I SPY! Tea Towels

Tea towels are one of my favorite gifts to give…and get! They are both practical and fun, especially these tea towels from Keep Calm Gallery. I’ve featured its tote bags and prints before, and guess what? Keep Calm Gallery’s tea towels are equally adorable…

The towels above are just a sampling of what’s available online.  Created from soft organic cotton, the towels are about $11.00 each. The prices on the website are in euros, so don’t be alarmed. And yes, they absolutely ship items to the states.

I’ve said this before, but the best part about Keep Calm Gallery is that it was founded by two young entrepreneurs-Lucas Lepola and Hayley Thwaites-out of East Dulwich, London. For some reason, a product’s “wow” factor goes through the roof when you find out someone has poured their heart and soul into creating it. Case in point. Lucas and Hayley run Keep Calm Gallery, an online store that has grown from a small side business into an expansive website full of beautiful things for your home (mugs, prints, tea towels, etc). Keep Calm Gallery includes work that not only Lucas and Hayley have created, but the website features a number of other amazingly talented artists, designers and print makers.

 Happy weekend to you all! Kyle and I have house guests coming next week and I can’t wait to tell you who’s stopping by…fun times ahead!

DIY Outdoor Dining Table

My pals are like sisters to me. They are near and dear to my heart and I adore each and every one of them. We’ve been through lots of life transitions together, with the most recent one being becoming first-time home owners. Because a good portion of us now own humble abodes, we are always swapping decor finds, home improvement stories and tips.

 With that said, I’m over the moon excited to introduce you to my dear friend Jess. She’s a talented teacher, a mother of one darling girl with another baby on the way, and her and her husband(Justin) are fixing up their 1950′s ranch style home. She’s constantly trying to balance her husband’s very modern taste with her more traditional style. Jess is doing a wonderful job of balancing both design styles and she’s graciously allowing me to share the DIY outdoor dining table they built together just a few weeks ago.

Behold the beauty…

DIY outdoor table table-after

Jess and Justin’s step-by-step DIY table:

1.) Pick up a large metal door. J + J purchased their door at The Rebuilding Center in Portland for, get this, $15!

DIY outdoor table table

2.) Next, they needed legs for the table. J + J picked up four hair pin legs in vintage teal for $30.00 total. Again, if you live in Portland, they purchased the legs at City Liquidators.

DIY outdoor table table

3.) With their old door and vintage legs in tow, J + J picked up a few screws and a heat flange (to replace the door knob hole) for a total of $1.50.

table-door-hole

4.) Back at home, J + J removed the door hinges from the door and attached the vintage legs.

DIY outdoor table table

5.) With the table construction complete, J + J carefully striped the teal paint off the door with “crazy harsh non-earth friendly chemicals” as Jess puts it.

DIY Outdoor dining room table

DIY Outdoor dining room table

The result? A stunningly unique and upscycled outdoor table…

DIY Outdoor dining room table

And as for the chairs, J + J picked those up at City Liquidators as well. Quite the find, eh?

To recap, this beauty of a table cost a total of $46.50. Can’t beat that!

Jess, thank you for being such an inspiring woman and friend. Your home is a true reflection of the beautiful person you are.

An Unexpected Bouquet…Onion Flowers!

Have you guys seen onion flowers? In short, it’s an onion plant that doesn’t behave. My neighbor showed me his unruly plant and I thought the onion flowers were so unique that I snipped a few for our kitchen.

onion-flower-closeup

Most people want to grow onion bulbs and not onion flowers. Onion flowers are usually caused by temperature fluctuations -  the onion is deceived into believing it has completed two growth cycles in its biennial life cycle so it finalizes the cycle by blooming.  Basically, you’ve failed to grow an edible onion if the plant flowers, which is somewhat ironic.

onion-flower-closeup

I cut these this weekend, and they haven’t changed one bit since I first snipped them off the plant. And as for the smell, I was worried my whole kitchen would smell like an enormous onion, but I’m happy to report the flowers don’t have an elaborate fragrance to them, if any.

So if you are growing onions, cheers to harvesting actual onions and not flowers! However, if you end up with flowers, they’ll serve as a decent consolation prize.

How to Stain a Deck

We’ve stained our deck three times since we moved in (once per summer), and we finally have it down to a science. It’s an afternoon project that makes a BIG difference. And you feel accomplished…a rare feat in home improvement!

Here’s my quick and dirty how-to-stain-your-deck-in-an-afternoon directions:

1.) Power wash your deck. Do it. It makes a difference. Sure it’s a pain and you might not have a power washer handy, but borrow one. It creates a nice “blank slate” to work with.

deck-before-close-up

deck-after-powerwashing

2.) Clean and scrub. Give your deck a nice long bath. We use Behr’s 2-in-1 Wood Prep mix. It gets rid of the grim and truly preps the wood for a new coat of stain. Hose off your deck to get rid of any leftover suds and let the deck completely dry.

deck-stain

deck-cleaning

deck-washing-off-cleaner

3.) Stain away. We chose Behr’s Semi-Transparent Deck, Fence and Siding Wood stain in coffee. Our deck is fairly old, and we’ve found that the darker the stain, the easier it is to cover imperfections in the wood. We use one paint brush for those hard to reach places and one Shur-Line Deck Pad. This is a must-have. I repeat, this is a must-have. It spreads the stain evenly and makes staining easy. Trust me on this one – I refuse to stain anything without one.

deck-shurline

deck-stain-can

deck-stain-

deck-staining

4.) Let the stain dry for a few hours. Then step back and admire your work. And of course, ENJOY the finished product.

deck-after-closeup

deck-after

As for the rest of our backyard…I’ll be showing you soon!