Decorate your Dining Room for Less

Decorate your dining room for less

We moved into a newly built house last December. All walls were white and there were no window treatments. Endless possibility, with potential for big expense. The first room we decided to decorate is the dining room. Its long and skinny, with windows on 3 sides. It is my favorite room in this house.

My normal tendency is to go conservative and use neutral colors, but it ends up looking bland. This is our first home with white trim, which made us feel a little more freedom to use COLOR. Our decorating budget is pretty low, so it was our goal to spend as little as possible, but have it look the way we want it to look.

Window Treatments


Max Studio Home Curtains found at Home Goods

Initially, I planned to stencil plain white curtains using fabric paint and a wall stencil. By my estimate, this would have cost $100 for 2 pairs of curtain panels (AND a lot of sweat equity AND potential to mess it up).

When wandering through Home Goods, I found 2 pairs of Max Studio Home white and silver curtains for $80. I had a $75 gift card for Home Goods (best gift ever), so I only paid $5 out of pocket.

We hung the curtains using Threshold Square Drapery Rods in Oil Rubbed Bronze from Target ($60 for two, and TODAY you get a $15 gift card when purchased online, along with free shipping if you use your Red Card!).

We chose to leave the three windows on the back wall uncovered since we love the view. If we decide to cover them for privacy later, we’ll use the same curtain rod, and sheer white curtains from IKEA (estimated cost for rod and 2 pairs of curtains, $50).

Area Rug

Dining Room Rug - Threshold Patio 7x11 Rug

Threshold Outdoor Patio Rug

First of all, let me say the cost of area rugs is ABSURD! We needed a 7’x10′ (or larger) rug because our chairs were scratching the floor, despite the felt pads on the legs. With new home construction outside, there is dirt and dust everywhere!

After shopping around, the lowest price of a rug I somewhat liked was $300+. I literally jumped for joy in the store when I found this 7×11 Threshold outdoor patio rug at Target (This one is no longer being sold but check out this similar option released spring of 2016). We paid $120. The material is fade resistant, and so far, stain resistant (as tested by my 1 and 3 year old kids – every spilled food has washed off with a rag and a little water even after a full year!). I love the pattern and color, and am very pleased with how it is holding up.


accents 2

Painted Wine Bottles and Mason Jar

accents 1

Painted Vase, Votive, Bottle and ‘Runner’

You may have seen previous posts about painting jars and bottles for accent pieces in this room (See: DIY Spray Painted Wine Bottle and Candle Holder, DIY Glass Enamel Mason Jar and Vase, and DIY Crackle Painted Glass Bottle).

Because I already owned the glass containers, tape and spay paint, I just had to purchase craft paints (3 for $1.99 a piece).

I wanted to make a table runner, but don’t have a sewing machine. I also don’t like how fabric runners tend to wrinkle (I know I won’t iron it!). I bought a 1/4″ thick board ($5 at Hobby Lobby) and used painters tape and leftover craft paint to paint stripes. I now have a wrinkle free ‘runner’, that matches the accents.

IKEA artificial plants and pots

IKEA Fake Grass and Pot


IKEA Fake Plant and Pot

For the ledge between the kitchen and dining room, we purchased these flower pots ($1.99 a piece) and fake greenery ($3.99 a piece) from IKEA. We had this IKEA candle holder ($7.99 new) already, and added it to the ledge.


Finished, painted room

Glidden High Endurance Plus Paint in Alluring Aruba Blue

We purchased one gallon of Glidden High Endurance Plus paint (Walmart, $17) in Alluring Aruba Blue ($17). We used one new paint brush ($7), one roller ($1.99), and one roll of blue painters tape ($5).

The first streak of paint was a little unnerving because it is a bold color, but we love how this room turned out!

art 2

Art by Pam Faessler

art 1

Art by Pam Faessler

The framed pictures are watercolor paintings printed on canvas. My mom, Pam Faessler, created these and I love having her artwork on display in our home. AND they look great with the paint color!

Finished Room

Here is the BEFORE picture and a few more pictures of the finished room. After everything, we spent $324 (which included a $75 gift card, so really $249!), which is about what the area rug would have cost if we hadn’t found this patio rug!

If you want the rug, hurry up and buy it while they still have it, at an even better price!



Finished Room, view of sliding door

Finished Room, view of sliding door

Finished, painted room

Finished room

Finished room, view of side windows

Finished room, view of side windows

Future Projects

In the future, the bench by the window will either be sanded and painted yellow, OR will get a yellow and white patterned cushion (made with outdoor fabric). For now, I can’t decide, so when this gets done, I’ll do an update post. And SOMEDAY (not soon), we plan to get a very long extension table (up to 130″) and new chairs, probably in Espresso finish.

A girl can dream…


7 DO’s and DON’Ts after your Child’s Public Meltdown

7 DOs and DON'Ts After Your Child's Public Meltdown |

Our family recently took a 6 day trip to Maine for our niece’s wedding. The wedding was amazing. Our son was possibly the cutest ring bearer EVER. Yes, I’m biased.

The flight to Maine with our 3 and 1 year old kids was surprisingly pleasant.

While I didn’t expect our return trip to be AS smooth, I certainly didn’t anticipate my son’s meltdown IN the airport, OR my usually easygoing daughter’s inconsolable cries screams in flight.

We decided to eat before the flight to prevent the hangries (i.e. SO hungry you’re ANGRY). We split two huge burgers between the four of us.

A good idea…until I gave some to my daughter.

Our hangry son wanted a whole burger. Tears streaming, feet stomping, trying to flee; he was OUT OF CONTROL. Not desirable behavior for the airport (or anywhere).

15 minutes later, we convinced him to either calm down and eat, or have NOTHING.

His public meltdown left me embarrassed and nervous about the looming flight. Thankfully, he was great on the plane.

If only his meltdown was the end of our travel drama.

Our daughter’s ears must have hurt. During the 2.5 hour flight, she screamed intermittently until she passed out with 20 minutes left. My biggest concern going into the flight was a poopy diaper; screaming was SO out of character.

Ugh. A stinky diaper would have been SO. Much. BETTER.

After snacks, rocking, toys, and distraction with the tablet failed, our emergency plan was to give each child a sucker.

She was a sticky, spitty mess. 

AND it ran out before we landed, so she had TWO. AND she screamed off and on anyway, flailing that sticky sucker into my hair.

I felt terrible for her. I felt even worse for passengers who drew the short straw and had to sit near us. She raised a ruckus. When she FINALLY passed out, I held my numb, tingling arms completely still, and prayed she would not wake.

My husband and I were frazzled and felt like we’d been through a war – with emotions flying high, it felt like the whole trip had been a stressful disaster.

But in reality, it wasn’t. Each child had exactly ONE meltdown in 6 days. During the last 20 minutes of the flight, I tried to ‘reset’ my own attitude about the trip.

7 DO’s and DON’Ts after your Child’s Public Meltdown

1. DO cut the child some slack

Acknowledge circumstances before the meltdown. Most of the time, over-stimulation, lack of sleep, or hunger may be to blame. Be grateful it didn’t happen earlier! In our case, neither child was trying to be naughty, noisy or embarrassing. They slept in strange beds, stayed up late, and were over stimulated from activities and family fun. They were exhausted.

2. DON’T keep bringing it up

When your child is finally calm and old enough to talk about it, discuss why the behavior was not OK. Then FORGIVE and MOVE ON. I like to pray with them and then hug to signal we’re done with it. Don’t bring it up again. Re-living it keeps your stress level up, and reminds your child that they were recently upset; with potential to be upset again. There will be time to analyze and determine what could have been done differently LATER, when the emotions have settled. If you’re having trouble, STOP and pray about it, and if necessary, just be SILENT.

3. DO the math

Take stock of their behavior OVER ALL. Recognize all the good moments and don’t let one 15 minute meltdown characterize their entire day. In all likelihood, this meltdown is less than 1% of the day, even if it felt like an eternity. CHOOSE to remember the good stuff.

4. DON’T allow embarrassment to alter your parenting

Be consistent regardless of the environment. Giving our son the whole hamburger to quiet him would have sent a message that his behavior was OK. The next time we share food, we’d likely deal with the same thing all over again.

5. DO take compliments from strangers  

A man sitting by us took time to tell us we were patient and did better than he did when his kids were small. I initially brushed it off, but in reality, we did do well! We did everything we could, using our preset backup plan (suckers) when needed, but stayed patient and recognized her ears probably hurt. Strangers do NOT have to say anything to you – so if they do, accept it as truth!

6. DON’T criticize, or worse, blame, anyone 


7. DO build each other up

You and anyone with you will be frazzled. Encourage each other, and encourage your child. Emotions are running high. Extra grace and kind words will help everyone move on.

Despite a somewhat emotional travel day, the kids were amazingly well behaved during the rest of our 6 day trip. Considering this included new surroundings, late nights and a busy schedule – they did great! It would be easy to focus on the chaotic end of the trip, and say we won’t travel with the kids anymore or until they are bigger. But doing that is an error that will cause us to miss out on great family memories and amazing places.

Here is a family picture from the wedding, and how I choose to remember our vacation.

Here is how I CHOOSE to remember our trip

Here is how I CHOOSE to remember our vacation


7 DOs and DON'Ts After Your Child's Public Meltdown | thisgratefulmama.com7 DO's And DON'Ts After Your Child's Public Meltdown |

DIY Accents: Spray Painted Wine Bottle and Votive Candle Holder



This is the last of a series of posts about painting glass containers to use as accent pieces in my dining room (see DIY Crackle Painted Wine Bottle and DIY Enamel Mason Jar and Vase). My dining room has aqua walls, and white and silver curtains. After making the yellow and white accent pieces, I decided to use some leftover spray paint to make some silver pieces. In our old house, we spray painted old cabinet hinges for a low cost makeover. I had some Satin Nickel spray paint leftover and used it to paint the outside of a wine bottle and the inside of a votive candle holder. If I did it all again, I’d paint the outside of the votive instead of the inside so it could be used to burn candles.

DIY Spray Painted Wine Bottle

Finished spray painted bottle

DIY Spray Painted Bottle and Votive Candle Holder

DIY Spray Painted Wine Bottle and Votive Candle Holder


  • Wine Bottle with labels removed
  • Votive candle holder
  • Rubbing Alcohol (99% Isopropyl Alcohol) $2.16
  • Blue Painters Tape
  • Rust Oleum Universal All-Surface Metallic Spray Paint (Satin Nickel) $10

Steps Used:


Clean the wine bottle and votive candle holder and allow to dry FULLY

Clean the wine bottle and votive candle holder and allow to dry FULLY

 1. Prepare the Bottle and Votive:

Wash with soapy water, rinse and allow to dry

Use a paper towel and rubbing alcohol to remove any remaining debris or residue on the exterior

Add rubbing alcohol to the votive and swirl to rinse

Allow to dry FULLY





Use painters tape to cover the exterior, leaving the rim exposed

Use painters tape to cover the exterior, leaving the rim exposed

 2. Cover Areas that won’t be Painted with Tape

Use Painters Tape to cover the exterior of the votive candle holder, leaving the rim uncovered

*Note: to paint the EXTERIOR of the votive instead of the interior, coat the inside with painters tape, leaving the rim exposed. This was easier when I used smaller pieces of tape








Shake the spray paint and apply a thin, even coat of paint to the exterior of the wine bottle and interior of the votive

Shake the spray paint and apply a thin, even coat of paint to the exterior of the wine bottle and interior of the votive

2. Apply Paint in Thin Coats

Place the bottle and votive on a protective surface in a well ventilated area (I used a large piece of paper, outside)

Shake the spray paint to mix thoroughly before use

From a distance of about 10 inches, spray an even, THIN coat of paint on all surfaces to be painted (if too thick, paint will start to drip)

Wait one hour before applying a second coat (wait at least 30 minutes before handling)

If using 3 coats, wait 24 hours before applying a third coat (Note: these containers required 3 coats each)


*When painting the votive, the paint pooled in the bottom of the votive because it was difficult to apply to the sides without it also coating the bottom. Another reason it may be easier to just coat the exterior next time, although I like how the votive turned out!



Allow to dry fully before handling

Allow to dry fully before handling

 3. Allow to Dry Fully:

Allow paint to dry at room temperature for 24 hours






Of all the methods used, spray paint is by far the easiest, and looks great. I am amazed by the variety of spray paints available, in matte, glossy and metallic finishes. Seriously, the possibilities are endless! Spray paint IS more expensive, and can’t be done on your kitchen counter, so I had to wait for a nice day to paint (NOT easy this spring in the Minnesota – it has been raining endlessly). Spray paint can be used for other projects and I plan to use the rest of the satin nickel paint for something else.

I will post pictures of the finished dining room and the three types of accent pieces together soon. Things are coming together!



Sometimes You Just Need to Laugh

As a parent, there are some things your children do where you just need to laugh. It may not really be appropriate in the moment but as you think about it later, these moments DESERVE laughter.

And yes, some of this laughter may be at your children’s expense. Here is one example.

At least once a week my son will burst into tears and be suddenly inconsolable while eating. Huge tears will flow and my mind will jump to all kinds of reason why this reaction could have occurred. Bit tongue, bit cheek, kicked something…

But the real reason is usually the same. Why is he crying?

Because he bit his OWN finger. AGAIN.

Likely, he was distracted by his sister, a garbage truck (or some construction vehicle) driving by, or he was simply being silly, as 3 year old can often be. As a result, he lost what I think is a basic self-preservation instinct and CHOMPED down HARD on his somehow unassuming finger. Again.

The reaction is loud, sudden and severe. I immediately run to his side to ask what happened and console him.  In the  moment, it is not at all funny. It obviously hurts and tears of that size do not lie.

But later, when I tell my husband that it happened yet again?

We laugh. Sometimes it is just a chuckle and eye roll, but other times I am guilty of full on, tear-inducing, make your stomach ache laughter. I can’t help it.

Please don’t take this the wrong way; I never, ever, want my children to be in pain! There is nothing worse than watching them hurt. After laughing, my husband and I have an honest discussion about what on earth we can do to make this stop!

In addition to actively reminding him to pay attention while eating (during EVERY meal and snack), especially when he is getting silly, I have actually been praying that he won’t bite his own finger; there’s a strange thing to write in a prayer journal (I’m betting years later when I look back through the journal that those entries will induce laughter yet again)!

But seriously, this has been going on for months and months. I can’t understand how a person can continually put their own finger into their mouth and then be SO surprised, like his feelings are hurt that SOMEONE bit him. I mean, really, its absurd!

For me, it is funny, and a reminder that ‘common sense’ things are still LEARNED behaviors. I am grateful for his sweet little spirit, that I am his mom and that I get to watch him grow up (and hopefully SOON overcome this eating hazard). This type of guilty laughter removes stress, lifts my spirits and leaves me motivated to do my job better tomorrow.

These kids bring me joy in the strangest of ways…

Laugh today.


Happy Father’s Day!

Today we honor the fathers in our life and I am reminded to be grateful.  My husband, Seth, is a fantastic dad. He loves our two children and is actively engaged in their lives. He leads this family by demonstrating godly character. He serves us selflessly, works incredibly hard at his job, is a great husband, friend and parent.  It is a blessing to be his wife and to parent with someone who strives to ensure we are are consistent and on the same page.

This is the first Father’s Day where my son understood we were taking a day to honor his dad. He participated in making a Father’s day gift. In addition to a photo desk calendar, we framed Aiden’s answers to some open ended questions about his dad.

The FIRST thing I said to him was “My daddy IS…” and he answered, unprompted, “Proud of Me”.

My heart almost burst.

The rest of the answers are not as serious, and some are downright silly. One thing is clear: Aiden knows the heart of his dad, even at 3 years of age. His answers make my heart overflow with gratitude to the man who is the father of my children.

We went to church this morning and celebrated our Father in heaven; the ultimate example. Then we went to my parents home and celebrated with my dad and my grandpa. It is very neat to celebrate with three generations of dads; a legacy of godly, dedicated, and honorable dads.

We are also thankful for the fathers in our family who we did not see today (Drew, Papa John, Jesus, David and Brandon). Each of them are different, yet unified in the purpose of fatherhood. And, all excel at the job.

Thank you to all Fathers today. You deserve to be honored EVERY DAY. Your dedication to your families blesses us all.

You are the dads our sons will aspire to be.

Below is the image of Aiden’s present to his dad. I love the 3 year old brain. Happy Father’s Day!

Fathers Day 2014

DIY Accents: Glass Enamel Mason Jar and Vase


finished product

Allow excess paint to drip out of the vase onto a paper plate. Wipe rim clean, and allow to dry

This is the second of a series of posts about painting glass containers to use as accent pieces in my dining room (see DIY Crackle Painted Wine Bottle). The goal was to create painted glass containers with a variety of looks. Using an old mason jar and an old dollar store vase, two different yellow glass enamel looks were created using two different craft paints. The mason jar turned out bright and opaque and the vase turned out light yellow and almost transparent.

DIY Enamel Mason Jar


To paint the mason jar, Americana Gloss Enamel Paint in bright yellow was used. Per the product packaging, the paint was used undiluted. The paint is advertised for use on a variety of surfaces, including glass. About 3/4 of the paint was used to coat the jar.


  • Mason Jar
  • Rubbing Alcohol (99% Isopropyl Alcohol) $2.16
  • Paper Towel and Paper Plate
  • Americana Gloss Enamel Paint in Bright Yellow $1.79

Steps Used:

Prepare the Mason Jar

Clean the Mason Jar with soap and water. Dry. Wipe clean with rubbing alcohol

1. Prepare the Mason Jar:

Wash jar with soapy water, rinse and allow to dry

Use a paper towel and rubbing alcohol to remove any remaining debris or residue

Add rubbing alcohol to the jar and swirl to rinse

Allow the jar to dry FULLY


Transfer paint and coat jar

Transfer paint undiluted to the jar. Rotate the jar and tap on a thick towel to coat the jar

2.Transfer Paint and Coat the Jar:

Shake the paint to mix well before use

Squirt some of the paint into the jar undiluted

Rotate the jar and tap on a thick towel or your hand until the entire jar is coated

Add more paint as needed

*Note: The paint was very thick and it took a significant amount of effort and time to coat the entire jar. I was able to tap the jar pretty hard on a thick kitchen towel but was a little nervous about breaking it. This paint created a great opaque coat but was not the easiest method. I did try using a foam paint brush to spread the paint but was unable to achieve a coat without streaks. Using a paint brush would require multiple coats

jar upsidedown

Allow excess paint to drain onto a paper plate or towel

3. Remove Excess:

When the jar is fully coated, turn the jar upside down on a paper plate or towel and allow excess paint to drip for 10 minutes

Turn the jar upright and wipe the rim of the jar

Clean any paint that spilled on the outside of the jar



finished product

Allow the jar to fully dry

4. Allow to Dry Fully:

Allow paint to dry at room temperature for 4 days

Bake in a 325 F oven for 30 minutes (per manufacturer instruction)





DIY Glass Enamel Vase


I had a glass dollar store vase that never gets used. With Transform Glass Enamel Paint, a yellow vase with a transparent coating of paint was created. Unlike the paint used for the mason jar, the packaging indicated to dilute paint with water for use on glass. Since I already had everything except the paint, it was $2 to paint the vase, and only half of the paint was used.


  • Glass vase (already had but was from the dollar store) $1
  • Rubbing Alcohol (99% Isopropyl Alcohol) $2.16
  • Transform Glass Enamel Paint in Lemon Yellow $1.79
  • Tap Water
  • Paper towel and plastic cup

Steps Used:

vase prepared

Prepare the vase by cleaning with rubbing alcohol

1. Prepare the Vase:

Wash the vase with soapy water, rinse and allow to dry

Use a paper towel and rubbing alcohol to remove any remaining debris or residue

Add rubbing alcohol to the vase and swirl to rinse

Allow the jar to dry FULLY





vase in process1

Dilute paint with tap water, mix and transfer to the vase

2. Prepare Paint:

Transfer half of the paint into a plastic cup and mix with 1 tsp tap water

Mix until smooth using a disposable fork or knife

Paint should be able to be poured easily. If not, add more water, a little at a time

*Note: The more water used, the thinner the coat of paint, and the more transparent the look

vase in process

Rotate the vase and tap on a thick towel to coat the entire vase

3. Coat the Vase

Pour 1/4 paint mixture into the vase

Rotate the vase until no more paint moves

Tap the vase on a thick towel if needed to move paint further

Repeat adding paint and rotating until the entire vase is coated



Allow excess paint to drip out of the vase onto a paper plate. Wipe rim clean, and allow to dry

Allow excess paint to drip out of the vase onto a paper plate. Wipe rim clean, and allow to dry

4. Remove Excess and Allow to Dry:

Turn the vase upside down on a paper plate or paper towel for 10 minutes and allow excess paint to drip out

Wipe excess from the rim and any spilled paint from the exterior

Allow to dry 24 hours or more (per paint manufacturer instruction)

*Note: my vase took more than 48 hours for wet paint in the bottom to dry


DIY Accent Pieces: Crackle Painted Glass Bottle

This week I decided to try painting glass bottles and vases to use as colored accent pieces in my dining room. I tried four different paints, each of which produced a different look. The idea to paint glass containers initially came from Pinterest. This post is dedicated to the creation of a crackle painted wine bottle. I will post the other projects over the next two weeks.


DIY Crackle Wine Bottle

FINAL Crackle Bottle LABELED

After researching different methods to paint glass containers online, I chose to try the method found on Pinterest from Sand & Sisal. Unlike other methods, this method claims the bottles will be waterproof if cured 21 days and then baked in the oven.

I followed a method similar to the Sand&Sisal post, with one minor change; I used more acetone nail polish remover to dilute the paint further. The more dilute paint was easier to handle and pour, and created a crackle texture after drying.

This project was inexpensive; I already had the bottle, rubbing alcohol and nail polish remover, so all I had to buy was the $2 paint. Prices of all materials are noted below so you know how much it would cost if you had nothing to start with.


Finished product with crackle texture


  • Wine bottle with labels removed – $3 wine, Trader Joes
  • Rubbing alcohol (99% Isopropyl Alcohol) – $2.16, Target
  • Acetone nail polish remover (dye free) – $0.97, Target
  • Martha Stewart Multi-Surface High Gloss Craft Paint in Wedding Cake  – $1.99, Jo Ann Fabrics
  • Paper towels, plastic fork and disposable plastic cup – price is negligible

Steps Used:

plain bottle

Remove labels and adhesive, wash and rinse the inside with alcohol

1. Prepare the Bottle:

Soak the bottle in water, then peel or rub to remove all of the paper labeling.

Pour rubbing alcohol on a paper towel and rub the bottle to remove any remaining adhesive.

Wash the bottle in soapy water and rinse thoroughly.

Rinse the inside of the bottle with rubbing alcohol.

Rest the bottle upside down to allow to drain and dry FULLY.



pour into the bottle

Mix 1 part paint with 2 parts nail polish remover. Mix well. Verify it can be poured in a thin stream as shown above

2. Prepare the Paint:

Transfer 1 part paint and 2 parts nail polish remover to a plastic cup (I used 1 TBS paint and 2 TBS nail polish remover).

Mix paint using a plastic fork until smooth.

Before proceeding, tilt the cup to test that the paint can be poured (like in the image to the left) in a stream and is not clumpy.

If clumpy, mix again until smooth.

If not able to be poured, add nail polish remover until it can be poured easily.


wine bottle in progress1

Pour some paint into a slightly tilted bottle. Then rotate the bottle horizontally to spread paint

3. Transfer paint and coat the bottle:

Tilt the bottle slightly and pour about1/4 of the paint (in a steady stream) into the bottle.

When the paint stream reaches the bottom of the bottle, turn the bottle horizontally.

Slowly rotate the bottle to spread paint.


wine bottle in progress2

Repeat transfer of paint and rotate the bottle until entire bottle is coated

4. Add More Paint and Rotate Until Entire Bottle is Coated:

When no paint moves when rotating the bottle, add paint to an uncoated section.

Rotate the bottle.

Repeat until entire bottle is coated.


blot wine bottle on papertowel

Remove excess paint from the bottle

5. Remove Excess:

Hold the bottle upside down over a paper towel for a few minutes.

Allow any excess paint to drip out.

Use a fresh paper towel to wipe excess paint from the rim.

Check the outside for any spilled paint and wipe clean.

If any paint has dried on the rim or outside of the bottle, use water to remove it.




crackle bottle

Allow to dry fully. Paint will crackle as it dries.  Cure 21 hours

6. Allow to Dry

Allow bottle to stand upright at room temperature until fully dry.

Paint will crackle as it dries.

Allow to cure 21 days per paint manufacturer instructions.

Sand&Sisal recommends baking at 275F for 2 hours after the paint has cured.

Note: The Sand&Sisal method referenced did not have crackle texture. I haven’t waited 21 days for the paint to cure yet so have not tested if the crackle finish is waterproof. I will update this post at a later date when I’ve had a chance to test mine with water.