Tag Archives: DIY

Frugal Frannie Rides Again

Today’s the first day of school for the older kids, so let’s celebrate with a good old-fashioned DIY. Last week I updated a dresser that’s almost as old as I am. I wish it were that easy to update myself!

This dresser started life in my brother’s bedroom, at least 35 years ago. It’s held everything from boy clothes to bank statements, and currently sits in Hollyn’s room, where it is stuffed to bursting.

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It’s….fine. A basic, simple, vanilla dresser. I wanted to make it stand out a little more, since it’s the same color as the walls, and give it a bit more personality. I emptied the drawers, removed the knobs, and gave the whole thing a good cleaning. As you can imagine, thirty-odd years of use leaves its mark. In the photo below, the top drawer has been cleaned, and the bottom one has not. Yeesh.

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After cleaning, I lightly sanded the whole thing and prepared to paint it using leftovers from Jensen’s bedroom – City Storm by Valspar.

During the kitchen renovation, the cabinet configuration changed after we’d already ordered hardware, so we were left with ten extra knobs. Guess what I used on Hollyn’s dresser? Go on, guess.

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The dresser looks brand new!

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It wasn’t free, because we had already purchased the paint and knobs for other projects, but it didn’t involve any new spending.

Now, instead of blending into the wall, the dresser has a personality of its own. I love the way it looks with the floor – if you look at the black tiles, you can see it’s almost the same color as the grout. This was a happy accident.

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This dresser is ready for several more decades of loyal service.

 

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A perfectly ordinary summer. What a miracle.

The older kids return to school in just under two weeks, and I think everyone is ready for the big day. For the first (and only!) time in the history of our eleven-year-old family unit, the three big kids will be attending the same school. PONDER THE MAGNIFICENCE.

This summer feels like the first normal summer we’ve had since 2013….because it is, in fact, the first normal summer we’ve had since 2013. Hazel was born in May of 2014, mom’s brain tumor was diagnosed in May of 2015, and those two events simply consumed the summers that followed them. The summer of 2016 was spent preparing to move, moving, and unpacking, and last summer was devoted to spending quality time with mom as she lived the last months of her life.

So what did we do this summer?

Jason changed jobs at the end of May, leaving his large-firm lawyer job for a small employment boutique. His main office is in the guest house, and I help him out with administrative and paralegal tasks as time permits.

We took everyone to Chicago in June, which was tremendous. We went to a Cubs game, visited museums, rented bikes along the lakefront, and ate our weight in tasty food. Chicago is very much my kind of town.

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Hazel went to Farm Camp, two different VBSes, and Ballet Camp. She also got her first haircut ever.

Our neighbor got goats. I love them.

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Our unexpected goldfish, Kitty the Fish, passed away at the end of June.

For someone who has lived in Florida most of my life, I visited a lot of Florida sites for the first time. We took the kids to Wakulla Springs. Hazel and I accompanied Jason to a work event in Palatka and visited Ravine Gardens State Park. And on another work trip, we stayed at the Don CeSar, which is (apparently) kind of a big deal hotel.

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I managed to get my patriotic bunting up over a week before July Fourth – a new record.

I painted Hazel’s toes and Tyler’s hair, both for the first time.

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I slipped off to Orlando to spend a couple of days with a friend from college. I listened to podcasts, ate half a cheese board, and watched TV in bed.

In house news, we re-arranged some rugs and did some frugal improvement by sanding and spray-painting the dirty (but functional) floor vents and ceiling diffusers throughout the house. They look good as new, at a fraction of the price.

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My outdoor plants have not died, although my jalapeno and heirloom tomato have steadfastly refused to produce anything. My Sweet 100 tomato plant has made dozens of tiny tomatoes, all of which have gone straight into Hazel’s mouth. She refers to this plant as her “snack bush.” I snort every time. I have ventured into the scary universe of houseplants, after being impressed that our Chicago AirBnB was full of them. I have a fern for the dining room, succulents for the kitchen window, and two new plants I just picked up on Saturday.

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It has been a normal summer. A beautiful, ordinary, normal summer. I never thought I’d be so grateful for one.

 

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Prom-tastic

Saturday was prom night for several high schools here in Leon County. Hollyn has a boyfriend, so going to prom was kind of a given for them. They decided to go alone, because most of her friends from the crew team attend another school.

When I was in high school, I had a very stereotypical prom experience. I bought a dress, I got my hair done at a salon, I bought a boutonniere, all that jazz. Both my junior and senior years, I went with a group. I think we rented a limo. It’s all very hazy now. My favorite prom memory was going back to my friend David’s house after the dance, where his mom made us a huge delicious breakfast in the middle of the night.

And all of that was fine.

A couple of weeks ago, she asked me if I would help her with her hair, because “you’re crafty with hair.”

Excuse moi? Crafty? With hair? Have you seen my head lately? I recruited a friend to help me help Hollyn, because I do not even own hairspray. Since I have finally learned how to apply eyeliner, I also offered to help her with her makeup. What could possibly go wrong?

I did feel comfortable volunteering to take pictures of Hollyn and her date, and I offered to help her make a boutonniere, because good grief how hard could it be? A little flower, a little greenery, some hot glue and a ribbon, and voila.

We started with the boutonniere. Hollyn and I cruised the yard, cutting rosemary, boxwood, and ligustrum, and then we ran to Trader Joe’s to pick up an inexpensive bouquet.

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I gathered my supplies, and Hazel climbed up on her stool to supervise. I told her we were making a boutonniere for Josh. A few minutes later, one of the other kids walked through the kitchen and asked Hazel what we were doing.

“We’re making a…..” she searched for the right word, “butt-chugger. For Josh!”

UH. NOPE.

After I stopped laughing and got my glue gun heated, it took about two minutes to arrange the stems and wrap them in twine, securing the ends with hot glue.

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It looks substantially similar to this one, which would have cost $13 with shipping. Hollyn reported that Publix sells them for between $10 and $20. Ours cost pennies, and looks (dare I say it?) rather high-end. As a bonus, I stuck the rest of the bouquet in a vase and have been enjoying it ever since. Everyone wins. 

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Once the butt-chugger was done, it was time to move on to makeup and hair.

(Cue scary music.)

It wasn’t that bad! Hollyn and I worked together on her makeup, which looked lovely, and then it was time to break out the hot rollers. WOOOOOOO.

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After they were cooled, we cracked our knuckles and sharpened our bobby pins. Hollyn wanted a fairly straightforward updo involving a bun and two French braids. My hair helper Alison suggested adding flowers to the ‘do when we were done, and the result was delightful.

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The shoes went on, the date arrived, and we headed outside for photos.

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Not pictured: a peanut gallery that included Hazel, Butterbean Sparkleface, Jason, and Josh’s parents.

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We sent them off for an evening of dinner and dancing, and then I made us some celebratory mojitos.

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I am just tickled that Hollyn resisted spending a bunch of money on her prom experience. You know I love to save money, but if she’d asked for anything I didn’t feel I could handle, I would have called in professionals. Instead, we listened to good music and had fun getting her ready in a relaxed atmosphere. It made the whole experience more meaningful (to me, at least). I wish I’d had an experience more like that when I was in high school – but my mom didn’t do hair or crafts. It would have been miserable and stressful for her. This just happened to intersect with some of my skill sets.

Finally, many thanks to my good friend Alison, who arrived with hairspray and a surprising amount of hair know-how to help me tame Hollyn’s mane. I couldn’t have done it without you!

 

 

 

 

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This Month in Home Improvement: January 2018

Last year, I recapped all the books I’d read in any given month. This year, I will recap all the home improvement projects, large and small, we undertake ourselves. This is partly to demonstrate that home ownership is way more involved than styling mantels, especially in an old home, and also to keep us accountable.

In January…..

We painted Tyler’s room. Not only did his room have numerous drywall patches from the electrical work, he had a gigantic drywall patch from when we moved the closet door from his room to ours (which was almost a year ago, oops).

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He chose Steamed Milk. Well, let’s be honest – he didn’t care and we had a few gallons left from previous painting projects. I also made him deep-clean his room, which was a contentious and eye-rolly process. Whatever. Here’s the finished product:

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Total cost: $0

We added light fixtures. During the re-wiring, we were obligated to add light fixtures in a couple of areas in the house. Apparently the building permit division frowns upon having completely unlighted stairways and laundry closets. Pfffft. You call it a hazard, I call it an adventure.

Back stairway, before:

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After, with an adorable tiny schoolhouse light:

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We also replaced the bare bulb in the laundry room with this fixture (I cannot contort myself enough to get a decent photo of it, so use your imagination):

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I ordered both fixtures from Wayfair. Total Cost: $92.43.

We painted Jensen’s room. We expended all our leftover paint in Tyler’s room, so we had to buy new paint for this project. Whomp WHOMP. She asked for gray, so I picked a moody blue-gray. We also sprang for the one-coat paint at Lowe’s, and MAN was that a good decision.

Before, the room was a caramel-y tan color, with drywall patches:

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After:

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Total Cost: $45 for one gallon of paint.

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Halloween Crafts with Toddlers: A Primer

Doing crafts with toddlers is one of those things that sounds sweet and wholesome in theory, but in practice is aggravating and messy.

Nevertheless, I decided this year that Hazel possessed enough rudimentary motor skills to attempt a couple of cheap, easy Halloween decorations. Now I will share the wisdom of my experiences with you.

Step one: Wait until 5:00. Pour yourself a drink. This makes the toddler crafting process 100% more bearable.

Step two: Pick something simple. I chose this ghost windsock and this candy corn garland. They’re so easy that there aren’t any instructions. Hamsters could pull off these projects.

Step three: Be flexible. Your project will look little, if anything, like the pictures. Embrace the abstract imperfection of it all.

Step four: Repeat step one as needed.

We started with the candy corn garland. I had to buy cheap white paper plates (about $2) but already had orange and yellow craft paint and twine. Hazel and I each painted a few plates and let them dry overnight.

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I cut each plate into eight wedges and hot-glued them to a long piece of twine. Hazel supervised. I hung one string on the stair rail and short strings over the windows in the kitchen.

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Done and done. Next up: ghost windsocks. I didn’t have any tin cans, but I did have some empty toilet paper rolls. GOOD ENOUGH. I had white craft paint, and bought a roll of crepe paper streamer for about $2.

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First we painted the toilet paper tubes, then drew ghost faces on them. Then I glued some 12″ lengths of streamer inside the bottom, and hung them up on the porch using fishing line.

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I find Hazel’s (on the left) to be far creepier than mine.

I also attempted some DIY decorations of my own. This Boo sign turned out substantially similar to the one I spotted on Etsy:

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There will be MOAR Halloween to come, including the return of the bats. I’m psyched.

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Make. Do.

NOTE: If you’re here for adorable Hazel pictures, skip to the bottom.

When I wrote about my mom suffering from lack of initiative, I realized that I also have a hard time “biting the bullet” and starting any of the projects that are rattling around my head.

I’m happy to report that I’ve been doing….better.

I planted herbs and vegetables for the first time in a couple of years. Two weeks in, they’re all still alive. I even used my own basil in pasta sauce last night.

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I’m also growing mint for the first time, because it’s easy.

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So far I have made a mint-infused simple syrup to be used in mojitos (or, um, tea). I see lots of mojitos in my future.

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I’ve also been using my sewing machine more. I bought an actual pattern and made Hazel a play dress out of scrap fabric:

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I took the opportunity to try a new decorative button attachment. Sexier words have never been uttered.

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And finally, using this tutorial, I turned another of Jason’s castoff shirts into a dress.

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Hazel and I are both pretty excited about it.

Now, off to whip up some well-deserved mojitos!

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Crazy Jason’s Furniture Emporium-o-rama

Three weekends ago, my mother gave us a truckload of furniture from her house. It was a great and generous gift, but quite a process to get it all incorporated into our home. We have finally finished our substitutions, which means we have furniture to sell, for cheap.

Like this child’s chair, which was in the girls’ room:

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Or this pair of loveseats, which are just a couple of years old and have washable slipcovers:

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This bedroom set was given to us, and we split it between Tyler’s room and the girls’ room. I refinished Tyler’s set but Jensen liked the dresser au naturel. It would be easy to refinish the dresser with mirrors and have a nice bedroom suite.

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There’s also a dresser out of our room. It’s missing two pulls, but they’re easy to replace.

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And finally this lingerie chest or tall skinny dresser:

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If you’re looking for furniture, or know someone who is, we’d love to send these pieces to new homes. Thanks!

 

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