Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Update: Curtains and the Electricity Bill

We have one of those smart meters and it sends you updates on your's pretty neat.  Based upon last weeks usage, after we put the curtains up, we're saving $.34 a day in electricity.  Seeing as I spent about $120 on the curtains (I think.  I didn't check my previous post), the curtains will have paid for themselves in 352 days.  Not bad....and they might pay for themselves quicker when it starts to get hotter outside.  Win!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Curtains and Pillows, Oh My!

One of the reasons that we bought our home was because of the beautiful archways and the beautiful arched windows in the living room.  It just so happens that those beautiful windows face west....and we live in Texas....and it's really hot.  Starting around 3 pm or so, the sun beams in and it literally raises the temperature in the house several degrees.  So, I decided to cover up are beautiful arched windows (sad face) in the interest of our ever growing electric bill.

Hey...did you know curtains are expensive? Well, they are.  At least curtains that are at minimum 9.5 ft tall.  Each window is 5 ft across, as well.  Did I say that we had huge windows? Because we do. 

Here's a picture of what they look like before curtains:

And since each window is 5 ft across, and that middle section is 14 in....that means I need at curtain rod that is at least 11.5 ft long.  Does anyone else think that's huge, or is it just me?

I've been checking out curtains on pinterest and a thinking about possibly DIY-ing them.  I checked out some panels at a lot of different stores.....I'd need 4 of them (two for each window) and they had to be long.  From what I found, a set of panels usually ranged in the $40 -$60 least the ones I liked did.  That would just not do.  And fabric from JoAnn's or Hobby Lobby, forget about it.  1 yard of the upholstery fabric ranges from $15 to $55.  I would need 3 yds per panel....for 4 panels.  Not happening, even with a coupon. A lot of people on pinterest have gone the way of 'canvas drop cloth' and it works.  It's not too bad looking either.  Canvas drop cloths are cheap.  $8-$20 depending on the size.  We ended up getting 4 panels of 4 ft x 15 ft canvas drop cloth at $15 a piece. And there is plenty left over for the dining room window, although I'll have to get creative because there will be lots of seams.

And a side note about drop cloths.....they are not all created equal, or even the same size.  They are all a little different with little flecks of color in them and even though they come pre-hemmed....they are not hemmed straight.  

We found a curtain rod (and some accent fabric) at a store here in Houston for $10....that's right.  A gigantic, long curtain rod....for $10.  I was going to use conduit piping and paint it black, but hey, $10 is not bad at all.  Plus, it's not like we could fit a 12ft long piece of pipe in the back of the Prius.

About the accent fabric:  Anybody who knows me, knows that I like color.  And funky color/patterns at that.  Wes finally got tired of me asking him, "Do you like this fabric? What about this one? Ooh, this one?" so he gave me free reign.  Yay! And now we have this:

I used a faux pinch pleat thing I saw online here to hang the curtains.  Sure, I could've sewn them to where I could just slide the curtain on the rod, but I don't like how that looks.  And I sewed the fabric right on top of the drop cloth.  It was easier that way.

And since I didn't plan ahead, I didn't get the correct amount of fabric....and forgot that fabric is folded in half on the bolt (why I forgot, I don't know...I buy fabric all of the time)....I ended up getting way more fabric than I needed.  But I estimate that I used 4 yards of fabric.  While I was waiting on the fabric to get cut, I spotted these really cool pillows on sale for $7 a piece (I though that was kinda pricey, but I loved them) and thought they would go great if they were covered in the same fabric I was purchasing.  And here's is the result of that using the tutorial you can find here:

I don't think the pillows match the couch at all, but I don't care.  There's a little brown in the pillow, and they kind go together, but they are both very comfy so I don't care.

Here's the breakdown:
Canvas drop cloth x4 = $60
4 yds of fabric @ $8 = $32 (And I still have 2 yds left over that are not included in this total)
Extending curtain rod = $10
40 clips to hang the curtains @ $3 a pack = $12
Two pillows = $14

Total = $128 (wow, I didn't realize I spent that much...but I was over the course of several weeks)

Time = Several weeks of doing a little bit here and a little bit there.

And I could always, later on, line the backs if I wanted to.  We'll see how the electric bill fares for the next 2 months.

Ahhhh.....the house is looking more like a home every day (compared to a place where we just keep our stuff).

For anyone who wants exact measurements or a detailed tutorial, just ask....or go here.  She already did a good job and I pretty much followed her instructions.  Plus....if you can sew a line, you can make these.  Just measure twice and cut once.  

And another side note:  Oliver loves them.  He likes to hide behind them and then in a sing-song voice say "You can't see me."  Little dude, I can totally see're little feet are poking out, but I pretend not to and he giggles until I "find" him.

20 points to the person who can guess the name of the store where I got all of the materials from.

Painting update - Happy Mother's Day!

My Mom and I have gone painting again since the last time I blogged about it.  So, in honor of Mother's Day, here's a new picture of my Mom and Me:

Happy Mother's Day (and Birthday) Mom!!!  I love you!!!

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Painting Adventures with Mom

I bought a groupon awhile back for a "Merlot to Masterpiece" thing (website here).  I decided to take my Mom because I thought it was something fun we could do together.  Now we go about once a month and have brought my Grandma along as well.  It's pretty fun.  Here are some before and afters:

Our first one.  It was originally supposed to be a A&M barn but since we are not aggies, we did a Texas Flag.
After Break #1

Finished Product

Outing #2:
Twilight Cherry Blossoms (the only one where actual wine was involved....a whole bottle...just me (minus 1 glass)...I think it's the best one.)

and Number 3:
Tuscan Villa

This one was, by far, the most difficult one.  But it was still fun.  Painting grapes is a pain.  So if anyone is thinking of a birthday gift....this would work.  I know it's 6 months away, I'm giving you time to save up for a private party, LOL!

Self Zipping Coin Purse

I got bored one day last week and decided to make something.  Using a tutorial I found on Pinterest, I ended up making this:
I got the tutorial from here.
I found an extra 20 inch zipper in the sewing table and I used some 5/8" ribbon I had laying around.  I didn't line it because I didn't realize how much sewing was going to be involved.  At first I started using the sewing machine....yeah, that's not what the lady intended.  I ending up breaking a few needles and getting super frustrated.  I eventually ditched the machine and sewed the rest up by hand.  Then I discovered what a zipper foot was after I was finished.  Go figure.  I still don't know if I even have a zipper foot and how it works but I think it might have been easier. 

This is what it looks like unzipped:

At first, I was reading the tutorial and thinking, "How the?....What?...There's no what it does that..."

It ending up costing me nothing and I completed it during Oliver's nap.  All in all, a success.  And now I have a coin purse.  And I learned a little bit about sewing zippers.  If you're planning to make one, I recommend reading through the steps several times to get a feel for what's coming up and where not to sew right away and where to place things.

Cost:  $0
Time: 30 minutes give or take.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Re-Upholstered Computer Chair

We have had this ugly computer chair for years.  In fact, Wes had it before I met him.  Over the years and many many many moves, the chair has managed to stay with us. That and his bachelor silverware (which, trust me, is on the list to be replaced).  I distinctly remember leaving it out in front of the house for a few months and no one took it, so it kept moving with us.  Apartment after apartment and house after house. So this is what it looks like (or looked like):

I had already started to get ahead of myself and ripped the padding off the back of the chair before I took a picture.  Check out this sweet close up:

It's really not that bad of a just needs to be freshened up.  Since we bought a new (and much more comfortable) computer chair for Wes, I officially adopted this one as my craft/sewing/computer chair.  So, thanks to another pinterest find (that made this look a little easier than it was), I decided to redo my chair.


$5 - fabric

I had a lot of fabric on hand, and I wasn't planning on spending any money, but none of the fabic I have was screaming at me to put it on the chair.  If fact, none of it screamed at's all pretty boring, muted colors (ren fair costume stuff).  So after a trip to Hobby Lobby and a 40% off coupon, I got 1 yard of 'duck' fabric.

The top was harder than I thought it was going to be because the foam was glued onto plastic, and unlike the bottom, there was no cardboard to staple the fabric to.  So I decided to use elastic on the top and with the way the chair is made, the fabic encloses the foam and then it's crammed into the crevice between the foam holder and the back of the chair.  Not the most sturdy of things, but it works.  Plus now it's easier to take off if in the future I want to change the fabric again.

And at one point there was this oh crap moment where I had to sew the elastic casing around the edge of the fabric for the top.  I started looking for my chair.....and then promptly found it laying on the floor in pieces because, duh, I was sewing the fabric that was going on it.  I didn't really think that through too much.  So I borrowed Wes'.

Here's my new-ish chair:

Now the chair is officially mine.  Wes took one look at it and said "could you have picked a weirder fabric?"  Yes, I could have but I liked this one.  Tough.  Get over it.  It's my chair now.  You get your cushy one, at least I can get one that looks pretty.  Lol!  Deep down he probably loves it and is secretly jealous its not his.

Monday, February 27, 2012

DIY Laundry Detergent

Made my own laundry detergent.  For about $10, I probably have enough detergent for a year.  And it smells good. Can't beat that.

Got the idea from Pinterest but got the specific recipe from ehow.

It's pretty much a 1:1 ratio of washing soda and borax blended with a grated bar of laudry soap (fels-napatha or zote).

I used 1 cup each of borax and washing soda and 1 bar of fels napatha.  Put 2 tbls. of the mix into the washer for each load.  This will probably last me for a few months and then I'll make more.  The only boxes that Wal-Mart had were pretty big, so I have a lot left over.  I put the mixture in an old plastic ice cream container I had.

If I would have known it was that easy to make, I would have done that years ago.

Oh, and the taxes got done today as well.  Woo hoo!  Look at me, finished two projects!

Next up:
1. Refinish the dresser
2. Make these two shirts I've been drooling over
3. Finish the quilts for the nieces and nephews
4. Make a coffee table
4a. Make Frames for my paintings and crayon art.
5. Start Remodeling the kitchen (this will probably end up as number 7, 8, or 9 because it's a big project).
6. Make outside patio furniture
7. Make farmhouse table
8. Make king size bed frame for possible new king size bed
9. Landscaping (this should probably be #1) stupid HOA, think they own everyone.  The lawns mowed and de weeder has been layed down.  And nowhere in the deed restrictions does it say I cannot have flower pots on the front porch, so they will be remaining there for the time being.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

It's been a while......

My computer has been broken and lots of stuff has been going on so I haven't really had the time to blog about anything.  The good news is that I have a bunch of posts to make. 

This first one is the Pirate Party.  We hosted my nephew's 1st birthday party at our house and it was pirate themed.  Loads of fun! 

And I made Tyler (my nephew) and Oliver some custom pirate tee shirts.  I mostly used the "life is a beach" cricut cartridge (thank you Grandma) to make the templates.

Tee Shirt
Fabric Paint
Freezer Paper

Time:  A few hours of dry time and 72 hours before you can wash the shirt

Cost:  <$10 for 1 bottle of fabric paint and 2 small shirt's

1. Cut out your templates.  I used a cricut but you could essentially use anything (freehand, tracing, etc...) as long as it's cut out of the freezer paper (shiny side down).

2. Iron the template (shiny side down) on the shirt.

3. Paint

4. Let dry and apply additional coats as needed.

5. Let the paint dry and then pull the template off.  On Oliver's shirt I pulled the template off when it was still a little tacky and it was pretty messy.  I waited for Tyler's shirt to dry before I pulled the template off and it went better that way.

6. Heat set the image.  You don't have to do this step but if you don't, I'm under the impression the paint will crack and fade with time.  Pretty much just iron over the paint until it changes texture.

7. Wash the shirt as directed by the paint bottle.  The paint I used suggested to wait 72 hours before washing.

Here's the shirt in action:

Once again, this is a pinterest find.  For additional ideas, and more detailed instructions, please click here.

Pin It

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The room is finished!!!

Oliver's room is finally done (technically, it's been done for a while, I've only now just posted it) if only he'll sleep it in...

It's been a trying experience but it was worth it.  I learned that oil based paint is messy, it's impossible to paint a straight line, and always protect things you don't want painted because even if you're painting on the other side of the room, paint will get on something you don't want it to.

Enjoy the pictures!!!

The road (aka the giant black stripe on the wall) is magnetic and chalkboard.  All that's left to do is to hang the pictures on the wall.  Most of his toys are currently in his room but I'm not taking pictures of that.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Rail Road Crossing Sign

More decor for Oliver's room......yay!!!

His room did start out as a Thomas the Train AND Lightning McQueen room before turning into a race car room. Before it evolved into Cars, I had decided to make a rail road crossing sign.  At first I thought to buy one....a real one, but someone pointed out they were heavy and they were not cheap.  After a while, I figured I would just make one. I already had black and white paint, so why not.

We ended up with this:

I'm pretty proud of it.  I painted the letters free hand.  In hind sight, I should have used a template or vinyl stickers but it turned out okay.  Oliver says he loves it and that's all that really matters.  The hardest part was finding a way to connect the two boards (it's made out of 2 pre cut 24" poplar pine boards from home depot). 

Wes and I stared at the wall of screws at home depot until we found 1/2" wood screws.....took them home, charged up the drill, didn't work.  The boards wouldn't stay together and I ended up pushing too hard on the drill and punched a hole in the back of one board with the phillips head bit.  I ending up going back to home depot 2 weeks later and got screws that came with a hex nut so that they locked into place because the wood screws kept slipping out.

After getting the nuts on the back, the screw still stuck out some so I just grabbed a tool out of the garage that looked like it could cut screws (I have know idea what it's called but it looks like mean pliers) and just hacked off the end of the screw.

And now we have a hand made railroad sign.

Total Cost:
$.98 for screws and nuts
$1.75 x2 for24" wood planks
Paint was on hand
Total Time:
I honestly don't know but it was way too long. But it was worth it to see Oliver's face.

Can Stars

Another Pinterest project:

Make stars from a can of soda.

Soda can
Cardboard/Cutting Mat
Mechanical Pencil (or other pointy object that's not too sharp ex: a nail)
Sand Paper

The idea came from this website.  I like stars.  I don't think too many people know that about me.  When I saw these, I thought they were neat.  I pictured a christmas tree covered in them or just random decorations around the house.  You could possibly attach them to decorative picture frames or make hanging decorations out of them.

This website has really good instructions so I will not delve into detail here (I'm lazy, I know).

The steps are pretty simple.  Get a clean can, cut it up so that you have a big area to work with (cut off the top and bottom).  Tape it to some cardboard so that it doesn't roll up on you, printed side down. Print out a template from here and tape it down on the silver side on the can. Trace over it with your pencil/pointy object.  Cut it out CAREFULLY. It is sharp and can poke you.  I did get a metal splinter, not fun (sad face). Trace over the big lines on the silver side and the short lines on the printed side. Then shape the star.  You can poke a hole in one end to make an ornament.

(1 finished, 1 uncomplete)

I sanded down the edges a little bit so that it wasn't that sharp.  I also sanded down the creases because it gives the star a 'distressed' look. 

There's a number of things you could do with these.  You could spray paint them.  You could spray paint them and then distress them. You could use steel wool to take off the print and end up with a brushed silver look.

Total cost: 1 coke (or in this case, A&W) can $3.99/12 = $.34
All other materials on hand.

Time: 20 minutes for two stars (not including the time it took to drink the soda)

I'm really curious to see how one would turn out using a monster energy can or something big like that.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Washer and Ribbon Necklace

I'm usually not a big jewelry wearer but when I saw this, I automatically loved it.  I got the idea from someone on pinterest who got this idea from this website.

I'm not going to go into detailed instructions because the website referenced above does a very good job.  However, I did tweak it a little bit.

5/8" ribbon (same on both sides)  I used a satin-ish ribbon.  The original instructions called for 2 meters.  I don't think I used that much but better safe than sorry.  And I would recommend placing the first washer further down the ribbon than 6 or 8 inches.  Maybe more like 12 inches because tying it can be tricky, especially for bow challenged people like myself.

Washers in 3 different sizes (I used 2 different kinds of 1/4" and 5/16" washers.  For some reason the washers Home Depot sells in the bins are different sizes from the washers they sell in the orange multi pack bags.  I don't know why, but they are.) I used 4 1/4" from the bag, 12 loose 1/4", and 7 5/16" loose washers. The original instructions call for washers that are a bit larger but the larger you go, the heavier the necklace.  I didn't want it too heavy, so I went with the smaller washers.


Total Time: about 30-45 minutes depending on your patience
Total Cost:
Ribbon - $3.99 at michaels(with 40% off coupon make that $2.40)
Washers: $1.32 for the loose 1/4", $.84 for the loose 5/16", and $.98 for the bag of 1/4" ones (and I still have 8 left over because I only used 4, but most were too inferior to use for this project because they were rough or not cut properly)

Total = $5.54. Not bad.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Duck Tape Light Switch Plate

When we moved in, I asked Oliver what kind of room he would want and if he wanted me to paint it.  Cars 2 was his favorite thing and the moment, along with Thomas the Train, and he decided he wanted a Thomas and Lightning McQueen room.  That quickly evolved into a race car room.  We went all out and got the Disney paint from Home Depot and I decided, in my infinite wisdom (note the sarcasm), to handpaint a checkerboard race flag border.  Why I decided to hand paint it, I don't know.  I vaguely remember Wes trying to talk me out of it but my mind was made up.

So after painting this checkerboard flag, after about 20 hours of work, I decided the light switch covers were too plain.  There were the cheap plain white ones and I wanted something different.  I toyed with the idea of using fabric or paper and modge podge (I think that's what it's called).  I even scouted Cars themed covers but they were $10 + and I didn't want to spend that much on a stupid light switch cover.

But wait, I have duck tape.  Lots of duck tape.  I went crazy a while back with duck tape roses and bought every single color and pattern of duck tape the Duck Tape brand makes (well, almost every color but not quite).  Digging through the Michaels bag from black friday, there it was, checkerboard duck tape.  Not even 10 minutes later, we have this:

It's pretty simple.


Flathead screwdriver
Duck tape (in your chosen color)
Exacto Knife
Cardboard/cutting mat

1. Unscrew the plate from the wall. Be careful when dealing with anything to do with electricity.  Speaking from experience, you can get shocked from unscrewing a light switch cover.  Hey now, I know what you're thinking but I didn't know any better.  No one has ever explained to me how a light switch works.  Who would of thought those screws on the side of the switch were hot, because I sure didn't.  A slight jolt later and I will never touch them again.  Now I know how they work.  I could even install one for you. With a motion sensor.  On a 3-way switch. (Thank you, Wes)

2. Place the cover on your cutting surface. 

3. Measure out your tape. I used the cover as a reference but you could use a ruler I guess.

4. Proceed to cover the plate in the duck tape.  Be careful to avoid trapping air under the tape.  Also, if you're using a patterned tape like me, match up the pattern.  Depending on the size of the plate, you'll use 2 or more pieces of tape.

5.  When you get to the edges of your plate, make a cut with your exacto knife in the corner of the tape.  I made a cut parallel to the edge of the plate.  Then tuck the sides under and smooth the tape down.

6.  Make sure the plate is face down and on the cutting surface.  Make an "x" shape with your knife.  Fold the sides unders and make sure they stick to the back of the plate.  Turn the plate over and poke a hold for the screw.  It doesn't have to be cut out in a circle, just a hold so the screw can go through.

7. And, voila!  You have a custom light switch plate.
Total time: Less than 10 minutes
Total cost: $0 (I already had all of the materials, but in case you were wondering, a roll of patterned duck tape usually runs less than $4.  They sell it at Michael's and you can use a 40% off coupon.)

Did you know Michaels and Hobby Lobby will use a coupon off of your phone?  They don't need you to print one out anymore.  Neat-o.

And, no. I did not get this idea from (I do get a lot of ideas from them though).  I came up with this all on my own.  I'm sure somebody else out there in cyberspace has posted a blog about it and probably patented it, or sells them on ebay but oh well.  I did this, I claim this idea, it's mine and you're not taking it away from me.

Ahhh, the first post.

Welcome to my blog page.  Was that cliche? 

I created this blog in order to share with everyone all of the neat things my family and I create.  I would love to take all of the credit but Wes, my husband, and Oliver, our 3 year old, do help out a bunch.  And let's face it, I don't do well with power tools.  That's what Wes is for. 

We just bought a house in September of 2011 and I'm bursting with ideas on how to decorate it but we're on a tight budget.  That's where all the DIY stuff comes into play.  My goal for this blog is to share our projects by posting a step by step on how we completed it and a cost breakdown while including stories of our life.

So beware, the craftiness is coming out because I can no longer contain it.