Friday, December 11, 2015

Free Printable! Baby It's Cold Outside

Hi Friends!  Today I was playing around on PicMonkey.com, a photo editing website, and made this cute chalkboard sign!

I thought you might like to have it, so I'm offering it as a FREE Printable!  Now, this is just for your own personal use, (please don't be selling it in your etsy shop) and I'd really love to see where you display it in your home.


I'm doing this the easy way for you...just right click on the image above, and select "save image as", and well, you probably know the rest.  I didn't put a watermark on it either, so you're good to go print and frame it!

Remember that I'm on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest so be sure and show me how you decided to use this cute chalkboard printable.  (All those links are in the right upper corner.)
It's going to be 78 degrees here in our part of Texas, so I'm not sure exactly where the inspiration for this sign came from, but maybe one day it will be "cold" here....!


Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Soft Pumpkin Cookies



Ingredients
1 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup raisins
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups flour
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 cup pecans, chopped (or walnuts)



Instructions
Heat oven to 350° F.  You will need a greased cookie sheet OR parchment paper lined cookie sheet.
Cream shortening & sugar together.  Add pumpkin, egg & vanilla; beat well.  Sift together dry ingredients.  Add to the creamed mixture & blend well.  Stir in nuts & raisins.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls, 2 inches apart, on greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 350° F for 12 to 15 minutes.
Cool on a wire rack.

Want to try a little variety?  Instead of the raisins, stir in 1 cup of chocolate chips, or white chocolate chips, or butterscotch chips!  

Gluten-Free? Just substitute Bob's Red Mill 1 to 1 Gluten-Free Flour instead of the regular flour! 

High altitude? Cookies generally do well at high altitudes, however if you find you are having trouble, try the hints found here.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Easy DIY Home Improvements - Part 2

Or, how I spent my summer (and fall) vacation


Time sure flies when your DIYing!  I really had good intentions to write this post a while ago, but have been caught up with projects and traveling.

In my last post, I showed you how we easily revealed beautiful hardwood floors that were hidden under carpeting in the dining room of my daughter and son-in-love's home.  During that visit, I also lent a hand in painting the paneling in the basement!  Just look at the dramatic before and after photos:

The dark paneling, old wagon wheel chandeliers, and old floor.

A portion of the family room with the old wood burning insert.

The dark paneling made the large room seem gloomy, and almost dungeon-like.  Once the Valspar Bistro White was applied (2 coats), it felt like a completely different room!  The old, unusable wood-burning insert was removed, and the working wood-burning fireplace is so charming now.

The other project happening in their home at that time was a new stair handrail and newel posts. This DIY project was "easy" for me, because I just watched my very talented son-in-love create this project from scratch! That's right, it all came from his own hands, from his own design. His newel posts are gorgeous, aren't they?

Before: Metal handrails with wide spaces between the balusters
The floor tiles and stairwell light were both replaced after this photo was taken.
Precious babies can stick their heads (or entire bodies) between these wide balusters -- not safe!

New stairwell walls (SAFE) and beautiful  custom-made newel posts!

Entry way -- Painting in progress!

Family room level -- painting in progress!
Right now, I'm back with my daughter and her children while her Soldier is away at school.  They have an upcoming move, due to a re-assignment, so all of these home improvements will help them to sell their house.  With a 2 year old and a 3 month old in the home, it's tough for her to do spruce-up projects alone, so my sweet husband sent me back up here to help out wherever I can.

One of the first projects was putting in new flooring in the upstairs bathroom:
First, we removed a built-in carpeted step next to the bathtub.

After removing the step next to the bathtub, we discovered only the sub-floor underneath.
(Please ignore the toddler's galoshes and the foil from a recent hair coloring. This is real life, folks!)
The floor has a layer of sheet vinyl, then it had a layer of peel-n-stick vinyl.  We peeled off the top layer, and replaced it with beautiful 18"X 18" Stainmaster White Travertine vinyl peel-n-stick tiles.
To even-up the floor next to the bathtub, (to the same level of the original sheet vinyl floor),

we used odd leftovers we found in the garage, as "filler".

We also found pieces of baseboard in the garage to fill-in where there old step had been. 
Laying the last piece of the new vinyl!

After replacing the baseboards, we later installed a piece of quarter-round molding in front of the bathtub to give it a finished look. 
We also patched and painted the walls where the old step had been.


Some people think that peel-n-stick vinyl tiles might not be the best choice, however for a DIYer on a tight budget (and as long as it's installed correctly), it can definitely make a big impact for less money.  Look at the difference that it made!  Hint: Larger tiles = fewer seams and faster installation. We are using the same tiles for the front entry floor, because it's such a quality product.

We took a chandelier and spray painted it from brassy to oil-rubbed bronze.  An inexpensive update for little $$. It's a nice option for homeowners that are keeping within a tight budget!

My daughter and I kept busy cleaning, shampooing carpets, patching cracks, painting, hauling, etc. in addition to the daily care of kiddos, pets, and the normal routines of the household.
We held a "Help fix-up our house" party, and several people came over and helped spruce up the yards, repair the deck, and paint the entry doors. The front of the house was power-washed by a kind neighbor, plus he replaced torn & missing "critter screens" under the eves.  It's amazing how much good friends will do for you in return for pizza and beverages!

There are a few things that they've hired a handyman to do, such as repairing some tiles in the downstairs shower, correcting some very minor plumbing issues, installing a dimmer switch, and fixing a pocket door.  Other than that, all of it has been "sweat-equity, do-it-yourself" projects.

Sometimes, DIY is fun, and sometimes it's just a necessity, and mostly it will save you money. It's almost always educational, and I've learned to get outside of my comfort zone to tackle things that give a huge sense of accomplishment in the end!

**Update: All of the updates, refreshes, and repairs immediately caught the eye of a buyer!  They were under contract within a month!

If you are thinking of selling your home, I have a post about 5 Tips to Getting It SOLD  when we sold our house in Idaho in just 3 short weeks!





Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Easy DIY Home Improvements - Part 1

Or, "How I spent my summer vacation"

This July, I was privileged to be in beautiful Colorado Springs for the birth of our newest grandchild (#5!), and It's A Boy!  In between holding, burping, and changing sweet little M, my daughter and son-in-love decided to do a little DIY to their home, and of course, I pitched in to help.

The first project came about 2-2/1 weeks after the baby was born, with my SIL saying, "I sure would like to tear up the carpeting in the dining room."  After discussing it with his wife, we took all the furniture out, cleaned the baseboards and walls, and pulled back the carpet to check the condition of the floor underneath.











We overlooked the dirt on the floor (everyone has this under their carpets), and the stained carpet, to see the stunningly beautiful hardwood floors that are in near-new condition!  It was like the heaven's opened! 
With kids and dogs, up until now there's been a lot of carpet shampooing going on in this room, but now it is so much easier for them to just sweep (or vacuum) and mop!
After pulling up the carpet and pad, all that this project required was pulling off the tack strip, staples and small nails. Mr Homeowner went the extra step and filled in every tiny hole and lightly sanded. As a final touch, he used a hardwood floor cleaner and restorative that he purchased at Lowe's.  The only thing left was a new threshold to cover the transitions from the kitchen vinyl floor to the hardwood, and the dining room hardwood to the living room carpet.  Total cost for this beautiful update: less than $75.00!
What a huge impact they got for a little cha-ching! And, if they choose to do so in the future, their entire upper floor has hardwood floors under carpeting, too!  Right now, with 2 little ones, they've opted to keep the carpet in the rest of the house (and keep their carpet shampooer in a handy place).

Next time, I'll be showing you what we did to their "downstairs dungeon" to turn it into a Family Room that everyone can enjoy!
For a sneak peek at these and future projects, follow me on Instagram and Facebook

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Go-to Banana Bread

My youngest daughter gave me this recipe a few months ago, and it was some of the banana bread I've ever tasted! It's super-moist, and not overly sweet.

1/2 C. unsalted butter (1 stick)
2 C. sugar
2 eggs
4-6 ripe bananas, mashed
3 C. flour
2 tsp. baking Soda
2 tsp. baking Powder
3/4 C. sour cream
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. Vanilla
1-1/2 C. chopped nuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 300°F.
Grease and flour 2 loaf pans.
Cream butter and sugar together in mixing bowl.  Add slightly beaten eggs.
Add mashed bananas.
Combine dry ingredients into a separate bowl, and whisk together to combine.
Add dry ingredients to wet ingredients in the mixing bowl. Combine.
Fold in sour cream, vanilla and nuts.

Equally divide batter into the prepared loaf pans.
Bake at 300°F for 1 hour and 20 minutes.  Test with cake tester, should come out clean.

Let me know if you try this recipe, because I think you'll LOVE it like we do!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Hot Glue Gun Holder with Tutorial

Hey Everyone!  Thanks for stopping by today!  Over there on the right, you can sign up for emails and not miss a thing on this journey!

I've been busy lately doing what I call "easy DIY", like this little Hot Glue Gun Holder that I quickly put together yesterday.  All you need is basic woodworking skills for this one! I'm definitely still a beginner, so if you think you see any imperfections in your work, well, you are in good company!  {Besides, I like the "perfectly imperfect" style, myself.}



What you'll need:

-- one board 10-inches by 5-inches (I used a pallet board scrap)
-- one board 5-inches by 3-1/2-inches (I used a lumber scrap)
-- a tile (I picked some up at ReStore Habitat for Humanity really cheap)
-- wood glue (I like Gorilla Wood glue or Elmer's Professional Wood glue)
-- a saw to cut the wood to length (I used a jigsaw)
-- a 1-1/2 inch hole saw bit that fits into your drill
-- drill
-- sandpaper
-- paint or stain (optional)



-- Cut the 2 boards to the correct dimensions.
-- Next, you'll need to cut the half circle. (Clamp the small piece down to a work surface, to make this step easier.)  Attach the hole saw bit to your drill.  Position it on the wood near the edge where your half circle will be, and proceed to cut. I found it easiest to go just a little more than half-way, so you are actually cutting slightly more than a true "half" of the circle.
-- Now, sand each board smooth, and wipe down to remove dust.
{At this point, you can paint or stain the boards with whatever you'd like. I didn't take time to do this, but I'll probably end up painting it later.}
-- Measure in from one side on the larger board 3-inches and draw a line. (See diagram above) This is where you will glue the other board upright. Use the wood glue for this. You might want to clamp it down until it dries, but I didn't want to go out into the hundred-and-fifty-thousand-degree garage to get my clamps, and it's holding fine.
-- Glue the tile down flat in front of the upright board. Again, I used the wood glue, and it was fine.


Ta Da! You've made a Hot Glue Gun Holder!  Simple and inexpensive, and when the hot glue drips from the end, it will land on the tile, and you can pop it off when it's cool.  It's a safe place to rest your glue gun while in use, and to cool it down when you're done!


If you enjoyed this little tutorial, leave me a comment below!  I'm also on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Top 6 Posts - First Half of 2015



I really intended to jump into 2015 with both feet, because I had tons of ideas swimming around in my head! Instead, it started out with me being ill for about the first 6 weeks of the year. Nothing serious, thankfully, and with the Lord's help I did heal, and was able to complete several cool projects!



Little French Girl is a sweet little table that I've had for 20 years, but she needed a much-deserved makeover. Now, with her fresh new look, she'll continue to serve our family well for years to come! I'm a big believer in shopping your own home, and using what you already have.



It was exciting to work on my Dresser-to-TV Media Console, turning a Craigslist find into a much needed and lovely addition to our home.



My old cedar Hope Chest was also given a new life! I used the same DIY white chalk paint and embossed wallpaper on it, as I did on the TV Media Console. Now, both pieces grace our living room, and with their neutral looks, they can go anywhere!



With the gift of an unusual sized pallet from the Hubs, I immediately envisioned a Console Table for behind the sofa! It fits the space perfectly, and can also be used for an entryway table.



Browsing through Goodwill, I found a honey of an Antique Desk that needed a little work (it was a labor of love).  Removing the badly warped and damaged veneer from the writing surface was the "easy" part.  Eventually, I chalk painted only the top and left the rest of it's loveliness to shine on it's own!



Memories of my first chalk paint project came flooding back as I gave a little Ikea Hemnes Nightstand a look that would give our home a pop of color and add some charm.

Each of these projects gave me experience at success and failure; learning about how power tools work; shopping my home; watching out for bargains; and mostly about how I can put my own touch of love into unlovable pieces and bring them new life.  When a blogger puts her challenges, fails and final results out there for the world to see, it can be a nerve-jangling experience. Thankfully, my Hubs and family, friends, and followers have given me lots of positive feedback and allowed me to grow as I tackle these new things and plunge into the next!

With all my heart, I hope that my readers enjoy this blog and that you'll continue to visit me on this journey through life.  Please leave your comments, likes, and suggestions at the bottom of this page. To keep up-to-date on new posts and projects, sign up for email alerts (on the top right), and follow me on Facebook and Instagram!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Pallet-to-Console Table

A couple of months ago, Hubs brought home a "half-sized" pallet for me.  He knew I was itching to try my hand at making pallet furniture, and I realized immediately that it was the perfect size for a Console table, either for the front hallway, or behind one of the sofas.


The next Saturday, we were driving around going to yard/garage sales in our area, and one of them had already closed up, but they had left a pile of stuff at the curb.  "Babe! Grab that wood!" Yep, there was a nice pile of boards there. Whoop!

My Sweet Hubs helped me to remove the two long boards from the bottom of the pallet, and we screwed them onto the top side where there were large gaps.  While perusing Pinterest, I had seen several examples of pallet console tables, and picked out the best style of legs that could be made with the wood I had.


To determine the right height, I measured behind our sofas to see what would work for the height of a console table, and determined that 30-inches would be just right.
We measured and cut 8 of the boards {that we found on the curb} to 30 inches long. (The boards are 1 X 4's, if you were looking for them at a lumber store.)  Then, I started on the assembly!

Using construction screws that were #8 by 1-1/2-inches worked well for this project, and I tried to countersink them by driving them in deeper. However, a couple of them didn't sink in well and in hindsight, I should have used a countersink drill bit to make a pilot hole, and then screwed them in.  I did use the countersink bit later in the project!

The legs were put on, using wood glue and screws, at 90-degree angles. I just butted up one side of the board to the end of the other board (no miter joints). I also clamped them while the glue dried.  After the legs were on, and we turned it over, this is what it looked like:


The weather was turning very humid, then it started to rain, so I put the project aside for a few days.  In the meantime, I looked over my Pinterest inspiration board, and it dawned on my how much I liked the tables with a shelf on the bottom, SO....off to Home Depot we went for $16 worth of boards. (I also purchased a 1 X 6-inch board to give the top a more finished look.)

Measuring and cutting the new boards for the shelf support and shelf boards, I discovered it needed 2 extra boards that were {thankfully!} left over from the legs, for a total of 12 shelf boards.  The 1 X 6" boards were installed between the legs to make a "skirt" around the top, (this time using the countersink drill bit!), and I learned how to "toe-nail" the screws to secure the skirt to the legs.  I also was careful to countersink on the boards for the shelf. {Lesson learned...}


 After some sanding, filling the holes with stainable/ paintable wood filler, and more sanding, I took a deep breath and began staining the top and the shelf.  I used Minwax Jacobean, the same stain I had attempted to use on the antique desk with disappointing results.  This time, I applied it to the raw, sanded wood (no pre-stain!) and it worked perfectly!  I left it on for about 5 minutes before wiping it off, and I'm in LOVE with the way the grain of the wood still shows through! {This was actually done in the garage just as a severe thunderstorm struck up, so I had to hurry!}


For the legs and frame color, I turned to my trusty Chalk Paint (I actually had some white, and some cream that were left over from the TV console and French table projects, that I mixed together.  Waste not, want not!)  As I painted, I tried to achieve a white-washed effect, so that the grain of the wood could still be seen a little bit. Thankfully, it turned out just as I wanted it to look.


We brought it into the house as soon as it could be handled, because yet another storm was kicking up outside and I didn't want the dampness to ruin my hard work.  Hubs has been very complimentary to me about my first build, and has already secured another "half sized" pallet for me!  I'm thinking bench or coffee table?  Oh, and he found a little square pallet for me, too!  Just what I needed to make a side table for the guest room!  Whoo hoo, I'm having fun designing pallet projects!



Here's a peek at a gift I made from old pallet wood scraps for our grandson's 5th birthday {his room is getting a makeover}:



If you've done a pallet project, I'd love to hear from you!  Please email me at:
 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

ReLoving an Antique Desk

Normally, I don't give much glance to the furniture for sale at our Goodwill.  Most of it is '70s plaid, or those pound-it-together pieces that are falling apart.  And, there's not usually much in the way of furniture anyway, in our small store.
































Until... The Desk showed up.  She was a grand old lady, with dovetailed joints on her drawers and all of her original handle pulls intact!  A mahogany-veneered curvy girl from the 1920's, I'm guessing.  But, it was her price tag (or tags...there was about 10 of them!) that drew me in completely, just $29.99.  Yep, you're goin' home with me, baby!

Now, her {ahem} top, was not so great. The veneer was about 60 percent lifted off {probably from moisture}, and had some deep gouges in it.  I toyed with the idea of re-gluing it, but those gouges were just too deep to try and sand out.  Also, her drawers were all very difficult to open...I had a few doubts, but ventured on.























The Lady sat inside our garage for a few days, and when I went out to start on her makeover, lo-and-behold, her drawers slid out like they were new! Humidity had caused the wood to swell, but now they were back to normal.  I discovered that each drawer was numbered and corresponded to a numbered drawer opening. Quality work back-in-the-day!  The back of the desk is stenciled "VAN NO 1920 MAH"...and I was sure that MAH meant mahogany.

After taking a few days to ask questions and research the best and easiest way to remove the veneer from the top (I wanted to leave the rest of the desk as she was), the overall opinion from experienced folks was to use a wet towel and a hot iron.  Wetting down an old towel (not drippy) and placing it over the top was the first step. I also put her out in the hot sun for a couple of hours, to let the 90 degree heat help soften that glue! Then, I peeled off as much of the already lifted veneer as possible, by hand.  Next came the hot ironing of the wet towel, which steamed the veneer and glue until it at last all came off.  I didn't do much damage with the putty knife I used, so not much repair was needed, but I did try to scrape off as much glue as possible.
































After she was completely dry, I sanded until her writing surface was as smooth as silk.  Now, this next part is what became a nightmare:  Being told to use a pre-stain conditioner, I followed the instructions on the can, to the letter. Then, I carefully applied 2 coats of stain, again following the directions on the can and on the manufacturer's website. Result: TOTAL FAIL.

The stain didn't absorb evenly, and was a splotchy mess.  I was so disappointed!  And of course, it meant more sanding!!  I thought my right arm was going to run away from home from the workout I gave it, sanding and sanding.  At last, all the stain (eh, 99% of it, anyway) was gone, and I once again had a canvas to work on.
































I wasn't taking any chances this time; I mixed up a batch of my trusty DIY chalk paint recipe in a rich, deep chocolate brown.  Two coats of that, and a light sanding with 220 grit sandpaper later, I then applied 2 coats of Minwax Water Based Polycrylic. It goes on milky, but dries crystal clear.

































The heavens have opened and angels are singing!  I LOVE the way the desk turned out!  As a reward for letting me sand the heck out of her, I gave the rest of the desk a good "drink" of furniture oil.  Her mahogany curves really shine now!

This project took me longer than I thought it would, because of trips to Home Depot for this and that, and hours of researching: "Can I use chalk paint over fresh stain without sanding?" {um, no.}  However, I am very pleased with the results!

































The only thing left to do is clean up the drawer pulls with some Barkeeper's Friend. But, that's tomorrow. For now, I'm sitting at my beautiful, perfectly imperfect antique desk and am crushing on the soft sheen the top takes on in the glow of the computer screen.

Overall I didn't spend a lot on ReLoving this desk, because there is almost a full can of stain, and Polycrylic, left over for other projects and I already had the ingredients for the chalk paint on hand.  My right arm has forgiven me, too.

Please leave me a comment below, and follow me on Instagram and Facebook.  Ta for now!