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Friday, January 28, 2011

How To: Backward Wall Hanging

Here is the "how to" for the wall hanging as seen in...
"Take a Tour: The Kids Bathroom (wall hanging).

It is pretty simple and easy to do...
...if you don't mind hand painting.  Vinyl is always another option.
  1. choose your saying
  2. print it out on your computer
  3. flip your printout backward and trace it from the back ( I did it that way because I just needed to visually see the letters backward-I free hand painted the lettering to the look of the font wasn't all that important to me)
  4. paint wood background color
  5. measure and trace guide lines for painting
  6. paint your words
  7. hang & enjoy
Don't forget...
this was FREE because I already had everything I needed.

Take a Tour: The Kid Bathroom (wall hanging)

Take a Tour: The Kids Bathroom (wall hanging)

Here is the wall hanging in the kids bathroom.

Is there something wrong with the picture?

Can you figure out what it is?

The words are backwards.

Why would this crazy lady do that?

Check it out...

...because when you look in the mirror
(while brushing your teeth)...
it is facing the right way (like magic).

How did I get that crazy idea?
(the story)

I wanted to decorate my kids bathroom.  I couldn't figure out what to do.   I was pretty sure that I wanted to put up some kind of saying (but didn't get any ideas that I was lovin').  I was standing there looking into the large mirror (that takes up most of the wall) and thinking...if I put something up it would be reflected backwards (which would make for a pretty weird saying).  Then it hit me...why don't I write it backward then when you look at it in the mirror it would be facing the right way.


How much did it cost?
(I already had everything I needed)


How To: French Message Board

I had sitting in my collection a 16x20 frame that I got at a garage sale sometime last year for super cheap (50 cents!!!!) . It was beautiful and ornate and I couldn't wait to use it but I hadn't since had any luck figuring out what exactly I wanted to do with it. . . .until about 2 weeks ago.

I knew I wanted it in my room because my room colors are burgundy and gold. At first I wanted to put a picture in it (cuz I just love, love, LOVE pictures!) but because it didn't come with any glass (I believe it previously held a canvas painting and I didn't want to buy another glass), I ruled that out. Then I wanted to cut wood or put cloth in it to frame some lettering or a quote. . .but I didn't act upon it so it never got done. I had always wanted to make a french message board so at last, I finally decided to make my long-awaited french message board and frame it! (In this Tutorial, I will show you how to make a French Memo Board to hang with or without a frame)

Ok, so the next step was to figure out how I could make this project for as free as can be. If you had built up your arsenal to a pretty decent size as I have, then completing projects with things you have on-hand will be easier. The thing is, I don't want people to say "Well, it's inexpensive to you because you had all that stuff on-hand and I don't". Well, there will always be something that you dont have on-hand, I just try to make it easier by utilizing materials (for my projects) that most people in the good ole' U.S. of A. have laying around the house.

K, now that that's over with, my materials are:  2 (or 3) pieces of cardboard (cut to fit my frame), fabric (enough to cover the front of the board and 1-2 inches behind it) and ribbon (a good amount, this is the material that you may not have on-hand). I also used a staple gun for assembly. I wanted to also mention that if you had any batting, it would be great to use on this project. (oops, forgot to put my frame in the pix)

You want the ribbon and the fabric to be pretty (or decent) because that is what will be showing on your board. And just because you dont sew, it doesn't mean you don't have fabric laying around your house! You could use pillow cases, bed sheets, curtains, a towel or maybe even clothing! Be creative!

Step 1:  If you have batting, wrap it around the 2 pieces of cardboard, pull it taut and staple it on the back. (I didn't use batting because I didn't have any and wanted to make my board as free as it could be. If I had had any though, I would definitely have used it.) The batting will make the ribbon "taut-er" (if that's even a word) and will hold your notes and pictures more securely. Next, wrap fabric around the 2 pieces of cardboard (or batting if you used any). Make sure you pull it taut so the front is nice and smooth. The 2 or 3 pieces of cardboard
is so when you staple the fabric and ribbons to the board, it won't poke through the front. Trim excess fabric.

Step 2: Start Laying out your ribbon on the board and cutting them out. (Do not staple yet!) Make sure there is at least 2 inches of ribbon that reaches around the back of the board.

Step 3: When you have all the ribbon arranged nicely, Staple the 2 longest ribbons to the board (it should look like a big X).

Bring the Ribbon around (pulling it taut) and stapling it to the back of the board. Trim the excess ribbon.

Step 4: After stapling the X, start stapling all the ribbon going one way. Make sure it is taut! Eye the spaces in between ribbons to make sure they are straight.

Step 5: After stapling all the ribbons one way, start going the other way but. . .weave the ribbons over and under the already stapled ribbons (like those paper quilt patterns you did as a kid). Rub your hand over the front part of the board. If you feel any staples poking out, just lightly pat it down with a flat object. If you used at least 2 pieces of cardboard, it should be thick enough to hold those staples (and fabric and ribbon securely) without poking out the other side.
Step 5: This is the last step for those of you that want to hang your memo board without a frame. With another piece of ribbon, make a hanger and staple it to the back of the board. Voila! a homemade french memo board for as free as can be!

Step 6: Finally, I placed my memo board in my frame. Make sure you cut the cardboard to fit the frame exactly. Try out the "fit" before you actually make the memo board. I hung my memo board in the perfect place in my room. It looks Awesome!

Shucks! almost forgot to show ya'll just how FREE this project was!

Cardboard=Umm, FREE!
Fabric (on-hand)=FREE
Ribbon (on-hand)=FREE
Frame=50 Cents 
French Memo Board Total=50 Beautiful Cents!!!

Now that's as free as can be! *;)


Sunday, January 23, 2011

How To: Faux Vinyl (made from clear contact paper)

Introducing...(drum roll please)...
Faux Vinyl

Want vinyl?

Don't want to pay full price for it?  ...Yes.

(keep reading)

Did you know that you can use contact paper to save money?  ...Yes/NO.

(keep reading)

People use contact paper as vinyl in their vinyl cutting machines all the time (it's cheaper).

What if you don't have a vinyl cutting machine?
(cricket, silhouette,etc.)

(keep reading)

Did you know you can use contact paper and cut your own vinyl (without a machine)?...No.

Yes!!!!!  Yes you can!!!!!

I DID!!!


I wanted our last name up on the wall in our living room.  I wanted it large and beautiful...
but, as you know I don't want to pay full price.  I knew that I could do it.  I just needed to figure out how.

I don't have a vinyl cutter (so sad). 
I love vinyl as much as the next person but just can't get myself to buy one. 
So...I set out to do it on my own.

Here is how I did it...

1.  I bought clear contact paper (I wanted black contact paper but couldn't find any in my area).  I didn't want to buy it online.  If you know me, I won't buy something "special" if I can figure out how to make it myself.   FYI-clear contact paper is cheaper than black.

Contact Paper = $1 (Dollar Tree)

I tested the contact paper using acrylic and spray paint.  
I sanded to prep the surface (one sample for each type of paint) and the other I didn't.   

One hour later I did a scratch test.  They weren't fully dry so they scratched.
I left them to dry over night and scratch tested them again.  They all held up well (no scratch marks).
I decided to use the NO PREP SPRAY PAINT method...the easiest method (of course).

2.  I laid the contact paper out on newspaper and used tape and rocks to hold it open.  I sprayed it using our good old trusty Walmart brand $1 spray paint.  I did 2 light coats to prevent dripping, letting it dry overnight between each coat.  I ran out of spray paint so I actually had to buy some:(

Spray Paint = $1 (Walmart)

(depending on the quality of your screen you may not be able to see the font in the pictures)

3.  I went on the computer to find a font I liked and got it hubby approved (I changed the font to outline style).  Then I traced a horizontal line along the bottom of the lettering, along the top and through the middle (at the top of the lower case letters).    I folded the paper in half (vertically and horizontally), and again and again until I got a
grid of squares and then traced the folds.

4. I taped your basic computer printing paper together to match the size of the contact paper (to be used as my pattern).

5. I created a grid on the computer paper to match the grids on my font paper.  This is a technique used by artists to take a smaller image and enlarge it.  I'm sure you probably remember doing this back in school in art class.
Here you can see where I went back and made a grid on my font paper to make it easier to see the grids
(just for you...cuz I love ya). 

6. I used the boxes on the font paper to help me enlarge the image.  I copied the picture in each box from the font paper onto the larger paper (drawing it the same just bigger).   When I was done copying the boxes I went back and smoothed out the image (connecting the lines smoother, checked spacing, etc.)  When I liked what it looked like I colored it in with a marker to make it easier to see.

Here we are checking it out.  Love it!

7. I trimmed the pattern and taped it onto the sprayed contact paper. 

8.  I cut out the pattern and the contact paper using a utility knife/exact knife/box cutter with a cardboard underneath (and it cuts right through)-which isn't necessarily a problem.  I also cut part of it without a backing (cutting directly onto the cement). Each technique gives you different results.

Cardboard behind-cuts through the pattern, contact paper, and backing of the contact paper.
Nothing behind-cuts through the pattern and contact paper but not the backing of the contact paper.
But...of course all of this varies based on the amount of pressure you use when cutting.  You may want to practice before doing a giant sized one (like me).
FYI-I didn't practice or try it out on anything. 
I just did it...that's how I am. 
I like to do it and learn along the way. 
I think it's fun.

Getting it up on the wall is the tricky part.  Why is it tricky?  Because you need to take your time and go slowly.  I was running behind schedule for a meeting but wanted to get it up (because I was so excited) I totally forgot to take pictures along the way.  I know that pictures are worth a thousand words.  Bare with me as I try to explain.

9.  Prep the wall.  I marked my living room wall marking the center and where I wanted the bottom of the lettering to go.  We decided we wanted the top of the lettering to be one foot from the ceiling.  I drew a horizontal line marking where the bottom of the lettering would go.

10.  I removed the pattern from the contact paper and drew a horizontal under line under each of the letters (stretching beyond the letter to the left and right).  This is the line that I use to line up to the line on the wall (the line that I made in step #9).

11.  I checked the backing of the contact paper. 
Some of the areas had cut through the backing so I taped it together.

12.  I taped the contact paper to the wall using the under line of the lettering to match up to the line I drew on the wall.

13.  I slowly peeled the back of the contact paper (from behind) one section at a time and adhered it to the wall.  As I finished a section I would remove the outer area surrounding the letter before moving on to the next section.  This took time and patience.  There were areas that didn't cut all the way through.  I did have to use my box cutter/scissors here and there.  I did it with all the kids I lost my patience a few times and a couple of kids got a good yelling at....thus no pictures.  Maybe next time I'll have the kids take the pictures?  That might be a good idea.  You never know.

14.  I took a step back and looked for areas that needed a little tweaking.  Remember this is hand cut and not perfect...but I love it!  I just peeled the small area off the wall, gave it a good trim with my handy dandy scissors and stuck it back on. 

Faux vinyl (4 feet by 1.5 feet)

Time = FREE
Patience = um....FREE
Contact Paper = $1
Spray Paint = $1

Grand Total = $2

I got an estimate from someone in our community who does vinyl.   It would cost about $22.
I saved $20.
How awesome is that?



wishing you luck on your next faux vinyl project

How To: Handpainted Mirror

This is the hand painted mirror...
as seen in "Take a Tour: The Front Room.
Once again...this is a project I did a while ago so I don't have all the steps in picture form...


the GREAT NEWS is...

 it is SUPER EASY!

You don't need anything special!

Supply List:
  • measuring tape (to center it)
  • masking tape (to mark your painting area)
  • paint brush
  • paint (nothing special-I used acrylic paint-bought at Walmart)
  • a mirror (or something else) to paint on...DUH!

Quick Steps:
  1. measure
  2. tape
  3. paint
Detailed info:
(I recreated the steps on a board painted black for easier viewing...which I will be using for a future project):
  1. I measured the mirror to find the center (both ways). I taped across the mirror.

    2. I used the masking tape to mark off my area (measuring the same distance away from the center mark).

     3. I went back and ripped the tape away from the center mark where I would be painting.

4. Paint the lettering. 
I painted over the masking tape when making the "g". 
Paint carefully and slowly.  You need to keep the mirror flat or the paint will run/spread out.
But, if you make a mistake...wipe it away and try again. 
Thank goodness it's glass and easy to clean up for a redo.
     5. I removed the masking tape guide lines and filled in the missing spots
(in the letter "g" where I had painted over the masking tape).
     6. Let it dry fully. 
I painted over my first layer (because I didn't like the effect of a single layer.  I felt it was too thin).

Custom painted mirror


That's it!
measure, tape, paint

(p.s. I use this technique on all of my hand painted items. 
I used tape on the mirror because I couldn't draw lines)

Yes, I did it free hand...and as you can see it's not perfect (which doesn't really bother me)...although my husband always teases me that the "g" is crooked. 
I asked him if he wanted to do it and of course he said no (duh). 
It's special because it can't be bought anywhere. 
No one else has it...which makes it one of a kind...and...I made it all by my self!!! 

I think that too many times, too many people run to the store to buy pre-made items. 
They have no attachment to it and it has little to no personal meaning to them.
Just imagine...a home filled with items handmade by YOU. 
Every day you would look around and see all the beautiful things YOU made and feel a deep sense of joy and accomplishment.

Mileka :)

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Take a Tour: The Front Living Room

Total = $2
(I'm not lying!!!)

I guess this is my "formal room." 
I'm not one for formalities... we call it the Front "Living" Room
because it's in the front and we "live" in it (to some extent).

Let's Begin...

Piano = FREE
(how? read below)

OK...I know you are wondering how I got a free piano so...
I'll take some time to give you a quick run down of how I got it.

I wanted a piano pretty bad.  I played as a kid and wanted to teach my kids the basics. 
So, I set out on Craig's List. 
At first, I was willing to pay $200
(but I really wanted one for free
-keep this thought in mind as you continue to read).
 I looked around and didn't see what I wanted
or it was out of my price range. 
I found a few free ones
but it was either too far or in need of repair.
I heard from a friend who said that her friend (did I lose you yet?) had gotten one for $50 on Craig's list.
That was it!  If someone else can do it, I CAN DO IT!!!!!
I was determined to get one for $50.
I continued looking (on and off) for about 6 more months.
I found one (on CL) that looked decent and it was located near to where I live.
It stated "make an offer."  So, that's what I did.
What was my price? $50 (remember...stick to your budget).
The seller did not respond and I figured that someone else got to it before I did.
A few months later I got a random e-mail (the seller had been out of town caring for her sick mother).
She said I could have it for $40.  I was pumped!!!  I gave her a big fat YES (via email).
Then once again I got no reply. 
A couple of months later
(yes, again...but remember I know about patience
she got back to me.
She said that if I picked up the piano before 3pm I could have it for free!!!!!!! YES, FREE!!!!!!!
I called a friend and they were able to help me.
That is another totally awesome story in and of itself (maybe I'll tell about it later on another post).
We arrived at the house at 2:15 to pick it up.  After chit chat and loading, we pulled away at 2:58 (yes, I remember the exact time.  Only because it was such an awesome experience).

Piano book = free
(I rescued a broken binder headed for the trash).
I found a website that has simplified piano music
It's free, so of course I love it!
I use it to teach the kids piano.
I use the songs to introduce concepts
and they learn real songs right away.
It's not the traditional method but it works for us and the kids love it because they learn to play "real" songs instead of those made up and watered down songs usually found in how to piano books.

Above Piano Grouping

Mirror = Free
Candles and candle holders = FREE
1 frame and all the pictures = FREE
2 frames = $2 (dollar store)
Total  for Above Piano Grouping = $2

A friend of mine was moving and gave me the stuff she no longer wanted (thanks C! you rock!).
She gave me the mirror (which was in her trash), candles and holders.
I had the center picture-it was a wedding present from a friend.
I bought the two smaller frames from the dollar store.
I repainted the frames and mirror.
I hand painted the wording on the mirror.
I painted it gold because that was a main color in the room
(and I had beautiful gold curtains).
I'm going to redo the room
because of a few changes in furniture (later on).

Let's recap...

Piano = FREE
Piano book = FREE
Mirror = Free
Candles and candle holders = FREE
1 frame and all the pictures/documents = FREE
2 frames = $2 (dollar store)


I'm doing the happy dance right now...because I'm so awesome!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How to: Window Valance


Here are the super duper quick and easy steps.

1. Measure window and decided how long and how wide you want your valance.

2. Cut cardboard to match your measurements.

3. Cover the cardboard with black material (I already had some).

4. Tape the material around the cardboard...making sure to keep the material taut/tight/fitted.

5. Nail/screw in screws, nails, picture hangers to the wall.
(I used a picture hanger because that is what I already had)

6. Measure/mark your valance and make a hole (I used a scissors) where it will hang.

7.  Hang and enjoy!

Total cost = FREE

Mileka :)

Take a Tour: The Kitchen

Total $2.50

Take a Tour: The Kitchen (windows)

Above are my kitchen windows.
I love them because they are so simple.
The items you see in the picture cost a total of $2.50.

Let's start at the bottom...
Flower arrangement...
I wanted to keep my color palate neutral (other than the black of course) so I went with white flowers.

Flowers $1 (Dollar Store)

I got the vase for free...from Brandi.  They were filled with roses (left over from a wedding she went to). 
I heart roses!  Thanks Brandi!!!
I filled it with rice (because that is what I had) and arranged the flowers in the vase.  I didn't like what it looked like from the front so I wrapped it with black construction paper...
yes, black construction paper...and taped it in place.

Flower Arrangement Total = $1

Moving on up...

Had to have it...because it said "simple."

Got it at Goodwill for...$1.50.  It was the most hideous brown.  I spray painted the whole thing black and then went back and painted the letters (with antique white-which I already had).  The letters were already carved into to I just followed their lines.

Plaque Total = $1.50

Moving up again...

This is the best part...the free part!
Window Valance

Flower Arrangement = $1
Plaque = $1.50
Window Valance = FREE

TOTAL = $2.50

Mileka :)
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