Wishing Everyone A Warm Winter

Dani @ Painting Sunny w/ H & P

I have been totally MIA, but for good reasons I promise. Everything is good, just busy and working on meeting some personal goals in this New Year! I’m wishing everyone an amazing (and warm and safe) rest of their winter, and when things settle down a bit, I’ll be back and better than ever!

Stay warm and happy,

Dani

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Filling Frames: Moodboard for a Gallery Wall

I hope you had an amazing and cozy holiday weekend! Ours was full of Thanksgiving comfort foods and lying around reading and the kid’s first real sledding adventure, making soup and knitting; it was one for the books.

So, the story is a couple months ago I got a bazillion frames on clearance at Target (NICE ones like 70% off); it was basically a fairy tale where I whisked them all away and we lived happily ever after… except ever after hasn’t happened yet, since they’ve been stacked up in the bottom of my closet. That will eventually change and I’m doing things a little backwards; I arranged and hung all the frames up on the wall (after trying out a solid handful of options with brown craft paper before settling on a nice full & balanced one) and they are hanging there empty. Well, a few of them still have the awkward-fake-family-inserts from Target. I need to get some pics of my own kids and other personalized artwork stuffed into those frames.

OB-Gallery Wall Brainstorm with numbers

Links are to the original source of each inspiration pinspiration piece whenever possible; also, they all stuck on my Artwork By Others Pinterest board.

  1. Faux butterfly specimen art (from Young House Love)
  2. Paper letter art (by Sabeena Karnik via Typography Served)
  3. One of my fav pics I snapped during my iPhone Daily Photography Challenge this summer (the kids at the New York state fair)
  4. Eye exam chart artwork (from CJ Prints on Etsy)
  5. Inchies African Prints (from The Scrapettes on Etsy) (I totally just bought this for download for only $1! Totes worth it.)
  6. Hey Y’all print (featured by the Hunted Interior)
  7. Lustav print (by Michelle Armas via Anthropologie)
  8. Paint chip art (by Young Nesters via Young House Love)
  9. Kort art cards (from Ikea)
  10. Important dates art print (from Mira Doson on Etsy)

What do you think? Favorites? Creative spins on the above, that I could do myself? An obvious choice I’m forgetting?

We went with the around-the-TV-area to get the frames up on the wall because a) we liked the idea of blending the TV in a bit b) it’s a way to tackle a wall that doesn’t lend itself to one big piece of artwork c) I have plans to cover virtually every other surface already, inside my head.

Here is a quick peek at the awkward wall of unfilled frames, and how we got to this mid-way point. The “enjoy the journey” part of a project, if you will.

Spoiler Alert: These photos are very poorly done with an iPhone, mostly at night, and while feeling vaguely apathetic.

Gall Wall Progress

Three of the frames are old wooden ones with various finishes I had already lying around the house, and my plan is to either paint them solid black or try out some of that Minwax gel stain in a really dark finish on them. Yep – that one area on the bottom left-hand side is just a square made with painter’s tape. I’m thinking a canvas about that size would balance it out well – maybe with some artwork whipped up by the kiddos? The other side ends a little higher up, to leave some breathing room for the plant.

Anyone tried that gel stain stuff out? Working on a full wall of picture frames all at once? Go big or go home, right?

PS: This post was not sponsored by anyone; all links above are just to things I randomly like.

 

 

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Can’t Leave A Canvas Alone

This month I can’t seem to buckle down and finish anything productive from start to finish. It’s busy and the sudden shock of cold weather makes me want to do nothing but crawl into bed with books. Maybe I’ll start a knitting project soon? That can totally be done in bed, and if you’re knitting a blanket it’s super convenient. Anyway, I may not have the energy to start a lot of projects but I can totally update an old one!

Remember when I got tired of the huge blank beige space above my sofa, and filled it up with a big $%& canvas I painted using leftover wall paint and some acrylics? I loved having the space filled, and the movement in the painting felt good and balanced, but the colors weren’t quite jiving for me… especially after I added my little plink table nearby, and the colors were less than harmonious.

So, one night this past week I had an epiphany: “I could spend the next 20 minutes painting instead of playing candy crush.”  So I spontaneously grabbed my blue hued paints, slapped the painting off the wall and onto the kitchen table, and got to work.

Can't Leave A Canvas Alone (Blue Painting) | Painting Sunny

A few layers of some cobalt-toned blues were layered over the white and red areas. I kept it pretty translucent, and continued layer it until I liked the coverage and it had some good texture. Over the red, I added a bit of opaque black and used my palette knife, to get a little mover coverage. I kept the gold, of course. Gold = the best part.

Can't Leave A Canvas Alone (Blue Painting, before pic) | Painting Sunny

Of course, here was the “before shot”. I haven’t sealed the painting yet (I’ll use a matte finish over the top to keep it clean and give it a nicer finish) but I think the improvement is about 1000%. That extra zero there was not an accident.

Can't Leave A Canvas Alone (Blue Painting) | Painting Sunny

Yep, the above picture was not staged and was taken at a weird time of day so it’s pretty much what you get. I didn’t get the plink table or much else in the shot, but needless to say, the current state of the canvas is much more fitting for the space. It’s also a little more calming. I painted a light scheen of gold paint over the edges of the canvas, which in person looks pretty and blends it a little more nicely against the wall. Since we rent and everything is rental beige, the white canvas edge make the wall look way too cream and the gold makes it all a little cleaner.

Anyone else have the add that next layer to a painting? Another few rows of stitches to a blanket? More throw pillows on the sofa?

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Made ♥ Read ♥ Got ♥ Loved ♥ Ate in October

Yep, October has been over a minute or two now… but I’ve been running around (literally) focusing on some fitness goals, and getting a little organized around the house. October was a month that was highly anticipated, for both Halloween and Hav’s 7th birthday tea party extravaganza. I also…

Made homemade croutons out of the bread leftover from cutting up cute little finger-sandwiches for that tea-party birthday I mentioned a second ago, using this recipe from BHG. Scroll down to the bottom of this post for more info on that!

Homemade Croutons Recipe Review | Painting Sunny

sneak peak

Read the first half of the Harry Potter series. Seriously. I have no shame, and expect you to have no judgement. I’m a proud of my nerdiness! I’ve never before read any of the books or seen the movies, but I’ve actually really enjoyed it. They are well-written and sweet. My fav character so far is Luna Lovegood, and I’ll update ya’ll when I finish the series for sure #nerdchic

Got a new mirror for above our bed, and a whole bunch of awesome picture frames on mega-clearance at Target! They don’t actually call it mega-clearance, of course… but we all know what that means. I found some frames on sale from almost $20 to less than $5. Swoon. The best is the big mirror, which is seriously big and was marked down from $39.99 to about $10. I’ll share pics too! I’m mid-plotting on what all to put in the new picture frames… a mood-board might have to happen.

Loved having family come visit! For Haven’s party-weekend, Grandma June and Grandpa Mike came for a visit and not only partied it up, they took the kids for a night to Binghampton and stayed in a hotel with a pool, so they could get their swim on. A Cornell vs. Harvard football game was also enjoyed (by the guys) and it was perfect timing for Fall foliage. Upstate New York is wicked beautiful.

Ate at Waffle Frolic here in town, and have thought of it fondly every day since. With the kid’s out of town with the g-rents, we had a rare date night and took in a little dessert in The Commons (downtown). When I said “little”, I was stone-cold lying.

Made ♥ Read ♥ Got ♥ Loved ♥ Ate in October | Painting Sunny

Yum.    Made ♥ Read ♥ Got ♥ Loved ♥ Ate in October | Painting Sunny

 That would be the Ice Cream Sandwich. For $10, you get these amazing light-as-air-and-buttery waffles stuffed with ice cream, whipped cream, hot sauce and caramel sauce. $10 may sound like a lot for a dessert, but for two people and for something this a.maze.ing it was more than worth it. No other dessert has compared, since. If I’m doing an impromptu restaurant review, Waffle Frolic get’s 5 stars out of 5.

What happened here on the blog?

Hindsight 20/20

H b-day party 20 copy   workout playlist post header   SLRU Oct 3 copy 1   Giveaway Cook Smarts and Painting Sunny

A Sweet Tea (7th Birthday Party)

Workout Jams 3.0

School Lunch Round-Up in October

Giveaway Day! 3 Months of Cook Smarts

Two Tables Post 2 copy   Read & Eat Larabar YHL   anniversary gift post 3 copy

A Means To An End Tables

Read & Eat: DIY Edition! Homemade Lemon Larabars & Young House Love

True (Modern) Love: Updating Traditional Anniversary Gifts

 Alright, on to the recipe review…

Homemade Croutons Recipe Review

Homemade Croutons Recipe Review | Painting Sunny

As I mentioned, after all those cute little finger sandwiches were served up a tea time, we were left with a stack of leftover bread pieces that it felt wrong to waste. So, I googled up this recipe from Better Homes and Gardens since it seemed easy-peasy and I had everything on hand except the seasoning mix, which I grabbed from the store. Mainly, because from their list of suggested seasonings nothing popped out at me as something I both had in my pantry and which sounded tasty.

I followed the recipe pretty much to a T. First, I cut the bread into cubes, then melted the butter and stirred in the seasoning…

Homemade Croutons Recipe Review | Painting Sunny

The hit the step instructing me to “add bread cubes to butter mixture, stirring until cubes are evenly coated.” This sounded pretty reasonable, until I tried to do it. The thing about bread is, it’s absorbent. The thing about melted butter is, it likes to be absorbed. It was pretty much like herding cats, and basically defied physics. I’m taking a guess that if the bread was more dried out, it might spread easier? Still, I did my best and tossed it all around.

Homemade Croutons Recipe Review | Painting Sunny

I’m giving this recipe…

It was alright, and the croutons are tasty little bread additions to salad or soup. Still, the butter taste was a little overwhelming so I think an extra-virgin olive oil approach would be worth trying, and getting those little suckers evenly coated was an experience.

Anyone else making croutons or otherwise not wasting leftover bread? Maybe just feeding it to the ducks? Had a dessert so mind-blowing you feel like it has changed your palette forever? Just now reading Harry Potter? (For the record, I have totally read The Hunger Games and Twilight Series, so I’m not a total lost cause).

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own and recommendations are from my personal experience.

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A Sweet Tea (7th Birthday Party)

My first born turned 7 this month! That seems unbelievably old, to me. Crazy town. She has definitely come into her own unique personality, and is a funny and whimsical little person. When I’m frustrated because she lost her winter hat for the 5th time, I have to remind myself of how much she loves to make bad puns, read challenging chapter books, and is willing and happy to be friends with anybody.

Since we just moved to Ithaca this summer, we are still settling in and our apartment (rented) just didn’t seem ready to host a full-fledged-millions-of-kids party. So, we came to a compromise and Haven got to invite 5 of her friends to a totally fancy-pants tea party! She choose to invite friends from her class, her after-school program, and our neighborhood.

A Sweet Tea (7th Birthday Party!) | Painting Sunny

I wish I could post pics of her and all her friends, but I totally respect the other families and would not post a pic of someone else’s kid without knowing they are totally cool with it. So, please ignore the oddly placed black blob in the pic above – it’s ensuring the privacy of one of Haven’s sweet little friends!

Well, I also totally failed my blogger responsibilities in favor of fulfilling my Mama responsibilities. In other words, I totally forgot to take pics of almost anything! Here are a few of them, though, and a handful of the dets.

Cake: Pardon the blurriness above- it’s hard to catch that moment of wish-making. This was a super easy cake technique! I went easy on myself and bought a boxed “pink lemonade” mix and two cans of “classic vanilla” frosting. I’m all about baking from scratch, but sometimes boxed cake fits the bill. I baked the cakes in cleaned aluminum cans (inspired by this pin) and then cut some in half. Then I dyed the frosting with some gel dye in different colors, added heart-shaped sprinkles leftover from Valentine’s Day and BAM. Uniqueness. Haven put in a special request for a “7″ candle instead of 7 little candles, so that’s one wish fulfilled.

A Sweet Tea (7th Birthday Party!) | Painting Sunny

Food: Obviously, some decaf tea as shown in the first pic. We also had organic juice boxes from Wegman’s (our local grocer), baby-cut carrots, red grapes, chips, and a build-your-own-fancy-sandwich station. This worked out awesomely and included bread cut into hearts and circles with cookie cutters, sliced cucumbers, little triangles of sliced cheese and deli meat, and some various spreads like hummus, greek yogurt-style cream cheese, and No Nut Butter (some of the little girls had allergies). It was easy-peasy. Of course, we had some coffee and lemonade for grown-ups too.

Favors: I did think to take a quick pic of the box corralling most of the birthday supplies, on birthday-party-eve. I think they turned out really cute, the kids loved them, and they were oh-so-affordable too. I included:

  • A plastic tiara ($1 each from The Dollar Store, I nabbed 6)
  • 2 glittery pencils in purple/silver/turquoise/pink ($1 for a 12-pack from The Dollar Store)
  • 1 heart or flower shaped post-it pad ($1 for a 3-pack, two packs from The Dollar Store)
  • 1 snack-pack of organic Cheddar Bunnies (Annie’s brand, $4.29 for a 6 pack from Wegman’s)
  • Plastic gift bags and ribbon (free, since I had it around the house)
  • TOTAL COST PER FAVOR: $2.38 ($14.29 spent total)

Not too bad, I think! The Cheddar Bunnies and the tiara’s were the pricier items, but they made the favors seem more special and substantial.

Decorations: I tried to keep it really simple and budget-friendly. After all – the whole goal was being low-key, you know? Here was the birthday-supply-stash:

  • Tea cups (very flowery and lady-like) from the Fingerlakes ReUse Center for 50 cents each
  • Butterfly party blow-outs (leftover from a party two years ago, but were originally $1 a pack from The Dollar Store)
  • Cardboard cutouts of Cinderella’s castle, carriage, etc. (leftover from a party two years ago, originally from Party City… not sure how much they cost)
  • Crepe paper (free from my party supply stash, but originally $1 a roll from The Dollar Tree)
  • A little porcelain tea-party set (a gift from Haven’s Aunt Judy awhile back)
  • Oil-cloth fabric in a floral design from Joanne Fabric (40% off coupon used, so about $10 for a few yards and it’s reusable so totally justified!) A Sweet Tea (7th Birthday Party!) | Painting Sunny

I also whipped up this little cake stand from two glass plates and a glass candlestick, all from The Dollar Store so the total cost was $3, plus the glue I already had on hand. Inspired from this pin. Cute, right? :)

Activities: This is the most challenging party, for me… and that’s where Grandma June comes into the picture! My parents were visiting, and my Mom is a 2nd grade teacher so is pretty much literally an expert on entertaining this age group. She came up with a few things, including a headband decorating kit from Target, some extra-large coloring pages from Melissa and Doug (like the ones here – that’s an affiliate link) with a huge set of glittery gel pens. We played some Disney Radio for background music, and had brainstormed some other activities but they were obsessed with coloring Princesses in different sparkly shades… so that occupied the majority of their time.

Seriously… It was a smashing success.

A Sweet Tea (7th Birthday Party!) | Painting Sunny

Doesn’t she look so lady like? This is a better pic of the table cloth, too. Very fancy. A big smooch and thanks to Grandma June and Grandpa Mike!

Anyone else in denial every year their kid gets older? Love to get your fancy-pants on for some high tea? Have any go-to sources for super affordable party supplies?

Happy Halloween, BTW!

PS: This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are my own and recommendations are from my personal experience. Links to products on this page may be affiliate links.

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Workout Jams 3.0

It is that time of year again! I’ve been a little preoccupied lately – with getting a little more fit. Every year around autumn, I feel instinctively like I need to focus on eating healthy and being more active… I think I sense the Halloween candy, holiday fudge, red wine, and hearty casseroles of winter coming and in an act of self-preservation try to get prepared.

And obviously, any act of self-preservation requires some awesome jams. So, I put together a fresh new playlist for myself and it is already inspiring me to go a little bit further. I added it up and below is over 40 minutes of work-out tunes -  46:31 in fact. So find some “me time” and get going!

workout playlist post header

Most of the songs aren’t new, but some are new-to-me and others are making a come-back on my exercise playlists. Links are to iTunes – not because I have anything to do with their company (I don’t), but because I couldn’t think of anywhere else easy enough to link if you wanted more specific info about the music.

  1. Boom Boom Pow by the Black Eyed Peas
  2. California Gurls by Katy Perry
  3. I Don’t Care by Fallout Boy
  4. I Love It by Icona Pop (Choose the version that’s right for you – I have the explicit version… the difference is explicit)
  5. Ignition (Remix) by R. Kelly
  6. Not Myself Tonight by Christina Aguilera  (again, explicit version is what I have, it is probs different)
  7. Piece of Me by Britney Spears
  8. Sexy and I Know It by LMFAO
  9. Thrift Shop by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis, feat. Wanz
  10. Tik Tok by Ke$ha
  11. Want U Back by Cher Lloyd
  12. Whistle by Flo Rida
  13. Wings by Little Mix
  14. Roar by Katy Perry

 Check out my previous work-out playlists here and here!

Looking for some other suggestions? Here are some awesome resources that are new to me and I uncovered while putting together my own updated-jam-list:

I’m also food journaling again! I do it the old fashioned way, with a little notebook and a pen. The best resource for me is Calorie King. This isn’t sponsored by them, they don’t know I exist – but I use the site everyday so it fairly deserves a mention. Every time I food journal, I get in way better shape – it isn’t just about counting calories, it’s about understanding my eating habits and making sure my daily food intake is balanced and meeting my nutritional needs. Obviously, what works for me won’t work for everyone – but I’m definitely feeling more motivated and already seeing progress! There are some awesome apps to food journal electronically too, in case you are a bit more ahead of the times than me!

Any other fav workout songs I should be sweating to? Anyone else jotting down their food and exercise habits? Have a tried and true getting-fit-plan?

PS: This is not a sponsored post, just my own opinions.

 

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School Lunch Round-Up in October

My plan was to share a round-up of my fav school lunches from each month at the end of each month… but I couldn’t wait this time! I’ve had a few lunches that were really popular with the kids, and feel compelled to share. Generally our school lunches are vegetarian, but the son had a couple carnivore days this month – and I discovered they will totally devour a spinach tortilla wrap… so long as it has a solid layer of hummus on it. It’s the small successes, right?

Let’s  go to lunch!

Spinach tortilla wrap filled with ultra-thin provolone cheese/hummus/lettuce/optional turkey, sliced grapes, baby-cut carrots, Chobai Greek yogurt tube, and whole wheat animal crackers, October School Lunch Round-Up | Painting SunnySpinach tortilla wrap filled with ultra-thin provolone cheese/hummus/lettuce/optional turkey, sliced grapes, baby-cut carrots, Chobani Greek yogurt tube, and whole wheat animal crackers

Whole wheat mini-bagel with Greek cream cheese and blackberry jam, half a banana, half a chocolate-chip cookie, a Chobani Greek yogurt tube, and mixed golden and red raisins with honey-toasted sunflower seeds, October School Lunch Round-Up | Painting SunnyWhole wheat mini-bagel with Greek cream cheese and blackberry jam, half a banana, half a chocolate-chip cookie, a Chobani Greek yogurt tube, and mixed golden and red raisins with honey-toasted sunflower seeds

Blueberry lemon whole-wheat muffin, pita chips, hummus, string cheese, sliced grapes, baby cut carrots and celery sticks, October School Lunch Round-Up | Painting SunnyBlueberry lemon whole-wheat muffin, pita chips, hummus, string cheese, sliced grapes, baby cut carrots and celery sticks

Multi-grain silver-dollar pancakes (homemade), maple syrup, Chobani Greek yogurt tube, sliced grapes, and cinnamon chex, October School Lunch Round-Up | Painting SunnyMulti-grain silver-dollar pancakes (homemade), maple syrup, Chobani Greek yogurt tube, sliced grapes, and cinnamon chex

Naan bread pizza with mozzarella cheese/marinara sauce/optional pepperoni, unsweetened banana chips, cucumber chunks, baby-cut carrots, sliced grapes, October School Lunch Round-Up | Painting Sunny Naan bread pizza with mozzarella cheese/marinara sauce/optional pepperoni, unsweetened banana chips, cucumber chunks, baby-cut carrots, sliced grapes

Want more inspiration? Check out my official School Lunch Round-Up Page with more ideas and information or visit my board on Pinterest!

As always, I’m using Easylunchboxes, Mini-Dippers by the same brand, Wilton Reusable Baking Cups, and Mabel’s Labels!

Anyone else love a good tortilla wrap? Want to make mini-everything with your foods, just because it’s adorable? Pack all the lunches in the evening to avoid the morning crunch? I just can’t imagine getting up any earlier…

PS: All opinions are my own and recommendations are from my personal experience. Links to products on this page are affiliate links.

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Giveaway Day! 3 Months of Cook Smarts Meal Planning? Yes Please.

Love free stuff? and food? Want your meals planned ahead of time, and to be healthy and personalized for your family’s needs? Wow, you want a lot of stuff. You’re in luck – Cook Smarts makes awesome and healthy meal plans totally customized! My own family is composed of half non-meat-eaters, so flexibility and options are key for us and I imagine it might be for you, too.

FYI: Cook Smarts is not a sponsor, and I have not been compensated in any way for this post: We both just wanted to share something healthy & nice with all my lovely friends :)

Giveaway!  Cook Smarts & Painting Sunny, 10/17/13-10/19/13 | Painting Sunny

What? A 3 month subscription to Cook Smarts meal plan service, valued at $21. Make it vegetarian, paleo, or gluten-free – no matter what, it will be easy and delicious.

When? Giveaway opens right now (10/17/13) and closes at 12:00am on 10/20/13 (so the end of 10/19/13). One winner will be randomly chosen via Rafflecopter, and notified within 48 hours of the close of the giveaway.

And? Read more below for the dets on Cook Smarts!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What is this all about?

Cook Smarts’ weekly meal plan service includes a weekly menu with instructions for 4 simple and balanced dinners and a customized grocery list. They let you decide the meals and days  you want to cook. Also you might want to eat mostly vegetarian or gluten-free and paleo once a week – rather than make you pick a diet type ahead of time, they offer you the flexibility to choose every night. Personally, I support anything that helps busy people make healthy choices.

Giveaway!  Cook Smarts & Painting Sunny, 10/17/13-10/19/13 | Painting Sunny

 PS: Just a reminder that this post was not sponsored in any way. All opinions are my own, and I was not compensated for anything written.

Anyone else have a family of mixed dietary needs? Think the avocado in the picture above looks amazing right now? Avocado was my daughter’s first solid food (not counting those weird, runny cereals) as a baby, so it holds a special place in my heart.

 

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A Means To An End Tables

That is right, multiple end tables! So excited! We have now lived in our new town and apartment for a few months, but things are so busy and we are budgeting – so it’s baby steps all the way. Having end tables is pretty exciting progress, for us! It was also my first time ever staining wood – I know, right? Crazy. Had I know how magical and satisfying it felt, I would have started doing this in high school. I submit to you Exhibit A, the “Before” Tables:

A Means To An End Table | Painting Sunny

The bigger table you may remember from when I posted all about finding it at our local Finger Lakes ReUse Center and was in the midst of debating how to refinish it. The before shot shows it already mostly sanded, but the original post gives you a better idea of how it looked the day it found me. They were both sturdy, clean-lined tables, but I turned them into…

A Means To An End Table | Painting Sunny

A Means To An End Table | Painting Sunny

 … these shiny and sweet things!

The larger table I found for $30, which was a little steep but it was just the size I was looking for, and it had good bones. The smaller table was a $10 Craigslist-impulse-buy since it was located very near me, and as soon as I saw it’s ad I had a vision of it with a bright and unexpected color on it’s legs.

What color is that? I would call it a bright lilac, but the official color is “Plink” by Valspar. I bought this exact sample from Lowe’s for $2.38, and only used about 1/6 of the little tub so am brainstorming projects to use up the rest!

I also picked up a quart of Minwax Dark Walnut Wood Finish (stain, really) from Lowe’s (this product) while I was there, for less than $8. Again, almost all of the container is still full (even after using it on both tables) and I have a few projects in mind to be sure not to waste the rest.

Finishing up with Minwax Polyacrylic Gloss Polyurethane (this product, but I found a smaller one that was very affordable) that dries so fast, has virtually no fumes, etc – it’s a fav of mine.

Btw, this is not a sponsored post in any way. Minwax, Valspar, and Lowe’s have no idea who I am – I’m just sharing specifics about the products.

A Means To An End Table | Painting Sunny

The larger table had a really weird, gray-ish finish that seemed to be disintegrating right off the surface. It was not good. While the table is veneer I believe, it wood surface seemed quite thick and while it took a lot of elbow grease (I was sore for daaaaays) I used a palm sander and was able to sand the entire old finish off, until it got down to the nice and clean wood. Like butter – seriously. See it mid-sanding below? It was super motivating to see the difference! Sanding did take a couple of hours of work, including a few short breaks to stretch. A Means To An End Table | Painting Sunny

The smaller table was easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. At least, by comparison! There was not much finish on it to begin with, and since I was painting the legs I didn’t need to worry about sanding those down much – just roughing them up.

A Means To An End Table | Painting Sunny

Here they are in situ. Yes, the painting I did for above the sofa is now clashing awkwardly… but I have a plan for taking care of that! Yes, things are still a bit bare bones, and yes as a renter we get beige carpet and walls – but each step is progress and I can now set my cup of tea on a pretty surface.

Local Shout-Out: The Finger Lakes ReUse Center is a great resource – I’m so lucky to live less than two miles from a second-hand store! Buying furniture and other items second-hand is both cost-effective for us, and I feel good about being a little more sustainable. I also love college surplus stores, Craigslist, and yard sales to find unique thrifted items – the upside of stores is being able to pay with plastic if you don’t have enough cash with you, and having some time to browse without a lot of pressure, too.

Anyone else experimenting with Plink? Staining furniture for the first time? Working with those beige-apartment-rental walls?

PS: This was linked to Miss Mustard Seed’s Furniture Feature Friday Link Party

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Read & Eat: DIY Edition! Homemade Lemon Larabars & Young House Love

It’s time for another installment of Read & Eat! As a refresher, this is where bookworms and foodies unite. Except not super fancy, of course.

Today we are going to get our DIY on and love it! Let’s whip grind up some homemade lemon Larabars and delve into new decor and design ideas with Young House Love. Yes, Young House Love from the uber popular and joyously, determinedly upbeat DIY & lifestyle blog of the same name. Both are cheerful and sunshiny, save you money, and give you the satisfaction of having done something yourself.

Today is also my darling elder child’s 7th birthday (total disbelief), so focusing on something healthy & nutritious like Larabars is probably a good idea, before the birthday cake eating commences.

Read & Eat: DIY Edition! Homemade Lemon Larabars & Young House Love | Painting Sunny

As always, let’s hit the books first.

Young House Love: 243 Ways to Paint, Craft, Update & Show Your Home Some Love by Sherry & John Petersik

 Available on Amazon (affiliate link)

243 sounds like a lot of ideas, and it is. This collection of home decor strategies and inspiration is refreshing and unique in a particular way; it’s practical. I’m someone who waits for a large round mirror at Target to go on sale from $40 to $11, and still questions whether the purchase is worth it; most decorating books push my wallet, time, and access to tools past the point of any project happening in the next five-to-ten years. With Young House Love, everything seems possible – and possibly done for less than $25, in many cases.

Are you a new reader and never heard of Young House Love’s blog? Have no fear, the book stands on it’s own.

Have you had a long-time love affair with the YHL blog? It won’t feel stale at all; I have been a regular reader for at least two years, and each project was either new to me or had some sort of different spin or recommendation. In fact, a few of them were totally new concepts (for me) and it was a very pleasant surprise!

While some of the ideas have similar renditions existing on Pinterest for quite awhile, the tips provided in the book can make the difference between your project turning out lovely or problematic. YHL offers ways to personalize or customize almost every project to suite your taste, so if your decor doesn’t quite jive with Sherry and John’s the book is still worth a read. I highly recommend buying it for yourself (vs borrowing form a DIY-loving-friend or the local library) so you can access the tutorials, paint recommendations, and tips when you end up spontaneously working on a project. Who hasn’t seen spray paint on sale and suddenly changed their weekend plans?

These are projects you can jump into pretty much fearlessly, with the tips provided – and most aren’t long-term commitments. As a renter who is always looking for tenant-friendly projects, at least half the book was easily applicable to me; or could be. Can’t do that awesome stencil they try out on a wall? I bet you could on a folding screen, a piece of wood leaned against a wall behind a chair, or on a big canvas you could display. Finding home decor books as a renter is a challenge, so I happily recommend this to any non-home-owner’s little library.

Craving something similarly sweet? Consider The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, The Perfectly Imperfect Home by Deborah Needleman, Eat Pray Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, and if you’re a knitter/crafter Mason Dixon Knitting: The Curious Knitters’ Guide by Kay Gardiner and Ann Meador Shayne (they also have a blog). (Those are affiliate links)

Read & Eat: DIY Edition! Homemade Lemon Larabars & Young House Love | Painting Sunny

The only ingredients are a lemon and some dates, raw cashews, and raw almonds. I had 8 homemade lemon Larabars at the end of this adventure!

Alright, let’s eat!

I love any food that is easy to grab and go, filling, and nutritious. I’m one of those people who always seems ravenous, so a sports bar is very alluring. I’ve tried a lot of different types, and this year the Larabar is my absolute favorite. They have great flavors and are almost unbelievably healthy; only a few all-natural ingredients, no animal products, and the ingredients are generally raw. It seems impossible, but their flavors really do taste like what they say – how on earth do they make a handful of dates, nuts, and dried fruits taste like a cherry pie? Insane.

Also insane; the price. In my region, a not-on-sale Larabar can cost $1.28. For one bar. If you eat one every day for a month (I usually only do on workdays, though) you would have paid about $40 before tax. For some of the flavors, totally worth it, and you can always stock up during a sale. Some of the flavors are oh-so-easy to replicate at home, though, and can cost a fraction of the price.

There are a ton of homemade Larabar recipes online, but the lemon one I found that seemed closest to an actual Larabar is from the blog A Thrifty Mom. To start off with, I halved the recipe – until I knew I liked it, I wasn’t ready to invest in just that many ingredients. After halving the recipe I actually bumped the lemon zest and juice back up to her original amount, which means I essentially used twice as much lemon. I do love some lemon, though.

Read & Eat: DIY Edition! Homemade Lemon Larabars & Young House Love | Painting SunnyCheck out the original recipe from A Thrifty Mom for sure! I rate it a 5 star recipe – seriously, in a blind taste test I’m pretty sure the average person could not tell the difference between her version and a real, store-bought Larabar.

Read & Eat: DIY Edition! Homemade Lemon Larabars & Young House Love | Painting Sunny

These turned out delicious, and even with halving the recipe I had a whole week’s worth. I would estimate it took me about 10 minutes to make them, in my little bitty 3-cup food processor. I saved some of them squished into a bar-shape, but then I got lazy and just rolled the rest into balls that had the same amount of stuff as the bar-shaped ones. They were easy to wrap up in saran wrap, and kept in the fridge for the entire week really well!

Up for more Reading & Eating?

Read & Eat: Steel-Cut Blueberry Banana Oatmeal & The Outlander Series

Read & Eat: Almostkinda Shrimp Gumbo & The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz

Read & Eat: Chocolate Chip Cookies &  Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson

Read & Eat: Blueberry Oatmeal Muffins & The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner

Anyone know a good, affordable source for dried cherries? I’d love to try making the Cherry Pie larabar at home, but dried cherries are so pricy I suspect I wouldn’t save much cash. Have another favorite blogger-turned-author book to recommend? Other convenience foods you’ve started making at home?

PS: All opinions are my own and recommendations are from my personal experience. Links to products on this page are affiliate links.

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