Monday, October 31, 2011

Trick or Treat

Now that Halloween is over, I'm going to clue you in on something I've discovered.  Yes, I know it's too late for this year, but next year you'll be in the know - fun, homemade costumes earn you tons more candy.  And by "you" I mean "your child" because you're obviously not sending them to bed and then going through their stash like candy pirates, right?

My son was Saturn this year and he killed it!

You totally can't tell because we have a crappy camera that desperately needs replacing, but he even GLOWED IN THE DARK.

Total cost after tax = $4.90 (and a whole lot of blood, sweat and tears)

Okay, so no one is going to be shocked that the costume cost less that $5, but to me Halloween is the only American holiday that really embraces being creative rather than going out and spending tons of cash, and that's one of the things I like the celebrate.

I don't have any making-of pictures because I procrastinated until last week, during which my house was hit with a virus from hell.  So for three days my life was a messy rotation of papier mache, vomit and diarrhea.  So trust me, pictures were not a good idea.  But here's the details:

First, I totally stole this idea from this super cute kid.  Atticus was going to be King Kong originally, but I cannot make a gorilla outfit and couldn't find a cool one for less that $50, so that'll be another year.  I used one of those balls with handles that kids bounce on (whatever that's called) and papier mached around it.  I used the flour, water and salt formula, in case you were wondering.

I left fairly large openings at the top and the bottom because I was paranoid about not making a big enough hole.  Obviously if that had happened I would have just cut a larger opening (like I cut the arm holes) afterwards.  I'm not sure why I didn't think about that at the time, but I'll blame the virus from hell.  Instead I had to fashion little suspenders out of gorilla tape, but in hindisght the large neck hole actually worked well because it kept him from getting too hot or itchy.

The rings were made of a cardboard, covered with aluminum foil.  They had a nice sparkly effect.  I just wedged them on and they stayed put the entire night, even with him slamming into bushes and sides of buildings because he forgot how bulky a planet is.  I spray painted the entire thing with some leftover white paint and then the boyfriend painted it with acrlyic paints and then went over it with some glow-in-the-dark acrylic paint.  The paint was the only thing we had to buy - everything else was free or already owned.

All in all we had a great night and he's already coming up with ideas for next year (frontrunner - a robot).

Happy Halloween 2011!

Wanna see something scary?

My photoshop skillz!!!

I'm helpless with Photoshop and I'm not quite sure why since I'm really good with PaintShopPro (which I unfortunately don't have anymore).  But I love playing around on it to help visualize the ideas kicking around my head.

In this latest misadventure, I truly believe I've settled on an idea for our entryway.  I love having a separate entry (albeit a small one) and want to define it more, cozy it up a little.  Since I'm not supposed to paint, I'm thinking of using black contact paper cut into broad stripes.  Look how chic it looks in this pic from a New York Times article:

"On the Cheap" - NYTimes
They're brown stripes done with vinyl, but you get the picture.

I'll be back tomorrow with pics of my son's super cute, homemade $5 costume.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dining Chair Seats

I finished reupholstering my dining room chairs this weekend and I have to say I love them!  Although it wasn't easy, it also wasn't very hard or complicated - especially for my first time doing upholstery.

BEFORE - Halloween, anyone?
Here's the chairs before.  I painted them black ages ago.  The burnt orange fabric stuck around while I searched for almost a year for a fabric I liked.  Yes, chevron is cool and the fabric wasn't too rough - it just didn't do anything for me (or the chairs) so it had to go.
I picked this fabric because 1.) I wanted black, 2.) it was affordable and I had a discount coupon for an additional $10 off, 3.) it can easily be wiped down because it's vinyl, but it doesn't make the furniture look like it should be in a diner, and 4.) I liked the idea of adding a texture which would compliment rather than compete with the carving details. 

I ordered 3 1/2 yards at $11.58, and because of my coupon and's free shipping on orders over $35 - I paid a total of $30.53.  I only used 3 yards, but it was nice to have that extra 1/2 a yard on hand in case I made a mistake.

My mom gave me a roll of batting she had on hand.  I don't remember the exact measurements, but the bag said it was enough for a queen bed.  It was the perfect amount for six chairs.  I folded it in half (for a double layer), laid it on the ground and used this highly scientific method to cut out a square for each seat.  I'm sure I could have measured and used my math skills, but this was super easy and there's really no need to be very exact unless you are worried you won't have enough.

I chose not to remove the original fabric or redo the foam.  If your project is kind of scuzzy or if you want to do it the proper way, you can go that route.  However, my original seats were in nice shape and were still very comfortable, so I skipped that step. 

I also want to note that the original seats had welting, but I just stapled the batting tightly over it and there's aren't any weird ridges or lumps.  In fact, it might even help the seats retain their structure a little.  Stapling batting does not need a tutorial.  Do a staple in the middle of all four sides, making sure to pull it tight and then go around the edges until you have it secure and smooth.

I used a heavy-duty manual staple gun.  My shoulder and hand aren't a big fan, but it did the job just fine.  Every once in a while a staple wouldn't go all of the way through, so I kept a hammer on hand to tap those in.  My other tools were needle nose pliers to remove staples and a good pair of scissors.

If you're using a thinner fabric than I did, you want to follow the batting step with muslin to make sure everything stays nice and smooth.  Since my fabric was a thick vinyl, I skipped that step as well.

Next I rolled out my material and used my very scientific method to cut six pieces.   I made the mistake here of not making sure I was placing the seats in the direction I wanted the fabric to be on the seats.  So, I had to turn my fabric 90 degrees before I started stapling it.  Luckily I still had enough fabric on each side that this didn't matter, but make sure you check before you cut because that could be a costly error.

Stapling the fabric to the chairs is easy except for the corners, which are tricky.  I watched a few Youtube videos and picked up some hints.  Unfortunately, I didn't get any pictures of the process since both of my hands were occupied.  Make sure you are folding your corners in the same direction so it will look neat and professional.  Cut away excess fabric as you go to get a nice flat corner, however, do it slowly and in small sections to avoid overcutting. 

I've always heard to "wrap it like a present" but I must wrap my presents differently, because I used the "fold one side over the other" technique.  You want to concentrate on getting the corners, and then go back and finish stapling the rest of your fabric - you might even have to redo a couple of staples to get everything nice and taut.

And then you're done!  Easy-peasy, right?

Of course, I'm hardly finished.  I still want to paint the chairs red and maybe add nailhead trim around the bottom of the seats so they'll look more like the inspiration picture.

I didn't even bother screwing the seats back on the chairs since I'll just have to take them off again soon.  Although the black-on-black doesn't bother me nearly as much as the black-and-orange did, I definitely feel the need to keep working on them until I love them completely.  But for now I'm super happy with the way the seats turned out.

Friday, October 21, 2011

To Do

It's taking a lot of adjustments to get used to my new working schedule.  Combining a long workday (eight hours spread over 10) with the commuting hassle of a one-car family means most days I go from 6 am to 11 pm without a break.  That's a lot different than the stay-at-home mom schedule I've been pampered with the last couple of years.  Unfortunately, that means all my projects have been regulated to the weekend and it's looking pretty busy.

This Weekend's To-Do List:

  • Work on poster bed (maybe finish if drying times don't slow it down too much)
  • Have a garage sale (we're partnering up with our neighbor, so hopefully it'll bring a crowd)
  • Make Atticus' Halloween costume (there's papier mache involved, so it also might not get completely finished because of drying times)
  • Reupholster dining room chairs (I got the fabric in yesterday and love it!  I'm going to do the seats before I pull the trigger on the red paint.)
  • Remove last seat from other dining room chairs (the ones with straw seats - would have already finished this one if I hadn't gotten such a wicked blister with the first two)
I'm also going to try and squeeze in a dinner with my new coworkers and at least one festival (either the YMCA Fall Festival or the Texas Book Festival).  Mostly I'd just like to catch up on some sleep and watch a movie with the boyfriend.  Oh, and laundry.  Lots and lots of laundry.

I hope you have a good one!  See you next week!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Free Dining Chairs

Picked up these babies this weekend.  Free!

The boyfriend did a fair amount of eye rolling when I brought them home.  I can't really blame him, but I see the potential.
When I started taking off the seats and springs, I figured out they were stuffed with straw!  How old are these chairs? 
I think they're oak, and I was hoping to refinish them, but two of the legs have pretty significant gouges that will have to be filled.  So I'll probably paint them.  I definitely want to do a fun fabric on the backs.  Here are some inspiration pictures:

Honey and Fitz did an amazing job with some fun Chiang Mai material.  I love her use of faux ostrich for wipeability.

via Lovin That
Jessica Waks' Hollywood Glamour dining room.  Probably would be the easiest to resell - people keep trying to buy my black dining set and it's not even finished. 

I love the more traditional chairs paired with the modern table and modern fabric choices.  But ugh - more black oil paint.  My life would be okay if I never tackled a black oil paint project again.

Sarah 101
Sarah Richardson can do no wrong.  Will you believe that the homeowners actually changed the chairs after the show?  I think they make the room.  Here's the ones the homeowners ended up keeping.  (I'm also not a fan of the generic-looking switched out artwork.  But whatevs - it's their house.)

Rambling Renovators

Here's a better picture of the Sarah chairs.  Going this route would depend on finding two great patterns that work well with each other.  I have no delusions that I could do it as well as Sarah, so I'll probably choose a safer route.

I want to find a table to go with them first, and that will greatly influence the makeover process.  So, look forward to this project to be completed sometime in 2013.

Do you have a favorite?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Plumage by Martha Stewart

Lately I've been trying to concentrate on finishing old, half-finished projects before I move onto the new ones on our list.  For example, I want to build bunk beds for my son's room - but first I'm making myself finally finish the bookshelves I built over a year ago.  I got to the point where they were functional, and never finished painting them.  So they have been sitting half-painted, half-primed and one of them has an unattached back.  Pathetic, I know.

Anyway, the color I picked out ages ago and still love is Martha Stewart's Plumage for Home Depot.

It's the perfect, dark teal, peacock blue color.  This weekend I picked up a quart of it at Home Depot to finish the bookshelves and to redo the poster bed I bought off of Craigslist.    I'm almost finished with the bed, so I hope to have a big reveal soon.  Meanwhile, I thought I would share some other blog images I found featuring this great color:

Young House Love color matched it in no-VOC paint for their guest room.

A Brooklyn Limestone redid a sofa table/sideboard.

Wildwood Creek redid a campaign dresser.  Obviously, the color looks really great with gold.

Triangle Honeymoon did a desk.  This last picture looks the color in real life.  At least on my monitor.

I love the color so much.  Now I have to decide whether to glaze or not to glaze - that's always the question.  So far, I haven't glazed anything because I have always loved the way the freshly painted piece looks.  However, I am very tempted to glaze this one because I think it will really accentuate the French detailing.  But I won't do it heavily since I don't want it to go all French-country on me.  If I hate it, I can always paint over it with another coat, right?

Monday, October 17, 2011

Desperately Seeking Karaoke

One of my friends from high school is in Austin this week on vacation, so I was very excited about getting to see her again.  I think the last time we got together, my son was 6 weeks old - now he's in kindergarten.  So, yeah, we had some catching up to do.

The boyfriend and I have been intrigued by this place called The Highball since it opened.  But we never get to go out, so we hadn't checked it out before.  I suggested it to my friend as a good place to hang out on Saturday night - very hipster Austin-y (it's next door to the Alamo Drafthouse on S. Lamar) - because I (mistakenly, it turns out) believed they would be having a live band for karaoke.

Let me take a moment to explain that I am not a karaoke person.  I like to sing really loudly in my car, embarrassingly loudly to some in my car, but I could never with good conscience make a total stranger listen to me sing.  Not even a bunch of drunken strangers.  And supposedly karaoke is meant for people like me - those who love to sing but obviously shouldn't be doing it - but I beg to differ.  Maybe it's the American Idol effect, but most karaoke singers these days are pretty good and they know it.  At least that has been my experience.

So, I was psyched about karaoke night mainly because the boyfriend is a really good singer and loves karaoke.  He even owned a karaoke machine when we first moved in together and keeps hinting that he'd like to get a new one.  He's done live-band karaoke once before and loved it, so I was excited about him getting to do that again.

The Highball is themed like a 1960s nightclub, complete with awesome Sputnik lights.  They have a bowling alley, private karaoke rooms, a massive bar, and a dance floor.  I was a little concerned about not being hipster enough to hang out there, but it was a nice mix of clientele - including a "Divorce Party" happening at the table next to ours complete with a revolving cake with a naked man on top.  (Sorry, I didn't get a picture of that.  As usual, I was afraid of appearing like a super dork and didn't take any pictures.)

Unfortunately, the bowling had a 3-hour wait and it turned out they weren't doing karaoke but a Footloose Dance Party.  We probably should have just finished out our night there (the divorcee was nice enough to invite us to bowl with her group), but we had our hearts set on karaoke, so we drove uptown to the only karaoke bar we could think of - The Common Interest.

It's your typical karaoke bar, except that it is very popular and you must have to either tip the DJ handsomely or show up at 5 o'clock on a Saturday to get a chance at the stage.  We were there for 2 hours and when we left, the boyfriend was still about 45 minutes from getting on stage.  Of course, the guy who chose to sing the 9+ minute version of American Pie didn't help things along.  (Honestly, who does that?)

So that's how we managed to not do karaoke this weekend.  We still had a blast and I got to drink alcohol for the first time in ages, so well worth it.  We got carded at both places, which made the 43-year-old boyfriend feel really good, but made me break out my sarcastic "Really?  I've got four kids!" because I hate looking like a seventh grader, especially after going through all of the trouble of make-up and hair straightening.

Did everyone else have a good weekend?

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Twin Canopy Bed

I scored this vintage twin bed off of Craigslist yesterday for $25.

I'm feeling peacock blue...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Vintage Bag

My stepdaughter and I went shopping this weekend and I quickly added a few items to my virtual wish list.  First off, a pair of boots.  I don't have any and want to invest in a nice pair.  I also fell in love with this bag at Macy's:

Fossil Vintage Re-Issue Satchel
It's $188, which is about $140 more than I usually pay for a bag.  I also saw several really cute bags at T.J. Maxx for around $40, so that makes the idea of buying this one even less likely.  But I do like it so. 

The line also has a slightly larger (and slightly more expensive) tote and "weekender" bag, which would probably be a better investment because I could forgive myself for paying that much for a piece of stylish leather luggage. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

Dining Room Rugs

Two rug options I'm mulling over for the dining room.  They're both on Overstock, so we'll see if I manage to save up and buy one of them before it disappears.

Hand-woven Yoki Jute Rug - $152 (on sale)
This one is fairly bland, but that's a good thing.  I don't want anything to busy or bright, just an anchor for the table and chairs.  Pros:  The color is just what I was looking for, natural fibers are durable, I like the subtle chevron pattern, nice price.  Cons:  Maybe too small - it would work, but I think I'd rather a 6' x 9'. 

Before I show you the next one, I'm going on a major tangent, complete with pictures.

This weekend we watched the OU/Texas game at one of the boyfriend's friend's house.  I wish I had brought my camera, not just for the great family-time pics, but because the house was Ah-mazing.  They bought this fairly run-down 1950s ranch house about 25 years ago and have been steadily renovating it. 

Luckily one of our friends did have her camera.  This is the view from their pool area - where we watched the game in their gazebo/bar.

This is (a very low) Lake Travis - the white part on
the island is all usually underwater.
Here's my son playing in the pool.  We didn't bring bathing suits, so I let him play in his underwear.  Then I posted it on the internet.  I'm going all out for Mom of the Year.

Anyway, here's how we circle back around to rugs.  The friends are wrapping up their latest renovation - adding a 1200 sq. ft. office space/second floor (you can see some of the windows in the above picture).  They are using it as the corporate headquarters of their business now, but when they move it'll be a master suite.  While we were touring the space, I kept fixating on the carpeting - this lovely tone-on-tone diamond pattern.  I've seen versions of it before, but never realized how much I liked it.

So when I was searching for other carpet options last night, I decided to try a diamond pattern and found this one I really love:

Hand-woven Diamond Jute - $126 (on sale)
It kind of blows the first one out of the water - if (and this is a biggy) it is more of a gold color than either yellow or orange.  It's bigger (6x9), less expensive, and I like the pattern more.  So I'm going to cross my fingers and hope it will still be there in a couple of weeks.  It's kind of risky, since I won't know if it's the right color until it gets here - and return shipping from Overstock is kind of ridiculous.  So we'll see. 

To be continued...

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Red Dining Chairs

Decision made.

From Sketch42
This picture (which I saved because I liked the mirrored wall) did it.  The dining chairs are going red with black seats.  I'm buying this fabric for the seats - wipeable, fun texture (I am from Louisiana, after all), and affordable.

Faux Leather Gator Black
The goal is to have them finished before Halloween.  Because I bought the set over a year ago, which is just shameful on so many levels.

Other red dining chairs I like:


Design Sponge


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

31 - Whoo Hoo!

Yesterday was my birthday!  31 isn't all that exciting of a birthday, especially when you wake up with a head cold.  However, in many ways I felt like it was a big milestone birthday for me.  My 30th year was rough in several different ways and I was glad to shut that chapter and be able to move on.  A big part of that starts with me finally getting a job offer (on my birthday - lucky me!).  I'm going back to teaching preschool, which I love but pays peanuts.  So don't think I'll be turning my back on my frugal ways anytime soon - however, I am looking forward to shopping!  For fun!  Because I want something, not just out of necessity!  I've already started the list of things I want around the house and hope to start churning out more furniture redos now that I have some capital to invest.  I have an idea of taking a $100 investment and using it to keep flipping furniture until I have enough to buy a big item like a new TV or enough to pay for our couch reupholstery.  Not to mention Christmas is right around the friggin' corner.  When did that happen?

So here's to new beginnings and new projects! (Imaginary toast) 

P.S. I'm always a little surprised by what free stuff you get on your birthday.  Not presents, but just free swag like a $10 gift certificate to a local restaurant, and a free night's rental at Redbox.  I'm not one of those crazy people who runs all over town trying to score free stuff, but if they mail (or e-mail) it to me, I'll gladly accept.