entertainment center "freshening up" phase 1

*Photography... not so great ;) what can ya do? This phase of the entertainment center project was done before I cared about photo quality - haha!

I call this "phase 1" of the entertainment center project because we've actually DIY'd even MORE to this space since 2014, a project which ended up being so extensive it deserves it's own post. Straight up!

So we DIY'd this beast in tandem with our kitchen, given their proximity. As mentioned, el kitcheno was executed during the first few weeks of homeownership, so all of this was put behind us in October of 2014, but it's still one of my favorite projects to date because it really shows the importance of PAINT, COLOR, and how that had major bearings on our MOODS!
The center went from a depressing, dark hole of oak nothingness >>> less eye offensive white.

Every last bit of this area of the house was "rehabbed" (rehabbed! That's what I'm calling this area, it was SO BAD before!) the same way we did the kitchen.
^^^The caption underneath this Instagram picture was "Only 59 more of those little notches to go, but who's counting?" HAHA! 
 ^^^Not stoked about this "photography," if one could call it that! Check out that Hunger Games TV watchin' action!


1.First we sanded each and every inch of this detailed beast (SO-MANY-NOTCHES-AND-RIDGES - alleluia for that automatic sander, but sheesh it was a bear to complete. We had to be extremely meticulous, especially with the detailed grooves. I was unaware of this product, but had I known, you betchya bottom dollar I would have used it! To just swipe over liquid and successfully take off the varnish??!!! Bah!

2. Next we primed EVERY INCH of the wood we had just stripped. Again, THE DETAIL!

3. Then we proceeded to layer on 4 coats of semi-gloss Premium Plus Ultra Pure White, just like the kitchen. We were lucky though, because at least with this project (as opposed to the kitchen), the TV would be hiding a good majority of painting space. It's not like anyone was going to be able to see into that big, unnecessary hole, so we got to relax a bit in regards to painting that area. This particular color was just found straight up on the Home Depot shelves. There was no mixing involved - I just saw on the shelf "Pure White" and picked it up! So it's a sort of "stock" item in the Depot? I have no idea how you would categorize it, but it was easy to go pick up more gallons of it as needed. 

4. Next we let that THOROUGHLY dry over several days (it was lucky for us that we hadn't moved in yet. Could you IMAGINE?).

So yes, the whiteness is what we ended up with in October of 2014 - so much better than the original. It truly brightened up EVERYTHING, instead of making us want to gauge our eyeballs out from the depressingness that was the dark oak.

Total cost? About $28, if even that! I'm not 100% sure this even took one full gallon of paint - it may have been less! Either way - WOW. Just like the kitchen, we already owned the hand sander, which helped the low price tag. HOW ABOUT THAT?!

I can't wait to put together "phase 2" of this project! Currently it's one of my FAVORITE places in the house, thanks to more hard work and pinterest-scouring from Chad and I. So much fun!


*Again, photos were taken most often in the middle of the night so... what photography? ;) 

**This project was ONE OF THE FIRST THINGS WE DID AFTER CLOSING ESCROW, so all was executed in October of 2014.

diy farmhouse kitchen table

Well folks, nice crap is expensive. You want a cute little tabletop to feed family and friends when they come over? Okay, that will be $2,500!!!!!!! Oh, a complimentary bench to go with your good taste? An extra $500!!!! WHAT THE HECK. Not exactly cohesive with two people who just want to keep it simple and not file for bankruptcy. He he he he ho ho ho ho. No but really, things are way too expensive out there. 

When we decided to devote what probably was meant to be the formal living room into a full on dining room (UPDATE: that area has been changed back into a formal living room haha!), we knew a large table was needed. The idea of having an awesome, big space for tons and tons of people to come over and enjoy good food seemed more awesome than two separate sitting areas, even though I do sort of want an additional space away from the kiddos sometimes when friends visit (she says after everything is said and done). After deciding that we certainly were not okay with spending our childrens' college tuitions on a table and chairs, we got to scouring Pinterest. Chad, the self proclaimed hater of all things country and everything that falls under the category of "farm," actually was totally excited to build a farmhouse table! I think our kitchen makeover was a confidence booster - we were rarin' to go. We found an awesome tutorial and went to work. 


1. First we went to IKEA and got two small tables for the base of the whole thing. As soon as we got home, we constructed both tables - easy.

2. Then we headed to Home Depot to get all of our wood for the table top, and then just had them cut it there (this was pre-miter saw ownership). 

3. Next, Chad laid a "sub floor" type thing on top of the two IKEA tables as they stood end-to-end with scrap wood we had in our garage (I think they're 1x4's? Not 100% sure). This was the base of what was going to be the farmhouse table-esque looking top. 

4. Then we got to lying the boards together on top of the subfloor, all while using more nails than we thought humanly possible. The thing really is a death trap underneath. (UPDATE and NOTE: this was written and done BEFORE we knew what we were doing WHATSOEVER. Hahaha! We were individually pounding in the pretty finishing nails in ourselves - pre-nail gun ownership as well! Total hammer action was going on in here. Also, the nails we got were slightly larger than the width of the boards sooooo, hence the death trap. Bahaha! My goodness! Oh, DIY! TRULY we had no idea what we were doing during this project). There were rogue nails just poking out everywhere under there! The kids were told that they WERE NOT ALLOWED UNDER THE DINING ROOM TABLE many times, and in a really nice tone of voice too. ;)

Anyhoo, the construction took us about a day and a half, then we went for the stain. That part was quick of course, but was stressful! Did I want it light or dark? Was one side a heavier hue than the other? Ahhh, it was freaky. Thankfully, we were done in just a few days, again with trooper children hanging close by. 

We hosted one dinner party a week for family up until Thanksgiving to break the ole' girl in. Happily that gosh darn thing stayed up and sturdy - I was really nervous to give it a spin with each new family that rolled through! 

The most awesome part of all was the price tag: $275 for the whole darn thing. Once we get chairs, it will be the most expensive part! Again, we are happy we just busted through and got this thing done. Wooohooooo for really enjoying DIYing! Who the heck have we turned into??!
^^^Thanksgiving 2014!!!

*Photos were taken most often in the middle of the night so... what photography? ;) 

**This project was THE SECOND THING WE DID AFTER CLOSING ESCROW, so all was executed in October of 2014.

***Parts of post were taken from T4M.

kitchen makeover - what a difference!

Our first DIY of the new house HAD to be the kitchen. It was a total cave! Words can't even describe how funky it felt to be in the original - when we first went to look at the house, I didn't even really walk into it. I had no idea what the sink looked like or anything else. I just sort of glanced over in the general direction and decided that I wouldn't enter the black hole that was where one would prepare food. I had to look at the listing online to remind myself what the heck the thing looked like! All I could remember was feeling hellish while in it's presence. Anyhoo, I can wholeheartedly say that tackling this thing head on was the right move - it was so mentally and physically exhausting to get done, we would have been miserable if we tried to do it after moving in.

Our escrow was insanely short - just three weeks! It was supposed to be 30 days, but everything went so smoothly, there was no reason not to just hand over the keys. So on October 2nd Chad got word that we would be closing the next day. That night, he came home and told me that we were in fact going to close early, so let's go to Home Depot "right now," get some paint and start working on the kitchen starting "tomorrow." WHAT? I sort of freaked out that we would be moving WAY sooner than expected - forget about redoing a darn kitchen! That was too much for my brain to handle. But after a night of misdirecting my anxious feelings towards Chad in a not-so-nice way, I felt refreshed and ready to go! Thankfully, we waited until the 3rd (the official day escrow closed) to go to Home Depot, then headed over to the house with two car-fulls on the 4th to start unscrewing the cabinets.

EVERY.SINGLE.DAY we went to the house with carloads. Chad would load his car the night before, then leave for work the next morning at 6:00 am, then go to the house after work where he would find me unloading my car into the garage with the two kids running around. Then the two of us would stay there until 9:30 or 10:00 at night sanding, priming, painting, painting, painting, painting... then finally screwing the whole thing back together again! The total project took from October 4th - October 12th (move in day!).

The kids were such freakin' troopers. I know everybody says that about their kids in the face of adversity, but ours really freakin' were. The whole length of the project, there was no couch, no bed, no TV, no NOTHING for children to do for hours on end. On top of that, the whole thing was dirty. Really, REALLY dirty - the carpets were practically black, the tile had a light dusting of grease or something gross and the walls were sandy to the touch. Oh yeah, and the backyard was filled with dead, pokey weeds. It was insane! Thank goodness for good friends and family coming out with us a few days to play with them! Also, thank goodness for siblings who are little buddies. It was great! Exhausting, but great!

1. First we unscrewed every...single...darn...screw. And then had to be very diligent about storing those hinge pieces. Hardware too! Ziplock little baggies were EVERYTHING.

2.Then we sanded each and every inch of all of the unscrewed cabinet doors and kitchen frame - alleluia for that automatic sander, but sheesh that was a bear to complete. We had to be extremely meticulous, especially with the detailed grooves in each cabinet door. Wah! I was unaware of this product, but had I known, you betchya bottom dollar I would have used it! To just swipe over liquid and successfully take off the varnish??!!! Bah!

3. Next we primed EVERY INCH of the wood we had just stripped. 

4. Then we proceeded to layer on 4 coats of semi-gloss Premium Plus Ultra Pure White. This particular color was just found straight up on the Home Depot shelves. There was no mixing involved - I just saw on "Pure White" and picked it up! So it's a sort of "stock" item in the Depot? I have no idea how you would categorize it, but it was easy to go pick up more gallons of it as needed. 

5. Next we let that THOROUGHLY dry over several days (it was lucky for us that we hadn't moved in yet. Could you IMAGINE?).

6. FINALLY it was time to screw all of the hinges back into their homes and get that hardware in there! It was the best moment of our entire lives. Besides the birth of our children. And our wedding day. Okay.
Total cost? Around $80! Not so bad for a total transformation! We already had the screwdrivers, cabinet hardware (from the previous owners) and sander. Pret-ty stoked about that low price tag. :)

*Photos were taken most often in the middle of the night so... what photography? ;) 

**This project was THE VERY FIRST THING WE DID AFTER CLOSING ESCROW, so all was executed in October of 2014.

***Parts of post were taken from T4M.
Up to Date Interiors

december 2014: our house, our home, OURS!

As mentioned, this is an old school post from way back in the day. It's from T4M and I wanted to record it because it has to do with that "home inspiration journey" I'm holding so dear right now. Yay!

*I'm fully aware of the "import" method of bringing over posts from another blog, but I just wanted to record these house-heavy posts from T4M this way. A bit more hands on-y, ya know?

**Photography on these posts... well, what photography? ;)

***THIS IS REALLY WHERE I WANT MINI HOUSE MIGHTY HEARTS TO BEGIN! It was published in December of 2014, but we closed escrow in October - recording the event took me awhile.

The culmination of our crazy obsession with buying a home came to fruition exactly 2 months and 2 days ago! We are so incredibly freaking thrilled to be in this home of ours. It has been a massive thought in our household for months and months and months - maybe even was pushing the "years" territory. During the middle months of this year, we really got serious. We made the decision to take the leap and move out of Orange County, something we had been wrestling with for a verrrrrrry long time. Back in 2013 and the beginning of '14, there was even a small chunk of time where we were seriously considering Denver, and even more seriously Austin, Texas! Based on my reaction from moving 40 minutes away from my family, I can wholeheartedly say that I'm glad we didn't remove ourselves an entire airplane ride away from them!

Anyhoo! It's been so darn nice. The last 2 or 3 years of our renting lives were pretty miserable. Not only did we never achieve that "homey" feel with any of our places after our first apartment in Irvine, but we were constantly PO'ed at the whole renting institution. The thought of our payments going up after a mere 12 months was agonizing, especially after we got down and dirty with our budgets. The fact that we pretty much had to choose between the kids sharing a room and living in a less desirable part of town really was a kicker. Apartment/rented condo living with a man child was slowly beginning to mean soccer balls, tennis rackets and hockey pucks slamming into every possible wall imaginable, including the ceiling. Thinking about neighbors down below us while two toddlers sprinted into the kitchen every other second? No thanks. It was becoming unbearable! Our (my) poor families had to endure our complaints - I was beginning to think that we were becoming the pariahs of the family get-togethers. Sorry guys! 

The "looking" process was pretty speedy. It's like as soon as we gave ourselves over to moving out of the OC, the smoother things went. We put in an offer on one short sale that we later found out was not bank approved, and then we put another offer in on a different home in that same neighborhood, only to find out that the whole tract was not FHA approved. On our 3rd or 4th day out, we found our little home on Autumn Lane! Save for a horrendous kitchen and a little TLC on pretty much every portion of the home, we were in love! Best of all: it's in walking distance to Carter's preschool and the elementary school! LOOOOOOOOOVE! Chad is now 10 minutes away from work - MAJOR HEART EYE EMOJIS. Before we found our house and we were in the "looking" process, I was telling one of my Body Back moms about the trepidation I felt moving out of the OC. She told me that I had no idea how much less stress I would be under with a hubby who works close by, and how, surprisingly, less stress the kids will hold because of it. I thought that I probably wouldn't experience that nice feeling because I really didn't think I was stressed out from any of Chad's commutes in the past. Turns out she was right! We are all so relaxed knowing that the dude is right down the street - I can't explain why. It's just freaking nice! 

I will admit there was one week of pure misery when we first moved. We closed on October 3rd, did a massive kitchen face lift, and then moved in on the 12th. I kept Carter in his preschool in the OC because (wait for it...) I felt really bad pulling him out during the Halloween festivities! There it is! Everyone was making fun of me for spending the night at my parents' house during the last few weeks of October after we just bought a house but I just couldn't handle switching his school during those fun times at school! I was clearly an emotional wreck. Anyway, come the last day of school in Orange County, I truly was a crying mess. I spent the night at home in Corona, then on Thursday morning woke up early, hit the toll road and dropped Carter off at school, all the while trying not to burst into tears because "this was it" regarding our life in Orange County. After the drop off, Kota and I had some time to kill before visiting a friend who had just had a baby, so I took her to get a doughnut and to watch the ducks at the RSM lake. During the picturesque mommy-daughter time, I was straight up crying! Like HUGE tears just coming out of my gosh darn eyes! I must have looked like a crazy woman sitting there with a little girl! Thank goodness for sun glasses, but still, it was weird. When I picked Carter up from preschool, one nice mom asked me where we were moving and I just started crying. Next, all the kids came out of the classroom to tell their parents, "CARTER IS MOVING TO CORONA!" "CARTER IS MOVING TO A DIFFERENT COUNTRY!" Tears, tears, tears, tears, tears. I was semi embarrassed but I truly COULD NOT stop. Then we had a lunch picnic date with our best buddies at the park and even there I really couldn't stop crying! After that I headed home, swiftly hit traffic on the 91 where the kids fell asleep and I was left alone to stew in the misery that was me driving on that damned, traffic-prone freeway. My mom called and I started crying again. That was the last of the hysterical tears, but I assure you, they threatened for a week. During said time, I swiftly began searching "Corona Real Estate Trends" where I learned that I could sell our home, make a profit and high tail it back to the motherland. I was pretty hysterical and was probably making Chad nervous and crazy. Hahaha now it's laughable, but back in those dark days, there was NO laughing going on.. hahahaha!

^^^Carter running some football plays on "his" new drive way.
^^^Kota showing us her moves.
Now we're chill and loving it!!! It's such a wonderful feeling to be settled. It also probably helps that I have the coolest 3 humans on the planet to hang out with everyday so.... YEAH!

what's in a name?

Well, I've got that creative itch again, so what's a gal to do? Create a blog! It's a necessary outlet, I've surmised. But here's the thing: I've been recording the life of my sweet family since 2010 over on Three's 4 Me - something I'm still very much in love with after all 6 years! At that time, I had a 7 month old baby and was just looking for some "productive me time" - direct words from that very first post. So awesome! But anyhoo, now I feel like I want to write in a more poignant way regarding the things I've come to be passionate about, as opposed to my life journaling found over on la originalle blog. I'm not even sure when I'll tell friends, family or the few followers that are left over at T4M that I started this one! Who knows! I JUST NEED A CREATIVE OUTLET DARNIT!

But anyway, one of the points of this here blog is to record what Chad and I have done/been doing on our very first owned home. We've had several rentals, but this - THIS IS OUR FIRST HOME HOME. It's a big deal (to us)!!!! Over years of renting, one could say finding our "style" didn't exactly come easily - sometimes when I rake through T4M's archives I just sit there laughing at how (sometimes) horrific our living spaces were. But hey, that's okay! It's a fun journey, and it IS quite the journey, ain't it? (Currently: still on the ride.)

SO WHAT DOES MINI HOUSE, MIGHTY HEARTS MEAN? Well, this very first home owned by little ol' us is kind of miniature - not that I'm complaining! I love her small size. She's a darling. Every inch of her 1,350 square feet is treasured. Inside this mini house of ours lives what I like to think of as our mighty hearts - Chad (hubby man), Mama Nicole (me), Carter (six year old man child), Kota (4 year old pumpkin pie) and last but certainly not least, Grace (right now she's doing flips and turns in my tummy - so precious). 

So yay! I can't wait to organize and record the things Chad and I have done in this current sweet house of ours (some posts will be in hindsight as we've been here for almost two years, but I truly feel like we have just RECENTLY found our stride, so that will be fun writing out). It will be fun! I'm excited!

Here was the very first post involving our home from Three's 4 Me (brought over to mini house, mighty hearts).