Hello, favorites. It's Sunday, and everyone in our house is feeling pretty cozy and tired. There's baked oatmeal in the oven (recipe coming soon) it's dark as midnight (except it's only 7:30...and we're only losing daylight from here!) We're settling into fall and getting ready for winter and all is well.
I had big plans for some blogs this week, and they entirely escaped me. The last few weeks at work have been uncharacteristically hectic, and while I think we're finally coming out of that (knock on all of the wood) it's kept me pretty occupied. On Friday afternoon I flew to Chicago for a Saturday work meeting, and got to spend the night with one of my best friends, her husband, and their two dogs and a cat. It was lovely to see her, and lovely to get home to Dan and Chewy last night. And TODAY, I accomplished a task that has been irking me for MONTHS--the backsplash in our kitchen! The rest of our home renovation was finished in about February, but the backsplash has been a thorn in my side ever since then. Originally we planned to do the tiling ourselves, but we never really got around to it, and then we planned to hire someone, but we hadn't gotten that done, and knew it would be expensive...and THEN. Then. My momma sent me a pin of a laundry room wall covered in tiles that look like old tin ceilings, and I realized I should just give that a try. So today, I did. And I love it SO much.
This entire project cost me less than $200 and took about three hours to finish, all by myself. It's really just a matter of measuring the space you need, cutting the tile sheets down to the right size, squeezing some adhesive on the back (I used loctite) and pressing them on to the wall. The tiles are plastic but look like metal, and they can be cut with a regular scissors. Seriously, anyone could do it. And it took our kitchen from this:
I can't even tell you how much better I feel about our kitchen now. I think most people wouldn't have noticed that our backsplash was missing (or assumed the weird faux-wood veneer was intentional and finished) but it always bothered me and made me feel like our house wasn't "done" yet. I wish I would have thought of this solution six months ago, but I'm so glad that I did it today! Thanks, Mom :)
Here's a progress shot:
So now our kitchen is finally, officially finished. I really love the kitchen--the original cabinets and the tall ceilings make the small space feel much bigger and more usable, and I appreciate our new countertops, sink, and appliances every day. I also love this little touch: I mounted plants above the kitchen window on a rod and some enamel pails from Ikea. Because I have a black thumb some of the plants need to be periodically replaced, but I love them nonetheless.
Looking forward to sharing some new recipes from you, from this VERY KITCHEN, very soon. Wishing you all cozy and wonderful Sundays.
You guys…if today is Fueled Up Friday that means we survived the week! And now the weekend is coming! Hallelujah, puh-raise the lawd. At the beginning of this week I was all rested and optimistic and thinking that this would be the week that I would really get my act together and finish some nagging items on my to-do list around the house (wallpaper the kitchen…finally replace some outlet covers that have been missing since we painted two months ago…hang the light fixture in our kitchen that has been sitting in a box for weeks…) but then, I didn’t really do that. I did try the wallpaper thing. We all know how that turned out (hint: NOT WELL). But this weekend, with Chewy as my witness, I truly am going to finish up some painting and house detail stuff and then I am going to show you all some photos! I can’t wait to share our new space with you. But, in the meantime, you came here for fueled up Friday and that is what you shall receive. Up this week: peppermint essential oil, Bloglovin’, and the Hot Dash 10 mile race. Let us begin.
Peppermint Essential Oil
I ordered a big starter set of essential oils at the end of last year because that just seems like something that would be right up my alley. Do I know anything about them? Heavens to Betsy, no. But I want to learn. I think my best self uses essential oils, but I can’t keep track of her long enough to ask. She’s tricky. So, I have this cute set of essential oils that I’ve used a few times and big plans to unlock their secrets at a later, undisclosed date. But this week I discovered that peppermint oil is amazing. Mostly because it can be used to treat my two mortal enemies: headaches, and upset stomachs. I have been getting terrible migraines since I was a kid, and this week I had a few nagging headaches that threatened to become full-on “I can’t stop crying it hurts so much” migraines. So, I put a drop of peppermint oil on my fingers and rubbed the oil on both temples and in between my eyebrows, on the area where my nose meets my forehead, and it really helped! I don’t think it would stop a full-blown headache in its tracks, but it makes enough of a difference that I could finally fall asleep, or take the edge off the pain enough to make dinner. This is a small miracle, and small miracles will be celebrated.
I also learned that peppermint oil can help relieve a bloated, upset stomach. I was feeling a little queasy because I ate too much cheese this week (yes, I know better, but there’s brie in my fridge and I’m only human) so I put a few drops of peppermint oil on my tummy before bed and rubbed the oil in to my skin. It’s harder to say how much of a difference this made, but it seemed like it helped (and definitely didn’t hurt) so I’ll take it. If you have tips on your favorite uses for essential oils, I’d love to hear them!
One of the tools the Weebly blog platform offers is the ability to see how people are getting to your blog if they came from somewhere else (like a Facebook link, or Pinterest, or whatever). I noticed that Bloglovin’ was showing up on this referral list, so I clicked on that link out of curiosity…and accidentally discovered my new favorite productivity-killer. Bloglovin’ is a platform that allows you to select blogs you want to follow and add them to a feed that looks a lot like Pinterest (my previous favorite productivity-killer). Once you collect blogs that you like, it recommends similar bloggers that you might be interested in, and also offers the ability to browse by category or just scroll through popular posts. The feed shows you a snippet of the post so you can decide if you want to read more, and then if you click through it will take you over to the blog. The blogs that you choose to follow will show up in your personalized feed so that you never miss a blog post (and can do all your reading or skimming in one place). I’ve added my favorite bloggers, along with some new awesome-looking blogs that I just discovered today, and I can’t wait to use this tool more. I’ve also added a Bloglovin’ button on the right-hand side of this page (all the way at the bottom, if you’re reading on your phone) so you can easily add Cocoa & Cotton if you’re already a Bloglovin’ fan! And if you’re not already, I suspect you may become one in the future. Check it out.
Looking around Bloglovin' also got me inspired to up my game in the social media world, so I signed in to my never-used Twitter account and wrote my first-ever tweet. I…don’t understand the Twitter. I’m lost over there. I need assistance. If you’re on Twitter and you love it, I also added a Twitter button next to my Instagram and Pinterest links (again, on the right-side of your screen if you’re on a computer, or all the way at the bottom on your phone). Please send help. Or be my friend, or whatever. Help me follow you. I can’t find anyone.
Thus concludes my foray into twenty-first century technology...we will now resume your regularly-scheduled programming.
The Hot Dash Ten Mile Race
The Hot Dash is happening tomorrow!! I’m so excited I could pee a little. So, this ten-mile race is one that Dan and I also ran last year, but we didn’t train for it at all and I walked off the course at the seven-mile mark. NOT SO this year, amigos! I have totally been running and I am ready to kill it.
I’ve gotta pause here and give a shout out to Dan, before I tell you that I’m definitely going to kick his butt at the race. Dan was a professional basketball player for many years (and a D1 college basketball player before that) so he’s always been in great shape. But basketball is a totally different kind of running, and he was never a distance runner. Last year, when I decided to sign up for this ten-mile race, I let him know that I was doing it just as a heads-up. “Hey sweetie, I’m going to sign up for this ten mile race in March so that I do some running this winter.” Without missing a beat, Dan was like, “Sign me up, too.” This, coming from a guy who had never run more than four miles at a time, was a surprising reaction. But hey, you wanna run the race? You get to run the race. (YOU get a race, YOU get a race, EVERYBODY gets a race!) And he totally killed it! Neither of us trained, but Dan’s competitive spirit flared up pretty early and he made it through to the end (fighting tooth and nail with a couple of grannies for the last few miles, but he crossed that finish line). I don't know any other person who is so willing to commit to physical challenges outside their comfort zone, so kudos to you, husband.
Fast forward to this year, I asked Dan if he wanted to run the race again and he immediately said yes. I assured him that we would actually train this year. The first few weeks we did some short runs together, but Dan likes to run first thing in the morning and I…don’t. So we started each doing our own thing. And my thing involved a training schedule that I followed pretty closely, and Dan’s thing mostly involved a handful of four-mile runs here and there. As the race got closer I started to bug him more about training ("Hey…you…ya gonna go for a run today? Gonna maybe do a longer run this week?") And Dan always said, “Of course!” And then mostly didn’t. But last week Dan insisted that he would not be outdone at the Hot Dash. Despite my clearly superior training, he was adamant that he would be finishing the race at my side. Which I obviously found incredibly offensive. So, the stakes have been raised in our house, and tomorrow is the day of judgment. Always fueled by competition, Dan did go for a six-mile run this week and came out at 9:30 a mile, so maybe he’s going to be more competitive than I thought. Then again, I'm pretty competitive myself. Stay tuned for the recap next week.
That's all for today, ducklings. Have a wonderful weekend!
P.S. As a reward for making it all the way to the end of this post, you get a sneak preview of the house reveal. This is a before/after of one of the areas that fell victim to the wallpaper fiasco, but from this distance you can't even see the bubbles. Good thing the "before" set the bar so low, eh?
Man alive, friends, it has been a crazy week. Sometimes I think long weekends just make the short week more hectic, because everyone comes back rested and ready to go on Monday and things get NUTS. No? Just me? Ok then.
If you don't live in a house that was built in 1920, it's possible this post will be of limited value to you. BUT, what I learned through doing this project is that it's surprisingly easy to paint metal in a way that is (allegedly) durable, even for a surface that's going to get hot, so this post could have all sorts of applications for other metal things that you might want to paint. There are lots of spray paints that are specifically designed for metal, but we didn't have the option to take this radiator outside (both because it was too cold for spray paint and because these radiators are HEAVY and we weren't going to be moving it more than a few feet).
I found myself repainting this radiator because we're in the middle of a bathroom remodel and the radiator was removed from the bathroom so a tile floor could be put down. Since it was out of the way and not going to be getting hot any time soon, it was the perfect time to clean it up. Plus, I liked the gold color but the beat-up finish was going to look especially dingy next to brand new, shiny tile. So! Off to the Home Depot!
What we learned from our friendly Home Depot experts is that you do need to buy a special undercoat to ensure that the paint you're using will stick to the metal and hold fast when the radiator heats and cools--but the undercoat goes on just like regular paint and is super easy to use. Here's what it looks like (we had them tint ours yellow since we were using gold paint).
So, start by cleaning off your radiator really well, and chipping off the loose pieces of paint. Here are some before pictures of ours:
One thing about radiators is they're secretly designed for hiding families of dust bunnies on their inner coils. Do the best you can with cleaning that sucker out, but mine was not perfect (I know I have a radiator brush somewhere, but I did not find it for this project). Once the radiator is clean and dry, slap a layer of that Glidden Gripper over the entire thing (I used a regular old paint brush and it worked great).
Let that layer dry for an hour, and then follow it with two coats of your paint color of choice (letting the second coat dry according to the directions on your paint can before you paint the third layer). I started with a Ralph Lauren gold from Home Depot, but it turned out to be a very bright yellow (think "follow the yellow brick road" gold, or "pimp gold," if you will) and I was going for something more muted. This is the gold paint I used in the end, which is available at Target:
And that's all there is to it! Admire your beautiful new-old radiator.
I'm definitely going to repaint some of the other radiators in our house now that I know how easy this is, but I'll wait until summer so they're not hot while I'm painting (I'm not an expert here, but I don't think that's a great idea). I supposed you could also just close the radiator and let it cool down, but we have plenty of other house projects to attend to in the meantime. Hoping to start revealing some rooms soon!
About a week ago, I cut ten inches off my hair (at about 10:00 on a Monday night, sort of on a whim). I knew I was growing my hair out with the goal of donating it, and that I needed to cut ten inches for donation. And, my hair was getting to the length that it was really bugging me. At the point that your hair gets stuck between your back and the chair when you sit down, I'm out. So I had been holding a ruler up to it for the last few weeks, thinking, "I think there's enough there to cut ten inches." And then, last Monday, it was time.
I've had chin-length hair before, and knew that I like it, but I've never cut it that short myself. I've been cutting my own hair for about seven years, since we lived in Europe and I decided I'd give it a try (seemed safer than asking for a haircut in broken Portuguese?) and now I do it all the time. I haven't been to a salon for any sort of hair treatment since then. But, I've always had longer-than-shoulder-length hair in that time. Cutting very short hair is harder, because you can't pull it out in front of your face to chop it off. So, once I cut through the pony tail and had the "oh crap, that's shorter than I thought it was going to be" moment, I did my best trimming the layers, cut a few weird pieces the next morning, and called it good. I'm loving the short hair for now, and am really happy to check donating hair off my bucket list. My brother has Alopecia, and growing up I remember seeing locks of love on Oprah and really wanting to donate my hair. Took me a few decades to get around to doing it, but I'm really glad I did.
Hope you all had a wonderful weekend!