Wednesday, May 20, 2015

How To Clean Upholstery, Also Known As How To Get The Funk Out Of Thrifted Furniture

I've been on the prowl for the perfect nursery chair for months. Visions of heavenly white upholstered gliders have been rocking their way through my mind.  But it turns out those bad boys carry quite the hefty price tag.  *ca-ching* I know they can be worthy investments, but it just wasn't in the cards for us right now.

I've been trying to hold myself to some basic guidelines when it comes to bringing new furniture into the house.  We're aiming to save for quality pieces we love that can stand the test of time (so we're not replacing things as often), but they also need to have an aspect of versatility.  If I come across an item and can quickly think of 2-3 places it could grace the house with its awesomeness, I know it's a winner.

So, I revisited the glide/rock function.  Was it really necessary?  We need a place to feed the baby and snuggle up for a story.  I've been nursing in a stationary chair thus far with no issues, and it might be easier to work a regular chair into the rest of our living space down the line.

And with the the glide/rock feature no longer a requirement, a whole new set of possibilities were opened.  I've been eying many a side chair, but couldn't land on the right style/price point marriage.

So, I started looking second hand.  Craigslist, garage sales,etc.  And last week I hit the jackpot.  I snagged this beauty from an estate sale.....good condition, great lines, tufted back, cushioned armrests, roomy, comfy, and subtle sweet details like the engraved florals on the trim.
How to clean upholstered furniture
When I picked up the chair, the home didn't have any offensive odors (nor did the chair) and was smoke free, but I did notice a bowl of cat food and some fur on the lower part of the upholstery.  Since this gal is going in the baby's room and a few of us have cat allergies, I knew she needed a good cleaning before we brought her inside.

If you google "how to clean upholstery", you'll be met with a slew of articles.  I read though a few and ended up combining several tips and adding few of our own.  The good news?  It's super easy.  So, forgive the phone pics here and let's get started!
How to clean upholstered furniture

How to clean upholstered furniture
Grab your upholstery attachment and give the piece a thorough vacuum.  Be sure to remove all the cushions and use the narrow attachment for all the nooks and crannies.

To catch any rogue hairs and to really get the underside of the chair, I also went over the whole thing with a lint roller after the vacuum.
How to clean upholstered furniture

Next, go to your panty and grab a box of baking soda.
How to clean upholstered furniture

 How to clean upholstered furniture
Dust the entire piece as best you can and let sit for 30 min to 1 hour.  I ran some errands so this actually sat for the whole morning.

How to clean upholstered furniture

Then it's time for your witches' brew.
How to clean upholstered furniture
The articles I read had varying ratios but a 4:1 or 8:1 ratio of water to soap should work great.  You can even add a bit of vinegar to the mix if your piece has stains or strong odors.

Now, grab your hand mixer.
How to clean upholstered furniture
 A wisk would work too but you'll need to mix a little longer and prepare for wrist crampage.

 Then, employ your minions...
How to clean upholstered furniture
 You want to grab just the bubbles and avoid any liquid at the bottom of the bowl.  We used our hands to scoop/rub since the chair was not that dirty, but you could also use a sponge.

After we rubbed the chair down in the foamy bubbles, I wiped the whole thing with a wet rag.  I rinsed it out and went over it a second time to get any lingering soap and dirt.

I left it in the garage to dry and then put the cushion back in place.  So fresh and so clean!  I would have brought the chair in as soon as it dried, but that trim is getting a paint job.  I'm using a less than comfortable chair in Liv's room right now, in which I have to contort my body to feed her, so I can wait to get this chair up there!

Has anyone else tried their hand at this or managed to bring a dingy piece back to life? Tell us your tales!

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Printable Neighborhood Contact Sheet: For The Name Recalling Challenged

I am terrible with names.  I mean really terrible.  It usually takes me a good three encounters to remember a new name/face.  Since moving to a whole new city this has been an all too frequent and uncomfortable happening. Enter my foot-in-mouth saver...

The weather has finally turned here and the whole neighborhood has emerged from it's winter hibernation seeking out fresh air and other living beings. Turns out one neighbor had a baby...and we never knew the other was pregnant. #longwinterproblems

It's been so nice to get reacquainted with our neighbors, but I was completely embarrassed that I couldn't remember most of their names.  Granted we only moved here a year ago, so we're still meeting new people, but the long winter certainly didn't help my brain with info retention.

With head hung, I had to ask for their names again, but it turns out they didn't quite remember our names either.  After we were mutually embarrassed and reintroduced, I wrote down their names as soon as I got the chance.  It occurred to me that having this info for our neighbors all in one spot instead of dispersed among a zillion post-its might be a good idea.

I've been working on updating our Home Management Binder and now we're adding this Neighborhood Contact Sheet to the mix.  I created a spot for names, children, pets, address or home reference (like "blue house on the corner"), contact info, and notes.

Por ejemplo - we ran into our neighbors Jeff and Cheryl last weekend.  They love to walk with their two little girls and three dogs.  So after we chatted, I drew up this sheet and added the names for everyone in their family, their pets, which house is theirs, and contact info (some of which is obviously not shown here). 

The notes section is great for reminders on whether someone works from home, school info, prefers you don't ring the doorbell, or whatever else you might want to have for future reference.

This sheet has already come in handy as I've not only been writing down the names/info for neighbors we're getting reacquainted with, but I've had a place to record the limited info on our neighbors that I have managed to retain up to now.  Nothing like freeing up brain space.

I think this kind of sheet would also come in handy for the kids in case of emergency or anytime someone came to watch our house or kids for an extended period of when my parents stayed with the kids while we were at the hospital having a baby.

So, if you're also in the name challenged camp, feel free to snag one for yourself right here. Please tell me I'm not the only one who finds herself greeting people with a "Hey! Good to see you guys!" to cover herself.  Is this a dead giveaway?

On a somewhat random note......when it comes to new people whose names I can't recall, I usually initiate an introduction with James (or he with me) to help us out in the name game.  For instance..."Have you met my husband yet?"  Then instead of me having to struggle through an introduction, James will extend his hand with "Hi, I'm James".  The other person then introduces himself as we make a mental note of their name.   We'll also drop each others names in the conversation in case the other party has also forgotten our names and is equally embarrassed to James will say, "The other day Deme was saying she wanted to get the boys over to the trails. Have you been down there yet?".   But "Forgive me, can you remind me of your name?" works just as well.

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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Monday, May 11, 2015

Special Days: Baptisms and Birthdays and First Communions, Oh My!

Happy Monday!  I hope you all had a wonderful weekend.  As I was going through the unorganized chaos that is my pictures on the computer, I realized how many special days we've celebrated in the past couple months. 

Each of these could have rated their own post, but....well, procrastination....leads to back-up....leads to overwhelming...leads to inability to construct complete sentences.  So, here they are in photo dump fashion.

Back in February, Miss Livy Joy was baptized!  It was still freezing so we needed a lot more than just the gown...

(Don't ask about the perfectly coordinated toddler ties the boys are donning. They thought they looked pretty sharp.)

It was such a special day.  The last time we had a baptism around here the older kids were still toddlers, so it was a very different experience this time, full of tender moments that will continue to bless my mama heart over and over again.

In March and April, James and I (respectively) turned the big 36.  OK, so that isn't such a significant number except for the fact that we are now officially closer to 40 than 30.  And I'm totally OK with that. I don't have pictures of these events because #slacker and #toobusyeatingcake.....BUT! Naptime Diaries was kind enough to run their spring sale in conjunction with my birthday and my amazing husband got me this canvas print that I've been wanting forever.
I can think of at least 5 different places I could hang it, but I have a perfect spot next to my desk begging for some art/motivation.  Which of course, is causing a whole new set of project plans to brew.  Wink, wink.

And finally, just last month our oldest made her First Communion!  We weren't allowed to take pics during the mass but I did manage to gather up these...

Mr. Grueden leads the Children's liturgy on Sundays and has always been so kind to our kids. He happened to draw Mia's name from all the first communicants and has been praying for her for as she prepared for this day. Such goodness.

As I was putting this post together I loved seeing Father Tom welcome our youngest into our faith and later give our daughter her First Holy Communion. His joy for them is as great as ours.

Now let's talk outfit deets.  Mia didn't want to do the traditional veil, but we found this tiara with a cross right in the center and it felt like her.

The bracelet was a gift from her grandparents...

and this necklace was a gift from her other set of Grandparents at her Baptism.

How is our sweet girl growing so fast?!?!

We are so very proud of her!
[Dress/shoes/tiara: David's Bridal | Tights/Sweater: Target]

Looking back it struck me that all of these wonderful celebrations came smack in the middle of some of the hardest months we've had in a while.  Blessings in the trenches I tell ya!

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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Friday, May 8, 2015

Flooring and Painted Fireplaces

I was so hoping to have a "look at our new floors!" post for you this week.....but no.  I don't even have progress to show you.  We're still here with a giant concrete hole, cardboard taped down over the edges and somehow don't even really notice it anymore.  It's funny how quickly you get used to things.

Anyhow, we were supposed to hear back from the company within a few days and it's now been two weeks.  We finally called them and supposedly the flooring request was approved and ordered early this week. But as I said...big hole still here.

In the meantime, I took to painting.  All the walls are going white or super light in an effort to "uncave" the room, but first, the fireplace!
I have wanted to paint this bad boy since the day we moved in.  The brick isn't horrible but it's quite orange and quite massive.  I love the chunky, rustic mantle though and wanted to preserve some of the variation/texture in the brick.  So, a white wash technique seemed the perfect solution.

It's super easy and if you have extra white paint on hand like we did, it's totally free!  After giving the brick a good wipe down, I started with a 50/50 mixture of paint and water.  I mixed it in that tub on the mantle and it was way more than I needed.  Forgive the slew of iphone pics to follow...
I used a paintbrush to apply the paint working my way down and over a couple rows at a time.  It can be really drippy, so I tried to get very little paint on my brush and kept a rag handy to blot any drips.  The brick is very porous.  At first it appears you've painted on straight white paint (and you sort of freak out) but after a few minutes it sucks that paint right up.

If you want to go super light, then I recommend applying a very light coat, dabbing the brick with the cloth as you go.  If you know you want more opaque coverage, you could even skip the water mix and do a layer of straight paint.  Just remember, you can always make it more white but not exactly go backwards.  As I learned the hard way...

I did my first light coat, stepped back to admire my work and completely hated it.  It was giving off a really peach vibe...almost fleshy. #gag   But that's what happens when you layer white over orange, right?  So I knew that a second coat was in my future, to which added just a bit of grey paint in the mixture.

In this pic below I'm halfway through the second coat (top half) and you can see the peachy first coat below it.  See how the chair blends into the brick with no contrast?  Not what I was going for. 
At this point, with the top half done, full panic set in.  I still hated it.  So, I put down the paintbrush and walked away from it for a day.  I looked back at some of my inspiration pics and realized what was bugging me:  the grout lines.  All the pics I loved had white grout lines and various degrees of white washed brick.  I had the opposite happening. Oy. 

Since I couldn't go back and make the bricks lighter, I decided to push forward with the rest of the second coat but focused on purposely getting in those grout lines (I was really lazy about it when I started the second coat).  You can see here that the second coat is complete but the grout lines below the mantle are painted and those ones above the mantle are not.  It's all personal preference but I liked the white grout much better.
And this is how she's sitting today.  I'm going to go back and fill in the grout lines above the mantle and then wait on the new flooring and wall paint to do anything else.  I think I'll be happy to end it here but the yellow flooring and blue walls are totally throwing me.  It feels like we're really close but not quite right.  Hopefully the floors and wall color are the missing piece; otherwise I'll be painting this baby solid white.

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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