Queen of the Cardigans

Aaron’s Anniversary Present


As of July 9th, this weirdo and I have been together for three years. Three amazing years of staring at that face, sharing my life, and loving immensely. 

Here is a little secret about me, I love giving people gifts and one of my random skills that I pride myself on is my ability to give really great gifts. Not expensive gifts, not big gifts, but gifts that are so unique and too perfect for the receiver. 

Obviously, for my boy, his anniversary present had to be special. I got an idea back in February as I watched him making me dinner (He’s cute AND he cooks. Tame your jealousy, please.) He had an app up on his phone that he was reading the recipe from. The phone was so near the flame of the stove and the grease kept splashing on it. 

"He really needs to print those out and keep his phone safe" I thought to myself. "OR! I could print them for him in a cookbook." and thus, the evil plan was conceived. It took me a few months to get going though because of the house and finishing up school. 

Not only did I steal all his favorite recipes from his phone, I also got his family and friends to send me all his favorite meals that they cook.

Then I spent hours designing a book for all the recipes to go into. I admire those who are graphic designers by profession. I know my way around Adobe design programs, but it’s so tedious to make everything just right . But for him, worth it. After it was all done, I just had to send it to a printing company to get made and spiral bound.

Here is just a sampling of the book. I’m super proud of it and he loved it! 


Yes, that’s his name. No, he has never been on a television show called “Breaking Bad.”

image  image


So if you’re ever looking for a great gift idea and don’t mind spending lots of time putting it together, here ya go. 

Next post coming up: his present to me. Also craft/creativity related because what else would he get for me?


Weekly Inspiration: July 20

Even as the project list on the house continues to dwindle, it still feels like the projects are adding up! It’s nice now because the projects themselves are all smaller things like “Oh, let’s make a lamp to go there” instead of “Oh, let’s repaint and refloor this entire room.” In addition to fun little decor projects, I’m also shopping for and buying a ton of cool stuff for the house. Because I want to share all this inspiration with you, I’m starting a new series of posts called “Weekly Inspirations.” Every Saturday, I will post one thing that inspired me the past week. It can be a product I bought, something I saw, or just a thought to inspire creativity. 

This week: Anthropologie dishes! 

I’ve had my eye on the salad plates for months! I didn’t want to buy them until the house was more together. They were a little pricey, but they were too pretty to pass up! I also purchased Anthropologie’s latte bowls to compliment them.

Paired with these great plain plates from Target, they’re going to look great on my dining room table. 

So what inspired you this week?


Notice something new?

I changed the layout of this blog. Again. I wanted something a little cleaner and a little classier. What do you think?

The $50 Pottery Barn Sofa

Story time!

When we moved in, the wood paneled family room featured decor of 3 very uncomfortable chairs of various color and style, a love seat, and a TV. It’s become our hang out room, mostly because of the TV. The seating arrangements were not working for us. We’d both try to sit on the love seat at the same time and try and play Mario Kart, but we’d always end up bumping into each other with several limbs falling asleep. When we had friends over, someone always ended up sitting on the floor, because the chairs can’t really be arranged to see the TV. It was not the most comfortable.

One Saturday we were out running some errands and Aaron said ” Let’s go thrift shopping and see if we can find a proper sofa for that room.” I initially said no because we haven’t painted the space yet. No point in getting something we’re going to have to worry about covering and moving around. The whole “we could be moving soon pending me getting a job” thing also worried me because that’s one more piece of furniture to either leave behind or get into a moving truck. 

He somehow talked me into it. We went to the Habitat for Humanity Restore and of course found the perfect sofa. An off white, Pottery barn sofa, with only a few scuffs and dirty spots, for only $50. I looked up the original price online: $1500. You know I love a bargain, especially for something as high quality as Pottery Barn. 

We measured the sofa and knew it would fit in our truck and in the front door. We did not measure the door into the family room. After about an hour of struggling to try and fit it through the door, we gave up.   


So now we have a new sofa for the living room. And the grey sofa is in the family room now. It works out well though, because I’m planning on painting that room white. Grey sofa in a white room, white sofa in a grey room. 

The scuffs came right out with a little scrubbing and the cushion covers were easily washed with the laundry. We also borrowed a relative’s upholstery vacuum to really get it clean.

It’s a perfect fit for the space and it was a super great find!


Life is an ever changing thing

Needless to say, life is a crazy thing. Being a young, post college 20-something, life has fit that description for me lately. I just finished college, moved into a fixer upper with my boyfriend, with all the things that go along with being a home owner, and I’m job hunting like a maniac. I’ve been thrown into adult life very quickly. And it’s been a wonderful journey so far. Just as quickly as my life became this, it’s changing again.

As I’ve been job searching, it’s become apparent that the jobs I really want and would fit well in are not in the Pittsburgh area. They are in the wonderful city of Chicago. Those who know me, know that Chicago has had a part of my heart for a while now, so the prospect of me moving there isn’t surprising. The move isn’t official yet, but it’s coming soon. My posting might be spotty while we figure things out, pack up, decide what to do with the house, find an apartment etc.

And then there is the issue of the house! We have a house! That we just put a lot of work into! We know. But we also know that we have so many more years of life to have a house in the suburbs near our families. So it will be sad to say goodbye to this house which we put so much love into, but we’re so excited for this next crazy adventure. And we’ve been doing a lot of work that I haven’t blogged about yet. Do not fear, you have not seen the last of the house.  

I’m not sure of all the details yet, but updates will happen as they come along. 

So here is to the next adventure!

Ikea Coffee Table Makeover (plus living room update)


I’ve got a tutorial for you today, which is something that I haven’t done in a while!

I love the feeling of modern and rustic blend that an iron and wooden coffee table gives. The problem is that they are all rather pricey. Did I mention I just graduated college? That means I don’t have a ton of money to throw around on coffee tables. Ikea on the other hand, is something I can be enthusiastic about. We picked up this great coffee table there for under $20. They had a real iron coffee table for a little more, however Aaron wanted something sturdier for adding the wooden top too. I just wanted the general idea/look of a wooden and iron table, so I agreed on the composite, dark table.


For this tutorial, you will need:

- Ikea Lack coffee table 

- Three pieces of wood. We actually had two, but one was long enough to get two pieces out of. We picked these babies up at the Habitat for Humanity Restore for under $5


- A sponge and some water to clean the wood with

- A circular saw 

- Sandpaper

- Screws and a drill

- Stain and a rag (optional)

Step 1:

Wash and prep the wood. We loved all the character of the pieces we picked up, but they were super dirty. We washed and sanded each piece to get them ready to attach. Make sure they are completely dry before trying to cut them.


My helper is the best!


The $30 hand sander was the best purchase ever. Makes projects so much easier!

Step 2:

Assemble the Ikea Lack table. I followed the instructions up until the last step of attaching the bottom tier. I saved that for after the wood was attached so it would be easier to get under the table. 


Step 3:

Measure and cut your wood. The table top is 35 inches. I wanted a tiny bit of over hang, so using the circular saw, we cut each piece at 36.5 inches. I am not a fan of blades/saws so I stayed very far away for this step. Have I mentioned he’s the best? If you don’t have access to a saw/cutting device, I know that most hardware stores like Lowes will cut wood for a small fee. Renting tools is also an option.  


Step 4:

Place your planks where you want them on the table. It took a little bit of puzzle work and flipping pieces to make them look just right.


Step 5:

Attach your wood to the table using the screws. Aaron went underneath the table to screw them in from the bottom, while I held each plank in place. We used three 3” screws on each plank, one towards each end of the table and one in the middle of the plank.  Be careful when drilling in the screws, because if you push too hard, the composite splits a little.



Step 6:

Sand off any splinters, especially on the ends where the planks were cut. Then attach the bottom tier of the table per the Ikea instructions. 


Can you tell that’s my “project doing” shirt? I’m only wearing it in every other post. 

Step 7:

Apply a stain (if needed.) We both agreed the top was a little lighter than we wanted. We chose Minwax Wood Finish stain in shade “Special Walnut 224.” Application was easy, just rubbed it on with a rag in the direction of the grain and let it soak in for about 5 minutes before rubbing the excess off. It was less than $5 at Lowes for a small can and it was the perfect shade with only one coat. All the character of the wood still showed through, which is why we chose those planks in the first place.



Let it dry and bring it inside to enjoy!


The only downside to this project was how much heavier the table became once the planks were attached. It’s pretty difficult for me to lift it. 

Total cost of the project:

Table: $20

Planks: $5

Stain: $3.50

We had everything else like the screws and the saw. 

Total: $28.50

Restoration Hardware has a few similar tables for well over $500! Can you tell I love their stuff? I love a bargain even more.

In addition to the coffee table, we’ve made some other changes to the living room to make it more homey since I posted about the paint job.


The new rug and canvas from Home Goods (another store I am obsessed with) bring the room some much needed color.



The accent chair was a steal from my bedroom at my parent’s house that I added after I painted it last year. Another Home Goods find!


We brought Aaron’s piano down from the spare bedroom and added some frames and candles all around to personalize the space. 


Until next time!


Powder Room Makeover


Right off of our awesome, new kitchen, there is a small powder room that needed a major makeover. Our house was built in 1943, however this powder room is part of an addition that was put on in the early 1970s. So yes, there is wood paneling in both the powder room and the family room next to it (that’s a makeover for a different week.) In addition to the stylish paneling, the powder room had a green toilet and a sink to match. They all needed to go. We chose to work on this project next because it was a simple project and because when we have friends over, that’s the bathroom they use. Why not make something pretty for our guests?


Before was actually a little creepy once you’re in the room with the door closed. 


This was a pretty easy room to redo. We removed the toilet and sink to get to the wood paneling and paint it white. So much brighter! It took a couple coats to cover.

Goodbye to the green toilet! 


Then we installed a nice, new, white toilet and a sleek new sink. The only issue we had was with the toilet pipe. It was too rusted to put a new toilet in, so we had to have a plumber fix it before we could put the new one in. Other than that, it was a pretty smooth, bump free project. We replaced the lighting fixture as well with something sleeker. We kept the mirror that was previously in there. I loved the great details on it.


In addition to the mirror, we were also able to reuse this little shelf for towels and things.


We found a great picture for the wall for only $10 at Marshalls to bring some color in and I made some curtains with fabric found at Joann Fabrics to coordinate.  


Over all it was super easy and had we been a little more prepared, we could have had the whole room done in one day. A 24 hour room makeover would be a welcomed thing.


This room was great practice for the main bathroom, which is coming up next!


Restoration Hardware Inspired Sofa

Along with the house and all the projects that come with it, we also acquired a hideous sofa from the 1970s for our living room. The shape of it was great and the cushions were still in good condition. Not one to skip out on saving some money, or on a craft project, I volunteered to recover it. I love the look of Restoration Hardware’s furniture, so I used this sofa as my inspiration for the project

The sofa before. Check out that fabric!

A side view, with some lovely wicker type detail.

I started by choosing this great general home decor fabric from Joann’s. It was on sale at 40% off when we bought it and we got 9 yards (the whole bolt!)

I choose to white wash the frame, so that it would brighten up the piece, but still let the wood grain show through.. I mixed 1 part paint (which we already had) with 1 part water and lightly brushed it over the entire frame. Then I added foam to the curves in the top for a cleaner look to the lines of the furniture.

The frame after being white washed and foam added.

After the paint was dry, I ripped all the old upholstery off.  I layed out my new fabric over the frame and outlined the shape of it with chalk. I then cut it out and sewed it almost like a slip cover. It took a lot of running to the couch to drape and pin and then back to the sewing machine.

Then we took a staple gun and while Aaron pulled the fabric tight on one side, I attached the cover to the frame. I went with a hybrid slip cover/restaple method and it turned out pretty okay for my first reupholstery project. It’s a tad but ill-fitting in some of the tricky corners, but over all not bad. I think this may be because I chose to sew it as one piece instead of trying to thread the sides to the back and staple them separately from the middle.  

The hardest part was trying to sew the cushions. Those little corners on each of the side cushions made it very tricky to make it fit well. I actually had to redo the two outside cushions and go out and buy a little more fabric. So it took about 10.5 yards in total. 

Lastly, I made some biased tape out of the little bit of fabric I had left and made some piping to hide the staples and finish it off. 

All the wicker got covered by more fabric too

Leg detail as well. The white wash looks so nice up close!




The sofa that inspired this look cost well over $1000, however with the sale on fabric, we we’re able to do this sofa for about $110. Now that’s a bargain!

In addition to a new kitchen, a painted living room, and a fresh sofa, our electrician just finished a complete re-wire of our house to get all our outlets grounded/ three pronged and safe! No more extension cords running across all the rooms. Many more house remodels are in the works, which means many more posts.

Home Remodel- The Living Room

Since the kitchen is so lovely now, we’ve moved on to other projects already. No rest for us! The living room was a bland off-white color and we really wanted to warm it up with some paint. We chose this great beigeish- grey color to compliment the sofa I recovered (more on that later.)

Here is the living room before. Note the wonderful green carpet.

Here is the room after the paint and after we removed the carpet. There was beautiful hardwood underneath but we had to sweep and vacuum about 10 times to see it underneath the disintegrated carpet pad. It was a dusty mess for days! You can still see a fine layer of dust there.

I got some great curtains at Homegoods and a mirror for the mantle at Target to finish off the room. The room is not “done” because we’d like to add some more accessories and maybe a new chair to really finish it off, but it’s usable and a lot cozier than before. The half finished sofa pictured is a project for another post coming up soon.

In addition to all the work we’ve been doing, we’ve had an electrician in rewiring all the nob and tube and grounding all the outlets. It’s really starting to feel like home. 

A simple job of painting and carpet removal was a nice change in pace after the chaos of the kitchen. More renovations are to come!

Kitchen Renovation- The Final Reveal

Let’s see, what’s happened since I last wrote? The floor arrived. We added a sub floor, installed the tile, and grouted it. The cabinet doors were finished, hardware put on, and they were installed. Paint was touched up, lights were put in. Baseboards were put down. Roller shades added to the windows. The kitchen is done and we love it so much. 

The final product! It’s hard to imagine what it looked like before. It now feels so big and functional. 

Some before and afters just to remind you how much we’ve changed:

The floors we chose were a vinyl tile (because we didn’t want to deal with the time/cost of a new sub floor) from home depot, and it’s groutable so it doesn’t feel like a “fake” floor. 

Here are links to my previous posts about the process of this renovation.

Post 1, Post 2, Post 3, and Post 4

Overall, it took about three weeks to complete, minus the down time in between. We did most of the work on evenings and weekends. We couldn’t work more than a few days in a row because we would have lost our sanity, so there were a few break days in between. 

We are so proud of ourselves. We are proud we could do most of the work our selves, we are proud we could do it on a budget, and we are so happy to have a new space.

We have several more renovations left in this house. This was probably the hardest one. So look forward to those!

Kitchen Renovation- Days 7, 8, and 9

A lot happened with the kitchen this past week

The tile went in and got grouted. The drywall went up on the ceiling and got mudded. New appliances were installed. Things were put into cabinets. Bake rack was bought up and stuff was put on it. It’s finally starting to feel like a real kitchen again. We were even able to cook for the first time in about 2 weeks (Sorry to burst your bubble, but this project is not happening in consecutive days in a row. Aaron works full time, I work part time and I’m in school full time. We’ve had some evenings off in between renovation madness.)

Here are some pictures of our beautiful progress!


New appliances!


Bake rack for some needed storage.


Ceiling looks bright again! Need to touch up my paint job, but that’ll be fairly easy.


Aaron hard at work grouting tile!



New back splash!


Our first meal in the new kitchen! Salmon, noodles, and veggies. Yum!

A few issues arouse this week. 1. The old cabinet doors no longer work. The only kind of hinges that will work with them are the ugly ones that were originally on them. 


They kinda look like this. Since we want a more updated look, we’re paying our handyman friend to make up all new doors, which is going to cost more than we budgeted and it’s going to take another week or so.


But we can use these pretty hinges instead :)

2. The floor was back-ordered and won’t get here until next week. It’s really pretty and I can’t wait to show it off. 

So after all that progress, we’re kind of at a standstill for a while. I’m just glad we’re able to use the kitchen again.

We still have little things that need done too. Installing new lighting fixtures, getting baseboards cut and in place after the floor is done, and touching up all the paint. They won’t take much time, but they really help in making the space feel done. 

Until next time!


Kitchen Renovation- Days 4, 5, and 6

Day 4 was all about priming the cabinets and drywall mudding the backsplash for tile prep




The ugly fridge and oven are also no more!

Day 5 and 6 I was off and Aaron went to work, so I got the cabinets and the walls painted! Talk about productivity!


The dining room got taken over by the doors


I love the grey/blue color we got for the walls!


As you can see, the ceiling still looks awful. We decided to re-drywall it because we did not feel like scraping wallpaper glue while upside down. Yes, there was wallpaper on the ceiling too. It was a plain, creme colored wallpaper, but it still needed to come down.


Here’s a sneak peek at the counter top and the hardware we picked :)

Kitchen Renovation- Days 2 and 3

You want to know the easiest way to remove wallpaper glue? Trick question, there isn’t one. The only way to remove wallpaper glue is warm water, fabric softner, a scraper, too many hours, elbow grease, and tears. So that was day two of our kitchen demo. Wallpaper glue and sadness.


Glueless wall, post primer.

Day 3 went much better! I had to go to work, but Aaron had the day off.


He and a handyman friend of ours removed the ugly laminate counter and installed this great butcher block we got from IKEA (hiding under the paper.) It was in the “As Is” section for a great price and it was the right size! It just needed a hole for the sink cut out.

They also knocked out all the tile backsplash and put up new drywall so we could add a new backsplash.

When I got home we primed over the walls that we so lovingly scraped and we removed the cabinet doors and sanded the cabinets down . Yay for great progress!

Kitchen Remodel - Day 1

Well I had the most romantic Valentine’s day possible. My boyfriend recently came into acquisition of a house and it needs a lot of work. So we spent the most romantic day of the year in yucky clothes, demoing a kitchen. We even had a candle lit Pizza dinner (without the candles.)





This was what it looked like before. As you can see, the lovely, peeling wallpaper from the 1970’s really needed to go and the cracking laminate floors are just an added bonus.

This is what it looked like at the end of the day. 3 layers of wallpaper glue. 3 LAYERS PEOPLE! We were able to pull down 2 layers of it in giant strips, but this last one is going to need scraped. 

Seriously though, we had a really fun day and it was much better than being all mushy gushy at some fancy restaurant. I voluntarily spent my Valentine’s Day this way and I’m glad I did. We have a lot of work ahead of us but I’m excited to make this a really nice space. The goal at the end of this reno is to have a nice kitchen on a budget, which means doing most of the work ourselves, and not go crazy in the process. Also, this is the biggest project in the whole house to tackle, so that’s why we’re starting it first.

My coat is basically done, I just need to add the buttons/ button holes! I will have a post about it soon, I promise. This kitchen just kind of took over a little :)

Coat Sew Along- The Lining

This week my focus was on my coat lining and getting my interlining sewn in.

The lining by itself was pretty easy. I just followed the pattern pieces.

Sewing the interlining in was a little tricky. I had to trim most of my pieces to fit within the lining. Then I just sewed them to each piece, while making sure my seam was poking through (to eliminate bulk.)

It got a little tricky with all the bulk and fabric, and the Thinsulate competing with the lining seams caused my fabric to pucker a little bit.

This is what it looks like, front and back, all sewn together.

In retrospect, I would have sewn my interlining to each piece of lining THEN sewed the lining together, while still leaving some room for seams without the bulk. It would have eliminated a lot of tricky and sloppy looking seams. Since this will all be inside the coat, I don’t care quite that much.

Next week I put it all together!