Deuce Cities Henhouse

Things that I did Last Year.

Friends! Can I just start by saying that I am feeling stoked to get back in the swing of things! I already love 2016, it just feels right. It was nice to have a bit of a break from house stuff the last few weeks, and now that the basement is almost done. Done. DONE!, I will be able to move on to other projects. I am so ready for other projects, and so over working on the basement!

For fun, last night I spent an hour or so going through my posts from the last year to refresh my memory and take a look at what has gone on around the house throughout the last 12 months. Looking back made me really excited to get back at it and make new goals for this year. Sometime my brain likes to make me think I’m stuck in one place, or that I’m only ever busy and nothing ever gets done, never advancing. This brain, I tell you what, it needs to shut up. Thankfully, I have this blog and am able to sit back and look at a years worth of home repairs and updates, and by the light of this screen I can sit here and see that all the work actually adds up to something.

There was a definite lapse in momentum this year when in May, my right hand was broken due to a highly not cool dog bite. I wasn’t able to do big projects for about eight weeks while I let my arm heal. By the time I was able to use my wrecked appendage, I found that I had become way too good at enjoying the summer. Although mad chilling is a good activity to partake in from time-to-time, it’s just not my style. When it was time to hunker down for the fall and get back at finishing up some big projects, I encountered some intense moments of uneasiness and anxiety due to situations way out of my control. That made it especially hard to stay motivated. I took the blog at a slower pace the last few months, trying to prioritize, focusing on spending my time most efficiently. The truth is, I spend a bulk of my day carting kids around to school. I find slices of time where I try and get things done, but more often than then not, when those time come I just want to chill the eff out. The thing is I need to be working on creative handy projects to feel fulfilled, so it’s just a matter of balance. This coming year will be challenging because the kids’ schedules will become even more insane and I’ll just have to figure out how to carve out that time, while also making sure there is plenty of time to hang with my old man, and oh yeah, kidz. Anyways, I’m sure it’s something we all struggle with, I’m just hoping to be more successful with how I handle it all in 2016.

Anyhow, I put together a quick recap of some of my favorite posts from 2015. I seriously hope you are all having a good start to the year!

+++ master bedroom +++
It feels like I finished the facelift on our master bedroom so long ago, I can’t believe I was just finishing up at the beginning of 2015. Making our master bedroom pretty and inviting has been so great for me and Jeff. There is nothing better than going to bed every night in a clean(ish) tidy space. So happy with how this turned out.
+++ refinishing dining room table +++
I refinished the dining room table towards the end of winter. It’s one of those things that was on my to-do list for some time, I just was a bit of tackling the project. So glad I gave it a go, the table turned out great and I didn’t have to pay someone else all of the monies to do it.
+++ five year before & after +++
I just love the 5 year before & after post because it’s a record of how much has been accomplished in five years! It takes time to make a house cool, I’m still working at it, but it’s good to see how far we’ve come.
+++ backyard / gardening +++
This was the summer that my five summers of gardening finally paid off. Everything is finally full grown and looking lush and beautiful. I already can’t wait for next summer. I made a few edits this fall, and I am truly looking forward to see how it grows in this coming spring of 2016.
+++ macrame beaded planter +++
I was so lucky to be able to work with Ace Hardware this year. Ace is one of my favorite places in the world, so it was a dream when they reached out to see if I would partner with them. I took each and every project to heart, trying to make the most of the goals of the project while (hopefully) creating cool content to share with you guys. This beaded macrame planter was one of my favs.
+++ alley appeal +++
Making over the garage door is one of those projects that didn’t take too much, and had such a huge impact. It still doesn’t look like the most amazing fancy new garage, but adding a few faux windows, sconces and planter boxes to our alley garage gave this baby a major face lift.

+++ basement renovation +++
Obviously, the basement was the biggest project of the year if not the decade at Casa La Allen. It was insane, crazy, overwhelming, and unbelievably satisfying. There are still a few finishing touches that need to be done, but we are close, and we love the space and what it does for our family and how we live in our home.
+++ cleaning up – music room +++
After the dust had settled from the basement renovation it was time to get our lives back in order. I did a major purge, digging into everything, creating organizing strategies and decluttering our home. One of the first rooms I tackled was the music room. PS, I’m serious business with a label maker.
+++ kitchen table +++
Okay, so a kitchen table isn’t the most interesting element of a home, but I had to mention this project because I am so happy with how I transformed a $65 Ikea table into this gem. I spend so much time in the kitchen, and having this on fleek, cool, functional, awesome looking table makes everything so much more palatable to me.
+++ updating the bathroom +++
Our bathroom was ugly and is now less ugly. I gave it a quick paint job (including vanity, walls and hardware) before we started hosting our holiday parties. So glad I spiffed it up, it’s obvious that we value this space more now because there isn’t crusty tooth paste in the sink and thousands of pairs of dirty underwear on the floor.

So there it is, a quick recap of the last year. I’ve got a list of projects for the coming year too, and I’m excited to share all of them with you. I need to start by finishing up a few small projects in the basement so I can finally cross the basement(!) off the list and call it done, which I’ll follow it up with a basement bathroom remodel! See you guyses on the flippity flip.

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in Around the House, Cool Things

Shark! Shark! Shark! Shark!

Guys! New Year’s Day is officially my favorite holiday. This January 1st was especially awesome because Jeff hopped in frozen Lake Minnetonka for the 10th year, being the first of our group to achieve the enviable SHARK status! As he exited the frigid waters, he was draped in the coveted SHARK ROBE.

In honor of Jeff’s big jumped I finally gave in to his requests and jumped in for my first time with my good pal Crystal (who was in need of a partner), lezjustsay it was INSANE and my body felt crazy. I did not disgrace the robe, and swam the full 36′ without assistance from guys with sticks. It’s official I have moved from Guppy status to Minnow.

9 Years of Ice Jumps
These jumps have made the best New Year’s Day tradition ever. We follow the jump up with meat and cheese boards, crockpots full of chili, lots of Bloody Mary’s and tons of champagne. We hang out all day and night, and it’s literally the best! I even made the kids an ice rink in the backyard, it was dreamy bros.

Happy New Year!

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in My Life

Holiday Vibes, a Giveaway, and a “How To”

Simple Holiday Decor
Friends! Hope the holiday season is treating all of you well. I’m finally starting to get in the spirit, I think the lack of cold weather and snow has really making it hard for it to truly feel like winter is here.

With the help of Ace Hardware, I’ve been really enjoying decorating our new basement for the holidays, it’s making it start to feel like it’s officially christmastime, especially in the evenings. I’ve added lots of sparkly lights all over the place. After realizing the power of LED bulbs in my living room, I was intrigued and curious to start a collection of LED string lights for the holidays (and beyond). Ace offers an impressive supply of many types of both incandescent and LED string lights as well as wired vs. battery powered sets. I went all in this year, buying up a ton of the battery powered lights. I was able to tuck string lights into all sorts of nooks and crannies of the basement to create a magical feel. Micro LED wire lights look pretty awesome wrapped around a bundle of birch logs, twisted around a set of ornaments, or even tucked into a house plant – and not having to find and outlet to run them on has been a sweet bonus! The battery powered lights also include a 6 hour timer, once you power on the lights they stay on for 6 hours and then off for 18 – kind of amazing.

I also created what I’m calling “holiday marquee trees”. Using just a few simple supplies I picked up at my local Ace I was really able to pack a lot of holiday punch for not a lot of bucks. I’m including the marquee tree DIY with photos and instructions below. First though, you gotta check out my wintery basement space!

Simple Holiday Decor

Simple Holiday Decor

Simple Holiday Decor

Simple Holiday Decor

Simple Holiday Decor

Simple Holiday Decor


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Hello, I suck at selfies, thus my weird pissed off looking floating head.

Just wanted to drop in and say “hey”. Life has been crazy lately, as it is this time of year. Last week was my 34th birthday and I spent all weekend celebrating, because I like birthdays. My brother and I have birthdays that are three days apart, so when our birthdays fall on a weekend there is lots of very important things to do. Between dinners out and cribbage tournaments, I got the privilege to watch my Finn slay his piano recital. I am beyond proud of hard work, determination and fearlessness. I am so thankful that I got to spend my entire weekend with family and friends, having lots of laughs and eating and drinking lots of delicious things.

We got a treadmill! The struggle to lose and maintain weight is real, my friends. I’ve been walking nearly every day for the two and a half years. I’ve made it through two Minnesota winters thus far, the first in the gym (which I hated) the second outside (which I hated) and this year we got a treadmill (which I love). I can walk when my kids are home, I don’t have to strategically plan around when they will be at school or get up super early before they wake up, I can just go! It’s been a game changer, and I love it.

I’ve been spending lots of time with my G-man. Jeff and I have a lot to think about going into this next year regarding Gus and his education, so we are making sure to do all of our homework (school puns!) so that we can make the right decision for him. I don’t need to get into all the details, but keeping him as my main focus during his hours home from school is number one. He is a pretty great dude and I love hanging with him.

I’ve got a few projects in the works (fingers crossed I’ll be posting both of them next week) but they haven’t gotten to the point where I feel like they are worthy of being shared with you guys just yet. I am very much looking forward to having a week or two off of the usual day-to-day stuff over the winter break. I can’t wait to have all of my boys home for a few weeks, and I intend to soak up every minute that I can with them.

Hope all you guys are doing well and enjoying the season!

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in My Life

Mini Makeover : The Bathroom

Navy Cabinets and Painted Brass Fixtures
Budz, although I try, my house isn’t 100% pretty. It’s easy to lie to the world and make it seem that way on the internet though. A few of you have noticed that I never post photos of my bathroom, and that’s for good reason – there’s only shame to share. We have two bathrooms in our house, one in the basement, that for the time being consists of a toilet and a roll of toilet paper. The other is on the second floor of our house, and is used by the entire family as well as guests. Herein lies the problem. We are hosting four holiday events throughout the next five weeks, that means lots and lots of people are going to be making visits to our super-sad bathroom. They are going to see the dirty caulk that is never 100% free of boy pee, white grout that should’ve never been used in a main bathroom, dated chrome fixtures, and shiny faux-marble tile. Talk about having to put lipstick on a pig.

Thankfully, with a little nudge from the folks at Ace Hardware, I was able to finally tackle this project that had long been at the bottom of the to-do list. Ace had asked us Ace bloggers to give their color matching technology a try on our next project – I knew as soon as I heard about it, that this was a project solely meant for the upstairs bathroom.

A Mini Bathroom Makeover : Before and After
For reference here is the before and after. I had done a quick little makeover about a year-and-a-half after we moved in. It basically involved a coat of paint, a new shower curtain and some towels. It was okay. Now, after a few years living with it, that green color began to totally wear on me, and white just wasn’t a good color for a vanity that saw lots of dirty hands and little kid traffic.

Color matching using @acehardware color matching technology
My inspiration for the vanity color came from a sentimental 7″ record. The Plastic Constellations was Jeff’s band that formed in high school – they went on to be a band for 10 more years, write four more records, go on countless tours, get an 8.5 review on pitchfork, and make tons of friends. Jeff and I spent much of our early 20’s driving around the country in a touring van – it was the best. Needless to say, TPC Blue was going to be the paint color of choice.

Ace was happy to color match this sucker for me, and they can color match most anything as long as it is larger than a quarter, is opaque, and can be flattened to fit under the color matching robot machine. I thought the color would be close, but this is right on the nuts! I had the color mixed with Valspar Aspire paint in a satin finish. I’ve used this paint in the past, and I always enjoy how smoothly it goes on, and how well it covers. The walls were painted in Clark + Kensigton Linen, which I also used in the basement.

Color matching using @acehardware color matching technology

Brass and Navy Blue in the Bathroom

Navy and White Bathroom with Brass Fixtures

Using Grout Coating to Whiten Grout

Painting the walls and vanity was the easy part, and having these nice fresh surfaces gave me the motivation to tackle the real gritty stuff, like the discolored grout, and old caulk lines outlining the entire room.

Let’s start with the grout. I get that white in a bathroom makes everything look crisp and clean, but it is so hard to keep up with, especially when it’s on the floor and especially in a bathroom used by the entire family. Our wide grout lines are a constant shade of grey, and it’s super gross and embarassing. Luckily, I have found a solution that makes the best of a bad situation. There is this grout coating called Tile Guard that does a good job of transforming grey grout, back into white. It’s easy to use, you just have to make sure that you allow a four hour dry time. Liberally apply the coating to the grout lines, let it sit four hours, and then wipe the coating off the tile with a damp rag. Much improved!

Caulking Tips

Caulking bathrooms on the other hand is probably my least favorite job ever, and is why getting the bathroom shaped up continues to fall to the bottom of the to-do list. With all the potential guests about to judge me, this was the time to finally tackle this project. I put on some rubber gloves, got in there, and cleaned out all the caulk. Then, I scrubbed and cleaned all the caulk crevices with a water/bleach solution, and then reapplied new non-sanded tile caulk in a snow white.

To caulk, I typically tape off the caulk line. Then I apply a bead of caulk, which doesn’t have to be perfect because you’ll be smoothing it out later. Once the bead is applied, take your finger, dip it in water, and then with consistent pressure, smooth out the caulk line. Slowly remove the tape for crisp clean edges and then one more time, wet your finger, and do one last pass over the line. This will smooth the caulk nicely and make a seamless transition between the two planes. Have a garbage bag and lots of paper towels on hand!

Plants are perfect on a vanity

Marble Bathroom Accessories

Modern Navy Blue Bathroom with Black, White & Brass Accents

Painting Chrome Hardware to Look like Brass
Okay, so I kinda went nuts with the paint. I was so sick of the chrome fixtures (I can deal with nickel, brass or bronze but not this), purchased and installed by the previous owners, but I didn’t have the budget to purchase a new set. Someday this bathroom will be renovated, and making major purchases before that time happens doesn’t sound like super awesome or smart idea to me. Paint it is, and now that I know all about Amy Howard at Home, I knew that I could pull off a brass-ish look with a bit of spray paint and some wax treatments. I know, I can’t believe I’m fauxing stuff either, but sometimes, it’s just what you have to do to save a buck.

Painting Chrome Hardware to Look like Brass

After masking off the bathroom faucet, I gave it a few light coats of gold spray paint. The finish at this point is okay, but it definitely looks spray painted. After I made sure it was good and dry I applied a light coat of light antique wax making sure to offload on cardboard before applying. I let the wax come to tack (about 10 minutes) before I applied an even lighter coat of dark antique wax. I made sure to offload nearly all of the wax onto a piece of cardboard, and then I very lightly brushed on hits of the dark wax. After it dried for an hour, I buffed it out with a lint free cloth. I was surprisingly pleased with the results. The brass-ish accents give the room a bit more sophistication than it had before, and it doesn’t look entirely fake. So, yay!

Using Amy Howard Paint to Give Brass Hardware a New Life
I reused the same hardware that I had fallen in love with years ago. The enamel colors didn’t fit in with the new look of the room so I quickly painted the center of the brass circles black using my new go-to, Amy Howard chalk paint in black.

Modern Navy Blue Bathroom with Black, White & Brass Accent

I know you guys probably need to get ready for company too, together with Ace Hardware, I’m giving away a $100 gift card. Gift Card Giveaway to the rafflecoppter site to enter. Entries will be taken between now and December 4th at midnight. You can enter three ways, via facebook like, instagram follow, or just a basic entry. Happy Holidays, and good luck!

I’m excited to be collaborating with Ace Hardware as a part of their Ace Blogger Panel! Ace has provided me with compensation and some of the materials necessary to complete this project! All opinions are my own. Thanks a biznillion, Ace!
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