Enjoying Summertime – OIB, NC

Meeting of the gulls

As we near the end of summer (at what seems like break neck speed), I wanted to stop and remember the lazy days of sleeping in; playing on the beach; napping after an afternoon in the sun; and heading out to the pier for ice cream, glow sticks and picturesque sunsets.

I hope these pictures from our trip to Ocean Isle Beach, NC stir some memories for you.

Crazy clouds
Sun setting on the sound
Dock time
Just out of reach
Don’t pinch me

Playing chase
Pier lights beginning to glow
Dusk at the pier

This Whole Post is on Repairing Holes!

How often have you removed a screw, accidentally dented your drywall, or had a hole that couldn’t hold a screw anymore? And, how long has that hole stared glaringly at you?

Today, I will empower you to fix that hole! Or give you the tips and tutorial to handle that future hole.

A month ago, you probably saw this post on turning a closet into a reading nook. I removed the closet doors and needed to patch the screw holes left behind.

Patching small holes in wood (or drywall):

Materials:
Wood Putty for wood or Spackle for drywall
Putty knife
Utility knife
Damp rag
Sandpaper

1. Use your putty knife or utility knife to scrape off or cut away any edges of the hole that are not flush with the wall or trim.

2. Put a small amount of putty (or spackle) on your putty knife.

3. Push the putty (or spackle) firmly into the hole as you slide the knife over the hole.

4. Scrape the excess off the surface.

5. Use the damp rag to wipe excess putty (or spackle) off.

6. Wait for putty (or spackle) to dry, and sand smooth.

On the same project, my three year old had nearly pulled the tie backs out of the door casing, leaving two stripped holes. I wanted to hang the tie back up in the same location, so I had to repair the holes and leave it strong enough to hold up to a 3 yr. old!

How to fix a stripped hole in wood:

Materials:
Toothpicks
Wood glue
Damp rag
Hand saw
Sandpaper

1. Dry fit toothpicks so they are snug in the hole.

2. Remove toothpicks in one bunch and add glue to the tips of the toothpicks and more glue in the hole.

3. Push the toothpicks firmly into the hole.

4. Wipe any excess glue up immediately.

5. When the wood glue dries, saw off the toothpicks as close to the hole as possible (without damaging your trim.)

6. Use the sandpaper to smooth the toothpicks flush with the wood.

7. Follow up with putty if necessary for cosmetic appearance. (You can use the above directions for patching a small hole.)

Yesterday I showed you the transformation of a curbside chair named Daisy. She had a few holes that needed filling where I had removed the spindles.

How to fill a hole in wood (non-structural):

Materials:
Wood Putty
Putty Knife
Damp rag
Sandpaper

1. Clean out hole of any dirt or debris.

2. Roll wood putty in hand to fit in hole.

3. Insert putty in hole and then push it in using a pencil or similar blunt object.

4. Continue filling the hole until you are almost flush with the top.

5. Use your putty knive to apply final topping of putty.

6. Wipe excess off with damp rag and create a flush top with the surrounding wood.

7. Putty will shrink slightly when dry, so you may need to add another top layer of putty.

8. Once putty is thoroughly dry, sand it smooth.

Also in the transformation of a curbside chair named Daisy, I had to add new finials to the top.

How to fix a slightly larger hole in wood (that needs to be structurally sound):

Materials:
Wooden peg (to size of hole)
Gorilla glue
Wet rag
Hand saw

Sandpaper

1. Dry fit wooden peg so that it fits snug in the hole.

2. Remove peg and dampen inside of the hole.

3. Squeeze in a small amount of Gorilla glue (this glue will expand as it cures.) And insert peg back into hole.

4. Wipe any excess glue up immediately.

5. Clamp peg in place until Gorilla glue is dry.

6. After the glue dries, saw off the top of the peg as close to the hole as possible.

7. Use the sandpaper to smooth the peg flush with the wood.

Screwing into repaired hole:

1. Choose a drill bit that is slightly smaller than the screw you are using.

2. Predrill your hole.

3. Screw in your screw (or in my case, the finial).

Also, during the making of the closet turned into a reading nook. I accidentally knocked a hole in the drywall. The hole was too big for just spackle.

Repairing larger drywall holes (up to 3 inches):

Materials:
Joint compound
6″ taping knife
Utility knife
Webbed tape (or webbed patch kit)
Sandpaper

1. Use your putty knife or utility knife to scrape off or cut away any edges of the hole that are not flush with the wall or trim.

2. Adhere webbing over the hole.

3. Put a small amount of joint compound on your taping knife and push the compound gently into the hole as you slide the knife over the webbing.

4. Extend the compound beyond the taping.

5. Scrape the excess off the surface.

6. Wait for compound to dry and add another layer. Your goal is to have a smooth layer on top that hides the webbing and bumps out ever so slightly above your wall surface.

7. Use damp rag to wipe excess compound off and to smooth any visible edges.

8. Again, wait for compound to dry, and sand smooth so the patch is flush with the wall.

9. The best way to paint over a larger patch job is to use a paint roller and paint at least 2 thin layers of matching wall paint over the repair area.

If you have larger holes or need more information on patching drywall holes, check out this video tutorial.

Rebuilding Daisy the Discarded Chair

I have a serious problem. I can’t bear to see a piece of furniture being thrown away. It could be the ugliest, most broken down chair and I still feel the need to save it from Mt. Trashmore. That was the case with “Daisy” this poor ugly chair that I found on the curb awaiting the trash trucks a few weeks ago. I threw her in the back of my car and brought it home.

Two missing parts

Only when I got home did I assess her condition. Moldy seat, chipping and peeling paint, structurally falling apart, cobwebs, missing parts…

GROSS! Stained and moldy seat.

…and then a dead roach dropped out! Ewwww! I must be insane.  But, I still saw potential through all the disrepair.

This chair had some serious structural issues. I knew it was a case of tear her down and rebuild. This intro kept playing in my head the during the whole process:

I pulled apart the chair (mostly with my bare hands and then with some assistance from a hammer.)

Until I was left with a skeleton of a chair.

I stripped the paint layers off the chair using the same technique as I did for this chair (see details here.) Unfortunately this chair had 5 layers of paint, therefore it took several hours and several re-applications of Citri-strip to get down to the wood.

If you remember, there were several missing parts on this chair. I had a lightbulb moment when I realized that I could used the spindles from the chair back for the missing parts to connect the legs.

I removed the back spindles.
Almost a perfect size and I had two of them!

I cut down the spindles on the miter saw (but these could easily be cut with a hand saw).

And then notched the ends so they would fit into the holes on the legs. (I did have to enlarge the holes on the legs slightly using my drill and a 3/4″ spade bit.)

Notching the spindles. Cut around the diameter, then cut from the end in towards the first cut. Repeat on all sides.

After dry fitting all the pieces back together, I used Gorilla glue to glue the chair back together.

I clamped the chair tight by using rope to wrap around the chair.

Daisy had also lost one of her decorative corner finials. So, I bought two new finials at Home Depot for $5.

In order to screw on the new finials in, I had to plug the hole with wood. (As promised: a tutorial on filling holes in wood.)

I also filled the holes where the spindles used to be with wood putty.

Next, I primed Daisy. Just a side note here, one reason the original five coats of paint on Daisy were peeling and flaking is that the proper prep work wasn’t done. No sanding to scuff up the glossy polyurethane and no primer. It is so important to sand (rough up your surface) and use a primer. If you cut corners here, you might as well kiss your beautiful finish goodbye in a few years. Especially if the chair is exposed to the elements.)

Finally, I added two coats of white paint (sanding lightly between coats.)

The chair seat was in really bad shape. Therefore I decided to cut a new one out of plywood using my jigsaw.

Trace old seat on plywood, use ruler to make straight lines, cut out seat using jigsaw.

I checked my fit and then re-upholstered my chair. Check out this post to see how to re-upholster a chair seat.

Then for the finishing touches or the frosting on the cake. You can definitely do this step! The inset carving controls your brush for you. Kind of like bowling with bumpers.

And my chair is finished. Isn’t she beautiful!

Hard to believe that 48 hours ago this chair was definitely worthy of Mt. Trashmore.

The chair is super solid now, and doesn’t move at all thanks to the Gorilla Glue.

How about one last look at the before and after pictures?

Want to see more furniture in my guest room? Take the tour here!

A hike at Grandfather Mountain

In honor of my sons’ Grandfather, (who graciously took them to an outdoor magic show in heat advisory weather today) I’ve decided to post some pictures from our weekend trip to Grandfather Mountain in western North Carolina.

Grandfather Mountain holds loads of awe inspiring views; a nature park with opportunities to see and learn about the native animals; and a mile high swinging bridge (a personal favorite of our little ones.)

Won’t you join me on a beautiful hike through Grandfather Mountain park? (I decided to hold the commentary so you can enjoy the peaceful nature sounds.)

Grandfather Mountian named for the old man profile see above.
Jars of homemade jelly were lined up right along the main scenic highway

Swinging Bridge Facts (from Grandfather Mountain Website)

The Mile High Swinging Bridge was built to give visitors easy access to the breath-taking view from Grandfather Mountain’s Linville Peak.

The 228-foot suspension bridge spans an 80-foot chasm at more than one mile in elevation. Surveys show that the journey to the other side is always considered the highlight of a trip to Grandfather Mountain.

The term “mile high” refers to the structure’s elevation above sea level (5,280 feet)
The term “swinging” refers to the fact that suspension bridges are free to sway.

Hanging Jar Storage

Over the weekend I finally cleaned up our garage. This is our multi-purpose space, so it had multi-multi-multi items strewn everywhere.

Because our garage is small (fits 1.5 cars) space is a premium and I knew where I could find more space. One place I found space is under the shelves. Another place was inside my workbench (but, I’ll show you that in another post.)

I had been saving jars and lids (which I had to fish out of the trash a few times. Ewww!) for storage of odds and ends in the workshop/garage.

This project turned out to be a super easy and quick project (unlike taming the wild multi-beast our garage had become.

1) First I put the jar lid on top of a scrap piece of wood. 2) Then I centered my drill. 3) And drilled through the lid (check the size of your screw to make sure you choose a drill bit that equals the diameter of the screw, but not large enough for the screw head to go through.

Then I used a screwdriver and attached the lid to the underside of my shelf.

Then simply screwed the jar into the lid! Repeated that process three more times and filled the jars with the odds and ends that needed a place to be stored.

Ultimately, I finished cleaning the garage so I have room to set up a spray tent and start working on this sad little chair I found on the curb. Look here to see her transformation! I have to tell you, it is going to be quite a job. I took her completely apart, but I can rebuild her. I have the technology. Better, stronger, faster than before! (oops, The Six Million Dollar Man started playing in my head.)

Update: I was feeling pretty embarrassed after showing you my messy garage. So, here is proof that I really did clean it up. We still have a lot of stuff to fit in a small area, but at least I can walk around and find things now!

Upholstering Little Bench – A sweet spot to land

If you stuck through my ugly post yesterday. I have some pretty pictures for you today!

Two years ago I happened upon a cute little bench being thrown out with a neighbor’s trash. (I am addicted to trashed furniture. In fact, I have a NASTY chair in my garage that needs a lot of help structurally and asthetically.)

The roadside bench was painted a very blah beige color. I brought her home and gave her some decorative lines and a monogram. At the time we didn’t have anywhere to sit in our mudroom, so this little bench served the purpose well. Later I built a big mudroom hallway bench with built in shoe storage (I promise to create a tutorial for that at a later date.) So, this little bench was moved to the guest room where she sat by the window until this week.

The first thing I did was give her a little rub down with some sand paper. Then I laid down 3 coats of fresh shiny white paint (leftover from trim and moulding painting).

I used some old foam I saved from our move (only 3+ years ago). This foam was the packing material used to ship ice cream cones! I received it from a nice woman off of FreeCycle.org and thought it could be used for a cushion at some point.

I cut some batting to fit over and wrap around the foam (so as to hide all the seams in the foam).

Then cut the arms off of an old t-shirt of Pretty Handsome Guys (don’t worry, he had already said goodbye to it.) And cut up the sides so I could use just the back of the shirt.

And finished off with the decorative fabric cut slightly larger than all the other layers.

I carefully folded my decorative fabric under being sure that I had the old t-shirt hidden in the fold. And put in two staples with the staple gun to hold the fabric on the one side.

Moving over to the other side, I cut the t-shirt, batting, and decorative fabric down to size being sure to leave about an inch excess on the decorative fabric.

Then I repeated the same fold under and put in two staples.

Now for the bling! I had plenty of leftover nailhead trim from this project (check that link out if you need a better tutorial on adding nailhead trim.) I began at the corner of the front of my bench and added the starter nail.

At this point my 6 yr. old had come over to my side telling me how bored he was and, “What can I do now?” I asked if he wanted to help me hammer. Once I started each nail, he was able to hammer it into the nailhead trim for me. (I did have to finish a few off myself.) We worked together adding the nailhead trim to the front and back of the bench.

Before adding the trim to the sides I neatly folded and tucked under all the layers (cutting excess off when necessary.) Until it looked like this. Then I added the trim on top to hold the fabric in place.

And there she was, my beautiful cushioned bench for our guest room. I’ve been busy trying to finish a few projects (rebuilding a curbside chair and making a night stand from a door and picket fence) in this room before my best friend from high school comes to visit. Nothing like a visitor to get your DIY butt in gear!

 Sittin’ pretty
Sweet smelling soaps in a coordinating bowl
My trash to treasure bench is now a sweet spot to land

Changing Out an Old (UGLY) Outlet

So, this is one of those not so pretty posts, but I promise it is Oh So Handy! Especially if you live in an old house (20 yrs. or more). Our home was built in 1978 and most of our outlets are almond colored and many are so worn that they won’t hold a plug anymore. I used to get annoyed EVERY TIME I vacuumed downstairs and turned the corner only to have the vacuum plug slip from the outlet. Not only is this frustrating, but it is also a fire hazard. Old outlets should be replaced for safety reasons (but, hey, I’m okay if you just want to change them to a pretty white outlet.)

I distinctly remember my father showing me how to wire an outlet when I was about eight years old. I didn’t remember exactly what he taught me, but I do remember the feeling that – yes, I can do this myself! Being the father of three girls, Dad taught us all the things he would have taught a son. This is a picture of my Dad, my sisters and me teaching him all we knew about bows, barrettes and bobby pins.

I know several of you would never think of taking apart your outlet. You might say electricity scares you. Well, that is a good thing! A healthy fear of electricity will make you more cautious, so don’t lose that fear. It is a good thing to double and triple check your safety when working with electricity. Now, are you ready to update your outlets? This is a relatively easy task to do. And, I promise I will show you step-by-step instructions.

I highly recommend performing outlet replacements during daylight hours (or have a lamp that you can plug into an extension cord from another room.) Also, don’t let your little ones watch you, we don’t want them to stick a screwdriver in the outlet when you aren’t looking. Therefore, it is best to handle this fix during nap times.

Materials needed:

Needle-nosed pliers with rubber or plastic handles*
Flat head screwdriver*
Phillips head screwdriver*
Wire Strippers*
Wire cutter*
Voltage tester
Night light
15 amp/ 125 volt or 20 amp/ 120 volt duplex outlet
outlet cover

* It is safest to work with tools that have rubber or plastic handles that won’t conduct electricity.

optional tools:
vacuum to clean out the receptacle box (there will be dirt and dust in there and this may be the only opportunity you will have to clean it!)
cushion to sit on
power drill with screwdriver bits to speed up the process

Required Safety Instruction:


Turn off the power to the outlet you are working on. I highly recommend putting a night light or light in the outlet and turn it on. Then shut off the circuit at your circuit breaker and check to see that the light has gone out.

Also note that just because two outlets are in the same room, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are on the same circuit. Plus, it is possible for the top and bottom of one outlet to be on separate circuits. Always check both the top and bottom of an outlet before you work on it.


Instructions:

Okay, let’s begin. Take a deep breath and realize that if an 8 yr. old can do it, so can you!

1. Turn off your power, double check both outlets with your light to make sure the power is out to both top and bottom outlets.

2. Now take out your voltage tester. Insert a probe into each of the top two holes.  If the tester lights up, you need to back up and turn off the power to the outlet! If it doesn’t light up, then check the bottom outlet as well. Still no light? Perfect, the power is off to your outlet.

3. If you haven’t done so already, remove the face plate from your outlet by unscrewing the middle screw.

4. Unscrew the two mounting screws as shown below.

5. Gently pull the outlet out of the receptacle box. Inspect the outlet and see if you have the same amp replacement outlet. (Usually there are marking denoting 15A 125V or 20A 120V on the silver tabs, on the back or near the screw hole in the middle of the outlet.)

6. Note which wires are attached to the outlet and where. Then make a drawing if you need to of their position. Or work by transferring one wire at a time.

7. If the wires are wrapped around screws (lucky you), unscrew your wires and skip to step 10.  If your wires are poked into holes in the back of the outlet, you may choose to try to release them by poking a flat head screwdriver into the slot next to the wire, or you will need to cut the wires as close to the outlet as possible.

8. Now strip about 1/4 inch of the insulation from the end of your wire. Gently use your wire strippers to clamp down on the wire being sure it is scoring the insulation. If you need to, rotate your wire strippers 90 degrees and cut through the insulation again. then while the strippers are still around the wire, pull gently towards the end of the wire to remove the cut insulation.

9. Next take your needle nosed pliers and grasp the end of your wire and twist the end to make a shepherds hook shape. Do this for all your remaining wires.

10. Looking at the back of your new outlet, you will see that one side has silver screws and/or markings on the back that says white wire. The other side of the outlet should have gold screws and/or markings indicating hot wires (the black wires). And one screw towards the bottom that is green, this screw is for your bare or ground wire.

11. Hook each of your wires around the appropriate screw (Gold Screws = Black wires;  Silver screws = White wires;  Green screw = bare or green wire).

12. Using your needle nosed pliers, pinch your wires tightly around the screws attempting to close the loop.

13. Tighten each screw being sure that the wire stays tightly wrapped around the screw.

 

14. If all your wires have been screwed tightly onto the outlet you can gently push your outlet back into the receptacle box. Try to rock the outlet in by alternately pushing on the top and then the bottom. If your outlet doesn’t go in, pull it out and rearrange the wires so they fold neatly behind the outlet and try again.

15. Screw in the mounting screws.

16.  Replace the face plate.

 

Now you can turn the power back on and use a nightlight or lamp to make sure your outlet works

Hey, you are done! Congratulations, you did it. Reach up and pat yourself on the back because I’m proud of you!

Slipcover for Bistro Table – Going Undercover

Our office renovation is nearing completion. We’ve been working on the room for two plus months now. The majority of the work is complete, but we are waiting for two desk cabinets to come in to the Office Depot warehouse so we can actually order them. At this point I’m wondering if I should just build my own! <<Sigh>>

After searching for over a month on Craig’s List, I finally broke down and bought a small counter height bistro set from Big Lots for the corner of our office. We thought it would be a great place for the kids to sit and do homework. Or better yet, for Pretty Handsome Guy and I to talk and have our morning coffee!

The height and footprint is perfect, however, the dark wood (in addition to the other furniture in the room) made the room too dark for my taste. Okay – and I’m a sucker for hidden storage (need to hide that stop sign red box!) So, I came up with the idea to slipcover the table.

Unfortunately I didn’t have enough fabric left over from my yard sale re-upholstered chair and the back of the bookcase project. But, I did have enough to cover just the top of the table.

Then I bought two small 4′ x 5′ painter’s drop cloths for $5 each. I am seriously addicted to these must have fabrics! I already used a pair for our laundry room curtains and I bleached another one to make grain sack valances for our dining room at a later date.

So, anyone remember their geometry class? I barely remembered enough to figure out that the circumference of my 3′ diameter table is 9.42 (π x diameter or 3.14 x 3= 9.42). Therefore, two 5′ wide cloths would just cover my table!

The first thing I did was trim the fabric around the tabletop allowing a 1″ overage for seam allowance.

Then I ironed the drop cloths, and decorative table top fabric. I hate ironing  – I hardly ever iron. Usually I’ll just spritz water on my shirts or pants in the morning and they dry wrinkle free. Or if it is really wrinkled, I will dampen my clothing and toss them in the dryer for a few minutes.

Sometimes, I just have to break out the iron. But, I found a way to make ironing enjoyable. I set up my ironing board and watched a little HGTV or DIY Network while I de-wrinkle. Nothing like a hot DIY hunk to make me all steamy. Hee, hee.

I folded the top of the drop cloths so they just meet the table top and the bottom brushes the floor (this way I won’t have to hem the bottom.) Next I pinned the 2 drop cloth pieces around the table. Being sure to use lots of pins, since sewing around a curve can have a tendency to make the fabric pucker.

Then I stitched on top of the drop cloth, as close to the edge as I could. Being careful to avoid letting the fabric pucker.

After a few trial and errors, I got a smooth line and the drop cloth edges overlapped slightly.

Next the fun part! Digging in my grandmother’s button tin! She passed this down to my mother and somehow it ended up in my possession. (Shhhh, don’t tell my sisters!) I love this tin. The smell I encounter when I open the tin is part metal, part perfume, and 100% nostalgia.

I remember the feeling of running my fingers through the buttons. Isn’t this the prettiest eye candy? All those colors and textures.

<<snap of the fingers>> Okay, back to the project at hand. I chose four large brown buttons. Then eye-balled them on my slipcover and put a pin where each one would be attached.

I used a disappearing pen to mark the size of the button on the side that overlaps the other.

 
This is the first time I’ve used the buttonhole foot on my Brother CS-6000i sewing machine. (No, I’m not paid to endorse this sewing machine. I just can’t believe all the features it has for the $125 price!) I was impressed by the button holder that automatically tells the machine how big to make the hole.

The machine also has a feature where it can stitch your buttons on, but I knew it would take me longer to read and measure how to tell my machine where the holes in the buttons were. So, I sewed them on by hand.

And presto, I have a pretty bistro table with storage underneath!

And, a place to have morning coffee with Pretty Handsome Guy.
And, somewhere for the kids to do homework (or brush up on reading at Starfall.com.)

Visit thecsiproject.com

Guest Blog – Featuring Britt from A Penny Saved

If you have been following my blog, you have witnessed some trash-to-treasure transformations using some finds from the Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

My guest blogger is a brilliantly creative DIYer that created a schoolhouse lamp with some ReStore parts and a pot lid (Yes, I said a pot lid!)

 

Britt is the author of A Penny Saved. Definitely check out her blog. She has some great tutorials and very creative solutions!
I asked Britt a few questions to give you an idea how she became an accomplished DIYer:


Q. When did you begin creating your own DIY projects?
A. Shortly after I married my husband and moved into our first house.  I wanted to make it pretty, but we didn’t have a lot of extra cash so I started coming up with ways to decorate and furnish cheaply.

Q. Did you have any formal training? If no, how did you learn how to create your own projects?
A. Haha, no formal training.  I think I just had a vision for what I wanted something to look like and figured out a way to make it happen.  It’s all about thinking outside the box and repurposing things.

Q. Was anyone inspirational in giving you the confidence to try a DIY project?
A. My husband.  I wondered for a while if he was just excited that I wasn’t spending tons of money on decor, but he genuinely does seem to appreciate my projects.
Q. Where do you get your inspirations?
A. Design blogs, magazines, catalogs, flea markets……I feel like I’m surrounded by so many great ideas.

Q. Would you be willing to share your biggest blunder or goof?
A. Hmmm, I have a few projects that are in an “unfinished” state because I got frustrated with them, but I haven’t completely given up on them yet.  It’s almost never impossible to recover a project.  I have had a few run-ins with paint colors, though.

Q. Any advice you have to other new DIYers?
A. Don’t be afraid.  It can be very scary to start a new project — especially if you are repurposing something old and have to do a little demo to begin.  Just jump in and do it.  Even if you mess up, you will learn from your mistakes, and like I said, it’s almost always possible to recover from mess-ups.


Without further ado, here is her $9 Schoolhouse light fixture tutorial:

Isn’t it cool?  For $9?  After just a few hours of work it is hanging in our laundry room!

I knew I wanted a schoolhouse fixture in this room, but there was absolutely no way I could drop that kind of money on something that I might be able to make for much less.  So I went to Home Depot and browsed their lighting section, looking for inspiration.  I found all the pieces I needed to put together a DIY schoolhouse fixture, but then later I found this gorgeous globe at ReStore and it was just too big to use with any of the parts I had picked up earlier.

So I scrounged around the house and found a pot lid that fit perfectly over the top of the globe.  And then I found a candlestick that had a nice shape to it & disassembled it so I could use just the base.

I had my husband remove the handle from the pot lid and drill a hole through both pieces so that it could be wired for a light.  He threaded a hollow bolt through the middle to hold the two pieces together and to attach the socket.

I spray painted everything oil-rubbed bronze to match the other fixtures in our laundry room.

We drilled three holes in the bottom of the fixture (in what was formerly the pot lid) and threaded screws through them to hold the globe on.
And then it was just a matter of hanging it.  For a really far-fetched concept, this turned out to be a very smooth and easy project.

Here’s the run-down on the costs:
globe – $5 at ReStore
socket – $2 at Home Depot
swag hook – $2 at Home Depot
We had the candlestick, pot lid, chain, wire, screws, paint, and canopy cover lying around, so we did save by using what we already had.  (You end up with a lot of spare parts when you mess around with light fixtures as much as I do!)

If you loved her tutorial for the schoolhouse light, you will swoon for her Horchow inspired glass orb chandelier here.

Did I mention that I think she is brilliant?!
And I’m not just saying that because I like her name. (Really! It is only a coincidence that she’s Britt and I’m Brittany.)

Glass Bead Magnets – Magnetic Attractions

Two weeks ago I happened upon this post HERE detailing how to make push pins with glass beads. The very next day my boys and I picked out glass beads and the rest of the supplies at AC Moore.

Materials:

Scissors or X-acto blade
Glass Beads (clear)
Strong circular magnets
Old paint brush
Modge Podge
Pencil
E-6000 adhesive glue

My 3 and 6 year old were so excited when I pulled out the Oriental Trading Catalog and a few other magazines and asked them to pick out their favorite pictures. I showed them how to place the glass bead on top of the images to see how their pictures would look.

Next traced around the pictures and cut them out with an x-acto knife.

Then I let my 6 yr. old paint modge podge on the picture front.

We centered the glass bead on top of the picture. Then my son sealed the picture by coating the back of the image with modge podge.

After the beads dried, we took out the magnets. I applied a dab of E-6000 glue to the magnet…

…then set the glass bead on top.

Within 30 – 45 minutes they were dry and hardened.

And now we have custom glass bead magnets. I chose mostly black and white images and graphic numbers and letters for my set.

The kids on the other hand – well, let’s just say they do love their Noggin shows!

Pottery Barn Inspired Lantern from $5 ReStore Light Fixture

If you have been following my blog, you may remember this light fixture that I rescued bought at our local Habitat for Humanity ReStore.

Originally I thought about using it as a light in our foyer, but that plan changed after I found myself drooling over these lanterns at Pottery Barn and Restoration Hardware. I love going into PB & RH, but rarely have the nerve to plunk down the money they want to steal
claim from my wallet.

Instead, I decided to transform my dated light fixture from the ReStore into a stylish lantern.

This is a relatively easy project that anyone can do! Yes, that means you.

Begin by removing the glass from the light fixture. (A note of caution: You should wear gloves. In other words, do as I say, not as I do!)

My light fixture had little metal prongs that easily bent to release the glass.

Next take apart your light fixture. Just start trying to unscrew parts. If they resist, grab your pliers.

I decided to save the wires, ceiling canopy and other wiring parts. Who knows, perhaps I will want to use it as our foyer light some day.

Okay, okay, also because I am a bit of a pack rat. I’m admitting one of my faults here: not being able to throw anything away. Don’t get me wrong, the producers of Hoarders are not knocking down my door, but I would prefer to Craig’s List, FreeCycle, reuse, or recycle anything I can’t use.

When all the parts were separated from the lamp, I needed to break the chain to the top of the light fixture. Here is an easy way to open up links in a chain that is not soldered together.

Place two screwdrivers inside the link you want to break. Lean one to the left and one to the right and apply pressure in opposite directions. The link should separate enough for you to remove the chain. 

While the lantern is in pieces, you can rough up all the metal surfaces with sand paper. I actually did this to all the parts so I could paint them and potentially use them in the future. Wipe off the metal with a damp rag to remove any particles.

Now, you can re-assemble your light fixture (using only the parts you need to make your decorative lantern.)

I used brown Rustoleum spray primer. I like using a darker primer when my top coat color will be dark.

Be sure to rotate the parts and the lantern so you get all the sides coated with primer.

Now the most gratifying step, spray your lantern with your finished color. I coated the lantern with 3 light coats of a satin black spray paint to allow the lantern to look less new and more like old rustic iron.

And here is my new (old) Pottery Barn inspired lantern! $5 for the lantern + $6 for spray paint  = $11 

What do you think of that, Mr. Pottery Barn merchandiser who wants to charge me $59 for the same size lantern?

Update: I received several emails and comments on this lantern and a few of you have been inspired to create your own! If you post it in your blog, I’d love to share your results.

Amanda at The Hand Me Down House, shows how she painted hers. She made the glass look like colored glass with Modge Podge and food coloring! Yes, you read that right. See her tutorial here.

A Mailbox that Can Take a Beating and Still Looks Great

Several years ago I painted a mailbox for my stepmom (the wonderfully talented author, Diane Chamberlain). Her house was on a busy street and the mailboxes on this street were a prime target for mailbox baseball. I wanted to paint her mailbox as a surprise for her birthday, but the thought of spending hours painting the mailbox only to have it bashed did not appeal to me. Plus, this was supposed to be a surprise, and she might notice if her mailbox was gone for a few days (you think?!)

I came up with a solution that worked brilliantly! I painted the design onto automobile magnetic sign material (purchased from a sign shop for about $20). Wrapped it around her metal (won’t work on plastic mailboxes) mailbox and drilled the mounting screws through the magnetic material and the mailbox.

Believe it or not, that mailbox never took a hit by a bat (to my knowledge). 

Here is how I did it:
First I wrapped the magnetic around her mailbox and cut it down to size. Then I traced the locations that needed to be cut out (bottom door hinges and flag bracket). The magnetic material cuts very easily with an x-acto knife or utility knife.

Then I sanded the surface to get rid of the smooth glossy surface. Next, I added a coat of primer. After gathering my picture reference, I painted a portrait of her Bernese Mountain Dog on both sides using acrylic paint. Finally, I sealed the painting with 5 coats of exterior varnish or polyurethane.

More recently my good friend’s plastic mailbox had a hole blown in it by a firework. For her birthday, I decided to buy her a new metal mailbox and paint another custom mailbox magnetic painting.

This time I painted a daytime scene on one side and a nighttime on the other.
 

My boys helped me with the painting. I used their fingerprints to create bumblebees on the day side and fireflies on the night side.

A few weeks ago, my friend told me that the mailbox was hit by a baseball bat. I immediately asked how the painting was. Her husband proudly told me that the painting looked perfect. He was able to bang out the dent and put the mailbox back on the post. Although, he told me a secret. He said when installing the mailbox on the post, he used finish nails to attach it so that if someone tries to hit it again it will just pop right off.

The good news is that even if the mailbox is destroyed, you should be able to simply peel off the magnetic and attach it to a new mailbox. This would be helpful if you move one day and want to take your mailbox art with you.

Turning a Craig’s List Bed Frame into a Garden Bench

While visiting one of Raleigh’s local shabby chic boutiques, I fell in love with a sweet bench made from an old bed frame. But, the $350 price tag meant that our relationship was not meant to be. So, I began scouring Craig’s List for the perfect bed frame to make into a bench in our front yard. Finally, I found a full sized cannonball bed frame that looked very similar to this one:

The bed was in good shape. It was made from real wood and it had wooden side rails. Best of all, the price was $40 (and I didn’t have to drive more than 3 miles to buy it!)

After researching the web for ideas on how I wanted my bench to look, I found this site: http://www.robomargo.com/bench.html which has many photos of bed frames turned into benches.

Then I stumbled across Karla’s bed over at: http://itsthelittlethingsthatmakeahouseahome.blogspot.com

Her husband had declared the bed frame a piece of junk when she asked him to turn it into a bench. I can’t help giggling now that I’ve seen the finished project:

Isn’t this bench A-DOR-ABLE!
Update: My middle Pretty Handy Sister (Yes, I actually have 2 Pretty Handy Sisters) just informed me that she had made these garden benches in the past: http://www.alanamous.com/v/Projects_001/GardenAccessories

So, here is my best effort at directing you through the transformation from a bed to bench (I neglected to photograph the process on this project since it was a pre-blog project.

Begin with the headboard and footboard, and set the side rails aside for now.

I pre-measured another bench and determined that I preferred a 18″ seat height. Luckily the footboard worked perfectly in my plans. But, I needed to trim 3″ off the bottom of my headboard legs.

Then determine the depth of your bench. I wanted mine to be 18″. (This is a little deeper than a chair (15 – 16″), but it allowed for pillows behind our backs and a more substantial size.

Your footboard needs to be cut in half so it can become your arm rests. You might have to trim more from the center as I did to achieve your desired bed depth.

What you are left with is two sides for your bench:

Now you need to grab one of your side rails and cut it down to size for the front skirt of your bench. Simply measure the distance of your headboard from post to post:

Then cut your side rail to this exact width. (Or if your bed frame came with metal sides, you can use a 1″ x 6″ x 8′ pine board instead.)

Now you will need to build a frame of 2″ x 4″ boards for stability. This frame needs to be able to fit between the front skirt piece (side rail cut to size) and the back of your bench (the headboard).

This is a picture of my bench tipped over so you can see the base support structure built of 2 x 4′s (in red).

Now you have all the components to construct your bench frame.

Attach the arm rest to the back of your bench (used to be the headboard) by pre-drilling holes through the bedposts and then screwing in 3″ long wood screws through the post and into the arm rest. Be sure that the arm rests are securely attached.

Here is a picture showing the screws from the back of my bench. and how the arm rest looks when attached.

Next you will attach your 2″ x 4″ frame to the back and sides of your bench. You can use screws, nails, and/or L-brackets to attach it.

Then, you can attach the front skirt piece (cut down side rail of bed) to the 2″ x 4″ support base using small nails or brads.

You are almost done with the construction! Time to cut some wood for the seat of your bench. I used two 1″ x 10″ boards cut down to size. Then cut out notches to fit around the corners of the bed posts.

Then use small nails or brads to nail your seat to the bench 2″ x 4″ frame.

After assembling my bench, I added wood putty to fill my nail holes and then caulked all the seams to keep water out of them.

I finished off my bench with one coat of spray primer and 2 coats of Rustoleum French Lilac spray paint (the color my boys picked out!)

Unfortunately, I neglected to coat my bench with polyurethane, so you will notice that the paint has chipped in places. After a few rain storms, I realized that my bed frame was made from several layers of wood that was glued together. So, you will also see some gaps in the wood. I plan to add a few more screws and a few coats of polyurethane to my bench to help stop any more weathering.

But, in the meantime, won’t you come join me for some cool lemonade in the shade?

Step right this way.
Did you spot the blooming hostas and hellebores?
 Oh, you were too busy staring at this lavender beauty?
Won’t you sit down in the cool shade…
…and sip some nice cold lemonade with me?
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial. Feel free to comment, especially if you have any questions.

Happy Fourth of July! – A tour of Old Salem, NC

On this historic day in America, I want to take you to a small town in North Carolina that still looks much like it did over 200 year ago!

 Original 13 colonies flag outside Single Brothers House.

Old Salem, NC celebrated its first (documented) Independence day in 1783. 



Construction of the town first began in 1766 by members of the Moravian Church, an early Protestant denomination. 

Moravian Church
Several of the buildings still appear as they did at the time of their construction. 
G. Schrote Home 
House on Main St.
Historical Old Salem Homes on South Main St.

Miksch House



Adam Butner (best known as operator of Salem Tavern) began in Old Salem as a hatter.

 A. Butner Hat Shop 1825

The Winkler family ran the bakery in town for 30 years. The bakery is still open to purchase bread and other treats.

C. Winkler’s Bakery



The Boy’s School was erected in 1794 to house and operate as a school for boys in Salem. This Old Salem landmark continued to run into the 20th century.

 The Boy’s School (from rear)

If you’re ever near Winston-Salem, NC, Old Salem is a definite must see. A small bakery and ice cream shop serve scrumptious edibles. I highly recommend the cake batter flavored ice cream. Yummy!

There is also a garden shop, some gift shops and museums.

Happy Independence Day America!


Sun Prints – Easy and Stylish Summer DIY Art (+ how to fake floating frames)

A few years ago while I was trying to entertain my toddler, we made sun prints on a hot summer day.

What! You’ve never heard of sunprints? Well, you really need to get your crafty hands on this hot product. Visit the Sunprints.org website to see all the details, plus a gallery of sunprint artwork!

Okay, don’t feel bad. I never saw it either until I happened upon this pack at our art museum gift shop. I bought some in the hopes of filling an hour of some weekday while waiting patiently for my hubby to come home.

As nature lovers, we collected grass, leaves, and even weeds from our yard. Then we had a blast laying the leaves on top of the sunprint paper. After 2-5 minutes of exposure, we dipped the paper in cold water. It was fun watching the paper turn blue and the silhouetted images appear before our eyes. (Okay, I won’t pretend that we didn’t enjoy playing in the bucket of cool water too!)

Several of them turned out so nice that I decided to frame them as art. Not only did I like the graphic look of the images, but the soft blue colors really appealed to me. I became so attached to the colors in the artwork that we painted our whole master bedroom the light color of the sunprints.

 

 Mimosa tree

Clover

Some weed in our garden

I found it a bit difficult to find the perfect square floating frames. Instead, I found regular square frames at Target for $19.99 a piece, and decided to buy them on the spot.  When I got home I had a brilliant idea on how to fake the floating glass frame look.

After we painted the room, I took some mat board and rolled the wall color on the mats. (It works best to use a mat that is somewhat close to the color of your walls.)

When the boards dried, I used my logan mat cutter and created custom mats.

Can you tell they are matted vs. floating? Maybe if you look close, otherwise, they appear to float in the frame!

So, you are accomplished at hanging three pictures so they are equal distance and the same height, right? If not, check back for my post on how to hang pictures to perfection.

Until then, Happy Fourth of July!

Rewiring a Copper Wall Sconce – Out with the Old and In with the New

If you’ve been following the Pretty Handy Girl blog, you will recognize this copper wall sconce from the reading nook post. It was a $5 find at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore!

The sconce was a wall mount, but plug in kind. The lamp was in excellent shape, but it needed a longer cord, I wanted to ditch the brown cord, and add a switch on the cord.

I have to tell you, re-wiring a lamp is one of the easiest electrical DIY projects to tackle. Especially on this sconce since it doesn’t have a long pole that the wires have to feed through. Hopefully, after reading this post, I can convince you to go ahead and fix that lamp. Or put a rolling switch on a light fixture you currently use.

Required Safety Tip: BEFORE WORKING ON ANY ELECTRICAL DEVICE, BE SURE IT IS UNPLUGGED OR YOU HAVE TURNED OFF THE POWER TO THE LIGHT FIXTURE OR OUTLET. 

Okay, now that we have that out of the way, don’t be scared, you can do this!

At this point, I actually looked inside the lamp. What the heck is that? Where are the threads?

Oh drat, someone broke a bulb and left the base screwed inside the fixture. I have never tried the “potato” solution, but this other method works great for me every time!

The Pretty Handy Girl’s Guide to Removing a Broken Light Bulb

1. Unplug your lamp :-).
2. You need two needle-nosed pliers to grip the metal base of the bulb at the 9 o’clock and 3 o’clock positions.

Gently twist the base to the left or counter-clockwise. Always remember: Lefty Loosie, Righty Tighty!

3. Keep twisting until your base is free.

Voila, it is fixed!

Now, time to remove that ugly brown wire and then add a switch to the cord.

Rewiring a Light Fixture

Tools needed:
New lamp cord
Utility Knife
Wire strippers/cutters

1. Unscrew the wire nuts. And untwist the wires.

2. Firmly pull the cord out of the hole. If you have a lamp with a long pole body, you will want to tape the new cord to the old so that the new cord is fished through the lamp as you are removing the older one.

3. Then feed the new wire back through the hole.

4. At this point (if you need to), you can trim your lamp cord to size using wire cutters. Then you will need to separate the cords slightly using your utility knife to cut gently on the center seam. Then strip off about 3/4″ of the white insulation using your wire strippers to expose your wires.

Wire strippers are pretty easy to use. Choose the hole that will just lightly cut the insulation, but not the wires inside. You can gently clamp down and watch as the insulation is scored. then you may need to rotate the cord 90 degrees and repeat. With the wire strippers firmly closed around the cord, pull the strippers toward the end of your cord. If the insulation is cut all the way through,it should slide right off.

5. Look carefully at your lamp cord. There should be two wires enclosed in the protective tubing. One side will either have writing on it or will have ridges that run the length of the cord. This “marked or identified” side is the neutral side. It will connect to the white wires in your lamp.

6. Twist the neutral side with the white wire in your light fixture. Twist the smooth unmarked side with the black (or hot) wire on your lamp.

* For some odd reason, my light fixture also had a bare wire (can also be green) or ground wire. I suspect that my fixture used to be a hard wired kind, but someone converted it to a plug in. If this happens to you, see my note at the end of this section.

7. Then twist wire nuts onto your wire connections being sure that you cannot see any exposed wires. If you do, cut your bare wires a little shorter and re-twist them together. Then for extra security try to fold the two wires so they are away from each other.

Hey, congratulations! You just rewired a light fixture!

If you want to install a switch on your cord, stay with me…If not, go treat yourself to a cappuccino! You deserve the reward.

* Note about bare or green wire: If you have a green or bare wire (ground) on your lamp, it is advisable to ground the wire by connecting it to something metal that is separate from the lamp. I chose to wrap the bare wire around the screws I used to mount it on the wall.

Installing a switch onto your lamp cord

Tools needed:
Switch
Instructions (if they came with the switch follow them instead of mine.)
Utility Knife

Wire strippers/cutters
Screwdriver

Required Safety Tip: BEFORE WORKING ON ANY ELECTRICAL DEVICE, BE SURE IT IS UNPLUGGED OR YOU HAVE TURNED OFF THE POWER TO THE LIGHT FIXTURE OR OUTLET. 


Sorry, just needed to remind you. No need to lose any readers due to electrocution.

1. Determine where you want your switch located on your cord.
2. Using your utility knife, cut a 1 1/2″ slit between the two cords at the location the switch will be.

3. Look carefully at the wires. You will be cutting the smooth or unmarked wire in the center of your split area. This is your hot wire.

4. Open your switch with your screwdriver. Be careful not to lose the screw or the nut on the reverse side.

5. Now lay your cord inside the switch as shown. If the cut side doesn’t fit neatly on the divided side of the switch, you can cut one of the wires a little shorter.

6. Place the cover back on the switch and screw it back on tightly. You will need to make sure the cover and back fit snuggly together with no gaps. It might help to squeeze the covers together firmly before inserting the screw. This is important, because there are little metal prongs that need to pierce into the wire insulation and touch the bare wire in order for the switch to work.

7. Go ahead and plug in your cord and test the lamp. Roll the switch, if it doesn’t work you will need to UNPLUG THE CORD and press the switch together firmer and/or tighten your screw.

DONE! You just installed a switch on your lamp cord.  Congrats to you!

For my sconce in the closet turned reading nook, I used cable tacks to secure the cord around the trim of the closet. Then snaked the cords as close to the trim and baseboards as possible. This keeps the cords out of the way and makes it look cleaner.
If you need more pictures or information on wiring a lamp or adding a switch. Check out Family Handyman’s website.

Geez, this has got to be one of the least visually appealing posts I’ve written yet. Are you still there, or are you asleep?

Well, if you stuck with me through this post, I have some eye candy for you.
A view from my flower bed this morning:
Lonely rose amongst the black-eyed susans
Abundant flowers in the flower bed, speaking of bed…
…Come sit with me on this bed turned bench and have some lemonade in the shade.