Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Not Your Average Dinner Plate

A quick little post about a quick little project that's been several years in the making.  Funny how those project ideas I spend years thinking about can be executed in approximately 20 minutes.

Ain't no secret I'm a thrifter...a garage sale, Goodwill, and Salvation Army junkie. 

Note:  Garage sale season is right around the corner (!!!). 

So, throughout the years I've accumulated a medium sized collection of plates.  Random, pretty, interesting plates that had no other members of its family and were destined to be a part of my decor someday.  That day is today. 

The fact of the matter is, I'm out of wall space.  That's right, our 1100 square foot house has zero wall space left for this plate installation.  So outside I go.  To the back porch, to be exact.  It's the only place that has ample wall area.

I used E-6000 glue (multipurpose, holds everything) to attach a metal picture hanger to the back of each plate, making sure lots of glue oozed through the hole for better security.

The only nails we had in our nail stash were headless.  Not ideal, considering I didn't want the plate to slide right off.  To fix that snafu, I pounded the nails in the wall at an angle so the heavy plates wouldn't (fingers crossed) fall.
Working from left to right, I started with the largest plates first.  And this is where I ended up...

I was trying for a "sweeping" pattern and sorta kinda got there. 

This one is my favorite.  Pretty pastel blue and delicate little flowers in the middle.

That's it.  Pretty and simple...my favorite kind of project!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Color Ties

While errands and a killer migraine kept me from my usual Sunday craftiness, I was able to squeeze out a few last minute projects this past weekend that only cost me about 10 minutes each. 

If you've been living under a rock for the past few months, then you probably don't know about Pinterest.  It's completely addicting....that's all you need to know.  Well, that and the fact that I like to steal some project ideas from there on occasion.  And this is one of those occassions, once again formatted to fit my needs.

The online community is buzzing with crayon art.  Yes, crayon art.  And while it consists of a bit more than coloring inside the lines, it is still just as fun as it was when we were kids.  Case in point, you get to use the WHOLE box.  When were you ever able to rip out all the crayons and use every single one at the same time?  Or was I the only OCD child who had to put each one back when I was finished with it?  Hmm...anyways.

Here is where we start...

I bought a smallish artist's canvas for el cheapo...$3.99 to be exact.  Don't ever pay the ridiculous price at the craft stores.  They are intended for actual artwork with fancy paints and all...not crayons.  I hot glued a piece of cardboard to the top.  Most tutorials told you to hot glue the crayons directly to the top edge of the canvas.  I felt like this would take up too much of the canvas, so I "extended" it with cardboard.  Then I arranged all the pretty colors in a rainbow, following the Roy G Biv theory (shout out to my high school chemistry teacher for engraving that into my brain).  Then, I got to work.

Standing the canvas upright and armed with my hairdryer, I turned the heat high and started at one end, slowly melting the crayons. 

Warning:  This is MESSY.  Cover your work area (found that out the hard way on Dan's new work bench...oops) and be careful of your clothes.  When the crayons start melting, the air from the hairdryer will blow the little dribbles of wax all over the placeThey dry instantly on whatever they hit.

See the dribbles??  They were everywhere!  But the finished product turned out pretty interesting.

At least it looks like all the other crayon art out there in the Pinterest world.  It looks even better atop our colorful and layered mantel.

My second project was just as quick and easy.  One of the many perks of my job is that I receive "points" for selling certain products.  These points can accumulate into free carpet for our living room, a 3 piece Vera Bradley travel set with matching purse, a Coleman 2-burner camp stove, a Kindle Touch, and my recent gift, a 4th generation iPod Touch.  This new gadget of course required a case to protect it.  So I set out to spend less than $50 (which was the cheapest one I found online).  I turned to Goodwill for this one.

Using a $1 men's necktie, I transformed it into a sleeve.  I cut it to the correct length, allowing enough for it to be folded up to form a pocket.  Then I hemmed the cut end, as seen at the left of the above picture.
Then I folded it again, making sure that it was still long enough for the iPod to fit inside.  Then I stiched along each side.  This, essentially, made two pockets.  The main one, which holds the iPod, and then a front, smaller one that can hold the earbuds.
I added a small piece of velcro so that the top flap could close.  This way, when I throw the whole thing in my mess of a purse, it won't get scratched up.  Easy peasy.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Light Me Up

I've been a busy bee ever since the weather broke, moving outside with my projects after being cooped up all winter.  My ultimate plan for the back patio is still taking shape, but will be completed by the end of May for my sister's graduation party.  Until then, we've already touched on the bench I made for the patio over the weekend, but there are some other details I've been fiddling away with. 

The patio has always been lined with tiki torches (5 of them to be exact - nothing crazy, but it gives some ambiance).  They lasted 2 summers in the sun and rain, and by last fall they were ready to be pitched.  Purchased for $3 a piece, they had a good run.  But that left us with buying new ones for this upcoming summer.  That is until I came up with a different idea.  Of course, I can't take all the credit; some is due to Pinterest.  However, I did put my own spin on it.

With a trip to the plumbing department of Home Depot and a dip into my uber-huge stash of blue wine bottles, I had the makings for a brand new set of torches.

Let us begin with the basics:
I got 5 pine 2x2's from the lumber section for about $1.50 a piece.  I cut them to the height I wanted, making sure to make a steep angle on the end so it could be forced into the ground.  Then I stained them with some wood stain I had on hand.

Next, I attached a 3/8" copper base plate to the 2x2.

Then, we get to the bottles.  I attached a 1" copper pipe clamp to the neck of the bottle.  I used a 3/8" copper coupling wrapped in teflon tape (to create a water-tight seal) that was inserted into the mouth of the bottle.  This is what would hold the wick.

The whole contraption was attached to the post using a 2" piece of 3/8" threaded rod.  You can see the overall assembly in the above picture.

I drilled out a space in the top of each post for the copper pipe cap to rest.  When not in use, the cap covers the wick and keeps it dry.  I didn't want it to get lost when you take it off to light the torch, so the small impression works to hold it.

I searched high and low for replacement tiki torch wicks - not Home Depot, Lowe's, or Sears had any.  I finally found them at a local True Value hardware store.  They had a 2-pack for $4.29.  Kinda pricey, but I had given up hope of finding them anywhere else.

After all was said and done, each torch cost about $5.  Not bad, considering wimpy bamboo ones can run about that much.  These ones will last forever!

So, fill 'em up, insert wick, light, and enjoy!

More outdoor designs coming your way!!

Sunday, March 18, 2012


Another AHmazingly sunny Sunday around here.  What does that mean for me??  Another awesome Sunday project to cross off the ol' To-Do list.  Wanna guess what I turned these in to?

Seriously....winner gets a virtual high five...and a cookie.  Not really.  But take a guess anyway.  No peeking!!

Last summer's garage sale-ing scored me this headboard and footboard combo for $20 (talked them down from $30 - oh yeah).  More than I usually spend on a garage sale item, but this was big ticket and antique.

Still guessing??

A bench!!  I know, weird...but what else is new?

Let's get started on the how-to, shall we??

I started by cutting the footboard in half down the middle.  These pieces became the sides of the bench.  I used furniture dowels and drilled holes and attached the sides and...it's getting technical, sorry.  Besides, it was dark outside at this point and I didn't get any pictures.  So we'll skip the boring parts.

Once the frame was completed, I used scrap 1" plywood for the seat.  I used L-brackets (seen below) to secure the bench seat.

Then, I added a brace down the middle and an "apron" in the front (also known as a 1x6 pine board).

Here's the underside with the bench laying on its back.

Now, before I get to the finished product, let me show you the spot on the back patio where I wanted this bench to sit.

Yepp, right there, on top of the ivy.  Damn that ivy.  I've been wanting it gone for 3 summers now.  This spot serves no purpose and is wasted space on the patio where extra seating could exist.  So I got to work.  Has anyone actually ever ripped a patch of ivy out before?  Me neither....and I never will again.

45 minutes in and this is where I'm at...
What. A. Mess.  The roots are completely intertwined and twisted and thick and DEEP.  So deep in fact, that because it is close to the house, I wouldn't be surprised if some of them have reached under the house!  Honestly, I was pulling roots out as big as this...

So I raked, and hoed, and shoveled, and scooped, and dug....for 2 hours!!  Two full lawn bags later, my back ached, my arms were sore, and I was covered in dirt and sweat.  Yuck.  But I ended up with this....
I used some leftover landscaping bricks to form a perimeter.  I'm aware, however, that the ivy may grow back.  Even though I hacked at as many roots as I could get to, I'm sure because it's a vine it will remain hearty despite my efforts. 

Ok, so the bench.  Here she is pre-paint:

I used leftover paint from my studio downstairs that matched the fabric I wanted to use for the cushion.

And here she is painted up:

I haven't bought a foam cushion yet because they are expensive and I'm waiting for the next 40% OFF coupon from JoAnn's to come in the mail.  So for now, the fabric provides a visual and I used 2 spare pillows that matched as well.

A comfy and colorful summer seat.  Weekend project...Check!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tour Eiffel

After my morning run on door decor, I decided to continue on with small craft projects on the back patio where the sun was still streaming through the leafless trees. 

Back in October, when Dan and I went to Paris for our honeymoon, we took a gazillion pictures of the Eiffel Tower.  After spending your entire life dreaming of it, it was hard not to snap as many as you possibly could every time we passed by....which was a lot.

So for this project, we have to backtrack a few summers to Boston, Massachusetts, home of the Boston Red Sox and Fenway Park.  We were visiting family for a week and got tickets to a Red Sox game...Dan's dream.  Long story short, he took several shots of the stadium from our third baseline seats.  Starting at the left with the Green Monster, moving right.  Kinda like a homemade panoramic.  We printed them out and arranged them, overlapping, to form a long panoramic of the whole stadium just as we had seen it in person.  Pretty cool.

Fast forward to Paris in October with a gazillion shots of Eiffel.  Dan decided to do the same thing.  Not that we don't have a million full shots of the tower, but it was cooler this way.  He started at the bottom left and just kept moving the camera ever so slightly back and forth til he got to the top.

I finally got around to printing them out in black and white and used spray adhesive to attach them to pieces of black foamcore board I had.

After several tries, I found a good arrangement.  Most of them overlapped each other and repeated the same spot, but I found a way.

It's a little distorted and kinda out of whack, but I really really like it!  Just adds to the other zillion pictures of the Eiffel Tower that we have.

Front Door Decor

I opened all the windows and doors today to let in the sun and let out the stale air that winter leaves behind.  Once the door was opened, I realized it was empty.  We just can't have that.  In my crazy Sunday cleaning this past weekend, I took down the oversized popsicle stick snowflake I made without snapping a picture for you.  But now I was staring at a blank canvas.

Fueled by sunshine and coffee, I decided to spend my morning coming up with a Spring themed door wreath.  The space between the storm door and main door is not very big, so whatever goes up can't be too thick or stick out too far.  I rummaged around my studio, looking for something I could whip together.

Note:  Yes, I have enough craft/junk stuff stashed down there that I can easily "whip together" something on a whim.  I'm a packrat, what can I say?

What did I find?  A garbage bag full of clothespins, a wire wreath form, and some colored ribbon. 

I arranged approximately 75-80 clothespins in an alternating pattern around the wire wreath frame.

Here is the fully filled wreath form.

They didn't want to stay very well, so I used the curling ribbon to secure them together. I considered hot glueing them to one another, but didn't want to deal with the mess. So weaving the ribbon in and out, it held the clothespins snug against each other.  And yes, those are my pink flannel pajama pants in that shot.  I do my best work in my pj's.

I fashioned a bow out of green mesh ribbon I had left over from the wedding, hung it on the door, and voila!
The yellow, orange, and green ribbon not only matches the door, but it's spring-y enough to last through May.  A succesful early morning project :)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

The Free (not really) Sewing Machine

While antiquing with Dan and my father-in-law in Brockport, New York during Christmastime, we came across this sewing machine for sale.

I've always wanted one.  My mom has an old one that sits at the top of the stairs with a little lamp on it.  I love it.  But they are always so darn expensive.  This one was only $60.  And in excellent condition.  While roaming the shop, I stopped by it at least 5 times, checking it out and pretending like I wasn't too interested every time Dan looked my way.  I could tell what he was thinking  - and he could probably see right past my pretending - "Oh jeeze, she's looking at it, please don't want it, please don't make me load it into my truck and cart it all the way back to Ohio, please don't add another piece of furniture to our full house."  Yeah, he gets me.

It was manufactured by The Free Sewing Machine Company and circa 1920s, according the the shopkeeper that I casually asked.  She said the reason it was so inexpensive is because she wanted it to sell.  Funny thing....I wanted to buy it!  But alas, we left the store empty handed.

That is until my Father-in-law said, as we were pulling out of town "If you want something and you really like it, you should get it.  You can always find room for it later!"  That was all it took.  Well, that and a pouty face in Dan's general direction.  We turned back around and bought the thing!

It came with complete instructions, all of the tools, and by gosh it works!  Not that I would use it, given that I have a perfectly good modern sewing machine in my studio.  It's just really cool to look at!

The top flap lifts up and folds over and the machine raises up.

The intricate painting is still in near perfect condition.  The little box came with all the presser foots, bobbins, and tools needed for servicing the machine. 
An excellent find in my book.  I think Dan cursed his dad the whole way home for opening his mouth.  Oh well, it worked in my favor :)

Spring Clean Up

What a b-e-a-utiful Sunday!!  Can I get a collective "Heck Yea!!"??  That's right, Spring has officially sprung in our neck of the woods and I couldn't get enough of the beautiful and abundant sunshine this weekend.  But with the sunshine comes the inevitable shedding of light upon the piles of crap that accumulated over the winter.  It was all too easy to just walk right past - or add to - the junk that collected in our breezeway/screened-in porch.  Serving as the main entrance to and from our house (we never use the front door except to get the mail), it was a catch all for shoes, junk, recyclables that hadn't yet made it to the outside bin, boxes, knick-knacks that had no other home, and similar crap that was ugly to look at.

I'm not proud of this picture.  Our wedding seating chart has been sitting there in that same place for almost 6 months!  There were shoes - I'm talking at least 20 pairs - scattered all over the floor.  I've got a nasty habit of wearing a different pair every day and then just kicking them off before going in the house.  This is where they end up.  There were paint cans, open umbrellas, cans of pop and beer (we have a refridgerator, I promise), random bits of my pottery that had no home inside....I could go on and on but I think it speaks for itself.

I worked outside most of the afternoon.  I emptied everything onto the back patio and started from scratch.

We had an un-used carpet remnant that used to be in the basement.  It felt cleaner than the grungy indoor/outdoor carpet that's in here now, so I hauled it Dan hauled it upstairs and rolled it out.  The chair and plant stand in the corner are from a house I went to for a flooring measure through work.   They guy was getting rid of it and so I generously offered to take it...along with several other pieces that we won't get into just yet.  Original plans were to redo the chair, but upon further inspection, I decided it was in such great and clean condition, I didn't want to mess with it.  It's pretty comfy too, as I am relaxing in my new space as I type. 

The room actually feels like a room now.  Granted, next winter it will turn back into a soul-sucking catch all of mammoth proportions, but the Spring/Summer/Fall months can get use out of it. 

It also serves as the perfect spot for my new plant collection.  Now, I'm no botanist by any stretch of the imagination.  In fact, I have killed pretty much anything I've ever planted in a pot...or the ground.  But I decided to give it another go with Dan's supervision in reminding me to water them every once in a while. 

I have been coveting one of these beautiful and prehistoric-looking orchids for forever.  They have them in the center aisle of Home Depot, and every time I pass them,  I linger and look and tell myself it's too dangerous.  But one day while shopping for light bulbs or something really mundane, I gave in.  The tag said to add three ice cubes to the soil once a week and that's it.  Pretty simple, right?

When I brought this guy to the checkout counter, I felt like I was taking home a new pet.  I was cautious and gentle and tried really hard not to jar it too much so its weird little jelly bean things wouldn't fall off.  It's called a Donkey Tail "Burrito" and it is, I believe, of the succulent family.  I had a pot from pottery that it fit in (it came with a hanging basket, but the ceilings are too high).  Its just the weirdest/coolest/creepiest thing I've ever seen.

Speaking of succulents, I've been wanting some for awhile and found these at Home Depot, too.  At only $2.98 a piece, I couldn't pass them up.  The middle one is called Baby Toes...I think it looks like some creepy space creature with a million eyeballs.  But that's just me.

The mini rosebush is from a friend's baby shower a week ago.  So far, so good.  Haven't decided yet if I want to plant it outside, but for now it sits on the bottom of my new plant stand.

I added this mirror to the wall of the porch because it was sitting dusty on the floor of the basement and I didn't want it to get broken.  The squiggly sticks are called Johnny Walking Sticks and I put them up there so they wouldn't get broken either.

This little lamp I made from a base purchased at Goodwill and a lampshade I had on hand.  I spray painted the base and used spray webbing for the shade.  Pretty cool stuff, and looks kinda retro.

That's it for this edition of Spring Cleaning.  We also set up the patio table and chairs, and there's some new outdoor stuff coming soon.  Anyone else got cabin fever??