5 on Friday

It's finally cooled off here in STL and this weekend has fall written all over it. I love it! We've got a ton of running around to do, but I'll definitely be making some time for the fabulous fall patio weather. It's been awhile since I've done a 5 on Friday....here's what's been on my mind lately:

1/ It's amazing how much things change in just one week. Last Friday, our house looked like this:

And, as of last night, we were able to have our First Tour. It was so exciting to go inside and take measurements for curtains, figure out where furniture can go and where we need new stuff. We also feel much better that our first purchase will actually fit...

2/ We made our first official "big" purchase: a new couch. We got an awesome deal at the new West Elm store (which is also awesome, by the way). It's so soft and velvety. I can't wait to curl up on it.

3/ The worst thing about this whole process is that we had to put our "girls" in long term boarding. They are safe and being taken care of...just not getting all the love and attention they are used to getting. We're going to see them this weekend for some bath and play time. They are going to love all of the green space and lakes in New Town -- they'll be here with us soon!

4/ Mr. VB and I were asked to take part in a local fundraiser and ReDesign Challenge. We have to turn the three windows below into a unique and usable piece for the home. We can't buy anything new and basically can only use the materials in the windows (we can use nails and tools). The piece is then auctioned off at a fundraiser (along with other pieces by local artists, designers and architects). We're a little nervous because we've seen what's been created in the past, but we're up for the challenge!

5/ Everyone says how stressful it is to sell and build a home -- and we've definitely been stressed the last six months. We decided to take a little R&R and we're heading down to Rosemary Beach, FL next week. It's a little community similar to the one we are building in, but it's on the ocean. We found a little condo overlooking the town square and right above the local coffee shop. We got a rack for our bikes, so we'll be able to bike around town, down to the beach and to the nearby communities. I'm looking forward to nothing but beach, biking and lounging around.


Pottery Barn Tivoli Knockoff

I've been quiet for a couple weeks -- these classes I'm taking are kicking my butt! With work and school, on Mondays and Wednesdays I have 15 hour days, which has been an adjustment. But, I'm loving it. If you follow me on Instagram, I've been sharing some photos from class (exciting, I know).

I'm a pro at ripping pages out of magazines and organizing them in books and binders. Mr. VB can attest to that. So, when our teacher told us we would be doing that for class, I was in heaven.

Leafing thru old copies of Elle Decor isn't taxing, but the hours of drawing, measuring, scaling and math for my architectural graphics class are.

I'll try to get myself whipped into shape over the long Labor Day weekend, I promise!

Since I don't have much else to share here, I thought I would share a post I did on our company's blog, Behind the Red Door. Mr. VB recently made a table for a previous client of ours. It's a knockoff on Pottery Barn's Tivoli table. Click here to see the process.

Pottery Barn Tivoli Knockoff

Have an awesome Labor Day weekend! It's hot, hot, hot here in STL. We'll be spending every minute at the pool!


5 on Friday: A Thankful Friday

1/ We have a hole! It only took us 55 frustrating days to start and numerous threats that I would start digging myself. But, it's been a busy week on our lot! As long as the weather cooperates, we're on-track to be framed out by Sept. 1.

2/ My mom bought her first can of Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. Look how happy she looks! Of course, I had to tweet it. I've been obsessed with ASCP for over a year...so, the interaction that followed totally made my day. I just know Annie was sitting in her little cottage in Oxford, cup of coffee in hand. Doing a little tweeting before she started painting her next project.

3/ Last year, Mr. VB and I participated in a handful of local festivals and fairs, selling our tables and restyled and vintage home decor. But, with the move this year, we've had to put it all on hold. I totally forgot that we were chosen for an Etsy Pop-Up Shop in Oct. This week we received some of the pre-show promo...it's curated by Jessie Miller, a contestant on HGTV's Design Star! We decided that no matter what, we've got to make it happen. We've got alot in storage we can pull out and we'll be doing some last minute searching over the next several weeks to add even more.

4/ At the same time, we were contacted by someone from the very first show we did. She bought a console table from us and now wants another one! We couldn't turn down a returning customer. Here's the inspiration:

The table is 7 feet long...so, Mr. VB wanted to find a single piece of wood. We lucked out this week and found the perfect piece. It's a very large piece of white oak that was harvested about 50 years ago in Ohio. It's supposed to be close to 100 years old! (You can follow along with those adventures here).

5/ To round out all of the craziness...I'm heading back to school! Well, I'm just taking a couple of interior design classes. I thought it would help out as we progress with the house. Who knows where it could lead...

Have a great weekend!


Wayback Wednesday: Zucchini Bread Throwdown

'Tis the season. For zucchini. If you've been searching for THE best zucchini bread recipe, your search is over. Today, I'm digging into the VB archives and bringing out one of our most popular posts: the Zucchini Bread Throwdown.

best zucchini bread recipe
America's Test Kitchen vs. Paula Dean
Written by Mama VB, it's a squash-to-squash competition between America's Test Kitchen and Paula Dean.

Who will win? Click here to find out!


5 on Friday: Best Interior Design Reads of the Week

I tell you what...TGIF! It's been one of those weeks. That's turned into one of those months! If you don't follow me on Instagram, here's a peek at our shenanigans last weekend. (Which, evidently involved lots of beer, waffles and a goat). On a side note, I'm going thru fried chicken withdrawals.

So, I'm back for another 5 on Friday. I'll be working on a new project to share soon (involving liming wax. yay!) Until then, I've got interior design on the brain. Not just for the new place, but I'm taking a couple classes this fall that I'm excited about.

Despite everyone being on vaca and taking a blogging break, I found a ton of great posts out there this week. Here's my top 5. I hope they inspire you as much as they have me!

1/ Because I'm Addicted: How to Mix & Match Art Wall

Mr. VB really wants a gallery wall going up our staircase and I'm all for it. Most of our artwork is in  classic black frames...but, I'm loving the mix of black, silver, gold, wood, black & white, color, mixed media, etc. that I've been seeing lately. I'm hoping to pull something like this off for our wall.

2/ La Dolce Vita: Defining Design: Eclectic Interiors

Eclectic Interiors

Paloma does a great job of helping you dive into creating an eclectic room in this article. It's a look I'm hoping to achieve in our house. The number one tip: it's all about layers! This look works good for couples who have different tastes...it doesn't matter! Mix it up -- it's more personal that way and truly "yours."

3/ Joy the Baker: Into Color

What an awesome workspace! Joy give step-by-step instructions on how she painted her walls (actually, it's a video) and I loooove how she uses her own artwork as the focal point. Mr. VB and I are pretty much against buying anything "cookie cutter" to hang. We try to stick to our own photographs, artwork we pick up on vacation, or something we've created. Our rule of thumb, it has to mean something to us. And, because it was on clearance at Target isn't a reason.

4/ Apartment Therapy: Let's Learn About Color

Let's Learn About Color
This is a biggie for me right now! My Pinterest board for the new place has lots of color...when we tend to lean towards light blues. It's going to be a huge step -- but I really want to brighten things up! This post broke down the feelings different colors have and explains the 80/20 rule.

5/ The Mustard Ceiling: Bam or Slam: Colorful Sofas

Colorful Sofas
What color is your sofa? Ours is khaki. Sand. Light tan. Blah. Our walls will be white. Ivory Lace, actually. We've already reached our budget, and while I enjoy painting furniture, I don't enjoy painting walls. The cutting in. The tape that doesn't work. The splatters and spills. My solution: a colorful sofa! BTW: The Mustard Ceiling also has a great recap of last week's Haven conference. I would love to go next year!
Do you have any good design reads for the past week? Let me know!


A Case of the Mondays

Mondays are the worst. Today really kicked it up a notch, though.

I was coming off an amazing anniversary dinner with Mr. VB and a fun, weekend trip to Memphis. He's going back to working nights and I'm going back to Breaking Bad marathons.

They STILL haven't dug the hole for our house. And, it's supposed to rain all week.

To top it all off, I consumed way more fried chicken, waffles and pulled pork than one person should reasonably eat in a 36-hour period.


Then, this happened....

This pretty little thing listed on Craigslist for $50. No lie.

I emailed the seller in less than 30 seconds. I told her I was in love and had to have it. Is it still available? PLEASE CALL ME!!!

I waited and waited. I checked my email and waited some more.

I looked at the pics online again. I ogled the cute details. I imagined having parties and my friends complimenting me on my fab vintage beverage cart. I would laugh and tell them it's just a little something I found. Would they like another drink? The ice is in the bucket on the bottom shelf.

I checked my phone to make sure it was turned on. WHERE WAS SHE??!? Did she already sell it? Or, did she come to her senses and realize that this is the cutest little vintage bar cart in the whole entire world and that she couldn't possibly part with it?

I mean, LOOK AT IT! I already knew what I wanted to put in those three bottle holders. GIVE IT TO ME, IT'S MINE!

It wasn't fair. You can't post something on Craigslist and then 5 minutes later decide you want to keep it.

It's cruel.

Then...my phone rang. It is mine. I'm going to pick it up tomorrow.

{insert high-pitched squeal here}


A Wedding Anniversary Letter

Dear Jeff (aka Mr. VB),

Today is a great day. We are finalizing the details on our new home -- it's all staked out and hopefully we'll break ground in the next couple of days! The beginning process has taken longer than we thought...but it will go so fast now.

You've been working alot lately and we haven't been able to spend alot of time together. I miss you.

I just finished packing a suitcase for our weekend getaway. We're heading down to Memphis for a few days and I CANNOT wait. I've got my usual checklist of things we must do. I want some good BBQ and wanna try chicken and waffles. We've got to see the ducks at the Peabody and I think the pastry shop there has French macaroons. It seems like forever since we've sat outside and listened to some great live music. And, I found an architectural shop close by. Wouldn't it be cool to find an old door there for the headboard you want to make for us?

And -- most importantly, today is our seven year wedding anniversary. Seven years. So much has happened in that time. We've laughed. We've danced and celebrated. We've argued and cried. We've experienced great loss. And, we've been blessed in many ways.

You are truly my best friend. There's nobody else I would rather spend time with. We were friends way before that fateful trip to the wineries, when, after five years, we confessed our love for each other.

Our wedding was beautiful. It's funny...but, when I think back, it's not the typical things that stick out in my mind. 

Do you remember calling me a couple hours before the ceremony to tell me you decided to wear your blue shirt? Instead of the white shirt we planned. I said, "If you wear that blue shirt, I won't marry you." You wore the white shirt. Later, you told me that there was only one reason you went to Hawaii...and it wasn't for a vacation.

You put the flowers in my hair and tied the sash on my dress. We drove down to the beach together.

It was hot. But perfect. No usual afternoon rain. There was a beautiful sunset.

Do you remember my lei? It was made of tuberose. The scent was incredible. I could wear that forever.

And you cried.

Everyone was so tired from the time difference. Instead of going back to the house we rented, we went to Sharky's. Just you, me, Dad, Annie and Bart. And we celebrated.

If you look closely at some of our pictures, there's a bruise on your face. From bending down to take pics of the gecko we named "Lil Jeffy."

The next day we went snorkeling. Remember the tide? It was strong and picked you up and dragged you across the volcanic rock. I remember thinking, "Well...there he goes. That was short." You got the first scratches on your wedding ring on those rocks.

So, here we are. Seven years later. So much ahead of us.

Marriage is hard. Thank you for all you do for us. Thank you for cooking dinner when I just sit in a chair, drink wine and ask when it will be done.

Thank you for not getting mad when I buy four vintage suitcases. For no reason. Or, when I use our silverware to open a can of paint.

Thank you for overlooking my complete inability to own a matching pair of socks. And, for some reason, now for you to not own a pair of matching socks.

Thank you for saying "I don't see any gray hair. You're crazy." every time I am yelling and showing you my gray hair.

We waited a long time to be together. It's not always perfect. But, I'm willing to give it a go for at least seven more years :-).


5 on Friday

This being mostly a food and DIY blog, I thought I would mix things up a bit for today's 5 on Friday. When it comes to beauty products, I don't have alot of "must haves." I'm not loyal to a certain brand or product. However, there's a handful of items that I truly do love. So, here's my:

1/Au Lait Body Milk from The Scottish Fine Soaps Company
I discovered this more than a decade ago at TJ Maxx. It's light weight, smooth and silky. And has THE BEST scent. Rose, violets, sandalwood. The scent lasts forever and feels so fresh. And, it comes in a cute milk glass jug (perfect to reuse as a vase for fresh flowers).

2/Sephora lip gloss collection
My mom gave me this collection last Christmas and I love it. I'm a lip gloss girl...I must have one within arms reach at all times. All of these colors gave the perfect light tint. I have one in my desk drawer, a couple in my purse, one in the car, one on my night stand...this collection makes sure I'm never wanting for a tinted lip coloring. Ever.

3/L'OCCITANE Shea Butter Foot Cream
Every Christmas, Santa puts a tube of this in my stocking. When I'm having a particularly hard day, I bring this to Mr. VB, who proceeds to give me an awesome foot rub. I don't take advantage of this service...a tube lasts me from Dec. 25-Dec. 25.

4/The hair tutorials from Kate at The Small Things Blog
I stumbled upon this blog thanks to Pinterest. I've been sporting her loose waves and barely there curls for the last several months. I always wondered how celebs got that look and Kate does a great job of showing it step by step.

5/Bumble and bumble thickening hairspray
I have very thin, fine hair. Hair products and sprays inevitably weigh it down. It's probably where I am most picky. I love this hairspray...it doesn't weigh my hair down. Gets me the hold I want. And, isn't sticky.


Vanilla Bean Blogiversary!

Five years ago today I started this blog. My vision was to create a place where Mr. VB and I could chronicle and share our cooking adventures. Over time, we discovered a love of DIY, decorating, painting and building furniture. And, we've shared it all here. Thanks for reading and being a part of it!

What's a blogiversary without a cake? It's just a blog.

Since we are in the middle of summer, I wanted to make something that incorporated one of the best summer fruits: blackberries. There's a small farm near our apartment that boasts fresh blackberries. I stopped in and got what I think are the largest berries I've seen in my life.

I kind of winged it on the recipe. You'll notice I didn't include any measurements below. It's a trifle -- layering cake, whipped cream, liquor and berries can hardly get messed up without proper measurements. Just use your best judgement. It will be awesome. Trust me.

Summer Blackberry Orange Trifle

Summer Blackberry Orange Trifle

Adapted from Nigella Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home (Hyperion, 2010)



  • Cut the cake into cubes and drop 4-5 pieces in a mason jar (or whatever glass serving dish you are using). Drizzle with orange liqueur.
  • Then squeeze the juice from the orange, drizzle this over the liqueur-soaked cake.
  • Arrange the blackberries over the top of the cake and add some whipped cream.
  • Repeat layers until your jar is filled. 
  • Try to show restraint long enough to take pics of your lovely creation.
  • Make additional jars of trifle for yourself company.


From a First-Timer: Three Tips for Using Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint

As promised, here are my lessons learned, or three tips, for getting started with using Miss Mustard Seed's Milk Paint. I'm not going into a ton of how-to detail below...MMS and others out there do a great job of giving milk paint tutorials. The tips below highlight the biggest "pains" (for lack of a better word) I had. I'm just the average furniture painter...with some projects under her belt. Looking to branch out. So, here we go...

1. Watch Miss Mustard Seed's video tutorial. Alot.

I watched the first tutorial three times. Okay...maybe four. But, that last time was solely just to hear that catchy little intro music she has. The videos are helpful and reassuring...mixing your own paint can be scary. And, the texture is unlike any other paint. It's best to be prepared... 

2. Use a mason jar to mix your paint.

At first, I tried the "mix in a plastic cup" method. There's a couple possible reasons why this wasn't working for me. I put in waaaay too much water. Like a 3 (water)-1 (milk paint powder) ratio. Due to the lack of a nice wooden stick like MMS uses, I used a knife to stir the paint. Then the end of my favorite wooden spoon (may it RIP). I'm also a very impatient person. After mixing for what seemed like 5 agonizing hours, I still had this:

So, I put the proper amounts (1:1 ratio of milk paint powder and warm water) in a mason jar and shook away. I added a tad bit more water (technically, the suggested ratio is 1 part powder to 1 1/2 parts water). MUCH better. While the texture of milk paint is alot different than other paints (it's grainy), it was smooth, mixed and much easier to paint on.

Super cute jar you won't see a trifle in later this week.

 3. Throw caution to the wind.

For the most part, once you put milk paint on, you don't know what's going to happen. While MMS does have a bonding agent that prevents the chippiness; for me, the purpose of buying this paint WAS the chippiness. The paint on your piece might chip and flake off easily. There might not by any chipping at all. Or, there might be a little. With a some effort. But, that's what makes it so fun.

The dresser below was stained and looked like it had a layer of poly on it. I didn't sand it. I barely cleaned the dust off it. In some areas (mostly the sides), the chippiness took alot of work with a putty knife (and even then, I barely had any). There were areas on the top and on the dresser drawers where the paint cracked and were easier to chip off with the putty knife. It wasn't an easy scrape...it took some work. But, I know that was just this piece. Other people have different results. Which is the cool part about this paint.

Also, once the milk paint was dry and adequately flaked off, I was freaking out a bit. I used the color Tricycle. It was a dull red. I was a little mad. Look at the drawers below. Dull!

I finished the piece with Annie Sloan's dark wax...simply because I had some on hand. MMS  has a whole line of finishing products that I look forward to using soon. I should have known from my experience with chalk paint, that once the wax is applied, the real transformation begins.

The colors popped. The chippiness stood out. And, the entire piece is sooo smooth.

I was in love.

{Please standby for an obscene amount of photos of the same dresser. It's mandatory}.

Miss Mustard Seed Tutorial

Miss Mustard Seed Tutorial

Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint Tricycle

Miss Mustard Seed Tutorial Tricycle

Miss Mustard Seed Milk Paint in Tricycle

So, that's it! Here's the before and after. Technically, this piece is slated to be in our closet (Mr. VB thinks it's a shame). I'm starting to think so too.

If you haven't jumped onto the milk paint bandwagon yet, I hope these tips help you! I would love to hear your thoughts on your first time with milk paint!

City Farmhouse
The 36th Avenue