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Sealing Butcher block {Kitchen reveal!}

This post has been a long time coming! I want to show you the biggest change to our kitchen, and a huge help to my dinner making routine.

When we moved into our townhome 11 months ago, one of the biggest challenges was the kitchen. It has an L shape layout and a spacious floor plan, but the counter space was extremely limited. This is how it looked the day we moved in:

And now:

Can you spot all the changes? The star for sure is our new island!

Like I said, counter space was tight. The gray zones show where we eventually put things. Picture me, standing in front of the microwave, holding my arms close to my chest like a Julia Childs/ Tyrannosaurus Rex hybrid, trying to prepare dinner!
How to seal butcher block #polyurethane #kitchen #clever_nest

 I needed an island, stat. I did some browsing on Craigslist, and checked out some discount stores. Most of what I saw on Craigslist needed a lot of work, or didn't match the kitchen style, or wasn't big enough for the space. Then I saw this free standing island at Ikea, perfect! It has a huge work surface (57 x 25), and 4 really big drawers for stowing lots of stuff. And even better, the white drawers with chrome hardware was a perfect match for our kitchen.
How to seal Ikea Varde butcher block #polyurethane #clever_nest

After a quick chat with my sweetie that went something like, "I've found the one!" "are you sure?" "Yes, it's perfect! Can I buy it?" "Uh, sure?" "Ok, thanks Sweetie!", I bought a Varde base and butcher block countertop. The price was about the same as what I'd seen islands going for on Craigslist, except this one was brand new. Gotta love Ikea!
How to seal Ikea Varde butcher block #polyurethane #clever_nest

The reasons behind Ikea's great prices hits you in the face once you go to pick up your stuff. There's my island, in multiple flat boxes, all 12 thousand million zillion pieces just begging to be misassembled once we got 'er home.
How to seal Ikea Varde butcher block #polyurethane #clever_nest

 If you've ever had the joy of putting a piece of Ikea furniture together, you can imagine how the next few hours went once I did get it home- looking at the directions 10 times (no words, just pictures), putting things together backwards or upside down, realizing our mistake and taking everything apart again, and eventually rejoicing over our finally assembled island!
How to seal Ikea Varde butcher block #polyurethane #clever_nest

FYI- the #1 thing husbands love the most when they're stressed out, sweating, and trying to put something together, is to pose for a picture. It's for the blog, Baby, smile! :D

Sealing Butcher Block
Once we got the island assembled, we just lived with it for awhile. After a few weeks of use, I noticed stains and oils were starting to seep in and discolor the wood, and knew I needed to make it waterproof ASAP. 

I'd never done anything like this, and I was pretty intimidated. As usual, Pinterest came to the rescue, and after reading a few DIY posts, I was ready to get down to business.

There are several different ways to seal the wood, some all natural, some chemical based. Since we didn't plan to cut or prepare food directly on the surface, we felt ok going with a topical, water based sealer. Thanks to a helpful employee at Home Depot I decided to buy a small can of Miniwax Polycrylic and a high quality 3 inch brush.
How to seal Ikea Varde butcher block #polyurethane #clever_nest
The directions were pretty easy, 3 steps:
  1. Sand
  2. Wipe
  3. Seal (and seal, and seal)
To sand the top and sides of the butcher block I used a 120 grit sand paper on a sanding block*, swooshing it around in big circles all over the surface. Go ahead, picture it. It was very artistic.
How to seal Ikea Varde butcher block #polyurethane #clever_nest

 *Since I didn't have a real sanding block, or anything close, I used a dry sponge instead. Improvising!
steps to seal butcher block island #ikea #polyurethane #clever_nest

After my sanding the wood interpretive dance I wiped off all the dust with a damp rag. I kept folding it over as I went to make sure the surface was clean, leaving the wood dust free.
steps to seal butcher block island #ikea #polyurethane #clever_nest

I popped open the can and poured a good amount into a disposable paper plate I could toss when I was done, less mess to clean up later. I brushed the sealer on just like i would paint. I went in 2 foot sections, being careful to completely cover the wood.
steps to seal butcher block island #ikea #polyurethane #clever_nest

I recommend doing this in a well lit room. The strong afternoon light was really helpful to see when I missed a spot.
steps to seal butcher block island #ikea #polyurethane #clever_nest

I let the first coat dry, 4 hours according to the package directions. Then I sanded lightly and sealed again. I put on a total of 3 coats, all applied 4 hours apart and sanding between coats.
steps to seal butcher block island #ikea #polyurethane #clever_nest

Always brush in the same direction. I tried applying the 2nd coat vertically instead of horizontally and wound up with a funky brush stroke texture. I let it dry then lightly sanded out the bumpy texture.

Here's my awesome island, all sealed, along with some other accessorizing I've done!
Kitchen island makeover, Ikea Varde. How to seal butcher block #clever_nest

Kitchen island makeover, Ikea Varde. How to seal butcher block #clever_nest

Lime, Aqua, Yellow kitchen #ikea #island

Turquoise plate: Homegoods, fruit stand: Walmart, sprayed with Krylon Apple Green, knife block: painted with Craftsmart Bright Yellow, dish towel: Kohls currently $3.39
Lime, Aqua, Yellow kitchen #ikea #island #clever_nest

Lime, Aqua, Yellow kitchen #ikea #island #clever_nest
Pots: Joann Fabric, Coffee pod holder: Bed Bath and Beyond, sprayed in Krylon Apple Green
Lime, Aqua, Yellow kitchen #ikea #island #clever_nest

I use my island every day, all day long. It's where I dump my bags of groceries, make lunches, chop, dice, and do anything food related. No more Tyrannosaurus arms! 

That's my new slogan- get an island so you don't have to cook like a Tyrannosaurus.


How to seal butcher block using polyurethane #ikea_varde #clever_nest #lime_aqua_yellow

BIG news for Clever Nest- You won't want to miss!

In a few weeks we'll be celebrating Andrew's 2nd birthday (how did that happen??). And now we have something else to celebrate around here.


Ready for it?


We are preggers!!

So excited!! :) I'm 13 weeks along, just finished out the first trimester. We decided to wait a bit before telling the world, but now the secret's out and there's a bun in this oven!

We started documenting each month with a picture, just like we did when I was pregnant with Andrew. Here I am at 1 month and 2 months.

I'm still fitting in normal clothes so far, but opting for the looser t's and slightly roomier shorts. I'm so glad I get to be pregnant in the WINTER this time instead of the blazing hot California summer! (I had Andrew in September, and melted my way through the third trimester in 100 degree plus weather.)

How we told our families
For my family, we tried teaching Andrew, somewhat successfully, to point to my tummy when we asked him, "where's the baby?". Although he didn't have a perfect track record, sometimes pointing to certain other round parts of my anatomy, or going over to Daddy's stomach and pointing proudly there, we went for it, and he came through! We were hanging out in my parents' kitchen, and when the moment was right I asked Andrew, "Andrew, where's the baby?". After a quick point to the general area of my stomach by Andrew, we said, "we're pregnant!". They were surprised! :)

For Jason's family, we told them on our Big Bear cabin trip in August. I bought Andrew this shirt from Etsy

and put Andrew in it when we showed up to the cabin. It was fun because people noticed it one by one (there were 20 of us), so we had an extended session of congratulations. Some family didn't arrive 'til late at night, so we were still surprising people the next morning! Jason's parents and youngest siblings are missionaries in Argentina, so I Facebooked them this picture to share our news:
(this pic says March 14, but my OB changed it to the 17th)

Boy or Girl?
We don't know! I definitely can't wait to find out. If I had to guess, I'm betting on another bouncing boy. Jason has 5 brothers, and I have 2 so the odds aren't exactly in favor of a girl. I'd love a girl, someday, but I'd be totally ok with another boy. Andrew could have a little brother to play with!

Feelin' good
I feel great! This pregnancy is totally different than with Andrew. With him I had morning sickness a lot during the 1st trimester. With this one, just a few twinges here and there, but I'd say I'm 90% nausea free, yipee! One negative is that my skin has taken a cue from it's Jr. High days and is majorly breaking out. I'm hungry all the time, and having crazy dreams. Like for reals, I should tell you some of them sometime!

  • Artichoke hearts (anyone else craved this??)
  • Sprite (the sugar makes me jittery so I've started subbing with flavored sparkling water)
  • Lemon Icees
What does Andrew think?
We've told him there's a baby in Mommy's tummy, but he definitely doesn't get what's going on. He'll only be 2 1/2 by the time Baby comes, so his first realization that things are changing might be the day he meets his little sibling!

Where will Baby sleep?
My current thought is to put him or her in with Andrew when they're old enough. We have another bedroom, but we've turned that into a guest room, and I'd like to hang onto it as long as possible! Who knows though, they might be terrible roommates and need their own space to sleep. But that's the plan as of now. We shall see!

There you have it! Is there anything I forgot to cover? Your prayers and well wishes are greatly appreciated as we get going on this next new adventure! I will keep you updated!

Have a great week,


are we friends on fb yet? are we?? are weeeeeeeeeee???

Wedding shoes into party shoes {DIY}

wedding shoe makeover with paint #diy #high_heel #clever_nest

Jason and I got to go to a wedding this Sunday, and I jumped at the rare occasion to get all dressed up! On a tight budget, and determined to go out in style, I got creative, and slightly crazy, and experimented with painting a pair of old shoes!

I don't get many opportunities to get all fancy, and I am all about getting fancy. You know, hair, makeup, high heels. the works. So when we got the invitation to the wedding of one of Jason's co-workers, I immediately started planning my ensemble. Of course, this wedding would come in the month that we decided to get serious with our budget and cut down our spending on "extras". No money for new shoes? no biggie, challenge accepted.

Speaking of Weddings
Of course I wanted a schnazzy pair of new shoes to wear to this wedding, but, a) that wasn't in our budget, and b) who wants to break in new shoes on the dance floor anyway when there's a perfectly comfy pair sitting in the closet?

Exhibit A: my wedding shoes.

This is me and my Sweetie, almost 5 years ago.
Wedding shoes sitting in the closet? Use them again with this easy paint diy! #makeover

I kept the dress and veil, and of course, the shoes too. I lucked out on this pair, super comfortable, and I danced all night in them!
Wedding shoes sitting in the closet? Use them again with this easy paint diy! #makeover

After 5 years sitting in my closet, not getting worn once, here's how they looked:
Wedding shoes sitting in the closet? Use them again with this easy paint diy! #makeover
Still in good shape, and begging for a makeover!

A Second Chance to Party
 I removed the rhinestones from the front of the shoes. Thankfully they popped off pretty easily.
Wedding shoes sitting in the closet? Use them again with this easy paint diy! #makeover

I had Folk Art in Teal, and Americana brand in Sea Breeze and applied them with an eyeshadow brush (who's to lazy cheap to buy a paint brush?). 
wedding shoe makeover with paint #diy #high_heel #clever_nest

I watered down the paint as I went so it would go on in thin layers. Wetting the fabric on the shoe helped spread the paint and absorb it into the material without getting cakey.

Did you love your wedding shoes? Use them again, try this paint makeover! #clever_nest

Did you love your wedding shoes? Use them again, try this paint makeover! #clever_nest

 Here it is after one coat. 
Did you love your wedding shoes? Use them again, try this paint makeover! #clever_nest

I put on 3 thin coats to completely saturate the fabric. I used teal on most of the shoe, and sea breeze on the two front straps.
wedding shoe makeover with paint #diy #high_heel #clever_nest

I touched up the sides of the shoe with a black sharpie. It's diys like this that are crucial to pay attention to detail. The last thing I wanted to hear at this wedding was, "Oh my! Did you paint your shoes?" :)
wedding shoe makeover with paint #diy #high_heel #clever_nest
At the last minute I decided to add a thin coat of Teal over the Sea Breeze straps to make them a bit darker (and match better with my accessories). When all the paint was dry I sprayed the shoes with Krylon clear acrylic sealer to make them water proof.
seal paint on shoes with clear acrylic spray #wedding_shoe #makeover #clever_nest

And at the very last second, literally the night before, I was at Michael's and picked up this packet of gold iron on studs, for a little extra bling! Since the directions called for ironing both sides of the material (not possible), instead I attached a few using super glue.
seal paint on shoes with clear acrylic spray #wedding_shoe #makeover #clever_nest

Here Comes the Bridal Shoes
I'm so happy it worked and I didn't completely ruin my shoes! I'd never recognize them now, and I love the way they look!
easy shoe makeover using paint and iron on transfers #wedding_shoe #makeover #clever_nest

easy shoe makeover using paint and iron on transfers #wedding_shoe #makeover #clever_nest

Adding to my list of Impossible Things to Photograph, I now put "yourself in high heels" in the top 5. After many awkward shots, I managed to get these through our closet mirror doors.
easy shoe makeover using paint and iron on transfers #wedding_shoe #makeover #clever_nest

easy shoe makeover using paint and iron on transfers #wedding_shoe #makeover #clever_nest

Things I learned:
  • Don't paint the inside of the shoe. I did because I thought it would look better in pics, but it ended up making the inner parts stiff and scratchy on my skin. Next time I'll know it's better to leave the insides be.
  • Don't spray sealer on the foot pad. My foot stuck to the spray a little. Next time I'll cover it up with painter's tape before spraying.
  • Painting shoes works!! I'm so glad to have this in my arsenal for the future. I'll be saving a lot of money on footwear!
Fashion Show
Shoes, check. Since I was still working on a non-existent budget and trying to get an ensemble together, I was forced to get pretty strategic. I already had a black dress, and now some hot blue heels. All the stars aligned for me on this one, and with my coupons, gift cards, sales I was able to make out like a sale-crazed, bargain hungry bandit!
easy shoe makeover using paint and iron on transfers #wedding_shoe #makeover #clever_nest

Necklace: $13 Apt. 9 Bib Bubble Necklace (Kohl's) $3 after Kohl's Cash
Shoes: Already owned. $3.99 Iron on gold studs (Michael's), $2 after coupon 
Bracelet: $12 14th and Union gold chain bracelet (Nordstrom's Rack), $3 after gift card
Clutch: $45 Steve Madden black clutch (Nordstrom's Rack), $3 after gift card
Dress: Already in my closet, black "silk" dress (Wal Mart, haha)

Wedding, Take Two
We had so much fun! It was an Indian wedding so there was new foods, ladies in beautiful saris, and belly dancing that night!
easy shoe makeover using paint and iron on transfers #wedding_shoe #makeover #clever_nest
 Me and my handsome man :) Bracelet's on the other hand, and sad face, didn't manage to capture on the day of what we all came for, the SHOES!!

easy shoe makeover using paint and iron on transfers #wedding_shoe #makeover #clever_nest
Me and my fellow work wife, Avril (her husband and Jason work together).

Thanks for joining me on this adventure! I hope I inspire you to dig out a pair of heels in your closet and go for it!!easy shoe makeover using paint and iron on transfers #wedding_shoe #makeover #clever_nest

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