Friday, August 31, 2012

Kitty Cat Mob!

So you are probably wondering about the title . . . More on that a little further down.

But first, we are finally done staining the front porch! It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, much like meeting your spouse's ex. You think it will be terrible but then you meet them and they turn out to be really sweet and nice, and not at all the ogre you hoped thought they'd be. :)

There's something about wet cedar wood that I LOVE. Maybe it's because I'm from the West Coast, but the color of a wet cedar fence or deck makes me swoon. So when it came time to decide on stain for the cedar deck I tried to find the color that would make it look like it was wet all the time! We went to Home Depot and picked out some CIL stain in ,what else, CEDAR color. haha
It took 2 coats to get our desired color. We did the whole thing with paint brushes in the middle of the night! Seriously you can't put stain on in direct sunlight, and we found the day time too hot. The stain would dry too fast and made patches, so we sanded out the patches and stained the rest between the hours of 11 pm and 2 am! Sure it looked a little crazy . . . sure some neighbors stopped by to ask what the heck we were doing, but it's done in all of it's non-patchy glory!
 Not too much of a change from the street, but we're really happy with the result when you walk up the steps!

What was really a pain the neck, was staining and installing the lattice all around the front porch!
Which brings me to my RANT: ARG outdoor cats! Okay maybe it's not all outdoor cats, but it is definitely some outdoor cat. You know who you are outdoor cats, I've seen you and your orange-y stripes, or black shiny coats I use to like you before you started using under our porch as your personal half eaten bird graveyard. You outdoor cats are no longer welcome!
I'll save you the details but it was GROSS! I'm going to file that incident under "Thank goodness I'm married" because otherwise little birds would still be under the porch. I think it's the work of a Kitty Cat mob, who can't make it out to the back woods to hide their crimes so they use the cover of our front porch.
We decided that it was time to block out bird murder crime scenes!
Some very inexpensive cedar lattice from home depot, the same cedar stain (it only took 3/4 of a can to do the deck so we had more than enough leftover to stain the lattice).
First stain you panels:
 Next cut to size:
Lastly install
It got a little tricky around the steps but nothing crazy. All the panels went up in about an hour!
Before:
 After:
By next year the hydrangeas will be HUGE and you won't even be able to see the lattice which is okay with us, it's meant to stop kitty cat mobs, dumping their bodies under our porch. 

So screw you little kitty cats you'll have to bury the evidence somewhere else from now on. (Okay screw you might be a little harsh).

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Clothespin Bag

We're installing a clothesline this week and I'm abnormally excited about it! Like the night before Magic Mike excited ;) or should I say the night after Magic Mike excited ;) just kidding.

I picked up my first set of clothespins in anticipation, but I had no where to store them. So I broke out my sewing machine and made up a quick little bag.

I'm not an amazing sewer, I can sew straight lines, the occasional gentle curve but I'm definitely NOT an accomplished sewer. So I went with a tried and true Envelope Pillow case.
I made what was basically a very small envelope pillow cover, tutorial found here
The only changes I made were to sew a strip of fabric right on to the white cotton, and a small fabric tab I could use to hang the bag off of the hook we have outside.
I definitely could have bought one of the beautiful clothespin bags on Etsy. But I already had the fabric so this little fella cost me $0.
1 cute little bag + $0 spent is what I would consider a successful project! I can't wait to get that line up and start drying some clothes in the sun!

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Homemade Soy Candles for less than $2

You've heard my rant about paraffin candles before (in case you haven't here's the link).  Here's a little re-fresher on the reasons we burn soy candles instead of paraffin ones:
SOY
  • Soy wax is made from soybeans and vegetables, both renewable resources.
  • Soy wax burns much cleaner and purer as it is all natural, non-toxic, and non-hazardous.
  • This wax is biodegradable leading to reduced landfills.
  • Soy wax residue can be washed away with warm water and soap.
PARAFFIN
  • Derived from petroleum, a limited resource
  • The burning of paraffin wax contributes to indoor air contamination by emitting petro-chemicals causing soot deposits and carcinogenic particulate matter.
  • This wax contains petroleum by-products and additives that inhibit biodegradability.
  • Paraffin wax residue is quite troublesome, often impossible, to remove.
  • Purchasing paraffin products not only supports our dependence on this crude oil but also supports an industry riddled with environmental faux pas'.
So for those reasons we try really hard to only burn soy candles inside our home. We do run into a problem when looking for pillar candles, soy wax is a soft wax so it won't work in pillar form. Sometimes you can find soy/paraffin blended candles in pillar shape but they're usually considerably more expensive. Which brings me to today's post.

I started making my own soy candles . . . Soy candles are really expensive! Like insanely expensive, like $10 a candle or more for a teeny tiny candle!  So I found a tutorial on pinterest boasting Soy Survival Candles. It seemed easy enough so I ordered the materials off Amazon and got cracking errr . . . melting.

I know a lot of things on Pinterest look easy and really aren't, but this was SO EASY!

1.     First you order your wax, I ordered off Amazon 10 lbs of wax for $12 plus $10 shipping.  I also bought the wicks from Amazon. I checked Michaels first and even with a 50% off coupon it is way cheaper to buy wax from Amazon. I did buy my double boiler from Michaels with a 50% off coupon and paid just less than $10 for it!

 2.     Next you dump a few handfuls of wax into your double boiler (a double boiler could be another pot or a metal bowl, or even a heat safe glass bowl) I chose this one because it has a spout so I would be able to easily pour it into the jars.
3.     Heat your wax up until it's all melted . . . it will now resemble a jug of pee, seriously!

4.     Add a few drops of essential oils if you want scented candles, or don't add any if you want unscented candles. I make unscented ones and then add a few drops of scented oil later when it's burning on the coffee table!

5.     Place wicks into jars. You can affix them on to the bottom with wax or you can just hook them on a pencil like I did, that pencil kept them centered while the wax cooled.
6.     Pour Wax into glass mason jars.
My mom found these old mason jars for me at a yard sale for 25 cents each. I LOVE them, especially the glass tops!
 7.     Cool you jars of pee, aaaaahhhh I mean WAX.

8.     Once your wax sets it takes about 4 hours or so. Cut the wicks down to size about 1 inch long, screw on lid and you're golden (hehe, last pee joke I swear!).
The whole process took about 45 minutes.

I only used 4 lbs of the 10lbs I bought, and it made 6 HUGE candles that should burn approx 70+ hours each.

 It also made two smaller candles. And I still have 6 lbs left!  I think I might dry some lavender and put it in the next batch!! :)

It was really easy, really affordable and actually kind of fun to make!
I think they would make amazing Christmas gifts, or hostess gifts!! But this first batch is mine all mine!
I love a little homesteading project to start off the week . . . maybe I should change our blog name to "Mini Homesteader" . . .  okay, maybe not! ;)

Monday, August 27, 2012

Reaching new heights in the Kitchen!

I got a big boost in the kitchen, thanks to our new kitchen step stool!
We found it at Ikea for $32.99 it's called the Bekvam Stepladder and it's super cute! It comes in unfinished wood and we sprayed it "Sun Yellow" by Rust-oleum.
But I think that my favorite part is the wall hook that came with it . . . yes, included in the package.
 The ladder folds up and hangs on the wall perfectly out of the way!
 Lee better get ready for some new recipes now that I can reach my cookbooks ;). 

Friday, August 24, 2012

Mother-in-Law Flowers on Friday

We had a visit from Lee's Mom this week and she brought us a very sweet, very thoughtful bouquet of flowers!
 I love the contrast of the orange and the dark purple!!
Hope you have a great weekend! We have a finished kitchen project to share first thing Monday morning . . . see you then!

I'm a Basket Case

Well . . . only a little.
I did a quick basket change up on our front hall console! I wanted something a little more textural and neutral. I'm really happy with them!
In case you're wondering . . . we keep candles and candle holders in the left basket and fish supplies in the right. And the BIG Peace Lily that usually lives beside the console has made it's way on to the front porch for the summer.

Check back later this afternoon for another post . . . it felt like a 2 post kind of day!

Thursday, August 23, 2012

A new version of Greek Salad

I'm big fan of Greek Salad . . . I'm a big fan of anything crunchy and it doesn't get much crunchier than Greek salad! For my sister's engagement party earlier this month I made a ton of salads. The next day we had left over Greek salad and her soon to be mother in law (whose an amazing cook, btw) fancied it up! She brought out the same boring Greek salad I made but she had added Toasted Sourdough bread chunks and it was . . .  OUT OF THIS WORLD!! It was seriously one of the yummiest things I've eaten!
She gave me her secret recipe . . . she pan fries large chunks of sourdough bread in Oil and like 6 cloves of garlic, once it's nice and toasty she adds it to the Greek salad, pours the dressing over and it's fantastic!
 Salad:
1 Red Pepper
1 Green Pepper
2 Tomatoes on the vine
1/2 an English Cucumber
1/4 a Red Onion
1/4 cup of Feta Cheese
Dressing:
1/4 cup and olive oil
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1/2 teaspoon Dijon-style mustard
1/3 cup and 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Bread: 
4 slices of Sour Dough Bread
1/4 cup Grapeseed Oil, or vegetable oil
6 cloves of peeled crushed Garlic
(If you have garlic butter you can fry it with garlic butter and vegetable oil!! We've done it both ways and it's awesome either way)

It's seriously AMAZING, it sounds so simple but it is truly fan-freak'in-tastic!!! The bread doesn't go soggy at all! It's even really amazing the next day! It's our new go to summer salad!! I hope you'll give it a try . . . it's a little more work but I promise it's worth it!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Lady In Red's Home

In case you are wondering what I'm talking about . . . I'm talk'in about Lady Bugs  yo!
We all have a bird house or two on our property but there are other critters that need a little help in the real estate department as well. 
A small Mason Bee home was our first addition. And now a small 'bunkie' for Ladybugs. They will usually gather together to keep warm and safe. In nature they will find bark on trees to crawl under or any little hole they can all squeeze into together. A lady bug Home, is a great solution because they can all live in there together without the risk of being eaten by predators!!

An adult ladybug eats approx 100 aphids a day! They will also consume soft bodied insects, white flies and mites. For this reason they are always welcomed with open arms by gardeners everywhere!

This gardener is certainly welcoming them into her backyard . . . I hate Aphids! We haven't had any trouble with them this year but when we lived in the townhouse our patio was swarming with those florescent green buggers!!! I'm pretty sure the only thing I hate more than aphids are SLUGS, I despise those little (excuse my french) Bastards!!!  I hate them more than men hated the movie Magic Mike, I hate them more than everyone hated Frank Burns in MASH (or for the younger audience who may be reading . . . I hate them more than the Griffin's hate MEG).
But more to the point of my story . . . .
I was shopping as Homesense for a patio umbrella and as per usual, I came out of Homesense with something completely different . . . a ladybug house. It was $3 and looked like it belonged in the backyard of Barbie's Dream house with its pink flowery exterior.
We painted the exterior with some white spray paint we had, and to make sure that it was protected from the elements Lee topped it off with a clear coat!
 We hung it at the back of our yard, under the shade of the New Japanese Maple we planted!
I totally designed the interior with a branch, and piece of  cardboard from an egg carton! Here's a moodboard I made for them:
Those Ladies in Red are going to be sooo happy with their new DIGS!
I hope you'll consider adding a ladybug bunkie to your backyard. If you're looking to pick one up you can find them at most plant nurseries, and definitely online at Amazon.

p.s.  Does anyone else have the "Lady in Red" song stuck in their head now?

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

$6 Lamp Shade turned into a Pendant for the Basement Stairwell

I really just gave away my entire post in that title! Seriously . . . there was NO creative or clever play on words, no well thought out Puns, nothing! I laid all my cards on the table in the title. ;)
So, here it is . . . my $6 (+ fabric) shade as a pendant!
Please excuse the pictures . . . it's a really tight, dark space to take photos in! 
We had an old light fixture lying around the house for a while (it was originally a small pendant light with a glass shade that broke, it was also previously chrome but Lee sprayed it oil rubbed bronze so that it would match the sconce we added in the stairwell last spring. It was really simple to do, we just ran the wires through the middle of the shade and the shade rests on top of the fixture. Lee was able to install it just like any other light.
We still plan on adding a diffuser, but it will probably be something we have to order online because I've had NO luck finding one in a store!

I'm so happy with how it turned out . . . I'm even more happy because we no longer have to look at the ceiling version of THIS:
Basement Checklist:
  • Finish Drywall, and Paint
  • Add sconce to stairwell
  • Add art work
  • Add pendant light to stairwell
  • Add Deer Head
  • Fix Hot Water Tank Valve 
  • Add diffuser to the pendant shade!!
  • Rip out Carpet and lay down wood or laminate flooring.
  • Add a grouping of artwork on the main wall. (Important because it's the first thing you see when you open the door. 
So just a little bit more work to do . . . the carpet won't be happening for a LONG time, but the artwork will probably be a DIY project at the start of this FALL season!  :)

Friday, August 17, 2012

More Basement Progress

I've had some seriously lucky finds at the thrift store lately . . . first there was the coat tree, and now there's a framed watercolor landscape painting for . . . $9.99. Where else can you get a large (over 2 feet wide) watercolor, framed (with paper on the back and everything) for $9.99.
Of coarse the HUGE bonus being I LOVE IT! I would have paid a lot more for it and I'm seriously so thrilled to have it hanging up in our home.
I racked my brain trying to figure out a place to put in on our main floor but due to our super open concept floorplan, wall space is severely limited! So into the basement stairwell it went!
I didn't think I'd like it there as much as I do, but the wood frame matches the wood handrail. Also because I love seeing watercolors up close, and you are definitely UP CLOSE when viewing this one! 
Hope everyone has a great Weekend!!!! See you back first thing Monday Morning with some new DIY's from our week off!!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Yellow Buddha

First off, thank you for all the kind words about our basement carpet yesterday. Although I'm not sure the pictures captured it's true ugliness?? I will admit that it might not be as bad as I made it out to be! :) However I will add, that I haven't shown one single person in real life that didn't say "WOW" upon first glance.

On to today's post, a little Yellow Buddha, you may remember I'm on a bit of a yellow kick in the living room right now, as illustrated here and here, not to mistaken with the green and blue kick seen here and here.
 I had this little smiling Buddha (originally bought at Homesense) when I was on my green and blue kick. He was turquoise, which no longer fit. After spraying the candlesticks yellow we had some leftover paint so why not give Buddha a little lift?
I LOVE HIM!! He's one of those weird things that serves no real purpose except to make me laugh!
And this may or may not sound creepy but I LOVE his teeny tiny belly button . . . Yup that definitely sounded creepy! But there is no way in real life his belly button would be that tiny?? It's just so unrealistic!  Although in real life he also wouldn't be yellow . . .  :S or sitting on my side table . . . or have giant earlobes . . . oh well moving on!
I hope our new Mellow Yellow Buddha gave you a bit of a giggle today too!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

I keep my Skeletons in the Basement

Some people keep their skeletons in the closet, we keep ours in the basement . . . and by skeletons I mean THIS: Da Da Daaaaaaa!
This stripy mess is also known as the carpet in our basement! The worst part is, it's new! Somebody outside of the 70's chose this carpet, installed it, then stepped back and said "Yup that looks good!"  We were lucky enough to get in and make some choices while our house was being built, but please understand that THIS WAS NOT MY CHOICE!!!! hehe
During our Most Productive Weekend ever Lee tackled some much needed drywall and baseboards in the basement.
So now when you walk down the basement steps you see this:
Someday, soon hopefully, we'll replace the carpet in the basement but for now it has to stay.
I added a deer head that my mom bought for us last Christmas, she picked it up from Home Hardware for $25, it's actually a Christmas decoration and was covered in sparkles. We rubbed off as many of the sparkles as possible then spray painted it white.
We also added a couple of framed photos of our little Max and our first puppy Olive.
On the left is our Utility Closet, it goes all the way under the steps which is where we store a lot of our seasonal items. It also holds our Hot Water Tank and our furnace.
On the right is the home of our future gym. It just an empty room now but with a new floor, some mirrors, a bench and treadmill we'll have our own small home gym!
I hope that you can see past the carpet, although if you can you'll be one step ahead of me because I cannot! We're planning to start work on the gym this fall, just in time to work off some Thanksgiving Dinner! :) hehe

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Bench gone WILD

Please excuse the look of the site right now, we're having some Technical Difficulties, to say the least, everything should be back up and normal later today! Thank you for your patience!! 

Remember a couple weeks ago, I shared a bench we found on craigslist for $20? Well I have to tell you two things about it:
  1. It is a reproduction not an actual antique. 
  2. It's Now Turquoise!!!
 I tried to color match the bench as closely to the washer and dryer as I could. The closest match I could find was Martha Stewart's PLUMAGE color.
I LOVE pieces with traditional lines painted in modern colors. And although I am usually partial to neutral colors, it's nice to have another bright item in the house!
We took the hooks that use to be there, and installed them on the mirror of the bench.
Lastly, the seat lifts up, and for the summer we are storing our essentials, beach towels and sunscreen. But when winter rolls around we'll swap them out for scarves, mittens and toques.
It's only been a week but I'm seriously loving it's new bright and cheery facade. I hope you like it too!!

Monday, August 13, 2012

How to DIY a Lamp Shade for $6

We're BACK!!!! I had a great week off, I read a book, I went to bed early, I woke up late. We entertained friends, we put the finishing touches on some projects, but mostly we relaxed,  and soaked up the sun!

Things are back in full swing around here! And I'm so excited to share with you the first project I tackled . . . a Custom DIY Lamp Shade.
I wanted a patterned shade, but it also had to be a perfect drum shade . . . no taper! I had no luck finding one for less then $70 which I find to be a ridiculous price for a lamp shade, so when I found this at Ikea I was intrigued. When I saw that it was only $5.99 I decided to take a risk and attempt to recover my own!!
The Ikea Lobbo shade is basically a flat plastic lamp shade that, like everything else at Ikea, needs to be assembled! It comes with the metal bars and they fasten through 3 little holes on the side of the shade (pictured above).  The shade fastens at the back with little notches (pictured below).
It was seriously easy and seriously cheap to do:
You'll Need:
  • The Lobbo shade kit $5.99 
  • and Half a yard of Fabric, our fabric was $14 a yard so $7 for fabric. 
  • Spray Glue 
  • A hot glue gun and hot glue sticks
Total Cost, including Glue was approx $15. 

Step 1: 
Cut you fabric close to the same size as the plastic, it doesn't have to be exact just close will do.
Step 2: 
Spray your Spray Glue onto the plastic and then lay the piece of fabric on top! Pressing down as you go, making sure there are no wrinkles. It was seriously easy!!!
Wait 1 hour or how ever long your spray glue says to wait, ours was 1 hour.
Step 3:
 While your glue is setting, cut a thin piece of fabric as wide as you like ours was 3 inches wide. The piece of fabric should be as long as your plastic piece.
 Step 4:
Iron your fabric in half, then re open. Fold in the left side into the middle,  then do the same for the right side.
You should end up with something that resembles bias tape. You'll need to do this process twice, once for the top of the shade and once for the bottom.
 Step 5:
Trim off excess fabric from the plastic.
Once you've trimmed the fabric, assemble your shade by interlocking the tabs at the back, Ikea includes instructions for this part!! ;) It's pretty straightforward but a little bit finicky! Attach the metal structure in the middle.  It should look like this:
Step 6:
Once your shade is assembled then you can attached the strips of fabric we created in step 3 and 4.  Do this after you assembled your shade, it would be easier to do it before while the shade is flat but it won't work as well and you'll have puckering.
So once it's assembled attached the trim fabric using hot glue, glue the front on first,
then glue the back on.
It should be neat and tidy when you're done!!
Then you're done! It was surprisingly easy! Dare I say it was even a little FUN!!
And the finished product was better then I thought it would be . . .
 I was so happy with it I went straight back to Ikea and bought two more Lobbo shades! I don't know where I'm going to put the other two, but I do know that this one is going to become a hanging pendant in the basement, hopefully we'll get it up this week!! :)

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