Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Something for nothing

So we all love to get something for nothing, right? I know I sure do! 

So I was surfing through Pinterest and I came across the most adorable wreath! I couldn't believe it was made out of coffee filters! Now the wreath that I saw online was made with the natural (tan) coffee filters. I love the look of the natural filters because they look "aged", but all I have on hand are the white filters. 

I don't have a foam wreath to glue the filters to, but we live at the beach so we have a gazillion swimmy noodles laying around! I simply bent the noodle into a circle, inserted a coat hanger, and taped the ends together. Waalaa! A free "upcycled" foam wreath! And who doesn't like to use what we have around the house rather than making a trip into town to gather supplies?

So as you can see all you do is pinch the coffee filters in the center and use a glue gun to glue them to the wreath. 

Then I just glued a row inside the form, then I glued a row outside the form. Then I filled in the center. Yes, its really that easy! I wish I could say its more complicated than that so I sound smarter, but.... Ummm. Yep. That's all there is to it. 

So how can you not love this project?! This is seriously a project that you could do with the kids, as long as you keep an eye on them with the glue gun. (I only have a couple of blisters) This project literally cost me ZERO dollars! I already had the swimmy noodles, I had to go next door to my neighbor's to get a wire hanger, and I already had the coffee filters, too. It took an entire .99 cent package and a few more from another package.

What do you think?

I know my bedroom is really sad and it needs some attention and some decoration and style. 

Monday, February 27, 2012

Dumpster Diving...

Well last weekend I was hauling a couple of bags of garbage off and look what my fella who works at the dump had for me! 
Can you believe someone threw this away?

 Sure the old green vinyl was ugly as homemade soap, but that was an easy fix!


My original plan was to strip it down to the bare wood, but once I started sanding I found this beautiful blue/green layer of paint beneath the off white. I decided to just leave it like this. 

 LOOK! Its cedar lined! Seriously? Someone tossed this out? What were they thinking?

 Yes, this is one of my babies - Bella. She's a camera whore!

 I SWEAR she thinks she's Vanna White!

This is perfect at the foot of my bed because it isn't too wide. If it was any wider I would kick it and crack my toe in the middle of the night. 

Also I love this because with 2 dogs and a cat I'm constantly swapping out and washing my bedspreads, and I really needed the additional storage. 

I really do have a no dogs on the bed rule, but this one is really hard to say no to when she's posing and being so stinking cute!

 I'm not crazy about the dark fabric I used to recover the top, but it'll do until I find something better. 

Y'all thought I was kidding when I said she had to be in EVERY shot...

 Isn't this beautiful? Like I said, I was going to strip it down, but I really like this rough "distressed" finish. Not to mention it took a total of like 30 minutes from beginning to end. 

Bella seems to think that this would be a good place for her to nap...

Friday, February 24, 2012

Ugly as homemade soap...

So after a trip to the grocery store last month I was looking at the cash register receipt. (something I don't normally do) All in all I added up over $30 dollars just in cleaning supplies, and I didn't even get "stocked up" on things. I just picked up a few things that I had coupons for! Its highway robbery I tell you! I looked at the things that I purchased: dishwasher soap, laundry detergent, glass cleaner, and shower /bathroom cleaner, and it just bugged me to think that I was paying so much money for all of these products and ultimately I was just washing all of this stuff down the drain. 

Later that week I laid in bed just stewing over all that money that I was wasting on products that I KNEW I could make myself for so much less money. I began looking at the backs of the products that I'd purchased, then I got on the Internet and began searching around until I found recipes for every single one of them! Some of them I already knew, but I'd just forgotten because its so much easier to just pick it up and put it in my cart rather than make it at home. (or so I thought) 

So on my next trip into town I picked up a few supplies to make my own cleaning products. I wanted to be able to test them against the "name brand" and here's what I came up with:

Homemade Dishwasher Detergent:

  1. 4 cups Epsom Salt (I found it in the Pharmacy section of my grocery store)
  2. 2 cups 20 Mule Team Borax (4lbs 12 oz or 76 oz ) (2.15 kg) found in the detergent isle 
  3. 2 cups Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda 
  4. 12 packages of unsweetened lemonade drink mix, like kool-aid. (colored drink mix will stain your soap dispenser)                                                                                                        or 1/2 cup of powdered/dry Citric Acid (which can be found in the canning section of your grocery store)
  5. White Vinegar -  to pour in your "Jet Dry" dispenser for a rinse aid (NOT Apple Cider/brown vinegar like you use for cooking)


Sift all of your dry ingredients together: Borax, Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda, Epsom Salt and lemonade drink mix in a large bowl. The lemon drink mix is really fluffy and powdery, so I recommend pouring that in first. (Trust me and learn from my mistakes) 

I use a Purex Crystals container. It has a pouring spout and it has a measuring cap that's marked with Tablespoons so it makes things easy, and this chick likes easy! I had a little more than would fit in the bottle, so I put the extra in a Ziploc bag, marked it, and stored it under my sink. 

It only takes one scoop  - about tablespoon, to sufficiently clean a regular load of dishes. I know that doesn't sound like enough, BUT that's because the commercial manufactures are used to adding "fluff" and "filler" to their products to make us use more, sort of the same way they water down shampoo and liquid soaps.

If you like you can cut these portions in half just try it out. You might find that you can use less Epson Salt if you have soft water. We have super hard water on the Outer Banks, so I formulated this for hard water. You're going to have to buy large boxes of Borax and Washing Soda anyway because that's just how they come, but if you plan on trying the laundry detergent recipe you can just use it in that recipe, or you can store for later use.


Homemade Laundry Detergent: 

I saw several variations of this same recipe, and honestly I've tried all of the ones that I saw on the internet over the years. All of the ones that I've found work just as well as the other. The only thing that I found, or actually the only thing that is missing is the fresh scent. Sure they get our clothes clean, but I really like that nice fresh scent of clean clothes, too and none of the homemade detergents that I've tried have been able to do that. I got thinking and I came up with this formulation. It works great in hard water and it smells great, too.

Here's what you'll need:
  1. 1 - 55 ounce box of Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda 
  2. 1 - 76 ounce box of 20 Mule Team Borax 
  3. 1 - bar of Octagon Bar Soap (**note** you can use other soap if you prefer, I remember my grandma used to make her soap with Octagon and it was cheap, and I liked the smell. Use whatever tickles your fancy – Other brands of commonly used bar soaps include Pure & NaturalFels-Naptha and/or ZOTE.  Ocatogon,  ZOTE and Fels-Naptha are made for and sold as “laundry bar soap.” and can be found in the laundry asile)
  4. 1- box of Epson Salt (you can use Kosher cooking salt if you perfer)
  5. 1 - 28 ounce bottle of Purex Crystals

(If you made the Homemade dish washing detergent above you'll already have all of these ingredients and only need to add the Purex Crystals)

Mix together:
  1. 1 bar of shaved bar soap (I used my food processor to quickly grate my bar of soap, and its soap, so its not like I can't get my food processor blades clean again after grating soap...)
  2. 2 cups of Borax
  3. 2 cups of Epson Salts
  4. 2 cups of Washing Soda
  5. 2 1/2 cups of Purex Crystals
Sift together all of the dry ingredients first, then add the shaved soap last. Shake everything together and enjoy the results! 

Remember: you only need to use ONE-TWO Tablespoons of this powdered detergent per load, and less for smaller loads. Don't get excited if you don't see a lot of suds, you're not supposed to. (Again, this is formulated for hard water, so if you are seeing too many suds you can back off on the salt or cut back on the soap content.) 

This really is UGLY soap, but I swear it really works and it smells soooo awesome! You don't have to use the Purex Crystals. There are a couple of other types of fabric softener crystals on the market that you could use if you prefer another scent, or if you could leave the crystals out if you wanted to save money or if you don't like the crystals. (But the crystals is what gives it the amazing fresh smell...)

Regarding High Efficiency (HE) Front-Load Washers

HE front-load washers require “special soap” for one reason alone – low suds. Because they use less water, they require soap that is "less sudsy". The good news is, this homemade detergent is VERY low suds. The ”special” HE detergent is just another advertising mechanism to push consumers to buy “special soap” for unnecessarily high prices. Don't fall for the hype!
Shower and other hard surface cleaner
This one really got to me! As I've said over and over, we have "hard water" or water with a high mineral content. If you don't have an expensive water softener then you can kiss shiny shower doors and chrome fixtures good bye unless you spray them constantly, and who has time for that?

This is by far the easiest and cheapest of all of the homemade cleaners to make. This is simply equal parts white vinegar and blue Dawn dish washing liquid mixed in a spray bottle. 
I've been using this concoction for a really long time and I've used both the generic detergent and the Dawn brand. The only difference that I've seen is that the Dawn brand has a little bit less of an "ammonia" type odor to it. I haven't found that it cleans any better, but its normally a costs a little less. 

I use this in my showers, on sinks, a few drops in my bucket when I scrub my floors, on my kitchen counters, when I wash my vehicles it cleans rims and shines the chrome on our motorcycle like no body's business! We live on the water and we always have salt spray on our windows. I spray a little water on my windows, I squirt a little bit of this on my windows and then rinse it off and I don't even have to use a squeegie. 
I'll never buy Windex again!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Another man's trash...

My mom had these chairs in her dining room and after several years of fish fries, Thanksgiving dinners, gravy spills and grandkids the beautiful white seats were done. She tried every Martha Stewart and Heloise trick in the book to get the stains off of the seats, but they only seemed to get larger each time. 

My mom has always been the "June Cleaver" type, and once she makes up her mind it is DONE! She decided she wanted to replace the chairs with something more lightweight and WITHOUT cloth covered cushions. She grew to loath these chairs, so she was just going to haul them to the dump!

I could see past the stains and I offered to recover them for her, but her mind was made up. Knowing there was no changing her mind I did the next best thing and offered to take them off of her hands...  


First one done...

Taaa Daaaa!

I know what you are thinking, and yes, I did offer to give them back to her when I was done. She saw them, but she'd already gone out and purchased 6 new cushion less chairs, and told me to keep them. =)  Not bad for $1.25 per yard on the clearance rack at Walmart, huh?! I think I spent about $10 on Scotch Guard to help protect them and prolong their life. 

Isn't it amazing the things that people will throw away?  

Recycled Windows

I actually found these windows behind my mom and daddy's wood pile! See the green junk on the glass and the moss growing on the frame?! These are some OLD OLD OLD windows! There are three of them, and out of the three there was only ONE broken pane of glass. Can you believe that? There's no telling how long they've been out behind that wood pile? 10+ years at least.
 My original plan was to just clean off the dirt and leave the original paint, but the original paint literally came off as I was brushing the dirt off. What didn't brush off came off when I wiped it down with a mild solution of Murphy Oil Soap and warm water, but I had to kill all the funk that was living on it before I brought it in my house!

Here it is after I cleaned it all up. I'm glad I didn't paint it. I think it looks nice just "nude".
This one of the other frames that I decided to turn into an end table. I hate that it looks like Bella is about to poop in the chair! She's actually jumping down, but at least I got a good shot of the table, right?

I used some scrap lumber to build the table. Literally the only real money I sunk into it is the piece of table top glass that I have on order and the legs. Other than that everything else is made from what we had on hand. The box frame is a piece of left over deck board. 

The window frame is attached to the box with hinges so that I can lift it and display my fragile shells and beach glass and other precious things that I don't want the cat batting around. In theory I guess I could just use it without a piece of glass on top, but I'll feel safer with a thicker piece protecting that old window frame glass. 

You can't really see it, but I used Gorilla Glued AND I screwed the legs to the frame as well as brad nailed and screwing a brace in place. This thing is ready for a Cat 4 hurricane!
The legs are a pressure treated colonial style picket from the lumber section for $3.11. I cut it half, sanded it smooth, and painted it. They had decorative "pretty" ones for sale that were almost identical to these, but they were $10.00 each! For $6.22 I got 2 legs instead of $40.00! Plus the pressure treated legs were chunkier and had a more study, rustic feel to me. The furniture legs were too foo-fooy and delicate for this project. 

The crackle technique that I used is simply a coat of Elmer's white glue painted over the dark stained wood. Then I let it dry until it was "tacky", then I went over it with a coat of flat white latex. Because I'm so patient (NOT) I got out my handy dandy blow dryer and sped up the drying process. It was really neat to watch the paint 'cracking' right before my eyes! Once I got the level of 'crackle' that I was looking for I left it to sit and really dry well for about an hour while I ran some errands. When I got back I used some 100grit sand paper and 'wore' the edges down to make it look really worn and old.  

Here's an idea of what it will look like once I get the glass for the top. 

My helper is quite impressed with my carpentry skills!

So if you add up the $23.00 for the glass, $6.22 for the legs,  and $2.33 for the hinges, then we are looking at a total investment of about $31.55. Of course that doesn't include my time, but I'm getting a super cool table out of it, plus I'm saving a little piece of history because I know where the window frames came from. (They came from a REALLY old building that was torn down on the island where I grew up. They're getting close to being 100 years old.)

Meet The Family

Thanks for stopping by. I wanted to take a second to introduce you to my family. 

This is my handsome husband Jeff who you will often hear me affectionately refer to as "McHottie". He's my go to guy when I need something built. He takes my random ideas and helps me turn them into reality. He can build or fix anything. 

These are our two youngest grocery gobblers: Brook and Mason. 

This is my Mason and me, then our oldest daughter the day she got her drivers license. She was so excited because she passed her test on the first try. (All of her cousins had to take it 2-5 times each!)

This is our kitty Fuzzy. She's trying to help me out with this whole blogging thing...
This is Bella our English Bulldog. She is my "muse'. She is a riot! I wanted her like a bad case of the clap, but now that we have her I wouldn't trade her for a million bucks!

 And finally this is Princess Shelby. She is getting old and grumpy, although she doesn't look it in this picture. Like Bella, she's also a rescue dog. These three girls keep me in stitches with their antics!