Category Archives: DIY

I Fixed a Chair

Yup this is pretty much self-explanatory.  I made oura rocking chair usable again.  To start at the beginning, we bought a simple rocking chair from Wal-Mart (first mistake possibly…) before Tyler was born for, well you know, all that rocking new babies need.  We used it for quite awhile until Tyler outgrew all that rocking around 4 months, but the chair had developed some problems along the way. The springs were just metal zig zags that were stuck intp drilled holes in the seat.  Needless to say when the springs got a little bent they popped right out, and there was no going back.

The chair before.  The springs have been removed as well as the top pad.  If you sat down, you'd fall right through!

The chair before. The springs have been removed as well as the seat pad. If you sat down, you’d fall right through!

My plan of action to make this sucker usable again was to make a new seat like the lawn chairs that have the plastic weaved on the metal frame.  Since I didn’t have that plastic stuff that was used for that, I dug out some old burlap that I’d had for about 2 years now.  Since burlap isn’t exactly a fine weave, I decided make each strip doubled.

Cutting each strip of burlap to weave across the chair seat.

Cutting each strip of burlap to weave across the chair seat.

Each strap was measured to allow about a half an inch extra material past the side of the chair seat “hole”. To secure my loose weave burlap a little bit more, I sewed the ends shut with my trusty dusty sewing machine.  I created 6 straps, 3 for each direction.  It was then time to attach them!

The new "springs" for my rocking chair.

The new “springs” for my rocking chair.

I attached each strap with the staple gun, which I never used before.  It was way easier than I was expecting!  My plan was just to do two on each end of the chair, but to be on the safe side (and because it was fun!), I just decided to put as many staples in as I could.  This was a cheap chair, it really didn’t have to be a pretty fix!


With the cushions back! All fixed and ready for some rockin’!

I tested it out after I finished just to make sure it held.  Tyler loves to rock in it (even before it was fixed), so I didn’t want it to fall apart immediately.  It seems to be holding on pretty well so far!  Now I don’t have to get rid of a chair that only had one very easy problem to fix!


Rockin’ the Landscape

This is a project that has taken us what seems like forever, but I have to remind myself this wasn’t supposed to be a fast projec,t and no project is speedy when you have a 15 month (and now nearly 17 month old) to watch.  I can finally say that all of our existing flower beds are finished.  Other than planting annuals, I’m hoping never to have to mulch, plant perennials or put down weed blocker again.

If you remember at the end of this post, I showed a picture of what our back flower beds looked like in the beginning stages of “Operation Never Mulch Again”.  It was pretty sad and weedy, but it’s looking a lot better these days!

The back patio and flower beds after putting down new weed blocker and mulch. A cute puppy always helps things look better too.

We decided to go with a typical large river rock that was somewhere around 1.5″ in diameter.  We got it at our local nursery Country Arbors.  After doing some bad math and thinking we needed somewhere around 11 cubic yards, yes it’s hard to compute inches to feet and feet to yards, we finally realized that we needed about 2.5 cubic yards, but figured we could get away with 2 c.y.  My parents came up a couple weekends ago, and my mom watched Tyler while Dad helped us tear up old mulch, put down the weed block, and shovel in the new rock. As we worked, it became obvious we weren’t going to get everything done. We got all of the back done, the small beds around the garage door and the front door, and about 2/3’s of the way through our 33′ front bed. We needed another load of rock.

How far we got with our first load of rocks, starting planting of our shade plants and what Tyler, Guster and I did while Eric planted.

How far we got with our first load of rocks, starting planting of our shade plants and what Tyler, Guster and I did while Eric planted.

The next weekend we went back out to Country Arbors and ordered another cubic yard of river rock. While we were there, we decided to look for shade plants. We have a huge maple tree in the front of our house. It shades the entire front yard, which faces east, in the morning while the house shades the front in the afternoon. We had had a few hostas there that had died at some point as well as tulips which do great but are dead by the middle of May (if we’re lucky), and also some irises that evidently don’t like all the shady time either.

Our show stopper middle of the bed plant.  A beautiful purple clematis (hopefully it grows in the shade!)

Our show stopper middle of the bed plant. A beautiful purple clematis (hopefully it grows in the shade!)

Our short filler plants.  Two Japanese grasses, a blue hosta, berry smoothie heuchera

Our short filler plants. Two Japanese grasses, a blue hosta, berry smoothie heuchera

We ended up spending a good $125 on plants just for our front bed. We ended up getting 4 berry smoothie heuchera plants, 2 blue hostas, 4 Japanese grasses that evidently don’t like water very much, and 1 other hosta to match one we already had. We alternated these plants around a “JackManni” Clematis. We had a wonderful person guiding us through the plants at the nursery who said the “JackManni” was the hardiest, most difficult to kill vine they had. We wanted something tall that can actually be seen from the road. We got all of our plants in the ground that weekend. We took turns planting and watching Tyler. While all the plants are pretty short at this point, it adds a little interest to the front of our house.

The front bed filled with rocks and finished!

The front bed filled with rocks and finished!

We got our final load of rock this past Monday and were able to finish it up this weekend. Our total price breakdown was about $320 for the rocks, about $125 on new plants, and around $50 for the new weed blocker liner. In the good news, we are done with the flower beds!! Hopefully now we’ll never have to touch these again! No new mulching every three years, no nasty pulling up old weed blocker and hopefully no new perennials! All of that is totally worth nearly $500.  Our landscaping is done…well maybe we still have this pile of rock left after putting down all the rock we needed…

The rock we have left over from our second order of rocks!

The rock we have left over from our second order of rocks!  I see a new flower bed in our future!

Can I sew? Totes!

Can I say totes while being 30-something and sound cool? I’m guessing I can’t pull it off. But what can I pull off? Making a tote bag to haul my and Tyler’s stuff to work/daycare everyday. I was nervous about this project, but this might be the easiest one I’ve done so far…or I’m just getting better at sewing.

So first why a tote bag?  Well for the past 2 years or so I’ve been using a Menard’s reusable shopping bag.  They aren’t the most stylish bags I’ve ever seen, and on top of that I’ve hauled so much stuff in them that both of our bags now have holes in them .  It was beyond time for a new bag.

My two fabrics.  The chevorn was for the inside and the teal flower print was for the outside.

My two fabrics. The chevron was for the inside and the teal flower print was for the outside.

I found a great tutorial just by Googling for tote bag sewing instructions.  Outside of cutting the 4 pieces of fabric for the body of the bag, it only took me about 3 hours to crank out the rest of this.  That may sound like a lot, but for a novice like me, it’s pretty good!  I decided that the 13.5″x14″ created in the tutorial was too small for me especially when I have to haul diapers to daycare. I increased the size to 17″x16.5″.  I unfortunately didn’t realize I was going to do this when I bought my fabric from, so I had to go back and order more.  Even with having to do that, I still only spent about $14.50 for the entire bag.  I don’t think I could have found a bag at the store for cheaper than that, so I think I finally saved money on a project!  If I’d ordered the right amount of fabric the first go around I would have saved significantly on the shipping too!

So I forgot to take pictures of all my steps because I got in such a zone once I started on the straps and was sewing it all together.  I’m pretty proud of this bag though.  I use it every single day, and I really like how it looks.  It actually looks like something I bought at a store.  I’m seriously considering making another one just for the fun of it.

My finished tote bag.  I didn't get a picture of the chevron on the inside, but it's there!

My finished tote bag. I didn’t get a picture of the chevron on the inside, but it’s there!

This is a project that I could definitely see giving as a gift or something like that. Everything else I’ve done, not so much. I’m definitely beginning to feel like I’m actually becoming a decent sewer though. I’m pretty proud of my progress since the middle of January. Now I need to figure out what to sew next! Any ideas?

Finally Cushions!

Finally I have finished my chair cushions for our bar stools.  It only took a couple months.  They were busy months though.  At least that’s going to be my excuse.

First Eric and I went round and round about the fabric until we found this bamboo patterned fabric on Spoonflower.  Although it’s not multi-colored like I was hoping.  It does add a color to the room that certainly wasn’t there before.  I used this as my pattern for my cushions.  I made each cushion 15″x16″x3″ for mine.  The only features that were different from the online instructions was that I didn’t make the piping, and I didn’t put a handle on them to make them look more like chair cushions.  I got some foam cushions from Joann’s Fabric (that aren’t staying inflated all that well, but there’s a zipper so I can always replace it!).

Different stages of the cushion being made

Different stages of the cushion being made

The zipper was definitely the hardest part.  It is true that practice makes perfect though because the second one went a lot easier even though I had to rip some seams on the second one and go back and start parts again.  The online tutorial definitely had great directions for the zipper though.  It just took me awhile to get all the sewing lingo.

The chairs with their brand new cushions

The chairs with their brand new cushions

I think they turned out pretty well even though it was only my second sewing project.  I might still add some ties for the back so that the cushions don’t fall off, and Tyler can’t pull them off.  They’re done for now though!  I already have my fabric for my next sewing project.  I just have to find some time to start on them!

Clutter Be Gone!

I have lots of projects that are way more interesting than these little projects to declutter my house.  Unfortunately they’re all half done, and are not in a good place for a show and tell right now.  So here’s how I cleaned up my house a little bit by taming my coupon piles and my torn out magazine pages.

This was something big for me .  I love to throw things away because I hate clutter.  A LOT.  The problem is I then go looking for something I threw away, and I’m disappointed that I no longer have it.  This is especially true of magazine articles.  I’ll remember that I tore out some gardening idea or a recipe or a paint color I loved, but I won’t remember the details of it any more of that.  I’ll know I tore that page out of the magazine months ago, but because I didn’t have anywhere to store it, I will have gotten tired of looking at it lying around and have tossed it a month ago.  So I was getting quite a stack of pages again and decided it was time to not just toss them but find a good way to store them.  Of course my first course of action was to look on Pinterest.  I found this and surprisingly that was the only idea I found there.  Luckily, I thought it was a good idea though.  I decided to do a little twist on it since I didn’t think I’d have that many articles (I only read one magazine, Better Homes and Gardens), and I went with an expandable file folder.  I found a cute one at Target.

My file folder for magazine articles

My file folder for magazine articles

It only has 5 pockets, but I really liked it. Plus I don’t think I tear out that many articles of different types.  My categories are “Desserts”, “Meals”, “Gardening”, “Home” and “Me Time”.  I think I could have used a “Kids”, but I hadn’t torn out any of those articles yet, so it got pushed back for “Me Time”.  Plus if I find I’m tearing out a lot in a category I don’t have I can always switch them. So far I only have a few articles in each category, but I have only been doing this for a couple months.  It gets the torn pages off my kitchen table or end table or wherever else they end up.  Plus I like that the file folder is easy to store anywhere around the house and portable to wherever I’m reading my magazine.

The other clutter that drives me absolutely bonkers is my coupons.  Before I decided I needed some organization, I was cutting them out and having great plans to use them.  Unfortunately, I’d forget and then not save the money (even if it was only $0.25), and beyond that was wasting my time cutting them out.  My old storage plan was just having a big stack of all my coupons in no particular order whatsoever, just how they ended up.  Now I know there are the extreme couponers who have binders that are seriously organized, and they take those to the store, and they save a ton of money.  That’s not me.  I don’t buy multiple Sunday newspapers.  I just cut out the coupons of products we use or might possibly use to save myself maybe $3 a grocery trip.  It doesn’t really add up too much, but at least I feel like I’m doing something. I didn’t need some big really well organized system that would take me hours on end because honestly I wouldn’t keep it up.

My small purse size coupon organizer

My small purse size coupon organizer

I just got this very small, very portable coupon organizer at Wal-Mart.  I don’t have a great system, and they aren’t labelled currently.  I just put things that expire within the same week in the same division and then I go through my coupons each week.  I wasn’t even doing this going through my coupons regularly before, so I’d have coupons that were over a month old.  This is much easier because I just have to throw out one group of coupons (no sorting) a week.  It’s must easier to sort them when I’m only putting the ones away that I’ve cut out each week!  I think I have been using my coupons more regularly since I started this.  I really like that I don’t have coupons blowing off my book shelf every time I walk by too.

While these aren’t big changes, they certainly help me feel like my life is a little more manageable, and that my house is a little bit cleaner.  I think it also saves me time in the long run even if I’m devoting a little bit more time to it once a week or once a month.  Plus I know that Tyler won’t easily be able to get his hands on these pieces of paper and destroy them.  Next up in my goal for a decluttered house is organizing the toys in the play room, and making our feet a little safer from toys!

Weekend Away and a Birthday Pennant

It’s getting harder and harder to keep writing 2 posts a week!  Hopefully, by the end of this week things will calm down a little bit.  Although then we start gearing up for March, otherwise known as birthday month in this house!

Well my week away from Tyler has ended.  After my work trip to Ann Arbor , Eric and I left for a weekend in Galena with friends that Friday afternoon.  Eric’s mom came to stay with him.  We’re pretty lucky that both grandmas are so willing to come and watch him when we have something we really want to go do.  (My mom is coming up this Friday to watch Tyler while we go see Miranda and Dierks!  Can’t wait!)  Plus it’s good bonding time since Tyler doesn’t get to see his grandparents too much due to the distance.  It was the first time Eric’s been away from Tyler for more than 24 hours while obviously I’ve been away a bit more (Does that make me a bad mother?).  I was definitely looking forward to some time to sleep in and not take care of the baby for awhile.  It turned out pretty nice, and I think Eric enjoyed it more than he’s willing to admit even though we both did miss Tyler quite a bit.  When we got home Sunday afternoon, he was certainly happy to see us too, which is always nice too!  At least it helps us feel like we’re succeeding in this parenting thing currently.

This is another busy week although at least I’m home for this one though.  Besides the concert on Friday, there’s cake to make for work, plenty of household chores to catch up on from being gone so much, not to mention Tyler and Guster time.  I’m definitely ready for another weekend, and it’s only Tuesday!

After this week, we’ll be in full birthday planning mode I think.  We have made quite a bit of progress in this area though.  We ordered (or I should say Eric ordered while I was exercising) Tyler’s birthday presents last night, and on our drive home on Sunday, we figured out the menu for the family party on the 9th.   What I finished quite awhile ago is Tyler’s pennant for his party and his room.

Tyler's birthday puppy pennant

Tyler’s birthday puppy pennant

I used this tutorial to create the pennant.  I have to say my favorite part was sewing the triangles to the bias tape.  I found it much harder to keep a straight line when I was sewing the pieces of fabric together to make the triangles.  For my first sewing project, I think it turned out pretty well.  It was really simple.  I think a few good first sewing project definitely.  Hopefully Tyler will enjoy it as he gets older, and I think it’ll add some nice color to his room once his birthday is over.  I do wish I’d picked a little bit more colorful fabric, but since this was my first time actually choosing coordinating fabrics the blues work just fine.  Also, the puppies and bones on the fabric are just so cute too!

Detailed shot of the fabric used

Detailed shot of the fabric used

Well that’s where we stand with the birthday preparations at this point.  I think by the next time, I do a birthday post we’ll hopefully have had at least one party!

Kitchen Changes

Ahhhh…back to writing and back to being at home.  I was in Ann Arbor the last 3ish days for work.  I missed Guster and Tyler horribly, so I’m so happy to be home tonight.  I played with Tyler most of tonight, and now I have Guster curled up next to me on the couch, so life is back to normal.  Eric and I are leaving for a weekend with friends on Friday though, so I’m spending a lot of time away for my boys (other than Eric) this week.  As much as I missed them, it was awfully nice not to have to worry about getting up in the middle of the night the past 2 nights though! 🙂

Now on to our big changes of last week…our new appliances!  They look pretty amazing.  We were supposed to get them on February 1st, but the dishwasher wasn’t available then, so the 8th it was.  It was worth the wait though.  We bought the appliances online from Home Depot before the end of January.  The deal they had going on ended at the end of January.  It was 10% off the cost, but it really cut down the price quite a bit.  I think we both would have preferred to actually talk to a salesperson to get our questions answered as we were ordering, but it seemed like it would take us less time to take care of it at home than deal with the people at Home Depot.  The other issue was that Home Depot online has a much wider selection than in the store, which was really important with our somewhat strange kitchen arrangement.  Mostly having the fridge right next to a wall made it a little harder to find a fridge that would open enough to get into the drawers.

The new appliances

The new appliances

Our new oven/range is a Samsung.  It’s a convection oven which I can definitely tell a difference in how evenly it bakes.  So far I’ve baked some chicken and cookies in it, and they’ve both turned out really well.  Having a light in there is a nice change since the other broke shortly after Eric moved into the house.  The new dishwasher is a Whirlpool.  We haven’t actually run it yet since I was gone earlier in the week, so no cooking took place.  Even though we had the appliances installed, Eric had to do a little repair on the drain because of size differences between the old and new drains.  We’re both waiting to see how quietly it runs and also not having to push the button multiple times before it actually starts and being able to use the delay feature.  There’s a lot left to figure out with the dishwasher yet!  The fridge is an LG, and it is the most amazing appliance I’ve ever had in my entire life.  I think it’s changed my life! (That might be a slight exaggeration…)  It has an ice maker and water dispenser in the door.  I don’t have to bend over to get into the fridge.  I’m not sure how I feel about the drawer on the bottom for the freezer yet, but it’s just so roomy and awesome at this point.

Now we’re trying to decide what is next for our kitchen.  We’re definitely going to be doing something with the floor (since it doesn’t come clean anymore), adding a backsplash, and figuring out something to do with the ugly counters.  The appliances were a good start though.  Seeing that change we can’t wait to see what other changes we can make to the kitchen!