Category Archives: DIY

Teacher Wreath – Craftsmas 2011 Project 3

I had a hard time deciding what to get my lovely sister-in-law, Emily, for Christmas. It ranged from something to do with crochet (she crochets, I knit, we are both extremely challenged in the others’ craft) to a Fiestaware butter dish (something she mentioned wanting). I even tried to find their wedding registry (she got married in July) to buy something they didn’t get, but they were nowhere to be found. Then I thought of a cute project my mom made for my teacher cousin Amanda – a wreath decorated with school supplies.

First step: Fluff the wreath

Emily teaches preschool right now, so I went with pretty basic stuff. Crayons, erasers, pencils. This could easily be adapted for someone who teaches another subject. Paint brushes and pastels for an art teacher, sheet music for the band director, etc.

I started out with a blank wreath from Wal-Mart. I decided I wanted to put a tiny chalkboard on it with her name, and searched high and low for one. In the end, I didn’t find a tiny chalkboard, but realized that I already had all the makings for one. I used a piece of black cardstock, outlined it in popsicle sticks and wrote her name on it with a white out pen (Ok. Mom wrote it.)

Then we just started laying the school supplies on the wreath. When we were happy with the placement, we secured them with copious amounts of hot glue.


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It may seem I have fallen off of my craft horse, but fear not! There are projects in progress, but they are going to be Christmas gifts, so I’ve got to keep them on the down low until they have been gifted!

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Illumination – Craftsmas 2011 Project 1

I have had my eyes open for some new lampshades or lamps for our bedroom for a while. We had one nice lamp and one lamp that was originally designed (by me) to be plugged into an outlet controlled by a light switch. There aren’t any of those in our room, so it was kind of awkward and the shade was always messed up.

I decided to do some lamp shade shopping on Black Friday, because, honestly, I feel like most places want an arm and a leg for a lamp shade. It’s not uncommon to find a lampshade I like at Kohl’s or JcPenney’s website and the price tag is a whopping $45. For one. That kind of price is just not in the budget, so I decided, on a whim, to check on Lowe’s website, and hallelujah. They had several shades that I loved, that matched my room and that were in my budget, at $12 and $15 apiece. It said they had some in stock at the Lowe’s that is conveniently one block from my house, so I hit the showers and headed out. They had both shades I particularly liked, but they were drastically different sizes (something that is hard to know when looking at a website.) I threw both in my cart and hit the spray paint aisle. If I was going to buy these shades, why not go all the way? While I wasn’t opposed to the mismatched look, I happened to have two matched lamps anyway.

If these look familiar, it’s because they once upon a time lived in my mom’s living room.

The shade I bought didn’t need a harp (the wire thing that holds up a lampshade), so I took those off and threw them away. Could I have kept them, just in case I ever needed them again? Yes. Do I need to do that? No. Probably won’t need them, and if I do I can just buy some new ones.

I gave the lamps a good dusting and then took a piece of sandpaper to them, just to rough the surface up a bit for the spray paint (per the spray paint can’s request.) Two quick coats later, and I had these lovely little lamps.

Per the spray paint can’s request, I let them sit for about an hour (the can only wanted 45 minutes, but I wanted to appease it so I gave it a little bit of extra time in the garage). They were dry to the touch, so I moved them to the porch and the Great Lampshade Decision began.

I loved this pattern, and kind of liked the slim look they gave the lamps:

But wondered if they were big enough.

Looks like a no. See how the light bulb sticks above the shade? I thought about getting a smaller bulb, but they are our reading lamps and I wanted to make sure they were plenty bright.

Bigger shades! I didn’t like these quite as much, but as much as I tried to believe otherwise, the other ones were too small.

The finished product

Color close up

New old reading lamps

Maybe that’s too many photos for a simple spray paint job, but I was pretty proud of them.

Total time: 3 hours (includes trip to Lowe’s, sanding, spray painting and dry-to-the-touch time. For good measure I let them sit on the porch for about 12 hours, but it was only 3 hours of being engaged in the project.)

Total costs:

Spray paint: about $6

Shades: $15 apiece

Already had the lightbulbs and sandpaper.


(I didn’t find this on pinterest, though I imagine there are similar upgrades)

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Filed under Craftsmas 2011, DIY, Room updates

The 25 days of Craftsmas: An ode to Pinterest

If you have not yet discovered, let me give you a quick rundown. Pinterest is an online bulletin board, where people attach links to things they love. It varies from pictures of attractive men to instructions for ingenious DIY children’s Halloween costumes. What you find there changes with the season and the closest holiday, and I love it. You can spend an hour there, you can spend 30 seconds there and you will be entertained either way. Some people choose to simply browse, other take a more proactive role and pin things they find there or add their own from the expanses of the internet. I am somewhere in the middle. I have several cork boards, including a knitting one, a food one, a home organization one and a home inspiration one. While I frequently repin things I find there, I rarely create my own. I haven’t a clue why I do it that way, it’s just the way I prefer. Another beauty of pinterest. Be as involved as you want to be.

I pin and pin and pin, and yet I have to actually make one of the projects from Pinterest. Granted, some things I won’t be able to accomplish until I actually own a house, but a lot of them don’t have any such caveats. So I’m setting myself a challenge. This Christmas season, I am going to make some of those pins a reality.

Now, I won’t pretend like I think I can make 25 crafts in December, because I would definitely get behind, so my goal is going to be 15. Also, they will not all be Christmas projects, because I just think I would get a little tired of that and then I would have to put all of my heard work away in January. Budget will be a big factor, with an emphasis on reusing and recycling things I already have. Also, I am just going to start now. There’s the challenge with some fast and loose rules.

And, while we’re at it, if anyone wants to join me in this challenge, please do! Comment on this post with your goal for number of projects and any other rules you’ve set for yourself, and I’ll feature you and your projects on the blog!

Happy crafting!


p.s. if you’re curious:

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As some of you know (and maybe most of you don’t) knitting is a huge part of my life and I hope for it to be a really huge part of my future. I have been writing a few patterns and trying to build up some items to start my own Etsy shop and have a knitting pattern book in the works as well as a children’s chapter book that has a little something to do with the culture of knitting in the past (loosely). Actually, most of you probably don’t know that. I’m pretty self conscious about my goals for my future as well as my abilities to accomplish them, so I often hide them. If I don’t tell you, you won’t know if I fail at them, right? Well, it’s time for a new attitude! It’s time to express my goals so that all of you can tell me how great I am and how I am going to achieve them :). Just don’t ask me how they’re going or I’ll turn red. (joking. about the don’t ask part. not about the red part.)

So I just thought I would share with all of you the debut of my knitting on a mainstream (in the knitting world) blog!

I took that photo in Florida while we were on our honeymoon. (Yes. One of my goals for my honeymoon was to get an awesome photo of a tiny gnome on a beach. This blog has a competition every year for the best photo with one of her patterns in it with some pretty sweet prizes.)

The writer of this blog, Anna, is pretty much my hero and I aspire to be her some day, though I may not focus solely on knitting toys like she does. But she is just so good at it! And some of her pieces are truly works of art, and are displayed as such in galleries worldwide. It’s very cool.

Hope you all enjoyed this “Insight into Sarah.”

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Sooo… that bed definitely isn’t going up those stairs

That is something to the effect of what our movers told us about my platform bed, a project Mom and I made when I moved out of the dorms and into an apartment.

But Paul and I were undeterred, and decided that we could not only get that bed up those stairs, but make it so it would be easy to get it back down and move it in the future.


Before, the bed frame out on the back deck

Step 1: Saw the bed in half.

This was the point of no return. We knew that there was a chance it would not go smoothly, and that if it did not, the bed may be toast forever. Undeterred, we borrowed Keith’s (Paul’s brother) circular saw. The saw wasn’t quite long enough, so after we had cut what we could with that, we had to go to Lowe’s and get a good old-fashioned hand saw to finish the job. The frame was a tiny bit shorter after the sawing, but not enough to keep the box spring from fitting inside.

Sawing it in half, with Keith's circular saw. It didn't saw quite all the way, so we had to go buy a handsaw to finish the job.

Step 2: Put it back together.

We went to the hardware store and got some buckles. Paul installed one on each side of the bed, and it snaps right back together. It doesn’t always stay that way, but as a guest bed I don’t think it will get enough use to be a problem.

All chipped up from the saw. Sad day.

Shiny new buckles, chipped paint, and the solution.

The finished product:

The end.



Several people have requested more photos of the house, so I’ll be adding them as I show specific rooms.

The guest room (which is upstairs) Sometimes we like to call it the orphanage:

The guest room, aka "the orphanage"

Luckily the bedding I used both at home in high school and in college matched each other, and we got the taller twin bed from my parents house. We added a couple bookshelves, a night stand and a chair. We’re still working on decorations to make it feel more lived in, but we’re going to wait and hopefully repurpose decorations we already had.

The upstairs landing:

The upstairs landing. It's a very sunny and pleasant place, and my airplane plant seems very happy there!

The open door to the right is the home’s second bathroom.

There isn't any storage, so we were lucky we had saved this over-the-toilet rack from my apartment in Champaign. We had repurposed it to be laundry supply storage at 605 N. State.

The knobs on the sink are kind of wonky, but they work. The showerhead is in pretty bad shape, but Paul, being the excellent handyman he is, replaced the showerhead in the main level bathroom. We're hoping to maybe put that old one (which is in bad shape but not quite as bad) into the upstairs bathroom. It's just a stall shower though so we aren't sure if it'll fit. We shall find out!

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Filed under DIY, Moving Craziness

The television

For the past year, our television has been wider than our refurbished (I use that term rather loosely. Mom and I gave it some feet, a new shelf and a little touch up of paint) tv stand. My parents got us a nice television for Christmas last year, so this year we decided to get ourselves a little present: a tv mount.






The living room after the television has been mounted



To keep the television from scratching up or nicking the plaster walls, we also devised a little system to keep the hard metal bars away from the wall.



The makings of TV mount bumpers

I folded some spare fabric I had around some spare fiberfill. I glued it into a pillow with a pocket on the outside to go around the metal bars. We tested them (very gently) and see to stay put well and do what they were meant to!


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