What comes to mind when you think of “Budget Kitchen Refresh”?
Painting cabinets, switching out the flooring, and changing knobs and pulls are definitely discussed. We had a very limited budget. When I say limited I really mean non-existent. Picture it …. we purchased our house in Dec 2014. Every square inch of this house needed love. Wall paper and wall to wall rugs were the norm. Every room sported a depressing off white non-color. Every door in the house was painted white, which is a nightmare when you have little boys. Paint and supplies really add up. That’s just the inside. The outside of the house was its own special nightmare. So you get my drift. We were bleeding money left and right. To top things off my husband is working basically nonstop 6 days a week. There was no shortage of things to do.
We had a really bad winter that year too. I live in Buffalo …… I know we have this bad weather rap, but that winter was the worst one I can ever remember. It was bitter cold and it snowed constantly. It’s usually a cycle of snowing, melting snow, sleet/rain, and snow again. That year it just snowed and built up. Unfortunately it caused an ice dam and we had water coming in our kitchen window.
So we needed to address the kitchen.
We had to take part of the ceiling down so we knew what we had going on. Basically there was just a lack of insulation.
So we decided to tear down the entire ceiling and get someone in to spray foam it. The problem was that everyone in Buffalo had ice dam issues. Contractors were so busy fixing the exact same issues we were having that there was this huge waiting list to get work done. We had one contractor (A family friend from church) who seemed into the project. We offered to tear down the rest of the ceiling to save on costs. So we tore it down and then he started flaking out on us. Which wasn’t a huge deal but it meant we had NO ceiling in our kitchen from March 2015 till January 2016. So for 10 months I lived in some variation of this….
What the heck happened to this room?
I admit ….. I am my own worst enemy on this stuff. I’m blown away that everyone isn’t so gun ho on home projects as I am. My husband thinks I’m insane. I’m lucky enough that he just lets me do my thing, but as a result I was literally on verge of a breakdown because of the state of our kitchen and refused to let people come over. I mean people did come over but I wanted to crawl under a rock and it was only for outdoor events.
What is wrong with the walls?
The walls were covered in wallpaper. When I took down the upper cabinets we were forced to address the wallpaper. Strange… I know. Worse yet the wallpaper came off and left thick glue everywhere. The only way to get the glue off was to rewet it and scrub the living daylights out of it. That took a long time and it was a lot of work.
What am I supposed to do with this room?
We have a portable dishwasher …..it sucks. We actually have a built in dishwasher but in order to install it we would need to reconfigure the lower cabinets. That definitely is not in our budget. So I need to work with what I have. My first idea was to put shelving up in the nook. I put all my dishes, glassware, and small kitchen appliances. I also had a small floor cabinet for food items. I did not like this setup at all. The only place to put the cabinet was up against the baseboard so I felt that it stuck out too far and things would constantly fall off the top and behind it. It also meant the portable dishwasher was sitting in the corner mocking me.
I really, really, really needed to rethink this and still keep my budget intact.
So for now I’ve come up with this. I removed the bottom set of shelves so that the dishwasher could fit in nicely when not running. I installed shelves by the window to hold glass storage jars on one side and my dishes on the other. I lucked out because I like my dishes. I bought them when my first son was born 13 years ago. So no need to buy nice matching dishes. I got rid of the storage cabinet. That freed up a lot of space on the wall with the baseboards. If the baseboards weren’t there I would’ve considered putting upper and lower cabinets in that spot. This is not the case and besides the budget would not allow me to do something like that. So I came up with this.
Honey, I think we should consider replacing the windows, whatcha think?
I stress my poor husband out. I’m very fortunate that he loves me so much. We had really old aluminum windows in all the bedrooms. We also had really old and drafty wooden windows in the kitchen and dining room. Huge, expensive to replace windows. We bit the bullet and just did it. Between that and the spray foam we’ve saved some dough on energy costs, while spending an amazing sum of money on structure. Not my favorite thing to spend money on, and not budget friendly.
The previous owners had replaced the countertop, stove, and oven prior to listing the house. So they’re new. None of it is anything I would’ve pick but they’re new. Did I mention they’re new? Ok so you get the point. My none existent budget required I work around these items at the moment. So they had a Formica backsplash that finished off the new Formica countertop. I removed it. This is where I really splurged. I went to my home improvement store and bought about $400 worth of paint, tile, grout, and just general “supplies”. I did all the work myself and although it was my first attempt at tiling and its not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, it will do for now. Mainly I wanted clean and bright. I feel that I’ve accomplished that.
Why didn’t I paint the cabinets?
I get asked this question more than you will ever know. I am so glad I did not paint the cabinets. First of, even though they show wear (they are from 1959) I feel it adds character. Second, if I were to paint them white I don’t really think I could do them justice, painting wasn’t going to add anything to the kitchen. If I painted them white I was going to have to change the Formica countertop, it would’ve just been to much for me. I like contrasting colors. I like how the orange of the cabinets plays of the countertop now. I like how the paint color I choose for the room compliments the cabinet color instead of fighting it. Thirdly, I don’t really like all white kitchens. I know people do, but I don’t. I already feel like all I do is clean. A white kitchen sounds like a nightmare.
What is wrong with that floor?
Lets be clear. I hate the flooring, it’s vinyl tile squares, but it isn’t in my budget to do it now. The rest of the kitchen has brought me a level of peace and I’ll just have to live with the floor until I find another $350-$400. I plan on doing a gray 12×24 groutable vinyl tile floor. I’ll update the post once we get there.
This is definitely not my dream kitchen. It works though and after I went through for the last year I’m really happy. It functions and I wouldn’t be embarrassed to have friends and family over.
I hope you enjoyed this post. If you have questions please feel free to ask. In the meantime, Reggie wants a belly rub.
Looking for a great gift idea? I am going to show you a quick and easy way to create a meaningful gift that everyone can appreciate. I especially like this project because it’s so sentimental. It’s perfect for those grandparents that are super hard to buy for.
What could it possibly be? I’ll give you a hint
Yup …. those are lettered tiles ….. just like the ones that come from the Scrabble game. I bought them online though. Now the trickiest part of this project is getting the layout right. I was a little obsessed with making sure the names were balanced and not a big heaping jumble in one corner.
First know what size shadowbox you are working with.
I bought my shadowbox at Joann’s a long time ago when it was on sale. It’s about 13″x13″. I also used black foam board that I bought at Walmart. It was bigger than I needed but it gave me extra in case I screwed up. That happens more than you would think. I used foam board because those little tiles are heavy. If you only use construction paper you’re going to have a heck of a time getting it to stay up in your shadowbox when its hung.
Use what’s available to you.
The most perfect way to get the foam board to size? Use the backer board from the shadowbox. Lay it on top of your foam board and use a box cutter to cut perfect lines.
Write down the names you want to use.
I made this for my mother/father-in-law. So I wanted to use their names and each of the grandkids.
I have to admit that this was my original working blueprint. But alas …. things changed. I want to point out some important things doing that grid accomplished. I knew there was a way to get all the names on there and still look good. I also knew exactly how many letters of each tile I needed. I tend to be a visual learner so it really helps me to write things down.
What the heck do you do next?
I did a dry run. I laid all the names out like I had it on my grid and I wasn’t satisfied. So I moved them around till I was happy.
How do I find the center of my foam board without drawing all over it?
It’s actually a valid question. You have this perfect black foam board without scuff marks of any kind. If you draw on it with pencil and attempt to erase the marks you will see the erase marks. It’s gonna happen – trust me on this. So what you need to do is find the center of your board without any marks. Sound impossible? Its super easy. So you bought your shadowbox ….. and you have a really nice stock photo of some perfect family living in some perfect alternate universe. You know what though? That photo is the exact size of our shadowbox …. and you just so happened to make your foam board the exact same size. So use that photo and fold it to get the exact center.
Then I placed the paper on top of my foam board making sure it lined up perfectly and used a pencil to make an indentation in the center. Perfection. The indentation does not need to be deep.
Where do I start?
Well as it turned out the last letter A in Gianna’s name is the exact center of my grid. So I used my craft glue (just make sure it bonds to wood) and attached it exactly over my indentation. Now be careful to use enough glue to make sure it sticks but not so much that it presses out on the sides. My tools of choice for this little project were a tape measure and a little hand level. I laid out Gianna’s name trying to keep it as straight as possible. I used my hand level to butt up against the side running vertically and I used my tape measure to make sure I was exactly the same distance away from the edge of my foam board on all letters. I made sure to let the first name I laid down dry before attempting to add the next name. I didn’t want the letters to shift on me.
So continue laying out your tile. Measuring and using the level to keep everything straight. Eventually all the names will be laid out and you are going to want to let it dry really well before moving it. You don’t want to do all this work and then put it in the shadowbox too early and have everything shift on you. Sounds horrible. So be patient. While you’re waiting make sure you clean the glass really well on both sides. Once the glue sets assemble your shadowbox with your super cool and thoughtful craft project and admire your work.
It really is a rather quick gift idea that grandparents love. It probably only took me an hour from start to finish. I wrapped it in some cute wrapping paper and gave it as a Christmas gift.
Please feel free to ask me any questions and I’ll get back to you ASAP. Have a great day!
Tomorrow marks our homes one year anniversary. It’s kind of a special moment for us. I think I can safely say that it was the hardest move either of us had ever done. We had just survived the November storm ….. the worst storm our area had seen in my 35 years. Which simply means we shoveled night and day for four days. That was exhausting. To give you some background, it started snowing on November 18th and didn’t stop till November 21st. In that time we had something like 80″ of the white stuff. I am not really a fan of snow. It’s cold, wet, and well…. cold. So there we are shoveling and worrying because we are in the middle of selling our old house and buying our current home. We didn’t need anything to go wrong. BTW ….. all that snow melted within a week. Sooooo weird. So the following weekend was Thanksgiving. We spent that entire weekend packing and loading two moving trucks. Why? We closed on our old house and bought our new house 12/1, the Monday after Thanksgiving. Nothing can begin to describe the level of frustration and exhaustion that we experienced during that week and a half. I don’t really know how we did it.
Guess what else happens in December?
A lot. In-between unpacking and just trying to find linens for beds and towels to take showers, the world continued to act as if we didn’t just scale Mt Washington. There were countless Christmas parties to attend, my glorious birthday to half remember, Christmas came and went, and then the New Year. I took an entire week off from work after the move to unpack, my husband turned out to be the smart one and went right back to work the next day. So …. I pretty much unpacked the entire house on my own. I don’t like chaos and I definitely don’t like clutter. I was on the verge. I couldn’t go anywhere without a box jumping in front of me. Our Christmas decorations were lost in limbo somewhere. I didn’t even have the energy to try and find them. I ended up buying my first real Christmas tree ever and some cheap ornaments and made it as pretty as I could. That was our one and only Christmas decoration.
What can possibly go wrong in a house built in 1959 and owned by the same family the entire time?
A lot. This was our house before we moved in.
So as you can see wall to wall carpet as far as the eye can see. We knew hardwood floors were underneath so I was ok with it. I knew its time was numbered. Unfortunately we had bigger fish to fry. Our ENTIRE electrical system needed an overhaul. The house was still sporting fuses in the breaker box and all the outlets were only two prongs. The wall switches were toggles, I never saw anything like them before. Our insurance company gave us 30 days to update the system or they were going to drop us. We knew it was going to be an issue however so we made sure the electrician went with us to the home inspection and he quoted us a price that we took back to the sellers. With a little back and forth we all agreed on a fair outcome and we felt better about buying the house. It took the electrician three different Saturdays to complete the work and even though the insurance company was happy because the fuse box was gone, we were still doing the electrical updates well into Jan.
That’s not so bad – right?
The fun was just beginning. When we first bought our home the previous owners had left an older washer and dryer. We used them for the first couple of weeks but I had a relatively new front load washer and dryer that I wanted hooked up. I begged and begged Chuck (the hubs) to hook up my washer and dryer. This is where it gets a little bizarre. The dryer was hooked up to the GAS line with 1/2″ copper tubing. SAY WHAT?!?! Yes 1/2″ copper tubing that was all twisted from them screwing it onto the back of the dryer. WE USED THIS DRYER FOR WEEKS. THE POOR OLD WOMEN WHO LIVED ALONE IN THIS HOUSE COULD HAVE BEEN BLOWN TO BITS. I really wish the home inspector had caught that one. I could write an entire blog on my displeasure with home inspectors. So I called a plumbing company to come out and fix it so I could hook up my dryer. Turns out the whole gas line coming into the house from the meter needed to be switched out. The 3/4″ copper pipe feeding gas to our appliances wasn’t enough and we had to update to 1″ yellow flex (gas) tubing.
Things just kept getting better … insert sarcasm
Once it started snowing again right before Christmas it never stopped until spring. We never had a January thaw. It just kept snowing and building up on our roof. The problem with snow on the roof is that if your ceiling isn’t well insulated the heat from your home escapes through the roof and melts the snow. You would think that this melted snow would just run down the roof and into the gutters. However when its 10 degrees F outside it just forms ice. This ice builds up if you don’t watch it and becomes really heavy. So heavy in fact that it pushes down on the melted snow and forces it into the path of least resistance. Unfortunately this means its coming INSIDE your house. It did just that. We had a waterfall coming in our kitchen window and the same thing happened with our front door.
Once these events started unfolding we started looking at these spots a little more carefully and realized some things. This had definitely happened before. There was previous damage on the ceiling in the kitchen that they had patched. Before I knew the ceiling was an issue we had noticed at soft spot in the floor of the kitchen. We didn’t notice this until after we moved in. THANKS AGAIN HOME INSPECTOR. This is the spot in the floor that the water puddles when its raining in the kitchen. We noticed a spot in the entry right next to the door frame that was also soft. Of course after we moved in. This also was a spot water settled after coming in from the ceiling.
Did it get better?
It did, eventually. Lots of little stuff happened that seriously had me thinking I was a bad bad person in a previous life. Our newer front load washing machine door wouldn’t lock anymore so we had to have that fixed, we had one instance of water by the chimney, we had a leaking bleeder valve (baseboard heat) that needed to be replaced, we discovered the previous owners trashed the hardwood floors under all that carpet, our 2 year old 60″ (total splurge item) 3D TV crapped the bed, discovered all the original aluminum windows are the devil in disguise, had a mouse problem (go figure with two fierce cats), a still ongoing project fixing the damage from last winter, a couple minor car fender benders (nobody got hurt), neighbors that think nothing of their dog taking his daily crap in the middle of my backyard, a new puppy (just more stress), planning my stepsons high school graduation party, the stress of paying for all of this, my dad having a heart attack (he’s ok), and my husbands grandmother passing away a month before her 100th birthday (very sad). It was a stressful year.
Let’s keep things in perspective….
All is not lost. We are a healthy resilient bunch. I love my new home. It has a lot of potential and I look forward to bringing that potential out. There’s still a lot of work to be done, but isn’t that why we bought this house? Thanks for listening to my little rant and the walk down memory lane.
I would love to hear your stories. Don’t be shy.
Terrarium’s are wonderful additions to any home and they can be great gifts. They have ones that hang from the ceiling, attach to the wall, and of course sit on top of a table. You can make them into fairy gardens, little dreamscapes, or just put plants in there. I bought mine here: http://www.cb2.com/hanging-glass-terrarium/s479023. They were $6.95 each and I used 3.
These are some of my favorites from Amazon. I felt like my terrariums could use a little spice, so I decided to dip the bottoms of them in some acrylic paint. I wasn’t concerned with making sure they were dipped uniformly and I rather like how they turned out. This is the finished project.
I hung these in the master bath because I wanted to warm it up with plants but lacked counter space. I also feel that the steam from showers means I don’t have to water them as much. The fact that I chose an aloe plant and some cacti also helps with the whole when to water dilemma.
First I made sure to buy acrylic paint for smooth surfaces and it also needed to be diluted. I ended up buying mine at Joann’s. I went with a metallic silver. I diluted the paint with water until it was the consistency of heavy cream. I wanted the paint to drip off but still coat.
I made sure to clean the outside of my Terrarium really well with glass cleaner. I let it dry while I mixed my paint. I attached my Terrariums to an eye hook in the configuration I knew I wanted to hang them in and screwed it into a piece of wood. I set an old towel underneath to catch the drips. It looked something like this.
You want to take your bowl and dip each terrarium into it to get the effect you want. I left the bowl under each one until the majority of dripping had stopped.
I didn’t add my plants until after they dried. It only took a couple hours. I bought my plants at Home Depot right before Thanksgiving. They had a very limited stock. I ALMOST bought some succulents until I remember that I kill those every time I even think about getting them. So I went with the cacti and bought some water sense indoor plant soil. They do make and usually stock cactus soil but not when I was there. Now EVERY AND I DO MEAN EVERY time I buy indoor plants at a home improvement store the plants soil is rock hard. You can water that stuff till your blue in the face and it will never absorb water. I was really careful and broke up the soil before I replanted in my Terrarium. I made sure to protect the roots as much as possible but I probably removed 3/4 of the soil that came with the plant. I filled each of my terrariums with soil and hollowed out a section in the middle for my plant. Sometimes this can be tricky. I wanted plants that would fill up the terrarium and yet that hole to squeeze it through isn’t really as big as you hope.
Now you can add small rocks or moss to dress it up. I kinda like the look of the soil and I left it. When you buy your plants just be really mindful of sunlight requirements and watering instructions before you buy. Other than that just have fun, make it your own, and enjoy.
What do you think? Something you feel comfortable trying at home? What are some other ideas for Terrariums?
Wool dryer balls, homemade fabric softener, homemade dryer sheets???
What will they come up with next? I never even knew these things existed until I was researching making my own laundry soap …. which works awesome btw. You can check it out here http://www.asimpleendeavor.com/lets-get-cleaning/.
How was the liquid fabric softener?
I also used an idea for homemade liquid fabric softener that involves hair conditioner, vinegar, and water. I just couldn’t get over the idea of saturating my clothes with hair conditioner. I used it a couple times, wasn’t too impressed and decided to keep on looking.
So how did the dryer sheets turn out?
The dryer sheets were ok. I ended up buying a package of 10 baby wash clothes and putting the mixture in a glad plastic container. I added a couple drops of essential oil and was off. I found a recipe on another blog. You can find that post here: http:http://viewfromthefridge.com/homemade-dryer-sheets. It’s really a well written article about how bad those store bought dryer sheets are and why we should look for alternatives. I liked them but was still wondering if there was something better.
What are wool dryer balls and what the heck do they do?
When I first saw wool dryer balls I let out a little chuckle. “AWE HOW CUTEEEEEE”. I kept seeing them pop up though and I decided to try them out for myself. So the background on these little bundles of cuteness is as follows. Apparently they are the trifecta of the laundry room. They reduce drying time almost in half, they soften your clothes (think tennis balls without the leeching chemicals), and they eliminate static cling. I was intrigued to say the least. I went out and bought 3 skeins of wool roving. They were on sale at Joanns. I also had a 20% off coupon. Happy days – so for three skeins I paid $13. What a steal considering if it works as well as they say I’ll never need to buy liquid fabric softener or dryer sheets again. SOOOOOO …… I made two balls from 1 skein of wool roving.
What do you need?
skeins of wool roving
an old pair of stockings or trouser socks
a string ( not the wool roving)
pair of scissors
some sort of blunt object or a needle ( to push the tail into the center of the ball)
The key is to wind the wool your four fingers to start. Then loop it around the middle, and finally start making it into a ball. It needs to be super, super, super tight. Once you’ve reached halfway through the skein and your balls is as tight as you can get it, you will use something pointy and push the end of the fabric as far into you wool ball as you can get it. This will help to stop it from unraveling. I used my scissors. Just be very careful that you don’t hurt yourself. One by one you will put your wool balls into the stocking or trouser sock. Make sure you put a knot between each ball. This makes sure that they don’t stick together.
Now what am I supposed to do?
I put it in the washer with a load of towels because I always wash them on the hottest setting. The friction is supposed to help also. I would do this at least 2 times. Just make sure that the ball is tight, tight, tight. Once the balls are felted to your satisfaction you can add a couple drops of essential oil to each one. Once the scent starts to fade – add some more. I used all 6 at one time and they were fantastic.
How long do these things last?
These should last a good long time. IF they do start to unravel you can just do the process all over
Let me know what you think.
Have you ever wondered how to weave a rag rug? Although they can be time consuming depending on the size, rag rugs are pretty easy to make. The hardest part of the whole project is feeling comfortable using some items that you may find in the garage. I created my loom simple because I wanted a rug for my bathroom and it is an odd size. My rag rug loom kinda reminds me of those plastic ones that a lot of kids used to make potholders. I know you remember them. I made so many potholders with that little loom.
This is the finish product. It cost me just about $10 for wood, dowels, and U shaped mounting brackets. Everything else I had on hand.
2- 1/2″x48″ wooden dowels
1 pkg of 5 u shaped brackets 1/2″
I had a box of finishing nails on hand
2 – screws to keep the dowels from bending in the middle
4 – screws to hold the corners of the loom together
I started measuring the area that I wanted to put the rug. Once I had that measurement I cut my 1×2 with a Mitre saw. I created a square and screwed the corners together. Once I had the corners secured I added my dowel brackets. I then took a measuring tape and marked every 1″. These are going to be where your nails go. I put in my dowels and screwed a screw on the inside edge of each dowel as close to the middle as possible. This is very important to do. It acts as a stop to help keep the dowel straight.
I have to tell you before you begin. this was my first attempt at making a rag rug. Not pretty. Trust me when I tell you that STRETCHY T-SHIRT FABRIC IS NOT YOUR FRIEND. I cannot stress this enough. I had a bunch of TARN (t-shirt yarn) left over from another project and I thought this would be perfect. It looked great on the loom. Not so great when removed. So I started over and used cotton quilt material. Lots of it. I’ve also heard that people use old sheets.
Now I am going to show you something life altering. There is a way to join two strips of fabric so that you aren’t actually tying a knot. Take your strip of fabric by the end fold it over about two inches and
make a cut creating a slit through which to pull the other piece of fabric. You should repeat this step on each end of fabric. So if you have two pieces of fabric you’re making 4 total cuts.
Ok …. I really hope I explained that well. If you have any questions please ask and I will try to explain.
So the first thing you need to do is tie the end around the first nail. Then you will go to the opposite nail and loop it around the nail head. Continue doing this until you loop all the nails with your fabric. When you get to the end tie your fabric around the last nail. It will look like this when completed.
You then want to tie a knot around the dowel at the very top of your loom and start weaving. The purpose of the dowel now comes into play. When you get to the end of each row you are going to loop your fabric around the dowel. THIS WILL GIVE YOUR RUG STRAIGHT EDGES. Sorry for the all caps ….. its just very important to get this step right. Otherwise you will end up with the wavy mess of my first rag rug and nobody wants to do all this work for a wavy mess.
It is also very important that you constantly push down on the new rows making them as tight as possible to the rows you just created. You want a tight weave to give your rug some structure. You will weave on one end of your rag rug till you get about a quarter of the way done with it. Then you will do something that sounds a little crazy. You will go to the opposite end and start weaving there. We do this because it is a lot easier to end our rug in the middle than at the end along all those nails.
I really was very attentive to which way my fabric was facing when I did my rows. If you know anything about quilting fabric – you know there is an unfinished and a faced side. I spent a lot of time untwisting my rows to make sure the faced side of the fabric was always showing. So you keep doing this until you meet in the middle somewhere.
When you meet in the middle you will take the two ends you are joining and making sure the flaps are in the back (not the front) and tie them securely. Now comes the nail biting part. It’s the part where you can see if all your hard work paid off. After the first attempt at a rag rug I wanted to cry. I walked away, slept on it, and woke up the next day with renewed determination. Of course it was kind of fun cutting up my first project to reuse the fabric. Still I don’t want anyone else to make my mistakes.
Little by little start pulling your fabric off of the nails. When you get to the knot at the end you will tie that knot to the one you tied on the dowel.
It will look something like this. You then want to slowly pull out the dowel. Carefully taking the loops off. Remember that screw is in there somewhere and you want to make sure you don’t tear your fabric getting it snagged.
This is the finished product. I had a lot of fun making this , even though I messed up the first time. I would definitely try making this on a bigger scale. It would make a great, labor intensive, project as an area rug.
Please let me know what you think, or if you have any questions. Thanks for reading.
This is our 1959 mid century modern home … We moved in about a year ago. It was owned by the same family until we bought it. Time capsule does not even begin to explain this house.
Yes those are the original aluminum windows from 1959. As it turns out aluminum windows are horrible and we will be replacing them soon! I cannot wait. It also came packed with wallpaper and wall to wall carpets on the main floor. Then there is the basement with vinyl tile floors and wood paneling from the 70’s. To say it’s been a busy year is an understatement.
This is what it started out as. As much as we have accomplished I still feel that there’s a lot to do to make it home.
The front flower bed was covered with Pachysandra, which is horrible horrible horrible to get rid of. I will be pulling it out for years I predict. When I say covered I mean coming out 7-8 feet from the house – probably growing since 1959. I took me months to clear it out. I mean there were stumps in there that you couldn’t even see because there was just so much growth.
This is the finished result. I didn’t want to paint the main color of the house so I opted for painting the shutters and I actually like how it turned out. I am at odds about having shutters on a mid century modern-ish house but those are decisions that will have to be made later. I also planted some fountain grasses, hydrangea, knockout rose, lavender, hostas, and some other stuff. I’m hoping it grows in nice and full and gives the house a little more depth.
and this is just the front yard. I will go through the house and show you what I’ve done to this point. So please look for my follow-up posts and let me know what you think.
Lets get cleaning …my DIY laundry soap recipe. As usual I was researching something totally unrelated and came upon a post about making my own laundry soap. This turned into an eye opening experience. I had no idea there were so many recipes for this stuff. Not only for laundry detergent, but also for fabric softener, dryer sheets, air fresheners, dishwasher detergent, and so many more. Who knew that DIY laundry soap could be so inexpensive. Since I am almost out of laundry detergent and fabric softener I thought this would be a good time to try something new.
I came across this recipe for DIY laundry soap at http://www.stonegableblog.com/stonegable-laundry-soap and I thought I would try it first. I really liked that it was not a liquid. I saw a lot of posts from fellow bloggers who did the liquid thing and it seemed more complex to me. Especially with comments about pots boiling over onto the stove, water not being hot enough, and attempts at funneling it into a container. The dry or powdered formulas seemed much more my speed. I also was concerned because I have a HE washer and would cry if I did anything to damage it in any way. I did my research though and I have found zero complaints of washing machine malfunctions.
So I gathered my supplies.
The supplies consist of:
Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (3 lbs 7 oz)
Borax (4 lbs 1 oz))
Arm & Hammer Baking Soda (4 lbs)
OxyClean (3 lbs)
2 containers of the Downy Un Stopables in Lush (13.2 oz)
Fels-Naptha soap (4 bars)
…..as a side note….. If I were to do this over again I probably wouldn’t use the Downy Un Stopables or the Fels-Naptha soap. I do like the thought of adding a fragrance but I would probably just use 4 bars of Dr Bronner soap. They have a bunch of different scents plus a non scented option. If you’re trying to stay away from all the extra chemicals I would definitely take the Dr Bronner soap route instead. Plus its organic.
I was a little too excited about this project so I immediately dumped all of my powders into a garbage bag. It looked like this.
Of course I wish I would’ve already done things a little differently. As you can see my garbage bags aren’t the thickest things. I have to use clear bags per my village code and its really kind of hard to find thick clear bags. Oh well ….. so moral of the story is to use a thick garbage bag. If you don’t have thick bags you can still use them just be really careful or even use an empty tote. Also be aware that these are powders and when you dump them into whatever you will be using a nice little cloud will appear. So just be prepared. I mixed all the powders together a little before I went on to the next step.
It was time to grate the cheese …. I mean soap. It kinda does look like a block of cheese. I started off on the small side of the grater and soon realized that would take more time than I really wanted to invest. I ended up using the large side. It went really quick and overall not a horrible experience. I know I’ve read that some people then take the soap shavings and put them in a blender or magic bullet. I decided instead to just knead the mix a little bit to break up the size of the shavings.
I think soap shavings turned out ok. So I dumped all the soap into my bag and started mixing again. This is when I noticed the little holes forming in my bag. The holes scared me and I already had a fine dust covering my entire dining room table. I decided to just grab a smaller bowl and start scooping my mixture into my container. This turned out to be the wrong thing to do as well. Remember how I told you about those little clouds – well they were worse this time around. So I nixed that idea and just wrapped my hand around the opening of the bag and flipped it upside down into my container. I was very careful about pulling the bag out and was extremely glad I had a wide mouthed container to pour it into.
I bought the container at Walmart for $12. I like it because its glass and big (2 gallons).
My next step was to test my DIY laundry soap by throwing some blankets in that I’ve been meaning to wash. They came out clean and didn’t smell bad. Considering I just spent almost $20 on the Downy Un Stopables I would say it was a waste of money at this point. My blankets definitely did not smell like they should’ve. Lesson learned. I will make this again and I will definitely use the Dr Bronner’s soap in Lavender.
Please let me know how your own recipes turned out.
Its that exciting time of year again, November in Western New York. The leaves are falling and the nights are definitely getting cooler. I recently went outside with the kids to rake leaves. They weren’t too happy with me. I kept telling Griffin, he’s 7, that he could jump in the piles afterward, and that seemed to really motivate him. At first Brett was not falling for the charms of jumping in leaves and just puttered along waiting for the torture to end. I did finally get him to give the whole jumping in a pile of leaves thing a try. Sometimes being 13 means you have got to put the pride aside and just jump. He did it with flair and I am so proud of him. They were both pretty good sports about it since I got this harebrained idea after I worked all day and they put in a full day at school. Come on though, what else should you do on a beautiful 70 degree fall day?
We all have that one tree that likes to mock us. It seems to drop enough leaves at any given time to coat the entire lawn, but still seems to have enough on the branches to rain down on you as you’re raking. I tell myself its good exercise but I paid for it the next day. Sometimes I dream about getting one of those leaf blower things but for some reason I feel like we’re missing an opportunity to spend time together if we do that. I know it sounds crazy but I like that we are all together, without distractions, working towards a common goal …. to be able to jump in big piles of leaves!
Last weekend we were a little stir crazy at the house. We decided to pack Griffin up and take him outside even though it was windy and hence kind of cold outside. There’s this beautiful estate in East Aurora, NY called Knox Farms, http://www.friendsofknoxfarm.org , and I just love walking the trails that weave through the woods. There’s a dog park, a little book depot in the middle or nowhere, and so much charm. In the summer they place gnomes along the trails and it can be fun looking for them in hollowed out trees or hanging out on rocks. It really is beautiful and serene and it makes me what to live a simpler life. Its times like those that make you appreciate what you have.
I would like to introduce my beautiful family in order of age: Chuck, myself, Nick, Nolan, Brett, and Griffin. In 2007 my husband and I decided to combine families. I am now vastly outnumbered and have seen more “boy” movies than I’d like to admit. My days consist of working full time and taking care of my family. Its a delicate balance on the best of days