I’m Still Here!

Between the back-to-back birthdays and this project…I have been a busy girl!  My Handyman struck again!  My laundry room shelves have been on my nerves since day one in this house.  I hang most of the adult sized laundry to dry, and I had maybe 8 inches of space between my dryer and the wall that would accomodate the length of our clothes.  That is not sufficient.  I got out my sketch pad and went to work.  Once I got my idea on paper, I gave DH his new assignment.  Here is the before…I hate those wire shelves.

The top of that cabinet was recessed, so putting things up there really didn’t work.  You can’t even see my inadequate hanging space, it is tiny!  I wanted a higher shelf that went the full length of the wall…starting on top of the cabinet.  I thought it would be difficult to match up stain, so we decided painting the shelf the same color as the trim work would be best.  I had to give up my laundry room for the better part of a week to get this project done.  With a family of 6 that added up to MOUNTAINS (plural) of laundry…piled everywhere but the laundry room.  I am currently looking at a clean mountain of needs-to-be-folded laundry…where’s my laundry fairy???  I sure could use a visit from her right about now, but alas, she has a job and lives 2 hours away.  Yes, I actually have a laundry fairy that visits from time-to-time :).

DH had a helper, our little rockstar handyman in training…he helped sand, paint, assemble.  He is DH’s shadow…not really interested in TV or video games like his brothers…he wants to help Dad, doesn’t really matter what Dad is working on…he is there.

Ready for the after?  I am super pleased with the amazing job my HandyMEN did!

My repurposed juice bottles of homemade laundry detergent weren’t photo-worthy…I am going to need some prettier containers!  Look at all of that hanging space!  The finished edges of the shelving that DH was able to achieve by adding molding has inspired him to possibly undertake that coat closet I want transformed into a drop zone!  Yes, the sketch pad will be back out…and my pinterest boards will definitely grow for that project.

Want to do a similar project?  Here is a tip for painting those wooden brackets…use a scrap piece of wood, place however many screws as brackets with space between to paint.  Here is what DH made…you can see one of the screws in the foreground…

Today’s secret revealed…I’m off to order my clothing sample from the website that has asked me to do my first product review!!!  I’m super excited because they contacted me out of the clear blue!

Silly Movies

I love silly movies…from The Goonies to Wedding Crashers…I love movies that make me laugh, even if it is because they are just silly.  Where am I going with this???  I have had one of those weeks.  My projects are not cooperating with me…is Mercury in retrograde, or something?  Any-hoo…a certain quote keeps going on in my mind…it is from a silly movie…NEVER GIVE UP, NEVER SURRENDER!

It all started with the Great Sofa Makeover, that is stalled for a bit.  I was pin-fitting the part your back would be against, got the first part sewn…I was proud of my progress…right up until I “right-sided” it to see how it looked “finished”.  That is when I realized that when it gets “right-sided”, it fits the other end of the sofa.  That took all of the wind from my sails and I decided to stash that for a bit.  I will not give up on this, just postponing until my Mom arrives and I have an extra set of hands…or until it drives me totally crazy and I go ahead and cut the perfectly good cushions off of that end.

I decided I would do an “easy” project…make a fall wreath for my door.  My dear friend, Lisa, posted this pic on my timeline….

I went everywhere looking for Indian Corn.  I finally found out that one of our local produce stands has another location (that I would be driving by on my way to football games!) that had some.  I was excited to get it…I had DH pick up a straw wreath for me…I found the most beautiful Indian Corn, it was HUGE!  Sadly, too huge :(.  My finished wreath would have been 4 feet across…waaaaaaay to big for my door.  I needed much smaller ears…still looking.

My next project is something I have never tried…making a dress for Em.  I am super nervous!  My MIL thinks I’m crazy…if I can make those slipcovers, she says a dress will be a breeze…but I’ve never really followed a pattern, just sewn by the seat of my pants.  I think I’ll wait until next week 😉


Please tell me I’m not the only dork that has seen this movie!

Today’s secret revealed…I finally got to live out a long time dream…CINDERELLA came out on DVD this week!  Emma and I watched it together, almost brought me to tears.  Last time it was released, there were no daughters in my sights :).

The Great Sofa Makeover

Don’t get too excited, I’m just getting started, maybe ¼ through the project…that being said, I have spent a good 18 hours of this week on 3 cushions.  My house is a wreck, the laundry mountain has returned, and I have company coming in a few hours…this post will be brief ;). 

My husband and I decided that it would be worth the money (less than $100 for the whole sofa) and worth my time to give making a slipcover for the dilapidated sofa a try.  He couldn’t watch as I cut off the first seat cushion…they are attached to the body of the sofa.  I had a nervous knot in my stomach, because I knew if this didn’t work we would need a replacement STAT.


I kinda think this is an improvement over the flaky, hole-y mess of a seat cushion.  Half of this sectional is completely falling apart…half is perfectly fine…bummer, huh?  I pulled the cushions out of this mess of pleather, finding all kinds of crap that my kids had lost in the crevices.  The pile of pleather…

Recovering these cushions literally took me nearly SIX hours each!  Just making the piping for one took over an hour.  It is a tedious, time consuming, lint creating, mess making project…BUT, after I got the first pillow put together…I knew it was going to be worth the effort.  Here are the 3 recovered cushions…

Now I have to do the big part, making the slipcover for the body of the sofa.  I think it is going to be a little less tedious (I hope so, anyway).  For now, I have to race around to get this place looking less like a dusty, linty, crazy sewing room and more like my home again…so I can welcome the In-laws, they know I’m a mess ;).

This is what I did when my brain needed a break from the sewing!  I think these are pretty cute…might have to embellish a pillow with a few of these.

Today’s secret revealed…by the time I got to pillow #3, I had this down to a science…I hope I don’t forget all of my tricks when I move on to the other side!

The Master was Jealous

I’m speaking of bedrooms.  My room got a little bit jealous of all the attention Em’s room had been getting.  When we moved in, I found a 24 piece Martha set on ebay for less than $50 (with the shipping).  It was pretty, and really well done for an entire room in a bag.  I tweaked the pieces to make them work for me…turned the bedskirt into a window treatment, added in my own pillows to break things up a bit…but it never really did it for me.  I decided that after 2 years, I had gotten my money’s worth.  I have wanted to use blues as accents in my room (shocking, I know)…the demise of one of my ‘sea glass’ lamps prompted my Master Makeover.  I brought the surviving lamp to my room, hoping to keep it safe…glass lamp + kids + easily bumped table = short life of glass lamp.  At least we have carpet in here, so if it hits the floor it is less likely to shatter.  Those lamps really tied everything together in the living room, I was really sad when the one, after MANY trips to the floor, finally gave up and shattered into a gazillion pieces.  Moving on…I have had this fabric for a while, I covered an heirloom rocker with it.  I never made sofa cushions with that fabric, so it has found a new purpose in my bedroom.

There was plenty for my window treatment.  I cut this in half down the middle, I wanted the stripes vertical, and hemmed the cut edge.  I did a 2-inch hem.  I had DH remove the existing window treatment so I could reuse the framework.  He helped me get everything straight and we started stapling the fabric to the frame.  In a few minutes, it was ready to go back up!

Those little pleats are held in place with safety pins.  I was really pleased, and it really was a quick project.  The sheer panels are from the ‘room in a bag’, I like them and I had altered them to fit this window.  Here is a close-up of the stripe…

I found some wonderfully soft sheets in nearly the same shade of blue from the stripe…SCORE!  In my head I had envisioned white and cream for the bedding to go along with the new sheets.  I was thinking of a beautiful ruched white comforter, like the Hadley from PB…lovely.  I even found a knock-off that was completely affordable, I ordered it…but DH was not digging it.  Sometimes I wish he was not so opinionated about such things.  I took it back.  I was digging through some stuff, and came across my old cream colored matelasse shams…then it clicked, I have a coverlet that matches those!  The scalloped edging and floral design adds a bit of femininity. I decided I would look for a plain white comforter…I was obsessed with combining cream and white together.  I may regret the white if I can’t keep my kids off of it.  They seem to think that our bed is the indoor jungle gym…


 So here is my bed, made over…sans kids perched up top…

And a close up of the mixture of colors…

What are your thoughts?  Are the cream and white a decor ‘Do’ or a ‘Don’t’?  I won’t sob in the corner if you don’t like my choices ;).

Today’s secret revealed…this make over cost just over $100, for the sheets and the comforter…not bad considering the quality of those items (Marshall’s!!!), our bed is a King.  I feel like I have a whole new room now! 


My New-ish Desk

Actually my new-ish sewing table.  One of my 2011 Home Goals was to transform the upstairs of my closet from storage space to craft/sewing room.  Well, it is still just a catch-all-company’s comin’-storage space…but I now have a sewing table that will ultimately go there.  For now, the dining room continues to be my ‘creative space’…at least it is easily accessible for now LOL.  Here is the before, I almost forgot to take a picture…

I decided on a deep turquoise base with a soft greige overall, distressing off the greige to allow the turquoise to peak through.  I have always loved the color turquoise, it is my birthstone…maybe that explains my slight obsession.

I did not take step by step pictures, as I followed this tutorial for HOMEMADE CHALK PAINT flit on over there to get the step-by-step how-to.  One very valuable tip I did learn during this process:  Lowe’s is converting all of their Valspar paint to “paint + primer”…this DOES NOT WORK for this formula!  You must have just paint NO PRIMER in it.  Got that?  Good, it will save you a trip back to Lowe’s (or your paint supplier of choice).  Another tip:  be sure to mix the plaster of paris with the water until it is smooth…no lumps.  The lumps will not blend in to the paint.  The consistency you are looking for in your chalk paint is like pudding.

Here is a close up of the front drawer of my finished desk…

You can’t really appreciate the shade of greige in these pictures…the sun comes blazing through those windows.  It is lovely.

This desk has a keyboard drawer, not ideal for a sewing table…but hey, it was like $25 bucks off our local version of craigslist.  I decided to add a bit of interest by painting the inside of the drawer just the turqoise…I really love the way it turned out!

And here is Martha, my sewing machine, sitting on her new perch!  I don’t have a good excuse for not hemming up my Hudson’s now, with Martha out and easily accessible.

What do you think?  I really LOVE the way it turned out! 

Today’s secret revealed…do not confuse CHALK PAINT with CHALKBOARD PAINT…they are totally different!  You can check out Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint to find out more.  I don’t have a stockist convenient to me…and I didn’t want to spend $40 for a quart of paint to experiment with.  If I were refinishing something important…I would maybe invest in the ASCP.  This really worked well for this project!  Can’t wait to find another to try!!!

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Gameday Goodies!

Need a quick and easy…but super yummy and drool worthy…recipe?  I got one for ya!  It all started with a day jam packed with football followed up by a cook out.  I needed a quick recipe that didn’t require me to make a run to the grocery.  I had a couple of boxes of brownie mix in the pantry…and pinterest.  I looked through different pins, read several recipes…then tweaked a few until I came up with my Creamy Peanut Butter Brownies.

Start by baking your brownies, use your favorite recipe or mix…I always make a 13×9 recipe.  Set them aside to cool COMPLETELY.  I grease my pan, then line it with parchment, leaving a couple of inches of parchment  on the long sides…makes it super easy to slide them right out.

In a mixing bowl, cream a stick of butter and a cup of powdered sugar together.

Make sure they are completely blended together…

Action shot LOL.  Next add in a couple tablespoons each of vanilla pudding mix and half & half (you could also use milk).  Whip them together.

It becomes this nice shade of yellow after the vanilla pudding mix is added.  Now for the final addition…the peanut butter!  I added a generous (heaping) ¼ of a cup 🙂

Once this is completely blended and smooth, spread on top of your cooled brownies (did you get that?  the brownies need to be cooled…repetition is my strategy of choice with my family, can you tell?).

Cut & serve…& watch them disappear!

Creamy Peanut Butter Brownies
Recipe type: dessert
  • Brownies, baked and cooled
  • 1 stick butter, softened
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 T instant vanilla pudding mix (the powder only)
  • 2 T half & half (if you don't have it, use milk)
  • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter
  1. Prepare your brownies per package or recipe, I always use a 13x9 recipe and I line my baking pan with parchment paper so I can pull it out easily to cool. If brownies aren't thoroughly cooled, the frosting will melt.
  2. Cream butter and powdered sugar together.
  3. Mix in vanilla pudding and half & half until well blended.
  4. Add peanut butter, mix until smooth.
  5. Scrape down sides frequently during all steps.
  6. Spread over cooled brownies.

Today’s secret revealed…the first time I made these I let Luke sample the frosting, I had already tried it and couldn’t quite put my finger on what the taste reminded me of…he hit the nail on the head, it tastes like the inside of Reese’s Pieces.  This is like a quickie version of the Top Secret Reese’s Cup Cake…the only recipe I am not allowed to share.

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Taco Night Done Right

Sure, you can buy a set of pre-packaged supplies for taco night…it has the shells & the taco seasoning…I don’t know what else is in there.  At our house, we do tacos a little bit differently.  This all started with my Grannie, who LOVED Mexican food (who doesn’t?)…Taco Night at her house was nothing short of amazing!  A few special touches can really turn up the volume on regular old tacos.  I briefly touched on this way back in the early days of SGS.  I have since been trying to be more conscious about what we we eat, so I have given the taco seasoning in a packet the axe…most have MSG in them.   I tried several DIY taco seasoning recipes…and now have my own.  Most of the recipes I tried were too spicy for my little Owie, so I kept trying until I found something that everyone likes…the first time I made them with this recipe, DH proclaimed them to be the best tacos I had ever made (I’ve made LOTS of them).  So, here is the recipe for the dry taco seasoning:

Homemade Taco Seasoning
  • 3 T chili powder
  • 1½ t garlic powder
  • 1½ t onion powder
  • 1½ t oregano
  • 1 T onion flakes
  • 3 T cumin
  • 2 T salt
  • 2 T pepper
  1. Mix ingredients together. Store in container with lid, give a shake prior to using to mix ingredients.

Obviously, you can do this with a packet…I did for years.  I buy most of my spices (any that are available) at Costco, so I re-used one of the containers and made a quickie label for it…I really would like to make a prettier label, but that is pretty low on the to-do list ;).

I have a family of 6, so I need to do 2 pounds of meat to feed all of us.  Brown up the meat, and add 4 T of the dry seasoning to it (2 T per pound).  I use ground beef, you can use whatever you like…this would probably even work with shredded beef or chicken. 

Now, here is where my method differs from a packet…I add a can of tomato paste to my 2 pounds of meat.  I’m going to share my tomato paste trick, my Grannie taught me this.  Open the top of the can…

Then flip the can over and open the bottom, don’t worry it is thick enough to not make a mess on your counter…

Now, remove one of the opened ends…and press the end you left on through…

How easy it that?  See…

I find this easier than scooping it out with a spoon.  Now, you will need to add some water to help the spices and tomato paste get blended in with the meat.  I use 1½ cups of water for this amount of meat & tomato paste. 

Mix it all up until the paste is well incorporated…

So, now you have your meat ready for taco night…seems pretty ordinary…time to add that ‘extra’.  I fry my own shells.  I buy tortillas (corn for me, whole wheat for DH)…I have made my own & they are fabulous, but not sure my homemade ones would do as well getting fried, one day I will try.  I start with a small pan of oil over medium heat, let the oil get nice & hot.  The tortilla should bubble as soon as it hit the oil.

I use two forks to shape the shells as they fry.  I vent the bubbles by ripping small holes and pressing the air out.  I can’t get a pic of this in action because I don’t have 3 hands or a willing assistant.  This is what my shells look like when they are done…

I do one more little ‘extra’ to my tacos.  I make a salad to go on top.  The salad is not always the same, but the dressing is.  Yes, I top my tacos with a dressed salad.  My salad always has lettuce (romaine or iceberg)…and it always has oil and vinegar.  Just a shot of each, enough to lightly coat the salad.  I cut my lettuce really thin, like shredded.  Sometimes I add tomatoes…or cilantro…or lime juice…whatever I have.  You may like to add onion, my Grannie added onion…I don’t like raw onions.

From here, I always add shredded cheese…sometimes sour cream, hot sauce, black olives…whatever I have and am in the mood for.  My kids like soft tacos, I use big tortillas so I can wrap it up like a burrito…it keeps the stuff in the taco as the kids pick it up ;).

In the words of my kiddos…”These are a keeper!”…I think they are extraordinary.

Today’s secret revealed…sometimes I’m too lazy to shape the shells into the traditional shape…so we have tostadas ;).  For DH’s whole wheat shells, I trim down the regular sized tortillas (it is hard to find the small ones in whole wheat)…sometimes as an added treat for him I fry the discarded trimmings and top with splenda & cinnamon.  Whole wheat, sugar free cinnamon crisps.


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Princess Pete’s Bed Is Complete!

My 2012 Home Goal Review gave me a renewed sense of motivation.  I decided Emma’s room was the logical place to focus on…I had already completed a few items (‘roman shade’, bolster pillow, hair bow organizer).  I was ready to finish up the bed.  I have been searching for sheets for her bed for a looooooong time.  The sheets were blue, left over from when E was in a different full-sized bed (way back before we knew a baby girl was in our future).  Her box spring was covered with a matching blue fitted sheet (a great alternative to a dust ruffle…just didn’t want so much blue in the princess room).  I have had the method in my head for a while, I just needed to stop procrastinating and do it!  I measured the box spring and decided I needed fabric 12 inches wide to get the job done.  I have huge lengths of the floral fabric for her room, so I cut one long strip for the whole project…and then cut it in half.

The length of fabric was perfect to cover just the sides, so I skipped the front & back…they aren’t seen anyway ;).  I wanted something different than a bedskirt…although they hide all of the stuff that ends up under the bed.  I love the look of this particular bed…we have called it the “princess bed” ever since I purchased it at an antique shop on Ponce de Leon in Atlanta while we were dating, I didn’t want a bedskirt taking away from the bed.  I flipped the box spring over and got to work with the staple gun (my new friend).

Thankfully with this floral pattern, I didn’t need to use much precision.  This portion took less than 5 minutes per side…the corners were the only thing I needed to remotely think about…totally easy-peasy.

Both sides done…

Next, I flipped the mattress back over to the right side…and heated up my trusty glue gun.  I pulled the fabric straight…not too tight, as I didn’t want the glue to have too much responsibility.

 I glued in sections of 6-8 inches, so the glue was nice and hot when I pressed the fabric down…

 This process went pretty quick, too.  One side down…

Now, the big reveal!  Well, first the sheets…the first sheets I saw that I liked were at Target…the Simply Shabby pink ruffle sheets.  I decided I didn’t want to spend $40 on Target sheets & that I would watch Marshall’s & TJ Maxx for some higher thread count pink sheets.  Well, going on 2 years later…the Simply Shabby sheets are on her bed.  Every time I looked at sheets, I had two problems #1 I never found nice quality in pink and in Full size…#2 when I found a shade of pink that I liked (usually in queen size, which would be to big) I still compared them to the Simply Shabby ones.  I slapped myself and decided to go get the ones at Target…only to find them sold out at the one closest to me (they were no longer available online)…so I had to have them call & find some, put them on hold & drive 25 miles to get them.  One of these days I will learn to go with my gut and buy what I like when I see it.  Here it is!

I’m gonna need to get some sort of basket to use as storage under there…she doesn’t need the bedrails, anyway.  What do you think???  I LOVE IT!  Here’s a closer one of the sheets and the covered box spring…

Okay, so I didn’t iron the sheets…who has time for that?!?  If some awesome magazine wants to feature her bed, I will iron them…but y’all won’t judge me harshly for that, right?  Something the camera my phone & instagram don’t capture is that the quilting on her quilt is cream colored, like the background of the floral fabric.  I love her quilt so much, I wish I had bought it in king size for my room! 

We are getting there!  I want to do a mini gallery wall over & around her bed…and some sort of possibly ruffled addition to the window treatment…I want to add some little birds, in honor of her nickname.

Today’s secret revealed…not sure where the nickname “Princess Pete” came from…I usually call her that when she is in a girlie dress & covered in dirt…she is quite the little tomboy, but loves to be girlie too.  She has several regularly used nicknames, but “Bird” is the most frequently used…she probably thinks it is actually a part of her name :).

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Thanksgiving in August

What?  I know Thanksgiving and August don’t really go together, but there are all kinds of “Christmas in July”…our elf even paid us a visit ;)…so I thought “why not?”.  I must credit this post entirely to my Mom, it is completely her brainchild.  She is my biggest fan, and is always tossing ideas my way to help with traffic to all of my social media outlets.  She is also the architect and mentor of my love for cooking.  We come from a long line of amazing cooks…I hope to pass that tradition on. 

Two years ago, when this blog was in its early infancy (not sure what phase we’re in right now…toddler or tween?) I did a Thanksgiving series, complete with tips on how to stay sane in the midst of hosting a large group…I hosted 25 or so that year, it was a smashing success and relatively low-stress.  I am hosting this year, not sure how many yet…but I know that this recipe will be on the dessert table…Dark Chocolate Pecan Pie Truffles…oh my!

I do not have my usual step-by-step visual guide of instagram pics, I have only one scrumptious photo of the final product…it will be enough to make you want to gather all of these ingredients to ‘test’ them for yourself.  Behold…

Oh my sinfuliciousness!  I will strongly encourage you to refrain from substituting the Dove chocolates…Dove dark chocolate has this amazingly smooth, melt all over your fingers, silky texture that I have not found in other chocolate available in my regular grocery stores.  They are a bit pricey, but well worth the extra cost.

Dark Chocolate Pecan Pie Truffles
Recipe type: Dessert
  • 2½ cups toasted pecans, finely chopped
  • 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2½ TBS cocoa
  • pinch of salt
  • 2 TBS dark karo syrup
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 9 ounce bag Dove dark chocolate
  • 2 tsp shortening
  1. Stir nuts, graham cracker crumbs, sugar, salt and cocoa until well mixed.
  2. Add karo syrup, vanilla, and water. Blend well.
  3. Form mixture into small balls and place on a cookie sheet.
  4. Place in freezer for 1-2 hours.
  5. Melt chocolate and shortening in a double boiler.
  6. Line a cookie sheet with waxed or parchment paper.
  7. Dip frozen balls into melted chocolate and place on lined cookie sheet.
  8. Put dipped balls into freezer for additional 30 minutes.
  9. Store in freezer or refrigerator.


Today’s secret revealed…I know this seems a bit premature, but Thanksgiving is only 3 months away!  I need to start figuring out how many to expect so I can start planning!

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Mid-Year Home Goal Evaluation

Well, this is a bit beyond the mid-year point, but that is par for this course…better late than never.  I just read my Year of Improvement post from January…I laid out 4 goals for my home…none of which I have completed at this point.  I am even behind on the laundry and dishes as I write…trying to soak up these last days of summer. 

The sofa is much, much worse.  Some decisions have been made, we are going to replace it…and DH is finally on board with it happening.  We have set a rough budget, and have decided to go with leather.  His view is that with a cloth sofa, the first day is as good as it will ever look (he’s right)…but with leather (not pleather), it will patina and look better with some age (provided my children don’t rip the leather).  Here is the massive rip in our sofa today 🙁

Honestly, I thought after 6 months of the kids walking, jumping and wrestling that it would be much worse.

I still have no curtains in the kitchen or family room…I’m not so sure I want to tackle that sewing project on my own.  With the investment into the fabric, I don’t want to mess it up.  I might use O&L’s room as my trial.  There is only one window in there, so not too much fabric would need to be purchased…I will probably hold out for a clearance remnant.

As for the drop zone…I “settled” for a bar closet.  After close consideration, I realized that with the “smart panel” and alarm brain, the drop zone wasn’t gonna work.  I still need to figure out a spot for the kiddos to drop their stuff…the shoes are still making me CRAZY!  I make everyone that comes over look at the bar closet…it is too cool!  In case you forgot, here is what it looks like…its okay to be a little jealous of his mad skills ;).

 Last, but certainly not least on my project list was Em’s room.  While it is not finished completely, some progress has been made…I made the ‘roman shade’

and a bolster pillow

That was January & February, respectively…no progress since :(.  I am on a quest for the perfect pink sheets, but I like a bargain & full size sheets are hard to come by. 

Now that I have reviewed my goals, I am feeling a bit motivated.  My boys go back to school in 2 weeks, so I (in theory) should have a little time to devote to the home projects.

Today’s secret revealed…I have chosen my paint colors for my desk makeover…I went with a soft grey and deep turquoise…I can’t wait to see how this turns out!!!

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