Category Archives: DIY

Quick and Easy DIY Project: Rope Wrapped Container


Recently, a friend of mine and I decided to take an afternoon and just relax and craft for the fun of it. We listened to music on 8tracks tagged “crafting + for hipsters” and had a blast. Later we put on an old French movie with English subtitles and I hot-glued rope around and around the oatmeal container as Beauty and the Beast spoke dramatically while wearing incredible costumes.

I burned my fingertips a few times, so if you tackle this quick and easy DIY project, please do so with care! I don’t recommend this craft for children. That being said, it is simple to make. I just wiped down the inside of the oatmeal container, grabbed some rope I had on hand, and warmed the glue up in the glue gun. I squeezed out a few inches of glue at a time and just kept wrapping, gluing, pressing, and repeating those steps from the bottom of the canister up to the top, stopping at the rim and cutting off the rope when it would begin to overlap.

As you can see, I used a piece of junk mail to catch the glue drop drips, but you can use whatever you want. The whole process took maybe an hour to do, and now I have a rustic canister to hold items such as these paint brushes.


Filed under DIY

In Praise of Imperfection

{Image: Robb North}

Oh, goodness. Has it really been a month already?

So much is going on, and yet, at the same time, not a lot is going on in my life. I’ve had bursts of energy, spurts of hyper-extroversion in which I enjoyed lots of time with friends, extended periods of hyper-introversion in which I spent lots of time perched on my couch with a laptop while thinking or writing. I’ve had ups. I’ve had downs.

I’ve tried to eat healthier lately. I found out I have a mild case of hypothyroidism, on which I’d love to blame my steady weight gain since graduation from high school. Alas, I know the truth. I’ve had one too many McDonald’s value meals and never met a brownie I didn’t like. But that, among other things, has made me realize even more that what we eat truly does affect us. I’ve also tried to work out more. But don’t ask me how many times I’ve been to the gym or out for a run this week, because I couldn’t answer you. Although I do plan on going today. But even if that doesn’t happen, I feel stronger just knowing I’m taking my health seriously and I’m focusing on nutrition and activity to overcome migraines, hormone imbalances, and excess weight. I’m not trying to have a perfect diet or activity level all the time, but MOST of the time would be wonderful! I’m sure I’d feel so much better if I did.

I also think I’m in a down-cycle right now creatively. I need lots and lots of down time. Outside of working on a novel and experimenting with “clean” or “Paleo” recipes for dinner, I’ve not been super crafty or even productive. I’ve been focusing on improving things that aren’t really blog-worthy. Like, for instance, finally getting the hang of staying on top of doing my dishes. I know. It is shameful. I’m a grown woman who hates doing the dishes. I think it is latent rebellion against my grandfather who would insist I help my grandmother with the dishes immediately following a meal when I’d rather be out running around in the backyard. Grandpa would be glad to know I have finally understood why he was so insistent about that. When my counter looks like a mess and my sink is full, it seems the rest of the house follows suit not long after. It’s a pride thing. I guess that’s why Fly Lady says to start by polishing your sink.

It’s true part of the down-cycle is simply burn out from being productive for so long. (Can I get an Amen?!) However, it’s also true that I’ve avoided Pinterest for long periods of time, cut back on my Facebook time, ignored Twitter, and let my Google Reader feed get backlogged. It’s really easy to be busy without really doing anything. It’s also tempting to want all the pretty things I can’t buy or make. Suddenly my blank walls seem depressing when I see decorated ones. My lack of a headboard for my bed is lame and lazy. My bathroom’s cabinet chaos is embarrassing. Yet when I tune out the social media influences, I find myself content with my bare walls. I don’t envy the amazing DIYer’s tufted headboard. I don’t worry that I have yet to create a cute and functional first aid kit and have instead used a hand-me-down from the 80s that holds the gauze and Band-Aids just as well. I rejoice in the fact that I am living within my means. I am using what I have. I am focusing on being grateful for the present reality instead of eternally looking forward to deceptively better future.

How about you? Have you embraced simplicity for stretches of time? Have you been inspired or exhausted by the social media noise? Do you feel embarrassed if you haven’t produced something tangible to show off in a few weeks? Do you long for just living in your imperfect home with your imperfect family and laughing away the imperfect moments?

You’re not alone. I’m right there with you. And you know what? I think it is healthy! Take a sabbatical from perfection and thrive in all your imperfect glory.

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Filed under Balance, Budget, DIY, Home, Home Improvement, Life, Ponderings

Home Tour Tuesday: The Master Bedroom

Ta-da! It’s Tuesday. Every Tuesday, I reveal a new area or room in our home. Since we’ve just moved in, for now I’m just experimenting with what I’d like to do to improve it or decorate it. Eventually, I’ll show off before and afters. (Can’t wait!) But for now, it’s just the “before” and an explanation of what I’d like to see happen in the near future.

Today’s tour is of one of my favorite rooms in the house. I love, love, love the paint color. Our bedroom has a high ceiling, gray-blue walls, and white accents. I’m working on adding artwork, prints, and pictures on the walls, but for now I’ve just been trying to get it organized. I think I’m almost there!

You can see in this picture that the left-hand bookshelf has a white box on it. I put it there so Daniel could have a place to hold all of the wires and electronic bits and pieces that accumulate on “his” bookshelf. It works pretty well! Someday soon I really need to get him a better nightstand solution, but for now the box and the bookshelf do their job.
For my part, my growing accessories collection has been haphazardly strewn across the top of my dresser for awhile, until I realized I could continue “shopping” in my home and reuse something for an organizational purpose. If you look on the left-hand corner of the dresser, you’ll see a white tray. Guess what? That tray is actually a serving tray from Bed, Bath, & Beyond that we got for our wedding. I’ve used it for parties, but usually it is stored above our refrigerator. Not now! Now it is the perfect place to store my bracelets and sunglasses. I’ve also put a white ramekin I rarely use on top of it, to hold loose rings that I don’t wear every day.
Here are few close-ups of the room. I spy my white owl!:
And finally, a couple of shots from inside the bookshelves. Yes, I know the gold-framed picture of us has showed up all around the house:
So that’s our master bedroom! In a couple of weeks I’ll delve into the master bathroom.
p.s. If you’re new, welcome! I invite you to sign up for an email or RSS subscription to receive updates and budget-savvy inspiration on organizing and decorating your home.


Filed under Bedroom, Budget Decor, DIY, Home Improvement, Home Tour Tuesday, Organizing, Storage

Making Storage From Nothing

There are day, months, and sometimes even years when a “tight budget” means not a cent to spare for any purpose other than food, shelter, gas, and bills. Storage containers cost quite a bit, even in small quantities. Not many budget-friendly (and attractive) solutions fall under the completely free category.

This one does.

I call it Use-What-You-Have-Organizing, a.k.a. Making Storage From Nothing.

I’ve been working on cleaning and organizing our third bedroom/my crafting and shop storage room. During the process, I came across a number of CDs (don’t judge. I’m old school that way. I like to keep the cases.) I needed CD storage to get them off the floor.

In the past, I stored them in a bottom cubby of our Expedit bookcase. Now, however, more of our books occupy that bookcase, so there is no longer room. I needed to find a place to keep the CDs all in one space. Then I realized I had some open-top elongated boxes that were just about the right height. I also had leftover kraft wrapping paper and paper doilies, plus a couple of rolls of washi tape from Japan.

That’s when the lightbulb went off, and my three boxes went from this:

to this:

here’s how I did it:

  1. I eyeballed cutting the size of the wrapping paper to fit across the front side of the boxes. I just placed it against the paper and cut around it, leaving enough length to wrap from the bottom up and around the box lip.
  2. I used packaging tape to tape it down in place.
  3. I cut the paper doilies in half, taped them to the inside of the top lip and folded and creased them over the top, then cut off the edges that overlapped.
  4. I taped the doily down with a small piece of washi tape on each side.
  5. I filled in each box with Tetris-like arrangements of my CDs.

I gotta say, for a set of storage containers that cost, as my wonderful friend Joy says, “free dollars,” they ain’t too shabby.

In fact, I rather like looking at them up on top of the bookcase.

Linked up at:

Toys in the Dryer | Five Days … 5 Ways | Sugar & Spice | A Bowl Full of Lemons | Tip Junkie


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Filed under Budget Decor, DIY, Media, Organizing, Storage

Share a Little Love: DIY Valentine’s Scroll Note

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Today’s craft project is special to me because I sneaked some photos while I made it for Daniel for our anniversary. I had decided to write a little note about why I love him instead of buying a gift, so when I found a lightweight wooden tube/case with a leather strap to tie it closed–just $1 at Michael’s!–I knew that it had be my “envelope.” I couldn’t wait to give it to him! I asked if it would be okay to share the project and he graciously agreed.


Gifts don’t have to be extravagant or expensive to be special. In fact, I find that the things I treasure most may have cost the least, but were given with the most thought. At roughly $4.00 to create, this scroll note is a sweet–and budget-friendly–way to say, “I love you” this Valentine’s Day.

Time Required: 10-15 minutes

You Will Need:

  • (1) Wooden Scroll Case (Michael’s, $1 in the Dollar Bin area)
  • (1) Sheet of decorative paper
  • Baker’s twine
  • (1) Vintage red-bordered gum label
  • Piece of red felt
  • Scissors
  • Pen

Cut out a rectangle of the decorative hand-marbled paper. Make sure that it will fit inside the width of the wooden scroll case. To prepare the felt heart shape, fold the piece of red felt in half and cut out the shape of half a heart on the fold line to make a symmetrical whole heart. Next, cut off a length of twine long enough to wrap around the rolled-up piece of decorative paper.

Write a note on the back side of the decorative paper. Choose if you’d like to enclose the felt heart inside the note or tied underneath the twine wrapped around the scroll.

Place the rolled-up note inside the wood case.

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Wrap the leather cord around the case and tuck the end under itself. Write a brief greeting on the front of the gum label, then moisten the back (mine was old, so I wet my finger and rubbed it across the back surface instead of licking it) and adhere to the surface of the wood case. Rub gently to eliminate any wrinkles or bubbles and firmly attach the label to the surface.

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Give your Valentine’s note to someone special to you. While I originally designed this project to hold a love note to my husband, it would be equally nice as a present for a friend, child, or other family member.





Lined Up At:  Bowl Full of Lemons | Tatertots & Jello | Toys in the Dryer


Filed under DIY, Life

Home Tour Tuesday: The Kitchen

Ta-da! It’s Tuesday. Every Tuesday, I reveal a new area or room in our home. Since we’ve just moved in, for now I’m just experimenting with what I’d like to do to improve it or decorate it. Eventually, I’ll show off before and afters. (Can’t wait!) But for now, it’s just the “before” and an explanation of what I’d like to see happen in the near future.

Today we’re in my kitchen! Oh, the kitchen. I love this kitchen, but it could stand some updating to bring it up to speed. Unfortunately, kitchen remodels are probably the most expensive part of renovating a home, so I’m not sure how much I can do. I’ve been following with great interest the renovations that John and Sherry over at Young House Love have been doing. They’re pretty much making my dream DIY kitchen; I’d love for ours to turn out that beautifully.The harsh truth, though, is that our kitchen isn’t that bad. Sure, the cabinets are the most “in” color right now, but kitchen trends come and go. Yeah, we don’t have the stainless steel appliances that are in demand, but we have excellent black appliances that are in great shape and much better than any other appliances in rental kitchens I’ve come across.I dream of an overhaul that will catch home buyer’s eyes and make our duplex stand out in the crowd when the time comes for my dad to sell, but the reality is probably I will manage to add a tile back splash, new faucet fixtures, and maybe stylish cabinet knobs and hardware, and that’s it. If I’m really lucky, that renovation will include a granite counter top.

Outside of the annoying and awkward overhang on the peninsula (shown here, in our living room tour), the most annoying things currently about our kitchen are the lack of shelves tall enough to hold cereal or cracker boxes (see above, how we store them currently as a result), and that the two lower corner cabinets are just big old black holes under the counter, with no shelving or lazy susan to help with storage. Seriously, who does that? We’re going to need to fix that issue somehow. I’m still working on it.
If you look closely, you’ll see my husband working in his native habitat.
Sorry about all the color changes in lighting. Apparently while the iPhone is great for natural light photos, photos with variances in lighting have significant color fluctuations. Sigh.
I’ve been fiddling with the idea of downloading the IKEA kitchen planner to see what I could do with this space. Has anyone used this tool?
p.s. If you’re new, welcome! I invite you to sign up for an email or RSS subscription to receive updates and budget-savvy inspiration on organizing and decorating your home.

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Filed under Budget Decor, DIY, Home Improvement, Home Tour Tuesday, Kitchen

Home Tour Tuesday: The Living Room

Ta-da! It’s Tuesday. Every Tuesday, I reveal a new area or room in our home. Since we’ve just moved in, for now I’m just experimenting with what I’d like to do to improve it or decorate it. Eventually, I’ll show off before and afters. (Can’t wait!) But for now, it’s just the “before” and an explanation of what I’d like to see happen in the near future.

Today’s tour is the room we spend our most time in–our living room. We watch movies, read, and sometimes eat in this room together. I blog, write, edit photos, list items for sale, and relax in this room. While Daniel spends most of his time working in the office, I like being able to turn the tv on during photo editing sessions, or keep up with the laundry and dishes while writing a blog post. It really is a living room.

Basically, it takes a beating. Our favorite spot for coats is hanging over the back of a chair (much to my chagrin) and it doesn’t take long for it to look cluttered or dirty due to all the functions it performs and all the traffic the floor gets.

Here is what it looks like currently:

… from another angle …

And here is what I’d like it to look like eventually:

Living Room Inspiration - Behind Closed Drawers

Painting, a lighting fixture/fan update, new tables, possible wood flooring, a fix for the awkward space between the chairs and the kitchen (bookcase installed under the counter overhang maybe?), curtain rod and drapes, and decor is all in the plan.

But whatever other improvements we make, we need to purchase a rug. I’ve had my eye on ivory flokati rugs for some time, but I have to admit I’ve been nervous to take the plunge. You have to rake them, for goodness’ sake, and they aren’t exactly kid juice friendly. We don’t have kids currently, but we do have friends and family with kids, so it doesn’t hurt to be ready for spills and messes.

I’ve considered a patterned rug, but if we go that route I’d like a simple geometric pattern and I’m picky and we have a limited (small) budget and only carries so many items in our budget … so … um … yeah. The hunt continues  and the money we’ve saved up stays stashed away.

It’s all a work in progress.

p.s. If you’re new, welcome! I invite you to sign up for an email or RSS subscription to receive updates and budget-savvy inspiration on organizing and decorating your home.

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Filed under Budget Decor, DIY, Home Improvement, Home Tour Tuesday, Living Room

How to Spray Paint a Thrifted Owl Figurine

So I met this little guy in a Goodwill in East Tennessee over Christmas. (You may remember him from my Instagram picture “Mr. Hoo” post a few days ago.) Not only had he been cast off once–but twice. He was sitting behind the check-out counter, where somebody had rejected him yet again.

Poor little sad owl.

I had been getting something else at the checkout counter, but I asked the sales lady about him and if he was for sale or was being processed and she told me somebody had decided against buying him, so yes, he was still for sale. I scooped him up for A DOLLAH.

He came home with me, and this weekend I gave him a little owly makeover and thought I’d show you how to do the same thing to a thrift store owl. Funny how things that were all the rage in the 1970s can come back reincarnated as hip 2012 tchotchkes!

Here’s what you need:

Here’s what you do:

  1. Make sure your temperature is acceptable for spraying. I think I just barely cheated on this one. The bottle said to use at 65 degrees Fahrenheit or above. I’m pretty sure by the time I got to spraying him over the weekend that the temperature was barely that. Our mild Tennessee weather has been weird lately, and it felt more like spring, so I thought I’d risk it.
  2. Take the owl figurine, cardboard, and spray paint outside. Safety first! You don’t want to be breathing those paint fumes.
  3. Place your owl on the cardboard box (or newspaper) to protect your grass or other ground surface.
  4. Shake the spray can thoroughly. My can recommended 2 minutes.
  5. Spray 8-10 inches away from your owl, in even strokes. Don’t worry if it isn’t 100% covered on the first go-round. It took me two heavy coats.
  6. Let your owl dry between coats. My can said I could recoat after just a few minutes and he’d be touch-dry in 40, so I gave him 45 minutes after each coat before handling it again, just to be safe. I used my microwave timer to let me know when to go outside and spray again.
  7. After two even coats, your owl should be ready to go!
  8. Let him dry for 45-60 minutes before handling. I made the mistake of getting a smudge on his belly. I rubbed it down with some water on my finger and it seemed to go mostly away. It was like I had just gotten a manicure and then smudged a finger on the way out the door. So close, and so frustrating!
  9. Ta-da! You have a rejuvenated owl figurine to display.

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I love my little guy. He’s so darn cute. I used glossy white Valspar spray paint on him and I’m pleased with the result.

Side note: the entire time I was working on this project, Daniel and I kept making “rotate your owl” references. I couldn’t help it. So, hey, I hope this little how-to post helps you spraaaaay-paint / spray-paint your owl /spray-paint your owl for sciiiiennnce!

But back to the “how-to” part … I learned a few things during this his transformation.

First, take the wind into account when you decide where to paint. I had to hold down the box with a heavy object while he dried, so the cardboard wouldn’t be lifted up by the wind and topple him over. I also had to pick out a couple of dry pine needles the wind had blown on him while he dried. Second, after he was done, I read that I probably should have coated him with a primer spray first. Oops! We’ll see how his paint holds up on his ceramic base. I suspect he was one of those homemade ceramic pieces that were so popular years ago. Or he could be younger than 30-something. Who knows. All I know is he’s a handsome little devil now.

Happy Monday!

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Linked up at:  I Heart Naptime | I Heart Organizing | House of Hepworths | Bowl Full of Lemons
Tip Junkie handmade projects


Filed under Budget Decor, DIY

Home Tour Tuesday: The Dining Room

Ta-da! It’s Tuesday. Every Tuesday, I reveal a new area or room in our home. Since we’ve just moved in, for now I’m just experimenting with what I’d like to do to improve it or decorate it. Eventually, I’ll show off before and afters. (Can’t wait!) But for now, it’s just the “before” and an explanation of what I’d like to see happen in the near future.

Today’s tour is the first room off of the entryway from last week–our dining room. Most of our downstairs is an open plan, but the dining room is set off by itself so it has a more formal feeling.

So here is our plain vanilla dining room. Mid 90s builder basic at its “best,” no?

And a few more close-ups from various room angles:

Overall, it is a very serviceable, decent dining room. Yawn. It plays its role well, and we use it on a regular basis. I am even planning to entertain there soon, as Daniel and I enjoy opening up our home to friends and family for dinners or parties occasionally. (Why wait for something to be perfect? We’re gonna enjoy our home now, despite its flaws!)

That being said, my goal is to makes the room feel richer and more vibrant by adding texture with patterns and bold punches of color.

We don’t have the money for a full overhaul; everything we do will be on a tight budget with lots of elbow grease instead of dollars. So, for this room’s upgrade, I’m hoping to add some DIY wainscoting, paint rich color on the upper part of the wall, and install a more modern light fixture. We’d also like to update our dining room table and chairs. I’ve been haunting Craigslist for about a year … eventually we’ll find one we like and can afford.

In addition, the current window sheers are a terrible burnt yellow color. I’m living with them for now, but, trust me, they will be one of the first things to go!

In the end, I’m hoping it will look something like this:

Dining Room
Much better, dontcha think?
p.s. If you’re new, welcome! I invite you to sign up for an email or RSS subscription to receive updates and budget-savvy inspiration on organizing and decorating your home.

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Filed under Budget Decor, Dining Room, DIY, Home Improvement, Home Tour Tuesday

Pinterest Can Help You Organize!

Have you discovered Pinterest yet? The wealth of cleaning, organizing, and home decorating knowledge to be found in this social networking site is astounding. I’ve collected sources for organizing help from all across the web and compiled them together for future reference.

Here’s a screen shot from just a portion of what I’ve gathered:

Here is a sampling of my favorite finds …

- Use a magazine holder to store canned goods in kitchen cupboards! From PBJ Stories.

- Hang kitchen cleaners in spray bottles from an adjustable shower curtain or tension rod. From A Thousand Words via Apartment Therapy.

- DIY Bathroom pocket holder for small items. From The Complete Guide to Imperfect Housekeeping. (Or, just use a portion of a cheap Wal-Mart hanging plastic and fabric shoe organizer. That’s my thought. I’m just lazy like that.)

- Use a multi-tiered pants hanger to store rolls of ribbon. From the Creating Keepsakes Blog.

See what I mean? There’s a plethora of information out there, waiting to be found, and full of pictures for visual learners like myself.

If you like this sample, I encourage you to follow my organization pinboard on Pinterest, along with those of others, to keep abreast of new ideas I find along the way!


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Filed under DIY, Home, Organizing