Master bedroom on a budget!

I wish I’d taken a before picture to show how hideous the master bedroom was. But for the past 2 years (since we moved into this house) I’ve made sure no pictures were taken in that room, because it was so horrid. So, there are no pictures of the sadly neglected master bedroom. But I do have pictures (iPhone pictures, I’m afraid, in low light) of the newly redecorated bedroom! Check it out:

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Other than the dresser, which hubbs splurged on (Ikea, $249, I think), the rest of the room was my thrift shopping.

5′ x 8′ rug: $49 at Old Time Pottery

Comforter with 2 matching shams: $13 at Salvation Army

2 coordinating shams: $0.79 at Value Village (thrift)

Coordinating throw pillow: $1.49 at Park Avenue Thrift

Remnant upholstery fabric for headboard: $4.50 at Old Time Pottery (and I have enough for valences! – later )

Foam mattress topper for headboard: found it in the basement – used to be on one of the kids’ beds.

Button covering kit for headbard tufting: $8.00 at Hancock Fabric

Quote above the headboard: $14.99 at Old Time Pottery

Total: $78.77, plus hubby’s dresser

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I no longer cringe walking into my room. I think it’ll need some color on the walls at some point, and I’ll install a closet organizing system at some point. But for now, I’m pretty happy with my <$80 redecoration!

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DIY! Owl applique

What does one do when crazy busy with accelerated nursing classes, 3 kids, a job, and a hubby who’s out of town for military service? Applique an owl (my school mascot) onto a backpack! Yes, I think we refer to that as escapism, avoidance, procrastination, or some similar phenomenon. Other examples might be building a headboard from scratch (which I am actually also doing), painting the dining room (hope to do next week), knitting scarves for my kids that they won’t wear (done), and churning my own butter (I’d have to be really, intensely stressed and slightly insane to consider that one…).

Anyhow, everyone in the nursing program at my school is required to buy a black backpack filled with nursing lab supplies – gauze, saline solution, syringes, catheters, etc… So, you have 150+ people in the same classes carrying the same bag. I needed something to make mine stand out. (And I needed a justifiable reason to not make my head spin with pathophysiology).

So, my black backpack got ‘pimped’ with my own DIY owl applique! I used a template for the owl, picked up coordinating fat quarters in black and yellow (my school colors) from Hancock Fabric, and used a tutorial on embroidery stitches to master the blanket stitch around the edges of each layer. I pulled some similar-ish buttons out of my giant bowl-o-buttons for the eyes, and finished the whole thing in an afternoon today. While not studying.

If I’d been planning ahead, I would have taken step by step pictures. But I wasn’t planning ahead – just procrastinating. And so you only get a couple shots (below) of the final product. I can tell you what I did though. I used the template as a pattern to cut out the pieces to make the owl. Then I used Hollywood Fashion Tape to secure the belly and eye pieces to the main owl cutout. I blanket stitched those into place with embroidery thread. Then I used the same method to stitch all of that to the backpack. Added the wings (with the fashion tape, then blanket stitch), and finished by sewing on the button eyes. I probably should have sewn those on with black threat (to look like pupils) or small black buttons, but as mentioned earlier, the planning ahead phase wasn’t part of my process. I’m thinking about using an embroider stitch with contrasting fabric to give “Lucky” a stethoscope…

Here are 2 pics of the ever-so-cute backpack:

Owl applique backpack 2

Isn’t it cute? My kids have named the owl Lucky. Maybe he’ll bring me luck when it’s exam time?

Owl applique backpackNow, if you’ll excuse me, I have about 3 gagillion pages to read and commit to memory. (Seeing as how I was too busy to do that earlier in the day…)

The 1-skein 1-hour scarf

Do you crochet? I have an insane number of unfinished projects around the house – knitting, crochet, sewing, other random arts & crafts… I have a problem with finishing things. Actually, I have a problem with starting too many things, running out of time, and then dropping projects in-progress to begin new ones. And that, friends, is why I have to share this one with you. I did a whole scarf in an hour,using only 1 skein of bulky yarn that was on sale for $1.99

Supplies:

1 skein of bulky weight yarn – 100+ yards (I used Loops & Threads Charisma)

Size N crochet hook

Instructions:

Chain 9, reverse, and single crochet (skipping the first chain) so that you have 8 stitches.

Chain 3 at the end of the row, turn and treble stitch all the way across, starting at the first single crochet. Continue treble stitching (with a chain of 3 to end each row, giving it enough height for the treble stitch). Keep going till you reach the desired length, or till your yarn is nearly used up. Save a bit at the end of the skein to put some fringe on the ends. Since we add fringe, there’s none of that pesky weaving in the ends bit that I hate to do.

Here’s a tutorial on the treble stitch.

DIY Spider costume!

Little Man wanted to be a ghost. Talk about a happy mama! All I needed was a sheet, scissors, a black marker, and about 10 minutes. But as 5-yr olds tend to do, he changed his mind. About a gazillion times. Until he settled on being a spider for Halloween. It was a little more advanced than a ghost, but still doable. Here’s my little spider:

Let’s take a minute to note that (a) I am no seamstress, (b) I plugged in my sewing machine for the first time this week, and (c) I am far from being detail-oriented.

Given my novice sewing skills, this was a stretch. But, here’s how I did it:

I bought a black sweatshirt, black sweatpants, and a long sleeve black t-shirt at the thrift store.

I cut the arms off the long sleeve t-shirt and used them as a template to cut another set of arms out of the body of the shirt.

Seamed the new sleeves, and turned them all inside out to close the ‘hand’ ends. Sewed the top half of the top opening in place where I wanted the new arms to be.

Stuffed all the arms (except the original sweatshirt arms) with old socks and scrap fabric, then finished sewing them in place. Used jewelry beading clear thread to connect the arms so that when Little Man raises his arms, the other arms come up too.

When all that was done, I used puffy glow-in-dark fabric paint to create a web on the front, and then coated that with silver glitter. Finally, I sewed some white and black felt eyes onto an old black hat, and voila!

Update: The beading floss used to attach his arms broke more than once. In the end, I realized that the stress on it is lower and the overall costume effect is greater if I attach it at the ‘hand’ end of the arms rather than the elbow area. That way the artificial arms mimic his real arms, and stress on the floss is unidirectional. Seems to help.

DIY Halloween costume: Kitty Cat

Bean wanted to be a cheerleader for Halloween and that was fantastic – we had the cheerleader outfit collecting dust in the dress-up box. Easy. Perfect. Till I checked the weather. Silly me – first halloween since moving from Florida and I realized that weather is actually a concern. I found a cute kitty cat costume online, but since it was last minute and all, Bean’s size was sold out.

A trip to the thrift store landed me a winter white sweater and a fuzzy black long sleeve, long legged unitard (jumpsuit?). With scissors and my brand spankin new sewing machine, I turned all of that (plus felt for ears) into this:

Ignore the white fuzzies on the floor… The sweater sheds…

Ignore the non-photogenic furniture – I needed the light for the shot.

Isn’t she cute??? The whole costume, felt included, cost $7. And I have the satisfaction of knowing I made it myself. And the sleep deprivation from deadlines stacked on top of each other to make my eye twitch. It’s hard to sew when your eye is twitching.

Halloween baking time

When the mom of an only child bakes super cute treats for the preschool party, it’s adorable. When the mom of two does it, it’s ambitious. When the mom of 3 still hasn’t learned that she can get away with store-bought ready-made treats, you have to wonder why she doesn’t learn.

For Bruiser’s “fall” party tomorrow (since “Halloween” is taboo in schools these days), I volunteered to bring not one, but two home-made cutesy treats. (What was I thinking?)

Here we have Witch Fingers:

These are super easy – refrigerated Pillsbury breadsticks with an almond on the end. If I’d been ambitious I would have added some green food coloring, re-rolled the dough, and had ghoulishly green witch fingers. But instead of ambitious, I was busy. And I’m ok with that.

Next I made Mummies:

I used a pastry bag to drizzle melted white chocolate around pretzel rods, and then added mini chocolate chips for eyes. The ‘recipe’ said to dip the pretzel rods in regular melted chocolate first, but I’m thinking the dozen or so three year olds won’t miss the extra dose of chocolate, and their moms will be quite happy I left out the added sugar.

Now, I’m off to finish the spider costume I started for Little Man, and finish the kitty cat costume I’m working on for Bean. Glutton for punishment? Or just overestimating the number of hours in a day? (Pictures of the costumes to come later… closer to ‘last minute’…)

Last minute homemade gifts

This post was meant to be posted about a year ago… Oops. Anyhow, I found myself at Christmas needing to make gifts for my brother and his wife. My budget was low, time was low, but I had little hands to help. So we made these:

They’re wine glass charms. I went to the local beading shop and told the lady what I wanted to do. She set me up with the wire and showed me how to bend it, then I collected different colored beads from around the store. I think I ended up spending about $12 and made a dozen charms. Well, scratch that. My kids made a dozen charms. I mostly delegated and coached…

DIY stinks

Ever have one of those times when things just aren’t going your way? It’s 8 days till Christmas and the remainder of gifts that I haven’t bought are meant to be hand made by me. Several of them today. And this is what I get for waiting till the last minute.

First, I’m making truffles. They’ll be boxed with 6 per box and given to Bean’s teachers and a few friends. But they aren’t coming out as planned. I put the boiler on too high to melt the chocolate coating and now my smooth milk chocolate is a grainy, bumpy mess. I got nearly enough good truffles for the teachers, but I’m hoping I can salvage my chocolate later. What do you think?

See the one missing? It was yummy. I meant to edit that out, but hey, we’re all friends here, right?

Then, I found the cutest idea at one a do it yourself site for a really creative (and easy and cheap!) photoblock. I got all excited, bought all the supplies I needed and printed my photo. But tell me, what would you do if you got a gift that looked like this?

I’m guessing you’d either (a) book your trip to the fun house at the local fair to see if your gift captured the essence of you looking in a fun house mirror, (b) chuck it in the trash (or recycling bin, since you know how long glass takes to biodegrade), or (c) politely say thank you and then rush to hide it in the attic until the gift-giver came for a visit, at which point you’d pull it out and put it in a prized place on the mantle? I think I’d probably go with A and B. And then I’d feel compelled to fight my way through a thank you note. Yikes.

So the question we end with today is, do I wrap it and tell them I made them a cute kitchy gift that they’re welcome to use as a bookend in a secluded place in the house? Or trash it for them and let my gift be unburdening them from the hassle of feeling obligated to express appreciation for a hideous, heavy chunk of glass?

Now if you’ll excuse me. I have to go shopping.

Combining pictures

There’s probably some photographer / graphic designer / in-the-know term for this, but I just call it combining pictures, cause I’m not really a Photoshop genius. Ever had a couple pictures of two people, only one person was out of focus in the pictures? If I were a real photographer that wouldn’t happen because I’d set my aperture appropriately to get both people in perfect focus with that ethereal blurry background every time. But I’m not. And I didn’t. So I ended up with this:

See how my sister-in-law is perfectly in focus but my brother isn’t? And then there was this one:

And in this one my brother is in focus and his wife isn’t (yes, they are pretty people, aren’t they?). So, what to do? I photoshopped it. I’ll take you through the steps, but I don’t know photoshop well enough to do a real tutorial. Here goes (if you don’t want all the steps, just scroll down to the bottom to see the really cool end image).

  1. Start out with Picture 2 as the background. That’s the one with Rob in focus. That one’s in the background because it’s less complicated – he doesn’t have long flowing hair for me to deal with.
  2. See how the coloring in that picture has more red in it than the other? See how the other picture is a little more exposed? In this one adjust the coloring and light to match the other. I can’t help you with that though – I just feel my way through it.
  3. In a new layer (ctrl + shift + N) put the picture with Casey in focus on top, then using layer properties bring the opacity down to around 60% so you can see through it.
  4. Now select that layer with the move tool and rotate and shift it until Rob’s eyes and mouth line up with his eyes and mouth on the other picture. Make sure you click the little check box when you’re done to accept changes.
  5. Raise the opacity back up to 100% in layer properties, so you can see what you’re doing.
  6. Select the eraser tool with a brush of about 60 pixels, with fuzzy edges. Set the background color to black in your little color box, and then start erasing Rob’s face (make sure that top layer is selected). You’ll see Rob’s focused face appearing where his fuzzy face used to be.
  7. When you’ve gotten it right, it should look like a single picture with the two faces in focus, like this:

Can you believe I did that? Yeah, me neither. Aren’t they pretty people?