In Which We Repaint Furniture For The First Time

My parents gave us this beautiful Howard Miller mantel clock for our wedding, and when we got it home, we had no place to put it. I felt like the cheap black of all of our bookshelves wouldn’t do it any justice.

So we decided to paint one of them.

Cheap Walmart IKEA bookshelf before painting

This is a cheap Walmart/IKEA bookshelf — plywood with a cardboard backing. Here’s how we did it:

Step 1: Sand off as much black laminate as possible from the bookshelf.

Step 2: Prime the bookshelf. We used a Shellac-based primer (B.I.N. by Zinsser) based on an Apartment Therapy “reader intelligence report” I found. The guy at Home Depot confirmed this primer would be a good fit for this kind of project, but BE WARNED. We tried to use those stupid inexpensive foam brushes with the Shellac, which was a disaster. (Rollers and paint brushes work fine, but the Shellac basically ate foam.)

Step 3: Sand down the first coat of primer and repaint.

Sanding Zisser primer for second coat bookshelf furniture do it yourself painting

Step 4: Sand down the second coat of primer, and apply the first coat of pigment paint. Rinse and repeat.

Processed with VSCOcam with g1 preset

Creighton thought that primer was simply white paint, but here’s the truth: it’s not. Primer gives the paint something to adhere onto, and it’s made up of a different chemical composition than paint. Paint has pigment and is oil- or water-based. Primer, like this one, can be based on a few different materials and can play nicely with different types of paint.

Also, repainting/refurnishing furniture, especially cheap furniture, is not easy. I had read that priming is an essential step to getting an optimal look, so we took the time and effort to do it well.

Step 5: Profit.

Behr Surfer paint color medium base white primer bookshelf repainting refurnishing before after

teal bookshelf IKEA repainted pop of color

You Need a Budget logo, YNAB logo, budgeting

On the Life-Changing Properties of YNAB

True story: There was a time when Creighton and I saved every single receipt and wrote down every single transaction so we could spend an hour+ each Sunday plugging them in to an Excel spreadsheet that he built. This was a pain in the ass. Budgeting is a pain in the ass. you need a budget, budget, piggy banks, budgeting solutions, best budgeting program, YNAB Here’s a list of bland “good reasons to budget”:

  • Save money.
  • Track/curb your spending.
  • Make every dollar count/give every dollar a job.
  • Feel guilty about what you are spending.
  • Get into fights with your family members about their spending.

The first three are things personal finance experts like Dave Ramsey will say over and over, and yet I found that I didn’t know why it was important until we started doing it. We all know WHY to save money. We often know how to save money. But the reality is more complicated. You look at your bank account, and you are like, “Oh, I have $XXX to spend; I’ll just buy this dress.” But that’s conducive to living paycheck-to-paycheck, which also sucks. Budgeting, like all things, only sucks until you make it part of you. Queue YNAB.

Creighton once decided he wanted to buy an old beat-up Nissan Z-car so he could fix it up and race it AutoCross (he didn’t). The guy who was selling it mentioned this program called You Need A Budget. Creighton was into saving philosophies at this point in time, which was the beginning of his interest in Financial Independence. During his research, he borrowed all of the YNAB philosophies and used some screenshots to build his own Excel version because we were too cheap frugal to spend the $60 on the real version.

The YNAB “Rules”

  1. Give every dollar a job.
  2. Save for a rainy day.
  3. Roll with the punches.
  4. Live on last month’s income.

After nearly a year of using the Excel spreadsheet, which was clunky and got huge very quickly, we agreed to try out the YNAB 34-day trial. Needless to say, we spent the $60 and have the full version now. I encourage EVERYONE even remotely interested in budgeting, saving money, financial freedom, etc. to TRY THE TRIAL.

My friend over at My Cash House once told me they didn’t want to be restricted by a budget, but just wanted to save as much as possible. I think that’s a downright noble goal, and if you can make it work for you, then you should do that. It’s certainly the best philosophy. Buy only what you need, and save the rest. But I’m, like I said yesterday, incapable of non-consumption. I still like things and clothes, as much as I sometimes wish I didn’t.

The budget puts a sort of structure in place. It creates “envelopes” into which you can earmark your money (a beloved method of aforementioned Dave Ramsey). It provides discipline as well as transparency. It has some cool reporting features for number-crunchers and nerds, and at least the graphs are colorful.

Other things I love about YNAB:

  • They have an app that effortlessly/seamlessly enables you to update and check your budget on-the-fly.
  • They are non-judgmental. People are on different levels, and shit happens, so set up your goals, save what you can and adjust as needed.
  • They make me feel responsible and empowered, but not guilty.

Dave Ramsey and the like feel too preachy for me, and I don’t want to find myself constantly beating myself up over how much we are saving. YNAB doesn’t make me feel like that. It’s validating instead of soul-crushing.

Naturally, I am always looking for ways to save more, and Creighton and I revisit our YNAB set-up often to ensure it doesn’t grow stagnant or lazy. But it has been a real game-changer for us during our budgeting journey.

Postmortem: The Excel version of our budget will always have a place in our hearts, and we shared it with many friends, but it was so clunky and took forever to use. We grew to hate the hideous receipt box that gathered dust on our desk. 

Sometimes When We Touch …

This is how it is:

Sometimes you love a person.

jigsaw puzzle Greenville SC

Sometimes you do puzzles together.

jigsaw puzzle face

Sometimes you do puzzles with friends.

Sometimes you feel old.

Sometimes you take naps.

Sometimes you spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

Sometimes you purchase $30-worth of produce from a local grocery shop.

Sometimes that means you eat kale, turnips, collards, Carolina sweet onions, green onions, rainbow chard, beets, cabbage and radishes.

Sometimes you look up creative recipes for these vegetables you have no idea how to cook.

Sometimes they turn out great.

Sometimes they don’t.

Sometimes you buy a whole coconut and try to open it on a Sunday morning, and that turns out to be a disaster.

Sometimes you spend so much time playing racquetball and swimming and walking to the library and stopping for coffee and wishing it was warmer and talking about going backpacking that you forget how many weeks have gone by since you checked out that backpacking book from the library.

Sometimes you take naps.

Sometimes you do things together, but not really together.

Sometimes you have company over.

Sometimes you go snow tubing on Moonshine Mountain in North Carolina.

Sometimes you get drunk.

Sometimes you spend too much money.

Sometimes you buy awesome boots.

awesome-ass boots

Sometimes you are so happy.

Sometimes you worry about dying — or worse, him dying and you having to live through that and meet someone new and start over and detangle the mess of a life he leaves behind.

Sometimes you think about praying that that won’t happen.

Sometimes you think about your wedding, and you start planning silly things even though it’s still more than a year away.

Sometimes you wear protective goggles into a bar and really pull it off.

Sometimes things are just awesome.

wearing safety googles in a bar like a badass

Us at Blu Martini

If Christmas isn’t found in your heart, you won’t find it under the tree.

You guys, it’s Christmas. Things I wish I had for you:

  • Photos of a Christmas tree that we decorated all beautifully in our tiny apartment. Saw one the other day with mini bottles of alkeehol as ornaments. But, alas, we don’t have a tree.
  • Beautifully decorated cookies and chocolate-covered pretzel sticks and fancy dinner parties with eggnog.
  • Photos of me in a dark green sweater dress with red leggings and nude heels looking glamorous.

Ok, but I live in the real world, and Christmas Season (aka the month of December) is this kind of crazy time where you eat way too much and everyone’s super busy. This week I have two Christmas-y parties in the same day. And dishes to wash, laundry to do, D&D to play, the gym to visit, work, books to read. This is the real world, and not the world you think Adulthood will be when you get there. (On an unrelated note, if I remember, I will take pictures at the fancy dinner parties we attend this weekend and the baked goods we assemble. The only pic really missing will be the green sweater dress and the Christmas tree, and you can make the former happening by sending me this. And this. And this.)

A list of my Christmas favorites:

  • Giving people presents I believe in
  • Giving people poorly handmade presents
  • Seeing my family
  • Fudge
  • Being in Mobile for the first time in 2012 — a record
  • The song “Greensleeves” / “What Child is This”
  • Cold-night snuggles with C-baby
  • Eggnog
  • Fuzzy socks
  • The inevitable PJ set SOMEONE is going to buy me