Flash of Inspiration

Last night as I was recovering from Lost (sometimes you just have to concentrate so much on the episode...and I find it even harder after I've had a couple glasses of wine) I had a flash of inspiration. Back in October, we put up a shelf in our breakfast nook. I wasn't quite happy with it then, but haven't been able to come up with a solution. Until now.

A few readers thought I should add another shelf. But, I don't think there really is enough room...I'm afraid we would bump into it. Starfish would break. My precious Bobby Flay cookbook would be on the floor. It would be devastating.

It really was a flash of inspiration. From the couch, I whirled my head around and stared at the wall. Mr. VB said, "Uh-oh...what are you thinking?"

Board and batten, I said.

I remembered seeing this post at It's The Little Things. I love her beachy/cottage style. About a year ago, Karla did a how-to board and batten post. This would be perfect for my breakfast room! It would add dimension to the walls, without causing any harm to my dear Bobby! Or my starfish. We had already decided to put a chair rail in our dining room. Instead, we could use this technique (at chair rail height) and bring it around into the breakfast area.

What do you think?


Desk? Check!

After a week's worth of daily visits to the Goodwill and local antique stores, I finally found a desk. Err..table. But it will make a wonderful desk. The original price was $50. We got it for $40 (after tax). Not bad and it was under my $50 budget.

We spent the weekend trying to remove the paint you see below. I'm not actually sure it is paint as it wouldn't budge with the sander. I'm going to work on it some more tonight and hopefuly it will be ready this week. I can't wait to start using this room! I have an extra chair with armrests from this set that I plan to paint and distress to match.



Bathroom Counter How-To

First, thanks to everyone for all of the wonderful comments on our bathroom! It is exciting to share something we are proud of with strangers ;-)

I've had several people ask how we did the counter in our bathroom. I didn't take pics of the entire process, so hopefully the "after" photos will explain everything. Here is the step-by-step process:

*Editor's Note* Wherever the word "we" is mentioned, please insert "Mr. Vanilla Bean." It was a team project, but he did the tiling. I am taking credit for the color, vanity distressing and decorating. However, the tile we selected was so easy to work with, I could have done it myself. I'm just sayin'.

Before we started, the counter was made of cultured marble. Here is a pic of what the vanity looked like (this is our master bathroom. We are lucky to have cultured marble in every bathroom).Eventually, I think we'll do this same process in the master bath.

We contemplated ripping the entire vanity out, but discovered that the hardwood floors didn't go all the way under the vanity. So, we decided to leave it and give it an update. Also, there was a huge mirror above the sink (similar to the one pictured above) that we removed.

We removed the counter top and replaced it with a piece of 3/4 inch plywood that we had cut at Home Depot to match the vanity top dimensions. It was secured with wood screws.

We purchased six 1-foot square sections of tile from Home Depot at $10 each. (You can see them laid out in the pic above.) They are mounted on mesh, which makes it very easy to remove tiles. We didn't have to cut any actual tiles for this project. Just removed tiles for holes or cut strips for whatever was needed for the back splash and edges.

We started on the back splash, leaving spacing for the counter tiles to slide underneath. The sections were easy to cut (again, we didn't have to cut any actual tiles) and adhered using tile adhesive. In the pics below, you can see how the tiles stack and slid.

Next we laid the counter top tiles. For the faucet hole, we had to remove whole tiles from that specific section (approx. four tiles). The sink was the same. It came with a template that you can use to determine how big of hole is needed and you just remove the tiles that lay where the drain will be and cut out the mesh backing.

Last, we did the edges. With the counter top tiles, we only needed one tile height around the edges to cover the plywood. We let everything set overnight.

The following day we grouted everything. Lastly, we installed the faucet and sink and reattached the plumbing.

This project wasn't as budget friendly as I would have liked. The vessel sink was $75 and the faucet (also from Home Depot, but I can't find it on their site) was about $140. It killed me to spend that much, but there weren't alot of options. The tiles were $60. You can probably find more inexpensive tiles, but what made this project so easy was the size of the tiles and the mesh backing. No wet saw needed! I'm sure thru searching or ebay you could save some money on the faucet, clearly where most of our money was spent. There was also some plumbing mumbo-jumbo that Mr. VB had to work out. But the helpful guys at Home Depot helped him with that and showed him what was needed. This was all done over one weekend, too. The longest was having to wait for the tiles and grout to set.

I hope this explains everything a little better!


Vanilla Bean Makes The DIY Showoff!

Our recent bathroom renovation is featured on The DIY Showoff today! Thanks Roeshel! Head on over to check out all of the other awesome DIY transformations!

The DIY Show Off


Home Office Inspiration

About six months ago, we moved from our starter house into our We-Aren't-moving-Again-Until-We-Retire-to-a-Tropical-Beach house. And, since it is just me, Mr. Vanilla Bean, and our dogs, Allie and Marley, we have a ton of space that is unused.

With this in mind, I bring you the sitting room. Or, library? Or, as Mr. VB just called it, "whatever the hell you want it to be." This room is never used. We don't sit in it. The only time I go in is when I am feeling ambitious enough to actually put the camera and laptop away in their proper place. Which is about once every couple of weeks.

As you can see, it opens up into our family room. Which is where we spend most of our time. Pay no attention to the camera hounds in the background. They love the limelight.

I decided to make the room into an office. With the hopes we would do all of our blogging, Facebooking, and interwebbing in it. Thus using it every day. I don't want it to look too officey. I've got some ideas here:  Houzz Ideabook.

And here:
The plan is to makeover this room on a budget. First up, find a desk or table! I would ideally not like to spend more than $50. I have been scouring local Goodwills and antique stores and have yet to find one. Hopefully I'll get lucky this weekend!


Stuffed Pork Chops

I don't know if you are like me, but it seems like I make the same recipes week after week. These stuffed pork chops were a good way to change up our usual pork routine. Aside from the capocollo and provolone, we had everything else on-hand (also a bonus!) This recipe makes four chops, but can easily be divided for two.

Stuffed Pork Chops
Food Network

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 bag (6 ounces) baby spinach (we used just a bit of some frozen spinach)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 pound capocollo (spicy Italian ham), cut into small dice
1/4 pound provolone cheese, cut into small dice
1 egg, lightly beaten
4 thick-cut (1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches) pork chops for stuffing (about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds total)

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large saucepan over medium heat. Add garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, 1 minute. Add spinach, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/8 teaspoon pepper and the Italian seasoning; cook, stirring, just until spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove the spinach mixture to a medium-size bowl; let cool completely.
All the stuffins'

When cool, add the capocollo, provolone cheese and egg; gently stir to combine completely.

Place the pork chops on a flat work surface; cut a slit horizontally to the bone so chop can be opened like a book.

Stuff each chop with 1/4 of the stuffing. Secure chops with toothpicks.

Preheat oven to 375 degree F.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet. Add chops; cook 2 minutes per side or until browned. Place chops in single layer in a baking dish just large enough to hold them. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.

Bake the chops in the oven for 15 minutes or until the internal temperature registers 155 degrees on an instant-read thermometer when inserted in the pork. Remove chops to a platter; cover with foil. Let stand 5 to 10 minutes in warm place before serving.


Pull up a seat!

As I said in my last post, I am so pleased with how the bathroom turned out. Huge transformation. It makes me wish we hadn't waited so long to start work on it!


The vessel sink, faucet and tiles all came from Home Depot. The total cost ended up being more than I anticipated, with a majority of it being the sink and faucet. I've been wanting a sink like this for ages, so I'm not complaining!

My inspiration for the black vanity came from Layla at The Lettered Cottage. LOVE her. We primed the vanity with Kilz before putting on two coats of black paint. Once it was dry, I took my handsander to the edges. Just a bit of white paint and the original wood now show through.

While we splurged on the vanity, we saved on the decor. This frame is from the Goodwill. I got it for $1 and spray painted it black.

 The starfish is from Hawaii, where Jeff and I got married. Look familiar? We used it for this photo of our wedding rings.

 The framed photos are from a trip we took to Destin.


My shabby oar finally found the perfect home! I picked it up from The White Rabbit a couple of years ago for $35. The vase was previously in the kitchen, but fits perfectly here now!

I think my favorite part is the color. It is Tropical Lagoon from Glidden. It is like a Tiffany/Robin's Egg blue. Simply perfect!