Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Unwelcome Mat {A Makeover}

 Curb appeal is not our strong suit. We've spent the last 18 months slaving away on our darling kitchen, but we've done nothing to the outside of the house since we moved in. Well, we did replace the front door, but that decision was based just as much on potential energy savings as it was on aesthetics.


Check out our welcome mat. It came with the house. You like? Me neither. Besides being old, dirty, and faded, we don't even have a dog. I hate when things don't make sense.

 Doing something about the welcome mat seemed like the easiest ad cheapest way to give out entryway a bit of a face lift. Boy did it need it.
Curb appeal. We don't have it.

I found some tutorials on Pinterest for spray painting welcome mats so I thought I would give it a shot.

First I had to get the thing clean. First I gave it a good vacuuming but it was still full of goodness knows how many years of grit so I had to beat it, well, like a rug.

Then I mixed up some hot water with a bit of dish soap and poured it over the mat, then gave it a good scrub.


Next I rinsed it out by spraying it with the garden hose with the nozzle set to the highest pressure possible.

I laid it out flat to dry in the sun, then transferred it to my spray-painting box. I find it contains the mess very well!

Then I got to the painting. Yay for the fun part!

Krylon Colormaster Ivory (Satin Finish), Valspar Premium Clear Sealer (Flat Finish), and Krylon Colormaster Khaki (Gloss Finish)

First I applied several coats of the ivory. In retrospect, I should have made the khaki the base color, but hey, live and learn. 


Then I used 1" painters tape to make a chevron pattern. The tape realllly didn't want to stick to the bristles so this part of the process took the longest.

Next I applied a few coats of the khaki...

Then I removed the tape and covered the whole thing with a coat of the clear varnish.

And then....

So for $8 spent and a lot of paint fumes inhaled, I no longer hear Psycho violins when I walk up the front steps.


DIY Show Off

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Plight of a 2nd Child {The Microscopic Nursery}

When I was pregnant with Noni we assumed she would be sleeping in our room once she was born, and stay there for the foreseeable future. There wasn't really a spare bedroom for her. Our third bedroom is the office/office/guest room/library and our fourth bedroom is in the unheated attic. Neither ideal for a baby, so we set up the cosleeper next to our bed and figured it would stay there a while.

We made it about seven weeks. As it turns out, I am a super light sleeper and Noni sounds like a rhinoceros when she sleeps. I never got even one consecutive hour of sleep, not because she genuinely needed assistance but because her grunts and farts would wake me up.Then I would think she was awake and try to feed her, which only made her ACTUALLY wake up and be mad about it.

So we had to find a nursery for her, and FAST. The only other option was the "bonus" room at the end of the hall, which up until then was being used as Nemo's study. (You may remember from a post last year when we replaced the flooring). It measures a mere 9'x6' so it wasn't any good for much else. When we moved in this house we were a bit confused as to what the room was used for back when it was built in the 1920s. It's too small to be a bedroom, so the only other obvious explanation is that it was used for storage.

Now, I put some serious time and effort into CJ's bedroom. I made the curtains, painted the shelves, and picked the artwork. It even has a color scheme.

Noni gets a walk-in-closet. Poor girl.

Here's how we made it work:

Yep, that is a shower curtain rod installed along the back wall. We've got to hang her dresses somewhere!

[I'm too lazy to move the math books from the shelves. Besides, all our other bookshelves are full.]

She's still sleeping in the cosleeper, and probably will until she goes to college because anything bigger just won't fit in there.

Above the nightstand is a Doctor Who-themed mobile that my very crafty younger sister Bots (not her real name; it's just what all her nieces and nephews call her). I love it.

For more storage we were also able to squeeze in a bookshelf that we already had. These storage baskets fit just perfectly!

TARDIS figurine courtesy of my brother. We like Doctor Who up in here.

Aaaand that concludes the tour.

It got thrown together in a hurry. It may not be a masterpiece, but it sure is cozy.

And we are all sleeping much better. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

How To: Origami Party Favors

I recently had the pleasure of attending a blogger meet-and-greet that was organized by Natalie of The Busy Budgeting Mama and hosted by Ikea Pittsburgh. It was an amazing event! I had a lot of fun meeting a lot of really cool bloggers.

The attendees were encouraged to bring small treats to pass out with our business cards.Typical me, I left this until the very last minute. The day before the event I went through several versions of an idea, and this is what I finally settled on.

For this project you will need:
  • Pretty scrapbook paper
  • Raffia
  • Scissors
  • Individually wrapped tea bags (or some other small treat).

1. Start by placing a 8"x8" sheet of scrapbook paper face down on your work surface.

2. Fold the paper in half diagonally to make a triangle. Be sure to make the folded edge nice and crisp!

3. Separate the two layers and fold the top corner of the upper layer only down to the folded edge.

4. Fold down the right 1/3 of the triangle. Try to be as exact as possible.
5. Then fold down the left 1/3 of the triangle. Now you can start to see the envelope!

6. This is the tricky bit. I hope the pictures make it clear! You are going to unfold steps 4 & 5. Now you are going to insert the left corner between the two layers of the right corner.

7. Slide the left corner all the way into the right corner so it fits nice and snug.

8. Fill your envelope with a treat! (I was fervently hoping that the bloggers like tea as much as I do).

9. Fold down the flap.

10. Tie a bow around the envelope with a piece of raffia.

And there you have it! 

I loved this project. It was very affordable (I already had the scrapbook paper so I only needed to purchase the tea and the raffia) and relatively quick to make. Which was a good thing, because I didn't have a lot of time!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Family Funday {At the RV Lot}

So I mentioned in my previous post that Nemo and I plan to buy a decommissioned school bus and convert it into a camper. I was completely serious and I still am! We are still in the very, very early planning phases of this project (which is usually my favorite part of DIY projects) so we still need to do a lot of research.

We figured that actually going inside a few campers to get a better idea of the dimensions would be a good place to start. I haven't been in an RV since I was a kid, after all. So, over the weekend we made a family trip to a local RV dealer to get the facts.

CJ was crazy excited about the whole thing. During the drive to the dealer he was chanting, "RVs! RVs! More RVs!" (I don't really know why he was excited in advance; we had never mentioned RVs to him before!) When we got to there he ran around like a maniac and christened each RV we looked at by pretending to take a nap on the master bed.

He also liked practicing for his road test. 

Noni may not have liked the experience quite as much as CJ did, but she didn't complain too much. 

So this is what we found out: RVs are expensive. The ones we looked at were in the $25K range, and frankly, they put me in mind of condemned airplanes. Plus they smelled bad. Not exactly my idea of traveling in comfort and style.

That's one of the reasons we want to go the skoolie route--affordability! Going the DIY route can get you a pretty sweet ride that is customized to your particular needs for a fraction of the price of a brand-new RV (which can easily cost over $100K).

So, as much fun as we all had at the RV lot, it only solidified our decision to do it ourselves!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Tripsters {5 Favorites}

Last week we packed the ourselves, the kids, and luggage and food to last us a week into our little Honda Civic and took off on a road trip to my parents' lake house in northern Michigan.

I freaked out about this trip quite a bit in advance. The last "vacation" we took was when CJ was about 16 months old and in the midst of both a  monster sleep regression and an extremely destructive phase. Instead of napping he would disassemble the pack and play from the inside. STRESS. SLEEP DEPRIVATION. ACK.

I was determined that we would have fun on this trip even if no one got a lot of sleep, so I stocked up on Diet Pepsi and off we went to the Great White North.

The trip was like a dream. A good dream. A couple of times I had to pinch myself and ask, "Is this real life???" Because seriously, it couldn't have gone better. I would now like to make a tearful thank you speech to all the things that made this trip possible.

iPad + Speck iGuy + ABC Song app

By their powers combined, CJ was quietly entertained for several hours at a time.

We don't typically let CJ play on the iPad. We don't  have anything against toddler use of electronics; we just don't like to share. But this was a special circumstance and we decided to let him have a turn on the travel days. 

I heard about the iGuy case on Natalie's blog and I was determined to get one for the trip. I ended up finding one on ebay for about $16, and it was well worth it.  It's well-designed and takes the worry out of letting toddlers handle expensive tablets. 

We downloaded a couple of games for him in advance, but all he wanted to play was the ABC Song app. We didn't hear a peep out of him for three hours straight.

To clarify, a "skoolie" is a school bus that has been converted into an RV. They are totally rad and I want one so we can go visit our far-flung family and friends in comfort and style.
See? Stylish.
Luckily for me I was able to sell Nemo on this latest of my hairbrained schemes and we have added it to our 5-year plan. While CJ was occupied with the iPad and Noni was sleeping, we were working on some plans for our future skoolie.  It made the 9.5 hour trek go very quickly! Brace yourselves; you'll be hearing a lot more about this in the future.


This trip wasn't originally planned as a family reunion, but it ended up being one. Bonus! 

I got to see my mom, dad, my sister + BIL + 2 kids, another of my sisters (I have 3 total), my brother, my grandma, and my aunt and uncle. It. was. ermazing. Not only because  I got to spend time with my loved ones but because my loved ones liked (?) entertaining my children.

CJ and Noni were so worn out from all the fun that they both did a lot of this:

Which is astounding, considering how our last trip with CJ went. Maybe he is becoming a better traveler? Fingers crossed.
I love, you, family.


This also helped with the amazing sleep situation we  had going on. At home we had been using a plain old box fan placed in the hallway to drown out each others' noises. However, despite Nemo's tetris skills, it simply would not fit in our trunk.
So we upgraded.
We got two of these babies since CJ and Noni were in seperate rooms. It was a little expensive, but like anything that eases the pain of traveling with small children, it was worth it. The machines are small (similar in diameter to a CD) and sound just like a box fan, so it was perfect for us! CJ and Noni didn't notice the difference.

We have continued to use them since we got home, and it is so much nicer than the ol' box fan, which was kinda deafeningly loud and made it kinda hard to hear the TV when the bambinos were in bed.

Booze and Chocolate

Of which there were copious amounts at my disposal, and dispose of it I did. I don't know when my family became a "mimosas for breakfast" family, but me likee.

Head over to Hallie's blog for more faves!