When house projects fail…Build a $5 bike crate!

This post was never supposed to happen…Instead the plan was to reveal our DIY concrete planters. (Sort of like these)

What I thought would be a brilliant idea for cheap and light weight planter boxes, turned into a cracked mess of gravel and concrete. (Which of course I spent the afternoon cleaning up)

Shortly after, I was scratching my head and wondering what am I going to do with 12 sets of wooden handles, and 6 plastic garbage cans?

How about use the wooden handles for a wine crate? What if the wine crate was attached to a bike?

See the hubs has a vintage bike, used mainly for cruising around town with the guys. Yet his bike has been sorely lacking in storage and beer hauling capabilities.

Alas when searching the web for instructions, there weren’t any for “easily” removable bike wine crates. So here is our how-to for the $5 bike wine crate:

You’ll need…
2 wooden 1×1 inch dowels (cut to the width of your bike rack)
2.5 inch screws and accompanying nuts (4 total)
Some wood stain
A wooden wine crate
1 inch screws and accompanying nuts (2 total)
An empty paint quart (or empty vegetable can with no sharp edges may work)


First I stained the wine crate and dowels (since I had already drilled the holes in the dowels)


After we let the stain dry overnight, we added the 2.5 inch screws to the dowels. We also darkened the tips of the screws with a sharpie so we could mark the wine crate for drilling holes.



We then drilled holes in the bottom of each crate.

And secured the crate with a wrench and nuts.


(You can see how the crate is secured to the dowels from the bottom)

Finally we drilled holes through the paint can and bottom of box.

Then secured the can with the 1 inch screws and nuts.


The bike is now ready for picnics, commuting with coffee and “booze” cruisin with the guys.


Not bad for $5 and 15 minutes to install right? Happy Sunday everyone!

Even Guys Need Roses…Or Rather Mancave Storage

How to show a guy you love and appreciate him?diamond-plate-truck-storage-box-diy-project-turned-garage-storage.jpg

By bringing home a $15 truck tool box from a garage sale! Com’on what self respecting man doesn’t like diamond plate? It’s practically on every tractor, fire engine, and monster truck!

Luckily hubby knew this was a man cave project for him and not going to be some random piece of junk about to collect dust. He loved the idea even more when I told him what it was going to replace in the garage…


These disgustingly old, spider harboring, rubbermaids. The truck box was going to be storage for the camp chairs, extra golf clubs and other Mancave randomness.

I did have to make some modifications to the truck storage box, before cramming it full of boy junk. First I marked the bottom corners of the storage box with a sharpie, where the cart wheels were going to be placed.truck-storage-diamondplate-turned-garage-storage-diy-ideas.jpg

Next I drilled holes at each sharpie point.


Since the flecks of metal and remnants were sharp I cleaned up with a handheld vacuum after each set of holes (to prevent metal splinters finding their way into the pups paws)


Then using washers, screws, and nuts, we added the four cart wheels, then securing them on the inside of the box.


This turned out to be one of the easiest DIY man cave projects year to date! (I also got a few wife points in the process.) It’s not everyday that I bring home garage sale junk that is hubby approved. Now the before and newly improved garage storage…





Who knew diamond plate was the man equivalent of “roses”, and not just for monster trucks anymore?

Happy Sunday everyone!

Gator Done!… (Laying a Flagstone Patio)

Disclaimer: Corny jokes and awful word puns reside at this blog. Especially after laying a flagstone patio, and the celebratory wine kicks in…

Here is where we left off…removing-weeds-and-sod-in-backyard.jpg
A barren wasteland of dirt that was once weed infested grass…There were two options, resod and start fresh, or get creative and drought “appropriate”…We went with option número dos.

If you haven’t heard, Northern California is under extreme drought conditions and even though there is talk of El Niño (freakish storm systems that finally bring rain every five years). We knew we’d be back to drought conditions again.

Also there are still these two hams to consider…floppy-ear-dobermans-begging-for-a-treat.jpg

Who were responsible for this…


In our previous home we knew flagstone works for both us and the two bruisers. They like to sunbathe, we like less dust and dirt. However with this go- around we’d change it up a bit. Instead of real flagstone and piles of DG (decomposed granite) we’d opt for the faux flagstone and a product called Gator dust.

Why? Well, to be honest as we’re getting older we appreciate the easier and less expensive approach to projects. Plus Gator dust is a polymeric stone dust that hardens to a mortar-like joint when in contact with water. YAY FOR LESS DUST!

Heres how the project started…It began with multiple trips to Home Depot in (tiny cars) for many loads of Canyon oak faux flagstone, bender board, all purpose sand, and weed block. (This is when I sing, “some day my truck will come” and hubby rolls eyes…We’re saving up for one as we speak)

Followed by laying down said bender board, weed block, leveling sand, and the flagstone.



Once the flagstone is squared away, and you’re happy with the layout…(For any other uber-analytical, perfectionists out there, setting the flagstone was the worst part) “Honey wait I need to rotate that one 36 degrees!”

Then follow the instructions on the gator dust bag. Dump a bag on the flagstone, sweep, and repeat. Making sure all joints, cracks and crevices are filled and level with the stones. (Just remember if your flagstone joints are up to 4inches, use the “large joint” gator dust)

Then spray the stones, by carefully following the water schedule explained in the directions. Once done with the water, using a powered blower, blow the remaining puddles away.



Let the patio cure for 24-48 hours, keeping the pups off it (if it’s even possible). Then sit back and enjoy with a glass of well deserved vino. Cheers and Happy Sunday everyone!


Ikea Hack! SIDE MURPHY BED /dog bed…Again?!

Have you ever completed a DIY project, were proud of it, pinterest it, and, then you lived with it….Finally realizing…This sh—(stuff) ain’t workin for us!

Remember I had hacked an Ikea day bed, turning it into a trundle bed/ dog bed. Everything was going fine except one problem, “WE” were the problem.

It wasn’t a bad concept, and it was useful some of the time. We admittedly just got lazy, (like letting pups sleep on the comfy bench portion). Also it took up too much space in our little place.

Honestly I seriously started to miss the functionality of the old dog Murphy beds from our first home. This is also when I look over at the hubs, and say “you were right…you know your project obsessed wife was going to change her mind like 4 more times” then ask him sweetly to help me lug the daybed up into the guest house.

Some bleach, new mattresses…We have an actual bed again! Now on to recreating dog Murphy beds…


This time the design was going to be a cross between this…


And this…


We still had an extra Ikea mattress, and the piece of birch we used for “upholstering” the bench. I was hoping to piece the Murphy bed together with scrap wood lying around the house, when I found this…

Waited a week, they knocked it down to $49.90…Huzzah!
I had a frame/box that perfectly fit the twin Ikea mattress.

The only modification we had to make from the instructions was move the bottom/side a half inch to fit the piece of birch by re-drilling new holes.

Next came the front piece, which was pretty easy, just bought some pieces of birch the same 6ft length, and with finishing nails and wood glue attached them to the front.




Followed by staining the piece with minwax polyurethane & stain in pecan

The last part was the easiest, by adding a piano hinge.

And also a locking mechanism…


Overall you’ll noticed we set the piano hinge and front of the Murphy bed halfway in the box, to allow for more space on the floor when the bed is down.



Here is our final “Progress” pic, we’re still in the process of adding trim, etc to make it look less like a random box and more like a tall bar.

But oh how functional it is! Dog beds disappear! You can also re-create this side Murphy bed ikea hack as an extra bed for guests. Cause I guess that’s what most people would use a Murphy bed for. (Com’on you’re not all crazy dog mamas?!)

Happy Sunday everyone!

Psst…We’ve recently improved the design for our Side Murphy Bed, click here for more details.

Stealth Microwaves and Toasters…Hiding those pesky kitchen appliances

Remember when…

…the appliances took up the counter…Remember when…

Microwaves were a total eyesore…
(Warning: cheesy blog post intros always occur when country music is playing in the background) Hopefully you don’t have that song stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
Luckily between countertops and backsplash we remembered to include our little kitchen appliance update. Notice how the “after” pics are missing a few pesky coffee makers, and a microwave…

Well, we did the unthinkable for those of us with a tiny kitchen don’t do, we high jacked much needed cabinet space…before…




And finally found the perfect place for our toaster and blender…

All it took was knocking out and removing a few extra shelves, and having our electrician friend wire a couple outlets to the inside of a shelf for the microwave. We did lose some valuable kitchen “real estate” for storage but right now we’re changing our lifestyle to “less is more”. (I don’t know if it’s because we’re now in our thirties, or if we’ve just lived in little houses for too long that we’ve turned this corner?) Perhaps you have a couple cabinets that just need some organization too?… Having a stealth toaster and microwave…in Martha’s famous words…”it’s a good thing” 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:


Part 1: Kitchen Make-over…Let Us Introduce Our Kitchen

In my head my dream kitchen has:

Beautiful soapstone counters, two tone cabinetry, plank flooring, white subway tile backsplash, farm house sink, high ceilings, professional appliances…kind of like these…





(Of course this dream kitchen also has a professional chef and cleaning crew on staff as well)

But instead I have this…


How about that beauty eh?
Let’s get a close up of that tile…


And if the yellow, brown and tye-dyed wasn’t enough, did you happen to notice the “weed-like” tile imprint? Oh yeah a true seventies kitchen remodel happened here!
There are also cherries and a kelp-ish looking printed tile thrown in there too. (Just in case the psychedelic tile wasn’t enough) Of all the decades to remodel it had to be the seventies!

We’ve been living with this grooviness for over two years because a roof and asbestos abatement took precedent over a kitchen make-over. Even the budget friendly updates had to take a backseat.

Now we’ve finally had enough and put an end to our “dazed and confused” kitchen. Our plan:

We also intend to add new hardware, organize every inch of space and add new cabinet liners. In the coming weekends we’ll be revealing our kitchen’s transformation and all our cost saving strategies for a kitchen make-over on a shoe string budget. Happy weekend everyone!

Painting Stairs…So Romantic!

Eric can’t stand painting…He’ll gladly clean all the windows, spend hours working in the yard, and disinfect toilets before you see a paint brush in his hand.

Which is why I nearly fell over when he offered to paint this:

And these:



How about those faux brick steps eh? Stylish right? (Let’s Pinterest those babies!) There were about 6 different colors painted on our granny suite stairs from the previous owner…Blue, black, white, brown, gray, and of course faux brick red.

I was ready to tackle this ugliness, (hubby gone on a guys trip), my paint matched up and ready to go when disaster struck…Sidelined by a stomach bug.

That’s when hubs came home and went to work.


He even managed to snap a few pics with my phone along the way (I welcomed him to the “official blogging club” and asked him when he’ll write his first post) 😉 For now he’s holding out. Naturally a shy guy, he likes to think of himself as the Little Houses Big Dogs “support staff”

Two coats of custom match Exterior Glidden paint, one afternoon and we have these beautiful new stairs!




It is amazing what paint can do! We hope in the future to extend the stair landing out and build a mini deck for (ahem… Best snobby voice) “ our guest house” but honestly we’re not fancy enough to ever call it that 😉 What kind of painting do you or your “anti-painting” spouse have this weekend? Happy Sunday everyone!