12.14.2015

A Little Time and Love Goes a Long Way

    This post is a little different than what I usually do and I've actually had it saved as a 'draft' for about a month hoping to take a picture of the cabinet in the entryway of our new home we'll move into in January.  I thought I would post it now and update it later with a picture.  After all, it is Christmas time and I'd like to dedicate this to my loving Savior and all He's done for me.

    I so badly wish I would have taken a before picture as well as an after-sanding picture so you could visually see what I'm talking about in this post.  (Just imagine the worst!)

    I got a sewing machine in a little cabinet for $25 the other day.  I was loading it up in my van and the lady asked if I wanted to take a look at it first.  I replied, "no... It's only $25"!  Once I got it home and took a better look at the cabinet I realized it was in worse condition than I thought.  The veneer was peeling up in many places and needed a lot of gluing.  There was a large piece of the veneer missing on the top that I had to patch (and it still wasn't pretty).  After gluing I saw other areas, like joints that were failing from being exposed to poor conditions.  I worked a little bit more and began sanding.  I wasn't taking the time like I usually do to make sure I was sanding all the surfaces perfectly and I didn't remove any hardware to truly restore.  After sanding, the cabinet was looking pitiful.  I began to think "is this even worth my time?"  I decided since I had already done so much I would just go with it and see how it turned out.  I didn't even try sanding the heavy scratches out of the top or the water ring from a cup (that looks like it had been sitting there for months).  I dipped my rag into a can of stain; with the first pass I quickly began to see the beauty in the wood again.  It didn't take much, just 10 minutes and it already looked so much better.  I did another pass with the stain and I began to appreciate the imperfections of the cabinet.  I saw the flaws and details that weren't perfect anymore due to being mistreated, forgotten in a garage for many years and the toll the climate took on the wood.  I appreciated those imperfections more because it showed the life it lived and what it had gone through.  It breathed new life again and I became deeply humbled that I had taken a short time to show some TLC - because in the end I'd prefer to have this cabinet in my home than a new one from the store!




     As I was putting on the last coat of stain I started realizing what I was doing is similar to what my Savior Jesus Christ does for all of us.  We become torn, battered and broken through life.  Some of us feel like we're not worth the time to fix and we don't ask for help.  We forget that life is all about learning from our mistakes, repenting and becoming better and stronger.  Christ spent his whole life helping those with hands that hung down, those that were sad, mistreated and disabled.  He spent more time with the downtrodden than with any other people.  He sees the value in us when we can't see any ourselves.  He died to pay the price for our sins.  If we ask for his help He can make us beautiful again!  We are worth it!  The imperfections we have or the trials we go through have the ability to make us better than we ever could have been without them.

     I hope that when we see imperfections in other people we won't judge them, but instead lift up their heads and hold their hand in ours and give them an encouraging smile.  We have no idea what other people are going through and the best we can do is to love and show them they're worth it.

12.10.2015

DIY LEGO Circle Play Mat - Easy Clean-Up!

If your boys (or girls, maybe) are like mine they are constantly building from LEGO's.  It's a love-hate relationship for me.  I love that they are entertained and creating something from their imaginations but I absolutely despise the constant mess of them all of the floor and the bickering back & forth because they're trying to dig in the same plastic tupperware together and there's not enough room for 6 arms and 3 little bodies.

Problem solved!  I made a large play mat for their LEGO's so they can spread them out and find the pieces easier.  With the large circumference there's more than enough room for the boys to not have to touch each other :)  When they're done, simply pull the rope tight and they're in a big sack that you can drop into a wicker basket or something in the corner.

This idea isn't anything new out there but I thought I'd share how I did mine. I spent about $25 on the materials and it's been totally worth it!

LEGO CIRCLE PLAY MAT TUTORIAL

Dimensions: 70" Dia. Circle (~220" circumference)


Materials Needed:
-8 yards muslin* (36"-wide)
-6-1/2 yards (2"-wide) bias tape (buy 2 yards more muslin* if you want to make your own)
-36 (1/4-3/8") grommets**
-7 yards cording (needs to fit inside grommets)
-Cord Lock

**I used Dritz eyelets at first and realized that was a HUGE mistake! They'll pull off the material really easily and when I punched them to the fabric there was a sharp edge left on the inside of the eyelet that would catch the cording (see pic above).  Use grommets that have 2 sides and they'll last much longer and the cord will run through smoothly.

Tools Needed:
-Yard Stick
-Fabric Marker
-Leather Punch
-Grommet Pliers (recommended)
-Sewing Machine, Pins, Scissors...

Instructions:

Cut your fabric so you have 4 - 2 yard sections.  With right sides together (there's not really a right side to muslin), pin and sew 2 sets together along the long edge with a 1/2" seam.  Do the same for the last set.  Now you should have 2 square pieces measuring about 72x72".
Open your pieces flat and from the right side, topstitch the seam underneath down so it lays to one side.

It will look something like this going through your machine.
Next, lay your pieces together with wrong sides together.  I crossed my seams so there wasn't extra bulk where they laid over each other.  Pin around the edges.
To measure and cut the circle out this diagram should help you understand what we want to do, but here's how we're going to make it easier:

Fold your material in-half, then in-half again so they're in a square; fold the square in-half again, or in 1/3 like I did.  The smaller the "pie piece" the faster to cut out.

Set your yard stick so is matches up to the corner, then you'll mark 35" on your fabric every few inches until you get to the other edge.  TIP: double check to make sure all your fabric edges go up to 35".. if not, use whatever measurement they meet to.

Cut along your marked lines.

Pin around the circumference.

Find a large circular object to place in the center of your fabric and trace around with your fabric marker.  This is optional but I like knowing my layers weren't going to shift around.
Baste around the outside edge with a 1/4" seam...

...and use a regular stitch to stitch over your center circle.

 If you are making your own bias tape, cut 2"-wide strips on a 45-degree angle.  Sew the ends together until you have a length of at least 6-1/2 yards.

 Trim the excess. Iron seams flat to one side.

Sew your bias tape 1/4" inside the edge of the mat with right sides together.  IMPORTANT: stretch the bias tape slightly as you sew.  This is important so when you turn it to the other side it will lay correctly over the edge.

When you get to the other end of your bias tape you'll want to overlap the ends about an inch, turning down the inside end 45-degrees (the one you'll see when finished).
  
Turn your bias tape to the other side of the mat, folding the raw edge under about 1/8" and butting the fold just barely over the seam to cover.  Pin in place.

I sewed in sections.  Pinning 12-24" then sewing, pinning, sewing.  This makes it so you don't have to worry about pins catching and pulling out all your hard work.

To sew the binding I did a very small zigzag so the needle barely went off the binding and then back on.  I prefer zigzag compared to a straight stitch because you're more likely to catch the back side in the stitch and it won't be as noticeable if you waver (compared to straight stitch).

 Mark every 6" along the center of your bias tape for grommet placement.

 Use your leather hole punch to punch over each hole (decide what size hole you'll need according to the size of grommet).

 Attach grommets.

Thread your cording in/out of each grommet.  When you get to the last one add your cord lock and knot the ends together.  TIP: I made my cord slightly shorter than the matt would allow so it had an edge that curled up to prevent LEGO's from spilling off.

I hope your little ones love the mat just as much as mine do!

Spray Paint Small Things to Make You Happy!

I was so excited about the change I made to my Kitchenaid Mixer that I started grabbing things around the house I could also paint copper.  Metal bins, book ends, tape dispenser, magnet hooks.. you name it!

 I gave everything a good cleaning.

I used primer this time because I wasn't going to take the time to sand everything - plus I didn't know how the copper would adhere to the different materials!

 I did one coat of primer and let it dry for an hour.

Then I did two coats of copper.

Ta-da!  I love the exciting pop of copper throughout the house!

12.08.2015

Spray Paint Your Kitchenaid Mixer - Hammered Copper Finish!

I'll have to tell you - this is one of the most exciting projects that I've done in a long time!

I got my Kitchenaid Stand Mixer from a pawn shop, and although I didn't like the color I was more interested in getting a good deal.  I've had it for about 7 years and it never even occurred to me that I should spray paint it until just the other day when I came across a copper colored version... for $599!!  How ridiculous is that!?  I loved it but of course I couldn't justify such a heavy price tag for just a color.  Well I'm happy to say that I got my copper mixer for only $8 and a few hours of work!  Now I LOVE it!  It brightens up my kitchen (and my day).. I find myself peering into my kitchen just to get another glance at it.

Go to Lowe's and get yourself a can of Rust-oleum Copper spray paint - you won't regret it!  I love the hammered look - it goes on flawlessly, gives it a professional look and it hides any blemishes there might be.

 BEFORE

AFTER

WHAT YOU NEED:
-Spray Paint*
-220 Grit Sand Paper
-Painter's Tape
-Cleaning Solution
-Screw Driver/Flat Head
-Razor Knife (If you're doing more detailed taping)
-Paper Towel or Grocery Bag

*If your spray paint doesn't have primer included make sure you buy primer and spray it on first!


 Here you can see I have everything I need and I've disassembled the parts of my machine I could easily take off.  The trickiest part you might think is taking the silver ring off around where the beater attaches - simply use your flat head to pry off (gently)... Everything else comes off easily with screws and should be self-explanatory.  Remember those little rubber feet on the bottom!

 Sand your machine down to give it a matte look - any gloss finish makes spray paint hard to adhere to.

 I didn't worry about sanding underneath my machine (even though I painted it).  Clean the surface really well so it is free from sanding dust.  I used TSP Cleaning Solution (specifically for surfaces you are prepping for paint).

Tape off anything on your machine you don't want painted.  I put my cord in a bag and tapped the rest and used paper towels to stuff around where the back was exposed and taped off the edges.  The only other thing I taped was the silver part where the beater attaches.

TIP: If you want to paint the bottom/inside of your machine do it first then you can tip your machine back and paint the rest.  Also, do the same with the back cap. (I've never seen the bottom of my machine until now but I knew it would bug me knowing it was still blue inside).

Do 2 to 3 light coats of paint.  Follow the directions on the back.  It was 50-degrees outside when I painted which is right on the edge of when it says not to paint so I had to give more time in-between coats. Even then, the surface was tacky for a long time so I brought it inside to finish curing (and it stunk up my house)!

This is after the 2nd coat of paint - much different than the first!

 Give your paint 24 hours to dry before you add the hardware back on and another 24 hours (at the least) before you handle/use your mixer.

 I love how it turned out!




11.27.2015

DIY Wood Silhouette Decoration

With my kids getting older I needed to update the silhouettes I had of them on our wall, plus I wanted to switch over to oval frames.  I had the hardest time finding them - especially ones within my price point!  I was walking through our local craft store and noticed wooden oval plaques and I decided to give them a try.  I'm very pleased with how they turned out and thought I'd share how I made them!

WOOD SILHOUETTE DECORATION INSTRUCTIONS


Materials Needed:
-Wood Plaque* (any size/shape will work)
-Side-shot Picture of Person
-Black & White Acrylic Paint
-Foam Brush
-Foam Stencil Brush (Preferred)
-Wide Painter's Tape (Frog Tape Recommended)
-Hook of Choice for Hanging (Optional)
-Clear Coat of Choice (Optional)

*The plaques I got measure 6-3/4" x 9" and were only $1.99!

Tools Needed:
-220 Grit Sandpaper
-Xacto Knife
-Printer & Paper

____________________________


Prepare Picture:
You'll want your picture just like the one above; with your subject looking straight ahead (not up/down) and your camera directly in front of the middle of their head (cross-hairs right in front of their ear).  Take a bunch of pictures so you can pick the best one.  For anyone with long hair, consider pulling it up to expose the neck for the silhouette.  The more contrast between your subject and the background the easier it is to see details and make your outline (ie if the subject is fair-skinned with blonde hair have them stand in front of a dark background).

Upload your picture(s) on your computer and figure out approximately what size you need your silhouette to be.  Try to re-size the picture on your computer to the finished size you'll need to fit on your plaque.  For me, I was able to draw an oval on my computer (in Adobe Illustrator) the size of my plaque and resize my picture inside of that to what I wanted it to be - makes it so easy!  If that's not possible just mess around with the print settings by changing the scale of the print when it comes out.  For example, if you need to make your picture bigger, try changing your printer settings to scale the image to 150%.. when it comes out write what you scaled it to on the corner for reference if you need to change it slightly later on.

Now that you have your picture the size you want it's time to outline how you want your silhouette to look!

Hardest part is over.. you can breath now!

This gives you an idea of what my son's picture looked like and the shape of the silhouette I made for him.  I figure 80% of people won't have a program to do this digitally, so use a pencil and lightly trace around your subject for the silhouette you want (yellow line for me).  Once you have it how you want you can trace around it with something more noticeable than a pencil.

Prepare Plaque: 
 Sand all sides and edges of your plaque.  Remove dust.

 Use your foam brush and do 2-3 coats of white paint.  Let dry completely.

 Lightly sand surfaces smooth.  You can see in the picture above the difference between the sanded & un-sanded plaque.  TIP: The water in the paint raises the end grain in the wood and makes it rough - don't skip sanding!!!

Create Silhouette:
 For this process you'll need everything above.  Your picture (again, yours probably won't be digital like mine.. no worries), your painted plaque, painter's tape and an Xacto knife. TIP: Frog Tape is the best because it seals well between the tape and wood to avoid paint bleeding under.

 Completely cover the top of your plaque in tape.  Make sure you have the tape edges tight against each other so there's no gaps.

 Tape your picture over your plaque in the position you want it to be.  Use your Xacto knife and carefully trace around the edges of your silhouette.  Make sure to push hard enough to go through the tape (it's okay if you cut into the wood a bit)!

 Slowly remove the tape inside the silhouette.  You may need to use your knife and cut the lines better if you didn't press hard enough in the previous step.

 Use your stencil brush/sponge thing to dab black paint inside your silhouette.  You don't need very much paint!  It will be a little bubbly like above...

 ...let it dry for a minute then you can dab back over it and get rid of the bubbles.

 Let the paint dry for at least 2 hours before peeling the rest of the tape away - this is the best part!

 Doesn't it look awesome!?  You can put a clear coat on to protect your plaque and make it easier to clean.

 Here's a close-up.  I chose to distress my edges when I sanded the white paint smooth.

 If you choose to hang your plaque you can pre-drill a hole in the top-center and screw a c-hook in, or...

...use one of these picture hangers in the back!

It can get tricky finding the center of an oval or a circle... here's how I did it:
 Trace around your plaque on a regular piece of paper.  Use a window to fold it in quarters so you can overlap the pencil lines perfectly.  When you unfold it, mark where your folds are so you know those are your centers.

 Then you can align your plaque again with the traced outline and mark your center on the plaque.

Wasn't that easy!?



UPDATE:
 After thinking how I wanted to hang my plaques I decided to use a thick cotton cording I had.  I used about a 4-inch piece to line up with my center mark and I taped it in place to make sure I liked how it looked and that when I held it up, it was indeed centered.

 Next I used my staple gun to staple right over the tape - 2 staples preferred.

I removed the tape and trimmed the cord slightly shorter than the picture.