Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Quick DIY Job

In anticipation of the hoodlums Trick-or-Treaters coming by tonight, I had a quick project last week: The doorbell:
That's seriously what it looked like. What caused the middle of the button to bust out like that, I have no idea, but ours is not the only one, so I suspect either a rash of doorbell breakers or it has something to do with the weather...I guess? Anyway, not exactly beckoning. Plus, there's lots of little ones in our neighborhood and I didn't want to traumatize them in these formative years. It didn't do anything like shock you, but still.

So I shut off the power at the breaker (FYI, the breaker for the doorbell apparently fell under "Family Room"...which is the other end of the house. Go figure) and unscrewed the main doorbell and then unhooked the wires.

I ended up with two wires. I hooked those around the screws on the back of the new doorbell and then started cursing. See that little hole where the wires come out? Yeah it's a small hole and the new doorbell had a large extension that needed to fit in the hole. I didn't trust my drilling capabilities with the wires (one wrong move could be very bad), so I went back to Lowes and got a flat backed doorbell. I then repeated the process above and this time, success!

Much better. I turned the power back on and no fires (yet)! I even tested it and Mister kind of lost his mind. We should probably work on that.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Oops, I Did It Again: Another Building Project

I have reclaimed my garage parking spot after my latest building project: a fold-down sewing table, plans courtesy of Ana White.  I've needed this for some time now, mostly because there's not a single pair of pants that enter my home and get put away on my side of the closet or in my dresser that DON'T need alterations. And yes, Stacey and Clinton say alterations are small potatoes (I paraphrase...I'd kind of pay money to hear Stacey or Clinton say that, though) in the grand scheme of investment pieces, when it's a $10 alteration over 8, 9, 10+ pairs...that's a much larger investment! And no, heels don't cut it.

So yes, sewing table.

In case you're too lazy to actually look at the plans, there is essentially a base unit in the middle and fold down leaves on either side. The legs fold under and the weight of the leaves hold them in place.  This picture was taken after I attached the legs on one side, to make sure I did those right!

And the finished product:

I painted the entire thing with leftovers from our bedroom (Sherwin William's Orient Blue color matched by Valspar). Then, I randomly taped off stripes and painted the same green as the laundry room (the color name escapes me, but it's Valspar) and "Wet Path" by American...something or other. The Hubs actually gets credit for the stripes idea. I was debating paint or stain and his suggestion was paint and "some kind of graphic print, like stripes or checkerboard." I actually debated argyle for a while, but decided that was way too much effort. And for the record, random stripes on a table are much easier than on a bedroom wall.

Just a larger angle:
My proudest moment with this project (other than actually getting the base unit to be square) is creating the ironing board top. See the paisley on the left?

Close up. You can't tell, but the green background matches the green stripes.

I got the brilliant idea that ironing is a large part of sewing properly. While I don't do sewing projects "properly," I figure I'll be doing more and it will probably eventually necessary. I was browsing Pinterest one day (seriously, I don't know I've had a single original idea since that thing came around) and came across this gem. After a little Googling, since the original pin, nor the source actually describe the process, I discovered all iron board padding really is is batting and fabric. The fabric needs to be 100% cotton, because of the heat from an iron (any kind of blend will scorch eventually). I doubled up the batting (which was actually already done for me in packaging) and bought a yard of fabric (perfect for this project's measurements) and a light duty staple gun, since I was in the craft store already anyway. I started in the middle of one side and worked my way out, pulling the fabric and batting tight and stapling.  Mister supervised.

Then, when all is said and done, the table folds up and rolls out of the way:

One side of storage: the basket holds thread, buttons, and other sewing notions. This is already actually outdated. I started switching baskets around and now have those things in the striped bin seen on the top shelf in the above photo. It was actually generally my inspiration for the stripes.  My extra fabric is on the bottom shelf.

Storage on the other side: Sewing machine manual, extension piece thingy I haven't used, and on the bottom is a canvas drop cloth that will turn into curtains for the master bedroom.

That's what I've been doing, instead of working on a presentation for class.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Laundry sorter

I realized I never fully blogged about one of my favorite projects:

Laundry dresser from Ana White

Ana's original idea was to keep it in the laundry room and essentially have a drawer for each member of the family to keep dirty laundry in. Then, it's easy enough for each person to take his or her own basket to fold and put away laundry. Which is a great idea, one that I will one day replicate.  However, with only 2 laundry-needing members of our household (the other, of course, is the type that "nekkid" means we've taken his collar off :)), that wasn't what we needed.

Finally, I get my brilliant idea...which means I was probably in the shower. It's where all my great ideas seem to know, where I can't write them down to remember! Anyway, I realized what was so trying about doing laundry was the whole sorting process. Instead of separating out lights, darks, etc., I sort based on what the tag reads. You know, manufacturer's suggestion. If there is no tag, or it's so worn, I can no longer read it, I assume cold. Obviously, this system took FOR-EV-ER to hunt down each tag, even though I knew many pieces without looking.  Why not build my sorter based on sorting?  Genius, right? Yeah, I went to Transy.

So we now have our sorter organized as Hot (whites), Warm, and Cold. I got a wicker basket to set on top for Delicates/Line Dry. Again, we don't worry about colors. Gasp. Reds washed with khaki mixed with black? Guess what. Never had a color run problem. Sometimes I wash new stuff with darker stuff, just in case, but I don't stress about it.  And "doing laundry" simply means removing the basket, washing, drying, folding, and putting away (I try to hide Husband's work shirts so I don't have to iron them, but darn it, he always seems to eventually run out).

The reason it occurred to me to actually describe the system? It's so easy, a husband can follow it! Mister and I went on vacation earlier this week to the family cabin in Canada, while Husband stayed home, having to work. He got productive that weekend and washed a couple of loads. He even commented on how easy it was. Before I left, I did a quick load of things I knew I needed, but I didn't have to hunt through all the other dirty laundry. Easy-peasy!

The biggest compliment to the system is that it works for us. If there's only one thing I take away from all the cleaning/organizing/decorating blogs I read is that if the system doesn't work for your particular household, it's doomed to fail no matter how awesome it sounds. Like I said, when we eventually have kids, the system may change. My parents are planning on building their own version, but adding doors and a back (ours has a back, but I don't think it's in the original plan) so one of their cats doesn't confuse the dirty laundry with her litter box (which has happened before). That's what has to work for them. And that's OK!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

One Last Closet Update

Wouldn't it figure that the two rooms I consider "done" aren't really rooms? The laundry room is more of a pass through from the garage into the house and the closet is...well...a closet. I still do have a few little things I'd like to do (over the laundry sorter could use some kind of art-what art works for a closet? And I'd like to get a small bowl or two to put collar stays for Husband's dress shirts in.) Anyway, here's the final projects:

As you walk into the closet, the immediate right. I got the original idea from iHeartOrganizing. I loved the idea of the mix of knobs and made a trip to Hobby Lobby to see what they had.

Then I took some scrap plywood from my laundry sorter project (roughly 1x8) and cut it into 2 1/2 foot lengths. After a coat of white primer and then a semi gloss paint (Sherwin Williams snow-something color matched by Lowe's), I was ready to attach. Oh! And I decided I could use a shelf to store my small, skinny purses that could fall through the slats of our actual closet shelves. A couple of them would look better plumped up like in stores, but I've got a few touch up areas anyway.

Attaching was a little crazy. Of course the exact middle was the only stud my boards had, so I had to drill and put in wall anchors. The bottom one was almost the end of me trying to make sure everything stayed lined up properly.

I also just drilled through the wood to attach the knobs and towel bar (which was repurposed from the "toilet room" area of the bathroom). It wasn't much of a problem.

I also attached these hooks for whatever. They're currently holding bags. See what I mean about some touch ups? The silver screws need to go white and the hooks may get a coat of spray paint...haven't decided just yet.

The thing I like best about these two storage spots is the amount of storage without sacrificing room. As I mentioned in the previous post, I thought about moving my shoe collection to there, but was worried the over all feel would be too small like when I still had the wire shelf there. The shelf doesn't stick out too far (and stays up higher) and everything else stays close to the wall, so there's still plenty of room.

On the other side of the closet, I picked up a couple of shoe shelves from Home Depot (just under $10 each). Sorry about the crazy reflection from my tennis shoes.

I really like them, but could probably use a third unit. The shelves fit all of my shoes, but wouldn't fit any new pairs. And I have to do that alternating thing to actually get them all to fit. I'm pretty lazy when it comes to putting things away, especially my shoes and there's no way I'll maintain that--first rule of organizing: it's pointless if it's not easy to maintain. Luckily, I rearranged a few things hanging above, so a third rack will totally fit. I just have to get by Home Depot.

So there's my closet re-do. One day, if we decide to make this our forever home, I'll change out the lights, but they serve their purpose for now and I have many other projects much higher on my priority list :)

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Mirrors and Closets

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone! Just wanted to share a couple of small projects I've been working on. First, in the entry way:

The pictures were already there, but I rearranged them around the new mirror.

Speaking of the mirror, Target. $19.99. That's pretty fabulous. Especially since quatrefoils are pretty important to Phi Mu. I love the subtle nod it gives. I technically hung it "wrong" but that's the direction our quatrefoils go. Nothing a picture hanging kit couldn't fix. I also love how it looks slightly like a compass, pointing to the different directions in our lives. Whoa! Heavy stuff!

The entry way is on my list of projects for 2012. I want an umbrella stand (since Mister gets walked rain, sleet, snow, or shine) to corral the giant golf-sized umbrella I use. I also want to make this boot tray as a permanent home for my rain boots and the shoes Husband keeps by the front door. Finally, we want some kind of bench to put right in the entry way. Makes putting our shoes on much easier. I also would LIKE a skinny console table, to store things like iPod running equipment and Mister's walking paraphernalia) on the opposite wall, but I'm concerned that would make the space feel too narrow and closed off. I've been Pinning a few alternate ideas, so we'll see what ends up happening. Not only is style ever evolving, these small projects change as I go, too.

Speaking of project evolution, here's another one that changed from my original inspiration:

Ever since painting the master closet, I wanted to do something with the narrow space between the two shelves. I finally got myself in gear and cut, painted, and hung 5 shelves for sweater storage. Now everything in the closet hangs properly and everything else has a real home.

Since my original idea board, I've changed up all kinds of things :) I decided to forgo the shoe cubby in favor of a couple of basic shoe racks (like these). Since I don't really wear long dresses, I have plenty of space under that hanging storage. Plus, since relocating the hanging shelf from the door wall, I was worried that several of my other ideas for shoe storage would close that space off again. I have another great idea for that wall though. It's already required a trip to Hobby Lobby, so hopefully that will get done this coming week. That takes care of my second focus area of 2012 projects :)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"If you don't like the weather..."

It seems that no matter where one lives, long time residents will utter the phrase, "If you don't like the weather here in (insert name of town/state), just wait five minutes!" While I'm sure many places have their temperature swings or sudden change in weather, I'm willing to bet my lunch (which was leftover BBQ Shake and Bake pork chops...pretty tasty) that no where else can boast the polarity of Kentucky's weather the past couple of days.
Today is Tuesday, March 6. The forecasted high is 60 degrees. That should be warm enough to melt the THREE TO FOUR INCHES of snow that fell overnight Sunday/Monday morning. Almost every school in the area had a snow day Monday. This gave schools an even longer long weekend, as they also dismissed school 2 hours early on Friday, March 2 in anticipation of tornadoes.
The temperature on Friday? 70. How many places not only have enough of a temperature change to go from skirts to snow boots and back within 5 days, but also through in tornadoes, hail, and blizzards within that same time period?

This picture has been floating around on Facebook. Full disclosure: the first picture is not actually from March 2nd's tornado weather. The comments say it's actually Iowa, circa 2008. However, this picture:

(photo from Kim)

was taken about a mile from our house. We were incredibly blessed with the storms. We didn't have so much as one branch out of place. Communities not terribly far away have been wiped off the map. Of course, we are not the only state to be slammed with the tornadoes and I ask your prayers for those in Indiana, Tennessee, and Alabama in particular, as this is the second time in less than a year for many residents to lose everything.

If you don't like the weather in Kentucky, you better go somewhere else 'cause you'll get it all in a week.

Hopefully I'll get a post together about what's been going in the house. Not much, but a mini-project or two. That is, I'll get it together if I'm not in the hospital with pneumonia like the rest of the city!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Home Decor Rant

I enjoy decorating my home. I loved watching Trading Spaces (the earlier seasons of course, before the designers lost all sensibilities and became about the gimmicks). When our sports are on off seasons, I'm usually watching whatever happens to be on HGTV. I hang around the decorating board on The Nest, rarely posting, just learning. I've tried my hand at building pieces from Ana White's website. I curse my paint roller, but much as I've heard childbirth described, I usually forget about the bad stuff and have my next project planned. I like to think of myself as fairly up on major home trends. I don't really follow trends, opting more for the "what I like, trends be darned" trend. However, there are several trends I absolutely do not understand.

1) Numbered...things

Image from here

Image from here

Image from here

I've also seen numbered stools floating around, but mostly the dressers and bins. Why? I can count, therefore do not need my drawers numbered. How many drawers do you have that you need them numbered? The numbered bins...those would drive my CDO (OCD, but in alphabetical order the way it should be) CRAZY. Even if they are for kids, I'd much rather have a picture of what goes in what or other actual label, instead of numbers.

2) Upcycled things that don't necessarily need to be upcycled (or upcyclable)

(Found on Pinterest)

I also recently saw a picture of half a table that read something along the lines of "Is your table missing a leg? Saw it in half and attach it to the wall as an accent table." Wait...what? What on EARTH are you doing to your furniture that your table is MISSING a leg? And with the above image, what happened to your drawers? What happened to those? The flip side is using the drawers as under-bed storage. So I guess you can still store stuff in your dresser AND under the bed? If you're going to have space taken up by a dresser, I want drawers. If the drawers are unsalvageable, I don't think it belongs in my home. Call me snobby, but "shabby chic" isn't really my style.
Please don't get me wrong. I love me some antiques (see room, Guest). But if antiques aren't in good, working condition, they aren't worth it to me.

3) Open kitchen shelving

Image found here

I love floating shelves. I don't think they have a functional place in the kitchen. Think about the grease and grossness that flies around a kitchen. Do you really want that on your dishes (especially ones not often used)? Or between them? I like my clutter to be hidden. Preferably behind a door. That's where Husband and I differ in our kitchen style. I DO like glass doors. I wouldn't want all my doors to be glass, obviously because that may as well be open shelving. But I love our china cabinet since it has glass doors and our wonderful wedding china can be displayed.

This ends my home decor rant. What do y'all think? Am I way off-base? Can someone explain the appeal of numbering EVERYTHING? What drives you crazy?

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Small Guest Bath Project

When I purchased the canvas for my Grinch quote project, the sale was on two-packs. I'm no math major, but 2-1=1, meaning I needed another project for my extra 11x14" canvas. Luckily our guest bathroom needed a project (well, I think it needs a couple of projects, but that's neither here nor there.)
Our guest bathroom is probably like many bathrooms--neglected in decor. I mean, what is there to do besides hang a shower curtain and keep the TP stocked? If you're on Pinterest, you know there's PLENTY you can decorate in a bathroom. I'm starting small though.

My inspiration came from HERE. Actually, that's not totally true. My ORIGINAL inspiration came from 4 Men 1 Lady (back when it was only 3 men). She had a great frame in her kids' bathroom saying "Always Wash Your Hands" in the style of the Keep Calm poster (without actually doing the keep calm thing because, let's be honest, I'm tired of keeping calm and whatever-ing). Since this bathroom will likely house at least one little in its future, I wanted something that could transition from current need (decor) to future needs (not-so-subtle reminders for kiddos).

I typed my words into Pages and changed each phrase into a different font. The spacing got a little tricky, since my measurements were different from a standard piece of paper. I got it right after only a little trial and error (one minor reprint). Using the same method as my Grinch "painting," I stick some carbon paper between the canvas and my print out and carefulyl traced the letters. Then I went to town painting.

Painting that thing was probably the hardest part, since the fonts are detailed and my brush was not. As the art teacher at one of the schools I tutor in said, "The best part about art is that you can clean it up and start again." A little trial and error and I found a good method.

Not perfect, but I like it. And I think those who use the guest bathroom will as well.

My personal favorite is the "use soap" after "wash your hands." Many students have been sent back to the bathroom after I asked if they washed . They said yes, but when I asked if they used soap, they said no.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Project Update

I know. I know. I know. But in my defense, December was insane. And January is proving to be incredibly productive. So what I'm lacking in blogging, I'm actually making up for in projects. Since I'm not Young House Love (for better or worse), I'm combining all of my projects into one behemoth of a post! But, to make it worth your while, I have pictures!

How about we just back up and I'll do a little timeline for y'all.
As is our tradition, we have 2 Christmases (Christmai?), one with Adam's side, one with mine. Adam's family Christmas was the weekend before calendar Christmas, with my family following the calendar this year. Both were great. Being with family is always fun (well, usually). After Christmas, I had the week off work and seized the opportunity to work on a project I had been planning: the master closet:

(I could never, ever be a hoarder. Having my life like this for just 2 days drove me absolutely bonkers)

I painted both the master closet and the "toilet room" in our bathroom Olive Green (by Valspar). Don't let the pictures fool you, it's a very nice green. I also built and painted my laundry sorter:

I'm about a week into actually utilizing my new laundry system and I LOVE it. I'm doing laundry a little more often, but instead of doing it ALL in a day, only a load or two at a time. Keeps the dirty laundry piles out of the dining room.

I built the sorter basically exactly to Ana's plans. I used 2x2s so I didn't have to fool with the metal angles. Her plans don't actually instruct you in attaching those, so I had to figure that out myself. Not hard if all the pieces are already cut. I painted the interior the same green as the closet and the exterior was primed white and then painted with Sherwin Williams' Snowbound in semi gloss, color matched by Lowe's (I had gift cards, so the total of both area's redecoration cost about $25 out of pocket).

I also re-re-hung (long story) a shelf at the end of the closet.

After having the week off, I went back down to Tennessee and went with my parents to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. Adam stayed home with Mister (an adventure that ended much better than either of us expected), not wanting to travel a third weekend in a row.

Cincinnati (Dad's alma mater) took on Vandy (on of the schools in Mom's repertoire and a team we all like to see succeed). Mom and I were prepared to root for either team, but ultimately cheered for UC.

(don't worry. The stadium filled in. It was like an hour before kick-off.)

A sign for Pead (/peed/), Cincinnati's lead running back

When I finally settled in at home, I had a few small projects happening around the house (besides constantly moving the laundry sorter. It's in its third and final home).

First, I took some inspiration from Pinterest (here and here) and made a Christmas canvas with my favorite quote from "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." I downloaded the Grinch font and typed it out in Pages. The font went way wonky (some letters overlapped, others had huge spaces), so I actually cut everything out and then taped back together. Then, I got some graphite paper from Michael's (in the painting section) and used that to transfer the traced letters onto the canvas. A little painting later and there you go.
Some of you may wonder "why didn't you just use a Cricut for the lettering?" Easy. I don't have a Cricut to do the fancy vinyl transfers everyone on Etsy and Pinterest use. I'd say insert subtle hint for my birthday here, but honestly, I'm not entirely sure I'd use it that often. Sure it'd be handy when I needed, but how often would that actually be?

I also hung a floating shelf in the toilet room. Previously, there was a towel bar over the toilet, but with no sink in that "room" and since it was far from the shower, it served absolutely no purpose. I stole a sunflower from a fake bouquet I got for the fall and love the pop it gives the room. The shelf itself is hung a little high (since I'm so short, I tend to overestimate "eye level" to normal people), but I think some art would be nice underneath it. By the way, I really like the shelf. Last year, I got one from Target for the guest room, but it didn't hang flush against the wall. I was afraid that with enough weight, it would come crashing down. This one is solid and isn't going anywhere on its own.

I have another tiny project/picture, but for whatever reason, iPhoto doesn't want to upload it from my photo stream. For Christmas, my MIL got me a nice set of make-up brushes. I took this idea from Pinterest and put my own spin on it. I was concerned about using actual coffee beans, since I didn't know if they would spoil or otherwise get gross over time. So I used some vase filler marbles (or whatever they're called) instead. I used mostly clear with a few pops of green and turquoise. Super cute and very functional.

Whew! So that's what I've been doing instead of blogging. How about y'all?