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Campaign Dresser Nightstands – The good, the bad, and the ugly

Campaign Dresser Nightstands – The good, the bad, and the ugly

I got these campaign dressers ages ago. Actually, my awesome fiance ran around like a crazy person to pick these up, driving to hell and gone, playing an intense game of Tetris to get them to fit into his car. Thanks, babe! I love them.

They were in rough shape to begin with. Here is one, I think it was $35.IMG_0288

Here is the other, that I think was $25.

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Amazingly, these were both listed on craigslist on the same day or one day apart (i can’t remember), by different sellers. They don’t match exactly, but they were the same height and depth, so I figured that was close enough.

Both were a combo of wood and particle board, so I didn’t feel bad painting them.

I wanted to have a super shiny high lacquer finish like this one from Little Green Notebook.  I didn’t follow the instructions she gives properly and had to repaint these three times. They still aren’t perfect, but I finally gave up.

First, I thought I could use a water based paint that claimed to be super high gloss. This paint left INSANE brush marks. Then I went and bought oil paint as recommended, but the brush marks of the previous paint showed through the oil paint. Also, I think I should have waited longer for the crappy water based paint to dry before doing the oil paint. Then I had to apply another coat of the oil based paint to try and get a smoother finish, but by this time, I had spent hours painting and sanding and fixing parts of the drawers, and still wasn’t happy with the finish.

That’s when some unknown person in my building became my worst enemy.

When I was applying the last coat I wanted to apply (EVER), the neighbor in our building watered her plants on her balcony above our patio (without looking) and got water all over my wet oil based paint and ruined the finish.  I may have cried. I was so upset and so tired of working on these dressers. This is when I gave up.

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You can see that the finish is not glass-like. It’s got tons of brush strokes, and then weird marks and wrinkles where the water sat on the wet paint. I said “enough,” let them dry for another few days outside, and eventually brought them inside My job was starting a few days later (this was last August when I had first moved to DC), and I did not have the time necessary to continue stripping and painting these guys.

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And you know what? They look OK once in the room. I may at some point strip them down and repaint them, but for now, this works for me.  Most people don’t even notice the wonky finish. Or at least they are nice enough to lie to me about it. (Thanks, Victor!)

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I took off the handles when I was painting it, but I couldn’t get the corner pieces off without bending them, so I just painted around them. If I do repaint these, I will trying to get the proper tools to get the corners off so I can strip this baby down and start all over again. I used Bar Keepers Friends to polish the brass – it works really well and is super cheap.

I love how the brass and navy look together, and I love the combination of the brass on the campaign dress with the silver on the headboard. And this whole project cost me less than $100 for two custom night stands, so that’s pretty awesome also.

That is all.

Love,
Rachel

DIY Upholstered Greek Key Headboard

DIY Upholstered Greek Key Headboard

When I saw this headboard from Serena and Lily, I knew two things: 1. I had to have it; and 2. I could TOTALLY DIY this bad boy for less than $1650. Way way less.

DIY Greek Key Upholstered Headboard

DIY Greek Key Upholstered Headboard

So I made the bad boy above. That’s right. For about $100.

First, I made the frame out of plywood. I used 3/8 inch plywood. I had the hardware store cut down the plywood sheet to the desired size (I think it was overall four inches wider than my king size mattress).  I attached 2×4’s to the edges of the board to create room to put foam, and also give me a hard surface to put nails into. I wanted a hard edge so I could add the nails, but wanted this headboard to be really soft and cushy and super comfortable. So I had to make enough space for both foam and nails.

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The width of the 2×4’s and the 2×4 squares was just enough to allow me to nail in the Greek Key squares in the corners.

IMG_0705I screwed the 2×4’s into the plywood. Pretty straight forward and simple. (I screwed from the back through the plywood and then into the 2×4’s).

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I used two memory foam egg carton mattress pads to fill in the inner square. I had to trim the corners of the memory to get the memory foam to fit. I used two layers of egg carton memory foam to make sure the frame was completely filled out and that the headboard was super comfy/squishy. I got the memory foam on clearance from Walmart, I believe – I spent like $30 or $40 on all the foam.  Once I had the piece cut into the proper shapes, I sprayed the plywood with spray adhesive (outside) so that the memory foam would fit.

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Then, I covered the whole thing in a layer of batten, stapling around the backside.

Next, I wrapped the whole thing in this gorgeous sea-foam velvet that I bought ages ago. I’m not including this in the price of the headboard since i have had the fabric for over two years. But, we are counting, I think I used about 3 yards of the velvet, which would add about $60 to the overall price.  I stapled the velvet to the backside of the frame, starting in the center of each side and slowly moving towards the edges. I folded the corners carefully, like how you would fold a present.

Then I started adding the nailhead trim. I used one where you simply nail one in five of the nails, not all of them.  Though I usually love gold or brass finishes, I felt like silver was the better color to compliment the sea-foam.

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Each Greek key corner took a lot of time to lay out. Measuring out the distance from the side, getting the spacing perfect. ensuring everything was square took a LOT of trial and error and lots of calculations (and recalculations). The corners were definitely the hardest part of the whole project.

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Eventually I got everything where I wanted it, as you can see in the picture above. Or at least, I got it close enough. One of the corners is not perfectly square, but I finally said, “Enough!” Then i had a glass of wine and stopped worrying about it.

Then four months later I took some pics of the bedroom. Here is one of those:

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And a little vignette, where you cannot see my bed frame that has no bedskirt covering it…

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Price breakdown:

Wood and screws = about $40.

Foam and batten = about $40.

Nailhead = $21

Total (not including fabric I already had) = $101.

Total savings from the original version = $1650 – $101 = $1549!!!! OMG, I’m rich! And accomplished. And modest.

So later, I will post about these dressers. And maybe about the pillows. Both the dressers and the pillows were a DIY.  Get excited…?

Let me know if you have any questions in the comments.

Greek Key Love,

Rachel

PS. There are big changes a-brewing for Ole Rachel here. Really exciting ones. Coming soon.

Mini-Cakes!

Mini-Cakes!

I made mini-cakes! They are adorable and mini.
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Here’s what I did – it was pretty easy and a fun way to make personalized desserts.

I made one recipe of my fave carrot cake (http://suitsandaprons.wordpress.com/?s=carrot+cake), and baked it in a 9×13 pan. Once baked and cooled, I wrapped the cake tightly in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for an hour or so.

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Then I used a biscuit cutter to make little cake rounds. I cut all the cake rounds into two pieces. Each cake was then made with 3 layers – 1.5 times the thickness of the cake as baked originally. It is easier to cut each round in half individually than to try and cut the whole cake in half (into two layers) at once. Trust me.

I frosted these with lots of cream cheese frosting, chilling as I went so that the outer layer would harden. I added some marmalade to the middle for yummy filling.

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I also rolled some in party sprinkles.

These were so yummy and pretty. Very easy, and very fun. I served them in cupcake wrappers, for ease of eating and mobility.

One note: While cream cheese frosting is clearly the most delicious frosting ever, it does not harden like a true buttercream, which can pose decorating challenges. For example, it is difficult to pipe designs with cream cheese frosting because the shapes begin to melt, while piped buttercream designs tend to hard and hold better. You may consider just using cream cheese frosting for the middle filling, and using buttercream for your decorations.

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Another note: You may be wondering why I made mini-cakes instead of making cupcakes. You may think cupcakes and mini-cakes are the same. You would be wrong. The frosting-to-cake ratio in a cupcake is way off, in a way that really bothers me. Also, cupcakes tend to be drier, in my experience, since they are basically all corners. By making mini-cakes, you reduce the amount of heat exposed edges, which makes for more delicious moister cakes. Finally, I think fully frosted mini-cakes are more adorable than cupcakes, plain and simple.

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Now go make some delicious and adorable mini-cakes.

Love,

Rachel

 

 

Latest Ikea Winners

Latest Ikea Winners

Wowza! Those designers at Ikea are knocking it out of the park lately. Maybe it’s because I haven’t poked around Ikea in a while, but some of their newer stuff (and some of their older things) are just so spot on – both in terms of design and price.

Here are a few things that recently jumped out at me on the Ikea website, and I just wanted to share:

RANARP Wall Lamp: The white, the gold, the flexibility! I just love it. A pair of these bad boys flanking my bed just has to happen. It HAS to.  In the words of Tracy Jordan, I love it so much I want to take it behind the middle school and get it pregnant. And then it would give birth to more baby white and gold lamps = AMAZING.

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RANARP Floor Lamp: Just like its smaller, wall-hanging brother, this lamp has stolen my heart, without stealing my money. I cannot wait till we get to Seattle and I can snatch this (and possibly a pair of its brothers) right up!

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BAROMETER Floor Lamp: Another great floor lamp, slightly more traditional than the RANARP. The nickel-plated finish looks expensive and the counterweight arm is very elegant. I can just imagine myself adjusting that light next to a cozy arm chair, a cup of tea nearby, Dickens in hand. (BTW, All Dickens books can be found for free on Kindle, so I’ve read many of them. If you are looking for a good book, David Copperfield is one of my faves.)

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GUNNERN Pedestal Table: I’m a sucker for anything robin’s egg blue, and this diminutive table, with its lovely legs and round shape just hits all the right buttons.  Would be great in an empty corner with a picture frame and a pretty vase, or next to some occasional seating as a place to put some nibbles.  The website says its not designed for outdoor use, but I suspect a covered porch or patio would also make a nice home for this sweet table.

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PS 2014 Green House: Charming and useful, with this adorable windowsill greenhouse, maybe I could make my black thumb a little greener.  (Editor’s note: I have kept alive both a mint and a basil plant for over two months now, so that’s something!)

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PS 2014 Plant Stand:  This minimalist little plant stand could hold so many plants right near a good light source, also reducing the chance that I will kill them.  Maybe I should invest in some fake plants? (Ooh, I also just remembered that my spider plant is thriving, and even has a baby offshoot going. So plant stand full of spider plants and bamboo it is.)

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SOLRUN Fabric: The water-colored effect in those vibrant colors make this an incredible floral. How great would this fabric be as cushion covers for a built-in dinette, in an otherwise mostly white kitchen?

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Now to get all the details of our big move to Seattle finalized, so I can hit up the Ikea!

Love,

Rachel

Changing Jobs: Insurance Coverage, Cobra and the Affordable Care Act

Legal Disclaimer: I’m not a health care expert, but I am changing jobs and did a fair bit of research to figure out how switching jobs will impact my insurance and liability under the Affordable Care Act.  I thought I would share, since finding this information was not as straightforward as I had hoped. Keep in mind that this is NOT legal advice! Even though I am lawyer, I am not your lawyer, and everyone’s insurance can be a little different. So make sure to talk to your HR person to ensure that you have all the right information for your specific situation.

At my current job, my insurance runs for the whole month, so if I work just one day in that month, I am covered until the end of the same month.

At my new job, insurance coverage begins on the first of the month after the day you start. So, for example, if I started work on September 2, 2014, I would not be covered by their insurance until October 1, 2014.

This could result in about a month-long insurance gap for me.  There are two considerations with this:

  1. Could I be subject to a penalty under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare)?
  2. What happens if I get hit by a bus during that period?

Answers:

(1) Fortunately, if you only have a small gap in coverage (less than 90 days), there is no penalty under Obamacare. Score!

(2) But what about that bus? (Knock wood!)  Well, it turns out that most businesses offer Cobra. (Businesses with more than 20 employees are usually required to offer this by law; ask your HR person.)   Cobra is essentially an option to pay your own insurance premium to maintain the insurance that your current employer offers, even after you have a “qualifying event.”  In other words, Cobra is a legal requirement that your boss allows you to maintain the company’s insurance even after stop working there.  Usually you will be responsible for paying the premium; your employer will not pay it, but you can stay on the same plan.  It’s not exactly cheap to buy this type of insurance, but it may be a good option for some.

But, Rachel, what is a “qualifying event?” In my case, the “qualifying event” is leaving my current job. It is usually anything that causes you to lose coverage. More info is here.

When you have a qualifying event (leave your job), you are given a form by your HR person that gives you 60 days* to decide whether you want to enroll in Cobra.  When you do sign up, the coverage applies retroactively back to the date of the qualifying event.  So if between the time that I leave my job and before the 60 days are up, if I get hit by a bus, I can then sign up for Cobra after the bus accident and those medical expenses would be covered as if I never had any gap in coverage. Great, right?

The other good part is that if at the end of 60 days, I have not encountered any buses or other tragic mishaps (god willing), then I do can choose not to sign up for Cobra, pay no additional money and not be subject to the Affordable Care Act penalty.  Keep in mind that this only works were your final day of insurance at your current job is less than 60 days before the date on which your new insurance would kick in – otherwise, you don’t get the luxury of waiting to see if something happens to you during that gap, you may have to pay the premium for Cobra before your new insurance starts.

Here is some [marginally] useful information about who is exempt from Obamacare penalties, about how Cobra works, and what to do if your employer does not offer Cobra.

I hope you found this somewhat helpful, even though it doesn’t involve cookies or painting or power tools.

And, remember to look both ways before crossing the street!

With love,

Rachel

P.S. KNOCK ON WOOD!!!!

* The 60 days begins from the latest of either: the date of the qualifying event, the date that coverage actually ends due to the qualifying event, or the date on which you learn that you are required to inform your HR person and health plan about a qualifying event.  In my case, the 60 days will start on the day my insurance ends – the last day of the month in which I stop working.

An Engagement!

An Engagement!

Warning: this post is an annoyingly happy love story.

As some of you may already know, I recently got engaged!

Celebrating our engagement!

Celebrating our engagement!

 

It was just like a fairy tale, in an unsuspecting moment the love of my life pulled out my dream engagement ring and asked me to marry him, while we sat in the car at a gas station in Maryland.  True story.  At a gas station. And it was amazing, spontaneous and very romantic. I wouldn’t change a thing.

I am so happy and feel so lucky that I get to spend the rest of my life with this incredible man, who is so supportive of everything I do.  And I mean everything, from uprooting our lives (again) to move 3000 miles away so I can take my dream job, (Yep, I got engaged and got an incredible job offer on the same day. #winning!) to letting me paint (almost) everything in the apartment (almost) any color I want. I am a very lucky lady.

Oh yeah, and we are moving to Seattle in the near future so I can take aforementioned awesome job that involves nuclear weapons.  So, new job, new city, new fiance, best birthday ever, possibility of affordable real estate, returning the West Coast finally. Oh yeah. I am one happy girl.

So I’m just going to embrace this fact that this is a very self-congratulatory post and congratulate myself and my fiance again. Congrats, you two! I wish you many happy years in Seattle!

Love,

Rachel (and Victor)

PS.  Gas station proposals are the most romantic as evidenced by Jim & Pam from The Office. And ours was even better than that. :)

 

Pigeon Painting

Pigeon Painting

Inspired by some other pigeon art, I set out to paint my own.

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I painted this little guy on canvas board with acrylic paint. I found the frame for $1 at a yard sale. $1!!! Score!

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Here it is in the corner, with my new hanging lamp (post about that forthcoming).

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He makes me happy. I think he needs a name.  I may also paint him a friend yet… Obviously I need lots and lots of bird art. More bird art!

Also, I had an idea that may already exist. If it exists, someone please let me know. I would like to exchange some of my original art with someone else’s original art. I desperately want original art by some other artists, but I cannot afford to buy it, and I think there is too much of my own art in my apartment.  Does some sort of art swap exist? If anyone is interested in an art swap and in the DC area, please reach out!

For the love of pigeons and art and pigeon art,

Rachel

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