How To: Make A Simple Tray

I love trays.  You can have a random collection of stuff sitting on a flat surface looking a whole lot like clutter.  But with a tray, presto.  It looks deliberate and styled.  Magic.

Over the past couple of months, we have been trying to spend a little time spiffing up our master bedroom.  The room that one could argue should be a top priority had been getting the short end of the decorating stick. 

So I wanted a tray for the top of my dresser.  And I wanted it to be a very specific size and color.  DIY project time.

How To: DIY tray

How To: Easy (and Customizable) Wood Tray


Plywood the size of your desired tray

Molding with a rounded edge

Wood filler or caulk

Miter or block of some kind (only a couple of small simple cuts)

Pretty paper for the bottom of the tray

Coordinating Paint Color


Polyurethane of some kind

Pourable resin (can get at hardware or craft stores)

Hammer and Nails (or nail gun)

Spray Adhesive (optional)


1. Cut you wood to the desired shape.  Nail the molding to the side with 90 degree miter cuts at the corners.  Use caulk or wood filler to hide the corner seams.

How To: DIY tray

2. Prime and then paint the sides.  Here is where I tell you not to do what I did.  Either stop the paint before you get any on the tray edge. Or paint the ENTIRE thing.  You will see why in a minute.

How To: DIY tray


3. Poly the sides.  I used a spray.

How To: DIY tray

4. Cut your paper to the exact size of the bottom of the tray.

5. Dry fit it and then spray a light coat of spray adhesive to adhere it to the bottom.  You could probably skip the spray adhesive and be fine if your paper is a tight fit.

How To: DIY tray

6. Mix your resin and pour according to the directions on the packaging.

How To: DIY tray

This is when my mistake became apparent.  With the resin, my paper became translucent and you could see the wood grain…and my paint line.  I did not mind the grain, but the line annoys me.  Not enough to redo the whole thing, but enough to tell you about it.  Oh well…learn from my mistakes.

7. After the resin hardens the amount of time on the packaging (I believe mine was two days), put your crap in there and watch it become collection-like.

How To: DIY tray

My tray is my dump all on my dresser.  And the place where I keep  my favorite jewelry.  Having it out and seen makes me wear it a whole lot more.  And every once in a while I rotate it around.

How To: DIY tray

Not to mention I love the marble paper (found a local paper store).  And I choose to ignore the blue peeking through.

How To: DIY tray

I have been dumping stuff on the tray for two months now and the resin has held up beautifully.

How To: DIY tray

This will be my go-to project for any space that needs some spiffing up.  Next time I will do it properly…or choose some thicker paper.

Glazing-Not Just for Cabinets

I love how some brown glaze can redo honey oak.  Like in the guest bath.


But why should cabinets get all the love? What about other types of wood or furniture?  Like dressers?

nursery progress

Well I was going to find out.  These dressers were hand me downs from my family and they were solid wood and not oak.  Which were two huge bonuses in my book.  But considered that the cousin whose nursery they were in is now in college, the color needed some updating.  Not to mention that the bow and flower decals did not fit in our boy decor.

(For the full glazing how-to, please go to this post)

Of course we started with the worst part of the glazing process…the sanding.  Luckily for me in my delicate state, Derek took over this arduous task.  Two hours later it was sanded and Derek was very dusty (and will think again before volunteering for the next sanding project).

dresser glazing

dresser glazing

Then the glazing started.  We wanted the dresser to match the crib as much as possible, so we started with Behr’s Spiceberry mixed with the glaze like I described in original full how-to post.

dresser glazing

After it the first coat was dry, it looked too red and too light in relation to the crib. Hmmmmm….

dresser glazing

So to darken it up, I mixed a second glaze with Sherwin William’s Black Bean and put this on as the second coat.

dresser glazing

Much better.  And I loved that the two different color glazes gave the finish even more depth.  My color misjudgment turned out to be an awesome find.

I added 5 coats of water based polycrylic to get this finish.

dresser glazing

Perfect.  You can still see the grain and the finish is really close to matching the crib as planned (don’t worry that is not the mirror’s permanent home…..the floor is not exactly a child proof spot)

dresser glazing

The drawers were painted with my favorite paint….Ace cabinet and trim in high hiding white.  And then polyed for durability.

So happy how it turned out…..

dresser glazing

The lamp is not permanent….just a stand-in stolen from the guest room to figure out spacing until I find the perfect one.  Homegoods has been letting me down lately.

Anyway ignore the accessories and just enjoy the dresser….

dresser glazing

dresser glazing

dresser glazing

dresser glazing

What should I glaze next?

Some Sun

We snuck off during spring break to California for some sun and family time.  Derek had a bad bout of H1N1 before we were supposed to leave that threatened our departure, but luckily he got well enough in time and I was able to leave the Lysol at home.  And the snow that fell the day we left.  Did I mention we were happy to leave?

Ahhhh San Diego…san diego trip

We were only there a short time but had lots of fun at the zoo.  And I set out on the mission of trying to snap some shots we could use in the nursery.  Now I just really need to sit down and figure out Photoshop.

san diego trip

san diego trip

san diego trip

san diego trip

san diego trip

And we ate lots of great food.  Derek’s aunt and uncle drove down to take us to a restaurant on Coronado island with great city and bay views.san diego trip

Although I have to admit not being able to drink sucks a lot more when you are on vacation.  See a cool bar that normally you would’ve liked to try?  Or when the flight attendant gives you free drinks to make up kicking you out of your prime seat.  Or…..never mind.  Just trust me.

In spite of my pregnancy induced sober status, we still have a great time.  We then took the train to L.A. to see Derek’s mom, stepdad and brother. 


The train was so much easier than renting a car and sitting in traffic. And for the first half of the trip we were literally right on the water.  The only negative was free wine, See above why that was considered a negative.

While we were in LA we of course had to make an IKEA trip.  I was hoping to find the perfect curtain fabric for the nursery.  While I did not see exactly what I wanted, we of course did not leave empty handed.

Cushion and pillow fabric-san diego trip

A light fixture that is hopefully somehow going to fit in the closest once we figure out how to assemble it-san diego trip

And miscellaneous toys and dog butt hooks-san diego trip

Luckily we did pack an extra duffel bag for all the IKEA goodies.

We also were lucky enough to have a baby shower while we were there and see Derek’s extended family.  Sadly, my camera sat in bag throughout the evening.  I did manage to snap this one though-

san diego trip My brother-in-law cooking bacon on the patio that morning because my mother-in-law did not want the smell in house for the shower. 


Note to self to not to leave the camera away next time.

Italy Memories….On a Wall

I may have mentioned that we went to Italy this summer.

And I may have taken have tons of pictures.

I may have been really tempted to frame all 1457 of them and hang them around the house.

But I knew that would have been just a little overkill.

However there was this big blank wall right behind the chairs in the living room that had “Italy” written all over it.

(Just picture it….it was a blank wall of nothing)

And I just may have had that wall in mind when we planned the Italy trip.

Anyway this what we whipped up….


Because I wanted a way to remember our trip everyday. Without having everyone that walks into the house thinking that our travel photo album barfed all over the place.

My goal was to make look like we collected a wide array of pictures over a long period of time and make it say “Italy” without using all photos.  I think we achieved it and I am so happy how it turned out. 

It all started with this art that we bought for the old house because Derek really liked it.


And it hung over the buffet in the dining room for years until we moved.  But at the new house there was not great place for it, so it sat in the closet for the past couple of years.  Sad.

Since it happened to be a painting of St. Peter’s Basilica, it worked out perfectly for our Italy wall.  And it wasn’t a photo.  Good planning 5 years ago.

Also when we at ZGallerie we stumbled on a Rome sign that was also a perfect addition.  I told Derek I could make it myself, but I got outvoted.  Now we had Rome represented.

After we had our two pieces, we bough some random frames and with the use of our area rug and a measuring tape laid out the the display.

By random, I mean absolutely no plan.  We picked a variety of sizes and finishes.  And different mats.  No plan here.  Collected over time was the desired look.

Next, we hung them all on the wall according to our plan on the floor.  And our new best friends smiled at us from their frames for a month (or two) while I picked out the rest of the pictures to complement the art.


Finally finished….

On the bottom portion we have some photos of course.


In addition to the normal photos, I also modified a photo of the Cinque Terre to make it resemble a painting.


I used a filter in Photoshop to in order to achieve this effect.  And if I can do it in Photoshop, anyone can do it because I still have zero skill with that program.  Also if you don’t have Photoshop, there are tons of photo editing program online that can achieve similar effects.

Another “different than photo thing” I did was with some left over Euros that the bank would not take back when we arrived home.


So of course I had to make something with them.

My first thought was do a rubbing over them with a pencil or charcoal.  And be all all old fashioned and stuff. Bad idea.

So I reverted back to the computer and threw them on the scanner.  I then did multiple random effects in Photoshop and Picnik until I liked how they looked.  Don’t ask me which ones because I have no idea. 

Then there is the top section….


The top right is actually a retro travel poster from the Boston Public Library’s Flickr Photostream.

Tuscany - Siena

High Heeled Foot in the Door mentioned it awhile ago and I had the link safely tucked away until I needed it.  There are so many fun posters there for all sorts of destinations.  I had trouble picking just one poster and can see this becoming a go-to spot for future trips.  Definitely worth checking out.

And last but not least….our Italian phrase.


Il bel far niente.

Or the art of doing nothing.

Something we are both terrible at.  And I would like to pretend that having it written in Italian on the wall will make us stop and smell the roses sometime.


I spent a lot of time with my Italian travel dictionary to try to find the perfect phrase and this seemed like the best fit.

Although there were a lot of great runners up in the “amore” section that I was tempted to put up there and just tell people it meant something nice and romantic.

Non ho mallattie has a nice ring to it don’t you think? (I have no diseases)…..

Or how about “Sono ricco e single” (I am rich and single)….


Oh well…I guess I will have to get busy with the art of doing nothing.

And remembering our amazing vacation daily of course…..

Ode to Overstock

The UPS/FedEx/mail men were among my favorite people this week.  They just kept bringing boxes of goodies.  Not all the boxes are ready to be revealed, but a couple are unpacked and up and running.

When we last left the dining room ceiling saga, I was stumped with what to do.  And out of my list of options, most of you picked Derek’s option of adding the white edging so that the colors looked more similar.

dining room ceiling fun

Derek would like to thank everyone for voting for him.  He reads the blog, but usually does not mention much about it except “do you want me to take pictures of this while I am doing it?”  But on the day on the dining room post I got a call at work making sure that I was not missing the comments that people were agreeing with him.

So I did it.

And it took awhile.

And again it looked great during the day, but at night it looked even worse.  The white of the crown molding and the white of the ceiling looked like completely different colors even though they were the exact.same.paint. 

Very very frustrating.

So at this point, I knew I had to do something about the light fixture since the yellow globes were the main problem.

I bought some other non-yellow globe options and honestly some of them were OK.  But to replace all the globes was going to cost over $70 and for that amount of money I decided I would rather move that light fixture to another location and get a new one for the dining room.

(I apologize for the lack of pictures of the globes….Derek had the new light fixture installed while I was out with friends and did not realize I had not done it yet.  I couldn’t be upset with him because he was installing a light fixture while I was getting a pedicure,  Guess he made up for the whole everyone liking his idea thing.)

Anyway enter overstock and this beauty.


Love the bling.


And while the space is not a total after yet, the ceiling and light is finally finished.


Even at night…..


My other overstock love landed right outside the dining room in the entryway. 

We have had this rug from our prior house in the entryway since we moved in.  It was not bought for the space and no longer fits the style of our house.  Even Derek agreed we needed something new.


I wanted to keep this size rug however for a couple of reasons.  The floors are orange of course and are really beat up in the entryway.  Also when the dogs are running down the stairs at full speed and hit a bare hard wood floor they go flying and further damage the floor.  Hence the need for a big rug.

We tried the IKEA rug in the space and it was too busy and did not flow from the style of the dining room.


Again Overstock to the rescue with this baby….


Love it.  I think the colors and style are perfect.


Now off to open up the other boxes. 

And never paint another dining room ceiling again.


I get bored easily.

Especially when I am not busy painting a new project.

It gives me too much time to look around and want to switch something up.

Even in a perfectly good room that we remodeled less than two years ago.

I don’t think this trait is on my husband’s top ten list of things he loves about me.

It may have to do with spending money.

Or cutting into football watching time.


So when I started thinking about the rooms I wanted to make changes in, it happened to be the first three rooms that we completed when we moved it.  And as I disclaimer I still love them, but they all needed a little freshening up.  And to of course on a budget (see above).  The three rooms are the dining room, family room and office.  And while the office and dining room are still works in progress, the family room’s minor changes are complete.  And they are just enough to keep me happy with the space.

And I am happy to report that no football watching time was infringed on for any part of it.

The Family Room

Issue #1- Too Much Brown

  Since we bought the bookshelves, I have been trying to convince Derek to let me paint the back.  Or apply pretty fabric or decorative paper to give them some pattern and pizzazz.  Just something to break up the boring brown. 


But that idea got vetoed.  Maybe because he knows my propensity to want to change things and anything permanent would not bode well for the solid wood bookcases.  I could day that we could just add built-ins when I get tired of them but I don’t think that would help my case.

So for two years I let it go and tried to enjoy the brown.

Then one day it hit me…..what about spray paint?  It is cheap and easily re-doable and who needs to touch the bookscases?  Why had I not thought of this brilliant idea sooner?

So I spray painted the lamps a blue gray and got new drum shades.  Then the brown tray got a coat of silver.  And I thought I would love it and it would solve of my brown problems. IMG_2947

But a couple of weeks later I am still not sure.  Maybe the blue is too shiny?  Maybe it is too much contrast with the brown bookshelves?  Maybe the lamps are too skinny?  Maybe I should just go with gray instead of blue-gray? Maybe I am just feeling fall-ish now and this is just reading a little too springy?  Maybe I way overthinking this and just need to be happy that is not brown and get over not painting the interior of the bookshelves?


Issue #2 It Just Doesn’t Feel Done

There is another change in the family room that I am 100% in love with….the rug.

I was a little iffy on adding an area rug over carpet.  But the space was not really unified and I wanted some more modernish touches in the room to make it flow more with the adjoining kitchen.  So I got out one of our 5x8 area rugs that we were not using and see what I thought of the idea.

It was love at first site….except the rug was way too small.

So that led us on a rug search.  It had to be big.  And cheap.  And modernish.  And good colors.  And not solid brown (see above). And not matchy with the walls.  But not too orange either. And not too busy.  Basically perfect.

We went everywhere in the city that carried rugs and came back with nothing.  It may have had something to do with how picky I was being.

Overstock had some great and cheap ones, but the colors and sizes were not matching up.  I then stumbled on and found a couple that met all of my criteria.  And free shipping and returns. 

It was a very exciting day.

We ended up with this one.




And I am amazed about how something so simple can complete the space.

Some friends commented that it was brilliant that the circles of the rug complemented the circular coffee table so well.


I was totally thinking that when I picked it out.

Issue# 3 Throw Pillows

You also may notice we now actually have some throw pillows on the couch and chair.  There are still some more half finished in the sewing room, but we at least have some color on the sofa.

But I have a confession to make.

I asked you opinion on throw pillows a long time ago.

About whether I should use the home dec fabric I already had or go with more modern cotton prints.

And the majority of you said to stick with what I had.

Well I didn’t.

Sorry….but I did listen on your advice on the kitchen curtain color, so you can’t stay mad.



So what do you think?  Hopefully I am not the only one that gets the itch to change things up.   But I think I am satisfied with the space and will be able to enjoy my time hanging out in there and not thinking about what I want to change.

For now at least.

What I Brought Back From My First Time

I know most people do not detail their IKEA purchases.  Because they go all the time and it could get really boring really fast.

But unluckily luckily for you, I am not one of those people.

Being that it was my first IKEA trip, and I am still 8 hours away from one, I just have to share.

The fabric was the first thing that went into the bag soon to be cart. 


I had heard about the great fabrics at IKEA from my modern quilting guild friends and was really excited to see what they had.

And I even I had purpose in mind….those shrunken office drapes.  I wanted something more modern and washable and cheap because I needed a lot.  And before IKEA I was coming up with nothing.  A whole lot of nothing that was not over $20 a yard.


Of course as soon as I got the bolt home I had to hang it to make sure I loved it as much as I thought I would.  Not sure what I would have done with it if I hated it, but it turned out OK because I think they will look perfect. When I finally get around to sewing them of course. 

The next purchase I really  had no plan for.  I knew I wanted rugs for  the entryway, kitchen and possibly office.  And that black and white would look good in all those places.  So I bought it thinking that we could make it work.

So it was unrolled and tried in the entryway…




Ehhh not my favorite there.

Office?  Nope does not fit under furniture without covering up vents.



(Imagine flowing white panels on all the windows)


(At least we have the rods up)

Even without the curtains I think we have a winner.  Which is good  because I was out of options besides Craigslist.

My final purchases were a pretty (and cheap) silver bowl that I am thinking about using in the dining room.


And the classic white pots which I am thinking will house herbs in the kitchen in the winter.  And an aloe plant which came highly recommended by Kim.   It had a couple battle scars from the car ride.


I could have bought a lot more….especially in the fabric if I had unlimited time to browse.  But I think for my first time I got a nice collection of things that ended up working out great.  And crazily enough not one of those items required any assembly.

Now if I can just become a curtain making machine……

How-To: Outdoor Rolling Cart

In re-designing our outdoor space, I realized we were lacking some storage.  Sure there were tables, chairs and a sectional, but no place to just set stuff. And while the garage was just a few steps away through the interior of the house, I learned quickly that it was just too far in the summer and therefore I just plopped things on the ground.

So we needed a flat surface to set stuff.  And it as luck would have it, we had a perfect awkward space for this storage to fit into.


It had to be pretty and look like furniture.  I was envisioning a simple slatted console-table like thingy.  That I could set stuff on. In a fun color. 

That was the very thorough description I gave to Derek.

He took it a couple of steps further and designed and made this-


A double decker rolling cart.

Backing up……

After I explained my master vision we headed off to the hardware store for some lumber and outdoor stain.  After much debate and price comparison we decided to go with cedar because it was not that much more expensive than pressure treated wood and I could treat it with color right away.  And it smelled nice.

And by much debate, I mean we put wood on the cart and then exchanged it for a different kind three times.  The Home Depot guys would have thought we were crazy if they did not know us so well from our frequent visits.

Anyway, we spent about $60 on wood.

Now for the Jenny version of the how-to (with pictures of course):

We made the frames for the shelves-IMG_0926

Added the slats-IMG_0927

Screwed on the legs-IMG_0928

Assembled the layers and added the wheels-IMG_0929

Simple right?

Well for the more technically inclined here is the Derek version with fancy schmancy measurements-

The cart is three main pieces.

The upper shelf is made completely of 1 x 4 boards.  The slats are 1x4 of 16 ¾ in length.  There are 9 of them spaced approximately ½ inch apart.  The long sides are two 1x4 boards hooked together.  The outer board is 7 inches shorter than the inner board (29”).  The inner board is 36” long.  This allows 3 ½ inches on each end for the vertical 2x4.  The short sides are connected with a 1x4 that is 11 ¾ inches long.  When looking at it from the short side you would see the 1 ½ inch side of the 2x4, then the ¾ inch side of the inner 1x4, the 11 ¾ inch 1x4 and then a mirror of the other side.  This totals out to 16 ¾ (1 ½ + ¾ + 11 ¾ + ¾ +1 ½)

The lower shelf is made the same way except the two outer slats are cut shorter to fit within the vertical 2x4’s. 

The vertical 2x4’s are however tall you want to make them.  Our cart is 37” from the bottom of the vertical 2x4’s to the top of the upper shelf (not counting the wheels).

OK enough of that…back to the pictures.

After the cart was assembled, it was my turn to take over with filling the nail/screw holes and sanding-IMG_0933

But happily we were going for a rustic outdoor look so not that much sanding was required.

Which is good because sanding is not rated as one my favorite DIY tasks.

I then finished it in an opaque stain in Shipmate Blue.IMG_0935

Ultimately I would have loved to do a semi-transparent stain in blue, but I could not buy it in a quart.  And I did not feel so strongly about it to justify the extra cash.

After two coats of stain we got this-IMG_0947

Or should I say this-IMG_0949

On a typical day I plan on housing most of my gardening supplies here so they are not just scattered around the deck. 

But it also can be used for this purpose-



Or for sangria...or a bucket of beer…..or lemonade.  Or setting the mint plant on there and whip up some mojitos.   Or a serving table for food.

Or a fiesta…


Confession- I was tempted to set up all of these those little vignettes and take pictures to illustrate the many uses of the outdoor cart.  But a) it would have been obvious that I had a little too much free time and b) my neighbors were in their backyard….they probably would not look at me the same after seeing me rearrange beverages on the cart six times and then snap pictures.  Especially at 8 on a weeknight when it was just the two of us outside. 

But I did capture the cart in all of it’s wheeling glory without causing neighborly concern.  It makes a perfect BBQing accessory-IMG_0954

It was super easy to construct (or so I am told) and cost less than $70 for all the materials.  And I love the pop of blue. 

It looks perfect in the completed outdoor space and I love the functionality.

Outdoor space 8/10

Outdoor space 8/10


Herbs on the Move

Know what my favorite thing about winter is?  How much it makes me appreciate spring. 

Because who can appreciate the absolutely gorgeous weather we have been having without going through the cold and incredibly long winter?

That is what I tell myself at least during the winter.  Sometimes it actually works.

Since spring is in the air, gardening is on my mind.  We are still in the iffy part of planting in good ole Zone 5 because we have been known to still have a random freeze this late.  But being the rebel I am, I decided that I could start planting my pots last week.  I know I am living on the wild side, but I figure that in the unlikely event we have a freeze, I can always pull them inside at night.

Since I am freeing up garden real estate this year, I decided all the the herbs were going to planted in pots on the deck.  There are two added bonuses to this.  First, most of them smell heavenly which brings a nice ambience to the deck space.  Also, all the flowers I planted in pots last year did not do very well so hopefully the herbs will succeed  much better.  And flowers can start to add up in terms of $$$.  So by replacing most of them with herbs I would be buying anyway, we are saving some money.

But then I stumbled onto a problem- pretty pots are expensive, especially when I plan on planting tons of herbs and some random flowers. 

I did have a stack of old terra cotta ones  in the garage and they are inexpensive for new ones as well…..but orange rust does not mesh with the color scheme of the outdoor decor I am going for. 

So I turned to my favorite thing for sprucing something up…..I bet you can guess what that is…..


But terra cotta is not a material that you can just slap some paint onto and call it good.  It took some prep work and specific materials.  So of course I am sharing the how-to so that you can also score some cheap and springy pots.

The How -To

1. First, gather all your posts and scrub them with soap and water.  I used a combination of new and old pots and definitely spent a lot more time scrubbing the mineral deposits and grime off of the old ones.


2. Let them dry for at least 24 hours.  Learn from my mistakes and do not set them on a cement garage floor if there is any moisture at all in the ground.  The terra cotta will suck it right up and they will never dry.  Which is not fun to discover when you are ready to start painting them.

3. Spray with a water proofer.   Terra Cotta is porous and when holding plants will suck all the moisture in from the dirt into the clay.  Which is bad news for your paint if you are expecting it to stick.  There are a lot of water proofers out there and some people suggest painting them with oil-based polyurethane to do the trick.  But we had cans of Thompsons spray water sealer laying around from some past project that I now have no memory of.  The terra cotta absorbed it right away and did not appear any different after spraying.  Spray every surface with this stuff- both inside and outside.  We went though a can and a half for all the pots pictured after applying one heavy coat.


4. Paint with Patio Paint in your desired color on both the outside and the inside.  All terra cotta surfaces must be covered so that no water permeates any part and causes your paint to peel.  This includes the inside of the water hole.  I found my patio paint at a local craft store next to the terra cotta pots and not next to the acrylic paint which caused me a little bit of confusion.


I covered everything with two coats of paint using a foam brush.  The yellow and the white did not cover as well, so I added an extra coat.  This paint dries really fast so the process did no ttake very long.   I also used the green on the lower inside part of most of the pots because I knew you would not see it but it covered very well.  And I had a big bottle of it.

5.  Let dry for at least 48 hours per the paint’s instructions.

6.  Fill with plants!


We put a coffee filter at the bottom the pots so that water could seep through but the dirt would stay put.

7. Color coordinate where you want particular herbs and enjoy!




Budget Breakdown:

$37 for pots (I already owned some)

$16 for paint

$0 for water sealer (already owned)

=$53 total…..which I think is great for 11 pots and some of them being large ones at that.

And I love what the color brings to the deck….I am so excited about how it is coming together.   Now I just need to figure out what I can cook with that monstrous sage that came back with a vengeance this year…..


Cheap, Quick and Easy DIY Christmas (My Favorite)

It's that time again....time for the weekly blog party at the Newly Woodwards. I have gotten so many awesome ideas from the previous weeks of the party and I know this week will top that even more.

This week was Dare To...Deck the Halls and the challenge was to DIY a holiday decoration. Throughout the Dare To.... party one of my themes has been cheap. I am trying to not blow the bank on Christmas decorations which is very easy to do (at least it is for me because I have a slight addiction).

My other theme for this week is "quick." Like I mentioned last week, I am slightly behind in the handmade gifts department so all of my DIY time has been devoted to that endeavor without much time to spare. I had a grand idea for an Christmas card holder but I knew it was going to take me over an hour to construct and that is valuable quilting time. I will keep that one filed away for next year.

OK the first project. "Handpainted" and Unique glass ornaments. Doesn't sound quick huh? Well I am happy to report that they were so quick that when I hung them on the tree today Derek did not even realize I had snuck away to do them. They are also so easy that kids could do it and it would be a great family project.

So how do you do it? Start with clear glass ornaments (I got these 60% off at Jo-Ann)
Pop off the top and squirt in a couple of colors of acrylic paint. I used a variety of red, silver and ivory. I alternated squirts to layer the colors and get a cooler effect in my opinion.
Place a piece of cardboard or cardstock over the top....and shake shake shake.

Let dry overnight-
And then pop the top back on and enjoy.

Couldn't be easier right?

Of course I did a couple of variations. If you want your colors to be more flowey and less defined, add no more than four drops of water to the ornament before you squirt in the paint.

Your colors will look more like this with the water-
Without the water you get this-

Also you do not have to cover all the glass in the ornament when you shake since the inside looks cool too-

There you have it-10 completed ornaments in 15 minutes all ready to hang on the tree.

I also did a little side project that won't win me any DIY awards but I wanted to share it anyway.

I always struggle with decorating the entry way because it is not a lot of space with a lot of doorways. We have two matching artificial trees that were given to us by the in-laws when they no longer used them. Since we have gotten a live tree the past couple of years they have been gathering dust in the basement. So this year I flanked the door with them.

I went with an all red theme with red lights and red beads. But I wanted to keep it simple so the main tree was still the focal point. We also were missing tree skirts. Again, since I am trying to be cheap this year I did not want to just go out and buy two. I was also concerned that a full size skirt would be too large in order for the door to clear.

So I went to Hobby Lobby and bought a yard and a half of red satin for $3.

I squared it off and cut it in half.
Then I seamed all four sides.....
and wrapped the rectangles around the base.
The finished product-

So much cheaper and easier than cutting and sewing a circle.

Head on over to Kim's the check out all the other great ideas!

I am also linking to:

The DIY Show Off


Homegoods Happy

Hope everyone had a great Halloween and are enjoying the leftover candy! Since we have no self control when it comes to sugar, Derek and I have a strange way to resist temptation. Since we both have nut allergies (yeah our future kids are screwed in the genes department), all we buy is peanut butter candy. So it is really easy not to eat it because we literally can't. Even though at this exact moment I am craving some chocolate and just maybe the thought has crossed my mind about the possibility about just taking a lick of the just chocolate with the epi-pen next to me.

Anyway, back on subject, we had a very busy DIY weekend and the bathroom is almost done. The last thing to do is finish accessorizing, decide on a shower curtain (might need your help with this one as I am stuck) and oh yeah get the toilet out of the tub. But other than that minor detail everything else is a go and I can't wait to share it. My grand plan was to share some details and/or a how to today but we were so busy that I did not get a chance to snap pics until Sunday evening and they did not look great in artificial stay tuned for tomorrow and hopefully this daylight savings time things allows me to snap a few before it is dark.

I did make a Homegoods run and of course they did not disappoint.....

And I may have had a two cart trip there last weekend when Derek was out of town. Maneuvering two carts through the store and onto the parking lot by myself is not easy and usually gets some weird looks but is always worth it. For example look what followed me home (safely buckled in with a blanket of course) after that trip (for $30 by the way)-
Snapped with the cell camera

But I did not buy everything that caught my eye- like these lacquered tables that I was thinking about for the entry (sadly they are too big)-
Snapped with the cell camera

It just might be my favorite store.....


Black or White?

I am on a mission to 100% complete the kitchen. Those pesky cabinets that are waiting on their glass fronts are almost on their last coat of paint and poly....a year later. Derek has been assigned the task of finding the best price on glass. The bar stools have also been decided on.

still no doors....

Next up-the drapes. This has been a difficult project from the beginning. The pink mini blinds were trashed the first week we moved in and the windows have been bare ever since. While I am sure the neighbors love the view of the kitchen, I think it is time to put up some window treatments.
Ahhhh the memories

I decided I wanted long panels in between each window (7 total) but on one long rod. The first issue was finding hardware to fit such a long window. Add two corners to that and this task took us awhile. We finally found wooden rods at Lowe's that we can cut as well as extend with screws and bonus-they have corner pieces.

a pic with almost all the windows

Now that we were successful in getting the hardware...onto the drapes! Remember how my goal was to get them done before summer to block the light and heat that bakes the kitchen during that season? Yeah, obviously my new goal is winter to block the drafty cold.

In my defense I started them. Remember again the two bolts of fabric sitting in the (old) craft room?

I spent an afternoon measuring, remeasuring and cutting all the black and lining fabric. I laid it all flat and was all ready to start sewing. Then I noticed something odd.....the black fabric was actually two different colors. After I stopped hyperventilating, I decided that maybe I was just being too picky and Derek would look at it and tell me that I was being stupid.

I was wrong. He agreed that the colors were very different and that hanging next to each other, they would look funny. We couldn't return the fabric because we bought it over a year ago and from a discount place that does not guarantee things like that.

I was so mad that I was going to spend more money on more fabric, that I just left it sitting there and did not think about it for a couple of months. Well now that I have cooled down and the drafts in the kitchen are there on cold nights. So I am ready to think about it again.

Now that I have to buy new fabric, I am second guessing black as a color choice. The first time I picked it the conversation went something like this-

J: do you like this for the kitchen....not sure about black, but it is heavy and only $6 a yard?
D: that's expensive...
J: actually for home decor fabric of this weight that is incredibly cheap
D: do they have enough?
J: there is two bolts..
D: get it then
J: don't want to think about it? It's a big decision....
D: we are here, it is here and I don't want to have to come back again

The pluses of black is it is a dramatic color and I like how it balances the black cabinets on the other side of the kitchen. The minuses is that it will fade in the sunny windows and will show white dog fur.

Here is a "sample" (a piece of cotton that I bought to sew a dress from)

Disclaimer to make sure you do not think that I have lost my mind: a) the actual drapes will be lined b) they will go all the way to the floor and c) there will be a panel in between each window.

But what about white? (this sample is actually a sheet)
The pluses of white is that is airy in the kitchen. The minuses is that it will show dirt and dirty fingerprints when we have kids and it is a little more "beachy" than the rest of the kitchen.

Here are the two together for comparison-

If I could, I would take a wide angle shot with the cabinets on the other side but my camera does not have that capability. (believe me I tried and Derek was shooting me looks while he was cooking-for some reason he did not want to make this blog post). This is the best I have showing some cabinets and some windows. (note the white appliances will be gone as soon as we can afford new stainless).
Every person that has walked in the house over past week has been forced to go into the kitchen and give me their opinions. The results have been mixed. Personally I am leaning towards the black and of course Derek is leaning towards the white. Hence why they are still hanging there.

I also thought about other colors or prints. Gray is between the two but I don't have anything that long in that color to hang there. Also I don't want to do a loud or busy print because I want the backsplash to be the focal point.

Since I need 24 yards to make all the panels and since I have already spent money on fabric once, price is also a huge component of the decision.

Decisions decisions.

Now that I am in a better place about the old fabric I am starting to come up with creative ways to use it. Craft rooms drapes? Basement panels? Curtains for a stage that we could make for our future children? Dog beds?


Spray Paint+Brass=:)

When I was redoing the craft room one of the must-haves was a new light fixture. Previously a small white ceiling fan was there and every time you turned it on, it swayed.....badly. Not to mention that it was ugly. So I was on the hunt for a new chandelier. I found this one at Lowe's that I loved.

But it was $178 which honestly for a chandelier is a good price .....but I needed to remember that it was for the craft room. I put it in the cart and walked around the store looking at it for awhile before I finally talked myself into parting with it because it was not a need. Sigh......

Plan #2- Find a cheap ugly brass chandelier and spray paint it black. This is the only time I have kicked myself from throwing something away from the house's previous life. The old dining room chandelier would have been perfect in the "ugly" category.

After hunting around local hardware stores we found this pretty one for $30.

Much more in line with the craft room budget and really more in tune with the DIY spirit of the room. At least that is what I told myself. I probably could have found one for free or cheaper on Craigslist but for $30 I decided it was not worth the hassle.

So we brought it home, and taped the parts that shouldn't get paint on them (like the wires).

Then we hung it our professional spray painting apparatus in the back yard (also known as a tree branch). Not the first time the neighbors have thought that we were crazy.
We placed a board and trash bags against the trunk so that we would not end up with a black tree for the next year or two.

Next I spray painted it with a couple of light coats. I originally used Black Rustoleum in a Matte finish. But after getting two coats on, it looked too much like wrought iron and not modern enough for the room. Of course my spray paint collection included a gloss clear coat so I added that and it turned out exactly the way I was picturing.

Then the tape came off and it was hung.....sort of.

The hanging part actually took about two weeks. I mentioned before that a couple of projects in the craft room did not go as planned. This was one of those projects.

When we took down the fan we realized that it was hanging from this inside a recessed light casing.

Yep those two wires were all that were holding the fan. No wonder it swayed.

Plan B was to install a recessed lighting adapter that they sell before putting in the new fixture like we did in the guest room. But there was no place to hook it in because at some point the wiring and lighting component were ripped out. And we could not get the recessed light out without totally messing up the ceiling. So the craft room sat dark and empty for a week while we "thought" about it.

Finally we came up with the solution of taking it out through the attic. So my loving husband climbed up into the attic in July all in the name of my craft room light fixture. Even when he found old insect/spider foggers and mouse poison he trekked on. But maybe that involved some complaining:).
This is what he pulled out-

And here is what he put in-a box properly supported with a ceiling fan brace.

But we were still left with a giant hole around the light fixture base. No dry wall patching for us.....enter ceiling medallion. I thought about painting it green to match the walls. But that would require paintbrushes and dry time. The faster solution-pink spray paint. The faster solution won and even though it is a little bright, it brings more creativity to the space.

I also did not want it to look like a traditional chandelier so I changed up the bulbs. I am also toying with the idea of adding some shades to change it up some more. We will see what I can scrounge up.

All You Need is A Laundry Basket

Jack and Winter's Favorite Activity List
1. Eating Treats
2. Taking Naps
3. Chasing Squirrels
4. Taking Walks
5. Belly rubs
3758694. Getting nails trimmed
3758695. Getting a Bath

But unfortunately for them last weekend we decided that they needed a bath. We normally put it off as long as possible or pay to have their groomed so that trained people deal with the pain of fighting them. Since it was so warm outside we decided to suck it up, save the money and do it ourselves. We talked about using the tub in the basement but wanted to avoid the cleaning up the water that would get everywhere. So the backyard and the hose was the winner.

The problem was that we had no way to contain them from running away or laying in the mud while we were trying to bath them. So what to do?

Small wading pool? don't have one
Rubbermaid plastic tote? won't drain

So what is big enough to hold dogs and drain properly?

Laundry basket! I am sure our neighbors thought we were crazy, but we wrestled the dogs into the laundry basket and bathed them in the backyard. You can tell from his annoyed facial expressions that Derek was thrilled that I stopped holding and scrubbing dogs to snap photos commemorating the event.

Winter did her classic "I am so mad that I refuse to look at anyone" move.

However, this experience did not scar Winter against laundry baskets for the rest of her life. Sunday evening it started thundering which always sends her into panic attacks. She can hear thunder hundreds of miles away and will subsequently start freaking out. During these times the struggles with standing or sitting still and is always trying to find somewhere to hide from the evil thunder. This time the laundry basket full of socks (clean of course) was her storm shelter of choice.
Who knew a laundry basket was such a must have dog accessory?

The Starfish Fiasco

Image courtesy Microsoft Clip Art Gallery

Looking at the bookshelves in the family room last night and thinking about bringing back the seashells for spring/summer I remembered the starfish incident of last spring. The memories......

After I got the family room somewhat together I wanted to accessorize the bookshelves. So I went to Michael's and got a big bag of seashells. I arranged some of the bigger seashells and starfish on the shelves and in vases. After arranging and rearranging I figured out the perfect arrangement.

Two days later while Derek was out of town I came home from work to find a single vase lying empty on the floor under the bookshelf.....

So I thought,"I wonder what was in there.....there are the big seashells, the coral...where are the starfish?"

I swung around and saw the perpetrators trying to look innocent-
The Eater

The Hider

Winter is a hider so I frantically searched all her favorite hiding places: in the couch, in her bed, under our bed, in clean starfish.

Jack will eat I called the vet.

J: Hi, Could I speak to the vet, I think my dog might have just ingested a starfish.
Receptionist: A what?
J: A starfish, you know like an animal some people use for decoration?
Receptionist: Okay..................hold on
Vet: Jack ate what?
J: A starfish
Vet: Like a ceramic statue?
J: No like a animal
Vet: How did he get a starfish in Kansas?
J: It is a dried dead one, it was on a shelf for decoration
Vet: You decorate with starfish?
J: And seashells, it is actually very in right now so I am surprised Jack is your first patient with this problem
Vet: First time I heard it (insinuating I am a weirdo for using dead animals for decoration)...anyway how big was it?
J: About 7 inches across.
Vet: Did he eat a piece of it or the whole thing?
J: I can't find any of it so either it is hidden very well or he ate the whole thing....but he is acting fine
Vet: Bring him in just to check. Sure it was him and not Winter?
J: Winter is a priss and will barely eat her food. If it was her, she would have hidden it and not eaten it.

So at 5 o'clock on a Tuesday I am loading Jack in the car, causing Winter great stress that she wasn't going also, and then sitting in traffic to get to the vet's before they leave.

$200 and a stomach x-ray later Jack gets a clean bill of health .

No more starfish in our house.

In December I was putting on my snow boot when I felt something hard. I reached in and pulled out a half-eaten starfish.

A Girl's Best Friend

Is it sad that this has been in my purse for the past year?

This was probably one of the best (and least expensive) purchases of the entire house. I have had more sticky tabs on there (color coded per room of course) than I have on files at work. Also it is not just handy for choosing paint. Ordered a couch that won't be in the living room for a couple of weeks but need to pick other colors in the room? Just whip out your handy paint deck, find the closest color, stick on a post-it and you are set. See a really cute vase at the store but not sure if the color with match a particular room? Good thing you have your paint colors with you.

Some people might make fun of the paint deck (ummm like my sister who will be getting one in her Christmas stocking this year) but if you are in the middle of remodeling/renovations it is an invaluable and inexpensive resource.

How-To: Embellishing a Pillow Sham for less than $5

I had a real problem picking a paint color in our master bedroom at our old house. Or should I say it was a "learning experience".... When we bought the house, the walls were all white in the room. So we wanted a sunny yellow to do a beachy theme. We learned yellows are hard to pick because they quickly move from pale to electric. So a year later we went to a cool blue. We learned that blues needs some gray in them so they don't scream little boy's room. So when we were ready to paint again I spent a lot of time thinking about it and gathered inspiration pictures (we shamelessly copied one of them).

After painting, I was finally happy with the color so I was on the hunt for the perfect duvet. It needed to be all white with just a bit of black trim. I looked everywhere but could not find exactly what I was looking for except at Crate and Barrel. I did not want to spend that much money so I kept looking. But after a couple of months and still no duvet I broke down and ordered it from Crate and Barrel.

Side of Duvet....sorry did not take time to iron before snapping pic

The duvet arrived and I loved it....but then we needed pillow shams to match. I was not going to pay for matching ones so we improvised. I went to Wal-Mart and found $3 white pillow shams. I got out the sewing machine and black thread, set it on a zigzag stitch with the shortest length possible and followed the white stitching of the pillow sham. 10 minutes and done!

The finished product- less than 5 bucks

Close-up of the stitching...not perfect but for the price oh well

The whole thing put together in the master at the old house

..........And in the new

Master Bedroom Mini-Reveal

I have posted bits and pieces about our latest project (here and here) and now I think we are ready to actually post some pics. It is not officially an "after" as we still need accessories and some other key things like doorknobs but at least it is somewhat put together. Also this is phase 1 of the renovation. Phase 2 involves a new (canopy) bed and dressers in black. Eventually (phase 3) we want to put in hardwood floors, scrape the popcorn and possibly add wood beams to the ceiling but those things cost money and our goal right now is to make it presentable on the cheap.

As you can see there was no need to decorate for Christmas

Red, green

The green itself was not a bad color but their painting job left something to be desired

Our dog barrier while we were painting

I am so sick of painting windows....15 down 6 to go

Almost done with phase 1:
How does anyone get their duvets to look unwrinkled in pictures....I had just ironed so I obviously have not figured it out. Also the frame on the blue picture is the same silver as the mirrors so I am not sure why it photographs differently.

The TV's current home until we can get a new flat screen

The wall for the flat screen

Our new couch...still need to finish another throw pillow

I have no idea what to do with that upper space....I would leave it blank but the way the lighting is it needs something

Still need to add more accessories on the nightstands and dresser

So excited about these drapes....lined and interlined faux silk...$21 at Wal-Mart....score!

new fan (obviously)

Right now I am loving grays and this is painted Dovetail by Sherwin Williams. I am so happy how the color turned out and I think it will look even better when we finish getting things on the walls and accessorizing. The bed and dressers are left over from old house and I think the canopy will look awesome when we get it. I think it will help to fill up the vertical space and bring down the ceiling.

The couch, nightstands and coffee table were the only new pieces of furniture we bought. The "nightstands" are actually end tables but we wanted something that did not scream nightstand and would also match the new bed when we get it.

Budget Breakdown:
Lamps-$100 (49.99 each at Homegoods)
Mirrors- $40 (19.99 each at Walmart)
Art above bed- $72 Homegoods
Curtains-$84 ($21 each at Walmart)
Curtain Rods- $40 (19.99 each at Target)
Ceiling Fan- $150 Home Depot
Paint- $65 Sherwin Williams
Bedding- already had
Black rug-already had

Let me know what you think and if you have any ideas for that ledge!

New Home Store Find

I never thought I would say/type these words but....

I might have found a store that ranks up with Homegoods in cool home stuff and price.

I know, I can't believe it either but let me give you the scoop. I was driving to a different Wal-Mart this weekend in search of a final curtain panel for the master bedroom when I saw the JCPenney Outlet Store. Now I have seen this store before but assumed it was just clothes so I had not ventured in. But for some reason on Sunday I noticed that there was a line of cars in a pick-up area to load. Hmmmm...people would not be pulling up pick-ups and SUV's to get clothes. The parking lot was packed but I ventured in. The inside did have a lot of clothes but the back had a lot of housewares and there was a whole side area with furniture and accessories. Was it as nicely organized and presented as But they had so much stuff laying around-beds, patio furniture, desks, chairs, mirrors, lamps, tables, armoires, sheets, rugs etc. This stuff was moving fast. I found a mirror I liked and by the time I circled it was gone. I also was eyeing a modern desk (while hearing Derek's voice in my head saying "where are you going to put that") when a another girl walked past me and sat on it. So if you are going to get deals get there early, bring a buddy to stake your claim and be prepared to spit on/lick things if you want to reserve them.

I did score a new light fixture for our guest room. Is it exactly what I But it was just 30 bucks and for that price I can make a few modications to make it what I want.

The box (the price says 29.99 in case you can't see it)

The previous light fixture, a single can light.
The new (cheap) light fixture
Since it was a recessed light, we had to put on an adapter to put a normal light fixture back up. I am thinking about covering that with a ceiling mediallion. Also we had to take the top portion of the light fixture off because it was hanging too low. I am also thinking about changing out the shade to a straight drum shade in white and possibly spray painting the metal chrome. But I am going to live with it awhile before making the decision. Even with modifications, 30 bucks was a steal.

And I will be back JCPenney Outlet store, next time with reinforcements.

Homegoods Score

I have a slight obsession with Homegoods. Luckily one is within walking distance in case I need a fix. It is not unusual that I need multiple carts in order to get everything out to my car. You know you bought too much when you have to make more than one trip to get everything in the car. On a recent Homegoods excursion I found these sexy lamps for the master bedroom.

Lamps are one of those things that are always more expensive than you would expect them to be (like faucets and rugs) but at 49.99 I think these babies were a score. I think they will look great in our newly painted master. It was very difficult to get a good pic of them but the white base is glass with a swirly pattern.

More pics to come of the master bedroom renovation (with the lamps) as soon as new furniture arrives!