for a smooth finish.

STEP SEVEN:  You're going to be adding another set of vertical supports, but this time measure in 13" from the outsides and mark a line with a pencil.  Attach more 12.5" supports.  Keep repeating Steps 5-7 until you're done!

STEP EIGHT:  Fill holes with wood filler and sand once dry.  Then, run some caulk along the seams where the vertical supports meet the shelves.  Let dry.

STEP NINE:  Prime your bookcase for paint!

STEP TEN:  Paint time!    

Ok, so I have to tell you about my favorite tool to use when painting!!  I came across this Critter Paint Sprayer a couple of years back when I was painting out our office built-ins.  I was wanting a professional sprayed finish, but didn't want to spend hundreds of dollars on the usual paint sprayers you see.  This paint sprayer is under $50 and is probably the best money I've ever spent.  For real. 

Why I love it:  

  • PRICE!!!  I mean come on.  Under $50 for an amazing paint gun!!
  • Sprays beautifully and quickly!  The coverage you get using a spray gun is amazing, especially since you're not using as much paint as you would with a brush and roller.  And of course the time you save just can't be beat.  I used it to paint Sam's antique spindle bed black, and was blown away by how quickly I was able to get the project done.  The thought of having to have hand paint all of those spindles just sounds like a nightmare.
  • It comes with a mason jar canister which is BRILLIANT because 1) You can fill your own mason jars with paint as extras to have on hand for large painting jobs for super fast canister changes, 2) You can save unused paint in the canister by adding a mason jar lid, 3) Worst case scenario, you break the canister. You're up and running in no time by using another mason jar (I've never had that happen, but it came to mind), and 4) The glass jar is easy to clean.
  • You don't have to add paint additives to thin out the paint.  The projects I have used it with have all been regular interior latex paints and I've had no problems with the paint gumming up in the gun like I hear about other paint sprayers.
  • Easy to clean!  I can have this spray gun cleaned out in no time with warm water.  I've even accidentally left it out all night before.  The only thing I had to do was push a toothpick through the tip to dislodge the dried portion.  Still super quick.
  • The spray gun attaches to a regular 3/4-horsepower minimum compressor (if you don't have one you can borrow from a friendly neighbor/friend, or rent from a home improvement store)
Ok, so there you have it!  A pretty, modern, simple to built bookcase that can easily grow with your child throughout the years.

Click here for Izzy's full room tour and detailed sources.

Sam's 4th + Izzy's 8th birthday interviews

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Mom Fail.  It has been over four months since Sam turned four, well over one month since Izzy turned eight, and I never posted their yearly interviews.  Get it together woman!!!  I love looking back as past interviews of the kids.  It always brings a smile to my face and I love seeing what stays constant over the years and what changes.  If you have littles in your life, I definitely suggest this.  They love being "interviewed" and looking back on them as well.

My boy.

1.  Favorite color? Green

2.  Favorite toy? Trains

3.  Favorite fruit?  Strawberries and blueberries

4.  Favorite TV show?  Peppa Pig

5.  Favorite breakfast? Waffles

6.  Favorite lunch? PB & Chocolate (Nutella)

7.  Favorite outfit?  T-shirt and shorts

8.  Favorite game? Jumping Jack

9.  Favorite snack? Goldfish crackers

10.  Favorite animal? Elephants (this is news to me)

11.  Favorite song? Choo-Shoo Soul

12.  Favorite book? Work Trucks

13.  Favorite cereal? Mom Cereal (Special K with yogurt clusters)

14.  Favorite thing to do outside? Playhouse

15.  Favorite drink?  Chocolate milk

16.  Favorite holiday? Things that you love, kissing (Valentine's Day)

17.  Favorite thing to take to bed?  Snuggle Puppy and Little White Tiger

18.  Who is your best friend? Elise

19.  What do you want to eat for your birthday dinner? PB & Chocolate

20.  What do you want to be when you grow up?  Engineer

You can check out Sam's three year old interview here.

My girl.

1.  Favorite color? Bluish Green

2.  Favorite toy? Giraffe

3.  Favorite fruit?  Blueberries

4.  Favorite TV show?  Teen Titans Go

5.  Favorite breakfast? Pancakes

6.  Favorite lunch? Sonic

7.  Favorite outfit?  Leggings, t-shirt, and pink Nikes

8.  Favorite game? Star Wars Legos

9.  Favorite snack? Goldfish crackers

10.  Favorite animal? Bunnies and Giraffes

11.  Favorite song? Me Too by Megan Trainor

12.  Favorite book? Diary of a Whimpy Kid

13.  Favorite cereal? Lucky Charms

14.  Favorite thing to do outside? Jump rope

15.  Favorite drink?  Dr. Pepper and Root Beer

16.  Favorite holiday? Easter

17.  Favorite thing to take to bed?  Giraffe

18.  Who is your best friend? Reagan and Emery

19.  What do you want to eat for your birthday dinner? R2-D2 strawberry birthday cake

20.  What do you want to be when you grow up?  Veterinarian

You can check Izzy's past interviews below:

7th birthday

Girl's bedroom makeover

Monday, March 27, 2017

Izzy's room had never felt finished to me.  I wasn't sure what it was, but it drove me nuts.  Actually, what drove me nuts was all the kid clutter that had found its way onto every flat surface.  Every single knick-knack (including anything plastic or stuffed with an emoji on it) was declared to be her most prized possessions.  There was very little she was willing to part with.  I think we threw out some lolly pop wrappers.

Tired of not being able to see the top of her dresser or nightstand, I decided to build her a bookcase to corral everything.  A few updates spun off of that and now Izzy's room is in a state she and I are both loving.  It's kind of the perfect time to share now that Spring is here because this mini-makeover is pink, girly, and full of bunny rabbits :)  I'll post a full source list a the end of the post.

But first, let remind you where we started.


The book ledges were a perfect book solution when she was younger.  Being able to see her large picture books in a shopable way was perfect until just recently.  Now at eight years of age, the books have vastly multiplied, crowded each other, and left no room for her new smaller chapter books which were clustered on the ground.

In the photo below, you can see the previous bedding and DIY wall decals we put up not long after moving in this house.  Izzy decided she was over the decals, so down they came.

And, now for the afters!  You'll see that not too much has changed, but what has feels much better.


Switched out the plain white duvet for one with more texture.  Polka dot euros swapped for crisp white.  I added a faux fur pillow for more texture and a pretty hmong pillow I picked up from Danielle Oakey when she was a Silobration in Waco.  Side note: Danielle is such a sweetheart.  It's so fun to meet the makers behind the items you love.  I also pulled back out the vintage pink coverlet I purchased for Izzy's first big girl room five years ago.  It might be my favorite part.

Her desk area has stayed the same.  We just added the tissue paper flowers I made for her Star Wars Spa Party.  She loves having a desk in her room, and the DIY pin board is still going strong.  I think this ghost chair is so perfect here since it doesn't take up visual space.

So, the bookcase that started all of this is a DIY off of a design I fell for in this room.  I loved everything about it.  The shelf itself and of course the styling.  I knew I had to have it!  I'll share a tutorial with you guys of how I built it soon.  Little pieces of kid clutter no longer stand a chance.

Her seashells and pretty rocks can now be purposefully displayed with room to grow.  All of her random plastic bits and pieces and fast food toys are out of sight in the white vase under the fake flowers.  

Her larger picture books have a home in the baskets on the bottom shelf, and her chapter books are now properly arranged on the middle two shelves.  You can't tell from this angle, but the shelves facing the corner of the room contain a snow globe collection and other figurines that once crowded her dresser top.

I failed to get photos of the other side of the room, but nothing has changed.  Well, the top of the dresser now stays this clean so trust me, THAT is a huge change!

Speaking of the dresser, we're still loving the papered drawers.  You can read more about those here.

Like I said, not a huge amount of changes, but it's so much more pulled together and useful.  I'm just thrilled with it and I know she loves it too because I find her spending more time in her room now.  She's also keeping it clean.  That must be love :D

I'll be back with a tutorial on the bookcase so stay tuned!

SOURCES:  DIY tufted headboard // duvet cover // pink throw - vintage (similar here and here) // faux fur pillow - Homegoods // hmong pillow // giraffe sheets // wall sconces // round nightstand - TJ Maxx (similar here) // bunny vase - Target no longer avail. (similar here) // giraffe art prints // DIY pin board // desk - thrifted, painted Annie Sloan Pure White (similar here)// ghost chair // DIY pom pom drapes (no tutorial, but used my super secret drape source) // hanging flower art // baskets - Homegoods // dresser - antique market, painted Annie Sloan Pure White (similar here) // DIY inlay mirror // bunny lamp // DIY bookcase (based off this) // silver bunny bank // vases - Homegoods // glass beads - Round Top (similar here) // picture frame - Homegoods // hanging stars - DIY (similar here)



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