Archives for July 2012

Pouring My Heart Out and Giving Back

This is going to be a pour my heart out post, so be prepared. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes of Pretty Handy Girl that you don’t get to see. I’ve been blogging for over two years now and I feel the need to share with you what makes me tick and why I blog.

Pretty Handsome Guy (my husband) and I were out to dinner the other night and he asked me what truly makes me happy. I thought about it and the usual answers came up: doing fun things with the kids, being outdoors, crafting, woodworking and creating things. But, what really fuels my “joy tank” is helping others and giving back. This is so core to my personality that it eats away at me when I can’t help.

When I started this blog, it was truly to be able to give back to people. To help all my friends and family and acquaintances that wanted my time and my help to show them how to complete their own DIY project. I was originally going to hold classes in my garage (per my good friend Renee’s suggestion.) But, you can thank Pretty Handsome Guy for suggesting that I start a blog to empower others. And believe me, every time I see how many people are reading my tutorials, I am blown away and realize that the blog was a good decision.

Last week I had one of the most emotionally draining weeks since the birth of my first son. I was tasked with choosing 4 finalists from over 250 entries into the Boost Your Roost contest. The stories and pictures that were sent to me left me in tears and frustrated that I could only choose four. The night that I finally submitted the finalists (after agonizing over how to whittle down all the people who I felt truly “NEEDED” the prize) I didn’t sleep very well. I was up for several hours trying to figure out how to make it happen for those who had a need and I knew wouldn’t receive. (It is still so hard for me to write this because I want to jump in my car and go help each and everyone of them. But, I can’t. I have a duty to my children as a mother and as a wife to my husband.)

This sleepless night had me thinking about how I could give back and how I could help others. What I realized is that I can’t do it alone. I also need help to complete my goals.

Mimi Collins, one of my fans on Facebook, helped me more than she realizes when she replied to one of my posts: ‎

“Never worry about numbers.
Help one person at a time,
and always start with the person nearest you.”

– Mother Teresa

I kept coming back to this quote and I found some peace realizing that if I could help one person at a time, that help may spread. And then I could move on to the next person.

What I’m trying to say is that occasionally I will be deviating from DIY tutorials in an effort to give back where there is a need.

Will you stick with me?

Can I count on your help?

I’m not asking for your help every time, but just to take a few minutes to read about someone who has touched my heart and whose story might touch you as well.

With this in mind, you may know my friend and fellow blogger Colleen. She’s known as Mural Maker to the blog world.

Colleen with Centsational Girl (Kate)

Colleen is a caring person and is truly a giver by nature. She and her husband each took care of their aging mothers on a 24/7 basis. They were forced to live separately while they cared for the women who raised them. They did spend as much time together as their lives allowed, especially while caring for their 4 year old grandson.

She and her husband Marlon were struggling to make ends meet after the thoughtless and fraudulent actions of one person turned their lives upside down. Just when they thought they had hit rock bottom, a glimmer of hope arose and it looked like there might be a way to erase (if that’s even possible) 20 years of literally paying for an erroneous paper filed with a goverment agency. While in the process of filling out mountains of paperwork to undo this “wrong”, Marlon began to make the first steps out of an extremely fragile financial situation.

Three weeks after he was starting to get his life back, Marlon developed an aortic tear (if you remember John Ritter’s sudden death, he was struck by the same medical condition.) Most people die instantly from an aortic tear, but not Marlon. He fought for his life and so did the surgeons. After several surgeries, he was in recovery but the damage was done and he slipped away peacefully.

Colleen was devastated, her husband was her rock and her best friend to lean on. He was her ever positive outlook guy . As she dealt with the blow of his death, she didn’t realize that the worst was yet to come. Soon after the funeral, the bills started to flood in. Medical bills from the surgeries and all the emergency room and ICU fees. Bills for the funeral. And their normal bills.

Amidst all the hands outreached for money, Colleen has one that presents a more pressing need. She suffered a debilitating back injury years ago, which still requires medical treatments so she can endure the pain. At this point, I think you understand that her need for  funds to pay the bills and just simply survive (until she can get back on her feet) are unimaginable.

Colleen would never ask for money for herself, but she has agreed to let me post these details of her life and help her set up a fund raiser.

A Friends of Colleen Jorgensen Fundraising Page has been set up with (a unique site for helping people fund raise for their causes.) All the money raised will go directly to Colleen. Payments can be made with credit card or eCheck. And all your information and the amount you donated is kept private.

Update: doesn’t have a Paypal payment option, but payments can be made by sending money to Colleen’s paypal account email: MM14biz (at) (remove the spaces and use “@” instead of “at”.

As a special thank you (this is NOT a raffle or traditional giveaway), I have decided to chose one donor at random to receive a Pretty Handy Girl Basket. I’ve been collecting tools and all things Pretty Handy Girl for this basket. Because your donations mean so much (no matter how big or small), this is just a little incentive and a way to say thank you.

So, who’s with me? Can you help give back with a small donation?

Or can you help spread the word? Simply paste this code onto your sidebar (or in a post) to help spread the word:

Friends of Colleen Jorgensen Fundraiser

Note: If the above code doesn’t work in your blogging software, try removing the <div align…> and </div> tags from the code.

Your kindness will be rewarded in good karma. I definitely believe in karma, do you?

Installing a Split Face Travertine Backsplash

Installing Split Face Travertine Tile

I met Jacque and Matt from The DIY Village recently at Haven. They are such an adorable (AND TALL) couple:

Seriously, these two are TALL, I’m 5’6″ and I was wearing heels in that picture! Poor Matt was one of the few guy bloggers at Haven, but he was able to ham it up with us gals. Even if he didn’t get the memo that Jacque and I were wearing coral colors. 😉

As I’m getting ready to head out on the BIG GMC Adventure Along the World’s Longest Yard Sale, I asked these two fellow DIYers if they’d share one of their DIY adventures with you. I can seriously relate to this “simple” home improvement turning into a much bigger improvement. It happens to us DIYers all the time. So, check out how Matt started with simply swapping out their old microwave and ended up installing new drywall, removing and moving their wall cabinets, installing new stainless steel appliances, AND adding a beautiful split face travertine backsplash. Phew, I’m tired just thinking about it.

Give it up for The DIY Village People (sorry I couldn’t resist. Now you’ll have that song “Y-M-C-A” in your head all afternoon.) [Read more…]

The World’s Longest Yard Sale

11-27557 Hwy 127 Brochure 2011.indd

“I’m Wanted…..Dead or Alive” That’s right, I’m teaming up with another Tough Mother and we are about to get Funky & Handy on the World’s Longest Yard Sale. [Read more…]

Vintage Coca-Cola Dog Bowl Crate – Guest Posting by Sew Woodsy

vintage coca-cola crate turned dog bowl

I met Katie & Jon at Haven recently and fell in love with their DIY Tutorial blog, Sew Woodsy, immediately. This fun couple really write great tutorials, like the DIY Corn Hole Game

…and a Sew Your Own Yoga Skirt tutorial.

So give it up for the FAB DIY duo! Sew Woodsy!!! [Read more…]

How to Use a Kreg Jig

Hey, look at this! Tool Tutorial Friday is back! Today I have a great tool for creating strong joints when building with wood and furniture construction.

I’ve been using my Kreg Jig more and more lately. It didn’t take me long to figure out how to use it, but I thought you might want the quick tutorial.

I was first introduced to the Kreg Jig by my friends Ana White and Rayan with The Design Confidential. These two DIY ladies opened my eyes to pocket screw joints. Be sure to check out their blogs for more tips from the masters!

The Basics on How To Use a Kreg Jig [Read more…]

Summer Garden Flag from a Dollar Store Placemat

I have to admit, I’m a little addicted to making garden flags out of fabric placemats from the Dollar Store (The Dollar Tree to be exact.)

If you missed my previous flags, this was our winter flag:

And our Valentine’s Day flag (that I’m embarrassed to say hung until this week.):

But, I finally caught up to the correct season. As I like to say, better late than never, a cheery neon garden flag! [Read more…]

Grilled Corn Pesto Pizza

grilled pesto corn and tomato pizza recipe

I have been pinning lots of grilled pizza recipes, but honestly I’ve never grilled a pizza before. Frankly, I was grossed out by the fact that Pretty Handsome Guy has been grilling salmon, burgers and hot dogs on the grill. (Not grossed out by the food, just the accumulation of oils and grease.) Our grill has not been cleaned in five years. I didn’t want my fancy gourmet pizza to be contaminated by those greasy meats and their cooties. (Call me a grease-a-phob. Go ahead.)

Procter & Gamble sent myself and the other Lowe’s Creators a nice gift basket of products for cleaning my grill.

  • Dawn Grill Cleaner
  • Mr. Clean Outdoor Pro
  • Mr. Clean Magic Erasers

(All of them are available exclusively at Lowe’s, so grab them next time you’re DIY shopping.)

It didn’t take much to persuade me to tackle that big greasy beast. I confronted the challenge full force with gloves, an entire roll of paper towels and a garbage bag. I was determined to slay that nasty oily grill. [Read more…]

Dye Sprayed Shirts Using ScotchBlue Tape {Video Tutorial}

How many of you are moms (raise your hands)? And how many of you moms out there have rambunctious kids home for the summer? So, y’all with your hands raised will likely recognize this:

That was my cute adorable bird salt shaker that was obviously the brunt of some serious fun my boys were having. Grrrrrr.

And so the time had come to get those boys outside. No matter that the temperature was 102F with a heat index warning. Enough is enough! There was the safety of small innocent birds to worry about.

I came up with a fun plan to let my boys make their own t-shirts with spray bottles filled with dye and some ScotchBlue painter’s tape. The results were beautiful and unique!

[Read more…]

2012 I Love Thrifting Day Recap

Top row, left to right: Me, Gynne, Erin – Bottom row left to right: Kristen, Courtney, Amy

Saturday morning I rushed out the door into a THICK WALL of HOT and HEAVY HUMIDITY in search of some great bargains. Yes, I had to bold and capitalize that statement about the weather, because it was really that nasty! Despite the weather, I pushed forward to join some other local thrifters for the second annual I “Love” Thrifting Day. It was a good chance to have fun shopping, pointing, laughing and sweating (like a pig in a cooker.) If you stayed home in your air conditioned comfort, I commend you on being cool. For those that missed the fun, here is the recap that can be enjoyed in the comfort of your climate controlled home (or office.)

We started at The Resale Boutique, which truly remains one of my favorite consignment stores. They have several booths set up inside and there are always sales and discounts resulting in some fabulous deals! Like this antique child’s toolbox for $7.50 (- 20%!) And it had several of the tools still inside. I tried super hard to hide my excitement, but I don’t have a good poker face.

If tools aren’t your thing, how about this fun little nut cracker? He was still there when I left, so rush on out to scoop him up if you like nut crackers.

In the “Whoa! What the Heck is That” category, I discovered this rather busty machine. It turns out it was an old Dr. Scholl’s foot massager.

I thought these little spice drawers were interesting. But, when I pulled them out I discovered they weren’t drawers, but little square shakers.

I fell hard for this birds and bees carved glass plate. But, I couldn’t justify the price. It is heavy, french and truly beautiful, so I’m sure it was worth every penny.

One of the many things I bought from The ReSale Boutique were these Ralph Lauren platform flip flops. They are super comfy and may just be my new favorite shoes.

Next it was on to GCF or Goodwill Community Foundations. We went to two Goodwills and at the first one I scored this great metal storage chest for $23. The drawers look cheap, but the glides and construction are heavy duty. I have plans to make it less “girly” and use it for art supply storage in my studio. A big thank you goes to Kristen for insisting I buy it and helping me haul it to the register and out the door!

At the Brier Creek Goodwill, I met sweet Tonya who asked for my opinion on this table and 6 chair set. At under $100, the table was sturdy, but needed some TLC. Tonya has some plans to give it a makeover, and I told Tonya that I’m holding her to it!

I found these men’s shirts and an American flag (thanks Gwynne for pointing out the flag in the display case.) I have some patriotic plans for them, but I won’t tell you what they are yet. A little more about that flag, it is 100% cotton and was only $19.99. I didn’t open it up in the store, but when we unfolded it at home, it took up one entire wall in my son’s bedroom! This sucker is huge!

If you follow me on Twitter and/or Instagram, you may have been scared seen some of the stranger things that we saw while thrifting.

1. Before chia pet, there was straw bunny!

2. Everything looks better upholstered, well except a gigantic mirror.

3. Foot tall set of The Three Stooges figurines, make a beeline to Estatibles if you can’t live without them!

4. Rhinestone-encrusted nightmare-inducing fine art twins were pointed at and then we quickly ran away. SCARY!!!

We had a fabulous time. A special thanks to Courtney from The Joy of Decorating for organizing this year! Hopefully we’ll have some new recruits next year.


Sewing a Dog Safety Reflective Bandana

I realized recently that I haven’t given any updates on our adoption of Pretty Handy Dog (aka Buddy.) I’m happy to say that Buddy has been with us for a year and a half now, and he has adjusted to living with us (crazy boys and all) just fine. After the first year, he began to truly show us his personality. He can be goofy and wrestle and run around like a maniac once in a while. But, normally, this is how he rolls:

He rolls into a tight ball and snores like a sailor! He’s also what you call a velcro dog and doesn’t let me out of his sight. We’ve heard from sitters that after I leave, Buddy will pace and cry by the door. When the sitter asks the kids if Buddy needs to go to out they answer, “No, he’s just crying because he wants Mommy.” Ahh, another Momma’s Boy ;-).

With the weather being in the 100’s here in NC, I’ve resorted to walking Buddy at night. Actually, I’m normally a night walker. On these nighttime excursions, I wear a reflector vest for myself, but I always worried that cars have a hard time seeing my mostly black dog. So, I thought it would be a good idea to make him his own dog safety clothing. A reflective bandana seemed like the perfect idea. [Read more…]

Habitat ReStore Brain Exercises and Being on Channel 11 in Atlanta, GA

Special thanks to Becky from Organizing Made Fun for taking these photos.

For some reason, I like to spend my birthday at a Habitat ReStore. In 2010, I spent the morning wandering the aisles at the Raleigh ReStore. And this year, I gave a talk at the Atlanta ReStore.

During my talk at the Atlanta ReStore, there was a rogue cameraman who started following me around after the talk. I saw him ducking in and videoing while I was touring the store and sharing what I see in my mind when I look at gently used donations. Next thing I knew, he was interviewing me for the Ways to Save segment on 11Alive. There is a little article on their website about Easy Home Improvement Projects for Women, but as you know I believe that there isn’t a home improvement project that is too hard for women (so I cringed a little at the title.)

One of my readers, happened to capture the video segment when it aired and uploaded it to YouTube so y’all can see it here. A BIG thank you to Lori!

Being at the ReStore is one of my favorite things to do. Not only can you get some good deals, but I like to think of it as brain exercises. I love to challenge my brain to come up with some creative re-uses for the items. Do you want to see what I see? Here are two posts I created to help you see what’s in my head.

Re-imagining at the Habitat ReStore

What Do I See at the Habitat ReStore

I hope you have a great rest of your weekend. I’m not sure about your locale, but it has been hot, hot, hot here! Today is supposed to be up to 102F again.

Rustic Wooden Caddy with a Branch Handle

You know when you are browsing through a yard sale and you spot a sad little box that is just begging for you to buy it and give it a new life?

No, okay I might be alone on this, but it happens to me all the time!

A while ago I spotted this little box for $3 at a yard sale. I couldn’t just leave it there in it’s sad burgundy dust-covered state. So, I brought it home and it sat in my garage collecting more dust. (This happens more often than I’d like to admit. It’s a sickness I have.) [Read more…]

Hanging Beaded Glass Flower Vases

Happy Independence Day America!

A few weeks ago I attended a birthday party for my niece at The Scrap Exchange in Durham. My kids had to drag me kicking and screaming out of there because I was in creative nirvana. There were all kinds of little gems of creativity. Bottlecaps, rolls of paper, extra tiles, scraps of fabric, stencils, etc. It was like being a kid in a candy store! One of the many things that caught my eye were these little glass vases. I brought a few of them to the register and the lady asked if I really only wanted three of them. Then she explained that they cost $1 each or $10 for the whole case!

So, I bought the whole case (it was a no brainer.)

But, what the heck would I do with 48 teeny glass bottles? I ended up using some to make these beauties. [Read more…]

Dressing Up a Patio Table – A Lowe’s Creative Idea

Do you dream of sitting outside at a Parisian café sipping your caffé mocha and reading the paper? The sound of the birds twittering in the background and the screaming and whining sounds of your offspring are non-existent. And that’s when you come back to reality and realize that you aren’t in Paris and panic as you realize that quiet kids means they are up to no good!

I can day dream once in a while about this little café in Paris. But sometimes I need a little help with those fantasies. I decided to create my own little café spot on our back deck using the table and chairs we already had and then add a few items to boost the charm factor.

With a little help from Lowe’s, my patio table went from drab to fab within an afternoon. I created this little retreat for coffee, dining or Mommy’s time out chair. 😉

My Shopping List: [Read more…]