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DIY Air Freshener Made with Coffee Grounds*

26 Mar

The Bird’s nursery has one of those odor trapper diaper pails that does an okay job of keeping the room from smelling like a public toilet … but it’s never as fresh as I want. It always smells vaguely of baby pee (better than the alternative, I suppose). I bought one of those plug-in liquid air fresheners, but the scent (while pleasant enough) was just too strong.

Then I saw this great idea on Pinterest. While I was thinking about a container, I noticed that Don was sprinkling coffee grounds in the diaper pail in the The Bird’s room. Coffee grounds are a natural odor neutralizer. Great idea, Don.

You Will Need:

  • Coffee grounds, dried well (as not to promote mold)
  • Small tin container
  • Small piece of breathable fabric like tullle
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Glue or double sides tape

Instructions:

My container had a plastic insert for the lid so I popped it out. If yours has an all metal lid, you will need a rubber band and a ribbon.

Cut your scrapbook paper into a strip that will fit around your tin. Attach to tin with double-sided tape or glue.

Fill your tin with coffee grounds.

Place small piece of fabric over the top of the tin. If your lid was all metal, secure the fabric in place with a rubber band and top with a ribbon. If you had a lid with a plastic insert, put the lid without the plastic on top of the fabric.

That’s it. Give the tin a shake when the air is a little stale. Refill with fresh grounds from time to time.

* I realized that shoving a DIY tutorial onto the end of a post largely not about air fresheners demonstrated poor organizational technique, so you may have already read this trick in its original location.

Making Progress in the Nursery

18 Mar

So … remember back  in December when Don and I became parents with 12 hours notice? Yeah, it’s kind-of hard to forget. Anyway, we didn’t have much of nursery to speak of then. We had a room that had been painted yellow with a nice light fixture. Oh – and I stenciled some walls. But that was pretty much the extent of it.

Fast forward three months and I’d say the nursery is about 90 percent done.

Here’s a rough outline of work needed in the room:

  • Get a crib
  • Copy this look for a shelf / changing table
  • Decide if more stencil is needed on additional walls
  • Make custom roman blinds
  • Sew some pillow covers
  • Buy a rug
  • Get some containers for blankets, toys and dirty clothes
  • Make some custom art
  • Figure out the best way to use the walk-in closet as baby storage and a linen closet
  • Remove baseboards around bed in order to make the trundle bed flush against the wall (and in order to be able to close the closet door)
  • Find a storage unit for under the crib since this one is no longer available


And here’s a look at where we are:

  • Get a crib
  • Copy this look for a shelf / changing table
  • Decide if more stencil is needed on additional walls (The answer was, “yes.”)
  • Make custom roman blinds  (Still need to add black-out lining)
  • Sew some pillow covers
  • Buy a rug
  • Get some containers for blankets, toys and dirty clothes
  • Make some custom art (We ended up with one typography print mounted on wood, one piece of paper art mounted on canvas, a tissue paper pom pom piece, a scrapbook paper baby bunting / flag banner and a couple of smaller items)
  • Figure out the best way to use the walk-in closet as baby storage and a linen closet
  • Remove baseboards around bed in order to make the trundle bed flush against the wall (and in order to be able to close the closet door)
  • Find a storage unit for under the crib since this one is no longer available

In this picture you can see a whole bunch of projects:

Three of our large custom art projects are visible in this picture (the typography print, the paper on canvas piece, the pom poms), one of our mini projects (a tin air freshener), a large yellow and gray clothes basket and my homemade air freshener. You can also see a huge basket of baby clothes that need to be laundered.

I will write up tutorials for these projects in more detail, but here’s a quick one for now.

Homemade Air Freshener 

I saw this great idea on Pinterest. While I was thinking about a container, I noticed that Don was sprinkling coffee grounds in the diaper pail in the The Bird’s room. Coffee grounds are a natural odor neutralizer. Great idea, Don.

You Will Need:

  • Coffee grounds, dried well (as not to promote mold)
  • Small tin container
  • Small piece of breathable fabric like tullle
  • Scrapbook paper
  • Glue or double sides tape

Instructions:

My container had a plastic insert for the lid so I popped it out. If yours has an all metal lid, you will need a rubber band and a ribbon.

Cut your scrapbook paper into a strip that will fit around your tin. Attach to tin with double-sided tape or glue.

Fill your tin with coffee grounds.

Place small piece of fabric over the top of the tin. If your lid was all metal, secure the fabric in place with a rubber band and top with a ribbon. If you had a lid with a plastic insert, put the lid without the plastic on top of the fabric.

That’s it. Give the tin a shake when the air is a little stale. Refill with fresh grounds from time to time.

DIY Nursery or Holiday Bunting Banners

27 Jan

My current obsession is making paper banners for the house. Remember when I posted my inspiration board for the nursery way back before we even knew about our little man? Here it is again:

Nursery Inspiration

See number 10 there? That’s a Baby Bunting Banner from this Etsy shop. I just loved it. We registered for it using Amazon universal registry / wish list option, but no one bought it. No matter. I’m all kinds of crafty so I decided to make one myself. But, time being somewhat limited these days and with the nursery only partially done, I decided it would be faster and easier to make a banner from scrapbook paper.

Here’s my banner:

Holy moly! It was so easy that I knocked out two more for Valentine’s Day.



Now for the fun part. I made three easy templates so that you can make your own.

You will need:

  • Scrapbook Paper
  • Ribbon
  • Scissors
  •  Template of your desired size*

You might need:

  • A hole puncher
  • High quality, clear craft glue
  • Thin piece of cardboard or card stock
  • Letter stencils
  • Markers

Here’s what you do:
  1. Choose your template from the three options provided (or make your own)
  2. Print onto a regular sheet of paper.
  3. Cut along the lines so that you have the shape you want to make on thin printer paper. If you would like to make a sturdier template, trace your cutout on a thicker sheet of paper or even some thin cardboard and then cut that out.
  4. Using either the thin cutout you made with printer paper or your sturdier template, trace your shape with a pencil on the back on of the scrapbook paper you want to use. If you are using 8.5 x 11 inch paper for the 8.5 inch two-pointed flag you only need trace the mid line and the two triangular points since the template is one half of the sheet of paper. Same holds true for the smaller templates if you are using the papers from one of those mini-cardstock books (4.5 and 6.5 inches).
  5. Carefully cut out your shape on the scrapbook paper. Repeat until you have as many flags done as you would like.
  6. The triangle flags look great as is, but the two-pointed flags are meant to have something else on them. I cut out little hearts for the smaller banner and glued them on. I used a ABC letter stencil to trace the words “Be Mine” onto the burlap-looking banner and then colored it in with a red marker.
  7. Decide how to string your banner. I glued the nursery banner to some white pom pom ribbon and the fireplace banner to orange rick rack. The Be Mine Banner has two small holes punched in each corner and is then threaded with very thin red ribbon.
  8. Hang on wall. Stand back. Admire.
That’s it! See how easy?
* Here are the templates
  1. 8.5 inch two-pointed flag (half of of 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper)
  2. 4.5 inch two-pointed flag (half of one 4.5 x 6.5 sheet of paper – the kind you buy in a mini cardstock book at the craft store)
  3. 4.5 inch triangular flag

If you have the time and patience, you can also make these with fabric – sew or no-sew versions. I might remake the one for the nursery eventually, but this does the trick for now.
If you make one, share a picture with me, won’t you?

The Better to See You With

2 Dec

Quick update:
We have vanity mirrors in our master bathroom. What? It hasn’t quite been one year.

20121202-202407.jpg

Stenciling a Wall

12 Nov

Well, I did it. I Made a Move on That Room.

And, as you know from my last mini-post, I added a pretty major element to the room. I stenciled some walls.

What? That wasn’t on my inspiration board.

Nursery Inspiration

See? No stencils whatsoever. But even when I put this board together I was thinking about it. In fact, when I posted the link on Facebook I went so far as to ask if anyone had stenciled a whole wall.

Working up my courage to do it was pretty hard, I have to say. Sure, it’s just paint. But if I didn’t like it, repainting would involve sanding the walls to smooth out the extra layer of paint on the stencil and then repainting with Light Yellow. I dreaded the thought of that so I knew I’d have to love it if I went forward with this project.

A few weeks back I looked at the full wall stencils in AC Moore and there were a couple I liked. After I posted my inspiration board, I decided to go for the stencil.

Here’s the first one I bought (yes, I said first one):

I really like the graphic design. A lot. But something just didn’t see quite right about it.

While I was at the store, I also picked up this little stencil for just $4.

I loved the spirals, and they definitely matched the inspiration board better – but they were too small. It’s hard to tell without any perspective, but the largest of these spiral is about the side of a saucer. I was hoping for the largest to be nearly dinner plate sized.

At home. I practiced the painting and tested some colors on a piece of wall board left over from our renovation. I used the small spiral piece and a Greek key stencil I had left from a different project. I didn’t want to use the the full wall stencil because I still wasn’t sold on it and it cost $20.

The next weekend, I returned to AC Moore and decided to walk back down the stencil aisle. There, tucked behind an animal print stencil, I found this:

It’s the same pattern as the small border on a larger scale. The largest spiral is much, much bigger.

Woo hoo! I had some stenciling to do.

On the way home, I stopped by Benjamin Moore and had their color expert helped me pick out a nice grey to go with my Light Yellow wall. We settled on Marilyn’s Dress.

Back at home I did one more test on the wall board and I was ready to go. This was around 9 p.m. on a Saturday night. Yeah, I’m fun like that.

I gathered my supplies – a sample quart of Marilyn’s dress, a super smooth foam paint roller, paper towels, painter’s tape and floor protection (newspaper). I started by putting tape over the baseboards and outlet covers.

Protecting the outlets and the baseboards.

Then I took several deep breaths. Really, several dozen deep breaths. Maybe 100. Seriously, this part lasted for a while.

Finally I taped the stencil into place.

Tape the stencil into place

Oh – before we took the picture above where I am actually taping the stencil, we took this one for the son of a friend of Don’s.

Casey is helpful.

Isn’t he cute? I banished him from the room right after this picture was taken.

With the stencil in place, I covered my roller with paint and then wiped the excess on a paper towel. All the tutorials I read online stressed the importance of this step because the paint needs to be thin in order not to bleed outside of the stencil edges.

Rolling the excess paint onto a paper towel

Finally – gulp – finally it was time to actually apply the paint to the wall. More deep breathing ensued.

I did it! Paint goes onto the stencil, and the wall.

Then I carefully peeled back the stencil, and … I loved it!

The first stencil. Sorry it's so dark. Remember that it was about 10 p.m. by this time.

Here’s what it looked like after 4 stencils were applied. I turned them into a different direction each time to vary the pattern.

I shifted the stencil on all four of these to keep it looking somewhat random.

Here is that whole once it was done.

The first section is *nearly* done. See that small area to the right of the outlet? There was a small crack in the wall board that we need to fix before we can stencil it.

Here I am pleased with my progress.

Yay! I did it. I conquered the stencil.

Then I tackled the wall on the other side of the dormer.

Wall two is done.

And that’s it for now. We might add a few more star bursts in the room, but the half walls are the only two getting the all over treatment.

In the meantime, I’m holding on to the Moroccan stencil because I like it so much. Maybe I’ll use it in another room.

What do you think? Are you glad we went with the kaleidoscope pattern? Should I return the Moroccan pattern, or hold on to it for now?

Make a Move on that Room: Preview

3 Nov

Well, I did it. I Made Move on that Room. Here’s a little preview of what happened.

20121103-230059.jpg

In Which Casey Gets a New Nest

28 Apr

When we brought home our little Casey we were pleased to learn he had been crate trained. Since we both work full time away from home and since puppies have small bladders, we knew a crate would be necessary to help with Casey’s house training and to keep him safe. We have a dog walker who comes in twice a day, but it’s really much better for everyone if Casey stays in a crate during the day in between walks when he’s all alone.

The only thing I didn’t love about the crate-trained puppy was the actual crate. Those things are not cute. They serve a purpose, but that purpose is not beauty.

Casey's original crate. Functional, but not so pretty.

Because we had been planning for Casey for a long time, I had already pinned a few things I liked for our “one day dog”. Among them was a an awesome dog tag reading, “If you can read this, I will lick you.” But most of them were cozy little bed ideas.

Like this one:

 

And this:

 

Also this:

 

As it turned out, despite all that planning and research, we found a dog much sooner than expected and we had not purchased a crate. We were pleased to learn, however, that Casey was already crate trained, even though he was just 10-weeks old.

We hopped on Craig’s List and found a good deal on a wire crate in the first couple of days Casey was home and he seemed to like it well enough. But, as you can see above, wire crates are just not very pretty.

So we kept looking on Craig’s List and, a few days ago, a listing appeared for a large wooden crate, suitable for use as furniture.

Our next Craig's List score was this wooden crate used for just a few weeks by its previous occupant. It was half the price of getting one like this brand new.

The crate had barely been used, but the dog who had it first was much larger than Casey. A golden doodle it would seem. This is sort-of a problem because when crate training a dog you only want the crate to be long enough for the dog to lay fully extended, tall enough for him to stand and wide enough for him to fully turn around. This crate is big enough for Casey to have a party for all his puppy friends.

Even though the large size is not ideal, we jumped on it anyway because this baby was half the price of getting one brand new.  Plus, Casey likes his crate and he’s never given us any indication that he might soil it. So we figured as long as we put in a bed big enough to cover the whole bottom we won’t have a problem.

We brought it home on Thursday night and on Saturday I went out in search of a bigger bed for Casey’s new nest. That was a lot harder than I expected. Sure, there are lots of big dog beds out there, but Casey likes to sleep with his head propped up on something. His small dog bed has sides that he uses, but most of the bigger dog beds are like big, cozy pillows. Finally I found one that looks like it has an arm rest on one end – perfect for a puppy head prop.

He seems to like his new nest and I’m much happier with the way it looks.

Casey in his new nest. See the head the rest in the back? We might move it to the front at some point, but for now it's too tall for him to climb over.

The old wire crate went up into our bedroom where we had been using what I called Casey’s sleeping bag – a soft-sided number that we found hard to zip up and contain him. Every morning he would get that bag moving across the floor and sometimes we’d find he had managed to move it about a foot before we let him out.

I have plans for getting the wire crate out of our bedroom at some point, but it’s really ambitious.

For example:

Source: homedesignfordogs.com via Susan on Pinterest

Or this:

Source: houzz.com via Susan on Pinterest

Another nice one:

Source: atticmag.com via Angela on Pinterest

And this one, which is possibly my favorite:

Source: atticmag.com via Jennifer on Pinterest

Our bedroom is on the second floor of a Cape Cod style house so we do actually have some space in the eaves that would accommodate such a house for Casey. In fact, during the remodel we talked to the contractor about making that space usable. Unfortunately, like so many other things with that project, he failed to follow up and the walls were closed in. Handy Don will be able to open them up in the future though. We’re just not eager to start remodeling again so soon.

The Possible Destruction of Actual Nests

27 Apr

A very sad thing happened at our house this week.

We used to have this pretty white oak tree in front yard.

A tree grows in Ballston

Isn’t she a beauty? Well, she is if you don’t look at all the dead limbs up at the top and since you can’t see them in this picture let’s agree that she’s a beauty, shall we?

We (mostly) loved this tree. It was more than 70-years old and was one of several old white and red oaks on our street. The wide-spread limbs shaded our whole house.

However, there were things we didn’t love – like the pollen and oak tree garbage it spits out everywhere for a month each spring. And the fact that our front yard was a wasteland except for that tree since it blocked out the sun and soaked up all the rain. Oh – and I’m crazy allergic to oak trees. Also it was planted directly in front of our door and sort-of obstructed the view of our house without giving us any privacy in exchange. But, you know, other than all that we loved it.

Anyway, it was dying. We were worried when we bought the house because the heaviest branches float out over our roof. We moved in during the fall so it was hard to tell how healthy it was since the foliage was still in place, but last spring we became concerned. As the leaves started popping out, we noticed that there were some branches that didn’t seem to be budding. As the month went on and nothing appeared, we were pretty sure we had some big, old dead wood.

But, what with all of our renovations, we didn’t really spend too much time thinking about it. When we had a hurricane at the beginning of the reno project we actually thought it would be pretty well timed if the tree fell on the house. We figured we could get part of our roof paid for by insurance. However, once the renovation was done we started thinking about it again. We LOVE our newly expanded second floor. We did not want to tree to come crashing in on us. Especially since our little nursery room would take the brunt of it.

So when the leaves started popping this year, we called in some experts. Three of them. And every company agreed: our tree was dying. And pretty quickly.

So we hired one of those experts on a Saturday and by Tuesday night the tree was gone.

I was extremely worried about any wildlife calling the tree home, but the arborist told me that squirrels and chipmunks would leave on their own and that birds’ nests would be relocated by hand.

So … it’s gone. Its removal totally changed our house and not entirely for the better. We’re happy we still have lots of big, old trees … but this one was the biggest. I suspect that over time the sun coming into the yard will mean nicer grass (or any grass!) and happier flowers, but for now it looks stark and empty and reminds me, again, that something is missing.

My good friend Genie, The Inadvertent Gardener, wrote a beautiful post once about her magnolia tree. Well, a post sort-of about her magnolia tree. The actual words described accepting that a beloved magnolia tree was not going to bloom one year. In actuality, the post was about accepting that another part her life wasn’t going to blossom into the lovely thing she once imagined. Thankfully, the magnolia tree blossomed the next year, and so did Genie. That season was a period of rest for The Inadvertent Gardener and for her tree.

Everything worked out beautifully for Genie and I’m hoping for a similar outcome. Our tree had to go, but maybe it was to make room for something even more precious.

Before and After, Side One

24 Feb

You know, I just realized my last post lacks context. So, take a look at the before and after.

Here’s the before. The people who lived here when we bought the house used it as a dressing room. That’s because there were really no closets up here. Now we have two walk-in closets so we don’t need a dressing room.

And here’s the after. Every wall was knocked down up here so the change is subtle, but it’s there. The slope starts just a touch higher than it did before and the dormer is a just a smidge taller. Originally, I could just stand in there bare feet, and now I can walk in even if I have sneakers on. There’s also, of course, the duct-concealing window seat. The floors were also replaced. We were sad to say goodbye to the pretty heart pine, but we needed enough new floor that it just wasn’t practical to preserve it. Anyway, we LOOOOVE this engineered hardwood Australian Cypress.
 
In fact, the more dramatic view is actually the other side of the room. Where once the slope mirrored this side of the room, now we have full height ceilings. Also, the new big closet is over there.
Sadly, I haven’t taken those pictures yet … so you’ll just have to wait.
 

Happy Valentine’s Day from the Nest

14 Feb