Photography Tips – Better Composition and Lighting Tips

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I know y’all have your favorite blogs. If you think about one of them now, can you tell me what it is you love about the blog? Okay, maybe the subject matter or the writing. But, how does the site look? Is the design appealing? How about the photos? I know I am personally drawn to blogs that have beautiful images. One of my favorite blogs to read is Centsational Girl. Her photos are true candy for the eyes!

Sea Inspired Living Room by Centsational Girl

Tutorial for Anthropology Inspired Table Cloth – Centsational Girl

See what I mean? Kate’s photos are simply beautiful!

She had a post a while ago offering some tips for better photography and how she uses Picasa to edit her photos. After reading that post I really began to push myself to create more attractive photos.

In the spirit of paying it forward, I want to share with you a few secrets for taking better photographs for your blog or just for yourself.

A good picture starts with a good composition. Here are some examples of photos I took and how I made them better:

Two bottles on a pretty coffee table. {cue the crickets}

The above image is suffering from a busy background (the pillows, chairs, and railing) that is competing for attention with the bottles. Plus, there are multiple straight horizontal lines crossing the photo. Horizontal lines are not very interesting. Take a look:

Now, let me show you interesting:

Much better, wouldn’t you agree? Do you see all the angled visual lines?

Here is what I did:

  1. I staggered the bottles to give them more visual interest and to create a diagonal line between the bottles.
  2. Next, I moved my camera around so I was shooting diagonally across the table. See the back edge of the table, now that is an appealing visual line.
  3. Finally, I moved the bottles into a beam of light which gave them more drama, and darkened the background so it wasn’t competing for attention.

Okay, let’s try another one. Here is another example of a “ho-hum” photo. I can just hear Rodin sighing at this unexciting photo.

As a rule of thumb you should try to never let your horizon line be in the middle of the photo. Try to use the rule of thirds and have it be at 1/3 or 2/3 vertically on the photo. And you want to avoid putting your main object centered into the middle of the picture.

Mr. Rodin was a fabulous sculptor. I “think” his Thinker deserves better! How do you like this?

Look at all the triangle shapes that are created when I brought my subject in closer:

  1. To create more drama, I got up closer to the sculpture and filled the frame with the subject.
  2. I put Mr. Thinker off center in the frame, not smack dab in the middle. By doing this it broke up the symmetry in the photo.
  3. Once again, look at the nice diagonal line running up the man’s back and on his thigh. Diagonals force the viewers eye to move around the photo.

Let’s look at an indoor photo now. Here is a photo of a star light. Excuse me as I yawn. Bored to tears here.

The star is centered almost perfectly up and down and side to side. This make for a perfectly blah photo.

But, look what happens in the next photo.

Suddenly there is excitement. The diagonal lines and triangular negative spaces really make your eyes move around and draw attention to the details in the star.

You too can create drama in your photos.

  1. Change the perspective. (Climb up on a chair, get down low, or swing around to the side.)
  2. Fill the frame with the subject.
  3. Focus on creating diagonal lines when looking through your viewfinder.

Here is another photo I took on my porch. Okay, not too bad. The plant is off center. The railings form a slight diagonal.

But, look what happens when I tilt the camera to a vertical presentation.

  1. Suddenly the focus is on the plant and the light bouncing off the leaves.
  2. The treehouse is no longer competing for attention in the background .
  3. And, I’ve filled the frame with the plant.
  4. Can you see the different diagonals? Hint: basket handle and pedestal

Always think about how your photo will look in a horizontal or vertical presentation.

Let’s talk about lighting. Your goal is to use natural light as much as possible. Avoid photographing at night, indoors (away from windows) or using a flash. If you are a blogger, sometimes you finish a project at midnight and can’t wait to photograph it. Below, you can see my sad little puppy bookend. The colors are flat and the whole picture lacks any contrast or excitement.

If you have no choice and absolutely have to photograph is less than optimal conditions, read this post to learn how to deal with poor lighting situations.

Otherwise, wait and take that photo in the morning. You can thank me later.

Look at the natural light bathing the puppy and books. Suddenly the light plays on the still life and creates moody highlights and shadows. Now that puppy looks a lot happier.

Okay, this tip goes out to all you lucky ducks that own an SLR (single lens reflex) camera. Do you know how to set the light source in your camera? If you don’t, your photos may end up like this:

Hey, who smurfed my gift bag? Time to look in your manual and take that baby off the auto setting. In the Canon Rebel (and most SLR cameras), you can choose the lighting source like this:

With all these choices, I choose the one most appropriate to my light source. Sometimes I have to try one or another one to see which gives me the best color representation.

By programming the correct light source as shade in my camera menu, the photo suddenly loses its bluish cast and displays the correct colorful richness of the gift bag.

I hope some of these tips help you.

Here are some photography blogs that will help improve your photography skills:

My3Boybarians –  In addition to many tutorials and tips, Darcy has put together a months worth of lessons in: 31 days to better photographs. In addition, she occasionally hosts a Twitter photo chat. Follow her on Twitter for more information.

i heart photos – Amy & Angie may love faces, but they share the love by posting tutorials and tips to help improve portraiture photography (and more.)

And Susan from Between Naps on the Porch has a great list of free photo editing sites.

Now get snapping and send me some photos you are proud of! I’d love to see them.

If you liked this post, you will surely love some photography secrets for shooting indoor photos.

secrets to shooting photography indoors

Milestone Giveaway and Ch..ch…ch..changes

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Important: Please read this entire post! There are some changes to how you subscribe to this blog. Plus, there are some fabulous giveaways at the end. So, stay with me on this one.

The Good News:

A lot has happened over the last few weeks! I hit 150,000 page views per month last week.

This means that I’m empowering more people than ever before, and this thrills me because that has been the goal for my blog from the beginning. I’m not going to lie, sometimes it is hard to look at those figures and not get a little pumped. But, then I remember why I’m spending hours on tutorials and taking photos and I realize that y’all are really reading and learning. And this has me…

Did you know that originally I wanted to hold some small workshops in my garage to help women learn how to use power tools? How may women do you think I could have reached in a year? Maybe 100? And yet — thanks to the encouragement from my husband, friends, and all of you — I’m now reaching many, many more than a few hundred!

Can I tell you a little something without it sounding like I’m bragging? I was given the opportunity to compete for a spot on a reality craft show. But, when I stepped back to think about it, I realized that it really didn’t fit with who Pretty Handy Girl is. She’s not in this journey for fame and fortune. She’s not trying to strike it rich. She’s just here to say “Hey, I believe in you! I know you can do this too. Let me show you how to complete your own DIY project.” That realization helped me turn down the opportunity. And, now that you know this, I am counting on every one of you to make sure that I maintain that goal.

The Bad News:

Right before I broke my blog, I was dangerously close to reaching 5,000 subscribers to this blog. Like only 85 people shy of 5K…

…but then Feedburner delivered a smack down and reduced my followers by a over 1,500 handy peeps! (If you are one of the unlucky people that got the axe and don’t receive emails or feeds from Pretty Handy Girl please let me know and I’ll make sure you are added back.) This is upsetting to me to think that just one subscriber isn’t getting the tutorials that they thought they were signing up for, let alone over 1,500.


AND, I have some more bad news. In March, anyone who has subscribed to follow my blog in Google Friend Connect will also get the axe.

Any blogs that you follow that are NOT hosted by Blogger will sadly no longer appear in your reader. I actually took the above widget off my sidebar so no one else will join only to be disappointed on March 1st when they can’t receive their updates.

The Good News:

After an hour conversation with my new tech guy, I decided that the time had come to step up to a more reliable service for delivering my posts to you. I have signed up with MailChimp to improve my RSS feed delivery. Unfortunately, that means that I  have a new monthly fee, but so be it. You are so worth it!

The GREAT News:

All you have to do to insure that you don’t miss a single post, is to follow this very simple tutorial. It is one of the most important tutorials I’ve written to date, so just know that I took a lot of time getting this right. ;-) Are you ready?

How to receive the latest tutorials from Pretty Handy Girl in your in box

Materials:

  • Pointer finger
  • Mouse (or scroll pad, button, whatever)
  • Enter key (or Return if you are an Apple user)

Step 1: Use your mouse to position your cursor in the open field box below. Click inside the box.



Step 2. Use your pointer finger to type in your email address.

Step 3. Move your cursor over the “Subscribe button” and click on the button.

Step 4. Sit back and wait for the tutorials to arrive to you every time a new one is posted! That’s it!

(A confirmation email should arrive in your inbox and ask you to verify that you want to receive my posts.)

Note: If you received this post in your email, then you don’t need to re-subscribe. I was able to import my subscriber list when I signed up with MailChimp.

 And now, the REALLY GREAT News:

As a celebration of reaching 150,000 page views (previously the 5,000 follower giveaway)…

I’ll be picking one winner for each prize listed below

Winners will be drawn at random on Tuesday, January 31st

Here are the prizes:

3 Pairs of Women’s Work Gloves:


His and Hers 3M Tekk Tinted Safety Glasses:

Several Rolls of 3M ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape:

Illy Italian Ground Coffee and Insulated Cup

Set of 2 Irwin Tools Groove Lock Pliers:

Simplify101 Organize Your Paper Clutter online workshop
Starts Feb 16th – 7 week workshop worth $79
:

$100 gift certificate for a Mirror Mate Frame for your mirror:

A Huge Box of Sharpie Markers:

$50 gift certificate to Cutting Edge Stencils:

The ENTIRE line of RIT Liquid Dyes*:

RIT Dye bottles photo courtesy of Tatertots and Jello

*Plus, I’ll mail you a white scarf so you can make your own ombré scarf (like in my profile picture)!

FINALLY, 1 lucky winner will win the Pottery Barn knock off sliding chalkboard organizer:

So, here’s the deal. Your chances of winning one of the fabulous prizes above are great! And, you have up to four entries per person. Simply leave one comment on this post for each number you complete:

1. Subscribe via email below (or let me know you already do.) Leave one comment.

 


 

2. Follow me on FacebookTwitter, or Google+ (or let me know you already do.) Leave one comment.

3. Share the empowerment. Tell a friend about this blog by tweeting, facebook / google+ status updating, pinning, or stumbling. Leave one comment.

4. Let me know what prize(s) you are really excited about. Leave one comment.

What are you waiting for? Get busy commenting on this post! Best of luck to all of you! I’ll see you back here soon for another DIY tutorial.

A super big thank you to the companies that graciously donated items for this celebration:

Guest Post – Building Under the Sink Storage by Pink Toes and Power Tools

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I am very excited to welcome Kristen from Pink Toes and Power Tools today! She’s gonna kill me for this, but this is Kristen:

I am not trying to embarrass her, I just want you to see what a fun gal she is! And not only is she fun, she’s got some serious DIY talent! You should see her daughter’s bed that she made!

Please give Kristen a warm welcome today!

Hello Pretty Handy Girl readers! I am Kristen from Pink Toes and Power Tools and I am honored to be guest posting today here at PHG!

At Pink Toes and Power Tools, you will get DIY instruction and inspiration in home remodeling and decorating, with an emphasis on woodworking. The projects on my blog are all done by me. I’m 5’2″ tall and 115 pounds. In short (pun intended), if I can do it then you can too!”

I was a seasoned DIYer in sewing and interior painting prior to beginning my blog, but I was a complete newbie in woodworking. Learn along with me as I tackle my first project, a Storage Closet Organizer, which gave me the confidence to build some Leaning Wall Shelves, which eventually led to an entirely new entrance to my home (which is also the laundry room):

With the new year rolling over just recently, I made a resolution to get some organization back into some hidden areas of our home. So today I am going to show you how you can build some under the sink storage, because I was tired of opening the door and looking at this:

I wish I could tell you that I “staged” it to look this bad, but unfortunately that isn’t the case. Some of you may still think that I did and for that I thank you — that means somebody out there believes I’m just not this messy. My husband sure wishes that were so! You can now understand that when I saw this on Pinterest I got pretty excited.

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source: Pregnant…with power tools

Actually I got a LOT excited…dollar store bins! Scrap wood! Cheap and easy DIY—what’s not to love??

So I went off and I built some stuff and now it looks like this:

I love it so much now!

First thing you need to do is go get yourself some bins. This project cost me $4 because all I had to buy were the bins and I got 2 for $1 at Dollar Tree. You also need to know that bins vary in quality and usability for this project. Look for rigid bins with side edges that are uniform with no obstructions like these:

Mine looked decent in the 2 pack

…but revealed their true colors when I separated them.

Oh well, no worries. I decided to make these work because they were the only options at Dollar Tree that were the right size (these are about 6.25×10) . I modified my runners from the inspiration photo by using two for each side. You would want to do that if your bins are wonky like mine, or you want the bin to not tilt forward as you pull it toward you to open it.

I’ll give you the instructions using my dimensions — modify yours to work with your bins and cabinet space or to use up the scraps that you have available.

For the plastic bin tower you need:

3/4″ plywood–2 @ 9.5 x 19.75 (sides)

1/2″ plywood–2 @ 8 9/16 x 9.5 (top and bottom–I pieces together mine with multiple scraps for each)

1/2″ mdf/ply–16 @ 2 x 9.5 (runners)

1/4″ ply–8 9/16 x 20 11/16

8 bins 6.25 x 10

First you attach the runners. I did this one by one using a bin to space them and make sure it didn’t bind at any point. Turns out as I measure them now, they are all almost exactly 1/4″ wide. Glue and nail with 1″ 18 gauge nails or countersink some screws.

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Here I am figuring out how wide to cut the top and bottom. I think these would slide better if I had put them a little closer together, but I didn’t want to risk them binding. Glue and nail/screw on your top and bottom piece. I just put one nail on each corner of the top and bottom at this point (makes it easier to square it up). Put it on its face, square it up, nail on the back, and add some more nails or screws to the top and bottom.

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Done!

The drawers do not slide perfectly–if you want drawers that do, you have got to get rigid bins with a decent lip on the side like I said before. For $4, I am more than thrilled with these.

The other components for this project are super easy but you’ve got to be careful. This whole unit won’t fit in the cabinet wall to wall if it is all attached together. If you are strategic you can get them in there and remove them later.

Add a scrap wood bin with felt on the bottom for easy gliding so you can reach into the back recesses and you are good to go!

It looks like I threw out a lot of stuff, but honestly what I got rid of would have fit in half of one of the plastic drawers. Ok, maybe three-quarters of one if you count half empty boxes and miscellaneous plastic bags.

What do you think of it? Have you got a place for one of these in your home?

Thanks again for having me here Brittany!

{clapping hands}

Thanks for that wonderful tutorial Kristen! If you would like more DIY tutorials and fun, head over to Pink Toes and Power Tools! And tell her I sent you!

Would you like to be a guest on Pretty Handy Girl? Read my open invitation here.

Sculptural Branch Jewelry Display Holder

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Okay, I admit it. I’m a little infatuated with branches lately. Maybe it is because winter is here and all those bare skeletons of trees have me fascinated. Or maybe it is because my neighbor has been taking down a lot of trees — which really baffles me, but I digress — and the perfect branch was beaconing me from the curb.

As I walked home with the branch held high like a trophy, my neighbors surely figured out what I would make! A branch jewelry holder to hold ALL my jewelry.

Sure I had a jewelry holder already, but it was sagging under the weight and was begging for some relief. One of the fish line strings snapped a few months ago and I started hanging necklaces on the back of the door hook. This makes for some eye opening sounds when the dog pushes his way into the room at 3am. Not good. It was high time I found a solution!

That is when I saw, Shannon Eileen has a really great tutorial for building a wall mounted branch jewelry holder. Isn’t it beautiful in its simplicity?! I love the look.

Unfortunately (or fortunately), I have a lot more jewelry and didn’t want to mount mine to the wall. So, I thought a sculptural twig jewelry holder that sits on my dressing table would be more fitting for my needs.

Finding the perfect branch turned out to be easier than finding the perfect base. I thought about making a cross to support the bottom. Then, I thought about drilling a hole into a plate. But, the solution was cemented once I saw this bamboo bowl at Target on clearance.

And that is the end of the story. My jewelry lived happily ever after on my dressing table. The End!

What?! You want the tutorial? Oh right, I forgot for a minute this was a tutorial blog. I started daydreaming while looking at all that shiny jewelry.

Materials:

  • Freshly cut hardwood branch
  • Freshly cut log (preferably hard wood tree)
  • Gorilla glue
  • Saw
  • Plyers or pruners
  • Drill with several sized bits
  • 2″ wood screw
  • Clothes pin
  • Baby wipes
  • Bowl for base
  • Screw
  • Painter’s Tape
  • Clamp

Instructions:

Cut, a 1.5″ disk from a newly cut log. (I used a miter saw, but you could use a handsaw just as easily.)

The disk will become a support for the branch to give it more stability when it is loaded with jewelry.

Cut the large branch down with a handsaw or limb pruner. (I chose a 22″ tall section with a thick base.)

Select a drill bit that is the same diameter as the base of the branch.

Clamp the log disk onto a scrap piece of wood and drill a hole the width of the branch about 2/3 of the way through the disk. The point of the spade bit will hopefully poke through the bottom, but not the rest of the bit.

Test fit the branch. Make sure it can be seated far enough into the wood disk for stability.

Turn the branch and disk over to view the bottom of the disk. If you used a spade drill bit, hopefully that point came through slightly so you can find the center of your disk. Insert a small drill bit (slightly smaller than the width of the 2″ screw) into the hole. Drill a small hole through the bottom of the log disk and into the branch about 1/2 – 3/4″ (keep the branch inserted into the disk until you finish drilling.)

Use the same small drill bit to drill through the center of the base of the bamboo bowl (turn it upside down on your work surface.) Next choose a drill bit large enough to create a countersink hole for your screw head. I put a piece of tape to mark how deep I needed the countersink hole to go. Not too deep, you don’t want to go through the bowl, just deep enough for the head of the screw to sit inside.

Squeeze a small dollop of Gorilla Glue into the large hole in the disk and then insert the base of the branch. Let the glue harden for an hour.

Once the branch is firmly glued into the disk, turn it over and put some Gorilla Glue around the base of the disk and the center.

Set the disk and the branch into the bottom of the bowl.

Thread the 2 inch wood screw through the bottom of the bowl, through the disk and into the branch via the predrilled hole you made earlier. Gently tighten the screw until it fits snugly inside the countersink hole and the branch is secure.


If Mother Nature has not provided enough smaller branches on your holder (or you have way too much jewelry I do), you’ll want to add more branches to the holder. Cut some small branches off the unused tree limbs. Use a saw, pruners, or wire pliers (use whatcha got!)

Then match up a drill bit with the width of the littler branch. Drill a hole into a sturdy section of your branch. Add a small amount of Gorilla Glue and then press the small branch into the hole. Instant graft! (I have to admit, I felt like I was tampering with God’s creations here. Forgive me if I’ve committed a sin.)

Continue to check on your grafted branch to make sure it stays seated into the hole until the glue hardens.

Support your grafted branch onto other branches or prop it up to help keep it in position as it dries.

Continue to graft branches on as needed. I added about four new branches to mine. Can you see the fake ones?

Once the glue has dried, clean off any wood shavings and dirt.

Store your bangles and bracelets in the bowl.

Earrings hang nicely on the small branches like little ornaments.

Then hang your necklaces on display! I’m really enjoying seeing these beauties in the morning.

Much better than the cramped and sagging heating grate:

One more after shot. A beautiful branch jewelry tree. Are your eyes starting to get dreamy too?

Unique Valentine’s Day Wreaths

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Trying to get into the Valentine’s Day spirit? Need to inject a little romance into your home? Yup, me too! I’m embarrassed to say that I still have my Christmas mantle up. But there is hope on the horizon! Home Stories of A to Z is having a Valentine’s Day mantle link party on Thursday, January 26th! Thanks Beth for giving me the push to get busy re-decorating.

While researching for ideas, I came across some really amazing wreaths made from some unique materials. Cupcake liners, coat hangers, and thrift store wool coats to name a few. Check out these super creative wreaths at Parentables today!

See you next week with a VIA (Very Important Announcement!)

Tool Tutorial Friday – Using a Dremel TRIO

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Today we’ll be learning about the Dremel TRIO! This smaller power tool fits comfortably in your hand. The tool is a cross between a  jigsaw, router, and regular dremel. It has a rotating bit that cuts into drywall, wood, plastic, steel and alumimum (with the appropriate bit). With a quick change to a sanding bit, the TRIO can be used as a sander for smoothing fine details and edges. Finally, the TRIO is a router, but only with the small routing bits that come separately. In my opinion, the TRIO is good for small projects that don’t use hard or thick woods. Anything larger than 1/8″ and it is very difficult to control the tool. (Disclosure: I have not tried the TRIO with the hardwood and sheet metal bit sold separately, but I haven’t used it to cut hard woods.)

The Dremel TRIO retails for approximately $79 on Amazon.

The TRIO comes with a cutting bit (I call it a scroll bit) and a sanding mandrel with three grit sanding drums (60, 120 and 240 grit). Plus, a wrench for loosening and tightening the collet.


A regular baseplate and a compact foot baseplate are also included.

Below is the anatomy of the TRIO to help familiarize you with the tool.

There is a speed adjustment on the handle of the tool. Typically you would leave it on 10 – 12 for cutting wood. A lower speed may be necessary when cutting plastic to avoid melting the material.

One of the nice features is that it can be use in a horizontal grip like a jigsaw. Or, simply press the button on both sides to …

raise the handle and use it with a vertical grip.

Changing bits is fairly simple but requires two hands (my photo is not 100% accurate). One finger pushes the button on the front of the TRIO to lock the collet. The other hand uses the wrench to loosen the collet.

Remove the bit. Insert the new bit and tighten the collet. (First by hand and then with the wrench.)

The TRIO does not come with router bits, but a set can be purchased for about $40 (like this 5 piece set from Amazon.) There is also a tile cutting bit, piloted point cutting bit, and a hardwood and sheet metal bit (all available for separate purchase.)

Be forewarned that you CANNOT use bits for a regular dremel in the TRIO. The shafts are different sizes.

And here for your viewing pleasure is a video tutorial for using the Dremel TRIO:

I just got back from a meeting about Women Build through Habitat for Humanity. I’m completely stoked about helping them with this fantastic program. I’ll be giving you the opportunity to help as well. Stay tuned for more information!

I also have a big milestone giveaway in the works. Y’all are gonna love some of the things I have been collecting. Ooooo, so exciting!

 

Kicking Valentine’s Day into High Gear!

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I am officially kicking Valentine’s Day decorating into high gear! Yesterday I shared with you my wooden branch heart wreath. Thank you for all your nice comments about it. I wasn’t sure anyone would like it because it looks so…well…different.

Do you remember my snowman wreath made from a Dollar Tree placemat?

Well, I was given the opportunity (by my  messy boys) to make a Valentine’s theme one.

You can view my tutorial for making the placemat “Just Like New” by turning it into a “Bee Mine” garden flag at I Am Momma – Hear Me Roar!

I’m guest posting there today while she hob knobs with THE Martha Stewart! Is that like 2 degrees of separation for me? I’d like to think so.

Have a great Thursday y’all! See you tomorrow for yet another Tool Tutorial Friday.

A Valentine’s Day Wreath from Tree Branches

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When I saw this mirror frame Jaime from That’s My Letter made, I was instantly head over heels in love with the branch circles.

So much so, that every branch I passed by I would think, “Hmmm, I wonder what the disks on that branch would look like. It’s a sickness y’all.

So, this past weekend, I hauled in a bunch of branches and began to formulate a design for my Valentine’s Day Wreath that wasn’t overtly cutesy.

I even called my neighbor to ask if I could have one of their logs from their woodpile. (Yes, I was coveting thy neighbor’s wood. Sheesh.)

I am thrilled with the final results. Although I had to engage in a few extra spray painting steps to get here, I’ll spare you the details. Let’s just say that no matter what color you paint thin wire, it just doesn’t show up on top of wood disks.

Here is the tutorial y’all. Take it or leave it, but just be sure you ask before cutting down your neighbor’s cherry tree.

Materials:

  • Newly cut thick branches and logs
  • Miter saw or hand saw
  • Safety goggles
  • Hearing protection
  • Piece of 1/8″ plywood
  • Pencil
  • Jigsaw
  • Liquid Nails all purpose glue
  • Ribbon
  • Washer
  • Multi-Purpose utility wire 16 gauge ($7.99 for a huge roll of it)
  • Needle-nosed pliers
  • White and red pipe cleaners

Start by setting up a stop block by clamping a small piece of wood against the fence of your miter saw. (Or be prepared to be diligent about measuring every slice you cut. My slices are 1.5″ wide.) IMPORTANT: Wear your eye protection and hearing protection!

Hold your branch against the fence and cut into the log. The larger logs cut fine, but the smaller branches and sticks tended to kick back all over the place, so be sure you stay on the right side of the saw and the slices are on the left. This way you’ll be out of the path of the flying disks. Cut, until you have a large collection of wood slices in a variety of sizes.

It was at this point that I looked down and noticed this little worm squeezing out of the log!

Ewwww. I rushed inside to research killing bugs in wood. I read you can either bake your wood in the oven at 175˚F – 200˚F for a few hours. Or microwave the wood for a minute. Being the perfectionist and neurotic termite-fearing person I am, I did both!

After roastin’ and nukin’ those little buggers, you can lay out the slices onto the plywood in a heart shape.

Trace roughly around the shape.

As I said I’m a perfectionist, so feel free to skip this next step.

Fold a piece of scrap paper in half and cut out a half heart shape to give you a symmetrical heart shape. Trace around the template onto the plywood.

Use a jigsaw or Dremel TRIO to cut out around the shape.

Sand the edges until they are no longer jagged.

Lay the scrap paper template back on top of the heart shaped plywood. Fold it in half. Drill a hole through the top of one of the sides of the heart (through paper and wood.) Open the template back up and mark where the hole is in the paper. Drill through the other side.

Thread a length of ribbon through one hole. Tie a washer onto the end of the ribbon on the back side.

Hang the heart up in your desired location. Adjust the length of the ribbon and then tie another washer onto the ribbon.

Begin to lay the wood slices back onto the plywood and start gluing each one using Liquid Nails.

It may take a little maneuvering and trials to get the slices to fit neatly within the heart shape. But, hey it wouldn’t be fun without a little trial and error.



After your shape is filled, lay a folded towel, some scrap wood and heavy weights on top. Do a few bicep curls before setting them down, just because.

While your wooden heart is drying, bend the word “Love” into the wire using needle-nosed pliers.

Wrap white pipe cleaners around the word.

Then wrap red pipe cleaners around leaving space so the white pipe cleaner shows through.

Tie a bow at the top of the hanger ribbon. Thread another length of ribbon through the bow and secure it to the “L” and “e” in Love.

Find a spot to hang your unique wreath.

I wonder if I can put another word on there for St. Patrick’s Day? Maybe “Luck” with some green ribbon.

 

Installing Weatherstripping on a Garage Door Really Warms Up the Workshop

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Last year I froze my handy buns off working in the garage. (This year they returned after eating loads of Christmas cookies! Ugh.) In all seriousness, while searching for bigger and more powerful heaters it occurred to me that I might want to weatherstrip my garage doors first.

When you have garage doors with no weatherstripping, you might have a gap as big as your hand!  Can you imagine? That is 68 linear feet (2 doors) of cold air rushing in. This is the equivalent of all the windows in your house being cracked open an inch. You’d never dream of doing that in the winter, and yet that was the situation in our garage.

Weatherstripping garage doors is a very easy DIY task that shouldn’t take more than an hour. Buy neoprene rubber stripping from your local hardware store or home improvement warehouse. (I purchased the Garage Door Side and Top Weather-strip Kit by Frost King for under $20.)  The rewards of this project are that you can take your garage from an icebox to comfortably cool in less than 60 minutes!

Here are my unscientific results of the temperatures in our garage before and after weatherstripping.

Before Weather Stripping:

Outside Temperature Inside Garage Temperature Temperature Difference
45˚F 55˚F 10 degrees
30˚F 45˚F 15 degrees

 

After Weather Stripping: 

Outside Temperature Inside Garage Temperature Temperature Difference
45˚F 65˚F 20 degrees
30˚F 58˚F 28 degrees

I was so thrilled by the difference it made that I knew I wanted to share the tutorial with y’all. But, sadly I didn’t take any photos. So, I asked my friend, Holly (the one with the adorable house that has loads of character and charm), if I could help her install some on her doors. Luckily I didn’t have to twist her arm too much. Here is how we did it (the super quick way, but not necessarily the “correct” way.)

Materials:

  • Frost King Weatherstripping for Sides and Top of Garage Doors
  • Hammer
  • Air Compressor and brad nailer
  • U-shaped staples for nailer
  • Ear protection
  • Safety glasses
  • Scissors

Open the package of weatherstripping and remove the bag of nails included. Put on your hearing protection and safety glasses.

Unroll the weather stripping and pull the end up to the top of the garage door on one side. The short side of the foam strip should be against the frame of the door, and the longer side should be pressed lightly against the garage door.

Nail one nail into the frame of the door to hold the stripping in place.

(Here is where we cheated.) Instead of using only nails, use the brad nailer to attach “U” shaped staples into the weather stripping. After every 4th staple, hammer another nail into the frame. By using mostly staples we were able to cut down significantly on the install time. Be sure to start and end with a nail.

At the bottom of the door, trim the weatherstripping at an angle as shown. We left a longer tail on the door frame side to close up the gap under the door frame.

Continue attaching weather stripping along the top of the door. Alternate between hammering a nail and then four staples.

When you reach the sides, cut your weather stripping so that it meets the side pieces. Do not let the weatherstripping overlap or it will create a gap.

Repeat for the second garage door (if you have two.)

Here are a few other bonus features of the weatherstripping:

  • Quieter. Which means I can get away with using power tools a little later at night.
  • The bonus room above the garage stays warmer. Before it was always chilly up there.
  • Less critters. Since installing the weatherstripping I’ve seen a lot fewer spiders and centipedes.
  • Now when I use the space heater, I can bump up the temperature in the garage by a few degrees per hour. Before the weatherstripping, the space heater really didn’t warm the garage because all the heat was being lost out the sides of the doors.
  • Do I even have to say it? Energy savings! We don’t have to pay as much to heat the bonus room. And I don’t spend hours running the space heater.

I should note that our garage has insulation in the walls. If yours doesn’t, you may not notice as big a difference as I did.

I’d love to hear from you if you tackle this easy project and if you notice a huge change in temperature in your garage too. I can’t tell you how excited I am with the results. I can continue to work in my garage/workshop in comfort through the winter now!

P.s. Holly just started a blog showcasing her beautiful furniture transformations. If you get a chance stop over and leave her a comment.

Tool Tutorial Friday – How to Use a Caulk Gun

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You know the old saying, “No question is a dumb question.” Well, I have to say that about this tutorial, “No tutorial is a dumb tutorial.”

I realize that a caulk gun isn’t a big scary power tool, and yet I still think learning how to use a caulk gun is a very valuable skill for any handy person.

So, let’s get right down to some Caulk Talk.

A caulk gun is a necessary tool for any homeowner. Sealing gaps in siding, replacing the seal around the tub and shower surround when the old caulk gets dry and brittle is a must. Caulking around the trim around windows and doors will improve your homes energy efficiency and get rid of unsightly gaps. You can also use it for spreading construction adhesive and any other substrate that is sold in tube form. A caulk gun saves your hands from cramping, especially if you have a lot of caulking to do.

A basic caulk gun costs about $10 – $20, but you could buy a power version which run up to $200! Sheesh!

Starting a tube of caulk:

Cut off the tip of your tube by inserting it into the hole at an angle.

Poke the stick attached to the gun into the tube to puncture the seal.

 Loading a caulk gun:

Pull the hooked rod all the way back. Insert your tube base first. Then tilt the nozzle end into the top of the gun.

Rotate the hook so it is facing up and the teeth are facing down.

Pull the trigger and you’re good to go!

Be prepared to pull the hook rod back when you finish or the caulk will continue to flow out of the nozzle.

Watch this video for more details on using a caulk gun (also called a caulking gun) and why it is important to fill any cracks or seams in your siding!

*Thanks to The Real Tim Jones for sharing the secret about how to cut and start your caulk tube! Tim is sooo right, I never knew about this until I saw his video!

And, if you want to find out how to keep your caulk from drying out in between uses, my friend Sandra at Sawdust and Paper Scraps has this tip.

Happy Caulking!

Show Stopping Beaded Chandelier Makeover – Guest Post by Modern Parsonage

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Welcome to our second Wednesday in 2012! Today I have a special guest for you: Bri from The Modern Parsonage is here to show you how she created that truly fabulous chandelier you see up there. But, before we get to the tutorial, let me tell you a little about this handy gal (and her partner in DIY crime!) Bri and her husband moved into a home that was previously a Pastor’s family home. They dove head first into the process of renovating the home to be more modern and fitting for the hip couple of professors that they are.

The Modern Parsonage showcases the renovation process, from idea to finished product, tossing in snapshots of design inspiration and everyday life.You can follow them as they transform their home one room (floor to ceiling) at a time. Check out their Staircase renovation, bathroom update, and installing flooring projects.

Okay, take it away Bri!

Let me begin by saying that I started this project thinking I needed a ton of prep work, money, and time to transform a boring, brass light fixture into a show-stopping (if I do say so myself) chandelier. O ye of little faith, I say to my former self. This is a beginner’s project and requires so little skill that I would go so far as to call it a fool-proof way to jazz up even the most tired light or lamp for significantly less than the cost of a new fixture. (Read: under $75)

Start with a cheap chandelier. I found one on my local Craigslist for $25, but I would recommend scouring your hand-me-down shop of choice since these brass fixtures are often the standard for apartments or new builds.

Next, I did some research online and adopted a few misconstrued beliefs that I will now dispel. First, it is perfectly fine to spray paint the plastic-protected electrical cord that runs up the chain. I was not aware of that and wasted quite a bit of time figuring out creative ways to protect the cord while spraying the chain. Second, either fully remove the plastic “candles” or spray paint them the same color as the fixture. I did not know that these were removable and you can still see the tape lines from where I thought I had to cover parts of the plastic. Learn from my mistakes, people.

After you have chosen a diamond-in-the-rough light, acquire the necessary resources. You will need:

  • A drop cloth
  • A place to hang your light (I hung mine in the basement, but you can just as easily use a tree if the weather is nice)
  • Two cans of the spray paint of your choice (it is always better to have extra on hand because spray paint has tricky drying times and you don’t want to run out in the middle of the project). I used matte white and it was just the cheap Ace Hardware brand.
  • A ventilator or mask. Always necessary when messing about with spray paint.
  • 220 grit Sandpaper
  • Deglosser. (This is only if you want to be super thorough. I wiped my chandelier down with just soap and water and the paint adhesion was still great.)
  • Beading of your choice. I used roughly 750 beads and got them at Michael’s, but it all depends on your taste.
  • White string (I got DandyLine brand and it is super strong).

For the optional chain cover:

  • Fabric of your choice (double the length of chain you want to cover and 7 inches wide).
  • Fabric glue
  • Iron-on Velcro
  • Thread
  • Also, an iron, that’s pretty important.

Now it’s time to get down to brass tacks. Get it? Because it’s a brass light? Anyway, lightly run your sandpaper over the fixture. Do not press too hard or the metal will scratch. The goal here is to rough up the surface so that the paint can form a strong bond. Next, give it a good once over with a damp cloth (soap and water will do, deglosser if you’re thorough) to remove any dust, grease, or grime. Let the light dry completely.

Don your mask. You will look beautiful, I promise, but more importantly, your lungs will thank you. Find a good spot to hang your light and start spraying.

As you can see, I tried to bundle up the electrical cord in the plastic bag, but that caused a lot of problems, including bare spots of brass. I also taped off the tops of the “candles” instead of just removing them and covering the exposed wire. So yeah, just don’t repeat my follies.

Spray painting is best in short, quick bursts. Long, sweeping motions are not your friend. It will take many, many thin coats so don’t be surprised if you have to use the entirety of two cans.

Once you have your desired level of coverage, let the light dry overnight. When the paint is fully cured, the real fun starts – beadwork. This part takes creativity and is really up to you. I did a lot of window-shopping for fancy-pants lights and finally decided I wanted a chandelier adorned with clear beads and small silver accents, embellished with teardrop crystals for extra pizzazz. I would say this is the longest part of the process; it took me about four hours to get all the beads strung and hung on the light.

With the hard part done, re-install or switch out your fixture (remember, black wire connects to black wire and white to white!).

At this point, if you’re happy with your light as is, you’re done! If you’re like me and have an awful chain and unpainted electrical cord, you may want to consider DIYing a chain cover. Much cheaper, totally easy, and no sewing machine required.

Begin with your fabric swatch and fold over about a 1/4 inch on each side, ironing the edges.

Apply a small line of fabric glue inside the seams to create a permanent hem. When the glue dries (15 minutes to a half hour), sew a running stitch on both long seams. I know this sounds complicated, but trust me, if I can do it, so can you. Pass the needle in and out of the fabric down the edges, knotting each end. (It allows you to scrunch the fabric, which is important.) Gently pull the knotted ends and push the fabric together to your desired length.

Once the scrunching is done, grab your iron-on Velcro and press it on. Run the iron over the whole cord cover to ensure a strong bond. Now all you have to do is wrap it around your chandelier chain, making sure the seam is on the least visible side, and admire!

Isn’t that chandelier beautiful?! I know people would pay a lot of money to bring that chic lady home. Thank you so much Bri from the Modern Parsonage for letting us into her home for the tutorial.

Would you like to be a guest on Pretty Handy Girl? Read my open invitation here.

Adding Grilles to Garage Door Windows

before_and_after_single_door

You know that thing about your house that you really want to change, but it takes you a while to mull over how to change it? Well, that thing for me was our garage doors. They are the two giant doormen that greet me at least five times a day as I run errands and taxi my children to and from school. I always thought they could be a little more polished and more inviting. In this mulling over period I dreamt of painting the garage doors and boosting the character factor by adding grilles to the windows. I even created a paint preview to see what it would look like. I fell in love immediately and the hulking gray doors’ fate had been sealed.

I wasn’t exactly sure how I was going to add the grilles (cross pieces in the windows.) I thought about cutting up paint sticks or just plain strips of square dowels cut to fit, but I REALLY wanted them to look as real as possible and I liked the router profile of the real deal.

A few months later I literally almost tripped on a stack of donated window grilles at my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore. You know, the cheap ones that are pressed up against the window and always fall out. Grrrr!

That was when the “A-ha” moment happened and I figured that I could use them to dress up my garage doors. I carefully measured the panes on the garage then found a set of four grilles that would give me two cross pieces per window! Perfect! And the best part about those grilles is that they only cost $2 a piece. For $8, some paint and glue I was able to transform my garage doors from boring bland to cottage charm!

And here is the tutorial for how to add grilles to plain jane garage door windows!

Materials:

  • Reclaimed grilles from Habitat ReStore
  • Hand saw
  • Pencil
  • Tape measure
  • Paint
  • Loctite Outdoor Sealant Glue
  • Windex
  • Rubbing alcohol
  • 3M painter’s tape
  • Razor blade scraper
  • Paintable flexible caulk
  • Caulk gun
  • Wet rag
  • Gloves

Start by cutting the grilles down to size. This is how I got two crosses from each grille. First, cut the grille into two pieces as shown below:

No power tools needed. A handsaw works great.

Next, cut off the excess so you are left with two crosses that fit perfectly in the window panes of your garage door.

Test fit the cross. If your measurements are off, no worries, 1/2″ gaps can be filled with caulk.

After cutting all of the cross pieces, clean them off. Lightly sand and paint them the same color as your garage doors.

After the paint is dry, clean the glass with windex and then use rubbing alcohol to remove any dirt and debris from the glass.

Spread a bead of Loctite Outdoor Adhesive onto the backs of both the vertical and horizontal bars. Center and press the grilles onto the glass. Use painter’s tape to hold them in place.

Wait 24 hours for the glue to harden and dry. Then scrape any excess glue off the glass with a razor blade.

Time to fill in the cracks! Caulk all the seams. For the larger gaps, 1.) Apply painter’s tape on both sides of the void to 2.) keep the caulk off the window and give you a crisp, clean edge. (I’ll have a special caulk gun tutorial for you on Friday!)


3.) Remove the painter’s tape while the caulk is still wet. Let the caulk dry.


 And you’re done! How is that for adding instant character?!


I could kiss these beauties! They are definitely welcoming doormen now.

Speaking of welcome, I repainted our faded Welcome sign and hung it back up. Are you an eagle eye reader? What else changed in the pictures below? Five things have changed, can you spot them all? I’ll start you off:

      1. Painted doors
      2. Added grilles
      3. Refreshed welcome sign

Okay, one more lookey at my beautiful garage door windows and then you have to leave.

I want to give a big shout out and thank you to Waste Management and The Bagster who helped make my garage makeover a possibility. You can see more of my garage transformation here.


10 Ways to Make Your Old Clothes New Again : Parentables

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With all the craziness of breaking and reviving my blog, I didn’t get a chance to tell you about some great ways to make your 2011 (or older) wardrobe so very 2012!!!

Read my post over at Parentables on 10 Ways to Make Your Old Clothes New Again : Parentables.

You can thank me later ;-).

Calling all crafters: Do you consider yourself an Ultimate Crafter? Are you the competitive type? Can you whip up something by rubbing two sticks together? Go ahead and try out for this new cable show:

 

 

If you get cast on the show let me know! I’ll hoot and holler for you.

I Broke My Blog and WordPress Plugins You Shouldn’t Blog Without

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If you happened to glance this way yesterday you may have seen a blank screen…nada…nothing! And if you came by today, you probably saw the home page with some error codes and not much else but 404 errors when you tried to go to a post.

I admit it, I broke my blog!

How did I do it? Well, in short, I blatantly disregarded the written warnings not to mess with the code in my theme files in WordPress. Being the do-it-yourselfer that I am, I was determined to fix something on my own. You know that motto of mine? “If a human being can do it, then there is a 95% chance that you can do it too!” Well, I guess I finally found that 5% that I can’t do!

Have I learned my lesson? Will I leave my blog code files alone? Maybe, at least for now I will.

Until that future date when I become a proficient coder, I will be relying on the fantastic WordPress Guru, Ashley, from MyFrontPorchSwing.com. She was able to recover my blog and bring it back from the dark abyss. I’m not exactly sure what she did or how she did it, but I am forever grateful!

Ashley is the code savvy person I used to switch me from Blogger to WordPress at the beginning of 2011. She was super helpful and spared me the headache of trying to learn to do it myself. She provides WordPress support and Blogger to WordPress conversions (in addition to social media promotions.) If you are thinking of making the big switch, contact Ashley.

 

Back Up Your Blog:

After this harrowing experience of breaking my blog, I have learned the über-importance of having a back up of my blog. Lucky for me, my guardian angels at BlueHost had made a back up a week ago. The tech support person I talked to was able to reload my blog from the back up they had created. However, the scare of losing all my posts has made me realize that taking back ups into my own hands is a necessity. Ashley recommended this WordPress Plugin that emails regular back ups to you: WP DB Backup

Stop Those Spammers:

When my blog was moved to WordPress the spam commenters came out of the woodwork. That was when Ashley told me to install Akismet (I installed the free version.) It catches about 99% of the spam comments and moves them into a folder for you to go through and delete anytime you have time (yeah right.) The spam comments add up quickly and there were repeat spammers. Which is why I loaded this other spam filter: Block Top Spammers. When you check a box next to the repeat offenders, the plugin  recognizes their IP address and stops their disgusting spam before it even goes into the spam folder. This has been a huge help for me because I don’t have time to go through thousands of spam messages and delete!

Speedier Loading:

This has got to be the biggest change I made to my blog! It is the one silver lining in this whole debacle that I endured for 2 days. Ashley told me about the W3 Total Cache plugin. It single-handedly turned my blog’s loading speed into a speed demon. I seriously can’t believe the difference it made! Load this sucker right away.

Uploading Multiple Images:

One of the biggest hassles I had when moving to WordPress was dealing with the image uploads. Being a tutorial blogger, I load oodles of pictures for each post! Faster Image Insert is a nifty little plugin that allows me to upload multiple images at once and choose one or all of them to insert into the post. I <3 this plugin!

Auto-Email Replies to Commenters:

Have you ever left a comment on a blog and months later you are back on that blog and realize that someone responded to your comment? Reply Me is a plug-in that automatically emails replies to the commenter and it is sent from the commenters email address so they can reply back with ease.

Creating a Site Index:

I have been struggling (and still am) with the best way to help my readers find past posts on my blog. But, I also wanted to make sure that the web spiders were able to crawl my site more efficiently. I found this cool plugin called AZIndex. It takes all of my posts and creates a site index. I placed the links on a page which is now my site index. The index is only customizable to a certain degree though. Some day I want to create a beautiful thumbnail directory for y’all, but until then this will have to suffice.

Loading the Plugins:

To load any of the above mentioned plugins into your WordPress blog, simply go to your WP dashboard, chose Plugins > add new and search for the plugin name I’ve highlighted above. I’ve linked each to their respective sites for more detailed information about each plugin.

I hope some of these plugins help you. I’d love to hear about any WordPress plugins that you love!

P.s. I hope to be back to the normal DIY tutorials this week. Thanks for your patience ;-). XXXOOO

 

Clean Laundry – Miracle Stain Remover, Make Your Own Detergent and Dryer Balls

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Stains…

I’ve been keeping a secret from y’all and I just can’t live with it anymore. I have a miracle stain remover recipe that has time and again proven to work on some of the most stubborn stains. Recently, Pretty Handsome Guy came back from a business trip with a stained button down shirt. It had wing sauce on it AND it had been allowed to settle for a few days AND he hadn’t pre-soaked it or used any stain remover. (Have I not taught him anything?! Sigh.) I thought for sure the shirt was a goner. But, I decided to put my miracle stain remover recipe to the test. Low and behold after 24 hours of soaking in the concoction, the stain was magically gone! No scrubbing, it was simply gone. Can I apply for a magic wand now?

I can’t lay claim to the recipe. I found it on a local “Mommy” message board back when I was a new mom. But, this recipe has worked on more stains than I can count.


I mixed up a batch today to try on one of my son’s shirts that got blueberry jelly on it. My mom tried to wash it and get the stain out, but it was still there after laundering. Normally once a stain goes through the dryer it is set in. But, that didn’t deter the Miracle Stain Remover. Sit back and learn young Jedis (we just let the boys watch Star Wars the first time last week, so it is on my brain.)

Ingredients:

1 scoop of Oxi-Clean
1 scoop of Liquid Clorox 2
1 scoop of Cascade powder dishwashing detergent (or another powered brand.)

Fill your basin with warm water then add the oxi-clean, clorox 2 and dish detergent. Give it a swirl and mix until the powders dissolve and bubbles form.

Place the stained garment into the mixture, being sure the stain is submerged. After two hours you can take a peek! My stain was gone.

For tougher stains, let it soak overnight. Remove the clothing to behold the miracle! Normally I will throw the garment into the wash, but you could simply rinse and dry it.

And, this formula is also safe for colors as well!

Laundry Detergent…

In the spirit of sharing, I also came across this recipe for laundry detergent from Busy-at-Home. It is so stinkin’ inexpensive, you won’t believe how much it costs to make. But first, have you seen the price of laundry detergent lately?! 150 oz. for “gulp” $21! Whereas the recipe I made yielded 250 oz. for….are you ready for this…$0.61! Yup, if you don’t believe me, you can see Busy-at-Home’s calculations. She figured out she would save 97% on detergent by making her own.

And the best news is that it is safe for HE washers. You only need 1/4 cup per load. The recipe was derived from Michelle Duggar’s own laundry room.

I mixed up the recipe (which contains only three simple ingredients: Borax, Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda – NOT BAKING SODA – and Fels-Naptha.) All of these ingredients can be found at your local supermarket and/or Walmart. You might have to hunt a little to find them since the major laundry detergents have the prime spots on the shelves. I used a 2.5 gallon water jug to store our detergent (complete with easy pour spout!)

I’ve used the detergent for a few weeks (and a dozen loads) so far. It works great. The only thing I miss is the linen scent of the detergent I was using. But, for 3/100th of the cost I can deal!!!

Drying clothes…

And since I’m talking laundry today, this post wouldn’t be complete without mentioning my secret weapon for drying clothes.

Nellie's Dryer Balls

They look like medieval torture devices, but these little blue guys have completely kicked our fabric softener sheets to the curb! I haven’t used them in over 4 years now! At first I was concerned about static (the bane of my hair’s existence), but then a friend told me that you can eliminate static by not letting your clothes over dry. Simply shut off the dryer when your clothes are about 95% dry. Don’t let the dryer run and run and run until the clothes are piping hot and there isn’t a spot of dampness on them. Instead, let the moisture sensor (if you have one) do its job and it should shut off right before the clothes are dry. The waist bands in jeans or sweatpants may feel slightly damp, but everything else feels dry. And most importantly, pull out fleece, polyester, and synthetic clothes about half way through the cycle.

The dryer balls (you should use two) work together to punch, separate, fluff and dry your clothes. They also help keep wrinkles to a minimum, but I’m not afraid of a few wrinkles (see my no iron solution to wrinkles post.) The Nellie’s Dryer Balls cost $16.99, but the cost savings of not using dryer sheets is definitely worth it. Plus, you don’t have to stress about the chemicals that are in dryer sheets. These little wonder balls (I can’t believe I just typed that) last forever! I have been using mine for over four years. They start to get darker on the nubs from dye in your clothing, but it doesn’t transfer and it doesn’t hurt their effectiveness.

Nellie's Dryer Balls

Nellie’s Dryer Balls

That’s all for today. I’m taking off my June Cleaver outfit now and returning to my normal Bob Vila attire.
Disclosure: No disclosure necessary today. I was not paid to write about any of these products and none of them were sent to me for free. These are all products that I use and love!

Smart Tiles Installation and Product Review

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The other day I was lamenting the condition of our laundry room. It was beautiful about a year ago, but continual use and lots of cleaning paint brushes had left the wall looking like this.

Since Jackson Pollock walls are not in style, I decided to give the utility sink a quick face lift. Of course glass mosaic tiles would be really fab here. But, I didn’t have the time or desire to grout the walls and tiles. Luckily I had some Smart Tiles patiently waiting for me to try them. I chose the Lagoon Mosaik tiles for my laundry room. But, there are a wide variety of colors and sizes to chose from. These self-adhesive tile sheets have the look of mosaic glass tiles but not the hassle and mess of mixing grout, laying tile, and cleaning the grout afterwards.

Installing them is a cinch. It is as simple as wash, peel, align and stick! See:

You’ll need a few materials before you start:

  • Level
  • Pencil or Chalk
  • X-ACTO knift
  • Cutting Mat
  • Metal ruler
  • TSP cleaning solution
  • Sponge
  • Dry Rag
  • Painter’s Tape

Clean the walls according to the directions on the TSP cleaning solution box. Wipe the walls dry.

Use a level and a pencil to mark a line where the top of the smart tiles will be installed.

Dry fit all the tiles sheets. Start in the corner (if you have one.)

 Tape up all the tile sheets using painter’s tape.

Cut any excess off the sheets and cut any additional tiles needed for the installation.

Peel the backing off and carefully adhere the tile sheet to the wall. Try very hard not to touch the adhesive backing.

Line the tile up with the level line.

Press firmly against the wall and smooth your hand over the sheet to remove any air bubbles.

For any holes: 1) Count tiles for the hole. 2) Cut out that many tiles. 3) Stick them on and admire how well they blend with the existing tiles.

Another reason the Smart Tiles are a breeze to install is because they are flexible, you can wrap it around an object, then mark the cut and use an X-ACTO knife to cut away any excess.

That is all there is to it! Stand back and admire your handy work!

I loved the ease and simplicity of the Smart Tiles. They look real until you get up real close and notice that they are not as thick as glass tiles on the side. To fake the sides, you could fit a thin piece of molding on the sides and the top to give it a more finished look.

Although these tiles are easy to install, they cost about the same as the real thing. However, you will save money on grout. And you will definitely save time (and we all know that time is money!)

The tiles I installed have wiped off very easily and they don’t show splashes. A few of the corners have started to peel up where I wasn’t  careful about not touching the adhesive backing. The rest of the seams are holding tight.

If you are looking for a quick and easy solution to update your backsplash, I highly recommend the Smart Tiles.

That being said, if you want a more permanent solution, I recommend spending about the same amount of money and take the time to install glass mosaic tiles.

Note: They cannot be installed inside a shower where the conditions are very wet. In the kitchen, if installing behind a gas range without a back panel, you need to leave a safety zone.

You can purchase them at your local Home Depot in the US,  online, or at these locations.

Disclaimer: I was sent one packet of 6 Smart Tiles to try. This is not a paid review, all opinions and the project are my own. If I don’t like a product, you won’t see a review on my blog. For more information about product reviews and my disclosure, read this.

ANNOUNCING the Best DIY Project of 2011 CONTEST!!!

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ANNOUNCING the Best DIY Project of 2011 CONTEST!!!

Stacy from Not Just a Housewife is hosting a contest to find the Best DIY Project of 2011. As the power tool wielding writer of a very popular DIY blog, she is the perfect person to host such a competition!

Here are the details:

  1. Go to Not Just a Housewife on January 2nd.
  2. Link up your favorite DIY projects you did this year.
  3. Sit back and wait for some esteemed DIY guest judges to pick the top 5 projects.
  4. Then you get to vote! ALL of you will have the chance to vote for your favorite project to win the Ultimate DIYer prize package!!!!!

The top 5 will be announced on January 9th. Voting will start the 9th and run that whole week. The winner will be announced on January 16th.

Here’s a little sneak peek of the companies who are donating prizes:

 

The projects will be judged by these super handy DIY bloggers!!!! Check out the line up:

The projects will be judged based on creativity, how well it was executed, and visual interest. Basically, if we like the project and think you did a good job :)

Here are the DETAILS:

*You must be a follower of Not Just a Housewife

*You may link up a max of 3 DIY projects (cause I know how hard it is to pick just one….)

*The project(s) must have been done by you (it is alright if you had a little help but the idea and the majority of the work should be YOU)

*The project needs to to have been completed and posted about in 2011

*You need to add the contest button in the post or on your sidebar (I will provide the button code when the contest goes live)

Head forth and link up your projects!!!!!!!