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diy lantern light fixture

I’ve been holding out on you about our porch progress. See, while I was busy showing off this:

Outdoor Rug

I was hiding this:

Porch Ceiling Before


In addition to the wonderful green tile on our screened porch, we had this a gorgeous florescent light, the kind that looks like it belongs in some derelict warehouse building. Obviously, it had to go.

Down the line, we’d really like to take out the whole ceiling and just have the exposed rafters for a nice open look. But we’re short on time and money, so we wanted a solution that could work for us now — something not too expensive but nice enough that we’ll be happy with it for the next year or so until we can circle back around to opening up the ceiling.

Enter this DIY lantern light fixture:

DIY IKEA Lantern Lighting

Other than sketching out how I wanted it to look and picking out the lanterns themselves, the GC gets all the credit for this creation. I asked him to give me a step by step description of how he did it, so it’s about to get a bit technical up in here:

Disclaimer: GC is an electrical engineer who has a lot of experience doing electrical work like this. I don’t recommend anyone without the proper training and background attempt the following, and even then, it’s at your own risk. Also remember whenever you do work with electrical like this, make sure to turn off your power and use a volt meter to make sure it’s off!

After taking out the old light fixture, we measured the distance between the two joists and cut down a 2×4 to fit in the space as framing.

Cut 2x4s

We screwed these 2×4 pieces on to the joists.


And attached the each electrical junction box to the framing with screws.

Junction Box

Then, we spliced the existing wiring to a new piece of 14-2 Romex cable (this was then linked to junction box #2) and secured the existing wire on junction box #1. Here’s a shot of junction box #1 after the wiring:

Wired Junction Box

Once the wiring was complete, time to move on to the the gaping hole in the ceiling left from the former rectangular light. Again, because time and patience were at a premium, we didn’t want to try to patch the hole left from the former light. Instead, we opted to cover it with a larger piece of pine, which we cut to 10 inches wide and 4.5 feet long. We measured this up with the junction boxes and cut out two 4×4-inch holes with a Jigsaw to accommodate them. Then we painted it with some leftover white interior paint I had used on a door in my condo.

IKEA’s Orgel pendant lamp was my lighting of choice; unfortunately, the Orgel is a plug and cord lamp and not a hardwired one that we could hook up directly to the junction box. So here’s where being engaged to an electrical engineer comes in handy again: he cut the plug end of the cord, drilled a hole in a plastic coverplate and fed the cord through it, then spliced the wires from the cord into the junction boxes.

Lighting Cords

It took a few tries to get the cord length right (he actually went back and re-cut the cord on the left), but we got it high enough so that the lanterns wouldn’t hit anyone on the head when you walk under them. Then we screwed the coverplates to the pine cover and ta-da!

IKEA Lanterns

Oliver was impressed.


Or maybe scared? It’s hard to judge by that look. Either way, we were really happy with the final product!

Ceiling After

Does anyone else have a good-enough-for-now-but-not-forever project in their house?

over the moon

I’ve been seriously neglectful in telling you about our adventures in painting.

I had been throwing around some ideas in my head for what to paint the living room since we moved in. I wanted something light and neutral, maybe just an off white or taupe. But then I started to think that a really, really light yellow could complement the color scheme I have going/want to have going on.

Normally, I would have debated about color selection for weeks, maybe months. The room basically may have never gotten painted. I’m just too indecisive! Then a few weeks ago Sherwin-Williams put all their paint on sale for 30 percent off. And though it’s hard for me to make decisions, it’s even harder for me to pass upon a sale, so we took the plunge and bought two gallons of their Super Paint color-matched to Behr’s Moon Mist.

Would you believe I’ve never painted a room before? Not even a wall.

Cutting In

This painting stuff is no joke! Holy arm workout! And that’s just from the little bit of painting I did do. Major props go to the GC who took on quite a bit of this project while I was sitting on the couch watching Property Brothers supervising.

I will, however, take credit for taping off the whole room.


Because of our schedules, I’d say this took about a week and a half to get to the finished product:

Living Room After

I’m really happy with the color. It’s actually slightly lighter than it appears in the photo, but the effect is very bright and happy. Yes, I think I’ll be making all my interior design choices based on if they are happy or not.

Now that painting is complete, here are some more living room to-dos:

-Paint trim
-Make artwork for walls (in progress)
-Figure out what to do with the gaping hole next to the chair
-Buy something to put over the fireplace
-Redo the fireplace brick?

Have you done any house painting lately? Good news if you have upcoming projects: Sherwin-Williams is having another 30 percent off sale until July 8!

smoked gouda and asparagus salad

I used to hate smoked gouda. It’s tough for that real smoky flavor to win me over in a lot of foods, and gouda was no exception.

Then one day I went to a work meeting where lunch was provided. Anyone who works in an office can tell you how hard it is to turn down free food. Scratch that — anyone who is breathing can tell you how hard it is to turn down free food.

Amongst the usual turkey sandwiches and chips was a salad, and not just your usual boring iceberg lettuce with some shredded carrots and cabbage on top. Fresh cut asparagus. Crunchy candied pecans. A sweet-but-not-cloying cinnamon dressing. And, yes, smoked gouda. My world will never be the same.

Smoked Gouda Salad

Smoked Gouda and Asparagus Salad

1 bag spring mix
1 cup blanched asparagus, chopped
1/3 cup roasted red peppers in water, drained and chopped
1/2 cup candied pecans
Smoked gouda cheese, chopped, to taste

Mix cooked asparagus, red peppers, pecans and gouda cheese with spring mix. Top with honey-cinnamon vinaigrette (see below).

Honey-Cinnamon Vinaigrette
Adapted from Southern Living

1/4 cup cider vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons canola oil

Whisk first five ingredients in a bowl (vinegar through salt). Continue to whisk and add oil slowly.

Oliver approves of this salad.


viva espana

Even though the porch has been progressing slowly, I haven’t been able to stop myself from buying pretty much all the furniture and decor for it. You know, if you build it, they will come. Or in this case, if you buy it, the porch will be done.

Once the second coat of paint finally dried, I ran to the basement like a kid on Christmas morning, eager to open this:

Rug Package

It’s been taunting me since it arrived over three weeks (!!) ago now. How I was able to resist opening this rug for that long I have no idea. I have willpower made of steel. Said willpower does unfortunately not apply to chocolate and assorted baked goods. Moving on.

Here’s the new rug in all its glory:

Espana Rug

The Espana Area Rug via Home Decorators. This rug was kind of on the pricey side for me, who is cheap to begin with and has never spent more than $100 on a rug before. But I kept coming back to it. The color was right and I loved the pattern. And because I figured we had saved money by painting the porch rather than putting down flooring, I figured the saved money could be put toward this.

Espana Rug

I’m really loving it. The rug is sooo soft and plush — I guess that’s what you get when you spend a little money! The color is also perfect — orange but not in-your-face orange.

Can’t wait to continue to finish this space!

virginia love

I’ve been shopping around for bridesmaids gifts this week and stumbled upon this super cute necklace from Maya Brenner Designs.

Maya Brenner Virginia Necklace

How adorable! There’s a necklace for every state — even one for DC!

Maya Brenner DC Necklace

These aren’t going to be the bridesmaids gifts (still on the hunt), but I totally want one of these for myself. I mean, the state outline is in my blog header, and I’m supposed to be creating a brand, right? Right??

Question: What’s the best bridesmaid gift you’ve received? If you’ve never been one, what would you love to get?

DIY met engaged married artwork

After moving in to the new house, I may or may not have cried more than once from missing my condo. It’s not that I hate the new place; I’m just comfortable with what’s familiar. I just have to remind myself that this house will soon become the new familiar. It just takes time. And some personalized arts and crafts projects can’t hurt.

Met Engaged Marry DIY Art

I’ve seen something like this floating around Pinterest, though where and when escapes me. The basic idea is a set of maps highlighting the location you’ve met, married and lived with your significant other. In my case, because we’re getting married so close to where we live, I went for the met, got engaged and married route.

First, gather up your maps, needle and floss. I got my map of Virginia online, then cropped the three regions I needed in Photoshop before printing each.

DIY Art Supplies

Lightly trace a heart on the back of the map. (I printed and cut out a heart shape to make sure it was even and the same amongst each map.)

Traced Heart

Thread your needle and start stitching from the back of the map to the front (i.e. pull the thread through the map so the knot is on the blank side.) Continue to make small, evenly spaced stiches that follow your traced heart.


You’ll need to be careful that the stiches aren’t too close, or you may rip the paper. When this happened to me, I stuck a piece of clear tape over the rip to repair it, then redid my stiches, making sure to space them farther apart. I thought later you may also be able to avoid this by using a thinner needle.

Taped Stitch

Carefully tie off the thread. Repeat with the other maps.

Then it’s as easy as placing the map in your picture frame!

Finished Thread

I put these on the wall in my little entryway, so they’re the first thing you see when walk in the front door. So far I’m loving them! Not only were they inexpensive, but they have a personal meaning to us. I’m already brainstorming more DIY artwork plans!