Birthday, Blogiversary, and Baby!

As we mentioned last Sunday, this week we’re taking a small break to celebrate a few milestones, like…


We never dreamed our little diy and dog crazy corner of the internet would’ve lasted a month let alone a year?! Or even our friends and awesome readers would appreciate and Pinterest our design style .We call it “necessity meets hand me down chic” for now.

Thank you again for reading! Hopefully a few of our crazy ikea hacks and diy dog- friendly designs have helped a few people out there in the inter-world.

This past year has been such a learning experience, if you can’t tell from changing fonts, to grainy photos, and grammatical errors. This next year is to find balance between the world of social media and our busy home life. We have met some amazing diy couples and new blogging friends over the past year. Hopefully we can learn and adopt some of their strategies for balance.

Now on to Birthday and Baby!!! No it’s not what you’re thinking…I’m just reflecting on how awesome this birthday week has been, we were able to meet our sweet baby nephew for the first time…

Which is why all diy and kitchen is on hold people! Smelling and cuddling a squishy baby takes priority!

We were so blessed to share this week with my sister and bro in law, two dedicated people who have sacrificed so much of their careers and personal lives to the military and who deserve to be honored this weekend! They are such amazing new parents! (In fact I probably will steal their parenting techniques and use them with the dogs)

Now I’m getting all mushy, and rambling so ending this with a Happy Memorial Day weekend and Happy Sunday everyone!

Part 4: Kitchen Make-over…The Fastest Backsplash Update Ever!

Did we mention we were on the tightest, shoe-string, kitchen budget ever…(Probably in every post!) Or the fact that we are busy, can’t even keep up with the laundry, 0 spare-time kind of people…(Seriously it’s starting to get old)…However, one thing is for sure we’re not the only couple out there with the same sort of problems. Which is why we got crazy again, threw caution to the wind and painted tile again!

Oh yes we got “all crazy up in” our kitchen, and utilized the same strategy for our floors on the kitchen backsplash. Is it the ideal medium for a backsplash? No, but considering our budget, time constraints, and the fact that it even works we couldn’t open the paint cans fast enough!
Here’s how we did it:

First tape off, and lay plastic over the countertops (especially if they are DIY Encore ones, which you are overly proud and protective of) 🙂

Next clean your backsplash with a degreaser, we used Clorox’s, but some people swear by TSP. Then with any basic paint brush apply two layers of Glidden Gripper primer paint color matched to Natural Linen. (This is the best time to fully cover the grout lines.)

Then we let the primer cure for two days (because of a sudden rainstorm and we didn’t want to take chances with humidity). Once the primer cured we followed it with two layers of Glidden Natural Linen, satin paint. One of the best techniques we found to achieve a perfectly smooth layer of paint was by using Home Depot’s $3.50 mini foam roller kits:

We allowed the paint to cure for another 48 hours. Then to give the transition of concrete countertops to tile backsplash a more finished look we used Dap’s waterproof silicone caulk in Biscuit to line the back edge. Of course, despite laying a line of painters tape I still made plenty of mistakes…

But nothing that strategically placed potted succulents couldn’t hide…

We’ll be testing out our new backsplash soon enough, complete with spaghetti sauce splatters and dish washing marathons to see how well it can withstand us (more on that to come) The kitchen is slowly coming together but worlds away from our original kitchen…


We’re going to take a small break in the coming week for birthdays and cuddling our squishy baby nephew. However we keep chanting “progress, progress” in our heads. Slow but sure, one busy foot at a time the kitchen updates will soon end. We’re looking forward to the day when all painters tape will be gone and we’re taking off for summer trips with the pups. In the meantime Happy Sunday everyone!

Part 3: Kitchen Make-over…Encore Countertops (Tips and Helpful Hints for Applying on Tile)

Last we left off Encore Decorative Countertop System was rescuing us from ugly tye-dyed yellow and brown tile countertops…


Our first step in the process was choosing the right color for our kitchen and measure the countertops. We went with River Rock a newer color offered by Encore. A mossy grayish (soapstone-esque) the next shade down from their lightest color Cement. One of the big factors in our choice was “PTSD” from our fireplace experience and we were worried a traditional gray would look bluish in different lights. However I still labored under the decision…We had two sets of parents over to confirm our colors…(It’s totally normal in our family to hold “family conferences” over decor selections) 😉


We also measured out our countertop space and the awesome folks at Encore came up with just over 50 sq ft (not including our backsplash) of tile to cover. Which in “normal” circumstances would have been fine however we’re (ahem…) special and not in a good way…I’ll explain later…

As for supplies DO NOT SKIMP, when the kits arrive, take your detailed list of materials/tools needed in the instructions and buy exactly what’s on that list at one of the big box stores. Get the disposable buckets, the plastic, 3M Tape, etc. (except buy an extra three rolls) Totally worth it, if you’re busy like us and want your project to go as smooth as possible.

Important supply tip: Collapse and flatten cardboard to lay on the ground, this will save your floors. Also when you are done with each step, take the cardboard outside and give your floors a quick vacuum with the shop vac, keeps dogs and husbands from tracking dust and materials around the house. (Remember this pic…)

As for prepping we had our electric cooktop removed since we needed to update the electrical with a junction box, however we did leave our semi-under mount sink in place.
Another great tip we found to be helpful: If you need to recaulk your sink like we needed to, remove the old caulk and using the 3M tape, line the edges of the sink and protect basin with plastic. Just replace the tape between each step in the process and we were good to go. (After the countertops cured we caulked the sink with waterproof clear silicone)
Next came the task of degreasing 30+ year old tile. Luckily we found the Clorox degreaser to be fine and didn’t need to use TSP.

As for the rest of prepping we taped off the backsplashes, and wood paneling of our built-in since it acts like a secondary counter space. (Notice the top is laminate…It was really awesome to have a comparison between applying Encore to a tile versus laminate surface)




Next came applying the first step of Super Bond…This stuff is the “magic sauce”

Now unfortunately we had a hiccup in our process that many will hopefully not encounter…Its called 1970s nearly a 1/4-1/2 inch, wide and deep grout lines with “textured” tile. See the grooviness after our first application of super bond.

Here is layer two…

And this is where we ran out…The recommended layers of super bond for tile to prevent grout lines would be three applications. In this case if you have tile like ours we recommend buying an extra can of super bond. Here is layer #3



The laminate still only needed it’s two normal layers and looked of course fabulous.

As you can see in the pics we found removing the tape and plastic between the kit’s “Days” to be very helpful, it kept everything cleaner and felt less like a project zone. Also the basic four inch putty knife was the best for sanding/scraping away excess build up and smoothing out the super bond. We lightly scraped at a 45 degree angle and it seemed more effective for us than the sandpaper, but we still used both.



Now onto the fun part…Last stages Day 2 and Day 3… This is when we saw the countertops emerge from grainy cement-glue to beautiful gleaming surfaces. FYI Save these steps for a weekend. We devoted an entire hot Saturday for Day 2 to allow for dry-cure times. Sanding by hand was also a breeze. One layer…

Two layer…Three layer…Four



The sealing was the easiest and only took us a couple hours of applying and dry time Sunday evening.

We found to be a great technique through the “Day 2” and “Day 3” process if working with another person, is one be the “applier” and one be the assistant kind of like a surgeon needs someone to hand him a scalpel. The person who’s taken the most ceramics and art classes should probably be the “applier” since the materials are different than the super bond. The “assistant” in our case was the dog wrangler, cleaner, troubleshooter, tool assistant, supply handler, etc. One person can probably do the entire project on their own easily but we found it to be faster with the both of us using this technique.

Last tip, start your project early to allow for long cure times. This will maximize the strength of the bonding. We found this schedule to be helpful since we have full time careers:

WEDNESDAY:Prep, clean, and apply first layer of Super Bond in the evening afterwork, then allow to dry overnight and next day while at work.

THURSDAY: In evening sand and then apply second layer, allow to dry overnight and next day.

FRIDAY: Evening again, sand and apply last coat. Remove tape.

SATURDAY: Sand, clean, remove and replace the tape and plastic. Then follow all directions for DAY 2. We also removed the tape on backsplash and sink at the end and allowed to cure/dry overnight.

SUNDAY: Afternoon re-tape, then apply sealant, allow to dry followed by second sealant. Remove tape, plastic and dry overnight.

However we did not rest a single item on the countertops or use the kitchen for a week. We know how un-careful we can be and didn’t want to risk it. Again cure/dry times can vary so this schedule may not be be necessary. Also your tile may not be as “groovy and grouty” as ours was. Therefore your process will probably be simpler and easier. Yet to go from this…





We can’t wait to share more of the “after” pics in the coming weekends. Especially with our updated backsplash and painters tape gone, the countertops really pop! We are truly grateful of Encore’s generous support and their beautiful product! We couldn’t be happier with the results! Thanks everyone for hanging with us, more make-over posts to come…Happy Sunday everyone!


Part 2: Kitchen Make-over…Encore Countertops to the Rescue!

Once upon a time there was a lady who had really ugly tile countertops. She thought she was stuck with them for eternity. She dreamed of solid, easy to clean surfaces. Until one day the “kitchen” fairy visits her and with a wave of her wand new countertops magically appear…


For real?! Is the story true?…No, but it sure felt like it did! Here’s how our story goes…

Eric and I have always loved the look of polished concrete. Concrete is a bit raw and industrial looking, but with the right stain and polish it can look warm and even resemble soapstone. We thought we’d sledge out our tile, then make and install some DIY concrete countertops. Sounds easy enough right?Until we got a good look at what might be lurking underneath our kitchen tile…


We knew sledging out 4inches of mortar, tile and lath was not something we wanted to tackle in the name of countertops. Nor did we want to lose our kitchen for more than a couple weeks. (Especially with two big pups underfoot, who love to “help” in the midst of projects) A bit desperate we started scouring Pinterest and DIY blogs for a solution to our problem. There were many, many great options for laminate countertops but very few concrete options for laying over tile. Until we stumbled onto the Encore Countertop system.

There are awesome blogs featuring the Encore system, but none which had chronicled their experience applying it over tile and all the detail. We took a mighty leap of faith and contacted Encore. (“Hey so can we be your…um ’tile test bloggers’?”) And since our first contact with them, we cannot say enough how fabulous their customer service, and experts have been! Kind of like our own “kitchen” fairy god mothers:)

Over the next two Sundays we’ll be sharing all the project details and more pictures of our new countertops;including tricks, tips and the “what not to do’s” .The meat and potatoes of how we turned this:

And with the help of Encore into this: