Cutting a rug

April 7, 2009 at 6:47 pm | Posted in Crafts, Homemade, Projects | 2 Comments

Literally.  (although, the results kind of made me want cut a rug in the figurative sense also).

Here is our laundry area in the basement.  It is NOT pretty and wonderful.  Someone plastered the basement walls a million years ago and the plaster and paint is falling off now.  There’s a hole in the floor where someone accessed the sewer pipe.  The paint on the floors is wearing, and there’s water stains from when previous owners found water in the basement.  Note: Our neighbor told us that at one point there was waist-high water in the basement.  We’re not entirely sure whether this is a true story, especially when said neighbor always reeks of cheap liquor and consistently asks me if I’m pregnant.  Which I am not. Ouch!

Anyways, our Realtor thought it would be nice if we made this area a little prettier.  She was thinking linoleum flooring and some paint.  I was thinking more along the lines of ultra-cheap (free!) and easy.  Like a rug.  Except that rugs are not all that cheap.

I channeled my inner crafter, and then took some inspiration from my Aunt’s hand-stenciled canvas rug.  Hers is a small rug, only about 2’x3′, but it is functional and cute.

Coincidentally, I had a few yards of painter’s canvas laying around the house and paint leftover from our recent room painting, so I went to work.  And, in the end, it looks a bit more cheerful at no cost to me.

And now?  A tutorial.  For those of you who need a cheap rug in your life.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Canvas (can be purchased at hardware stores for about $10 – also try craft or fabric stores)
  • Paint (I just used leftover paint from our bathroom remodel, but you could also use acrylic paint)
  • (Primer – I didn’t use any, but I suppose this might be a good step to include, if you have the time/energy)
  • Painter’s tape or masking tape
  • Tarp/plastic sheet
  • Paint brush/roller
  • Scissors
  • Ruler/Tape measure
  • Iron
  • (Water-based varnish – I also skipped this step, but it can be used to make the rug more durable/stain resistant)

1.  Cut your canvas to the desired size + 2″.  For example, for a 5’x8′ rug, cut 5’2″x8’2″.

2.  Iron the canvas.

3.  Fold over a 1″ edge on each side.  You’ve got some options here – you can sew around the edge, use tape to hold the edge down, or iron the edge.  I opted for the ironed edge – it was a quick and easy way to make a flat edge.

(3.b. Prime your canvas.  I skipped this step, and the finished product was fine.  But if you’re looking to be professional about it, I guess you should prime these things.)

4.  Invent your design.  I simply used a series of horizontal tape lines, but you can get creative here…  Use bowls to trace circles, freehand some flowers or swirlies or whatever.  As mentioned earlier, I was going for quick and easy, and, if you look at the rug closely, you can see that my lines are not exactly parallel.  It kind of drives the perfectionist in me crazy, but I had only an hour to devote to this project, and it’s in the basement.  Anything was an improvement.

5.  Put the canvas on your plastic tarp and paint your design.  I simply used a roller to paint the canvas, but for more intricate designs, you could use a brush.  I used about 1/3 to 1/4 of a gallon of paint on my fairly large rug, probably because I skipped step 3b.  The canvas soaked up whatever I rolled on it, and didn’t bleed through to the back side much.  This is also the step where I remembered – I have a blog!  And I should put this on the blog!  Better take a picture!

6.  Wait for paint to dry (overnight).  Remove painter’s tape, if you’ve used it.  Tada!  It has crooked lines, but Jason says that gives it character.  Truthfully, I could have spent much longer making them parallel.  Oh well.  Next time.

(7.  Another step that I skipped was sealing the rug with varnish.  Most websites suggest putting on 1-2 coats of water-based varnish to make the rug more durable and making it easier to wipe up spills.  I didn’t have time/energy/desire to spend money, so I skipped this step.  So far, so good.)

Any other tips from those of you that have done this sort of thing?  Let me know if you try this – I want to see pictures!!

Lasagna Fail

January 24, 2009 at 4:35 am | Posted in Food, Homemade | 5 Comments
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I was super-psyched to find out last week that you can make lasagna in the crock pot.  Lasagna is definitely a cold-weather favorite of mine… I’ve made it in the oven a few times, but, well, we don’t have an oven now, and I don’t have any little pans that will fit in the toaster oven, so I figured I wasn’t going to get any homemade lasagna this winter.  Until I stumbled across this recipe.

The basic instructions are:

(I modified a little to make a veggie lasagna, but you could put any meat or anything else you want in it – just cook the meat first).

Put a little pasta sauce in the bottom of the crockpot, lay lasagna noodles over it, followed by ricotta cheese, some spinach and mushrooms, then a little bit of an italian cheese mix.  Repeat 2-3 times.  Pour 1/4 cup water over your crockpot of yummy-ness.  Set on low for 8 hours.  (or high for 4 hours)

Then I went to work.  And told every. single. one of my coworkers how excited I was to have lasagna for dinner.  And I daydreamed about how much I would love  my delicious dinner of veggie lasagna.  And I tried to avoid drooling on my keyboard.

So of course I was seriously. seriously. annoyed when I got home from work to find a half-cooked lasagna in a cold crock pot.  Grr…  And the fact that I had just bought enough groceries for a week’s worth of crockpot meals was a little like rubbing salt into my wounds.  Bad crockpot.

We had a small adventure today in which we attempted to pick up a new crockpot, but there must have been a run on these handy little kitchen appliances recently, because the closest store that had what we wanted was a 4-hour drive.  So, a shiny new All Clad crockpot will be on it’s way to our house this week (we decided to upgrade from our original Kitchenaid crockpot because this was the second one that we’ve returned due to defects in under 4 months).

When the new crockpot comes in, I’m going to have to give this one another try.  In the meantime, let me know if your lasagna attempts are successful…

Christmas 2008 Projects

January 5, 2009 at 9:59 pm | Posted in Holidays, Homemade | 3 Comments

I didn’t complete many projects for Christmas, but I thought I’d share the few that I did complete, now that all the gifts have been given.

First Project: Book plates.

For: my mom, who is a voracious reader, and who loans out her books a lot.   Ignore the bad picture and the name scrambled to protect the innocent.  I had a really great time making these, so if anyone else wants any, let me know and I might be able to arrange it!

Second Project: Picture Frames.

For: J’s sister.  This one isn’t really as crafty a project as the book plates or my home-designed Christmas cards, but I was still really excited about it.  Bridget recently moved into a new apartment and mentioned that she needed something to hang on the walls.  Instead of just giving her frames, I wanted to print out a bunch of photos so that she could just hang them on the wall.  I don’t know about you, but when I get empty photo frames, they tend to stay that way for quite a while before I manage to find something to put in them.  So I thought that, even if Bridget hates the pictures I chose, she can hang them as-is for a while and change them at her leisure.

You’ll notice that the upper right photo isn’t actually a photo.  Instead, I made a monogrammed piece.  I’ve seen quite a few monogrammed frames, pillows, plaques, etc lately and I think they’re charming.  So this is my version.  Using Illustrator, I bolded Bridget and her boyfriend, Sean’s first initials (B & S).  The text surrounding the initials is an Irish blessing, since Bridget (and actually all of J’s family) is fiercely proud of her Irish heritage, and because I thought the wording was appropriate for someone starting a new job and living in a new apartment.  The poem reads:

May love and laughter light your days,
and warm your heart and home.
May good and faithful friends be yours,
wherever you may roam.
May peace and plenty bless your world
with joy that long endures.
May all life’s passing seasons
bring the best to you and yours!


Third project: Picture Wall.

For:  J’s parents.  Jason and I gave his parents a few of our wedding pictures to add to their picture wall for Christmas.  But!  Their picture wall was pretty full already…  So when they left to go to the Cape on new year’s eve, and jokingly told us that we could rearrange their photo wall, we took them up on it.  Here’s the before photo:

I pulled all of these pictures off the wall, added the new ones that we gifted them, and arranged them on the floor.  Once I was happy with the new arrangement, we began hanging.  We tried to use as many of the nail holes that were already in the walls as possible, and we also tried to cover any nail holes that we didn’t use so that J’s parent’s wouldn’t be left with a hideously holed-up wall.

There is something seriously nerve-wracking about putting holes in your in-laws walls, but I persevered. I actually have a hard time putting holes in ANY wall (which is why we don’t have any pictures hung in the house) because I’m always afraid that I’ll change my mind later and then have to patch all of the walls.  So apologies to J’s parents for any holes that we made that you may have to patch in the future.

Anyways, here’s the finished product:

I’m pretty happy with the way this turned out.  I added plastic footing to the backs of the pictures so that they would stay straight – because if one picture is out of line, it’s really obvious.  I hope J’s parents love it, and if they don’t, they can always take it down or switch up the pictures.

Crafty Crafty Christmas

December 17, 2008 at 8:13 pm | Posted in Holidays, Homemade | 1 Comment

There’s something about handmade Christmas gifts that I just really love. I have so much fun putting little personal touches on gifts, but rarely find the time to do so (this year, I’ve only “personalized” 2 gifts with homemade goods… and I will share more on those when the recipients get their presents).

I’ve been following a few blogs that have posted some crafty homemade Christmas ideas, so I thought I’d share a few of my favorites with you. (Maybe this will give me inspiration to make even more personalized presents next year).

Snowflake ornaments from Elizabeth Anne Designs – just some beads and wire, and I bet it looks stunning on the tree.

Felted and embroidered animal ornaments from Sunshine’s Creations – As much as I dislike birds in real life, I am beginning to find fake, whimsical birds charming.  It seems like I am seeing them everywhere this year.

Oven Mitt from mylongestyear.com

Apron from Little Birdie Secrets – I think my crock pot cooking or my george foreman baking would be way more fun with cute matching oven mitts and apron!

Hot Chocolate Mix in an Adorable Jar from Little Birdie Secrets – this would be a sweet gift to pass on to the neighbor that shoveled our sidewalk for us earlier this week!  (It was such an awesome surprise to come home to a shoveled sidewalk.)

Beautiful Wreath from Eddie Ross – All it requires is glue, a wire hanger, and glass ball ornaments…  I think I might make one for myself!

How about you?  Anyone else bitten by the creative bug lately?  Any favorite Christmas crafts to share?

Cold Windows, Hot Dog!

November 21, 2008 at 11:26 pm | Posted in Green Solutions, Homemade, Our Sun Room | 3 Comments
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It’s cold here! Brr. This week marks the beginning of at least months of coldness – I won’t be warm again until March, at the earliest. Every year around this time I wonder why I live here. But then it snows and I get used to the cold, and once again, all is well with the world. I’d miss snow too much to live in a more temperate climate. On the other hand, I wouldn’t miss cold feet.

Anyways, this post is about more than my feet. It’s about the temperature outside. It’s a small number. So small that I’m not ready to think about it yet. (At least it’s not negative).

And being that we live in an old house with all original windows, it is drafty here! I can just feel the cold seeping in around the windows, and it’s no good. I shudder to think at all of the heat flowing out of the windows. Hello, high heating bill, bye bye, money!

I love my old, dirty windows – even if they are drafty.

We’ve got all of the storm windows down, but it’s not much help. Last year, we put 3M window plastic over a few of the windows. I think it really helped, and it’s nice that the 3M plastic is clear – so clear that we hardly noticed it was there. Although, at $15 for coverage of 2 windows, it would get costly if we covered every window in the house.

We’ve put curtains up over many of the windows, and they also cut down on the draft although, I’m not sure they work as well as the window plastic. I’ve lined the curtains in the sunroom with a thermal lining fabric (it also cuts out most of the light coming through the curtains, making it twice as great for use on bedroom windows – yay for sleeping in!). Our sunroom is almost exclusively windows, and there’s always a cold draft coming from there. So tonight I worked on a few more panels for those windows.

Can you figure out which panel is the new one?

I still have to hem up the sides and bottoms, but you get the idea. My only concern is that the new panel is a slightly different color than the older panels. It looks less obvious in person than in the pictures, but I wonder if it will drive me crazy, or if it will fade to the shade of the other curtains before I even notice.

Anyways, insulating the curtains seems to be a little more cost-effective. The material is a bit more expensive upfront (I think I paid $6/yard, plus I had a 40% off coupon), but at least it’s reuseable and I only have to buy it once! It’s earth-friendly and wallet-friendly. Yay!

I’ve also heard that simply adding a plastic shower curtain to the back of the regular curtain can help reduce drafts – has anyone had luck/experience with that approach? Any other tips on reducing drafts from old windows?

And, since he’s the topic of this post, I couldn’t leave you without a picture of our very own hot dog!

Hot dog!

He’s been sitting in front of the fire all night and his fur is so warm… Every time Jason walks past him, he pets him and yells, “hot dog!” Jason thinks this is hysterical. Barley is not impressed.

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