Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Christmas 2011

Hope everyone enjoys the next few days with their families.  We are looking forward to spending today and tomorrow with myself, my husband and the kids.  It's nice not to have to worry about visitors or traveling and just concentrate on relaxing and enjoying our time together as a family.

Of course, being the nut that I am, I have an itch to head to the Sherwin-Williams and get some paint.  It's like these no responsibility days just call out to me as days to do projects - no interruptions, no one to impress, okay to be in my paint clothes all day, no schedule to meet, etc.  I have a few things in mind:  finishing up the kitchen cabinets, a media center for the basement, the dresser in my daughter's room, and the walls in my son's room.  I'll let you know how far I get on my list.  

Does anyone else have any grand project or fix up plans for the holiday?  Am I the only crazy who looks forward to these projects?

I'm still a little wary of sharing my kids pictures on my blog but I thought you would enjoy this one that I took for our Christmas card this year.  It only took 100 tries (not kidding) and a Happy-Meal-for-each-of-you bribe to get our card done but I think it was worth it in the end.

Merry Christmas!!!

~ Gold Shoe Girl ~

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

How to Use Stainless Steel Appliance Paint

So I've been working on my kitchen remodel since October.  Things are slowly but surely getting done and yesterday I finished painting the dishwasher. I choose to paint the dishwasher because it is practically brand new, and it is the best cleaning, most quiet dishwasher ever.   Since I had good luck painting the dishwasher at our old house I wanted to at least try here and hopefully save myself a few hundred dollars.  

At our old house I had painted the dishwasher black to match the kitchen cabinets but here I wanted it to match the rest of the stainless steel appliances.  I did a little bit of research and finally decided on using a specialty Rust-Oleum product.  

My plan was that if the stainless steel paint didn't look good I would cover it with the white paint that I am using for the cabinets and if that still didn't look good I would have to give in and purchase a new stainless steel dishwasher.  Luckily for me it turned out fantastic.  I am very happy with the results and I'll show you how to do it yourself below.

Here is the dishwasher before I got started.  Just your basic white dishwasher with handle.

Here is the after.

I am really really pleased with how it turned out.  It looks very close to real stainless steel and I don't think that from a distance or in a picture that anyone can tell that it is not the real thing.  

Here's how to do this yourself:

1.  Purchase the Rust-Oleum Specialty Stainless Steel paint.  I bought mine at Menards and it was about $17.  

2.  Sand.  The directions on the can say that you don't need to prime or sand but I decided to give the front a little roughing up anyways.  I used a piece of left over sandpaper and just quickly ran it over the front of the dishwasher.  

3.  Clean.  After sanding I cleaned the front and sides with hot soapy water till it was squeaky clean.

4.  Paint.  After it had dried, I applied the first coat of the paint with a foam brush.  Now when you open the can the paint is a very streaky silver with black swirls.  I stirred and stirred and shook and shook and it never truly mixed together.  I used it as it was and did not have any color problems.  

Now you can see from the picture below it was looking like crap.  The paint was not going on very smoothly and I was not getting good coverage.  I was convinced at this point that I would be buying new dishwasher for Christmas.  I almost didn't do another coat but then I figured I should just try.  

So for the second coat I switched to a regular paint brush and things went much better.  I finally got the coverage I wanted and the color was looking close to my other appliances.

This paint gives you a lot of time to play with it.  I went back over a few areas to remove drips and excess paint.  The paint is very forgiving and didn't show many brush strokes at all.

I probably could have stopped after 2 coats but I did a 3rd coat of paint just to make sure I didn't miss anywhere.  It was looking great.  The texture feels kinda like unpolished metal.

BTW - this stuff stinks.  Make sure you open a window and air things out.  I had a headache for two days - it could have been from my kids or it could have been the paint - really a toss up:)

5.  Seal with polyurethane.  The directions on the box recommend this step, and I am glad that I did it.  I used a can of Minwax Clear Polycrylic in semi-gloss finish because that's what I had in the garage.  I did 2 coats following the directions on the can.  I'm glad I did this step because the polycrylic adds the perfect touch.  It gives the paint a shine and depth that matches a real stainless steel finish.  

You can see the reflection of our white step stool on the front of the dishwasher after I added the polycrylic.  If I were to do this again I would probably use a high-gloss polycrylic to make the finish look even closer to real stainless steel polish.

Here's a close up picture of how the finish looks.  I don't think that anyone can tell that it is not real until you get up close and touch the dishwasher.  

Now I will say that it does not perfectly match my fridge and my stove but they don't match each other perfectly either even though they are both GE appliances.  My dishwasher looks almost exactly like the finish on the fridge though.  Plus after I hang a towel on the handle it looks completely authentic.

Here's the after shot again.  I purposely left the kick plate white.  I will paint that to match the cabinets when I get around to those.  You can see a little bit of our stainless steel sink in the corner of the picture.  Except for being a tad shinier I think the color is spot on.

I have tons of paint left over.  I could probably do a stove or a small fridge with the leftover paint.  I almost wish I had kept my old fridge and given it a go with the paint.  I think that if you did all your appliances as a group with this paint that no one would know that they were not a complete matching stainless steel set.

Has anyone else tried this on a different appliance?  Give me a shout if you decide to try this out yourself.  I'd love to see your after pictures.

~Gold Shoe Girl ~

P.S.  I should mention that I was not asked or paid to endorse this product.  I just bought it and used it all on my own.

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PhotobucketBeyond The Picket Fenceshabby creek cottage

Monday, December 19, 2011

Party Time

Okay, so a couple of weeks ago we invited 2 families to our house for a little holiday cheer.  Then my husband started inviting some more work friends and then some more and before you could say ho ho ho we had about a dozen adults and half a dozen kids coming over on Saturday night.

Now we've had a holiday party at our house every year for the past 4-5 years but we had said that this year we would skip it because of just moving in and not knowing a lot of people.  So much for that plan.

Anyways, we had a really great time and I wanted to share a few of the tricks I've learned over the years to ensure that both you and your guests enjoy the evening.

I've found that this is the area that makes or breaks a party.  You have to set the scene for your guests.  This means turning down the lights, putting on the music and making yourself available.  

About 15 mins before the party starts you need to have your music on.  Make sure it is loud enough to be heard but not so loud that it impedes conversation.  You might want to have different music in different areas of your home.  We played more upbeat popular music in the basement rec room area while having more adult jazzy music upstairs. 

After you get the music on start turning down the lights and lighting the candles.  I think candles are an essential and they don't have to be expensive.  Walmart has a great 12-pack of clear glass pre-filled votive candles for $5.  These look great across the kitchen island, the dining room table, on your mantle, or on a window sill.  If you have a fireplace light her up either with a nice roaring fire or by setting candles inside.

In addition to the votive candles,  I threw this arrangement together in less than 5 minutes.  I grabbed a cake pedestal, some odds and ends candles we had in the cupboard, and then cut little tree trimmings to fill out the arrangement.  I placed it on the dining room table and our guests could see it as they came in the front door.  It added a cozy and Christmasy touch.

Bring out the fancy dishes and take time to set up your house.  People feel appreciated when you go to the trouble of making your house inviting and they won't notice if you only put out 2 appetizers or you forgot to put out the relish.  

Make sure you have a few places for people to sit and gather yet at the same time it is easy to get around your house.  For larger parties I like to set up smaller stations so everyone is not crowding into the kitchen.  Just by placing a few snacks on your coffee table and another strategic spot you will get people to move around more.

I've learned that I am not great at making enough food to feed a large group.  It stresses me out.  I am always too ambitious and underestimate how long it will take to make 100 of any one item.  I've also learned that certain foods always get eaten and certain things always end up getting thrown out.  It seems to me that the fussier the food the more likely it will not get eaten by the majority of your guests.  Stick with the tried and true.

I try to choose finger foods or things that can be eaten with a toothpick.  It makes party set up and clean up so much easier if you don't have to fuss with silverware, full size plates, and arranging places for people to sit while eating.  

One of the best solutions (besides catering:)) is to utilize the premade and frozen food options at the grocery store.  Just make sure that you read the package to confirm item count and directions.  This past weekend I picked up some sliders that required that you fill your broiler pan with water, place the sliders on, wrap the whole thing with tin foil and then cook for 20 minutes - no way that was happening.  You want to be able to throw the item on a cookie sheet, quickly bake, and transfer to a nice platter.  

Fan Favorites:  Nachos and salsa, nachos and taco dip, veggies and dip, slow cooker meatballs, cheese and crackers, egg rolls, shrimp and cocktail sauce, bite size desserts.

Fan Fails:  Anything stuffed in endive, anything with more than 4 ingredients, and things that are hard to pronounce.

This year I set up my kitchen hutch as a sweets station.  The night before the party I made the banner (scrapbook paper, black sharpie and leftover twill tape) and hung it on the hutch.  Then that afternoon I spent about 15 minutes setting up all my store-bought goodies.

This canister was the easiest thing I did all day.  Pepperidge Farm makes these Pirouettes and they are just to die for.  All I did was use the canister they came in from the store by covering it with vintage Christmas themed scrapbook paper.  Then I placed some waded paper towels in the bottom to make the wafers stand up out of the canister.  Easy Breezy.

I used a package of mint chocolate Milano cookies to make this cute display.  Just by spending 2 minutes I made a simple plate of cookies look special even though they were store bought.

I also used my 3-tier plate stand to hold some more store bought goodies.  I saw people snacking from this all night.

I wish I had more pictures of the food I served during the party but I was too busy mingling to take pictures.  We served a veggie tray, pizza rolls, shrimp, meatballs, nachos & salsa,  and some other frozen food delights.  I was lucky enough to have a friend who brought a mozzarella and olive tray and some more Christmas cookies.  If I had to guess I spent less than an hour preparing  food for this party.

Make sure you have enough of a selection to satisfy all tastes.  We typically buy a case each of a white wine like chardonnay and a red like Merlot right before Thanksgiving.  This gives us enough wine to get through holiday meals, parties, and last-minute hostess gifts.  Plus if you buy a case the wine store will almost always offer at least a 10% case discount.  

We also keep a limited selection of hard liquor on hand - vodka, whiskey, gin.  These seem to be the most requested for mixed drinks.  For a party we will also offer at least 2 beer choices - usually a light beer like Coors light or Labatts blue light and something more fancy like Sam Adams or a seasonal beer.  

Most importantly you cannot forget your non-alcohol drinking friends so be sure to pick up some soda pop too.

I used to get all stressed out about cleaning our house spic-n-span but now I am much more strategic.  First, do the bathrooms.  At least the ones your guests will use.  There is nothing worse than a gross bathroom especially if you invite kids.  I always hate when using a dirty bathroom with my kids because it is so hard to keep them from touching something icky.  So knowing that I am a freak I always make sure the bathroom is spotless and filled with extra toilet paper and tissues.

Second, tackle the areas of the house where your guests will be hanging out.  Start with clutter and then do a dust and vacuum.  Do not try to repaint or hang curtains or put up a new picture.  Inevitably it will take longer than you thought leaving you not enough time to do other more important things like shower and brush your teeth.  Not that I know from experience or anything.

Third, utilize your garage and storage areas to stash away dirty laundry, toys, clutter, etc.  

Tips from Experience
Mingle.  Mingle.  Mingle.  There is nothing worse than the hostess who hangs behind the kitchen counter all night.  It makes your guests feel like they should be helping you instead of enjoying themselves.  Get out into the crowd.  Enjoy your friends.

Don't be a stressed out witchy spouse.  We have a family friend who loves to host yet when you arrive for dinner or party you can tell she is totally frazzled and she is so stressed that she is barking at her husband all night.  It is the same thing every occasion.  She makes really great dinners but spends the whole time in the kitchen every once in a while shouting out a snotty command for her husband.  We all feel uncomfortable.  We all want to get out of there as soon as possible.

Be prepared to make adjustments as the night goes on.  Sometimes you run out of food.  Sometimes you have to order a pizza.  Maybe the music needs to be changed.  Just go with the flow and don't let a change in your vision or plans upset you.  

Put your pets away.  Not everyone is a dog person.  Especially a leg humping or slobbery dog person.  Some people are allergic to animals.  Enough said.

Ask for help or take help if it is offered.  If a guest wants to bring something say yes.  If they want to come early and help you set up say yes.  Nothing beats an extra pair of hands.

I hope this gives you all some good ideas for your next shindig, and I would love to hear your best tips too.  What was the best party you ever attended and why?

~Gold Shoe Girl~

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Easy & Frugal Holiday Decor Ideas

Today I thought I would share a couple of quick and easy ideas to make your house a little more festive for the holidays without spending a lot of money.  

You can brighten any shelf by backing it with beautiful paper or fabric.  We've all seen this a million times, but I wanted point what a difference this project can make.  I bought my kitchen hutch about this time last year from craigslist.  I had intended to paint it but then moving and life got in the way.  Instead of trying to rush and get it painted before the holiday I decided to just change the back of the shelves using scrapbook paper.  

Originally, I intended on using some scrapbook paper I already had but I found that I did not have enough of any single pattern to cover the entire area.  I headed over to Hobby Lobby when they were having a sale on their scrapbook paper and bought 15 pieces of the same antique green pattern for $8.  

I started at the top shelf in the center and worked out from there.  The top shelf fit a whole sheet of paper perfectly top to bottom.  I just had to trim the pieces on the ends to fit.  I did match the pattern on the left and right from piece to piece.  On the middle shelf I had to trim both the top and bottom of the paper to keep the pattern centered on the shelf.   Then I repeated the same series of cuts for the bottom shelf.  I attached the paper to the back of the shelves with double-sided tape.  It took me about an hour to make all the cuts and hang the paper - it probably would have been quicker if I didn't have a 4-year-old who "needs" something every 10 minutes:)

After I finished hanging the paper I added my grandmother's crystal (I have 1/3 of the set in case you were wondering about the odd number of glasses) and my small collection of Christmas Spode to the shelves.  The paper makes a great backdrop for the dishes.  I am also loving how the paper looks compliments the new blue paint color in the kitchen and makes the hutch seem a little less heavy.  You can also see how much better the crystal and dishes stand out against the paper versus the original dark wood.

Here is a closeup of the little sheep on the bottom.  I've had them for a few years and they seemed the perfect finishing touch.  The little one has a blanket that says Baa Humbug.  It makes me chuckle every year.  I also added a horseshoe and some leftover evergreen trimmings from our tree.   So for $8 and less than an hour of my time, I created a lovely little Christmas display in the kitchen.

The next idea was very spontaneous and came out of a project that was meant to keep my daughter busy for a few hours.  While I was at Hobby Lobby, I picked up an ornament making kit.  It was marked $9.99 but was 50% off like all the rest of the Christmas stuff.  It included a dozen Styrofoam balls in 3 different sizes, a bag of straight pins, a bag of tiny beads, and 5 bags of different colored sequins.  

To make these you simply put a bead on the pin, then a sequin and then poke this into the ball.  You repeat this combination over and over until the entire ball is covered.  All 3 of my kids actually got into this, and it kept them occupied for a few hours over a number of days.  I found I could make one in less than an hour - it was a good excuse to watch tv one evening.  As we were completing the ornaments they were rolling all over the table so I grabbed an antique cut glass pedestal from my stash and put them inside.  They looked so great we decided to leave them here for the rest of the season.

It's not a huge item but it does have a lot of sparkle and color and will stand out against a white or light colored background.  They give a nice holiday sparkle to a shelf or tabletop and I love that the kids and I did it together.  Easy and about $5.  You could do this without the kit or you could just add extra ornaments from your stash to any pedestal for the same effect.  I had picked this particular pedestal up at goodwill for $1 years ago and I use it for various things like candles, potpourri,  and such.

The final thing I did this year was to add fresh poinsettias to an antique galvanized washtub that we inherited when we purchased our cottage years ago.  I've used the washtub to hold firewood, party drinks and other assorted decorations, but I thought it would be perfect for the poinsettias.

I bought 3 poinsettia plants at Target (who knew) for $4 each.  I used tree trimmings to fill the back and sides of the washtub, and I made a bow out of some burlap that I already had on hand.  I hung the bow on the side of the washtub using an ornament hanger that I bent to fit.

It is sitting on top of our console table.  Visitors see it right away as they enter the front door so I knew I wanted a big piece there.  

The silver-gray color of the tub is a nice contrast to the black table.  It bridges the gap between the table and the pictures above nicely.

Another easy way to add some holiday festiveness without breaking the bank.  This arrangement only cost me the $12 for the poinsettias.  You could easily replicate this with a large basket or a wooden crate.  

Hope this gives you some last minute inspiration.

~ Gold Shoe Girl ~

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I Heart Naptime's Sundae Scoop Party

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Berry Merry Holiday Mantle

I always have anxiety about my mantle decorating.  It's such a focal point that I don't want to goof it up.  I hoover between too little, too much, too cheesy, too cheap, and too over the top.  This year is the first year in a long time though that I really love the design.  

I like my mantles to be romantic and I almost always include candles to help achieve this effect.  On this mantle I used 2 clear glass hurricanes secretly propped up on little bowls for height.  I bought the hurricanes at Walmart a few years ago for less than $5 each.  On the left and right ends I used clear glass pillar candle holders that I already had in the cupboard.  I like the clear glass because it allows the rest of the elements to draw your attention.

Behind the candles are my Pottery Barn vintage tin tiles.  They came in a set of 3 but it seemed too overcrowded with all 3 up there.  I like the symmetrical look just using the 2 tiles gives the mantle.

Then in front of the candles I placed a faux evergreen swag.  I bought it at Hobby Lobby when they had all their Christmas stuff at 50% off.  It came with the lights and the berries but I thought it need just a little something else so I added the fake crystal ice pick things.  I really like the extra glimmer they give everything.

I still need to work on some accessories for the bottom front sides of the fireplace.  The wood pile is okay but I would love to find a basket or old wooden box that adds more interest or height.  And on the other side I put a Christmas themed square hat box but it really is too small.  I really need a set of 3 of those boxes to give help fill the space.  Maybe I'll get some big red poinsettias for each side.  Anyone have any suggestions?

The only thing I spent money on was the swag which cost me about $35.  Plus since it is faux I figure I can use it for many years to come.  Otherwise I already had all the other elements and the candles in my decorating stash.  

This just about finishes my decorating this year.  I still have a few things to share with you all but I have put away all the excess.  It's time to enjoy and relax.  Well, until I have to start the wrapping - ugh.
~ Gold Shoe Girl ~

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southern hospitality

The Family Christmas Tree

Last week I showed you our Santa tree, our Angel tree, and the Snowman tree.  Today I am going to share our final but most special tree, our Family Tree.   Every year the entire family goes to pick out a live tree for the living room.  This tree has to be special because it is the tree where Santa leaves all the presents.  This tree is also very sentimental for us because it displays all the handmade ornaments that the kids have made over the years.  They love seeing all their hard work hung up on the branches.  We also include ornaments that were given to my husband and I when we were kids on this tree.  

Notice the lone present behind the tree in the picture above.  I bought it for my husband last week and when I brought it home had hidden it under my son's bed giving the kids the "keep it a secret" talk. Well, as soon as we had the tree all decorated my oldest son suggested that they wrap it and put it under the tree.  The two older ones used 2 different rolls of paper and lots of tape and got it done all by themselves (without fighting - big bonus:)) while the youngest played swords with the paper tubes.  They were so proud of their efforts.  It was a really sweet moment.

This year, since the kids are a little bit older, I let them do most of the ornament hanging.  By the time they were done the tree was a little bottom heavy:)   I left most of it in place but I did move a few fragile ornaments to the higher branches.  Most of the elements on this tree are very kid friendly including a red wooden bead garland, candy canes,  and non-breakable plastic ball ornaments.  

Here's a pine cone made by the kids.

This is a Popsicle stick star that came home from school last year.

Here are some other random ornaments from this tree.

My sister always gives the kids these really great creative ornaments.  I love this little porcupine she gave them a few years ago.

I hope you are enjoying this time of year as much as we do.

~Gold Shoe Girl~

Linking up here...

Thrify Decor Chick's Christmas Tree Party


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Blog Changes

For some reason I decided that in the middle of all the Christmas decorating and holiday hoopla that I should update my blog.  Maybe since my house was looking all fancy and festive I thought the blog should be given a little TLC  too.  

So I'm sure you've noticed the new header.  I made that and the matching sidebar headings this weekend.  It wasn't difficult to do just a little time consuming.  I also rearranged the sidebar a bit to make it less cluttered.  More subtle changes include streamlining fonts and changing background coloring.  I also tweaked the About Me page.

I've been reading a new blog called Blogging with Amy.  She gives advice for bloggers about all things blogging in simple, easy-to-follow language.  I've been trying out some of her ideas the last week or so.   I'd recommend checking her out if you're interesting in pursuing blogging or just making improvements to your existing blog.

Let me know what you think of the new changes.  I'd love your feedback on anything and everything.

~ Gold Shoe Girl ~

Friday, December 2, 2011

The Santa Tree

Today I am sharing our Santa Tree.  We placed this tree in our finished basement this year since the tree is fairly large and the basement can handle its size better than the smaller rooms upstairs.  The ornaments on this tree are all Santa related and the trim and balls are all done in red and white.  

As you can see I still have one trouble spot with the lights on this one.  I am hoping that it is one of those cases where all of sudden one day that section will magically decide to turn on:)

The kids love this guy because his belly actually opens up and usually I will hide some candy in for them to find.

I love the look of this next one but I am always wondering why he has no legs.  He's not broken because the bottom is painted so I just can't figure him out.

We are supposed to get our live tree tonight which means I will get it decorated tomorrow or Sunday hopefully.  If you didn't see our other trees check out the Angel tree and the Snowman tree too.  Next week I am going to share some new ornaments that the kids and I are making and how I decorated our kitchen hutch.  

I just love our house this time of year.  Can you tell:)

~ Gold Shoe Girl ~

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