Deck Stain

Step 1: apply sunscreen!

I started staining my deck at 7am on a gorgeous Saturday morning. I hadn’t intended on tackling the deck that day, but I had the supplies and my coffee had kicked in! I think it’s safe to assume that my deck hadn’t been stained in years. Here’s a picture of what it looked like in the spring…


…Omg, ignore the white curtain thing on the deck. That was a project that cost a fortune in both time and money. Let’s just say it was a huge fail. I’ll post about it later.



I really like orangish/red tones and bought two gallons of Minwax Wood Finish in the color “Gunstock.” You’ll also want to have mineral spirits on hand. This is oil based and soapy water is not going to get this off of your hands or anything else that you may get it on.


The wood was verrrry thirsty and the stain soaked up quickly. Spindles. More spindles. Ugh. I was still remembering painting the spindles from the inside of the house. It’s such a tedious job. You can see in the picture below what a huge difference the bare wood vs. the stained wood was!


Up on the deck I thought that I would try something. I knew that latex paint would not soak up the stain and I thought it might be neat to try and create a “rug.”

This is a picture of the paint without the stain over it. It’s the same paint that I used on my front door and garage door when I created the faux wood look.

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I thought staining the deck would take me a few hours. I’d even purchased a mop because I’d seen a post where the person just mopped the stain on. That did NOT work. This is the kind of mop I had.


I poured the stain into a paint tray, dipped the mop in and tried to swipe it back and forth on the deck. The mop did not want to swipe. It was also dripping and making a mess. I threw the mop away. Bad idea. I ended up just using a brush for the entire deck. I finished everything except the spindles and it sat like this for a few weeks. I just reallllllly didn’t want to do them.


I finally sucked it up and got the spindles done. I did have to go buy more stain. The entire project was 3 gallons and 1 quart. I used every last drop of stain and could probably use another gallon to go over some of the areas that are a bit lighter than other areas.

Here it is! Finally done!



The table and chairs sits on top of the painted checker “rug.”


My deck is pretty big and has room for a few different seating areas. I wanted to build high top seating around the railing and found the perfect pieces to do it with in a dumpster! I was driving one of the kiddos to baseball and passed a house that had a bagster in their driveway. They must have been renovating their deck because the wood that was in the dumpster (bagster) was exactly what I needed to build my seating area. I actually knocked and asked before I went digging. I got the thumbs up.

I grabbed 4×4’s to make legs and the table top piece was actually back behind my shed. I’m not sure what the previous homeowners had used it for, but it was perfect to use for my project. I cut 4 legs and trimmed the plank to fit the length. Vwalla!


I’m still looking for outdoor stools, but I’d like them to be free. 😀

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Total time to stain the deck: 2 days (one day for the deck and one for the spindles)

Total stain: 3.5 gallons (could have used 4)

deck before_after

Front Exterior: DIY

Now that most things are complete, I thought it would be neat to take a picture from the same position as the before pictures that were posted when the house was for sale! And yes, I did *almost* everything myself. I took a few weeks off from work and had my lists. There were really long days and nights during the demo and installing the flooring, but I am super thrilled about how it turned out!

Front Exterior Before

Front Exterior Before

Front Exterior After

Front Exterior After

  1. paint front door
  2. paint garage door
  3. replace blinds to all match from the outside of the house
  4. replace light fixtures
  5. spray paint house numbers from gold to black
  6. pull trees and bushes
  7. plant new bushes
  8. pull weeds
  9. fix rocks
  10. fertilize
  11. spray for weeds
  12. spray for bugs

Note: I did need a lawn care person to come pull the trees and bushes with a Bobcat. I was too nervous about gas lines and it would have taken me ages to cut a tree down with the tools that I have.

The day that I had reserved to plant bushes turned out to be a rain day, and my birthday! If I had to plan it all over again, I would always choose to plant bushes on a rain day. It’s definitely muddy, but it’s cool and refreshing to not be sweating your ass off while you’re digging the holes.

I bought 5 bushes. I don’t know what they are, but I’m excited for them to grow a bit. Again, everything needs to be done for as little cash as possible, so the bushes that I bought aren’t quite as big as I would have liked.



I was just about done. As I was swiping my razor blade through the roots before plopping it into the ground, I had a little slip. My thumb got in the way and I sliced a nice chunk. That stings, but honestly, I was on such a mission to be done with planting the bushes that I just cried a little bit in my head and kept going. I also made a mental note to go get some gardening gloves. 😀


Backyard DIY: Before and After

I think the backyard is my second favorite “room” of the house. I’ve done a lot of work, but I’ve also done a lot of learning! I didn’t know how to put gas or oil into a lawnmower and I hand’t ever had to know about spark plugs or how to do upkeep that comes with having a pool, including emptying the dead mice and frogs from the skimmers. Thankfully, none of what I had to learn was very hard, just a lot of firsts.


Backyard Before


Backyard After

I really like the gazebo, but you may notice it no longer has a roof. The gazebo turned into a kite prior to me bolting it to the concrete. The neighbor came over to let me know it had flown over my fence and landed in their yard, upside down. There really wasn’t any damage done, but I am hesitant to put the roof back on because it’s pretty windy a lot of the time back there. Roof or not, it is now bolted down! I love being able to shut the curtains and turn on the twinkle lights at night!


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Kitchen Cabinets: Glass Inserts

First, this is pretty easy. Next, this was pretty scary. Hahahaha! I’m a bit more of a demo and paint/stain kind of gal. Both tile and trim work are my least favorite and worst skills when it comes to reno.

I priced glass insterts way back in the day and it was going to cost something like $350 or more. No thank you. I have the tools, I just didn’t have the confidence to get it perfect. I chatted with a friend and asked for his help. He has tons of gorgeous furniture pieces that he posts about and I thought he’d have the perfectionist skills that I felt I was lacking. He told me that I could do it and his methods were exactly what I’d thought myself. Okay, Okay, I gave it a whirl.

First, Drill a hole so that you can get your jigsaw in there.


Next, line up a board that acts as a guide for your jigsaw. I sucked at this because my clamps sucked. I ended up jigging a bit wobbly.

Oh, here’s the before!


And here is the after. I hung them to get a feel for it, but I still had to add trim, fresh paint and glass…


You guys. I’d made it this long without having to learn how to use my miter saw. I can’t explain this, but that saw and the math that goes into figuring out angles is something that my brain isn’t wired to do. I bought extra trim because I knew I’d fudge up a few times, and I did. Once I got the pieces cut, I used wood glue and set blocks on them while they dried. I don’t have a pin nailer, so I drilled tiny holes and then nailed tiny nails into the trim, too. There were gaps in the corners that I filled with wood putty and then sanded.

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Don’t get wood glue on your fingers. I didn’t know that and used my fingers to spread the wood glue around on the trim work. It’s really terrible to try and get off of skin.


So now that I had my framed cupboard doors, I needed glass. I was clever enough to not purchase the glass ahead of time, knowing that my cuts may be “custom.” 😀 I had a lot of ants in my pants once the trim was done and called a few local shops to see how fast I could have my custom glass cut. They obviously didn’t understand that I needed it immediately because they kept telling me it would be a few weeks AFTER I stopped in with my doors so that they could measure.


I headed to Menards and purchased big clear plexiglass sheets. I knew I’d need a special tool for cutting and found a helper there that let me know how to use my circular saw using a special blade (blade turned inside out to not rip the plexi). Genious! Thank you Menards helper!!

I touched up the paint on the cabinet doors and applied clear silicone inside the cabinet doors around the frame just before dropping the plexi onto the wet silicone. This is a picture of the inside of the cabinet door. You can see the wavy jigging that I did. If you click the picture, you may be able to see the silicone that the plexi is adhered to.


Once dried, the plexi is secure and looks exactly like glass.


Total Cost:

Plexi Sheets: $60

Trim: $8

Silicone: $3



While I’m at It, Why Not Go Blonde?

Along with all of the home renovation Before and After’s, here’s a before and after of what I’ve been up to with my hair!

This took:

3 sessions with boxed color gradually going lighter and lighter each month (that I did on my own)

1 session with the fabulous Stormy of Stormy Lee Salon in Osseo (this was when the most noticeable difference happened)

1 more session with boxed lightener (that I did on my own)

1 more session with the fabulous Stormy that is scheduled for this coming Friday! I’d really like to get that stubborn strawberry tint out. I think she’ll be able to boost it out this time!

Overall time:  5 months



Backyard Pool

One of the main reasons I purchased this home was because it had a pool.  It started out pretty nas-tay.

This was a peek under the winter cover once it started to warm up a bit…ewwww!


I marked the date. It was 85 degrees, in MARCH! Not really, it was 77 degrees, but still…


This was a MUST…(There were still snow piles around the yard, too)


The previous owners left me a name and number for the guy that comes every spring and fall to open and close the pool. I gave him a call and he was happy that I wasn’t them. 😮 He had a few choice words about the previous renters and let me know that he’ll come to open it up, but that he does not do maintenance. Once he got here we were BFF’s. He’s from a farm and liked that I said, Oofda. He told me I could call him any time and that he may laugh at my dumb questions but that he’d do his best to help me figure stuff out. He got the pump and filter running, dumped 2 jugs of chlorine in the pool and told me to get a vacuum running quick.

This is what it looked like when he left. :/


I knew it would take a few days to clear up, but I’m not a super patient person. Also, I didn’t have a pool vacuum. The sellers were supposed to have left all of the equipment, but they didn’t. Thankfully, Jason had a spare vacuum and let me have it. He came over, got it screwed into the side of the pool wall and off it went. The vacuum zoomed around for days. I emptied the bag that was filled with sand and dirt and leaves and gunk every hour for a few days.

Still a bit cloudy, but it was getting there! This was my morning view for a while. I loved sitting outside watching the squirrels jump from the tree branches to the roof of the shed.


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It took a few weeks, but we finally got “ungreen.”


I didn’t have ANY furniture!

I found the gazebo at Big Lots. It was their floor model so I got it for a monster discount. ❤

The loungers are from Sam’s Club (.com)

The table and chairs on the deck from Fleet Farm

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My view is private and awesome. I lovvvve my backyard!

The light fixture is a hoolahoop wrapped in twine with Edison bulbs strung around it. It’s so fancy-pants!

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Kitchen Faucet

The original kitchen faucet was okay-ish. It was white, and it sort of spit and spattered when you turned the water on. I was a little bit hesitant to uninstall the faucet and then not be able to install the new one. You know what I did!

I watched a few YouTube videos. 😀

I have no idea how plumbers do it. The space that I had to get into was too small, too tight and a little stinky. My wrench was also a joke. I was using a rusty wrench from the pool shed. It was the only one that would grip wide enough, but the rust made it stick open and closed. I can’t stress enough how having the right tools for a job is so important.

If I had to do it all over again, I would get a new sink and faucet combo and plop the entire thing down in together. I really like my sink though, and I’d already had my new countertops installed and everything. So, if you’re contemplating whether you should get a new sink along with your faucet, do your countertops, sink and faucet all at the same time.

There are a lot of faucets to look at, but you need to consider how many holes you have in your sink. Once you know how many holes you are going to be working with, your selections will slim down. Once you pick the finish, your selections will slim down a little bit more.

You can see in the picture below that I had 3 holes to work with (I was keeping the water filter thing). The old-fashioned sprayer was replaced with the soap dispenser and the sprayer is a pull down from the faucet.

I shopped around for months and ultimately found the best deal at Menards. This faucet was on sale for just $70!



Kitchen Window

All of the trim and woodwork in my home is/was brown. I’ve been updating the trim from oak to painted white little-by-little, but I wasn’t sure on whether to paint my kitchen window. I’d taken a week off from work to get all of my house tasks completed and had to make a decision.

Should I paint it, or should I stain it? One thing was certain, it needed something! I decided to paint it white.


Here is the complete kitchen window transformation…

December: the window came with plastic white shutters that were not able to be opened because the faucet was in the way.

Kitchen Stove

January: the cabinets had been painted, making me wonder even more on whether I should paint the window as well.


December: the shutters had to come off. I purchased burlap with a chevron pattern. The burlap would provide a bit of privacy, but still let the window breath and let light through.


February: I stained/painted a sign to cover up the wavy decorative board and added glass shelving above the cafe curtain to house plants on. The plants were a fun way for me to add color to all of the white, which I was not used to.


March: Even the countertops were white back then…


April: Once I had the new countertops installed, I was able to get a clearer picture of whether I should stain or paint the window. I was leaning toward painting, but no matter what I did I had to wait for the spring showers to be done so that the wood was 100% dry.


June: I know I made the right decision.



A direct comparison between the brown and the white. I can’t believe how much it opens the space up and makes it feel bigger!


+ new faucet

+ new faucet

Concrete Countertop: staining and sealing

I’d lived with my concrete countertop unstained and unsealed for WAY too long. If I would have known how easy it was to stain and seal, I would have done it much sooner. I needed to do research, shop for the stain after I had done my research and verify that the sealer that I’d purchased back in December was the correct kind for the job that I was doing.

I watched a few YouTube videos and learned a few things:

  • I learned what the stain was going to look like going on and what it was going to look like when it dried
  • I learned that you can overlap and mix colors to add depth, similar to watercoloring
  • I learned that you apply it with a paint brush
  • I learned that you really can’t mess it up!

I’m calling this Concrete Day 3 because Concrete Day 1 and Concrete Day 2 were the skim coating and sanding days, which you can find in an earlier post.


I had originally wanted to purchase a powder stain that is mixed with water. Home Depot didn’t carry concrete stain in powder form so I purchased it in liquid form. I’d also wanted to have a bit of green stain added to the terra cotta and brown, but Home Depot didn’t carry any green stain. You will see how I improvised on that below!


I followed the instructions on the back of the bottles and added water. *Be careful when you’re shaking your bottles up, my bottle wasn’t completely sealed and I shook it a few times before I realized the seal wasn’t tight and it was leaking. If you get this stain on anything, it will not ever, ever, ever come out. I ruined my rug.


This is what it looks like as you put it on. The concrete quickly soaks up the stain. There isn’t a magic amount that you should apply. Some areas of mine had puddled up. That’s okay! It doesn’t look particularly great when you’re applying it. After it dries you can assess whether you’d like to add more stain in certain areas. I finished the staining and waited a few hours to see what the results would be…



I really did need green. I was sitting at my desk, brainstorming on how or where I could get green concrete stain without having to wait for an online delivery.

I came up with a brilliant idea. My boys play sports. They have white baseball pants. I am very familiar with “green stains!” I went to my yard, picked a few weeds and rubbed them on the concrete in the areas that I wanted green stain. Yep. I really used weeds to stain my countertop.



All of the YouTube videos that I’d watched mentioned sanding after you’d stained. I didn’t want to sand my countertop and liked the stain and the imperfections just as they were. I thought that a buffing would be more appropriate, however I didn’t have anything to buff the countertop with. I stood there looking around my house for something to rub along the top of the countertop and found a paint can lid. I know this is going to sound strange, but I knew that the metal lid would add friction and a shine to the concrete. You could use a clean lid, I actually used a lid from a charcoal grey paint that I had been using in my sons room. You press down pretty hard with the lid and rub in all over the countertop. You will feel the heat coming through onto your hand. You can see that the lid creating shiny areas on the high spots of the concrete. I also like that it created another layer of color that I hadn’t intended on.

As much as I really liked the effects of this technique, the sealer actually covered up the shiny areas. So, the only benefit that I got from the paint can lid was the grey tone added to the countertop.



I wanted to be sure that all of the moisture was dried up before applying the sealer. I let the stain dry for an entire day (24 hours) before I was confident that all of the moisture was out.


Way back in December is when I’d decided to do concrete countertops. I purchased the concrete and the sealer and then flip-flopped with the idea a dozen times. While I was flip-flopping with the idea, I’d also done quite a few Google searches to see what other people had done. I know there are quite a few different kinds of concrete sealers out there. This is the one that I purchased.


The instructions on the back of the bottle are really intimidating, or at least I thought so. I did wear gloves for part of the application, but I’d taken them off in between layers and during the second layer I forgot to put gloves back on. I got some on my hands and it was not a big deal, just wipe it off. It’s not like getting super glue on your hands, which is what I was most nervous about. *Do not let this drip onto your flooring. I have 2 dime-sized shiny spots on my flooring from drips of this sealer. If you do see a drip, wipe it up asap and everything will be fine. If you do not see the drip and it dries on the floor, you will have shiny spots that I’m not sure how to remove just yet.

Okay, here we go! Pour the mix into a disposable container. It looks like milk.


The YouTube videos that I had watched showed the sealer being applied with a small roller. I used a paint brush. There are no paint brush strokes on my countertop. This goes on very similar to how milk would be painted on. After a few minutes, it turns white and becomes a little tacky. There are no air bubbles like with polyurethane. It literally is like milk.


I let the first layer of sealer dry for about 1 hour. It was not fully dry prior to me putting on a second layer. The difference between the first application and the second time around was that during the second time around there were very few white marks. You can see that it only occurred on the corner during the second layer of sealant.


I think I may have been okay to stop after the second layer of sealer, but it was addicting and I just kept applying more and more. I didn’t wait for the layers to dry prior to applying the next layers. This didn’t cause any issues with the look, however, similar to if you put 3-4 layers of nail polish on without letting each layer dry, it took a few days to fully cure / harden.

The finished product amazes me. (the glare is from the light fixture above)




So…for $20 I purchased a laminate countertop. For $40 more dollars in product, I have a one-of-a-kind, weed stained, stone countertop!

Before / After

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Laundry Room Sink: Floodville

For 15 years I’ve had new homes. In those new homes, the washing machines have been on the right, because you read left to right and you should do laundry from left to right. Kidding, but maybe not. Also, my laundry room sinks have always been used as soaking tubs or storage.

When the boys were little, I’d use the sink to soak their onesies. When they got bigger, during baseball season, I’d use the sink to soak their baseball pants. When it isn’t baseball season the laundry sink acts as a catch-all. It collects out of season sports gear, items to donate and socks and gloves that have lost their mates.

When I moved into this home, I did the same thing. I unloaded a moving box and put a bunch of items in the laundry sink, including the laundry soap tablets, bleach, mason jar, and other items I use for my magic stain removal techniques.

I started a load of laundry.


I returned to the laundry room and all of the items that I had put in the laundry sink were wet and icky. The huge tub of laundry tabs were wet, slimey and had morphed into one great big sticky blob. I had no idea what had happened and assumed that one of the boys had decided to see what would happen if they got the laundry soap tabs wet. Ugh. I started a new load of laundry…

Later that day when I went to move the clothes from the washer to the dryer I found a flood all over the laundry room floor.


Ohhhhhhhhhhh!!!! I remembered something!

When I was younger, the laundry tub was what the washing machine drained into! THAT is what was happening here. My washing machine was draining into the sink and everything I had in the sink was getting power soaked by the washing machine spin cycle. During the second wash that I’d run, the soap tabs had tipped out of their container again and created a goop so thick that it actually blocked the drain in the sink causing it to overflow, flooding the laundry room.

I am a total genius. Watch out folks. I’m learning! Hoping this catastrophe post can save you from a similar soggy mess. 😀