Where'd You Get . . . ?

>> Monday, May 13, 2019

I get lots of questions about where we get this or that. I figured I'd create a running list of the things we own. If you don't find what you're looking for -- shoot me a message on Instagram, and I'll try to get it up here ASAP.







  • I do use my own vinegar cleaners
  • I prefer Method products and Seventh Generation products when I buy stuff either online or locally. In particular, Seventh Generation has a great EWG rating. I've been using their stuff since college.





Kitchen Refresh for $325

>> Wednesday, May 1, 2019

I've been sharing bits and pieces of home stuff over on Instagram and many of you were asking for more details on what we've done and what we've used to refresh our kitchen. First, let's start with a little history.

Here's our kitchen when we moved into our house almost five years ago:

After a little while, I painted the backsplash and then the cabinets.

So, this is essentially how the kitchen looked until recently:

And here's how it looks now -- almost finished:


We used contact paper. Yes, contact paper -- specifically DC-Fix Grey Marble -- to give our countertops a new look. I was a as skeptical as you might be, but after watching countless YouTube tutorials (search "contact paper countertops") and reading (and hearing from some of you) how they actually do hold up . . . I figured the low cost of the materials might be worth giving it a try.

Basically, you clean your counters very well and make sure there aren't any rogue pieces of dust before starting in one corner and slowly applying the contact paper like a sticker. You push any air bubbles out as you go. The videos I watched made it seem super easy but there's definitely a learning curve and I did waste an entire roll because we messed up.

Corners are especially tricky.

I'm still glad I did it because the end result is gorgeous!

Note: I personally chose the width of 26" because it allowed me to have the fewest seams and install the contact paper horizontally versus vertically. That said, installing it in larger pieces is significantly harder!

I used three rolls total for a cost of around $40. But I did mess up, so the total project ended up costing $53. We also had to use some white caulk to help streamline the edges. Much less expensive and less wasteful than replacing perfectly functioning countertops.

Oh, and if you don't like these -- the company also makes other colors, including this Brown Marble, Black Marble, White + Black Marble, different faux granite finishes, etc.


I had planned to try wrapping the backsplash in the contact paper as well. A friend suggested I try using self-adhesive backsplash panels from Home Depot. The only problem is that for four tiles, it was $26! I put this idea on the back burner . . . and then was happy to see that they were on sale for $16. I ended up spending $200 on this part.

The sale is no longer going on but I have since found a very similar product on Amazon -- Subway STICKTILES -- that I actually think I may have liked better because it has darker "grout" lines and is currently $20 for four but there's also a $2 coupon you can apply at checkout, making it $18/4-pack. There are a variety of colors and shapes of adhesive tiles, too. I personally love this Modern Grey variation, though it wouldn't have matched out kitchen.

As for installation, it went up so quickly. Just cut with normal scissors and stick on like a puzzle. Even the corners and funky areas were very quick to cover over. I would say that I did this project by myself in an hour and a half. It is holding up nicely and as such a nice sheen like real tile. Not bad because it went over the old stuff. Almost zero prep-work was needed!


We still have the same old cabinets as always. I painted them white at one point a few years ago. If you want to read more about that, check out this post. Once we changed the backsplash and the counters, the kitchen was just TOO white for Stephen's taste. I actually thought it was fine, but he wanted to get more depth in there. So, I decided to paint the lower cabinets. Not sure if that's still a style people like . . . but I like it. found some great paint at my local craft store -- Americana Decor Stain Enamel paint in Grey/Taupe.

I considered working with chalk paint, but this stuff is self-sealing, so it didn't require wax or any other coat to finish. This stuff must be quite popular because it was nearly out at my store and I did have to buy more online. The other color I considered was a bit darker, Smoke Grey. I wish they had had a color in the middle. I thought about mixing the two but then got impatient!

I'll do before/after photos when we have completely finished painting. I only need two containers to paint the lower cabinets. I got the first one at Michael's with a half-off coupon for $5 and purchased one online for $10 (they were't getting anymore in the store soon). Total cost was $15.


Last, we decided to change out the hardware on part of the cabinets because I've always loved the farmhouse look. Our hardware looks black, but it's actually bronze. So, I picked up 15 of these Amerock Bronze Cup Pulls for a cost of $30. I only needed 14, so I used the last one up in our bathroom. I love them!

We also added six wireless under cabinet lights -- Moston Magnetic Under Cabinet Lights. I got two 3-packs (set me back $40 because they were on sale) and I don't regret getting so many. I'm obsessed with these guys because they charge via USB and can even be motion-activated. I use them daily for several hours and they only need to be juiced up once a week.

Here's the difference.

It's less noticeable in these photos than in person. It makes a huge impact in our really dark kitchen even in the daylight to have these on. Installation was super easy, too. You just install a magnetic plate where you want them with sticky tabs (all provided). Then the actual light sticks up there, again, magnetically.

Anyway, I hope these notes are helpful to you! I think a lot of this stuff is also renter-friendly. For a total cost of $325, I think the changes are quite dramatic and worthwhile. BTW: I did mess up on the contact paper, and that meant I had to rip it up. The formica underneath was completely fine after doing so.

I'll get more beauty shots when the entire kitchen is completely painted and styled! For more of my home improvement-related posts, click here.


No Spend Month

>> Monday, March 4, 2019

So, I lost my debit card this weekend. The last I remember, I went to a local drug store to buy toilet paper. I was carrying out the package without a bag, and I think I slipped my card into my pocket instead of my wallet. Everyone was screaming at home, so I was admittedly a bit preoccupied. Regardless, somewhere in the quarter mile drive home, it was lost. But I didn't realize it until the next day.

I ran 8 miles on a local path Sunday. (GO ME!) The path happens to have parking near Home Goods. I stopped in to look at some throw pillows, found a few I wanted, and got to the checkout . . . only to realize my card was gone.

Blessing in disguise? Maybe.

When I got home, I frantically searched all over and didn't find the card. I called the store where I last used the card. No card. I called the gym near the store. No card. The donut shop. No card. We canceled it immediately. No weird activity was noted in our bank account, which is a good thing. (But I still feel creeped out.) My new card should be here in about a week. This is a boring story, no? BUT there's tremendous good that has come out of it.

I pull out my card without abandon -- all the freaking time. I spend money on the dumbest things (stupid Instagram SWIPE UPPPPP, GUYZ!). We spend way too much money on food after bringing Eden home this fall. Money here, money there, money everywhere. Losing my card made me stop and think about my spending habits. How they need some MAJOR change.

Yesterday afternoon as I lay on the floor sore from my run, I decided that March would be a no spend month (as much as possible). Meaning, no extra food outside the budget. No random toys for the kids. No random thrift store adventures for me. No books (library!). No candy (rots your teeth!). No whatever else we spend on (#allthethings). The only exception might be going to the movies because we have a $1 cinema close to our house, and I'd say that's a damned good deal for some family entertainment.

OK. But on top of this, I'm trying to whip the budget back into shape. The area we can focus on for the most improvement is groceries. To start things out right, I'm going to try to spend as little on groceries this week as possible. I want to USE UP all this random food we have hiding in the pantry and in the freezer.

Meal plan:

Breakfasts of either eggs, oatmeal, or smoothies.

Lunches using that random tub of applesauce in the cupboard, homemade granola bars, awesome bread we have in the freezer (pumpkin spice!), cheese sticks + yogurt we seem to have in bulk, or dinner leftovers.


  • M: Frozen veggie burgers with fries (adults) // Mac and cheese + peas (kids)
  • T: Tofu stir-fry using frozen veggies, Aldi sauce, and some frozen beet noodles
  • W: Lentil soup with sourdough bread
  • R: That random frozen lasagne I bought when I was immensely pregnant and hormonal
  • F: Pizza night
  • S: In-laws are visiting. Not sure yet.
  • S: Frozen chili from the bag meals I made in September

Anyone else trying to readjust spending habits or their budget right now? Tell me your tricks! It's actually quite fun and exciting. We are also having our taxes done, so I always get nervous about if we'll owe money or if we'll get a return (usually we owe). I made only half of what I've made in previous years due to being sick and then taking off several months after having Eden.

PS: For those of you following along for quite some time, Stephen and I have less than $7K left on our student loan debt (together). That's tremendous! We started out at over $70K!

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