Monday, April 29, 2013

Brass Be Gone! Switching Out Kitchen Cabinet Hardware

In our journey to rid our house of brass, we've made a huge development. I pronounce the kitchen to be brass free!

This weekend we removed and replaced all the brass cabinet hardware in our kitchen with much nicer satin nickel ones. We chose to go with knobs for the drawers which we bought at Home Depot at $22 for 10 and  handles for the cabinets, these from Overstock at $47 for 25.
GlideRite 6-inch Solid Stainless Steel Finished Cabinet Bar Pulls (Case of 25)

GlideRite 6-inch Solid Stainless Steel Finished Cabinet Bar Pulls

The knobs were a breeze to install, just pass the screw through the inside of the drawer, place the knob and then turn until it doesn't turn no more. 

The handles on the other hand required a little bit more thought. You see, we wanted to use the hole the original knobs were in. This meant we couldn't use any of the cabinet hardware templates we had bought to make sure that the new hole was lined and centered.

Our interpretation of the simplest way to do it:

  • Screw on the handle on the one hole that was originally there and align in perfectly on the cabinet just like the finished product should look. 
  • Draw around the handle were it meets the cabinet, on the place where the second hole should go. 

  • Move the handle away and drill in the middle of the circle you just drew. 

  • Screw on the handle

Here's the final result:

Before                                                                             After


Never thought such a simple and inexpensive project would have such a big impact on the look of a room. Is it just me or do these stain nickel hardware give a HUGE facelift to the kitchen? 

Monday, April 22, 2013

Guest Bedroom Preview

In less than 3 weeks, my parents are coming to visit us in Cincinnati, it was about time we got the guest bedroom set up for them. Last time you saw the guest bedroom it it looked like this:

We finally got around to putting together the Ikea Eglan Bed that a friend gifted us, we added our old mattress and a bedding set that I fell in love with at HomeGoods. Ended up going to 8 different HomeGoods stores stores to track it down.

This is quickly becoming my favorite room in the house! I love how the bedding ties in the mint green of the walls with the ugly blue color of the carpet. I even like how the carpet looks now! It might be getting into "matchy matchy" territory so I'll be adding some bed linens in another color to break the color scheme a bit...haven't decided if I'm going with a light purple or a vivid green. Which color do you recommend? 

On a side note, now that I'm having guests over at my house for the first time I have no idea what I should have in the house for them! As a guest, what are some things that you appreciate when you stay at someone's house or what do you have in your guest bedrooms/ bathrooms to make houseguests feel welcome?

Guest Bedroom To Do
  • Paint the Room in Frosted Jade by Behr
  • Spray paint doorknob and hinges
  • Add Bed
  • Buy Bedding
  • Buy bed linens
  • Add 2 Nightstands
  • Add 2 table lamps
  • Replace window treatment
  • Replace blue carpet with a neutral

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Jibarita Cooks: Arroz Mamposteao

One of my great passions is cooking especially cooking Puertorrican food. It's like having a tiny piece of home on a plate and it makes me feel closer to my family since most of the recipes I've learned from my mother or grandmother

Here's the recipe for one of Tomas' favorite, Arroz Mamposteao, which I would translate to rice with beans mashed in : )

Arroz Mamposteao


3 cups cooked white rice
6 oz  Bacon
1/2 large white onion
1/2 large green or red pepper
1 pouch of Sazon Goya
1 tsp Adobo Goya
1/2 tsp cumin
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 can Tomato sauce
1 16oz can of beans (pink or red)


1. Cut your 6 oz of bacon into small pieces and cook in large pot on medium heat for 8 minutes. Add onion and pepper. Let cook for 5 minutes.

2. Add in the tomato sauce, beans, sazon, adobo, cumin, organo and  black pepper. Bring to a boil. Cook at low heat for 5 minutes, then add in the cooked rice and mix well.

If you try it, let me know how it turns out!

Monday, April 15, 2013

Brass Be Gone! Spray Painting Door Hardware

This was another project filled weekend on our mission to rid our home of brass. This past Sunday we tacked the doors: all 18 door knobs, 54 door hinges and 224 screws. Saturday night instead of chillin with a bottle of wine and a sappy movie, we were removing all the doors in our house and taking off the hinges and door knobs. It was a quick and painless job that left my house looking like this:

Early on Sunday morning we assembled the materials we had bought at Home Depot the night before: a drop cloth (to protect the deck), cardboard boxes, 400 grit sandpaper, Crown Quart Next Liquid Deglosser, an old T-shirt and 4 cans of Rustoleum Universal Metallic in Satin Nickel.

We lightly sanded all the pieces with the 400 grit sandpaper and then wiped them with the deglosser. After all the pieces were done (3 hours after we started), we waited 10 minutes before sticking them in cardboard boxes and spraying the first coat of paint. A couple of coats later (multiple light coats while moving the can back and forth is the best way to achieve a great finish) and we were done.

After Sanding

Above and Below: After first coat of paint

We let the pieces dry for 5 hours in the afternoon sun before bringing them inside. By then, it was already 10:00 pm and we only got around to re-installing 7 of the doors, the rest will have to wait until Tomas comes home since putting the door back on is definitively a two person job.

The ones that we did re-install look GORGEOUS  I didn't really realize how much I hated the shiny brass until I got a much better alternative.



I think it looks sooo much better and as of now only evidence of brass in our house are the two light fixtures we can't wait to replace. Hopefully the door hardware holds up well 'cause I don't want to go through all that work again for at least a few years. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

DIY: Refinish a Dining Room Table

I was so excited about finding a great dining room table on craigslist that I could hardly wait for the weekend to finally get to work on it!

We made a run to Home Depot for materials the night before we got started. Materials added up to $74 including the 24 hour rental of the palm sander.
    1. Disposable gloves
    2. Mask
    3. Foam Brushes
    4. Sandpaper (60 and 220 grit)
    5. Tack cloth
    6. Pre-Stain Conditioner (Minwax)
    7. Stain (We chose Minwax Wood Stain in Jacobean)
    8. Wood Finish (Minwax Super Fast-Drying Polyurethane) 
    9. Electrical sander (We rented a 1/4 palm sander)

This is what the table looked like when I bought it off craigslist, it had a fair amount of damage but didn't seem impossible to fix:

I started  by sanding the legs of the table with 60 grit sand paper using a palm sander. Aftter it took me one hour to do two table legs, that's when Tomas stepped in to help. He was able to do it in half the time, so of course I passed on all the sanding to him and a few hours later we had a sanded table.Half-way through we realized that the table table was not solid wood (The frame and leg were solid wood) but a wood veneer so we had to be extra careful not to sand to hard and risk ruining the table.

 I cleaned off all the dust with a tack cloth and used a foam brush to apply the Pre-Stain conditioner. After a half-hour I stirred my stain up and applied the first coat, staining with the grain. After 15 minutes, an old T-shirt was used to remove the excess stain before letting the table dry for 6 hours.

After first coat of stain

I wanted the stain to go a little bit darker, so I applied a second coat of stain and let that dry 24 hours.

After second coat of stain

After 24 hours, I sanded the table by hand with 220 grit sandpaper, removed all the dust using a tack cloth and after carefully stirring, applied the first coat of polyurethane using another foam brush. Key to a good finish is to go with the grain and use slow and steady strokes to avoid streaks. I let the poly dry 24 hours before sanding the table and giving it a second coat, I repeated that for the third and the fourth coats. 

I decided to give the table 4 coats because for the first coat I didn't apply the poly with the grain and that gave me long streaks across the table when the poly dried. I sanded most of the streaks away before applying the second coat but in the process ended up removing most of the first coat. You can still see some streaks and puddling if the light hits the table in a certain weigh but I'm not starting all over again and love the table regardless. We are happy with our perfectly imperfect table! Can't wait for the poly to fully cure so we can break the table in with a dinner party.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Two Month Update

I can’t believe it’s already been 2 months since we moved into our new home! Time sure flies when you don’t have a spare minute. This past months has been a whirlwind of home updates road trips and lots of potty training our sweet pup.

  • This month we finally finished painting the in in I hope we never have to paint another wall ever again(or at least in the next few years). We painted 2 coats of Behr’s French Silver to the downstairs hallway, the upstairs hallway and I even braved a 20 ft ladder to paint the staircase.
Before                                                               After 

  • We had an electrician put in a new outlet inside a cabinet for a microwave and had him install the OTR Microwave where a range used to be. We're slowly switching all the appliances from white to stainless.
    • Samsung OTR Microwave/Convection Oven - $179 (On clearance at HhGregg)
    • Electrician (New Outlet and Installation) - $305

  • On a whim, I bought a wood dining table from Craigslist which we re-finished this weekend. (More on this later this week).

  • We raised the curtains in our dining room and office.

  • Added a new light fixture to the downstairs half-bath.

We have a couple of cool projects and big buys before the end of May, trying to get the house in tip-top shape before my parents's visit and our housewarming party.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

First Craigslist Find

I've never bought anything on Craigslist before, so imagine Tomas' surprise when I called him in the middle of the day telling him about this awesome solid wood dining set I had bought from Craigslist. It it's a 5ft 9in table with 2 large leaves that would extend it to almost 10 ft. It also came with 7 dining chairs which I'm still unsure of what do do with. I negotiated the set to $150 and piled the table and all of chairs into Charlie(God I love that car!) and slowly drove home. I'm totally in love with the table especially since all the table around that size that I've seen are upwards of $800, so this will mean huge savings.

It looks that we'll be in the high 60's this Saturday so we're going to take a stab at refinishing the table by following the instructions here and here. Cross you fingers that it will end well!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Three Day Getaway: Washington D.C.

We had had mentioned wanting to get out of Cincinnati for this past weekend, hoping to cure our cabin fever. The last 2 months have been entirely consumed by all the painting and cleaning and unpacking that needs to be done in a our house. We wanted to have a couple of days to just relax and taking an impromptu trip was just what the Dr. ordered.

We only considered 2 options; The Kentucky Bourbon trail or driving down to D.C.. Our decision was made for us, when our BFF's L and C, said they could join us in D.C.  I packed everything up Wednesday afternoon and as soon as Tomas arrived home on Thursday we left for D.C. It was an 8 hr drive but we did stop after 5 hours (it was 2am) at a Best Western en Breezewood, PA to catch some Zzz's and have enough energy for the next day.

We were staying at the Courtyard Marriott using Tomas's Marriott points and we were a shuttle ride and 15 subway ride from the city. Our friends wouldn't arrive until the next day so we spent the whole day on Friday strolling along the National Mall by our selves.

The first spot we hit was the Capitol, Tomas scored tickets to see the chambers of both the Senate and House while I waited in line for tickets to the Capitol tour. I think we spent a solid 4 hours at the Capitol Visitor Center.

We decided to walk from the Capitol all the way to the Lincoln Memorial. Along the way, we stopped  at the National Museum of Natural History, which houses the Hope Diamond (shown below). It's been my favorite natural history museum to date (I've seen Houston's NYC's and San Francisco) since the most of the exhibits were updated and relevant, they cited recent discoveries and displayed artifacts found in the last few years.

As we walked more of the National Mall, we saw the Washington Memorial which had scaffolding coverings most of its facade.

We arrived at the Reflecting Pool just as the sun was setting and washed the Lincoln Memorial in its warm glow.

 After sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial for a while (One more thing off our Bucket List!), we walked in the direction to the White House

We ended our day with dinner at Old Ebbitt Grill recommended by some of my Bee Bloggers. I had the Fish of the month, grilled rockfish and Tomas had the crab cakes. Both entrees were delicious and cooked perfectly. The atmosphere of the restaurant, while loud, made for a fun and relaxed dining experience.

Next day we woke up bright an early met up with our friends and stood in line for 2 ours to get into the National Archives. We spent 2 more hours exploring the National Archives before making our way back to Old Ebbitt Grill for lunch. The French Toast sandwich was probably in the ten top ten things I've ever tasted!
After lunch,  we enjoyed the view of hundreds of kites flying around in the sky above the National Mall (as part of the National Cherry Blossom festivities) while plopped on the ground below the Washington Memorial.

We say only 1 bloomed Cherry Blossom in D.C

After a couple of hours of people watching,we headed back to the hotel, jumped in the car and made our way to Georgetown cupcakes. As the true tourists that we were we did NOT expect to see the 3 block long line around Georgetown cupcakes. Mission ABORTED! We settled for the wonderful baked and wired cupcakes instead which were very delicious, before waiting an hour to be seated at Bodega, a Spanish Tapas place, only restaurant in Georgetown to have an non-reservation opening before 11pm.

On Easter Sunday we woke up extra early to get to the ticket line for the Holoucaust museum before the it opened, which meant after an hour wait we got entrance tickets for the 11:30am. We spent 3 hours inside the Holocaust museum and I can honesty say it was the best part of D.C. for me (other than the food ... the foooood!). I read every box of text of text , heard every speech and was fascinated by such terrible events of the pasts. I enjoyed a brief glimpse of what life was like during that time and made me more appreciative of my circumstances.Then it was to te hotel to pick up our bags and a 8 hours drive back to Cincinnati.