Tips for Painting - Cutting In

I'm in the midst of finally painting my kitchen - woo! I've done quite a bit of painting in my time and I've learned a few tricks along the way. So, today I wanted to share my tips for how to cut in without using painters tape. Enjoy!

Gotta love that freeze frame... So what do you think? Going to try to ditch the painters tape??


How to Clean Old Wood

In phase two of the Great Wire Organizing of 2012, I'm working on a storage unit for all of our media components. So much technology. So little space.

Tim saw some great crates at Embellishments (my new favorite vintage store near 1825 South Coast Highway, Oceanside, but nowhere to be found on the internet...) and thought they would make a great custom bookshelf. At $35 for the pair I was completely on board.

BUT... we're talking old crates, which means we're talking DIRTY crates. These bad boys needed a scrubbing.

So here are some before pictures. A lot of the rough spots are age (ie paint drips, scuff marks, and chips in the finish), but you can also see dust, dirt, and a little water damage (hello mildew, get the heck out of my house!).

The wood finishes are a combination of painted, finished, and raw wood, which I love, but which also doesn't lend itself to a simple cleaning solution...

After a little research, it seemed like a combination of Trisodium Phosphate and white vinegar would be best.

If you want to try it yourself you'll need:

Trisodium Phosphate (you can find a small box at Home Depot)
Distilled White Vinegar
Clean Rags (I used 2)
Spray Bottle
A container

1. Mix the Trisodium Phosphate (TSP) with water following the instructions on the box. I used 1/4 cup of the TSP with 1 gallon of water.

2. Scrub your wood with your TSP/water mixture. If you have any stubborn spots, you can use a scrub brush. Just be sure not to scrub so hard that you scratch any finished surfaces.

This isn't really a step, but dang that wood was dirty! Seeing this when I was finished made me SO glad I decided to thoroughly clean the wood.

3. Fill your spray bottle with white vinegar and liberally spray it all over your wood.

4. After the vinegar has sat for 5 minutes, wipe it off with a clean rag and water. Let your wood dry completely in full sunlight if possible. (I highly recommend starting this process in the morning so your wood can sit in the sun all day.)

The results are VERY difficult to show through photographs, especially because these crates are really banged up to begin with. You can take my word for it though, they look so much better and now I feel completely comfortable having them in my house.

In fact, they look so much better that Tim and I decided not to do anything more to the wood finish, whereas before this cleaning process we were planning to apply a coat of polyurethane or tung oil. Hooray for time-saving discoveries!

Next up on the docket: make some faux old wood we'll need to assemble these badboys into respectable media storage. So close to wire control!!


DIY Wedding Invitations

Now that our wedding guests have been pleasantly (I hope) surprised by our wedding invitations, I'm excited to share them with the internets. Tim and I set out to make invitations that were a) affordable b) adorable with handmade touches and c) made us super happy. Put a big check mark beside each of those goals!

When I first set out to get this stuff done, I looked and looked for wedding invitation kits that I liked, but just couldn't find any. Why am I so picky?? So of course, I designed my own...

Like most DIY invitations, there was a bit of assembly involved, but the most difficult part of the process was getting all of the necessary parts.


  • For a cozy crafty vibe, I ordered kraft paper envelopes from Amazon for both the outer and RSVP envelopes
  • I ordered custom stamps from Stamp Out Online for the RSVP and "join us!" text on the front of the invite. They did a great job with the stamps and were very affordable, but were a little difficult to communicate with. I think they just get huuuge volumes of business...
  • The jar stamp and ink were from Michael's (because what project is complete without a trip to Michael's?)
  • At Staples we printed the information side of the invitations (on heavy weight card stock then cut down to 5x7), and bought red pens and index cards. Tip: if you have your invitations printed by Staples, just do it in the store. Their online print shop will overcharge!

Assembly itself took no time at all!

My favorite part of the whole shebang might have to be the RSVP cards. They turned out just like I hoped are completely adorable (in my ever so humble opinion). Thank you Stamp Out Online!! Notice how they look just like our online RSVP? Tim is so good...

Attention brides to be: Yes, getting the invitations out is a little stressful, but you will feel SO GOOD once they're done! I know I do. You can do it!


Make Your TV Wires Pretty!

After finding the perfect place to put the TV in our apartment, Tim and I were faced with a seriously ugly problem: how in the world would we hide those ugly wires?!

The beast to tackle... ugh...

The best solution would be to make a few holes and feed the wires through the walls, but as renters that was totally not an option. Another solution? Get white wires (if possible) and tack the wires closely to the wall to "hide" them. But to be honest, I never feel convinced by that solution...

Inspired by this post on Apartment Therapy and this post on Design Sponge, we decided to embrace the wires and make them a beautiful part of our mantle.


By wrapping the wires in yarn we made them sculptural and coordinated them with the colors in the room. I love the way it turned out!

To beautify your own wires, all you need is yarn (I chose a thick wool yarn to give my wires a chunkier look), electrical tape, and wires.

1. Bind your wires with electrical tape - This will be your marker for where your yarn should start and will make the yarn wrapping easier. I did this step right after the wires were plugged in so they would be at just the right length.

2. Tie your yarn onto your wires with a simple knot.

3. Pull all of your yarn (including your ends) down alongside the wires. Separate the color you want to start with.

4. With your starting yarn color, make a loop to the left and over your wire bundle.

5. Bring the spool of yarn under the wire bundle and through the loop.

6. Pull the yarn tight around the wire bundle. (This photo is after three loops have been tightened - see how quickly it progresses?)

Repeat steps 4-6 over and over to cover your wire completely.

7. To switch colors, seperate the new color from your wires and pull your old color parallel to the wires. Now do steps 4-6 with your new color.

8. After tightening your yarn, you'll have your new color all set! Don't be afraid to wiggle the yarn around a bit to make the color switch seamless. After a few episodes of Downton Abbey, you'll be finished!

(Does this technique seem vaguely familiar to you? It might be because you spent a good portion of summer camp making friendship bracelets with this little knot technique! Here's a video to jog your memory.)

To really make our wires interesting, I decided to divide them into two groups that I wrapped separately in different colors. When I was finished, I twisted them together for the final product. Part of the point of this project is to embrace the look of the wires as sculptural instead of trying to pretend there not there (we all see them!), so don't be afraid to make them colorful and chunky!

Our wire problems aren't completely solved yet... a slight turn of my tripod will attest to that...

But it still looks a lot better than before!

Tim and I are working on phase two of our wire solution now (along with how to clean unfinished wood and potentially how to age new wood - it's been one of those rabbit hole type projects...) More on that soon ;)

For now, I'm completely content to ignore the wiry mess to the right of the fireplace and enjoy our pretty yarn covered wires :)

Whacha think? Something you might try?


Our Answer to the Wedding Website

In the last few months I've gotten seriously enamored with making websites look pretty. Yes, the technical term is web design, but I hesitate to even associate myself with that term - I have a lot to learn first!

Either way, when Tim and I started setting up our wedding website, I knew I couldn't use a free stock website. Even the cute ones were not. My. Style. So we made our own...

I have to say, I love love love it. It's totally us and totally worth the effort! Oh right, and it's based off of a blogger blog, so it's free too ;). Visit it here >>> jenandtimtietheknot.blogspot.com.

Most of the custom look is created by using images where the text is my own sloppy cursive. How? I got a Wacom tablet off craigslist for $30. It's SO FUN and I might be going overboard with it, but I don't care.

My absolute favorite part is the RSVP page. This one was a little beyond my skill set, so Tim took care of it (he's a software engineer for google, so yeah, he's got chops). It's an embedded google survey doc which Tim styled to look just like the RSVPs we sent out with our invitations! Our guests can go to the RSVP page, fill out the form, and their info is automatically uploaded to a google spread sheet that Tim and I can track. So easy.

In fact, our whole website uses google products because they integrate so easily and, duh, they're free! We were even able to embed a slideshow with photos of us via Picasa :)

All in all this wedding DIY took about 6 days of moderate to heavy work and a little know-how. If there's anything in particular you'd like to learn how to do, please let me know in the comments below. I'd be happy to write up a tutorial or send you some resources :)


DIY Custom Desk

What do you get when you give a guy his own office and a garage full of tools? I'll give you a hint... the answer is in a photo right below this sentence...

A custom desk!

Part of the reason we moved was so Tim could be closer to work, but he still works from home fairly often. It's important for him to have a nice working space - something we really didn't have at all in the old place.

Using a few photos for inspiration and some internet research, we were able to make this baby all by ourselves!

Oh and this handsom devil of a chair was a craigslist find for $50 - masculine, but still really interesting.

We used butcher block from Ikea for the top (stained etc using this tutorial by This and That) and pipes from Home Depot for the legs (spray painted glossy black). It wasn't cheap, but was definitely less expensive than buying a similar desk from Restoration Hardware or West Elm.

Most of this DIY is just plain measuring and adjusting your pipe lengths to fit your needs, but, for those of you interested, here's a breakdown of the parts you'll need to make an L shaped desk like we did:

Non-Pipe Materials:
Screws x 32 (to attach your desk top to the legs via your flanges)
2 Cans of Black Spray Paint
110 and 220 Grit Sand Paper
Wood Conditioner
Walnut Stain
Tung Oil

A. Pipe Caps x 8
B. 8" Pipe x 8 (change the length to adjust height)
C. T Joint x 12
D. 18" Pipe x 8
E. 12" Pipe x 4
F. 4" Pipe x 4
G. 60" Pipe x 2 (this is for your horizontal support pipe - we had one of them cut down to 55" to fit our length needs - the Home Depot workers can do it easily!)
H. Flange x 8

The resulting desk is 29" high (a low-ish desk height because of the chair we had - you can adjust pipes B and D to change the height), 25.5" deep (the factory depth of the Ikea butcher block), and as wide as you make part G!

Without going full blown tutorial on you, here are the basic steps:

1. Cut the butcher block to your desired lengths - for us, this meant cutting the back piece down to the length of the back wall minus the width of the butcher block and cutting the side piece down to a length that made a nice L shape for the portions in Tim's office
2. Treat your butcher block with this tutorial by This and That.
3. Assemble your pipe legs.
4. Remove the pipe price tags (we used a heat gun) and clean them with Acetone (otherwise they'll be too greasy for paint to stick).
5. Spray paint your pipe legs glossy black.
6. Assemble your pieces with standard screws (we brought the desk tops and legs into the office first)



(no we haven't painted, just looks like I chose a different white balance there... hmm)

Total cost for this big boy was around $390. The truth is, we could have spent less on a pre-made desk from craigslist, but this is exactly what Tim wanted - totally worth every penny :)

Oh and, don't mind the dangling computer wires... we're still working out that little problem. Anyone else feel like their life is consumed by wires?


Pretty Small Things: rugs!

Good things come to those who wait. And wait... and wait... and loose their patience, but still wait some more...

Since moving, I've been on a serious rug hunt. Serious as in searching craigslist every single day to watch the prices of certain rugs drop and to jump on those rare deals. The not really that hard work has finally paid off with two rugs I'm 1000% in love with (extra 0 intended).

First up, this lovely lady. Be still me geometric and funky color loving heart.

This 3x5 girly lives in our kitchen (where some major changes are happening) providing endless delight for the low low cost of $30. We have to be a little careful, because the beautiful colors you see below were made with vegetable dye. Water = sad runny colors. You can see there's a little damage already (not by us), but I don't mind it at all. She's still a knockout.

On a random-continuity-interrupting-blogger's note: Does anyone else get a perfection block when they're going to blog? I have a "to blog about list" that's longer than ever, but I feel totally stuck! Today was absolutely a "ok, time to do this no matter what" kind of day. Even though I'm not thrilled with the quality or styling of these photos, I think forcing myself to write a post is helping me out of my perfectionist slump :)

And thus, this very mediocre photo of rug #2!

(Madeline would not cooperate with photo time...)

This dapper young man is a 7x10 midcentury gem I claimed just hours after it was posted on c-list for $100. The orange might look kind of cuckoo in these photos, but I assure you, it's all kinds of yummy in person.

Why yes, those are plus signs as one of the main geometric motifs - LOVE. This is just one happy rug :)

The next step (besides writing posts about all of the other cool goings on at the insideways homebase - get it together Jen) is to see if there might be a slightly better place for our plus signed rug friend, which I have a feeling there is... Let the furniture and rug moving manual labor begin!