A Little Bit of Valentine Decor

For those that know me really well, you know my passion for decor, so I get advantage of some of the Holidays to be able to decorate even if it is a little. Valentines is a holiday that we do not care that much about, so I go “light” on the decor, but I still like to add something here and there to make the house special for the kids. Target has really cute Valentine’s decor in the dollar section, so if it is cute and cheap I am sold. My mantel got some love…

We are loving these little mailboxes to leave love notes each morning. I look forward to reading them each day…one morning I opened one and I found a highlighter inside it but no note. I asked who left the highlighter in there. My oldest (he is 10 1/2) said it was him. Then I was really curious and asked him why he decided to leave a highlighter and not a note and he said “you did not get it mom?” and I replied I didn’t. He said “you are the highlight of my day!” And then my heart melted completely.

The little heart here is from Hobby Lobby and the burlap banner is from Target, only $3! It was too long so I cut it and made two instead…LOL!

The “XOXO” and “LOVE” signs are from…yes, you guessed it…Target DOLLAR section!

The tea lights and containers are from the dollar store.

Here is the other half of the banner…

The kitchen got some lovin’ too. Those plates are from Target. I purchased them years ago.

This is from the dollar store from years ago.

This little banner is from Target (yes, it is my favorite store)

What do you do for valentines…what traditions do you have? I will share another tradition we have in a couple of days. My family loves it!

Kitchen Update: The Floor

Happy New Year! I hope you had a great beginning of 2015! We sure did even though we had a green Christmas but a white 2015 with below 0 temperatures…that is OK. We read books, played games, watched movies and had some yummy hot cocoa, so it was not that bad.
Today I am sharing with you our new floor in the kitchen and living room. We actually wanted to change the floor for quite some time, but thought that we were going to wait some more. Thanks to black friday deals, we could not pass this opportunity by because the floor we wanted was 50% off! So we jumped right into it and yes, my adorable husband spent more than 14 hours putting in the floor (and had to visit his chiropractor couple of days after…) The name of the floor is Alameda Hickory by Traffic Master  and we love the color even better than the Brazilian Cherry we have downstairs…wish this one was available at Home Depot when we started changing the floor….

First, the tedious job of ripping carpet…satisfying at the same time!

This carpet was so old and really dirty. My oldest has allergies to dust mites so this had GOT to go!

The worst part is taking off the darn staples from the carpet pad underneath…

The kiddos had a blast ripping off the old laminate. They love to help out with projects!

Dinning area with old laminate…

 Kitchen…

 Sorry for the horrible pics, the lighting was really bad…

Yes, it was a really big mess but worth it!

Installing the underlayment for the floor…
Always start with a corner, and then stagger the planks.

Looking better already

What a difference! We also changed the trim as well.  Here is is, with the room decorated for Christmas…

We did all this for less than $300 for the whole kitchen and living room. This floor is really easy to maintain. We love it!

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It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas + Little Kitchen Tour

It has been crazy around here. We have been sick plus sick some more but very blessed as well. We had a great Thanksgiving and we enjoyed our time off with family and good friends. After a GLORIOUS meal my BFF Emiley and I went shopping a little (we do it more for fun than we do it for shopping itself, just some girl night out time!) My husband and I usually go in the morning as our older boys sleep over at grandma’s with the cousins.
We have been getting ready for Christmas and the kids could not wait one more second to decorate the house. However, we found a GREAT deal on the floors we wanted for our kitchen while we were at Home Depot…49 cents a square foot! Whaaaaat? so half the price. We went ahead and started working on tearing off carpet and old laminate and replacing the kitchen and  living room with new floors. To the kids disappointment, we all had to wait to put the Christmas tree until our floor was done. I will show you pictures of the before and after of that in another post. To top it off, our fridge started leaking like crazy as my husband was putting the new floor and we had to end up getting a new fridge (I know, darn it, right?). But it was pretty old and was not worth it to invest in fixing it.
I love decorating for Christmas since it is my favorite Holiday. I like simple things, and I did not want to spend money in the decorations. Homemade decorations, free printables, some stuff we already had and getting something new for this year was my goal.
Prepare for TONS of pictures…

The smaller pillows are placemats from Target that I opened up and stuffed up with batting… 3.99 each!

I found this garland in the dollar section at Target and I use it to display cards:
My beautiful friend Patricia

This deer was on sale for $8 I think…

I printed “Silent Night” and “Oh Come All Ye Faithful” from HERE and used frames that I already had.

Homemade ornaments, and some ornaments the kids have made during the years are so precious…

Dollar Tree ornament…

 Our first Christmas together…2003! Look how young we were!

We love to do our advent every night and read from the story of Luke in the Bible about the birth of our Savior. We enjoy hot cocoa and marshmallows by the tree since we do not have a fireplace.

My daughter loves her felt Christmas tree I made two years ago using my Silhouette Portrait machine for the ornaments plus some cheap snowflakes from the dollar store.

 We have a hot cocoa buffet with marshmallows and candy canes.

Hello there!

We have a collection of our favorite Christmas books. I will share them with you soon.

The kitchen
I have had a lot of you ask me when I was going to post pictures of our kitchen. I guess now is the time. We are actually pretty much done with the kitchen. We started back in February when our faucet broke. We got this one from Amazon and it has been great!. We then proceeded to change the sink that was all scratched and painted the countertops using Giani Granite Paint.
Then the hardest part of the whole makeover: painting the cabinets. You can click on the link for the tutorial. The hardware is from HERE and HERE.
Here are some more pictures of the kitchen decorated for Christmas…
These canisters are from Walmart, the chalkboard labels are from Hobby Lobby

This little Christmas tree is from the Goodwill, 2.99!

 My antique scale is from Etsy, the cheese thingy is from the Goodwill. The “rosemary” box is from TJMaxx.

Sorry about the crock pot, but dinner was in the making…chicken tacos!

More details…the “peace, love and joy” plates are from the Goodwill, the kitchen towel is from H&M Home. Have you checked their home stuff ? it is AWESOME!
It is all about family. 
Sneak Peaks from the boy’s room:
Little Princess:
And some Christmas decor in our bedroom:
             
Hope you got enough pictures. We are having a great time this Christmastime remembering the birth of our Savior and creating memories. Have a Merry Christmas!
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Affordable Makeover for Kitchen Counters

My family and I have been updating our home in the past couple of years. We like to DIY as much as we can. The list is endless but at the same time is fun to do things together. I love doing projects myself and learn in the process. We updated our oak kitchen cabinets this past March and we loved them! I posted a tutorial in how we painted them…still looking fab! I know I owe you the full reveal. There are some people that have written me asking me for the reveal…well, it is not done for the full reveal yet (especially since we are just coming our of summer…we do not do many home improvements in summer!) However, today I will show you what we did to improve our kitchen counters.
We had the basic, laminate counters and did not want to replace them just yet. We wanted to keep the budget as little as possible since we have bigger projects for the house to finish (like finishing the basement…). They were also VERY stained and they looked really bad!
I know some of you are familiar with this product, it is called Giani Granite.

Giani Granite Home
Sample image
No, this is NOT a sponsored post.
They sell painting kits for countertops and cabinets. Let me tell you, this product is AM-A-ZING!!!
This is how my countertops looked like:
Here are the steps:
First, you have to clean them up really well using Brillo cleaner, wipe and let dry.
Second, you have to apply the primer. It is very thick. They even give you the roller to use. Let dry…to me the “drying” part is the most difficult of the steps! LOL!

Then, using the sponge that comes with the kit, put the base paint on a paper plate and tap the sponge into the paint and then into the counter. Keep tapping and tapping to form a pattern. Let dry. You do the same with each color, usually the kit comes with three. 
The key is first playing a little bit on a piece of paper (that comes with the kit as well) so you know what pattern you like. Granite has asymmetrical patterns so really you cannot mess it up. Also, if you do not like a pattern you can let it dry and keep applying different colors, always in a tapping motion and always do it in sections.
After it is all dry, you apply the topcoat which is what really makes this over the top (no pun intended!) It gives the countertops an awesome shine just like granite. And it makes it super durable. You have to let it cure for 24 hours after that and it cures completely in 14 days. It only cost me $80 to update the countertops and I added extra life to them so they can wait for replacement!

My kit was the “Sicilian Sand.”

Let’s do a “before and after,” shall we?
Night and day difference you guys! And they are super easy to clean as well! All for less then $100! Can’t beat that!
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Yummy Orange Cake

This is my mom’s orange cake. It is so so good. In Uruguay we have the tradition of drinking an herbal tea called “mate”, usually in the morning and afternoon. Ok, more like all day sometimes. My mom used to prepare yummy treats to eat while we were enjoying our mate. This cake was baked sometimes weekly in my home and it is super simple. Fool proof even. There is no way to mess it up except if you mix up the batter too much (just like when we over beat muffins batter). And this is a no frost cake (I absolutely hate frosting and “too much sugar and butter” things, I think it is the Dental Hygienist in me). You can however sprinkle a little powder sugar and garnish with slices of orange and mint.
Ingredients:
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil ( I use Canola)
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • juice of one orange
  • 1 orange peeled and cut
  • grated peel of one orange
  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
Put all liquid ingredients in a blender and blend really good. In another bowl put the flour and the baking powder and mix. Pour the liquid into the flour and mix until moistened. Grease a baking pan (the bigger the pan the thinner the cake, and viceversa) pour the batter and bake in a preheated 375 oven for about 25 minutes or until a knife inserted comes out clean. Once cooled sprinkle powder sugar. Serve and enjoy!

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Painting Kitchen Cabinets

It has been chaos in here! We have been painting and doing minor improvements to our house. Since we have some financial goals to achieve this year (like, I might be going to Uruguay this year! yay! I’ll tell you later WHY) our updates involve the most economical method: PAINT. Our kitchen was outdated, our house is 16 years old and that oaky-orangey color, plus dirt and grease, were driving me nuts. I always dreamed of a white kitchen and subway tile…our kitchen is not very big so painting the walls a lighter color and the cabinets White Dove white made a BIG difference! Today I will be sharing the method we used to painting them. I know, there are a gazillion tutorials, but this is what worked for us. Trust me, I researched this for over 2 years thinking if I dared to do it and if the job was going to turn out nice. It actually turned out great so I am glad we did it.

Step one:
The first step is removing all doors and hinges. I was lucky that my hinges are on the inside and are not seen. I numbered the doors starting from right to left and then from bottom left to bottom right and I wrote a number in the space where the hinges go. I used ziploc bags to put all the hardware in and numbered them. Trust me, you WANT to do this, otherwise you will go insane trying to figure out which hinge go in which door.

Step two:
After that I removed everything from the cabinets and stored them in boxes. I could not believe how much junk I had, I threw away a lot of stuff that was unnecessary or that we barely used. WARNING: your house will be a MESS! Make sure you eat take out and have a lot of cereal on hand! haha!

Yes, my daughter decided to bring her toys upstairs too, see the play washing machine?

Step three:
Cover everything! There will be a lot of spills and dust!

Step four:
Clean them really good. You will find gross stuff! We used TSP diluted in water. Sorry if this makes you barf…ewwwwwwwwww

Step five:
This is the worst step of all: sanding! I know there are other tutorials out there that say they did not sand them and just used a really good primer like BIN or one of the Zinsser ones. I decided to do this even though it was going to take us longer. This enhances primer adhesion even more so why not? You will be covered in dust. After you sand, vacuum and clean them really well. We used an orbital sander and 120 grit sandpaper first, then 320 for in between coats. Yes, if you thought you were done sanding on the first step…nope! But I promise the results are great!

This is what the sanding will do to the cabinets, that glossy finish is gone! And the surface becomes more porous.
For the doors, make sure you take them outside to the garage and create sort of a painting station in which they do not touch the floor, like this:
Step six:
This one is optional, but since it is the KITCHEN we decided to do it and believe me, it was a key factor in the success of this project. We used wood filler to fill the oak grain. Just plain ol’ Elmers. I applied a THIN coat, let it dry and then sanded it with 320 grit sandpaper. We vacuumed and cleaned again! My arms were numb…

Step seven:
The painting starts-FINALLY-!
We painted a couple of coats with a GOOD primer. We used one from Valspar that adheres to anything. It is formulated for cabinetry. Let dry for at least 8 hours. 24 hrs is better but if you are as impatient as me you can try the 8…

Step eight:
PAINT! Make sure you use a REALLY GOOD quality paint, I recommend  Benjamin Moore products. I used the INSUL-X paint from BM in White Dove, they can tint it to any of the BM products. This paint is especially formulated for cabinets, is self leveling, it dries fast and the finish is awesome. It hardens like enamel. It is pricey bit it is still a LOT cheaper than replacing your cabinets! I used a good quality brush for the corners (get the PURDY brand) and a small roller for super smooth surfaces. If you can, you can get a spray painter for an even better job. I gave three coats and it took me two days on this part.
These are the steps. I am not going to lie, it is a tedious process, but the results are awesome. The kitchen looks now bigger and modern. We also painted the walls in BM Moonshine. The final reveal will come soon, for now you can get a peak…

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