Monday, October 12, 2015

DIY Sunday: DIY Foot [Under Desk] Hammock

Happy Monday!

I meant to blog this weekend about this easy project, but I attended a birthday party and baby shower. It was a fun but tiring weekend. So, you get your DIY Sunday on a Monday, and you're going to like it! (Please)

Our home tends to be the place where lost and lonely pets find their forever home. It's an occupational hazard being a veterinarian's wife. Well, I swore I would never have a cat inside. I didn't grow up with cats, and I'm a self proclaimed crazy dog lady. However, there was a kitten that was abandoned near my in-laws house. The kitten was so little he couldn't eat on his own. So, I somehow got roped into bottle feeding this kitten. Then, the kitten convinced me to allow a cat in the house. I mean, not only is he adorable, but we've had a couple mice in the house. Our westie was a great mouser, but she's no longer with us. So cute kitten it is. He better learn to kill mice or else! Okay. I probably wouldn't do anything. He is adorable.

Cute kitten is now named Maximus (to go along with our outdoor cats: Rapunzal, Flynn and Rider) and he's really annoying. Well, at least while I'm working. He likes to play with feet and climb up your leg to sleep on your face. I had to make some sort of solution to this, because it was driving me insane. (Which of course with two children under 6 and three dogs is a very short trip)

I saw a clever idea for a desk foot hammock on Pinterest a year or so ago. I had been meaning to give it a DIY try, and I'm happy to report that with some very simple sewing skills, it's a project you can finish in an hour for next to nothing. This project isn't just for people with crazy kittens. It would be great for anyone that wants to put their feet up at their desk. I'm looking at you pregnant ladies! 

DIY Desk Foot Hammock


Fabric (I used some scraps I had left over from my office chair recovering. [Click here for the tutorial]. I used a piece that was about a yard long and 8 inches or so wide)

Sewing Machine or Needle and Thread.

Dowel (I had a spare dowel sitting around, but they are only about a 1$ in the craft section. They are long, so you should only need one dowel)

Twine or Rope

2 rings (I had some D rings in my craft stash, but any type of ring would work. Key ring, washer, etc.)

2 Eye Screws


Total Cost: Free! (or around $3.00 if you need to buy supplies)


1. Sew a Pouch

Since my piece of fabric was long and skinny, I folded it in half "hamburger" way, right side to right side. I then had a rectangle of fabric with one short end folded and  the other three sides raw. The only fabric visible was the wrong side (e.g. the side with no pattern).

However, your fabric size may differ. You can make this work no matter the shape of your fabric. If you have a large piece of fabric, fold it so you have a rectangle and the right sides are facing each other. If you have two pieces of fabric, you don't even need to fold. Just put the right sides facing each other and cut out a rectangle.

You will then want to sew everything except the fold side and a small opening on one of the short sides. You will need the opening big enough to pull all the fabric through. Once you're done sewing, pull your fabric through the small opening so the right side of the fabric is facing out. Sew up the opening so it's clean and raw edge free.

2. Sew Pockets for the Dowels

Now you will want to sew a pocket on each short end for the rod/dowel to fit through. I made my pockets big enough that my finger would fit in easily.

Note: if you want a more finished look, before sewing your rod/dowel pockets, you can use your button hole attachment to make hole on the piece that is folding over and the fabric under the fold over. (See Step 3 to understand what the holes are for) I didn't do this, because I didn't mind if my holes for the twine were raw. Just don't think you're going to use the button hole attachment after you create the pocket. I was stupid and thought that would work...but obviously since you need a rod to slide through, it didn't.

An example of how not to cut the slits/make button holes. You end up with a mess if you try to use the button hole attachment after you make your dowel/rod pocket.

3. Cut Holes for Twine

Once you have created your two pockets, you need to cut two slits on both short sides for a total of four slits/holes. This is where you will thread your twine through after you insert your dowels/rods.

4. Insert Dowels/Rods and Sew Shut

Slip your rod into the pocket. If you have a large dowel, slip the dowel in, and mark where you need to cut it. I cut mine by scoring around the dowel with scissors and then just applying pressure on the score mark. You can also use a saw to create a cleaner cut. Once you have your two dowels inserted into each short end, sew the pockets shut. You don't want your dowel/rod slipping out.

5. Thread Twine and Attach to Rings

This process was easier than I thought it would be. I attached my twine to a large safety pin and threaded it through the hole. It's important that you go below the rod. You want the rod, not the fabric, to take the weight of your feet.

Once I had all four holes threaded, I eyeballed the twine to make sure it was a equal length on all four sections. You want to make sure the hammock hangs straight, so each piece of twine should be equal lengths. I then knotted each side to a D ring.

6. Attach Eye Screws & Hang

Since I have a DIY desk (Click here for the post), I had no problem screwing a eye screw into the side of the saw horses. You may need to look at your desk closely to see where the best place (i.e. the most solid piece of wood) is located. Once I had the eye screw attached, I just had to thread another piece of twine through the eye screw and tie both ends on to the D ring.

Enjoy your DIY foot hammock! My feet are safe from the crazy kitten, and they are chillin' like a villian. :)

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Black & Gold 50th Birthday Surprise Party


This past weekend my family threw my mother a surprise 50th birthday party. When my dad decided on the party a few months ago, I volunteered to do the decorations. One, I love to do party decorations because it's a way to try out new DIY projects. Two, I knew as a fellow woman I wouldn't be all that thrilled to have a party full of references to my ever growing age. So instead of using the typical party store "Over the Hill" theme, I decided to do something more appropriate for my mother. The theme was "Aged to Perfection" and played off her love of wine. This theme would also work great for a whiskey lover as well.

The color scheme did use black, but paired with gold, it's not quite as morbid as the normal 50th birthday decorations. When I started planning the party decorations, I gave myself a budget of $100.00. I figured that was do-able since I already have a rather large party decoration stash (although it's mostly vintage not old Hollywood glam). I'm happy to say with a ton of DIY, I mostly stayed within that budget.

I'll show you those various DIY projects in a second, but I wanted to take a minute to point out the photo booth. I did a really simple photo booth knowing what a ham my daughter (well...and my entire family) is. It was a real hit and was a good way to remind everyone to take pictures. I would highly recommend whipping something up for your next party. I know I will do it again.

Table Decorations

When I plan my decorations for parties, I become a bit obsessed with making lists. I like to have things organized in my head so I know what to make when, where to pack it and what order to unpack on the day of decorating. I usually organize the decorations by a "zone" and then come up with ideas from there. So the first "zone" is the table scape. I rented black table cloths from a local party supply store. I then bought 4 yards of this satin fabric. I cut it down the middle and hemmed the edges. Those became my gold table runners.
As for center pieces I had three different items. The first was this DIY black box. I made the boxes out of black cardstock I already had on hand. I then jazzed up the boxes with dots from a gold Sharpie marker. The boxes were stuffed with these Christmas tree picks. Can you believe Christmas decorations s are already available at stores?!?! I had some extra black glitter cardstock which I used to make the "50" numbers.

I made a "chandelier" using black and gold curling ribbon, a metal hoop and black glitter cardstock. If you have a drop ceiling in your space, it's very easy to hang decorations from it without any damage to the property. I simply used paper clips to secure this decoration.

Since wine was the theme of this party, I used empty wine glasses as decorations. Each wine glass had the label removed, spray painted gold with gold spray paint and then gold glitter blast was applied on top, followed by a clear coat. Christmas tree picks were inserted with DIY "50" ornaments hanging from the branches. 

Admittedly these decorations were a bit strange. I saw the idea on Pinterest and decided to give it a try. The center is a styrofoam ball spray painted with glitter blast. The tooth picks got a coat of gold metallic spray paint. It's supposed to be a throw back to the atomic star decor, but it's kinda like a food fight land mine. These styrofoam balls sans toothpicks *may* have become a glitter snow ball fight at the party. 

Popcorn Bar

Since my mom is a big fan of popcorn and we needed some snack food for our game night, a popcorn bar was perfect. My mom has a mini popcorn machine that my dad covertly got to me before the party. I got candy toppings as well as different seasonings. You can't tell very well from the pictures but the top of the table is covered in gold sequin fabric. I got two yards of this cut and without doing anything to it, it ended up being the perfect size for the table. 

This project was a really easy one. I got a small piece of black foam board and, using a gold metallic Sharpie, I added some facts from the year my mother was born (Google for the win!). Ironic enough, my mom is a huge Diet Pepsi fan. Apparently it was just meant to be. 

One easy decoration was these large poster size prints of my mother from when she was younger. Wasn't I a cute kid? I found these snap shots as I went through all the pictures my dad gave me. They both came from 3x4 prints. I did some research and found the trick to blowing up pictures from small prints is the resolution of your scanner. Set your scanner to the highest quality resolution it will scan and then you can get pretty good quality large format pictures. I did touch up both pictures to remove any dust or scratches from the pictures. If I would have left them, they would have looked huge once the print was enlarged.

Food Table

This project was rather easy. It's a 50 cut out from poster board with prints taped to it. I had to scan and hunt down pictures, which actually, was pretty fun. Once I reprinted a bunch of pictures, I just had to tape and trim the pictures to the 50 I cut out.

The front of the food area was just a couple of yards of gold tulle and a crystal ribbon along the front. I secured everything with some tape and safety pins. 

If you know anything about me, I love chalkboards. I found a gold chalk board marker to use. It wasn't all that gold though. It seemed very yellow when I first used it. It did turn more gold as it dried. One thing that irritates me to no end is that I didn't take the time to draw nicely on the boards. My mom was almost there so I just wrote something really quick. Oh well.

The wine glasses were a really fun easy project. The bases disconnect from the top part. I took glitter blast and clear spray to the bases to make a sparkly wine glass that was a bit more fancy than the normal disposable wine glasses.

Final Touches

 Our photo booth was pretty simple. I bought a role of black reversible wrapping paper and taped it to the wall. We added some gold ribbon to the top. Does this make you a bit dizzy?

I bought a package of props from my local party store. I also made a set of "50" glasses since they didn't have any at the store. To take the pictures, we had a selfie stick on hand. I was going to grab my tripod, fancy camera and remote, but honestly the selfie stick worked just as well. 

These dollar store white boards ended up being a pretty big hit. They are in the kids education section. 

 One last touch was tissue paper garland. I made it over a couple of nights watching tv, and it ended up being a fun little addition to one side of the room. 

 I also hung random bundles of curling ribbon from the ceiling using paper clips as anchors. 

 The tissue paper garland also made one great tutu for a very excited five year old!

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Door Drama: Our Lessons Learned from Hanging Slab Doors


Sometimes the smallest projects can turn into the biggest headaches. I'm starting to think that we jinx ourselves when we say that we can finish a project in an evening. I should just expect that each project will take days of pain and sweat (and sometimes blood and tears).

Earlier this year I had planned on trying a Pinterest trick and updating our doors with some lattice and paint. After looking at the price of supplies and the time it would take to do everything, my husband and I decided it made more sense to order new doors. Lowes was running a special on doors, and we got five new solid core doors for the price of five hollow doors. Score!

Well kinda. That was one win among a bunch of losses. I have five lessons learned from hanging slab doors. The cliff notes version is below...but first is the long winded version of our door drama. 

We got instructions from the store on how to properly measure everything. My husband did the measuring. (I am epically bad at measuring anything. Plan on cutting twice when I'm in charge of measuring) You will need to not only measure the door itself, but you will need to measure the door knob and hinge locations. Once we double checked all our measurements, we were off to the store.
Here's our doors "before." When we first moved in, we added additional trim to the existing trim and painted it white. 

Once we got to the store, the employee helping us was very pleasant but convinced me that we must have measured wrong. Hubby had measured a width of 29 and 3/4, and standard doors are 30. I should have argued with him and stuck with our measurements, but at this point my son was crying, my daughter was screaming and my husband was giving me a look that said "For the love of God lets get the hell out of this store before we get CPS called on us" (I get that look more often than most I fear..especially at Lowes). So, 30 inches wide sounded pretty good at that point.

We waited a few weeks for our new doors to be custom made and after hunting down a truck, finally went to pick the doors up. This is when I should have realized the project wasn't going to go my way. Two of the five doors were damaged from being shipped. The employee helping us couldn't understand why we insisted on re-ordering them. After working with the doors for a week, I can agree that we probably didn't need them shipped back. BECAUSE DOORS NEVER FIT. You can measure that sucker 100 times, and your going to have to make some adjustments. That's the problem with working with a slab door.

So we get our pre primed doors home (sans the damaged ones), and I got to work painting the doors. I have painted a lot of things in my life. Side note, I wonder if I could actually count how many things I have has to be in the hundreds. That includes many different types of doors over the years. However, these doors decided to create some challenges.

When I put the first coat on, I thought I was going to be grey haired with a walker before the paint completely covered the white primer. I followed directions from a blog titled "How to Paint Doors Like a Pro." Maybe their doors were different, but their roller then brush method did not look good. However, by the time I realized every brush stroke was showing, I was pot committed. No way was I going to sand and repaint the doors. So, it's one of those small things that will bother me, but no one else will notice. Thankfully my favorite paint, Olympic One, came through and covered everything in two coats. When we flipped over the door and painted the other side, the saw horse left marks on the door even with fabric to between the door and sawhorse. Not to mention that every time we moved the door, we inevitably nicked the door somewhere. So, don't get to worked up about the paint job because there will be touch ups. Because the doors never fit. :)

Our doors after the first coat.
Our doors after the second coat.

After I finished painting, we went to put the first door on, and realized that the 30 inch wasn't going to work, because our doors are, as we thought, 29 3/4. I read some different things about hitting the jam to try to get some extra space or shaving the jam and door. We thought about it and decided we wanted to do it the "correct" way, and use a table saw to cut off the extra from the hinge side. That meant we would also have to re-route the hinges. But really it was the best way to get everything done and hang correctly. 

While my husband took off with two of the three doors we had painted, I hung the small linen door that was the correct size. However, it can't be that easy. Even the door that was the correct size didn't fit. Do I need to say it again? So, how do you make a door fit? There's a couple of different options. Ideally you want to use a planer to shave off the excess. If you don't have a planer, you can use a heavy duty sandpaper and sander to slowly shave away the excess. 

I could see where the door was rubbing. I used a planer and a sander to smooth everything out.

Another thing to consider, you probably will have to remove some of the length. The height of the flooring makes the length differ. I removed the length on my linen closet door with a circular saw. I had to make sure it was a new blade and I had to take my time cutting the door. I used a strip of masking tape as my guide, which also kept the wood from splitting. 

So while we had to make quite a few adjustments (including even shaving off the doors we cut with the table saw because doors never fit perfectly square), choosing solid core doors ended up being a great thing. Cutting down hollow doors would require much more labor to reattach veiner to the edges that were cut. Having a solid core door make each adjustment a bit more easy. The one down side is solid core doors are much heavier so they can pull on the hinges and require more adjustments as a result. Another thing to consider is the door stop may need to move if the door is deeper than your previous doors. We had to move the stop on two doors. That makes a bit more work since you may need to touch up the paint on the stops/trim since it will flake and crack when you remove the stop. 

The paint cracked where we had to move the door stop forward. Some sanding and new paint cleaned it up.

After all these adjustments and hanging the doors to make sure they hung correctly, I went through and touched up all the paint. I had to repaint the hinge side since it was freshly cut. This was a bit tricky with our white frames. I did accidently touch the trim a few times and had to touch up the trim to get it back to white. 

My doors sanded and cleaned up. Ready for paint.

Our Lessons Learned from Replacing Our Slab Doors

1. Measure carefully and make sure those are the sizes ordered. You may have to advocate for yourself if you have a strange measurement. However, you are ordering custom doors for a reason, and you should make sure they are custom. 

2. Even when you measure correctly, you're going to have to make adjustments if you're house isn't exactly square. Of course, most older homes aren't. 

3. Don't get too worked up about nicks and scrapes as you're installing the door. You can sand out any nicks to the door and you can paint over any scratches. It's going to happen. 

4. You may need to make adjustments not only to the size of the door but also to the hinges, door stop and door knob. 

5. Prepare to take your time to get your door to fit correctly. It's going to be a slow process to get everything to fit carefully.

So, we have three of our interior doors done, and I'm very happy with the way they look. The lesson of door hanging is learned. The process is all about slowly making adjustments and mending any damage you may do along the way. Bring on the other two doors! (and all the basement doors)

My husband installed this door knob. Apparently he wants to lock me in my office to work!