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Monthly Archives: November 2011

Fabric Shades from Ugly Blinds

I love the privacy of blinds, but I absolutely hate how synthetic and manufactured they look. As I mentioned before, I enjoy a good cottage, which is the antithesis of mass production. However, I am not a fan of the price tag that usually accompanies unique items. But with a little effort (and patience) I was able to disguise my plastic blinds as a classy shade. Let’s take a peek-see.

Supplies: Fabric glue. Scissors. Fabric. Tape measure. Blinds.

Step 1: Measure your window dimensions.

Step 2: Let your blinds out all of the way, so the cord on the side is all the way up to the top. Then cut away all of the little ladder strings, but make sure to STAY AWAY FROM THE MAIN, THICK CORD. When you’re done you should only have the 2 thick cords left.

Step 3: Pop the plugs out of the thick bottom part of the blinds. You are then able to slide the bottom part off, as well as slide off theunnecessary slats. I ended up keeping only 7 of the slats.

Step 4: Reinstall the big bottom slat and tie it off. Cut away the extra cord and replace the plugs. Recalling the window measurements, decide how long you would like your blinds. I added an additional couple inches because I didn’t know what kind of mistakes I would end up making…true story.

Step 5: Use the outline of your blinds as a guide for cutting the width and length of your fabric.

Step 6: Fold the top of your fabric over and glue it to top thick park of the blinds avoiding the ends as you need them free to put them on the brackets.

Step 7: Space your slats evenly down the fabric. I spaced mine 3″ apart because I wanted smaller folds. The bulkier you want your shade, then farther apart the slats need to be.

Step 8: Glue your slats with the convex side down so there is more surface area for the glue to stick. Make sure not to glue the main cord to the fabric as it must slide smoothly.

Step 9: Fold the other sides of the fabric over the slats and glue them down. Fold the fabric at the bottom under and behind the big bottom slat and glue down.

Step 10: Hang shades up as you typically would (once dry). If necessary you can glue down the sides to the brackets. Then stand back and feel super proud of yourself!

Organizing the Holidays

I don’t know about you, but the holiday season just recently crept up and kicked me in the back of the head. The last thing I remember is begging my daughter to wear her Halloween costume and I somehow awoke a month later wondering where all the Christmas lights came from.

Every year it’s the same song and dance for me; I put up the decorations and just as I am taking the empty decoration containers downstairs, I realize it’s time to put them back into storage for another year. My house always seems to look like you’ve interrupted it’s mid-life crisis with decorations half hung and scrap pieces of wrapping paper on the floor. BUT NOT THIS YEAR! I have a pre- New Year’s resolution to make it through the holiday while keeping my dignity intact.

Not everyone has this kind of room to store their artsy-craftsy wrapping paper. In fact, not everyone has this much room to store canned goods, let alone superfluous nonsense. Let’s see what practical alternatives us “normal folk” can use, because this isn’t happening.

This handy-dandy wrapping paper corral helps keep all of your rolls in one tidy spot. My mom actually has one of these and hers has a little storage hat that will keep her tape and scissors. It’s definitely convenient, but who wants to spent $15+ on a home for wrapping paper? (Not this girl.) I think we can find something cheaper.

This is a more cost effective version of a wrapping paper corral. In fact you probably have most of these items in your house already so the whole project could cost you a whopping $0.30 for hardware.

Maybe you’re not a corral type of person, or just don’t have the floor space to spare. Well you can always suspend the storage on hooks or nail them to the wall. To the left you can see a run-of-the-mill toiletry pouch has been re-purposed to contain tape, tags and all of the other gift-wrapping odds and ends.

Now the door hanger is well and good for the smaller bits, but what if you would like to keep the paper rolls with the other tchotchkes? You could always create a paper hanger with wooden dowels mounted on the wall, but I am going to be rude and assume you don’t want a permanent wrapping station stuck to your wall.

Here we have a shower caddy that has been given a new identity. Some caddies will have the possibility for more paper storage or less ribbon storage, but the great thing about these is that it was made to be something completely different, which gives you full authority on how you choose to use it.

Now that we have our wrapping paper ordeal under control, it’s time to move on to the rest of our life… or at least to Christmas decorations.

Ornaments are one of those pesky things that you don’t REALLY want to take time to organize, but you know if you don’t you’ll end up with broken pieces and crushed dreams next year when you open them back up. So every container company has decided to capitalize on that fear by creating variations of this storage device. Honestly this will work, but these boxes (depending on the size and brand) can get up into the triple digits. Seriously?! Yes.

But Martha Stewart in all her infinite wisdom has (of course) a cheaper idea. You still have to drop money on a plastic tote (typically in the $12 area), but that’s about it. You cut pieces of cardboard to fit into the totes.

Simply hot glue disposable cups in rows to the cardboard and fill the cups with paper towel. Ornaments fit safe and sound inside the cups and you can even leave room for an egg carton to be glued to the cardboard as well. Can it get any better?! No, it can’t.

On top of ornaments, as the holiday coordinator of your household you have the added responsibility of tackling Christmas lights, which (let’s be honest) I would almost rather wear a hat made out of chewed gum. But it doesn’t always have to be a nightmare. Products like “The Roller Thingy in a Bag” can ease the blood pressure when it comes to packing and unpacking lights. This contraption, again, costs money. And if your significant other wants a new iPod or an autographed baseball of some long deceased player (I wish I was kidding) then money is somewhat of a hot commodity.

I don’t really know what else to say except put your money back in your wallet and wrap your Christmas lights around something that is free. Thank you.

And finally, we have the age old question of “What the hell am I suppose to do with all of these Christmas cards?” If you set them out on a table then they constantly fall down (unless you tape them up), but then you lose a whole tabletop to cards. Or you put them in a stack, throw them away and feel like a total jerk about it. I think it is an adorable idea to set-up a tree to showcase cards, but I, for one, am not going to dig through lawn scraps this late in the year to find the perfect twigs, so let’s look at other options as well.

Hello garlandy goodness! A handrail is a great place to display your card collection this season. It’s out of the way and attached to an area that already has some intricacy. This person used ribbon and clothes pins to attach the cards to the bars, which makes it easy to pop one up there whenever you get a new one in the mail.

Honestly, you could hang up cards on a ribbon anywhere in your house. That person did it on the banister and this person put them over a mirror. You could hang yours over a doorway or from the shower curtain rod (probably not the most practical suggestion).

The purpose of all of this is to make your life easier around a time that is meant for fun. Stressing about tangled lights or trying to remember where you put the tape isn’t what I would call a good time. But no matter how you decorate, what you celebrate or how you choose to carry out your holiday traditions, it’s important to remember what this season is really about–presents.

WTF Were They Thinking?

I know I’ve been super serious lately about trying to assemble a laundry space that doesn’t require a Prozac upon entry, so I’ve decided to lighten it up with some WTF rooms. I obviously love color, texture, art and slightly obscure objects (as evident by my use of 100% of the junk left behind by the sellers). But sometimes, quite honestly, people lose their damn minds and seem to forget that after they decorate with impractical baubles and plastic furniture they also have to live there.

I’m just going to jump right in with a big “Are you kidding me?” The color and layout are’t the issue, but what’s going on with the teetering twig table? I could be wrong, it could be totally stable and only look like a rickety pile of kindling… but who wants something that even LOOKS this questionable in their house? I wouldn’t want to walk past this situation, much less set anything on it (except an open flame).

If you want a statement table, you’re much better off playing with color over structure. A table has a flat top and 3+ legs to plant it firmly on the ground. Most tables have this in common because those are the bare necessities for an item to be considered a table. A cart (to the right) is a viable variation on the standard table, if painting it bright, robins egg blue isn’t enough for you. There’s SO much contrast going on, but it works on the most basic level and that’s one step up from the brush pile above.

“Excuse me, waiter, there is a roll of rusted wire in my soup.” I’m all about the nature meets industry contrast, but that’s seriously a gnarled mass of wire hanging from the ceiling. Is there a light in there? I have no idea. Is it just for aesthetics? I sure hope not because it’s not doing its job. I’m not a total hater because I feel like I get what they were going for, but I am not one to sacrifice function for, well, anything. A light fixture made of deer antlers would have gone very nicely here. (I hope you know that last part was a joke.)

You want random wire pieces suspended from the ceiling? Perhaps going the more structured route is best. As you can see, the two circular shapes (right) don’t seem quite as jarring as the rats nest of metal over the table (upper left, remember?) A great contributor to the setup is the open space that surrounds the circles. There’s no busy rug or patterns that also compete for attention. It follows the same vibe with industry meets nature, but it’s simplified and doesn’t leave you with the question “Should I get a Tetanus shot?”

I kind of don’t even know what to say about this situation to the left. Yeah, I get it, you like primary colors and NASCAR, but there doesn’t need to be a head on collision juxtaposition of this magnitude in your house. Believe it or not, this person did do a couple (not many) things right here. The furniture (“interesting” as it may be) is right in line with the scale of this room. It’s a little room and the furniture is small, but it doesn’t look very comfortable and I couldn’t spend more than 11.3 minutes in this room before I’d need to stretch my legs. On that same note, because the room is so small, placing mirrors on one wall is an amazing way to open up space for the area to appear larger. However, I would not have placed “Halloween” and “Bumblebee” themed mirrors in this small of space (or any space). Not only are they on the hideous side, they are WAY TOO LOUD for the area. The checkered flag table and mustard yellow carpet…? Let’s just say I hope they have really great personalities.

You want volume and primary colors? The situation to the right is a great example of how loud can be calmed. Yes, there is a huge red wall. Yes, there is a cheetah print chair. Yes, there is a black and white striped area rug and a painting of John Wayne (?) above the TV. But somehow, it’s a place I could relax for an extended period of time. The key to this is that the 4 items that I listed are really the loudest pieces of this room. The coffee table is virtually colorless, the TV stand is a plain, toffee, mid-century modern element and the small dining table near the wall doesn’t compete because it is so bland. You can be loud, ridiculous and a little esoteric (John Wayne, really?) but you don’t have to lose your mind in the process.

Just remember, you have to live here after you decorate here.

Laundry Room with a Smile

I’ve come so close to the end of my mission to shake the gloomy, den-like vibe that my laundry room seemed to emit. (Seriously, it sort of made me want to hibernate.) I still want to make my shade for the window, but aside from that I am confident my room will not need any more tweaking. I know I should mention all of the different things that I did, how much it cost me and how to do them (and trust me, I will) but I just finished a 9-day-room-revamp so I am going to forgo the details, post some pictures, put on my jammies and watch all the shows I missed on my DVR. Keep in mind that this ended up costing a measly $6, so I had to do a lot of thinking and a lot of drinking. (OK the drinking wasn’t entirely necessary, but it happened.)

Let’s reminisce and we will reconvene for the details later.

Stage 1. I like to call this stage “What a f*cking mess.” Catchy, right?

Stage 2: The Gist.

Color on the wall with hooks.

Color on the 3 walls around the machines.

Stage 3: Done.

This dude got in my shot...

Laundry Space Sneak Peek

Although the laundry room isn’t nearly complete, it has come quite a long way since it’s days as the junk corner with low-self esteem. Everything that I used on this room I already owned or purchased for previous projects, which I will itemize in my next post once the room is DONE done, not just sorta done.

There are, of course, parts of this that I am still only marginally satisfied with (such as the area where I decided to house the trash or the fact that all of my products are 100% visible). I have ideas for these tweaks, but they are only half-formed and bordering on “nonsensical,” so I’ll wait to disclose them.

To jazz up the area I plan to keep on track with my $0 budget and print stencils off of the internet to cutout pieces of scrapbook paper to stick to the walls at random. I know what you’re thinking, “Remember the last time you decided to stick random shit to your wall, Kristen? It didn’t turn out so good.” But it’s different this time! I swear. The patterns will be of varying shapes, colors and sizes, and spaced intermittently around the room. There won’t be a big block of pages with the same tone and size (such as the porn room).

I also plan to add some more interest by creating a fabric shade by cutting the crap out of modifying a set of blinds (left by the seller). So there should be quite a variation of color, pattern and texture to make the room feel full and happy.

Give me another 5 days, I’ll magic magic happen (or cry trying).

Back Burner Laundry Room

It’s time to get serious! I’m for real this time. After allocating funds for the surprise roof repair, a lot of projects went on the back burner. The WAY back burner. Like that one little, tiny burner that’s in the back corner of the stove that you never use because it’s A) a small burner and B) it’s super far away. Who would choose to use the blatantly inferior burner? Yeah, they’re on that burner.

So I am left, once again, to forge ahead on projects that require $0-$50 worth of supplies. There aren’t very many rooms that can be overhauled on such a restricted budget, so I am limited to closets, sheds and (drum roll…) LAUNDRY SPACES!

I won’t dignify the area in which I do laundry with the title of “room,” as it is a “zone,” “hall,” “niche,” “space.” It is the stubby galley kitchen of laundry rooms. Because it is merely a chunk of space with a washer and drying, I must make it as efficient as possible. At this point I can do laundry there…and that’s it. I don’t hang or fold clothes, I don’t match up socks and I sure as heck don’t iron. (Really though, even if my laundry room was the size of a ballroom, I probably still wouldn’t iron).

My plans are simple as far as what to remove (everything but the washer and dryer). The storage that will be filling such precious space, however, calls for the biggest thinking cap I own (which oddly enough, is usually also on the way back burner).

The plan is to basically undo everything that the arrows are pointing out. I plan to sift through the garage and random closets to find scraps that the sellers left behind. There are several pieces of scrap wood that I intend to make into open shelves. I understand what the sellers were thinking when they installed this cabinet; It’s big so it holds a lot, and it has doors to hide the ugliness that sits within. In theory those are great ideas. But those are the exact reasons that also make it a bad choice; It’s big so it takes up room that could be used more practically, and it has doors so you can just toss any old tool, bottle, errant sock, rogue hairbrush or random other item that needs to be tucked away, which then creates a junk cabinet as opposed to just a junk drawer. If you don’t believe me, then please, check-out my junk cabinet.

As you can see a cabinet this large is unnecessary and even harmful, because it brings out the lazy ass in the whole family.

Now that you’ve seen the shame that is my laundry room, I am just going to jump right in. Right now. Tonight. 11/15/11 at 5:30 p.m. I will start by removing the black hole cabinet and unused broom hooks. Then comes painting. Honestly, the real work will start tomorrow, once it’s time to turn my scrap wood into functional shelving. Good thing there’s so much to do beforehand, it allows some time to warm up that back burner.

Toxic Relationship

When it comes to cleaning products, it sometimes seems as though you have to sacrifice the safety or health of your family in order to get things clean. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, but I understand the logic; clean chemicals seem a better choice than disease spreading germs. But I have definitely found some alternatives that I feel comfortable spraying near a plate of food or on a highchair tray that will disinfect without smoking us out of the room.

Melaleuca. High cost. High hassle.

I have used various Melaleuca products in my house for over a year. Although their hygiene products like “chemical free deodorant,” “all natural toothpaste,” or “soap made from sweet grass, honey and angel wings” (OK I made that last one up) are not high on my shopping list, their cleaning products kind of kick ass. I have used their “Tough and Tender” all purpose cleaner to get month-old crayon off of woodwork, as well as loosen pancake batter from the counter top (which I will admit, had been sitting there for an unreasonable amount of time). Their disinfectant kills 99.9% of germs just like the other big dogs, but without the nasty, synthetic fumes. Again, this is on the pricier side, but it comes concentrated so they give you an empty bottle to dilute the solution, which ends up lasting for months. Another downside to this is that to get a discounted price you have to join a club, which (working in the financial field) is never a good idea because you have to cut out a kidney and sell your car just to get out of the club….and by “cut out your kidney and sell your car” I REALLY mean send them a fax that you printed from their website and filled out. But who has a fax anymore? I almost would have preferred selling my kidney to avoid that debacle. Regardless of all the hassle that comes along for the ride, the products really do knock my socks off.

Seventh Generation. Moderate cost. Low hassle.

I don’t mean to imply that Melaleuca doesn’t care for it’s customers, but Seventh Generation seems to go above and beyond what most people would expect from a cleaning product manufacturer. Their website is extremely user-friendly and they don’t just say “Yep, trust us, we’re a green company.” They actually have data sheets that include all of the ingredients of their products. Also, Seventh Generation seems to be a self-aware company; meaning they are aware that they have priced themselves on the high end of the spectrum. However, their saving grace is that their website has coupons you can print out in order to save a little green (get it? GREEN). And finally the biggest ease of them all is that you do not have to order online or get caught up in a contract with monthly deliveries. Their website will guide you to stores in your area so the not-so-computer-savvy can still enjoy their great products.

Made by you! Low cost. Moderate hassle.

Of course my absolute favorite is going to be the cheapest. Before 3M Innovations, Scrubbing Bubbles and Mr. Clean were stocked on shelves across the country, housekeepers sometimes had to get a little creative with their supplies. Maybe there just wasn’t enough money to buy Bleach, other times perhaps a bus ride to the store was too big of inconvenience to warrant a trip, so what did our peeps from the past do? (Yeah, I can’t believe I just said “peeps” either, but let’s just try to forget about that). They made their own cleaning supplies and they worked just as well as what you’d find at any store today.

Homemade concoctions and recipes provided by

Whether you like it cheap, complicated or hassle-free, the bottom line is that we all want our families safe and healthy. Healthy starts with clean and clean doesn’t have to mean toxic.


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