Monday, 25 August 2014

Study Room Upheaval - Part 1

Recently we were all sick and in my flu induced haze I left my clothes iron sitting out. The youngest member of the household saw the plug and decided to plug it into a power board. Luckily he didn't play with the iron itself but the carpet got a big injury.
As I rent, I could not leave the carpet in this condition. So I spent six hours stripping the room ready to replace the carpet. I pulled out 2 massive desks, a huge bookcase, a chest filled with fabrics, a baby change table and a mountain of 'crap' that was dumped in there due to a lack of space anywhere else.
Now seeing that I had to strip the room it has made me change the order of projects I have on my To Do List. I have also decided to swap a couple of the rooms around. The study will now move to the front bedroom and become my study and a 'classroom' for one of my boys who wants to home school next year.
Seeing as all the furniture from this room is sitting out under the carport I thought I better start painting some of it. I started with this bookcase.  It is sitting sideways because I had an 11yo help me carry it outside and this was the easiest way for us to manage it.

Getting started using Canterbury Blue Chalk EZ2 Paint.

Below is a progress shot. I still haven't sanded it back or waxed it yet.  I think this looks so much nicer now.
It has such a happy feel about it now. I can't wait for it to be finished so I can move to stage two of the Study Room upheaval.

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Bookcase Delight

I'm slowly going around the house and making fun changes. I have 2 bookcases in a passageway that hold the boys' books. The timber is quite dark which dulls the passageway so I have taken a paint brush to it.

What I used
- Canterbury Blue EZ2 Paint chalk paint in different colours
- sandpaper
- paint brush
- rags

What I did
- cleaned the surface to remove dust
- I applied 2 coats of different coloured paints
- Allowed to set for a few days, because I got busy.
- lightly sanded the paint to make it smooth and also to age it slightly by making the timber show through in places.
- applied the wax and buffed it off
- convinced the kids to help me to bring it back inside :) 

This is a nearly finished photo. Here the bookcase has 2 coats of paint but I haven't sanded and waxed it yet. 
Here it is all finished and back in place.

I love the blue and green colours. 
Now I have to put the books away and I hope no one notices that I am going to cull some books. Though I am sure the bookcase will still be full when I have finished. I don't think the colour in the shelves will show with so many books on there but it will still be nicer than before I started. 

Then I have to paint the second bookcase. I wonder if the kids want to have a go?

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Upcycling an old picture frame

One day I was driving along and a song came on the radio that really sums up how I feel about life. It is called 'I make my own Sunshine' by Chelsea Basham. I really strive to make my own sunshine both in my life and in my home. Lately I am really moving ahead with making fun pieces for my home, but why stop now? So using this song as inspiration I have upcycled an old picture frame into a bright fun artwork.

I bought this frame for $3 at an auction.

I pulled the back off and took the picture out and put the stuff aside to reuse later.
I then painted the frame with 2 coats of Canterbury Blue Chalk EZ2 Paint in teal. I think this colour makes a loves pretty frame colour. I then used fabric scraps and a piece of calico. I traced the letters onto an iron on adhesive paper, remembering to do the letters in mirror image so that they are facing the right way when complete. Then I ironed the template to fabric scraps, trimmed them, removed the backing of the adhesive paper then ironed the letters onto the calico. I then used the original picture board that was in the frame, put some quilting wadding in front and then the calico on top and put everything back in the frame. The frame doesn't have glass so I added the wadding to make the fabric pop out a little. As the fabric isn't going to washed, I didn't need to stitch the letters down and can just use the adhesive from the adhesive paper to hold them into place.

This project cost me a grand total of $3 which was for the price of the frame. I used leftover paint and fabric scraps. The plan is that it will join a wall of quirky artworks, all with fun bright frames.

Monday, 28 July 2014

Yellow chalk paint coffee table

This project was a bit daunting as the item was already in good condition before I decided to paint it. I never have any second thoughts about painting something that is in poor condition but there is a moment of hesitation about painting something that looks fine just the way it is. But I decided to paint this coffee table anyway.
This is the before photo.
Here is what I used
- Canterbury Blue Chalk EZ2 Paint
 - Canterbury Blue Wax
- Paint brush
- Sanding pads
- cloths

What I did
- I gave the coffee table a wipe down to clean it
- Put a coat of chalk paint on, then waited for it to dry
- Put on a second coat of paint, allow to dry
- Placed a thin layer of wax over the paint and then buffed it off  (you can skip this step)
- Sanded the coffee table. I roughed up the corners and edges a little to give it a bit of character. Even if you dont want to distress the piece a light sanding changes the paint feel from a rough chalky feel to a silky smooth finish.
- Wipe off the excess sanding dust.
- Apply the wax again and then buff off.

And now my pretty 'new' coffee table.

 I am happy I took the plunge and painted it. It is a very long coffee table and is nearly as long as the lounge it sits in front of. It is in a small room and the dark timber look really dominated the room. But now it has a softer feel about it, almost a Country Farmhouse type feel.

The Pottles of paint are $25 and I used about half a pottle for this project. The wax is $15 and I used about 1/4 of a tin, maybe less. I already had rags, a paint brush and sanding paper. So even if I count in the sanding sheets I used then this project cost me about $20. Not bad for a completely different look for the room. 

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Bedside table upcycle aka Teal delight

I am on a roll with the chalk paint and my technique is improving to where I am really happy with the quality of my work. I am so happy with how these turned out and can't wait to share pictures.

I had these old bedside tables that really looked cheap and weren't doing the room any favours.

Here is what I used
- Canterbury Blue Chalk paint in Teal
- Canterbury Blue Wax
- Paint brush
- Sanding pads
- cloths
What I did
- I gave the cabinets a wipe down to clean them
- Put a coat of chalk paint on, then waited for it to dry
- Put on a second coat of paint, allow to dry
- Placed a thin layer of wax over the paint and then buffed it off  (you can skip this step but I wanted to try it for this project)
- Sanded the cabinets. Even if you dont want to distress the piece a light sanding changes the paint feel from a rough chalky feel to a silky smooth finish.
- Wipe off the excess sanding dust.
- Apply the wax again and then buff off.

I did one at a time as I wasn't sure if this was the perfect colour but luckily it was. Check out the after photos.

They look awesome and it only took a small outlay in time. But I am now thinking that the bed frame needs some work. I better add that to the 'To Do' List.

Check out the awesome knitted blanket my Mum made me for my birthday. :)

Saturday, 26 July 2014

Making use of an old spice rack

I haven't stuck my head into everyone's kitchens but I am fairly certain that most people have had a spice rack at some point in their lives. I prefer to use fresh herbs and spices when I can get them rather than dried herbs. So I had no use for this spice rack and I set about finding a new use for it.

I painted it with chalk pain from Canterbury Blue.

 I am still experimenting with chalk paint so this time I used two colours, an off white and a navy. I put one coat of the white, then did two coats of the navy.  I only gave it a light sand as I am still scared of getting too heavy with the sanding. But I wanted some of the white to show through so I should have sanded it back a little more.
Suddenly seeing it looking pretty, I had inspiration of what its new role in life will be. So I applied some wax and then rushed it inside to its new spot.
My spice rack is now holding some of my skincare products. As I am using up products I am replacing them with organic skincare products. Mum has been making us some home made products so I'm hoping eventually I can have rows of plain old fashioned looking bottles in here with nice organic contents.

And yes I do realise that the green table needs cleaning. My youngest child is always spilling things and touching furniture with dirty hands, that's part of the joys of having kids. My house will never look like one of those pristine houses in the glossy magazines but my house is full of love and that's all that matters. And I am fully in love with my spice rack now. 

Side Table Upcycle

I love colour, texture and quirkiness and very slowly I am starting to change my decore to reflect this. It is a little challenging to experimenting with looks especially when on a budget. I am hoping my home will eventually have a bright Gypsy/ Bohemian feel. I can't afford to go out to a showroom and pick up pieces I like. Instead I have to upcycle old furniture and accessories.

Normally doing up pieces of furniture takes some time and effort by sanding, doing undercoats of paint and then doing several coats of the top colour. Allowing for proper drying time would take a couple of days to complete a project. So I became very interested when I saw a range of chalk paint that makes the job much quicker. Made by Canterbury Blue this chalk paint can be applied without primer/undercoat. It is also very quick to dry reducing the time between re-coats. If you need any inspiration on what you could use this paint for, then check out their facebook page.

I have always said that opening a can of nice coloured paint is like opening a 'can of happy'. There is something so special about turning something drab into something nice. When these pottles arrived in the mail, I was super excited. I am calling them 'Pottles of Joy' because these are so much fun to play with. 

I had this very drab side table in the shed. There is nothing special about it so it became the perfect candidate for experimenting on.
I had only bought a limited range of colours due to budget restraints but this range of paints comes in 30 colours (from memory).  I raided the kids' small paint brushes to work on the legs. I really need to get myself some decent small brushes. Normally I just use normal size brushes but to do the legs required some fiddly work. As I am not a fine artist I have added strings of beads around where the colours meet to hide any bad joins and to give the work some extra bling.

 I tried to do a stencil design on the top but I stuffed it up so I had to redo the top. After I painted it and sanded it in places, I applied the wax which gave it a nice clean smell and finish.

I had so much fun with this paint and I have now finished 3 other pieces and have several more projects on the go. So check back tomorrow for the next project reveal.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

DIY Wooden Bracelets / Wood Bangles

While playing around on YouTube one day I found myself watching craft videos. Eventually I stumbled upon a video on how to make your own Wood Bangles, to see the video go HERE. (For some reason the video isn't loading for me today but you can also find out more on her web page) This lady made it look so easy that I thought I would give it a go.
I already had some fabric markers so that was a bonus. I got the gold pen and some of the bangles at Spotlight. I also bought some bangles online.

Now I am NOT a fine artist but I wanted to play around and have fun. Despite my lack of artistic skills I think they look ok.

I did one with different coloured hearts around it. One has random flowers and says 'Happy'. And the last one has my favourite quotes from Shakespeare's play, Julius Caesar.

This would be a great project for artistic children to do. It would be a great school holiday activity. I have some spare blank bangles for my boys to make presents with. In the meantime, one of my boys used a bangle to make me a birthday present. He wrapped wool around the bangle and we glued the start and finished threads on the inside where they wont be seen. I have worn this bangle a few times already.
So if you are keen to try making your own bangles, then check out the video and have fun searching in Spotlight for materials.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Minecraft Birthday Party

Recently my twins turned 11. Woohoo, I think I was more excited than they were. It is just a wonderful feeling to watch them grow and develop. I am so proud of them. They don't let autism hold them back and they are such wonderful kids. So I couldn't let their birthday go past without celebrating with a party. Besides they kept asking, very nicely, for a party. :)

I decided to do a Minecraft party for them but it had to be done on a budget. The boys wanted a pinata but there are no Minecraft themed ones available in stores where I live. I don't even know if they have even expanded into party merchandise so I had to DIY. I bought a pinata and made my own picture for the front.

 Luckily Creeper faces are easy to draw. I just needed some green cardboard, a permanent marker and some sticky tape. Then after a few minutes of work, TA DA.... a Minecraft Creeper Pinata. The boys liked it and they were super keen to check what goodies I was filling it up with.
 I had seen lovely Minecraft birthday party spreads on Pinterest and Etsy. I couldn't afford to get a professional party planner to do it for me so I had to try my best. I bought a piece of artificial grass from Bunnings to use as a table cloth. I really wanted the long thick artificial turf but that one was EXPENSIVE so I had to go the budget option. Let me tell you that the budget option still cost me $40, so luckily I have been able to recycle it for another project.

I bought some place card templates on Etsy and printed them off and then pasted them onto cardboard. I then tried to find food to match the names of Minecraft items. Here is a sample of some of the foods that I used.
Obsidian - Oreo biscuits (both black)
Redstone - strawberries
Coal - Cocoa popcorn
Sticks - straight pretzels
Raw Fish - smoked salmon slices

 The strange part was that the kids all went for the healthy food first. The smoked salmon slices were so popular that there was a line up of kids waiting for their turn to get some. I did not expect that at all. I expected the 'chicken' would be popular as I had spicy mini drumsticks and chicken strips but what 11yo would ignore chips and lollies to eat smoked salmon.  But apparently an entire class of 11yo kids are more interested in healthy eating than I am because I kept sneaking lollies. I also may have been sprung eating leftover icing out of the tub with a spoon. I have no regrets either.
Now for the cake, I attempted to copy a cake I saw on Pinterest but I am hopeless at cake decorating. Seriously I am not talented at all in this area, but hey I can't be Supermum at everything. So here is my sad attempt at making a Mincraft cake. It is meant to look like water, sand and grass blocks but I didn't quite nail it. I used blue jelly, rice crispy bars, and lamingtons which I tried to ice to look like grass. I then added plastic figures to decorate. Luckily my boys have good imaginations and that no one had seen the proper photo of what it was meant to look like.

 Now here are the birthday boys.

 Now if you would like to check out better versions of Minecraft party ideas, then head to Pinterest here. Prepare to be amazed.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

Making use of an old dryer drum

My clothes dryer recently died which was most upsetting. We had been together for a while and it had got me through many rainy days. Though I was becoming too dependent on it. I was even using it on bright sunny days to dry all the little things that take forever to hang out. After I hung out the towels and bulky items I would throw all the remaining undies and socks in the dryer to save time. I know that sounds very lazy doesn't it. 

After getting a very large power bill it was time to make serious changes to my habits. So when the dryer died I decided not to replace it. So far it has been about 6 weeks and I have survived the extra work.

I was going to take the dryer to the tip but remembered that I had seen a picture of a washing machine drum being recycled into a fire pit or into a pot for plants. I wasn't sure if you could do the same with a dryer drum but I decided to find out. I wasn't sure how hard it would be to pull apart the dryer to get the drum but it worked out to be quite easy. I only needed basic tools and it took about 5 minutes.

My dead dryer
The icky insides of my dryer.
Some burnt fluff.
When I got the drum out I tested it as a fire drum and it worked really well. I raised the base slightly on bricks to allow the air to flow through the air holes at the bottom and this kept the fire burning hot. As it worked well as a fire drum I could have happily kept it for this purpose but I wanted it instead as a big pot for a fruit tree.

I bought a dwarf lemon tree to put in the drum. As the top is narrow I figured that re-potting the plant would be difficult to do in the future so I wanted a plant that wouldn't grow very large. I also thought the drum might get quite hot in summer so I will have to think about placement options.

Now to wait for some lemons.

I think this is a great way to recycle. I wish I had kept the drum out of my old washing machine because that would have made a huge big planter. Oh well, I know now for next time.