Kitchen Shelves

That’s right everyone-I finished something!

But before I show you how awesome they look, let me show you some changes I made to my to do list chalkboard:

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I wasn’t happy with how chalk wrote on this board so I bought these.  Rather than breaking it down by season, I just made a big huge list of things I want to get done.  Some probably won’t happen this year but I thought I’d be ambitious!

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Oh, and I added things that were in progress, knowing they’d get checked off quickly.  There’s nothing quite as motivating as feeling like you’re getting stuff done!

So, since that’s checked, check out the process I took to get these shelves up.

I got the brackets up earlier in the week (they’re these)

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and then I got a 1x12x8 board from Lowe’s and cut it into thirds.

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Then each board got f o u r  coats of white, semi-gloss paint.

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and then I put all my crap on them.

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Cake plates on the top shelf, canisters on the second (I’m planning on switching to all glass) and wine and mixers on the last one.  After looking at these pictures I realized I didn’t put my cookbooks up there so now I need to go round those up.  These three shelves cleared off the top of my buffet and a whole section of my counter top.  And they look pretty.

I’m sure I’ll add more to these shelves, you know, as I get more wine decorations.

I have two more days off before I have to go back to work so I’m planning on making a big push to finish painting in the bathroom before Monday.  Maybe by then I’ll be in love with the color.

-A

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Step One: Stripping

No, I’m not looking to make extra bucks (at least not yet!) I’m anxious to get this floor refinishing project under way!  I’ve done tons of research and have found the products that I want to use and now I just want to start!

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This morning I went to Wal-Mart and started gathering supplies.  In all my reading I found that stripping the floor with a citrus stripper before sanding produced the best results.  No site recommended a particular brand, just something non-toxic.  Since Wal-Mart had this, I bought it.  I also got some plastic sheeting (black so I can reuse it out on my tree lawn,) non-scratch pads, rubber gloves and duct tape.  The sheeting and tape are for when we start sanding which we won’t do until the floor is all stripped.

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There are layers of finish, cleaning supplies and carpet glue on this floor so I’m expecting to pull up a lot of junk in the stripping process.

I was really hoping to strip, sand and re-stain the floor in the hallway when we do the kitchen but since that floor is covered in Pergo, I had no idea what I was working with.

So I pulled up the thresh hold between the kitchen and hall

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I had my fingers crossed that I’d see either the narrow planks like in the kitchen or the wider ones like in my bedroom.

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Dang.  Even if it is the same boards as in my bedroom, they don’t look very good.  While I still plan to pull up that Pergo, (I HATE IT!) that will be a project for another time.

I wanted to see how long this stripper would take (the instructions say between 30 minutes and 24 hours) so I cleaned up the floor in the corner by the fridge and slathered some on with a paint brush.

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After about 15 minutes it looked like it was dry.  I waited another 15 minutes and then scraped it off.  Once I had most of it up I took a scrubbing pad and damp sponge to pick up the rest of the stripper.

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My dad and I were talking today and we didn’t think there was much finish left on these floors and after stripping off this section, I have to agree with him.  There is an obvious difference-the middle section was definitely cleaner but there are a lot of weird spots still on the floor.

So I slathered on a thicker layer of stripper and covered this whole corner and set the timer for 1 hour.

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Hmmmm.  I put another layer of stripper over my test spot and yet, nothing bubbled up.  I take this to mean that there’s nothing left there to strip.  Is that true?  I hope so!

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The scraper takes off most of the finish, thankfully, and it’s easy to sweep up the scrapings (they’re light and fluffy!) but it does take some scrubbing to get the stubborn parts up.

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So, because this little test spot went so well, I’m going to town on the whole thing!  The plan is to rent the sander on Saturday so I need to have the whole room stripped by then.  If you need me, I’ll be stripping!

-A

PS-I know yesterday I told you I was going to show you my clean kitchen today but it’s boring.  Picture the buffet where the floating island was and you’ll know how it looks. 🙂

Christmas Clean Up-The Tree

My schedule at work changed this week from late nights to early mornings.  My whole life is out of whack-I want to eat when I should be sleeping and I should be sleeping when I get my nightly burst of energy.  Ugh.

In order to keep myself from going to bed as soon as I got home last night I decided to tackle a big project.  An 8 feet tall project, to be exact.

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That’s right, I dismantled my tree.  It only took 2 hours.  I want to protect my investment (even if I did do everything on the cheap) and since I got my tree from the thrift store, I don’t have its original box.  So, I bought the biggest tupperware bin that Wal-Mart had.

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Then I gathered these supplies and got to work.

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First I took all of the ornaments off and stored them in gallon plastic Ziploc bags.  Then I started working my way down the tree.  I figured that this made sense for a lot of reasons.  First, obviously, the top will be the last part I put back up next year and it’s the easiest place to start taking off the lights and garland.

I unwound the garland and rolled it up and put it in another big Ziploc bag.  Then I took the lights off layer by layer.

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Not only do I not have a box for my tree, I also don’t have directions or color coding so putting it up this year was rough.  I don’t want to do that again next year.  As I took off each layer I shook off the dust, stacked them all together and tied the ends with some twine.  I also made a tag out of masking tape and labeled them 1-12 starting from the top to take the guess work out of set up next year.

To store the lights I wound then around the end of a plastic hanger.  I took the end with the prongs and slid it into the little hook inside the hanger to hold it in place.  You may remember that I had 9 strands of lights on this tree and I really didn’t want a tangled mess next year!

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As I got closer to the bottom I got simultaneously happy to be reminded of how much room I actually have in my living room and sad to see the tree go.  Next year I’m setting it up after Halloween.  🙂

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Happily all the lights, branches and the base fit into the bin.  I can’t figure out how to take the “trunk” of the tree apart (or if it even comes apart) so it’s wrapped in plastic.

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Okay, it’s pretty much bursting at the seams.

Once the tree was securely stowed I saw what had been hiding for the last 6 weeks.  Dust, “needles” from the tree and glitter were e v e r y w h e r e.

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Oh yeah, and dog hair.

I’m not really sure how to prevent this next year.  It’s too big (and my floor too precious) to slide out every week to sweep so I may just have to deal with it.

Tonight’s project is to get my living room back in order (and rearrange!) and this weekend I’ll get the rest of my Christmas decorations put up.

Oh yeah, and start working on my floor!

-A

DIY Christmas Decorations

I have really enjoyed decorating my house for Christmas this year mostly because I’ve made everything.  I knew I was going to decorate on the cheap because, well, I’m cheap, but also because I just really love making things.

My first project was this pine cone garland

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and then this coffee filter wreath

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Then when I was unpacking last year’s Christmas stuff I found this thin, wired silver garland.  So, naturally, I made a wreath.

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It’s pretty small so I hung it over the mirror on the medicine cabinet in the hall bathroom.

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While my mom and I were cleaning out the basement we discovered that I have a lot of paint stir sticks.  So, like any other wreath obsessed crafter, I made a wreath.

Or 3.

One got wrapped in twine and hung from the mirror in the entry way.  (side note-who invented this trend of wreaths over mirrors?  Cause they’re a g e n i u s!)

I wrapped a second one in some cheap silver tinsel and hung it in the window in my kitchen and the third one was wrapped in a much fluffier (DOLLAR STORE!) tinsel and hung (also over a mirror) in the living room.  That one is my favorite.

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I had a little bit of drop cloth left over so I painted this little deer on a piece and stuffed it (not enough) and sewed it up and put it on a chair by the front door.

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I did use some store bought silver balls on the tree but most of the ornaments were handmade.  Foam balls wrapped in white yarn and twine are mixed in with clear ornaments I filled with silver glitter.

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I don’t have a live tree (too messy!) but my brother and parents do so I took the little slivers of wood that they cut off the bottoms of their trees.  One already had a hole in it so I drilled a hole in the second one, added some letter stickers and strung them up with ribbon.  I hung them from the glass door between my entryway and living room.

I’m finally out of ideas (and space) so I think I’m done decorating.  For this year.  The best part of doing all this on the cheap is that when I want to get rid of the rustic elements (twine, wood and pine cones) I don’t have to feel bad for switching them out for something new.  That I’ll also probably make on the cheap!

-A

How to Hang Christmas Lights Alone

1.  Don’t.

Seriously, it’s dangerous.  I’m lucky to be alive!

I have no outdoor outlets in the front of my house so I bought a string of solar powered lights from Amazon.  They came today and as soon as I got home I set out to putting them up.

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First I planted the sensor.

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And then I ran the lights up to the trim I have running around the house.  As you can see, the ground was too far away and I had to start the lights off the house.  I knew this would bother me but I continued anyways.

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It’s hard to see but I put in an eye hook and then attached the lights with a zip tie.  I figure that I can just leave the hooks each year and just reattach the lights each winter.

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Then I just pulled the lights tight and put in a hook at each corner

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and then wrapped it around, keeping it pulled tight.  If you like the scalloped look, obviously you don’t have to pull tightly but I knew I wanted them in a straight line.

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The white trim isn’t at the same level across the front of the house.  It dips down where the front door is and then goes back up.  I couldn’t reach the higher level of the trim so I just kept the lights going around at the same height.  As you can see in the picture above, I didn’t have enough.  By a foot.

I called my mom and she suggested that I attach the sensor to the fence.  So I started over.

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I attached it to the fence with a zip tie

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and started the lights on the trim instead of dangling down.  I probably should have started the lights and the corner but there wasn’t room for my ladder and I was just too nervous leaning over that far while standing on the top rung.  You’re welcome mom and dad.

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I continued around using the hooks I put in the first time around.  As soon as I got to the window I knew I was going to have plenty of lights.

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Yeah, plenty.  I wrapped the extra around the other corner of the house and I’m living with it.

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As soon as I got done hanging my lights (twice) I noticed this beautiful sunset.  I took some pictures and waited for it to get dark.

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I think they’ll be brighter tomorrow.  The sensor only had about an hour to charge and I don’t think it had enough juice to really light them up.

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I’m so proud of me!  Ladies, even if you don’t live alone, take charge and go hang your Christmas lights (with a spotter.  Seriously, ladders are dangerous!)  Or mow the lawn.  Or fix something.  Or carry something heavy.  Or shovel your sidewalk.  Seriously, you’ll feel unstoppable.  And you will be!

-A

Thanksgiving Recap

The good news is the charging cord came for my dad’s camera so my next post will have real pictures again!

The bad news is I didn’t have it over Thanksgiving so this post is full of crappy cell phone pictures.

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My Thanksgiving started with being packed into the back of the car and sandwiched between bedding, food, luggage and dogs.  This trip taught me that Henry is not a good traveler.  He whined and could not get comfortable which meant that I could not get comfortable which meant it was a looooooong ride!

 

 

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But then we made it to Denver

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and I learned that I have a new favorite beer.  Holy moly, try this.

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My contribution to dinner were sweet potato pies and a cheese plate.  I didn’t get pictures of either of those-just the little muffins I made with the extra filling.

My photos of the weekend end there and don’t resume until I got home Friday night:

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My tree is decorated and in person it’s not blurry at all. 😉

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Henry was so happy to be home that he didn’t leave my bed for hours.

It was a great weekend and an awesome Thanksgiving hosted by my bother and his girlfriend.

-A