Friday, July 31, 2009

Chair Makeover DONE!

So, I have completed my chair makeover that I first told you about here.
Once again I did not do step-by-step instructions, but they were pretty cut and dry, so I think I can explain a little bit of what I did.
For both chairs, I used a liquid sandpaper to take the finish off and get the chairs ready to be painted. This step also took care of wiping the down both pieces to get the dirt off them. The chair with the woven seat needed a little extra cleaning - I actually used a toothbrush to get the dirt and grime out from between the grooves in the woven part. Always remember that paint does not stick to dirt all that well! After wiping each chair down with the liquid sandpaper, I went over each chair looking for any paint drips from previous painting jobs and sanded them down with real sandpaper.
For the black chair, I did not need to prime since the color going on top was darker than the color the chair already was. I used a craft sponge to apply the paint, a trick I learned from this craft blog. I definitely recommend this technique to you and it is something I will do in the future - I found that it allowed you to control the flow of paint and kept it from getting all gloppy. Another plus - no brush strokes! The coats go on pretty thin with the craft sponge, so I ended up doing three coats and then a fourth coat where I went through and spot-checked and dabbed paint where needed.
For the cushion - that part got a little complicated. The cushion wasn't screwed in, so that made it easy to remove the seat! I turned the seat over and removed lots of rusty nails, staples and tacks in order to be able to get the fabric and cushion off the seat. There was a total of three layers of fabric, plus a very old (and gross) seat cushion. Once I removed all the fabric, I was able to apprise the condition of the wooden seat - not good. It was starting to crack and I was scared that if someone sat down, the seat might split down the middle. We were planning a trip to my parents' house for the following weekend, so I took the seat with me and my dad used it as a pattern to cut a new seat using wood he had in the garage.
Once I had a new-and-improved seat, I got work on recovering it. Since I had removed the padding, I bought foam from the craft store. It was about a half-inch thick and a terrible green color. Since I knew the fabric I would be using had a light background, I also bought muslin at the craft store to use as a layer between the top fabric and the foam to keep the foam-y green color from bleeding through. Muslin is pretty cheap and didn't add much to the cost of the project. Using a staple gun, I went through and stapled the foam then muslin then fabric to the seat cushion. I found the best technique was to staple the corners down first, and then work my way in, cutting and stapling until I had each layer stapled securely and didn't have too much excess foam or fabric.
When I finished with the stapling, I just put my new covered seat cushion on the chair and I was done! At some point I will probably get some screws to secure the cushion to the chair, but it's a chair that sits in a corner and looks nice and will probably only be used when we have guests and need extra seating.
For the white chair, I decided priming was probably a good idea since I was going to be painting it white. I already had white primer in my garage and again used a craft sponge to apply the primer. Once the primer dried, I took the chair out to the backyard and applied two coats of white spray paint that had a little bit of a sheen to it. Spray painting was the easiest way to make sure I covered all the areas of the chair evenly without any paint drips. The chair now sits in an extra bedroom at my desk where I keep my sewing machine. The room now smells like fresh paint - one of my favorite scents!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

A custom nursery

I warn you at the start...this is NOT a post about how to do a nursery cheaper or more easily than buying a pre-made nursery set. And there are lots of precious one's out there! Rather, this post is about how to create a room around something you love.

I LOVED these ducks. Seriously. Aren't they precious? For a number of pre-baby years every time I went into Target I told my husband that when we had babies, I wanted these ducks to decorate the nursery.

When I became pregnant I was fortunate they were being discontinued so I bought them up and have two shelves in my kids' room where they are displayed.

Fabric and Bedding

Next my mom took them with her to the craft store and found paints to match which we used to add bits of the color around the room. She mixed it with a fabric medium and stamped little circles on a cream fleece that she used in the bedding. We also chose fabrics that had colors that matched or blended. If you have never quilted or worked with fabric, it is not necessary you have a perfect match, blending is key. Lastly, to make the mixture more juvenile, she chose a large scale ric-rac trim and embroidered duck feet. You can see I chose to hang the quilt on the wall in the end because it was so precious, and babies don't usually sleep under the quilt anyhow.

Furniture Accents
Next I used the paint that we had matched to give the baby furniture details that brought it together. I was given the crib and bought the dresser at an antique store for $80. I painted both with cream paint and added the detail. My husband was very suspicious of the dresser as it was pink and gold when it came home!

Other Accessories
I also found other accessories that were in the same color family. I LOVE the sweet lantern light that takes a low voltage night light bulb. These "boy items" were too sweet to pass up, now I need to add some more girly things with our new bundle on the way.

Other Areas
As my little boy has gotten older we added to our glider to make a reading area complete with cheap (they are on sale on and off this summer at Target for $2.99!) matching green crates for toys and books, and a fun bean bag. Notice also the lovely window treatment- again kudos to my mom!
We don't have enough bedrooms to have a separate guest room so we had to incorporate a guest bed. This trundle bed was a shiny white finish but I spray painted it with textured black spray paint (Learn more about how to do this from a prior post here.)

So here is to things you love - work with them and make something that is uniquely special to you!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Wall Decor

I am always looking for things to hang on my walls, especially if it is cheap or I can make it myself. There is a do-it-yourself (DIY) Web site that has lots of easy, inexpensive ideas.

I love so many of their suggestions - I'll post pictures if I try any of them out!

Monday, July 27, 2009

Front Porch Makeover - Part II

You spoke, I listened. Our new door will be RED!

Painting is still in progress, but here's a sneak peak of our door!

Adventures in Cloth Diapering - Part II

How to Wash Cloth Diapers

Step 1: Cold Rinse with Detergent – Rinse your dirty diapers in a cold rinse with ¼ the recommended amount of detergent. Always use a detergent that is “free and clear” to prevent build up and repelling on diapers. I like to use Tide Free and Clear. The cold rinse and will prevent stains from setting.

Step 2: Hot Wash/Cold Rinse – Wash your diapers in a hot wash and cold rinse cycle. Do not add any more detergent to the washer. The hot water will disinfect the diapers and the cold rinse will continue to wash out any detergent from the previous rinse.

Step 3: Extra Rinse – For an extra dirty load of diapers, run them through an extra rinse to ensure they get really clean and the detergent is rinsed out.

Step 4: Dry – Throw your diapers in the dryer to dry, however, you could easily line dry them weather permitting.


· Wash the diaper pail liner with your diapers (no need to send it through the dryer).

· Remove inserts from pocket style diapers before washing.

· Make sure all Velcro fasteners are attached to the laundry tabs to prevent excess wear and tear to diapers.

· Putting diapers in the sun to “bleach” them will remove staining without using harsh chemicals.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Cupcakes, cupcakes, cupcakes!

So this is what our fellow blogger did on her first day overdue. Granted...I'm not overdue, I'm 37 weeks, but I feel ready! So I followed suit and went cupcake crazy! (Notice the cute apron from my earlier post, love it even if it won't tie around the middle at the moment!)

All pregnancy I have wanted coconut cake, and since seeing this post on one of my favorite blogs, I have been wanting to give them a try. Here is the recipe.

Then I decided to also add my favorite and super healthy carrot muffins (just add cream cheese icing and they are carrot cake cupcakes!) Then I had to add some plain old yellow cake ones because my husband doesn't like either of the others, and it seemed just wrong to make 48 cupcakes and not a single one for my man.

Before a bake-a-thon, I always start by cleaning the kitchen thoroughly. And the nice part is you can set out your butter/cream cheese and any other ingredients that need to come to room temperature. Then I get out my ingredients, bowls, mixers, etc. The final step is filling your sink with hot soapy water and getting out a new clean dish towel.

Four hours later here are the results! 60 cupcakes/muffins and 3 separate kinds of icing. I froze a portion of the carrot, coconut and yellow cupcakes and put icing on the rest. Delicious! FYI - cake and cookies freeze well, but I wouldn't bother with the icing, it's easy enough to whip up fresh.

Recipe for Carrot Muffins
3 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup Splenda
2 teaspoon baking powder
2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 1/3 cup applesauce
4 eggs
2 cups finely shredded carrot
1 cup juice packed pineapple with juice (1 sm can)
2 teaspoon vanilla

Bake @ 325 for 20 min

This is my favorite recipe for Cream Cheese Icing but I like mine super cream-cheesy, so you can find one to your taste.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

101 Simple Salads for the Season

I am not kidding you - that is the title of an article published in the New York Times, which then proceeds to list 101 salads you can make. If you're like me and you love salads in the summer, this is something to check out. At the very least, it will get your juices flowing - and mouth watering - about different salad-ingredient combinations that you may have never considered before.

Plus, it's always fun to say, "Oh this recipe? I found it when I was reading the New York Times..."

Link to article here:

Front Porch Makeover - Part I

While I am on maternity leave my big project (other than adjusting to motherhood) is to give my front porch a makeover. My porch is absolutely disgusting. I hate it. I never want to spend time on it and it is definitely an eyesore. My goal is to make my front porch a warm and inviting place that my family and friends could use.

Here are my plans to give my front porch a makeover:
  1. Clean it. This may require me to buy a new vacuum cleaner as mine conked out on me yesterday.
  2. Sand and paint the walls that are not part of the siding of our house.
  3. Get rid of the nasty carpet and hopefully find something better.
  4. Either fix/clean/re-do the furniture we have out there or buy something better.
  5. Paint my front door. Any color suggestions? The outside of my house has white shingles with brown trim and the lower half is red/brown brick.
  6. Hang some flowering plants.
Here are some photos so you can see the eyesore that I'm working with. :)

I'm thinking it has potential.

Yes, that is a Christmas decoration. Shame, shame, shame on me. I could lie and say I just put it up for Christmas in July... Yes, I think I'll go with that.



I have my work cut out for me. I'll keep you posted (no pun intended).


Great recipe & craft project on one site - what could be better?!

This is one of my favorite sites for craft ideas and when I checked it out today, there was also a recipe for cooking a whole chicken that doesn't heat up your entire house by turning on the oven, plus it will cook all day and be ready in the evening. I love to buy several whole chickens when they are on sale and either roast the whole thing or cut it up into smaller sections to use in separate recipes. This recipe cooks it all at once and you have plenty of leftovers for a few days after (depending on the size of your family, of course!).

Also - a fun craft they have that I saw recently makes little squeeze balls out of sponges. Great for the summer!

I have found this site has lots of good ideas on all kinds of projects - happy exploring!

Link to the site here:

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Quick, Easy Craft Makes a Great Personalized Gift

My mother-in-law's birthday is today and, knowing that she has been re-doing her bedroom and bathroom and trying to make both more "spa like," I decided to make her something to compliment her new decorating scheme: customized storage containers. I thought these would be great on her dresser or bathroom counter to store little do-dads and odds & ends that maybe wouldn't have a home otherwise. Not only does it cut down on clutter, but it looks nice too!

I first made one of these such boxes back when I was in college, and I am still using it today, which is the first great thing about this craft - it is durable! It has survived several moves and being crammed into moving boxes, and it's still around! I keep it in my laundry room and store all the extra buttons and threads that come with new clothing. It's the perfect size and just looking at it makes me happy. These boxes are available at craft stores and are made out of some kind of paper-cardboard combination. Another bonus of this craft - it's cheap! The boxes I used for my mother-in-law's gift were only $1 each. They come in different shapes and sizes, so the cost probably varies, but not a bad base cost for a personalized gift!

So, you get your boxes and you pick out your paint colors. You will notice that the base of my boxes are always painted white - I think the white looks crisp and clean and makes the color on top really pop. Plus, it matches most stuff. Feel free to experiment. I just used regular white acrylic paint from craft stores and applied it with a craft sponge. And yes, I did paint the bottom. If you had some extra time, it might be nice to glue some felt to the bottom, but I didn't have time or felt, so I just painted instead! The technique I found to be most effective is the paint the bottom of the box first, and then arrange your fingers inside the box so you're able to hold it up and paint the sides. Then slide it off your hand, onto your work surface to allow it to dry and move on to your next box.
Next you want to paint your lids. The first time I did this, I used regular acrylic paint I got at the craft stores. This time, however, I had very specific colors in mind and went to Benjamin Moore to pick out my paints. They have little miniature pots of paints that are supposed to be used for painting a swatch of color on your wall to decide if you want to use it to paint an entire room, but they are also good for crafts like these. Bonus: I like all these colors and still have plenty left over to make boxes in the future. Again, craft store paint would be fine and completely acceptable for this project, but I needed more variations of each hue, so I went to a paint store. (I will say, though, the coverage from the BM paint was great and I think I only did one or two coats, whereas the white paint I ended up doing four or five coats.) When you are all done, if you rinse your craft sponges, those are also re-usable, so really your only expense is the boxes, since everything else can be used again.
The nice thing about using a craft sponge for this project is the paint goes on in really thin coats, so it dries quickly. This whole project would have taken only an hour and I would have had it done before dinner, but I couldn't get my Modge Podge open (it had glued itself shut) so I had to wait for my big, strong husband to get home and crack the glue seal. All that to say - if you have a couple hours before a birthday party or shower and need a gift, these do not take long at all!
After all your paint is dry, you move to affixing your picture on top. I have had the most success with catalog or magazines pictures, just because the ink does not run. For the box in the top photo, I cut the picture out from a JCrew catalog. For the boxes in the bottom box, I found all of them in home magazines I had lying around. I cannot guarantee what would happen if you printed a picture from the computer - I'm not sure what would happen with the ink. (If you experiment, please let me know how it turns out.) To affix the pictures, I used Modge Podge. It comes in a big container and you don't need a lot, so it'll keep for awhile - just be sure to wipe the edges down so the lid does not get glued on, like yours truly!
I use a craft sponge on the Modge Podge and dip my sponge directly into the container. I dab a little bit onto where my picture is going to go, put my picture on top and smooth it out, and then cover the entire top and sides with Modge Podge. The stuff dries clear, so don't be shy with it! The reason I cover the entire top with Modge Podge is because when it dries, it leaves a glossy finish, and I think it would look weird for it to be glossy just on top of the picture. I do not put Modge Podge on the bottom part of the box.
Just wait a while for it to dry and you are done! Now, you might be asking, "Did you paint the inside?" The answer is no. You could, but a) I didn't have time and b) I didn't really want to. I think it would be fun to paint the inside a fun, bright color or even the color of the lid or something, but I didn't. The one thing to keep in mind is, these boxes are sturdy and all, but they weren't designed with precision in mind. If you ended up painting the inside, especially the inside of the lid, and then had several coats of paint on the outside of the base, the two pieces might not fit together as well. Just something to consider.

Good luck to you in making this craft. Sorry if this post was confusing at all! About halfway through painting the boxes, it occurred to me that maybe I should have provided a step-by-step tutorial, but...I'm new at this! So please feel free to ask me any questions. These boxes would be darling as a baby shower gift - you could cut pictures from old Dr. Seuss stories or Golden Books and paint the boxes fun, bright colors to coordinate with a nursery. Also, you could make these with different themes, depending on the recipient. A gardner? Think watering can, galoshes, an Adirondack chair, a bird bath. A cook? Boxes with a different vegetable on each, maybe a wooden spoon or colorful mixing bowl. A lover of fashion? Classic trench coat, black dress, high heel shoe. The possibilities are endless!

One last thought - if you have small scissors, like the kind you use with a sewing machine or for embroidery, those would be great for cutting out pictures. I think the pictures look best when all you see is the picture - none of the background color, so small scissors would help ensure precision when you are cutting things out.

Happy crafting!

Friday, July 17, 2009

New Project - Chair Makeover!

I found these two chairs today at an estate sale. First, I am so excited about saying I found something at an estate sale! I always see in magazines these amazing pieces of furniture or art that are from estate sales or thrift stores - I never get that lucky!

They are both a little beat up and in need of some TLC (and paint!), but I am very excited about the prospects. I think I will paint the one with the upholstered seat black and cover the cushion with some fabric I have been eyeing lately. The other I think I will paint white and put it in my sewing room...the desk up there is in need of a chair, and all the other furniture is white. Of course, maybe I will do something crazy and paint it a fun bright color.

I am open to suggestions and will post pictures once they have been made over!

Thursday, July 9, 2009

July 4th Treats

This holiday we had family visiting which calls for some special foods and decoration.

First - The July 4th cheese board starring delicious berries in the colors of our flag. Too pretty to just eat!

A bowlful of freshly split sweet cherries. I wish the camera could capture how dark and lovely they were! These made an incredible cobbler with vanilla ice cream. See earlier posts for the cobbler recipe.

And last, a super easy and very special breakfast. I've heard them called bulls eyes, eggs in a basket, and so on. I make mine with homemade cinnamon raisin bread (from the bread maker), one egg and a little shredded cheddar. The mixture of salty and sweet makes it just perfect.

After baking bread, you can freeze or refrigerate it pre-sliced. Warm a skillet on medium-high, add butter to coat your cooking area. Cut out the middle of the bread with a cookie cutter or a glass. Place the bread on the melted butter and crack one egg in the middle. Cook the remaining bread cut out on the side. Wait until firmed on one side, flip and add the cheddar.

Aren't these just the cutest?!

What communicates love better than heart shaped food?

Cinnamon Raisin Bread
1 1/4 cup water
2 TBS Honey
2 TBS brown sugar
2 Tsp sugar or splenda (this is just for extra sweetness, so do to your taste)
1 Tsp salt
1 Tsp cinnamon
2 Cup whole wheat flour
1 Cup white flour
2 TBS butter
2 1/3 Tsp bread maker yeast
1 Cup Raisins
**Check your machine's instructions for timing of raisins, they should be added later in the cycle, generally it is about an hour in.