Tag Archives: DIY

DIY Cake Stands (and some other stuff)

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Last weekend I made these cake stands out of thrift store/dollar store finds for an upcoming party. I was going to post a tutorial, but it turns out it’s super simple and I don’t want this to turn into one of those Pinterest-bait “how-to” posts about projects that could be carried out by a moderately bright tapeworm.  I swear I once saw an entire post devoted to a “recipe” for raspberries stuffed with chocolate chips.

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Anyway, if you want to make these cake stands just do this:

– Find some vases/wine glasses/other glass vessels of varying heights.

– Buy glass plates at the Dollar Store.

– Glue them together.

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We were out of super glue, so I bought a tube of this super mega industrial strength adhesive at Walmart. I noticed midway through my project that the packaging was covered in warnings about cancer and/or kidney failure. I wasn’t in a well-ventilated area and got it all over my hands, so who knows how long I’ve got left. If a day goes by and I haven’t Instagrammed a cat photo, send someone to check on me.

Other things of note:

– Something keeps eating the flowers in our front yard, which pisses me off because for the first time in my life I’ve actually been remembering to water them. I’m pretty sure the culprits are either deer or squirrels. If you have some suggestions for wildlife-resistant flowers, I’d love to hear them because I’m pretty close to becoming this guy:

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– Dave is making mini blackberry-lemon cheesecakes with lemon-infused crusts for the upcoming party mentioned above. I’ll try and talk him into guest-blogging the recipe, because he makes the greatest cheesecake ever and also he’s a funny writer. Feel free to peer pressure him in the comments.

– Ally McBeal is on Netflix Instant, and I’ve been bingeing on it regularly because IT IS SO FUNNY. I remember watching as a kid and thinking of them as “old people,” and I was kind of appalled to find out that they’re only supposed to be in their late 20s. I’M OLDER THAN RICHARD FISH, WHAT IS HAPPENING.

Bygones.

Bygones.

I’ll leave you with a pic of our sad flowers. RIP, PETUNIAS:

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DIY Painted Thrift Store Mirror

Real talk: I was pretty unproductive this weekend. Like, I didn’t even get out of my pajamas on Sunday. I did, however, manage to paint and hang a thrift store mirror in my living room. It’s been two months since we moved in, and we now have TWO things hanging on our walls. At this rate, the house might be fully furnished by the time we have to move into a nursing home.

I’ve been looking for a large mirror to hang above the couch in the living room for a while, so when I saw one in good shape for cheap at a local thrift store on Friday, I picked it up. Here’s what it looked like when I brought it home:

Thrift Store Mirror

And here’s what it looks like now:

Mirror After

I was pretty pleased with how it turned out, especially since I decided not to sand or prime it before painting.  I just dragged it out to the garage, where Dave had the excellent idea to prop it up on a couple of paint cans so I could easily paint under the edges:

10.28.13 Mirror on Cans

Next, I taped off the edges. I am the world’s worst paint taper, and of course there were a few spots where the paint leaked through.  Luckily, I was able to easily scrape it off with my fingernail once it dried.

10.28.13 Mirror Taped

Then I got started painting. I used two coats of Clark + Kensington Paint + Primer in a flat black shade that we had leftover from a previous project.

Paint

And here is the final product, which cost a grand total of $25:

Mirror 1

Attaching the wreath was super easy – I just looped a length of gold ribbon around it, and then duct taped the ends to the back of the mirror. Classy, I know.

Whiskers

Whiskers approves.

Ombre Crocheted Blanket Tutorial

DIY Ombre Blanket

When I was a sophomore in college I was too poor to buy Christmas gifts, so I had my grandma teach me to crochet. That year all my loved ones received poorly crafted rectangles of yarn that could barely be recognized as scarves.

I’ve kept at it over the years and slowly developed a little more skill, although I still mostly stick to simple scarves and blankets. Now that our nights are getting chilly, I’ve been spending my evenings camped out in front of SVU reruns while working on crocheting projects.

My life is so glamorous.

Earlier this week I completed this pink ombre blanket using a simple shell pattern. The shell is one of my favorite patterns because it looks a lot more complicated than it is – the only stitches you need to know are the single and double crochet.

Shell Stitch

Here’s how to do it (For this generous-sized throw, I used two skeins of regular-sized Red Heart yarn per color, and a size J crochet hook):

Starting Chain: Chain in multiples of 6 until you reach your desired length. Add two chains and turn your work.

Row 1: Single crochet in second chain from hook. Skip 2 chains, and do 5 double crochets in the next chain. Skip 2 chains, and do one single crochet in the next chain. Continue across the rest of the row. Chain 2 and turn.

Row 2: Do 2 double crochets in the next single crochet. Skip 2, then single crochet in the next double crochet. Skip two, and do 5 double crochets in the next single crochet. Skip 2, and single crochet in the next double crochet. Continue this pattern across. Do 3 double crochets in the last single crochet. Chain 1 and turn.

Row 3: Single crochet in the next double crochet. Skip 2, and do 5 double crochets in the next single crochet. Skip two, and do a single crochet in the next double crochet. Continue this pattern across, chain 2 and turn.

Repeat rows 2 and 3 until your blanket reaches your desired length.

Blanket and Chair

Right now this guy is hanging out on the pink armchair in the guest bedroom until the weather gets cool enough to require a lap blanket in the evenings.

And in case crocheting is not your thing, I found some really pretty ombre blankets for sale here, here, and here.

Out With the Mold, In With the New

Me: I can’t figure out how to start this post.

Dave: I have some suggestions.

Me: Pretty sure my grandma reads here.

Dave: Oh. I have no suggestions.

I guess I’ll start by telling you about Friday night, back when we were starry-eyed first-time home buyers who thought things like, “We can totally get the flooring done in one day!” and, “Paying for an inspection is not a waste of money!”

Idiots.

Here is what the left wall of our kitchen looked like on Friday morning (except for the walls; those are gray now):

5 Sink Wall

Cabinets! Counters! Shiny sink!

And here is what it looked like 8 hours later:

Water Damage

Rotting wood! Mold! Heather’s tears!

It all started when we noticed that the floor in the kitchen/dining area was a smidge higher than the floor in the living room, which is a problem when you’re laying laminate flooring. We peeked under the particle board in the dining room, and realized that underneath was a layer of linoleum, plus another layer of particle board. So we pulled off the top layer of particle board and  scraped away layers of linoleum, and things were rolling right along until we got to the area in front of the sink. A big, nasty water stain ran along the entire row of cabinets and disappeared under the cabinetry. We knew we had two choices: cover it up and hope for the best, or rip out the lower cabinets, sink, and countertops and assess the damage. I chose secret option number three, and ran out to the side yard to cry into my can of Hurricane High Gravity. My neighbors must be delighted they’ve got such a class act moving in next door.

When I came back inside, the cabinets were gone and we could see that the water had soaked all the way through the particle board and down through the 2×6 tongue and groove pieces right above the insulation. Black mold was growing up portions of the drywall, meaning that they had to be replaced as well. Luckily, Dave’s dad and brother-in-law are DIY geniuses and assured me they could totally take care of this mess for us, and that it would be way better than my suggestion of burning the place down and making it look like an accident.

On Saturday morning we got up early and headed to the lumber store to gather supplies, and then there was a lot of sawing and hammering and Coors Light drinking. At one point there was a hole in the kitchen floor.

Floorboards

I “helped” by blinding the workers with the flash on my phone camera.

A few hours later, I walked in to the kitchen to find the most glorious sight I’ve ever seen (aside from shirtless Chris Hemsworth):

Finished Subfloor

Clean! Pretty! Not harboring toxic mold spores!

And then, because we were still starry-eyed first-time home buyers at this point in the weekend, we rejoiced that the worst was over and we could finally start installing our floors. Our jubilation lasted until we finished the kitchen and moved all the cabinets back into place. Which is when we realized that our new flooring was thicker than the old flooring, meaning the counters bumped up against the tile backsplash, creating a giant gap.

Ralphie

This discovery meant two things: 1) The tile had to come out, and 2) I will be faking my own death and leaving Dave to handle this mess. DON’T TELL HIM.

Removing Tile

And of course, the damn tile was the ONE project the former owners actually took the time to do right. Sure, they laid a layer of linoleum over rotten floors, let their dogs defecate on the carpet, and ripped the dishwasher right out of the wall like Godzilla, but they made sure the one row of tile backsplash could survive the apocalypse. The glue was so strong that portions of the drywall actually tore off with the tile.

Hole in Wall

Luckily by this point we had given up on anything going according to plan and were just thankful there weren’t locusts flying out of the holes and frogs raining down from the sky.

While all of this was going on, my dad and brother got started on laying the laminate floors throughout the rest of the house. (We love the floors SO MUCH, but you’ll have to wait until tomorrow to see them as they are currently covered in about a foot of sawdust.)

I should note that our inspection report did not include any mention of water damage in the kitchen. I was ready to give the inspector a pass — it’s not like he was going to rip up the flooring during the inspection, after all — but the guy we had install our carpets on Saturday saw the mess and told us that this should have been found. He told us that even if the inspector couldn’t see evidence of the damage under the house, he should have been able to smell the rotting wood/mold. So now I’m psyching myself up to call the inspector, which is a HUGE DEAL for me since I am very non-confrontational a total wuss. I’d say wish me luck, but it is clear at this point in this house adventure that luck wants nothing to do with me.

Our Pretty New Walls, Plus Painting Tips for Beginners

Before I show you guys our new wall color, I wanted to go over a few things I learned during the painting process. I’m new to the DIY world, and I wish somebody had given me a list of all the important things I needed to know before painting the interior of my home.

The first lesson is the most important: Paint can openers can ALSO open beer bottles.

Beer

I kind of want to add this to my DIY Pinterest board. “Perfect for high functioning alcoholics!”

The second lesson is like it: Bribe people to help you by promising them beer.

I had originally intended to hand the drinks out toward the end of the project, but Dave busted out the Wailua Wheat about 10 minutes in and I went from “Maybe this isn’t the best idea” to

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faster than I’d care to admit.

People might wind up with paint in their hair, but you will care a lot less about pesky things like “taping” and “cutting in” and “not getting giant blobs of gray paint on the white ceiling” once you’ve got a good buzz going.

Paint in Hair

This is a dramatic re-enactment, like on COPS.

Definitely take advantage of child labor. Kids have lots of energy, and they’re too short to get paint blobs on the ceiling.

Trav Painting

Speaking of ceilings, don’t tape off a popcorn ceiling unless you want to scrape a bunch of white crap off your wet paint and start again. This one might seem like a no-brainer, but in my defense: Beer.

Heather Painting

I probably should have used an edger tool for this. I probably should also own an ironing board and take my clothes out of the dryer the same day I dry them. OH WELL.

We somehow managed to get two coats completed over the weekend, and I’m really happy with how it turned out.

Living Room Before and After

Obviously, it will look better once our dark wood floors and pretty white baseboards are installed, but I feel like the house already looks so much better. I can’t believe how much whiter the ceilings look now, and I think the brick hearth looks pretty great against the gray. We did almost every room except the bathrooms this color, although we’ll probably change a few rooms up at some point (we’re thinking of maybe a painted backsplash in the kitchen).

The color is Valspar Ocean Storm, and we used the paint + primer in semi-gloss. We bought 11 gallons and used a little over 9 to cover most rooms in our 1,150 square-foot house. We wanted a little extra in case we have to do touch ups down the road, so it worked out pretty perfectly. Except SOMEBODY won’t shut up about his awesome paint calculating skills.

We’re now working on painting the baseboards, doors, trim, and closets a bright white before installing our flooring this weekend. We anticipate that we’re only a couple weeks away from moving in now, a fact that we were ready to celebrate until we called our Internet provider today and they told us they won’t be able to switch our service to the new house until September 3. I can handle pulling up piss-stained carpet and ripping up staples until I have blisters on all of my fingers, but I refuse to go a week without Netflix.

Our Leaky Toilet

After I mentioned our leaky toilet in a recent post, a bunch of you were really nice and pointed out the problem is most likely a malfunctioning tank-to-bowl gasket. Since the leak is indeed coming from the area where the tank meets the bowl, and the current part in that location is cracking and nasty, I assumed  you were correct. However, when we headed out to buy a replacement, we found that every gasket in the hardware store is shaped differently than the part on our toilet – ours is way thinner and a lot bigger in diameter. Still, we thought, maybe it just got smushed from sitting under the tank for years, so we tried to replace it with one of the smaller, fatter ones we found in the store.

We gave the handle a triumphant push, and … it still leaks.

We then measured our part and searched online for different sizes, thinking that perhaps our small hardware store just didn’t have the kind we needed. So we Googled, and then looked at hardware sites, and you guys I EVEN TRIED BING AT ONE POINT and this is when my brain really started to hurt because how often do you not find what you’re looking for on the Internet? Cats dancing to hip hop? Check. Guy who sews his own Peter Pan costumes and thinks his house is Neverland? Yup. Six-inch tank-to-bowl gasket?

Michelle Tanner

So, the logical next-step would be to wonder if maybe this part isn’t, in fact, the tank-to-bowl gasket, right? But this is literally THE ONLY piece connecting the tank to the bowl that is somewhat shaped like a gasket. WHAT ELSE COULD IT BE?

And this is why I’ve been spending my evenings looking at diagrams of toilets online like some kind of pervert with a porcelain fetish. It’s probably a good thing that I’m learning though, since until Tuesday night this was my knowledge of toilets:

Toilet Diagram

In a moment of desperation last night, I decided to just put the damn piece in a plastic bag to take to Lowe’s this weekend since every time I describe the problem to somebody they say, “It’s the tank-to-bowl gasket!” and then my head explodes.

And that is the story of how I became the crazy lady who carries pieces of her toilet around town in a Ziploc.

Guest Post: Hammer Time

Today’s post is coming at you from Dave, who spent the last two days prying nails out of the hundreds of baseboards we removed from our walls.

I’ve got a brief run-down of how last week went:

Day 1: Awwwwww yeah, fixing up our new house so we can settle in!
Day 2: Hmmm, there are a ton of baseboards to take out, and they all have little nails in them…
Day 3: Oh my God, the nails.

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A symbolic representation of pre-Sharknado Tara Reid’s career

Let me give you some advice: if you’re thinking of keeping your baseboards after a flooring change, punch that idea square in the face.

If you must be a masochist, get prepared for more banging, pulling and cursing than you’d find at a carpenter’s house (think I was going somewhere dirty with that, you filthy devil?). Since this was my first time with such a task, I’m guessing there may be an easier way, but I started with a hammer, a ramshackle adjustable sawhorse and all the boards filled with nails in the known universe.

You see, what’s annoying about this job is the need to hammer the pointed ends of tiny, flimsy nails until the top part is far enough out the other side to be pried up with the hammer’s prongs. After mere minutes, each board starts to look like this:

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Because “Thumbscrews” wasn’t a cool enough heavy metal name

On a side note, this came up when I Googled “iron maiden”:

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via thegreatfitnessexperiment.com
Is this what Google thinks of hygiene?

Despite my growing hatred for the task, I was slowly transforming into a nail-removing machine. My mental process became a programmer’s code, and the transcript of my brain waves likely read: “Hit nails. Flip board. Pull nails. Flip board. Hit nails. Flip board. Pull nails. Next board. Hit nail. Error: Nail bent. Error. Anger. Hit nail. Hit nail. Hit nail. Program failure.”

That’s right – being the aforementioned flimsy nails – hitting at the wrong angle or with the wrong amount of force (which varied from nail to nail) could bend a nail right in the middle with no hope of pushing it out the other end. After some thinking, I used needle-nosed pliers to straighten the nail and then hold it with the pliers while I hit it, an idea that made me feel like an absolute genius.

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I’d say this idea was cooler than formulating the general theory of relativity, but I don’t want to be perma-banned from guest blogging for talking about science or math.

Other times, I just flattened the nail into the wood like a furious caveman.

In addition to the nail bending problem, there was also the problem of nails sometimes shooting out of the boards with a velocity of 300 meters per second in whichever direction brought them closest to my face.

Did I also mention that I was doing this in a hot garage? I’d swear the combination of the heat, the repetitive task and the cruel laughter of the nails made me feel as though I was in a terrifying cartoon from the 1930’s.

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Imagine all those faces on nails.

Long story short, rather than succumb to nails-induced madness, I finally fulfilled my arduous duty, sending all those metal pins to an early grave and setting the boards aside to be cleaned, painted and filled with nails again.

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Needless to say, we are never changing whatever flooring we put in our house. Also, is that a nail I see standing outside my window…?