Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Consider my halls decked!!

I've been a busy bee around here trying to get all of my Christmas decorations up. For some reason, this year I wasn't feeling the red pepper berry "theme" I have had the last few years. I don't know, I think at some point I seriously overdosed on red and now I just can't take much of it. Anyway, I have had a fun week trying to reinvent my Christmas decor minus the berries. I looked back, but I don't think I took good pictures of my house decorated last year.

Here is what I came up with for my mantle:

My stockings don't really go with the new look that well, but what are ya gonna do?

To replace my red berry topiaries I found these GIANT pine cones at Nell Hills. They sit perfectly in my Restoration Hardware cache pots. I tied my burlap covered vase with some wired gold ribbon and hung some simple ornaments from the branches. 

Some fake greenery also from Nell Hills, reindeer and my Twas the Night Before Christmas book purchased from the North Pole by my parents when they were in Alaska finish out the other side of the mantle.

I have always tried to keep my tree fairly simple. A couple of years ago I added picture ornaments to my tree and I love them. I love taking a trip down memory lane as we trim the tree. Showing the boys pictures of them when they were younger. I need to get a couple more of the frames I used to make them to add some new pictures this year. I try to add a couple new pics each year. 

This was me like a week before my oldest son was born. It was sweet.... at the time I didn't think I had pregnant face. You sweet blind girl!

And of course we can't forget past years Santa pictures scattered around the house. I love looking back through those. I think we may actually get one with both boys smiling this year..... maybe.

Since the decorating is done, I am excited to start our advent activities with the boys tomorrow. This is the first year I have actually gotten around to printing out all of our activities and putting them in the advent calendar I bought... ahem.... three years ago. I tried to focus on activities that would teach them about serving others during the season. Tomorrow we will go through our toys and pick some out for kids who are not completely spoiled!

Have you got all your Christmas stuff up this year??? What kinds of traditions do you have with your family throughout the season? 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Christmas pillows

For the last couple of years I have seen people changing out their pillows through the seasons. Until recently I had the same red leather pottery barn pillows sitting on my couch since my first anniversary...... yeah I just celebrated my 10th. So I started a few months ago with my easy peasy placemat pillows then  I made these pottery barn knock offs. And let me tell you... since I discovered the beauty of the envelope pillow I have been changing my pillows out almost as often as I change my underwear.... ok that is an exaggeration.... but I change them a lot! If you don't know how to make an envelope pillow LEARN! Here is a great tutorial for them. I love them, because not only are they fairly simple, but it makes seasonal changes super easy. Just remove the cover and all you have to store is a small pillow cover!

Anyway, I wanted some Christmas pillows to add extra festivity! I saw these lovelies from PB!

Just precious! I figured I could make something similar. Mine don't look much like this one, more like inspired by the concept. I found some cute little knit stocking ornaments for $2.00 each at Target. Then I went to JoAnn's and got some trim for each of my pillows. (I made two) 

They turned out like this...

The pillows were made from more left over canvas from a drop cloth I had. I used a wide rick rack on the one with green stockings and pom pom trim on the red. I wanted the pom pom trim on both, but they didn't have the right color green so... whatever! I used embroidery thread to stitch on the lines. I bought a big bag of that stuff a year ago or so and it has been a fantastic purchase! Then I just tacked the stockings onto the front.

I still love the simple look of the PB pillow better, but I still like them. They are festive, and the little bells on the stockings even jingle when you move them around! 

 On that same Target trip I picked up a couple of placemats to turn into pillows as well.

It makes me want to start up the Christmas music... but I refuse until after Thursday.... then game on!

Monday, November 14, 2011

stainless steel stove for less

We have lived in our current home for about a year and a half now. We are blessed to have a large, very functional kitchen. While there is nothing actually wrong with the kitchen, I have known since we moved that I wanted to make some changes. Since we made over this kitchen I have fallen in love with bright cheery kitchens. 

Anyway, I thought I could hold out a while longer, but lately I have really been itching to get started. One of the overwhelming things about starting a kitchen update is the thought that it has to be expensive. Well, I have challenged myself to update our whole kitchen for less than $200! I mean, cabinets, counters and all! 
We shall see if it can be done! I mean a kitchen update for less than the cost of a new iPhone??? 

So, I finished my first project this weekend. I took our two tone (white and black) stove from 1993 to 2011 with........ stainless steel paint! This stove has bugged me from day one! But it works perfectly, so there was   no justification for a new one. Not to mention that blows my whole update budget more than three times over!

Enter Thomas' Liquid Stainless Steel. I had read about this stuff a while ago, but my recent itch for an update finally pushed me to make the purchase. It cost $35.00 with shipping. 

I ordered it online ( and got in on Friday. I started the process that night. The first step was to scrub your stove. Then... scrub it again....and again....and again. This step is not fun! I ended up using lemon and baking soda to get all the grease drippings from down the sides of the stove, between the cabinets and stove. It was during this process that I made a very disturbing discovery! Warning... if you have a weak stomach like me.... look away. 

Yeah.... this little guy was in a trap that we DID NOT place! Which means he has been back there since well before we moved in! Note to self.... clean behind the stove more often. I was gagging and hubs wasn't home so I had to deal with this myself. My boys found this hilarious! Me.... not so much. I am NOT good with this kind of thing!

Anyway.... back to the point! After I figured out a way to dispose of this without ever touching it... or touching anything that touched it (figure that one out). I moved on. Obviously I scrubbed a little lot more. 

Then got started layering on coats of the stainless steel paint. The key to success with this stuff is to paint on VERY thin coats. You actually want to get that streaked look that stainless steel has. So brush on with long deliberate thin strokes. The longest part of this process is waiting for coats to dry. I would brush one on, then go watch an episode of Bones on Netflix, and repeat. Bones episodes are definitely crucial to the process. :)

I ended up doing 4 or 5 thin coats over all. I let that cure over night. It is supposed to be a minimum of two hours before you add the top coat. I then applied three coats of the clear top coat using the same horizontal strokes. I love the finished product!

See how my cabinets match that pumpkin there? Not for much longer!

Stay tuned to see if I can complete my kitchen with the $165 I have left in my budget!!!

UPDATE: Read here for further information about my experience with this paint. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

For the love of Hoodies!

This is actually a project I finished a few weeks ago, but in the spirit of refashioning clothes thought I would share. I don't have a tutorial or anything, but if you all are interested, I think I am going to do a batman one similar for my younger son. So let me know and I will try to document the process better. 

When it came time to pull out our jackets this season, I realized we didn't have a light weight jacket that fit our older son. I went to Target to check how much it would cost to get a new "cute" jacket. They were $30! I really wasn't up for spending that much on a jacket that wouldn't get us all the way through Missouri's cold winters! So I checked the price of their plain Champion brand hoodies. I think this one was either $10 or $12. Less than half. I also purchased a clorox bleach pen... like $3. Those are the only purchases I made for this jacket.

After I made these jeans for my younger son. I wanted to do a Super Hero item for my older one as well. I used the bleach pen to draw some designs on the front and the back. The patch is a piece of canvas from a drop cloth. I drew the spider on and filled it in with embroidery. I also embroidered the Spider Man on the back. I love the end results and so does my son!

Here he is wearing it on his first field trip!

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sweater remake

There is something about fall that makes me dig through my closet and scrap basket in the craft room and start playing match maker with items from each! I think it has something to do with the combination of high priced sweaters and spending more time inside because of the weather changes. Who knows... But I have a couple of fun projects to share. The first one is a simple target sweater remade into a lacy cardi with fun elbow patches.

Here is what I started with:

The first step is the scariest one..... Fold the sweater in half and cut right up the middle with a  good pair of scissors. It is at this point that you run around the house like a loon saying things like..."What is wrong with me??? I just destroyed a perfectly good sweater???"

Ok, now calm down.... start digging through the scrap basket to see what you have on hand....

Find some lace and ruffle it. You can do this on your machine, but I chose to do it by hand. 

Then I pinned it onto the sweater and at the same time pinned the hem in place. Pinning is essential!!! Between the knit and the lace it would be very difficult to wing it!

I could have stopped here and I think it still would have been cute.

But I wanted a little more detail. Upon shopping at the local resale shop I came across this cute t-shirt.

I thought the little patches would be cute on the elbow of the new cardigan. I forgot to take a picture before I cut my patches of choice. 

I attached a patch to each elbow. I tried just stitching them directly on.

The fabric was too flimsy to work so I found some heat n bond in my stash and attached them that way. Then ran embroidery thread around the edges.

For one final bit of detail I ran some embroidery thread in four rows around the cuff of the sweater.  

Here is the finished product. 

Warning: Lame pictures to follow!!! Hubs has been really busy lately so I took my own "modeling pictures" in our mirror. 

Stop laughing! 

I mean it!

Anyway. Now that your gut is busted... go find something of your own to remake!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Simple and Cheap wall baskets

I have been eyeing something like this beauty for a while now. I love the idea of carrying storage up onto the wall rather than being limited by what will fit onto your surfaces. While the basket below is a beauty, the price was a little out of my range... especially if I wanted more than one. 

Enter... the target dollar spot! Not exactly the place you expect to find a Ballard Design knock off. But when you are on a budget you learn not to rule anyplace out when looking for cheaper alternatives. Do you know how many talented bloggers out there have filled their homes with beautifully reworked items from the dollar store???? So, back at Halloween time I spotted these babies.

Notice the little ghost and everything on the basket. Now I am not entirely sure what made these baskets.... halloweeny. But they were $2.50 per basket. I walked past them on multiple trips to Target thinking how much I liked them. And then finally I was like.... they are $2.50 per basket!!! Just get them!

So I did. And I hung three of them on my wall behind my desk for collecting mail and other random items that find themselves laying around on my desk.

The only problem with these if you can tell from the above picture is that the bottoms only have wires going horizontally so mail and small items would slip right through. Hmm... what to do, what to do! Oh I know I call on my ever present super hero life saver....... Burlap! Come on.... you knew it was coming! I cut three little rectangles to line the bottom and voila!
Then, just because they still looked a little naked to me, I found some numbered tags at the local scrapbooking store to dress up the fronts a little.

And for less than $10.00 I have pretty little hanging baskets for storage. Now, these are much smaller than the Ballard Design baskets and not quite as charming, but they work well for my purposes.

So do you want to see a picture of my beautifully cleared off desktop???????

Too Bad!!! I don't have one to show you! Baby steps people.... baby steps!