Easy, adorable, no-sew re-upholstered footstool

beforeafterUpholstery is one of those DIY projects that can be really easy or really tough! I’ve done a couple chairs (one here), one with help from an upholstery class. I have a recliner I’d love to reupholster, but I am definitely not experienced enough to attempt it. However, there are some very simple upholstery projects that require no more than a staple gun, glue gun and some scissors – these include most dining room chairs, benches and footstools. These are the upholstery projects I – and you – can do!

Awhile back, I picked up this ugly footstool at a thrift shop for $5. I was drawn to it because the lid opens to reveal storage – reminded me of a mini piano bench. And the stool itself was in great shape – the wood was not scratched, the hinges worked perfectly, and it really seemed like it had never been used. (Probably because it was ugly!)

I had some leftover faux fur from a cape and muffs I had made for a friend’s wedding. I knew the fur would be perfect for this little bench that was just screaming for a girly makeover.

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2013 in Review

I can’t believe it’s been nearly a year since I last posted. I’ve thought about it a lot, but just never sat down to write. Had a few hosting issues along the way, too. But I’m back!

So, how was your 2013? Mine was pretty good! I actually did a lot of the things I set out to do the beginning of 2013. Here are the highlights:

  • I finished remodeling my kitchen – March 2013

kitchenbefore     kitchenafter

  • I remodeled my bathroom (with tons of help from dad) – December 2013

bathroombefore     bathroomafter

  • I visited a new place I’d never been to: Alaska – August 2013

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Reviving that plain old knife block

WP_001213Ok, so maybe the appearance of your knife block isn’t the biggest concern you have. It wasn’t mine either. But, after renovating the kitchen, having that ugly lump of wood on my beautiful new countertops was just a bummer. I’ve been wanting to experiment with chalkboard paint, and decided this was the perfect way to try it out!

What you need

A wooden knife block. If you don’t have one already, every thrift shop in the country has a few on hand. Pick one that matches the knives you have – or pick knives to fit the block!
Primer
Chalkboard paint – preferably spray paint
Chalk

 

Instructions

First, thoroughly clean the knife block. If you have TSP, this is best, as it will remove any grease stains. Let it dry.

WP_001215If your knife block has a magnet in the back for extra knives (mine did), you should cover the magnet with masking or painter’s tape.

Coat the block with the primer. If you’re using a spray primer, I would put two to three coats on. If you’re brushing it on, one coat should be sufficient. Follow the instructions to ensure sufficient dry time.

 

WP_001218Once your primer is dry, spray on the chalkboard paint! I do recommend the spray just because knife blocks are such odd surfaces, with all the holes. The spray will just coat easier. But feel free to brush it on also.

With a spray, you’ll need to do 3-4 coats. It is always best to do very thin coats with the spray, as it can easily drip or run down the sides.

Let the paint dry completely. Remove the tape, if you used it. Decorate the sides with chalk, put the knives back in and voila! A fun update to your kitchen counter!

 

 

(Oh, and yes, I did write “Caution! Sharp!” on the knife block. I need reminders like those!)

Adventures in speed dating

A few weeks back, a coworker of mine, Kelly, invited me to join her and a friend for speed dating. Honestly, I didn’t think speed dating was actually real. I thought it was just something they did in movies. You say speed dating, I think 40 Year Old Virgin:

This is what speed dating is all about

 

But despite that, I have committed to trying new things, and this actually sounded like fun. And then our coworker Robert decided to join us too. We tried to tell him that he’d be going in with two less options if he joined us (he already has our numbers and we’re not interested!), but that was ok. Then, another team member suggested we needed to have questions prepared. I was not even thinking about that! A quick shout-out to my Facebook friends, and I had some questions prepared (more on that later). Kelly and I also talked a bit about how we should probably check in throughout the night and make sure we didn’t write down the same names. Dating the same guy could be awkward. We decided on rock/paper/scissors as the deciding factor.

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The best way to store Christmas lights

WP_001096I love Christmas decorations!  So the first week of January is always sad for me – it’s when I have to take down the tree and the Christmas decorations. This year, I discovered an infinitely easier way to store Christmas lights.

Every year, we all have this same issue – all the Christmas lights are in a big tangled mess. It takes forever to untangle. And you know some don’t work, but you have to get them untangled to figure out which string is having the issues. Well, there is an easier way – and it’s cheap!

 

WP_001098WP_001099First, take a cardboard poster tube. It should be relatively stiff cardboard – a paper towel roll might work, but may also be too flimsy. A one and a half to two inch diameter poster tube is perfect. Note: for a 100-light string, you will need about a one-foot length of tube. Cut a 2-inch slice into each end of the tube. Slide the female end of the string (the side with the outlet holes) into the sliced opening. Tuck the end into the tube.

Start wrapping the light string around the tube. Keep the light bulbs sticking out away from the tube, rather than tucking them under the string. Continue wrapping around the tube, keeping the string pretty tight together.

When you’re done, tuck the female end of the string into the slice you cut on the other end of the tube. Repeat with all your lights. These tubes are easy to stick into a storage box and store until next year. And, even better, when you pull them out of storage next year, all you need to do is pull the plug out from the tube and plug it in to the wall to see if the lights are all still working. No untangling needed!

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I Hate New Years Resolutions!

So, I suppose this year I’ll make a few. Every year I avoid making resolutions or goals. I hate the idea that just because it’s the new year, I have to come up with some big plans to improve myself. Unfortunately, this year, I have a lot of ideas of things I need to do. So, this year I’ll be different and I’ll make a few goals. The ‘experts’ will tell you that you need to not only make goals, but also a plan to achieve them. To help with that, I’m going to divide mine into smaller chunks… divide and conquer? Here goes (you can also find on my Pinterest board!)

Daily Goals

  • Be open to new people and new experiences. Too often, I stay home rather than take advantage of that offer to attend a party with people I may  not know too well. But maybe those people could become great new friends – I won’t know unless I try. And new experiences – if I have the opportunity to take a class or try something I’ve never tried, I will do it!
  • Floss my teeth. Dollar Tree has these awesome disposable flossers. Only a dollar! I can do that.
  • Use moisturizer – at least on my face. Elbows if I remember.
  • Exercise at least 4 times a week. Gotta aim for daily, even if it’s just a few crunches.

Monthly Goals

  • January: Don’t spend any money on anything frivolous or unnecessary until I’ve lost 10 lbs.
  • Try one new vegetable a month. In November, I tried brussel sprouts. And those were good. Thankfully, my friend Stefeny is an awesome cook – she’ll have to help. If I don’t like the veggies when she makes them, I won’t ever like them.
  • Clean out one area of the house – Computer room, closet, cupboard, etc. Pick one a month and clean it out.
  • Delete anything in my DVR that is over 6 months

View to the oceanYearly Goals

Travel somewhere I’ve never been before. I’d love to go so many places – Alaska, Norway, Florida Keys… I guess even if it’s boring old Walla Walla, WA, I need to see somewhere new.

Get my PM certification. I’d like to do an actual course for this, but even if I just study online for it, I’m gonna get it this year!

So, what about you? What are your goals for the year?

Handmade cake plate

IMG_3409One of my favorite sites put out this great book with so many DIY projects. One of my favorite projects is a DIY cake plate. This is an easy project that allows for so much personalization. And the primary pieces required can be found inexpensively at your local thrift store!

Supplies needed:

Plates – dinner plate size is best, or fancy china
Glass candlesticks
Clear epoxy
Goo Gone

 

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My Kitchen Renovation–First Weekend

DSCF0284bSince the day I moved into my house 3 1/2 years ago, I’ve been dying to update the kitchen. I hate the laminate counters, with the fake wood look. I hate having a stovetop taking up a massive amount of counter space, with the tiniest oven known to man in the cabinet across the kitchen. While I like the solid oak cabinets, the color is dated and the hardware is dreadful.

After debating a few configurations, I settled on the least destructive. But, before I could do anything, I needed to find a 24” range oven. Standard size is 30”, but I have a small kitchen, and in order to keep the drawers I definitely wanted to keep, I settled for 24”. Anything’s larger than the old one anyway! Once I found one, hardly used, for $300 on Craig’s List, it was ready to start the kitchen renovation!

Here are my tasks (at a high level):

  1. Cut out the existing cabinet and remove the cooktop
  2. Wire up a new outlet.
  3. Insert the 24” Range in it’s place
  4. Build up the piece on the left side, against the wall, to support a thin countertop
  5. Refinish the cabinets with white paint 
  6. Put on fabulous new hardware
  7. Get new countertops installed
  8. Paint the walls a cheery yellow
  9. Install a tile backsplash – subway tile with green accent
  10. Build new cabinets or open shelving above the new range, to include the range hood

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How I used duct tape for it’s real purpose–duct work! You got this, girl!

Did you know duct tape is actually meant for duct work? Not for fixing shoes or hemming pants or making wallets? Had I not been a bit of an idiot (a couple times over), I might not have had the chance to use it for it’s true purpose.

IMG_3827For the past few months, I’ve noticed that every time I use the dryer, my kitchen windows would fog up. Somehow, I didn’t think anything of this. Which was pretty dumb on my part. As it turned out, the dryer duct stretching from the dryer to the wall was ripped. Which means my dryer has been venting into my house. For months.

This is actually a very easy fix, assuming you’re not an idiot like me, or have a weird set up. My current set up is not ideal, as I’ll explain below. But, mine should be an odd case – I imagine your home is configured properly! Either way, should you find yourself needing your duct work fixed, you are absolutely qualified to do this yourself!

Here is what you will need (and a few items you might also need):

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Be a grateful guest when staying overnight

In my last entry, I shared tips on how to be a gracious hostess when having overnight guests. Now it is time to turn the tables and share how you can make sure you are not a burden to your hosts. The principles are the same – communication is key!

1. Prepare your host appropriately for your arrival.

  • Be accurate with your arrival/departure plans. Showing up early can cause problems – they want to be sure they are ready for you. And showing up late is just rude. You don’t want them to spend hours waiting for you.
  • Notify your host ahead of time of any special needs. It seems like a given, but make sure that it is ok before you bring pets, or children. If you have any allergies, make sure that your host is able to accommodate your needs. If you have any disability or any physical needs, or if you need more privacy that they will need to accommodate, make arrangements beforehand.
  • Also, if your host offers you their own bed, you should decline. Of course, if you have a disability or injury, are an elderly person, or have children that need a confined space, this is a definite exception. But, as much as your host may love having you live with them, it is still a sacrifice to provide for you. You should make it as pain-free as possible.

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