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Monday, November 26, 2012

Built-in Billy Bookshelf for under $250

What do you need?

  • 3 billy bookshelves 
  • Crown molding
  • Lattice
  • Quarter round
  • Base molding
  • Calk
  • Paint
  • Screw drivers
  • Drill
  • Finishing nails 
  • Optionl: chalk pro reel set, shims

Step 1: Clear out the closet if needed and remove doors. We had to remove the poorly installed wood shelves. (It was fun to rip them down!)

Step 2: Put those Billy Bookshelves together. I put all 3 together by myself in under 90 minutes. You will need both a Phillips and flat head screwdriver for assembly. 

Step 3: Wedge the shelves in your closet space. A friend is helpful for this maneuver. We were incredibly lucky with measurements. We had about three inches to spare with the bookshelves in the closet. We also had to account for a dip in the floor. We used shims (scrap wood) to keep the shelves level.  

Step 4: We used a chalk line pro-reel to make sure each shelf was lined up on the floor, otherwise the molding would have been a pain! And we nailed the base of the shelves directly into the floor. They are not moving!  

Step 5: We used a chisel to make the bottom part of the two ends of the shelves even with the rest of the bottom of the shelf so the base molding could sit in there. 

Step 6: Install the lattice where the two book shelves meet to make it look like one piece. 

Step 7: Install crown molding above the book shelf. Nail to top of closet or molding around the closet. 

Step 8: We installed quarter round on each side to cover an unsightly blemish in the original wood work. 

Step 9: Fill in the nail holes with putty or calk and let dry. Then paint. 

Step 10: Decorate your new built-in! 

Sunday, November 25, 2012

New Couches!

They are here! My couches came in! 

If you want to know the tale of how the couches got into our apartment, keep reading. Otherwise just enjoy the photo. The delivery folks were scheduled to get to our place on Wednesday, which was perfect because our Thanksgiving dinner was planned for Saturday. They were late, hours late. It was almost six when I called the company we ordered from but they were already closed for the night. So, I did what any normal stressed-out pre-Thanksgiving hostess does. I went and got a manicure. But, as soon as my nails were wet my phone rang and the couches were a block away. Blarg!

I was so giddy I couldn't sit still! James called and I was thinking he would say something like, "They are lovely, good choice baby!" What he actually said was that the three delivery guys refused to bring the couches upstairs because there was no way the couches would fit! I threw a fit. I knew that if were took off the door jamb we had an extra inch of room. The delivery folks said that I could not take the door jamb off. I called the company and left three voice mails and sent a bunch of emails. The drivers drove away.  (Sidebar story, my Nanny just had these couches delivery to her house. We had no idea we were ordering the same couches! Anyway, I was able to measure for the exact dimensions of the couch.)

Friday morning, I call until I reach a human and explain that I know the couches will fit. They first told me the trucks have all left for the day but they will see if they can make a special arrangement. An hour later, I got a call from a delivery guy who said he would be to our house in 30 minutes. I b-line it home, becuase, ya know, I was running errands for our party! At this point I had only had coffee to eat and I was kinda running around like a crazy person. This one guy and James manage to get these couches up the stairs and in our apartment in less than 30 minutes. I know, I know, they are total Hercules. 

Burlap Blessed Banner

Sometimes, I need a little reminding of how blessed we are. I saw a burlap banner at a dear friend's bridal shower last year and have been thinking about making one ever since. While it  is very fitting for Thanksgiving, I plan on leaving it up year round. 

I am blessed =)

You will need: 
Printer (or you could free-hand it)
Hot Glue Gun 

I found a font I liked on-line, downloaded it, and printed the word "blessed"

Cut 7 triangles out of the burlap

See how the burlap is practically see through? No need to stencil! 

Trace the lettering on the burlap with a sharpie and then fill in! 

I used a hot glue gun to glue each piece together at the corners and then glued twine to the back leaving two inches at each end to hang it up. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving Trail Mix & Free Label Download

I have so many things to be thankful for this year. My loving husband, our beautiful dogs, my supportive family, our dear friends, a job I adore, and this blog! 

I love being able to make things for the folks I work with and let them know I really appreciate what they do everyday. Thanksgiving is the perfect time for that! A quick trip to the Deals store and Walgreens was all I need for Easy Thanksgiving Trail Mix. 

I made 15 baggies of trail mix and used the following: 

One big bowl
2 boxes raisins 
2 bags of craisins 
2 bags of sunflower seeds
1 box of Life Cereal 
1 box of Frosted Mini Wheats (I used the off brand)
1 container of honey roasted peanuts
2 bags of Fall M&Ms
Cellophane Baggies 

Total Cost: $25
Price per baggie: $1.78

Mix it all together

Put it in the baggies and attach labels with a stapler. 

These are the labels I used for each baggie. I printed them on card stock in black and white. 

Happy Thanksgiving Ya'll! 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Burlap Bow?!? YES!

Do you have any old vases laying around? Maybe the freebies that come with a flower order? For under $5 you can turn it into something beautiful!

You'll need: 

Burlap scraps
Hot Glue Gun

First, wrap some twine around your vase. Use a little hot glue at each end. 

 Next, cut your burlap into strips, you can play around with the length and width. 

Lay the burlap strips into a flower like formation. 

A little dalop of glue in the middle of the strip is all you need. 

 Then layer the other strips on top placing hot glue in between. 

Fold the end of each strip toward the center and hot glue each layer. I am sorry I don't have a picture of this. I burned my fingers with the hot glue gun :/

Knot up a little piece of twine for the center and there you have it! 

Thanksgiving Center Pieces

All three cost under $5! 

I am always saving jars (and reusing them). James ordered me some cool twine (so that he would get free shipping on an amazon order!) and I literally walked around the house looking for something to wrap up! Alas, my jar collection. I wrapped up these two jars with twine and a small dollop of hot glue at each end. It took me less than an hour while I was babysitting. Don't worry, the kids were eating dessert while I was crafting- everyone was happy! 

The tall one in the middle was pretty easy to make too. The vase is one of the free ones from pro flowers. I wrapped some twine around the middle section. And made a burlap flower. 

I am thinking of filling them with dried eucalyptus. The little girl I was babysitting really wanted me to fill them with rocks and put a candle in the skinny one. What do you think? Which shall adorn my Thanksgiving Table? 

Coat Hanger Upcycle- $2!

This apartment came with so many freebies, I can't seem to keep track. The unlevel flooring, the broken window screens, the paint caked and broken outlets, and two of these beauties: 
Come to think of it, every house we have lived in has offered us a lovely coat hanger like this. The brass and builder grade oak just screams cheap! Well the day we moved in, I ripped them off the walls. Then... realized we need a coat hanger! I had planned on making a coat hanger, but hooks are expensive! So I will make do with what I have! 

Thanks to my lovely mom I was able to complete this project for $2! She found some mint colored spray paint on clearance becuase the top was cracked. 

Spray paint really can save the day. I put three coats on the entire thing, including the brass hooks. I'll let you know how it holds up after the holidays! 

Monday, November 19, 2012

A $5 birthday gift!

Tara, I don't know if you read my blog. But if you do- stop right here and come back tomorrow. (especially if you haven't gotten a birthday package from me and James yet!)

Last weekend I made some coasters for my sister-in-law's birthday. Pretty easy and amazingly inexpensive. I had most of the stuff around the house.

You'll need:
they can be shiny or dull, I like the kinds with beveled edges
found mine at Home Depot for $.89 each 

Craft paper
check out places like Big Lots, Amazing Savings, and Marshalls for steals, find it on sale and then you will always have some! 
Poly acrylic or polyurethane

I've used this on a whole bunch of projects- worth the $10! 
Foam brush
Felt or felt cushion pads 


  1. Line table with newspaper.
  2. Trace a tile in the craft paper, then trim off a bit on each side so there is a border of tile showing through. 
  3. Coat the tile with your poly acrylic
  4. Place craft paper on tile
  5. Add two or three more coats of the poly acrylic
  6. I added some paper cut outs I had and put on more poly acrylic
  7. Let dry
  8. Apply the felt pads to the bottom of the tile
  9. Ta-da!! All done!
***Update, here is a close-up picture! 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Painting Tips From the Unprofessional Painter

I saw a post on Pinterest titled "Painting Tips from the Pros." I didn't click on it. I don't even think I repinned it.

So these tips are from me. Repin if you'd like, OR figure it out on your own. 

1. Wear a hat or bandana. I still have paint in my hair. THREE SHOWERS LATER. 

2. Soak your brush in a cup of water with a dryer sheet- works wonders to get the paint out and saves you the time of standing over a sink of running water for an hour and half. 

3. Line the paint tray with tin foil. One long ways at the deep end and then a piece length wise. Saves you clean up AND in between coats you can wrap up the roller in the tin foil. Yes, you will thank me for that tiny piece of wisdom one day. 
Tin Foil Wrapped Roller 
Paint Tray Lined in Tin Foil

4. Tape. Tape. Tape. Clean lines make me giddy. Paint on new tile makes me cry. Literally, that happened. Buy the tape and use it. Best way to tape is by using smaller strips that are a manageable length. No one tapes an entire floor with one piece of tape. Get as close as you can and try to make a clean edge. 
Sneak-peak of the built-in book shelf
Sneak-peak of the new bathroom

5. If you do get paint on the floor you can use a flat head screw driver with a rag over it to make it perfect. 

Oops! Some paint leaked through the tape! 

Flat head screw driver

Wrap in a rag and use carefully! (Don't push too hard.)

Look for an update on this post and please post your helpful tips =)

Friday, November 16, 2012

Where are my keys?

James and I ask this question all the time! With two dogs and busy days we are often leaving our keys all over the place. 

I saw a cool idea on Pinterest to manage our key situation. 

For under $2 I made this! First I bought a dollar store frame. Just a generic brown one. Then I spray painted it with some mint green spray paint I had laying around. (It took about 30 minutes to dry.) I screwed in some hooks from Home Depot ($1.49). Last I added some twine, for a little country feel. What do you think? 

My To-do Board & Favorite Planner

Happy Friday ya'll! 
Hope you are well. Today I want to talk about how I manage to keep track of my job (administrative director of three pre-schools), my second masters degree, and all my DIY projects. It's not always easy, I most certainly am still learning to manage my time. 

Over the summer I made a to-do board to keep on my desk. I jot down projects I need to start and tasks I need to complete. It was fairly easy to make. I used scrap book paper and a cut-out of my initial under the glass. Glass can be used like a white board. So I simply use a white board marker on the picture frame. I got the picture frame at the dollar store!
To-do board on my desk =)

I made some to-do boards for the teachers at my school. I used scrap book paper and purchase the plastic picture frames off the internet in bulk. The mini post-it notes and dry-erase markers can be purchased at any office store or dollar store. Each board cost about three dollars! 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Under the Sink and In the Drawers!

Friends, when I get bored, or nervous, or anxious, or happy, or sad, or hungry, or angry or had too much caffeine, I clean. It's a good thing that our cable hasn't ever worked (it was installed a month ago). I am usually bored and hungry and at least one other emotion when I get home from work. SOOO, I find something to clean. Recently, I took on fixing under our sink. This area had been unusable: all of my cleaning products were being housed in a laundry basket on the kitchen floor. 

Under our kitchen sink! 
It should be no surprise at this point that this is what under our kitchen sink would look like. I pulled up the yucky cork board covered in soap or lotion or something. I disconnected the random light-switch dimmer under there (after checking to see if it was attached to something- it was NOT). Then I used a handsaw to cut two pieces of plywood to fit under the sink (to make it level and give it a nice sturdy base) (I forgot to take pictures!)
I installed some cheap peel and stick laminate flooring. An entire box was about $15 and included way more square feet than I'll ever need. They are super easy to cut with a sharp utility knife. I actually did this project alone in under an hour. Now, I can wipe down each cabinet as needed easily! 
Totally clean looking! 

In my cleaning frenzy I pulled out all the drawers and found this! It was a mix of crumbs, grease, and wax (so the drawers slide smoothly). 

How to remove? Grease is tricky. I personally find that the right tools and warm vinegar usually do the trick. 

A tooth brush or other firm scrub brush work wonders. If you have a really sticky mess you may want to use a Brillo pad.  I dipped the brush in a  mug with a mixture of  warm vinegar and 2 table spoons of dish soap. I put this mix in the mug so that you can keep heating it up the as needed in the micro. 

Although vinegar can smell a little funky, it is a great way to remove grease, soap scum, and shine stainless steel. 

I did this for the fridge when we moved in too. 

Stay tuned, we will have a bathroom and guest room reveal this weekend! 

The Boys Made Buffalo Sauce and I watched!

Buffalo Chicken Wings

Sunday  morning (on the way to brunch) James and Mo decided they were making buffalo chicken wings with homemade-from-scratch buffalo sauce.

If you are interested in their finger-licking goodness here's what you need for the sauce:

Peppers- they used five jalapenos but wished they were habaneros
Apple cider vinegar 
Butter (not margarine)
Dried cyan peppers
Tomato paste
Frying pan
Chopping knives

Cut and chop the peppers, onion, garlic

Sauté in a frying pan with the butter
Add the tomato paste
At this point it looks like a thick sauce

Place in blender and add apple cider vinegar to taste
You can add water as needed if its too thick
You can add flour as needed if its too thin

For chicken:
Chicken (wings or thighs)
Baking soda (use sparingly)
Egg whites
Vegetable oil
Frying pan
Baking sheets

Clean the chicken! Ours had feathers and hairs! Gross! James scrubbed them in the sink.

Sift the flour, pepper, and baking soda together in a bowl. Mo didn't use measurements. Use as much flour as you think you will need to cover the chicken. Add a pinch or two of pepper and then a couple of pinches if baking soda (I know lots of folks leave the soda out of the recipe)
Toss the chicken wings in the egg whites and then toss in dry mix. You can do this two or three times if you want a thick coating

Caution- frying can be really dangerous, the oil can splatter and it's really hard to tell how hot it is. Always use low heat and remove children (and pets) from the kitchen during this step

Heat the vegetable oil so that it sizzles when you place something in the frying pan
Add each chicken wing, when the flour turns brown and crispy remove and place in greased baking sheets. The chicken doesn't need to be cooked all the way through yet. 
Place in oven for 20 minutes at 350 degrees- check often as all ovens vary

I made some Mac and cheese to go with our meal (and so I had something to eat)

When we were done we had lots of left overs. Instead of packing it up in a plain-ole rubbermaid container, I used a jar from red sauce.  I've been saving jars of all shapes and sizes because pinterest keeps giving me good ideas to reuse them! I sent Mo home with his left overs in a jar. Tie a little ribbon on that bad boy and you have a cute take home that doesn't need returning! 

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Crock pot Baked Zitti

Last night, for the first time, I used my crock-pot. I know, you would think a busy lady like me would be the queen of the crock pot. I am was afraid of it! 

I don't typically use or follow recipes, I am more of the just add stuff 'til it looks/tastes good kinda cook. 

But this baked zitti was great AND easy. Crock pot cooking is so easy!! 

What do you need: 

Pasta (I had whole-wheat penne on hand)
Ricotta Cheese (Part-skim, small container)
Red Sauce (store brand because I didn't make any before hand- oops)
Red Wine

So here is what I did: 

1. Take it out of the box (just kidding, it was in my cabinet, so I cleaned the inside dish)
2. Used some EVOO on the sides and bottom 
3. Smear some red sauce on the bottom
4. Add a handful of pasta 
5. Layer the mutz and ricotta 
6. Drizzle some red wine over the cheese
7. Repeat each layer adding extra sauce on the top layer

I started my crock pot on low and then turned it up to high as we got closer to dinner. I stired it away from the outside every hour or so (I don't like when the outsides of a baked pasta dish gets crusty)

I added more water (maybe a 1/4 cup) 15 minutes before serving because the sauce on the walls of the crock pot started turning black- the pasta was unharmed! 

Serve with cheese on top and garlic bread and maybe a glass of vino


Friday, November 9, 2012

Shower Update Pics and Stove-Top Scents

Hello again friends! I apologize for my hiatus from writing. Hurricane Sandy made me do it!

A four day cruise to Bermuda turned into a week long cruise to Boston. We can't complain though. We were safe, warm, fed, and at times truly enjoyed ourselves. Our families lost power but thankfully no one was injured. We have friends who were not so lucky and our prayers go out to them as they rebuild their homes and lives.

What have we been up to? Finishing that darn bathroom! We can shower! Check out that tile! James has been spackling and sanding since we returned. I can't wait to prime and paint.

I found some couches! We are ordering them online but they are the same brand that Ashley Furniture sells so we can see them in person before we purchase! Ordering online will save a couple hundred dollars! And for $100 they will bring it up two flights of stairs!

As I write this my house smells amazing! I have been experimenting with stove-top scents! 

After our trip we had some limes and mint that were going bad :/ I cut up the lime, rosemary, and mint up and threw them into a boiling pot of water with vanilla extract. After some simmering I added some cinnamon sticks.  Every hour or two I add some water to the mix.

Doesn't it look delicious? No? Well believe me, it smelled like Christmas! 

Right now we have tangerines (they were also victim of our absence!) with cinnamon and thyme! The smell is great and I don't have to throw away any food!  We have been able to use these stove-top scents for a couple days each batch. 

I'd like to experiment using lemon or lime with rosemary, and maybe cranberry with rosemary, apple and cinnamon? I am getting some inspiration from Yankee Candle Scents.