December – Dejá Vu a Month in Review

Wham! This year has flown by so fast, it feels like I’ve been shot out of a cannon. December was a quick flash of light. As a courtesy to those of us that rarely have enough time to read all the fabulous blogs on a regular basis, I have for you a review of all the posts at Pretty Handy Girl in December.




And that finishes up December of 2010! I hope you all have a wonderfully Happy New Year.
I look forward to sharing some more DIY empowerment with you in 2011!

The Best of Pretty Handy Girl 2010

The end of 2010 is near and several bloggers are parading out their best of 2010 projects over at Southern Hospitality. So, in the spirit of parades and looking back, I thought you might like to go back with me to the very beginning of Pretty Handy Girl. We are going way back to June of 2010. Not too long ago, but it has been a project filled 7 months.

So, won’t you pull up a comfy seat and travel back in time with me?

The Best Before & Afters of 2010




Wow, what a year! I can’t wait to share some brand spankin’ new projects with you in 2011!

Creating Silhouetted Gifts

Now that the Christmas hype has died down and my cold has lost its grip on my sinuses, I’m back with a quick little tutorial on creating a special silhouetted gift for your child.

Thank you to my dear Pretty Handsome Guy for his guest post. I’m glad you all enjoyed a good laugh at his expense.

 

Christmas morning my boys were greeted by magical North Pole snow footprints (baking soda) leading up to the tree.

In an effort to keep the Santa myth alive, the two presents from Santa were constructed in a different style from the other presents under the tree.

My six year old exclaimed Christmas morning, “MOM! Santa knows what we look like!” So, I think I fooled them again this year.

Materials:
Scissors
X-acto knife (optional) and cutting surface
Profile picture of your child
Spraymount
White sheet of letter size paper
White cardstock paper
Black cardstock paper or construction paper
Chalk, Bistro marker, or White paint pen
Pencil
Glitter spray
Glitter glue

Start by creating your child’s silhouette. (My silhouettes took many steps in Adobe Photoshop, but I’ll give you instructions for the easy way.) Simply take a photo of your child turned sidewards (preferably in front of a blank wall.) Then enlarge the photo on a copier to the size you want to use. Lay the paper on top of the black cardstock and cut them both at the same time. I prefer to use an X-acto knife for the cutting, but you can use scissors if you like.

Unless you have a graphic program or a template to draw perfect ovals, you will need to draw one freehand. Wait, wait, don’t freak out. You can do this!

First, fold a letter sized paper into fourths.

Draw a curve on the paper with the fold sides inside the curve.

Cut along the line.

Open up your paper to reveal your oval. If you don’t like it, try it again.

Once you are happy with your oval, trace the folded oval onto white cardstock paper and cut it out.

Wrap your present (be sure to use wrapping paper that your child has never seen in your home!)

Spray the back of your cardstock oval with spray mount and adhere it to the present.

I added some glitter spray to the wrapped package to give it a little extra sparkle! (I know, it doesn’t really show up in the photo.)

So, here is a close up of the glittery goodness:

Spray the back of your silhouette head with the spray mount and lay it inside the oval.

Next, add a bead of glitter glue around the edge of the oval. Note of caution: Allow the glue to dry before setting your package upright or it WILL run. Of course I learned the hard way and had to unglue my package from the shelf it was sitting on. Drat!
Here are the presents before I added the “To & From” on them.
You can write your child’s name on the silhouette using chalk, bistro marker or white paint pen. Or leave it blank if you wish, your choice.
That’s it, not too hard, but the results are stunning. You could use this gift wrapping technique for any special present.
I have to share with you a little something that warmed my heart Christmas morning. My oldest carefully cut off the fronts of all the presents that I gave him to preserve the creative gift wrap designs.
He saved them all including his silhouette from Santa.
In stark contrast, my youngest tore into the packages as any other eager four year old boy would.

Fixing Common Gift Wrap Problems – Guest Post by Pretty Handsome Guy

Brittany came down with a cold yesterday, so I thought I’d fill in for her today and share with you some common gift wrap problems and how to deal with them.  Think of this as the polar opposite of her Creative Gift Wrapping series of posts.

The Squish and Tape and Tape and Tape

Do you ever end up with a present that hangs out of the wrapping paper?

No problem, simply squish the gift inside the packaging as far as you can…

…and quickly fold over the end and slap on some tape. Then use some more tape to close the gaps,

and just for good measure add some more tape. Hey, tape is cheap, no need to be stingy with it!

All done, and the goal of hiding the present has been achieved!

The Panel (not to be confused with the type of pants pregnant women wear.)

How many times have you cut your wrapping paper only to realize that it is too short to go around the package? When it comes to wrapping presents I adhere to the adage “measure never, just cut it”.  I mean seriously people we aren’t building a house here, what you are wrapping is meant to be destroyed anyways. 

Here is the solution! It is called the panel. Simply cut another piece of wrapping paper the width of the gap (or maybe a little wider.)

Tape it on (no need to match up the pattern, no one will see the bottom when it is under the tree.). Bonus points if you can manage to use 2-3 different types of wrapping paper – just tell everyone it is a “holiday medley”. 

Super easy solution and the best part is that you don’t have to go back and cut a whole new piece of wrapping paper.  The environment will thank you for this one.

The Nip, Tuck & Roll

Now we are down to one of the most common wrapping problems. What to do when you have too much wrapping paper on the ends of your package.  And yes I realize most of these “problems” are a function of not measuring in the first place but whatever.

Normally I would simply roll the sides in until they meet the package, but in an effort to neaten things up a bit, you can simply gather the end in your hands and snip off the excess.

Now simply fold in the end towards the box.
Continue to roll the paper in…

…until you reach the box, then smash the end down with your hand to flatten it.

And tape your end down.
Done. Problem solved, any questions?
Adding a Gift Tag (bet you’ve never seen it done this way!)
I found the little key tags that Brittany bought for tagging her presents. Creative idea and all but sheesh a lot more work than a stick-on “To/From” tag.  But I devised a new way to attach them to the gift without ribbon.
Simply grasp a corner of your package and use a hole punch to make a hole in the gift wrap.

Then take a piece of tape and twist it into what I call a tapepick (looks like a toothpick.)

Thread the tapepick into the hole you made in your gift wrap.
Then grab another piece of tape and fold it over the ends of your tapepick to secure them.
That’s it. Thanks for reading my post today. Hopefully Brittany will invite me back to show you how I make a bed in less than 10 seconds!
- Pretty Handsome Guy

Repairing a Pop Up Sink Drain

We just got back from a short trip to Vienna, Virginia to visit my family for the holidays. When we arrived, my mom had left me a note in the bathroom we were using.

Here it is:

My mom, she’s so cute, doesn’t she know that this sign taunted me the whole visit?

Besides, what kind of daughter would I be if I left this minor repair to a plumber? Puh-lease!

So, here was the deal with the hair clip in the sink. It was her way of holding the stopper up because the rod inside the sink had rusted and broken off. (Pretty creative in my opinion.)

But not the real fix for a sink stopper that would not stay up.

Let’s back up before I show you how to repair the stopper. Thank you to Dvorty Girl for the excellent illustration above that she posted on WikiHow.com.

Sink parts:
  1. Drain Down Rod
  2. Joint Clamp Clip
  3. Horizontal Rod
  4. Nut
  5. Ball, Rod, Nut & Gasket
  6. Stopper Notch
  7. Pop Up Drain Stopper

Materials:

Universal Pivot Ball Replacement Kit
Pliers (maybe)

Instructions:

1. Clear out enough room so you can work under the sink. (Okay, my mom is going to kill me for showing you her cluttered sink vanity. But, who’s sink vanity doesn’t look like this?! Please leave a comment and tell her that she’s not the only one!)

2. Lay down some towels to cushion the edge of the vanity (or your back, rib cage or hips will be in screaming pain.)

3. Locate the (3)horizontal rod and (5) nut at the back of your drain that holds the (5) ball, rod & gasket.

4.  Unscrew the (5) nut with your fingers or use pliers if it is really tight. Pull out the ball and gasket.
5. To release the (3) horizontal rod from the (1) down rod, squeeze the (2) joint clamp clip between your fingers and slide it off the end of the horizontal rod.
6. Lay out your old pieces to assess the damage. You may or may not need a new gasket (which is sold separately.) This one was broken and needed replacing.
7. Match the old pivot ball with the new ones in the kit. Be sure to choose the one that is exactly the same size. Thread the (5) new ball onto the new (3) horizontal rod.
8. Next thread the new gasket onto the horizontal rod and then the nut.
9. Next feed one end of the (2) joint clip clamp (the kit I bought contained two white stoppers instead of a joint clip clamp). Only add one side or one stopper at this point.)
10. Feed the (3) horizontal rod into the (1) down rod.
11. Line the other end of the (3) horizontal bar up and slip the ball joint into the hole at the back of the drain. Ideally the horizontal bar will be parallel to the floor, but you may have to make some minor adjustments at the end.
12. Screw the nut back onto the drain making sure the ball joint and gasket are lined up properly.
13. Now add the second stopper or the other end of the (2) joint clamp clip to the back of the (3) horizontal rod.
14. Look inside the drain, and notice the post end of the (5) ball joint inside the drain.
Pull up on the (1) down drain rod and make sure that it moves up and down freely and the post in the drain moves as well.
15. This next step requires a little patience, so put your patience cap on. Feed the drain stopper back into the drain. You want the end of the stopper to be at a 90 degree angle from the ball joint post as show below.
Gently rotate the stopper 90 degrees until the end of the stopper hooks the post.
16. Once the stopper has been properly rotated and hooked onto the ball joint post, test your sink by pulling up and own on the (1) drain down rod.
And you are done!
Pretty Handsome Guy thought it would be funny to re-arrange the letters in the sign.
And just to prove to you that my Mom can also be handy, this is a photo I found of her from the 1970′s when my parents were building my childhood home.
Next time your drain stopper is broken, I hope you will put off calling a plumber and fix it yourself!

Creative Gift Wrapping Day #6

This is it, the last day of my Creative Gift Wrapping Tutorials. I saved these adorable silhouetted animals for last.

Snowy Polar Bear
Materials:

Wrapping paper
White card stock paper
Snowflake hole puncher
Key tag
Satin ribbon
Jingle bell
Black & white pom poms (nose & tail)
Small black button
Elmer’s glue
Hot glue gun
Wrap your present as you normally would.
Using this template (click on the photo for a larger version and then print it out), cut out the polar bear shape on white card stock. Better yet, if your printer will handle it, print it out on card stock and then flip your bear over to the white side.
Glue your bear onto the gift package.
 
Punch out some snowflakes. (I used some white and some light blue that would show up better on top of the white bear.)
Cut one piece of red ribbon for the bears collar. Then glue the collar and snowflakes onto the package using Elmer’s glue. Then glue the button and pom poms using hot glue.
 Thread a jingle bell onto some satin ribbon, then tie a bow onto a key tag.

 Hot glue the bow/jingle bell onto the bear’s collar.

 Factoid: Polar bears are my favorite animal! Did you know that a polar bear’s skin is actually black? And the bear’s hair is actually transparent hollow tubes. This serves three purposes: 

  1. The tubes are hollow so they store air in them. This acts as an insulator. 
  2. Plus, it helps the polar bears buoyancy while swimming. 
  3. Remember how I said their skins is black? Well, because the fur is actually transparent, it allows the sun to reach the bear’s skin and help warm them. Cool, huh?! 
Dove of Peace
Materials:

Wrapping paper
White card stock paper
Satin ribbon
Sprig of rosemary or other evergreen twig
Hot glue gun

Wrap your present as you normally would.

Add your ribbon on the diagonal corners.
Click on the dove silhouette below to see the full size image. Print it out on the cardstock paper and cut out the shape to use as a template, or use the reverse white side of the shape.
 
Use a hole punch to cut out the eye. Hot glue your dove to the package and hot glue the rosemary underneath the dove’s mouth.

Have fun with this creative package. Add the words PEACE, or bend the wings up to make them three dimensional.

This dove will work on a variety of sized gifts. Here she is on a vertical present.

“Peace on Earth, Goodwill Toward Men”



handmade projects

Creative Gift Wrapping Day #5

Welcome back. If you are up for some more creative gift wrappings, let’s get going.

Hanging Ornaments
Materials: 
Wrapping paper
Curling ribbon
Buttons
Snowflake Embellishments
Hot glue gun
Elmer’s glue
Circle template: jar, glass, compass
Scissors

Wrap your present in wrapping paper.
Using your circle template, trace different sized circles on colored paper and/or wrapping paper. Cut out the circles. Lay them onto your package with a few buttons to determine the desired layout.
Cut curling ribbon to the lengths needed to meet the ornaments and glue them with Elmer’s glue onto the package. Glue the ornament circles and buttons next using hot glue. Add stickers or snowflake embellishments on top of the circles. Finish by tying some bows with the curling ribbon and attach them just above the ornaments with hot glue.
“Deck the Halls”
Here is my girlfriend, Renee’s ornament package.
I love the little “x’s and o’s” she added for her daughter.
Musical Snowman 
 
Materials:
Wrapping paper
Printed sheet music (do a google image search for: sheet music)
Snowflake hole puncher
white or scrapbook paper
Snowman sticker or embellishment
Elmer’s glue

Limber up those thumbs and get to work punching out mini snowflakes. Or better yet, let the kids do it (my boys had a ball making all these snowflakes.)
Wrap your package as you normally would. Using a solid color or wrapping paper with less detail seems to work best.
Tear the printout of sheet music to make the snowy hill. Lay it on top of the package and crease the edges so it wraps around the box. 
Glue on the music sheet first. Then layout your snowflakes and snowman and glue them on.
 
 Feel free to add snowflake embellishments or circle hole punches if you want.
Tomorrow is the last day of my SIX days of Creative Gift Wrapping.

Click HERE to see an adorable polar bear and dove!

Creative Gift Wrapping Day #4

What happens when you have more gift wrapping ideas than presents? I guess I could go buy more presents, but I think Pretty Handsome Guy might not be too happy about that. So, I’ll have to stick with just six days of Creative Gift Wrapping. That’s right, two more posts filled with creative gift ideas! I hope you like them.

Yesterday I showed you some nature inspired gift wrappings, today we’re delving into the popular toxic spraypaint hobby of chalkboard painting! I think 2010 can officially be declared the year of the chalkboard paint. I have seen it EVERYWHERE!

Chalkboard Note Gift

Materials:

Chalkboard paint
Foam core
Chalk or chalkboard pen
Wrapping paper
Ribbon
Hole Punch
X-acto knife
Pencil
Ruler

Measure and cut out a 4″ x 6″ rectangle of foam core. The trick to clean cuts in foam core is to use a brand new x-acto blade! It is that simple.

To make perfect diagonal corners, measure 1″ from the corner (across and down) and make  marks. Then draw a diagonal line connecting the two points. Cut off the triangle.

Use your hole puncher to punch a hole in the middle of the top edge.

Spray paint or paint chalkboard paint onto your foam core. Let it dry.

Season your chalkboard rectangle by rubbing chalk all over the board. Then wipe it off. This will eliminate the chalk message “burning” into the chalkboard and will allow the recipient to re-use the board.

 Write a message on the chalkboard tag.
 Wrap your present and attach the tag to your present’s bow.
Now your gift recipient has a cute little re-useable chalkboard tag.
 
 Merry Christmas Renee!
Clothespin Clipped Chalkboard Message Board

Materials:

Chalkboard paint
Foam core
Chalk or chalkboard pen
Wrapping paper
Ribbon
Hole punch
X-acto knife
Pencil
Ruler
Clothespin
Silver or Gold acrylic paint
Paintbrush
Hot glue gun

Follow the instructions above for making a foam core chalkboard. Eliminate the steps on cutting diagonal corners and adding a hole for this one.
Take apart the clothespin and paint both sides using the silver or gold acrylic paint.
Wrap your present as you would normally.
  Wrap ribbon around your present, but don’t tie a bow. Just make a knot.
 Make a separate bow out of the same ribbon and use hot glue to attach it to the clothespin.

Clip the clothespin over the knotted bow on your package and slide your chalkboard into the clothespin.

 ”Merry Christmas Baby!”

Bonus: I thought I’d share with you two more gift packages that were pretty simple and quick. The first one I hot glued crocheted snowflakes from Lillian Vernon onto them (thanks for bringing them to my wrapping party, Renee!)

The second one is an ovaltine can that I wrapped with gift wrap, added some monogram stickers and put a bow on top. Easy peasy!

I hope you will swing on by and check out Day #5 of my Creative Gift Wrappings!

Creative Gift Wrapping Day #3

Today I have two creative gift wrapping ideas that have a more natural feel. Perfect for the eco-conscious recipient in your life!

Rosemary Gift with Bells

Materials:

Brown paper bag or wrapping paper
Fresh cut rosemary
Red ribbon (fat)
Smaller ribbon
Jingle Bells
Hot glue gun
Deckle scissors
Letter stickers
Plain gift box

Cut a band of brown paper for around the middle of your gift box. Cut the edges of the band with deckle scissors. Secure the band around the package with tape.

 Arrange some springs of rosemary on top of the package.

Tie the sprigs together with red ribbon.

Attach a few jingle bells with smaller ribbon. Then secure the ribbon, rosemary, and jingle bells to the package with hot glue.

 Add some decorative letters to the bottom of your gift.

“It’s beginning to smell a lot like Christmas!”
 Rosemary Gift with Beverage Napkin

Materials:

Brown paper bag or wrapping paper
Fresh cut rosemary
Red ribbon
Decorative beverage napkin or doiley
Button or embellishment
Hot glue gun
Letter stickers
Plain gift box

 Wrap your gift in brown paper. Take out one beverage napkin.

 Cut around edges of napkin.
 Open napkin and glue to the package with a small amount of hot glue.
 
 Tie a red ribbon around the gift.

Tuck some rosemary into the bow and hot glue a button on the center of the bow.

 And who says you have to use brand new brown paper? I like the texture of this re-used brown paper. Now that is what you call eco-chic!
“Brown paper packages tied up with string. These are a few of my favorite things.”

Want more creative gift wrapping ideas? Check here for Day #4.

Creative Gift Wrapping Day #2

Welcome back! I have some more creative gift wrapping for you today. Next up at the wrapping station:

Clustered Butterfly Gift
 
Materials:
Wrapping Paper
Wire Ribbon
Butterfly hole puncher
Colored scrapbook paper or other colored paper
Snowflake embellishment
Elmer’s glue
Start by using the butterfly hole puncher and punch out oodles of little butterflies.
Crease and fold the butterflies in half to give them some dimension. It is okay to leave a few butterflies flat.

Gift wrap your present as you normally would. And add your ribbon and bow on diagonal corners.


Use Elmer’s glue to place random dots onto your package.
 

Lay your butterflies on top of the glue. Keep adding butterflies until your cluster is done.

Add a snowflake embellishment and one butterfly on the bow.
“These are a few of my favorite things (butterflies in December!)”
I realize the butterflies are a little feminine, so I have a more unisex gift wrap up next:
3-D Christmas Tree
 
Materials:

Wrapping paper
Curly ribbon
1 – 12″ x 12″ scrapbook paper
Shiny embellishment dots or stickers
Elmer’s glue
Optional: Green construction paper or scrapbook paper for fringe grass at the bottom

Wrap your package as you would normally.

Cut a small square out of craft paper for the trunk. Fold your scrapbook paper into quarters…

 …and cut along the fold(s) using the template below.

 
When you are done you should have two identical trees.

Glue the tree trunk down using Elmer’s glue. Run a bead along the spine of the tree and glue the first tree down on top of the trunk. Run a second bead of glue along the spine of the first tree and lay the second tree on top but slightly lower than the first.

Fold the left and right sides of the tree up to give them some dimension.
 

Add some embellishments or stickers to decorate your tree.

Optional: Adding Fringe Grass

Cut out a strip of green construction paper for your grass line. Tape two pieces together if you need to make it longer.

Cut fringes into the top edge of the green strip.

Using a pencil, roll the fringes over the pencil. I found this worked best on my thigh (probably because of that 10 lbs. of blogger bloat!)

 Glue your strip of fringed grass onto the package using Elmer’s glue.

 Use your finger to push some fringes up and others down until you like the look.

 
Finish off your package by tying some curly ribbon onto it.
“Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree”
As I was falling asleep last night, I came up with a few more ideas for creative gift wrapping.  I hope to implement them tonight and then share them with you these final days before Christmas. In other words, I have SIX days of creative gift wrappings lined up for you. So be sure to check out Day #3.

Creative Gift Wrapping Day #1

The last few years I found myself up late on December 24th frantically wrapping presents, not exactly the way to get into the spirit! This year I knew I wanted to do it differently. These are the three things I wanted to happen:

  1. I wanted to spend some time being creative while wrapping the presents.
  2. Find some time to spend with friends that didn’t involve eating cookies (I have to admit, I’ve gained 10 lbs. since I began blogging, I’ll refer to it at the new blogger’s bloat.)
  3. And finally, give myself time to really get creative and then share the results with my readers.

My genius plan was to have a girlfriend get together and wrapping party. So, I invited four girlfriends to come chat and wrap.

Unfortunately a stomach bug, an out-of-town hubby, and life with kids put a damper on everyone’s plans except Renee’s. Despite our small numbers, we still had fun talking, catching up and wrapping some creative packages!

Over the next few days I’ll share with you the tutorials. I hope you get some ideas for your gifts (if you still haven’t wrapped yours). And I hope you don’t spend the evening of December 24th wrapping them all by yourself.

Snowman Present

Materials:

Black felt or black construction paper
Cake size paper plate
Buttons (2 eyes, 1 nose, 5-6 mouth)
Red Ribbon
Snowflake stickers, snowflake paper punch, and/or other embellishments
Wrapping paper
Elmer’s glue
Hot Glue Gun

Start by wrapping your present as you would normally.
Preheat your hot glue gun.
Then cut out your black felt or construction paper in the shape of a hat. Feel free to use this template or make your own.

Cut a piece of red ribbon for the brim of your snowman’s hat. Then gather your snowman pieces and lay them out on your package.
Use the hot glue gun to glue the cake plate upside down to the package. 
Then glue the brim ribbon to the hat. 
Glue your hat on the package letting the brim overlap the cake plate. 
Cut another piece of ribbon for your snowman’s scarf and fold it in half. From the folded edge, you will want to fold about 2 inches back on itself. This will be your snowman’s scarf knot. Play with the scarf and “knot” until you like how it looks, then use the hot glue to affix it to the gift box.
Use some more hot glue to adhere the buttons to the cake plate. 
Then embellish your package with snowflake stickers, etc. Besides the stickers, I used the snowflake hole punch to punch many little flakes. Then I glued them with a small dot of elmer’s glue.
 ”Frosty the Snowman!”
Rudolf Gift Wrap
Materials:
Two twigs
Brown craft paper or paper bag
Two buttons for eyes
1 Red pom pom
Red Ribbon
Snowflake stickers or hole punches
Jingle bell
Elmer’s glue
Hot glue gun
Preheat your hot glue gun.
Wrap your present as you normally would.
Cut out a reindeer head from the craft paper or a paper bag. Feel free to use this template or make your own.
Lay out your reindeer pieces on the package where you want them.
Coat the back of the reindeer head with Elmer’s glue and attach it to your gift. 
Using your hot glue gun, run a thick line of glue onto the back of your twigs and attach them over the reindeer head.
Use hot glue to attach the eyes and nose.
Tie a bow with your red ribbon. Attach a gift tag and jingle bell to the bow and then hot glue it to the package.
Finish off decorating your gift by adding paper punch snowflakes with elmer’s glue and/or stickers.
“Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer!”

Side note: I bought the paper punch, stickers, and embellishments in the scrap-booking aisle at Target. And our Costco has the biggest spools of wired ribbon I’ve ever seen.
Be sure to check back these last few days before Christmas because I have SIX days of creative gift wrappings to share with you! Head on over to Day #2.

Laundry Room Makeover

 Wash…Rinse…Dry…Repeat…Wash…Rinse…Dry…Repeat…

This is the story of my life. We are a family of four and yet, I wash three loads of laundry two times a week. That is six loads per week! Or broken down, it is 1.5 loads per person per week. Is this a lot for a family of four? Maybe I’m too clean? Regardless, with all the time I spend in the laundry room, I wanted it to be attractive.

Our My laundry room looked like this right before we bought the house:

 
If you look up “blah” in the dictionary, you’ll see that picture.

So, I set to work and painted dark blue on the bottom 2/3 of the room and the same color with some white mixed in to the top 1/3 of the room. I also painted the windows and trim a glossy white. It is amazing how much easier it is to dust a newly painted surface (a definite must in a lint-filled laundry room.)

Next, I bought several sections of peg racks and painted them the same color as the trim. I screwed them into studs, or

if there wasn’t a stud to screw into I used Toggler anchors:

Then I set forth to cloak the biggest eye-sore in the room, the utility sink. All I did was cut a curtain down to size and used double-stick velcro. Then I hot glued some roped cording to the top. Abra-ca-dabra, it was sufficiently hidden.

Next I cut a piece of 1″ x 6″ pine to the length of my two windows. I rounded the corners with my jig saw and then used a router to give the edge a decorative finish.

After painting the shelf to match the windows, I mounted it to the wall with metal shelf brackets.

This gave me a sunny spot to rest my plants…

…and laundry supplies (Oxy clean powder, liquid laundry detergent and water spritzer for ironing wrinkles).

I also hung some drop cloth curtains that I painted stripes on (tutorial to come);

added a few letters above the windows;

and now I have a laundry room that I want to spend time in!

This makeover was very low budget. I had the paint leftover from our master bathroom. And the sink cover was one panel on clearance at Target for $3. The letters were $1.50 each and the drop cloths were $5 each. The curtain rod was stolen from another room in our house. And the shelf was from my wood pile. So, all-in-all, I spent about $25.

Some day I’d love to install cabinets with doors on them to hide all the supplies. But, until that day, I’m happy with the transformation.

So, am I the only one doing loads and loads and loads of laundry?

I Love My Cordless Drill

Recently I was asked what my favorite tool is. My Ryobi 12 volt Lithium Ion battery cordless drill was the first thing to pop into my head. Barely a week passes that I don’t reach for my drill to assist with a few loose screws (not that I personally have any of those.) For a homeowner or DIYer, this tool is indispensable. It allows you to drill holes, remove or drive screws and – well – just look like you know what you are doing.

I don’t just like this power tool, I love my cordless drill! Shhhh, don’t tell Pretty Handsome Guy, he might be offended. My drill is my right hand man, helping me breeze through projects with power and speed.

About 15 years ago my father-in-law asked what I wanted for Christmas, and I boldly told him that I wanted a cordless drill. He kind of chuckled and said, “Heh heh. Okay.” You see we didn’t own a house at that time, and I was still a young woman in my 20′s. But, I had big DIY dreams and I knew I wanted a power tool.

Christmas morning I opened a present to reveal a brand new 18 volt Ryobi Cordless Drill. It had loads of power, two torque settings and the whizzing whir that made me feel like I was one mean carpenter! Plus, it came with a flashlight attachment that would make any nighttime lurker look like a deer caught in the headlights.

I have owned two more Ryobi cordless drills since that Christmas present. The first one had to be replaced when the battery no longer held a charge (and buying a new battery cost almost as much as a new drill.) The second one met its demise when I accidentally drove a screw right up against a fence post and didn’t notice that the chuck was winding the opposite way until the collar was stuck wide open.

So, it was back to my super box home improvement store to shop for a new drill.

As I was checking out the drills and learning about the merits of the lithium ion batteries, I asked about the voltage difference since I had been using a 14.4 volt drill. The salesman at the “Big Orange” told me that I wouldn’t notice the difference between a 12 volt and a 14.4 volt. Pisshwah! I did notice a difference, especially when trying to drive screws into hardwoods! (My DIY abilities are sometimes underestimated by a few.) But, the salesman was correct, under normal daily use I don’t notice the difference.

Two things that I DO really love about this new Ryobi 12 volt Lithium Ion drill:  

1. Battery Life: Yes, yes, yes! What you have heard is true. The battery does last much longer. I’ve told you how much I use my drill, and I have only charged the battery on this drill three times since January 2010. That is 11 mos. of use including laying a sub-floor in our living room. The only downside to the lithium ion battery (but also could be considered an upside) is that the drill doesn’t slow or lose power until a few seconds before the battery is dead. Therefore there is very little warning that the battery is about to give up. At least this drill comes with a spare battery, so I always keep it charged.

2. Size and weight: 3.5 lbs. of cordless drill made me feel like I had some serious power in my hands! That is how much the old 18 volt Ryobi weighed. When I held the new 12 volt Ryobi drill, I embraced the lightness of its lithe 1.8 lbs! I can really appreciate the difference when reaching overhead to use the drill. Plus, this new drill with its smaller size and smaller grip fits perfectly in my hand.

As you can see below, my drill shows signs of being loved used frequently. But, it still works like the day I lifted it out of the box.

Some other features about this little green mean machine: 

It comes with a charger, extra battery, a phillips and flat head bit. There is a magnetic bit shelf right above the battery. And a canvas storage case. But, my drill doesn’t get that much time stored away. It usually rests right here…

…ready to leap into action at a moments notice.

If you don’t own a cordless drill, I implore you to add this DIY essential to your holiday wishlist!

(I was not paid or compensated to write this post. This is my honest opinion and true feelings about my beloved cordless drill!)

Installing an Anti-Tip Bracket for Your Oven

I hate to break up the holiday glamour-fest, but it is time to put on my tool belt and share with you an important safety device. As some of you may remember, we had an oven fire this past September. We ended up replacing our oven and when the new one was delivered it came with an anti-tip device. All new free-standing and slide-in ovens should come with one. Be aware that most stores that deliver your stove WILL NOT install the anti-tip device when they deliver (shame on them!)

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If you don’t know what an anti-tip device is, let me show you:

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That’s it! Just a bracket and a few screws. But, that little device can prevent this:

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The whole oven can and will tip very easily with very little weight on the open oven door. Stop reading RIGHT NOW and go open your oven door. Then press down to see if you can tip your oven!

If you can tip it, you can call the manufacturer of your oven and they should send you a device for free or just a shipping charge. HERE is a website with a listing of the phone numbers for most major appliance manufacturers. Or I have one extra anti-tip device from our old GE stove, so let me know if you would like it and I’ll send it to you free of charge.

Installation is super simple. The hardest part is pulling the stove out and cleaning all the goodies that have fallen beneath the stove for years. Apparently our stove doubles as a matchbox car garage!

CarGarage.jpg

Safety Alert: If you notice in the picture above, there is a metal box lying loose on the floor with black and grey wires entering it. This is the junction box where our wiring for the stove is hardwired into the house. The fact that this junction box is lying loose on the floor is dangerous! Should we (or the firemen) had pulled hard enough when removing the stove, the connections could have come loose and there would be 240 volts of live (or should I say life-ending) power exposed! Therefore we hired an electrician to wire an outlet into the wall before we installed our new stove.

One more safety tip, if your oven catches on fire (specifically the heating element is burning) you will need to stop the oven from receiving any power. Be sure to turn off the circuit at your circuit breaker! This probably would have saved me from having to call the fire department, I thought just turning the oven off would stop the element from continuing to ignite and burn, BUT NO IT DID NOT!

Installation:
If your oven is hardwired, before installing the bracket be sure to shut off the power to the appliance. Even if you have an outlet, be extra safe and turn off the power to that outlet.

Once you have removed all foreign objects from under the stove and cleaned the floor. Layout your template lining up the corner of the sheet to the corner of your cabinet and the wall.

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Drill through the crosshairs marking the location of the screws (remember to use a drill bit slightly smaller than your screws.)

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Remove your template, line up your bracket with the holes and drive the screws through the holes on the base of the bracket and then into the wall at the back of the bracket.
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Once your bracket has been installed, grab a helper to help you guide your oven back behind the wall.
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If you are having trouble lining up your stove with the bracket, you may need to remove the storage drawer and look underneath your oven. You also might need to adjust the feet on your oven up or down to give enough clearance for the whole foot to slide into the bracket. (You do this by screwing or unscrewing the feet.) Be sure to adjust the foot on the opposite side to level your oven.SlideFootUnder.jpg
And you are done, this installation is relatively easy as long as you don’t encounter things like electrical code violations (aka improperly hard-wired appliances.) Feel free to email me with any questions and I will try to assist you. Again, I have one extra anti-tip device for a GE stove if you would like it.

Now it is time to bake some cookies! YUM!

Glass Jar Votive Holders


 

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Glass Jar Votive Holders

This has to be one of my favorite activities to do with the kids!

Start by saving jars for a month or more! Salsa, jelly, vegetable, and baby jars all work well. Soak the jars to remove the labels and scrub any excess glue off.

Materials:
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  • Clean Jars
  • Mod Podge (or diluted School Glue)
  • Brushes
  • Jar of water to rest brushes in
  • Tissue Paper (I limited the palette to whites and blues)
  • Magazine cut outs, sheet music, stickers, or decorative hole punches
  • Plastic tablecloth or sheet to cover your work area

1. Tear your tissue paper, sheet music, or other paper into small strips and/or cut magazine pictures into small pieces.

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2. Brush a coating of Mod Podge onto the outside of the jar.

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3. Lay down your first layer of papers. (You be the creative genius here! You really can’t go wrong.)

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4. Coat the top of your paper layer with more Mod Podge and continue until the jar has been covered. It is okay to and encouraged to overlap layers. (Again, you are the creative genius!)

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5. Finish your jar by brushing on a final coating of Mod Podge. Be sure everything has been coated.

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6. Rest your votive holders on wax paper to dry. (Did you know that I never buy wax paper anymore? I use recycled cereal bags.) After an hour, flip your jars over to allow the other end to dry.

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Insert your tea lights or use flame-less candles and enjoy!

 

They are so adorable, that after the season has passed, I’ve been known to use these for pencil holders, for makeup brushes or impromptu vases for a bud or two. They also make a great gift from your child to an adoring Grandparent!  What do you think? Are they gift-worthy?

Mini Gift Pouches from Napkins

AllPouches.jpgOh the quandary of what to get my boy’s teachers, the sitter, and all those other important people in our lives. Usually I take the easy way out and buy gift cards. Well – okay – I’m still going to give the gift cards, but this year I wanted to present them in something a little nicer. Something handmade with love.

These little handmade pouches are perfect for holding a gift card and some holiday treats. And then after the holiday season has ended, the recipient can use the pouch to protect and store valuables!

My pouches started like this:

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Discounted cloth napkins! 90 cents for each napkin. And here is how they became cute little mini gift pouches:

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Open the napkin up and cut it into quarters.

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Fold the napkin in half.

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Allow 1/4 inch seam allowance on the open edge of your pouch, then layout your design and sketch with a disappearing marker where your stitch lines will appear.

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Sew along the lines you drew. (My machine has a few decorative stitches, but I could have done them by hand instead.)

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Then hand sew the buttons on where you want them.

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Once your design has been completely stitched You will need to hem the raw edge on your napkin.

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Next, fold over the top of your pouch approximately 1/2″ to accommodate your ribbon drawstring.

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Stitch the ribbon drawstring pocket closed. If your sewing machine has decorative stitches you may choose to use one of them, but be sure to sew on the right side.

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Fold your napkin back in half with the right sides together, and stitch along the bottom and open sides of your pouch. (I stitched this pouch a little higher on the bottom edge to make the flower stems end in the seam.) Be careful to stop stitching up the side before the drawstring opening.

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Snip off the corners of your pouch.

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Turn your pouch right side out.

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Cut a length of ribbon long enough to thread through the top of your pouch and to tie a bow. Then attach a safety pin to one end of the ribbon. (I added some scotch tape so the pin wouldn’t fray the ribbon.)

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Gently feed the ribbon through the bag using the safety pin to push its way through.

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Add some goodies to your pouches and tie the ribbon to close it up.

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For the Rudolf and tree bag, I simply cut out the shapes using felt and stitched around the edges.

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One more trick for you. The snowman’s eyes were added after I stitched the button on using white thread. Then I re-threaded my needle and sewed in and out a few times on each hole to give him little black eyes.

I will be the first to admit that I need to center my designs a little better, but for now I’m happy with them. And, hey, isn’t it the imperfections that make them look handmade?

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Update: I made a few more pouches last night, and altered my snowmen to a four hole button which gave me the option to add a mouth. I’m also perfecting my technique and getting better (not perfect) at centering the designs.

 

 

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Walking in a Winter Wonderland

Yesterday Raleigh, North Carolina received a surprise visitor, SNOW! We get snow occasionally, but what was forecasted as a slight dusting turn into this:

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1Window.jpg

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All photos taken with my Canon Rebel T1i.

Thank you to all the bloggers I polled who highly recommended the camera. 

It really does an amazing job making stunning photos.
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Mother nature did such a nice job highlighting our home for the holidays.
(Photoshop filters and feathered selection applied)

Presto Chango Christmas Wreath

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Sneak Peek at my Christmas Wreath

I am getting a lot of mileage out of my white base wreath I bought at Target several months ago. With it I’ve been able to make a Magnolia Leaf Wreath for the fall.

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I made a Feather Wreath for Thanksgiving.

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Now it was time to give the wreath an injection of Christmas spirit. I removed the feathers, but left the green nuts on it. I had a green fabric leaf wreath that I made out of some floral filler stalks. All I did was twist 4 of the stalks into a circle shape and secure with a few pieces of floral wire.

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I set my white base wreath inside the green leaf circle.

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To secure the two together, 1) I fed some of the base wreath twigs under the leaf wreath and 2) twisted them over to hug the green leaf wreath.

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That couldn’t be any easier! No glue, no mess.

I compared two different ribbons next to my wreath and ultimately chose the black and white one.

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Tied a pretty bow and stood back to admire.

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Hmmm, I like it, but it just wasn’t feeling Christmasy enough, so I quickly tucked some red floral sprigs with teeny bells on them into the wreath and gently curved them to match the shape of the wreath.

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Now that is more like it!
In less than 10 minutes I have my Christmas wreath! This base wreath has been the best $10 I’ve spent all year!

I’m going to try to use this wreath all year and will be sure to share the transformations with you.

Fireplace Makeovers – Readers’ Spotlight

Up on the rooftop click click click, down through the chimney with Good St. Nick!
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I think about this song when I gaze at my beautifully painted fireplace. That’s right, I said painted! Those bricks you see – well – they are bricks, but that isn’t their real color. It is faux painted!

Last year this is what my fireplace looked like:
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If you want to see how I did it, hop on over to Remodelaholic on Friday for the tutorial.

In the meantime, I want to share with you some other fabulously faux painted fireplaces. These three readers each contacted me after reading my post on faux painting brick and sent me photos of their fireplaces!

I think you will agree that they all did a fabulous job. Way to go gals!

“I came across your website looking for ideas on what to do with my painted white fireplace. After a year of living in the house, I couldn’t take it anymore. The layers of paint were too thick to strip and refinishing would have cost too much right now. So I gave your helpful hints a try. I am amazed how great it turned out. Next, get rid of the awful tiles and put in wood flooring. Thank you so much for posting your refinished fireplace and how-to.”

Thank you.
Pam Blackburn
Levittown, PA

Pam’s Fireplace Before:
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Pam’s Fireplace After:
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“Thought you’d be interested in seeing how your idea worked for me. Attached are before and after pictures. Thanks for your help – my fireplace looks awesome now – just have to buy a mantel.”

Louise Russell

Louise’s Fireplace Before:
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Louise’s Fireplace After:
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And finally, Megan took her fireplace in a different direction. She had an ugly red brick fireplace and turned it into a light taupe beauty.

“I found your great blog on the internet a few weeks ago and just wanted to thank you for giving my husband and I the courage to paint the fireplace in our new house! You really gave us the confidence we needed to try and brighten up our fireplace on our own! Thank you so much!! We had been quoted $1200 to have the bricks refinished, and I ended up spending about $30 with your method! The attached “after” shot was taken before I was completely finished, but it’ll still give you an understanding of where everything was headed and how much of an impact your tutorial made on us! Thank you!!”

Megan Cahill

Megan’s Fireplace Before:
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Megan’s Fireplace After:
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So what do you think? Are those amazing transformations or what? I think all three are definitely Santa-worthy now.

Shutters for Displaying Christmas Cards

Thank you to everyone who left me such wonderful comments on my rustic Christmas décor! I may not have been able to reply to all of you, but I DID read each and every comment! And thank you to the rest of you who took time out of your day to look at my post.

As promised, I am sharing with you the tutorial for creating the shutter screens that I display my Christmas cards on.

I am completely obsessed with decorating my home using shutters (only I use them on the inside instead of the outside!) I have one hanging in our half bathroom and two more in our upstairs hallway dressing up a dormer window. Luckily I still had two pairs laying around.

I began by attaching three hinges to hold a pair of shutters together.

I mixed two colors of red acrylic paint together (cadmium red medium & Lucas madder red) to get the perfect Christmasy red.

A perfect Christmas red is neither too orange nor too cranberry. It is very similar to Coca-Cola red.

Factoid: Did you know that Coca-cola red is so special that the company does not share the formula for the color?

Using a 2″ Purdy paint brush, I dabbed the brush into the paint and then wiped it off on the plate. Then dry brushed the paint onto the shutters, letting the bristles skip over the slats.

I kept dry brushing the shutter until I had enough paint for it to appear red, and yet some of the dark green color still peeked through.

Here is a close up of the green paint showing through:

Then I set each screen up in the corners of our living room and used clothespins to attach the cards.

The red shutters really bring in the holiday spirit!

I’m curious, how do you display your cards each year?

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