It's no secret that I love to make cupcakes and truly enjoy the chance to try my hand at new flavors and combinations. 

With Alex celebrating a "big" birthday this month, I knew I wanted to make a flavor I had never tried before. Every year I ask him to come up with a new flavor combo that will make his birthday just that much better, and each year I hope to be able to top the peanut butter and jelly cupcakes that have held the crown as reigning champion in Alex's "best birthday cake of all time" category.

After a lot of flavor idea deliberation and back and forth between the two of us over the last several weeks, I had a lightbulb moment. One of the flavors of our wedding cake was lemon cake with a delicious raspberry filling and decadent vanilla buttercream. Alex loved this cake immensely (he even devoured the top layer after it had been frozen for a year), so I used this inspiration as a jumping off point but wanted to put a twist on it to incorporate blackberries, one of his favorite fruits. So I set out to whip up a delicious lemon cupcake with blackberry buttercream for Alex's birthday celebration.

The thing I like about this recipe is that it has a manageable number of ingredients, isn't difficult to make, and the somewhat tart, dense cake is nicely complemented by the sweet buttercream frosting.

In addition to trying a new recipe, I ordered cupcake wrappers for the first time. Because I was throwing Alex a big party to celebrate his special day, I thought the occasion called for a bit more pizazz. I found these cute polka dot patterned wrappers on Amazon that dressed up the look for the occasion for little effort and little money.

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Would you agree with the statement, “Proper lighting is one of the most often overlooked yet critical tools in a well done project”?

Whether we’re talking about the ability to actually see what you’re working on, safely use power tools, or spot imperfections before it’s too late, good lighting is more than critical, it’s essential.

Over the last several weeks I’ve been testing out some of Milwaukee’s newest offerings in their personal lighting line. This series of battery powered headlamps, flashlights and an extremely versatile personal floodlight were a highlight of their new tool unveiling event earlier this year. And ever since I laid eyes on them I was eager to give them a try as I suspected they’d all be real winners.

Now that I’ve had some serious hands-on time with these new products, I can confirm that many of these lighting options should be a “must add” to quite a few people’s holiday shopping lists this year. So if you’re looking for that perfect gift to round out your tool obsessed family member’s stocking, the TL;DR of this post is simple. Everything we've been using have been pretty fantastic, I really like all of them, and I think they are completely worth buying!

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We're very excited to report real and discernible progress on our window restoration project.

Long at last! Yes, it's true! Can you believe it?

This project that we've been planning for and talking about taking on for a dozen years is finally underway. Not only is it in progress, the progress we're making is real and honest to goodness progress. I know we're not often known for this kind of news, but it's happening and it feels so good! Especially because the sash started out looking like this.

Today I want to fill you all in on part one of what will ultimately be a three part post on our sash restoration. I know it may be a little detailed (and boring) for some, but I hope it gives people looking to restore their windows an approach that may work for their purposes.

Also, it wouldn't be an “Old Town Home” project without interruptions from several other unexpected projects, like the need to completely pause to repaint and re-decorate the dining room, or another pause to strip and hang an antique door that's been in our basement for 8 years (because why not?). It's DIY ADD at its finest.

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There's nothing like an impromptu project while trying to get a bunch of other projects finished. But sometimes, it just has to happen.

Back in 2003 when we bought our fixer upper in Old Town red was my favorite color. It was the color I selected for my bridesmaids’ dresses when we married in October 2002, comprised about a third of the clothes in my closet, and naturally, I wanted to feature it as a main color in our new home’s decorating scheme. 

Back in the early 2000s bold red dining rooms were all the rage and we thought it would look great in our Victorian home. To fulfill our dream when we renovated our dining room in 2004, after some deliberation, we landed on Behr's Red Red Wine as the hue of choice. We excitedly dove into the project, having no inclination of what lie ahead. One coat of headache-inducing bright pink tinted primer later, we were committed. We had no clue how hard would it be to paint a saturated red on our newly plastered walls.

Oh boy, were we DIY noobs. An excruciating one coat of primer and four coats of red paint later, we finally reached the desired color and our dark and dramatic dining room look was achieved. 

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Protecting your finished surfaces, especially flooring, when working on a project is as old as house projects themselves.

From drop clothes to old carpet, pretty much every option has been tried and each has their pros and cons when it comes to keeping paint, dust, scratches, liquid, tools, boots, and just about anything else from ruining your finished floor.

The naysayers will proudly state “this is why you should finish your floors after your major work is complete!” But we all know this is a pipe dream and not based in reality. Even if you are doing it all in the “right order” you’re probably painting the room after the floor is done. And if you’re a DIYer, there’s a good chance you’re working around beautifully finished floors in just about every project. Finishing floors is often one of those things people do right when they buy their home, then they work on all of their projects over the years (it’s how we’ve done it twice).

Notice the beautiful floors and ignore all of the work the walls and trim need

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