Tag Archives: DIY

Handmade Gift Exchange

Thanks to the online hospitality of Linda at Craftaholics Anonymous.  I was able to participate in the Handmade Gift Exchange. Every person gets matched up with a partner and has 1 month to make a gift and send it to their partner.  There are no real rules…the door is wide open to create whatever you wish.  With that I bring you my homemade creation.

My Partner was Debbie from Ohio, who described her self as a 60-year-old who refuses to grow up.  In getting to know her she really enjoys her time with the grandkids.  So I decide to make “Grandma’s Boredom Buster.”  You may have seen ideas like this before, a jar full of ideas to fight the summer boredom blues while the kids are home from school.  I created a document (2 columns) with all sorts of arts & crafts ideas, free activities (like having a picnic in the living room), and research her local chamber of commerce for ideas of places to visit as a tourist.  I printed them all out on colored cardstock, leaving a few blank for a free-choice or to allow her grandkids to come up with a few more.

The container was an old christmas cookie tin that I rescued from the trash.  I spray painted the outside with Heritage White Rustoleum paint.  Then lined the outside with some funky ribbon and added the title to the cover.  I found that tacky glue with a dab of E-6000 worked the best to keep the ribbon on the tin.

The title was created in word with a circle shape, add a text box, print, cut out, and adhere.  I used scrapbook adhesive so it wouldn’t seep through the paper.

I also added a few homemade stamped note cards inside.  In return I received a mini-decorated-board book and bottle cap magnets, adorably wrapped in white tissue paper with a pink rosette ribbon and lime green stretchy bow

Thanks to Linda for hosting this fun little party.  I believe the next one will be in November for a fun homemade Christmas exchange!  To see all of the gifts, head to homemade gift exchange linky party to see what was sent and received!


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Simply Satisfying Desk {Garage Sale Makeover}

Ever find something that just catches your eye for no apparent reason? It wasn’t something you were looking for, not your typical style,  but there it is staring you in the face with puppy dog eyes begging you to take her home and love her.  Such is the story of the beginning of a relationship between “Simply Satisfying Desk” and myself.

She wasn’t anything fancy but her simplicity reminded me of a HUGE doll clothes closest that my grandpa made for me as a little girl…too bad I wasn’t a doll kind of girl.  I’d turn it around in my room and pretend it into a checkout at a “store”…I digress.  Either way there was just something about this desk that appealed to me.  In fact she wasn’t even really for sale.  She was stuck back in a corner of a storage shed of a rummage sale.  In great shape with just a few paint chips coming off the chair.  I rescued her by offering $10 without the faintest idea of what I was going to use her for…which I needed to come up with real quick in order for this to go over well with the husband. By the time I arrived home I conjured up a response, “a sewing desk” I blurted before he could mutter the question.

She had to wait her turn on the list of re-dos and makeovers, but eventually she got naked and I gave her a bath (by way of sander to remove a few layers of painted, air compressor to blow away the dust and a tack cloth to get any remaining remnants particles.  I highly recommend a tack cloth if you are doing any sanding!)

I had the heavy duty sprayer out to prime the armoire with KILZ, so I used that.  I started by painting it Sesame Seed by Krylon (I found 2 cans on sale at Michael’s for .54 cents in the clearance section) but I ran out before she was complete.  In dire need for touch ups, I headed to several stores scouring shelves for the random and apparently discontinued color.   This ended up being bittersweet,  why? While I wasn’t a huge fan of starting over,  I liked my new color SO much better- it just SCREAMs my name whenever I see her.  What color is it?  London Grey by Rustoleum (new favorite).  Better yet I found that Menard’s had on sale for $1.99 plus a $1 off per can rebate, making each can .99 cents.

I should mention that I removed the drawers and pulls as I had other plans for them.  I sprayed the body of the desk (2 cans) and after much deliberation decided to paint the drawer pulls the same color.  I wanted to use some fancy fabric to cover the drawers. I found this home interior fabric (1/2 yard at 50% off at Jo-Ann Fabrics). In order to cut my fabric to size I laid out the fabric, wrong side up on the table to find the best way to make use of the fabric.  While holding the fabric to the drawer I flipped it over to see the fabric design.  I made minor adjustments to get the best fabric design for each drawer.  For example,  on the lower drawers I wanted to make sure I had a big pretty bloom covering most of the drawer front.  I laid the fabric and drawer back down on the table with my new adjustments, marked around the drawer front with a pencil and cut about a 1/4-1/2 ” beyond (it doesn’t have to be perfect and I’ll explain why in the next step below) so I had a little extra fabric around the edges than I needed.  Sorry for the lack of pictures during these middle steps. It appears SOMEONE deleted them on the camera not realizing what they were for, but I’m not holding a grudge- really.

I had an idea in mind for the drawers to spruce them up, and thanks to Amy from Modge Podge Rocks and her nice tutorial for modge podge with fabric I found the assistance I needed. I didn’t use any fancy modge podge- just what I already had.  I started with all pieces right side down on the table (cover the table with with wax paper to protect it).  I spread a generous amount of modge podge on with a foam brush to the wrong/back side of each fabric piece.  I let each piece dry over night (partially because I do most of my work after 9 PM).  This stiffness is important, it prevents the fabric from fraying and helps ensure the fabric sticks to whatever material you are looking to use.  The next day I made sure each piece was dry.  I took the drawer front and applied a liberal amount of Modge Podge onto the front of the drawer, making sure to get the edges well.  Then I placed the fabric (wrong side down) on top of the drawer with wet modge podge.  Starting in the center I smoothed the fabric out toward the edges.  I applied the fabric around the slight curve on the corner all the way to the flat portion of the drawer (the side of the drawer that touches the desk).  I made a slit in the fabric along the corners and overlapped the fabric on one-side then cut the remaining fabric flush with the corner, adding a little modge podge to help convince it to stay put.  Once the farbic seemed dry ( a couple hours) I cut the excess fabric from around the edged to be flush with the back of the drawer.  Because I had modged podged the fabric I didn’t have to worry about fraying, and  because I waited for it to dry thouroughly I didn’t have any problems  with the fabric pulling away or peeling back.  I will say this process is a little bit tedious for my taste, as I have the patience of a over-tired 2-year-old (well maybe not THAT bad, but patience is not my best quality)

The last step was to put on the drawer pulls, place her in my messy unorganized craft room to get her out of the way add some of my craft supplies in her drawers and adorn her with a sewing machine to make her feel a little more welcome in my craft area.  She looks so pretty, it inspires me to keep her cleaned off and unhidden to admire her beauty.  For $10 and a little love, she was well worth the simple satisfaction that I was looking for in my craft room.  Welcome pretty desk!

Anyone ever attempt any modge podge + fabric recipes?  Any suggestions?  Do share!

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New Life (armoire makeover)

Let me start by saying that the word organization makes my palms sweat.  I’m not good at it, and it sometimes makes me feel really uncomfortable.  When I picture organized homes, I think of stuffy and cold.  However, I also have organization envy.  So this next project was one I was excited about but also dreaded at the same time.  The office (once referred to as the pretty room) is a sore spot in our house, it’s the place we put “stuff.”

I’ve been looking (for years) to get an armoire for the computer to hide “the stuff”.  Finally I found what was looking for on Craigslist for $40 (within my price range).  While she wasn’t bad I had an idea in mind.

I took the hardware and doors off, removed the shelves from inside, and lugged everything out to the driveway to get working on it.  With the husbands help I used a paint sprayer and sprayed a few coats of KILZ primer on (the only primer we ever use).  This began the beginning of several challenges.  Some were out of my control (mother nature and the Wisconsin Spring weather) and others were well-deserved (I tried to just get it done and paid for it in the long run).  You see I started to strip the varnish, but then thought I’d just sand it, and then thought the primer should work just fine.  To make a long and painful story short and sweet- between my husband and I we sanded, primed, painted, and stripped it all back down and started over 3 times.  A true testament to our marriage!

Lesson Learned #1: Take the time to prepare your furniture, it’s worth it in the long run, and while I’m at it lesson 2 is when spraying paint/primer it’s better to apply more thin coats than to try to cover with a thick coat.  Reason being- you end up with a bunch of runs that are impossible to hide.

Once the armoire was primed we used Rustoleum Heirloom White spray paint (5 cans to be exact).  I am an addict of this stuff.  Menard’s happened to have a sale several weeks ago plus a rebate  (each can was only .99 cents) so I stocked up and now I am looking for more things to paint.  At one point I ran out and my husband thought he’s just run to town and pick up the next best thing (which he thought was ivory Krylon) it wasn’t.  It looked pale yellow.  I ended up leaving the inside of the armoire less than perfect with some of the ivory paint still on because it wasn’t worth it to me since the inside won’t be visible unless I’m working on the computer- and as stated above I’m not neurotic about stuff like that.

After the painting I took some dark brown Oops paint from Home Depot (I actually added some black acrylic to make it even darker) and mixed with Ralph Lauren Glaze.  You literally need less than a cup to cover the entire armoire.  Thanks to All Things Thrifty and her glazing tutorials I was much more satisfied with this project over the last glazing project.  Glazing is much easier than it seems.  The one thing to keep in mind is to really get the glaze into all the little cracks. I even made a special effort to get the dents and scratches glazed up.  Also mix up your techniques a little.  I wiped most of the glaze off with a wet rag, but I’d also use a dry rag or a dry foam brush to go over it to give it a more weathered look.  It’s not supposed to look perfect.  Here she is up close.

I went to a local warehouse (M Schettel Freight) where they literally have everything you could possibly need in life (including the kitchen sink) to pick up a few unique handles (.99 cents each) . Since hinges can sometimes be a pain to match up I opted to keep the old ones.  I added a gob of glaze to all of the hardware and let it semi dry before I wiped it off.

Now, in order for this reveal to be as amazing as it really is you need to how it impacts the room overall.  So here are a few shameful pictures of the office before we reorganized and added the beloved armoire…

And now….

A huge task off the list!  This one brings a smile and big sigh every time I walk past. And yet the space is functional.  I cut some cork board (double thickness) to fit inside the right panel door to hang the little stuff that typically cluttered stuff up (adhered with E6000 because we’re close friends!)

I’ll dedicate another post to the organizational systems we’ve instituted as a result of this project.  I have a new love affair with my pretty office space!  Best of all pretty little armoire project cost me less than $60.

This post referencs the following blog:

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Tip Junkie handmade projectsSomeday CraftsThe Lettered Cottage


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Cover with Cuteness

This past weekend was city-wide rummage sales, as always I find things I was expecting, I’ll share more on that later.

Our house will never be featured in any magazine because I can’t keep up with the clutter that seems to pile up by the minute.  One of the areas that drives me bonkers is the laundry/downstairs bathroom.  It’s the only bathroom on the first floor, located just off from our kitchen.  It’s also the husbands bathroom for getting ready in the morning.  Granted it needs a bit of a color enhancement, but the first thing you see when walking into the bathroom is…

…well usually it’s not my son digging in the washer while singing (but that’d be fun), instead you are more likely to see the cluttered shelves filled with stuff.  It’s stuff that is handy to have in that location, and I’m not that super excited about finding cute and functional ways to organize the stuff.  So my solution is to cover it with something cute. The space is a bit challenging b/c you can see that the washer door opens up just wide enough to load, but hits the toilet.  If it was something that would be in the way all the time,  the husband would surely not play along.  Hence the inspiration for this project.

All the materials I used for this were purchased at garage sales.  Scrap green fabric was in a bag of random material ($1.50 for the bag), pretty white pleated fabric with pockets ($1), shower curtain rod ($0.50).  I had about a 1/2 yard of the green fabric.  I began by folding over a 1″ hem on either side, pinned then sewed using a plain old straight stitch (if you don’t sew the iron on hem would work too).

Of course nothing is possible without the help of my little man! The switching of dials and falling off his stool and landing on the foot pedal while I was sewing made things a little more interesting.

Once the sides were finished I folded over the top to make a 2 1/2 inch opening for the shower curtain rod.  I finished it off with a 1/4 inch hem on the bottom.  I slid the shower curtain rod through the opening on top and adjusted to the opening above the washer and dryer.

With my husbands assistance (thanks babe) I pinned the pleated white fabric with crocheted trim and embellishments to the green valance.  I proceeded to hand stitch the white fabric, but after further consideration I would suggest using safety pins (save time?!) Now I recognize that a pretty white pleated fabric with pockets isn’t something you’d easily find everyday.  An old apron, doilies, or table runners might be good alternatives.

The pockets will come in handy to hide hold more stuff. I thought the old-fashioned clothes pins added a bit-o-charm.

The reveal

cluttered shelves, covered with cuteness.  The entire project cost less than $2 and I completed the project in less that 2 hours. Mission accomplished.

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Like rescuing a puppy from shelter {recoverring a stool}

A few weeks ago I was forced to go to an estate sale by my inability to turn down a good deal.  I guess I went a little unprepared for 7 sheds and a huge house full all the random stuff that I easily could find a home for.  A few treasures were unearthed as I strolled through the corners of a cobwebbed shed only to reveal this lonely little puppy.

She needed a bath and a little love, certainly something I could give her.  Just a note to any novice estate sale shoppers, if you go towards the end of the estate sale everything is marked down an additional 50%, so this little treasure was merely $1.  I could love her! Do you see the potential?

Being inspired by blog world, I thought I’d try my hand at re-upholstering her (don’t laugh if you are an expert and you don’t think this even qualifies as re-upholstery, in my mind this ranks up there with sewing…SCARY, but eager to try).  Pulling together a few tools I removed her beastly coat and foam cover, which equates to pulling out staples. WAY easier than I thought.

I gathered my coupons and headed to Jo-Anns where I hit up the remnant section (additional 50% off fabric under 1 yard), and used my 50% off to find a small piece of foam for the seat. In order to make sure the foam was the correct size I placed the nasty old one on top and traced with a sharpie.  Then I took my rotary cutter to cut the foam circle seat.  (Don’t worry it doesn’t have to be perfect).

Then I took my fabric (Cream Home Decor remnant) and placed flat on the floor.  I placed the foam cutout on top of my naked stool and turned upside down on top of the fabric.  I cut my fabric into a square, large enough to pull to the underside of the stool.  Then grabbed the handy-dandy staple gun and the adventure begins.  The key is to pull it tight enough, but also have the tension consistent throughout the diameter of the stool.  I only had on problem, my fabric was a hair short on one side (which of course I was too embarrassed to show and wasn’t even going to tell you, but my guilt overruled the dishonesty in me). After the staple gun reached a cease-fire, I trimmed down the excess fabric hanging around the stool legs.

Better? yes, done? No.  She needed a touch of accessorizing (at least to cover my mishap).  Enter Brown fold-over ribbon.  Again a near mishap as I thought I didn’t get enough.  Thankfully the husband rescued the dansel in distress.  I used my E-6000 adhesive to attach the ribbon, and then (per the husbands suggestion) added stick pins to hold the ribbon in placed while I stretched her out to close the measly gap that remained.  Let her rest overnight to dry and adhere properly. By morning I could take out the pins and she was ready…

She’s much more loveable now, don’t you think?  I’m kind of feeling like she needs a cute bottom now…what do you think, dress up her legs, or leave them naked?!

Here’s a few other gems I found at the estate sale (in addition to a miniature trunk and old-fashioned metal wagon, and a few other random things)! The metal tool box and metal cups are home to my new herb garden.

Total spent: $22. I can’t help it I’m addicted to thrift (and crafty DIY projects).  This weekend is citywide rummage sales which is better that me having an All U Can Eat chocolate buffet for free.  HEAVEN- not to mention I get to spend a day without child in-tow with 2 fabulous girls!  (wee bit excited) Hallelujah!

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Basement Reveal

When we bought this house in 2008, we had some ideas on how to make it ours.  Some of the ideas were simple (paint), some a bit more complex (landscaping).  This past fall we began looking into the idea of finishing our basement.  The Living Room on the main floor is pretty small- not that we do a ton of entertaining, but having the option for us to spread out is ideal.  A few ground rules before we got started…
1.  This space would allow my husband to have a say in the decor- no flowers allowed.  The inspiration was the object of our affection, The Mistress (Harley)
2. The space needed to be cozy enough for a family room, but practical enough for a play room.
3.  This was a DIY project.  We He would do all the work ourselves himself.  Our goal was to keep this around a $5,000 budget- and it was pretty close.

I didn’t do a stellar job getting pictures through out but you’ll get the idea. Here we go…
The stair case:


As you may notice, the staircase was completely replaced.  The original (which I didn’t take a picture) had openings under each step, the railing was an old pipe that really didn’t fit the height needed for a railing (safety concern).   At the top of the steps is the landing, where we were storing all of our shoes, hats, etc.  That was removed and that reveal will come at a later date (maybe).We added a half wall to the steps to be a bit safer.  Also to make creative use of space- little man has a play area under the steps that also houses many of the toys that were previously laying/stacked in the living room. The door is painted with chalkboard paint- again a way to make creative use of space.



What you don’t see in any of the before pictures, were the 3 poles that were supporting the floor/ceiling.  In order to open the room we needed to removed those poles, which meant reinforcing the ceiling.  Ironically in doing that we also took a few squeaks out of the wood floors on the main level.  I think the greatest learning opportunity came with the husband learning about how to run all the electrical work.  Thankfully my dad has a background as an electrician so he was a good troubleshooting resource.  As you can see in the before pictures we just had what I like to call “garage” fluorescent lighting. In addition to lighting we also added electrical outlets all over the place, and ran the cables through the walls for tv and other media options.

Exterior Walls:  There technically 3 exterior walls for this space.  The foundation was made with cement and stacking 2×8’s…all done by hand.  Which was interesting when you are trying to create a flat wall.  Also you might notice above, the stair case butted up to the exterior wall and we really had no option of moving or expanding the stair case.



I’m a hug fan of angles.  We wanted the focus of the room to be drawn to the fireplace (which we did all the design work ourselves- that was a true testament to our marriage!), while also having the TV visible throughout the room.  I also wanted the ledge along the south exterior wall (Left wall in pictures above) to tie into the mantle.  The challenge I mentioned above really came in with this south wall.  Somehow we needed to do something to that wall in order to give it a finished look.  We decided on gluing Wayne’s coating to it, then painting it.  Good in theory, but uneven walls makes that a little more interesting.  We got it to work well enough to fit our needs, and while I don’t have a picture directly of the Wayne’s coating wall, you can see in the “during” pictures that it makes it look much more finished. We also replaced the windows (originally just storm windows).

The built in entertainment center and wall mounted TV was a way to open up floor space. It’s functional enough for the husband to go done and watch tv while little man is entertaining himself with the door to his play room.  We filled the room with furniture (for now) with what we had.  We did pick up a few pieces at an Estate sale (more on that later).  I’m anxious to add some life to the room.

The only things left to do are pretty minor- fill a few gaps of trim, touch up paint, and get cupboards/counter top for the corner across from the stairs (no shown).  We figure that gives us greater flexibility of space when people do come over and I need to have food out!

A huge thank you goes out to my husband for listening to all of my particular ideas and making it happen.  Do you think we accomplished what we set out to do?


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Think Spring- details

Wisconsin Winter, I am done with you.  I decided to redo my decor in hopes of Spring, which brought  12″ of sleet, snow, rain, ice wind, and thunderstorm mix.  Apparently my Spring fever was warm enough to keep away the winter fairies…. I digress.

I posted about my Spring Buffet, but neglected to share the details – how to’s, awesome finds and spontaneous ideas. I don’t have a mantle (Yet, although the basement is almost finished 🙂 so the buffet is my next best option.
Disclaimer: I’m horrible at capturing pictures during the process.  I always think about it during the clean up.  One of my many flaws!

To start I snatched the striped Fabric remnant from JoAnn’s remnant bin.  All remnants were 50% off the original price, plus an additional 40% off… $6.20. Little spendy for decorating a buffet, but I have future plans for this.

On the Left

The Ball Jars, Craf, and Grapevine wreath are staples in my decor toolbox.  I’ve had them for a while and seem to just shift where and how they displayed throughout the year. The silk lilies and Gerber daisies I pulled from my stash of things I forgot about.  The yellow flower (no clue what it’s called) was rescued from a bouquet of flower the husband got me for my birthday.

The Peacock feathers I picked up last summer at JoAnn’s in the 75% clearance section (less than $3.) The mini bird-cage was a Michael’s find ($1). The green and silver picks I’ve had, found last year at a local crafty store (Windsong).  The brown vase holding the feathers, picks, and lilies was a Christmas gift- although I think it was bought from either Michael’s or Gordman’s.  The little bird was $1. at a local craft store (White Barn).

The eggs I made from plastic eggs I swiped last year after Easter (.30 for a package of 20).  This would be the point that I again am hitting myself for not taking pictures.  All I did was paint them different spring colors.   I don’t have the exact colors because I just kept mixing paints until I got the shades I desired.  I started by covering them all with a white spray paint primer (Rustoleum)- not an easy task. I didn’t bother gluing the eggs together because it’s not that important to me if they fall apart.  Never know the Easter Bunny might use them in future years?!?!?  After the primer was dry I created 4 different pastel shades of acrylic paint (Yellow, blue, orangish-tan, and pink).  After they were dry I mixed some brown acrylic paint with a little bit of water in a bowl.  Gather all of the eggs in one spot.  I dipped my brush in the bowl of watered down brown paint.  Then holding my brush over the eggs I flicked the bristles to splatter the paint onto the eggs.  Note: This is not a tidy process, newspaper covering the counter might be helpful. Make sure to roll the eggs over so you get more than one spot of splatter on the eggs.  The beauty is it doesn’t have to be perfect!  I know that wasn’t a A+ tutorial, but hopefully you get the jist.  Here’s a link to a similar process, but with pictures (She used textured spray paint).

Moving onto the right side  (my favorite side)

The jar, as stated above is a decorating staple in my house, likely thanks to my mom or friends who used to can food.  The flowers in the jar are real and trying to survive from my husbands sweetness on my birthday.  The little blue bowl was screaming my name at a garage sale last summer for 50 cents.  I have been waiting this long to showcase her 🙂  The bird was $1. from local crafty store (White Barn) and the eggs we’ve already discussed.

One sleepless night last year,  I got the strange I idea to start picking up cute birdhouses to decorate with and use grapevine and pussy willows to fill in (that will be another post some day).  The white pedestal bird house was a $7. clearance find at a local craft store (White Barn) and the dark green feather are mini-feather rings (2) from JoAnn’s 75% clearance section ($1.97 for both)

Lastly the “Enjoy Life” phrase is Scrabble letters are from the game we own.  I change out the saying throughout the seasons.  And the floral picture above the buffet is one my aunt gave me when she was cleaning out her clutter.  I had hopes of doing something with the frame, but so far she’s a good filler.

Total money spent on this decor: $22.97 Little more than I like to spend, but still under my $25 budget.

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