Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Cheap, Easy Crackle Paint Technique

As part of my ongoing living room makeover I’ve decided to add a small table.  I found an antique tilt top table on Craigslist for about $50.  I like the fact that it tilts upright and I can set it flat against my wall.  I feel it's just as much a piece of art as it is a table.  
The colors I've decided on in my living room are cream, brown and light blue.  I love the brown and blue color combination.  Blue is the accent color in the room, so I don't want to go overboard with it.  I once heard David Bromstad (host of Color Splash) say for an accent color to be used correctly it needs to be used at least three times in a room.  Since I'm not a designer, I thought that sounded like great advice I could easily apply!
I started with the addition of a blue table.  I painted the top of my table blue and the base black.  To create a super, easy crackle look I needed a few materials, blue paint, black paint, wood glue and paint brushes.  I already had black paint, and since the table surface is small I was able to just use a sample size paint jar for a few dollars.  I used your average wood glue, nothing fancy.
1.  First I cleaned the surface of my table with a damp rag.  It was in pretty good condition already and I just needed to get some grime off.  I opted not to sand it first.  It was covered in a dark stain and since I was going for a crackle affect with the dark stain showing through, I really didn't think it needed it.  Judge for yourself based on your finish.  Sanding will help your paint adhere better in most circumstances.
2.  Next I poured the wood glue onto a paper plate and painted it thickly onto the table.  The glue will dry quickly, so as I painted a few swipes of the wood glue, I followed up with a swipe of blue paint over it.  I repeated this process for the entire table.   
3.  Once finished with painting the glue and covering the glue with the blue paint, I waited for it to dry and do it's crackle magic.  Except it wasn't crackling!  I began to get concerned because the glue was drying and I wasn't sure how I was going to get paint and WOOD GLUE off of the table to start over.  Instead, I grabbed my hair dryer and started heating/drying the paint in sections.  Almost instantly I got the perfect crackle affect. 
4.  The last thing I did was paint the base of the table black and voila I had a refinished table that all in all was a pretty quick and easy project. 

Normally I'd like to find more of a bargain furniture piece, however, I specifically wanted a tilt top table to save space so that limited my options.  Even so, the cost of the paint, brushes and glue were less than $10.  The project total was less than $60.   

Monday, October 28, 2013

What is a living room for anyway?

Our house came with all white walls.  Not a bit of paint anywhere.  So we’ve been working our way through our blank canvas and are left with the last white room on the first floor.  The living room.  That kind of pointless room in the front of your house which is the first thing everyone sees, no one ever goes in, you don’t have any furnishings for (or worse you’ve inherited some) and you don’t know what to make of.  Should it be a sitting room?  No one ever sits in there.  Should it be a home office?  I use a laptop, my lap is my home office.  Should it be a play room?  I really don’t want the first thing everyone sees in my home to be the playroom explosion.

We opted for the sitting room.  We have tons of books from my husband’s years working in the publishing industry and for a bookstore.  I wanted to display those books and have a nice place to read and extra seating when we have parties. 

This project is a work in progress.  I always try to do rooms as inexpensively as
I can.  We have a relatively new home and it's a lot to fill.  So to start this room we not only had blank walls, we had no furniture.  This is what we started with: 


To begin, I painted all the walls with the same wall color that’s in my entryway.  The spaces are open to one another and that just made life simpler. 

I did want to have one wall make a statement.  Stripes make a great impact and don’t have to be hard.  Since I’ve painted stripes for a while, I’ve made a lot of mistakes.  I’ve tried creating the stripes with pencils and chalk, different kinds of painters tape, rulers, erasers, etc.  I think I've finally worked out the kinks.   

1. First, I painted the entire room with wall paint color I picked out, which also would be one of the stripe colors.  

2. Next, I measured the height of my wall and decided how big I wanted the stripes.  Since I could evenly divide my wall by five, that's how many stripes I chose.     

3. Once I knew the width of my stripes (21.5”), I then measured that distance from the bottom to the top and marked a short line where every stripe would be with a pencil.  *Note:  It’s better to rough out where the stripes will be with a short line just in case that width doesn’t work out.  You don’t want to have lines the length of the wall, only to start over! 

4. After the stripes were roughed out, I used a 3 ft. level to draw my line from one end of the wall to the other (try to use your pencil lightly).  By using a large level, it ensured my stripes were straight and not drifting up or down.  A shorter level could certainly be used, but this large one makes the process go quickly.

5.  Once the stripes were drawn, I used painters tape to mark off each line just outside the pencil mark.  *Note: Some recommend chalk, instead of pencil, because it can wipe away.  I’ve had better luck with pencil because it makes a neat, thin line that doesn’t rub off while you’re working.  Have both on hand and see what works for you.    

By placing your tape just outside the pencil line you can paint over it.  This is easier than trying to erase pencil marks outside of your line later.  *Note: If using a light color paint, your pencil lines may show through the paint.  Been there, done that and it’s hard to fix.  Draw lightly with your pencil.

6.  After your tape is in place, lightly paint over the tape between your stripes with the wall color to seal the tape.  You don’t have to fill in the entire stripe.  This step just prevents paint from bleeding or feathering through the tape.  Once this layer dries, you can fill in your stripe with the paint of your choice.  I chose a dark brown because I like the impact of such a dark color and wide stripes.    


Paint a couple of coats of your stripe color (brown in this example). Be sure and give it plenty of time to dry before CAREFULLY peeling off your tape. 

This room is still a work in progress.  Next blog book shelves and some accents.



Kid's Small Closet Revamp

Are closets ever big enough?  The answer is no. This is especially true in my daughter's tiny bedroom closet.  With small clothes it shouldn't be a big deal, right?  Nope.  Small clothes, combined with piles of stuffed animals, lots of shoes and purses, plus the essential assorted princess gowns and crowns makes for one messy closet. 

I actually took this "after" photo too late, I had already removed most of the items in her closet.  But the floor is accurate!

The key problem was a small closet with one shelf that's too high.  The other problem was 18" on the left and right side of the closet that was inaccessible because of the wall.  To fix this problem we actually considered removing some of the wall and adding two closet doors instead of one.  That would have solved our problem, but the cost was about $750 (using a professional contractor) since we had two bedroom closets that needed this fix. 

Ultimately I decided to give it a go with a closet organizer first.  This was an inexpensive solution, and one we would need whether we changed the doors or not.  By giving it a go with the organizer first, maybe it would meet our needs and we wouldn't need the small construction project.

My husband and I worked together on this project and he started by taking out the old wire shelving and patching the holes.  I decided I would paint the closet a bright pink to coordinate with my daughter's pink bedroom.  It only took a quart of paint, but because of the dark color it did take several coats.

*Note: Save yourself the hassle and only paint the back wall of the closet.  Don't bother with the sides, and certainly not the inside wall which is never seen.  I learned this the hard way! It was tight and awkward to paint all sides.  Plus, if I had only done the back wall, a quart would have been plenty of paint.  I was scraping the bottom of the can at the end!  Recently I painted our playroom closet and just did the back wall and it was so much easier since I wasn't dodging wet paint on all sides! 

I found a Closetmaid organizer at Home Depot that worked.  It was a wire closet kit and it cost about $55.  I liked that we could customize it having lower hanging racks and shelves, along with some higher racks for dresses and longer things as she grows.  My husband worked with his assistant to install this. 

After the shelving was installed, I assembled a couple of simple organizers for shoes and purses to sit on the floor, under the shelving.  These can be found inexpensively at Target, Walmart or hardware stores. 

Then the fun part, for me anyway.  I started organizing all of the things to go back in the closet.  Shoes on the bottom shelves, purses and a couple of important items in the cubbies. I purchased a couple of green canvas bins to add to the shelves.  These are crucial in a closet or kids room in my opinion, because they house all the "precious" items that I think are junk.  All the trinkets from festivals and birthday parties, the random dollar store purchase, the stocking stuffer that never got opened, the Sunday school projects.  All those oddities get tossed into those two bins.  If I don't see it, I don't care if she keeps it.  But no more than two bins worth!

The top green box with the girl on it I purchased at Tuesday Morning about seven years ago.  I'd love to have a couple more!  I just put mementos we want to keep in that box.  And of course, top it off with a set of princess mouse ears! What you can't see on the floor to the right is a basket full of stuffed animals. 

Does she keep her closet looking like this?  For the most part she does.  If it starts to get too disorganized, it only takes a few minutes to clean up since everything has a place.  For now this works great for us and was a solution that only cost about $100 for materials (paint, wire shelving, canvas bins and 2 white shelving units). 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Making Mummies

Last year my daughter, who was six at the time, made these wonderful mummies.  She's so proud of them and they make me smile every time I see them.  They were easy enough for her to do on her own with little supervision.  In fact, a little supervision might have been a good idea because she began to mummify everything around.  These are the ones we've kept.   
Halloween Kids Craft, Mummies Made from Mason Jars
We got the idea from Hi Sugarplum and the complete project can be found here: 
I used my own vases and jars from around the house, along with a couple of random ball jars I bought for a quarter each at the local thrift store.  I already had a stash of googly eyes so the only expense was the gauze.  I love a cheap and easy project that makes me look like I rock as a mom!  

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

A Not So Haunted House, Part 2

This is the first year we’ve had an actual dining room table. We’ve only lived in our house three years and two of those years this was an empty room! Now with a table I have another room to decorate!  I purchased a spider web table cloth, added another candelabra and two vases filled with black roses.  It's not much yet, but it's a work in progress. 

DIY Halloween Vases, Dollar Store Halloween Project

The vases are my dollar store find.  I took two clear glass vases (I especially liked this shape for it's urn-like quality), then spray painted them black and silver.  I painted the whole vase black, then just spritzed a little silver on it to my liking.  I just happened to have black and silver spray paint at home, so that made this project super cheap. Spray paint is inexpensive and should be a staple in all homes!  When in doubt, paint it black.  Add two bunches of black roses for a dollar each and voila $4 table décor. 

The last area I really like to decorate is our morning room.  After Halloween last year I bought a paper spider decoration at the grocery store.  I wasn’t sure what it was until we opened it recently. It turned out to be a paper accordion spider with super long legs.  We hung this from our ceiling and stretched the legs to the table, the curtains, the light fixture.  It turned out great, especially since I had already decorated my light with some cobwebs, more leaf garland and paper spiders.


I like to have little surprises around my house for guests to find.  I love the Martha Stewart crafts at Michaels, she’s the queen of Halloween.  If I had the skills, staff and funds, that’s totally how I’d love to do Halloween!  Michael’s sells kits for the rest of us, paper spiders, mice and the like.  The Martha Stewart Gothic Manor Photo Décor was a hit at our recent party.  I placed masks and fangs on the glass of photo frames all over my house and waited to see if anyone noticed.  Who doesn’t notice a baby with fangs?  It’s a scream.
Pardon the pun.


Monday, October 21, 2013

A Not So Haunted House

Decorating our house for Halloween is something my daughter and I love to do.  The first day of October rolls around and she wants to bring the Halloween décor up from the basement.  I usually try to wait as long as I can, because 31 days of Halloween on my mantle gets old fast!  I’ll admit, I really enjoy going through the boxes and seeing what bargains I got the year before.  I had a few goodies I was pleased to uncover.    

There are tons of tremendous ideas on Pintrest of course.  These are just a few of the ideas I’ve collected after several years of hosting Halloween parties.  Most of which I accomplished by hitting “after Halloween” sales at craft stores and Target, and making my own pieces with thrift store and dollar store finds.    

On the mantle I've added the essential faux candelabras, along with black leaf garland and a black web fabric over the mirror.  All of which were found at Michaels.  Then I added a black feather tree (from Hobby Lobby), some grocery store glittery RIP letters and a couple of other accessories. 
Halloween Mantle Decorations, Halloween, Entertaining
At a thrift store I found an ornate pillar candle holder and painted it black with a little craft paint I had on hand.  It doesn't need to be perfect, I left some of the original color coming through.  It's meant to look scary, not perfect.  These are great for adding pumpkins, or as you see on mine, an orange glittery owl. 
I also purchased a picture frame from the same thrift shop, I liked the touch of silver.  I added a printable found on Pintrest last year (unfortunately I couldn't find the link to the printable I used to add here, but there are many free options out there).  I just printed it on my home computer on regular paper, nothing fancy.  The combination of everything looks great and makes a wonderful backdrop to photos of folks in costumes.



Spooky Ghost Meringue Cookies

We love Halloween at our house. Not horror movies, haunted houses (unless it’s the Haunted Mansion at the Magic Kingdom), or blood and gore…mostly because I’m a big scaredy cat…but fun you have with clever spooks and chills. Tombstones, cobwebs and friendly ghosts are more my speed. 

I look forward every year to the Halloween party we host for friends. This year I decided to make some friendly ghosts in the shape of meringue cookies. A little fussy, but pretty simple recipe.  Minimal ingredients and very cheap. It’s everything I look for in a recipe!  I’ll probably recreate these in some form for Christmas.  Tint them green and call ‘em trees? There are many recipes out there, but I found the Pilsbury recipe to be the easiest and have the fewest ingredients.  

Ghost Cookies, Halloween, Halloween Party, Entertaining, Kids Halloween Treats
The outcome was cute and tasty!  Here are a couple of things I did differently.  Instead of piping the meringue flat on a cookie sheet, I mounded blobs vertically, Hershey kiss style, to create a ghost.  The recipe doesn’t say when to add the vanilla, I added it after whipping the eggs and cream of tartar together.  That seemed to work just fine.  The chocolate chips worked fine for eyes and mouths, but I think it would look more convincing with a small tube of black icing gel.  For speed, however, you can’t beat the chips.                                             

Here's a link to the original Pilsbury recipe I used:

Ghost Meringue Cookie Recipe

Why 60 Pounds of Pancakes?

Why call my blog 60 Pounds of Pancakes? I wanted something that spoke to my love of entertaining, hospitality, life and most importantly God. 

The book of Hebrews tells us, "Don't forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it!" The first time this is seen in the Bible is in the book of Genesis when Abraham is visited by three strangers. He runs to Sarah and tells her “get three seahs of the finest flour and knead it and bake some bread.” Many believe that equals about 60 pounds. Sixty pounds of bread-like pancakes!  Just stop what you're doing, whip that up without complaining, planning ahead and most likely without thanks! Yet Sarah did so joyfully. 

What's important to remember with Sarah and Abraham's story is with hospitality, it's not about you. It's not about how clever you are, how great a chef you are, or how you impress your guests. I'm not a great chef, I'm not a great crafter or artist. I like to try new things and be creative, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't. Hospitality is all about opening your home, showing others the love Christ has shown you, and making all who enter welcome. I aspire to have the grace that joyfully serves 60 pounds of pancakes.