October 20, 2013

recipe > the easiest salsa dip ever

So far, I am 'two for two' with this recipe - meaning that I've made it on two separate occasions for two totally different groups of people, without having any leftovers to take home. One of my aunts even asked me for the recipe a couple of days ago. Which hasn't happened before (at least, not lately anyways).  And best of all, it will only take you about six minutes to make. That, my friends, is the sign of a successful recipe.

  • 1 package (250g) of cream cheese, softened 
  • 1 heaping cup of salsa,
  • 1/2 cup of shredded cheese (I used cheddar the first time, marble the second [pictured], and mozzarella would be delish as well... cheese-wise, anything goes!)
  • diced green onions, for garnish (I used 1/3 of a green onion for the version pictured - could use more or less, depending on your personal preference)

How To:

1. Spread the entire package of cream cheese onto your dish.

2. Top with salsa, spread evenly.

3. Add the shredded cheese on top of the salsa.

4. Microwave for 45 seconds (or until the cheese is melted).

5. Garnish with the green onions.

6. Serve with crackers, chips, and/or veggies.

That's it. Easy and delicious.

September 26, 2013

in progress: volume 5


I feel like I haven't made any progress this month, because the unfinished projects that I mentioned a few weeks ago have yet to be completed. My goal is to have the rocking chair and this ^  side table finished by the end of October.

This fine side table has yet to make a blog appearance, so here is a brief look at the refinishing process (so far). A step by step post is in the works and will be posted here once this side table makeover is complete.

September 22, 2013

DIY > no sew tie blanket

It's only appropriate that I am writing this with Sunday Night Football in the background, with the Steelers  playing against  losing to the Bears at this very moment. I'll admit it - I'm not paying much attention to the game, or to the NFL season in general... but I pretend for the sake of a happy marriage. :)

That being said, I earned brownie points from the hubby (a Steelers fan, maybe you had guessed?) today by making him a no sew man blanket of his own.

The instructions for this no sew tie blanket are more or less the same as the no sew baby blanket that I made back in June. However, the measurements I made for the corners and the fabric strips are a bit bigger this time around as this blanket was for a dude (not a baby... therefore more material was used and the finished blanket is bigger).

Enjoy the simplified, visual how to!


Total cost:
Cost of fabric =  $26.23 for 2.5 yards ($10.49 per yard at Hobby Lobby)
Total cost = $26.23  
(... and my husband's surprise = priceless)

September 07, 2013

mini makeover > thrift store wreath

Our front door has never really been naked in the three years that we've owned our humble home. And by naked, I mean wreath-less. Just add this to my list of quirks: I strongly believe in curb appeal and accessorizing your front door (consider a wreath the equivalent of a great statement necklace?).

I've rotated a few wreaths that I've bought, made, and rescued over the years; this is my latest victim...

I recently found this wreath at the local MCC thrift shop for four bucks... enormous bow included. I saw past the bow and knew it was a prime candidate for some spray paint lovin'.

(This may not be the first mini makeover that this wreath receives - I can see it being a wreath of all seasons with a fresh coat in a different colour, depending on the holiday season...)

Total Cost:

Wreath = $4.00 (local MCC Thrift Shop)
Spray paint = free (leftover from a mirror makeover // Rustoleum Painter's Touch in Green Apple)
Total = $4.00

August 25, 2013

in progress: volume 4

I'm still scraping away on that rocking chair. I've also been project-hopping: working on refinishing a side table, transforming a tree stump (seriously!) and have another Young House Love-inspired post in the works. Like I said earlier: I tend to do things in the wrong order!

Since I didn't think anyone would want to look at ten more pictures of a half-scraped rocking chair, I thought I'd share some recent DIY attempts that haven't been so successful (consider them DIY mis-adventures...). Hopefully I'm not the only one learning from my mistakes?


Mis-Adventure #1: Slipcover vs. Bed Sheet

There's nothing wrong with the couch in our living room (other than the pillow zippers that Freddie chewed apart as a younger, less mature pup). While I'd love to update our furniture with a couch in a solid colour, it's not in the budget this point in time. I thought I'd make do in the meantime by buying a basic slipcover for the couch - my sister has slipcovers on her couches, and they look great. Seemed easy enough. I even remembered to measure the couch before setting out in search of the perfect slipcover... should be foolproof, right?
After spending an evening at home wrestling with the supposedly simple slipcover, I deemed it too messy looking. (Maybe our couch measurements are unusual and awkward?) Not what I expected. My husband suggested throwing a bed sheet over the couch instead and getting my money back (a wise and frugal Dutchman, he is). I ended up taking his advice and returned the slipcover for a refund (the money saved will go into the New Couch Fund)... but have yet to test out the bed sheet-as-slipcover suggestion.

Mis-Adventure #2: Spray Paint Problems

I found a patterned ampersand at Hobby Lobby for less than three bucks, and thought it would make a nice addition to a bookshelf after a spray paint mini-makeover. I've never used primer before spray painting anything, and haven't had any issues... Until now.
I guess the finish of the ampersand didn't agree with the spray paint I was using (Krylon Indoor/Outdoor Semi-Gloss in White). The result is a frustrating, ugly mess of bubbles. I'm determined to salvage this one somehow! I'm thinking I will have to use a combo of paint thinner/remover and sandpaper before starting fresh.

Mis-Adventure #3: Questionable Frame-Wreath Combo

Around the same time that I made the springy-wreath, I was also planning to transform this old frame into some sort of a square wreath. My intentions were good; I think I was planning to add tons of floral pieces so that you wouldn't be able to see the frame at all. At some point this project was forgotten and left as is... which is incomplete. Not quite a frame, not yet a wreath...
I'm not sure why I thought that wrapping an ivy garland would make a good starting point, and am 99% sure that the ivy will be removed before starting fresh on this project.


Have you had any DIY mis-adventures?
How have you been able to rescue or salvage any not-so-successful projects?

August 13, 2013

rocking chair diaries: part 2

Before my palm sander could touch this rocking chair, an important and painful step had to be completed first: the initial stripping. Since this (as well as a certain side table - I'm big on multi-tasking) is my first adventure in refinishing any piece of furniture (beyond slapping on a coat of paint), I went over a few tutorials and how-to blog posts to get a basic grip on how to begin. [ This blog was by far the most helpful/detailed. Thanks Janine! ]

Stripping the current paint/varnish/seal is not for the weak. This step calls for a true DIY warrior, a gal who is willing to spend a few hours (honestly, hours) scraping away the past in hopes that the end result will be amazing. I  knew this step wouldn't be done in just one afternoon so I am taking this one baby step at a time. It is considerably time consuming but at the same time is a decent way to spend a sunny day: hang out on the deck, put some music on, scrape away to my heart's content.

The Essentials:

1) Gloves. I just used an old pair of gardening gloves (the remover can really burn - so protect your hands and arms). A long sleeve shirt is also recommended. Safety first, right?!

2) Paint & Varnish Remover. I used Circa 1850 Heavy Body Paint & Varnish Remover (can be found a t Home Hardware, Rona, etc.). I purchased it at the local Home Hardware for less than $12, and after using it to completely strip a side table plus start stripping this rocking chair, I still have about half the container left. It goes a surprisingly long way. Also - this version of the product is gel-like, and I found it helpful for stripping the vertical parts of the chair (i.e., the back and arm rests) as it didn't drip much.

3) Paint scraper. I know that there are fancier, better quality, heavy duty paint scrapers out there, but I bought this one from Dollarama and it is my new best friend. Maybe I don't know what I'm missing, because I haven't spent the money on a higher quality paint scraper - but this cheapo one has done a great job this far along.

4) An old bed sheet (not pictured). Because I don't have a garage or workshop to call my own, I use our deck/backyard as my work space. Before getting started on any project (spray painting, stripping furniture, sanding, etc.) I throw an old bed sheet on the deck as protection. This time around the bed sheet caught all the scraps of varnish and paint that I had scraped - this was a messy step so an old sheet (or garbage bags, newspaper, tarp, etc.) is highly recommended for easier clean up.


Strip Tips:

  •  Pace yourself. Depending on the size of the project, it will take a few hours to completely strip the chair/table/etc. Do small chunks at a time (i.e. for this rocking chair, I did the headrest first, then the arms, then the seat... It also helps to get a larger section (i.e. seat) out of the way first to feel more accomplished. Don't try to rush through this part because it will show later on!
  • Don't use foam brushes to apply the paint & varnish remover. Rookie mistake! The foam brush didn't spread the remover around very well, and just got chunky and messy really fast. I bought a few 2 inch paint brushes and things went on a lot smoother after that.
  •  Be generous with the paint & varnish remover! The more you apply, the easier it is to scrape away. I used different amounts and when I skimped on applying the remover, it wasn't as easy.