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Do your own Floral Center Pieces on a Budget!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014
I was asked to make 25 table center pieces for an event.  I had a $200 budget and no experience with flower arrangements.

I hope this post might help someone who needs some ideas!

I figured I'd do 5 different arrangements of doing 5 of each to get the 25.  I knew I didn't want to do them all the same and also wanted the different groups to be unique and have different vases.

I went to the store and mix-matched flowers for about an hour.   I probably looked like a crazy lady with bunches of flowers all around me and going back and forth down the isle.  The store was closing and I had to decide quick!

Here I am putting together the last minute touches!

 Yes, that's my kid back there!  

For these roses (well, they look like roses!) I made simple wood boxes with cardboard bottoms with floral foam inside.  I cut the flowers off the main stem and stuck them in.

For the tulips I just had to cut a few inches off the main stem and put them in tall mason jars.  To hide the ugly stem I stuffed moss inside and tied a bow with twine.

For the small pink tulips I found these cool copper vases at the dollar store.  All I had to do was put some floral foam inside and stick them in with a little moss around the edges.

For the big pink flowers (yeah.. I don't know much about flowers!) I cut them off the main stem and stuck them in some glass applesauce jars.  It's good to re-use! :)

For the small white flowers (little daisies?) I found mini Martinelli drinks and I loved the green glass.  It ended up being a win-win because my family got to drink the drinks and we got cool vases out of the deal for the event!  I put 2 of these together on the table so we had 10 total.

The dollar store is your friend!  I got the copper vases, Spanish moss, twine and floral foam there along with the Martinelli drinks for the green vases.

I got the mason jars from Target, flowers from Joann Crafts and the applesauce jars from the grocery store.

I made the wood vases with wood I already had.

Rusty Bike "Fix-Up"

Friday, June 20, 2014
I've been wanting a nice bike for so long.  The one I used to have was not cute and the breaks and gears weren't functioning properly.. plus it was getting rusty (not the cute kind of rust).  Can you tell "cute" is important to me?

Our neighbor/friend had this bike sitting outside the front of his house.  The first time I saw it I had to take a double-look.  My first thought was, "wow, that is a COOL bike!"  The more I saw it the more I thought about it.  Some people would say the rust looks bad but I loved it.  It was original and old looking.  I loved the whitewall tires, the cruiser style, the big cushy seat and it was simple with pedal breaks or no gears.

I was jealous.  I wanted it.

Turns out someone told him just how much I wanted it, like, REALLY wanted it.  He told me he would give it to me.  One morning the kids said, "Mom!  He left you the bike!"

There it was... parked right in front of my house.  I wanted to cry I was so happy!


The rust was really rough and bumpy... so bad it would scratch you if you rubbed up against it.  I wanted to preserve the rust but also stop it from rusting more (or there wouldn't be anything left after a few years)!  I decided to sand it down smooth so I could put a protective clear coat on it.  It was s dirty-tedious job but it paid off.  I did about 3 coats of Rust-o-leum clear spray paint and it makes the world of a difference.  The only other thing I did was put new reflectors on and grease it up.


I'm so lucky!

Tutorial for Making a Wood Bathroom Shelf

Thursday, June 19, 2014
We needed some storage in our small bathroom so I came up with a shelf design after I came across Shanty-2-Chic's website and saw their bathroom shelf (thank you for the inspiration)!

Unlike their shelf I had 3/4"-thick boards to work with and their shelf actually hangs from a coat hanger but my rope/hanger is solely for decoration (I put brackets on the back for hanging).

This shelf is made out of pine and super lightweight and simple to make.  The shelves are wide enough to fit large towels (I roll ours) and enough space in between shelves for taller objects.

I figure you could make one of these for under $25, including wood, rope, screws and mounting hardware!


Dimensions: 30-1/2" tall by 21-1/2" wide by 7" deep (you can easily customize your own dimensions, too)

Materials and Tools Shopping List:
1-in x 8-in x 12-ft Pine Board ($9 @ Home Depot) actual dimensions 3/4" x 7-1/2" x 12'
Metal mounting hardware (for hanging)
Decorative knob or bracket (for rope to "hang")
Sisal rope 30-inch piece 3/8" diameter
6 2-inch wood screws 
Drill bit for wood screws
5/16" drill bit for rope
Countersink (recommended)
Wood Glue

Wood Clamps
Measuring Tape
Safety Glasses
Table Saw

Cut List: 
1- 21-1/2" x 7" board - BOTTOM
2- 20" x 6" boards - SHELVES 
2- 29-3/4" x 5" boards - SIDES
1- 20" x 1-1/2" board - BACK RAIL

General Instructions:
I advise you to read through entire instructions before beginning and make any adjustments/changes according to what you need. Take precautions to cut boards safely.

Sides: cutting dados, notches for back rail and holes for rope
Shelves: notching sides to fit into dados

Make notches in both narrow ends of shelves with a jigsaw.  The notch should be 1/2" in from the side and 5" from back end.

CAUTION: For sides make sure you are making them mirror images of each other!

 Top end of sides:

Bottom end of sides:
Make your dados using your table saw by setting the blade 1/4" high.  Set the fence so your dado will start 10-1/2" from each end of your boards.  Adjust fence little by little to make several cuts, creating a 3/4"-wide dado.  TIP: test fit your shelf pieces as you go to make sure they will fit snuggly.

Cut notches for back rail (this is where you need to make sure you are making them mirror-images of each other).  Your notch should measure 6-inches down from the top and be 1-1/2" long and 3/4" deep (best way would be to use your actual rail as a template and trace around it).

Drill holes in your sides for the rope using a 5/16" drill bit.  It should be about 1-1/2" down from the top and centered over your board, so about 2-1/2" in from each side.

Test fit all your pieces.  If they fit you can sand everything and start assembly!

Glue your shelves inside your dados.  Make sure to brush your glue on all touching edges.  Clamp.

Set your back rail inside notches on your sides.  Pre-drill a hole on each end for wood screws and countersink.
Attach your bottom using your 4 remaining wood screws (pre-drill and countersink holes), going in from the bottom...

...if your sides are centered over your bottom you should have about a 3/4" gap on each end of your bottom.

Bottom view.

Attach your hardware on the back for hanging.

My hardware required that I drill out some wood underneath for the head of the screw to sit inside.

 Hang your shelf up and then attach your rope and decorative "hanger" (mine was off an old sewing cabinet)!

 I used nails in the sides of my shelves just as decoration.

 The white you see in all the corners is just for looks.  It's vinyl spackling!  Super easy to wipe in, let dry and then I actually use a wet towel to wipe it down as far as I want or it also sands well.

One more project... DONE!

Reused Dumpster Finds

I like the dumpsters... is that weird?  Last month I drove past one of the dumpsters in our community and saw a bunch of wood sticking out.  I reluctantly put my car in park because I knew I was going to have another project on my hands (it never ends...ahhhh!)  I looked inside and there were a bunch of pine boards. Um, yeah, I was going to let that go to the dump!  I also found a large cracked mirror on my home home... sheesh!

I laid out the boards and they were pretty nasty with dirt, writing and stickers... I spent a good 3 hours sanding EVERY surface.  I was able to build one shelving unit for the kids room but there were extra pieces... I made a bathroom shelf (just what we needed)!  Tutorial HERE.

I liked the frame of the mirror and put it on my piano to be out of the way.  Turns out I kind of like it sitting up there!

 One girl's trash is another girl's treasure.  Feels good to reuse.

Stripping Paint off a Sewing Machine

Monday, June 2, 2014

The paint on this Singer was really rough on the bed and many areas were chipped and badly scratched.  Around the motor and base of the machine it was really tacky.  After a lot of thought I decided I would strip the paint off the machine and give it a new start.

After stripping the paint I discovered how beautiful the raw metal was underneath.  I loved seeing the old machining marks.  Rather than priming and painting the machine again I decided to keep it raw.  This picture doesn't show how amazing it was in person!

To finish the look off I made a new base because the original one was falling apart at the joints and badly worn.

Stripping paint isn't for everyone.  It takes a LOT of time and patience.  I spent a full day on this machine.  My husband even made a comment, "this machine is like an art piece"!  I want to keep it on our dining table or bookshelf so I can look at it all the time.

Below I will show you the process, tips, how to thread the light wires back through the machine (it was the first time I did it) and before and after pictures.

 Take everything off the machine: motor and terminal, light** and wires, bobbin area, face plate, tension assembly and stitch-length selector cover.  I also took out the presser foot bar which wasn't a big deal and made things a lot easier.

** I suggest before you take out your light wires that you look inside and take note of where the wires lead through your machine.

  To prevent stripper and garbage from getting inside I used what I had on hand: stuffed plastic bags inside the big openings and q-tips for the smaller openings.  I didn't plug ALL the opening because of their odd sizes but was just careful not to get stripper or gunk inside.

Here's the main tools I used for stripping.  The paint scrapper was my main tool.  You'll also want a LOT of rubber gloves.  The process took about 5 coats of stripper so I went through a few pairs of gloves every 15 minutes plus more during the clean-up process.

 After trying to use my big jug of stripper I realized it was too old and gloppy.  I rushed to Home Depot and picked up a sprayable stripper and it was SO much easier (no paint brush needed).

 The paint is bubbling... so exciting!  Just so you know, stripping off of metal is a much different experience then stripping off of wood.  With wood the paint pretty much peals off in huge sections and separates itself from the wood.  With the metal the paint only got soft and I really had to scrap with my razor.  I did one coat, scrapped, another coat of stripper, scrapped, another coat, etc.

 This is what it looked like when I felt like it was good enough.  It was goopy and stripper got in areas like the needle bar and bobbin area so I used my air compressor to blow everything out and it was so easy and helpful.

 After blowing everything off and giving it a quick wipe down I brought it inside to do the finer cleaning details.  I used cotton balls, q-tips and rubbing alcohol to clean all the surfaces and this is what it looked like after.

 Next was putting everything back on, oiling and greasing (the exciting part)!  TIP: I also use sewing machine oil on a cotton ball to rub all over the outside of the machine to protect it from rust and to give it a nice shine!

 This was my first time trying to thread the light wires back through a machine and it was almost impossible without having anything to guide it.  I used picture-hanging wire and looped it through the terminal ends, threaded that through the machine and guided the light wires through that way.  It took just a few minutes.  Turn the handwheel spoke to make sure the wires are clear from any moving parts. (there's gears in the top-middle area of your machine and the light wires need to be against the FRONT of your machine, down by the stitch selector opening and then it exits through the hole at the base).

 Here's what it looked like when I was done.

 Next attach your light cover...

 ...then onto attaching light wires to the terminal!

 Here's the pieces you should have.

 Attach the light switch with this exact orientation.  I knew what wire attached to the switch because the wires were just wrapped in a loop without a real terminal on the end.

Slip your switch through the terminal opening and screw the little nut over the threads and then your thread cover after that.  I didn't take any more pictures after this because I was way too excited to put it all together.  The other wire that is attached to the light switch goes onto the red terminal prong.  The other wire coming from the actual light through the machine goes on the yellow.  Then you can hook up your motor wires: black to black and red to red.









Other pictures just for fun:

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