Jolly June: 5 Little Things!

June 08, 2012   //  Posted in: Backyard, Being Thrifty, Dog-Related, Garage, Gardening   //  By: Emily   //  5 responses

It’s been a radically productive few weeks in Rochester with many outdoor projects made possible by super-unseasonably-hot temperatures and rain-free days at the lake. I love this time of year.

There were a bunch of things that I wanted to cross off the list before summertime hits full steam (how is it that our calendars are already so booked?), so we got down to cleaning things up, making home upgrades, and earning back a little dough. What’s been keeping you busy this past month?

1. Welcome to Furmination Nation

After much being-a-cheapo deliberation, I splurged on Cody’s own Furminator. If you’ve ever priced them out, you’ll have seen that the “long hair giant dog” variety (the big kahuna Furminator) will run you about $72.99+tax at your local pet store (gag!), and even a 15% off  + $7 promotional coupon wasn’t enough to beat the pricing on

For only $25 (+$0 in shipping thanks to being Amazon Prime members), our product arrived in the mail last week, and I promptly went to work grooming the beast (on a 95-degree day with sweat pouring down my face).

Furminator time!

We borrowed a cat-sized Furminator last summer, and while it worked, this wide 6″ model saved me a lot of time. It trims an insane amount of undercoat with each rake.

Furminator time!

I think the dog lost 10-pounds. This fur was from the first pass, although the second pass resulted in equal sized piles of fluff. Undercoat relief!

Cody, post-Furmination.

2. Buh-bye, cabinets.

We said goodbye (and good-buy) to our trio of IKEA cabinets, a set that I purchased from a friend when I bought my house. I had grown pretty attached to them, especially the one that I painted pink last summer for our office storage, but practically speaking, they weren’t really fitting our need anymore. In the office, it wasn’t quite enough space, and for kid’s toys in the guest room, they were a little wobbly and we decided that it’s more important that our next batch of furniture to be easy for Julia to store her toys within, without fear that the whole shelf would topple on her. And I thought they were a little too tall for the bedrooms, but that might just be me being crazy.

I can’t remember what I paid for the set three years ago, but I was able to sell them to a nice family via Craigslist for $100, which may or not be exactly what I paid originally. In my brain, I’m considering it a wash and doing a happy dance at the opportunity to find (or build) something new.

Sold my trio of IKEA cabinets!

3. I designed Tomato Gate 2012.

Year after year, I find that I have to take more and more precautions with the tomato plants that my parents seed and deliver to me so generously. Last year, my Dad planted 9 babies and while we had lots of good tomatoes, the plants were too big, over-crowded, overflowing, and the dog found his way into them and got sick (not too sick, but tomatoes and especially the plant leaves are highly poisonous to dogs, and if he had been a smaller breed it probably would have been severe). This year, I took precautions: I only planted 4 (not 10), I made a custom gardening bed that sits above the ground, and I installed secure chicken wire.

Installing tomato gate.

The chicken wire, wrapped securely around tall stakes just within the wooden frame, wraps in one full sheet all the way around. At the stake that holds both the beginning and end of the wire, I taped the sharp edge with Gorilla Tape to easily identify where I could unhook the wire and access the plants.

Taping the edge of the tomato cage chicken wire.

Grow little tomatoes, grow!

4. We cured the Harley!

A big ol’ emphatic THANK YOU to everyone who commented and emailed about ways we might want to try removing the oil-based stain splatters from Pete’s Harley (a gut-wrenching DIY project error that I confessed to here). The winning solution goes to Tim, who recommended paint thinner to loosen the stain without damaging the finish of the motorcycle. In addition to the paint thinner, Pete bought a pack of plastic razor blades to help pop the stain loose without cutting or scratching the finish on the bike.

Using paint thinner and a plastic razor to clean stain off the motorcycle.

It was one of those cleaning experiences where every time you moved your head to a new angle and saw the fender in a new light, you saw more bits of stain to pop loose, but still only took us about 15 minutes to remove all signs of the stain, and re-wax the bike.

Can we all breathe a big sigh of relief now?

Removed stain splatters from the Harley fender using paint thinner and plastic razor blades.

5. We got hosey.

After this happened to our last hose, we decided it was time for a new one:

Bombed out garden hose.

We actually did try and splice and correct the split in the damaged hose, but it was too weakened after 3 summers of use to be fully curable. What, hoses don’t last as long as people?

Our $28 replacement extends 100-ft, easily reaching both the front and back yard, and instead of rolling it up into the plastic hose container that the old one had been stored in for years, we bought a simple $8 metal hook and installed it directly to the side of the deck with 2″ lag bolts for easy hose-to-garden access. Is it wrong for me to say that we’re too easily irritated and old to be wanting to battle a garden hose anymore?

Upgraded hose!

What projects are rocking your weekends?

DIY Network: How I Filled The Workbench (Thrift-fully)

June 07, 2012   //  Posted in: Being Thrifty, HGTV + DIY Network Projects, Tools   //  By: Emily   //  one response

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that I’ve managed to find a lot of tools for the shed, garage, and workbench in the most thrifty of ways; a girl’s got to save her dough where she can, and even though we have a plentiful arsenal of great tools, that doesn’t mean I’m always paying retail for them at the big box stores. A lot of people turn to garage sales as a place to find salvagable furniture, home decor, or kids clothes and toys, but we’ve found a lot of other tools and materials at these events too.

It’s resourcefulness at it’s tool-finest. Check out this week’s post on DIY Network to see my Top 10 garage sale tool picks (and then go scavenging through your own neighborhood this weekend).

Girl gets tool-thrifty. See more of what she buys at garage sales at

We actually popped over to a church sale earlier this morning and snapped a few photos that validate my point: inexpensive tools are plentiful. Not shown: unused window and door insulation, tool belts, Dremel attachments, sandpaper, and gardening planters.

Finding inexpensive tools at garage sales.

And don’t even get me at the kitchen goods; this isn’t a post pushing “tools of the kitchen” but Pyrex, skillets, and muffin tins, anyone?

Finding inexpensive kitchen goodies at garage sales.

We scooted home with 5 candles (for 80-cents), a basket (50-cents), and some tub and wall trim that might come in handy while Pete works to update his parent’s bathroom. For a mere 10-cents, it’ll be worth a shot.

Finding inexpensive bathroom repair goods at garage sales.

Find anything great on your own salvaging adventures lately?

Making It H’Ombre

June 06, 2012   //  Posted in: Decor, DIY, Sunroom   //  By: Emily   //  9 responses

Refinishing the buffet infused a nice energy into the previously empty sunroom, and pushed me to complete another jobber while I was on a roll. The project? Oversized art to occupy the wall above the buffet. My first attempt at creating some new sunroom art (outlined here), was a major flop. That trial of white tracing paper on white plywood with white paint accents didn’t work, and the polyurethane that I used like modpodge even dried with a yellowish tinge. I didn’t like that. You wouldn’t have either, see?

Sunroom art in its #megafail stage.

Back track: I’ve been lugging around a piece of art from my old roommate Katie for years (seriously, almost 6 years). It’s a piece I really like even though it was designed as a desktop for Katie’s friend Jess (see her named written in amongst the stars?). And because I’ve liked it, I’ve bothered to find ways to store it safely for the last almost-six years, wishing that I had the perfect place to display the colorful piece in this house.

An original piece by artist Katie Duane.

After we cleared out and reorganized the garage, I decided I wanted to move it inside and make better use of it, and so the idea to use the backside of the plywood as an art surface was born. I trimmed it to a shorter length (took 12″ off the less-ornate end that didn’t even so much effect the name “JESS”) and then primed it to have a clean finish in the backyard.

Primed plywood panel.

After my efforts to create a more textured, decoupaged look with tracing paper failed, I moved forward with brainstorming a new design. I knew I still wanted something clean and simple, something that wouldn’t compete with the sunburst floor or the chair cushions that I’m still planning on making in the next few weeks, and something that wouldn’t considerably darken the room; the walls are entirely white paint and windows right now, and I love the brightness that comes with that when the rest of the main house features more saturated tones and dark, cozier colors (my paint palette can be seen here).

As much as the polyurethane yellowed the plywood surface and the tracing paper rippled, I didn’t consider the plywood unusable. Instead, I started fresh with a clean coat of white paint (interior satin, straight out of my leftover paint stash in the basement, a.k.a. free).

Sunroom #megafail art, getting a once-over with white paint.

As you see in the above picture, I only painted the top 2/3 with white paint, leaving the lower 1/3 blank to be painted different colors.

The plan? Create an oversized ombre painting. In pink. Home + Ombre = H’Ombre, mi hombres.

Because there wasn’t much paint left in the quart of white, I began adding quarter-teaspoons of pink paint from a leftover Benjamin Moore sample into it gradually to slowly tint it.

Adding pink paint gradually to tint the white.

Faintly tinted for the first application, a stripe that spanned the plywood in a rounded stripe around the middle of the board, you can only faintly see a difference between the white and the light pink.

Beginning the ombre with a faint pink application.

With a little more pink added to the quart of paint, I added another streak of pink just slightly below (and overlapping) the first stripe of light pink. Note: I didn’t let the paint dry before moving on to the next color, and this helped make slightly blurred transitions and kept things from looking harsh.

Continuing the ombre with a faint pink application.

The process continued as I tinted and painted about 3 additional shades before adding a dramatically pink stripe right along the bottom.

Finishing the ombre layers on the sunroom art.

Up close, I actually ended up liking how the rippled tracing paper added texture behind the gradation in colors; almost has a wave-like effect that adds to the piece. It’s a #megafail made happy!

#megafail made happy as the ripples of the tissue paper show through the paint gradation.

I hung it on the wall in the sunroom above the new buffet table quite easily by myself, considering the heavy weight of the plywood.

After considering the placement of the studs in the wall, and measuring for height, I determined the placement for two d-rings on the back of the plywood, one on each end of the panel to distribute the weight.

Installing d-rings to the plywood so the new ombre art can be hung.

To securely hook the d-rings on the wall, I opted to install a two heavy-duty anchor screws directly into the studs. I left them unscrewed out about 1/4″ so that the d-ring could loop right over them.

Using anchor screws to serve as a place to hang the art.

I mentioned installing it myself; I covered the new buffet with thick towels, hoisted the plywood on top of it, and then hooked one side at a time. Once the left side was hooked and felt secure, it was easy to move to the right side and do the same by doing that motion where one hand reaches behind to hold the hook and you try and remain as flat as possible, even sucking in your gut, while you watch through the remaining gap between the plywood and the wall and try and watch the hooking action happen. Don’t say you haven’t done it, it’s frustrating as can be with nothing but relief and grand achievement when you finally get it to hook satisfactorily.

The piece, as a whole, feels very anchored on the wall. It doesn’t shift when I jump around or bang on the wall. Doesn’t loosen when I pull downward on it, or when I try to pull it straight off the wall; it’s hooked well, and its weight will work in its favor, keeping it safely in place.

How’s it look?

New pink ombre art in the sunroom.

Additional little fact: I made a little/impacting change in the organization of the sunroom by moving both the table and the pendant light over to the right (closer to the front of the house by about 2-feet) in a way so that they align with the door opening; this gives us more space in the back of the sunroom to play and move around the room.

Moved the light and the table in the sunroom to align with the door.

And another fact, because I’m full of factoids today: I took these photos from outside, looking through the open windows to give a perspective I wouldn’t normally be able to in the very narrow sunroom. Pretty, right?

Moved the light and the table in the sunroom to align with the door.

The pendant was easy enough to shift; all it required was moving the hook that the wire wraps around. You can see in this picture how it had been centered in the room beneath the wooden ceiling patch (fixed here) and shifted to the left about 2-feet. By moving it that closer to where the outlet was, I was able to lower the pendant 2-feet also, bringing it down to a nicer over-the-table height.

Moving the pendant light over almost 2'.

It was previously anchored higher on the ceiling because we were needing to walk beneath the pendant, but now with the table in place, I realized that I could bring it down a little bit and I’m really glad to have made the adjustment.

The biggest impact happens from the living room, where the pendant and table are now so nicely centered in the glass paned doorway.

Looking into the sunroom from the living room.

Stepping back further, the line of sight is so nice when you’re walking into the house, even if it is a bit over-lit in this photograph.

Looking into the sunroom from the living room.

What do you think? Nothing quite like impacting art and a little furniture wiggle to make a room really stand out.