Tuesday, November 27, 2012

$5 Garland + Lampshade Leftovers = Wreath

I wish I had taken a photo of the process with my $5 wreath - I wasn't sure it would look decent when I began so I didn't think about documenting the process with photos.

But alas, I can describe it.

When we destroyed dismantled a lamp shade last year, I saved the big metal ring from the bottom with the full intent to turn it into a wreath. We then bought a $5 9-foot garland at Canadian Tire. We wrapped it around the metal ring and squished it until the garland was completely wound around the wire frame. It took two of us to wrangle the wire around the ring and we got little plastic pine needles all over the kitchen. It wasn't the most pleasant activity (repeatedly grabbing wire garlands with poky bits hurts your hands after a while).

I then found a bunch of loose decorations floating around the bottom of our Christmas Boxes and attached them with decoration hooks. I don't want the baubles and ornaments to be permanent because I may want to switch them around next year.

The strands of silver are Mardi Gras Beads left over from a NYE party we went to last year. I just looped them all together, making sure the knots are at the back. Again, nothing here is permanent so if I ever want to reclaim some of the materials, it will just be a case of dismantling the wreath.

I realize that all the materials for this wreath amount to greater than $5, but as far as recent spending habits go, I am quite pleased with my creation.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Paper Mache Mini Christmas House

This is a mini Christmas house I made recently using paper mache and fimo. I wasn't up for paying ridiculous prices for a tiny house - I've seen some crappy cardboard ones for $8 at a local big box store - not cool. So took it upon myself to improvise. The only thing I paid for was the fimo (years ago) and the spray snow for the roof (dollar store). Everything else was fished out of the recycling bin or my craft desk.

The snowman was made using three cotton balls speared onto a toothpick, then covered in spray snow (which has since clumped - should have done a few more layers of it). His stick arms are twigs, his nose is a piece of foam and his eyes and buttons are puffy paint.

I had never used spray snow before and didn't realize how MESSY it was. It goes everywhere. Molly even got hit with some. After the first few sprays, I stopped and built a little cardboard box shelter/frame, then took it outside to finish.

I didn't realize it at the time, but the fimo decorations took ages to make. I was watching a movie while I made each little leaf for the wreath, but I think it was worth it.
I also wanted to make a few little pine trees, but got bored with the project so gave up.

Has anyone else attempted a mini house this holiday season? If so, I'd love to see!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Dollar Store Nutcracker Makeover

So I have been on the hunt for a turquoise nutcracker lately, but didn't want to pay $20+. I was all set to make one with paper mache when I found a little one at the dollar store. The only problem was the colour.

Easy fix though - I ripped off all the fuzzy bits and anything that moved and gave him a few layers of paint and glitter glue. I then reattached everything. It's a pity I didn't pick one with even rosy cheeks (didn't notice until I got home) but for only $1.25, I can hardly complain.

I'm quite pleased with his makeover and even more pleased with the price I paid. Now if only I could find a full sized one for the same price...

Saturday, November 10, 2012

$500 Bathroom Update

I am pleased to report that our DIY bathroom renovations are almost complete. Almost. It cost us around $500 in total, but some of the supplies will carry over into our kitchen renovation so we will get use out of them.

Our bathroom functioned well - there's not much you can do in a tiny space anyway. But we were sick of the dusty pink tiles and the vinyl floor.

This is what we were up against:

Our priorities were as follows:
Tile flooring
Replace anything pink with white
Update the vanity cabinet as cheaply as possible
Frame the mirror
Get rid of the rusty old medicine cabinet


We felt that the earthy tones made the bathroom feel dark and crowded and we wanted something fresh and bright.
We also didn't like the vanity cabinet - the beige wood laminate wasn't really our style.

First to go was the laminate flooring.

This was WAY harder than we had anticipated. Tutorials we found online said to just cut it into strips, pull it up and "Presto! Vinyl removed!"

Hahaha, what a joke.

It was not that easy. We cut it into strips, then pulled, scratched, clawed, scraped, swore profusely, took several breaks and questioned our motives for wanting tile in the first place. It took us all day, but we finally succeeded. We have the following considerations in retrospect:
  • Our laminate was laid in 2001, so it was just over 10 years old. Perhaps this had something to do with its flaking and falling apart?
  • We did manage to get the plasticy (is that a word?) top off, by cutting it in strips and then pulling the strip up at a 45 degree angle to the floor. This technique was the most successful, but we still had to deal with the papery (?) bottom.
  • Once the plastic-feeling top as removed from the paper-ish bottom side, we sprayed the heck out of it with a vinegar/water solution and also went at it with our steam cleaner to loosen it up for removal. We then scraped like hell. Not sure if these techniques are deemed harmful or if there was another solution, but it worked for us.
We weren't too worried about minor scratches to the subflooring or the black sealant that had been painted on because we were going to use a Ditra Subflooring. This is what our floor looked like at the end of day 1:

The subflooring was in pretty good shape - no major cracks etc.

When we removed the toilet to tile underneath, we discovered that it had been leaking. Not a great discovery, but also not an expensive fix - the wax ring just needed replacing (which needs replacing every time you remove the toilet anyway). Had we not been renovating the bathroom, we wouldn't have noticed the leak, so even though we just set out for a cosmetic makeover, there was one functional benefit from the renovation.

Here's the tile flooring after:

Our next problem was removing the gross dusty pink tiles from the back splash and all around the shower. It was very disheartening to damage the walls so badly, but they were very difficult to remove. It seems that our original bathroom was built to withstand a horrific natural disaster. Too bad we didn't like the pink...

We ended up patching the heck out of it, but in retrospect, we could have just replaced the gyprock. Not sure how easy that would have been with the large mirror on the wall though. Anyway, what's done is done. We patched it with Pollyfilla for big holes... several times. Then sanded it, ready to tile.

We also removed the medicine cabinet, but then had to fill it in with gyprock... which was not the same depth as the original. That caused a whole lot of problems too. But we also filled that with Polyfilla and it turned out okay.

As for the vanity cabinet, we just painted straight over the laminate finish, using Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer/Sealer and the following steps:
1. Wash down thoroughly with TSP. The amount of gunk build up over 10 years in the bathroom is kinda gross, especially with all the gels, sprays and lotions that previous tenants had used.
2. Thoroughly hand sand with 120-grit sandpaper.
3. Wipe down again with the TSP to remove any loose particles from the sanding.
4. Paint with Zinsser Bulls Eye 1-2-3 Primer/Sealer.
Repeat steps 2-4 once dry (follow instructions on the can).
We then had to wait a few days for the primer to really adhere to the laminate. We actually just waited until the following weekend before we painted it with our chosen semi-gloss (Cloud White by Benjamin Moore) then attached new cabinet hardware.

Cabinet before:

Cabinet After:

We were SUPER pleased with the results and would totally consider painting out our laminate kitchen cabinets this way, if the laminate wasn't already damaged beyond repair...

Our last priority for the bathroom was to jazz up the boring old builder grade mirror. We followed this simple blog tutorial from The Idea Room to frame the mirror using chair rail. We found that the wood bowed in the middle, making it difficult to stick to the mirror (masking tape didn't even hold it), so we found ourselves standing on the vanity counter, leaning into it and playing with our iPhones while we waited for the glue to adhere enough to let go. Again, we are very pleased with the results.

It took us five weekends in total to complete the job. We also replaced the lighting fixture (The old one was covered in rust patches). All that needs to be done now is find some nice glass shelves to put up where the medicine cabinet was, but we're still searching for the right ones.

Here are some more after photos:

Our storage problems in the bathroom still remain, so we still rely on our space-saving storage solutions around and above the door.

It feels so much brighter, cleaner and more elegant now. All the problems we encountered, though catastrophic at the time, seem insignificant now and I am so pleased we updated the bathroom.

Apologies if I haven't covered something in detail in this post - there was so much to cover. Let me know if you have any questions!

Monday, October 29, 2012

Red Riding Hood Halloween Costume with Real Wolf

Thought I'd share photos of our Halloween costumes from a party we went to on Saturday.

We were Red Riding Hood, the Wood Cutter and the Big Bad Wolf, dressed as Grandma.

Molly's costume was made from a thrift store pillow case and elastic. I eye-balled the entire thing, but am quite pleased with how it turned out. Tried to get a good photo of it, but she was camera shy. There were also holes in the bonnet to pull her ears through, but it didn't stay like that for long. It somehow ended up around her neck like a second collar, but she did stay in costume the entire night.

And I made my dress using a guide I found on Pinterest and some cheap fabric I had lying around. It was a rush job (decided to make the dress at 4pm - the party was at 8pm) but also turned out okay. I think I might go back and make the seams neat and fix the hack job at the front, but it was decent enough for a Halloween party. The cape was an old table cloth, pulled from a scrap bin at the thrift store.

Molly's costume cost $1.50 all up, mine was $3 and Hubby's costume was free. A family dressed in theme, including props for under $5. I think that's a success.

Any ideas for pet-friendly family themes for next year?

Happy Trick-or-treating!!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

DIY Tiled Table Top Tutorial

This is a project we completed a few months ago and I thought I'd show it off.
This used to be the night stand that goes with our bed set. Seeing as our bedroom is tiny and it doesn't fit in there, it now serves as a hallway stand and is the main dumping ground for EVERYTHING as we walk in the door. We originally just painted it white, but with such high traffic, the top was getting very scratched.

At Home Depot, we grabbed two 'square foot' sheets of glass tiles for about $15 each. We figured out the layout, cut to size and then transferred our "design" to the floor.

We also bought pre mixed Adhesive & Grout (about $9) and a notched trowel (about $4). We have lots of grout left over which we'll be using when we tile our kitchen back splash.
We also bought a log plastic rail/ edge that is meant to give the whole project a clean edge, but we ditched it because we thought it looked funny.

First, we slapped on the grout, then spread it out evenly.

Then we placed the tiles on top. We had already cut, measured and figured out the placement of the tiles, so we just transferred our design from the floor to the table top.

More grout, more tiles...

Then we pressed down on the tiles firmly so they would take hold on the grout.

We then let it sit for a week because we were busy working. We only needed to let it sit for 24 hours though...

The following weekend, hubby went back and covered all the tiles in grout, making sure to fill in the gaps between each tile.

We then let it sit for a few hours then grabbed a wet sponge and rubbed the grout off the top of the tiles.

The tiles then appeared through, nice and shiny.

And here is our (almost) finished masterpiece (we went back and fixed up a few of the imperfections you can see here - gaps in the edges etc.). I am no longer afraid that I am going to scratch the top of the furniture; these tiles are taking a beating and they are holding up very well. I think it also adds a bit of pizazz to the front entrance and makes the piece look a little bit less like a nightstand.

For a first attempt at tiling, I am pretty proud of our efforts and *think* we might be able to tackle the back splash ourselves when we renovate our kitchen.