The Tipping Point…Painting Exposed Ceiling Rafters

We all have that breaking point when it comes to renovations.  You know that moment when you just want to quit? When you look around and feel like there’s no progress? The moment when you feel like the finish line is so far away and yet you’ve already clocked hours and hours of hard work?  The point when you just want to cry and have a little pity party? Or maybe just want to plant a “for sale as-is” sign in the front yard? I hit that point last week.

For the past two weeks, I’ll get home from the money-making job around 5 and go right to work in the basement until about 10, 10:30…sometimes 11pm at night.  I swap out the heels for my paint jeans (which were formally my favorite pair of jeans that I tried to do quick paint-work in…and now they’re my favorite paint jeans), and go right to work.  After two weeks of those long days I hardly see an improvement.  And I was about to crack.  So I took a weekend off. That’s right, I didn’t do a thing in the basement all weekend.  I may have had family in town and couldn’t work on it anyway, but it was a good vacation from the work and I’m ready to get back at it.

First, let me catch you up…

Beautifying a basement is hard work when you’re working with a very tiny budget.  The exposed ceiling rafters in my 1926 basement are especially ugly.  There is no better word for it.  And most of it was now exposed since I removed the dropped ceiling that previously covered all the ugliness with it’s own form of ugliness.

I seriously considered just covering up the entire ceiling so nobody ever had to view those rafters again.  Or atleast until someone was brave enough to remove a ceiling I was considering to install.  I was drooling over the idea of installing a beadboard ceiling similar to what I did in my kitchen:

Or maybe a pallet or barnwood ceiling, like this idea from This Old House:

While these are all beautiful options (which I will store in my little basket of ideas for maybe…a future house) let’s remember that I’m trying to beautify for as close to free as possible.  Therefore, in the interests of staying to the smallest budget possible, I decided to paint the ceiling.  Paint would only cost $40 and I really like the look of a two digit number when it comes to spending.

Here are some exposed ceiling ideas I was considering:

(click the pictures to be taken to the original source)

I love the cozy, comfortable feeling of the bright white ceiling above.

And black ceilings make all the ugliness disappear – the pipes and electrical are hidden in those dark rafters.

I like the idea of painting the basement ceiling a different color, something unexpected, but still neutral…like a charcoal gray or a warm, chocolaty brown, or maybe the green in the picture above.
When I started thinking of what style would be the most cohesive with the rest of the house the decision was obvious.  The design of the basement is planned to be the same as the rest of the house…so painting the ceiling white made the most sense.
Before I could paint the entire ceiling I had to remove a very old ceiling (I hope it wasn’t asbestos) covering a 12 x 10 area.  The old ceiling was installed in sheets and was a fiber material that was flaking and crusting.  A nail every 6 inches held the board in place flush to the joists.  At one point, this ceiling must have covered the entire basement because Justin and I pulled 4 million nails out of the rafters that no longer served a purpose.
Here is a better look at the fiberboard ceiling.  If it’s asbestos…I don’t want to know.
The backside of the ceiling (facing the rafters) was almost pure black because of the dust build-up over the many years this baby was in place. I also had a ton of duct work and plumbing to work around (this may be why it was never removed). I even found an old galvanized pipe for plumbing that was no longer in use still hanging around (but not connected to anything). Not knowing what could be lurking above that old ceiling I carefully ripped the ceiling down chunk by chunk with my crow bar.   It took a few hours to remove the fiberboard because I didn’t want to snag electrical wires or other mechanicals.  Once the ceilling was down and the dust had settled in my lungs, I removed all the nails nails and oddities found hiding behind that fiberboard (stray wood boards, old telephone wires, hooks, old pipes, oh…and a mouse skeleton – EEK!) – but it was done and it was ready for paint and I felt better that there was less gross stuff in my house.
Using my Graco TrueCoat Paint Sprayer* (which is one of the best tools ever), I sprayed on 2 coats of flat ultra white latex paint, giving about a two hour dry time in between coats. I went through 5 1/2 gallons of paint to cover my 500 sq foot ceiling area. This was a time consuming and exhausting task because I would have to refill the teensy-tiny paint supply cup. One cup allowed me to put one coat of paint between the joists. Count the joists.  Multiply that by 2.  That’s a whole lot of refillin’. Most jobs that I’ve done with the sprayer only require a refill or two…  But it was still quicker than taking a paint brush or roller to the ceiling.
Here is what it looks like now.  I actually organized all my tools and moved everything over to the official “workshop” area (in the storage area that will be closed off) and replaced the desk with my workbench that has been sitting out in the garage.  I also painted the floor.  Why?  Well, because there were some missing tiles (which are probably the bad, scary, asbestos kind) and I wanted to encapsulate any of the adhesive so it wouldn’t release while I was working in the area.  Justin is convinced that I will have mesothelioma one day from working with all this old stuff, and this helped put his mind at ease (it probably didn’t do a thing).  Well, I guess it’s a good thing I have him to take care of me 🙂
This little nook area will end up being the designated workout space.  There is plenty of room for a treadmill and a yoga mat.  It may also be a future office area if I should ever need to transform the office space upstairs.

For the larger living area, all I had to do was paint it since I had already cleaned up the ceiling joists at the beginning of this project.  Here is a reminder of what it looked like before I moved in and before we took down the dropped ceiling:

And here is after taking down the fluorescent lighting and dropped ceiling:
Everything in the rafters was painted…cable wires, electrical, exterior of the can lights, HVAC, spiders, and dead mice yet to be found.
Ignore the whole furniture shuffle I have going on.  Spraying a ceiling is a messy job so everything has been shuffled, covered or boxed up to keep it from getting dusted with paint.  If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll notice that some drywall work has been done (I’m always behind in posting progress).
The white ceiling has already brightened up the basement.  Okay, so maybe there has been a little progress.
Here’s another look at the before and progress pictures…
I could stare at these updates all day…wondering where my sweat and hard work went.  I’m only partially kidding. 
I love projects that are done in a few hours and this definitely isn’t one of those projects.  These overhauls wear on me…and I don’t wear well. Just ask my parents, who had to endure a full kitchen renovation with me. They’re saints. Really. It’s a good thing I’m stubborn and I won’t stop until the job is finished. It’s always worth it in the end. 
I’m assuming a renovation is much like dieting and working out.  You work your butt off, sweating it out in the gym every day and watching every calorie.  There’s little to show for it after week 4.  You just have to keep the focus on the end goal.  There’s a big difference between -5 lbs and -50 lbs.  I think I’m right about at -25 lbs.  And those last 25 lbs are a b**** to lose.
Here is the budget breakdown so far.  Thank goodness I don’t charge for labor…
– Lighting and installation—> $180
– Paint ——————–>  $40
Okay, so maybe it looks like $220 in updates so far.  I promise that there are good results coming soon.
Have you ever hit a mid-renovation crisis? It’s the worst!  Thank goodness for before and after pictures to keep me sane.  What have you done to help cure the mid-reno crisis? Yoga, maybe punch a wall?  Do you keep on trucking or have you set down the hammer? 
Thanks for reading!
*A good paint sprayer is a great investment when you have a lot of paint projects planned. They help cover a large area in a very short period of time. While there is thorough clean-up involved of the sprayer and pump, the process of painting is at least 5 times quicker than a roller or brush. I purchased the sprayer 8 months ago with the idea that I would be painting the kitchen shelves (done), spraying a brush-stroke-free finish on moulding (done), spraying a basement ceiling (done), painting all interior doors (done), staining the privacy fence (sprint time), and many other projects to come – it was worth the investment. I would’ve spent this much just to rent a sprayer for the basement ceiling!

Peace of Mind Costs Exactly $154

Earlier today, right at about 4:55pm, I was sitting in my home office rearranging and updating my cork board.  It’s a quiet and productive day and I was expecting for it to end in about 15 or 20 minutes as I was wrapping up a few emails.

I grabbed the 2012 “quick reference” page for work off of the corkboard to replace it with the 2013 updated version.  As I removed the sheet of paper, the pushpins holding it to the board fell on the desk and the ground beneath.  I gathered up the pins on my desk and stuck them back into the board.  I did a quick sweep of the floor, but couldn’t locate the pin(s).  I decided that I would finish up my work and then do a thorough sweep of the area.

I was distracted as I typed up the final sentence of my email when I hear Joe Louis (my 7 lb and 7 month old miniature dachshund) enter the room.  Joe was sleeping in his new tempurpedic bed by the heat vent in the dining room, so when he visits me in the office he is usually looking for a new place to sleep.  I was waiting for that familiar nudge to let me know that he wanted to be placed on my lap.

That is when I heard him chewing something right at my feet…and it’s a hard something.  Joe is the type of puppy that is always looking for something to chomp on.  With the renovations going on in the basement, I have kept the area blocked off and thoroughly vacuumed just in case he sneaks down.  Having to constantly sweep Joe’s mouth for foreign objects has become a standard around here.  Lucy (my 10 1/2-year-old border collie/lab mix) has never ever ever eaten something that wasn’t edible, even as a puppy.    I call her my little professor because she could teach me a thing or two.  Where was she when I dropped that stupid pushpin??  


My heart immediately sank to the floor when I heard that familiar chewing sound.  In the split second it took me to grab him he looked up at me with his big brown eyes.  and swallowed.  This is when my heart sank about 10 feet below the floor.  I don’t know what he just ate.  I do know that I vacuum several times a week and so my head goes directly to that pushpin that I was “too busy” to pick up 2 minutes ago.

Since I was already at the computer, I typed “what to do when a dog swallows a pushpin” into a Google search. The results aren’t horrible, but they are all referencing large dogs.  Large dogs with large intestines and large stomachs that might be able to take this sort of thing.  But Joe is only 7 lbs.  Thankfully, I keep the vets business card on my corkboard so I picked up the phone and called them.  I was trying to speak to the vet tech to explain the situation and WHO I WAS CALLING ABOUT and I got so choked up that I couldn’t even tell them what he swallowed.  I feel like the worst dog-parent.  ever.  Eventually, I got it all out and they told me to come by right away.

After I hang up the phone I set Joe in his crate and almost threw my desk out of the way to get behind it.  There it was.  A clear pushpin.  But it wasn’t good enough, I could have dropped two or maybe it was from my carelessness a few months ago.  I decided that I wouldn’t feel comfortable until I had proof that he didn’t have a sharp object in his really little, teeny, tiny belly.  For a minute I felt like I was overreacting and he was probably going to be okay.  I mean he was acting normal.  Then again, the vet was open now, and what if it was the worst case scenario.  I needed to put my mind at ease, so I grabbed Joe and headed out the door.

Here is Joe completely at ease and wondering what I’m all hyper about.

We arrive at the vet hospital only 30 minutes from the time that he swallowed…something.  The vet was expecting us and they immediately took him back to get an X-ray of his stomach.

10 minutes later he was cleared.  

This is Joe after we received the good news of his clean tummy.  No pushpins.

Joe weighs a healthy 7.8lbs – and had an empty stomach and a full colon.  I paid $154 to discover that Joe Louis was ready for dinner and needed to poop.  But thankfully, he didn’t snack on a pushpin.

I have no regrets.  But I did learn that you can put a price tag on “peace of mind” and for me, it costs about $154.

Hard lesson learned…. I will now find the darn pushpin as soon as it falls to the ground.  Or maybe I’ll just create a new organization system.

What “horrible mom” moment have you had? Would you have taken your child or fur-child to the doctor if you thought swallowing a pushpin was possible?  Or would you wait for it to pass?


Mason Jar Chandelier

*If you’re visiting from the Dog Days of Winter “Thrift-it” Linky Party I want to thank you for stopping by!  Please take a minute to say hello and share your ideas as well.  

If you know me, you probably already know about my Mason Jar Chandelier…and my little obsession with mason jars in general.  Friends and family know of my obsession so they will often send unused mason jars my way…and I am very happy to accept.  A note from Justin:  please….no. more. mason. jars.

Two years ago I caught sight of the Potterybarn Mason Jar Chandelier (which you can find here), and while the $399 price tag might be reasonable for some people, it wasn’t for me.  So I used it as inspiration to create my own version.  For free.

Sharing this project is way overdue…about 2 years overdue, but I think you can forgive me considering I only started this blog adventure a few months ago.  I also thought this would be a great project to share at the Dog Days of Winter “Thrift-it” Linky Party!

At the time I created this pendant light, I was eyeball deep in renovations and had no kitchen, no roof and no floors.  But I decided it was a good time for a fun project, and really, I just couldn’t stand looking at the pendant lights gracing my dining room any longer.  

The only “before” picture I have of the chandelier, which was taken on closing day in 2010 (that’s my mom and I below).  

I needed new lighting, but didn’t want to spend the money.  I was able to keep the cost at zero by reusing the lighting fixture already in place and a few mason jars that were collecting dust in the garage.  However, the existing light fixture was actually black, so it needed a little makeover itself.


First, I removed the pendants and spray painted the fixture with Rustoleum Oil Rubbed Bronze paint.  I didn’t prime it, I didn’t sand it…I just painted it.  I even sprayed it in place using a bunch of painters tape and paper.  The ultimate lazy way to paint.  I also painted 3 metal mason jar lids with the ORB.  I taped off all parts of the fixture that will need to be kept safe and free of paint.

Below is the fixture with the pendant light and the glass clamp removed.

Since I was able to reuse the light fixture, all I needed was 3 mason jars with lids and a few drill bits.  I drilled a 1″ hole in the center of each lid using a hole saw, making sure the hole was big enough for the light fixture to slip into, but small enough so it would still be hidden once screwed into place.  I then drilled about 8 small holes around the 1″ hole that will show once the fixture is in place.  The round, white piece seen below is used between the metal lid and the jar to securely hold the glass in place onto the fixture.

The 8 holes will allow for heat to escape the fixture and keep the light at a safe temperature.  Note:  I added these vent holes today…two years after worrying about the heat not being able to escape.  Better late than never.

This is the most dramatic design piece to the front entrance.  The pendant lights get all the attention when visitors stop over and I think it really adds a great casual feeling to the room.

I can’t believe that I almost donated this light fixture.  All it took was about 20 minutes, some old mason jars and a little paint and the drama quadrupled in the dining room.  I love being able to create beautiful pieces from items I may have otherwise thrown away or donated.

Here is the dining room and chandelier as you would see them from the entrance.

A little overdue, but even after 2 years this is still my favorite light fixture in the house.

I have tried swapping out the bulbs to get different effects and haven’t been successful.  The fixture only accepts candelabra bulbs so it does limit what I can use.  Thankfully, I have this on a dimmer switch to help control the light in the room.  I found that I do prefer the round bulb over the candle bulb look, and I even tried using edison bulbs but they didn’t offer enough light.

Thanks for stopping by!


New Year, New Projects, New Bathroom Closet

It’s a new year, and it’s the time for resolutions and organizing!  I love to organize.  In fact, I have to organize.  If a closet or drawer isn’t kept under control it will keep me from sleeping soundly.  I organize for my health.
My bathroom renovation may not be happening, but this doesn’t mean I can’t have some fun with workin’ with what I got.  Earlier this week, I crossed off an item on my to-do list that has been lingering since April 4, 2010, except that I was hoping to tackle it during the whole-bath renovation.  Consider this my partial-bath renovation.
I’ve been planning to organize my bathroom closet for a while now.  Once I saw the Dog Days of Winter – Organize It Challenge posted by I Love You More Than Carrots blog, I knew I had to finally tackle the ugly space hiding behind my bathroom door.
My goal for my bathroom closet was to make this space less embarrassing  more functional, and to do it all for free.  While the paint and shelving paper is pretty awful, my incredibly embarrassing lack of organization was the biggest motivator.  I’m airing a little dirty laundry here.  We all have dirty little secret, and this closet is mine.

I’m pretty sure the individual who installed a closet with shelving in the bathroom of my house didn’t own a level.  Or a measuring tape.  The bathroom cabinet was the only corner of my house that still held a paint color that I didn’t roll on.  (It looks light gray in the pictures but it is actually a medium purple-gray color and the shelves were green marble shelving paper).

Joe Louis (our curious 7 mo. old puppy) has a guilty pleasure of digging in the trash can.  To remedy this, I shoved the garbage can into the jam packed area of the closet so it could be hidden away from puppy access.  No, I didn’t take anything out of the closet to make room for the garbage.  And it (very embarrassingly) ended up looking like this…
Tile samples, cleaning products, a storage basket and now a trash can all jammed into one little space when I had a full closet.  It needed help.
First, I unloaded the closet so I could evaluate what needed to be replaced.
I removed all the shelves and tossed them since they were poorly made in the first place.  Then I removed all the uneven and unlevel shelving braces.  The old closet had a lot of wasted space, so I measured the distance between each shelf to be 12.5″ and was able to add one more shelf.  Below you can see the area where the old braces were and the new pine boards I installed for the new shelving.
I had 1/3 of a MDF sheet leftover from my hallway and master bedroom closet project from last year.  It turned out to be the perfect size for creating 4 shelves in the bathroom.  I made a few cuts with my circular saw and had no scrap wood leftover!   The scraps I had sitting in the garage for 12 months ended up being perfect for this makeover.  I ended up being 1 shelf short on wood, but after a visit to my friends new construction house the next day, they had a small scrap of MDF in the basement left by the builders that they offered up to me.  After I installed the new shelves, I added two coats of leftover Ultra White Eggshell paint, and it was already looking a lot better.
Since I now had more room, I brought in the towels from the linen closet in the hallway and stacked all the bulk bath products on the top shelf.  I reused all the same mason jars I was using before and just added a few numbered vinyl decals I had leftover from a Christmas Ornament project (sorry, I was slacking and didn’t blog about this).  The baskets also came from the linen closet to separate different bath items.
In case you’re wondering, ‘5’ is holding mouthwash.  I like the look of plain jars and often transfer over consumer packaged products to jars.  I wash the jars regularly and any time I refill product to keep things sanitary.  Hello, my name is Mary and I’m obsessed with jars.  and numbers.  I can’t stop.  #jarhoarder #everythinginmyhouseisnumbered
Previously I had always kept the towels in the linen closet.  Now that I have all this extra space I transferred my towels over to the bathroom.  Which really only makes sense.  I only have 4 bath towels, 2 hand towels and 4 wash cloths that are used daily (I keep old towels in the laundry area that are used for cleaning the house or drying off the dogs or cars).  I’m a little OCD clean about my white towels and because they are a bit pricey they are only allowed to be used to wipe clean water up…my favorite towels can be seen here.  The top towel roll is actually two hand towels rolled together to give a consistent look.
The basket on the left holds all of my beauty products…lotion, deodorant, nail polish remover, makeup and brushes (which are both kept contained in a little carrier case).  This is all I use on a daily basis.  I keep it pretty simple.  The basket on the right holds some of Justin’s products that have accumulated at my house.  I love that we each have our own storage and that if someone needs to use the bathroom, we just need to grab our basket and get ready elsewhere.
The storage is now so functional and organized that I have no need for the fourth shelf.  I may transfer my brush and hairdryer to this area, which is currently stored in the dresser in my bedroom.
The floor storage has seen the most improvement.  I moved the tile samples to the basement, hid the cleaning products behind the garbage can and got rid of the extra storage baskets.
Here is the area behind the garbage, which isn’t visible unless you crouch down and remove the garbage.  I hung the brushes and spray bottles on a tension rod (meant for curtains) and stabilized it with two screws.  This isn’t very kid-safe, but we don’t have to worry about that just yet.  The dogs don’t access this closet and it’s always kept shut so I think it’s okay to store these here for now.
I’m pretty happy with this little makeover.  Especially since it only cost me 4 hours of my time.  I might just sleep a little better tonight.
What organization projects do you have planned for this year? Please tell me I’m not the only one who likes to number stuff? 

It’s My Birthday!

It’s my birthday today!  And I spent it like I spend every other day.  All I wanted was to spend some time with my family and friends.  Which I was able to do earlier this weekend.  Friday night my parents and Grandma visited me at my house – with cake so I obviously let them in the door.  Saturday, Justin and I had dinner with a few friends at Kyoto, a Japanese Hibachi Steakhouse.  We didn’t go for the food or for my birthday.  We went because it’s fun to catch flying shrimp in your mouth, and it’s fun when the chef yells “Saaaah-keee, Saaaah-keee, Saaaah-keeeh” as he pours nail polish remover alcohol down your throat, even after you ask him to stop.  Yes, that’s my kind of party.  I’m also a huge wimp when it comes to drinking alcohol – so I only got one round of saaaah-keeh and had the most fun watching other people be in the horrible pain the next morning drink.

Justin and I get to spend most of our days together, and honestly, we do special things for each other all the time so a birthday just feels like another day.  Last year, Justin went all out for my birthday, mostly because he was still trying to impress me.  He sent flowers to the house, gave me a beautiful gift and planned an entire evening of surprises; dinner at a fancy-pants restaurant, a comedy show, a drink with just the two of us, then he walked me into a bar where my friends were there to surprise me.  I loved it.  So Much.  He made me feel like the most important person in the world.  But my favorite part was that the took the time to plan it.

This year, I knew he felt like he would have to top that.  I told him that I only want one thing

the Young House Love book, which will be released tomorrow.  I am the type of person who will buy myself something if I feel like I need it…okay, if I want it.  So when Justin nervously presented me with my birthday gift, he admitted that he was a bit unsure of what I would think because it was different. For anyone waiting for my Facebook status to change to “engaged” – we are not.  Justin…wait for it…hired Designer Blogs to re-design my blog for me!  Oh, and he said I can expect the YHL book on Wednesday!  Holy cow – best. gift. ever.  I am so excited to work with a designer to get the look I want and am proud of!!  Justin, you’re a genius.  And the greatest friend and boyfriend a girl could ever have.  So, today, we did nothing special it was just another day – spent some time at a friends house watching the Lion’s kick some butt (this is what Justin told me in a recap of the game later), went to a used bookstore, Costco, Michael’s, and Target, and then picked up a pizza to take home.  Yup – my kind of birthday.  And the best one yet.

How could he ever top that!?

PS – I didn’t take a break today from some projects.  In fact, I’ve done a ton this weekend!  So I have some great material for this week – and a new look coming soon!!



A Diy Wedding Gift

Last week I had mentioned a super secret wedding gift project.  Now that the wedding has passed I think it’s safe to share.  Remember when we travelled to Effingham here for the wedding?

The bride and groom that I crafted this gift for are from two different cities (and countries).  I thought a DIY project using maps would be a sentimental gift that they would enjoy displaying in the home they share together.  The bride is from Effingham, IL, and the groom is from Prey Veng, Cambodia – they currently live together in Phnom Penh (capital of Cambodia).

Here is the finished product:

I had the idea set in my mind for this project before I could find the resources.  Which is always dangerous because I become very picky and won’t settle.  The most difficult part of this project is finding two maps that have the same color scheme, scale and geography.  If using two cities in the US it would be fairly simple to find maps, at the AAA office for example (which are free for members).  However, I was looking for a map of Illinois, and a map of Cambodia in the same scale and color.  I looked at the library, Barnes and Noble, Internet and AAA.  Locating two maps from two different countries is a huge challenge.
I ended up using Google Maps and took a screenshot of each city at the proper scale on my computer.  The one advantage to doing this is that you can crop the screen print (in Paint, or as a .Jpeg in Microsoft Word) to a heart of the size you need.  Which will save you time when cutting the image out.
The bride and groom requested that wedding gifts be monetary or small enough to fit in a shoe box since they will be travelling back to Cambodia after the wedding and have weight/size restrictions on luggage.  I found the frame and mat at Target for $9.95 that looked perfect for my project and was still small enough to fit in a shoebox.  I initially planned on including Phnom Penh to show where they live together, however, the frame that accommodated 3 hearts was too large.
The maps printed out with a slight pink hue, and they seemed to be lost when set against a white background.  Instead I used a piece of card stock I found at Michael’s (on sale for $0.25 a page) as a background and taped it to the back of the mat so it wouldn’t slide around.  After cutting out the map hearts, I used my 3M Spray Adhesive to adhere them to the gray background.
That’s it!  Putting it together took only minutes – it was the research and locating maps that took hours…
 I considered adding a quote or dates to the matting.  Here are a few ideas I was tossing around…
– ‘Her Home,’ ‘His Home’ – and at the top ‘Our Home’
– ‘Love finds a way’
– ’10-28-2012′ below Effingham map, and ’12-22-2012′ below Prey Veng map (they are getting married in each of their home towns).
I finally settled on leaving it blank.  Each person has their own style, and maybe the cities mean something different to the bride and groom.  I didn’t want to make that decision for them.  I think I would be pretty stoked to get a custom gift like this – I hope they were too!
So, what do you think? 
Note: I wasn’t very happy with having to use Google Maps as the images.  Justin and I were at Barnes and Noble until 10:30pm the night before we had to board a plane at 7am – only to be disappointed again.  I like the way it looks, but it fell short of my expectations.

Halloween-ing the House: Part 3

The interior of the house has been sufficiently spooked with bats and crows, so I attempted to put a little focus on the exterior. I had a little fun with a $3 pack of fake spider webbing. The scariest part is that I had to remove some real spider webs to put up the fake ones. I am a bit nervous that the spiders will think my house is a breeding ground for arachnids once they see the massive webs.

Notice the dead trees… I decided to keep these around for an abandoned effect for Halloween. It works, right?

I ended up only using 1/4 of the spider webbing to create this. It’s nothing dramatic, but it’s easy, cheap and (hopefully) not tacky 😉


Halloween-ing the House: Part Deux

The house has gone to the crows.  They are slowly taking over and have moved into the bedroom.  Now I really feel like I’m living and sleeping in a rendition of Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘The Birds.’

Here was the previous artwork:

The previous “art” is actually the sample images that came with the frames…It worked for a little while since the bare space was driving me up the wall…see what I did there…and I couldn’t find anything I liked.  There are two things that I love:  easy projects, and burlap (okay, and mason jars).  I have plenty of burlap around the house, and some within very close range.  Like the table I was working at.
I cut a piece of burlap from the table runner (which was extra long anyway) and created 4 square pieces.  I picked up the burlap bag from a coffee shop in Nashville, TN for $5 a few years ago.  And this is my fourth project with that single bag.
I used the same cheat that I used in the Paint Chip Butterfly Project where I took the sample image already in the frame and flipped it over to use as a white background.  I used the matte and a sqaure to help keep the paper from slipping, and the sqaure also helped me measure when I glued down the burlap.  I sprayed the back of each burlap with 3M Spray Ahesive I already had on hand to keep it from moving around.  I wanted the burlap to be more permanent since I have future plans for these.  I then added the crows and placed a small piece of scotch tape on the back of the bird which would make it easy to remove later.
Another easy and quick Halloween project…that may cause some nightmares.
Not that you asked, but the bedroom needs some serious attention.  Like pillows, a texture-y throw blanket, and that ceiling fan up top really needs to be dusted…or painted.  And once I pop these birds out of the frames I was thinking of painting a letter on each…maybe white or bring another pop of color back to that wall.  This is why the house will forever evolve

Halloween-ing the House: Part 1

So begins a series of posts on how I will attempt to add some Halloween flair to my humble abode.  I don’t go all out decorating for Halloween and would normally place a few fall-ish items around the house with the changing season – that way I’m good for all Fall holidays.  This year, I will decorate following a few rules.  Keep it simple, and keep it cheap.

It should be no secret that I admire Martha Stewart despite her time in the slammer.  The woman is a genius and she always offers a ton of inspiration for decorating…especially on a budget.

I remember her decorating lamp shades with some halloweenish animals (crows, bats, owls…) and thought I could do this too.  I used just bats and it took me less than 10 minutes from start to finish.  And well, because I have other plans for crows later.  Here is how my lampshade turned out:

This is a very quick project that you can complete in a matter of minutes.  Especially if you happen to have black paper (or black paint so you can paint the paper, but it would add some paint and dry time), scissors and tape:

I just so happened to have 3 sheets of plain black paper that I purchased from Michael’s a few weeks ago for a different project, but I should have enough for both.  The paper was $0.29 each – which means this project cost less than a buck.

I did a quick search on Google for “bats” and used the images as a quick reference for drawing.  Then, I drew a quick outline of a bat on the paper in pencil then folded the paper in half so I would get two bats from each drawing (I made two very rough drawings and they turned out pretty well).

I didn’t know how Martha Stewart originally affixed these to the shade, but I figured tape would probably work.  So I just placed two plain pieces of scotch tape on each bat, then I placed the sticky side on the inside of the shade.  You can’t see the tape at all.

The greatest part is that when the lamp is turned off you can’t see the halloween effect.  All you need to do is turn on the lamp for a little flair!

Now that was probably the easiest (and cheapest) holiday project yet.  I also have 1 1/2 sheets of black paper left so I should have plenty for my other halloween project.

I considered using the same idea but with crows and placing them randomly around the house and on the front door.  Thankfully I didn’t take the time or energy considering my drawing skills and scissor skills aren’t that great.  I ran into Michael’s to grab supplies for the earlier project and for a super secret wedding gift and came across these guys and they were 50% off – 12 crows for $2.50.  Woo hoo!  I may have only had to spend another $1.00 for more black paper but the energy it saved me was worth it.

I only used 5 of the crows to place around the house and I really like the little halloween flair it added to the everyday decor.

If I’m careful removing all tape, I can easily pack these away and use them again next year.

In case you’re wondering, Joe got in on the Halloweenie fun:

Would you have expected anything else?

How do you decorate for Halloween?  What have you done to make your space spookier?


Spooning Since…

I’m back!! It’s been a busy summer and it’s not about to slow down just yet.  I wanted to give one quick update and share a project that I created for my sweet friends to celebrate their upcoming wedding.  Last year, our good friends, Peter and Anna, got engaged and are to be married this coming October.

I am so excited!  Not only because this means that I get to stand up with them as they make this very important commitment to each other, but it also means that I get to buy them gifts.  AND make them gifts.  P & A have a beautiful home just a mile or two from me.  It’s historic, full of charm, packed full of items that I would pick out myself, and yes, I’m insanely jealous of their sun room and second floor balcony.   Because we have so much in common, it makes buying gifts for them easypeasy!  I just buy or make something I love and I know they’ll love it too.

This is what I came up with:

One of the blogs I follow, Thistlewood Farms, posted about this project back in June 2012.  She actually posted about using PicMonkey, but included this adorable project.  Her original inspiration is from here, but I love TF’s more rustic version.  I stored this idea in the back of my mind to create for a friend who would appreciate it.  So when Peter and Anna got engaged last October I knew this would be the perfect gift for them.  (Yes, I’ve been planning their wedding gift for almost a year…even before they were engaged!)

I tracked down the spoons at an Estate Sale a few months back (more on this later).  I had been looking around for spoons but didn’t settle until I found two silver spoons that were antique, beautiful and worthy of display for many years to come.

he metal stamping set is from Michael’s.  And the aluminum sheet metal is from Home Depot (it’s actually some pretty heavy duty stuff – I’m sure a thinner product would’ve worked even better).

And the frame is also from Michael’s.

It took me two practice rounds of hammering the stamped letters, once on foil and once on another piece of aluminum sheet metal to get the letters straight.  This was my second try and it still wasn’t looking so good.

I added a piece of leftover drop cloth (from reupholstering the chair) as the canvas and stuck everything to it using the hot glue gun.

They’ve already hung their gift in the dining room.  Maybe it will help them remember the year that they met (Anna had to ask Peter for this…) and also serve as a reminder to spoon together – even when they might not want to.

Congratulations friends!!  I can’t wait to share your special day very soon!

As a little “lesson learned” – I wouldn’t recommend stamping metal with a hammer on a butcher block kitchen island.


It needed to be sanded anyway.