Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Beginnings of a Ballerina Room

The $20 project finish frenzy continues.  This one cost me NOTHING because I already had everything just lying around waiting to actually be painted and put together.  I'm not a big "theme" person, at least not, in your face theme, so when my daughter said that she wanted a "ballerina room" I didn't want it to be decked out in ballet, but rather something really girly and feminine that whispered ballet.  And being that she's only two and her interests change almost weekly, it provides the ability to switch things out a little without having to completely overhaul. The gallery wall was the first step in actually making it a ballerina room.  The idea for the twirl picture came from one of my favorite blogs and when I saw it, it was just the direction I needed.  She did hers with watercolor though, and being that I'm not a great painter, this one came together with vintage sheet music from an antique store and a Sharpie.  My cherished Eloise print has finally found a perfectly girly place on the wall among some thrift store and yard sale mirrors, and lest a little rustic be left out, I added an aged wood frame with a letter 'A', which used to hang above her crib, redone with some scrapbook paper and Mod Podge and a sign I made a while back and had never quite found a fitting home.

The most expensive thing on this wall is the pink mirror that I picked up at a yard sale for $5.00.  The biggest frames were free and the sheet music was about $2 for four sheets.  And don't forget to check your dollar store! It's where I got the small, gold mirror and I love it!

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012


I can't say enough about what amazing man my dad is.  

I've talked a lot about my mom's battle with ALS, but don't often mention my dad, and he definitely deserves mentioning.  If you ever wanted to know what selflessness and love look like, you need look no further than my dad.  My parents were high school sweethearts and I often think about what it would be like to be told in your mid 40's that you would most likely never grow old together, never get to enjoy your grandchildren together, or share in your children's accomplishments and the pride of knowing you did a pretty good job as parents.  Basically, that everything you hoped and dreamed for your future together was no longer going to be a possibility.  My dad has faced some major trials in his life, even from the time he was young, and he has never been one to dwell on the negative.  He's a firm believer that our life is what we choose to make it and has always taught his children the same.  It's okay to be sad, but our sadness does not need to define us.  So despite a bleak diagnosis for my mom, and having to go through things with my mom's illness that no married couple should ever have to experience, he was courageous, strong, and most of all loving.  So loving.  Words cannot express the love I saw my dad give to my mom, and despite becoming her primary caretaker, which in itself was a 24/7 job, he ran a household, cooked, cleaned, took us to extra-curricular activities--all of those "mom" things, and still had to work his very demanding, paying job.    This is not to say my dad didn't do the "mom" things before she got sick, I don't ever remember a time when he wasn't helping with the laundry, cleaning, etc., but after my mom got sick it all fell to him.  He worked tirelessly to make sure his family was loved and cared for and he always made time for us, no matter what.  We all found the humor when he learned to curl my mom's hair, would take dinner to neighbors because my mom couldn't stand not being able to give service, so she'd volunteer us, made handouts for her church group, and lots of other not-so-guy things.  He affectionately earned the nickname "Martha Villa" (Martha Stewart & Bob Villa) which has stuck years later--and he's darn PROUD of that nickname! I know my mom was so proud of him too and proud to call him hers.  I never saw them treat each other with anything but the utmost respect and he cherished her and his actions showed it.  And nothing but the utmost respect for my mom, from their children, would be tolerated.  My dad is the hardest working person I know and sacrificed a lot for his family often traveling a lot and working long hours only to come home to more work that needed to be done.  And despite the hard work and being successful, he's never been a guy who's wanted for much materially.  His family around him and happy and having just what he needs has always been enough. 

So his kids should be angels, right?  Not this stubborn, opinionated one.  On top of everything he was going through I gave him some serious hell during my middle and high school years (he's really looking forward to my kids paying me back on that one) and he loved me unconditionally through all of the wanting to strangle me.  My husband had a lot to live up to and I'm happy to report he does and then some!

So, all of that said, my dad gets a really good laugh when I call and give him those validating moments.  You know, the you-were-right moments.  And I'll tell you, he was right about A LOT!  In fact, I think I must have been really good at driving him crazy because there are still things I talked him into that I'm shocked I convinced him on.  So for Father's Day I typed up all of those priceless lessons he taught me and framed them so he could have those validating moments whenever he felt like he needed one.  I have to say, he loved it!  (My family celebrated Father's Day a little early).  The small type you see next to the last word is just a personal little note from me.  

Paired with one of his new favorite pictures of my daughter and wrapped simply with some twine and a clothespin. 

My dad is now just as amazing a grandfather as he is a father.  Nothing lights him up like being with his grandkids and they LOVE their grandpa.

One of the grandkids is missing here.

Here's to truly, the greatest dad in the world.  You rock!

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Monday, June 11, 2012

Painting Metal: An Ice Cream Parlor Chair

When you become known as a hoarder collector of cool old things, it's amazing how many people you find have cool old things just sitting around collecting dust, that they want get rid of, but would rather know they're going to a loving home instead of Goodwill.  It's like telling yourself a pet you had to give away is running happily around a farm instead of at the animal shelter--we're funny about our stuff, aren't we?  I've said before, I'm an extremely sentimental person so I almost NEVER pass up something old from family.  That said, a while back my grandma told me she had an ice cream parlor chair of my great-great grandma's just sitting in her shed, and did I want it?  Uh, is that even a question?  YES!  She brought it up to me a couple of weeks ago and I knew it would be an easy project, but it's been sitting in the garage with the rest of the pile.  So...I thought it would be a good, small start to my $20 challenge.  Total cost of this one for me: $3.67 (a can of spray paint).  I had planned to do it white or gold, something to keep it sort of "classic," but when my two year old suggested pink (is there any other color?) I thought I'd go for it.  Right now it's sitting at my daughter's desk, because the stool that I originally bought for the desk was becoming the bane of my existence.  Think metal scratching on tile ALL. DAY. LONG! So this may eventually move down to a desk in her room, but for now, it's a good little pop of color in my kitchen and a bright spot for my sanity.  (Yes this is also metal, but it's significantly bigger and heavier than the stool, so she can't drag it around as much.)

This chair was in pretty bad shape and had already been spray painted once and was chippy and rusty...

...which is where these come in:

They're on the sandpaper aisle, but they're more like Brillo pads and work great for getting rid of all that old paint and rust.  I've been informed that steel wool works well too. After a thorough scrub down, or hose down in my case, just "sand" the clean surface like you would normally sand anything else. I forgot to take an after pic, but it gets those rough spots out, evens out the chips, and gets rid of the rust.  I am admittedly impatient and maybe even a little lazy sometimes when it comes to sanding (or anything really) and I did want to keep a little bit of that old look, so I opted not to sand it completely smooth so the paint would chip again in some spots when I was done. 

I recovered the cushion with a drop cloth scrap I already had lying around (you can get a 6x9 for like $10 at Walmart).  

Just measure and cut your fabric (and by measure I mean lay your cushion down and cut a piece of fabric big enough to wrap around the cushion--technical, I know).

Start stapling it down.  And make sure you work all of the folds down on to the bottom of the cushion so you have a smooth top and sides.

When I staple a cushion, I alternate sides every so often so I don't get all the way around and realize I've pulled all of the fabric to one side and end up short.

Trim the excess.

A coat of Krylon in Watermelon, same as the pink cabinet and she's finished.

Love the little bright spot it adds to my soft color palette.

Minus drying time for the paint this project literally took about half an hour.  And even if I'd had to buy everything, it would have cost me  about $14.00 for the spray paint and drop cloth, with A LOT of drop cloth left for other projects.  If you don't have a staple gun, buy one!  They're $15.00 for the Heavy Duty--which I recommend--and like $10.00 for a "regular" duty, and I use mine ALL THE TIME.  Remember when I had to reinforce this?  You'll wonder how you ever lived without it.  I promise!

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Thursday, June 7, 2012

$20 A Week: Project Finish Frenzy

{I have a two-fold problem:} 

{1.} My husband tells me this EVERY DAY:

Seriously, he loves this picture, and if he doesn't quote it verbatim, he at least mentions my hoard in one way or another almost every day--possibly even hourly.  The guy really wants to park his car in the garage, what can I say? And being that it's yard sale season, I think it may only be a matter of weeks before the Hoarders camera crew shows up at my house.  Which leads me to the second part of my problem...

{2.}...I have a really hard time passing up a deal, even if it's something I don't need.  I've gotten better, and actually put several things back at yard sales last week--the kind of thing to which Mr. Fab responds "You want a cookie?"  Not a big deal to some, a BIG DEAL for me--I'm a sucker for a sale tag.  I'm the reason dollar aisles and clearance racks were invented.  I won't buy a $30 dress, but I'll spend $50 on crap I don't need because it's "a deal" when I should have just "splurged" on the $30 dress and left the store with $20 in my pocket (that actually happened last week)--you know how it goes.  

Anyone else with me on that one?^^

Bottom line: too often, deals entice me to spend way too much money on junk I don't need (I mean I always find a use for it eventually, but until then, it's just clutter), thus negating the beauty of the deal. Anyone else also spend $40 at the dollar store like every time they go?  Damn that cool dollar store stuff and cheap picture frames!!

So...being that the Mr. would like his garage (and a good portion of the house) back and we'd like to tighten up the budget a bit so we can put away for some bigger projects and summer vacation stuff, I've decided to give myself a self-imposed shit-ervention (did that sound gross?).  As I looked around the house I realized that I have a mountain of projects that I could actually finish (a novel idea, I know) for $20 or less, thus thinning my hoard pile , fattening my wallet, and happying my husband (okay, made up word, but it fits). And I REALLY don't need anymore crap--at least, that's what I'm trying to tell myself in the mirror every morning--I don't think it's working yet.  

Thus was born the:

Sorry, I'm not a catchy title person.  Basically for the month of June, my creative budget is $20.00 a week and I'm going to see how many projects I can finish each week with just that 20 bucks.  Now I would go out on a limb and say that I'm not going to buy anything new in June either, but my church yard sale is this weekend, and it's a good one, so I promise to not to buy anything that won't immediately have a home or that I don't need--baby steps here.  Just for the record, mirrors and picture frames are always a need. 

{The sale is June 8-10 @ St. Andrew Catholic church in Riverton for any of you Utah people, and like I said: IT'S GOOD!}

I'll be giving myself a $20 bill every Monday and anything I didn't spend the week before will "roll over."  I've been a little hesitant about this because I usually hate when tutorials talk about how much something cost them and the cost didn't include the supplies they already had on hand, but I'll give you the grand total and how much I spent to finish the project, and hopefully your frugal creativity will still be sparked.

Here's just a small portion of the list of projects I need to complete {links are included}:

Couch Re-upholstery
Office/Guest bedroom (a project I started a year and a half ago)
Playroom (also started a year and a half ago)
$10 desk
Dresser (which will be for sale) (but probably no longer campaign style unless someone wants to hit me up for it ASAP)
More cabinet projects like this and this
Adelie's room (this is probably like 10 projects in and of itself)
Laundry room
And this doesn't look much better.  And does that picture say MARCH!?!? That's just embarrassing!
And a few things in the pile I've never shown you should be coming too.

So I think this will take me like 1/4 of the way up the project mountain, but I won't have to rent a storage unit (which Mr. Fab says is 100% OUT OF THE QUESTION) and Hoarders can postpone their visit to my house.

Friday, June 1, 2012

House Hunting? Things I Never Thought to Look For

It seems like a lot of people I know are looking to purchase their first home, which I think is one of the most exciting milestones in life.  A place to call and make your own!  And anyone who knows me, knows that if you ask my opinion about something you'd better be prepared to take a seat for the answer.  So when I was talking to a new-homeowner friend of mine the other day and she asked, "When you moved in, did you notice all these things you hadn't noticed before?" I was like, girl, pull up a chair.  Boy did we notice things!  And as she and I sat there talking, I realized this isn't the first time I've had this conversation, and I'm sure won't be the last. So I invite you to pull up a chair and hear what I have to say about little things to look for when you buy a house. And I promise not to talk about paint color, entertaining, or closet space and where his clothes are going to fit because I want to punch everyone on House Hunters that talks about that stuff--so I'll spare ya'!

I think we get SO excited that we finally get to purchase a home that some of us tend to be a little cursory when it comes to looking into the minor details.  Now, let me say, I'm not talking any Holmes Inspection problems here--that show makes me sick to my stomach for those poor people, and these things probably wouldn't even have necessarily been deal-breakers for us.  BUT...knowing about many of them pre-move in would have given us a good idea of challenges we would face, things we were going to have to live with, and just how much we were going to need to budget for changes.

1.  Open The Windows:
As much as I'd love to say that the problems with our windows were due to the age of a charming old house, we didn't buy a charming old house because anything in our price range would need A LOT of work that we didn't have the money for now, so we bought a five-year-old house (now 10 years old) in a, I have to admit, sort of cookie cutter neighborhood and that means: builder's grade, builder's grade, builder's grade everything!  Builder's grade translates to cheapest s**t available for those of you who don't know. So, builder's grade in mind, a few weeks after we moved in, I went to open the windows in my family room to let some air circulate through the house.  The windows don't open!  Not like, they're painted or stuck shut like a charming old house, that I could have rectified, like they're one pane of glass that was never meant to open.  So, I moved onto the bay windows in my kitchen, which are also on the back of the house.  They don't open either!   So of all of these windows you see below, the sliding door (which eventually I'd like to switch out to french doors) is the only thing that opens. In all of the times we looked at the house before we bought it, I never noticed that they didn't open.
Please note that these are older pictures.  My house no longer looks like 100 gallons of mint chocolate chip ice cream exploded on the walls.  And my couch is almost done!!

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