DIY Valentine's Day Matchbook

Just a quick heads-up that today I posted a fun last-minute Valentine’s Day project on my new blog. See you there!

 

For a while now (longer than I expected), I’ve been working on a new site. And it’s finally ready to unveil. Please follow me to DIY in PDX!

So you might be wondering why I decided to change my site name and url. When I started this blog back in 2009, I wasn’t sure what I wanted it to be. My content was all over the place at first, and then I focused in on fashion. For a while it was more of a style blog. But throughout its evolution, there’s been one constant: DIY. Sharing projects and tutorials has always been a huge part of my motivation for blogging (see my DIY archives for evidence), and I realized that the name and styling of my blog needed to reflect this.

If the new blog looks familiar, that’s because I’ve moved all of my old content over (even comments!). It’ll have a lot of the same focus on DIY projects and recipes, plus I want to highlight some of the local businesses and DIYers that make Portland such a special place to live. And I cleaned up and reorganized the site and archives to make it easier to find content. It’s just a bit sleeker, more professional, and with better navigation.

Though this site will remain up for now, I won’t be posting new content other than a few reminders that I’d be ever-so-grateful if you’d follow me to my new site. I also have a new RSS feed, twitter, instagrampinterest username, and bloglovin’ site. Please come say hi!

 

After light demolition, lots of stripping, sanding, painting, and tiling, my back stairs are finally done with their makeover. In my last progress report, they looked like this:
back stairs makeover

Which was a vast improvement from how they started, but still not quite done. The full before is here, along with my gameplan for the space. Here’s a recap to save you the trouble of clicking.

back stairs before

Yikes, right? Ugly dark wood paneling, patterned carpet, and fake tile vinyl flooring on the landing. The seventies threw up all over this space. And even though it’s just our back door and stairs to the basement and backyard, it deserved better. So finally, the full after!
back stairs after

back stairs 3

Adventurous got really fascinated with this area while I was taking pictures. She did this the last time I photographed here, too. I think she has modeling ambitions. Also, I’m already considering that maybe with two light-colored cats, black steps were a foolish idea. I’ll just be doing some extra vacuuming, I guess.

You may notice that the door is still an eyesore. I considered painting it, but it really just needs to be replaced. It’s pretty beat up, it’s very leaky because it doesn’t fit right, and we’d really like some windows. But doors are surprisingly expensive. So for the time being, we’ll live with this one. Photoshop is an excellent alternative to shelling out the big bucks for a new door.

back stairs white door

Pretty realistic, eh? I’m kind of proud of it, especially the window with our real backyard behind it. The door is actually this one, which we could theoretically someday install in real life. Back to the rest of the space, though.

After ripping off the carpet, pulling out nails and staples, and dissolving the carpet glue, I was left with wood stairs with lots of thick glue and paint in awkward corners. I didn’t really want to deal with trying to sand it all off by hand, so I covered up the problem with beadboard on the risers and paint on the steps.

back stairs 4
First I gave the stairs a couple of coats of Glidden Floor and Porch Paint in Onyx Black. It looked all shiny and pretty, but shortly after it dried, I realized that it was a deathtrap for me because it was way too slippery. Stairs have it in for me. Steven once saved me from breaking some bones (or worse), several years ago when I slipped on stairs with no handrail at a venue. No, I hadn’t had anything to drink. As I was falling down the steep flight, I screamed his name, and he broke my fall. My hero. If only he’d been there a couple of years ago when I think I broke a rib slipping on the stairs that go to our second floor. Now I always make sure to hang onto the handrail, but slippery stairs + me are a very bad combo. So I bought a packet of non-slip floor finish additive, and did another coat. Problem solved. It’s not quite as pretty, but there’s no way I can slip on these stairs now, no matter how hard they plot against me.

I added a couple of hooks up near the kitchen door, which have already come in handy for holding some of the millions of canvas shopping bags we have. And the banister got a coat of the same paint as the floor, minus the non-slip additive. I even cleaned and shined up the handrail brackets (the hardware holding up the banister), and re-positioned them slightly so that they actually went into studs. (Easier said than done when you have plaster and lathe walls–studs are actually often tricky to find.)

back stairs 2

And that ends my first, and probably last, big home improvement project of 2016. It’s not that our house is perfect now, it’s just that the other areas that need work, like the bathrooms, are going to be way bigger and more expensive projects than we want to take on this year. But I’m glad that now I’ll have more time for working on smaller scale projects that are a bit more blog-friendly.

Resources:
Tile: Moon Mosaic by Statements Tile. (Even the guy at the tile store seemed surprised that this was only $4 per square foot. The tile itself cost less than $50 for this space.)
Grout: Ardex FL in Ocean
I bought the tile and grout locally at Interstate Flooring, and I’d recommend them.
Wall paint: Benjamin Moore ben eggshell, in Cotton Balls
Floor and banister paint: Glidden floor and porch paint in Onyx Black, plus Behr non-slip additive for the floor
Hooks: These, in black, which don’t seem to be available in that finish any more.

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If you ask me, Valentine’s Day is an annoying holiday. When you’re single, it’s a reminder that unlike seemingly everyone else on the planet, you have no one to send you roses and chocolates, and you’ll be alone forever. And if you’re part of a couple, there’s a lot of artificial pressure to make the day “special,” by spending a lot of money on overpriced food and corny gifts. For many years, Steven and I have celebrated by staying home and making a slightly nicer dinner than usual. Homemade pizza (no garlic or onions!) plus a bit of sparkling wine sounds like a romantic evening to me.

This Valentine’s Day heart pizza works whether you’re part of a couple, or not. Couples can cut it in half and offer each other pieces of their heart (awww), and your single lady party can go to town and annihilate the symbol of commercialized love with pizza cutters. Either way, you get to eat pizza at the end. Which is definitely the way to my heart.

Valentine's Day heart pizza recipe

Valentine's Day heart pizza recipe

Valentine's Day heart pizza recipe

Red Pepper, Portobello Mushroom, and Artichoke Heart Pizza

Makes two pizzas.

Pizza crust dough – I used this recipe, which makes enough for two pizzas, or you can use pre-made pizza dough–I like Trader Joe’s.
Pizza sauce – I used this recipe, but halved the honey and omitted the anchovy paste. It makes more than enough for two pizzas.
2 large portobello mushrooms, thinly sliced into 1-inch long pieces
1/2 cup marinated artichoke hearts,sliced into 1-inch long pieces
1/2 cup roasted red peppers,sliced into 1-inch long pieces
8 oz mozzarella cheese, sliced and torn into pieces
1/4 cup feta cheese
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

 

Valentine's Day heart pizza recipe

Whether you make your own pizza dough, or use store bought, when you get to the step where you press your dough into the pan, gently shape it into a heart. You can do this in either a sheet pan, or a pizza pan. Press an indentation in the top, and stretch out a bottom point. If your dough isn’t cooperating, leave it to rest for 15 minutes, and then resume shaping. Repeat if necessary.

If you’re using homemade dough, they’ll be a rising step at this point. While the dough is rising, slice up the vegetables and prepare the mushrooms as follows.

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. When oil shimmers, add mushroom slices, lightly salt and pepper, and saute for 10-12 minutes, or until mushrooms have softened and begun to release juices.

A few minutes before your dough has finished rising, pre-heat the oven to 450°F. Bake the crust for 10-12 minutes on the lowest oven rack, or according to the instructions for your dough recipe. Remove crusts from oven and allow to cool slightly.

Spread pizza sauce on top of the dough, then arrange 1/4 cup cooked mushrooms, 1/4 cup artichoke hearts, and 1/4 cup roasted red peppers on each crust.

Valentine's Day heart pizza recipe
Add torn slices of the mozzarella cheese on top of the vegetables. Sprinkle feta cheese over everything.
Valentine's Day heart pizza recipe
Bake in a preheated 450°F oven for 10-15 minutes until the crust is nicely browned, and the cheese is melted. Check it midway through, and move it to the bottom rack if the top is browning too much, or the bottom not enough.

Slice up, and eat your heart out!
Valentine's Day heart pizza recipe

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Probably well over a year ago, I was excited to find a cool candle holder at a thrift store. After I got it home, I realized that it took a non-standard candle size. Smaller than tapers, but bigger than birthday candles. Maybe it’s standard elsewhere (in Northern Europe? The design could be Scandinavian), but not in the US. I looked a couple of places for the right size, and then I put the problem on the back-burner. But recently I realized that I could make my own custom size candles out of beeswax sheets. Problem, meet easy, fun solution.

DIY taper beeswax candles

DIY taper beeswax candles

A set of these, along with some copper and marble candleholders, would make a great gift.
DIY taper beeswax candles

Here’s how to make your own standard-size taper, but you obviously make any size you want.

Materials:
Beeswax sheets – I bought these and the wicks at St. Johns Living Well, but I was going to buy this kit if I couldn’t find them locally.
Wicks – Size #4/0, which you can find here.
Scissors
Ruler (optional)
DIY taper beeswax candles
Steps:
1. My beeswax sheets were 8″ tall by 16″ wide, big enough for two standard candles apiece. Cut each sheet in half, so they’re 8″ by 8″.
DIY taper beeswax candles
2. Cut a wick about a half inch longer than the height of the candle (8.5″), place it along one edge of the candle, and fold the edge over the wick.
DIY taper beeswax candles
3. Roll the wax sheet around the wick as tightly as you can.
DIY taper beeswax candles
4. When you get to the end of the sheet, press the end gently but firmly into the candle, until it stays in place.
DIY taper beeswax candles

That’s all there is to it! So easy, right?
DIY taper beeswax candles

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