Tuesday, July 31, 2012

July Wrap-Up and Update

Wow, we are already the end of July. It seems like just yesterday I was telling you guys how I had been trying to blog without internet for a while, and that was why you hadn't seen much of me around. Ok granted that was the 9th of July but still. I don't feel like I've been a better blogger, getting back into it is taking longer than I thought...

A week later I explained where I was heading with this blog, my expectations for the future, and asking you for your input (not too late for that, it's always appreciated!).

In that post, I said I wanted to do a a monthly wrap-up and updates. I realize I haven't been up to much this month, but I still want to stay true to my word and see how this goes.

The first post I did after my hiatus was how to clean your iron cast pan so as to not remove the seasoning you've worked so hard to get.



I've been pleasantly surprised to see this post being featured at It's Overflowing this weekend AND it was the most viewed link at last week's Positively Splendid linky party!! So honored!

I did an apartment tour post this month, to have a before of what our apartment looked liked when we moved in, to better see the progress I make on turning this apartment into our home. Just because it's a rental apartment doesn't mean I can't make it homey!

And last week I wrote about the first project my dad and I built last month: my DIY Mug Shelf! My dad was super creative in making those shelf brackets, and I love the result.





Blog Design

After a few people suggested it, I changed my social media buttons, found on the right sidebar of the blog. I'm very sad to say goodbye to my little birdies vignette I made up, but if they were not properly advertising the follow options, then they were not doing their job! So bye bye little birdies :( (It still works btw, if you want to follow go right ahead!)





I've now got cleaner, simpler buttons made with a custom shape from this set. They are more obvious, so hopefully people won't have trouble finding and following my blog. I still want to tweek it a little to incorporate the birdies in it, though. It just feels too blah for my taste right now.

I also got inspired to make new sidebar titles while I was at it. I never liked the old ones. Again, these guys are simpler and cleaner, but still have a little bit of whimsy that I like to have.



What do you think about the changes?! If you have any questions about the blog design, how I did something or where I got the elements, don't be afraid to ask! It would be my pleasure to answer you!

Coming Soon

I plan on writing a post about my vegetable garden this week. Yup, I made my very first ever vegetable garden this year! I'm excited to show you the progress it's made!

I'm also working on writing the post about our laundry shelving unit I mentioned in the DIY Mug Shelf post. By far the biggest project that has come to the blog thus far, and probably for a little while, too.

I'd love to get a couple organization post up next month. I LOVE organizing like woah, and I'd love to show you simple things I use that make every day life a little bit easier and less frustrating.

Apart from that, I'm not sure what's in store for next month. But that's ok, I'm sure you guys like surprises, right?!

Thanks for reading, I hope you enjoyed your stay :)

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Kitchen Mug Shelf


I'm so happy to FINALLY be showing you guys the first of 3 projects my dad and I built last month.

This particular project has been 9 months in the making. Well, ok, I knew I wanted to make it for 9 months, but conditions were never right. I actually mentioned it once in a post a long time ago. I KNEW what I wanted, and nothing else would do. But we had some trouble acquiring the material.

Anyway, all that to say that my kitchen mug shelf is completed!



Here is this Mug Shelf's life story.

When I moved into our apartment last September, I knew I wanted a sort of shelf to go over the sink. With my low counters and high cupboards (as you can see here in the first apartment tour), there was a lot of dead space there.

I don't know how, but I also got the idea to hang mugs from this shelf. I also wanted cast iron shelf brackets to support it. All in all, I had a very clear image of what I wanted here.

For months my dad and I looked for small cast iron brackets, but to no avail. We found some nice ones, but they were always too big, or for hanging flowers. The shelf had to be less than 6 inches or else it would be too cumbersome over the sink.

The second weekend I went over to work on the laundry shelving unit we were building (that is coming soon, too!), my dad surprised me with some cast iron brackets that he made himself. I told you I get my creativeness from my dad!



He didn't make them from scratch. He got some small plant hangers and added a strip of metal for the shelf to rest on. He made some holes to be able to attach the shelf and to secure to the wall, and then just welded the piece on top of the bracket.

That kickstarted for real this project!

Then we just took some scrap pieces of plywood leftover from the laundry shelving unit. And I had my cup shelf!! Ok, I had all the material to build it, so we did! It was really quite quick.

We cut 2 pieces of plywood (from pine) both for added strength, since plywood isn't so strong, and for esthetic. As you can see, the top shelf is 1/2 inch wider all around, and it gives a sort of mantel-like look to the shelf, I find. Both the table saw and radial saw were used to cut length-wise and width-wise, respectively.


(please don't mind the table saw as background...)

I wish we would've went a little wider because my bamboo canisters overhang just a little. It's not bad, but if I would've known and measured them I could've accommodated.

The edges were rounded with a router and an oval bit for a more polished looked- I just really don't like square edges... Both the top and bottom edges of the top shelf were rounded but only the bottom edge of the bottom shelf was, since the other one is against the top shelf.

Then we (1) predrilled the bottom piece, (2) applied glue and glued them together, and (3) screwed them together.



The holes were filled with wood filler (1, top) (prestained but we also stained over it), sanded (2, top), and finally the shelf was stained with MinWax English Chestnut(bottom) (applied with a rag). I chose that stain because I wanted a dark stain and this one was a little redder than the Walnut stain. But it was a little darker than I had anticipated...





We finished assembling it at my apartment. My dad and grandma held the shelf in place while I decided how far in from the shelf the brackets needed to be, and how high the shelf had to be.



Last step was screwing in the cup hooks. I wanted something a little nicer than the rubber coated cup hooks, but we couldn't find any for a decent price, or that were big enough. So I just used the cheap dollar store ones.

I was a little sad when I figured we wouldn't be able to put more than 5 mugs under the shelf, I wanted to hang all my mugs! (which would be 11, so far) I suppose there still is space on the outside, but I haven't added any, yet. Not completely sold that it would look good... Might try it one of these days (in which case I will update you!)





Cost breakdown (all prices are CAN):
~ shelf brackets, Lowes, 3$ each, so 6$
~ plywood, Home Depot, leftover (1 sheet was 23$, the cheapest there was) let's say 2$ worth
~ stain, Home Depot, leftover (can was 13$) let's say I used 1$ worth
~ cup hooks, Dollarama, 6 for 1$
TOTAL: about 10$

Tools we used:
~ table saw
~ radial saw
~ router
~ Wood filler
~ Drill and 6 screws
~ Rag (for staining)

And THIS, this is why I love being a DIYer!! Custom built Mug Shelf, built to my own specifications, with the color I wanted, the bracket type I wanted. And I got to spend some good father-daughter time :) One day, though, I hope to be able to build stuff like this myself from A to Z. But that will take practice.

The setup I have right now on my shelf is pretty much the things I had lying on the counter before. I was also able to display some bottles we use for cooking, like cooking wine, apple cider vinegar, etc.



In the bamboo canisters, I have white and brown sugar. The smaller clear container (from Dollarama) holds granola.



This little iPod dock helps me relax while I do the dishes by playing some music :) I think it's super cute, even if it's not compatible with my iPod and doesn't charge it.



I love looking at the shelf and the mugs and choosing which one to use!! It's the simple things in life, people!



Like I said, I could possible hang a couple more mugs at the ends of the shelf outside the brackets, what do you think?!



Doesn't the shelf fill in the dead space nicely? I love it, it turned out just like I wanted!

I can see those lovely shelf brackets every time I enter the kitchen, and I'm so grateful for my dad who made them for me!



Thanks for reading, until next time!

Psst: If you enjoyed this project, be sure to visit my Projects page for more! Or check out the popular posts (in the right sidebar----->).




I party at these parties.

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It's Overflowing

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Apartment Tour: Moved In


When I started this blog in September, I had a few motivations.

One. We had just moved into our very own apartment, one which I planned on making home for the next few years as we finished our studies.

Two. I needed a new hobby. I wanted to come home and have something stimulating to do when my boyfriend was busy studying.

Three. I needed something to keep me from being lazy and be motivated instead. I'm a very lazy person by nature, and a HUGE procrastinator. Even with goals I often don't get much done. With none I get nothing done.

And so this blog was born! But now I think I need to put myself more on track with making our apartment a home, cuz I got sidetracked with crafts during the holidays.

Now, it's already much better than the last place we lived. Painted walls make a place seem more like home, no? And also curtains. Curtains are pretty awesome (thank you grand-ma!). And plants, got myself a few plants now! And... well ok there's a lot that goes into making a house a home.

Everywhere I look in the apartment I see something that needs to be done. Maybe some of those things aren't really blog worthy, though, like repainting or deep cleaning, but they need to be done!

I've started to go through the apartment room by room and list everything I want to do (the list is lengthy, I must say). I've also started crossing off some projects!!

For now, though, I will show you what our apartment looked like when we first moved in, as a basis of comparison and to document the evolution of this apartment, like I originally wanted.

Please don't mind the flash pictures, these were taken before I knew flash pictures were a bad thing for a blog.

Here's a floor plan of our apartment. I measured out each room and closet and made this floor plan, because I like it, so this is actually to scale!



So with that, onto the apartment tour!

Kitchen



You can see in this picture how the counters are actually quite low, much lower than the stove. Now I know how a tall person feels on a normal height counter, ha!!

LOVE having laundry machines, definetely THE best thing about this apartment.



The lighting is the kitchen is REALLY bad. I installed the neon light over the sink the weekend after we moved in. Then a month later it stopped working and I wasn't able to change it for a few months. It was HARD living without it, it really makes washing dishes easier!

Not only are the kitchen counters lower than normal, but the cabinets are also higher than normal. I got myself a little stool there on the floor, which I use a lot because of that. I am 5 feet tall, I cannot reach even the second shelf without it.



One of my first projects I wrote about on the blog was the handpainted chandelier stencil on this wall here over the table.



Our balcony is off the kitchen. We go in and out this door when it's not winter/ not too cold. Our bikes are locked in the yard just there so it makes more sense for us.

Bathroom



What can I say? It's a bathroom… a small one. But there is a cabinet under the sink! If you haven't guessed, the tub is on the other side...

Entryway



I really like having a proper entryway, as oppose to just arriving in the living room. This door doesn't get used much when it's not winter, but still.



The closet we have here is just a big hole in the wall, no door, at least there are curtains...

We also have a coat closet and a pantry just off the entryway, but I didn't take any pictures. You can see them in the floor plan. Here, I'll show you it again! (What?! I worked hard on it!)



Bedroom







Living Room/ Computer Room

We don't own a TV, so having a living room is kinda pointless right now. Besides, we are students, we spend our time in front of the computers anyway. So they take up the majority of the space in the room.







We have an extra desk by the window (right beside my bf's desk) that I am now using as a crafts/sewing desk. I realize now that I never took an actual before picture of that wall... you can only see it in the corners of the pictures.



All in all I really do love this apartment. It's really cozy and homey. It's not that big, but that's fine. Some apartments we visited were really spacious, but I think too spacious, would've been lots of empty space. None of them felt like home until we walked through the door of this apartment.

The only thing that could make us a lot happier would be if we got more light. It's a really dark apartment. Even on a beautiful sunny day I need to turn on the light in the kitchen. Can't have it all, can you?

So that wraps it up! Thanks for being patient with me as I come back from my hiatus and get into the swing of things again!





I party at these parties

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

New Blog Direction

It feels so good to be back to blogging! My fingers feel so good typing on these keys, whether it be writing a post or a comment!

In my last post, I said I had given a lot of thought to the direction I want my blog to go, and what kind of blogger I want to be. So let me elaborate.

Since the beginning of my blog, I feel like I’ve been more in the crafting niche, but it’s not exactly where I feel like I belong. I enjoy doing crafts, but I’m not the kind of person that wants to craft all the time, I’m not a craftaholic. I didn’t even start crafting until I started this blog. Sure I’ve got a creative mind, but I never knew how to unleash, or execute, my creativeness until I found the crafty blog community.

What I think I truly am is a DIY-er.

It comes from my dad, as I've mentioned before. All my life, my dad has been the type to say “I can make that” and I’ve grown up to with that. My dad built my first bed, made all our kitchen cabinets (not to mention the house itself), custom built computer desk, etc. I love DIYing and the customizing possibility it provides (ok, and the cheapness). In a way, crafting is a type of DIY, right?

But more than just DIY, I started my blog thinking I’d dab in a little of everything. And I chose my name accordingly: Color Me Domestic. It’s really what I felt like my blog would represent- me learning the ways of keeping house, and making a house a home (or for the moment, apartment).

And as so I don’t want to label my blog as one type only, because that general idea opens the door to so many others.

I recently redid my projects page to represent that. Like I mentioned already, a lot of my posts fall in the craft category. But I’ve also got a DIY and Home D├ęcor category (which will get lots of updates this summer!), an Organization category, Cooking and Cleaning category, and a Tips and Tricks category. So expect the blog to stay within those subjects, but I might diverge once in a while (dunno for what yet, but it could; maybe a few personal posts?).

I’ve also been thinking a lot about what I want to do with my Facebook page. I’ve barely got any followers following me through there, and I’m wondering if it’s because I haven’t been putting as much focus on it. What do YOU expect when you follow a page through Facebook?!

I mean, even I follow some blogs through Facebook, but the sheer amount of new things in my newsfeed is overwhelming because of it, and I don’t want to make the situation worst for you guys...

I was mostly using it as another way to notify you when there are new posts. Sure I tried for a couple of weeks to do a Weekend Happenings kinda thing, but that fell through because I couldn’t keep up, and because I didn’t really see any interest. I want to change that to sneak peaks of what I’m working on throughout the week, instead of all at once on the weekends.

Also, I’d like to use my Facebook page as a way to promote others’ creativity by featuring some projects I really like. I’ve never done this much, but I realize now the importance of community and sharing the love. I could also do a bi-monthly wrap-up of featured posts on the blog itself too, for those who do not follow through Facebook, if there is any interest in that.

Finally, I’d like to do a monthly wrap-up of my posts. That way at the end of the month you can see if you’ve missed something you might be interested in by skimming the wrap-up. I’d also take the opportunity to do some follow ups on projects. Kinda like a newsletter. What do you think??

All in all, there is one thing I do not want to change, and that is giving full tutorials with my projects; or as much as I can. That is something that is very dear to my heart. To me it’s not worth sharing something I’ve made if I’m not showing you HOW I’ve made it. If I’m copying a tutorial from someone else, then expect a link back only.

I sure hope you enjoy my style of tutorial, with lots of pictures and lots of description!! (But maybe I'd get more questions if it weren't as detailed?)

If you’ve got any comments or feedback about anything I’ve talked about in this post, it would be most appreciated!! Don’t be shy, and don’t be afraid to be honest, I REALLY mean that.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Cleaning an Iron Cast Pan


I hope you guys enjoy my tips and tricks, because I have quite a few I'd like to share. Here's an other one:

How To Clean An Iron Cast Pan



My boyfriend has recently gone on a kick of cooking with the iron cast pan. Might have to do with the fact that he just found out that my grand-ma gave me an old one.

Now, my parents cook with an iron cast pan, so I've been washing these things for years. BUT we've been doing it the wrong way all this time. They use a specific cleaning product(cannot remember what just now), and it completely removes the seasoning.

My boyfriend likes to read up on things, and he was telling me that the seasoning of the iron cast pan is the most important part, and he forbade me from washing it with any kind of soap.

So in that case, what was I to do?!?! I started washing it with water only... Wasn't working too good, let me tell ya! And I always forgot to check on the internet when we had access to it.

Finally, finally, one day I remembered. What I found was that you could wash it with big grain salt (or kosher salt). I couldn't find any pictures proving this (pictures are worth a thousand words aren't they?!) but I had to try it.

And it worked beautifully!! And so, I am sharing this advice, with pictures, so you can see just how well this really works.

Edit: Just a quick note, this method of cleaning is for after you've actually cooked in the pan, not for old and rusted pans! Check out this post for more information on that!

After a yummy stir fry that the boyfriend made, I had a dirty iron cast pan to work with! Not the dirtiest it's ever been, but you can still see the majic :)



First, remove what you can with a clean sponge (as in rinsed out so there is no soap in it), or with paper towels.



Then, all you need to do is pour a bit of coarse salt in the pan and scrub away!



I use a plastic scrubbing pad or sponge to help with this part. DO NOT use metal scrubbing pads on cast iron pans!! And you'll want to rinse the pad or sponge out to get all the soap out again. Leave a bit of water in it, but not too much, just enough to help scrub.



Get up on the sides, too. I like using the sponge to move the salt around so it stays as a pile as much as possible. Works much better.



When you'll be done, your salt will be kinda gross... but you can see the clean pan underneath already! 30 seconds of scrubbing and you are good.



You'll just rinse out the pan with water, and you'll be left with a nice and shiny, still seasoned iron cast pan!

See how the water just glistens on the surface? That's a sign that it's still seasoned and you didn't remove the coating.



Once in a while, you'll also want to reseason it with a bit of oil after washing it. If you don't see the water bead on the surface after you rinse, reseason it. I think we reseason every 5 times we wash it.

Did you like this tip? Already know about it? If you have tried it out, let me know how it worked out for you in the comments!!




I party at these parties.


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