Thursday, August 30, 2012

Fireplace: Tile...Finally...Tiled!

I finally finished tiling! The big hang up was trying to figure how to handle the inside edge around the fireplace, where the tile meets the actual fireplace-proper. As you can see below, there's no real "edge" to stop the grout from flowing into infinity and beyond. 

And then I had "the idea"....and Brian and I had one of those moments where I looked meaningfully at him, and said, "Do you trust me?" He nodded, took my hand and hopped on my magic carpet and we flew around town, singing a hit ballad to each other. 

Ok some of that might have been slightly embellished. I've just got Disney on the brain for some odd reason.

So, "the idea"...

We picked up four metal dowels from Home Depot. These metal dowels absolutely made our hands nasty. They were covered in oil grossness, so the first thing I did was clean them. 

And then my dear hubterton-hubs cut them down for me. He probably wishes he was wearing a different shirt for this picture, but he makes up for it with the skinny jeans and hipster slip-on shoes.

Each dowel got a coat of black paint. I intentionally did NOT rotate the dowels when I sprayed them, so only one side got painted. I'll explain why I did this in a moment.

I moved my dowels indoors, and got ready to rock.

Using my pinkie, I applied a layer of construction adhesive to the un-painted side of each dowel. By leaving one side of the dowel un-painted, I ensured my adhesive would go on straight by using the un-painted section as a guide. You don't know how hard it is to draw a straight line on a dowel until you try! But by having one un-painted side, I didn't have to worry.

I glued the dowels around the inside edge of the fireplace, right up against the tiles. Ignore how washed out this picture is.....I was playing with the settings on my new camera and got lazy.

I added half tiles around the remaining edges and called it a day.

I still have a major dilemma with the grout color....but it's getting down to the wire, and I'm going to have to decide soon. 


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Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Warm Garlic Rosemary Olives

Are you ready for a super easy appetizer that will totally amaze your guests? Are you also tired of getting stuffed on appetizers and having no room for dinner? One of my favorite appetizers is warmed garlic rosemary olives. It's light, savory and incredible flavorful. It's been a hit every time I serve it, and my guests still have plenty of appetite left to enjoy dinner.

To make this, you'll need olives of pretty much any kind, though I prefer greek olives that have been pitted. I don't know about you, but I don't like to look at other people's olive pits (or cherry pits, for that matter). I pretty much always have kalmata olives on hand, because they're delicious.

You'll also need rosemary, and garlic.

I start by rinsing and draining as many olives as I plan to serve. Make sure you let the water drain out  well after rinsing.

I place my drained olives in a tupperware container (don't judge my nasty tupperware!).

Then I add tons of chopped rosemary and minced garlic. The amount of rosemary and garlic you use is up to you, but I recommend going on the heavy side. At that point, add just enough olive oil to coat the olives.

Seal the lid and shake your tupperware container to combine all of the ingredients.

Place the olives in your fridge for a few hours.

Just before your guests arrive, dump the contents of your tupperware container into a small saute pan, and warm the olives over medium-low heat.

Once they are nice an warm, transfer to a serving bowl and enjoy!!

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Monday, August 27, 2012

Fireplace: Grout Doubt

You may recall I had a very difficult time choosing a grout color for this project. So, rather than take a risk and potentially slather the wrong grout color all over my tiles, I decided to do a test run. 

Oh, by the way, my parrot, Lolly, is serving as the Chief Ridiculous Officer over this project. 

I pulled out a flat piece of board I had lying around in my garage...

...and marked it to make a perfect square. My thought process was if this test piece turned out good-looking, I could possible use it as a coaster later.

I trimmed off the excess board and got to work.

I trimmed a section of tile to fit.

I applied a thin layer of thinset.

I plopped my tile on top, along with some extra penny halves I had cut earlier in the project.

And then, I busted out my grout. I have used this exact color before, in my townhouse. I decided to go with a darker grout. I felt it accentuated the penny tile better than light grout, and gave it a more "old Hollywood meets Spanish revival" feel. I guess we'll find out soon if I was right! Eeek!! I'm getting nervous. And this is only the test piece!

I applied my grout and then walked away.

After my test piece had a chance to dry, I propped it up by my fireplace so that I could start imagining the entire thing down in brown grout. At this point, I'm still having some doubts when I look at it up close. 

But from further away, it looks exactly like what I wanted. I may test out a slightly lighter tan color just for another option. I know I definitely do NOT want to use white grout -- after seeing the white thinset creep through in certain areas, I know I don't like that look. 

So, I guess I'm sort of back to the drawing board. We'll see. My penny tiles are mounted slightly closer together than they are on my test piece, so the grout will be even less visible on the fireplace. I guess I just need to get up my nerve and GO FOR IT. Stay tuned to find out how it all turns out!
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Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fireplace: That Tile Will Cut You...or Vice Versa

My next challenge in the fireplace project was to snip penny tiles in half to fill the gaps along the edges. Luckily I was able to borrow some pointers from the lovely folks behind one of my favorite blogs, Young House Love. In this post, John and Sherry shared their tips for cutting penny tile. This was so incredibly helpful to me, and I am very grateful to them for sharing their knowledge and experience. 

I picked up a pair of inexpensive tile nippers from Home Depot, per YHL's recommendation.

And then I attempted my first tile. I made sure the nippers were squarely centered on the tile and started applying slow pressure, as John recommended. And then I gave it a good push...

...and successfully cracked my tile. Oops.

I tried again, but this time I put tape across half. Still no dice.

Then I flipped the tile over, and decided to try snipping it upside down, using the existing grooves along the back as my guide.

Booyah!!! I ended up not even needing the tape once I got the hang of it.

One thing I highly recommend is covering your tile and nippers with a paper towel or hand towel, as you are snipping it. This will prevent teeny shards of tile from flying everywhere.

As I started dry fitting my penny halves into the fireplace, I realized I would need a little more variation in size. So, I started cutting several intentionally uneven.

I filled in the outside edges, and am SO happy with how it turned out. Next steps are to figure out what I want to do with the grout (remember my big grout dilemma awhile ago?), and finish off the inside edge. It's amazing to think this project is so close to completion!


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Wednesday, August 22, 2012

My Chalkboard Mirror

Prior to the existence of my blog, I transformed a drab oval mirror with a scratched brushed-silver frame into a message board. The mirror came from our townhouse -- it was in the guest bathroom when we bought the place, and it was one of the first things I took down. It sat in our garage for the four years we lived there, and I stubbornly moved it with us when we bought our current house.

It was my first chalkboard paint project. I painted the mirror-proper with black chalkboard paint. To the frame I added some decorative moulding (purchased at Lowes) and painted the frame white.

I hung the message board over our trash can in the kitchen, and Brian and I began sharing powerful messages, quotes, and Bible verses there. I am a big proponent of visual reminders. I like to surround myself with the things I believe, and the qualities I strive for. These become constant reminders for me to continue to seek growth. Chalkboards are great because you can easily update the message to be applicable to whatever you're working through at the time. 

 But, from a design perspective, something felt missing.

I added a green bird coat hook (purchased on ebay), and some ribbon to create the illusion that the chalkboard mirror was hanging from the hook. The little pop of color certainly made the difference I was hoping for!

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Fireplace: Tile Me Lovely TILE? Because I sure am!

I bought my minty green penny tile from for around $60 total, which included enough tile to do my fireplace with a little leftover. I picked up some pre-mixed thinset from Lowes. Rather than deal with the mess of mixing my own, I went with pre-mixed because I was only covering a small area.

I wish I could say there was a science or method to how I arranged my tile around the fireplace, but I think I honestly just got lucky. I did dry-fit all of my tile pieces prior to applying thinset, so that I could make sure my pennies would all fit evenly without having to make unnecessary cuts.

I used regular ol' scissors to cut my penny tile sheets to fit around my corners.

And then I started laying down thinset. It's been awhile since I tiled last, and it's been never since I tiled with anything like penny tile. After laying down my first sheet, I realized I needed to keep my thinset layer super thin, so that it wouldn't squish out between the tiles. Duly noted.

I continued to work my way around the fireplace...

At one point I took a break to snap some pictures of my little bird. Isn't she adorable?

And then I was done! I'm SO happy with it. I still have some tile work to do, but I'm incredibly pleased with the result thus far.


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