Saturday, August 31, 2013

Man, It's Hot Outside! Let's Make Cards!!

Wow, it's hot and muggy outside.  We've had 90+ degree heat for a couple of weeks now.  Add in the humidity, which isn't typical for So Cal, and you've got a recipe for crankiness!  I'm talking about me, of course!

It's been so hectic with school beginning, I haven't had the time or energy to do anything remotely hobby-ish.  So with this heat and a Labor Day weekend just starting, I'm pretty much housebound and very determined to finish up stuff around here.  Last weekend we spent almost a day and a half organizing our files that we hadn't organized when we moved here over 11 years ago.  This weekend I want to do something fun!

I was in charge of registration two weeks ago for all of our returning students.  With the help of a lot of people, it went very smoothly and I think only one or two parents had complaints.  Not too bad!!  Registration, like any other project at a high school, can not be done alone.  It truly does take many hands.  I'm a bit embarrassed that it's taken this long to say thank you, but cards will be in those helpful hands on Tuesday!
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Before we moved to North Orange County over 12 years ago, we lived in Covina right down the street from where I grew up.  With the help of family, neighbors and friends, we did a 1500 sq. ft. addition on our house (including a second story) ourselves.  (Yes, it's true, I know how to install roofing, I can apply drywall mud, lay tile, pound nails fairly successfully - pretty much anything!)  One of the best things about that house was the home office - base and wall cabinets on all four walls - TONS of storage for and easy access to all my craft supplies.  One year I really got into stamping and did all of our Christmas cards.  I even ventured into embossing (using my husband's industrial strength paint stripping heat gun - not good!!!) which became my favorite stamping technique.

All my stamps have been in a big plastic tub and I haven't used them at all until today.  I dragged the tub out and dug through the stamps until I found one of my favorites.  Perfect for the cards I wanted to make.

If you want to give embossing a try, I'd suggest buying an embossing heat gun with your discount coupons.  It's pretty inexpensive.  I'd recommend using "pigment" ink because it will stay wet longer than ink from a regular ink pad.  Whatever color the ink is, that's what will come through (I like the clear embossing powder).

First I chose my stamps:

Got my embossing supplies together - inkpad, powder and plastic spoon for sprinkling:

Stamp the image and cover it with embossing powder:

Shake off the leftover powder that didn't stick (I shake it off on to a piece of paper and then pour it back in the powder container).  Then, using your embossing tool, heat the image until the ink is puffy and glossy:

When you emboss an image, it won't smear.  I love using watercolor paints to add some interest to the image:

I added a strip of scrapbook paper, a stamped and embossed "Thanks" to the front, and a stamped and embossed "for all you've done" on the inside.  I used mounting tape to adhere the stamped tag to the front of the card:

I added some twine - tied a bow at the top of the tag - and voila!  Done!

Using coupons or watching sales at your favorite craft stores will allow you to try this craft inexpensively.  The cards I used were pre-packaged ones from Michael's, but you can use scrapbooking cardstock just as easily.  I hope you give it a try!  Please feel free to comment with other ideas or to let me know what stamping techniques you enjoy!!  Happy Labor Day weekend!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Some Inexpensive Utility Room Updates

Wow, it's been awhile since I've updated the blog.  This is one of the most hectic times of the year for me, so it's all I can do to keep my head above water at work.  Administrative meetings, fall registration for students, fall planning, you name it - this is crunch time!  At home, however, we've pretty much finished our "to do" list and have been enjoying having fewer projects gnawing at our consciences.

We finished painting the laundry room and the downstairs bath.   The laundry room was a neglected mess - 13 year old wallpaper that really needed to go.  Easy enough - but you know how it goes, when you think it'll be simple... it's not.  The removal ended up being  little piece by little piece.  Eventually we had scraped it all off and we just used leftover blue gray paint to finish it off.  I still have to paint the cabinets (now they don't look white, they look yellow.  Ugh.) but it looks clean and that's all that matters!  I went to IKEA and bought a $16 wall mount laundry rack (beats having damp clothes hanging on the backs of chairs!) and a little wall decoration at Hobby Lobby.    We also bought over the door hooks for the step stools (Home Goods) and a hook thingamajig for the mops (Container Store).  At least everything has a place now and they're not all crammed in a corner.  I'm not done with the decorating in there yet, but it will evolve over time I'm sure.

The downstairs 3/4 bath also had the same wallpaper.  We had had some water damage a few years ago when we had a water leak in the slab.  Everything was fixed, but the wallpaper was glued back into place where needed and we never finished painting the trim.  So, wallpaper off, same blue gray paint and new towel rack and toilet paper holder (Home Depot).  I bought two hand towels for $6 each at Home Goods.  I spray painted a brown shelf that used to be in the laundry room white.  I pulled together some of the knickknacks and paintings that used to be in the family room and am trying for a little bit of a Caribbean theme in there. We found a light fixture at Home Depot ($29) that matches the can light replacements in the hallway.   I'm going to have to live with it for awhile to see if it's really what I want to do in there.  Easy to change though since everything really was moved from another spot in the house.

Total cost for two rooms was probably about $150 at the most.  Not too shabby!

Souvenirs from our travels add color to the bathroom

An old brown shelf repainted for the bathroom

Wall decorations

Inexpensive hand towels add some color

Inexpensive light fixture (still some patching to do though behind it!)

IKEA laundry rack open....
... and closed.

Hooks for mops - easy to install

Over the door hangers for step stools keeps them out of the way

Yeah, that pretty much says it all!

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Redecorating Continued....

Over the past few weeks we've been pushing forward on updating the house.  As you all probably know, nothing goes as planned and there are always surprises around every corner.

We were able to scrape together enough money to install carpet upstairs.  That means paint.  So we did.  It also meant "clean out the closets".... another ugh.  I was pretty proud of the amount of stuff we cleaned out and donated.  Seriously, who else has boxes (and more boxes!) of VHS tapes??

We decided to also have the tub refinished in my daughter's old bathroom.  It looked terrible.  We kind of expected that after almost 13 years it would need work... but not that much work!  The tub guys took a look at it and asked if it had been refinished before.  Huh??  Turns out that the builder installed a tub that had been damaged and refinished.  Sigh.  More than we expected, but it had to be done.  We purchased a new toilet as well (on sale at Home Depot) because the one original to the house constantly ran.  (If you'd like to see the bathroom budget makeover, the link is here).

We pulled the wallpaper off in the laundry room and the guest bath downstairs.  Wallpaper is great until you have to take it off.  We had had some water damage a few years ago when a pipe under the slab had broken.  Water seeped into the drywall which needed to be replaced.  This affected the downstairs bath and although it was all fixed, there's always something left over that needs to be addressed - even years later.  Ugh.  We decided to replace the light fixture in that room as well,  and when my husband removed it, there was a huge hole left by the builder where the wire came out of the wall - no electrical junction box.  Hold the paint, time to patch.  We of course ran out of paint (it needed more coats than we anticipated) and wouldn't ya know, the guy gave us two cans of the same thing rather than 1 each of two shades.  Another trip to Home Depot.  I will post pictures of how these two rooms look when we're done.  I have to paint the cabinets, because, as you know, when you paint the walls, everything else looks run down and then you end up doing more than you originally planned.  Yep, that's the situation here as well.  Sigh.

A trip to Home Goods today though was amazing.  I had a set amount I could spend and I think I did pretty well.  First up, a clock for the family room.  I had seen them at Hobby Lobby (around $200) and at SteinMart (around $100).  Home Goods had one that was just the right size and color for $39.99.  Perfect!!  I also picked up a shower curtain, rod, liner and hooks for a total of $40.  Now my daughter's old bathroom, the guest bathroom, is done.

Step by step we're getting things in shape.  I've been keeping an eye out for those few things left on my wish list.  I'm still looking for something to put on the top of the armoire in the living room and a large mercury glass bowl.  I'm not willing to pay full price, so I'm keeping my eyes open!!  (Living room budget makeover is here ).

It's amazing how some paint, some bargain shopping, and a whole lotta patience can change the look of a room and create some excitement again!  Enough excitement to at least get you through the next unexpected glitch in the plan!!

My $40 clock from Home Goods and my (love 'em!!) blue canning jars

Cynthia Rowley shower curtain ($15 at Home Goods) which finished the upstairs guest bath

$15 curtain rod and $6 hooks at Home Goods