Sunday, February 22, 2015

Playdate Planting

I've recently become kind of hooked on the HGTV show Fixer Upper.  I love the chemistry between husband and wife team Chip and Joanna Gaines, love Joanna's decorating style, and I love that their company, Magnolia Homes, serves as a one-stop shop for their clients, from  finding homes, to renovating them, to decorating them.  Chip and Joanna have truly been able to merge their individual passions into a thriving hometown business that the rest of America is growing to love!

But I digress....Joanna, in addition to being a wonderful designer, also is a great blogger.  Her blog (found here) is full of great DIY projects and inspiration, as well as behind the scenes stories from their show.

It was on her blog that I found this project - terrariums!  A perfect way to bring some long-lasting green into your home without spending a fortune or stressing about plant care.  Succulents are one of the easiest to care for plants, as they can go without water for up to 4 weeks, and really only require a light spritzing with water every so often.  I love being able to enjoy these indoors while the rest of my yard looks like a frozen tundra!

I followed the steps listed in Joanna's blog post (found here) down to the letter, but first invited over my sweet and crafty friend Julie and her boys to join the girls and I in making some of their own.

The pebbles and moss and soil I purchased from Lowes, glass containers were collected over time from Goodwill and various other thrift stores, and the succulents were purchased from The Great Big Greenhouse.

I think the kids were pretty proud of their creations - well, except for Heidi - she was in a mood :-/.

Anyone else doing "green" projects in an effort to usher in spring?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Snow Day DIY

Well, this week has turned into a bit of a SNOWcation.  I must say that I was actually looking forward to an excuse to hole up at home with an excuse not to leave the house, but then our heat went out and both of the girls go the stomach bug.  So, suffice it to say I'm glad the week is over!

Yesterday the girls were finally feeling better, and the house was warm, so I used that opportunity to do a quick project I've had in mind for awhile now.  I've gotten in the habit of saving all of my corks from wine that I open, and even have purchased large bags of corks at thrift stores, with the thought that someday I would do something with them.  I briefly had considered making a bath mat out of corks, like this:  
Cork bathmat
Source: Houzz

I also considered going the bulletin board route, like this: 

Wine cork bulletin boardSource: krrb

But when I stumbled across this, I knew I had to do it: 

DIY Wine Cork Monogram by Vintage News Junkie, I need to start drinking wine! Just so I can make this

Now, I didn't follow the method described at the blog above to create my monogram - I didn't trust my ability to freely create a 'B' without using an outline/backing.  Here's a brief tutorial as to how I created our B monogram out of corks.

Fist off, I began by printing out a large 'B' in my desired font and size onto computer paper.  I used the "Word Art" feature in Microsoft Word, so nothing fancy - I was just trying to create a stencil to trace/cut onto cardboard. 

Then, I attached the piece of paper to a piece of cardboard with a glue stick, so that it wouldn't move around as I was trying to cut it out.  

Then I cut out the B with an X-Acto knife.  NOTE: after this step was completed, I probably should have peeled off the paper from the cardboard, leaving only the cardboard, but I didn't.  It would have resulted in a more professional looking finished product. 

Finally, I was ready to attach the corks.  I grabbed my glue gun, warmed it up, and I was ready to go.

 I started to lay out each of the corks on the cardboard before gluing them down, but it didn't work very well since they were so wobbly, so I just decided to chance it and glue down one cork at a time.  I spread the glue on the cork itself, and then pressed it down firmly onto the cardboard.  For corks that would be touching other corks, I spread the glue on the bottom o the cork, and then also down the side of the cork to which it would attach, if this makes sense - I was just trying to make the corks as stable as possible. I tried to intersperse the red wine corks among the white wine corks, resulting in a slight polka dot effect with the red stained corks popping up throughout the letter. 

The gluing of the corks took the longest by far - I would estimate that it took about an hour.  But when the hour was up, I had this finished product: 

I'm happy with how it turned out - it's a nice addition to our bookshelf, and it was a good way to make a dent in those corks I've been hoarding!

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Lovely Lavender Lamps

Here's a lovely little Cinderella story about a pair of lamps -  spoiler alert - here's the before and after: 
 Last April, I purchased a pair of brass colored lamps from Craigslist for $12 total.  Why?  Because I liked their shape, and figured that I'd find something to do with them.  This is where I hear my sister in my head, reminding me that I have a lamp problem - which is true - but it's only a problem if the lamps sit neglected in my house - and these didn't - or - they did until last month.....

One snowy afternoon, last month, I finally got to work.  The first thing I did was to clean both of the lamps by scrubbing them with soapy water and a coarse kitchen sponge (you know the kind that doesn't have a spongy side and is really only used for scrubbing pots and pans, or, in my case, my white porcelain sink?).  You can see it in the lower left corner below.

Here's a side by side comparison after I had finished scrubbing down one of the lamps (the one on the right):

 Once that part was done, I totally disassembled one of the lamps, which I wouldn't recommend.  It came apart in like 4 pieces, as the only thing holding it together was the threaded rod going down the center of the lamp.  Wish I had taken pictures, but I didn't.  Anyway, for the first lamp, I spray painted all of those pieces separately, and then put the lamp back together after it was dry.  My tips for spray painting are the same as those you'd read anywhere - several light coats of paint are way better than fewer heavy coats - less drip marks that way.

I learned my lesson with the second lamp, and kept it all in one piece to paint it.  The result was exactly the same.

Since these lamps looked really old, and I didn't trust the integrity of the sockets or cords, I replaced them.  You can pick up lamp cords and sockets in the lighting section of any home improvement store - they'll run you about $10 and $7, respectively, so not necessarily cheap, but worth it for safety's sake.  

Clear Lamp Power Cord

Polished Brass Lamp Socket
From there, I pretty much just followed how the lamp had originally been wired in order to determine how to rewire it.  I also used the instructions on the back of the packaging that the socket came in to determine which wires to attach to which screws.  You need to determine which wire is your "hot" wire, and which is your "neutral" wire in order to figure out which colored screws on the socket to loop the wires from the cord around. The neutral wire will be slightly ribbed on the side, and it is always supposed to be connected to the silver screw in a light socket.  The "hot" wire will be smooth (no ribbing), and is always supposed to be connected to the brass screw.  In my case, the socket actually had 3 screws - 2 of one color directly opposite each other, and one of the other color located perpendicular from the other 2.  In my haste to finish the wiring and get dinner on the table, I connected both the hot and neutral wires to the 2 screws that were the same color, completely ignoring the different colored screw. The result?  When I twisted the knob to test the light, I blew a fuse - or rather, tripped a circuit.  I'm lucky that's all I did - pretty dumb move on my part.  I also found this site helpful when figuring out how to wire the lamps.

Once I corrected my mistake, we were in business!  I covered the lampshades with some leftover fabric I had, and trimmed the top and bottom edges with double-fold bias tape from Joann Fabrics (at $1.99 per package - I needed 2 packages).  I used this glue for attaching everything to the lampshade - my go-to craft glue ever since I used it for one of my no-sew roman shades projects:

Beacon Fabri-Tac Permanent Adhesive, 4-Ounce
Source: Amazon

Here's the finished product in place in Charlotte's bedroom.  Total cost for both lamps was around $50 after materials (the majority of the cost coming from the rewiring supplies), but $25 per lamp is still a steal in my opinion!