Thursday, March 26, 2015

Making a House a Home

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About a week or so ago I was inspired by Compass, a technologically savvy real estate company based in NYC, to see if I would be interested in participating in a project entitled Starter Stories. 
They were asking bloggers to share stories about starting out and how to make a place your own, and they wanted to know if I had any stories or ideas on the subject.
I wanted to participate, but didn't know where I would start or what I would share.
Since being married, my husband and I have moved 7 times so far.
Each place we have been in we have tried to make 'our own', but we weren't at most of those places long enough to do too much.
I'm so glad this project got me thinking though, because I started looking through old pictures and it brought back so many wonderful memories of our first home.
Here is a picture of our home on the left during building, and on the right was 5 years later when we put it up for sale.
We accomplished so many things in this home, and really made it our own, but one of our biggest accomplishments was this built-in entertainment center.
My husband and I had been married for about 9 months when we found this new community being developed.
We felt it was right for us and signed the paperwork on a 3 bedroom 2 bath house.
We were so excited!
After months of waiting for the building process to be completed, we were able to move in.
Going through this particular builder we weren't able to make any changes to the layout or anything.
This is a picture of the entrance into the family room area.
We asked them if they could just leave this coat closet out, but they wouldn't do it.
To us it was pointless. It was the best spot for a tv, but we couldn't really put it in front of the door.
I remember telling my husband that we were just going to build an entertainment center there.
When I was younger, my family moved a lot as well, and whenever we made it to a new place my dad would start building shelves to organize and store things. My mom was also very crafty, always sewing or cross-stitching, so it was just inevitable that I needed to build or craft something!
I think we were only in the house a month or two before we got started.
We first removed the door and trim, and then took out the drywall inside the closet to get to everything behind it.
I still remember my husband taking the first swing at the wall. I think he was just nervous to cause so much damage to our new home :)
We had a thermostat, a return air vent, two outlets, and a doorbell that needed to be moved.
I must say, I am so grateful that we were able to use my dad and brothers knowledge, tools, and manpower.
After the drywall was out we cut the vent and took out all of the 2x4 pieces of wood.
We had a copy of the blueprints and had made sure beforehand that none of the 2x4s were crucial to the structure.
We cut new holes on the side of the wall (where the stairs are), and attached new duct work going down and over that direction instead.
One of my brothers also rewired and moved the thermostat and doorbell to the stair side as well.
My brother cut out these pieces of wood and glued them together to make dividers for cabinets.
He also drilled all the holes you see so we could move the shelves up and down.
Here I am staining the wood.
I cut out holes at the back so we had a spot to run cables through.
Sorry about the fuzzy picture, but this is the only one I could find from the process.
So we had three bottom cabinets/shelves, one main area in the middle for the tv, and the top shelf for decor items.
In the middle you can kind of see an outlet my brother added, and the sides kind of slant in.
We did that on purpose because the return air vent went down behind one side, and we wanted it to look even.
This is what our garage looked like for about a month :)
As soon as we were able to we put the tv in it's spot.
I later added trim across the middle, and all around the outside to finish it off.
The middle shelf was wood, and the two side shelves were a plexiglass type material.
The finishing touch was the double door you can see in the picture below.
I simply cut to rectangle shaped pieces of oak, then glued some trim around the outside edge to give it a slight design, and added door handles.
You can also see the return air vent and thermostat by the stairs to get a better idea of where they ended up.
We loved the way it turned out! We like cozy and comfy, and having our family room set up this way was exactly who we were, and to me that's what making a 'home' is all about, making it a comfortable inviting place for loved ones.
Thanks for reading!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

No-Sew Quiet Book: Barn and Finger Puppets

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We're making it through all of our quiet book pages.
After this one I will only have two more to post, so stay tuned!
I think this page one was my favorite one to make, I love the little animals hiding :) 
I had been thinking about making a 'barn page' for a while, I just didn't know what else I wanted to do with it.
I was originally going to make some animals and have a place for my son to velcro them on, but it somehow turned into finger puppets instead, and I am loving them!
Making the puppets is pretty easy, I have included some pictures below so you can kind of see how they came together.
For all of the animals I cut out two pieces of felt for the body.
Using a hot glue gun, I glued the pieces together around the sides and top.
Leave the bottom open!
Then attach any details.
I had some googly eyes, so I glued those on.
An orange triangle piece for the beak, a cream-colored oval shape for the tummy, and little arms completed this little guy.
I ran out of the googly eyes, so I ended up cutting small white circles for the eyes, and smaller black circles for the pupils.
For the frogs mouth, and all of the other animals features, I used the black puffy fabric paint that I used on the Counting quiet book page.
For the cows spots I just cut out a few tiny odd-shaped black pieces and glued them on.
At first this was supposed to be a mouse, but it somehow turned into a cat.
I think it's the pointy ears...
Here are the pieces for the pink pig.
I just realized I didn't get an individual shot of him, but you can see him in the above picture with all of the animals :)
Now on to their home, the barn!
The grey colored felt I used is actually the back of the 'counting page' so if it seems a little bumpy, it's from the beads on the other side.
I cut out two red rectangle shapes and hot glued them to the grey.
Only gluing along the outside.
 I then cut out, what I thought, looked the top of a barn and glued it on.
 I then cut out a bunch of white strips and glued them on, giving it the 'barn' look.
I then opened the 'doors' and glued a blue rectangle piece, only along the bottom and sides so the animals could go in the top. 
And there you have it!
A nice home for all of the animals :)
Hope you enjoyed!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

DIY Magnet Board

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Years ago I worked at a doctors office and in the waiting room there was an area for kids with a magnet board around the whole wall.
Ever since then I have wanted to make something like that for my kids.
Yes folks, this idea came before the days of Pinterest.
As always, I've got lots of pictures for you on how this all came together!
(Sorry the pictures aren't the best quality, I used my phone for all of them. I know, I know...)
So here's a quick run-down of the supplies and where I got everything.
- Wood trim (there were extra scrap pieces in our garage when we moved in)
- some type of sheet metal (my parents had some left over air duct metal, see how it's curved in the picture below)
- tin scissors (borrowed from my parents)
- hammer 
- saw
- nails
- nail hole filler
- paint
The metal I got from my parents was already the size I needed, so I didn't need to cut down the size.
Since the metal was for duct work it had a raised part on the edges, so using the tin scissors, I cut that part off so it would lay flat against the wall.
Here's a close-up of the excess part I cut off.
Be careful, it's very sharp once you cut it!
I think I ended up with 4 or 5 cuts on the knuckle part of my thumb.
If you follow me on Instagram you might have already seen some of these pics! Lucky you ;)
I found that the best way to do this was to cut a section and then kind of fold it up to keep it out of the way,
I then went out to my garage and laid out the metal and wood trim pieces.
You want the trim to be slightly longer than the metal. This gives you the ability to cut diagonal corners and not be short.
Using a circular saw I borrowed from my parents, I made a straight cut first.
I cut 3 pieces of wood.
1 to go across the top, and 2 for the sides.
Here are the finished pieces.
I honestly didn't measure the angles.
I cut the end at an angle, then placed the cut part on top of the other piece and drew a line of how that angle was so they would match up.
Does that make sense??
I looked up different ways to attach the metal to the wall, and even tried a few different methods, but it turned out the most effective thing was just holding it in place and hammering in some nails.
The nails had no problem going right through the metal into the wall.
Next came the trim. I really wanted the trim around the metal to help finish off the look, but to also keep the sharp edges hidden.
For the trim, I just held the piece where I thought it should go and nailed in some nails.
 Again, I didn't pre-drill any holes.
Next I filled in the nail holes in the trim. I found this filler at my local Wal-mart.
I liked the smaller size, and that it probably won't dry out since it's just in a squeezable tube.
It goes on pink and then dries white.
Once the filler was dry I lightly sanded it.
Using some touch up paint we received to match our trim when we moved in, I then painted all of the trim. I did two coats of paint. 
 I'm glad I finally got around to creating this because it's saving my poor fridge from being scratched like crazy from little magnets!
Hope you enjoyed!
As always, let me know if you have any questions!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Quiet Book: Counting beads

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I posted my Quiet book: Garden page a few days ago, and now I am back with another one!
Just so you know, I was originally going to combine all of the 'pages' together, but I think I like having each 'page' separate so my kids can play with different ones. 
Anyways, on to the tutorial!
(As with the previous page, this counting page is a no-sew version).
So as before, I used scrap pieces of felt that I already had in my stash.
I cut two strips of green felt. Using a hot glue gun I glued the green around the outside edge and attached it to the grey.
Do not glue the inside edge of the green, because you will need that side in a second.
A while ago my mother-in-law gave me a ton of jewelry making supplies, so I measured and cut some black elastic-y type string.
I then glued it underneath the green felt.
Make sure to add the beads before you glue the other side of the string under the green felt.
I did 10 rows of beads and I used two different types of beads, one set is black and smooth, and the other is kind of a goldish-brown and it has a bumpy texture.
I had this black fabric paint on hand already, so I decided to use it for the numbers and the word 'counting'
I think I got this paint at Michael's.
I totally just free-handed the numbers down the side of the green felt, and the word 'counting'. I realized later that it was kind of lopsided.
Oh well.
I'm sure my toddler won't notice :)
And that's our second page!
Check back soon to see what other pages we created :)
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