Category Archives: Budget-Friendly Weekend Fun

Budget-Friendly Weekend Fun / Family Fun / Personal

A Day in the Bay

May 19, 2016

img_8624The Saturday before we left for the Netherlands, KC, Prim and I went to the Monterey Bay Aquarium with my parents and my sister’s family.

I have always loved the aquarium, but hadn’t been in almost seven years — the last time we were there was the week I got my BAR results back in 2009!

Going with Prim this time was so special, and she absolutely loved it. Watching her experience things for the first time is one of the very best things right now. She’s so fascinated by the world and you can really see her taking it all in. img_8630

Prim was especially into the wave room, where the waves crash against the glass and then drain back out to the ocean. She would yell excitedly when the wave would come in and press her hand to the glass, then when it would drain out again she would reach up towards the inlet, like, “Again! Again!” img_8631One of my favorite parts of the aquarium has always been the touch pools, but I wasn’t sure how Prim would feel about that section since it can be a little scary for tiny newcomers. Prim was totally into touching all the sea life, though (we just had to keep making sure she didn’t thrust her hand directly into her mouth afterwards!)

img_8549img_8629^^shoutout to pregnancy for providing me with that awesome postpartum hair. Nothing like having two-inch flyaways along your ENTIRE hairline^^ 

img_8552Prim and August were very into the tank where you could sit inside a little carve-out and look at the fish through a 360 degree window.

img_8626img_8627Prim takes any opportunity to steal a snuggle from Auntie Alexis.
img_8628I know this photo is out of focus and the lighting is kind of weird, but I don’t care, I love it.

^^the carrier we use is the Beco Gemini, in case you’re curious^^

Our day at the aquarium was so great and such an awesome way to close out one of our last few days in California. And in case you think I’m totally lying about the fact that Prim loved the aquarium, just check out this little California surfer girl:

img_8556Tubular, dude. (Ugh my hair… my god.)

If you’re visiting the Bay Area I can’t recommend the Monterey Bay Aquarium enough — such a great place to visit! img_8545

Budget-Friendly Weekend Fun / DIY

Wall Art (for cheap)

March 25, 2015

I mentioned last week that we recently moved a large framed print from our dining room into our bedroom:

cribThe print is from Pottery Barn, and I do really like it, but given that we’re about to have a child, our finances don’t really include an extra $200-$400 for “wall art” at the moment.

I don’t know if you have ever looked into large prints or art pieces, but man are they pricey.  After scouring the internet trying to find a large piece to fill the blank wall in the dining room, I determined that we would either need to bite the bullet and spend $200+ (and likely close to $500) on something, or come up with an alternate plan.

I started looking through the photos on my computer, trying to determine whether there was anything “frame-worthy” that wouldn’t look terrible if it was blown up to a larger size.  Luckily, our amazing wedding photographers had taken some photos of the foliage around the hotel where KC and I got ready on our wedding day, which ended up being a perfect blend of attractive and artsy.

wall art 5 wall art 4

I ordered prints through Apple, blowing up the images to the largest size available (20 x 30), then headed to IKEA to pick out some large frames.

Frames can be super expensive — especially large ones — so the fact that you can get a matted frame for a 20 x 30″ print for $24.99?  Amazing.

wall art 1

The framing process was kind of a pain in the ass (because, hello, it’s IKEA), but the trouble was worth the huge amount of savings.

wall art 2

And check out our dining room wall now:

wall art 3

Pretty nice, right?  And what a steal!  Here’s what it cost:

  • 20 x 30″ print: $17.99 (x 2) = $36
  • IKEA Ribba Frame: $24.99 (x 2) = $50
  • Total cost: $43 per print/$86 total

PS: The print above the crib in our room is hung on hooks and anchored to the wall, so it’s nice and securely fastened (and that crib is on wheels and will most likely be pulled over to the bed when the little lady arrives anyway).  🙂

Budget-Friendly Weekend Fun / DIY / weekend

Recent Projects

July 9, 2014

KC and I have been working on some projects around the house recently, trying to finish up our basement space and make it a bit more livable.  Honestly, we had just planned on painting the spare room and installing some plank flooring, but that turned into painting the basement stairs and hallway and a plan to paint the ceiling as well (we haven’t tackled that project quite yet).

I’ll start with the basement stairs, because I don’t have great pictures of the spare room yet to show you.

Here’s how the stairs started:


Hideous, super worn and covered with weird rubber mats.  And please notice the wall color — ugly avocado green.


Not pretty.


I painted the walls first — Glidden Silver Birch — then started in on the stairs.  Step one: remove the rubber mats.


Spackled the nail holes, then did a once-over with the electric sander and cleaned the stairs to ready them for paint.


One solid coat of Glidden Gripper primer.


Two coats of porch and floor paint in Valspar’s Gulf Coast.


I painted the bannister hardware gold (obviously), and painted the bannister with primer and some of my leftover white paint from this project (Behr Oyster Shell).

And voila, the finished stairs and hallway:


How to Paint Stairs (or a floor)

What you’ll need:

  • spackling paste
  • sander + medium-grit sandpaper (I used 100)
  • broom, dust pan, clean rags
  • painters tape
  • paint brushes and rollers
  • Glidden Gripper Primer
  • Enamel Porch and Floor Paint (there’s also oil-based porch and floor paint, but oil paint tends to be harder to work with and smells awful, so I opted to use the enamel-based porch and floor paint) — I got my paint at Ace Hardware where they do custom colors for porch and floor paint, but only with a satin finish, so that’s what I used.

How to do it:

  1. Fill in any holes with spackling paste and let dry.
  2. Sand all surfaces, then clean with a broom and clean rags to remove any debris.
  3. Prep the space with painters tape.
  4. Paint one solid coat of primer and let dry for at least one hour.
  5. Paint as many coats of paint as needed to get the finish you want (I did two coats + a touch-up).  Wear socks on stairs between coats, only after the paint has dried.
  6. Let stairs cure for at least 72 hours before subjecting them to normal use.


Budget-Friendly Weekend Fun / DIY / weekend

DIY: The Finished Trunk

April 15, 2014

Our newly-updated trunk is fully cured and now brightening our new downstairs space.  There’s still more work to be done down there (adding artwork to the walls, painting the ugly wall pipes gold), but I think the mint and gold masterpiece is a nice little addition for now.  (Although it does make me think about swapping out some of the pillows on the couch to make the space a little lighter and more on the blue/green scale…)

room 1room 2room 3room 4

I think the gold hinges really make a difference with this piece.  But then again, I’m sort of obsessed with gold spray paint, so…

PS:  The stack of records on the trunk were my grandpa’s, and yes, the one on top is Mr. Rogers’ “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” 🙂

Budget-Friendly Weekend Fun / DIY / weekend

DIY: Trunk Update

April 14, 2014

As expected, once I got the idea to update the trunk in our new downstairs laundry/family room, I knew I was going to have to follow through on my mint green and gold dreams.

Here’s where things started:

laundry 1On old, dinged-up trunk that I got for free (and I think was maybe originally from Cost Plus?  Who knows.)

I removed the hardware from the trunk (2 back hinges, 2 side handles, front closure, and unscrewed the internal hinge) so I could paint those separately.  Removing the hardware also made painting the trunk a lot easier, because I didn’t have to tape and paint around anything.

Here’s the trunk with the hardware removed:

Trunk 1First I primed and painted the hardware, using Kilz spray primer and Rustoleum metallic gold spray paint.

Original hardware:

Hinges 1Primed:

Hinges primedPainted:

Hinges paintedIf you’re thinking that metallic gold spray paint is awesome — well, you’re right.  It totally is.

Next I got to work on the trunk.  First I sanded down the surfaces I wanted to paint using an electric sander.  Like I’ve said before, I hate sanding, so I just did a quick once-over with the sander to rough up the surface to make sure the primer would adhere.

I then did one solid coat with the primer (Glidden Gripper, you are amazing), and let that dry:

Trunk primed 2I didn’t bother to paint the inside of the trunk because I a. didn’t want paint to potentially get on any of the 47 blankets I like to store in there and b. I didn’t think it was necessary since no one was really going to see that anyway.

After the primer dried, I started in with the paint.  I used a small roller and brush to apply 2 solid coats of Behr Kiwi Squeeze (allowing time to dry in between), and did an extra coat on the top of the trunk, since that would likely get the most wear and tear.

All painted:

Trunk painted 2After that dried, I screwed the (newly gold) hardware back on, and left the trunk in the basement to cure:

Hardware back onTrunk finished 1Trunk finished backOnce the paint had cured for 7 days, I sprayed the top with a couple coats of indoor water-based polyurethane to seal it (since it will likely have drinks sitting on it, food/water/whatever).

And now, the how-to:

How to Paint a Wood Trunk

 Materials I used:

How I did it:

  1. Remove hardware with a screwdriver and place on a drop cloth.  Spray with 1-2 coats Kilz Original Primer Sealer Spray and let dry.  Spray with Rustoleum Metallic Gold Spray Paint — as many coats as you need to get the coverage you want, allowing time to dry between each coat.
  2. Sand the surface of the trunk where paint will be applied with medium-grit sandpaper.  A quick once-over with an electric sander should do the trick — you’re just looking to rough up the surface a little so the primer will adhere.
  3. Wipe down the trunk with a clean, dry cloth to remove any dust and then transfer it onto your drop cloth.
  4. Paint 1-2 light coats with Glidden Gripper Primer, making sure that all surfaces that will be painted are well covered and let dry.  Don’t worry if the coverage isn’t opaque yet, the paint will take care of this.  You want to just make sure that the primer is covering all surfaces so the paint has something to adhere to.
  5. Paint trunk with at least 2 solid coats of your paint of choice (I like to use semi-gloss for furniture), allowing time to dry between each coat.  I do more coats on surfaces that will get a lot of use — like tabletops, the top of the trunk, etc.  Using a roller for this step is helpful because you don’t end up with brush stroke marks on your piece of furniture.
  6. Once the paint has dried, reattach the hardware and let the paint cure for at least a week.
  7. Once the paint is set and cured (it no longer feels at all sticky or tacky), spray the top of the trunk with at least 2 coats of the Polyurethane Spray to seal it, allowing time to dry between each coat.

And voila!  Brand new trunk.

Finalized pictures of the piece in our laundry/family room will be up tomorrow!

Trunk finished front