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Monthly Archives: May 2012

Tie One On and Light One Up

It's hiding.

As I have mentioned on numerous occasions, I don’t want to spend money…on anything…ever. So it should be no surprise that I continue to rescue all of the random furnishings that the sellers left behind.

Case in point, the shy tension lamp to the left. I didn’t take a legit “before picture,” but I did happen to find  an old photo that at least had half of it. As you can see (sort of) the lamp is stationed in a basket which is filled with pinecones. This photo was taken in my garage, which is where the sellers had housed it and incidentally where I housed it all through the winter.

Here’s a more recent close-up.


First, I sprayed the metal with white vinegar and rubbed it down with steel wool to remove the largest rust chunks. Next, I taped the brass parts around the bulb area that were still in good shape and spray painted the whole thing purple.

Oh, and this is where even more money-saving occured. I used the rest of the paint that I used to paint my nightstand, so right away I saved some cash on paint. I didn’t use that same paint JUST for the sake of a couple bucks, I also wanted to have a cohesive look in my bedroom so I used the same color to tie it all together.


My tree was so pissed off at me for painting him purple. He insists purple makes him look fat, but I just tell him he needs to slow down on the Oreos.

Once that was spray painted and spray sealed I moved on to the old, yellow-tinted globes that were also stored on the lamp inside the garage.Oh yes I did!

I decided that this brown/yellow didn’t look good with purple IN THE LEAST so I slopped furniture stripper all over them and wiped them down with a Brillo pad block. It worked like a fantastic charm.

I can see clearly now.

Once everything was clean and dry I moved it all up to my bedroom…then I was the one that got super P.O.’d.


You can see that it’s looking a bit short. This lamp is essentially a tension rod that runs from floor to ceiling. BUT that doesn’t work if your rod is too long or short for your ceiling’s height. Here you can see that I totally removed the top half because it was too tall with it on, but obviously it’s much too short when it’s off. So I had to do a little thinking and I just decided to take the top piece of the rod and turn it over so the part that usually goes up to the ceiling was stuffed inside the connected pole. It’s not AS sturdy as it normally would be, and there ended up being a funky rim around the middle where the top post (being so thin) didn’t fit snuggly inside the bottom pole because I inverted it. But I just wrapped some fabric around it like a good ol’ fashioned May pole. It does have a bit of a small town, hokey feel (in fact my sister said it looked like it should be in a town square during the Springtime social), but the jokes on her because I take that as a compliment. That “cottage nostalgia” theme really is the feel that I wanted for my bedroom…

…..Quant, cozy, and a bit silly.

Ohh My

My whole bedroom is starting to come together. Piece by piece, my tranquility will come…maybe not soon enough…but it will come.

Bigger view.

…Which is really quite amazing to think that peace and quiet could ever make it to me when I have these yahoos (Olivia and my sister, Stephanie) running amok all over this joint.

Sure, they look all cute and cuddly NOW.

Next project? Painting my dang ceiling. You have no idea just how shabby a ceiling can look (I just thought it was a little rough) until you’ve been staring at it for 25 minutes trying to get a tension rod to fit. You don’t have to test my theory,

just take my word for it.



Plum Lazy

I finally got to make another minor dent in the boat loads of furniture that I have been hoarding in my garage. However, I finished it in the laziest fashion I have ever attempted; no sanding, no primer and only spray paint. I can’t quite figure out if this was my logic and experience that told me skipping steps would be OK, or if I just wanted to open up space in my garage in the easiest and fastest possible way.

Regardless, I fixed up one of the items I received from my aunt, a bedside table.


It’s in stupendous shape, but it was a little run-of-the-mill, and I just can’t have that. Besides, I already use a headboard that is all natural wood and I just didn’t think the two could coexist in harmony.

So I avoided priming…yeah, about that…you see I was feeling lazy. My logic, however, did have some extremely valid points. One is that I was using spray paint, which usually dries well and sticks to nearly all surfaces. Another point is that I chose to paint it plum. If I was going to paint over brown with baby blue then I obviously would HAVE TO prime, but I was going from dark to darker, which made skipping priming just feel so right.

I’m happy with how the color turned out. In fact, I think that spraying the plum right over the brown gave it a bit of a richer tone, an affect that painting on white wouldn’t give.

Entertaining Ideas

Once the paint dried, I briefly entertained the idea of adding some blue/grey areas on the wood detail. This was an idea that I entertained for roughly four minutes, then I decided it wasn’t going to work out in my favor. So the only detailing I embellished was the handle. I just used a dry-brush technique to add color without coating the whole area with paint– this helped to bring the carving out from the background.

Once everything was dry, again, I brought it inside, but I decided I needed a little bit more functionality and *Oomf* if this piece was going to be utilized everyday for several years (yeah, I keep stuff well past their prime.)

Handy Handle

I typically read in bed and my phone has come to be my bedside companion most nights. So to make charging these gadgets a bit easier on the eyes I drilled a hole in the back of the the table and fished my Kindle/phone charger through it. OK that was a lie, Olivia insisted on helping so SHE technically put it through. Plus, now you know that it’s so easy, even a toddler can do it.My beautiful assistant

After already going the extra mile with my charger hole, I decided what’s the harm in doing just a tad more work? I sprayed Elmer’s Spray Glue into the drawer and stuck on some extra material I had laying around. I used a box cutter to edge the fabric so it fit neatly inside.

For the record, I only lined the top drawer with fabric. I just don’t want to give the impression that I went ANOTHER extra mile when all I wanted to do was be lazy. Again though, my logic convinced me that only doing the top drawer made sense because that was the only drawer that would be holding fragile electronics. Also, my bottom drawer is storying my extra lotion and it would be a semi-tragedy (dramatic, right?) if one of them leaked on the fabric that was adhered to the drawer. So, once again my logic promoted my laziness and I got a free pass to start packing it in for the night.

Here is how my beauty finally turned out….(and yes, my floor is still splotchy from painting, but this bedroom has been a work-in-progress from the word GO.)

This piece will forever be a reminder of what can be accomplished when you’re feeling a little lazy.

Happy Mother’s Day!

I hope all the mamas and grandmamas are having a fantastic Sunday! If you’re not a mom or grandma then I hope you’re giving yours a day off!

Far be it from me to exploit a day that honors all that mothers do and sacrifice in the name of love for their children, but I can’t contain my excitement over the gift I made for my mom. I’m not bragging, but it’s pretty sweet.

My mom picked up a headboard that looked something like this…


She already asked me to refinish it (so it’s not like I came up with this grand gesture on my own) but she wanted me to be stingy with my creativity, and that wasn’t going to happen. So to justify my extravagance, I had to make it a gift…so I did.

Headboard in Action

To check out the steps and to view the finished product in action, just click on me!

Random Ridiculousness

My fantastic boyfriend bought me an early Mother’s Day gift. I got to pick out $100 worth of flowers to make my front yard beautiful. The thing is though, on my way home I found a yard sale on the side of the road. I just had to buy a recliner that was in awesome condition that only cost $5. For the record, I drive a tiny hatchback….but we figured it out.

Full car

You know what they say…

Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Sam’s Ottoman

Sam’s ottoman had a problem. A big, structural problem.

There was a huge dent in the corner of his ottoman. I knew right away that this wasn’t a cushion issue, it was a wooden support issue.

Now, for Sam being a young musician who has people over and heavy instruments laying around, the whole piece wasn’t in bad shape. In fact, that fabric was still in amazing condition, which is why after 3 short hours I was able to restore it back to it’s fantastic, good as new condition.

See how here.


Natural Satisfaction

I will be the first to admit that I am hard to please. As soon as I figure out exactly what I want, I change my mind. It’s not that I’m weird or hard to satisfy, I’m just…..deep and complex. (I can’t even write this B.S. without cracking up.) Either way, my furniture is no exception. When I’m given a piece of natural wood furniture I can’t wait to get a coat of paint slapped on it. So you’d think that when I’m given a painted piece of furniture I’d be satisfied, right? Negative. I wanted it natural. So here’s the saga of “The girl Who Couldn’t be Satisfied.”

It started out like this!


Actually, that’s a lie. It started out natural, and then was painted white about 30 years ago. And then my mom painted it yellow 2o years ago. Then I got my mitts on it and spray painted it pink nearly 2 years ago. But I knew it was an old piece and I KNEW my hot pink didn’t do it justice. There are very few screws in this, most of it is tongue and groove pieces that slide together. Things aren’t made like this anymore, I just never had time to finish it, until now.

Because this was mostly tongue and groove, there were a lot of pieces overlapping each other so I had to take every piece apart in order to sand every inch of it. I went through my pink layer, then the yellow and finally the white. The good news is that there wasn’t a nearly impenetrable layer of varnish on there, in fact there was no varnish at all. So once I got through all of the paint there was nothing but natural wood, sweeeeeet!


As you can see, there is some wood filler splattered on here. In retrospect this was not a good idea. The reason I put a long line of it was because there was a huge seam between two wood pieces and also you could see a few shiny tacks. But I learned that a couple tacks and an honest seam is much more attractive than cracking wood filler.

I sanded down the wood filler and created a new back for the piece because the old one somehow got broken when I disassembled it to sand it. I don’t know WHO could have broken it? Certainly not me. Vandals!


Next I applied two coats of stain and a layer of lacquer.


There were some funky, brown bubbles on the wood after the lacquer dried. I can only assume it’s because I did’t sand the wood smooth enough. But I just sanded the lacquer and used my favorite Minwax Wipe-On Polyurethane. It has never steered me wrong.

Once everything was dry, I replaced the knobs (which I had purchased when I painted it pink) and placed it at the end of my hallway!

Other side

After a few days at the end of the hallway I realized my knobs weren’t really doing it for me. They were really cute when my chest was bright, but now that it’s dark they seemed lost in the color. So what’s darker than oak? Black! And it just so happened that I had a few black knobs with little leaf designs laying around.

So here is the REAL finished product!

Going Plumb Crazy


So I sprung a bit of a leak at 9pm last night. It wasn’t major, but it was enough that I decided to turn off the main water supply to avoid having to wake up every 20 minutes to dump the bowl. All I had to do was find it.

I decided to pull out a diagram that I got with the water conditioner to help track that sucker down.



As you can see, the water conditioner looks very similar to the diagram. The water heater isn’t attached to it because it is in another room in the basement near the boiler. That was ok though because the diagram showed that the main shut off valve wasn’t near the water heater, but on the other end of the two pipes coming up from the water conditioner. When I followed the two pipes upward, all I saw was this….

No valve. And the blue knob is a bypass valve which wouldn’t help anything.

No valve

So I decided that MAYBE, just maybe the shutoff valve was, for some crazy reason, on the other side of the ceiling and upstairs under the kitchen sink…

NoBut alas, no.

Then I got the even CRAZIER idea that these people put the valve up through the ceiling and then through the wall outside. This was a very unlikely place to find a valve in Michigan (because it’s so cold, they’re usually inside) but I had nothing to lose. It was now 10pm and I was tired of dumping my little bowl of water every 10 minutes.

So I grabbed the only flashlight I could find with batteries. It was great that it also happened to be the only flashlight that growls when you turn it on, so that was a happy bonus.


I got outside and looked at the area that I thought the pipes would lead if they went outside…


And it was our freakin’ deck. I decided that NO ONE would be stupid enough to build a deck over a shut off valve, so I just decided that I was looking in the wrong direction and headed back inside.

I went back to the basement and decided to check out our water heater. Although the diagram said the valve shouldn’t be near it,  I know that many of them are. So, please tell me if you can decipher which valve it is…


Because I sure as hell couldn’t. We have boiler heat, which relies on water to warm. All of this piping really confused things because they carry water too, but for the love of God could I please just find the MAIN VALVE. It was now 11pm. I’m getting texts from Kyle to call a 24 hour plumber, but due to a series of unfortunate events I am broke as a church mouse and have no money for that luxury. I had to keep looking.

I saw a pipe and a knob that looked  like it could be the one! So I twisted and twisted and twisted…and then it started leaking…

Really? What now?

Just as a side note, that black dot on the wall next to the valve is the biggest spider in history…

So now I have 2 leaks and am getting chased by spiders. I decided to head back outside because a lot of valves are near meters. I just had to find a meter and find a valve.


Well, I definitely had no shortage of meters to choose from. But I (thank the Lord) was able to identify them as gas and electric. Could you imagine me trying to wrench on a gas valve?!? I would have blown up the house.

After dumping my bowl a few times and crying about twice, I thought again about our crummy Michigan weather. Most valves aren’t outside, but IF they are outside, they are in in some sort of cabinet. So I went looking for an outdoor cabinet at 11:40pm. AND to add insult to injury, it started raining and thundering. As they say, when it leaks; it pours (as opposed to when it rains, it leaks.)

Behind cabinet number 1?

Door in the floor

 A drain 😦

wah wah wah

And behind cabinet number 2?


Who the hell knows? It was screwed shut. Even after I got a flat head screwdriver, there was ANOTHER screw that I had no idea how to loosen. But I figured the shut off valve wouldn’t be there.

So after crying spell number three, I decided to go back to the boiler and twist random knobs and valves. Not recommended, but I was desperate, and they didn’t work. So I went back upstairs, dumped the bowl and started twisting the knob that was leaking under the sink. Lo and behold the leak stopped! WHAT?!? It dried right up! Then I went downstairs to the other leaky knob and decided that I was a moron.

You see, leak number 2 WAS THE SHUT OFF VALVE! I hadn’t turned it far enough (because it had started leaking) so it didn’t shut off the big flow of water, it just slowed it down and only an hour later did it stop the leak upstairs. So I twisted this farther to the right and even this leak slowed down. It didn’t stop, but it slowed. I wrapped some electrical tape around it and went to bed at 12:30am.

A this point, I smell a little gnarly and have no running water. I will eventually be able to afford a plumber, but for now it’s 1910 in the VanLoon-Higgs residence.

Moral of the Story? Find your main shut off valve. …No seriously, go do it now, I’ll wait for you right here.

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