Sunday, March 23, 2014

From Plastic Eggs to Mantle Decor!

This may be the last time I will ever say this...but you should turn back now!  Let me just explain that the reason I undertook this ridiculous project was because the pre-speckled eggs at the craft store were wildly expensive, even after a coupon.  At about $1.00 a piece, I couldn't bring myself to do it.  So I thought to myself, "Hey! How hard could it be?  Spray paint some eggs? No big deal!" Well, it ended up being kind of a big deal.  Like more of a deal than I wanted it to be.  I'll tell you how to do it anyway, but don't say I didn't warn you!

Supplies Needed:
Plastic Eggs
Spray paint primer, ideally a kind made to stick to plastic.
Spray paint with texture (pictures below)
Acrylic craft paint
Toothbrush or paint brush


Okay, so first you're going to buy some plastic eggs.  I got the ones pictured above at the dollar store.  You have to strike early at the dollar store since it gets picked over really quickly but I'm sure Wal-Mart has the same prices or maybe even better.  Side note: Pay attention to those cute styrofoam eggs in the picture...they didn't make it.  I'll get to that later.


Prime the eggs with a primer spray paint.  I just happened to have white spray paint with primer in it so I used that but if you're going to buy some for this project, I suggest you buy the cheapest primer you can find.   Put them in a box like this one because the force of the spray paint from the aerosol can will make them fly around like crazy.  You could even try wedging them together so they don't fly around.
Once you paint one side, roll them over as best you can and paint the other side.

If you happen to have styrofoam eggs laying around, I assume an acrylic craft paint would work better.

Once your eggs are primed and completely dry, you are ready to paint them with some textured spray paint like this (can we ignore my half-dead lawn?  It's March, people) :

It's almost like stucco in a can.  You need this because it helps hide the seam on the egg.  This is probably the most frustrating part.  Brace yourself.  Wedge the eggs together so they don't fly around much and spray one side really well.  Please enjoy this really blurry picture:
**IMPORTANT AUTHOR'S NOTE: THE TRAGIC FATE OF THE STYROFOAM EGGS**  I took the picture above as soon as I sprayed the eggs with the textured paint.  When I came back a couple hours later, I found that the spray paint had completely melted the styrofoam eggs.  Did you know spray paint does that?  Me either.  The worst part was that those were the last two packages at the dollar store.  Irreplaceable ("to the left, to the left.."  You know you were thinking it.)

Maybe you'll have more luck than me, but you'll probably use A LOT of the textured paint to cover the eggs.  Like almost the whole can.  Which sucks.  Because the can is like $6.00 and if you do another batch of eggs, you'll probably have to buy another one.  I ended up spraying the eggs, then rolling them around the box to try to coat them.  I'm really not sure if that helped or hindered.  In the end, I sprayed them really well on one side, waited for the thick coat to dry, then turned them over and did the other side.


Once the eggs are done, you will need to paint them with acrylic craft paint.  I bought the color of texturized paint that I did thinking I could get away with leaving some of them that color.  As it turns out, it doesn't look as natural or cute as I thought it would.  I ended up painting all the eggs with acrylic paint.  (I also used a blue that I didn't picture here.)

Note how the texturized paint didn't cover the seam all that well?  If you're like me, you'll have some eggs that look more seamless than others and some that had one side coated and the other side with the seam showing.  If you are artful in the way you display them, you can disguise the seams on most of them. I guess another coat might've helped but at this point, I was done with the spray paint.  

STEP 5: 

Once you've painted the eggs with acrylic paint, you must speckle them. I think the speckling is the most important part to make them look natural.  Plus, the speckles kind of added a faux texture that I think helped disguise the seam further.  

Another thing I learned during this project: I am not a good paint speckler.  I seem to recall having quite the talent for it in the 90's when I was splattering my Keds with neon paint...I guess I'm a little rusty.  

Anyway, for some reason, I didn't take a picture of this part but what you are going to want to do (trust me here) is put the eggs back in the box you sprayed them in and splatter them in there.  It catches a lot of the errant splatter.  Even with the eggs in the box, I was finding tiny droplets of paint around my table for a couple days.  Shh...nail polish remover gets it off most things...

And that'

See what I mean?  If you don't mind spraying eggs with 3 different coats of paint over the course of probably two days, then this is for you.  I love how they look on my mantle as long as no one inspects them...But would I do it again? Probably not!  If you try it, let me know how it works for you! 

The EasiestCheapestFastest Wreath You Will Ever Make

Hello Friends!

It's been a while since I gave you some DIY projects to work on.  Admittedly, life sucks in the winter. I can't find motivation to do much when I leave for work in the dark and come home in the dark.  But Spring has sprung and I have returned to my cheap recreating ways!

Today I am showing you how to make this tulip wreath that was so fast and so easy, there's really only going to be a couple steps.  To give you an idea of how quickly this came together, I put eggs on the stove to boil, got the supplies out to make this and before the eggs were done, this wreath was hanging on my door!  If you can find a project easier than that, let me know! (I know you won't because there isn't one. )

 STEP 1:
Okay, to make this wreath you need exactly two things: a grape vine wreath and flowers.

 I got my wreath from Jo-Ann's with a coupon for about $2.00.  It's the smaller sized one that is $3.99 regular price.  It looks too small but once you get all the flowers on it, it appears much bigger.  Unless you live in Downton Abbey (see below), the small one should be sufficient.  (Picture my wreath on the door. PBS: feel free to follow this blog for more tips on improving Downton's decor on a dime.) Also, if you live in Downton Abbey, can I come visit?  Cousin Violet is my spirit animal.

 I got the tulips from Dollar Tree for...well, $1.00 a bunch.  For this project, I bought 6 bunches of tulips.  I wanted to get more than one color but my door happens to be dark red and even though Dollar Tree had the prettiest pink tulips, I was too afraid that spring pink and dark red would be a vomitous mix.   Note to self: Consider painting door this summer.  ANYWAY, 6 bunches of dollar store tulips will give you a really full wreath.  I've seen several examples of less full wreaths that are gorgeous.  Up to you how many you want to include.  If I were you, and I had a normal colored door, I would do a pretty combination like this one my mom and I made this weekend for her door:

  The dollar store tulips do look cheap up close, but don't worry about that.  Once you cram them in so closely together, it hides their imperfections and trust me, the UPS man are not going to inspect them.

On that note, if you are fancy like my mom, you can get your tulips from the craft store.  They will run you a couple dollars more a bunch but they do appear to be of a higher quality.  The stems are A LOT thicker than the dollar ones which makes it harder to do the next step, but not impossible.  My mom spent about $20 total on the wreath above.  Mine was about $8.00.  I like them both in different ways.  You decide what you want to do!


Now, using wire cutters (really, walk out to the garage and get them.  This lazy person doesn't advise walking extra steps all that often so it really is necessary) to clip each stem apart from the bunch.  You can use kitchen shears in a pinch, but it's a lot harder and I noticed it was making little indents in my shears.  No good.  Use the wire cutters.  Your husband has some.


Once you have your flowers cut apart, just begin shoving them into the wreath:

 Nope, no glue, no florist wire, just cram them in.  Try not to be a perfectionist here.  You want it to look natural, not uniform and lined up.  Stick the tulips in a single-file-ish line around the whole wreath and then go around it again to fill it in as opposed to trying to make it full as you go.  Does that make any sense?  I went around the whole wreath twice, then filled in the thinner spots with the remaining tulips.

If you're using more than one color, I suggest either throwing all the colors in a pile so that you're choosing them randomly or doing all one color first, then go around the wreath with the second color and then the third.  This will give you a more random look.  What you want to avoid is trying to alternate every other color or go in a predictable pattern.  In my humble opinion, this wreath looks better the more natural it is.  As if you picked up an armful of wildly growing tulips and wove them into a wreath (like you're in a fabric softener commercial).

And that's it!  The whole process should take you about 15-30 minutes.  If it's taking longer than that, you're trying too hard!

When you're ready, hang it on the door and take a step back.  There really isn't a "top" or a "bottom" but some parts may look fuller than others.  Turn it until you're happy and then you might have to make a few half-time adjustments by pulling some flowers from fuller parts and sticking them in a sparse area.  Again, the key here is not to stress.


And now, please enjoy some witty comments from Cousin Violet of Downton Abbey and feel your life improve:

"Nothing succeeds quite like excess"
"Don't be so defeatist.  It's very middle class."
"What is a weekend?"
Cousin Isabel: "Can you ever just admit that you're wrong?"
Lady Grantham: "I can't say I'm familiar with the sensation."

Lady Grantham: "You are quite wonderful the way you see room for improvement wherever you look. I never knew such reforming zeal."
Mrs. Crawley: "I take that as a compliment."
Lady Grantham: "I must've said it wrong."


Sunday, December 1, 2013

The Easiest Pillows You'll Ever Make (And a No-Sew Option!)

Total Cost: $9.00 with pillow vs. Pottery Barn $56 with pillow

This holiday season, you might say I'm mad for plaid.  Of course, so is Pottery Barn, my BFF (best FRENEMY forever).  I got their holiday catalog and just LOOK at these plaid pillow covers!!! 

Gah. Seriously?!  And guess how much they are? $30...FOR THE COVER.  That's right cyber-friends, that doesn't include the stupid pillow form. By the way, if you want the pillow form that fits it, that's only $26 more dollars.  No big deal.  Just $56 for a stupid pillow.  

Well, I made mine for...let's see...oh, $8.00.  Okay, $10 if you count the pillow forms and I made 2! And guess what?  I think mine are cuter.  You can make some just like mine and you don't even need to know how to sew!  You do, however, need to know how to iron.  No, sorry, you can't throw these in the dryer on the wrinkle-free setting like I do for everything I own.   Seriously these are the easiest pillows of all time.  Do this project!!!

I made two pillows with two shirts so they would be different on either side.  Feel free to only make one pillow with one shirt.  The directions here will be for what I did. 

Okay, let's get started!

2 button-up shirts
2 pillow forms
Cutting board and mat or scissors
Straight edge
Sewing machine with thread 
If no-sewing, E-Z bond tape, pictured below

(Author's Note about pillow forms:  for this project I already had pillow forms that I got at a garage sale for $1.00 each, don't worry they looked unused and I still washed and sanitized them!  I've also gotten pillows at the thrift shop (ew.) that look like they are in good condition and sanitized the crap out of them.  Another option is IKEA.  They sell great pillow forms for $3...and you don't have to worry about bed bugs which is worth a dollar in my book.)


You're going to need some plaid button-up shirts.  The local thrift shop is perfect for this because there are racks and racks of plaid shirts.  Not so cute for shirts, super cute for pillows.  You may recall these shirts...

 from our Christmas card this year:

There's really no trick to picking them out.  Just look for a pattern that makes you feel Christmas-y inside.  Also, try to find a shirt that's a Large or XL.  You want as much fabric to work with as you can get.  

STEP 1.5:

Please, for the love, wash and dry your shirts.  They are from a thrift shop.  Bed bugs live in thrift shops.  So do old lady smells.  You might consider using one of my all-time favorite laundry products, Clorox Gentle Bleach.  

Without boring you with too many details, it contains the same germ-killing ingredient of regular bleach (Clorox2 doesn't have this ingredient) just less of it so you can use it on colors. I use it in every load. I'm not getting paid for this endorsement.  Clorox really doesn't care what I have to say.  I just love this stuff that much. 


Lay your shirt out on a flat surface and smooth it out so there aren't wrinkles, especially on the bottom layer.  

Now, here you can do one of two things:  measure your pillow and then draw an outline of the pillow on the shirt accordingly OR, suppose you don't want to go find your fabric marker, just lay that sucker on the shirt and line your straight edge up and cut.  Do the same to the other shirt

*MISTAKE TO AVOID: In retrospect, I should have made my fabric cuts about 1/2" larger on each side.  I've read several pillow cover making tutorials online and was lured into believing that cutting my fabric to the exact size of my pillow form  would result in a fluffier pillow that holds it's shape better.  While that may be true, for THESE pillows, just cut the fabric 1/2" larger than your pillow otherwise, yours will look like mine, where the buttons are pulling like your Aunt Margaret's blouse.  It's not horrible but I do notice it. 

STEP 3: 

Once you have your squares cut, switch one of the layers so that each pillow has a button-up front and coordinating back.  (Pardon the light in this picture...Thank you.)


With the right sides facing each other, pin around the edges. 

STEP 5: 

Sew with about a 1/2" seam allowance ALL AROUND THE EDGES. Didn't I tell you this was the easiest pillow ever?  You don't need to leave a gap to turn the cover right side out because we're going to do that through the buttons!  Genius! 


For projects for I'm too lazy to drag the sewing machine out, I like this fusible double-stick tape: 

It's about $3 at Jo-Ann's and it's really easy to use.  Anyway, with fusible double-stick tape in hand, with one layer of your pillow form right side up, tape all the way around the edges. (By the time I thought of this option, I'd already pinned mine so just pretend the pins aren't in the picture, okay?) Remove the paper backing and stick the top layer (right side facing in, right sides of fabric together) to the bottom layer.  

STEP 7: 

Your pillow cover should be inside out.  Undo the buttons from the inside and turn the pillow cover right side out. 

STEP 8: 

Insert pillow and button up the front!  Done!  It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas!

Monday, November 25, 2013

Ikea Hack: Malm Mirrored Dresser

Hey Everyone!  I'm so flattered by everyone's interest in how to do my latest DIY project! You guys make me feel so fancy :).  Anyway, I figured this would be the easiest way to explain to everyone how to do it.  I could have given a quick run down on Instagram but there were a few things I would have done differently if I had to do it again so I'll be sure to explain those.  Also, I wish I had taken pictures but I didn't know this would be so well received!  So I'll try my hardest to explain things but feel free to comment with questions.  Thanks again for loving my project, guys!


Total Cost: $103.00-$153.00 depending on the furniture you choose.

Do you love it, Dolls? I had been seeing these mirrored dressers around...

Like these ones.  For $500 and $800, respectively. And those were the low prices I found! Yeeeah.  Not in MY budget.  Then I found these overlays on Pinterest:

Seriously, these girls are geniuses.  How their company works is s follows:  They make these overlays that are made to fit Ikea furniture.  On their website, you can even shop by Ikea piece!!! Also, if you already have a piece of furniture that's not from Ikea but needs some sprucing up, they do custom orders. The other thing I love about this company is that their customer service is wonderful.  I contacted them with a few questions and they were so prompt and friendly!  I recommend these girls and their company to anyone! Also, when they heard I was doing a blog post about this project, they offered to give me a coupon code to share!!!  Scroll down to the bottom to find it! Tell your friends! They really are the greatest. 

Anyway, back to business.

-Dresser or other Ikea piece, or any ugly piece of furniture, for that matter. 
-Overlays from
-Mirror cut to desired size
-Liquid Nails or similar construction-duty adhesive
-Rubbing alcohol
-Gloves (optional but recommended.)

STEP ONE: Get a dresser.

I needed a dresser/table/something to replace the U-G-L-Y fishtank stand in my living room.  So, for the space, the 3-drawer Malm dresser fit my needs perfectly!

This baby retails at Ikea for $79.99 and comes in a few different colors. That's not a bad price for a dresser. But of course, even $80.00 seemed a little pricey for this cheapskate so I took to .  I got really LUCKY and found this exact one, only a few months old and untouched for $30.00.  I have seen them periodically since but you need to keep your eye out. They go pretty fast! 

STEP TWO: Order your overlays.

I snatched the used dresser up and ordered my overlays. 
I chose the Jasmine but they have a million cute patterns on their blog.  Literally the hardest part of this project is choosing which pattern you want.  It took me days. 

STEP THREE: Get your mirror.

When my shiny new overlays arrived, I headed to Lowe's.

Life Pro Tip: Did you know Lowe's sells big sheets of mirror and WILL CUT THEM TO SIZE FOR FREE???
That's right.  And don't let the grumpy ladies in the carpet department tell you they don't have mirror to cut, only glass. They are wrong.  You might, however, take that mirror that you had cut (you know, the mirror that carpet ladies said they don't have) back to them to prove a point...
If you live by me, the glass cutting is on aisle 15. Just so you know. 
The size you need for this project is the 30" x 24" piece.  Guess how much that piece costs?  $11.50.  You read that right.  $11 American dollars.  It seems like robbery doesn't it?  This size is almost meant to be for this dresser because you just happen to need three 8"x30" strips.  So you have it cut and there's no waste.  Don't worry if the glass cutting guy is a little inexperienced and chips the edges, they won't show. 
STEP FOUR: Don't leave Lowe's without your adhesive.
You need glue for this project.  My Overlays recommends using Liquid Nails construction adhesive.  This is the kind I used:
I think it was about $3.00-ish.  A sound investment because I didn't even use half the tube.  Because I'm helpful, here is a tip: the Lowe's by me has this by the paint.  It's DIFFERENT than the caulk-style liquid nails on a different aisle.  This stuff is by the Gorilla Glue.  Ask a friendly Lowe's associate...not the grumpy ladies in the carpet section.  Not that I am bitter.

STEP FIVE: Glue everything together!!!

First, tip the dresser so it's lying on its back.  Science tells us that trying to glue things while the dresser is upright will only result in disaster due to the natural phenomenon called gravity.  For your convenience, I have linked the wikipedia page on gravity so you can find out more.

Tips for Glue Success:

So you have your dresser on its back.  First, rub everything down with rubbing alcohol.  The mirrors (front and back) and the overlays (back) and the dresser drawers so everything is squeaky clean and ready to stick.  Don't use windex or anything else.  Just rubbing alcohol.  It preps the surfaces nicely for adhesion.

When I cleaned the mirrors, I wore some gloves.  Actually, I wore gloves the whole time.  Mainly to prevent getting fingerprints on everything the second after I cleaned it.  I recommend this method. 

First thing you will notice: the mirror is about 1/2" too short on either side. No need to panic! the border of the overlay will cover this. 

According to the online tips for the Liquid Nails, you should put a bead of glue on the surface to be glued, apply to the surface to which you are gluing, then immediately pull it apart again, count to 3 and place it back down.  Since I read this AFTER I completed the project, I didn't do this.  I think mine took longer to dry this way, but it still worked. The choice is yours.

So place a thin bead of glue all around the edge of the back of the mirror.  Then, if it gives you a sense of peace (like it did for me), draw a big "X" across the back of the mirror.  You only need a very thin bead of glue.  I only used about half the tube for this project.  Keep this in mind and don't get crazy. Again, I only used about half the tube for this project.

Once you have your mirrors glued onto the dresser, clean them one more time for good measure.  It will be a lot harder to clean them once the overlays are on, so best to do it now. 

On the back of the overlays, draw another bead around the border of the overlay.  Then, dot the glue in increments and in the corners/edges of the pattern.  Especially if you have littles, you want to make sure all the edges are glued down so little fingers can't pry the overlay off...or the vaccum to get caught on an edge and rip it off...There are several scenarios ending in disaster.  Just make sure all the edges are glued.  Again, don't get crazy with the glue. Especially at this point in the game.  The glue is going to spread when you press it on the mirror and you don't want globs of glue pressing out from underneath the overlays.  It dries clear, but it's still visible against the mirror.  Trust me, a little dab'll do ya. 

Once you pressed the overlays to the mirrors, check for any spots of glue that may have overspilled the edges of the overlays and, using your nail, scrape it off while it's still wet and and clean the smudge you left behind with alcohol. 

STEP SIX: Weigh down.

Now, gather some heavy items.  Preferrably in your immediate area so you don't have to walk around too much.   Oh wait, maybe that's just my laziness.  Some recommendations: coffee table books, potted plants, canned goods, an old dog that doesn't move very often, milk jugs filled with water, the list could go on..


This part is painful.  You should wait AT LEAST 24 hours.  Since I didn't do the method of pulling the surfaces apart and sticking them back together, mine took about 48 hours to dry.  The dresser sat on its back in the living room for two days straight with books on it like a monument to my DIY neuroticism.  I put a "Pardon Our Dust, We're Remodeling to Serve You Better" sign on it just in case company arrived. 

Once the appropriate amount of time has elapsed, gird up your loins, hold your breath and tip the dresser back upright.  Everything will be fine but in the moment, I'd say a brief second of panic is normal. 

Once all these steps are completed, you are done!  Congratulations!!! Now, please roll your mouse over the fish widget below and enjoy the relaxing scene as the fish follow it. My gift to you.
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