Tuesday, April 15

Library Book Basket

My girls are big readers, and big mess makers, and big on losing things. Not a good combination for taking advantage of a "free" library...I believe I'm paying my way in fees.
So when I take a moment to write about buying a library book basket, you'll have a better idea of why.... when you have kids even the smallest organizing detail can make a huge difference.  

This beautiful basket cost just $8 at 50% off via TJ Max. It was a bit scratched up, which sadly makes it perfect for my girls to store their library books... Then I don't have to stress that they will destroy a beautiful or expensive basket over time. 

The girls sprawl out nearby this basket, warming themselves atop the living room vents as they read. Making this one spot their reading nook means they put the book back into the basket as soon as they are finished, which means no lost books, and less overdue fees! 
We also keep our library book bag in this basket, and book marks nearby. 

It is amazing what a simple basket and a plan can do. It is one less stressor for me as I try to teach my girls responsibility...after all, nothing is more frustrating than lecturing over a misplaced book. Now we are all smiles and good books.

Speaking of good books, here are a few of my favorite library reads! *Big smile*

Thursday, April 10

Hostess Gift: A DIY Basketful of Spring

Looking for the perfect hostess gift for that Spring party or Easter dinner you've been invited to?
I saw these gorgeous wire bags via Pottery Barn (currently no longer available), and thought it would make a lovely hostess gift! 
Even better, you can make 3 or 4 wire bags yourself for the cost of one roll of hardware cloth ($8-$14), rather than spend the $18- $25 per wire bag via Pottery Barn (depending on the size). 

(via Pottery Barn)

I love the idea of stocking these wire bags with everything one would need for a romantic picnic indoors. Crackers and cheese spreads, sparkling drink, chocolates, biscotti...whatever makes for a nice little evening in for your host and hostess. 
Another option would be to make a bigger heartier basket an entire family can enjoy. Fill it with things for the kids and parents to enjoy together as a family, or maybe something they can break out for the party itself....hostess choice. 
Making these baskets is much easier than you would think. It takes a moment to gain some "technique", but it is as simple as folding and weaving together two pieces of hardware cloth. The nice thing about making your own DIY wire bags (besides the oh-so-cheap cost) is being able to customize the size, shape, and color to your liking without spending more. 

Materials: All you need is a roll of hardware cloth from your local hardware store, some wire clippers or shears, and roll of picture frame hanging wire. 

Follow my tutorial for making wire baskets which can be found here. The only changes you will make is if you are using hardware cloth with smaller squares, then you need to use picture frame wire rather than the thicker galvanized steel wire. It allows you to more easily maneuver while weaving...you can also skip a few squares during the weaving process since they are so small.

One thing I don't show you in my wire basket tutorial is how to make these twisted handles. It is as easy as it looks! Simply twist together two pieces of galvanized steel wire (use the wire that comes with your hardware cloth, used to keep it wrapped up). Then thread your handle through one end of the basket and twist closed, and then the other end.

Once you are finished making your DIY wire bag, then comes the fun part! Decorating and filling it with goodies! You can weave some twine into your basket, or weave pretty ribbon around the handle for an extra festive touch.

I like to use a little moss or grass as an organic element to decorate with. It really lends that air of spring to it!

You are only limited by your creativity! I wanted to make a longer wire bag for french bread, one for a sparkling drink, and one for whatever whim came my way.

Perhaps you aren't making these as a hostess gift, maybe you are the hostess, and you want to create a pretty little spring vignette as a centerpiece for your dinner party. 

You could fill your baskets with floral and organic elements. Create your ideal centerpiece that brings all the beauty and fresh scents of spring! Ahhh spring. 

Monday, April 7

My First Time...at a HomeGoods Store

I stepped through the automatic doors, took one look around me and whispered "oooooh noooo, I've just been taken hostage...by AWESOME". I know, I know, I'm a nut. See, I've never been in a HomeGoods store before and I guess I had partially expected a shop of antique like trinkets and furniture a grandmother would buy. What was I thinking?? Well now here I was, standing smack in the middle of the doorway, mouth agape, taking in the breathtaking beauty of what could only be my dream shop. I positively floated down the aisles, pausing to ooh and ahh at the pretty goods, then OOOH and AHHH more loudly when I looked at a tag.
I know, I'm a bit melodramatic when it comes to home decorating, but give me a break, I've been pinching my pennies and patiently waiting 10 years to make the house of my dreams! I look for every deal I can get my paint stained little fingers on. 

I'm working on my living room makeover, and boy is this budget a tight one. Well, you were asking where I got these gorgeous baskets you saw during the bookcase makeover reveal. And now you know, for once I sprang for a little something-something for muah! The big basket was $16.99, and the smaller one was $11.99.

How awesome are these? They are perfect for holding my big fabric bolts, and wrapping paper. No more leaning them in random corners of my house then bolting around trying to remember where I left that particular paisley. And if you didn't already know, I'm a huge sucker for pretty wrapping paper...and not because I'm a big gifter (my friends will tell you I'm not), but because they are fantastic for a variety of craft projects. Speaking of which, I also found several cute wrapping paper rolls at HomeGoods.

I'm also excited to have found a pair of 96" curtain panels for half price! Yes, that is $12 for long curtains that will frame the sliding door from my living room to my deck perfectly! *contented sigh*

Hey, in case you were wondering, HomeGoods did not put me up to this, I just thought you'd get a kick out of hearing my first ever HomeGoods experience. I mean, what warm blooded woman doesn't enter a strictly home decor store until she's 31?  *emphatic head shake* Its just not natural. Ok, but it was necessary...I needed to be sure we were complete debt free and had a savings before I introduced myself to kryptonite. Ask me in a few months if we still have a savings... *joking*

Thursday, April 3

CD Storage

I seem to have a sudden multiplication of CD's lying around the house lately. Ugh, it's like we've never heard of an iPod (!!). Between recorded talks, and family members feeding my kids brand new music collection obsession, CD's are popping up with an alarming Tribble-like rate (sorry, my inner Trekkie emerging). I can no longer fit them in my CD "tower" (if you can call it that). So I thought it was time for a better, more attractive storage method. See those fantastic little fabric covered boxes on my newly completed bookcase (which you can read all about here)? Yep, that is my new hidden/attractive/effective CD storage!! Hey, if you have to keep them around, then why not make it less annoying to look at?

CD Storage Before
I hate to show you this... *head hang of shame*
This is how I was storing my CD's before. I can't even call this storage, it was more like stuffing miscellaneous disc's into any nook I could find. To be fair, it was mostly the kids fault. Yes, I just threw them under the bus on that one.  *cheeky grin*

With the work I've been doing on my living room, I am loathe to spend another penny...even on an organizing task. So while there are several types of CD cases that would be very nice to use, they will cost me more than a few dollars, and then I will need to purchase more storage for all those cased CD's.

For my needs, the cheapest solution, paper envelopes will do just fine. For those who may have different needs, I like the clear mostly round plastic holders.
I purchased these simple white disc envelopes from Staples, 50 sleeves for $7.79 (before rebates & coupons). These thin sleeves will allow me to pack the CD's in and get the much needed space! Truth be told, I don't use these disc's all that often, but some are computer software, or pictures from family that I'm pretty sure I'll get in trouble if I throw out.

I love these fabric covered boxes...the fabric reminds me of a suit. These are actually mini drawer boxes to an organizer I found at a thrift store several years ago. I use the drawer frame and the boxes separately for different storage purposes because I always prefer open storage.

Each box has a different category of disc's, so there was no need for me to create dividers. One is dedicated to computer software & games, one is for music & speakers, one is for DVD's, and the last is for pictures & miscellaneous disc's. 
I originally labeled them, but honestly we know which is which, so in keeping with simple decor I removed the labels and let the simplicity of an organized system speak for itself. 

Now all my disc's are neatly tucked away, never to be scratched or lost amid the mountain of CD's again!
Who doesn't love a quick and oh-so-easy organizing task?

Monday, March 31

March Highlights & Happenings

The Northeast is FINALLY thawing out (insert overly dramatic swooning)!! To say that I'm relieved would be a gross understatement. I hadn't been able to tackle any projects that require outdoor ventilation for 3 months...that is a lifetime in DIY years. A lifetime.
That isn't even the worst part. All my paint froze, and by the time I realized that I needed to move them from the garage to the basement it was too late. That is 3 brand new gallons of paint, 12 leftovers for touch-ups, and 2 stains unsalvagably ruined. I'm not crying, I was just peeling onions...oh who am I kidding...

In spite of my longing for warmer weather, winter is very pretty out here. You've never seen the exterior of my home, so let me give you a brief winter tour.

Welcome to my home... 

The road I live on.

My backyard deck and picnic area.
One of these days I'll be able to show you what my home looks like under all that snow. Come on spring!

Living Room Progress & March Projects
I've finished three major pieces in this living room, two bookcase+base, and an update to my previously hideous TV console

I've also completed a myriad of little projects (lest you think I've accomplished nothing the past two months *grin*). I've promised the details of many more mini projects this coming month. 

Creating With The Stars
Well, I entered my DIY Bookcase & Styling post in hopes of making into the Creating With The Stars competition. I was the 10th person to link up a project... a few hundred incredible bloggers later I knew I didn't have a dream of making it! *chuckle*  I submitted what I had, but there were some jaw droppingly awesome projects by fantastic bloggers! I am however following along to see what creative things are dreamed up, and linking along. 

That's all for now, have a beautiful sunshine-filled April!

Friday, March 28

Dressing Table Turn TV Console

This dressing table was a family hand-me-down that I was grateful to receive but couldn't figure out how to use. It didn't fit in my tiny "master" bedroom, and I don't have a real office space... Turns out it was the only thing strong enough to hold up our TV, so a TV console it is. Ay, I wish we had a wall mounted TV...

Make Me Over...Pretty Please
This poor thing has been crying out for a makeover for years. I'm incredibly happy with the results of the paint job I shared with you yesterday. I used Chalk Paint® decorative paint by Annie Sloan, which makes painting a breeze, and enabled me to completed this entire project in one afternoon. If you missed it, read the details here

I want to give a special shout out to the lovely ladies of the charming Metheny Weir shop who helped me out when I originally ordered the wrong color. Woops! This Chalk Paint® in old white  is perfect!

The other half of the makeover story... 
I always think of hardware as the icing on the cake, the jewels that complete the outfit, the cherry on top... However the reality is that I usually plan my piece around the hardware. I have kept an eye out for hardware with a sleek streamlined design in a golden hue. Alas, sleek gold I could not find...at least not for less than $18 a piece, and the hardware I drooled over cost upwards of $30 a piece!! Mama Mia! My pocketbook trembles at the very thought. 

However I found these fantastic pulls at Lowes:

Lately I've had quite the spray painting trigger finger, and I thought perhaps I could paint the hardware gold...dare I? I Googled it and lo' and behold a favorite read of mine Little Green Notebook had already ventured on this bold ground! Woop! Per Jenny's instructions I started with Rust-oleum's clean metal primer, then I opted for Rust-oleum bright metallic gold. Finally I finished with Minwax fast drying polyurethane...which I would have never thought of on my own accord. Thank you Jenny!

While my hardware is drying, it's time for a little bit of minor "reconstruction" on this dresser facelift. Here is the plan...

Did you catch all of that? *grin*  Nice and simple...I'm taking the end piece/legs off of the extension part and reattaching them to the base piece. Shortening this piece will make it is less clunky and awkward looking. It really was a simple task and required only a screwdriver and small crowbar.
Next I am attaching the end piece/legs via a wooden strip screwed into both pieces, and some wood glue.

Wood filler took care of the space left by removal. I sanded and painted over the gap.

The Grand Finale
Once the wood filler dried, and my paint job was complete I was left with a piece I could love as the center of my living room. As functional as it is pretty, my new old dresser console has loads of storage as well as desk space! In my book that makes it perfect. I'm so thankful for this hand-me-down...and the sugar that turned lemons into lemonade! *smile*