Updated Kitchen Lighting

When we moved into our home, the kitchen was my least favorite spot in the house. This was a huge bummer for me, because the kitchen is the heart of the home. It is where everyone congregates at a party, even if you try to keep them in another room. When I saw pictures of our house online for the first time, I almost didn’t want to see the house, that’s how much I hated the kitchen. I’m glad I was able to look past it, and see the potential.


We have been busy planning Piglet’s first birthday, and having the party here has been a huge excuse for me to cross some big house projects off our to do list. I’ve been getting quotes on having the exterior of the house painted, and on a whim, I went ahead and got quotes for fixing the kitchen lighting, and for painting the cabinets.

Sadly the quotes were outrageous for the lighting and painting of the cabinets. I told Match how disappointed I was, and he took it upon himself to do something about it. He decided that while painting the cabinets would be way too much work right now, he could probably tackle the lights. 3 days of hard work and the pay off was huge. I didn’t get to help out like I wanted to. My job was baby wrangling, and keeping Piglet happy while Match worked. Did I mention he stands on his own now? This kid is minutes away from walking, I swear.


So back to the lighting project. Match first had to remove the old lighting. Check out those nasty babies. Gotta love all the yellowing going on inside the cutout too. I am so bad at taking before pictures. This was an epic fail on my part, where I only got pictures after we removed the yellowed and chipped screens that cover the fluorescent bulbs.


Making some progress:


The final result!


The cherry on top of the awesomesauce that is this project? We deep cleaned the kitchen to get rid of all the dust. My cabinets, counters and appliances have never been so clean. Ahhhh, I love it! I think the fixture really updates the kitchen, and the warm lighting makes the cabinets look better. I’d still prefer them white, but they look way better than before.

I’m so proud of my hubby for taking on this project. I know it wasn’t easy, and he worked really hard on it. I’m so happy with my kitchen lighting, and him for being such a sweetie!


Canvas TV Cover Up

I haven’t posted about my DIY projects in awhile, probably because I haven’t had much time to do them! I remember being afraid I’d never get any projects done once Piglet came along, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how much we’ve managed. Projects just take a bit longer, as they revolve around the precious nap time free time window! Anywho, here’s the latest, and it has to do with my 2014 to do list.

As part of my goals for 2014, we decided to cancel our cable. It’s been the best decision we’ve ever made! We still watch some of our shows, but we watch them online, all snuggled up next to the computer. It’s a planned event, and we don’t watch hours of shows. Usually we watch one, maybe two, and that’s it. So now that we’re not watching TV all the time, we have this big black box stuck on the wall.




I really wanted to get some framed artwork to cover it up, but after researching, I realized it would cost thousands. Of course I decided to do a DIY version and this is what I came up with. I ordered the map on Amazon for $16.99. I used a 40% coupon at Michaels for the extra large canvas. Slapped on some modge podge, and this whole project cost about $40. I enlisted Match’s help with the backing, where we drilled a couple of pieces of scrap wood onto the canvas frame. Then we just looped it over the TV. That way we can just lift it off if we want to watch a show or movies on the TV. Because it’s canvas, it’s very light, so it’s easy to lift off.


I think I’d eventually like to glue some wood around the edges, to give it a more finished, framed look. Even without the frame I love the way it turned out.

PS we totally staged this picture. In real life, we have a ton of baby toys all over the place. Le sigh. Someday it’ll go back to being this spotless, but this is the way we live now. Just keeping it real!


2013 To Do List Update-Garage Organized

Miles: I hope you’re ready for a swell time Rose.
Rose: [Who has to stay celibate until water comes in St Olaf ] Sure just give me a minute. [Goes to Blanche] What if he wants to go back to his place?
Blanche: Tell him you have a lot of work to do at home.
Rose: I don’t wanna lie.
Blanche: When you get home I’ll make you clean out the garage.
Rose: Thanks Blanche, I owe you one. -The Golden Girls

It’s been awhile since I checked in on my 2013 To Do List. I’ve made some progress!

Recently we finally replaced our garage door. It wasn’t on the list, but were in desperate need of a new door. This one is insulated, so we can actually go out there during the day when it’s hot out. Getting the new door motivated us to cross off “Organize garage-install pegboard and built in shelving storage“.

Here’s what the garage used to look like:


Crap everywhere! We had nowhere to store anything!






So we installed some prefabricated cabinets from Home Depot, painted them white and voila!



A work bench, and pegboard! I’ve started labeling drawers with my label maker, but I have a few more to do.


you can actually walk around in there!


It’s still not perfect but it’s so much better than it was. Now we have a work bench for all our DIY projects. Plus now we have room to actually play ping pong!

Here’s the master to do list for this year. This week we will be crossing off take Piglet to Oregon! Hopefully next month for my 30th birthday we will be going on our first family camping trip! So many fun times ahead of us!

2013 To Do List:

  • Decide on a name for Piglet
  • Pay off new upstairs windows
  • Finance new downstairs windows (thank you 0% financing offers!)
  • Pay off at least one of our student loans, pay down Jeep
  • Start savings fund for Piglet
  • Roll over old 401K to IRA-been meaning to do this for years now
  • Write our wills
  • Take infant CPR class
  • Take prenatal classes, including birth and nursing classes at Kaiser
  • Organize garage-install pegboard and built in shelving storage
  • Replace kitchen lighting with recessed lighting
  • Buy hallway light fixture.
  • Buy ceiling fan in the master bedroom.
  • Buy new dining room and front entry light fixtures.
  • Save up for an electrician to come install all of these fancy light fixtures.
  • Install a custom closet organizer.
  • Buy sideboard for dining room using Amazon coupons
  • Take maternity pictures with Match (scheduled for April 29th!)
  • Make DIY invitations for Piglet’s baby shower
  • Send Thank You cards for shower
  • Finish nursery decor by no later than April
  • Take family photos when Piglet arrives
  • Send out Piglet’s birth announcements
  • Take Piglet Camping
  • Do something fun for our 3rd wedding anniversary
  • Do something special for my 30th birthday
  • Come up with family Halloween costumes, hopefully DIY
  • Take Piglet to the pumpkin patch
  • Send out our first family Christmas cards
  • Make Piglet a baby book and keep track of milestones (in progress, will be done on his birthday)
  • Take Piglet to the Christmas tree farm
  • Take our first trip to Oregon as a family of 3
  • Have a date night at least once a month with Match, hopefully more frequently
  • Lose baby weight and get in pre-baby shape by the end of the year. (5 pounds to go!)
  • Go back to the gym-should help with above goal
  • Take Piglet to at least one Mommy & me class
  • Keep up with blogging even after Piglet gets here (Goal is at least 1 time a week check in, keeping up with it so far!)
  • Meet a blog friend in real life
  • Plant a garden
  • Have outside of house painted
  • Re-stain deck
  • Buy the rest of our patio furniture with Amazon coupons
  • Buy a digital SLR to capture all of Piglet’s antics
  • Start writing a book
  • Make mirror frame for Master Bathroom
  • Help Match learn conversational Spanish for work
  • Build window seat in the downstairs great room
  • Order new window seat cushion for nursery (made one instead!)
  • Read at least 50 Books this year (33 read so far)


DIY Wooden Alphabet Blocks

Monk: I see letters!
Natalie: It’s alphabet soup. -Monk

Back when my parents were here and we were building the built in bookshelves, we had a bunch of leftover wood. My dad got the bright idea to cut them into little blocks, so that I could make DIY wooden blocks for the nursery.


The blocks have been sitting on my craft table just waiting to be painted. Unfortunately, I only had 23 blocks, instead of 26. The horror. Now I could have gone out and bought the 3 remaining blocks, but I worried that they’d look drastically different from the ones I already had. So with a little planning, (thanks Emmy & Janette for your helpful suggestions!)  I managed to put all the letters of the alphabet on the blocks I had. I did 2 letters for each block, which came to 13 blocks. That left me with enough left over to do duplicates of the most common letters, so later on Piglet can spell out words. You know, when he’s 1, and a total genius baby (lol!!)

In retrospect, I should have sanded them better before starting to paint. I ended up sanding after, and then painting sections over. If you try these yourself, I recommend sanding, sanding, and then sanding some more!

I started by painting the blocks a combination of blue, green and gray, to go with the nursery color scheme. Then I sketched out each letter, shape, number and animal.

see how sharp the corners were? I had to sand those all way down. Live and learn!

The animals were definitely the hardest; both coming up with an animal for each letter (quick, what animal starts with X?) and actually sketching them on the block. This little fox is one of my favorites.

After I sketched, I painted each block with acrylic paint, and then outlined them with black pen to make them pop.

Here they are almost finished. I decided to paint each side with either a letter, animal, shape or number.

After they’d dried I coated each block with modge podge to make them non-toxic for littles. I figure at first Piglet will be much more interested in gnawing on them than playing with them. I’m a little sad because the modge podge caused some smearing, but maybe it adds to their charm?

Piglet may not care much about the blocks, but I think they’ll be great for nursery decor and for the baby shower, which is just 3 weeks away! Squeal!

Here is the finished set. I am so happy with them! I kind of want to play with them now. 🙂

DIY Alphabet Blocks: dategirldiaries.com






Great Room Update

Barney: [picks up dart] Hey, guys! Guess what I got? A new dart!
Robin: Oh, wow, a new dart!
Ted: Hey, that new dart is great!
Robin: I did not know you were such a fan of “newdart”, Barney!
Barney: Oh yes, Robin, I just love “newdart”…”nude art”. “Nude art”![Barney, Robin, and Ted laugh.]
Marshall: Okay, all right, so what, you guys found the painting, huh?!?
Lily: I knew this day would come.
Marshall: How did you know that?
Lily: Because I didn’t hide it very well. -How I Met Your Mother

In this post from a few weeks ago, I asked you all for advice on some wall decorating ideas for our great room. I loved all of the suggestions. They really helped me visualize what to do with the space.

I will eventually be adding wainscoting to this wall, as a reader suggested. It would look amazing, but right now we just don’t have the time or budget to do it. So for now, I’ve put up a triptych of sorts. These are pictures that Match and I took on some of our trips, which I modge podged to canvas that I painted black.

canvas photo: www.dategirldiaries.com

canvas photo


I also got a new seat cushion for the rocking chair. That chair belonged to Match’s mom, and she used to rock him in it when he was a baby. canvas photo, triptych, decorating

great room decor
I love the way they turned out, and I think it helps separate the two spaces, as you all suggested I do.  On the right side, above the dining table I will be doing a gallery wall of family photos, with our wedding canvas picture in the middle, and maybe a family photo once Piglet gets here. I hope to find black frames and do a mix of framed pictures and canvas prints.  I also plan on getting an area rug for the left side, and one day we’ll put our couch on the other side of the coffee table. I just have to save up for a leather couch for the family room first. But for now I’m loving the way it looks, and I think it’ll look great for my baby shower next month!

Thanks again for all your great ideas, and I’m sure I’ll be asking for more decorating advice in the future!