...because home doesn't happen overnight.

main bathroom after 19

Remember when we finished the main bathroom? Yeah, that was fun. I am so grateful for that second bathroom. It’s been a game changer. There was just one teensy, weensy issue with the room. Where do we put the toilet paper? After all the work that went into making the bathroom, we didn’t have the heart cajones to drill into the subway tile or the wood vanity to hang a toilet paper holder. I tossed a few rolls in a basket under the sink and called it a day. Except Mabrey (and all of her three-year-old spunk) was having trouble reaching the basket from the toilet. #toddlerproblems

Enter Sugru. The instant I was introduced to the moldable, 3D glue, I had an a-ha! moment.

sugru toilet paper holder 1

sugru toilet paper holder 2

Because Sugru is waterproof and stable at high temperatures, it’s ideal for bathrooms. I used white Sugru to adhere the backplate of this toilet paper holder to the wall near the toilet. Then I waited 24 hours for the dough-like substance to harden into a strong rubber-like adhesive. In the meantime, I spray painted the holder flat black to mesh with the bathroom’s other finishes.

sugru toilet paper holder 3

Once the backplate was secure, I mounted the paper holder. I took advice from my lovely friend, Belinda, and rotated the holder 90º. (Traditionally, toilet paper holders are installed horizontally.) The vertical installation keeps the paper roll from falling off so easily – especially useful if children are using the facilities! I like the way it looks, too. Simple and modern. The black picks up on other black elements (pencil liner, tub exterior, hex floor tile, etc.) in the room. I love the way it turned out but, more importantly, Mabrey can reach the toilet paper now. Should I tire of it (not likely), Sugru is removable with a little elbow grease.

sugru 1

After my first successful Sugru project, I started looking around the house for other potential uses.

sugru lamp 1

Over a year ago, the kids knocked over my favorite lamp while horsing around in the living room. The cap that keeps the lampshade in place was cracked and I’ve been straightening the annoying thing ever since. I even resorted to duct tape at one point but it didn’t hold up. The crooked lampshade was driving me bonkers!

sugru lamp 2

I fixed it with black Sugru. Did I mention Sugru comes in different colors for discreet applications?

sugru lamp 3

No more crooked lampshade, but the kids are still horsing around in the living room.

sugru chair 1

They like to run and jump onto the gray chair. The chair legs are constantly twisting out of place. Again, me = bonkers.

sugru chair 2

I removed the chair legs and added a bit of Sugru for stability.

sugru chair 3

I screwed the legs back in and removed the excess adhesive with a small piece of tissue paper. Then the hard part came…keeping the kids off the chair for 24 hours while the Sugru cured.

sugru chair 4

It worked like a charm! We’re one week in and I haven’t had to readjust the legs once.

sugru footstool 1

So, naturally, I used Sugru to shore up a wobbly leg on the vintage footstool in the boys’ bedroom.

sugru footstool 2

Awesome. Are you noticing a theme here? If you have kids, go get ye some Sugru.

sugru shade 1

We’ve always had problems with the roller blind in Mabrey’s window. It tends to jump out of the mounting hardware when recoiling which causes it to come crashing down which nicks up the drywall which makes more little work for me which infuriates me more than it should. Many a four-letter-word has been muttered in the name of that effing shade. (It’s just that one…all the others work great.) I used a little Sugru to create a bumper of sorts around the mounting bracket. It still allows the shade to roll up and down but doesn’t let it fly off the bracket. It’s glorious.

sugru shade 2

And it’s completely undetectable behind the woven shades.

I officially added Sugru to our junk drawer last week. It’s one of those fix-it things that comes in handy in a pinch. The possibilities are endless. See my favorite tutorials here. I know you’re already brainstorming things you could fix with it. Luckily, Sugru is now available at Target stores nationwide. Find your nearest store to add Sugru to your DIY arsenal for quick and easy fixes. (It would make a great gift for grads and dads, too!)

*This post sponsored in part by Sugru. Thank you for supporting the brands that support this blog.

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

play kitchen after 2

Santa gifted Mabrey this play kitchen last year. I didn’t find it obnoxious for a toy. But Mabrey kept asking, “When are you going to paint my kitchen?” Girl catches on quickly. Store bought items rarely stay the way I find them.

play kitchen before 1

In an effort to tidy up the side of the fridge, I decided to tweak the play kitchen with paint. And by paint, I mean paint, backsplash, new hardware, open shelving and an oven light. I may have taken things too far. Oops.

play kitchen before 2

The before. Again, it wasn’t obnoxious but there was room for improvement.

play kitchen steps 1

1 – The first thing I did was remove the chunky handles and patch the holes with wood putty.

2 – After a few applications of putty, I lightly sanded the patches and surfaces to be painted – just enough to scuff them up a bit.

3 – I taped off the oven window, control knobs and countertop.

4 – I gave the kitchen two coats of Sherwin-Williams coastal plain in a satin finish. (Btw, did you know you can purchase Sherwin-Williams paint at Lowe’s now? So convenient!)

play kitchen steps 2

5 – I bought two sheets of Smart Tiles subway tile in white. I had been eyeing them for a while but many sellers only sold them in packs of six and I didn’t need that much. When I saw them on sale at Wayfair for $5.99 per sheet and sold individually, I bit.

6 – The sheets are self-adhering vinyl with an easy peel-and-stick installation. The tiles are staggered on the edges for an overlapping seam.

7 – When positioned properly, the seam is barely noticeable. Lining up the grout lines carefully is key. I had to readjust the second sheet a few times to get a perfect fit. I don’t know that I would ever use these in a real kitchen (maybe a rental?) but they’re perfect for this application.

8 – I cut away the excess tile with utility scissors.

play kitchen steps 3

9 – I cleaned up the edges with a utility knife. I cut from the backside of the kitchen and pressed a board against the front side of the backsplash for more control. I ended up painting the top of the wood backsplash white for an even cleaner look.

10 – I used scraps cut from the first sheet to fill in small portions of tile on the second sheet. I had just enough tile!

11 – I added new handles. Because the play kitchen’s cabinet doors aren’t a standard thickness, the included screws were too long. I had to rummage around in the garage to find a few random ones that would work.

12 – (This is where Steve says I went overboard.) I cut a piece of lumber (thrifted from our garage) to fit the width of the backsplash. I sanded it smooth by hand and added a quick coat of wood conditioner.

play kitchen steps 4

13 – I applied two coats of wood stain. (It’s Minwax special walnut, my favorite.)

14 – I secured the shelf with two wood screws, using the original screw holes (from the original shelf) as my pilot holes. It’s super sturdy.

15 – I spray painted the faucet flat black to tie in with the new hardware. (Don’t think I didn’t consider adding a small bathroom faucet, but that really would have been too much. Ha!)

16 – The finished product!

play kitchen oven light

For fun, I added a battery-powered LED tap light in the “oven.” Mabrey LOVES this new feature.

play kitchen after 5

play kitchen after 4

play kitchen after 3

Just this morning she made me a broccoli cake ;) She couldn’t care less about the gray-green / subway tile / reclaimed wood / matte black hardware mix, but I’m all over it. One in my size, please?

play kitchen basket 1

Mabrey has a basket of play kitchen accessories. I keep it on a low shelf in the living room when she isn’t playing chef. She likes to carry it over to her kitchen when she’s playing. The red stool stands in as extra countertop space.

play kitchen basket 2

She was gifted this toaster, this coffee maker and a slew of faux food including some felt items from etsy. So cute!

play kitchen after 6

When I was tweaking the play kitchen, I couldn’t help wondering if there was a market for unfinished playthings that consumers could put their own spin on. Someone should do that. I think it’s so nice when toys (especially larger ones out in the open) meld with a home’s decor. I’m more likely to leave it out which means it’s more likely to be played with which is the whole point anyway, right? Or, I might be cray-cray.

At any rate, it was a fun little project and Mabrey seems to enjoy it. Now to tackle that messy fridge!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

riviera maya

Last winter when it was -20°F and we were suffering from cabin fever, Steve and I booked a trip to Mexico. Sans kids. I had mixed feelings. I was excited to have something (warm!) to look forward to, but I couldn’t help feeling a little anxious about how it was all going to play out. Disrupting a family’s routine is no joke. Who will watch the kids? Who will get the boys on and off the bus? Who will supervise homework? Who will feed and check in on Cheetah? Who will make sure Mabrey gets to gymnastics and Everett gets to his tennis lesson? And, crap!, I need a passport! The logistics alone had my mind reeling.

Everett’s accident happened a few weeks before we were scheduled fly out. That only compounded my anxiety. How could I possibly leave my kids after something like that? The timing was all wrong. But Steve was quick to point out that Everett was fine. His wounds were healing and he would be back to school. Plus, the vacation was already paid in full, non-refundable. My bonus mom was practically shooing me off to Mexico, stepping in to take care of the kids. “Go! Have fun!”

The day before we left was insane. It was almost enough to make me want to call off the entire thing. Typed schedules, lists, laundry, packed bags and backpacks, a birthday present for Layne’s best friend, drop-offs, goodbyes, lots of hugs and “Oh! One more thing…” And that was before I even started packing for myself.

riviera maya

But you know what? It was all worth it. In fact, it turns out the timing was perfect. It was just what we needed, although it took me a day or two to completely relax. At home, I don’t sit down until after the kids are in bed for the night. Lounging doesn’t come naturally. But by the end of the week I had it mastered. (Piña coladas helped.) And guess what? The kids were fine. They even missed me which doesn’t happen all that often since I quit my day job.

For so long, I’ve felt that vacations without kids aren’t worth the hassle / chaotic preparation / expense. I’ve even considered them a sign of weakness. Shame on me! I’m slowly realizing that’s just the mom guilt talking. It’s okay necessary to take a break – whether it’s an hour or a week. Sometimes I need to step out of my everyday roles as chauffeur, parent, booger wiper, toilet cleaner, etc. to be just me with the guy I married. I don’t want to be one of those couples who don’t know each other when their nest empties. So I’ve started thinking of these chunks of time alone as investments. They’re investments in our sanity, our relationship, our family, our future. And we’re vowing to make them happen more often. Looking at things from this perspective really diminishes the guilt for me.

riviera maya

What about you? How do you view adults-only vacations? Luxuries? Necessities? Investments? Do you vacation without kids?

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking