Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Belated Fall Decoration

Several weeks ago, I had an idea for a small project. Between my birthday and a bunch of stuff going on at work and with the kids, I only just now got around to working on it this past weekend.

At this point, it's about seeing if I could actually do it, not using it for decorations. But now I will have it for next year. So, YEAH! Go me! Ha!

I started off by cutting and sanding some scrap 2x4, then spray painting them. 

Sadly, the color I absolutely love, espresso (Wonder why), I ran out of on the first block. But since I had recently purchased some orange, I figured it would work to do the other three blocks.

Then I pulled out my stencils, and trusty sponge brush, and stenciled the letters onto the blocks. In my head, it seemed like a good idea to have the letters actually "falling" I don't hate it. I just wish I had measured better. 

Then I put a clear coat of glow-in-the-dark paint over it all. 

I tied some ribbon around one block, in an attempt to make it look like it had a stem, and voilĂ !

Now I'm ready for Fall...just in time for Christmas. Ha!

Cost: materials on hand
Time: 1 hour
Outcome: Success

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Fall decorating

Wow! I'm finally back to having energy for extra projects. 

I wanted to do something for my front poach, so I got out my favorite things-spray paint and letter stickers. 

Then I added in some fall themed items, and voila! 

Cost: $8 for pumpkins
Time: 30 minutes

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Easiest Repurpose EVER!!

Some friends of mine had to downsize into a much smaller apartment last year, and I went to help them pack or sell things. 

When I pulled up to their house, I saw that they had already stuck a HUGE pile of stuff out by the curb for trash collection. One thing caught my eye. 

I quickly stuck it in my car and went on with the rest of my day. 

It has sat in my shed for almost a year, and I finally got the courage to work on it. I had been saving a bunch of plastic gift cards thinking I would cut them into pieces, spray paint them and create a glued mosaic onto the ball. As I stood there looking at it all, my eye caught on the gold spray paint and I thought, "Forget all that work! I'm doing this!". 

I wiped it down and started putting coats of gold spay paint on it, letting it dry between coats. 

After 3-4 coats, I decided it needed more shine, so I added a coat of spray glitter. Then started spraying it with a clear gloss enamel. 

I put on 5-6 coats of the clear, letting it dry between. 

Then I picked out a place in my garden. 


Cost: Materials in hand. 
Time: 1 day due to drying times. 

Outcome: SUCCESS!!

Side Note: I start a new job next week, PRAISE GOD! I'm not sure how often I will be able to create and post, though I'm working on one more project now. 

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Pallet walkway

I really thought I had already talked about this. It was a very interesting project that I did last summer. But it turns out, I've not posted it. OOPS!

So, 4-years ago I bought this house. One of the big selling points was that it came with a really amazing shed that had electricity and storage and all kinds of interesting things already in residence. 

The issue was that I have two dogs, and getting to the shed in the dark or when it has rained was always a less than pleasant experience. 

I put down those cement stepping stones, but when I re-did the entire yard last summer (Wait, I haven't talked about that yet either? Double oops), the pavers became less than practical. 

I really have tried to use reclaimed resources as much as possible, because I don't have the $$ to spend, and I had found some really great old boards and talked a friend into helping me haul them home. But I was at a loss as to how to make them a raised walkway without spending tons of money on brick or rock or more wood. 
One day, I was staring at the pallets I had left from another project and an idea popped into my head. I quickly borrowed a truck and brought home more pallets and started to plan. 

First, I layed down some landscape fabric to stave off grass and weeds from growing up under my walkway. Then I started placing the pallets down, with an idea of them providing as much support as possible. 

It took some thinking to avoid big empty spaces, and since I wanted a clear boarder, I added in several 2x4s cut to length in spots, but finally I was able to lay my reclaimed planks. 

I did have to build a transition stoop at the shed doors, as the pallets were higher than the door clearance would allow. The previously mentioned stash in the shed provided excellent wood for that. 

I used long deck screws to connect the planks to the pallets, added in some old landscape border I pulled from another location in my yard, and used some bricks gifted from a friend to finish it out. 

I really like it, actually. It is very functional, and the wood was already weathered, so the look was right. 

NOTE: As you can see, a couple of boards were pretty warped, and over the last year, as I have seen long boards laying around, I have hauled them home and used them to replace those warped boards.

I've also added in some of those Dollar Tree solar stake lights so I can see the path in the dark. I need to get out there and mow so I can post an after-after picture. 

Total time: a solid weekend, with the hauling and placing and cutting
Total cost: $8 for the box of deck screws. 

Outcome: success!

Friday, July 11, 2014

Update to the previous post

A friend decorates for EVERY holiday, and liked the patriotic centerpiece that I made, so I gave it to her.  Then, I realized that I wanted one for myself. lol

So I grabbed dad's drill bit again, and threw this together in less than an hour! 

As a bonus, my sister moved last weekend, and was cleaning out her stuff and had some wooden slats that she had used to support a bed.  They had nice rounded edges, so I used one and cut it up to create the box and coffee-themed centerpiece that can stay in my kitchen, year-round.

Those ladies at Shanty2Chic really know how to inspire!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My take on someone else's idea

Let me start by admitting that I got my idea from seeing something the wonderful ladies over at Shanty2Chic posted several months ago.

Here's their creation. 

I, as previously mentioned, happen to have a large supply of empty glass Torani bottles, so I knew I would be making something similar. 

The July 4th holiday was around the corner when inspiration hit!

I had more of the 12" fence picket sections mentioned in a previous post, and 3 bottles for nicely on one section. 

I built a box to surround the bottles, and borrowed a 1.5" drill bit from dad to drill holes in the top section. 

I tried just using the 1" drill bit that I already had, and just wriggling the bit around. Yeah. Not the best idea. I wound up having to scrap that wood and start over.

The right tools make ALL the difference!

Next I picked out the stickers that had the font I wanted and applied them to the bottles. 

Then I spray painted each bottle the appropriate color, and let dry.

I opted to spray paint the outside of the bottles, instead of painting the insides, so that I could put water in them and use as vases for the flowers from my gardens. 

When the paint was dry, I peeled off the stickers, placed the bottles on the bottom board, and used small nailed to attach the top piece. 


Project cost: $8 for red and blue spray paint. 
Project time: could be done in 1 afternoon. 

Outcome: SUCCESS!!

Monday, June 30, 2014

My shovel died

I am the kind of person that has one of each item.  I believe that I only need one, and I take care, and keep track, of that one tool.  Having more than one requires additional storage space, and is unnecessary.  Now, I might have multiple types of an item, say 3 sizes of cookie scoops, or different lengths of phillips-head screwdrivers, but never the exact same part....unless, of course, someone gives me one when I had already purchased one.

Anyways, I had a shovel.  I have used my shovel for SO many digging projects, because digging is a hereditary trait that my father gave me, and it has withstood my up and down weight yo-yo without complaints.

Last summer, my shovel and I dug out a 24'x2' spot for a flower bed, and a 2-ft deep hole for a transplanted lilac bush, and countless other smaller flower areas and transplanted plants.  I love my shovel.  It's awesome.

So, this spring when I decided to put ANOTHER flower bed in my front yard, I was HEARTBROKEN to have my shovel handle snap off barely 20 minutes into removing the topsoil.

When I posted how sad I was about it, a friend asked me what I was going to make out of it.  I lol'ed, but in my head, I had an instant image.

Dad gave me one of his extra shovels, so I was able to complete the flower bed,
but I mourned my shovel and determined to give it a place of honor, somehow.

Last week, I finally had the time to work on it.  First, I cleaned it thoroughly, then I got out my drill and drilled a hole so I could run some hanging wire through the handle. 

Then I gave it a coat of white spray paint.  I just love spray paint.  I can't believe I've done projects for over 20 years without ever trying to work with it.  It's wonderful stuff!

I actually put 2-3 coats of spray paint on it, because the first coat was from a REALLY old can of paint that someone had given me, along with a tub of other random things, and it just didn't want to STICK to the metal.  :((

I wasn't sure how to get the whole, "Twilight Zone"-looking swirls.  I really should have looked up some pics on the web or something, but I'm SO DARN IMPATIENT!  OY!  So, I just jumped in with my black acrylic paint and a small paintbrush.

I went over that a couple of times, then pulled out my stencils and some red acrylic paint.  Here's where it became a LEARNING opportunity. (eyes rolling)

You see, a shovel may be a flat surface on which to paint, but that surface is at some interesting angles.  Trying to get the stencil to lay flat for the painting was next to impossible, so the lettering isn't as clean a look as I would prefer, but I am nothing if not DETERMINED, so I kept at it.  2-3 coats of the red paint for each letter, and the wording was done.  Everything got sealed with my spray sealer, and then it was time to hang.

When I went to hang it, it just lacked a I grabbed an old belt and some work gloves that are actually a little too snug on my over-grown hands, and used those to finish it off.

Now, my hard-working shovel hangs proudly displayed on my front door....warning all who enter what to expect! HA!

Project Cost: materials on hand
Project time: 2 days, to allow for paint to dry

Project Outcome:  SUCCESS!!

This is when I love being the Make-Do Queen!

UPDATE: I added in one very important word. 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Rug dyeing at home?

So I have this rug that goes around my toilet, you know the kind. Keeps your feet warm in the middle of the night.

Mine was a nice mocha color. Matched my towels.

In a fit of cleaning, I threw it in the wash with some towels... But not my towels. The towels from the girls bathroom.

The girls have a much more...excited...bathroom than I do. All orange, and turquoise, and purple, and green. It is perfect for two teenagers. Shows almost no dirt. 

See what I mean?

Anywho... Their towels aren't monochromatic like mine. And after the wash, my rug was a very questionable shade of green. :(

I got the bright idea to try and dye it back using coffee and tea… You know, like they're always telling you on Pinterest.

So I cleaned out the trashcan, brewed some tea and some coffee, and stuck it all in my bathtub with some more hot water.

I let it sit all day, checking on it every now and then to swirl & swish.

Then I set it in my washing machine to drip dry.

Now I have a mottled green rug. Some parts took, and some saw no change. 

So much for that. 

Project cost: $12 for a new rug 
Project time: 1 day

Result: Dud!
So much for Make-Do.

Monday, June 16, 2014

My repurposed coffee bar

And finally the project I teased almost a month ago!

I have this space in my kitchen.

As you can see, it's almost wasted space, and the dog is able to knock over the trash can whenever she gets mad about something and spread it all over the house. (Another reason I pulled up the carpet back in November and put in the paper floors.  Check out that blog here.)

I've toyed with putting in a pantry for almost the entire time I've owned the house, but could never decide HOW to do that, on my ultra-cheap budget, and still have it look good.  Then I considered knocking down the top of the wall and opening it up into my living room, so that the two rooms had more connection.  One of my friends did that in her house, and it was SUCH a headache for her, that I decided to not try to take that on, myself.

At some point this spring, I decided to just put a shelf in, at bar height, to allow for more counter space and to better conceal the trash, recycling and dog food canisters.  When I started talking about it to my kids, D2 insisted that I put some real effort into making it look good, not just be functional.  She didn't mind the shabby chic of my back yard, but insisted that the inside of the house look good for her friends.  TEENS!

So, that slowed me down.  I had to figure out how I could build something, on almost no budget, and have it look like it was semi-professional.  I built the box out of that reclaimed plywood, and some old fence materials, but then it just sat in my shed for a month or so while I tried to figure out how to dress it....and how to mount it.

I had bought some shelf brackets at Dollar Tree, but when the kiddo insisted it look GOOD, I had to re-think the support.  I did some research on YouTube and saw that several people advised the kind of wall anchors that would go through the wood, into the sheetrock, and then pivot to provide stability.  So I went to Home Depot and bought a package of the sturdiest looking 3" wall anchors I could see.

When I was out in the shed, last week, looking for something else, I spotted some baseboards that had been left with the house/shed, and started looking at them.  They are actually the right height, and would affix to the box I built easily, and give it a more "finished" look.

Then I realized that I would have to miter cut the ends to fit together.  I have never miter cut anything in my life and was seriously afraid to try. I remembered a friend telling me that my circular saw had little levers and knobs that would allow it to do angle cuts and so I pulled it out and started trying to figure out how to do that.  Knowing that I would do it wrong the first time, I left the baseboard sections about 6" longer than I actually needed them, and then cut.  Yep!  Did it wrong the first time.  Corrected the cut by flipping the board onto it's back, then re-drawing a straight line, then cutting again.

SUCCESS!  Repeat on the next section.

Using wood glue and nails, I attached both pieces to the box....and noticed that my cutting skills hadn't been that precise when cutting the top out of the plywood.  There were little gaps between the baseboard and the plywood and I just stared at it and wondered what in the world I was going to do NOW?

As is my habit, I left it alone and gave it a day or two to let my brain try to resolve the issue while I focused on other tasks.

I was applying for a job at a local home improvement store and they asked about my knowledge of caulk...and I thought, "I can use caulk to fill in those gaps, then paint over it all, and no one will know!"  EUREKA!!

When I got to the caulk isle, I saw that right behind me was wood filler.  Well, if caulk will work, I bet wood filler will work BETTER, so I bought some of that, and saw the poly right next to it, and remembered that my poly at home was rubbish, so purchased a small can of that, too.

Feeling like I might actually be able to pull this off, I started thinking about what I could move to sit on that shelf, freeing up cabinet space or counter space.  As I was sitting in my kitchen, pondering, drinking my coffee, I thought, "Wouldn't it be nice to have my coffee stuff moved over there where I could spread it out and not have it be such a clutter that everyone sees the second they step into the kitchen?"

See, I'm a little bit of a coffee addict.  I have the Keurig, a regular drip coffee maker, and a french press, in case the electricity goes out.  Yes, I would boil water in the fire place in a kettle and use it to make coffee.  Yes, I'm THAT bad of an addict.

So, I'm dreaming about making it my own personal coffee bar, and realize there are no plugs on that wall.  HOWEVER, my dad and uncle are 3 streets over and both are relatively competent DIY electricians. :D  Oh, yes, I immediately began talking them into coming over and dropping me a plug right where I want it. HA!

In the process, they also figured out why a particular switch wasn't working and fixed it.  Yeah!!

So, back to the wood filler.  I read the instructions carefully, and squeezed a bunch into the gaps, trying to use the putty knife to get it even.  It was so hot that the stuff was hardening quickly, and I wound up just using my fingers to get it where it needed to be.  Wait 2 hours, sand, add more to fill in the deep spaces, wait 2 hours, sand, repeat.  After it was built up to a satisfactory level, I started painting with...yep, the RED. Ha!

It took multiple coats, again.  Paint.  Wait an hour, reapply, wait, paint, wait, paint, etc.  About the 4th coat had the wood filler completely covered and blended, and the place where the miter cuts met looked really good thanks to the wood filler.

I REALLY wanted to stencil something on it, but my stencil skills are SERIOUSLY lacking.  I was almost resigned to installing it with no decoration, when I figured out that I could do a reverse stencil on it.  So, I used some peel and stick letters, some painter's tape, and an odd piece of flooring to keep a straight upper line and painted over it in black, the same color as the legs.

After waiting an hour or so, I did another coat of black, let dry, then removed the letters, tape and flooring.  I borrowed a small paintbrush from my artist of a daughter and went back over the edges with some touch-up paint to get the lettering as clean as possible.

Let it all sit and dry for an hour or two, then applied the first coat of poly.  Wait 2 hours, reapply. 

Here's the thing I'm learning in all of these projects. My push to get things DONE, isn't always the best way to do them.  I really should have allowed for more time to let it all sit and dry and harden before trying to install it.  Just because it's horribly hot outside, and the paint and poly is smooth and dry to the touch, doesn't mean its HARD and ready to move around.

Called Dad and Uncle to help me get it installed, and as I was trying to communicate with them the way I envisioned it being affixed to the wall, we managed to bump it a couple times, and there are now a few little nicks on it.  It's not huge stuff, but I'll always know its there if I don't go back and fix it.

I let it sit for several days, after I saw that, and then moved in.  I was just given a sign from an old church coffee shop, and I mounted that on the wall to cover the old telephone jack.


I'm going to go back and sand, touch up and re-poly the couple of spots that bother me, and realized that when I measured and built the box, I didn't allow for the extra 3/4" of the width of the baseboard, so that needs to be painted/hid.

But I like it.

Total cost = $28 (wood filler, wall anchors, poly, new switch & faceplate)
Total time = TOO long  (weeks?)
Outcome = The kid doesn't hate it, so I call that a SUCCESS!

Hope Chest Hutch

As I mentioned in the previous post, I recently created a space in my bedroom for a home office.  As a result of the transition, I realized a drastic need for more shelving. 

I knew I would have to build something, as I simply can't afford to go buy stuff, but I knew that I wanted it to look good and be sturdy.  Not sure if I've mentioned this, but my skills are almost zero. I learn on every single project and make mistakes on every single project.

I decided on attempting to build a hutch that could sit on my hope chest.

Several months ago, I came across some old cabinets that someone had disassembled and put by the dumpster.  I talked to the building guy and he gave me permission to take anything around their dumpster that I thought was of value.  Since the cabinets were built out of 3/4" plywood, something I desperately needed, I had grabbed the 3 best looking sections, loaded them in my mom-mobile, and brought them home.

In order to use them, I had to cut off the bad spots, and pull out all the previously existing nails and hardware, then sand them down, THOROUGHLY.

I measured the width of my hope chest and decided on the total height, then cut the plywood into 4 sections, 6" wide.

Two sections for the vertical and 2 sections for the horizontal.  Sanded every section, again, then used screws to assemble into a simple shelf.  When I got it put together, I was a little nervous about the true stability of the middle shelf, so cut another piece to act as a brace in the middle.  Then realized it might tip over easily if I didn't offset some balance, so added a small 2" cross bar along the back bottom to provide additional support.

That seemed pretty stable, so I started painting it.  Because it was already blue, and I was using the red I've grown fond of, it took MULTIPLE coats to cover.  I would paint it, then let it sit for 4-6 hours in the heat of my shed, in the back yard, in the middle of May, in Texas, then go back and put another coat. 

When I was comfortable with the coverage of the red, then I decided to seal it, for good measure.  I had some old polyurethane that came with the house and shed, so opened it and applied it.  Evidently, sitting for over 4 years in the extreme heat and cold, reduced the efficacy because it never hardened, just stayed tacky to the touch.

So I pulled out the spray sealer that I used for all the glass bottle projects back in the spring, and put a couple of coats of that on the shelves.

After letting it dry/harden for 24 hours, I moved it inside. 

It's not something you'd find at a fine furniture store, but for the cost of my time, I'm actually pleased with it.  And it is certainly sturdy enough to hold everything I've stacked on it.  At some point, I've seen cute little folding baskets from Dollar Tree that I'll buy to put the files and junk in, but until I know what my job situation is going to be, I'm hesitant to spend much on non-functional stuff.

Total cost = materials on hand
Total time = 3-4 days, allowing for drying times
Outcome = Success