Category Archives: Love and Life

DIY Concrete Countertops

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After Photo

Howdy Readers,

Josh and I have been in the process of updating our house so that we can sell it all nice and pretty when the time comes. The list of projects seems to get longer with each look, however, we did finally finish the “roommate” bathroom upstairs (note: its a bathroom that only really gets use when we have roommates which at this time we do). Anyways, after all the painting and laying tile we wanted to do something to make the vanity look updated as well without having to break the bank.

As an avid Pinterest-er I found several DIY sites that talked about concrete countertops as an overlay for the counter that was already there, and bonus they weren’t expensive! If you have laminate or formica counters and want something to get you by for a couple years until you can splurge on stone, this is a really great option. The best part is it costs about $20 and it’s incredibly easy to tackle as a solo project!

As there are several concrete overlay tutorials floating around the web. I used searched on Pinterest to find the best ones (this one from  Designer Trapped in a Lawyer’s body was my favorite, she also has an updated post for 18 months later). You might want to look around yourself and find a tutorial that works with your existing countertops, though the concept is pretty much the same across the board.

MATERIALS NEEDED FOR DIY VANITY WITH CONCRETE OVERLAY:

For the Ardex Feather Finish you can look on the Ardex website for local distributors, but it was easier for me to run into my local Home Depot and get Henry’s Feather Finish. It’s going to give the same results but it just depends if you want to wait on ships or whatnot. A 10-pound bag cost me only $15 and I needed about half a bag for my laundry room. So pretty cheap, right?

I used a small bucket to mix Henry’s finish and in small amounts! This stuff drys pretty quickly and if you don’t give yourself some time to spread the concrete on the countertop it will harden on you.

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Here you can see the old countertops (ek!) and the process starting. I sanded the counter first to get a rougher texture for the finish to have something to hold onto. In this case i used our electric sander for the wide counter spaces then switched to sand paper for the back edges and around the sink.

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Then we taped off the walls and the sink since those didn’t need the concrete finish. We used painters tape for this. We were also painting the bottom counter of this vanity at the same time.

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Then it was time to wipe it all down and lay the first coat. The feather finish says to use a 1 part water to 2 parts dry cement ratio when mixing smaller amounts, but I suggest only doing 1 cup water and 2 cups of dry cement per batch so that you can spread it all before it dries (any more and it tends to harden before you can use it). I also use hot water to keep the mixture for longer and found that it helped. I used a small and a wide putty knife as well as a large drywall trowel. It was nice to have a mixture of tools to work with since particular ones came in handy at different points in the job. Use the tools to spread a thin layer of concrete over the top of your countertop. It does kind of feel like you are icing a cake, but it also reminded me of using spackle to patch a hole in a wall-you use the same type of motion. Don’t worry about getting the whole surface covered on your first go, if you have a few areas that look thin, you’ll cover them with the second coat. You can see how thin my coat is in the photo.

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My second coat dried looking much thicker and then is the time I pulled out the sander and sand paper. The first coat wasn’t thick enough for me to sand, however, the second had some trowel marks and such.

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The back and bottom edges were the hardest part. Though, after i realized it was much like clay and I could mold it with my fingers I just started using them to spread the finish. Then sanded the excess off when it dried. It came off easily, and I would recommend a open window or something for when you’re sanding because it gets pretty dusty in there.  We wiped the counter with a damp sponge before each reciting of the finish.

Here’s a photo just after my third coat. It really started to even out and look like a countertop. We used a wet sponge after roughly 15 minutes after we laid the finish and molded it a little more to make it smooth and take of any lines that were left. It really made the difference and I would tell you to make sure to do this before letting it completely dry to get the smooth surface look you want.

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We removed the tape after the third coat and did some touch ups around the sink where the finish didn’t get to, and then a final fourth coat to make everything even. While we waited for this to dry we epoxied the sink for a bright finish on it and then waited for all of it to dry. We only waited 24 hours then  sanded it to how we liked. When you are happy with the coverage, you will want to do a final sanding of the entire vanity surface.  I did it by hand to ensure that I don’t remove too much of the concrete, particularly on the edges and corners.  But again, if you have significant imperfections, you may need to break out the electric sander. We left some spots rougher to keep the concrete look but you can sand it as smooth as you’d like. Then we wiped down the counter with a damp sponge to lay the sealer.

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The last step is to apply a sealer.  I recommend using a water based acrylic concrete sealer in satin finish {this is the exact sealer we used: Quikrete 873002 Concrete Cure And Seal Satin Finish}.  It gives your concrete a nice, smooth finish with a slight sheen.  It also darkens the concrete up a bit, which I like.  When you apply the sealer, it will have a milky appearance.  Don’t worry, it dries clear.  Follow the directions carefully–do not apply the sealer too thick and/or leave puddles.  Also be sure to smooth out any air bubbles.  I applied two coats. I showed a photo here which looks like bubbles but it is smooth. This shows you what it will look like before it’s dried.

On the actual counter bottom and doors we uses poly instead of the concrete sealer.

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Not bubbles but this may appear. They will dry flat and will not show.

We waited over night to paint on the second coat of sealer and then gave it three days (this was actually for the epoxy to dry but we figured we could wait for the counter too).

We then went back in and added the new faucet and doors to he counter and here is the final product.

The surface is completely smooth  with no bubbles or nicks or anything, and stands up to water. I took the photo below just to show you guys how the water just sits on the countertop and wipes off easily.

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The sealer did darken the feather finish a bit but I like it better this way. It might be a rather physically demanding project but it is totally worth it. I am impressed who nice it turned out and will be using this on the rest of my bathroom counters!  Any one think they’ll be trying it  anytime soon?

Note: Some of the tutorials do use this DIY project on kitchen counters so it might be worth trying in your kitchen. Here are a few more tutorials that I compared information from before I started.  A Beautiful Mess and A Little Green Notebook both have concrete countertops for the kitchen and laundry room.

“There is nothing like staying at home for real comfort.” -Jane Austen

XO,

-Brandy

Declutter Your Writing

Hello Darlings!

Beyond sorry for my last post being in July. I lost track of time during school, and when I found it six months had gone by. But I have a lovely post for you all – how to declutter your writing.

 

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photo credit- Google

First drafts should be about just getting your thoughts and words onto a page without worrying about what you’re actually saying. Since finishing my first draft of a YA novel I’ve been working on, I have gone back and realize how many extra words I added.

One mark of a good writer is the ability to communicate more to the reader using less. Editors like lean prose that’s effective and clear without wasting words. Often, our writing becomes cluttered without us realizing it. Words that seem innocent enough can actually detract from what you’re trying to say and add unneeded “fluff.” So how can you create tight, lean prose? Here are some examples of words you can cut from your writing!

NOTE: While these words can often clutter your writing, that’s not always the case. Exceptions can always be made, and it’s up to you to use your judgement to decide when a word can stay and when it needs to go.

1.Of the

“Of the” is almost always unnecessary and can be simplified.

Examples:

The owner of the restaurant.

The restaurant owner.

The wheels of the skateboard.

The skateboard’s wheels.

One of the nails came loose.

A nail came loose.

2. That

This one seems innocent enough, but again it can almost always be cut without any damage. If you have “that” in a sentence remove it, and if what’s left still makes sense then it’s unnecessary.

He said that he was coming.

He said he was coming.

Our teacher promised that there wouldn’t be any homework.

Our teacher promised there wouldn’t be any homework.

3. Adverbs

Most adverbs are either redundant or superfluous.

For example:

“I have to go,” she whispered quietly.

Whispering implies being quiet, so “quietly” is redundant and can be cut.

He moved quickly across the lawn.

If we choose a strong verb the adverb becomes unnecessary and the writing becomes tighter and punchier:

He dashed across the lawn.

4. Almost/slightly/somewhat

Words like almost, slightly, somewhat, etc. aim to de-emphasize. This can weaken your writing. You can be as clear and direct as possible. Don’t waver in-between.

The weather was somewhat hot.

The weather was balmy.

He backed up slightly.

He took a step back.

Her hair was almost soaked.

Her hair was wet.

5. Really/very/quite

These words aim to emphasize, but if we choose our words carefully to begin with, they become unnecessary.

He ran really fast across the parking lot.

He bolted across the parking lot.

They had a very good time.

They had an excellent time.

The mouse was quite large.

The mouse was massive.

6. Adjectives

While not all adjectives are bad, you can usually eliminate or combine them without losing meaning. Watch out for piling on too many adjectives, and try to choose strong nouns that could replace them.

The small, fluffy, white kitten

The white kitten (small and fluffy is implied with kittens)

The large spotted dog

The dalmatian

7. Things/Stuff

Vague words like things, stuff, something, etc. should be avoided whenever possible because they do little to help the reader. Be specific to communicate clearly and give the reader a vivid picture!

She knew they needed to talk about things.

She knew they needed to talk about John cheating with Shelly.

The table was littered with random art stuff.

The table was littered with pens, charcoal, paper wads, and brushes whose bristles were gummy with dried paint.

8. Most dialogue tags

Sometimes we need dialogue tags (said, yelled, whispered, etc.) to let us know who’s speaking. But often we can use character actions to communicate the same information in place of dialogue tags, or drop both altogether. For example:

Derek moved his sweet potatoes around his plate. “I’m not hungry.”

His mother sighed. “Stop being picky.”

“I’m not picky. Potatoes shouldn’t be orange.”

“It’s good for you.”

“I don’t trust orange food.” He shoved his plate away.

There wasn’t a single dialogue tag in that conversation but you probably didn’t have any trouble following who was saying what. When you do find yourself in need of a dialogue tag, it’s usually best to use said over words like intoned, stated, etc.

9. Thought/realized/wondered

Just like with dialogue tags, we can communicate a character’s thoughts without words like realized, wondered, pondered, etc.

10. Then

This is a sneaky clutter word that can often be cut from your writing without changing its meaning.

Sara called a cab and then grabbed her coat.

Sara called a cab and grabbed her coat.

 

If you don’t see the book you want on the shelf, write it.

-Beverly Cleary

Do you struggle with any of these clutter words? Are there any other words you avoid? Let me know in the comments below!

-Brandy 

Rocking out in ASL

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Readers!

It has been beyond forever, but I come back bearing fantastic news- at least I think so anyway. So we all know I plan on getting a degree in Deaf Education since my part of my family is either deaf or HOH and I an HOH (Hard of hearing for those just joining us). SO! In order to help myself get better and faster at sign language my plan is to start doing covers of popular songs on youtube to work on my skills and just all around be awesome. I just finished my very first video One Direction’s Little Things and though I was off my rocker nervous I don’t think it is too shabby!

Here’s the link to check it out:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQJw2j9IH20&feature=youtu.be

 

Comment with you thoughts or if you wanna see a video coming up!

Yours,

-Brandy

 

Puppy Fever

Hello Readers,

It has been a long while since my last post, again I am sorry. But Between looking for a job, studying for mid-terms, and my Newt having puppies. It has been a little cray cray.

 

Luckily, I can take just a moment to post s few pictures of these gorgeous pups!

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I hope you enjoy! 

-Brandy

 

P.S. and yes I am selling them if you want more info just contact me!

18 Quotes for Your Twenties

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Readers,

Alright, clearly I can Not give myself a big project like posting everyday cause I just fail so bad.

I am sorry! To make up for it I can across a post about quotes in your twenties by GenTwenty -Their blog is pretty sweet, go check it out.

Here are the one’s I really enjoyed!

1. “Make the most of yourself, for that is all there is of you.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

2. “To me, fearless is not the absence of fear. It’s not being completely unafraid. To me, Fearless is having fears. Fearless is having doubts. Lots of them. To me, fearless is living in spite of those things that scare you to death.”  – Taylor Swift

3. “I think we dream so we don’t have to be apart for so long. If we’re in each other’s dreams, we can be together all the time.” – A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

4. “It’s never too late to be who you might have been.” – George Eliot

5. “Some women choose to follow men, and some women choose to follow their dreams. If you’re wondering which way to go, remember that your career will never wake up and tell you that it doesn’t love you anymore.” – Lady Gaga

6. “A self is not something static, tied up in a pretty parcel and handed to a child, finished and complete. A self is always becoming.” –  Madeleine L’Engle

7. “Nobody puts baby in a corner.” –  Johnny (Dirty Dancing)

8. “Monsters are real, and ghosts are real too.  They live inside us, and sometimes, they win.”  – Stephen King

9. “Remember no one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

10. “The beautiful journey of today can only begin when we learn to let go of yesterday.”  – Steve Maraboli

11. “But that’s the glory of foreign travel, as far as I am concerned. I don’t want to know what people are talking about. I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again. You can’t read anything, you have only the most rudimentary sense of how things work, you can’t even reliably cross a street without endangering your life. Your whole existence becomes a series of interesting guesses.” ― Bill Bryson, Neither Here Nor There: Travels in Europe

12. “Here is what I’m trying to tell you: Adult isn’t a noun, it’s a verb. It’s the act of making correctly those small decisions that fill our day. It is one that you can practice, and that can be done in concrete steps. And if you slip up and have Diet Coke for breakfast, no one busts in and snatches away your Adult card. Just move forward and have milk tomorrow.” ― Kelly Williams Brown, Adulting

13. “We all go a little mad sometimes.” ― Norman Bates, Psycho

14. “The real mission you have in life is to make yourself happy, and in order to be happy, you have to look at what you believe, the way you judge yourself, the way you victimize yourself.” ― Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements

15. “I get it now; I didn’t get it then. That life is about losing and about doing it as gracefully as possible” ― Mia Farrow

16.  “I think, for the majority of my twenties, I was always so concerned with what I didn’t have, or what I still wanted.” ― Adam Lambert

17. “You can stop, if you want, with the Z because most people stop with the Z. But not me. In the places I go there are things that I see that I never could spell if I stopped with the Z. I’m telling you this ‘cause you’re one of my friends. My alphabet starts where would alphabet ends.” ― Dr. Seuss, On Beyond Zebra

18. “There’s an ‘Everything must go!’ emotional liquidation feel to the end of your twenties, isn’t there? What will happen if we turn thirty and we’re not ‘ready?’ You don’t feel entirely settled in any aspect of your life, even if you are on paper.” ― Sloane Crosley

 

 

 

Which one was your favorite??? Let me know and comment

 

Bye Ya’ll,

-Brandy

30 Day Blog Challenge

Readers,

 

In an attempt to re-vamp and start working on my blog again  I want to try this 30 day blog challenge. This may be boring. This may be tedious. But stay with me!

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The list

 

Day 1- Photo of yourself and description how your day was.

Today was boring. I didn’t get sleep until about 4:30 am tun didn’t wake up tip like 2pm because my first class was canceled… now I’m sitting in my ASL classroom waiting for class to start posting on my blog.  Nothing exciting happened, nothing fun yet. Its just one of those days, I guess.

 

 

 

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Bam! Photo of me.

 

Love ya,

-Brandy

 

 

 

 

 

 

ASL Events!

Hello Readers of the Internet during Boredom!

Long time no post. My apologies but life has decided to get crazy busy, or at least busier then I thought with college. Its insane the amount of homework they give you nowadays. I do not think high school was preparing us enough. I digress… Anyways there are a few upcoming Deaf events I would like to share with you guys.

 

First coming up is the Deaf Oktoberfest- yes there will be beer and yes you must be 21! But it should be a blast and i will be attending! Secondly. The Deaf Expo on October 25th. Never been but I am pretty excited for this even as well. You don’t need to be Deaf or Hard of hearing to attend these events guys come and see a new culture and enjoy good company!

 

More info at  http://www.coloradodeaf.com

 

 

Let me know if you want to go!

Stay cool,

-Brandy

 

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