Best Laid Plans

(Not So) Boring School Stuff

Remember me telling you I decided to go back to college? I’m studying interior design and since this blog is about design (when I’m not sharing random happenings in our life) I figure I can share some of my homework with you. Two birds, one stone kind of thing maybe?

A couple weeks ago I had to do a design concept board in a style from the 20th century. When we bought our house, there was a way cool table in a room in the basement that I’ve claimed as the future gameroom/soda shop and it’s definitely mid-century-modern, so I decided I might as well do a moodboard/design concept board for my own house right? Then I share it with you and m able to cross three things off my to do list with one project. Working smarter not harder here (most of the time it’s the other way around). So here’s the room as it was when we moved in (see the whole house beginning tour here)

Basement Game Room

See, cool table right? Right now that room is a workshop, but when we don’t need a workshop anymore, it’s a total game room space! Since that’s probably at least 5 years down the road, this moodboard might will more than likely change, but right now I’m loving it….and I don’t even like Coca-Cola, but I’m a huge Marilyn fan

Created with Olioboard

Whatcha think? I love! Have y’all tried Olioboard yet? Also love! You should totally try it if you haven’t yet! That’s a lot of exclamation points, so I’m hoping you can see how much I love this! I might just be a little melodramatic…or a lot…but that’s why ya love me right? Here’s me on Olioboard if you want to check out what else I’ve been designing. Hint: There might be a board called Mudroom Dreams. I also may have asked for things to complete my mudroom for Christmas. And by “might” and “may have” I mean that there is and I did.

Guess who got a new phone and can tweet, instagram,pin and post from her phone again?!?! It’s me! Guessed that one, didn’t ya? New phone=more engaged Amy! Woohoo! Or are you worried now? I promise, it’ll be fun! I hope y’all are having a wonderful start to your December. I know I am!!!

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Watching the Corn Grow

I went to college in North Carolina. Most of my friends would tease me about being from Iowa. “What do y’all do there? Watch potatoes grow?” No. That is not was we do in Iowa. Perhaps in Idaho they watch potatoes grow. “In Iowa, we watch corn grow and go through giant corn mazes.” True story. Keep in mind that this was in 1997 before the corn maze craze spread out of Iowa. Anyway, did you know that there is an actual webcam sitting in an an Iowa field where you can watch the corn grow? It’s like watching paint dry only not as exciting. Or in my case, it’s like watching baby’s breath grow.

That’s right, it’s time for another installment in the saga. In case you’ve been missing out on my whining, you can find the other installments here, here and here. This is last week’s picture

You’ll notice that the sprinkler is missing from today’s picture. It’s been making the rounds in the yard and I’ve decided to start watering this by hand with some MiracleGro Bloom Booster.

It looks like it might be helping some. I hope that it’s not too little too late.

Something kind of exciting and unexpected happened at our house last week. After still not being able to find a job, I decided that maybe it was time to push a restart button on my career. I’m a bit of a “go big or go home” type of person so I signed up for four online classes through our local community college.

Quite frankly, I’m not sure what I have gotten myself into, but I know it will be interesting. You might not be able to guess from those book titles, but my official major is interior design. Is anyone surprised? I think the classes I’m taking this summer will help me write better blog posts. Let me know if I get too technical and I need to throw in an Amy-ism like using ORB as a verb.

So I know I keep telling you to check me out (not like that) on Instagram. Being so busy with my brother & SILTB’s wedding and the bridal shower and now throwing school into the mix, sometimes there just isn’t time to write a blog post, but I’ll Instagram a picture like this one. A Mint S’moreo that was inspired by a Strawberry S’moreo pin that my dear friend enabler Kristen made me aware of.

I also ate my first hot dog in over 18 years (no exaggeration)

Kristen has also introduced me to Postagram. Can I tell you how fun it is to send random postcards for no reason other than I felt like it? I took my nephew Landon out for ice cream last week at ColdStone then sent him a postcard thanking him for not making me eat alone.

If you don’t have Instagram, I share all the pictures on Twitter and if I can ever figure out how to get them to post to my facebook page instead of my personal facebook timeline, they will be there too. Anyone know how I can change that? Or add it. Somehow I don’t think it will be covered in my Intro to Computers class…that I’m taking online. Is that strange to just me? Anyway, earlier today I shared this picture on Instagram with the caption”Peas and paint. It’s an interesting afternoon in our house…or rather on our deck.”

I’m off to finish off the peas. I recommend not eating the peas if you come to our house.

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This is My Nervous Face

Remember the flower bed I put in to grow a whole mess of baby’s breath? Well, with four weeks to go before my brother and SILTB’s wedding I’m pretty nervous. Just in case you haven’t been with me from the beginning of this adventure or if you prefer to have everything in one place, I thought I would show you the four week progression of this flower bed. Ready?

Here’s what it looked like the first spring after we moved in

I’d like to say that it changed that first year, but well, it’ didn’t. Not enough to warrant a new picture anyway. Then after my mama and I went to work we had a flower bed full of baby’s breath seeds

May 1st

One week later I showed you the progress and it was looking promising. It was supposed to take 10 days before we saw little green seedlings

May 8th

I think that was the last picture I showed y’all and we just can’t have that. Misery loves company! So a week after that picture, I had this

May 16th

I know there is some difference in that week, but I’m seriously nervous. I’ve been watering in the cold part of the day so I don’t shock the plants and everything. Last summer I got a snazzy sprinkler thing that I hadn’t used yet so I busted it out  and two days later, here was my bed

May 18th

I know it looks kinda strange just in the middle of the flower bed, but it’s totally cool. I made the hubs come look at it while I turned it on and I did not tell him that this baby sprinkles half way into the front yard and all of the deck stairs (muahahaha). Just in case you have nothing better to do with the next 19 seconds of your life, here is my sprinkler in action. Please keep in mind that I took this video with my phone and I had to stand pretty far away.

So, five days later I needed a comparison picture.

May 23rd

Still completely nervous because in 4 weeks and one day I need these to be pretty white flowers. Fortunately, there are a couple substitute ideas. Our hydrangea bush is starting to bloom right on cue. Right now they look like this

But soon they will look like this picture from last year

I know there will be plenty too. Another option is tissue paper pom poms like these ones we’re making for the bridal shower

But I really really hope the baby’s breath is all pretty and white and flowery in 29 days. Pray. Pray. Pray.

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Grow Baby, Grow

I was starting to get nervous about my baby’s breath in my new front flower bed actually growing. But a week later, here’s what I have!


In case you missed it, here’s the before picture

The ground is a little cracked and needing watering, but I think with rain in the forecast that will be taken care of. I’ll keep praying it grows and is big and beautiful for my brother and SILTB’s wedding in June!

Categories: Best Laid Plans, It's Our Life, Projects | Tags: , | 2 Comments

A River Runs Through It

I made you a promise and I intend to keep it. So here I am! Yay me!

I told you that my brother is getting married in June and I’m helping plan the wedding. I also told you that I don’t want to share the projects I’m working on until after the wedding. Well, I’m going to make a small exception with this post since I’ve already told you that I’m planting a whole mess of baby’s breath so I think it’s safe to show you this project. We have this odd little patch of grass that both the hubs and I hate mowing so I’ve been planning on turning it into a flower bed since the first summer we had to mow. I decided that white baby’s breath will balance out the white hydrangea on the other side of the steps quite well. Plus I just needed a place to plant the aforementioned mess of baby’s breath.

I got some weed blocking cloth and laid it out a few days before I actually started working on the bed. I wanted it to smother some of the grass. Turns out it didn’t do much of anything so if you’re making your own, don’t worry about this.

Then I busted out the Kreg jig to build the sides of the bed. Keep in mind that Kreg and I are just getting to know each other. I’ve only used it for one other project.

I put together three 1×3 furring strips for the bed. If you wanted this to last forever, you could use treated wood, but I’m not a big fan of the chemicals used to treat the wood and cedar wasn’t in the budget so they are just plain furring strips. I also do not plan on this being there forever so furring strips at $1.25 each were a good option. One was eight feet and then I cut down the other side to  83 inches (the distance from the house to the sidewalk. Then I set them outside for a couple days until my mom was able to come help me with the rest of the bed

When mama came to visit on Monday night, I put her to work. While she laid out more weed blocker (we ended up with two layers criss crossing) I added stakes to my boards. I got the stakes at Menards and I think 12 of them were maybe $3 or something like that. I put one stake on each end of the 8 foot board and one in the middle. On the 7 foot (83 inch) one I put one on one end and one in the middle because once it was all in place both boards would share one of the stakes.

Next I dug a “trench” for the 7 foot board so it would sit below the ground level and line up with the 8 foot board in front. Then with the stakes attached we put the boards in place. Mom took the rubber mallet and started in

Then the dirt went in and it was time to play with some poop

We did 8 bags of top soil and sprinkled on one bag of poo and then sprinkled about 2,500 baby’s breath seeds. We only did half of the bed on Monday because someone didn’t get enough top soil [insert picture of me pointing to myself here – you know, cool chick thumb pointing style] so here’s the half baked picture

Michael and I went and saw The Hunger Games yesterday (yay!!!!) so I picked up more top soil and finished off the bed last night. Eight more bags of soil,

one more bag of poo and 2,500 seeds

I had this

Thrilling right? I wanted to make sure to get it finished last night because it was supposed to rain. Here’s what the sky was looking like as I was finishing up.

Did it ever rain. I went outside this morning to check out the bed and I found this

Do you see it? Let me give you a closer picture

The culprit? Our “front porch” doesn’t have gutters

We’re expecting rain for the next 6 days – yes, six days! I really need to figure out how to keep this from happening again. I have an idea so maybe that will be this afternoon’s project? I’ll keep you updated. For now I’m waiting on pins and needles for the next ten days for that baby’s breath to germinate.

Ooo and did you know I’m on Instagram (username: thisDIYlife)? I started a few weeks ago but didn’t really have any pictures up. Just one of Bristol. Then I got a text from Ashley chastising me for not having more on there so yesterday I Instagrammed this picture and a few more

Hopefully I’ll remember to Instagram a little more often.

Must head to Menards to get some things to fix my river problem. I’ll keep you updated…I promised!






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Fantasic Damask

It’s true. I kinda love damask. It’s like my catnip really. Ranks right up there with the hubs, the “kids” and s’mores. Way back when during the fall Pinterest Challenge, I had planned to do a planter that I saw on, you guessed it, Pinterest.

Image from Life On the Balcony

I set out looking for a damask patter for a terra cotta pot that I had. I asked what you thought and then decided that it was a whole lotta cutting to do so the project went to the backburner until I could find a damask cartridge for my Cricut or a stencil that fit on my pot. I was looking through my Cricut cartridges not long ago and found one. I don’t know why I didn’t see it the first time but I didn’t. I mean really, I only have six of them. Anyway, I found some things in Ashlyn’s Alphabet that would work out just fine. My damask wasn’t going to be overly intricate like the inspiration one, but it was definitely going to work. My first step was to seal the entire pot. It is important to seal the inside and outside of the pot if you are going to use it for real plants. The reason being that if you water your plants, the clay of the pot will soak up the water and it won’t come through the other side, but it can cause your paint to lift off the pot. So I sealed the whole thing and then I painted most of it white. I only painted the part where my “stencil” was going.

I had some contact paper on hand so I cut a piece to fit onto my mat. I measured around my pot and then divided it by three. I wanted to have my pattern repeat three times and that is the size that I made my first design. I set the pressure on my Cricut to low.

I wanted it to cut through the sticky part of the contact paper but not through the paper backing. I know from previous experience that it’s not easy to peel that paper backing off of the an uber sticky mat. The contact paper just peeled right off

I ended up using two like this and two of another one. I centered them on the pot and took it outside to the deck and my spring/summer painting area. I’m in serious trouble when we get the deck refinished.

I picked out a brownish color. I know that it says London Gray, but trust me, it’s brownish

Then I started painting.

It took a few coats to get a nice even coverage

I let it dry for a day before peeling off the contact paper. Normally I wouldn’t do that, but since I had to paint over the course of a couple days thanks to rain and cold, I waited. I felt like I was five and waiting for Christmas morning. It. Was. Torture. Worth the wait

I heart it. Now I just have to decide what flowers are going to go in there. I’m planting a whole lot of baby’s breath for my brother’s wedding in June. When I say a lot, I mean alot…I have enough seeds to cover a 10’x80′ area. Maybe I’ll plant some in this pot just for me. Maybe I’ll add some red to it. I started some other flower seeds last week. Germination time  scares me. Anyone else? Pictures will come when there’s something to show besides dirt and my pretty pink gardening gloves holding seeds.

Next on the agenda is planter boxes for the deck. Something with a trellis like this

Image from Lumber Jocks

I’d love to grow some veggies in it to snack on while we’re out on the deck enjoying the weather this summer. Yummy. I think I’ll go start building now…

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Sheltering Space

I adore spring! I love to get outside and play int he dirt and watch my plants come alive. But here in Iowa, it also brings on the start of severe weather season. Well, here in Iowa it is also Severe Weather Awareness Week. Do you know what you would do in severe weather? We’re fortunate to have a basement in our house so, that’s where we would head to. Today, the sirens sounded, just like they do the first Wednesday of every month just to make sure they work. I’m glad they test them, but every time the sirens wail I have to stop and think what day of the week it is and what the date is to see if I really need to be concerned. I am so glad that we have them though!

So this spring and summer if you hear about tornadoes in Eastern Iowa, you can imagine we will be in our basement. But how can you imagine us chilling in the basement unless you know what our basement looks like? I will tell you a couple things. 1- It’s the typical early 20th century dark and gross basement. 2- We have done next to nothing to the space…just enough for the hubs to use it to work on electronics at the bench that was already there. As long as you remember those two things, I’m willing to show you our basement.

If you’ve read the “Tour – From the Beginning” you’ve seen a picture of our laundry room/mudroom. Here’s another one

Well, it doesn’t look like that anymore, but this is from the beginning right? That’s how you get to the basement. Walk to the window and there are a couple stairs to the right that take you to the back door. Remember, it’s not that door anymore

Another turn and a few more stairs and you are in the basement. Check out those walls that wave like bacon in a pan. The reason that happened is because of what you see in the top right. It’s a dryer vent. The walls are just pressed “board” and the washer and dryer are on the other side of that wall, so every time the previous owners would run the dryer, the hot wet air would vent into this little hallway. Not. Smart. As a side note, we also had to run the electrical to where the washer and dryer were supposed to go, so we’re pretty certain they were running the washer and dryer off an extension cord. Also. Not. Smart.

Then when you go to the basement and turn to the left you see the future game room with that table I love. You also saw little bits of this room in my cabinet reno post. You probably just didn’t know it.

To the right of that room is the room where our wood furnace, water heater and gas furnace are. It also stores some stuff that we just need to get rid of. I don’t have any pictures of that room. Not sure why. But that’s just boring boy stuff anyway so we’ll go back to the bottom of the stairs and look to the right. There’s a “bathroom” there.

Can it really be a bathroom if it’s just a “shower” a toilet and a dirty nasty vanity stuck in a room where the only door is the door to the outside? I think my favorite part is the ocean scene shower curtains.

Are you wondering what was on the other side of this wall?

It’s the bench where Michael works on electronics. In the beginning, it looked like this

Yes, that’s mold on the wall. No, it doesn’t still look like that. We took down that pegboard, scrubbed the studs with bleach and put up new pegboard. We also scoped out the island of misfit toys misfit bin at Menards and found a piece of plywood that fit the top of the bench and put that down. So before you think I’m mean wife, he’s not breathing mold spores while he’s working.

Also in the basement is our water softener which makes me super happy. That mirror on the vanity is just gross though

There is so much to do in the basement that it stresses me out to think about it. Maybe if I made a list it would be better…maybe not. I have started planning on Olioboard though. Have y’all tried this yet? I’m completely in love with it! It’s like combining Pinterest with visions in my head. It’s totally bare right now, but It works in my head

See, bare. It’s a chair that hubs already has, cork floor he picked out and I think a couple of expedits would be great for storage. Plus, I might be looking for an excuse to make a road trip to Ikea (hallelujah).

Do you have a space that is embarrassing to show people? Are you creating Olioboards and loving it?

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Making a list…checking it twice

Do you ever feel like you have about 27 projects going all at once? You’ve started them all, but can’t seem to find the time to even finish one? That’s where I’m at right now. I’m a multi-tasker, but some of these projects were stirring in my brain six months ago, so the fact that they still aren’t finished aggravates me.

My current to do list:

  • I can’t wait to have the sideboard in the entry room finished. I still haven’t convinced the hubs to let me paint it. I think I’m going to have to strike a deal with him. I paint it and if after a month he still doesn’t like it, I’ll paint it back (which would make me incredibly sad BTW)
  • Paint the deck chair that y’all picked the color for…waaaaay back in September. I have the paint, it just hasn’t made it’s way onto the chair. Notice the date I bought the paint? Waaaaay back in September
  • Build another deck chair so two people can sit on the deck at the same time instead of me sitting out there by myself with my laptop

  • Make a table to go between the two chairs. I know I can’t do the plants just yet, but I feel like I should have the glass at least since I already have the pots.
  • While perusing ReStore one day, I found some shutters. They could end up like this

or like this

  • I’m fairly certain I want to do a banquette on our three seasons porch. This is odd for me. I don’t like banquettes. Maybe it’s the claustrophobic in me that is afraid to be blocked in or my fear that Johnny won’t come and get Baby out of the corner. Whatever it is, I was surprised when I found myself considering this. We already have sectional pieces a-la- Ana White. We would need more pieces and we have to build a “platform” for them to sit on and raise them to chair height. Maybe a table made from an old door that is sitting in the loft above the garage. The prospect of having room to seat 8 people on the three seasons porch and keep bugs out of our food at barbeques makes me more than a little happy.

That’s the short list too. The hubs has been busy working on some electronic stuff and building a couple computers. We also have a restoration project that we are working on with my dad. In the midst of all this, I was able to find a few hours on a Wednesday night to have some quality time with my mom, a couple glue guns and this pile of stuff

Tutorial tomorrow? Should probably start writing it…there were a lot of steps. Including driving to the craft store because I forget things and grabbing a couple cups of coffee. End result: totally worth it. I can’t wait to show y’all…tomorrow!


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Moving Day

I’ve been planning for quite a while to move the hubs’ dresser from the bedroom into the entry room. Gotta say, he wasn’t totally on board with the idea. Also gotta tell you that I’m pretty opinionated and sometimes pushy and after almost ten years together he has totally learned to pick his battles. Knowing that I tend to have instances of ADOS (attention deficit…ooo shiny) I’m pretty sure that he secretly hoped I would move onto a new project. Then when I cleaned all his clothes out of it, he knew he was in trouble. Then when I cleaned out the space where I wanted the dresser to go int he entry room, I think he resigned to the fact that this was happening.

When I asked him to help move it downstairs yesterday, he gave in (the term asked is used quite loosely in this sentence…I may have been a little on the not-so-nicey-wifey side). We took the drawers out and maneuvered it around our turny stairs and into place. Bella loves when we move things around so she was right there to check everything out and make sure she approved

Once the drawers were in, I was pretty enthralled with “Operation steal move Michael’s dresser”. Bristol is pretty happy with it too

You might have noticed that there is a spot on the top that isn’t painted. Ya see, when Michael packed up his stuff and he moved to Beverly Iowa his dad changed the color of the dresser from brown to black. There is a mirror that goes with the dresser and it had these little wooden pieces that went around the top. Good for a dresser, but not so much for a sideboard. Fortunately, they popped right off, unfortunately there is a ring around the top. I’m in the process of talking the hubs into letting me paint something on the top of it. Think chevron…or damask…or Greek key…or rectangles. I just have to find a way to subtly suggest painting the top occasionally without being a nagging wife. That, my friends, is going to be a fine line.


It’s staying as is for now I just have some decorating to do….and some cleaning. I have a couple things that I’m fairly certain are going here and I’m pretty excited to have a place by the back door to store all my shopping bags. Maybe I’ll remember to take them more often.

I really just like the furniture in the room. Sure there’s plenty to do (like finishing the floor) but this is definitely not an overnight project kind of house.

And before you think I’m a horrible wife who took my husband’s dresser and now he has nowhere for his clothes, I gave him two drawers of my dresser plus we have a huuuuuge closet to hang up most of our clothes (see the floorplan here). Anybody else have a stolen from your husband re-purposed furniture story to share? How about being fortunate to have a spouse who goes along with some of your crazy hairbrained decor ideas just because he/she loves you?

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Island Living – part 2

I’m not really a bandwagon type of gal, but all this talk of kitchens has me itching for a change…and Michael cringing. Two of the blogs that I follow are talking kitchens right now. Last Friday Ana White posted that they were taking a break from working outside on the momplex and moving to inside a warm garage and working kitchens. That means she’s going to be building cabinets and posting plans for them! I’m positively giddy about the whole thing so I’ve gone back to working on planning the kitchen. Here’s the first plan I came up with using floorplanner and shared with you

I decided to test out the Ikea kitchen planner too and here’s what I have

Not much changed between the two plans. Pretty much just moving the stovetop and oven to the island and adding a cabinet between the wall and the refrigerator.I must say that the stovetop on the island made me really nervous, plus I didn’t like losing all that work surface. But as I was watching Rachael Ray one day it dawned on me. Have you ever seen the cutting boards that she puts over the top of her stove? Kinda like this one that I found on Etsy but more of them and bigger so they cover the entire stovetop

Plus I would do a downdraft stovetop so we wouldn’t have to find a way to put in a vent hood that would break up the space. Love this Jenn-Air one!

As for the cabinet next to the fridge, I’m thinking maybe something like this cabinet that I found via Pinterest

How about a couple 3d views of the Ikea plan?

Oh, look, I changed the floor color too. With the Ikea kitchen planner, you can only put in things that they sell so I had to fudge a little on the island overhang and the stovetop/oven. Back to dreaming but in the meantime I’ll keep pinning away on my Pinterest kitchen board.

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