Fixed Pipes and Repaired Walls

As I’ve mentioned, we have had quite the struggle dealing with some plumbing problems that were FINALLY resolved a month ago. In true Graf fashion, the repairing of walls didn’t go smoothly either. The biggest problem is that during the process of repairing the plumbing and the walls the contents of all our counters, two bottom cabinets and stainless steal shelving full of my cookware, tools and appliances was in our dining room which rendered two rooms practically useless. We lived that way for a month and it was ridiculously frustrating and embarrassing (shout out to our guests who love us anyway!).

In what was supposed to the final day of wall repair and repaint we encountered another problem—this one we embraced. While out with a girlfriend, I received a call from our handyman. He was ready to paint over the drywall and couldn’t find any left over paint in our kitchen color. He laid out my options:

1. Did I remember the name of the color? (I can’t even remember to fill my gas tank before a light tells me to).
2. He could go to the Depot and try to color match. It doesn’t usually work and he’d have to give the entire kitchen a coat of paint.

I did some thinking. I wasn’t happy with how the yellow I chose turned out. It was too washed out and hospital looking. I also made the bad choice of painting the bottom of the soffit the wall color instead of ceiling white. Long story short…..I made bad choices and was too cheap to fix it.

I asked our sweet friend and handyman to fix these new-homeowner mistake. I decided to paint the kitchen the same gray as our dining room. This choice would both emphasize the Fiestaware and save some time and energy if I knock down the wall between our kitchen and dining room—an idea I am seriously considering. He, very kindly, agreed.

When I came home a few hours later, I was greeted by two incredible blessings. The first was we had enough leftover paint from the dining room we didn’t have to pay for more. The second was that the kitchen looked SO MUCH BETTER gray. I would seriously walk in every ten minutes and stare at the walls as our friend continued working.  Thank God he is a family friend, as a stranger may be concerned with my constant watchful eye and drooling over wall color.

And now for the great unveiling:







I have to be honest, I was quite nervous about I would like the gray walls next to the wooden cabinets…but I absolutely LOVE it!

Necessary But Ugly Projects

Our latest house project is ridiculously frustrating. All function, not pretty and a COMPLETE money suck. For the past year and a half we were chasing a cracked vent pipe. It wasn’t easy to find, only caused intermittent problems and our first plumber gave up on finding it. You read that right….he stopped trying to help us. We were happy to give our money to someone who wants the job. After many visits from plumbers, many attempts at easy fixes we had a crew of three plumbers spending the entire day with us, cutting (three) holes in our walls. The end result left us with several replaced pipes. We are going to wait two weeks to make sure the cracked pipes that they found were the ONLY cracked ones and then repair our walls. Until then, we taped them so the kitties wouldn’t go exploring. This project took up too much time, money and space (the contents of my kitchen are currently in dining room) for us to do anything fun around here. I hope to get my dining room table back soon and finish the guest curtains so I can show off my new favorite room!!!

 Necessary But Ugly Projects

Guest Room —- Refinishing a Bed Frame

As I have mentioned before, our guest room is a work in process. While we had intended to finish by the time my God-daughter and brother stayed with us last month, that didn’t happen. Don’t get me wrong, we got most of it done and was able to provide them with a comfortable place to stay, but the room is not in the ideal state of finished quite yet.

Today I wanted to share with you how we refinished a bed frame to go with our gender neutral gray/yellow theme. When we purchased our house we were gifted a free twin size bed and frame. It has been very useful over the past two years when guests have spent the night at our house. Yet, it wasn’t until this summer when we started designing our guest room, so everything in there was a hodge podge. Once I had settled on the “theme” of the room, I knew I had to refinish the bed frame. It would be silly to get rid of a perfectly good bed frame just because the coloring didn’t fit, so I headed to my local hardware store and spoke to an associate about my spray paint options. I came home with a can of gray paint and primer that was made for metal. The hubs took apart the bed and painted the headboard and footboard. We were left with a perfectly gray bed frame that fit our vision!


More updates coming soon!

My Cats Like to Swim

My cats are weird. They both like water. Both routinely have jumped in the bathtub after we shower just to hang out in the water. Totally normal….not. Back when we brought home our first two kittens we left our toilet lid up. Then one day our Tiger decided to go for a dip. We quickly changed our routine and now always keep our toilet covered.

Here is the thing….we have people over all the time. I have never felt comfortable reminding people that we keep the lid down for the kitty’s sake. However, I am even LESS comfortable with chasing a soaking cat to give it a bath. I spent many months trying to come up with some art that we could keep in the bathroom and avoid awkward conversations, and then I finally found this on Etsy! I LOVE that she sold me the pattern (which allows me to replace as needed), I was able to do colors that work with our bathroom and most importantly I no longer need to verbally remind people to keep the cat swimming pool closed!

My Cats Like to Swim

Decorating Our Guest Room—Planning Addition

Our current decorating project is our guest room. My Goddaughter and her brother are coming to stay with us in a few weeks, and it is just the fire we need to finish it!

A lot of thought had to go into decorating this room, as I want it to be something that anyone can be comfortable it. Specifically this means that it must be general neutral and plain but not boring. It is quite a challenge to design a room that aims to make most people happy. I settled on a yellow and gray theme with the option of blue of accents. I also wanted to avoid florals.

This room will be a guest room for both genders as well as a nursery twice a week when I nanny. It needs to be usable and accessible. It will be outfitted permanently with a twin size bed, a dresser and bookshelf. Once I beginning to nanny in a few months, there will also be a pack in play in there. I hope to at some point add a comfy over stuffed chair.

Last night we finished painting the room. Now to finish the dresser, book shelf, update the bed, make the curtains and add aesthetic touches.

Guest Room Sneak Peek

We have 17 days to finish!!!




Homemade Curtains

I decided to make my own curtains for our home. Like most home projects I endeavor on, I have a vision of the end project before I begin. When I knew what I wanted my curtains to look like I went online window shopping and had no luck finding what I wanted. It was then that my friend told me she made her own and helped me learn the skill.

Dining Room Curtains

We used this pattern. I love how it so versatile. We were able to use the same pattern for our standard windows and for our large bay window. I have also had so many compliments on it that my friends have been asking me to make them for them as well. Check out the blog in the link, she has a LOT of great home ideas!

Once I caught on it was really easy! I also love that I can choose everything from my fabric and backing to the exact measurements of the panels. I have a world of options, and can make custom pieces for our home.

Making Curtains 1Making Curtains 2

Tea Towel Art

Let’s take a moment to talk about my kitchen art. I NEVER thought I’d have kitchen art. Very rarely do I decorate my house with something not functional or sentimental. I know this could make me boring, but it also encourages creativity.

One of the exceptions to the this rule is my kitchen art. It was most likely Food in Jars that held a contest for Mason jar themed tea towels. With utter lack of self control I ordered one, not sure what I’d do with it. Weeks later I came upon a second one and came up with how I would use them (up until I came up with it’s purpose it was catching dust and wasting space).

Tea Towel Art

For this project you will need to buy:
-a decorative kitchen towel
-a large picture frame (I bought a poster frame at 50% off at Hobby Lobby)

Then grab your tools:
-iron and board
-double sides tape


1. Iron your towel.

2. Gently stretch over the cardboard backing of the frame. Use the double sided to tape to adhere to the back side of the board. (I decided to do it this way as opposed to cutting and gluing so as not to permanently damage the towel.)

3. Replace the backing in the frame, hang and enjoy!

Building Raised Beds

Lets talk about our raised beds. Our neighbors, who lived in the area with our cruddy dirt for about 20 years, suggested we build raised beds. After trying to work with the ground we had last year, we quickly started saving for raised beds for this year’s garden.

We chose cedar, which is pricey, but they last a LONG time. Untreated wood is DEFINATELY the way to go, you don’t want chemicals leaching into your dirt and into your plants. Very gross.

First, we measured out the garden plot. This was a bit tricky because we hadn’t yet dug up all the back brush. Then it was time to come up with a pattern that worked best for the space. Among things to consider is being able to walk between beds for easy weeding as well negotiating a walking path along the fence line and around the rain barrel and compost piles. Joe suggested that we  leave 18 inches between the beds and the fence, as well as between each bed. This is plenty of space to weed and harvest from both sides. We also decided to align all the beds with the North side of the garden, allowing one to walk around three sides of the bed.

Our next step was going to get the wood. We went to the Home Depot near our house because we needed to rent their pick up truck to bring it all home. They sell the cedar boards in 16 feet and 8 feet. We had five 8 foot boards cut in half, and ten 16 foot board cut to 14.5 feet. We kept the foot and half to use as stakes to secure the beds.

Drilling Beds

When it was time to put the beds together, we used screws. This will make it easier to replace boards when it does become necessary. We set up the boards in an offset pattern to maximize the space. (Think of how you fold a cardboard box to close.) Once all four sides were connected we drilled in the stakes. Today we used a level to secure the beds into the ground. This required some digging for the beds to lie flat.

Secured in the Ground

Tomorrow the dirt arrives! And if the rain holds off I will get to plant!

2014 Yard Overhaul

We had some REALLY big projects we had been wanting to do with our yard. We are so incredibly blessed to have friends who were willing to spend the day with us and help us There is NO WAY that we would have been able to accomplish this without them, and being able to cross these things off our to do list was such a relief!

We wanted to add an exterior outlet to our house. We wanted a place to plug in Christmas lights and an alternative option for some of our electric tools, like the leaf blower so that we aren’t fighting with extension cords. Luckily we have a friend who is an electrician and was able to install it for us!

Outdoor Outlet

We wanted to redo the front landscaping. First, it looked like a complete mess. Our house used to be a rental property, so it wasn’t taken care of to our standards. Also, I hate pine trees/bushes. Between the needles and the fact that they remind of me of Christmas (I don’t want to be reminded of the Chicago cold in the summer!), they had to go! In more boring landscaping news we trimmed the dead branches off of our pine tree. I hope to have it removed in the next year or two.

Front Landscape Before 1Front Before 1

Front Landscape Before 2

Front Before 2

In there place we put some Iris’ that are fourth generation in my family. They belonged to my maternal Great Grandmother. Along the front walk we planted Gladiolus bulbs. I am a BIG fan of perennials. Many people disagree with me, but I can’t justify paying to put the same flowers in every year. In front of the bay window I bought Boxwood bushes. We will put them in the ground in a week or two. Our priorities were/are getting all things we needed help with done and getting the vegetable garden up and running.





Along the garage, where the Iris’ lived last year, went a row of rose bushes. I needed something strong to handle the rain fall off the garage until we are able to put a gutter up on that side.

Rose Bushes

Rose Bushes

Speaking of gutters, we would have gotten them up on the East side of the garage, except we needed a new part. That project will be done later this week. I really wanted to move the rain barrel inside the garden fence, to make managing the watering and weeding easier.

Speaking of the garden, we built raised beds! We still need to dig them into the ground, but it is such a relief to have them built and read to go! Later this week we will secure them and order a dirt delivery! This was a pretty easy, albeit expensive project. We bought untreated cedar for beds. We built them at 4 feet by 14.5 feet at 6 inches deep. We put together five of them!

Building Beds

Confession time: This is the only side I drilled myself!

Raised Beds

Raised Beds

I can’t wait to plant on the fruits and veggies I got this past weekend! My friend and I had to play Tetris to fit all the plants in my truck.


Lastly, we cut down ALL the brush on our rear property line. Besides it being ugly and not maintained, it also served a garbage collection for anything that blew across the local properties. I had felt a little bad that all our friends had spend the entire day doing yard work with us……until I saw the smiles on the boy’s faces as they played with chainsaws. We still have some roots to deal with and the grass to plant. This project will take awhile, but I believe in the next year or so, it will look fabulous. Furthermore, both my neighbor and I are incredibly pleased that our gardens will get more sun now!

Back Tree 1

Back Tree 2

Back Landscape, half done.

Boys and Chainsaws

The Hubs and I once again want to thank all the people who sacrificed their Sunday to help us! It is such a relief to have all those projects crossed off our list!

Dining Room Furniture Project—Bar/Buffet Edition

I miss blogging! I try to normally do three a week, but with my trip and non stop running around since I got home I haven’t had a moment to myself. In fact, I am DESPERATE for some a full night’s sleep. Thank you for your patience.

Our BIG home project this year is outdoor landscaping. However, as finances (and good deals on things we have our eye on come up) allow I am slowly working on other indoor projects. One of the fun design projects in progress is the dining room. We have already accomplished painting the room, making the curtains and hanging the pictures and art work. For the remaining projects we want a bar/extra storage space and new chairs. We are also slowly collecting antique mason jars to place on top of our china cabinet.

For the storage problem, I had done a lot of research and was having a difficult time finding something I liked at a price I was willing to pay. I had thought that maybe our best bet would be for Joe to build something, which isn’t something neither one of us really wanted. I was mulling on it and weighing my options, while focusing on our more immediate landscape overhaul.

And then while in Oklahoma I had to make a Target run to buy aloe (my skin burns like that’s it’s job). While roaming around the store I came across this cabinet in white. I knew instantly it fulfilled our size, look and price requirements. Now I will be the first to say that I never expected to buy furniture from Target, but it does meet our needs, so I thought we should give it a shot.

I decided to do something a little outside my comfort zone and order the cabinet in yellow. It just had so much character and really added to the room.

Dining Bar and Buffet

It is also home to my first piece of vintage Pyrex! There is a fabulous seven building antique mall in Missouri, which has been added to my list of stops on my way to Oklahoma.