Make Gift Wrap from Old Books

We made several sheets of this gift wrap for the holidays and it was a hit, so here’s a quick how-to tutorial. Change the color scheme and it can work for any occasion throughout the year. GiftWrap_Box

Project: Sew pages of a book together with contrasting top-stitch thread and roll on ink with a brayer to create unique, recycled gift wrap. We used an old encyclopedia and pulled out pages that related to people’s interests – the music section for our musician friend, printing press section for our graphic designer friend, and the biography section for our literate friend. Continue reading

Make a Home Office Pendant Light

I needed a light for my workspace. I wanted to find a really awesome Pendant Light. I poked around online and found some that were amazing, but a little too expensive for me to handle. I had a very basic $17.00 IKEA pendant light left over from my kitchen update. $17-40.00 was more like my budget. But, it was so small and lacked any funk at all. Plus it looked like it belonged in a kitchen.

Original Ikea Pendant Light

I was hoping to snag an inexpensive, awesome, retro light from Second Use Building Materials or RE Store. Continue reading

Modernized Armoire


I have a cottage style home which means very little storage space. I purchased an armoire from a friend several years ago with the idea that one day I’d paint, stain, or at least change the door handles.

I wanted to modernize the whole room. It currently serves as a makeshift office, spare bedroom and a lazy catch-all storage space. The thought was to get rid of a lot of useless stuff and shift the room toward a contemporary office space that could quickly convert into a bedroom when guests arrive.

Continue reading

Soaker Hose – Check!

I like to garden, but I don’t really like to water. This is a bit of a drawback for a gardener. It’s not that I don’t know this about myself, I’ve started this project of installing a watering system several times over the years – and I can prove it because I found 7 soaker hoses stashed in various places (not in the dirt), waiting to serve their intended purpose. I just didn’t know that I should have added to my materials list: “the happy helpers Heidi and Mary Jean”.

One and a half days. That’s how long it took to completely finish my long-delayed project (she said, banging her head on the desk). Here’s what I learned plus a few resources so you can tackle it yourself:

Continue reading

Patio Fire Pit: Re-purposed Scrap Metal Box

Roasted marshmallows, smores and warmth out the back door. SWEET!

I had a rusting scrap metal box that Heidi gave me when she and her husband decided to purge some of their….treasures. Lucky me! She originally got it at one of our favorite spots, ReStore. It sat in her garage for a couple of years and then literally sat up-ended in my back yard for another 6-7 years. Getting more and more beautiful with exposure all the while. Continue reading

Slipcover a Couch

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

I’m so grateful for friends, with sewing machines, and talent, and good humor, and sewing machines. Making slipcovers is not my thing – I am one avowed lousy seamstress. Heidi and Mary Jean weren’t fazed, they tackled it just like any other project, one step at a time – while I drug my feet, ordered fabric, wrote checks, and silently panicked. Looking back, I think I was afraid to put so much effort and $$$ towards something I wasn’t at all sure I would like. Wouldn’t it be easier/smarter to just buy a new couch? Ultimately, the retro shape, solid construction, and perfect scale of the two Salvation Army couches swayed me. I remember thinking of the architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous quote, “The physician can bury his mistakes, – but the architect can only advise his client to plant vines.” In my case vines = accent pillows and throws…OK then…thanks Frank.

Below is a basic outline of the steps for our slipcover. Our goal was never perfection (is it ever?). We were after a decent, fairly loose-fitting cover, that would change the color and update the feel of the living room. The take-away is hopefully this: it’s do-able, you can use things you already have (old sheets for patterns, re-purpose a bedspread or heavy curtains), friends lighten the load both emotionally and practically, and, if you don’t like it – well – there’s always pillows and throws! Continue reading

Plant tags from sticks!

All you need are sticks (8-10″), a potato peeler/knife, and a fine felt tip pen! Really, for the rest of your life this is all you are going to need – no plastic, no $$$ fancy tags, no disintegrating popsicle sticks…

A few tips:

  • Let the sticks dry out a bit before peeling
  • You can re-use these year to year– just peel again, and again, and again
  • Eat more veggies ;]

many thanks to Martha Stewart for the original idea!

DIY Bulletin Board

This easy little project has been perfect for posting drawings, ideas or artwork I make or get from my talented friends both short and tall.

I also clip photos, fall leaves, concert tickets, teen idols (Flashback – I did that in high school) or anything else that inspires me. I’m constantly adding and exchanging things I pin up. And sometimes I don’t change anything for several days, weeks or months.

It’s like a real life, olden days, analog non-electronic Pinterest board! 🙂 Continue reading

Upgrade a Table Top

This project originally appeared as a guest post on Pretty Handy Girl a couple weeks ago. (So if you have a vague feeling you’ve seen this before, you just may have.)

Update Table Top with Steel and Mod Podge®


I had an old Ikea table top (that was basically like a hollow core door) that we used for a work surface in our office. It sat on top of an old table I found at a garage sale. It was all looking pretty shabby, and there was nothing chic about it.


Old table top and table base (+kitty), before.

First I painted the table base a dark charcoal gray, then together with my girlfriends, Mary Jean and Monica, we grabbed my grandmother’s old dictionary, a jar of Mod Podge®, flat bar steel, galvanized bolts and washers, and went to work on the table top. Continue reading

Pesky Projects? Steal this idea.

You know how annoying all those pesky little projects are that remain on your “To-Do” list forever ’cause you really don’t want to do them anyway? Yes, they drive you crazy.

Here’s the solution. You and each of your friends (I have two) make a list of little things you’ve been wanting to get done. Then you help each other get them done in a swift and fun manner. POOF! Your To-Do list shrinks to near nothing in a day (or two).

Below is my CHECKED OFF, completed and mostly done pesky list.

1. Base Shoe:  Size, Cut and Install. I tore out all my base shoe moulding before I got my new kitchen floor installed. I got some new moulding and already had it painted and ready. I just didn’t install it….for 4 months. Once we sized and cut it the install took only about 1 hour. Heidi’s husband dared to lend us his nail gun and compressor. It worked great and wasn’t that scary to use. Really gratifying. After that came the thankless, but meditative job of caulking the edges, spackling the nail holes and paint touch up. CHECK!

Nail gun to attach base shoe to moulding

Base shoe - Before & After

New toe kick with base shoe attached.

2. Toe Kick:  Prime, Paint and Install Toe Kick, then Install Base Shoe. I had torn out the toe kicks below my existing cabinets when I got my Marmoleum floor installed, but hadn’t painted them yet to match the cabinets. CHECK!

3. Door Air Seal:  A cold draft came whistling up from my basement. The floor near the door was perpetually freezing cold. We installed a simple little hardware strip to reduce basement cold air draft. I had the strip for about 3 months, but hadn’t installed it. CHECK!

Door Air Seal – Blocks air when it is down, lifts to allow door to freely open.

4. Marmoleum Care:  I had the Marmoleum flooring installed almost 6 months ago. I purchased the flooring from Greenhome Solutions in the Freemont neighborhood. Cameron and Tess were great! I promised them I would clean the floor followed by the finish/seal right after install. I even purchased the special Forbo Marmoleum cleaning  products for the task before the install. I had the product. I just wasn’t excited about cleaning and sealing it – yuck. (Monica wasn’t too excited about reading the 3pt type directions on the back of the bottle.)  CHECK!

5. Chair Slides:  I got a new kitchen floor installed and I certainly didn’t want it getting all scratched up. I’d been gingerly moving my chairs by lifting and shifting them. No, no, no sliding. We finally searched out some test slide protector options. STILL ON THE LIST. RRrrrrrrr….nothing has worked, yet. I’ll find something. AND if you’ve had success with a particular product, please do not hesitate to pass it on.

You'd think one of these chair slides gizmos would work, but no.

6. Finish Trim:  I had a flip-up counter top installed by 4 Evergreen Fabricators. Travis ( did a fabulous job and had to do some tricky figuring-out with the install. He stuck with it and got it right. My counter top can fold down and away when not in use.

Perfect for my limited counter top kitchen. Can’t claim the idea, though. Our friend, Anita, had something similar installed in her kitchen. She tipped us off on the correct brackets to use. The counter top material, install and special flip-up was more expensive than I anticipated so to save some money I decided to finish the edges off myself. That was almost 4 months ago, now. This annoying little project consisted of miter cutting screen molding to wrap and hide the exposed edge of the plywood mount, sanding and painting it all to match the cabinet. CHECK!

Installing the last little trim piece on the exposed edge of the plywood mount.

Trim, completed!

Thanks Heidi and Monica. My list would still be pesky without you! Now on to your houses. Let’s get it done!