Category Archives: Favorite
I’ve always loved to decorate for the holidays with fresh wreaths and garlands. Leave it to Martha Stewart to inspire me in my teens with her elaborate Christmas special on HGTV. Once I moved out of my parents house, I usually splurged on a fresh pine wreath for the rental door, but I never have made my one until now.
On my current quest to not spend money, I decided to make my first fresh wreath out of bay branches from my parents’ lovely tree. My dad was happy to agree to a little pruning. As he worked on the tree, I loaded my back seat full of bay branches. I certainly was a happy girl driving home with the fresh bay smell filling the car with loveliness.
I did a little internet research on making a wreath and was happy to find Martha making a wreath on this video as my guide. I picked up a 18″ wire wreath form, a paddle of 26 gauge green floral wire and clear hair bands for the project. I think I spent about $6 on all the materials which is certainly on my budget.
Set up was simple, I rinsed the branches off outside and let them dry in the morning sun for a few hours before I got started.
Then I just clipped the branches into small, compact bundles.
I positioned the leaves so they all laid the same direction and then wrapped the clear hair band around the bottom.
Once I had a few bundles ready, I secured the end of wire to the form and then wrapped the wire around the bundle tightly.
The second bundle overlapped the first and was secured the same way. I kept this pattern going until the whole wreath was covered with bundles. Then I just cut the wire and tied it off on the back of the form.
Here it is finished. It’s bigger than any other wreath we’ve had on our door, but I like it over-sized and simple. Maybe next time I add some texture with different types of leaves or a bow.
Out of no where, I am loving the look of gold on clothing and accessories. This is a big step for me. Typically, I am more of a sterling silver girl. Maybe I am getting more bold now that I am in my mid-thirties but I have been pinning gold items like mad on Pinterest. I though it would make sense to take one of these fashion inspirations and turn it into a DIY Pinterest Challenge Project. I’ve been meaning to join the seasonal challenge created by Young House Love & Bower Power before, but never have gotten around to it until now.
One of my favorite looks has been a big pop of gold on t-shirts. Here’s some of my recent pins:
Of the three, I though I would attempt the last look. I love the abstract modern vibe.
The original looked very organic with the liquid gold on the gray shirt. I didn’t want to buy any new supplies, so I just used materials I had on hand. Mine was going to be much brighter, but I hoped to pull off something a little modern. I used a white v-neck Target shirt and Martha Stewart’s Multi-Purpose Glitter Paint in Florentine Gold.
I got out a paint brush, a plastic plate and a glass of water to rinse the brush.
Then I stretched my t-shirt over a piece of cardboard.
Going for that modern look, I decided I wanted the color focused on the left shoulder of the shirt and the faded out. I started painting full brush strokes in a downward motion until I got the effect I liked.
Then I flipped the cardboard and took the paint across the back of the arm as well.
Once I was done, I let the shirt air dry overnight on a skirt hanger clipped to the cardboard.
The paint instructions say it should dry for 24 hours, but the next morning the paint was dry so I went ahead and set the paint with a hot iron. I put the t-shirt between two dish towels and then ironed on the hottest setting for about 30 seconds.
Here’s a quick shot this morning with a teal scarf. There is a fine line between cool and gaudy with the gold look. My shirt is right on that line. To make it work I think it’s all about how you accessorize it. I didn’t have much time to play this morning, but not only do I like it with the teal scarf, but it would look great under a blazer for a layered look.
And speaking of gold and gaudy, this shirt inspired my work-to-evening Halloween costume tomorrow. I’ll wait and share the look tomorrow along with my second (and favorite) inspired craft projects – the cats costumes.
Our bedroom has had a mini makeover that I wanted to share. First I replaced our IKEA grey duvet with a Cynthia Rowley Duvet cover. I’ve been on the hunt for a new duvet cover the last few months. Our old duvet has been great except it wrinkled badly and was such a light color that it shows any lint (or cat hair) that landed on it. Basically it was a high maintenance bed cover and I was ready to switch it out. I found a lovely purple ruched cover at Home Goods for $40. It’s probably the most feminine bed spread I’ve ever had, but with the muted purple it still is modern.
When I threw it on the bed I was uncertain whether or not it worked with the rest of the room. But with the right throw pillow(s), I thought could tie in the red of my Keep Calm and Carry On print plus the turquoise of my painting and make the purple work.
So I went on the hunt again for the right pillow. Nothing stood out, so my next thought was to make my pillow. I searched Joann’s high and low for my perfect fabric, but couldn’t find one that had my three colors that I wanted to tie together.
Days later, when I was cleaning out my closet, I realized a dress I was giving to Goodwill would work perfectly for a pillow. It has the right combination of dark teal, red and purple to tie in all my bedroom decor. It goes to show how much my home decor matches my wardrobe!
This was actually a win-win situation, because I was heartbroken to throw out this dress in the first place. Unfortunately it just fit awkwardly on me. (Damn Forever 21 and their cute, but unwearable fashion!)
I decided to go with an envelope pillow closure design so I could reuse my beloved Missoni for Target pillow. Since the dress pattern is pretty dark and intense, I wanted to add two linen stripes (from another dress) to break it up. Plus, the stripes will add a little more masculinity to the floral pillow.
So on Saturday while watching the Olympics (I’m obsessed.), I ripped out the dress seams (even the hem) to give me as much mileage as possible for my pillow.
It was a good thing I did, as my pieces barely fit for the back of the pillow.
I sewed all my seams, then ironed them down. (See my gold, silver and bronze medal nails? Told you I was Olympic obsessed.) When the two pieces were ready, I sewed the front and two back pieces together.
The final touch was a little piece of Velcro sewed into the center of the back opening to keep it closed.
Here’s the finished product again. I love it. I also love that I finished the project without major hiccups. Maybe I am actually becoming sew literate after all.
Here again is a wide shot of the room. Looking at these photos , I want to add a dark headboard of some sort to distinguish the bed from the wall. I’d also love to add a side table along the back wall as well, but am holding off. Eventually, we will be expanding this room and adding a (walk-in) closet so I don’t want to be adding furniture for the current space. Instead I’ll just keep myself busy make pillows and spray paint things.
Bear with me on one of my sillier DIY posts. This is how I turned a cheap cat bed into a superior cat hammock.
Cats are so fickle. I buy inexpensive cat stuff just in case they are deemed uncool by our picky pets. Sometimes the strategy backfires when the cheap buy becomes a favorite and then doesn’t hold up.
Here’s the perfect example. This particular cat bed happens to be something Pixel loves. She lays across the top panel using it as a hammock all the time.
She used it so much that the poorly constructed piece began to fall apart. You can see in the above photo how silly she looked sitting in the broken bed in different positions. I decided I needed fix it up for her.
Neither cat ever used the bottom portion as a bed so I got rid of it yo make a proper cat hammock.
The old bed fell apart at the seams, so instead of having a seam right at the frame joint my plan was to make the whole hammock from one continuous piece of fabric.
With a black frame, I bought purple fabric to match our Great Room. I lucked out at Joann’s and found a perfectly sized remnant of purple polyester for a couple bucks.
My Cat Hammock Materials List
- Less than a yard of purple heavy weight polyester or nylon
- Matching thread
- Sewing machine
- Straight pins
- Straight edge
- Pencil and sharpie
- Iron on low setting
With all my materials ready, I removed the old bed from the frame and use it as a rough pattern for the new hammock.
Using a piece of newspaper, I sketched out the shape with pencil. Then I used a straightedge and pen to make exact lines for my pattern and cut it out.
I ironed all the kinks and wrinkles out of the fabric before I pinned it to the pattern.
Then I cut about an inch out from the actual pattern piece for my seam allowance.
The polyester has a tendency to fray so I folded all my seams twice (1/4″ each) to enclose the raw edge. I worked slowly around the entire piece first pressing the edge with my iron then securing it with straight pens.
When it was all pinned, I sewed my seam slowly. (I always make mistakes if I go to fast.) Then I went back and pressed the seam again with the iron.
Since the frame pulls apart really easily, I decided to sew permanent closures, but I could have also used Velcro or snaps to attach the hammock to the frame.
I used the frame as a guide to figure out how much clearance I needed. Then folded over each end and sewed it to create a channel for the frame to fit through.
Installation was a cinch. I just took apart the frame and slid the hammock on then reattached the frame. Here’s the finished piece I presented it to Pixel. She gave it a sniff before walking away and ignored it. Such a fickle cat! I waited on eggshells to see if she would use it.
Days later, I came home from work to find her lounging in the hammock. Her actions showed the project was a success. Pixel has a cool place to spend her afternoons and I feel like a proud cat mama.
Who knows, maybe I’ll try it myself if we need a second cat hammock in the house.
Now that my vegetable garden is established, the plan is to keep everything happy and healthy this summer. Sacramento temperatures can range from the mid 80° F all the way to the 105° F so watering the garden enough is always a concern of mine.
I knew my best bet was to install a drip irrigation system that would give my plants a consistent, efficient supply of water. Plus the drip can be automated, which is great when you have vacations and weekends away planned.
Since I didn’t have a clue where to start, I did a little research online to get an idea what I wanted to do. I also picked up an extremely handy (and free) Drip Watering Made Easy guide at Home Depot. If you can’t find it in your store you can download it.
Once I had a plan, I sketched it out. These beds will “potentially” be used year around, so I wanted a system that had evenly spaced drippers so that no matter what was planted the water would be distributed evenly.
Shopping list for drip irrigation
With my sketch in my hand, I was ready to go shopping for drip system parts. It turns out, I still had to go back a few times to get everything I needed. I am only including what I actually used in this shopping list and then explain the whole process (and pitfalls) below.
- Faucet Connection Kit
- Orbit One-Dial Garden Hose Digital Water Timer
- 100 ft of 1/2-Inch Foot Poly Hose
- 2 Packages of Raindrip 1/4-Inch by 50-Foot Black Drip-A-Long with Fittings (Saves $$ with included fittings and closures)
- 6 – 1/2″ Elbow Fitting
- 2 – 1/2″ Tee Fitting
- 2 – 1/2″ End Closure Fittings
- Compression Hose End Plug with Cap
- Hole Punch Tool
- 1/2″ Galvanized Wire Secures, 10-Pack
- 1/4″ Support Stakes – 25-Pack
How I installed the drip system
First things first – I laid all the tubing out in the sun for about 30 minutes so it was more pliable.
Then I laid out all my parts and dug a 6″ deep trench for the tubing to lay in. Once the system was in, my goal was to cover all the tubing that ran from the faucet to the beds.
To install the system, you start with the water source. I bought five faucet attachments that adapted the faucet for a drip system. They were: an anti-syphon (prevents contaminated water from flowing back into the clean water supply), 25 PSI pressure regulator (maintains the correct pressure of the drip system so you don’t blow out your lines), a line adapter (connects to drip tubing), a Y filter (to add fertilizer directly to the line) and an automatic timer (so the whole watering system was automated).
I bought all the pieces separately and then screwed them together and attached the 1/2″ tubing (my main line) to the line adapter.
You want to make sure the tubing doesn’t kink so a fitting has to be connected for each corner and direction change. Once the tubing reached the ground I cut it with pruning shears and attached my first elbow fitting to it. Then I continued with more tubing until I reached the planter box and installed another elbow fitting.
I continued this process until I wrapped the tubing around the planter box and then along the side of the house to the first raised bed. As I went, I secured the tubing into the trench with my wire stakes.
At the head of the first raised bed I added a tee fitting so I could run a second another line of tubing up and over the bed while the main line ran to the next raised bed.
The 1/2″ tubing ran across the width of the bed.
I attached the 1/4″ tubing to it by punching a hole in the 1/2″ tubing with the punch tool.
Then used a 1/4″ barbed coupling to attach the 1/4″ tubing to the 1/2″ main line.
Two lengths of 1/4″ in-line emitter tubing ran up and back along the length creating 4 rows of tubing. You don’t want the any circuit of 1/4″ tubing to be longer than 50 feet for proper water circulation.
I installed the second bed the same way except after installing another tee fitting, I then attached a compression hose end plug with cap so I could extend the drip later or attach a hose to the end.
Once all the tubing was in, I turned on the water to flush out the system of any debris that may have entered the line during the install before closing off the ends.
Everything worked well except the faucet attachments which leaked in a couple places. Drats. Before turning off the water, I closed off all the tubing with removable closures, so I could flush out or extend my lines at a later time.
Once that was all done, I went back to troubleshoot my faucet leak. I tightened, used teflon tape, reordered the pieces… but nothing worked.
After almost exhausting all my options, I scraped all my attachments and purchased a connection kit from a different manufacturer to see if maybe a different brand would make a difference. Miraculously it did. Maybe the pieces fit better? Or the line adapter had a better seal? I still am not sure, but honestly didn’t really care to find out.
With the whole system now working, I went back and buried my lines from the faucet to the beds. Then following my Drip Watering Made Easy guide for warm weather, I set my timer to water 2 days a week for 3 hours each day. If it hits the triple digits, I’ll up it to 4 hours a day, 3 times a week. So far the plants look really happy.
Hopefully soon, I’ll have some vegetables to celebrate.
It’s funny the things I get annoyed at purchasing.
Laundry detergent because I only want to buy it on sale.
Cilantro because the last batch went bad before I used it.
Coffee beans because it’s usually when I am all out and cranky.
But more than anything, I hate buying something that should have replaceable parts, but doesn’t.
Enter the mighty cat scratching post. It keeps the cats’ claws away from our furniture (most of the time) and is therefore a necessary evil in out house.
Regardless of its usefulness, it is perhaps one of the ugliest things in our house. I’ve looked for a better looking post, but it doesn’t seem to exist so we have two inexpensive versions from Target. They work out great for the cats, but when the carpet gets all worn out and grungy, I wanted to replace it. But I can’t. They don’t make replacement parts for the posts. It’s very short-sighted on the manufacturer and it just drives me crazy!
So I got thinking and decided to make my own replacement carpet post out of a utility mat, glue and staples. A fraction of the price of a brand new scratch post. And while I was at it, I gave the post a makeover at the same time with some dark green spray paint.
I started by buying a dark gray utility mat for $3.00.
Using the old carpet as a pattern piece, I measured the width of the carpet tile.
Then I cut the mat with a straight edge and a utility knife.
Next using dark green spray paint I had on hand, I darkened the current post stand and topper to match the dark gray utility mat.
Once the paint was dry it was time to assemble the parts.
I stapled one end of the carpet piece of the post and then used some tacky glue to keep the carpet in place before stapling down the other end.
Then, I clamped the carpet post with a bunch of rubber bands until the glue dried.
I let the glue dry overnight before I reassembled the post. Voila! The cat scratch post is ready for action. I spent less than $5.00 on the makeover and I have left over supplies for the next time I need to replace the carpet post. Not a bad deal at all.
Thanks for all the congratulations on the table! I am so glad everyone loves it as much as we do.
How I gave my grandma’s dining table a beach makeover
Here’s the products I used for this project. They worked really well for me, but there certainly are other comparable products out there.
- Electric Sander (I use a Mikita that I purchased for around $30)
- 80-grit, 220-grit, 360-grit sandpaper
- Zinsser Cover Stain Oil Primer
- Rust-oleum Spray Primer
- Rust-oleum Painter’s Touch Ultra Cover 2x Spray Paint in Gloss White
- Rust-oleum Painter’s Touch in Gloss White
- Behr Eggshell Latex in Aqua Spray
- ScotchBlue Painter’s Tape with Edge-Lock in 1″
- Newspaper and Dust cloths
- Minwax Wipe-on Poly in Clear Gloss
My #1 Tip
If I had to do this project again, I would have sanded just a little more at the beginning to get the surface as smooth as possible. So, my #1 tip is to take your time during each step of the project so you get it right.
As I showed you two days ago, I started by sanding the heck out of the top and legs of the table. I didn’t think I could remove the laminate finish on the top so I settled for roughing it up a lot. I started with a medium grade 80-grit paper and worked up to a fine grade 220-grit paper.
Then I flipped the table on its back so I could prime and paint the legs and any visible parts of the underneath. I sprayed about two coats of the primer and 2-3 thin coats of the Painter’s Touch. I lightly sanded it down between primer and paint to smooth out drips and rough spots.
With the bottom dry, I flipped the table upright to work on the table top.
Using my handy 24″ quilting ruler, I measured out the stripe pattern on the table top. I started by measuring the center of each table leaf and then measured out each stripe. The pattern was a 2″ aqua stripe flanked by a 1/2″ white stripe and 1″ wood stripe.
Each panel had to match its neighbor so I started on the middle leaf and worked out connecting all my marks into lines before triple checking all my measurement again.
Taking a deep breath, I then taped off my 1″ wood grain stripes as straight as possible following my pencil lines. The tape was one continuous piece to ensure all the leaves matched up. Once the tape was applied, I rubbed it into the wood with my finger to make sure it didn’t have any bubbles.
Also before taping, I had extended the table so I had about 1/4″ between each leaf. This way the paint couldn’t pool between the leaves and I could easily clean up any drips.
I was a little worried about the laminate finish. Would the paint stick to it? I used a oil based primer to make sure. Nate and I had used it on our hallway cabinets and really loved the results.
Two thin coats of primer were applied and then let to dry for 24 hrs before sanding down with 220-grit sandpaper. The primer stuck to the laminate really well. The stuff is truly amazing and well worth using.
The following day, I applied Rust-oleum Painter’s Touch in Gloss White to the primed table top. I started with spray paint, but quickly changed to the actual paint. (I just bought a pint of the paint sold in the same section the spray paint is found.) I applied two thin coats, let it dry for 24 hrs then sanded yet again with the 220-grit paper.
With all the white layers done, I decided to removed the tape to check that my wood stripes worked before continuing in case I have to change plans. I was really worried that the primer may have leaked. Amazingly, it hadn’t. The Scotch Edge Lock worked like magic and left sharp clean wood stripes. I was so excited I made Nate come outside to see and did a little happy dance.
Next up was the 2″ center stripe. I lightly sanded again just in case there was any edges from the tape. Then measured out the center stripe and taped it off with my magic tape.
I decided to try out a great tip I read for getting foolproof stripes. By sealing the tape with your original color before painting the stripe, any leakage under the tape will be the original color so the stripe should be clean. So I sealed the tape with a little white paint and let it dry before adding the aqua color. (I couldn’t use this tip with the wood stripe since I didn’t have a color to seal the tape with.)
When the paint was dry, I painted two thin coats of Behr Aqua Spray down the middle and let the paint dry overnight.
When I removed the tape this time, I bunch of the white undercoat came up with it. The stripe was nice and clean, but I did touch up the white 1/2″ stripes a bit before sanding the table one last time with the 220-grit paper.
Nate and I moved the table back inside for the polyurethane coats to make sure we didn’t get any dirt or bugs in it. The wipe-on poly is really easy to apply with a clean cloth. It usually dries in 2-3 hours, but it’s been pretty warm here so each coat took much longer.
I had two box fans on and the table still took about 7 hours to dry between coats. I sanded with very fine 360-grit paper between the coats. The final coat was allowed to dry for 24 hours before we used it.
And there you go – the finished table!
The table has gotten lost of use these last few nights. We even hosted our fantasy football draft on it Tuesday night.