Monthly Archives: June 2014

Living Room Curtains (from drop cloths)

With inspiration and a sense of confidence from reading The Nester’s window mistreatments, I knew I could pull off some drop cloth curtains for our living room.

You see, vertical blinds are just not my thing.

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They’re not the worst thing ever. I realize that they are better than what some other people have. Especially because they were on these huge wonderful windows that I am blessed to look through every single day.

I was blessed with a home improvement budget, and curtains were important to me.

So I changed those vertical blinds. I used rods I got on the cheap from Ross and canvas drop cloths from Lowes along with some curtain clips. I folded over and sewed the curtains to the right length, without even bothering to cut off the extra material, it just hangs in the back. Then clipped them up.

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I am so happy with the results. I wanted to someday paint some turquoise colored chevrons along the bottom, and still might do that. But for now, they’re great. They look wonderful, plus they are thick enough to be private in the evening when closed.

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Curtain rods (Ross): $31
Curtain clips (Lowes): $30
Canvas drop cloths (Lowes): $60
Total for 110″ + 84″ windows: $121

 

 

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Charlie’s Room Redo

When we moved in, Charlie (our middle child), won the man cave. The man cave that smelled like dog pee, and sucked up any natural light the north-facing window let in.

So Charlie’s bedroom was one of the first things we made over when we moved in (after the initial unpacking stage and painting over the wallpaper in the dining room).

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Trust me, these pictures make it look better than it was. It was not good. But I knew that this spacious room could be awesome for him.

Jonny and I started out by simply priming and painting. We got a 5 gallon bucket of primer, because we knew that’s something we would use on multiple projects. We painted over the wood paneling (and this is real wood, not the fake stuff) with Valspar Whitewashed Oak, and used some cheapo leftover blue from the old house on the drywalled areas. The real wood panels are nicely textured, and it shows through the paint.

I made a pinterest board, to help me save some good ideas and sort things. I wish I could do EVERY cool thing that I see. And I’ll probably do more to his room as time goes. But all too soon he’ll probably have his own ideas, too.

Charlie already had a dresser I had picked up for $30 at St Vincent de Paul, and I wanted to add a pop of color to the room with it, so I spray painted it with Valspar Everglade Glen in Satin.

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The art pieces above the dresser are just some old cabinet doors that I did oil pastel designs on. They used to be in the bathroom at our old house.

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We had some pvc rain gutters already, not being used, so I made some gutter bookshelves for him. I’ve seen them around the web a lot. Honestly, they’re not my favorite. They’re not super sturdy. They work for now, but someday I think I’ll replace them with wooden wall shelves like I did in Dig and Ransom’s room.

I liked the idea of having an initial on the wall, and it was super easy and free, thanks to some leftover plywood, a jigsaw, and leftover paint.

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I let Charlie choose how to paint his fan – I wanted to let him have some choices and control. I drew a picture of his fan on a piece of paper and let him color it however he wanted. I used Valspar gloss spray paint for each fan blade. Now I have leftovers to use on whatever I want!

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I hacked this Rhino head because I love rhinos. And I was sure Charlie would too. Again, absolutely free with leftover plywood pieces, some wood glue and nails. He uses it as a tie hanger most of the time.

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Overall, even though I don’t know if any room is ever “done”, I’m so happy with how this turned out. Jonny and I had a lot of fun working on his room. As the middle child, sometimes he gets talked over by his very loud older and younger brothers, so it was cool to do his stuff first for him.
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Spray paint, Doris

Most people know this by now. It’s not a “best kept secret” or anything like that.

Spray paint is amazing.

It makes ugly things look not ugly.

Take Doris:

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Doris was Jonny and my first buy together. It was September of 2003. One year before we were married. I was living in Idaho and he was visiting from England – the only time he was here before he moved here. We were doing the long distance thing. We didn’t know each other very well. But we knew that we needed Doris. There was something in the eyes. The creepy, follow you wherever you are, eyes.

And Doris stayed just like that for years. 9 years.

Until I did this:

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And Doris went from creepy, people wondering why we had her, to hip, modern, decor. The eyes now hold a forlorn look that breaks my heart. Oh Doris. The things you have seen. The injustices you have endured. Be at peace.

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Small Changes with Big Impact

Sometimes it’s the little changes that make a big difference. Here are 2 small and quick changes I made recently.

Where do you hang your dish towels when not in use? Ours are usually slung over our kitchen cabinets. It’s not awful, but it looks untidy, and with our trash bin in the cabinet, sometimes the towels make their way in there in my haste.

 

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When the boys and I went to visit my parents in Portland this spring, I HAD to go to Ikea. My big plan was to replace all of our kitchen cabinet knobs. They’re not awful, but they’re not what I want. When I was there, however, I found that they didn’t have as many options as I had hoped, plus – even at Ikea prices – it was going to cost $140ish. Ouch. So I decided that our kitchen knobs are just fine for now. But I did buy two cabinet pulls that would double as towel hangers.

It took me 3 months to spend the 5 minutes needed to drill the extra holes and attach them, but I finally did and here we are! Nice and tidy and dries easily without getting in the nasty rubbish.

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The other small change I made was in a couple of cabinets. I am kicking myself for not taking a before picture, because I love me some good before and afters. Oh well. Here is just the after.

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I wanted a baking sheet organizer in the cabinet on the right. The pans were every which way and disorganized and crashing against each other anytime I needed to pull something out. I already had this nice littlecustom wooden organizer on the left side, except it went all the way across the bottom cabinet (came with the house). It was ok, but I didn’t have many short pans that needed to be organized like that. So I pulled it out, measured the baking tray cabinet space, cut it to size, and installed. Then I re-installed the leftover portion back into the left hand cabinet to hold cake and pie pans.

Some other great ideas I found for baking tray organization are ones that use wire dividers or plywood.

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One Sows, Another Reaps

The boys and I were weeding the flower beds this morning. Well, I was weeding. They were making roly-poly farms.
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In the midst of pulling weeds, Dig was over by me and shouts, “Mum, look!” And there, hiding amongst the flowers (and the weeds) was a perfect little strawberry. There was great rejoicing over that strawberry! Dig took it indoors, found a butter knife, and split it three ways to share with his two brothers.

We continued with our gardening, moving to another spot. This time the boys were employed with dead-heading. We have quite a big patch of raspberries growing up, but they are new shoots and not fruiting yet. I was in the midst of the raspberries when Dig shouted again, “Look! More strawberries!” And sure enough, there they were. Only this time there were several. And again, rejoicing!

We harvested those little berries, then got the few raspberries and blackberries that had ripened in the back yard. The two year old had a hard time understanding that we needed to rinse the berries before we ate them, so there was less rejoicing on his part.
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When we came inside and I was rinsing the berries for them, I started to think about that verse about one sowing and another reaping. This is our first June at The Birdhouse. We haven’t planted any kind of berries. That was the work of the previous owners. Yet, here we are, now reaping what they had sown. And we are so blessed and rejoicing!

 Already the one who reaps is receiving wages and gathering fruit for eternal life, so that sower and reaper may rejoice together. For here the saying holds true, ‘One sows and another reaps.’ I sent you to reap that for which you did not labor. Others have labored, and you have entered into their labor.” John 4:36-38

 

Definitely this verse is not talking about our surprise strawberries. But that’s the wonderful thing about being familiar with the Word. That whatever we do and wherever we go, there are things that recall to our minds God’s truth and love and plans as laid out in scripture.

Verse 36 says “so that sower and reaper may rejoice together.” I have no idea if the previous owners sit around thinking about how they’re missing out on the strawberries they planted. I probably would if I were them! But I know that doing God’s work is a less selfish thing (or should be). When our joy is in God Himself, then it doesn’t matter if we do the work of sowing (unseen) or reaping (seen), we rejoice together in doing His work!

 

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Father’s Day Table Tennis

When we bought the Birdhouse last July – maybe before that when we were still dreaming about it – Jonny started talking about table tennis.

To him, table tennis is what fathers and sons should do for quality time.

Then we saw About Time and balled our eyes out. That clinched it.

I did some research and liked what I saw at the Idea Room, but wanted something that would be easier to move around. Figured if I cut it in half, we could hinge it and make it foldable.

Now that the boys are getting a little older, they can help out in more ways. And I knew a simple fold-up table top game would be something they could handle. With a little help…
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(This is the kind of photo you take whilst chasing a 2 year old and making sure the others don’t knock down stacks of lumber.)

We gathered a 1/2 inch, 49″x97″ (that’s the size they come in) piece of mdf, 4 small hinges, and 3 cans of chalkboard spray paint. We had the guys at Home Depot cut the mdf in half for us.

I always overestimate how much the van will hold, so the kids screamed in the car for 15 minutes while I wrestled the mdf pieces in. Classic.

As soon as we got home we primed. Everyone helped:

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It didn’t take long for the primer to dry, so we did all of that in one morning.

The following day I taped off three sides and down the middle of the 2 pieces of mdf, while the boys watched the Andy Griffith show (side note, old shows are the BEST.) Then they got out there and spray painted (you probably shouldn’t let children spray paint).

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Two year olds definitely shouldn’t spray paint. So he read the labels for us.

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OK to be honest, they didn’t spray paint much. And I found out why I prefer Valspar spray paint so much with it’s easy spray button and protective shield.  The spray paint only covered one side each. And I bought three. So… I was short one back side of the table.  The idea was that when the ping pong table is closed, the back sides could be used as a chalkboard for fun or an outside meeting or something. But I figured we only need one side for chalk boarding, so I rummaged and found some cheap black spray paint for the other side.

When I peeled off the tape, the table was looking like this:

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Now we’re talking!

Once it was dry, we added the hinges.

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They’ve got some crazy drill skills.

And we did it! The table was complete. We added on a portable, clip on style net, and some paddles and ping pong balls.

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And then I ruined the surprise the day before Father’s day when I had Jonny go into the shed to grab a ladder – the exact place I had hidden our surprise. Agh!

So we gave him the present early (I didn’t tell the boys the game was up. Just nudged them in the direction of giving it early so we wouldn’t have to wait until Sunday afternoon).

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And he was so blessed! And my boys were so proud and pleased to bless him.

And then Jonny and I played a lot of table tennis after the kids were in bed and talked about tea pong and British things like that.

*update
This is fantastic when friends and family come over!
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