Category Archives: DIY

Birthdays / DIY / Sweet

A Fancy $19 Cake

May 12, 2016

img_8352-1In case you couldn’t tell from yesterday’s post, I am pretty proud of the tiny smash cake that I made for P’s birthday.

I aspire to be one of those people who makes adorable confections with the perfectly piped icing and sweet, cakey layers. But… I hate cake. I love the idea of decorating a cake, but eating it? Ew. I’m just not into it.

So anyway, for Prim’s party I was totally torn about what to do for dessert. I knew we were going to have a pretty sizable crowd of people attending, so anything homemade would be a bit of an undertaking. I liked the idea of having a traditional birthday cake, but wasn’t feeling particularly motivated to tackle making it myself. I had toyed with the idea of a Costco cake, since those cakes are actually quite good (according to the people I know who like and eat cake) and are very affordable, but I was sort of turned off by the cake designs.

While I was hemming and hawing over what to do, it suddenly dawned on me — why didn’t I just order a plain Costco cake and decorate it myself? Genius!

img_8348-1So that’s what I did. I ordered a plain white cake from the Costco bakery, and did it up like so:

img_8350-1I had purchased that glittery “one” for P’s smash cake, but it ended up being too big for the tiny cake, so I repurposed it for the larger one and surrounded it with fresh peonies, gerbera daisies and babies breath.

I had searched high and low for those old-school sugar letters that every grocery store used to sell and apparently none of them carry them anymore! What happened to them? I was stressing over having to potentially hand-letter a happy birthday message when I came up with the perfect solution:

img_8294Trader Joe’s to the rescue! Thank god for those little cookies. They were the perfect size and totally fit with the theme of the cake. img_8349-1img_8351-1So that’s how I turned a $19 Costco cake into a treat fit for any party. I’d totally recommend this for any occasion. Honestly, the cake looked freaking wedding-worthy (I thought, anyway), and it was so fun to decorate.

I’ll definitely be repeating this craft for many birthdays and parties to come!


DIY / Personal

Karma, Don’t Fail Me Now

July 20, 2015

If you know me, or have been reading my blog for awhile, you probably know that for the past 2.5+ years KC and I have been renting a little green house at the top of a hill in Oakland.
our houseDespite the fact that we’re just renters, we’ve actually done quite a bit of work to fix up the house.  read more

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).  🙂

DIY / Personal / Pregnancy

Little Room + A Little Announcement

November 10, 2014

As you may recall from last week, KC and I recently spent some time redoing the little room off of our downstairs family/laundry room.  As a little refresher, here’s how the space started:

basement 4floor 1Green walls and ugly painted floors.

The walls got a fresh coat of paint and KC installed some plank flooring, and voila, brand new room!

unnamed 2 unnamed 3 unnamed 4

I think it turned out pretty nice.

Now, what will we be using this little room for?  Well…


We’ve got a little addition coming our way in May, so the little room will be just that: a room for the little one.

And, yes, I realize that I do sometimes look like that ↑ after eating a burrito or a large lunch, but there is, in fact, a baby in there. 🙂

DIY / weekend

Little Room Redo

November 5, 2014

We have a little room off our basement laundry/family room that we’ve used as an office, workout room, man cave… many things.  Unfortunately, after we redid the laundry room, the little room became kind of a de-facto storage space — housing a lot of the things that used to be kept in the basement.

basementWe decided to clean out the space, take the stuff off the walls, and add a fresh coat of paint.  I liked the green walls ok, but they needed some patching and we didn’t have the original paint color to touch up, so we opted for a brand new color to reinvent things a little.

basement 1

basement 4I chose Glidden Silver Birch with an eggshell finish– a super light gray with a beige undertone.  (Which is now my most favorite color for interiors at the moment.)

A little note about choosing gray paint — there is no “true gray,” which makes choosing a gray paint color really difficult.  All grays have an undertone to them — the most common undertones being blue, purple, green and beige.  If you gather up a bunch of gray paint chips and hold them up in the space you’re planning to paint, you’ll see the undertone pretty clearly.  A gray that you were sure was “the one” at the store can suddenly be OMGPURPLE in the space you’re planning to paint.  Lesson: paint chips are your friend.  Gather up a lot of them and look at them in multiple spots in the space you’re planning to paint before you go ahead and buy that gallon.

Anyhoo, here’s the space with the freshly painted gray walls:

basement 5basement 6Nice right?  (It looks awesome in person, if I do say so myself.)

However, despite the amazingness of Glidden Silver Birch, it couldn’t really detract from the glaringly obvious problem of the space:

basement 7Oh hey, hideous painted floors.

floor 1

Whoever had owned the space before us decided to paint the floor in here; and from the looks of it, they also decided to paint without a drop cloth and generally wreck the space while the floor was still wet.

Because, why not?

I approached KC about re-painting the floor, but he had a better idea: installing a floating laminate floor.

floor 2We found our flooring on sale at Costco.  It was $25/box and we ended up buying 4 boxes to cover the 6′ x 12′ space (we have most of one box left over).

The flooring was awesome because it came with all the sound proofing already attached to the planks.  (With a lot of laminate flooring, you generally have to buy sheets of soundproofing material that lays down first, then lay the boards over that.)

These are snap-together flooring pieces that you cut to fit with a circular saw.  Word to the wise: make sure you buy the correct saw blade for cutting laminate.  We bought a cheaper blade first and basically burned through it (literally) and had to go back and buy another one in order to finish the room.

KC was in charge of the flooring project, so I sadly don’t have a lot of real-world tips and advice for you.  (Aside from get yourself an awesome husband.  It really pays off.)

KC figured out how to lay the flooring by watching tutorials on YouTube (ah, the power of the internet).

floorKC installed the flooring over the course of a single day, and finished up the edges the next night by installing white quarter-rounds around the edges to match the white baseboards (since there’s a little gap between the boards and the edge of the wall):

floor 3Um, a bit of an improvement, no?

I’ll have more pictures of the finished space up next week!