Friday, October 28, 2011

Short-Term Solution To My Necklace Mess!

Whenever I open my jewelry box I want to pull my hair out.  I have no idea how my necklaces get so tangled.  Because I don't have the patience usually to sort through my necklace wad, I usually don't wear half of the ones I have.  I usually end up going without them or wearing the same one over and over again.  Even today while sorting through them there were many times that I said to myself, "Oh yeah!  I remember this one!" 

I had an unused tension rod that was just sitting in my living room closet and I thought that I could use it for a short-term solution for the necklace wad.  Behold!

Mainly for costume jewelry and stainless steel jewelry (love!) that doesn't tarnish.  My nice stuff is still in the jewelry box and NOT tangled! :D

Now they are easily accessible and I can actually see what I have!  Some of the longer necklaces I'll have to keep an eye on... 

Mr. IanPants was clearly interested in whatever I was fussing with in the closet and the longer necklaces are easily within his reach. 

And you'd think that my clothes would interfere with the necklaces hanging on the rod.  Not so...

Awesomeness!  And... free.  I like this so much, it might end up being my long-term solution!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Artsy Fartsy

In my infinite quest to find new, interesting and inexpensive art, I have found that framing unconventional things are really cheap, easy and awesome!

This is a shadowbox I created from my wedding stationery (that would otherwise be sitting in a box under the bed), bouquet pin, and a fake rose from my wedding toss bouquet.  I originally saw this idea here and thought I could do my own spin on it with stationery for cheap art that would preserve our wedding memories.   

These are doilies given to me from my grandma that I thought were so beautiful and interesting, framing them would be the best way to view them.  I used Dollar Store frames (maybe $6-8 each if I remember correctly) and beautifully saturated scrapbook paper to make the doilies pop against it.  They almost don't even look like doilies and instead look like geometric art.

This was bedroom art I created to go with my gray and blue bedding.  After not finding any art that would go appropriately, I thought I might as well create something that would work.  I think  I spent less than $10 on this project (including the lovely Dollar Store frames).  I arranged scrapbook paper and different sizes of ribbon I had leftover from my wedding preparation and just worked with it until I created something I liked.  Super easy. 

Finding cheap art is SO simple, especially when you can find cheap frames at Big Lots, the Dollar Store, Target (they have sales on frames quite often), Ross, Marshall's, and TJ Maxx.  Using scrapbook paper is probably the easiest and cheapest way to find art.  You can buy multiple sheets of paper (that you can use to switch out when you get bored) for as cheap as .49 a sheet, you really can't beat that. 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Painted Curtains Are Finally Done!

Yesterday I did the finishing touches on my less-than-$10 painted curtains which were inspired by these  I found on Pinterest.  I've got a few pictures of the process. 

Folded the sheet in half and cut it (after ironing the crease for a better cut).

Measuring the hem and placing the heat-n-bond in the seam.

Measured out 10 stripes, 8" wide and taped them off.

I abandoned the roller because it didn't coat as well as my little sponge brush.  About two coats on each stripe.
Annnd TA DA!

I'm so pleased with the way they turned out!  You can only tell they're painted if you actually go up and touch them.  But, I doubt anyone will be doing that so they'll just hang there and look amazing!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Salem is Captain Catnip!

So... this is Salem.  I tried to get some better pictures but when he's around anyone all he wants to do is head butt them and purr.  That makes for crappy pictures.  

He loves the catnip-stuffed toy frog we bought him.  Unlike Ian, Salem loves him some catnip. 

Today I noticed some eye gunk on his right eye and he keeps it squinted and nearly shut.  Guess we're going to have to take him to the vet for a little check up sometime this week. 

I've been busy finishing my second panel of curtains and hope to get pictures up of them finished tomorrow.  I'm so excited because they're turning out wonderfully!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Updates and Before and After: Chair Seat Recovering

Not long after I wrote the previous post, my husband came home after getting a call from the animal shelter telling him that we could pick up the new cat.  We brought home Salem and this weekend has been a little tense between Ian and the new arrival.  I was afraid my sweet little Ian would become distant and angry for bringing in a new cat into the household.  But, he seems to be getting back to normal.  Salem is a very sweet cat and I think Ian is learning that he's not threatening (seriously, Salem will purr and head butt you for a steady hour).  So, things are getting better.  

I've also been working on my painted curtains this weekend.  After using my sponge brush I already owned, I decided that I really needed to invest in a roller to help me out.  I had a coupon for 20% off Michael's yesterday and bought the roller.  I've been using it last night and this morning and it seems to help a great deal.  But, this curtain undertaking really isn't an easy project.  It's tedious and I've had to do two coats already with my acrylic paint.  So far, I've taken the painting tape off of two stripes and hung up the curtains to dry.  Annnnd.... I'm pretty happy with how it looks.  I'll take some pictures when I've gotten one panel done. 

Within the last month or so I recently finished a project that I've been holding off on for over a YEAR!  I bought a sturdy chair from Thrift Store USA and I think it was around $14.  Besides the seat cushion, the chair was in pretty good condition but I definitely wanted to recover the cushion.  I was also planning once upon a time to paint it but I'm glad I decided to keep the wood. 

After searching FOREVER to find a fabric that I liked enough to bother spending the money on (I'd like to think that that's what took over a year... not my procrastination) I stumbled upon Tonic Living and fell in love.   I love Tonic Living's geometric designs, something about them is just pleasing to my eye.  

The cushion was in relatively good condition and I had enough extra fabric to recover the chair twice if it needed to be replaced down the line, I just stapled the fabric over the existing fabric. 

Oooh I see some dusts!  Oops!

Sooooo cute!  So far, it's the only piece of furniture that I've found at a thrift store that'll fit in our house (there have been lots of beautiful dressers I've wanted to re-do but I have a huge apartment walk-in closet so a dresser would just be another thing we'd have to move... and it would probably be empty! ha).  But seriously, on a budget the thrift store can be a great source of furniture.  I didn't have to cover the cushion (and didn't for over a year) so it still would have been a cheap and well built chair for my space. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

New cat?

I had meant to post yesterday but I spent most of the afternoon at the animal shelter visiting with prospective kitty buddies for Ian.  We found one that is extremely sweet and affectionate and seems to favor my husband (which, is what I wanted since Ian has attached to me).  He's all black (which makes him fall under a Halloween special of orange and black cats being only $25 to adopt during October... that was our main drive behind finding a buddy for Ian this month in particular).  (And we did look at ALL of the kitties, not just the ones on special... you can't choose a pet by their appearance, that's probably why people return pets to the shelter that don't work out because they choose them based on looks instead of compatibility.) 

But, I definitely feel apprehension about bringing in a new pet into our home since we got so lucky with Ian who has no behavioral problems whatsoever.  Could we really be so lucky the second time?  Could this new cat bring out problems in Ian? From Ian's paperwork I know he lived with another cat but I have no idea how well they got along.  While Ian is laid-back and non-aggressive, would this new cat perhaps make him feel threatened? 

There's also other things to consider.  Within the next year, we will be making a cross-country move to Washington state.  If my husband stays in the Navy, there will be many moves in our lives.  Can Ian and this new kitty handle it?  The prospective cat is ten years old and well above the age I pictured us getting.  There's just so many things to consider and it's difficult having a strong opinion about it when I spent very little time with the new cat.  

Before we had Ian, our options were endless when it came to researching a new apartment.  But with added pets, the difficulty of finding an apartment with all the criteria necessary adds to the stress.  On the one hand, I feel like I'm over-thinking getting a new pet.  But, on the other, getting a pet is a huge commitment (or should be!) and not to be taken lightly.  It's hard to decipher how I feel about this.  I don't want to tempt fate and throw off the delicate balance in the household because Ian is pretty much the most perfectly behaved cat ever. 

We're supposed to get word today if we can go through with the adoption after the animal shelter contacts our landlord (which, I can't even remember if we can have more than one cat, it doesn't even say in our rental agreement or pet addendum!).  

When we went to PetsMart to get little Manny (name subject to change...) a new collar, we saw a variety of different cat scratchers and furniture.  I think we're going to get the kitties something like that for Christmas.  Maybe something like this?


Though, I really don't like that it's covered in carpeting because the cats could get mixed signals about what's appropriate to scratch and what's not.  And in an apartment, I DO NOT want them scratching this carpet to make it look crappier than it already does. 


I like the ones that are covered in sisal rope because it seems like it would be a more enjoyable scratching surface than carpet.  Ian has one similar to the one above but it's taller and sturdier (because he's a pretty big boy and he even tumbles that one over occasionally). 

And also, why is cat furniture SO expensive for what it is?!  I wish I had the tools to just make and design my own, it would be so much cheaper.  There was one at Ross last week (that I should've taken a picture of) that was shaped like a small tree with green carpet as the "leaves" and it was so funny and adorable.  Still expensive but adorable. 

Well... now I'm off to stalk the mailman.  I'm waiting to see if I even placed in the Writer's Digest writing contest and I'll be notified my mail.  I don't want to hold my breath though... 

I'll leave off with an adorable picture of Ian-kins. 

Cabbage Hat!!!

Or... a couple.  He's a very photogenic kitty. 


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Before and After: Dumpster Coffee Table

Is finding things by the dumpster yucky?  Well, sometimes.


I found this table sitting by the dumpster (which, my balcony overlooked the dumpster... sounds lovely, doesn’t it?) and snatched it up.  Actually the correct term would be hauled it up the stairs with my husband while saying, “Eww!  My hand stuck to this!”’ It was one of the most disgusting things I’ve ever had to clean (that includes messing around in the grease trap at Little Caesar’s!).  It strangely appeared to be the big brother to the Orangey table that I had painted the previous week.


I had to use Goo Gone to remove whatever gunk had adhered to the table and I don’t even want to think about what was on it or where the table came from.  I’d like to think it walked its way out of the nearby woods to sit by the dumpster. 

Once I had this clean slate I then had to decide what to do with it.  It was scuffed up already so I knew I’d have to cover it in paint to make it somewhat presentable.  Since I have a dark sofa and other dark furniture I wanted to go light with the finish to bring some interest to my space.  
I took some different paint samples from Walmart and decided on Better Homes and Garden’s Tempting Toasted Coconut. I had some ideas about painting a design or putting something with Modge Podge on the table but it wasn’t until I began sanding the table on my cramped balcony that I realized what I wanted to do.   The top looked so interesting and distressed while sanding it, I decided to just paint the base and leave the distressed finish. 
After a few coats of meticulously-applied paint, it turned out great.  Yet, months later I still have yet to put a clear coat to protect the wood top because I haven’t gotten around to it but I figure if anything happens to it, it’ll just add to the distressed finish!

I accomplished this project for $15 (one quart of paint and a nice paintbrush; please get a decent brush the first time because I used a cheap one before and it was terrible).

Monday, October 17, 2011

Pinterest Recipe: Red Velvet White Chocolate Chip Cookies

I LOVE Pinterest.  Someone likened it to getting a new magazine every single day and that's true.  There's always something new to look at that leads you to parts of the interwebs you didn't even know existed.  I've found amazing recipes, diy and style ideas... everything is on Pinterest! 

Every once and a while I get the itch to try out a Pinterest recipe.  And luckily, since my husband works in an office where they'll gobble up anything I make, I don't have to be stuck with the yummy-delicious leftovers to tempt me!

So yesterday's recipe I wanted to attempt was Red Velvet White Chocolate Chip Cookies from here which was linked on Pinterest. 

All you need... seriously.

The dough was SO thick that it made it difficult for my mixer to get through it, I thought I was going to have to pull out the bread dough hook!  I can't imagine having to mix it by hand, my right bicep would be huge today!

Other than that, the dough rolled into dough balls quite nicely and baked beautifully.

My husband, Russ, (who is not a cookie person) ate five because he liked them so much. Hopefully they'll be a hit today and I'll be rewarded with an empty container when Russ gets home.  I really have fun baking things for people to enjoy.  And I can vouch that these cookies were really tasty, I had a couple against my diet but they were worth it!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Curtain Updates

Having worked at Walmart for a horrific four month period, I can honestly say that I hate Walmart.  But, the good ole Wall does come in handy for somethings- they've got a lot of great prices on a lot of household goods.  

Yesterday before diving head-first into grocery shopping (bleh) I perused the curtain aisle and found two curtain panels that were the appropriate size and length.  They were $17 and only slightly less expensive than the $19 ones at Target.  Before I put them into my cart, I decided to check out the sheets to price what the price was for two white, twin flat sheets.  To my surprise they were $5 each, score!  They will have to be altered slightly which is not a big deal and when I got home, I realized that I could cut a twin sheet in half and have enough curtain for the windows (I'll never close them so it doesn't matter if they don't meet exactly, close enough).  Now, I'm either planning on making two sets of curtains to change out on a whim (I love being able to do little switches!) or taking back one sheet and getting back my $5.  

And today at Target I found a curtain rod, drapery rings, and a drill (I hadn't bought one yet but I'm not really factoring it into the whole cost for the curtains since I'll be using it for other things).

Cost breakdown so far: 

2 Twin White Flat Sheets- $5 each- $10.00
Curtain Rod- $13.99
2 Sets of Drapery Rings- $4.89 each- $9.78
Heat-n-bond for hem- $1.99

Total: $35.76

I'm very pleased with how little I've spent on my curtains, but there are ways they could have been made more inexpensively.  I liked the look of drapery rings but they could have easily been done without and instead you could sew a pocket for the rod to slip through. 

I got home from Target, charged my drill for a few hours (and ignoring the 16 hour first charging guideline), and began to hang the curtains.  The curtain rod came with a paper cut out guide to show you were to drill the holes, which was made the whole process easier.  What made the process a pain in the ass was the cheaply-made wall anchors that came with it.
After a few taps with the hammer, they were smooshed! 

Finally I got pissed enough to yank them out of the wall and use my red anchors (which actually worked!).  Look how bent up and awful they look!
After using the better red anchors, I was finally able to secure the brackets flush to the wall.

I couldn't resist taking the unmade curtains for a trial run just to see how it was going to look and... I'm pretty happy, but they definitely need painted!

Friday, October 14, 2011

An Ever-Evolving Project

The way I look at my apartment and its decor is that of a never-ending and forever evolving project.  There's always something I want to tweak or change.  As you move through life, you never stay the same yourself so why would your spaces be stuck in a stagnant state forever?  There are life events, changing tastes, and seasons that can affect your style or change your functionality. 

Just having an apartment for over a year, both of them have seen many changes.  There's been furniture additions and layout changes as I discover what works and what doesn't.  I have interchangeable decor items like different vases, statues, candleholders, and picture frames that I move and switch if I get bored with it for too long.  It keeps things fresh and interesting for me (especially since I spend so much time at home because we only have one car). 

Here's just a sample of some of the things that I have on my To-Do In the Future List (with inspiration pictures found on Pinterest):

-Cover a drum shade with a map for desk lamp

-Create a necklace hanger (they get so tangled in my jewelry box)


-DIY curtains for the living room
-DIY a tree skirt for Christmas
-More DIY ornaments 

-DIY a wreath


Now I don't know when I'll get to these projects, but I enjoy always having some idea on the back burner.  And Pinterest is an awesome site for inspiration of any kind and has become my main source of ideas because it is a culmination of the best and most interesting things on the web.

I'm looking forward to tackling some DIY curtains this weekend (which I'm really excited about) and also... Virginia Zoo on Sunday.  It's Military Appreciation Day which is both good and... bad.  There's going to be lots of families, lots of strollers running my ass over, and lots of screaming children.  I might even post some pictures. :) 

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Before and After: Dumpster Side Table

One Sunday morning I awoke, opened the blinds to our balcony that overlooked the pool and the complex dumpster (nice, huh?), and saw a small table sitting by the dumpster.  I rushed out of my pajamas, got dressed and ran down the stairs as if the furniture piece would have wandered off by the time I arrived.  I examined the piece for flaws and tested its sturdiness.  The legs were wobbly but upon further examination it was only because the previous owners hadn’t been smart enough to just screw them back on.  I looked around to see if anyone was watching and stole the table from the dumpster. 

I had been missing a coffee table since we moved in and decided that, while small, this table would be a perfect coffee table.  And even more perfect because I scored it for FREE!

After cleaning the table and living with it for a few days, everything just looked too brown.  My sofa, dining set, book shelf, and desk were all brown, brown, brown.  I craved more color and set out to paint the little coffee table and apply some faux finish to it.  First I needed a really bold color and decided on Better Homes & Gardens Flaming Roasted Pepper.  (If you’re going to faux finish something you probably want to pick a bright color so it doesn’t get too dark afterward.) 
I was really new to the whole sanding-and-painting thing so after reading a few blogs on the topic, I just tried my best.  I used light-grit sand paper and then cleaned all the dust from the surface before painting.  To get the best finish you want to do thin, even coats of paint.  I think I did about four because I’m just that meticulous about things.

Don't mind the cellphone picture, doesn't do the color justice.
After allowing significant drying time I applied my faux finish:

I had this leftover from another project, $15

I used a clean paint brush to apply the faux finish in a light fashion.  I just applied the amount that was appropriate for the look I was going for. 

I hand-painted the standard wooden knob for something a little more interesting... and also free.

It was still a little tacky so I put it on coasters before going on the carpet but I think it turned out great!  Just a little splash of color in a pretty neutral room.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Odds and Ends

Yesterday at Walmart I purchased a cat grass kit for $3 as a treat for Ian.  Supposedly I'll have grass in a few days sprouting for him to snack on. 

Looks like Ian on the front!

It was a pretty simple process: poke holes in the bottom of the container, attempt to cover the seeds.  There were SO many seeds and not enough soil so I did my best.

A little over 1/4 cup water and the soil was moistened.  Hopefully the grass will grow... if it doesn't, I guess I wasted only $3.  In the meantime, I'll just stare at my early Christmas present and dream about treats yet to be made. :) 

My beautiful and powerful vibrant red Kitchenaid mixer.  I've only used it twice now (I'm on this super-strict diet that cuts out basically anything fun to eat).  But I'm hoping after the Navy's fitness tests are over within the next week, that I can make things and get rid of them by giving them to my husband to take into his shop.  They hate that. :P

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cardboard Cat House

A few weeks ago when I was unpacking the last of our moving boxes, I took an empty one and tossed it on the floor.  Ian the cat found it and climbed inside and took a nap.  

I took another empty box and decided to make him a little house where he could sleep and play in.  My first step was to glue the box completely closed so I could make the house just a basic cube.  Once dry, I cut out windows and a door where he would be able to fit through.  Not wanting it to clash with my decor, I used some leftover paint from my coffee table project and painted over the blue Lowe’s logo.
Voila, done.

I opted for a minimalist look but you could decorate the outside, poke a hole through the top and tie some ribbons to dangle inside, or put a cushion inside for the cat to lay on.  If the cat isn’t declawed they also love to scratch on the cardboard surface.  While this project was completely free for me, it’s very cheap to replicate as a medium sized moving box won’t even cost you a dollar at Lowe’s or Home Depot. 
And I think he loves it.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Shopping Find: Michael's

While browsing Michael’s for some crafty inspiration this Sunday afternoon, I came across a cute little bird for $3.99. Ever since I have started reading Young House Love and seeing their penchant for ceramic animals, I found found little animal figurines charming.  So, I couldn't help myself over this little bird and for only $3.99, I snatched him right up. 

He really is quite adorable.  And if the time comes later when I don’t care for his silvery finish, I can always spray paint him a new color.