Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Cheap Thrills

My internet has been acting shady, so I wasn't able to put this up yesterday, but I've been dying to show off my favorite thrift store find EVER, check it out:

Ignore the hub's lunch debris...

I snagged a pair of these beauties at the thrift store moments after they were brought in. They hadn't sold at a garage sale over the weekend. I wish I would've gone to the garage sale since they had a $5 price tag that the thrift store changed to $8, but I was just too excited to have them to care... much.

And my other cheap thrill of the week is our new-to-us couch that we snagged off craigslist for FREE! It's in beautiful shape, steam cleaned and spotless! And it has a pull out bed! Just in time for the influx of family coming this weekend for our little girl's arrival! Yay!

Cheap thrills=lots of exclamation marks.

I've finished a lot of projects, experienced more fails, and have a list a mile long still to attempt, so I'm saving all those posts for when I'm stuck in bed next week. We'll see.

Anybody find anything good over the weekend? Favorite thrift-store-find-ever shares?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Full of Hot Air... Balloons

About a month ago my mom and sister threw me a baby shower. We pulled a bunch of ideas from Pinterest for decorations... the easier they were, the better they came out.

Don't get me started on the diy cake that left me in tears.

But with some paper doilies, a small wreath and some pink ribbon from the dollar store and fishing wire that we had on hand, I whipped together a few mobiles to hang from the ceiling. I brought them home and ended up hanging one of them in a corner on Rosemary's side of the room:

I clearly spent a lot of time untangling and prepping the mobile for this photo.

But it wasn't fair that there was a handmade (albeit SUPER simple) mobile on Rosemary's side of the room, and not one in Tony's corner.

So I searched Pinterest for a super simple one to match, in a boyish theme.


Hot Air Balloon Mobile

But of course, I couldn't just follow directions like a sheep, could I?

Here's what I used for Supplies:

1 willow wreath form (Dollar Tree)
2 pieces of blue tissue paper (on hand)
1 roll of blue ribbon (on hand, originally bought at Hobby Lobby)
White thread (on hand)
4 sheets of card stock in different shades of blue (on hand)
Hot glue gun
Cotton balls

With the mobile I'd made for the baby shower, I just threw together some things that I had thrown into the cart at the Dollar Tree, one of which was this:

This was the only "wreath form" the Dollar Tree had, so I went with it as usual. The circle is irregular, and dips and bulges in spots, but it's functional which is what I value most.

So to match the pink mobile on Rosemary's side, I covered a second willow wreath form in blue ribbon (that I'd had laying around from some wedding decor supplies). Since the ribbon was transparent I had to wrap some blue tissue paper around the wreath first and then I added the ribbon:

I wrapped it. Not beautifully, or symmetrically, but it's wrapped. As I told my sister (and she's now parroted back to me way too often) "Vogue will not be coming into this room".

Then using some heavy poster-feeling packaging paper, I made a template of a hot air balloon. I used this to cut balloon shapes out of all my card stock paper in different shades of blue, folding the template and paper in half to make them more symmetrical. I got six balloons out of each sheet, which ended up being more than I needed. I made my balloon shapes significantly bigger than the inspiration mobile, and I used less balloon shapes (4 vs 6) to create each 3D balloon.

Keeping the balloon paper shapes folded in half, I hot glued one side of the balloon shape to a half of another balloon shape. I glued 4 balloon shapes to each other total, and before gluing the last halves, I glued a length of white thread into the middle. Make sense? Like this:

 I made four 3D balloons:

 ...and a mess.

Then this is where I put my own spin on it. I decided to make some clouds.

I wanted a little bit of structure so that they would hang the way I wanted them to, so I made a little form for them out of some of the card stock pieces I had lying around:

Then I gently pulled and rearranged the cotton balls into cloud shapes and hot glued them to both sides of the form. I used about 8 cotton balls per cloud, 4 on each side:

Make sure to hot glue some thread to hang them with, before you glue all the cotton balls together.

That was the hard part. All I did after that was to arrange the balloons and clouds at the heights and lengths I wanted them and hot glued the ends of the thread to the willow wreath form.

To hang it, I cut two lengths of thread the same size and glued each end of the threads on four spots on the wreath. Then I grabbed the middle of the threads and hung them from a hook. I didn't take any pictures of the hanging method, so here's the top of the mobile cropped:

I hung the mobile up, took some really bad pictures, and then put off writing a post about this because the pictures were so bad.

I tried again today, using manual mode and a few tips I found on the internet that I probably don't fully understand... Go with it, right?

Natural light is suppose to drastically improve photos, unfortunately the one window in this room has a lot of branches and greenery in front of it, so natural light is hard to come by.

Tony likes to kiss his reflection good night...

 Now they've both got a mobile... although I'm wondering if I've outdone Rosemary's mobile. Maybe I should add some flowers to hers?

Sounds very "If you give a mouse a cookie."...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Big, Fat Fails... Plural

I haven't posted in almost a week. I'm here to explain why:

I had my third strike in a row of fails on my diy projects.

So I'll post about failing, and someday I'll post about how I turned those fails into success... maybe. ;)

My first fail was not so very complete. I created a small mobile for a corner in the nursery. It turned out pretty cute, but upon loading all the pictures I took, I was very embarrassed by my photography skills. The pictures looked so amateur compared to what I see on other blogs, I just couldn't write a post with pictures like this:

So I've gone to a few different blogs and sites, reading up on how to use manual on my camera. I'm working up the courage to try a few more pictures today.

My second fail was much more catastrophic. I spent a whole week working on a project and destroyed it all in an hour.

I used my new (to me) sewing machine and spent a week painstakingly figuring out a simple way to create slipcovers for my plastic dining room chairs. I used several white sheets I'd bought at the thrift store (Buy two for the price of one: Score!). And though they were far from perfect, they were functional... which is much more than I expected from my first sewing project. I did make MANY, many mistakes, but after a week of applying myself, I had four slipcovers for my chairs:

Another beautiful example of my photography/editing skills!

But white slipcovers were not the plan. I wanted to dye them navy blue. So I bought the dye, studied the directions on the RIT website and went at it Saturday afternoon...

Did I mention that I bought the sheets at a thrift store? So they were all different kinds of sheets, and maybe different material/fabric blends...?

When I pulled them out of the washing machine after their RIT bath, they were not the four navy slipcovers I'd imagined. They were sopping wet slipcovers in 50 shades of... purple:

Big fail, I could waste money on more dye, but they'd still be different shades where the materials are different. So I'll have to think about how to cut my losses on this project...

And then my last fail:


I found an excellent recreation of this Pottery Barn duvet cover at Fussy Monkey Business:

Pottery Barn's Hadley Ruched Duvet Knock Off

She has an excellent tutorial and if you make it for a queen-sized bed like she did, it just might work out! All you need is 3 king-sized sheets! Unfortunately, I have a king-sized bed and my attempt came up quite short:

It came out only slightly longer than a throw pillow from my couch. I might have saved it, if I hadn't tied knots at the ends of the ruching, and cut off the extra length of thread, effectively burning all bridges.

The only idea I have to save this project is to buy two more king size sheets, make another half to match this one and then sew them together. I don't know how easily that will be done, and I'd hate to make another one and have it come out either a) too short again or b) dumb-looking.

Between these fails and the fact that a newborn will be joining us in 9 days, I don't have high hopes for my blog posts in the immediate future. I'll try and get some good pictures of my mobile, since the project itself was fairly simple and came off pretty well in my humble opinion.

Until next time...

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Reading/Rocking Nook of Fantasticness Reveal

So I cheated a little. Everything I had done to create the nook of fantasticness so far had been totally DIM (Did It Myself), but for the final upgrade to the nursery closet, I was able to nag my hubby into helping doing the whole thing (under my supervision). I am 9 months preggers so it wasn't too tough to convince him that he should do it.

So I'll just kind off summarize what we he did. It was my idea. :)

One of the first things I did when attacking the closet, was to take all the clothes (and other junk) out and remove the standard bar and shelf. I think I'll eventually utilize them in the laundry room, which has no shelves or hanging rods.

Well, maybe you were wondering as I painted the walls, the rocking chair, hung curtains and made wall art... where were we going to hang baby clothes?

Baby clothes are significantly smaller than adult clothes (who knew?) so I was able to use the side walls of the closet for hanging clothes by putting up dowel rods.

They don't sell them at the Dollar Tree... but they do at Wal-Mart! At $2 a pop (for the thickest ones available) I purchased 6 dowel rods. I took 'em home to see if they'd fit between the two sides of the closet but they were just an inch too long. Hubby cut 'em, I spray painted them white and we were ready for phase 2.

Phase 2 was all hubby. It involved taking pieces of scrap wood, using some sort of wood cutter (aka a saw) and making a half circle cut onto the wood.

Like this:

 You need one for each side of the rod, so hubby whipped up 12 of these... and I spray painted em white. Then my husband pulled out a level (this is why I'm glad he was involved, I hate measuring, it's dumb), and figured out how, where and why to hang these in the right spots. I sat back and handed him a pen when he needed to mark something and basked in the delight of someone else doing something for once.

I had swiped two shelves from my mom earlier in the year that had once been in my youngest sister's room and we ended up hanging those above the dowel rods so that I could beautify the area with some frames and figurines.

And here's the final reveal:

Rosemary's side

Tony's side

I picked up four baskets at the Dollar Tree, two in pink and two in blue. I hung those on the dowel rods by putting a shower curtain ring (which I had several on hand because I'm a hoarder) through the handle and over the rod. I use them for socks, hats etc.

The musical carousel figurine was one of two brass figurines my hubby brought home from a garage sale he stopped by one Saturday morning. I put this one on Rosemary's side with a small plaque that was a baby shower present, and I embellished a white frame with a tissue paper flower and button, and framed an R I had cut out of some packaging insert from a set of curtains. The matting is pink tissue paper, which I also hoard from Christmas, baby showers etc.

I'm not sure on this configuration... I kind of just threw a few boyish things up without too much thought. I definitely like the train picture, but I'm considering painting the frame... and I love the musical organ figuring. We'll see how long everything stays where it's at.

And here's the view from the bedroom.
 So let's recap...

The original closet:

The Reading/Rocking Nook of Fantasticness:

Sometimes I just go in the room and stare at it. For hours...
And then I get on my computer and look at pictures of it.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

For the Love of Spoons

Have you ever played the card game spoons? It's fun.

But that's not what this post is about.

My pinterest account is only a few months old (I'm a late bloomer, what can I say), but way back when I first browsed the diy posts, this caught my eye:

Chrysanthemum Mirror

Either I didn't get Pinterest at the time, or I doubted I would use it much, because I did not re-pin this, I bookmarked it. Either way, I was able to find my way back to the site about a month ago, when I decided it was just the thing to hang on the wall behind the rocking chair in the nursery closet.

Kristi at Addicted to Decorating cut the handles off a ton of plastic spoons, hot glued them to a wreath form and then painted the spoons, mixing white with the teal as she got to the outer edges to create an hombre chrysanthemum looking mirror!

Well, as I've mentioned before I had my choice of retailers: Wal-Mart or the Dollar Tree. The wreath forms were only to be found at Wal-Mart and they were close to $10. I'm not cheap, I'm super-duper cheap. I ignored the wreath frame and went to Dollar Tree and bought a big foam poster board, and also 6 packages of white plastic spoons (Yes, I compared prices and they were cheaper at the Dollar Tree by almost $.40).

I didn't take any pictures of the process, since I never planned on blogging about anything ever, but I followed all the directions from Kristi's tutorial except for using a foam poster board and a traced outline of a bowl to create a circle (and it ended up semi-wonky, to match the chevron wall). I picked a pink hombre color scheme and was able to use up some of my leftover fuscia acrylic paint from painting the rocking chair cushions adding white latex paint that I had used on the baseboards in the room.

A few things:
 I tried many different ways of cutting the handles off the spoons and never found a fail-proof way to keep the spoon from splintering. I set aside the prettiest for the front row, and used a little bit of sandpaper to smooth them out. But I wasn't really sweating it since I had just cut through a thousand spoons and was ready to move on.

 Painting it took forever and a day. Possibly because I was using a super cheap brush from a watercolor set I bought at the dollar tree that fell apart by the end.

 I cut the inner circle too big. The mirror I bought at the Dollar Tree was too small. So I improvised by using it as a frame. And when I have the time, I will make something much cooler to frame, but I was tired and just needed something to put behind the spoons.

If you don't look too close, it looks great!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Cheapest Ombre Curtains Ever... (Probably)

The 2nd bedroom closet (aka the Reading/Rocking Nook of Fantastic-ness), Part 4

I had removed the bi-fold doors to the closet as soon as we moved in. Because they were ugly, like the rest of the room. I wish like heck I had taken a before picture of this whole room. It was horrible. A BAD beige paint job that had dripped onto the baseboards as well as the blinds on the window (yes, they got paint ALL over the blinds).  Then someone (I don't know how many people were party to this terrible paint job) decided to paint over the beige with some shade of blue. I don't know what shade it was suppose to be because they only painted one layer about a quarter of the way down the wall. So the top quarter of the walls was a washy blue/beige vomit color, and everything beneath it was a dripping beige.

Then there was the ceiling. It was painted a darkish blue except for a border around the edges measuring about a foot, which was (a dirty) white. Was this on purpose? Was it laziness? I'll never know.

There was also a ceiling fan somewhere underneath a foot of dust and grime. And a grayish/brown carpet that was covered in dirt, glass, and what looked like petrified hairballs.

Why did we rent this place? Because if we cleaned it up ourselves, there was no deposit! Yay! And because we were living with my in-laws (I don't care who you are, two families+one house=hard).

Anyways, we tore out the carpet, put down some cheap linoleum that was likable (no reimbursement but I wasn't going to put my son in that room with years of dust and dirt underneath that carpet). We painted the walls a Smokey Powder Blue (I don't know where the smokey adjective came from, the color has no hint of smoke). We painted the ceiling white, and completely dismantled the ceiling fan and got her clean and sparkly. Also replaced the beige painted blinds and painted the baseboards white.

Which brings me back to, I also removed the bi-fold doors to the closet. Because they were ugly and had been painted badly in the same darkish blue that the ceiling had been.


I wanted to hang curtains in front of the closet to kind of dress it up a bit. And since I like to pile on the charm, I couldn't just throw one trend in (chevron wall), I had to do it big:

(Pink!) HOMBRE! curtains!

And being me, I did it on the cheap and easy.


1 full size white flat sheet
Heat-n-Bond hem tape
1 package Tulip fabric dye (Pink)
1 bucket (3-gallon or bigger)

I folded the flat sheet in half vertically and ironed it. Then I cut down the pressed line I had created. I followed the directions on the heat-n-bond hem tape to hem the edges I had just cut.

Wa-la!: Two curtain panels.

 I then followed the directions on the package of fabric dye, filling up my container with super hot water and mixing in the dye till it dissolved. I then used a pony-tail holder to mark how far I wanted the dye to go on the curtain panels (I used one pony tail holder around both of them so that they had the same amount of dye on the same spots) and quickly dipped the panels in the bucket of dye and pulled more out slowly letting it stay in longer as I got closer to the bottom. I let the last part sit a total of half an hour I think.

As I pulled the curtains out and wrung the excess dye out, I discovered how easy it is to transfer the dye all over the curtains, including the white parts at the top.

Make sure you don't do that.

But if you do, squirt some hydrogen peroxide on the spots of unwanted dye, and that will help them disappear.

Alas there was a part two. After waiting forever for them to dry (I hung them over the shower curtain rod in the bathtub and also on a drying rack in the laundry room, the difference between the top and bottom shades was not as perfect as I had hoped for, the top being way too pink. Thanks to a little googling (instead of using my brain), I figured out I could dip the top (lighter) part of the curtain panel into a bucket (or bathtub) of bleach water and fade the color out a little more.  This also helped completely get rid of the dye spots that had ended up at the very top of the curtain panels where it was all white.

So I soaked the upper parts of the panels in a bathtub full of bleach water, I used a little more bleach than water. I left most of the top part in for half an hour or a little longer.

Then I let it dry... again...

I don't like waiting, can you tell?

But it was worth it:

The cost break down:

Full size sheet from thrift store: $2

Fabric Dye: $3

Heat-n-Bond tape: on-hand (I can't sew)

Making both panels total: $5, or $2.50 a panel!


P.S. I hung the curtains by using the already hemmed part of the sheet at the top. I cut two slits one inch apart every five inches to create tabs.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Rock and Roll

As soon as I had decided on a reading/rocking nook of fantastic-ness, I knew that a key ingredient to the formula was a rocking chair. Ideally I wanted an arm chair that rocked, for an extra oomph of comfiness. I scoured Craigslist for awhile, hoping to find something at the $20 price point. Eventually I found a gliding rocking chair with cushions on the back, seat, and arm rest... and it was $20!

It was also a weird gray/tan/brown color. No me likey.

My seamstress skills rank in the negatives on a scale of 1-10, and having no sewing machine, the idea of a hand sewn slipcover or re-upholstery job was much too daunting and frankly unrealistic.

Thank you Pinterest!!! I discovered you can paint upholstery!  I found this awesome example of it at Hyphen Interiors:

Kristy at Hyphen Interiors used latex paint and acrylic paint, but the kicker was that both were mixed with something called "Fabric Medium", a product that would prevent the fabric from getting too hard and crunchy.

Now, I live in a small town, an hour away from any 'big city'. Getting me to leave the house is a big undertaking, so leaving town to collect supplies was out of the question. When it comes to crafting, I have three options: Wal-Mart, The Dollar Tree, and thrift stores.

Guess what?

My small town retailers let me down. Fabric Medium was a no go.

But I decided to take a chance. I'd just use acrylic paint all the way, and with a little wear and tear, I'd make that sucker soft!

So I went to Wal-Mart and optimistically only bought two bottles of pink acrylic paint. I spread an old sheet on the living room floor, laid the cushions on top, squirted the paint into a paint tray and used a spray bottle of water to give the cushions a good and damp feel as the tutorial at Hyphen Interiors advised.

Then with the aid of some super cheap foam brushes, I started dabbing pink onto the cushions. I think those original two bottles of paint lasted a cushion and a half... front side only. I went back to Wal-Mart to discover that I had bought the only two bottles of "Pure Pink", so I had to switch my color scheme slightly to Fuscia. I grabbed all 6 bottles of this color and went to check out. There I found out that this Fuscia had been discontinued so I got it for .50 less a bottle, score!

So I finished the first layer of paint on all the cushions, and took a picture:

Not too bad. I know I said I used foam brushes, but I should mention I did use a small roller to cover large portions at a time, and then followed everything up with the foam brushes. I dabbed this way, then that way, sideways and back, finishing the last strokes with the grain of the fabric.

I let it dry for forever, and in the mean time I primed the rocker frame with Killz Primer and then spray painted it with Krylon White:

The first layer of paint on the cushions took about four hours to dry. Once it was dry to the touch, I flipped it over and put the first layer of paint on the backsides of the cushions, once again wetting the cushions pretty thoroughly with my spray bottle of water before painting. Then I went to bed.

The next morning I put the second layer on the front, let it dry, and then did another layer of paint on the backside. I put it on pretty thick. I probably could have painted three thinner layers instead of putting on such a thick second coat but I had been doing this on my days off and wanted to get it done in two days. Once it was dry to touch, I couldn't help myself. I put it the cushions on the rocking chair to see how it looked.

I'm glad I was forced to switch to fuscia, it's more spunky than a paler pink and plays well off the bright blue chevrons.

It's certainly not soft. But considering the original condition of the cushions, there really isn't much difference in the texture. We've all seen/sat in a rocking chair like this I'm sure, and the particular fabric isn't something you can sink into. But it's not uncomfortable or irritating and it looks awesome which makes up for a lot to me. 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

The Bare Light Bulb

As a renter, I always seem to encounter this, it's just my luck. The Bare Light Bulb. Not sure which is worse; The Bare Lightbulb or The God-Awful Ugly Light Fixture (aka the fixture in the kitchen):

I know, the horror. Let us try to move on.

Anyways, when in need of a solution I turn to Pinterest. There were lots of neat, diy ideas easily adaptable to a light bulb in need. The best ideas for me are the ones that include mostly things I already have, or things I can purchase at the dollar store or at a thrift store.

This one caught my eye:


The capiz shells were imitable by cutting out circles of wax paper. However her chandelier involved an 'ornament hanger' and a sewing machine, neither of which I had on hand. Then I came across this:

She used a planter (much more accessible in June than an ornament hanger), and glued her wax paper circles to ribbon, rather than sewing them all together with a machine. I was excited to find a planter at the dollar store for... one dollar. I also picked up some wax paper, craft glue and ribbon there as well. However I would recommend Wal-Mart for the ribbon and craft glue. I quickly went through my dollar store supply and found it to be a much better buy at Wal-Mart... 10 yards of thin white ribbon for $.47 as opposed to 3 yards of white ribbon at the dollar store. I ended up using four rolls of the ribbon, so pick up several if you're going to give this a shot. I also bought a can of white spray paint to spray the black planter white and ceiling hooks to hang the planter from.

I cut lengths of wax paper and folded them into half, and half again and halves again... To minimize the amount of times I had to cut a circle. All of this would be made simpler and your circles more uniform if you had a circle cutter. However I did not, so hand cut circles it was.

For the record, you will cut one ga-zillion circles.

I figured out how long I wanted my circles to hang, then doubled that measurement and cut ribbon to size. I doubled the measurement because I draped my ribbon over the planter form and got twice the density for my trouble!

I draped my circles-glued-to-ribbons over the top part of the planter and also through the smaller, lower ring. I hot glued them to keep em in line, and then screwed the ceiling hooks in. I didn't want any of this to be a potential fire hazard so I tied some ribbon to the small eyes at the top of the planter and then tied the other ends of the ribbon to the ceiling hooks so that the planter was hanging a few inches underneath the lightbulb.

Finished product:

I did end up trimming it when I got a little further into the whole closet project. I took off the two bottom circles on each of the lower strands, and it definitely made the whole thing look a little sharper.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

The Dr. Seuss Chevron

Most of my diy-ing has all been contained in one small area of our home. Namely the closet in the second bedroom, aka the nursery. Between two cribs and the dresser/changing table, I've had to be creative with the small room. Since baby clothes are so small, I decided the closet didn't need to be solely designated for clothing. So I went to work converting it from a plain ole closet to a closet/reading and rocking nook of fantastic-ness.

This is how it began (I am terrible at remembering to take a before picture, so a little pat on the back to me!):

My first step was to paint a fun pattern on the wall, and since chevron has been blowing up on my pinterest feed, and popping up on all the blogs I like to stalk, I figured it was only natural to add a little of the trend to my project.

Actually the original idea was a herringbone pattern, inspired by this tutorial: http://www.designsponge.com/2010/09/diy-project-lauries-herringbone-wall-design.html.

I liked the idea of having three colors, because I wanted to introduce pink somewhere since a little girl will be joining my 1 year-old son in the room at the beginning of August. In the end I chickened out, afraid that pink, blue, and white would come off as too busy or garish (I was also being considerate since this is a rental, I doubted the next renter would appreciate a pink closet). I decided to stick with the blue from the bedroom walls and white. The feminine influence would have to be provided in the details.

Easily the most daunting part of the scheme was the measuring. It was tedious, confusing and time-consuming. I first painted the whole closet white, since the last time these walls were painted is long in the past and they had acquired a yellowish tint that was not flattering in the least. Then I began the dreaded measuring/taping process. I wanted fairly quick gratification, so I went big and bold with only two V's to my pattern. I divided the wall into half, penciled a semi-straight line down the middle, and then divided the halves into halves and ended with three lines penciled on the wall. Then I ditched the pencil, grabbed the painter's tape and started winging it. Semi-kidding, I did play around with the first chevron to figure out how deep I wanted the diagonal lines to be (I started at the top after reading a tip that promised if your pattern got wonky towards the bottom it wouldn't be as noticeable), once I had that figured out I just tried my best to be consistent from one row to the next. 

Somewhere along the way, I screwed up. And the tip about it not being noticeable if it went wonky towards the bottom did not hold true for me:

Well it took a day or three, but I got around to fixing that not-so-little bloop, and it still ended up kinda wonky, but the kinda wonky I was willing to live with... I didn't end up taking a final picture of the wall until I had finished another addition to the whole project so here's a preview of what I did next:

It wasn't until I was looking through my photos of the wall, that I realized how truly wonky my paint job still is... Oh well, it looks cool in true Dr. Seuss style, and I did do all this without a level or even a ruler just a pencil and a tape measure. I just made do with what I had (and being a beginner diy-er, fancy tools like yard sticks and levelers do not reside at my abode quite yet), and am going to stop apologizing now...