Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Icing on the Cookie

A few things to note:  Please excuse any typos in this post because the C button on the laptop is busted and I may not catch all the errors.

Tonight is the preschool open house.  It's sort of like a parent's night where the moms & dads walk around the classrooms and the kids get to show off their beautiful artwork.  They do artwork all year long, but there's a special emphasis leading up to Open House, complete with a classroom lock-down for the last 2 days so that everything is a surprise.

The other coolest part about Open House is cookies!  Parents are asked to contribute cookies, and being a baker, I like to do my own.  I decided on iced sugar cookies.  I love the Alton Brown sugar cookie recipe off the Food Network website.  But I didn't have a recipe for icing.

I found this one, which was going to be everything I wanted - a smooth, shiny finish and no egg whites.  I went ahead and mixed it up, but it was so thick, there was no way it would spread anywhere.

Here's my adaptation:

Sugar Cookie Icing

  • cups powdered sugar
  • 4+ teaspoons of milk
  • teaspoons light corn syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • food coloring

In a mixing bowl using an electric mixer (or stand mixer with whisk attachment) combine sugar, a few tablespoons of milk, add vanilla and corn syrup and keep mixing.  Keep adding milk, just a teaspoon at a time, while the mixer is going until you get the desired consistency.  Thicker for spreading, thinner for piping, etc.  Separate into small bowls and stir in desired coloring.  And you're ready to go!

I spread my frosting on with the back of a spoon.  I'm sure that piping on the frosting would look neater and more professional.  I used a little green sugar on the tops of the carrots.

And a little pink gel icing for the bunny faces.

They were a hit!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Egg-citing Craft Time (oh yeah)

Sorry about the title.  Skipping an egg related pun for an Easter craft would be a wasted opportunity.

With Easter right around the corner and a recent affection for Mod Podge I decided to give some eggs a whirl.

Now I guess you could use actual eggs to do this (draining the innerds first), but I decided to use craft eggs made from paper mache.  Again, I decided to dive into the old clothes bags to find some materials to cover the eggs - seeing as we have tons of funky and bright clothes from Sarah.

My first try was a bit of a bust, but I'll chalk it up to "learning".  I learned that I do need to go a little slower to minimize wrinkles and avoid accidentally cutting things too small.  I also learned that I should paint the eggs white before trying to apply the fabric.  The unpainted eggs are cardboard colored and the result without painting them first is sort of dark & drab rather than bright.

So step 1 is painting the eggs.  I used white acrylic craft paint and let them dry a bit.

Then I picked some old clothes in nice patterns that would work for eggs.

I cut out pieces wide enough to wrap around the egg at the widest point and long enough go end to end.  And I just started putting it on with Mod Podge.  I 'Podged up a smallish area, pressed on the fabric little by little.  With the round eggular shape, it was impossible to get it totally flat, but using scissors to slit down and overlapping flaps, I managed to avoid wrinkles.   Well, most wrinkles.

This step took quite a while because I let one side dry before starting the other side.

After the fabric was glued down all over, I went over the whole egg with a coat of Mod Podge.

The dry time for each layer was at least an hour.  It took a few days to get these done.

I did five eggs in different papers/fabrics.

What do you think?

DIY Show Off

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Check out my Can

As beautiful as last week was, this weekend has been equally dreary.  On one hand, I really missed the sun and was sad to have drizzle, clouds, and some fog, but on the other hand, it did give us some nice inside time.  Inside time = time to work on projects :)

I had a few projects in mind and a few already begun (you'll see that later this week), but in the meantime I was able to bang out something else.  Quick, easy & cheap!

Yep, a can.  A Mod Podged pretty tin can.  So cheap, so easy, I'm almost embarrassed to consider this a tutorial of any kind, but whatever.  I figure if a thousand other bloggers can post about their Mod Podged cans, then so can I.

I had an empty can from making chicken enchiladas earlier this week.  So step one is removing the label and thoroughly washing and drying the can.

Then I painted the outside white. I'm not sure how necessary this was because some of the paint peeled off while I was applying the paper, but I really wanted bright colors, so I painted it with some white acrylic craft paint that I already had.  I didn't take a picture of this, but I'm sure you guys can probably guess what it looks like.

After leaving the paint to dry - maybe an hour or so? - I cut a piece of scrapbook paper to be the height of my can.  It took a few tries of trimming down so that the paper would fit nicely between the top and bottom ridges of the can.

I brushed on a thick-ish layer of Mod Podge to the can and applied the paper.  I had to adjust the paper a few times to get it straight, but it was fairly straight forward.  Because the can was bigger around than a 12" piece of scrapbook paper, I cut out a little strip of paper to bridge the gap.  No matter, it'll be in the back :).  Another layer of Mod Podge over the whole thing and I left it to dry.  This drying time took quite a while with the 'Podge under AND over the paper.

Wait, wait, wait...watched a few episodes of Lost, had a bowl of ice cream, walk the dog...

After it dried, I admired my work and put on a second coat of Mod Podge.  I'm not sure if needed it, but I like painting the stuff on, so it got a second coat.

Then, the next day I rooted through my bag of tricks and found some orange ribbon to finish it off.  It came from Grandma Connie's 90th birthday party (it was used to tie the bags of M&Ms closed).

Using my handy-dandy hot glue gun, I attached the ribbon all the way around the bottom and top edges of the can, covering up the exposed ridges.

I made sure that the ribbon ends met at the back - where the patch of paper is.

Using the excess ribbon, I tied a tiny bow and attached it to the front.

And that's it!

Budget breakdown:

  • Can - free
  • Ribbon - free (because I'm a scavenger)
  • Glue - free (had it)
  • Mod Podge - free (had it)
  • Paper - $0.59

Total:  $0.59!!!

And now I have this pretty little storage container that sits in my hall closet.  It's holding my brushes so that I can always find them.  And it makes me smile when I see it.  Even spaces behind closed doors can be pretty, right?

Linked Up:

The Shabby Nest

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Spring has Sprung!

(ok it's not in focus, but I can't turn back the clock and take this one again)

It's hard to talk about this week without mentioning the spectacular weather.  I mean, it's MARCH and it's over 70 degrees every day for a week.  Tomorrow is Friday and it's going to be near 80.  I certainly hope this won't lead to a sweltering summer, but seeing as there's not much I can do about it, I choose to enjoy the beautiful days we have now.  How?  OUTSIDE TIME!

Just like all kids, Chris & Sarah love playing outside.  Bubbles, dirt, riding toys, and sidewalk chalk.  It's all fun.  I feel like we need a swing set and/or a sandbox.  I'll update if we take the plunge.

I guess it's time to get prepped for Easter.  Time to do some spring cleaning & put out our ceramic bunnies.  You all have ceramic bunnies, right??  Easter related craft coming soon!!!!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Finally!!! A lamp refurb!!

I mentioned quite a few weeks back that I had been scouting projects around the house and decided that the floor lamp Chris broke (read more about that here) would be a great one to tackle.  And then last weekend I wrote the sad story of how we were progressing and meeting with some roadblocks (read here).  I'm pleased to say that I FINALLY have some success to report.

But before I delve into the lamp update, I'd like to give a little history on the lamp itself.  Long ago in the 1990s the floor lamp was purchased from Ikea to light up the back of the "Family Room" in my parents house.  I guess it was my house back then.  By the time Jason and I bought our house my parents had changed their place so much that they no longer needed this Ikea classic and it moved in with us.  It was awesome because we love free stuff.  Who doesn't?

Here it is:

A perfectly serviceable lamp, but not quite the look I was going for.  Most of our stuff is exceedingly neutral and I was starting to eye lamps with more presence (style/color) and I really wasn't feeling the super angled shade that came with it.  I've got a thing for drum shades lately.  So being the cheapskate that I am, I decided that rather than buying something new, I'd at least owe it to myself to try to update the one I had.

I hit up Ikea (more on that here) for a new lampshade.

I stopped in at Walmart for some sweet purply spray paint.  And since I didn't want a shiny finish and the color I picked was apparently only available in a gloss finish, I also snagged a clear satin top coat.  And on one sunny, warm, not too windy day I went to town.  First I prepped the lamp by bagging the cord & wrapping the socket.  Then I painted on a nice light coat of primer:

I let it dry and did one final coat of primer.  Then let that dry and started in on the purple.  The color took a while to complete.  I had a few spots that didn't look so great so they were sanded down and reprimed/painted.  In the end the purple color came out great.  To my surprise, I was really digging the shiny finish so I skipped out on the satin clear coat.

Now the annoying part....the lamp socket was busted.  Chris had knocked the lamp over 2-3 times and the shade broke and the plastic pieces holding it got cracked as well.  So out they went, but with Ikea lamps, you can't always just go to the hardware store for replacement parts.  We figured the best plan would be to harvest parts from other Ikea lamps we had around the house.  Turns out my bedside table lamp had exactly what we needed for the lamp -- a switch up at the top (not on the cord) and t

he ring to hold a shade.  So Jason disassembled my bedside table light (which I was considering replacing anyway) and put together the socket on the floor lamp.  TADA!!!

I'm pretty pleased with the project as a whole.  It would have been done long ago if not for the socket snafu and a few too-windy-to-spray-paint days.

And here's how the living room looks with the lamp in the corner.  Notice how most of the toys are stashed away - so this is how it looks after 9pm and before kids come downstairs in the morning. 

9/4/12 UPDATE:  Guess What!  My project was featured over at Power of Paint - pop over and check out what other cool projects there are :)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Lotion Bottle Cell Phone Holder

If you're here because of the Pinterest Challenge then WELCOME!!!

If you don't know what Pinterest is, then you should head back to THIS post and read up.  And then you'll maybe start to understand what this post is all about.

I follow a handful of different blogs, some about families, some about DIY and home improvement, some about nothing.  Last week TWO of the blogs I follow announced a Pinterest Challenge where their followers were invited to take something they've pinned and DO it.  I have a ton of crafts, DIY ideas, etc. and this is a reason to pick something I've had my eye on for a while.

I chose a small project (since I wanted to make sure I could easily tackle it).  I picked this fun project that I had pinned (check this project out on Pinterest):

You can find the original blogger's project here.  I honestly don't remember how I stumbled upon this, but I thought it was so cool and fun.  So I went for it!

Using an old Target lotion bottle and an old dress of Sarah's that I pulled out of the Goodwill pile, I got to work.  The original project bog shows some great step by step photos, so be a little quicker.

I started by peeling labels off the bottle and thoroughly washing the bottle inside and out.

I used a little Goo Gone to remove some leftover adhesive on the bottle

Using a silver sharpie I sketched out the line to cut out my handy-dandy holder.  I did that using regular scissors.  I traced the outlet hole from an outlet cover I had.

I sanded down the edges to make them smooth, and roughed up the outside of the bottle with a bit of sandpaper.

I played around with the fabric from the dress so that I'd find the right part of the pattern to be front and center and using Mod Podge, I painted the bottle and applied the fabric.

Now this is my very first Mod Podge project, so I'm not sure if this is the "right" way, but I applied the fabric all the way around, let it dry, trimmed it with scissors, then Mod Podged over it.  This was the point where I wrapped the fabric over the bottom of the bottle.

I cut an oval of fabric to make the bottom look neat and added a few more coats of Mod Podge over the whole thing, letting it dry hanging on a knife in a glass between each coat.

When it was all but done, I used a drill with a tiny bit to drill the hole where I can attach it to the outlet cover.

What's the difference between my project and my inspiration?  Well, the original project has a wide hole for the plug and the holder hangs on the AC adapter block.  This wouldn't work for us because our phones & camera have these ENORMOUS AC adapter blocks.  So instead of letting the holder hang on the prongs sticking into the wall (this seemed dangerous), I planned on having the holder screw into the wall and being a more permanent fixture.

I did have one design flaw - I should have made the back of the holder longer so the plug would sit well above the phone/camera.  This way I'll have to plug the phone into the top outlet.  It's still neater than putting the phone on the floor or windowsill.

I'm pleased with how it turned out, but moreover I think I fell in love with Mod Podge!  I've got big plans.  Huge, really.  I'm going to decoupage every surface in my whole house!  Well not quite that much, but I expect to have some funky projects coming up!

Big HUGE thanks to the peeps who organized this:

What a great way to get all our creative juices flowing!

Monday, March 12, 2012

A little disappointment

This past weekend was a bit busy at our place.  We're ramping up our preparations for a finished basement, and unfortunately phase 1 is clearing and cleaning it out.  It's pretty un-blog-worthy.

I did get a chance to work on a few things that we WILL share on here.

First, I put in some time on a little project for a Pinterest Challenge link party hosted by  The idea is to take on a project you've pinned and put your own spin on it.  My project is inspired by this one.  It's a cell phone holder made from a lotion bottle and decoupaged with some fabric.  I figured it would be a good first Mod Podge project.  Look for details on this when it goes up on Wednesday.

Second, and this is the sad part, is that I spent some time working on the purple floor lamp (mentioned back here...)  On Sunday I touched up the last few places that were looking kinda rough, but when I went to go put the shade on and wrap up the post on the lamp re-do we found that we had some issues.

The shade does not fit.  OK, so this is an old Ikea lamp, but the shade just won't work with it.
We tried using parts from another Ikea lamp but we haven't had any luck getting all the pieces to come together properly.  I  am determined that we're not walking away from this project,  but we may have to do some crazy stuff to get it all to work.

Right  now it's looking like the best option will be to use a lamp kit with a harp to replace the socket that we have.  The shade we have won't work with a harp/finial but we can either hack it so that it WILL work, or we will return the shade and find a different one.

So the disappointment was that I had HOPED to be able to have a post about a successful lamp re-do, and instead I'm sharing this :/

In other news - the weather is gorgeous!  I may go for a walk with the kids later!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Pre-Spring Cleaning

This week the weather is warm and beautiful.  Sixty-five and sunny with bright blue skies.  Would you believe it's the first week of March?  In like a lion?  Not this year!  With Spring just around the corner, I'm itching to put the weird Winter behind me and with it the closed up dusty house that we're living in.  This means SPRING CLEANING!!

Now if you know me well, you will know that I am not a gifted housekeeper.  I do not wander around my magazine perfect home with a mircofiber dust rag in one hand and Windex in the other.  My house is VERY lived in.  I wander around this little Cape Cod and wonder why the dust bunnies are obscuring the stairs and then realize it's been THAT long since I vacuumed.  I've never done a real "Spring Cleaning" before, but this year is it, but it won't be easy!

The problem is that I can't just break out mops & buckets, lysol & clorox and just get the job done.  We have too much stuff for that.  Every counter, drawer, and closet is full.  If left to my own devices I'd probably end up a hoarder.  Because of my pack rat tendencies part of my Spring Cleaning this year will be to declutter/decrap various closets, drawers, nooks and crannies.  This phase is pre-spring cleaning.  It's the purge.

I'm trying to be logical and reasonable when gathering items to trash or donate, but it can be difficult at times. My old clothes are especially hard to get rid of (I'll get all introspective here) because it's like letting go of my past.  I guess it's comforting to hold onto my old jeans from back when we were first married and I was slim and felt great. Looking at a dress I wore is like remembering a day when I wore it.  But the reality is that when I get back down to that size again (workin' on it!) I won't want those jeans or that dress.  They're out of style.  They're pretty worn out.  I'll want to shop anyway.  So out they go.

It feels good to load all this stuff into the car to drive it to the donation center.  Tons of stuff I've been holding onto for years.  And what for??   It feels good to move on.

There is another benefit of all this purging...we will be finishing the basement!  It's a pretty huge project and will be broken out to about a million posts to give info on how things are going, but I'm definitely excited!  The work down there can't really begin until we have the space cleared out. Wish us luck!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A tiny upgrade in an otherwise still crappy kitchen

So our kitchen is bad.  Really, really bad.  Although our house is always a "work-in-progress", we've managed to make our mark in pretty much every room but this one.  Horrible cabinets, ugly backsplash, soft floor, hole in the wall...nothing updated yet.  It's on the list.

Sometimes things come up before you're ready.  The kitchen isn't the next big project we're planning here.  It's probably not the one after that either.  It's going to be big, expensive, and will require a ton of planning.  But sometimes you need to maintain your mess.  This time it was the faucet.  It was kaput.  Between the leaks underneath the sink and the stream of water that would come out of the side of the thing, it was clear that we just needed to bite the bullet and replace it.

Off to Home Depot we went.  We purchased the cheapest kitchen setup available - single-handle faucet & sprayer for a grand total of $39.  Pretty?  Nope.  But it's just a temporary replacement.  I'll be scouring deals for something attractive once it's time to do our real kitchen remodel.

Since I wasn't the one doing the work, I will say that replacing the faucet was "easy", and by "easy" I mean it wasn't complicated.  It went roughly like this:

  • Turn off water
  • Disconnect hot/cold water supply lines
  • Remove old faucet
  • Clean up area
  • Follow directions on box for installing new faucet
  • Swear because there are leaks
  • Go to the hardware store for new supply lines and teflon tape
  • Follow directions on box for installing new faucet again

Aside from what was in the box for the new faucet, we also needed plumbers putty, teflon tape, and new supply lines.  We got the new supply lines because the old ones looked pretty old and we wanted to be sure to get a nice tight & secure fit.

Aaaah, new faucet looks so pretty :)  Ok still not pretty but it doesn't shoot water all over the place like the old one did.

Definitely an excellent improvement in our kitchen.  I still can't wait to take a sledgehammer to the whole thing though!

Monday, March 5, 2012

It's Curtains For You (or me actually)!

Wow, curtains!!  If I told you today that I just put up curtains in my bedroom, and you didn't know us well, you might say "oh, did you just move in?"  Well, no.  We've been here for 5 years and I'm finally just getting around to window treatments.  We've had blinds up there to keep out the peepers, but other than that the windows in our bedroom were naked.  I've been dealing with a crisis of style.  Do I choose something with color to make a statement in an otherwise gray-ish room?  Or do I pick something white to brighten up the space but miss the chance to add some color interest?

I ended up going with white.  I chose Renate Ljuv curtains from Ikea.  They're white, sheer-ish, with a modern floral pattern.  This will allow light to come in, be neutral to go with any bedding or wall color we choose, but also patterned for a little visual interest.

I went with black lightweight inexpensive hardware to hang the curtains.  I may regret the decision to go with such cheapies (less than $10/window), but if I need to buy new ones then I can do that later.  For now they're working fine.

Jason hung the rods about 2" below the ceiling.  Hanging curtains higher than the top of the window can give the illusion that your ceilings are higher.  Since our 2nd floor has lowish ceilings, I'm hoping this trick will help a bit.

Ikea curtains are designed to be hemmed with simple ironed on hem tape, so I did each pair of panels individually (since the windows are all different heights).  It took about an hour to get all the curtains done and hung.

I think the look is great!  The curtains add a little softness and coziness to our room.  I think we will end up changing the paint color (not sure what color yet) and adding a few things to the space to help with the clutter.

Photography Note:  I took an "after" photo earlier in the afternoon, but then I realized the room was a mess and I didn't have time to clean it until the kids were in bed.  So this is a night photo, which explains why the light is so yellow compared to the "natural" lighting in earlier pics.  I was too antsy to wait until morning!


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