Playing with Plasti-Dip

So, I have a confession.  Do you remember the unsightly floor register from last week?photo 1-1

You probably assumed the chipping red paint was a leftover eyesore from previous residents.  Confession time:  That was me.  That floor register was our first experiment with spray on plasti-dip.  Did you know many car enthusiasts use it specifically for its ability to easily peel away from metal when needed?  Yeah.  I’m not sure why we thought plasti-dipping a floor vent next to a dining chair would be a good idea.

But, the truth is, something happens on a deeply psychological level when someone gives you a can of sprayable plastic.

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This is me on the outside.

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This is me on the inside.

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So now, I’m trying again, this time on a smaller scale with the pulls on my (severely dated) ceiling fan.  As you can see, I had already given them some sloppy swipes of blue when I painted the walls.  They came with the house, and were originally painted with country/Christmas looking stuff, kind of like this.

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I’m thinking on wood, it will be a lot more durable.  It’s actually been about a week, and while I think the color has definitely deepened and dulled a little, the plasti-dip itself seems to be a lot more durable than my last attempt.  The drippy parts are still visible, so if I were to try this again I’d be a little more careful.  All in all, it does add a fun little punch of color to what was once one of the drabber details of my kitchen.  But, truth be told, I probably just need to give in and replace that awful fan.  Eventually.  But for now, a happy little red house and… salt shaker?

-Mac-

 

Half a tart, twice as smart!

I tend to think of home fragrance as a sort of a splurge.  Martha Stewart says that a clean home should smell like nothing, and who am I to argue with Martha?!

But at the same time, there’s something so festive about a wonderful home fragrance, especially this time of year.  I’ve started to notice that some wax tarts are a bit too strong for our space, at least during that first day you melt them.  So my solution?

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Get out that butter knife and chop them in half!  Just the right amount of scent, and now I can use it twice as long!  I’ve even started chopping some of them in fourths and combining different scents!

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It’s not the sort of savings that will pay for the kids’ college or anything, but it does make me feel resourceful!  It’s the little victories, right?  I think I’ll put in a new fragrance right now!

-Mac-

P.S. Oh, yeah!  Look!  I have an actual tart warmer now, thanks to my sweet sister-in-law!  Anybody remember when I set a cup on pilot light on my stove and called it a tart warmer? #foreveracheapskate

Done is better than perfect.

At least that’s what they say at Facebook headquarters.  Maybe I’m no Zuckerberg, but in my quest to makeover my kitchen on the cheap, I have so many financial and time goals to get to before I spend the resources required to get my dream kitchen.  So, I’m not aiming for a dream kitchen.  I’m aiming for two goals:

  1. Neutralize eyesores.
  2. Replace the personal touches of the last residents with a bit of our own personality.

This five minute project was about the first goal.

I can tolerate a lot of things, but I cannot endure this country blue paper towel holder, or  the nasty chipping paint on the floor vent.

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I could have bought a new paper towel holder for like a dollar, and the floor vent will probably be replaced eventually, too, but why even mess with that when I had five minutes and a perfectly good can of black spray paint in the basement?

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Done and done.  If it’s free and it works, why not?  Amiright?

-Mac-

P.S.  It’s October?! Yowza!

The Happy Homester’s Hierarchy of Homemaking

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A few weeks ago I happened upon this podcast about understanding complex concepts through doodling.  Hm, I thought, if I had to somehow map out “homemaking”, what would that look like?  I ended up with something that reminded me of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  I set my scribbly piece of paper on my kitchen counter, but somehow felt compelled to cycle through it every time I start to feel overwhelmed or lost about housework.  It’s kind of becoming a compass in our often chaotic home.  I’ve been refining it a little here and there, and it’s really helping me keep our home a lot more organized!

Tour the pyramid with me, won’t you?

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Let’s start at the bottom:

What’s on the calendar?

I put this at the bottom of my pyramid.  When I cycle through, I start here.  If I do everything else, but forget an appointment or an important birthday, it doesn’t matter how tidy the house is–I’m not going to feel at peace.

Next, how are we doing on our budget?

Basically, I’m taking a peek at our bank account online, and updating our budget spreadsheet with any necessary changes.  (Both these things can be quickly done from my phone.)  If we’re coming close to the next payday, I might double check our grocery cash envelope to make sure I know how much we have to work with.  I chose to put this next, because if we end up over-drafting, or if we end up taking money out of the emergency fund for non-emergencies, I don’t have peace, no matter how shiny my sinks are.  This may or may not be applicable to you if you aren’t the primary budgetier of your home, but even if you’re just the one that shops for groceries, it’s good to take a quick glance at where you stand.

What’s for breakfast/lunch/supper?

I don’t need to have the meal cooked, I just need to have decided what I’ll feed the family over the next 24 hours.  That’s long enough to pull something out of the freezer to thaw if necessary, or if I know I need to hit the grocery store soon, this is where I make a list and do a little long term planning.  If I’ve tackled two weeks worth of laundry, but it’s 6:30 and I don’t know how I’m going to pull together supper… That’s not a peaceful household!

Are the dishes clean?

The wonderfully FlyLady has been teaching us to keep a shiny sink for years!  It’s awfully hard to cook when the kitchen’s a wreck.  And no meal is quite as appetizing when it’s served on tupperware lids because the plates are all dirty.  (Come on!  I know some of you have pulled that trick, too!)  There’s nothing more depressing then when you’re feeling a little worn, and your kitchen counters greet you with armloads of dirty dishes.  Let’s nip that mess in the bud!

Laundry time!

You know what’s on the calendar, you’ve got a handle on the budget.  You know what you’re having for lunch, and supper, and breakfast.  The kitchen is ready for cooking.  But you’ve got time before dinner.  Cycle that laundry!  I don’t feel like I have to have everything done, but when I’m concentrating on housework, I like to know that all our laundry is ready to keep cycling. That means dirty laundry is sorted, clean laundry is folded, and both machines are running every day.  I do have a confession, here.  I have three laundry baskets, and I wait until all three are filled with clean loads before I bring them up from the basement for folding.  This is simply because it takes less time for me to fold and put away in larger batches.  Your system might be different.

And finally, tidy up!

With all the other items in place, NOW I can put the toys back in the toy room, make sure my craft stuff is stowed the way it should be, fluff the sofa pillows, maybe even make a bed or two.  This stuff is a breeze, because the dishes are done, the laundry is done, and I know what’s for dinner.  This is where I get to break out a home fragrance, put on some relaxing music, and just enjoy straightening up our little home.

Obviously, my little pyramid doesn’t encompass everything.  What about parenting responsibilities, or detail cleaning, or sorting coupons, or whatever else…  But it covers essential housework pretty well, and it’s really helped me out!  Let me know in the comments if you end up trying out my little map, or share a link if you end up doodling one of your own!  And if you think I’m totally crazy for having to doodle a whole chart about housework…  you’re probably born organized, and I envy you!  LOL

-Mac-

Tea Time Confessions

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Alright, I’ll just come out with it:  I found some weird herb growing out by the side of our garage, and I’ve been brewing it and drinking it to help me get to sleep at night.  It also might be giving me these really vivid dreams…

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Lemon balm tea, friends.  It’s totally a thing.  Unless it isn’t.

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I was first introduced to the herb this spring when I noticed it growing up out of a sidewalk crack behind my house.  Is that spearmint?  I plucked it for further examination, but it didn’t have a minty smell.  I crushed some leaves and it smelled like lemons!  What?!  It was kind of growing invasively, but I delighted in the fragrance of fresh lemon that filled the air when I hit it with the weed whip.  It wasn’t until browsing gardening boards on Pinterest that I saw its beautiful leaves springing from a lovely pot labeled “Lemon Balm”!  Hooray!  I had an abundance of a useful herb!  But just how useful?

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This member of the mint family is known as a powerful antiviral that’s used to aid sleep, calm ADHD, heal cold sores, relieve stress, heal dementia, repel mosquitos, attract bees, and make you hear colors.  Maybe I was kidding about that last one.  But you shouldn’t use too much of it or maybe any of it if you have certain health conditions, and some of the studies on it are way more conclusive than others.  So, just don’t be a weirdo hippie about it, like I am.  Do your research.

You can use it in salads, cook with it, bake with it, or do what I do!  Let’s make really yummy tea!

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You can use a generous handful of fresh leaves, or a heaping teaspoon per cup of crushed dried leaves.  (You can buy it on Amazon.  Told you this is totally a thing.)  Boil some water, poor it over, and let it steep for five minutes.

I have this fancy tea maker, but I know Alton Brown just makes his loose tea in a french press.

I have this fancy tea maker, but I know Alton Brown just makes his loose tea in a French press.

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Mmmm.  My new favorite beverage!  Sweeten with honey, and you’ve got a soothing, but fresh cup.  How does it taste?  Even my husband says, “Not bad!”  It smells like lemons but it’s not sour tasting at all.  Just maybe a bit minty I guess?!  You’ll just have to try it.  I really love it.

-Mac-

On reupholstering my dining chairs…

After just about a year in our new home, I’m finally getting around to a few of those updates that I was just too overwhelmed to tackle early on.  First up, our dining table chairs!

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I can’t tell you about our dining set without telling you that my parents are totally rad.  After pinning several chrome dining sets on Pinterest, I started to show my mom a few I was thinking of buying off Craigslist.  “You can do better than that,” my mom said, but I didn’t believe her until she showed up at our house with this beauty they found in a barn sale.

Of course, it wasn’t quite as pretty to start.  The chairs were upholstered in yellow cracking vinyl that had been gloriously patched with grey duct tape.  Obviously we’d want to reupholster them, so on one of their visits up, my mom and I made it our mission.

The hardest part was probably taking the old vinyl off.  The second hardest part was deciding what color the new vinyl should be.  We went to Jo-Ann Fabrics, and I chose a safe color.  (I’m glad I played it safe, and you’ll see why, later.)  I do kind of wonder if I shouldn’t have selected a heavier weight vinyl.  My two year old has already done some damage to the new upholstery, but if Stitch wasn’t living with us, it would probably wear just fine.

We bought 5 yards which turned out to be WAY more than we needed.  If I do this again, I definitely won’t go with more than one yard per chair.  Maybe even less.

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Here’s a (glamourous) shot of the underside.  My nephew gave me some of this wonderful chrome polish, which really made the set shine, but, as you can see, I didn’t worry about hitting the underside too hard.  I’ll probably go over it again later.

Everything is stapled, even the piping.  We started with a special cord from the fabric store that was made for upholstery piping, but it was kind of pricey, and I ran out after the first two chairs.  I went to Dollar Tree and bought a thin plastic rope for the rest of the project.  You seriously cannot tell the difference between the two.  I’m not sure I would recommend it for your couch cushions or something like that, but for this?  Perfect!

Also, I cannot emphasize enough the importance of my hair dryer to this project!  The heat is how we were able to staple the vinyl to the chairs with minimal puckering or folding.  DO NOT ATTEMPT THIS KIND OF PROJECT WITHOUT A HAIRDRYER SET TO HOT!

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If there’s one part I’m not totally satisfied with, it’s the back.  You can see, I had a few unexpected lumps and bumps along the way with this, and I didn’t expect those decorative tacks to be so tricky to hammer in.  (There’s got to be a trick to those tacks!)  I realize now why the original upholstery had that back piece of vinyl wrapped around a perfectly shaped piece of cardboard.

Also, we had to be incredibly aware of where holes were drilled, so we’d actually be able to reassemble the chairs once they had been recovered!  I promise you, that sounds way simpler than it actually was.

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All, in all, not too shabby, and the set has a perfect footprint in our eat-in kitchen!  Next up?  Cabinets!  But don’t expect to see those for another couple weeks! ;-)

-Mac-

I heard it through the grapevine (wreath)…

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So yesterday, when I took you on a tour through my garden, I forgot to mention one of my “crops”:

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Wild grapes!!!  Of course, I didn’t know that they were wild when I asked permission to drape the vine over my neighbor’s fence.  I had hoped they would be the same concord grapes he’s nurturing just a few feet down.  It’s okay, though.  These grapes are small and sweet, but refreshing to pluck and nibble on when I’m out enjoying the yard.  The photo above was taken much earlier in the season.  They’re a deep purple now, but not much larger.

Aside from the grapes, though, the vines quickly enveloped the chain link fence that borders our yard.   In fact, they were even starting to grow up into one of my trees, and I was pretty sure they were killing off some of the limbs.  So, yes.  It was time for a little trim:

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But the point?  Thanks to a little something I found on Pinterest, I was able to turn my trimmings into, hopefully, some show stopping decor a little ways down the line.

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Of course, I should have done this a little earlier in the season, according to the tutorial, but I still feel pretty accomplished about my wreaths.  I actually made four of them, but the biggest one is my favorite.  They’re drying in the sun, right now.  I can’t wait until they’re totally brown and ready to decorate!

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Yes, this is a kid friendly craft.

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So that checks off the FUNNEST item on this weeks to do list.    It’s always good to get the funnest project out of the way first, right???

Have a great weekend!
-Mac-