Building Built In Storage: Part Two

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I have been done with the built ins for about two weeks. However, writing about them took longer. 


I will probably keep rearranging these forever. #DIY #honedecorprobs

A photo posted by Erin Skibinski (@eskibs) on

I’m not going to lie, this was the more difficult part of the building as there was more measuring and cutting and painting involved. Hence, the longer gap in between posts. I am thrilled with how this project turned out, and happy to say it was worth the wait.


We left off PART 1 at the installation of the countertop on top of the cabinets and painting the wood that was going to be the upper shelving.

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I felt that it was easier to paint as much of wood first and then touch up things later because A) I could paint on a flat surface and my arms wouldn’t get sore B) I’m not stinking up the house with paint C) I wouldn’t have to tape up the blue wall I just painted or counter top I had just stained.

For the upper shelving we used 1″ x 12″ common board. and cut a 10′ foot header and 5 -5′ vertical supports. 

Then after we had determined the height of each of our shelves (three not including the counter shelf), we marked on 3 of the vertical supports where those shelves would be and clamped them together. Pro Tip: If you know you will be making the same cuts at the same points on same pieces of wood. Try to clamp them together and do it at the same time to save time, and ensure accuracy.

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Next, using a multi-tool, Brian notched out a 1″ deep by 2″ width piece into the three center vertical supports. Notching this piece of wood on the back of each of these vertical supports at each of the heights of the shelves served several purposes. 1) It allowed us to screw 3 1″ x  2″ x 10′ rails into the back of the shelves for extra sturdiness. 2) These rails were flush against the vertical supports allowing the shelving unit to be flush against the wall. 3) It gave us another place to secure the shelving unit other than the ceiling for extra support. 4) Having rails that run the length of the back of later installed shelves will help to prevent bowing in the future.

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Once the vertical supports, header, and rails were ready to go, we brought everything in the house to put together. We screwed the vertical supports from the top of the header at equal intervals allowing us to have 30″ wide shelves.

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Then we attached the rails.

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Then we lifted it up on top of the counter. Perfect fit (thank goodness)! Brian screwed the this shelving unit into the ceiling wherever there were studs. and again into the side wall by the window. He also secured a few screws into the rails we had just constructed where ever there was a stud. This baby isn’t going anywhere.

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In the ceiling of the unit, instead of painting and trying to find cover the heavier duty screws we used to attach the header. With the help of our handy friend, Scott, we cut some pre-finished bead-board to size, and nail gunned that into the the unit.

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Next, we took the same pieces of 1″ x 2″ and cut them into approximately 11″ pieces to make the side rails for the shelves. Brian then used a nail gun to attach these rails.

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Using the same 1″ x 12″ common board we cut the shelves to size, slid them into place, and we nailed those in too.

Then, it was crown moulding time. We used pre-finshed moulding to save us another step, because this was where we needed the most instruction. We had no idea what we were doing. We called in reinforcements with the help of our handy friend, Scott and a ASK This Old House Video. We figured out how to cut the moulding for an outside corner using our chop saw. After a few test pieces, we got the hang of it, and using the nail gun, we got it up there. Pro Tip: We did have a slight gap, however white painters caulk can fill any gaps, or nail holes in your finished product.

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I touched up any paint that needed to be done.

Wiped everything down. 

It took a few days, but I think I have them styled how I want them. 

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For now.



Building Built In Storage: Part One

This project started out as me reorganizing the cabinets in my dining room to create some more space.

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To Brian saying, “Sweetie, you need more storage. Let’s not buy anything, let’s build something. That way it is exactly what we need.”

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I went from a simple reorganizing project to prepping the dining room for built-ins. As Ron Burgundy would say.

As we sat together at the kitchen table scrolling through blogs for inspiration like Thrify Decor Chick’s gorgeous built ins and Addicted to Decorating awesome built in entertainment center.  We knew we wanted some open and closed storage. We also knew that to maximize storage, we should probably try and use the entire length of the wall in the dining room. Finally, we wanted to add some cool style elements to the bookshelf to kind of mimc some other elements in the house like stain the countertop the same color as the dining room table we built and maybe paint the wall behind the shelves a different color like when I put  fabric in the cabinets before to help make the dishes pop.

This is as far as we have gotten in the last 10 days. 

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Considering it took me an entire day to carefully empty and move the cabinets that were sitting there, I will take that as a win.



I think it is safe to say, things have gotten out of hand. #diyproblems

A photo posted by Erin Skibinski (@eskibs) on

Also, life is still going on which means school, soccer, ballet, tap, school functions, homework, library volunteering, library board, work meetings, and a sinus infection. 

The first step was to decide how big we wanted to create the built in unit. We knew we were going to use stock UPPER cabinets as our base. Stock cabinets come in only a few standard sizes, so we just had to figure out the correct combination of cabinets that would fit into the dining room and look good. We used painter’s tape as a guide. For us, we decided ten linear feet of cabinets (two 36″ cabinets and two 24″ cabinets). This was just short of the opposite wall in the dining room, and we figured just short was better than two feet too long.

Built In Cabinets Phase One 1

Then, we drew out a plan. Twice. Actually, three times.

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Using Addicted to Decorating and Thrifty Decor Chick as a template we drew out how to create our built ins. We did this a few times measuring a few times, and getting out our calculators just to be sure everything would be right. Pro Tip: Remember when following directions from another site, Pinterest, or blog, make sure to keep in mind that YOUR house is different. Measure your space a few times. Things to consider: What is the height of your ceiling? What kind of trim do you have, how big is it? What kind of flooring do you have carpet, wood, tile? Are there walls on each side of the built ins for support? Where are the studs? Are you going to be covering one or multiple outlets and do you need to call an electrician to move them before you get started? Are you insane to try something like this on your own?

Then, we made our supply list of everything we needed. To do this, we literally talked through every step a few times together out loud down to the finishing nails. This helped us make a good an thorough list. Pro Tip: You might want to check online or give a call to your hardware store just to make sure they have everything you need ahead of time. (We had to go to two Home Depots BLERG).

Next, I painted. This step is not necessary, but if you want to make your life a little easier and you also want to have a pop of color behind your built ins this is the time to do it. I measured out where the bookshelves were going to be, and I rolled on a dark blue I already had on hand (and luckily compliments my existing scheme). My sister, Beth, had given me a whole gallon to me when she had it mixed up for her dining room and it didn’t work out. I tried a swatch and love it. It is Valspar’s Victory Blue.

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Then, Brian measured (you see a theme here, right?) the trim and shoe along the wall and marked where the new built ins would be, and cut that portion of the trim out. This way, the built in cabinets and shelves would be right next to the wall without any gaps, would be more easily affixed to the wall, and we wouldn’t have to cut into the cabinets.

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Next, Brian built a base for the cabinets to sit on. The reason for the base was that we used UPPER stock cabinets the closed bottom storage for our built ins. This was because, uppers are only 12 inches deep, and don’t have built in drawers. This way they would take up less space in our already narrow dining room. If we would have set the uppers right on the floor, the cabinet doors would have dragged right along the floor, and also they would have have been has sturdy. To create the base, Brian used 1″ x  4″ common board and created a 10′ x 1′ rectangle that fit perfectly along the wall into the gap created by the cut out trim. Then he reinforced the base by screwing in 1 foot boards to line up where edges of the cabinets would sit. Finally, we affixed the base to the wall.

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Then, made a teeny mistake. We have an outlet on the wall that we don’t entirely want to cover up because we I think it might be cute to have a lamp sit on the open shelves. So, Brian had to cut a hole in the back of one of the cabinets, in order to have access to the outlet. We messed up a little with our measurements, and ended up cutting a much bigger hole than necessary. Hey, at least we knew to keep access to the outlet.

Next, we set the cabinets on the base. Starting with the outside edge (not against the corner wall because it is not plum or level in our 1975 settled house) we set each cabinet in place.

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Then, we clamped the cabinets together. and predrilled holes in the base of the cabinets and screwed the cabinets together.

Then, using a level, and many many shims. We made sure all the cabinets were perfectly level. We screwed the cabinets to the wall using shims for support, and making sure that we were screwing the cabinets into studs. Pro Tip: If you are unsure where studs are, you can use a stud finder. To double check, using a measuring tape and a pencil, from the corner of a room or an outlet (outlets and switches are often affixed to studs) and measure every 16 inches (or the red numbers in house on your tape measure) and mark the wall with a pencil. When you drill and the screw pulls tight and doesn’t keep spinning you have hit a stud. 



After the cabinets were in securely in the wall, it was time to put together the “counter”.  Rather than buy a piece of butcher block, we wanted the counter to mimic the dining table Brian had built a few year ago, but on a smaller scale. Using four 1″ x 3 1/2″ pieces of pine, we created a similar look. Since, we could only buy these boards in 12′ pieces, we ended up cutting them to the length we needed, and made a countertop for the top of the cabinets.

Next, as a recommendation from the handy helpers at Home Depot, using Liquid Nails and clamps.  Pro Tip: It never hurts to tell the people at Home Depot or your hardware store what you’re up to. Often times, they have lots of tips and tricks to help you with your project and are willing to help.

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We glued the boards together lengthwise, and used clamps to hold them together. We let the boards dry longer than the recommended time. Pro Tip: Make sure to wipe any excess Liquid Nails that oozes out between seams with a wet cloth right away. It is easier to remove when wet than dry, and will help with a smooth finish.

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After it dried, we removed the clamps. Then, I sanded, stained (three coats just like the table), and poly-ed it.

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Which brings us to today. 

Exhausted, and looking forward to/prepping for Phase 2, the upper open shelves. 

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Did you ever have a project that got out of hand quickly? Share in the comments.



Buffalo Check is my New Obsession: Or How I Made No Sew Cafe Curtains (Again)

After adding the new kitchen countertops and installing a subway tile backsplash, I decided that I liked the neutrality of our kitchen. I liked that everything was starting to look more clean and fresh and could kind of be tweaked with some flowers or dish towels to match the seasons.

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Rather than add a pop of color with a rug or curtains, I decided to go with a black/white/gray motif. So, I found a few black and white fabrics that I liked, and went with it.

Kitchen Curtains Black and White Fabrics COLLAGE

Ok, fine what really happened was that I saw this buffalo check fabric at IKEA, fell in love with it (and the price) and had to have it!

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I thought of the “neutral theme” idea later when I realized that everything goes with black and white buffalo check.

If you remember, my old cafe curtains were made from cloth napkins. Which is still an awesome idea and for a non-sewer (or someone who cannot make up her mind) and I highly recommend it to anyone wanting to have a quick, easy, and cheap window cover solution.



That buffalo check fabric though.

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So, I pulled up my big girl pants, and got out the sewing machine iron and extra strength hem tape. I made the curtains similarly to when I made them for Coco’s room a few years back. However, I also got super fancy and made a valence too!

Using my previous cloth napkins curtains as a template, I measured.

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I ironed while watching Brooklyn 99 (Captain Holt, am I right?)

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I hung them up.

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Again, this is one of those projects I waited awhile to post as kind of a “time will tell” experiment. While I have made hem tape curtains in the past, they were decorative curtains that weren’t really open and closed very often and used more as a way to frame a window. These curtains, however, are actual real utility curtains. The kitchen is a high traffic area and the window over the sink is one that is open and closed a lot, which means these curtains would be pulled open and closed a lot. Also, over the sink means water splashing, steam from pasta water being drained, and other cooking shenanigans that happen near the sink. I wanted to make sure that these curtains would hold up to a wash, water, and heat, and some traffic before I posted a tutorial. 

Here they were the first week.

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Here is picture of them yesterday (over three months of cooking, baking, washing dishes, splashing, and one run through the gentle cycle of the washing machine and hung to dry).

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Also, because I don’t know if I mentioned earlier, but I really like this fabric from IKEA, I overbought, so I also had enough fabric to sew iron tie backs, and another valence for the patio door. 

Do you have any easy, quick, and foolproof DIY methods that lasted longer than you thought?


How To Install a Tile Backsplash Without Thinset or Mastic

If you read Home Everyday on any regular basis, you know that the kitchen is where I can be found most of the time. I am usually cooking or baking, or crafting at the kitchen table, helping someone with homework at the kitchen table, or cleaning up a ginormous mess I just made. Since updating our kitchen with new countertops, you may have also noticed that we have updated our backsplash too. I love our kitchen even more because the space has become more practical (no more cracked countertops),  but also because of a few more useful and beautiful additions we have made to my most used room: a deeper more functional sink, an extra cabinet, a new microwave (that works correctly), some new curtains, a little paint, and a few new pieces of hardware, and most of all: a gorgeous wipeable subway tile backsplash. 

Ta Da!

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When the old countertops were removed, with them came a small backsplash that was made of the same material. When the countertops were removed, this was left behind.

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We could have had a small granite backsplash cut and attached to the wall, but there’s a few reasons we didn’t do this. 

  1. I don’t think they are practical for cleaning. Why only cover part of a space that is going to get splashed on. Then I have to tile it anyway? No.
  2. Mo granite means mo money.
  3. I think that tiling all the way to the countertop would create a modern cleaner line.

So, we decided to tile.


With a method that requires no mastic or thinset.

Backsplash without Thinset FINAL

Before this project, I had never tiled anything before. However because I like to watch HGTV, and Ask This Old House like it’s my job, lay in bed and look at Pinterest boards and Instagram accounts of DIY bloggers, take free classes for projects that might happen some day at Home Depot, and talk with anyone I can about DIY, I felt that I could handle tiling a backsplash. Ok, I also asked our awesome friend Scott who has remodeled two houses of his own from top to bottom to lend a hand. 

For this project, we were able to do the entire backsplash including grout in one day! I know what you’re thinking. Whoa, whoa, whoa, Erin. You cannot tile anything in one day. You have to wait for the thinset to dry. Nope. We used SimpleMat. It is like double sided tape for tile that is perfect for basksplashes or other tiling projects that won’t get super wet (think a decorative table, countertop, or behind a wet bar or decorative wall). If you follow this easy tutorial, you can have a gorgeous backsplash, in a day too! (I was not paid or perked in anyway, I just adored this product).

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And if you’re worried, I waited three months before sharing this tutorial to make sure we didn’t have any problems. Even through a busy cooking season of Christmas where I wiped down the backsplash almost daily. So far, so good!




Tile Cutter or Wet Saw (You should talk to a pro about what you’ll need to rent or purchase depending on what kind of tile you’re using and what you think you’ll be using in the future.)

Scissors (good strong utility scissors, don’t skimp, you’ll thank me)

Simple Grout (This is a premixed grout with a sealer already built into the grout. I used this to cut out the steps of having to mix my own grout and to have to seal it later)

Tile Spacers




Lots and lots of Paper Towel

Drop Clothes

Waterproof caulk

Getting Started

  1. The first thing I did was decide on a tile and a grout color. I chose white ceramic subway tile and a gray grout. I chose this combo for many reasons.
  • I liked how it looked with our new countertops. It was fresh and clean, and with grey grout would be divine.
  • Gray grout would not yellow over time and look new for years to come.
  • Gray grout would also help show off the brick pattern I wanted to do with the subway tile.
  • I knew it this look would stand the test of time. There’s a reason you still see subway tile in houses built forever ago. It never goes out of style.
  • It is easy to work with for a beginner tiler. It is light for those not using thinnest (us), easy to cut with a simple tile cutter or nippers (us).
  • It was cheap and in stock. There was no ordering required in case I miscalculated how much I needed, and everyone has ceramic subway tile. EVERYONE!
  • Did I mention how adorable it looked with our countertops?



Decisions are being made. #HomeEveryday #SkibsSummer

A photo posted by Erin Skibinski (@eskibs) on

2.  I measured, and then I measured again (then again). I wanted to make sure I had enough SimpleMat, tile, grout, and anything else I may need to complete the project. There’s nothing worse that running to Home Depot again in the middle of a project.

3. Buy what you need and a little more. It is recommended that you purchase about 10% more tile than you will actually need for a project to make up for any cuts made, broken tiles, or any mishaps. We did a little more than that. Just in case. Pro Tip: Make sure you factor extra tile, supplies, and any equipment purchase or rentals into your budget for a project. 

3. I turned off the power to the area, and then removed all the all outlet covers, and unscrewed the outlets from the wall. Pro Tip: You want to be able to get tiles as close to the outlets cut outs as possible for a cleaner more professional look, but to also make sure there’s no gaps when doing replacing outlet covers.

4. I also then prepped the surface by  gently sanding the backsplash area with a low grit sandpaper. Then, I wiped the surface down with a wet cloth and let it dry. This helped the SimpleMat adhere better.

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5. We laid out the tile in a dry run on the countertop. ProTip: I know you want to get started, but don’t skip this step. Make sure to use your spacers just as you would on the wall. This will help you predict where cuts will be, how your pattern will work, and how to end the tile in each row. There is nothing worse than a teeny tiny piece of tile at the end of a row, which is a terrible hard cut to make and looks silly, when you could have lined everything up a little bit different and get a whole tile instead. Also, this helps you decide where you want to stop and start your tile. I put tile wherever there was countertop, meaning a had to tile into a corner (I did this for practicality and easy cleaning but love the look too). 

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  1. Since I had lots of people helping me, I knew we would be able to get this project done quickly, and we had laid out the tile ahead of time, we cut all of the SimpleMat and adhered it to the wall in one giant step. Pro Tip: We made sure to use the float to press the SimpleMat to the wall to get good adhesion. Also, we made sure to cover every area with Simple Mat where there would be tile.

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2. Next, we peeled back the paper on the other side. Pro Tip: It should be noted that after you remove the paper, you should start adhering tiles immediately for the best possible security.

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3. Time to tile! Scott would keep laying out tile and show Brian where cuts would need to be made. I would stick the tile to the wall, using tile spacers lay another tile.  Pro Tip: After adhering a few tiles, I would press with a float to make sure the tile was secure.

We had an awesome system going.

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4. For around the outlets, we would use outlet covers and the previous row as a guide to measuring where to cut the tile to keep the brick pattern going. For corner cuts, we made sure to leave a bit of room in the corner for grout.

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ProTip: Before you start remember these three things about grout. Work fast but careful. Wetter is better. Paper Towels are your friend. Now, you may begin. (Also, cameras and grouting do not mix, so sorry for so few pictures.)

1. Once every tile was in place, we removed all the spacers, and made sure that all the surfaces were covered with drop clothes.

2. Next, we filled two buckets with warm water and a sponge. One bucket is your yucky bucket, the other bucket is your not so yucky bucket (technical terms, be careful). 

3. Then, in very small sections, using a float we added grout into all the spaces of the tiles. Make sure that you press the grout into the crevices. Pro Tip: Many people like to use a diagonal stroke with the float to fill the spaces with grout. I found using a rainbow like pattern worked best. Using small strokes from the bottom left, working up and around and back down to the bottom right in a small semi-circle pattern seemed to fill the most spaces with grout.

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4. Even though we only did small sections of grout at a time, we would wash the float between each section, and close the grout container. Remember, grout is easier to work with when it is wet. Then, we would take a sponge from the yucky bucket, wring it out, and wipe the the section we had just grouted with a VERY light touch. Careful not to removed any grout from the crevices or spaces. Do this step again.

5. Then, wringing a sponge from the not so yucky bucket, we lightly wiped the tiles again. You’ll probably notice drips of cloudy water falling on the tiles, this is fine as long as you notice the water get “cleaner” with every pass. Pro Tip: Keep switching the water in the buckets to help keep haze at bay.

6. Finally, using a bunch of paper tiles, again with a light touch we would wipe the section again a few times until we noticed the tiles were starting to shine up, but also not so hard that the grout was starting to be removed from the crevices. Again, this is a very light touch. You may even want to wipe each individual tile. Pro Tip: While you may feel like you are using a lot of paper towel, this may save time and money later from having to use a tile haze remover. 

7. Repeat these steps until everything is grouted.

Finish it up

  1. Each grout has different rules about dry times. I didn’t wipe or do really anything in the kitchen for about 48-72 hours after we finished tiling and grouting, which I realize may be overkill, but oh well.

2. Once everything was dry, we put the outlet covers back on. 

3. Then we caulked the edges for a finished look.


Here are the after photos again. 

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Backsplash without Thinset 1

I would say for the beginner DIYer this project this project is definitely doable especially if you have the right tools and perhaps you practice grouting at a tile class first. While I realize not everyone has a friend like Scott with all kinds of experience, I would recommend asking  someone who has a little bit of experience using a tile cutter to help out with the first few tile cuts. Even if that means asking the rental facility or someone at your local Home Depot.

Backsplash without Thinset Pinterest Collage






I Kept a New Year’s Resolution: A Good News Jar Recap

I recently told a friend how sometimes I feel like my memory fails me. I can remember obscure Smiths lyrics, or I can remember my grammar school friends old home telephone numbers, and yet, there are things that I cannot recall. For example, every morning when I leave the house, in a hurry, carrying a million things, shouting to someone, “Ok, I’m walking out the door!” I try to plow through the storm door. However, the door is always locked. Then, under my breath, I utter, “What the…?” in complete shock that the door is locked and I cannot just go careening through it at full speed. I am often the one that locked the door the night before. Every. single. morning. this. happens. We will have lived in this house for 5 years in February.

The fact that this happens to me every morning scares me. Which is why, in addition to using my phone, a DSLR, writing kids’ quotes in the notes section of my smart phone, scrapbooking, creating a photo gallery, and keeping both a digital and written calendar to capture events and milestones, I decided to write some memories down when I remembered and placed them in our 2015 Good News Jar.

I have found over the course of the year that writing these things down has served three purposes:

  1. I am infinitely more grateful for what I have.
  2. I am able to recall smaller things.
  3. I have a year’s worth of notes to put in a scrapbook some day.

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Some memories are pretty significant and might have been remembered anyway because of their significance or  the photos we took or because it was something that was all over the news:

Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup! Celebrating with our friends has been our favorite part! WOOHOO!

But most of my favorite memories that were written down were things that I probably would not have remembered otherwise.

It has snowed all last night and today. Sunday School has been cancelled and it looks like school tomorrow will be cancelled too. Time to play in the snow while Daddy snow blows the driveway and Mommy makes snacks for the Super Bowl.

To be honest, I was pretty surprised at how often I found myself writing down little tidbits about our lives. Often times the moments I chose to write down were small every day occurrences that would not have been captured on a camera:

After some hard practice, George moved to the next level of sight words at school. He learned that hard work does indeed pay off. Good boy, Big G. We love you!


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And while they might not be captured on digital film or be considered conventional milestones:

Family Date Night: We went and saw Big Hero 6 and we all loved it. Now we have a secret family handshake. Ba la la la la.

These are definitely moments that are worth remembering:

Russell lost a tooth at school.

I am grateful I kept this resolution, because now I have all these memories written down where I can remember them. Memories that might have otherwise been forgotten. I am so grateful I kept this resolution, that I think I will begin calling this our Gratitude Jar as we head into 2016. It has meant so much more to me than a few extra pounds shed or an organized closet. I cannot wait to read all the cards we write in 2016.

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Readers, talk to me! What are some events, moments, things you are grateful for in 2015? What are some goals in 2016? Is one of them to just write some memories down on index cards?


We Don’t Have to Sneak Cereal Anymore

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #AwakenYourTastebuds  #CollectiveBias

When I was a kid there were a few things we were obsessed with: playing whiffle ball in the backyard, getting to sleep on the screened in porch in the summer, cereal, and Star Wars™. I think the main reason why we loved cereal so much is because it was a perfect food for before school, after school, and for when we were watching movies like Star Wars™ late at night.

However, my Dad was an extremely frugal man. So frugal, in fact, that he had a brown expandable file folder dubbed the “coupon caddy.” He lived by a few simple rules, one of them being: Never Pay Full Price. When you’re a kid of the 80’s and 90’s and you have a stodgy Dad, this was not cool, and hipstery, and Pinterest worthy like it is now. It was a bummer. Sometimes it meant being deprived of our favorite cereals.

Star Wars Gift Basket and Snack Mix4

When I was about six years old, and my older siblings were teenagers old enough to be left in charge, my parents went out for the night and left us some money for dinner. Rather than order a pizza or grab fast food, the older ones had the genius idea to walk up to the store and get our favorite cereals. You know kids love cereal when they have cash for dinner and a million different options, and they still would rather walk to the store to get whatever cereal they like. Afraid our parents would be upset with our breakfast for supper choice, we hid the leftover cereal in our toy closet. Then, forgot it was there. Months later, Dad found it when cleaning the toy closet, and instead of being in trouble laughed at our cleverness.

Now, that we are adults and don’t have to sneak cereal anymore and the new Star Wars™ movie is days from being released, I had a genius idea!

Star Wars Movie Gift Baskets for my Star Wars™ and cereal loving siblings!

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At Walmart, I found Star Wars™ Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal®, Star Wars™ Go-Gurt®  along with a bunch of other fun Star Wars™ cereal products and a few other things to surprise my brothers and sister.

Star Wars Gift Baskets and Snack Mix Star Wars Gift Baskets and Snack Mix 1

My favorite part of this surprise was that the Star Wars™ Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal® came with a droid toy, jus like when we were kids.

Star Wars Gift Basket and Snack Mix 5

While I am sure everyone would be happy to just eat a bowl a cereal while watching a movie, I thought upping the ante and creating a sweet and salty snack mix for this time of year to add to their baskets would add some seasonal flair while sitting by the tree and watching the original trilogy and gearing up for the new movie.

Star Wars Gift Basket and Snack Mix 14

Cinnamon Toast Crunch Snack Mix

5 cups Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal®

5 cups any shape pretzels (I used pretzel sticks)

2 cups dried cranberries

1 1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

1 stick of butter melted

Star Wars Gift Basket and Snack Mix 6


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

Melt butter.

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In a large bowl, add Cinnamon Toast Crunch Cereal® and pretzels.

Pour melted butter over the cereal and pretzels and toss gently until all the pieces are coated.

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Place the cereal and pretzels on a baking sheet, and place in the oven and bake for 12-17 minutes.

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Remove from the oven and place in a clean bowl to cool to room temperature.

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When the mixture is completely cooled, add the dried cranberries and chocolate chips, and then toss it together.

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Store in an airtight container (I used a Mason Jar for easy transport) or serve immediately.

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Are you going to hunker down the new few nights and watch Star Wars™? Do you have a favorite cereal you can eat any time of day? For more ideas for movie cereal treats, you can visit General Mills.

Advent Calendar: Our Kindness To Do List

If there is one thing you should know about me, it is I adore the Christmas season. Could it be because my birthday happens to fall during this magical time? Maybe. Could it be because I love putting up strings of lights, baking countless amounts of cookies, and writing little notes in cards? Yes. Perhaps it is also because I adore Christmas music, and I can still quote almost every line to It’s a Wonderful Life and Elf. (I have eclectic taste in movies).

Advent Calendar 4

My favorite part of the holiday season though, is “the sparkle” and not just all the glitter ornaments that are adorned everywhere. My youngest and I were talking about Christmas and when I asked her what her favorite part of Christmas was, she said, “My heart feels like warm sparkles at Christmas time.”

While “sparkle” is a very pre-school girl term, I knew exactly what she meant by it. It’s that warm, snuggly, glittery feeling. It’s an almost indescribably warm feeling that exists when you give someone a you love a hug. When you put a letter in a mailbox. When buy someone who is hungry  a cup of coffee and something to eat. When you buy a bag full of groceries at the store and then leave them behind to donate. When you chat with the checker at the grocery store. When you bring cookies for your kids teachers. When you just read a book with your kids even though it is past their bedtime but you just want to soak up some extra time.

Advent Calendar 1

That’s sparkle.

Just like the rest of the year though, December is full of  some “sparkle days” and full some some dull days. Instead of buying stopping and getting a peppermint latte for a friend, some days we are rushing out the door trying to get to soccer and someone forgets a water bottle. Some days I don’t eat until 2 pm because I have too much going on throughout the day, and I end up eating the cookies I planned to give away. Some days instead of wrapping gifts, I fold laundry.

This year though, our Advent calendar, has been keeping us in check. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see that every day there is note with a way that we can add some sparkle to our day. Even if it is small, like just smiling at everyone we see because “smiling is our favorite.” I have been looking at it as our Kindness To Do List.

Advent Calendar 3

As this holiday season brings us into the New Year, this “Sparkly To Do List” got me thinking perhaps some of these items should be on my to do list the whole year through. Maybe I should add some of these sparkly acts of kindness to my to do list for the new year too!

Advent Calendar 2

What are some acts of kindness you can add to your daily routine?

DIY Halloween Bat Tree

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #TrickOrSweet #CollectiveBias

As soon as the first day of Autumn strikes, I make the kids finalize Halloween costume decisions, I start to hang a few spooky decorations, and I buy some candy. I try and rationalize it by telling myself that it is because I want to make sure I have enough for all of the Trick or Treaters on Halloween and as my kids cannot partake in the candy part because of their allergies, I am always afraid I will run out. However, we all know it is for me.

Also, there is nothing like a giant bowl of Hershey’s Candy by the front door to let everyone know Halloween is on the way. The kids and I adore sharing treats with anyone who stops by before the big day to get everyone in the mood for Halloween. With Hershey’s giant bags there is enough candy to get our  friends and family in the Halloween spirit before the big day, and plenty left for Halloween too. Just take a look at all the kinds you can buy HERE.

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This year, I decided to decorate the dresser that sits near our front entryway with a giant bowl of candy filled with the Hershey’s Trunk or Treat Variety Bag found at Walmart. These awesome variety bags can be found right in the seasonal holiday section, where all the Halloween accouterment resides.


While at Walmart, I found some awesome white sticks in the floral department, and that gave me the perfect idea for a great entryway decoration. With some supplies I had on hand, I created some flying bats to greet us and our guests every time we enter the house. They are cute, simple, and festive and look adorable next to our giant bowl of Hershey’s Candy that we are sharing with our friends and family.

To make these Flying Bats you will need:

black paper


hole punch



bat silhouette (you can print one from the internet and cut out)

floral sticks

a vase or bucket


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Trace the bat silhouette onto the black paper.

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Following the pattern, you traced cut the bat out.

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Using the hole punch punch two holes in the wings of the bat.

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Tie string through the holes.

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Put the floral sticks in bucket.

Hershey Sticks

Hang bats from sticks like ornaments (tape sometimes helps keep them in place).

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For a quicker version of my directions, here is a video.

Head out and buy your giant bag of Hershey’s Candy and Walmart (you can check decide right here), then decorate your entryway to greet your Trick or Treaters (or yourself)!



Organizing Legos: A Lego Figure Display

“If I step on one more Lego!!!!!”

This is a phrase often uttered in my house. The kids have all reached the age when Legos are the primary toy. This of course means they are EVERYWHERE. On the floor. In the couch. On the table. In the kitchen. In the car.

While I love that my kids play with Legos (I mean hello hours of entertainment, education, and did I mention silence), I had to think of a a way to organize this insanity.


The first thing I did was to get some sets of clear plastic drawers, and I sorted all the Legos out by color. I figured this would kind of help with finding certain pieces, and when putting things away, everything would have a place. I even had a couple leftover drawers for instruction booklets, Bionicle pieces, and Lego Figure (known at our house as Lego Guys) pieces and accessories.

Lego Organization 1

After everything was sorted, I thought it might be nice for the kids to have a place to display the things they had built. Normally, they don’t mind displaying something for a few days on the craft table, but then taking it apart to build something else. However, when it comes to their Lego Guys, they really like to keep them together for some reason.

I pinned a few projects, and decided to create a display for their Lego Guys. It was simple and fairly inexpensive as I used up a few things I had on hand.

DIY Chalkboard “Lego Guy” Display

1 picture frame (I chose a large poster size frame)

Chalkboard paint (I used Martha Stewart brand found at Michael’s)

12 – 36 (2 x 3) Lego bricks depending on size of display you want to create

super glue (I used Gorilla Glue Super Glue as I know it adheres to plastic)


Paint brush

drop cloth or trash bags

Lego Guy Frame 1

Lego Guy Frame 2

Step 1: Disassemble Frame. Take apart the frame by removing the glass or plastic, and any paper. Set aside the frame. Then place the cardboard or wooden backing on the drop cloth to prepare to paint.

Lego Guy Frame 3

Step 2: Paint. Paint. Paint again. Paint the front side (the part of the frame without the hooks to use for hanging) with chalkboard paint. Be sure to use smooth strokes and watch for drips. I ended up painting three coats of chalkboard paint making sure to wait at least an hour between coats.

Lego Guy Frame 4

Lego Guy Frame 5

Lego Guy Frame 6

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Step 3: Scribble. Most chalkboard paints require you to cure the chalkboard paint with chalk before moving on with anymore steps. To do this you must draw on the chalk paint after it is completely dry (12-24 hours) and wipe clean.

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Step 4: Measure. I placed the board back in the frame without the glass. Then, using a measuring tape, a level, and some chalk I marked out some lines to help me determine exactly where I wanted to clue my Lego Bricks.

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Step 5: Glue. Using the super glue, carefully put a dab of glue on the side of the Lego brick and placed the brick on the markings on the board. (I didn’t photograph this step as it made me nervous to have my camera or phone around super glue).

Step 6: Wait. It is important to wait a few hours to make sure that all the Lego bricks are secure with the super glue and are completely dry before attaching your Lego Guys.

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Now, you and your kids can enjoy an awesome display of Lego Guys (and label them) and you won’t be stepping on them anymore.

Lego Guy Frame 12


Say No To Crack, Especially in Your Kitchen Countertops

When we moved into this house, there was so much updating that needed to be done, we had to prioritize. Obviously we didn’t have the means to do everything all at once, so there were quite a few things that got put on the back burner. One of them, was the kitchen countertops.

Kitchen Countertop Crack 1

The countertops in the kitchen are Corian. Like the original, first draft of Corian. We all know that the first draft of anything always has room for improvement. When we moved in four years ago, there was a small crack above the dishwasher, and also one near the stove area. While this was not exactly ideal, we knew that new countertops was not in the budget. We looked into patching the Corian, which can be done and is inexpensive, but knew that the spot above the dishwasher would most likely keep reappearing due to the expansion and contraction and heat of the dishwasher. We were also wondering what other kitchen upgrades we would want to make in addition to countertops. So, we held off. I used cutting boards for everything, and we made due.

However, if you have read this blog before you know that I spend most of my day in the kitchen. You also know that is where everyone else in the house spends most of their time too. Due to the wear and tear of our family, this is what has now taken place.

Kitchen Countertop 2

There are CRACKS everywhere!

So, we have bitten the bullet and decided to say no to crack once and for all.

Our first choice was butcher block. (If you follow me on Pinterest you can see all the butcher block I pinned.) Brian and I liked how warm wood seemed. We figured that we would be putting in a new backlash with the countertops, which would be tile, and with white cabinets, wood seemed the way to go. We also liked that this was something we could probably do on our own. However, after a great deal of research, we realized that with three kids who like to cook with Mom, this would probably get a great deal of wear and tear. We probably would need to refinish them occasionally, and honestly I don’t want to get into that mess.

Photo courtesy of

Our next choice was Corian again. Even though we have cracked Corian now, we knew that Corian had come a long way in 20 years. We liked how some of the surfaces looked like natural stone, and that is totally our jam. However, after talking with some people about Corian, we found out that even new Corian can crack, and there have some complaints. In fact one of the places we shopped, doesn’t even sell it anymore due to customer complaints.

That got us thinking about durability, quality, and how often I cook in the kitchen. PRO TIP: Be flexible. Sometimes you might not get the exact material you originally wanted, but after talking to the experts you find it is the best choice for your lifestyle, look, and budget.

So we took a look at natural stones and settled on granite. We loved the natural look and variation of the stone. However, we originally didn’t think it could fit in our budget. Upon doing some good old fashioned shopping around, we were able to find something we loved that fit into our budget. PRO TIP: Make sure you get a written quote from all the places you are shopping. That way they can compete for your business. I was able to get a written quote from a local retailer, and Home Depot was able to beat it, and the quote they gave us was LESS than what we would have paid for Corian.

The counters have since been ordered, and measured. Since our current sink is built into the countertops, we have also had to pick out a new sink.  Also, I have been sampling some tiles. You can follow me on Instagram for updates.

Decisions are being made. #HomeEveryday #SkibsSummer

A photo posted by Erin Skibinski (@eskibs) on


Now we have to pick out our exact slab of granite then wait for installation.

Hopefully, in a couple of weeks, the crack will be gone forever!