Vintage Map Lampshade

cut_out_map_shade_shape

Have you been on a unique vacation lately that you want to remember? Do you want to update a plain vanilla lamp shade? Guess what, you can do both with this vintage map lamp shade!

Recently I revamped a shade by hot gluing paint chips to the shade. The result was a beautiful ombre lamp that was fun and colorful.

The process to create it was easy, especially because the shade was a perfect cylinder. But, what do you do when you have a cone shape shade? The instructions are a little more complex, but it really isn’t difficult. Come pull up a seat and I’ll show you how I created a warm vintage map lampshade that reminds me of our getaway to Scotland.


Materials:

  • Lampshade
  • Maps, wrapping paper, or decorative paper
  • Craft paper
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Pencil
  • X-acto knife
  • Masking or artists tape (low tack tape)
  • Clear packing tape
  • 2 clothespins
  • Rubber cement
  • Grosgrain ribbon
  • Hot glue gun

 

To add a vintage glaze you will also need:

  • Paint brush
  • Mod podge
  • Cocoa or dark yellow acrylic paint
  • Metallic antique gold paint (optional)
  • Cup to stir paint in
  • Stirring stick or palette knife

On my last trip to Goodwill, I discovered an old atlas and just knew that I could use it for oodles of projects. As I walked out of the store a flood of ideas came to me (which means you will be seeing this photo more on my blog.)

 

Start by selecting the pages you want to use. Carefully cut them out along the spine using a fresh x-acto blade — don’t let your blade get dull. (FYI, I end up using a new one for each project. Your cuts are much cleaner when working with a fresh blade.)

 

Set your pages aside for now.

 

To make a template for your shade, roll out a large piece of craft paper. Lay your lampshade on the craft paper. Start at the vertical seam on the shade (so you know where to stop) and set your pencil along the bottom edge of the lampshade.

 

Gently roll the shade on the paper and mark along the bottom edge of the shade.

When you reach the end, reverse your shade and draw along the top edge. At the end, add an inch or two for overlap. Cut along the outlines to create your lampshade template.

Tape the template onto your lamp shade using the low tack tape. Make sure it fits snugly. You may want to trim some excess from the edge of your template. I took about 1/4″  off so my map wouldn’t bump at the trim on the lampshade. Plus, I plan to cover the edges with the grosgrain ribbon.

 

Make sure your template fits perfectly “like a glove” lest you be throwing a temper tantrum later when you realize it doesn’t fit and have ruined your precious map pages. Just sayin’.

 

Lay out your craft paper template on top of the map pages. Make any adjustments to the pages.

 

Tape your map pages together with clear packing tape on the inside only.

 

Trace the template on top of the map pages.

 

Cut out the shape traced onto your map pages.

 

Line up your map pages with the lamp shade and clip the edges with clothes pins.

 

Working in small 8″ sections, brush rubber cement onto the map and the lamp shade. Wait a minute or two for the glues to dry. Then press them together. This is the best way to get maximum adhesion when using regular rubber cement. It creates a stronger bond than just one coat applied and joined while it is still wet.

 

Continue by gluing another section until you reach the end. To finish the seams on the outside, brush some rubber cement under the seams where your maps meet. Press and hold them down until the glue dries. You can try gluing both sides and letting them dry, but in my experience it wasn’t worth the risk of bending the seams and the pages want to lay together anyway.

 

Time to give your maps a vintage aged look! Pour some mod podge into an empty cup. Add some of the cocoa colored paint and the aged gold. Mix it up. Test some on a scrap piece of paper. If you like the glaze color, start brushing it onto the lamp shade. Be careful not to use too much of the glaze or the paper will start to wrinkle. (If it does, no worries, some will come out when it dries. The remaining wrinkles make it look old.)

 

Let the glaze dry.

Cut two strips of grosgrain ribbon the circumference of your lamp shade plus a few inches for overlap.

Hot glue the ribbon onto the top and bottom edges of your lamp shade. (Please, please, protect your fingers, read my hot glue gun safety post before working with hot glue!)

 

Put your lampshade on your favorite lamp.

 

And admire your unique lamp shade that brings back fond memories. ;-)

If you make one of these, what map would be on yours? Your home state? The place you were born? Where your family’s heritage resides? Or something completely different? I would love to hear from you.

 

 

 

 

Sharing this tutorial with:

Tip Junkie handmade projects Home Stories A to Z – Tips and Tutorials

 

Halloween Crafts at Parentables

crafting_chicks_ghostly_handprints

You know the old saying, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.” Well, that pretty much sums up my day or rather my whole week! But, we are all safe and sound. I keep thinking about my friend Ashley from The Handmade Home (who  I met at Blissdom.) Her post today really put things in perspective. At least we are all safe and sleeping in our own beds. That’s all that matters to me right now.

So, if you are craving a little craftiness, I hope you will check out my round up of 13 Frightfully Fun Halloween Crafts! These are all crafts that you can enjoy making or that you can make with the kids (BONUS!!!) My boys and I made a pit stop at Jerry’s Artarama to buy some supplies to make these cute ghost hand prints that Becky from The Crafting Chicks came up with.

Plus, these spooky eyes that Madigan Made are so easy that we’ll be making them too!

We are going to try to make as many of the 13 Halloween crafts as we can, so I hope you will join in as well.

That’s it for the sneak peek. I’m off to bed before any more plans go awry! Good night y’all.

 

 

 

 

Some exciting news about a DIY Hunk!

Carter_and_PrettyHandyGirl

Oo Ooo Ooooo! I have some exciting news! Well, it is official. Carter is now married! On September 11, 2011 he tied the knot.

original photo courtesy of Rorincent

Okay, so I’m not his new bride, but Amy Smart is (from Shameless and the Help). Congratulations to the happy couple! I wasn’t invited to the wedding, but I forgive the newlyweds. It was a quick engagment and I’m sure it was an oversight. I’ll forgive him if he invites me out to meet him as part of the new GMC Trade Secret Sweepstakes! At which point I can deliver his wedding present in person ;-D.

I have been attracted to Carter’s, how shall I say…

photo courtesy of ContactMusic.com

…green habits since I first laid eyes on him on Trading Spaces! (Oh come on, what did you think I was going to say?!) Carter is an outspoken environmentalist and advocates re-using building materials or making choices that are environmentally friendly when building. He has a page on his official website on ways to conserve in your own home.

Okay, so you want to meet Carter too? Or how about Eric Stromer from TLC’s Clean Sweep and HGTV’s Over Your Head? Or Sam Talbot? Well, here is your chance!

GMC Trade Secret entry picture

GMC Trade Secrets is offering 3 lucky grand prize winners a trip for 2 to New York or LA, some spending cash and the opportunity to film your “trade secret” on set with Eric, Sam or Carter. (I’m sure you already know who would be my pick!)

2nd prize is an iPad 2 (not to shabby right!)

You can enter anytime between now and October 24th. The judging will happen the following week, then the finalists will be voted on by the public. Finally winners will be announced by November 14th.

So go enter your “trade secret” or view some of Carter, Eric or Sam’s trade secret videos HERE.

Good luck! And if you win, can you stow me away in your suitcase? Pretty please with nailhead trim on top?!!!


 

 

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post. I have been compensated by Big Fuel/GMC/AOL for my time in writing this post. However, I really do respect (okay – and adore) Carter Oosterhouse. In regards to the sweepstakes, I only partake in promoting contests and events that I think you would be interested in. As fellow DIYers, I’m positive that you all have some great “trade secrets” that you can submit. I wish you all the best of luck!

 

Fall Mantle Decor and Vignettes

left_side_of_fall_mantle

Fall is here, fall is here! Finally the cooler temps are near!

I’m not sure about your area of the world, but this summer seemed a little too hot for my liking. My husband told me about the term “Global Weirding“. It seems fitting for all this nonsense Mother Nature is throwing at us lately.

Luckily fall seems to have come just on time. Fall is my favorite time of year. Maybe it is the painter in me that loves all the colors. Or maybe it is the nature lover in me that longs to be outdoors in the fresh crisp air. Whatever it is, I love FALL!

I spent some time this past week putting out some autumn inspired décor. Although I’m definitely self conscious about my decorating skills, I tried to abide by my words from last year about not striving for perfection. So, now I’m taking a big breath and pressing the publish button to share my home looking warm and cozy (in my opinion.)

Antique books are my go-t0 decorating objects. I love books and I love those old linen covers. Even a torn and tattered book looks nice lassoed together with some friends.

Sometimes, even an open book can look warm and inviting.

I was so happy to bring my Ballard knock off painted pear out of storage. He really looks handsome with the autumn colors.

I love all the colors in this photo! I can’t imagine having a monotone autumn mantle.

Of course, Mr. Gourd looks handsome too. (Shhh. I don’t want to hurt his feelings, but I do love the pear more.)

Yes, I’m still switching things in and out like a high school football coach. I actually like the gourd, so he’s back in but the chicken wire basket is out. However, I wanted to show you the vintage map lampshade I made. The tutorial will be served up before you know it! Hopefully I’ll have a new lamp by then. This one is just a substitute for one on injured reserve.

You may have noticed this little terrarium on the side table. I was inspired by some insanely expensive versions here. Never fear, I will have a tutorial so you can make your own soon!

A full view of the mantle decorated. It is hard to believe that in a few months the stockings will need to be hung.

I had fun with this little vignette. A crow in an antique corn grinder? Now that is pretty silly. And another terrarium that makes me smile.

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore”

The acorn jar was an afterthought. It was just a quick little hot glue craft. Speaking of which, if you haven’t read my post about hot glue gun safety, it is a must! Your fingers will thank me.

It is fun having another surface to decorate. The top of our armoire (also known as the family command center) has some pretty purples and greens.

My Pottery Barn knockoff lantern makes a re-appearance.

Beautyberry and Orange Peel Cestrum from our yard.

The dining room has a simple centerpiece made with corn kernels and a candle.

But, I might be switching it out once I get this beauty back from my friends at the Habitat ReStore. Can you guess what it used to be? I’ll give you a hint: Hollywood glam never looked so good.

Hot Glue Gun Safety and Making Moss Balls

acorn_gluing_with_pliers

According to my facebook and twitter friends, I am not the only one who gets burned EVERYTIME I use a hot glue gun. For this reason, I typically will hand sew, nail, or E-6000 something before I will use a hot glue gun. But, every once in a while, there is just no substitute for hot glue. For example, when working with faux flowers and moss, nothing beats hot glue.

So, this week I decided to put an end to hot glue gun burns!  I googled “Hot Glue Gun Safety” last week and learned a few tips about using a glue gun. If you are like me, you may do a head slap and feel pretty stupid after reading this post. If you are already the intelligent being who never gets burned when using hot glue, well then you can close your browser and I now bequeath you with a “genius” award. Now scram! For the rest of us, keep reading.

Dedication: I dedicate this blog post to my dear friend Sarah VMK! She and I were discussing all the burns I tend to get while using a glue gun and she remarked, “You really need to do a post about this.” So, here it is Sarah!

Remember to use EXTREME caution:

The most important thing to know about using a hot glue gun is that it is dangerous! Nevermind that you can buy one for $5 or less and some of them look like they were made by the same company that makes McDonald’s happy meal toys.

Or that most of them do not come with instruction manuals. Treat this little “gun” like a power tool and use extreme caution when using it. Don’t let those dual temp glue guns fool you. “Low” temperature is still hot enough to burn you. Listen up y’all so we can say goodbye to glue gun burns FOREVER!

photo courtesy of HelloHayley

Proper tools:


When you get ready to use a hot glue gun, be sure you have these things close at hand.

  • Heat resistant mat - a foil wrapped piece of cardboard, silicone mat or a cookie sheet will work fine
  • Needle-nosed pliers or tweezers for holding small objects
  • Popsicle sticks for pressing the glue down - Keep the popsicle stick in your hand so you won’t be tempted to use your finger
  • Bowl of ice water
  • Clean dry washcloth
  • Hot glue gun
  • Extra glue sticks

There is also a comprehensive kit sold under the name of “Hot Glue Gun Helpers” that has finger cots and additional supplies to protect you from burns. If you use a hot glue gun a lot, this might be worth the $20 price tag.

hot glue gun helpers

 

Long vs. short power cord:


The power cord on my glue gun is not very long. It barely reaches to the nearest outlet. Don’t allow your cord to dangle in mid-air for someone to snag or trip on. Get an extension cord so that it can lay flat on the floor while you are working. This will also give you more reach while working with the glue gun.

If the cord does get snagged and your glue gun starts to fall over, resist all the temptations to grab it. Just let it fall (and hopefully it won’t land on you or anyone else.)

 

Your glue gun at rest:

Ideally, you want to rest your glue gun upright on a flat heat resistance surface. I use mine on this foil wrapped piece of cardboard. But, inevitably the gun falls over sideways. I used to instinctively try to stop it from falling. But, that is a burn hazard waiting to happen.

Now I just lay the glue gun on its side making sure that the hot tip is not touching anything. No more tipping glue gun.

 

Working with your hot glue gun:

Gather all your craft pieces together and make sure that they are within reach so you don’t have to lean over your glue gun to retrieve anything. Make sure all distractions, children, pets, etc. are out of your way. Remember, this is a dangerous tool!

Think about your project before you start. Are you going to put glue on the object or press the object into glue. What is the best procedure that keeps your fingers the furthest from the hot glue.

Squeeze hot glue onto the object you want to glue. For decorative moss balls, I decided it was best to drizzle hot glue onto a piece of moss.

Roll your ball or light bulb onto the moss. (That’s right, I mossed a light bulb! Hey, I had to find something to do with these bulbs leftover from the hollywood light fixture.) Be very careful to keep hands away from the moss.

Use a popsicle stick to press the moss to the ball (or lightbulb.)

As the bare spots get smaller, you may decide to add hot glue to the ball (err, light bulb.)

Lightly set the moss into the glue, then use a popsicle stick to press it firmly into the glue.

 

As long as you face the bulb base away from the viewer, no one would ever guess that it was actually a light bulb!

When working with smaller objects, DO NOT hold them with your fingers. It is best to put glue on the larger object and press the smaller ones into the glue. Pick up your small object with needle-nosed pliers or tweezers.

Place it, then use your popsicle stick to firmly press the small object into the glue.

If you absolutely have to put glue on a smaller object. Do not use your fingers or hands! Use the tweezers or pliers to hold it while you add the glue.

Okay – and I know – sometimes there is no substitute for using your fingers. If you decide to take the risk of putting your fingers in mortal danger, let the glue cool for a few seconds, then you can gently reposition the object as long as there is NO glue near your flesh.

 

If you do get burned:

Even the most careful preparation and concentration will not protect you from an occasional accident. So, think like the Boy Scouts, be prepared.

Keep a bowl of ice water nearby. If you burn your finger tips, dunk them in the ice water as soon as possible. Keep a washcloth at hand in case you burn your arm, leg or something that can’t be dunked in the bowl. Then you can wet the washcloth and apply it to the burn. It is crucial to cool down a burn as soon as possible to reduce the damage.

 

After your project:

Unplug your hot glue gun as soon as you are done with your project. Pick the cord up off the floor so no one can accidentally tug on it. Let your gun cool COMPLETELY before storing it away.

Inspect your glue gun periodically for signs of splits or breaks or signs of wear and tear. As soon as you discover any problems, discontinue using the hot glue gun and discard it. Remember, they are cheap and can be easily replaced! Your fingers will thank you.

 

 

 

Spreading Glue Gun Safety to these Fabulous Others: The Frugal Girls, Home Stories A2Z

Organizing 101 Giveaway and Creating Calm Amongst Chaos

neat_under_kitchen

As a mother of two boys, my life is CHAOTIC! No matter how hard I try to contain the chaos that surrounds those two, I have come to terms with the fact that there are some things in life that cannot be controlled.

A week ago Tuesday night, while my dear husband was away on business, I had some super chaos thrown my way.

My boys were 5 ft. from me as I was putting away the dishes. They were showing off their “untrained” ninja moves to each other. My youngest proceeded to show his older brother an amazing kick that had so much momentum it swept him off his own two feet and sent him falling backwards. As anyone would do, he put his arm behind him to catch his fall. The results were 5 hours in the ER, a big fat co-pay, and this:

So, while I cannot control my boys’ crazy antics, what I can control is the chaos that exists in my home in closets, in drawers, and even under the kitchen sink!

I took the organizing 101 workshop back in the spring, and it was a great exercise in motivation and follow through for me. Over the course of 7 weeks, I learned  how to tackle small projects first. I learned what tools to use while organizing, what my road blocks are and many more useful tips.

Here is just a sampling of the organizational projects I’ve completed since taking the workshop:

Linen Closet

 

Under the Kitchen Sink

Bathroom vanity

and our Family Command Center

Having a more organized home has allowed me to have a more organized life. Which in turn gives me more patience and time to deal with little surprises, like this:

What about you? Do you want less CHAOS in your home and life? Well, meet your teachers:

Aby & Jay are the geniuses behind simplify1o1.com. Their goal statement says it all:

Our goal is to teach you skills and techniques to get more organized, as well as to provide you with the products and tools that will make getting the job done more fun and efficient. We’ll help you become a more productive, more energized and happier version of yourself. You’ll have more time and more energy to do the things you love (plus, you’ll be able to find everything you use to do those things you love!)

They help people take control of their homes which transfers to better control of their lives. By organizing your home, you can save countless hours a year. By simplifying and organizing your home, you will also save money. Best of all, having a neat and organized home will help you reduce CHAOS!

Aby & Jay are so passionate about spreading their knowledge of organizing and simplifying that they are offering one free spot in the Organizing101 workshop – a $75 dollar value, starting this upcoming week.

What better way to start the school year? Get control, get organized, and simplify your life. Banish the chaos that you CAN control!

Rules for entering the giveaway (up to four chances to win):

A winner will be chosen at random on Sunday, Sept. 25th at midnight EST.

Bonus: simplify 101 is offering the readers of Pretty Handy Girl 15% off enrollment of any of their current workshops. In Organizing 101, you’ll learn a simple approach for de-cluttering your home. Plus, you’ll find out how to organize and store all the things you keep, so they’re easy to use (and put away when you’re finished!) Simplify Your Life with Habits + Routines will take the mystery out of creating new habits and routines, so you can lead the life you want to live. When you have good habits and simple routines in place, your day flows smoothly, because you don’t have to constantly remind yourself to get things done. Get Organized for the Holidays is the ultimate holiday planning workshop. Get simple tips and ideas so you stay energized and joyful all season long!  To take advantage of this offer, enter SAVE15PHG during checkout. This offer is good from 9/21/11 through 9/29/11 and can’t be combined with any other offer. (Get Organized for the Holidays is on early bird discount – 20% off – through Sep. 22!)

If you’d like more tips on organizing your home or office top to bottom, sign up for Simplify 101’s organizing newsletter right here ! You can also follow the blog and get even more daily tips.

Good luck!

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored giveaway post paid for by simplify101. However, in all honesty, I can’t say enough good things about simplify101. I will end by telling you that I thoroughly enjoyed the workshops I have taken so far (Organizing 101 and Organizing with your Kids).

My 7 year old son and I worked together to take his room from this:

to this:

And the best part was that he enjoyed doing it and asked every night if we could work together on organizing his room. We worked in 15 minute segments over several days. You would not believe the things that were stuffed underneath his bed! I can’t even tell you because it was that bad. But, on the bright side, my oldest is learning to live in a less chaotic room. ;-)

 

Fall Makeover for a Thrift Store Purse

pin_rose_to_purse


Most people would have probably walked past this plain jane wool purse.

I almost did, but then the price tag caught my eye. THREE DOLLARS! Immediately I pictured dressing it up with a few fabric rosettes.

With fall on the horizon, I decided to work with some orange fabric scraps I had lying around. Within an hour I had a stylish new fall purse!

Materials:

  • Fabric scraps
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • Felt
  • Safety pins
  • Scissors
  • Foil covered cardboard or other work surface

Pick out your fabrics and rip them into 3″ – 4″ strips.


It may help you visualize what colors to use by laying them on your purse.

Start by rolling one end of the strip.

Add some hot glue and keep rolling the fabric strip.

Fold and twist the fabric for more interest and to hide the raw edges.

Finish by folding the end over and gluing it to the rosette.

Cut a piece of felt in a circle shape slightly smaller than the rosette.

Check to make sure the felt circle doesn’t extend beyond the edges of the rosettes.

Snip two holes in the felt circle and feed a safety pin through.

Put some hot glue onto the back of the rosette…

…and glue the felt circles and safety pins to the rosettes.

Pin the rosettes onto the purse. Adjust them until you like the arrangement. Feel free to add more or less rosettes.

Personally, I like odd numbered groupings.

The best part about this project is that I can swap them out and add different colored rosettes depending on the season!

Do you like? What other colors do you think would look nice on the brown? I thought about creams and whites for winter. Hmmmm. You could also add felted wool roses instead of fabric.

And now it is time to announce some lucky winners! If you know one of these people you might want to ask them to send you some of their lucky vibes.

The 3M Product Giveaway goes to:

Lisa! Her translation was:
He says: Don’t watch, you’re making me nervous.
He means: I don’t have a clue as to what I am doing.
I hope you enjoy the 3M product packet as much as I did.

And the two winners of the Wagner PowerPlus Paint Sprayer and the DeckMate stainer are:


Rhonda Jones!
Her comment was: Brittany, this is the BEST tutorial I have ever read! You did an amazing job explaining how you did this project. I must say, I really liked how you used your phone to show the amount of time each step took. You have inspired me to get to work on several pieces of furniture that I have that needs to be painted! I am headed to prowl around your blog now! Your entire blog is amazing! I am your newest follower…I am a fairly new blogger. I hope you will come visit me sometime! ~~~rhonda~~~ \ABlissfulSpirit/

Monique!
Her comment was: I’ve always wondered about using a sprayer. Do you think there would be less overspray if something more substantial (with less openings) such as a chest or buffet was painted? I’m looking forward to reading about your next spray painting project. Thanks for the giveaway!
Congratulations to all the winners. Stay tuned this week I have another giveaway for you on Wednesday ;-).

Make Your Own Fall Wreath from a Goodwill Sweater

materials_for_wreath

If you’ve been following me for long, you were witness to my one wreath with many different looks for one year. Well, I’m ready for a change. So, I decided to create something completely different.

When I think of fall, I think of cooler weather, sweaters, autumn leaves and flowers. This wreath encompasses all those elements.

Lucky for me I had all the materials on hand. Especially the XL cable knit sweater that I picked up at Goodwill thinking I could make sweater vases out of it.

Materials:

  • Wreath form
  • Old sweater
  • Fake flowers and leaves
  • Ribbon
  • Hot glue gun
  • Scissors
  • Sewing machine (or just needle and thread)

Instructions:

Start by cutting off the sleeve of the sweater.

Cut, the sleeve in half lengthwise. Then put the right sides together.

Stitch the ends together (try to line up the stripes or cable knitting.) Trim off any excess.

Open your sleeves up to give you one long length of sweater material.

Preheat the hot glue gun. Lay the wreath form on top of the sweater material.

Put a bead of hot glue on the back side of the wreath form and glue one edge of the sweater material to the wreath.

Squeeze out another bead of hot glue, wrap the other side of the sweater material up and glue it against the already glued piece.

Realistically, this is the backside of the wreath, but if you have a see through door like I do, you will want to roll under your raw edges to hide the seams.

Work in 3-4″ sections, adhering one side and then the other until you reach the end of your wreath. Cut your sweater material slightly longer than you need, then roll under the raw edge and glue it down.

Your wreath should resemble something like this:

Hot glue some leaves onto the wreath covering one of the seams.

Then add some flowers. And more leaves, and more flowers, until you have burned your fingers to smithereens!

Next tie one loop of ribbon to cover the top seam.

Tie more ribbon to the loop to give your wreath a more “substantial” bow.

And now you have a warm, cozy and colorful fall wreath! What do you think? I just want to snuggle up to it every time I walk through the door.

Have you started to decorate for fall? Do you have your wreath yet? I’d love to hear about your unique wreath project. And if you need more ideas, The Nester had a wreath link party last week!
Y’all have a fabulous weekend!

 

 

Sharing this craft with these fabulous ladies:

Addicted 2 Decorating

Home Stories A 2 Z

Paint Chip Lamp Shade

tape_backs_of_paint_chips

Are you as nutso about paint chip projects as I am? I’m semi-worried that I might get arrested next time I’m pulling samples at my local paint department. Is there a law against taking too many?* Okay, so let’s just say that I have collected many samples over the years while contemplating room colors (which is true!)

*Paint chips may be free, but please use consideration when taking paint chips. Try not to take more than 2-3 of each color and definitely don’t take the last of a color. It might be a good idea to ask permission from the paint store employee if you need to take more than a dozen.

But, what do you do with all those left over paint chips once you have decided on your color? It seems a shame to throw them away, doesn’t it.

Why not use them to make a lamp shade?

I actually saw this lamp shade on JossandMain.com last week and thought, “Ooo Ooo Oooo! This gives me an idea of what to make with all those paint chips!”

Materials:


  • Lamp shade (best if it isn’t tapered)
  • Paint chips
  • Clear packing tape
  • White paper tape (low stick)
  • X-acto knife
  • Cutting surface
  • Metal ruler
  • Hot glue gun and glue sticks

Tutorial:

Start by laying out your paint chips side-by-side and organize them any way you like.

To judge how many strips you need, rest the seam of your lamp shade on the end of the paint chips and roll it until you reach the seam again. If you still have paint chips under your shade, then you have enough! I had one small gap leftover, so I added two of the same colored chips together so the small strip wouldn’t be as noticeable.

Butt the paint chip strips tightly together. Put paper tape on top of the chips to hold them together.

Gently turn them over and tape the seams with clear packing tape.

Once all the strips have been taped together, trim off the excess tape.

Measure the height of your lampshade and trim your paint chips to the same height.

Test fit your paint chip roll.

Use your hot glue gun to run a line of glue on the seam of your lamp shade. Glue the end of the paint chips to the shade.

Run a line of hot glue on the top and bottom edges of the lampshade and roll the paint chips around the shade. Secure the end by hot gluing it to the shade.

And that is it! A super easy and very colorful home decor project.

I think it is beautiful whether the light is off…

…or on.

When choosing the paint swatches you wish to use, try pulling colors from a painting or use colors that are compliments to your wall color.

What?! You still want more paint chip home décor ideas?! How about a whole round up of them? Go ahead and scoot your index finger on over to Parentables for 11 Paint Chip Projects to see 9 more amazing paint chip projects:

I guarantee, you’ll never pass through the paint department without grabbing a few paint chips again!

3M Product Giveaway and a Tale of Lead Testing

Lead_Paint_Yellow_ad

Good morning boys and girls! Today I have a tale with a moral for you. So, go ahead and gather round and put on your listening ears. For those who are excellent listeners I will have a special surprise giveaway for you at the end! Hint, hint:

This is the story of a woman named Mrs. Noggin.


She moved into an old house built in 1940. A friend told her that old homes could contain lead paint, so she turned to the yellow pages to find someone to check her home for lead paint.


First she called Mr. Nose. Mr. Nose claimed to be the most knowledgeable expert in the field. He could sniff lead paint from a mile away.

He spent about 15 minutes with his snout held high, then pronounced her home safe. But, she didn’t feel safe. So she  called Mr. Tongue. He claimed to be the most professional expert lead paint detection service in the area.

He spent 20 minutes licking every painted surface in her home and then gave her a licked stamp of “lead-free” approval for her home.

She was still a bit concerned so she contacted Eyeball Lead Paint Detector. He told her to rest easy because he could spot lead paint in a snow storm while blind-folded!

He spent only 10 minutes searching her home. His eyes blinked quickly as he scanned each room. Then he told her that he hadn’t seen a speck of lead paint.

Mrs. Noggin felt better and settled down for her coffee and some YouTube browsing.

That’s when she stumbled upon this video:

Poor Mrs. Noggin. She should have watched the video before calling the “so-called” experts.

Didn’t she know? Lead is not detectable by taste, smell or sight.

The moral of the story boys and girls is to use your head to detect lead! Spend a few bucks to purchase your own 3M Lead Check Paint Tester Kit. You’ll have the results in seconds and avoid costly testing.

In all seriousness, if you test and the results are positive, you should definitely call an expert if the lead is on a surface in your home (doors, windows, trim moulding, floors, etc.) Lead paint removal is best left to the professionals who can safely remove and dispose of the paint properly.

For items that can be thrown away like toys, furniture or other items, contact your local solid waste management facility to determine how to properly dispose of the item.

I contacted our county’s solid waste management department and was told that our landfill can accept lead painted furniture as long as the lead paint is not in liquid, fine chips or powder form. They told me I don’t need to bag it, but I did anyway because I don’t want anyone to accidentally be exposed. And I am fearful that a curbside treasure hunter may unknowingly take home my lead laden pedestal.

I also called the National Lead Information Center and asked about my green cabinet that had tested positive for lead paint (but the paint is in good shape.) The representative told me that I can coat the cabinet in polyurethane to protect myself and my kids. I will definitely not sand it which would cause the lead particles to become airborne. Instead I’ll gently clean the surface with a disposable wipe. Then once it is dry I will coat it with multiple layers of polyurethane.

She did recommend having my children tested for lead in their system. Unfortunately the most accurate test requires a blood draw from a vein. ;-( Ouch.

Now for the fun stuff! Remember this post about the 3M Couple Speak competition? Well, the contest is still going strong. There are some hilarious translations and videos highlighting the ways that couples communicate (or should I say “miscommunicate!”) Hurry up and enter to be eligible to win a weekly prize of $250 for the best translation or a grand prize of $5,000 for the top two videos!

3M Frameworks is also kind enough to offer one package of 3M products for one of my “good listeners!”

Included in the Sample Pack:
3M LeadCheck Swabs
1 Roll of Scotch Blue Painter’s Tape
3 Stages of Sanding (green, maroon, gold sandpaper)
1 pair of gloves,
Cool valve respirator
Very hip 3M Tekk eye protection

So, here are your instructions, listen carefully:

Rules:

In order to participate in the product giveaway you must:
1) Participate in the translation sweepstakes being hosted on the 3M Framework Facebook Page (simply “Like” the page to participate).
2) Post a comment on my blog post saying that you participated, and leave your entered translation in the comment.

A winner will be chosen at random the end of the day Sunday, Sept. 18th

I can’t wait to hear all your funny transations! I need some good cheering up since learning that I have to throw away my chippy pedestal.

Share this contest with your friends: Share on Twitter or Share on Facebook

 

 

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post paid for by 3M. All the ideas and information about the story and lead paint testing are mine. I am passionate about sharing information with others to keep you and your loved ones safe from lead paint poisoning. Therefore, I would have written this post even if it wasn’t sponsored.

For more information about lead paint contact one of these resources:

National Lead Information Center: 1-800-424-LEAD
Consumer Product Safety Commission: 1-800-638-2772
www.epa.gov/lead

Paint Chip Wrapped Present

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Paint chip present wrapping
I’ve officially caught the paint chip bug! How about you? Have you seen all that can be done with those FREE* paint chips?! The possibilities are almost endless. (*Please use consideration when taking paint chips. Try not to take more than 2-3 of each color and definitely don’t take the last of a color. It might be a good idea to ask permission from the paint store employee if you need to take more than a dozen.)

As I was getting ready to wrap a present for a little birthday girl, I lamented the fact that I was tired of the two rolls of wrapping paper we had (not counting the dozen or so that are Christmas related.) Then, I came up with the idea to wrap the present in paint chips. I was probably influenced by the tiny gift boxes that How About Orange made a while ago.

Here are the materials you will need:

  • Paint chips (used Behr brand from Home Depot)
  • Clear packing tape
  • White artists tape (I wish this tape was a little stickier though.)
  • X-acto knife
  • Pencil
  • Scissors
  • Ruler
  • Ribbon
  • Gift box to be wrapped

Instructions:
Start by laying out the chips on one side of the gift box. Overlap where the chips meet so the box won’t show. And allow the chips to overlap the sides of the box slightly.

To keep the chips in the same position, lightly tape them together with artist’s tape before lifting them off the present.

Gently turn over the chips and tape all the seams with the clear packing tape. Repeat the above steps for the other three sides (do not create a panel for the top or bottom of your present yet.)

Lay the gift on top of the taped chip panel and draw a line along the edge of the box.

Using an X-acto knife, cut two opposing panels at a time (since they should be the exact same measurements.)

Assemble a panel for the top of the gift box. Only this time, allow more of the chips to extend over the sides (preferably 1/4 – 1/2 inch) on three sides. The fourth side should be flush with the edge of the box.

Fold over the edges of the overlapping chips to fit snug against the box.

Make a cut into each of the overlapping corners as shown:

Fold the corners in and tape them to create your box top. Note that one edge does not have a folded side.

Tape all four of your box sides together so it creates one long rectangle. Then tape the top of the box to the top of the second panel where there is the open side.

Lift the sides up and set your box into the top (upside down.) Fold the sides in around the gift box.

Make sure your panels fit relatively snug around your present. Then remove the gift box. Tape the lid of the paint chip wrapping to the sides of the wrapper. And put a piece of tape inside the seam where the sides meet.

Now you can slide the paint chip wrapper over your gift box (right sides up.)

Make the bottom panel to your paint chip rapper exactly like you did for the sides by trimming off the excess. Then lay it onto your paint chip wrapped box. Take your white artist’s tape and tape all the seams of your box.

Fold over the corners neatly.

Your wrapped present should look like this:

Wrap a pretty bow around the present and attach another paint chip (I punched some decorative holes in this one.) Write a little message and you are finished.
Paint chip present wrapping

Now watch the gift recipient ooh and ahh over this unique and beautifully wrapped present!


I thought this present would be perfect for a shower gift. Or a graduation present using the graduate’s school colors?! And using red and green chips would be perfect for a Christmas present. I can’t wait to try this again sometime soon.
If you love paint chip projects, I’m creating a round up of projects for Parentables. I’ll share the link with you on Thursday!

 

 

P.s. Don’t forget to enter the Wagner Power Plus Paint Sprayer giveaway! A winner will be chosen at random on Friday, September 16th!

Painting an Antique Wash Stand with Wagner Power Painter Plus Sprayer

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I have amassed quite a collection of “project” furniture and objects waiting for a future date with my creative magic sessions. I worry that some of this behavior is bordering on packratness (I don’t think that is a word, at least my spell check says it isn’t. But, you get my drift, right?!) So, when a Wagner rep contacted me about trying one of their paint sprayers, I couldn’t reply “YES!” fast enough. I had visions of setting up all those projects and spraying them down in a line-up fashion. But, I reined in my “glass half-overflowing” mentality and decided to tackle one project at a time. Good thing too, because although the Wagner Power Painter Plus with EZ Tilt did spray at lightning fast speed, there were a few drawbacks.

But, I don’t want to get ahead of myself. I still want to give you a bonafide tutorial on how to fix, prep, paint and finish a wobbly yard sale find for yourself.


Materials:

  • Sanding Blocks  - 60, 100 and 220 grit
  • Gorilla Glue
  • Clamps or rope to secure glued joints*
  • Finish Nails (or brads)
  • Baby Wipe or wet rags
  • Paint Brush
  • Primer (I used KILZ Clean Start)
  • Acrylic Paint (semi-gloss or gloss preferred)
  • Paint Sprayer*
  • Power sander
  • Wipe on polyurethane

*These items are purely optional. You don’t NEED them, but they help.

This wash stand had a $5 price tag on it. But, my neighbor gave it to me for $3. Is that robbery to talk someone into less than $5 for this antique?! In self defense, the stand was in pretty poor shape. It was VERY wobbly and had some big scratches on it. Can you forgive me?

Here is what you do when you find yourself as the new owner of a “this really should be trashed” purchase. Take it apart and rebuild it from the ground up. Having done this before with Daisy the Discarded Chair, I was prepared to tear this wash stand down to the ground. But, luckily it had some better joints than I had anticipated. So, I basically pulled apart anything that was not tightly joined.

The shelf over the drawer came off super easy.

As did a few joints.

I wiped the whole wash stand down with a wet rag.

Then, the side of the stand got some new glue and a few finish nails.

The joints got some Gorilla Glue and were set back together. And, I added a thin bead of glue and some finish nails to re-secure the shelf.

Next I sanded down the whole piece of furniture with these two 3M sanding blocks. I like to call them Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum because they are super easy to use. Even an idiot can’t screw up.

They work great for around spindly legs because they can bend and flex (I wish I could bend and flex like that!)

After wiping off all the sawdust, my wash stand looked like this:

Almost too pretty to paint, but it had some serious gouges, so I took a picture and said goodbye to the beautiful wood.

Here is where the race began. I decided to time myself painting on the primer with a brush. Then time myself using the sprayer for the first coat of paint.

Start your engine….paint brush and KILZ Clean Start Primer…GO!



After 30 minutes I had primed the entire stand from top to bottom.

After the primer dried, I gave the stand a quick, light sanding with a 220 grit sanding block and wiped it down with a damp rag.

I set up the sprayer, read all the directions (very important!) Then I filled the quart size reservoir and attached it to the sprayer. The Wagner Power Painter Plus doesn’t require a compressor, just a good old fashioned extension cord plugged into your household outlet.

Start your engine…Wagner Power Painter Plus…GO!

VROOOOOOM! The sprayer let out the loudest and most obnoxious noise I had ever heard (Note to self to wear ear protection next time.) I thought the sprayer was going to self distruct, so I let go of the trigger. Then I pulled it again and the noise returned, only to abate after a few seconds once the paint started to come through the nozzle. Phew, that scared me.

I breezed through painting the entire wash stand from top to bottom. I started with it upside down and quickly flipped it while it was still wet (I left a finger print underneath, but no one will know about that unless you squeal.)

And I was done. Then I looked at my timer and WHAT?!!! 5 MINUTES! Holy Cannoli! I had no idea a sprayer could shave that much time off a paint job.

I left the wash stand outside, while I took apart the paint sprayer.

To avoid emptying the paint canister, I covered the container with saran wrap and a rubber band.


Then I took apart the ENTIRE sprayer and cleaned out all the parts. It is soooo important to clean the sprayer thoroughly or you risk paint drying in your machine and ruining it. This is a look at the sprayer disassembled.

It is paramount to clean the tiny dual spray tips on the machine. They are small slits that can clog easily if the paint is allowed to dry in them.

After the wash stand had dried. I put the sprayer back together and screwed the paint container back onto the gun.

I was all pumped and excited to be done in 5 minutes! With dusk still 30 minutes away, I had no fear. BIG MISTAKE!

What was to ensue was a stressful 45 minutes of paint globbing, paint sputtering, my cursing, and frantic cleaning of the sprayer again. I finished spraying, but I had to use a different top coat color because I ran out of the first paint color. (Which ended up being one of those happy mistakes. You’ll see.)

I wiped off the big globs of paint and decided to give those areas a little “extra” distress in the morning.

After stepping back from the project, doing some research and having a twitter conversation with Shaunna (the furniture painting guru), here is what I concluded from my disasterouos 2nd attempt:

  1. The paint sprayer MUST have a full paint cup in order to work properly. When the reservoir gets down to less than 1/4 full any air that gets into the paint suction tube will cause the sprayer to sputter and discharge big globs of paint, instead of a nice even spray.
  2. The sprayer dispenses an INSANE amount of paint in 5 minutes and when it runs low #1 happens. I used a half gallon of paint on the first coat of paint on this small wash stand. Whereas, I normally would have used maybe half a quart to brush on two coats total. The drop cloth was so heavy with paint when I cleaned up, that I realized the majority of the paint was wasted in overspray.
  3. The Plus does not have a low paint level indicator. Therefore, it is very difficult to determine when you are getting low on paint until the sprayer starts to sputter and shoot out globs of paint onto your project.
  4. In the same vein, the paint canister only holds a quart of paint, and 1/4 of that isn’t useable unless you like Jackson Pollock style painting.

The next morning, I took out my power sander and gave the sink some character by distressing it.


This is where the happy accident occured. Because I had to use an aqua blue as the top coat on my sink, you could see the blue gray color peeking out! Which I think makes it look sweet, shabby and old.

Once I was happy with the amount of distressing, I sanded any chipping paint and rough spots with the 220 grit sanding block. Then, I cleaned off the wash stand with a damp rag. To protect the sink, I used Minwax wipe-on Polyurethane. I like the wipe-on Poly for speed. But, it doesn’t leave as thick a coat as the traditionally brush on kind. So, if you really want to protect a piece of furniture, use the brush on kind instead.

I added a cute little crystal cheap acrylic knob to the drawer.

And my new/old dry sink looks right at home in the corner of my porch! Although, it needed something…hmmmm….

…how about a plant! I dropped in a plastic pot with NO holes in the bottom. I filled the bottom 1/4 with rocks for drainage. And my pothos plant. I used to have a chippy pedestal that sat there, but sadly I had to get rid of it. I’ll fill you in on the details next week. It is a sad story ;-(.

Here is my summary of working with the Wagner Power Painter Plus model:

  • Pros – Saves time. $100 price tag. No compressor needed.
  • Cons – Small Paint Cup, No Flow Speed Selector, No Low Paint Level Indicator, Lots of overspray and wasted paint.

I will definitely try the sprayer again. When I do I might add Floetrol to my paint, which is supposed to help your paint even out and give you a smoother finish. (Especially if it globs on you.)

If I was to buy a Wagner Paint Sprayer, I would cough up the extra money to buy a higher model

  • Wagner Power Painter Max has a two speed selector AND a paint level indicator. This higher model runs approximately $135.
  • Wagner Power Painter Pro (Not Available Until 2012). This sprayer will have a three speed control and will come with a backpack attachment that holds more paint than the Plus or Max and long suction tubes that can be put directly into a gallon of paint. The MSRP is expected to be approximately $180.

Have a great weekend and see you next week with some more DIY goodies.

Creating a Faux Ceiling Medallion with Cutting Edge Stencils

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When heard the word stencil, I used to involuntarily cringe slightly. I pictured those cutesy country stencils my mom used to use with geese, apples, and hearts on them. (Sorry Mom.) But, that all changed last week when Cutting Edge Stencils sent me a beautiful Georgian Ceiling Medallion Stencil!

Isn’t that stunning? I can picture it at the top of a grande foyer. Sadly our ceilings are only 8′ tall and our rooms are small. But, that didn’t matter, because I was able to alter the stencil for our ceilings:

First I watched one of their tutorial videos online and I thought to myself. Oh yes, I can do that, it looks super easy! And it was, kind of….

…at this point I need to caution anyone who has never used a stencil before. You might want to try your first stencil project on a wall or a flat work surface. NOT on a ceiling. Standing on a table and trying to hold the stencil, tape and keep the stencil in place is not for a newbie. It definitely helps to have a helper (one at least 5 feet tall. Little children won’t work for helpers on this one.) I managed by myself using my noggin’!

I definitely have to credit Cutting Edge Stencils with their high quality stencil and foam paint roller. Without them, this would have ended up as a HUGE craft fail! Instead, despite a slightly buckling stencil (and working in Michaelangelo type conditions), the results were very professional and something I am proud of!

So, without further obscure references to great painters, here is my tutorial for creating a faux ceiling medallion with a stencil.

Materials:

  • Stencil
  • Painter’s tape
  • Foam roller
  • Spray mount
  • Baby wipes (or wet rag)
  • paint
  • paper plate
  • paper towels
  • tape measure
  • scissors

* And preferably an assistant!

Instructions:

Measure the diameter of the canopy (round plate that sits flush against the ceiling and hides the electrical junction box) for your light fixture.

Then remove the canopy by unscrewing the nut in the middle.

Let the canopy hang down on your chain.

Determine how much stencil will overlap the canopy.

Cut the center section out of the stencil. (The only way around cutting the stencil if if you remove your light fixture and push the wires into the wiring box. But, I was too lazy to do that, so I cut instead.)

Save the cut out stencil so you can re-attach it later with tape or use the stencil on another project.

Tape off any sections of the stencil you don’t want to use. I chose to use the inner circle portion of the Georgian Ceiling Medallion Stencil.

Spray the back of the stencil with spray mount. This will help hold the stencil to the ceiling.

Go grab an assistant to help you position your stencil on the ceiling. Center it on the middle of your light fixture box. It may help to draw “cross hairs” coming out of your fixture box with a pencil. Personally I just eyeballed it.

Tape the edges of your stencil with painter’s tape. The tape that was masking off the rest of the design actually came in handy as it held the stencil up midway from the edges.

Mix up your paint onto a pallet or paper plate. I chose a very light grayish cream color to mimic the shadow colors in my dining room. The color I tried to match it to is Glidden Carolina Strand #A1786.

Layout a bunch of paper towels folded up that you can roll your roller on until it is almost dry. Roll your roller into the paint, then “dry” it off on the paper towels. Roll your paint roller carefully over stencil. Don’t push too hard or the paint may seep under the stencil. Continue rolling until your entire stencil has been filled in.

Gently remove your stencil and wipe any paint overage with a baby wipe or rag.

Reposition your stencil on the opposite side. Take your time lining up the stencil with already painted side.

Repeat the same steps above to paint the second half of your medallion.

If you missed any spots, you can touch them up with a small artist’s paint brush.

13. Replace your light fixture’s ceiling plate and admire your new ceiling medallion!

I’m so happy with how the design turned out, and I will never cringe at the word stencil again!

It definitely adds some interest to an otherwise plain Jane ceiling.

Do you like it? You really have to see some of the amazing stencils that Cutting Edge Stencils has to offer. Some of my favorites are this adorable silverware set:

And this stencil creates a great alternative to wallpaper (the bane of my existence!):

And if only there were more girls in our boy-filled house, I’d buy this:

So you see, wall stencils can be a beautiful thing ;-).

Sharing this project at Addicted 2 Decorating’s Addict’s Not So Anonymous Link Party.

Hey, I wanted to let you know that this crafty blogger, Kristina, interviewed me the other day. You can read a little more about my addictions and my favorite blogging moment on her blog, Pearl Gateway. And give her a little comment love if you have a moment. She’s getting ready to make a major move to Tennessee! She could probably use a few uplifting words.

See ya later alligator!

How to Install Low-Voltage Landscape Lights

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Installing low-voltage landscape lights has been on my “Want To Do” list for years now. I even bought some lights on clearance three years ago! Now that they are installed I’m kicking myself for waiting so long. They look so inviting.

Materials:

  • Hammer
  • Drill
  • Screwdriver
  • Pliers
  • Wire strippers and cutter
  • 3M Heavy Duty all-weather duct tape
  • Landscape lights (it might be wise to purchase one extra, you’ll see why later)
  • Transformer
  • Low voltage landscape wiring (I used 100 feet of 14 gauge, but check the directions for your lights)

In order to figure out what size transformer you need, you should add up all the wattage on the bulbs your lights use. This is a simple equation, for example, if your lights use 9 watt bulbs, then multiply 9 time the number of light fixtures you have. I ended up buying a 200 watt Portfolio transformer that has a photo-sensor. The transformer senses darkness and turns on the lights at dusk. I prefer this instead of a timer, especially because it will not need to be reprogrammed as the days vary in length throughout the year. The only downside is that they will come on during hurricanes, tornados and big bad dark thunderstorms. Then again, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Matchy-Matchy. How to unify two colored lights:

Well, of course once I got ready to install our lights, I realized I needed more. Because the lights I bought were on clearance, they were no longer available in the stores. So, what’s a girl to do? I got eBaying and creative!

I was able to buy similar lights from an eBay seller. The fact that they were a different color was not going to dissuade me! Not when I have a can of spray paint in my arsenal. That and a can of automotive primer was all it took to turn those brown lights black (well, Oil Rubbed Bronze to be exact.)

After the paint dried, I began laying out my lights along the front path.

I decided to stagger them for maximum illumination along the path and to avoid creating an airport runway look (aka symmetrical.) I don’t know if you believe in UFOs, but I’m not taking any chances.

Installing the transformer:

*Be sure to read all the directions that come with your transformer. The following tutorial is based on the Portfolio transformer I purchased. Your directions may vary.

You will need to locate your transformer near an outdoor GFCI outlet. Luckily I had my electrician install an outlet last year. (Yes, there are some things that I will leave to a professional. Adding new wiring is one of them.)

Measure up 18″ from the ground (or the height recommended in your directions) and use the template that came with your transformer to drill two pilot holes for the mounting screws. Insert the anchors and tap them gently into the pilot holes.

Screw the mounting screws in, leave them extended partially to accept the holes on the back of the transformer.

Split the end of your low voltage wire. Then strip a small amount off the ends using your wire cutters. Slip the wires through the holes on the transformer and tighten the screws over the wire.

Play with the amount the screws extend until the transformer fits flush against the wall. Leave the transformer unplugged.

Installing the lights:

*Be sure to read all the directions that come with your low voltage lighting. The following tutorial is based on the Malibu lights I purchased. Your directions may vary.

Dig a narrow trench along the path to the location of each light. Aim for 8 – 12″ deep, the deeper the better so you don’t accidentally chop your wire while digging or planting.

Because the wires are low voltage you won’t be harmed. However, if you accidentally cut your wire, you will have to re-install your lights all over again! NOT COOL!

Run the wire into the trench until you reach  your first light. The directions that came with the transformer explain that you want your first light to be at or further than 10′ from the transformer. You can cheat this by making your wire loop or arc to take up more length on the wire before your first light. But, make sure your light isn’t so close to the transformer that it would be read by the photo sensor (the same holds true for having your transformer too close to your house lights.) Make a loop around your light. This protects the wire from being too taut and will hopefully prevent all your lights from being uprooted should someone accidentally (or intentionally) play soccer with one them. I can’t imagine that happening in our yard!

Open the connector on your light.

Insert the wire into the connector. Then press the connector back together firmly.

Unless you have super human hand strength, you may wish to use pliers (I used my Irwin Groove Lock Pliers) to press them together. You need to insure that the metal prongs pierce through the wire insulation and make contact with the wire inside. Later, if one of your lights doesn’t work, you’ll know that it could be that the connection isn’t tight enough.

Insert the stake of your light into the ground. Don’t fully bury it yet. Trust me on this one. It’ll save you from re-enacting The Diggingest Dog should your lights fail to work properly!

Repeat for the remaining lights.  When you reach the end, you may wish to “cap” off the end of the wire with duct tape. This is not required, but I decided it was best to protect the wire from any source that might short it out.

Plug in your transformer and adjust the settings to turn your lights on. Do they work? Then clap yourself on the back! If not, you need to go back and check all those connections. Good think you listened to me and didn’t bury them, right?!

Let me tell you a little antidote about a girl, let’s call her “Whitney”, who buried all the connections, turned on the transformer and got all excited because the lights worked. Only to come back 30 minutes later to an error message on the transformer and no working lights. Needless to say, she had to dig up every single light and press all the connections tight again. Then she tested the lights only to be disappointed yet again. She was so frustrated, that she went inside and went directly to bed. The next day she spent too much time on hold with the customer service numbers for the transformer and the light manufacturer. They weren’t much help. “Yes, I read the directions. Yes, I checked the connections. Yes, yes. YES!… Okay thanks (or no thanks!)” But, she knew she was smarter than the average bear, so she systematically removed one light at a time and then turned on the transformer. Finally upon removing the last light and plugging in the transformer she found that they suddenly worked. I’m not sure why (errr, I mean she wasn’t sure why that last light caused the problem), so she decided to discard the last light.

For good measure once all the lights are working, wrap the connectors in Scotch Heavy Duty All-Weather duct tape to keep them sealed and connected. Call it overkill, but I didn’t want to end up like Whitney.

It doesn’t have to be pretty to be function. Just ask Pretty Handsome Guy, since this does remind me a LOT of that post he wrote for me.

NOW, you can bury the light stakes, check that they are level and then fill the holes with dirt and pack it down.

And that is it! This is a relatively easy install. It may require a little bit of patience if the lights don’t work at first (or second.) But, if all goes perfectly, this is a half a day project.

Landscape lighting can improve your curb appeal, and also the value of your home. They are also great for deterring thieves. But, I like them because they light up my beautiful plants. And, because, it is very relaxing sitting outside after dark in the glow of the lights with a drink in hand. What more reason could you need for installing landscape lights?

What do you think? Do you like? Is this a project you think you could attempt yourself? I bet you could.

 

 

 

Disclaimer: I was not paid by Portfolio or Malibu to write this post. Those are the brands I purchased with my own money. The 3M All Weather Duct Tape was sent to me by 3M to use. As were the Irwin Groove Lock Pliers. I was not compensated in any way by them. Nor was I swayed to write positive things about their products. There, I think that covers everything.

 

My Sponsors Rock!

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Hey y’all! Lots going on in Pretty Handyville this week. I’ve been busy trying out some new products. Plus, I’ve been trying to keep my youngest occupied now that big brother is back in school. It really is amazing how much he entertained his younger sibling, despite the occasional “MOM, he’s “insert-annoying-action” me!” But, we’re getting used to the “back to school” schedule and I came up with this adorable rock magnet craft to entertain my youngest. You can view the tutorial over at Parentables.

I especially wanted to pop in to introduce you to my sponsors! In case you didn’t read the headline, I think they really ROCK! These wonderful small companies make it possible for you to receive all my tutorials for FREE! Believe it or not, without their sponsorship I would be operating this blog at a financial loss. So, please give these great companies a big thank you.

Cutting Edge Stencils – Beautiful Wall Stencils for Home Décor

Cutting Edge Stencils just sent me the Georgian Ceiling Medallion stencil to try. I just used it in my dining room today to stencil a faux ceiling medallion around the chandelier base! I can’t wait to show you, it is gorgeous!!! Stay tuned for pictures and a tutorial.

Tomboy Tools -Real tools made for a woman’s hand

Okay, I have to admit, I’ve steered clear of pink tools for a long time now. I just had this preconceived notion that they weren’t made tough like a guy’s tool. Well, I stand corrected! Laura send me a set of Tomboy tools to try out. I’ve been using them all week! They are definitely as tough as my “boy” tools. But, the nice thing is that the grips are made a tad smaller for a woman’s hand. I’ve noticed this particularly with the plyers and the Tape Measure. Currently here are my favorites: Magnetic hammer, Tape Measure, Needle-nosed plyers and you can’t forget the very feminine (but tough as nails) leather tool belt!

Any Pretty Handy Girl reader who places an order through Tomboy Tools during the month of Sept. can be entered into a drawing for the Tomboy Tools Picture Perfect Level (retail value $34).  You HAVE to see this tool – definitely genius design at work. It makes hanging pictures, towel rods, etc a breeze! You can also use it for hanging multiple pictures at the same level and spacing!) Simply place your order and on the “company” line of the shipping address please type: PHG Reader to be entered in the giveaway contest. The winner will be announced on Oct. 2nd.

simplify101 – more fun. more done.

I took the Organizing 101 course earlier this year. It was a very thorough workshop and the materials Aby sent were neat, orderly and easy to follow (everything you would expect from a personal organizer!) The course was very motivating and I’ve been slowly working on reclaiming my home this year. But, I had been struggling with how to get my kids on board. Especially my oldest who left me this clear message that he has TOO MUCH stuff in his room:

He and I have been working together using the lessons I learned in Organizing with Your Kids (another workshop offered by simplify101.) I was very skeptical that we’d be able to work together to clean, de-clutter and organize his room. He and I worked in small 15 minute segments of time. Every time the buzzer rang, he wanted to go for another 15 minutes of cleaning! He even got mad at me last night because we didn’t have time to work together on cleaning his room. Honestly, I can’t believe it either. A kid who is mad because we don’t have time to clean his room? Alien, I’m convinced.

If you have kids, simplify101 is offering my readers a discount. Receive 15% off the Organizing with Your Kids workshop when you sign up between now and Tuesday, September 6, 2011. Use the discount code: PHGSAVE15 at checkout. (May not be combined with other offers.)

Talk for Tots – Custom Printed Announcements and Invitations

Talk for Tots is your one stop shop for all things invitations and announcements. With the holidays fast approaching (yeah, I know what happened to Summer?), it is not too early to think about your custom holiday cards this year. Talk for Tots has some great designs to choose from.

Love Drop – Spend a Dollar, Change a Life

Finally, this group isn’t a sponsor, but I believe in sponsoring them! Love Drop is a non-profit group that helps people in need. They choose one person/family per month and try to help them with basic needs that they have. This month they are on a mission to help Melanie, a mother of four who was struck by a car while out walking with her teenage son.


The founders are real down to earth people just like you and me. And they are on a mission to help people with small donations from ordinary folks like us. Won’t you take a moment to check out their site and see some of the past “LoveDrops” they have accomplished? It will make your day ;-).

 

De ja vú – August in Review

August has flown by as fast as the wind speeds in Hurricane Irene! I hope y’all weathered that storm okay. My brother and sister-in-law are still without power as far as I know.

uglysofa.com slipcover

I do have some happy news for you. It seems that there are a lot of Ugly Sofas out there. And luckily, thanks to UglySofa.com, there are about to be 3 less of them in the world!

Amanda, Judith & Carla S. come on down! You all have each won a brand-name-who-shall-not-be-named (ahem, PB&J minus the J) from UglySofa.com! Hooray, jump, scream and run around like a maniac!

Here are what these three ladies had to say about the slipcovers:

Amanda @ Serenity Now says Awesome, Giveaway! I’m going to watch the video in a minute. I can’t believe you got that giant wrinkly bunch of material to look so fantastic! I’m a believer! ;)
Judith says Fantastic! At the moment I desperate need the Loosefit Square Cushion Boxpleat Slipcover for a small sofa — but I can see myself utilizing bigger sizes in the future. Wow, I’ve been looking for exactly this!
Carla S. says Great post,very helpful. I’d love to have the Loosefit Sq. cushion Everyday Tie Slipcover Lg. sofa. I couldn’t believe their great prices.

The rest of you who are still suffering from UglySofa-itis, you don’t need to deal with this anymore. Check out UglySofa.com for the cure. You WILL NOT believe their prices. You could go without your Starbucks for a week and buy one!

And now to rewind this past month in case you missed a post:

Couple Speak - A peek into our marriage

How to Remove Wallpaper

Changing Out an Ugly Hollywood Light Fixture

Mirror Mate Installation Tutorial and Review

Board and Batten Installation Tutorial

Caulking and Painting Moulding Tutorial

An Interview with Pretty Handy Girl

Final Reveal of Beach Themed Boys' Bathroom

CFLs, LEDs, & Incandescents - A review of light bulbs.

Tutorial for Building a Built In Shelf

Installing a Slipcover the Professional Way

Ocean Isle Beach, NC - An End of Summer Slideshow

Sanding and Prepping a Branch

Handrail bracket to install branch as a towel bar

Installing the Branch Towel Bar

I have loads of new tutorials and some more giveaways for you in September! See ya’ real soon!