Blog Background

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Breast Pumps That Don't Suck

See what these kids at MIT are doing to revolutionize the breast pump. I am posting this as I sit here in a locked storage room in my office listening to the not-so-silent hum of my $300 Medela Pump-not-so-In-Style.  So when can I get one?  I'll take the prototype!

Friday, September 19, 2014

Opening an Etsy Storefront

As many of you may know (tee hee, I am pretending like more than just my husband and mother read this,) I have been making all-natural organic skin care products for Little Man for a couple years now.  He's got some of the most sensitive skin EVER, and everything from Johnson & Johnson to Aveeno to Desitin (don't even get me started on that crap,) made him break out in horrible bouts of eczema.  Even some of the uber-expensive organic products still contain parabens and sulfates - the ENEMY of sensitive skin.

I've been through tons of experimental skin care recipes, trying to figure out what would work on his baby skin.  I finally got into a groove with a group of ingredients I liked.

Then I had a visit from my cousin.  He got a job in town, and in the process of moving his family up, stayed with me.  When his wife brought up her little ones, I made a few concoctions for them.  And then the famous words which led to my inspiration: "Dear Cousin, do you sell this stuff?  No?  You should!"  She didn't really say dear cousin, we're not in a Jane Austen novel.  But wouldn't it be cool if we were?!  I'm such a book nerd.

The idea of selling had never even occurred to me.

But once I thought about it, I thought to myself (and aloud to my ever half-listening Hubby,) "I bet I could sell this on Etsy, it is some pretty neat hand-made stuff."  To which he replied, while looking through the latest Bass Pro Shops catalog, "mm-hmm."  A glowing agreement!

So I've done it.  I've opened up on Etsy.  After much consideration and thought, and a few ideas that were already taken (darn you, Baby Balms!) I came up with my storefront name, Cherub Creams.  Because my babies are such angels!  Sometimes.  When they want something.  Like a cookie.

I am starting out with things that I can easily package, because since I already have all the recipes for my product line, packaging is the hard part!  For now, everything I sell comes in a lip balm tube.  It's a pretty convenient invention, when you think about it.  Portable, small, sealed, fits in your pocket.  Great for the diaper bag.  And Little Man can't get the caps off and smear them everywhere! It's win-win!

So without further ado, a link to my new shop:

Cherub Creams

I will start posting product spotlights here to keep everyone up to date.  Thanks for your support!

Friday, September 12, 2014

$1,800 Kitchen Renovation

Have you ever heard that saying, "my blood, sweat, and tears are in this project"?  Usually that's meant in a figurative sense, but I'm convinced that the original author who coined that phrase was a DIY'er.  There was blood shed on the countertops, tears of frustration in the grout, and sweat, well, on everything.  (Don't worry, we cleaned.)

This project started much like any other in our home.  We hated the 90's oak cabinets and had a TON of white trim paint left over.  My husband had just gotten a new job (in town!) and decided to take the in-between week off he had to paint the cabinets.  They turned out great, but...white cabinets with white linoleum countertops was HIDEOUS.  It was even worse than the oak.  So we went to Southeastern Salvage and found these beauties for less than $100 a slab.  (And you know me, I had a 10% off coupon.)  So we got them.

Now, if you've done countertops before, you know that they are a PAIN.  You have to cut holes for the stove and sink, and make the corners line up with horribly out-of-square walls.  Not easy.  I've been eyeing this hammered under mount apron-front copper sink for about 5 years now, so my husband said, "Baby, you might as well spend the money now, because I'm not doing this again!"  YAY most expensive item in our reno!   And that lead to a matching faucet.  And of course, there was no point in putting in the counters before painting the walls.  And when you do butcherblock, there's no built-in 4" backsplash, so you need tile to cover the back.  All this lead to a MAJOR redo.  This is how they all start...

Here's what we were working with before:

Not totally hideous, but not at all our style.  (These pictures are actually from the MLS listing; we bought a new stainless fridge to replace the old one the previous owners took with them, and it actually made the wood cabinets look even older!)  What you can't see is the years of caked on grease on the ceiling fan and kitchen hood, the wine stains on the white countertops, the icky gold dining room fixture, and the wood knobs.  The walls are navy because they painted over wallpaper that was blue.  I know this because they missed a bunch of spots!  Unfortunately, once you paint over it, that wallpaper AIN'T coming off.  So I did the unthinkable and painted over it again.  I know, I know.

So without further ado, the after:

Just look at that sink!  It makes my heart sing.  We painted all the wood knobs with oil-rubbed bronze spray paint.  I looked at replacing them, but there are 87 knobs in this kitchen, and that's quite a chunk of change!  So for 2 cans of spray paint, they are now quite lovely.

We used the same spray paint to paint the light fixture.  We had some can lights that had black rings for some unknown reason, which I spray painted with an old can of white gloss spray paint.  Ya'll.  Spray paint is one of the cheapest, easiest DIY fixes out there.  If you can't fix it, spray it!

I used some vinyl wallpaper I bought at Target for a backsplash over the coffee counter and desk, normally $29.99, which isn't bad, but I bought it on sale for $24.99.  The backsplash tile also came from Southeastern Salvage, it was only $4.88/SF, far cheaper than most natural stone mosaic tile.

We sealed the countertops twice on the bottom, 5 times on top with Watco wipe-on Poly, which the people at Woodcraft told me was equivalent to the very expensive Waterlox, and it has been.  The water beads right up on it and doesn't soak in at all.

My cousin found these barstools second-hand for $18/ea.  All of the decorations came from TJ Maxx and Target.  (Post to follow on how I created my feature wall!)

The new kitchen hood was on sale for $89 at Home Depot on Labor Day.  It was not part of our reno plan, but it was so cheap that we made the splurge.  We haven't replaced the stovetop or oven, the old ones work just fine and blend in ok for now.  I'm very grateful for what we have been able to do!  So here's the breakdown:

3 cans of Benjamin Moore White Dove paint left over from other projects: FREE
3 cans of Rustoleum hammered oil-rubbed bronze spray paint $21
2 quarts Watco matte wipe-on poly $38
Countertops $550 (we used the old brackets from the linoleum ones, and this tutorial)
Sink $592, minus eBates rebate ($13)
Delta Bronze Faucet and a new p-trap $215
Target vinyl wallpaper $25
3 thrift store barstools $54
Kitchen hood $89
Backsplash tile 14SF @ $4.88 = $69
Sandpaper, caulk $20
Decorations $50

I may have left out a thing or two, but we renovated a pretty big kitchen for about $1,800, which for the results above, I am pretty impressed with!  We had some late nights trying to build a functioning kitchen before Little Man's 2nd birthday party, and I jokingly posted this on Facebook at 10 p.m. one night:

Notice the watermelon on the counter?  That's for the party.  Yep, we cut it that close.  Those cabinet doors under the sink had to be modified to fit and we did not get that done before the party!  No one even noticed!

And let's not forget the valuable help my husband got from Little Man:

But the results speak for themselves!  And the best part of the renovation: WE'RE DONE!!!