Easy Easter Garland Banner

March 28, 2015




It's official. I have become a banner junkie.

It all started last February when I whipped up a Valentine Love Garland from leftover puzzle pieces. It was so pretty and looked so great in my kitchen that when I took it down, it felt like something was missing.

When this Valentine's Day came along, I was so excited to have a reason to adorn my hood again that I got very busy, very quickly. Since I wasn't looking for anything complicated or expensive, my Valentine Note Card Banner was the perfect fit.

Well last week, I finally took it down and once again, my kitchen looked a little empty, especially since the view outside my window still screams winter instead of spring. I decided to make another banner to add a pop of festive color!

I didn't want to spend any money or go shopping, so I looked in my craft bin to see what was lurking inside. Lucky me, I had a bunch of stuff to make a quick banner.

I started with the envelopes that were leftover from the Valentine Note Card Banner ~ nothing goes to waste around here. They are a great tan color, very burlap in tone.


Next, I grabbed some orange and green yarn from my stash and my glue gun. My glue gun is seriously my crafting best friend. 

I started by mocking up a yarn carrot. I snipped yarn in various sizes to create a triangle shape. When I was satisfied with my art, I grabbed the glue gun and made a carrot shape on my paper. Just make sure that when you start working with your envelope it is positioned so the flap opens on top, otherwise it will be hard to string up later.


Hot glue dries very quickly on paper, so I had to be pretty speedy when I dropped my pre-cut pieces of yarn in place.  Once completed, I realized that I wanted it to look a bit more three dimensional, so I added a few random stands on top in odd directions to give the carrot a more rounded appearance. When that was complete and I was satisfied, I added a few green strands to the top. 


I made three carrots to use in my banner.


Time to move on to the bunny!


I picked up the scissors and cut a bunny shape out of a 5 x 7 index card. I liked what I came up with, so I traced it on another card, as I needed two. It is a very basic shape. I included a photo of my cutout below, in case you would like to use it.


I glued the bunnies to the envelopes and added a small yarn tail with hot glue ~ best friends, remember? 

Lastly, I glued each envelope shut around a long strand of orange ribbon. I added the yellow ribbon as an accent. I needed a bit more color to really make it pop. I didn't affix the yellow ribbon to anything. It is just lightly draped over the cards. 


That's it! The banner honestly took me about 20 minutes from conception to completion and now my kitchen is freshly adorned...again!


I absolutely love it. It was super easy to do, completely free as I shopped my own craft bin and super easy to construct! 

It's Exquisitely Unremarkable.

Can believe it's not red? 



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Creating Charm With Fabric

March 24, 2015




This is my office space. The area was created using the same cabinets and formica chosen for the attached kitchen. While it's great for continuity, it's not so great when trying to create a cozy farmhouse cottage nook to work in. Stock pieces and laminate countertops do not scream country charm.

What's a girl to do? Well, this girl adds fabric when she needs to warm up a space. Fabric has the most wonderful transformational qualities. It softens hard edges, adds whimsy, personality and color in a way that nothing else can...and, let's face it, it's pretty.

When we renovated this space, a bit over ten years ago, I added fabric to the glass doors over the desk to warm up the area. The fabric addition gave the cabinets more of custom furniture feel. It was fall when I conquered, and I use that term very loosely, this project the first time, so I went with a dark print.


Now it is spring and like I said, I've been living with that fabric for a long time. I felt that it was time to lighten things up a bit and the process is so easy and inexpensive, why not?


Much better, don't you think? 

I have posted the how to on this project two other times, but in case you missed it, here it is again.

It was super easy. I started by measuring my cabinet doors and buying enough velcro type sticky tape to line the cabinets on top and bottom. It doesn't matter which side you stick to the cabinet. 


If you are a little short and have to piece it together, that's fine. No one is ever going to see it and it will stick just the same. When your door is lined and both velcro pieces are stuck together on the door, remove the protective tape, exposing the "sticky".


Next, cut your fabric to one and a half times the width of the glass area. You will need the extra width to gather the fabric, so it looks shirred when you close the door. When cutting the length, make sure to add a few inches to the top and bottom so you have enough fabric to reach your velcro. I can't give an exact measurement, because it all depends on your particular cabinet and your velcro placement.


Now the tricky part ~ just kidding ~ there is no tricky part here. It's all easy. Just grab your fabric and stick it to the velcro sticky tape. I start at the top, gathering fabric as I go to create pleats. When done, I move to the bottom and do the same. I close the door a lot during this process to see how it looks from the outside and reposition it if necessary. The velcro is very sticky and very forgiving. You can move it around several times, no problem.


It took me about twenty minutes start to finish to change the fabric out completely. The transformation is quite dramatic. The desk area feels cleaner, brighter and more enticing now.


The flowers my husband brought yesterday look great here, too. I alway keep flowers and fruit on my desk and it's always this clean and paper free. 


Of course, if you believe that, I've got a bridge and some real estate I'd like to discuss with you.

You've got my email.

If you would like to see a more detailed tutorial you can check out this post.


If you would like to see some other ways I have used fabric around the house you can look here...



or here...


or here!

Chair slipcover



Obviously, I have a problem with fabric!



How about you? Are you a fabric junkie?



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Easy Recipes ~ Pinterest Favorites

March 17, 2015





A couple of years ago, long before the idea of blogging ever entered my head, my sister-in-law asked me if I had ever heard of Pinterest? Nope, I had no idea what she was talking about and frankly, not being much of an "online" kind of gal, I wasn't really interested.

She explained how it was this wonderful place to find recipes, crafts, decorating and fashion inspiration. Instead of ripping what you like out of a magazine and shoving the page into a folder, never to been seen again, you pinned it on to a virtual board and it was yours forever...and without the paper mess.

That part I liked a lot.

It sounded intriguing, but until I started writing about crafts and home decor, I have to admit, I never even looked at the site. Of course, now I am mildly addicted to the photos of homes I will never own, gowns I will never wear and food that I will never, ever make. It's fun to look, no harm there, and I know that there are a ton of people who refer to their boards often, I am just not one of them.

To be honest, once I pin something, I rarely look at it again. It's all eye candy to me ~ well, mostly. I have used one or two pins as inspiration for crafts that I made, but other than that, I have only found found two things that command revisiting.

They are recipes and I am shocked we like them, because I have tried a few from the Pinterest menu and trust me, we liked the photo better. Granted, food preferences are very personal and admittedly, I am not an adventurous eater or a fabulous cook. Something could've been lost in translation. Maybe. Either way, we like these two and so I thought I would share them, because they are basic, super easy recipes and they are not full of expensive ingredients. Exquisitely Unremarkable.

The first recipe is for a basic stove top macaroni and cheese.


Pinterest~ Click here for full recipe

I really don't like to serve things from a box. If I can't read the ingredients or if something on the list sounds like it was concocted rather than harvested, we don't eat it.


So I went searching for an easy recipe to substitute for the box stuff. This sucker is Kim proof, I mean foolproof. You (I) cannot mess it up, the prep is quick and it is a delicious side dish or main course. My kids demand it once a week now and I am happy to oblige.

The second recipe is for pancakes.

Pinterest ~ Click here for full recipe
We were out of the box mix on a Sunday morning, the kids were begging for a big breakfast and Pinterest came to the rescue.


Again, so easy and so tasty. I made these for dinner this weekend. It was raining and cold outside and they hit the spot.


At first, I wasn't going to share these recipes. They are just so very basic, I figured who needs them, what value could they add?

Then I realized that I have several other pancake and mac and cheese recipes in my books, I've made them for years, but we all like these best...so I'm sharing.

To get the details on these recipes and see even more delicious looking recipes (that I haven't tried yet), you can check out my Recipes To Try board on Pinterest....and let me know if you have any tried and true easy recipes that you'd like to share.

We're going to need something new pretty soon ~ I mean you can only eat so much mac and cheese.

I don't think I'll ever get tired of pancakes.


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Box Pleat Curtain And A Little Bit More

March 12, 2015





Last week in the middle of cleaning up the mess left behind from a leaky roof and tending to a sick child, I let an important day go by without any fanfare at all. You see March 5th, 2013 was the day I hit publish on my first post. I honestly had no idea what I was doing when I decided to start blogging. I knew I wanted to take up writing again. I knew I needed a creative outlet. What I didn't know was anything about blogging or what I was going to share. 

Two years later, I have to say that I actually know quite a bit about blogging...at times, I think too much! I can write HTML and CSS code, I have been on Blogger and WordPress and Blogger again, my writing has been published in national magazines and syndicated. I have been a craft designer for various companies and I have had my DIYs featured on some pretty big websites. All in all, it's been a very successful two years.

However, if you ask me what the best part of blogging has been, I would have to say, without a doubt,  it's been the people; the fellow bloggers who have guided me around this new world, helped me out of a virtual jam and become my friends along the way. It's also been wonderful to meet others who share my passion for decor and crafts, who take the time to read my emails and then let me know how my words have touched them. I am not sure I will ever get over the thrill of opening an email from a reader. 

Last week, on the eve of my second anniversary, I received a comment from Caroline, not a blogger, but someone who was looking for decorating inspiration and stumbled across my site.

She wrote:  
   
                 Thank you for posting this! I made this valance for my daughter's room and they came out quite nice! I could not find anything in the stores that suited the space/ my needs so I decided to try to make them myself and came upon your site. Very well thought out, concise and easy to follow. I also appreciated that you were so encouraging and made things seem so simple. I tweaked things to fit my needs and design but am very happy with the results! :)

That one email totally made my weekend. It was the best anniversary present ever!

I was so excited to know that something I wrote, helped someone else to accomplish a project they were looking to do, to make their own space beautiful. Maybe it's the teacher in me, maybe it's the writer in me, I don't know, but either way, it was one of the most gratifying feelings I have ever had. 

I answered Caroline and told her that if she wanted to share her creation I would love to see it. She was kind enough to send a photo along. I think it's so sweet. I just adore her interpretation. That ribbon is so feminine and light, perfect for a little girl's room! 


This is my valance. It'a a box pleat curtain on rod, not a board. It's been featured on a lot of websites and is one of my top posts, visited thousands of times, and yet, Caroline's single visit is the one that means the most. 

So thank you Caroline for taking the time to comment and let me know that I was able to help you out a bit and thank you so much to everyone else who reads my posts, shares my articles, comments on the blog and sends emails to ask technical DIY questions or just say hi.

I have appreciated it all, more than you know, over the last two years.

You are what makes Exquisitely Unremarkable, truly remarkable!



Basement Makeovers ~ A Curated Hometalk Board

March 10, 2015



15 Basement Makeover Ideas

Last fall, my husband and I finally got around to updating our super kid friendly (um...messy) basement. We picked up a few items at the thrift store, I added several creative DIYs and poof, our mismatched space became a cohesive and cozy grown up room that we all love.

It wasn't a budget buster, yet the transformation was very dramatic.  We spent tons of time down there this winter, as it's become our new favorite room in the house ~ definitely time and money well spent.

So, when Hometalk asked me if I would like to curate a board for them and include my favorite basement makeovers, I was thrilled. There are truly so many inspiring people out there, refinishing their underground spaces to make them more functional, while creating extra livable square footage.

I clipped 15 of my favorite ideas to my Basement Makeovers board. If you love before and afters, you must check it out. Whether you are dreaming of a man cave, a playroom, a basement den or simple style tweaks, I have included them all right here.


Of course, now that I have been looking around I have some updates I would love to make in my own renovated space. For example, I think it would really kick the style of my basement up a notch if we boxed out the painted support posts and header with wood!

Go take a peek and let me know what you think!

While you are poking around Hometalk, check out my other board on Easy DIY Valances, because you know that basement makeover won't be complete without window treatments! ;)


Are you on Hometalk?


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Be Careful What You Wish For...You Just May Get It

March 5, 2015




This is the lovely view outside my kitchen window today. It's been snowing here, again, for about seven hours and is supposed to continue for seven more. We're expecting a total of about eight inches; it will sit lightly upon the rock hard foot of ice and snow that already exists and has been part of my landscape for the past two months. I've been watching it fall all day.


Earlier this week, I complained about this very same window, how it should sit directly on the countertop, but doesn't, because the carpenter warned us about rot and water overflow from the sink. It's the same window that sits above the sink, that should have been farmhouse styled, but isn't, because of the contractor's experience with expensive, leaky versions.

Pretty ironic that no one ever told me that I may have to replace the window and its frame from a leaky roof and yet, that's just what I may have to do. Turns out, all this pretty snow and ice has found its way into my home, despite the many, many times over the past few weekends that my husband has  ventured out in treacherous conditions to remove it from the roof.

Late Tuesday evening, I came home to large puddles of water on the windowsill, behind the sink and the counter. At first, I yelled at the kids for being careless while washing their hands.  Of course, while they were denying it, I was being rained on and realized it wasn't the kids at all.


Right now, there is too much snow and ice up there to remedy the problem, it is also snowing again, which will only exacerbate the situation. Will it be a quick fix with a paint job? Is there mold brewing on the other side of the sheetrock? What measures will be necessary on the roof to make sure this never happens again? Is the window frame going to be rotted and will it need replacing?

Suddenly, my "will I ever get a farmhouse sink" lament seems rather inconsequential. Water damage is a bummer...an expensive, moldy, let's rip the sheetrock off of the kitchen ceiling and replace it all kind of bummer. In the end, if we are going to have to do all this work anyway, I may get that farmhouse sink and lowered window sooner than I had planned...

...but it's going to be way more expensive that I had hoped and much, much messier.

What exactly was wrong with my kitchen yesterday?

Oh boy. Be careful what you wish for...you just may get it.


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Kitchen Renovation Regrets

March 3, 2015



farmhouse ktichen

This is my kitchen. It was not part of our original cottage, we added it in 2003 right after we purchased the house.  The entire space is an addition, so there was a lot to consider before we started the renovation.

I wanted vaulted ceilings and wide plank wood floors. I wanted glass cabinets and subway tiles and I wanted that hood. I went to several kitchen planners and brought my ideas to the big box stores, too. I consulted with our builder and combed through countless magazines and catalogs. I was prepared and planned down to the last pot holder, or so I thought.

After months of conceptualizing, I knew exactly what I wanted and I was going to get it all. Of course, when it comes to renovation, the dream and the reality are not always the same thing.

There are budgetary constraints, compromises made between partners and the input of the builder ~  the old form versus function debates. I opted for form every single time. My builder did not.

Needless to say, I didn't get everything I wanted, but I figured that's ok. I will settle for "this" or "that" now and in the near future, I will change it out and get what I really want.

Big mistake. Big.

Here's the deal, my best renovation advice, especially when it comes to the kitchen, the most lived in, most valuable room in your home ~ choose wisely during the initial renovation. The chances that you will go back and change something out again shortly after a newly remodeled room is complete is remote at best. Things come up, like preschool tuition or the need for a new cesspool or car and since your kitchen already functions fine, your dream item will be relegated to the back burner, again and again.

Additionally, living through construction of any kind is difficult. Living through a kitchen demo is the worst. You have no water, no work surface, you get sick of take out after day three and the joy of disposable paper plates wears thin in a week. Once you get your kitchen back, the thought of ripping it out again, or any part of it, is almost unbearable. I say do it once and do it right. Trust me.

There are things that bother me about this kitchen every day. They are things we were going to change out...soon...and yet, other than necessary repairs or swaps, it's looked exactly like this for over 10 years.

What's so wrong with it, you ask? Well nothing earth shattering, just things I wanted from the get go that were sacrificed for the greater good.

Farmhouse sink envy

For example, I wanted a farmhouse sink (I know, everyone does), but my contractor told me that they were more expensive and so many of them leaked. The aprons were not always flush, blah, blah, installation was harder and therefore would cost more. He also told me that they were a passing fad. Um...hello.

My husband heard all of this and we ended up with a boring basin. It's perfectly pretty, but not what I really wanted and when it comes to creating a feeling in a room, true style, the devil is in the details.

What else? Well, you see those electrical outlets and the bank of light switches? Yeah, so can everyone else, very easily. I wanted them to be lower, down near the countertop and sideways so they could be hidden behind accessories. No one wants to see them, but that's not code. They need to be high enough so that they do not pose a shock threat. The electrical inspector won that round.

However, I should've spent the dough to have them mounted under the cabinets, I cannot stand to see them. We would have to completely retile the backsplash to move them now. That is not happening. So I am stuck with them and they are a terrible eyesore.

I wanted mahogany countertops. They are not practical, according to my husband, and they cost too much. I lost that battle, as well. I fell for the old someday ploy. Hmmm, that's a conveniently vague time frame, don't you think?

kitchen renovations

I wanted the window to rest on the counter, but the contractor told me that would lead to rot, since water tends to spill into the space from the sink...which should've been a farmhouse styled version. Did I mention that already?

It's taken me 10 years, but I think I found an easy fix for that one. Just don't tell my husband yet. Oops. Hi honey.

Lastly, we went for the bargain model fridge instead of the built in and the gap on top bothers me to no end. It also sticks out about a foot past the countertop. We were going to upgrade when it kicked. Guess what? The high end dishwasher and stove have both been replaced. That super sale, basic refrigerator is still working perfectly. Just my luck.


I always advise people to decorate with what they love, don't follow trends for the sake of fitting in and listen to decorators who want to sell you their style. However, listening to contractors and safety inspectors is different. It is prudent to consult an expert, but generally there are ways to work your desires into the plan.

My advice is to think about every detail, decide on your must haves and build a contingency plan before the first day of work begins. Decision fatigue and the desire to complete the project, whatever it takes, sets in quickly, especially when you are washing sippy cups and oatmeal encrusted bowls in the bathtub for the third week in a row.

Do it once, do it right and don't get sucked in by all the "someday" talk, because take it from me, someday, is just a pretty word for never.

Do you have a renovation regret?



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