Saturday, December 5, 2015

Oh Christmas Tree: DIY Potted Topiary Skinny Christmas Trees in Urns


It's that time of year again folks. The time of year you either love or hate... Christmastime! I for one love this time of year. From the decorations, the music, the food, the fun, the traditions with family and friends...I could go on and on ;). I just wish it all lasted a little bit longer and didn't seem so rushed!!

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Don't Fence Me In: Rustic Reclaimed Wood Trough Tabletop Centerpiece


Today I'm going to show you all a fifth grade woodworking project. Ha! Not really. But as I was working on this particular project that is totally how I felt. But hey, regardless of whether or not this is a school project a ten year old would do, I never got to do any cool woodworking stuff when I was a kid (so unfair, right?). When I was younger I was a girly girl, for sure, glittery pink unicorns oh my (some things never change ;). I was also in Girl Scouts for years but I don't remember us dabbling with wood and tools. I just remember doing tons of crafty projects, oh, and cookies, lots and lots of cookies...

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Mirror Mirror on the Wall: Easy DIY Reclaimed Wood Frame on a Builders Grade Mirror


I would love to tell you all a romantic story of how we were taking a lazy Sunday afternoon drive through the country to see the beautiful autumn foliage and just happened upon a farm having a barn sale with country treasures galore including the most awesome, rustic, chippy barn wood ever.

Friday, October 30, 2015

Take Out the Trash: DIY Toddler Sized Wheeled Trash Can and Garbage ManCostume

This post contains affiliate links please see my disclosure policy for more info

I'm continuing with the short break from the owl bathroom renovation to bring you guys a cute DIY Halloween post. It's a little outside of my realm of decorating and renovating but it's a tutorial I felt I needed to do for all those parents and grandparents of toddlers who love garbage trucks.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

How to Easily Preserve Fall Leaves with Wax Paper



I know I promised a Halloween post next, but I just had to get this super easy tutorial out there before all the beautiful fall leaves have fallen and dried up! Also the boys are taking a nap so it's the perfect opportunity to throw together a quick post. Then it's back to the owl bathroom for some thrifty renovations I can't wait to show you all!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Builders Grade Teal Bathroom Vanity and Faucet Upgrade for only $60

This post contains affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for more info.

I've decided it's time. Time for me to actually stick to one room long enough to finish it. It's so long overdue. I've started to really notice how bad my DIY ADD has gotten. It's almost comical how I've become a crafting/painting/up-cycling hurricane leaving half finished rooms and projects in my wake throughout my entire house.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

DIY Big Box Store Furniture Makeover: Blue Grey Chalk Painted MediaCabinet Take Two


So this particular post is a little different than the norm. No, I'm not straying from my DIY activities to write about kittens or cars. I just uh, wrote it a month and a half ago. Yep I'm a slacker. I'm trying to change, honest! I just kept pushing this bad boy to the side for fall decor posts that I was excited to tackle. I debated on just scraping it, but darn it, I had already written almost all of the post and it was quite a DIY story. So without further ado here's my post:

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

DIY Gold Glitter Mercury Glass Pumpkin


I'm sure you've all seen at least one of the numerous do it yourself Mercury glass tutorials. This isn't just another one to add to that silvery mercury glass list. Well, not exactly. I decided to do some experimenting because I wanted to make a gold (not silver) glass pumpkin to put out with my primarily gold toned autumn decorations.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Easy DIY Fall Leaves Potted Topiary Tree from a Tomato Cage


Now that it's September, fall decorating is in full swing at my house. While I'm not happy about the cooler temperatures I do love decorating for the fall season. I'm sure I have enough decorations to keep any decor enthusiast happy but I just couldn't help myself when I saw a picture of a tomato cage fall tree on Judy's wonderful crafty Facebook page, My Heart Beats.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

A Before and After Tour of the Lower Unit in the Grey Apartment Building

I've been meaning to do a tour post on one of the apartments for quite some time now. Actually pretty much since I started blogging as you can see in my About Me and in my first post where I write all about why I decided to start a blog. 

Well there's no time like the present and better late than never is what I'm telling myself now as I type this. I also have come to realize I have done absolutely no posts on anything apartment related at all. Shame on me, really. That was one of my main reasons for starting a blog in the first place, to document all the progress and DIY projects from the apartments so we could have pictures and information that we may forget over time and to be able to look back on all the good, bad and ugly (and of course pretty too!).

I realize these pictures are not recent, as you will see in some of the photos ;).  However I still want to put tours of all of our apartments up on the blog so not only will we have a catalogue of sorts of finished apartments (until one needs to be updated once again!) but so I can show you all our DIY renovation progress throughout the years :).

So I mustered up the courage to look through 20 SD cards full of thousands of pictures to find as many before and after shots as I could so I could finally get an apartment post up. This could be the reason why I haven't written one yet. Although I love reminiscing and looking at photos, it is a lot of timely work.

So enough about me hanging my head in shame and on with a before and after tour of the lower unit in the grey apartment building.
I found this photo of the front of the grey apartment during a typical snowy Illinois winter. While we complain about the end of summer heat, and say how we can't wait for fall "hoodie" weather (I am not included in this, I prefer the heat of the sun beating down on my soul), this beautiful scene awaits us in just a few short months...

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

DIY Simply Sweet Hanging Birdcage Planter

Before I begin I must confess to some extreme summer blog slacking on my part these past few weeks. But in my defense we finally had a heat wave here in Illinois along with a couple sunshine filled weeks during this oh so rainy summer. So what's a girl/mom to do on her days off but go to the zoo, swim, boat, fish, you get the picture. Pretty much as many outdoor fun-filled summer adventures we can cram into this nice weather while it lasts.

That doesn't leave me much spare time to work on projects, much less blog about them. Although my numerous, half finished projects (that are patiently waiting for me to finish, and blog about) are always on the back of my mind ;). With that being said, on to my post:


Are you guys tired of my birdcage obsession yet? I hope not because here's another DIY up-cycled birdcage project :)!

Saturday, July 18, 2015

How to Make an Elegant Storage Ottoman with a Removable Cushion from a $7 Thrifted End Table



Quite a while ago I was on Pinterest just browsing, for nothing in particular, and up popped a pin of a coffee table turned into a cushioned bench. I thought, what a clever, DIY idea! I immediately wanted to make one for my bedroom which has tons of empty space just begging for furniture of some kind to make its home there.

I scoured craigslist and thrift stores for a coffee table. It had to be perfect. I knew what I wanted and I wasn't going to settle for anything less. What I wanted didn't seem to be out there though (at least not for the price I was willing to pay). While I was searching for this elusive coffee table I happened upon a beat up end table that looked like she was straight out of the 70's complete with little flowers on the legs and a geometric design on the drawer. Hmm, I thought to myself, I bet I could easily make this into a nice little ottoman for the living room.

My local Salvation Army had hidden this gem in a corner, forgotten, with no price tag. I quickly asked the nearest employee about the little table and she got the manager who asked if $10 was OK. While this retro table had character, I didn't think it was worth $10 so I tried to talk him down to $5 but he wasn't having it so we met in the middle and agreed on $7. I may have underpaid a bit or overpaid a bit but I'm satisfied that this piece is worth $7.



As you can tell by the Christmas trees in the photos I bought this table a while ago. These three pics are cell phone shots from back when I first started blogging and thought it would be easier to only take cell phone pictures for my blog projects. So as you can see I really do have DIY ADD. I flit from one project to the next like nobody's business, leaving unfinished projects in my wake, to be finished months and months later. I guess I get bored easily, or is it distracted easily? Either way I do manage to get my projects finished sooner or later ;).

The first thing I did was remove the ugly knobs and scrub the table clean with Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations deglazing solution. I then glued matching appliques on both sides that I had picked up at Home Depot for a few bucks each. I thought there was way too much bare, blank space on the sides and I wanted to give this ottoman a more elegant, refined look. I also filled the knob holes with wood putty and sanded that smooth when the putty was dry so it looked like there were never knobs to begin with.


Jackson immediately claimed the table as his own, sitting at it with his little chair, playing with his cars. A toddler executive desk if there ever was one.


After that I got to work painting the end table white. I wanted the ottoman to look fresh and to match the white woodwork in the living room. After a few white coats she was ready for the next step.

 I needed a base for my cushioned ottoman and I knew plywood would work perfect. I just happened to have some plywood monsters that I had used for Jackson's 2nd Birthday/Monster Party stashed in the garage. I may have gone a little overboard at that party with all the monster stuff I made, but it was just so much fun!! Maybe I will even do a post in the future on some of the monster decorations I made...

But I digress, back to the ottoman, I had Cory cut the plywood to the raised edges of the table top so the lip of the table would show and it would look more natural.


Bye bye monster, nobody will ever know they're sitting on you, unless of course they read this post!



Now that my base was cut I gathered my supplies for making a comfy cushion:


  • some foam for the actual cushion
  • scissors
  • spray glue
  • batting to soften the edges a bit
  • my fabric that took me forever to find
  • staple gun with plenty of staples 
I don't remember how much the foam or the batting cost, however I know they were pretty cheap, no more than $10 together and I have plenty left over for more projects :).




 The first step was cutting the foam and gluing it onto the plywood. I just laid the foam out on top of the plywood and cut the foam to the edge. I made sure it was right on the edge or a tad over, I figured it didn't need to be perfect since it was going to be wrapped in batting and fabric. I then used spray glue that I picked up at Walmart to glue the foam to the plywood so no slippage of the foam would occur.




 The next step, stapling, is pretty loud. Jackson was taking a rare nap so I took my foam/plywood piece down to the basement so I wouldn't wake him and laid it out on top of the freezer. Perfect work space, let me tell you! I wrapped the foam board in batting that I had cut to be a few inches over all the sides. I wanted the cushion to have a softer look than just the foam alone and also the batting would cover any jagged edges from the plywood.

My technique on folding the batting was similar to wrapping a present. It also kind of reminds me of tucking in sheets. I don't do hospital corners, I like them straight (I'm weird like that). I wanted the edges to look clean, not bunchy. When I was satisfied with the fold I stapled the batting down.


Here's a bunch of pictures so you can really get the idea of how I folded the corners. I'm not the best with the staple gun. I don't know if I'm just not strong enough or if maybe I'm just not using leverage in the most efficient way, so, of course, I had to pull a bunch of staples out that only went in halfway. If you are a mediocre stapler like me you might want to have a hammer or some other tool handy to pull those bad boys out.





After I was done with the batting I moved on to my fabric. It took me awhile to find just the right fabric, but I finally found it at Walmart for about $3, and I have enough left over for another project. I am in love with this brown/grey flannel quatrefoil pattern. I must say I am quite obsessed with the quatrefoil design right now, It can be elegant and simple looking or very fancy and blends well with a lot of different styles.


So again, I folded the corners until I liked the look and then stapled. I folded the fabric at more of an angle so it would be hidden under the bottom of the cushion.


I set my cushion on the table to see how it looked and, I'll be honest here, it sat like that for months. I wasn't sure if I should rip the batting and fabric off and put another layer of foam so that the cushion would be more comfortable. I stashed the *almost* finished ottoman in the corner of the living room so I could marinate on what to do.

During Jackson's 3rd birthday party I noticed Cory's grandma sitting on the ottoman for quite some time. I asked her if it was comfortable and she replied that it was indeed. If the cushion was comfy enough for a 93 year old woman then it was for sure comfortable enough for anyone.

So after finishing up a couple more projects I finally decided to get on to the last step in completing my ottoman. Velcro. Yes, Velcro. Cory came up with the genius idea to Velcro the cushion down instead of gluing it so that if, say, a sloppy toddler spilled juice all over the cushion, I could easily take it off and either attempt to clean it or put new fabric on it. I could also change up the fabric at any time to go with any rooms decor! Genius, I tell you!


After trimming the batting and fabric I put strips of Velcro as close to the edge as possible. I laid the cushion on the table top and used my fingers to measure approximately where the other Velcro strips needed to go. It didn't need to align exact and I saw no reason to get all mathematical and measure it all out when no one was going to see it and, frankly, I always avoid math if at all possible. I'm really not a math person at all.


It worked out perfectly (yay!) and now I finally have a completed ottoman!


For now I'm using the drawer to store some candles.but I could definitely use it for blankets, toys, a spot for stashing stuff that's laying around when a surprise visitor comes over who I don't want to know that we are total clutter bugs...You get the picture. It's always nice to have more storage.





 Jackson, of course, still uses the ottoman to sit on and play with numerous toys. It's turned out to be an extremely multi-functional piece of furniture that we can all enjoy!



I just love my ottoman! It fits nicely in with my living room decor and I finally got some of the quatrefoils that I've been craving for in that room ;).

Until the next time!

-Sherri :)





Monday, July 6, 2015

White Pizza with Tomato, Basil and Mushrooms

So I've really been slacking with my blog lately and I feel horrible about it. Summer is super busy for me (and everyone else, I'm sure) with outdoor activities, vacation and of course the good old job. I'm going to try my best to get my blog back on track and I want to reassure you all that I've got lots of great DIY projects coming up (so many it's hard for me to focus on just one!) and I want to thank you all for sticking around with me while I get my blogging bearings back!

I haven't done a post about one of my recipes in a while so today I'm writing about one of my favorites: pizza. I am a huge lover of pizza (who isn't?!). I especially love white pizza. What is white pizza you ask? Why it's pizza without red sauce.

I have never been the biggest fan of tomato sauce. Heck on spaghetti night when I was growing up I'd put butter, garlic powder and Parmesan cheese on my noodles instead of tomato sauce. 

Don't get me wrong, I love a good pizza with red sauce (smothered in Parmesan of course) as much as the next guy, but I like experimenting and trying new and unusual foods. If you go into a big grocery store they usually have about 100 different kinds of pizzas. From the cheap cardboard variety to the expensive 2 pound fully loaded deep dish. They also have pizza dough for the semi homemade chef, which we all know is right up my alley.

One of my favorite pizza doughs is Pilsbury. It's cheap, easy to use and I know their products taste good (there's always some sort of Pilsbury rolls in my fridge). 

So one day I decided to try something new that I'd never tried. Of course I've had white pizza before and the sauces can range from no sauce at all, to alfredo sauce, to garlicky olive oil based sauces, pretty much anything you can think of that would make a good base sauce. It's quite a broad range and since my all time favorite food hands down is cheese, I decided to try a cream cheese based sauce.


I remember the first time I made this pizza it was pretty spur of the moment and I didn't feel like running to the store so I used what I had. With no meat that I thought would be good on a pizza in the fridge or freezer, I knew it would have to be a vegetable pizza. I gathered a bunch of ingredients I thought would make for a delicious pizza


White Pizza with Tomato, Basil and Mushrooms

  • pizza dough (I use Pilsbury refrigerated pizza dough but if you have your own recipe or favorite, by all means use it!)
  • one 2 cup bag of mozzarella/pizza cheese
  • 3/4 cup of softened cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • garlic powder for taste
  • tsp basil (I use dried for ease of use, but fresh is best!)
  • 1 cup sliced cherry tomatoes
  • 2 cups sliced, broiled baby portabello mushrooms (recipe as follows)
  • olive oil for broiling mushrooms
1.  Place sliced portabello mushrooms on a rack on top of a baking sheet, or just a baking sheet. (the rack just makes cleanup easier). Douse olive oil lightly over mushrooms to coat. Then sprinkle garlic powder on top of mushrooms.


2.  Place mushrooms in preheated oven set to 500.
3.  While waiting for mushrooms to broil, grease a cookie sheet or pizza pan with nonstick spray and form your pizza crust to the pan.
4.  Mix together sauce: softened cream cheese and sour cream along with garlic powder (to your taste) in a small bowl.



5.  Keep an eye on the mushrooms as they don't take long! Take them out when they are a dark brown color.
6.  Turn the oven down to 400.
7.  Prebake the dough for 8 minutes. Take the dough out and spread the sauce mixture on top of the crust.


8.  Place the rest of your ingredients on top of the sauce: shredded mozzarella, diced tomatoes, and mushrooms. Sprinkle the top with basil and of course as much or as little garlic powder you want.


9.  Bake pizza 6-10 minutes longer or until the crust is browned. If you want a soft crust do not prebake dough, instead spread the sauce and toppings on dough and bake for 13-17 minutes until crust is browned.


10. Let your pizza cool for a few minutes, slice and enjoy!


With the combination of cheeses, tomatoes, basil and garlicky mushrooms this makes for a wonderfully fresh addition to all the different pizzas we eat in my household. It is definitely a must try, especially if you've never had white pizza before! I hope you all love this pizza as much as I do!

Until the next time! 

-Sherri


*Disclaimer-  I am not affiliated with Pilsbury or any of the above mentioned/pictured products. On that note I will tell you all that I had visions of myself winning the Pilsbury Bakeoff after eating this pizza! But alas I never entered and by now it might be too late, but if it's not maybe someday this very recipe will be affiliated! (High hopes, people, I have high hopes!)

Monday, June 22, 2015

Blue Grey Chalk Painted Media Cabinet


Before we even moved into our house we realized our giant entertainment center would not work in our living room. With two big "open" walls leading into other rooms (I just love the open floor plan) a giant window on another wall and a fireplace on the remaining wall we realized the only real logical place for our TV was above the fireplace. With no cabinets, shelves or storage of any kind for our DVR, Playstation, DVD's, etc. etc., we decided to buy a media cabinet.

With our new found storage dilemma, built in shelving units on both sides of the fireplace quickly became #1 on my wish list for our house. I must have pinned 50 built in ideas on Pinterest! I have begged and pleaded with Cory to make me some, I've even told him that built ins are the only present I want for my birthday or Christmas. Needless to say I don't have them...yet. By the time he gets around to it, I may just be able to tackle it myself (wishful thinking, I know)!!

To solve our storage problem I looked on Craigslist for a solution. I found a pretty nice looking cherry media cabinet for $60. We went to check it out and the guys kids were playing video games on a TV perched on top of the unit which was jammed packed with games, DVDs and other odds and ends. I guess he must not have thought we were serious buyers.

As he helped load our "new" media cabinet that we ended up getting for $40, I couldn't help but wonder what they were going to use now for their TV and video game stuff. Craigslist is chalk full of interesting people.

Cory immediately hated our new media cabinet. He thought it was cheap and rickety. I thought it was cute and while not the best quality, totally worth 40 bucks. While we had bought this cabinet to store everything that had once been in our entertainment center it somehow ended up in our master bedroom with a TV on top of it and some DVDs inside of it. Good intentions is all I have to say about that.

So meanwhile in our living room our gaming systems and DVR sat atop a cardboard box filled with DVDs and other living room tchotchkes. Yes, this is our life. Eventually they graduated to a wine refrigerator Cory's mom gave us for Christmas (I still don't know how that happened!). 

So finally after I purchased a $25 dresser and painted it to match the other wood furniture in our room, see dresser post here, we were able to bring the media cabinet down into the room it was originally meant for.

I decided it needed to be painted. It was cherry and while we have cherry colored wood floors I just didn't think it would look right. Also it was pretty beat up from the previous owners, I just couldn't see the full extent until we brought it downstairs. We put it in the kitchen "work space" and I immediately got to work. 



Jackson used the media cabinet as one of his play spaces the entire time I was working on it. He would climb inside to hide, use it as a garage for his cars and other toys and he even helped me with his own toy tools, leaving them scattered around inside the cabinet.




 I had to paint several coats of white on that puppy. After one coat I could see this was going to be a long process.



Two coats, not quite there yet.


Three coats will do it I think!


I also decided to leave the top cherry, but it was all scratched and scuffed up. So I pulled out the merlot cabinet transformations I already had so the cabinet would keep that cherry look on the top. Again if you want to see how to paint a cherry wood look see my dresser post here. I lightly sanded the edges of the top to give it a nice worn look. 




Jackson watched me do this and whenever he could get a hold of one of my sanding sponges he "helped" by sanding the top. I can attest to how nicely the finished merlot and glazed top without protective clear coat held up. Not one scratch from my toddler sanding helper.

I painted a couple coats on the glass doors and with only the shelves left to paint you would think I'd be excited about being almost done. Nope. After ALL that work I decided I wanted to do a different color. I thought the white looked too boring. I really wanted a pop of color in the living room, something interesting and different that your eye would be drawn to.


I also figured now would be the perfect time to try out some homemade chalk paint. I'd already wasted hours on this project so if the homemade chalk paint didn't work out, oh well, I gave it a shot.


One day soon after my new decision I was in Menards picking up a bunch of stuff for other projects and I decided to get a couple pints of their cheapest paint to try out some chalk paint. I picked out a light teal color and a blue grey color. I normally buy Behr paint for my walls but I figured I was mixing stuff in with this paint so it didn't have to be the best quality.


I wasn't sure which color I wanted to use so I held them up and looked at the living room walls, squinted, hemmed and hawed and finally decided on teal. I mixed up some teal chalk paint and slapped on a coat. Cory, bless his heart, didn't say one word against it. When it dried, to my dismay at wasting more time and paint, I realized it looked downright horrible. 




So that night I mixed up some of the blue grey color chalk paint (At Peace by Dutch Boy). Let me just say this media cabinet was my first experience with chalk paint of any kind, homemade or store bought, and I'm in love (find my recipe here). When I mixed the teal I think I mixed it too thin, which made it look even worse with white paint showing through. I mixed the blue grey a little thicker and it couldn't have worked out better. The paint went on super smooth, like nothing else I've ever used. One coat and I was done.



Well, not quite. I love the look of dark wax on chalk painted furniture but since I'm such an extreme novice and I didn't want to go out and buy wax I used what I already have experience with: stain. I took out the glaze/stain from my cabinet restorations kit and got to work brushing stain on one of the shelves first. I used some cheesecloth to wipe the stain off. 


It wouldn't come off though. No matter how hard I wiped the stain wasn't budging. It must have been that the dry, chalky finish of the paint was just soaking the stain up! I had a mini freak out for about 30 seconds where I came to the conclusion I'd just have to repaint that shelf. What was a little more work on this endless project?

I thought I'd try one more thing before I gave up though. I soaked the cheesecloth with water and tried rubbing the stain off again. YES!!! It worked perfect!! Thank God for small favors. The stain wiped right off leaving just the right amount behind to give the cabinet an antique-y, not so blue-grey in your face look.

Here's a pic of me painting the stain on with a foam brush. 



Here's one of me wiping off  the stain with a damp cheesecloth.


I reused the old silver knobs by giving them a quick scratch with the sanding sponge and spray painting them with oil rubbed spray paint. Then I was finally ready to call it a day, a long 3-4 month day.

Here's the finished cabinet. It really did feel like it took forever and it probably would have sat in the kitchen for a few months longer if Jackson's third birthday party hadn't pushed me into completing this project once and for all. I guess I should just stop being so indecisive!



Here's a close up of the different techniques I used. You can see the slight distressing I did to the edges of the top and you can see where I've left more stain on the edges to give the cabinet the look I was going for.



I am very satisfied with the outcome and I'm really happy to have that cabinet out of our kitchen (only to move some other piece of furniture in,..Yes, I'm that girl) and to finally put those DVDs and gaming systems in their rightful place. Cory seems to be the only one who hasn't liked the finished look and I'm really hoping it grows on him because I love it!


Since this particular post is about a cabinet I "transformed" I figured it would be the perfect post to show you all my latest featured board from Hometalk since it's all about cabinet transformations! Click on the image below to check it out and be inspired by so many great makeovers, painting techniques and amazing transformations of cabinets!




Until the next project and the next post!


-Sherri





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