Archive | DIY RSS feed for this section

It was serendipity: Jute Easter eggs

14 Apr

So my morning began like most others: harass eldest child for 30 minutes until she is finally out the door, drop her off at school, race home, get other kid ready, run her to school, come home, pour coffee out of travel mug and into *regular* mug, sit down, turn on CNN, grab my laptop and check out what’s going down on Twitter…  But today was no ordinary day.  I didn’t know it yet, but I was about to be slapped by the back hand of serendipity….

Now let me explain.

When I go in my kitchen I can’t turn around without seeing this sight – I refer to it as the “craft counter”:

This is only the *half* of it 😦

It’s really bad.  Really…  But, for now, it’s the only large flat surface where I can stand and comfortably do crafts.  Anywho…  See those things in the middle?  Yeah, those egg things?  Well, several weeks ago (yes, several weeks ago) I decided I would do a project using these:

.96¢ at Wal*Mart...

I was going to paint them my favorite *non-colors* (lol) – cream and beige because, well, I don’t do *real* colors very well (no, not even for holidays lol).  I’ve painted plastic before with regular paint and it’s worked out okay (if the item was just going to sit somewhere unmoved/untouched).  Thus, I began….

Hmmm... how many coats is it gonna take...?

As I added on coats, I realized that the darn things were impossible to paint without touching them to something – my fingers, the counter, the other eggs – and each time they touched all the paint just scraped right off.  Yes, I knew I was painting plastic, but I just figured they were such small pieces and, knowing they wouldn’t be touched, I thought I would just slap some paint on ’em and they’d work out fine.

So totally wrong.

They ended up looking more like *hot mess* than *haute home*…

So I ended up throwing them in some bowl.

Where they sat.

For over 2 weeks.


I saw this post this morning from Jaime over at “that’s my letter”!

I immediately thought of my horrible little Easter egg painting project and dashed in to the kitchen.  And guess what I saw sitting there?  Let’s take a second look at the “craft counter” shall we?

That’s right, y’all!  Eggs and jute!  Just sittin’ there, side by side, as if to say (in a French accent, of course.  I don’t know why, but just… imagine…) “we’ve been waiting for you…”

And to further the weirdness of it all, the mini glue-gun I haven’t used since moving into this house 2 years ago?  Sitting right on top of a bunch of nonsense in the basement, along with glue sticks, in perfectly plain view – I didn’t even have to dig for it!

Apparently, the universe knew what I was going to be doing today, lol…  And I absolutely swear I didn’t set up that picture.  It just… was… serendipity.

And the result?  Amazing little jute wrapped Easter eggs!

Okay, so I don’t have any egg cups to show them off in, but I DO have a shot glass that will work fine!  Hahaha…

They know they're awesome. I think they're Vogueing...

It was SUCH an easy project!  And, at this point, because I had everything, it cost me ZERO (or .96¢ if you count the cost of the pack of plastic Easter eggs, which is the only item I bought specifically for my “egg” project).

I won’t bother with a tutorial because Jaime has a GREAT one on her blog, so go check it out NOW (she is actually wrapping papier mâché pears in her tutorial, which I think are pretty neat).

I love my little jute Easter eggs!

I put some of the eggs in a glass bubble vase on the entry table:


I put the rest of the eggs in a hurricane on the coffee table:


(Who would leave their remotes in a picture for their blog?  Well, me lol.  Because unfortunately I don’t live in a magazine, I live in a real house with real kids and dogs and t.v.’s with remotes…)

Anyway, hop on over to “that’s my letter” and learn how to make these cute little things!  Have you tried any other jute projects recently?  Share them with us!!

Until next time,

xx and oo’s


Quick-change before and after: Reused *shabby chic* chair

12 Apr

I was digging around in the garage (which is about all you can do in my garage… oy vey), and liberated this old chair that I’d, quit frankly, completely forgotten about.  I decided it would make a good little piece for my oldest daughter’s room… after a little TLC, of course.

I’ve had this chair for ages – maybe 8 years or so.  I originally purchased it at the Fairfax H.S. Flea Market, on Melrose & Fairfax in Los Angeles.  Ahhh… I sure do miss that flea market.  Loads of great stuff… Sigh… But I digress…….

It’s been re-covered I-don’t-know-how-many times.  And because I’m fairly lazy, I’ve never removed a single upholstery layer.  One day someone will find it and have a complete history on the *evolution of a chair* lol….

Anyway, it started out looking like this:

It got nekkid so it could get a little fresh paint (to get rid of the chipped/sanded edges. Also, I wanted a flat finish).  I used some flat white paint that was just *chillin* in the hall closet (don’t act like you don’t have cans of paint in almost every color layin’ around because I know you do…):

I found some great linen fabric with a large purple pattern, perfect for my daughter’s room, at Calico Corners.  Yeah, I know: expensive.  But I’m really limited here in Nashville for fabric of any kind, especially of the bargain variety – I sure do miss the garment district Downtown LA  😦

Anyway, I only needed one yard, so I parted with my $17 dollars plus tax. – and this was the marked-down price, all in the name of great home decor.  I actually still have enough left over to make a nice pillow for her daybed as well.  Which I’m sure I’ll get to… Eventually….

SO, with a newly covered seat and fresh paint…. ta-dah:

It took me about 25 minutes.  Including painting the chair.  Of course, I had to let the paint dry, in between, but that’s about the amount of time I spent “hands on” with this.  It was well worth it, and now her friends will have a place to sit in her room above the sea of clothes lol… Teenagers……..

One more time:





Tackled a chair quick change recently?  Share it below!

xx and oo’s




DIY Linen jewelry pin-board

11 Apr

I’ve been m.i.a. over the past week because I’ve been trying to get a few projects finished around here.  You know, projects that I was interested in for about 10 minutes, projects that have been going on so long I have to take frequent brakes to keep from going insane (the basement), projects I was *this close* to finishing when I ran out of some item I needed to get the job done and couldn’t find exactly what I needed… anywhere… to match what I was already using (GRRRRR).

My linen covered jewelry pin-board falls in the latter category…

This is a super-duper easy project to do, you could do it with a spare hour (or less!) if you have all of the materials.  Also, it is really nothing more than an upholstered message board, I’ve just left off the crisscrossed ribbon, and replaced tacks with extra-long pink pearl pins ~ corsage pins work awesome, too ~ you can find either at your local fabric or craft store.

I started with a once awesome, but now fruit punch stained cream colored linen table cloth (the fruit punch stain has been circled so you can see it in all of it’s glory…).  I love repurposing things, so I was happy to have this as a starting point.

Found a perfect piece of 3/4″ plywood in the garage (it’s pretty big!) and some batting left over from a previous project (I had this laying around, but you could use mdf, homasote – which is good for pinning, or thinner plywood)

I Liberated some cork tiles that I’d bought years ago intending on using them for something else (I had to purchase one additional pack of cork tiles due to the size of the board I was using. You can also buy cork in rolls)

Other items I used: Scotch brand Super 77 spray adhesive (love this stuff), cream colored single fold bias tape, silver *tortoise shell* upholstery tacks, staple gun/10mm staples, craft paper and masking tape (to finish the back nicely) and flush-mount wall hooks.

Here’s how you do it:

1) Lay out the cork tiles (or cork roll) on the plywood. Use the spray adhesive (lightly) to stick the cork to the board (you’ll want to do this so you can pick it up/move it around to staple on the batting), trimming the cork to size

2) Lay batting over the cork.  Staple batting to the plywood all around the outside edge (you can wrap it all the way around to the back, but this will make the back fluffier as you lay the fabric on top, so keep that in mind if you are going to use flush mount brackets – the thickness of your fabric/batting may keep your brackets from reaching the brackets on the wall).

3) Lay fabric on top of batting/cork/plywood. wrap around the back and staple.  I was very happy to see that the board was the perfect size to miss that fruit-punch stain (in the circle) lol…

4) Flip face down and roll out craft paper on the back.  Use the spray adhesive to lightly adhere the paper to the back.  Use masking tape all around the perimeter of the paper to create a clean finished back.  This isn’t necessary, of course, but it only takes a minute.  The Dollar Tree sells 3M brown craft/post paper rolls for $1. (I buy several at a time, use them for wrapping paper, as a “drop cloth”/surface protector for small paint projects, etc.)

5) Using upholstery tacks, tack bias tape all around the edges (you could also skip the bias tape and just use the tacks.  Or you could skip this step altogether).  You’ll want to make sure that your tacks are evenly spaced so using something of desired size as a *spacer* put it in between tacks and tap tacks in only half way (this will allow you to measure from shank to shank, making your spaces more even).  Once you have an entire line of “half-in”, evenly spaced tacks, go back and tap them all in.  Please note my very fancy spacer…

6) Install brackets on both the wall and back of the pin-board if you are going to hang it on the wall.  I used flush mount brackets and careful measuring was essential.

7) Check for level

(okay, yeah, I added that because, I mean, I had to pat myself on the back for that one lol….)

…. And that’s it!

I went from this mess:

To this (with room to grow!)  Peep the old school green bathroom tiles and that 1968 radiant floor heat controller (the heat still works, by the way, but I don’t use it. I can’t imagine it’s *energy star approved* haha).  Yeah, you know you’re jealous lol…

I love these pink pearlized pins 🙂

What I learned:

i) Make sure you measure accurately to determine how many upholstery tacks you need.  I ran out 4/5 of the way through and couldn’t find the same tacks for miles!  I drove all over town (and all over the next town, too!) and finally found some at my local Ace Hardware (on Harding Pike in West Meade ~ you guys rock!).  Now I know to go there first lol, but that actually set me back a couple of days…

ii) Flush mount picture hangers require absolute accuracy.  When I put the hanger on the back of the pin board I was a nano-hair off (yes, “nano-hair” is a proper measurement!) and I spent ages up on a ladder with an incredibly heavy, cumbersome board trying to hang it while not being able to see the mounting hardware.  I was sweating – and cursing – and scratching up the wall for 10 minutes when I finally decided to re-measure and discovered I was off by 2 centimeters.  2 CENTIMETERS.  I had to remove and re-attach the bracket with all of the measuring, leveling, blah blah blah…  Very annoying…

iii) This project would work GREAT in a walk in closet lol.  Unfortunately, I don’t have one of those.  It would also work well over a dresser or dressing table, but my tv’s over the dresser and I don’t have space for a dressing table.  If you’re esthetically… um… affected… like I am – and I know you are – having all of that jewelry hanging around in a space as small as my bathroom happens to be, just might make you a little crazy.  I’m still trying to get used to it.  I LOVE being able to grab my jewelry and go (it actually saves me time when getting ready), and I’m wearing stuff now that I had forgotten about!  But with all my fab (!) green tile I had managed to create a calming space using all cream *everything else* and the jewelry adds texture and color that I guess I hadn’t really considered.

xx and oo’s

My big, fat basement project: Episode #1, “Floor painting”

27 Mar

In my introduction to “My big fat basement project” I mentioned the first part of the project, which was painting the basement floor.  This was done mainly because a) the existing floor was in perfectly fine shape, it was just… well… ugly and b) I really couldn’t afford to do anything else to resolve the issue outlined in “a”.  I was quite hesitant about doing this because the space is nearly 400 square feet and if I messed it up badly, or if the paint wouldn’t adhere, I would be forced to replace it, and that simply wasn’t financially feasible.

It was do or die time…

I went online and did LOTS of research – DIY sites, individual homeowner blogs – read lots of advice about “how to” and looked at LOTS of before and after photos.  Saw an equal amount of “you CAN’T do that” and “I’ve done this and it worked out great”.  It was pretty confusing, to tell you the truth.  Ultimately, though, I decided it could be done, and done well, and I could do it myself.

I chose Zinsser B.I.N. Shellac-based Primer (appropriately tinted), and Valspar Ultra Premium Latex Satin Porch Paint in the color “Safari Brown”, as I wanted a deep chocolatey-gray brown (it’s VERY dark).  I also decided that it was a good time to invest in a paint sprayer.  Not only would this save time (and my back!), but it would help ensure a beautiful, flawless finish, and I have lots of painting projects (including the wood portion of the front of my house), so I knew that a mid-priced sprayer would be a good investment.  I decided to go with the Graco Spraystation (I KNOW, if you’re a mom like me, it sounds like “Graco Playstation” lol).  It did a fantastic job and there was NO paint under my nails when I was done – LOOOOVE that!

**Side note: Getting the gallon of Zinsser primer tinted was a bit of a challenge.  “Outside” primer manufacturers (ie: Zinsser, et al) don’t leave enough room in their cans to add a lot of tint (as opposed to the store brand primers, who do since they want you to use/tint their primer with their paint).  In my case, because I was going from white to a color that was nearly black, it was important that the primer was tinted per Valspar’s recommendation.  Not doing this would have added at least one additional coat of paint.  At Lowe’s (where I bought the paint) they are not allowed to pour out any paint from the can to create the necessary space to add the tint (I begged but they wouldn’t budge.  Some nonsense about regulations or getting fired… blah blah blah *eye roll*…).  Finally I asked if they would just give me the additional tint necessary in a cup and I could add it myself at home, to which they obliged.  So, I ended up adding a small lidded container (they gave me the tint in a foam cup – I didn’t want to spill that in the Cadi!), a large paint bucket and a paint mixer attachment for my drill to the shopping list (they did not charge me for the additional tint).  When I got home, I dumped the gallon of primer along with the tint into that big paint bucket and used my shiny new mixing attachment to create primer perfection!

Let me tell you: Shellac-based primer is NO JOKE!  When they say “use in a well ventilated area”, they really mean it.  My basement happens to be a walk out, so there is a sliding door I was able to open, as well as opening the door that leads to the garage and opening the big garage door.  I even wore a mask – and it was still crazy-stinky!  If you have a traditional basement with no windows, I’m not entirely sure I would recommend this.  However, having a perfect opaque coat of primer after just ONE coat was well worth breathing in all those chemical fumes lol.  As much as this stuff hurt my lungs I LOVE it!  And it sticks to everything without sanding (I’ve used some of the left over primer to prime the laminate cabinets and the really fancy-pantsy royal blue laminate counter top down there – seriously, *eee-gads* sooo not fabulous – but that’s an entirely separate episode…)

Following the manufacturers instructions on the sprayer I did a viscosity test and found I didn’t need to thin the primer for use in the sprayer, however, getting it OUT of the sprayer took some doing.  Because the primer is shellac-based (and not water based like more commonly used Latex paint), when you get it wet, it coagulates and goes all rubbery.  I was able to successfully clean it with very hot water and Dawn dish detergent, but I had to take the gun completely apart IMMEDIATELY after use and use a wire brush to clean it (we’re talkin’ taking out all of the little bits inside the tip, etc. and scrubbing them clean).  But the primer was on beautifully with lightening fast speed (I had one of those “OMG! Why didn’t I get one of these sooner?!!” moments)

When it came time to paint on the Valspar Latex Porch Paint, I found that I did need to thin it for use in the sprayer.  For this I used Wagner Paint Easy Latex Paint Conditioner (recommended by the *paint guy* at Lowe’s).  You can thin paint by the gallon, so that’s what I did so it would make filling up the sprayer container faster while I was working.

One coat of primer and two coats of porch paint later, and my entire basement looked like a big, delicious, magnificent Hershey’s candy bar!  I was so happy I poured myself a drink and did a dance!  I was originally concerned that the pattern in the floor would bother me, but it doesn’t.  In fact, I think it adds wonderful interest to what would otherwise be a really plain slab-o-brown-floor!

I let it cure for a week before moving furniture down there.  It was kind of like torture, but I’m glad I put on my “patient” crown because I just know I would have managed to scratch that floor.  Incidentally one week after moving the furniture down there the sump pump failed during heavy rain.  We don’t talk about that day (shivers), I’m just grateful I discovered it when I did because otherwise it could have been a lot worse – it turned out to be a failed electrical socket and my pump has no backup (Hey, I’m from L.A. we don’t have basements – or rain lol – so there is a wet weather/basement learning curve going on, mkay?).  Since I had to use chemicals down there to clean in order to get the *stinkies* out, I did end up messing up bits of the floor that just weren’t ready for chemicals yet. 😦  A little touch up here and there and everything was good as gold again, though.  All’s well that ends well….

I did the previously mentioned 7/8’s of the floor before I started this blog, so now, unfortunately there is furniture and rugs down there covering a large portion of the floor space, but here are a few pics to help you get the idea:

Lovely blue and white (and rusty!) vinyl floor, your days are numbered...

Having the primer tinted that dark really helped speed up the process, and meant fewer coats of Latex paint. That's ONE coat of primer!

The contrast between the floor *before* and the painted floor *after*. I used one coat of primer and 2 coats of paint.

The finished floor (or a slice that doesn't have a rug or furniture on it!). Now, doesn't it make you want to run and get a chocolate candy bar?


What I learned and now pass on to you:

1) Take your time when *taping off* (top, bottom, seams in between sheets of plastic/canvas/whatever you’re using).  When you spray, the fine mist will get in to places paint wouldn’t if you were brushing it on.  You don’t want to remove the plastic and discover you painted half the wall by accident (boo!).

2) Make sure if you’re going much darker that you tint your primer per manufacturers instructions.  It’ll cut down your painting time, and save money on paint.

3) Make sure your primer is tinted properly!  They didn’t actually tell me they couldn’t tint it, I figured out when I looked at the paint “blot” they put on the lid, which didn’t look tinted at all – it was barely off-white.  Since it didn’t look right, I asked questions and found out about the lack of space in the can, etc., that I mentioned in the *side note*. When I tinted it at home using the rest of the tint, it was waaaaay darker than what they tried to send me out the door with.  If something doesn’t seem right, don’t be afraid to ask questions!

4) If you’re going to do large sections of floor, invest in a sprayer.  You’ll thank me later (after you’ve forgotten all about the overtime you had to work to pay for it lol).

5) Shellac based anything requires lots of ventilation!  Remember to work safe.

6) If you think it can be done, it probably can.  Often products made for one application can be easily adapted for use in another (blush as eye shadow, anyone?).  Do your research and find a way!

7) Most importantly ~ Don’t be afraid!  Kick off your stilettos, grab an old t-shirt and get to work… YOU CAN DO IT!

Until next time…

xx and oo’s

%d bloggers like this: