Archive for December, 2011
That she blows! Or maybe I should I say “thar she glows!” Either way, we got ‘er up.
And this year the theme was:
- free stuff we already had (no getting in the car to go fetch anything, since we feared that would cost us another week to get things up)
- nothing pointy/hard/breakable (for bean safety reasons)
- color, color, color (just like our tabletop tree in the living room)
So yes, we gave our full-sized tree a whole new look (see what it looked like in 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007 here) using stuff that we already had in the house, like a bunch of leftover paint chips from my bin.
Yes, I save old paint chips to reuse them for things like this art project…
… and this temporary postcard ledge arrangement (from our first house’s office)…
… and this year’s tree project:
First I cut them into strips (so I got 2-3 ornaments out of each leftover Benjamin Moore paint chip) and then used a hole puncher to make a hole…
… which I then used to loop twine and string from my craft bin to hang them. I love that they’re like modern little colorful icicles that cover the tree. And of course the fact that they were all f-r-e-e didn’t hurt either.
The other main element of decoration on the tree is a few spools of ribbon from the gift wrapping closet (snagged on clearance from Michael’s last Christmas). We just unrolled them, found the center point and folded it over the top of the tree, so the same amount of ribbon dangled down each side of the tree in an upside-down V shape. Oh and the “tree skirt” is just three faux sheep skins from Ikea (they’re sort of a holiday tradition at this point).
I even had some leftover ribbon to make a little bow at the top. Aw, shucks. Our tree is definitely a gal this year.
Oh and you’ll probably notice two things from this picture…
- We had yet to “catch up” with our advent calendar when we took these pics (the second we got the tree up we excitedly snapped these photos) – but Clara and I have since hung 12 advent ornaments on the tree – so we’re back to one a day from here on out.
- We did some quick mantel decorating in the kitchen, let’s take a closer look:
I added some old feather trees on the floor (from Target, a few years back) along with two ceramic birds up on the mantel (like two white Christmas doves) from an estate sale a few years ago. I also added in the little thrift store rocking horse that I painted for Clara (more on that here). And of course I hung our stockings from Target a few years ago (backwards this year – just to spice it up)…
It might look like those three stockings mean that Burger didn’t get one… but of course he did! John and I actually share one (labeled “Mom and Dad”) and then there’s Clara’s stocking and Burger’s stocking:
I also stuck a basket full of gifts in the fireplace (actually they’re fakers, see how I made those here).
One of the most fun things about the new doorway between the kitchen and the dining room is that we can enjoy the tree from the kitchen too. See it peeking around the corner of the opening?
Never would have gotten to enjoy that view if the wall didn’t come down a little while ago. Yay, demo!
It’s so nice to see something festive in the dining room (the big tree), the kitchen (the holiday mantel), and the living room (our tabletop tree). Aw, Christmastime, how do I love thee. Let me count the trees, er, ways.
So that’s the inside of the house all decorated for ya. Well most of it (I still have a holiday frame gallery project to shoot and share with you guys). Oh yeah, and for the first time ever we decorated the outside of our house too! We’re talking lights and stars and even a homemade wreath and some bright red ceramic-looking reindeer. That’s right, we went all out. Pics to come as soon as we can snap them and write something up!
Psst- We’ll be back with a kitchen update tomorrow for ya! Lots of the stuff that we’re working on is extremely detail oriented (ex: cutting down an old cabinet to make a smaller one that “matches” the rest of the kitchen and houses a built-in microwave), but we’re moving just as fast as we can!
Here it is, the much requested post about our favorite DIY tools for all of you folks who are asking Santa for something tool-ish this year (or trying to figure out what to buy a handy guy or gal in your life). None of the items in this list paid us or perked us for the mentions, they’re just actually the tools that we use and love on the regular. So without further ado, let’s chat about the things that help us get ‘er done….
We previously wrote this post about a few things that we pretty much can’t live without (any of which would make great gifts/stocking stuffers), so here’s a quick summary since we’d be remiss to leave them out:
- a hammer
- a crowbar
- a flat head screwdriver
- a phillips head screwdriver
- a tape measure
- plumber’s putty
- a hack saw
- a drywall saw
- liquid nails
- plumber’s tape
- a box cutter
- an exacto knife
- straight razors
- channel lock pliers (these are our DIY MVPS, they come in handy for all sorts of things, even stripped screws and rusted pipes)
- wrenches of all sizes
- needle nosed pliers
- a level
- a caulk gun
- a putty knife
- painter’s tape
- high quality rollers (they’re labeled for smooth or textured surfaces – so pick the right one for your walls)
- mini foam rollers (great for painting furniture and even cabinet doors)
- paint trays and drop cloths
- high quality angled brushes (here’s my favorite paint brush ever)
- an assortment of nails and screws
If you have any questions about the items mentioned above, you can read way more on those specific small-ish tools right here. And for a breakdown of the items in the photo above, there’s this post. And I’d say if you’re staring at the screen saying “I can’t ask for/buy all of that stuff!” a cute gift idea might be grouping things that go together for a common project, like:
- a level
- a hammer
- some picture nails and anchors and screws
- some spackle and a putty knife (for filling in any mistakes along the way)
Or you could toss together a cute painting kit with:
- painter’s tape
- paint trays
- a drop cloth (heck you could even wrap everything up in the drop cloth and tie it sweetly with twine)
But now let’s move on to the bigger guns – for anyone hoping to give (or receive) something with a little more power. Over the years we’ve tried some heavier artillery on for size…
… and let’s just say that power tools have a way of making us permasmile in that I-am-handy-hear-me-roar kinda way. So here are a few of our favorite staples (along with a quick bit about what we’ve used them for):
- a miter saw (nice for cutting crown molding and baseboard – but also for cutting pretty much any board less than 8″ wide – it makes quick, clean cuts, both angled or straight)
- a wet saw (awesome for doing backsplash or bathroom tile – and even cutting patio pavers)
- a table saw (great for tackling large boards or planks of wood – especially when you need long straight cuts)
- a reciprocating saw (nice for cutting out old dead bushes – it’s sort of like a mini chainsaw)
- a jigsaw (good for smaller, not perfectly straight cuts, like demo-ing out the built-in around our old fridge)
- an electric sander (awesome for refinishing furniture or smoothing any wood you’re using to build something from scratch)
- a cordless drill and drill bit set (for drilling holes or screwing nearly anything together)
- a Kreg Jig (for making pocket holes to create tight joints when doing any sort of wood working like building furniture or making shelves)
- a demolition hammer (for demo-ing out nasty old tile stuck in metal mesh and mortar like we did in our first house’s bathroom – we actually rented one at a home improvement store, which is a nice way to save money if you won’t use something very often – plus you don’t have to store it)
So any of those guys would make for a great gift. After all, a new bathroom/desk/wall o’ frames/kitchen/anything else you can make with those tools is right up there with any other “big” gift – at least according to DIY junkies like us. As for where we store everything, we have three large drawers in our kitchen full of small tools and paint supplies (currently sitting in our sunroom because we have yet to put the kitchen back together/reorganize) and we keep most of the big things (like the miter saw) in the basement.
Speaking of specific products and brands, we’re sure there’s more than one way to tick things off the ol’ to-do list, but here are the companies and some of the actual products that we use in our house on a regular basis:
- Stanley makes great screwdrivers, tape measures, crowbars, box cutters, and mini sledgehammers
- Craftsman makes great hammers
- Black & Decker makes great cordless drills (we have this one)
- Black & Decker also makes great sanders (we have this one)
- Frog Tape is the best painter’s tape we’ve ever used
- Sherwin Williams stores sell this awesome short handled brush that we love for painting trim
- Purdy brushes and rollers (available at Home Depot & Lowe’s) are great for nearly every painting project (we love a good 2″ angled brush for cutting in & painting furniture and a nice good quality roller for walls & ceilings)
- We have a Skilsaw table saw and a Skilsaw reciprocating saw
- We got our wet saw at The Tile Shop
- Our miter saw is made by Craftsman
- Sears sells a set of wrenches that we’ve used for years
- Grip Rite (available at Home Depot & Lowe’s) sells nice big boxes of screws, nails, anchors, etc
- 3M sandpaper comes in a nice wide range (we like low grit versions, like 60-100, for deeper sandings and high grit alternatives, like 200-300, for smoothing things out for a finished look)
- Dap Caulk is our favorite brand (we get the white paintable “Premium Indoor/Outdoor Sealant” for most jobs and the “3.0 Advanced Kitchen and Bath Adhesive Caulk” also in white – which isn’t paintable but is ideal for caulking a tub, toilet, or sink).
- We also love Dap Fast ‘N Final Lightweight Spackle (for filling holes and all that good stuff – more on that here)
As you can see, we don’t have a bunch of expensive DeWalt things – which is a nice reminder that you can gussy up your house without owning a $500 saw (and we also definitely believe in renting and borrowing anything that you can to get the job done). We don’t want this crazy exhaustive list to sound defeating, so remember that we started fixing up our first house five years ago with a hammer, a screwdriver, and a paint brush. Das it. So we don’t recommend trying to grab all of this stuff at once (ack, that would be crazytown). Just think about what projects you might have on your priority list and grab one or two things as you can afford them to make things easier as you go.
Anyway, I hope Santa (or someone else) brings you everything on your list this year! Assuming you were good. If not… well, maybe there are crafts you can do with coal? Oh and we’d love to hear more about your take on which tools get the most use at your house. Do you have any life-changing ones that you can’t live without? Are there certain brands or products that have been especially helpful?
Psst- Once again for the people in the back: no items/companies in this post paid or perked us for the mention, we just genuinely love these tools and wanted to share ‘em with anyone in need of some holiday handy-ness. Oh and we announced this week’s giveaway winner. Click here to see if it’s you.