Just a few things

My parents and cousins came to visit over Easter and we had a great time being tourists in DC, working in the garden, showing off all the work we’ve done in the house, and in general, just having a nice visit!

Although most of the cherry blossoms got rained off right before my parents arrived, we found a couple of trees at the Tidal Basin that still had blossoms and we took tons of pictures.  I’ll spare you the vacation picture slide show, but here’ my favorite one.

CherryBlossoms in DC

We also visited the tulip garden again, and I think they were even prettier this year!  Tulips on the Mall


Back home, we ripped out some old shrubs and lots of weeds.  We also transplanted hostas into the garden bed on the side of our walkway.  I can’t believe how much the plants have grown in about a week!

Here they are a few days after we moved them:
Hostas in the Garden I


And here they are yesterday (about a week later!):

Hostas in the Garden II


Oh and instead of DIYing this weekend, we bought a new car.  My 10-year old Civic did not do so well this past winter and it was time for an upgrade!  I can’t wait to go thrift shopping with all the trunk space!



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Mason Jar Organization

Mason Jar Organization #thissarahloves

We don’t have a pantry cabinet in this kitchen, but there was an empty wall that was the perfect size for a billy bookcase.  I picked the doors that are solid at the bottom and glass at the top.  Since you could see into half the cabinet, I knew my food storage would need an upgrade.
Mason Jar Organization Close-up #thissarahloves
I got quart sized wide-mouth mason jars for things like rice, brown sugar, and all the dried fruit we put on salads (like raisins, cranberries, and dried blueberries).  The things like flour and sugar are in wide-mouth half gallon mason jars.

I found some round Kraft paper labels from Avery which are the perfect size for the large mason jar lids.  I printed up the labels on my printer and stuck them onto the lids.

Mason Jar Organization Labels #thissarahloves
When I first decanted all the foods into the jars, I was concerned that I would find the jars a pain to work with, but it’s been in these jars since before Christmas and I can honestly say that I love using the mason jars!  And it’s nice that it’s easy to keep everything looking neat and tidy in the cabinet (at least in the upper part…)

Mason Jar Organization in a Billy Bookshelf II #thissarahloves Mason Jar Organization in a Billy Bookshelf #thissarahloves

What do you use Mason jars for?

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DIY Fajita Seasoning

This isn’t really a recipe post, since all you need to do is mix some dry spices, but we love this combination of spices, so I thought I’d share.  I found this recipe a couple of years ago and it’s still a favorite. We use it most often when making Chicken Tortilla Soup (both on the chicken tenders when we’re putting them in the oven, and in the soup itself).

DIY Fajita Seasoning #thissarahlovesSince it takes quite a few ingredients, I’ve started making a double recipe and keeping the extra in a small mason jar.

DIY Fajita Seasoning Ingredients #thissarahloves

Don’t let the number of ingredients scare you off!  These are pretty basic and you probably have all of them in your spice cabinet already.

DIY Fajita Seasoning Ingredients with Labels #thissarahloves

You’ll need this much of each of the following

Fajita Seasoning (Found as Taco Seasoning I at AllRecipes.com)

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

All you have to do is mix up all the spices & sprinkle it on the food liberally.  Store in an air-tight container – preferably a cute little mason jar.

DIY Fajita Seasoning Close-up #thissarahlovesHope you try this out next time you make Mexican food!DIY Fajita Seasoning Recipe #thissarahloves
What’s your favorite spice mixture?  Any favorites for vegetables?
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Filling in the Risers

On Friday I updated you on the progress of updating the stairs.  While the progress has been impressive (even if I say so myself) the stairs were still a small poodle safety hazard.

Sea Sage on the Stairs

So after some research and brainstorming we grabbed six 6′ pieces of pine (the more expensive kind without the knots) at Home Depot.  I primed them (on both sides to minimize any warping) and then we cut them down to size.
Stack of Stair Backs

We weighed many different options for attaching the “risers” to the steps but ultimately decided that the easiest way would be to use wide L-brackets.  This allowed us to screw the bracket into the riser and then into the wood stair supports, rather than into the stair treads themselves.  It does mean that we have L-brackets staring back at us from the back of the stairs, but we have big plans for the back of the stair case.  {We’ll get to it just as soon as we finish painting the front rooms, rip the wall paper off the kitchen bulkhead, and do a million other projects. In other words, don’t hold your breath!}

Under the Stairs

I couldn’t believe the difference with just a few risers in place! It’s a good thing the transformation was so impressive because putting up those risers was hard work – especially for 2 people with bad shoulders!
Closing it Up

But we persevered, and got all the risers up! Does it look dreamy?

Closed Stairs

There’s just one little problem…

Stair Problem

Yup, the darling previous owners only tiled up to the weird edge of carpet that folded over the floor/ceiling there.  Nice huh?  So we’re working on fixing that piece up before we attach the final riser.  Until then, Penelope is loving that she can still chuck her toys down to the basement stairs / on top of people walking down the stairs.

And just for kicks, here’s how far we’ve come!

Before and Progress Stairs

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Sea Sage on the Stairs

Remember back at the beginning of March when I showed you what my stairs looked like without carpet? Well I promise we’ve been working on revamping those some naked stairs into something I’m not embarrassed about when people look in the front door!

Did I ever show you a close-up of what we found under the carpet?
Stairs from Above
Yup! Yuck. What a mess.  So I sanded and filled, and sanded and filled (and vacuumed),and then sanded and filled one more time to try to even the steps out.  I decided right off the bat that I was going for a rustic look.  (Good thing too because there was no way we were getting the stair treads all the way smooth!)

Next I primed.  I just did one coat with my cover stain primer on a small roller.  I rolled every second step so we could still get upstairs if we needed to.

Primed and Taped
After the primer dried, I taped off the stairs and broke out the paint. I had originally planned on painting them a very dark green to tie in with the Tent Green paint on the walls in the living and dining room, but our friends had some extra paint, and once I saw the color I was in love!  So the stairs are Valspar’s Sea Sage. (It looks exactly like it sounds – a blue sage.  It’s the perfect blue complement to our green sage walls.)

Painting Progress
And here they are, painted.  I love the color and want to figure out where else I can use it!  Such an improvement over the carpet!

Sea Sage on the Stairs
I’ll be back on Monday with the details on how we closed up the backs of the stairs. {Spoiler alert, we have yet to paint the molding.}

Oh but while I have you here, what would you do with the railing.  Sand and stain? Paint? Paint white? Paint “sea sage”? Ignore it’s existence?

Happy Weekend!

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Making Progress in the Entry

Look what we did this weekend!Coast Closet - Progress 2
As you may recall, this month we’re tackling the entry way.  And by this “month” I mean it needs to be done before the first of our guests arrive next week.  This weekend we ripped out everything in the coat closet and painted the walls.

Entry - Wall Colors
After much debating, I settled on Behr’s Sandstone Cove.  And I LOVE it.  I am unbelievably relieved to be rid of at least some of the not-quite-white paint we had in the entry.

I followed Corey’s {from TinySidekick} tips on how to pick the perfect Greige.  If you look at this Behr color chart you can see that the darker shades of the color are brown, but with grey and green undertones.  The paint is very light and definitely leans more grey than tan in our space.

Here’s where we started.  Nope those aren’t smudges on your monitor, that’s what the inside of the closet looked like.  The holes down the middle of the closet are from some rickety sideways shelves that we ripped out as soon as we moved in. Oh and do make sure that you notice that nasty carpet.

Coat Closet - Before
And here’s what the dining room looked like while we were working on the entry. Whoops.  It was a bit of a disaster zone!

Coat Closet - In Progress Mess

While waiting for the first coat of paint to dry, we did a dry run on the peel and stick tiles we grabbed for in the closet. Pretty good upgrade for under $10, no?Coat Closet - Tile Dry Run

Here’s where we left off on Sunday night.  The very bottom bin holds all the winter gear. The second one holds all of Penelope’s supplies (including her wardrobe selections). Next up are drop zones for both Andy and I and the top cube (which you can’t actually see in this shot) holds Andy’s work bag.

Coast Closet - Progress
We still need to pick up a closet rod, and trim down the piece of MDF I picked up to create a shelf across the top of the Expedit and closet rod. We’ll also add some key hooks and a hook for Penelope’s leash.  I don’t want to over-fill the closet, so I’ll probably wait to load the coats in before I decide if we can fit anything else in there.

Did you spend any time organizing this weekend?

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