DIY Sidetracking

March 5, 2012 07:36 by ehouston

As I reported last week, the guest bath remodel/makeover is underway.  After very little discussion with The Mister (he worked most of the weekend) I have decided to move forward with the beige wall paint, white trim and darker cabinets.  I am considering antiquing them first to see if I like it.  If not, then I will move on to full coverage with gel stain.  I believe a nice, deep stained look to the painted cabinets can go a long way in a newly brightened bath.  We will just have to see.  Right now the wallpaper paste removal is still a work in progress.  More on this project later.

I have been sidetracked in my remodel planning process since last Thursday.  That is when we found out our new little one will be a girl.  Yeah for a swing with a  different bat this time around!  Yikes, for all the newness and challenges we face.  All in all we are super excited.  But, of course that brings us full circle to a grand bedroom remodel.  I knew the spare bedroom had to move from lavender and flowers to something a bit more in tune with a very young boy, but I still was not sure much needed to change in our nursery.  Now it looks like we need a complete overhaul! 

Actually, I am thinking of some subtle changes in the nursery, as well as the spare room.  Even with the small things that need to switch up, I am utterly exhausted just thinking about all that has to happen between now and the due date.  AAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!  Again, my sidetracked mind can only seem to focus on the next fun project that lies in wait.  I have been searching Pinterest for inspiration, but I think I have a pretty good idea of how these makeovers will go down.  One thing is for sure, the Little Guy’s bedroom will soon house a lot more of his toys, as well as, his pint-sized table and chairs set from IKEA.  Which, by the way, is looking really rough now that it has even more scars from the Crayola battles.  Sir Google brought up some neat images of how other people transformed their IKEA table and chair sets, so I think before popping our sad set into the new space I will give it a quick makeover too.

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A little too sweet for my guy, but in the realm of possibilities.  With all the marks on top I’m afraid there may be bleed through if I just paint.  The idea of actually covering the top with paper or fabric seems like a better bet.

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Very cute idea and I love that the writing supplies are contained.  Not sure that chalk is something I want all over the surface all the time, though.  Plus, I was planning a chalkboard so….

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Nice, simple, straightforward.  Just paint it with nice colors and a cool pattern.

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I really love this idea a lot and had planned some similar wall art for the nursery that never materialized.  Even just a map decoupaged in place would be pretty cool.

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This last one is really fun and the before shots look quite similar to our set.  The only thing is my Little Man would rip every last bit of this masking tape right off in one sitting. 

There are plenty of ideas out there, I just have to pick or come up with one.  And, soon!  We have walls to paint, bookshelves to find, beds to upholster, pillows to make, lighting, window treatments.  As usual, I am biting off waaaaayyyy more than I can chew!

Say a little prayer for me, ‘kay?

Kitsch Krafts

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DIY : The Guest Bathroom–In Progress

March 2, 2012 09:23 by ehouston

It’s amazing what taking down a little wallpaper will do for your hopes in a space.  We went from this…


…to this…



…in a matter of about 20 minutes the other day. 

Initially I went in to test the strength of the border.  Due to the painful process I went through when removing the wallpaper in the dining room, I had almost convinced myself that I could pull the border down and then paint right over the rest of the wall.  Yes, I know this is not the right way to attack this kind of problem.  But, hey, when you have seen the other, very ugly side of what can happen when wallpaper won’t come down easily you start to consider all kinds of crazy things.  My first test strip pulled an entire sheet of the vertical paper from the wall.  It looked like I was in it for the long haul.  Lucky for us the rest came down with ease.  The Little Guy even helped pull down the low pieces and had such a good time being destructive that at one point he stopped to tell me he was having fun.  It was at that moment I realized I could no longer discuss any other wallpaper removal plans with him.  I could already see him scratching at the seams in the other bathrooms of our house.  I really need to take these projects in stride, ya’ know?  My stride, not his.

So, we are down to the dingy white walls and I have already started scraping the paste away.  For those of you wondering about the process I am following and especially for any other pregnant DIYer’s, here it is. 


I am using a handheld spray bottle that I fill periodically with the hottest water I can get from the tap.  I mix that about 3 to 1 with white vinegar, spray it on and let it sit for about a minute.  Then using a large blade drywall scraper/trowel thing (yes, that is technical terminology there) I slide it right off the walls and into my drywall spackle tray.  Yep, those things come in handy for all kinds of things.  My first go at it started only minutes before the end of naptime, so I had to work fast.  I was able to clean a pretty good sized area very quickly.  I only have the high spots above the tile around the shower, and the area above the mirror left.  I figured the area above the mirror will be a juggling act of not electrocuting myself while spraying around the lights.  I’m currently trying to develop a plastic bag and tape arrangement to help keep the vinegar and water from getting to the wires.  Hopefully I will get through that area this weekend and on to painting.  Yeah!

But, that is where the fun stops.  I grabbed a gallon of cheap-o mismatched paint from Home Depot a while back in a light beige color and after taking another look at the beige trim in the room, along with the lovely cultured marble vanity top, I’m worried it might be all wrong.  IMG_1553


Although the trim will be painted white I’m a little scared of the similarity between my new paint and the old trim color.  I was thinking of going neutral with the walls since nearly every surface is a different shade of white or cream.  I know that’s pretty boring, but until that vanity top goes I cannot mask the ugly orangey-cream elephant in the middle of the room.  That’s also why I was thinking I might do something fun with color on the vanity cabinets, but I think The Mister might veto that in favor of more neutral.  Wuh-wah….

We will be conferencing again over the weekend on this topic.  We plan to have a memo out early next week on the next steps to this ongoing process.

Thank you for your patience,

Kitsch Krafts


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DIY : Beginning Of A Guest Bath Makeover

February 28, 2012 08:11 by ehouston

With my million-things-to-do list increasing daily and a large portion of those items hitting deadline at the end of the first quarter I am slightly freaking out with the coming of March 1st this week. Thank God for that extra day in February with leap year, right? Phewwww… Anyway, I am itching to jump into several room re-dos, but promised myself I would at least remove the wallpaper from our guest bath and kitchen before moving on to any upstairs areas. Mainly because, aside from a much needed paint job in the family and guest rooms, the downstairs is in slightly less need than the extra bedroom upstairs. Although banishing the lavender wall color in there before I transition the Little Guy over into his “Big Boy” room, is a non-negotiable. So, I will be getting to that room ASAP. With my last attempt to remove wallpaper and paint being so disastrous, I decided to ease into the process and start with the smaller of the two rooms; the guest room bath. Now is your chance to really have some fun at my expense…literally! Here is where Waverly met the early 1990’s in the worst way possible and you get to laugh at it, with me hopefully more than at me.

In the immortal words of Missy “Misdemeanor” Elliott, “Let me show you what I’m werkin’ with”.


This first shot is just to give you a basic feel for the shape of the space and to show the wall color of the adjoining guest bedroom. Although the walls in the bedroom desperately need to be touched up the color is a nice pale blue, sort of a hint at a Tiffany’s gift box, and more like the look and feel of the rest of our home. I believe it was the previous owner’s attempt at diverting your attention from the ghastly ‘90’s throwback wallpaper that still lingers in certain nooks and crannies.


For funsies I think we should get right up and personal with that lovely wallpaper. It’s difficult to tell in a photo, especially with the bad lighting in this room, but the walls are striped in deep maroon, hunter green and gold. The stripes have a sort of swirled under pattern that I believe is there to mimic moire’ fabric. MMmmmm…. Then of course, there are the over the top golden swags, embellished with flowers and holding heavily fringed thickly draped fabric. So, bee-uti-fullllll….NOT! What kills me is that this is the only room in our entire house that does not receive any natural light and it has some of the darkest wallpaper imaginable. That = crazy!



Now I will bring you a bit closer to the fabulous vanity. It is actually quite nice as far as the size goes. Deep double sinks with a good amount of space around the edges and in between. For a change it is nice to live in a place where you can set the curling iron down to wash your hands and not risk death by electrical shock. There are three decent sized drawers in between the sinks and below each, a double door cabinet for plenty of storage. While the faucets boast a chrome finish the cabinet hardware is white porcelain, which contrasts nicely with the creamy beige chipping paint and tarnish-blackened hinges.


But I would say nothing tops the cabinets like cultured marble in yet another shade of creamy beige, flecked with deep maroon.


Oh, but wait! There are these super shiny brass sconces perched high above each sink. Not only are they, well, brassy, they give off very little light. Especially for FOUR lights!


At the end of the double vanity we come to the toilet. Pretty standard issue. The only thing goofy with this is that it appears to be in a shade of white, rather than cream or beige like the vanity top. ???


Above the toilet I placed a display shelf shortly after moving in. The little glass shelf was crammed into our powder room, appeared to serve zero purpose and had a bright brass look to the metal support bar. A quick spray of hammered nickel and it worked to camouflage the holes left from the really posh cream colored plastic towel bar that had been hung at an oddly high point behind the toilet.


Oh yeah, here is another look at the circus stripes and around to the shower/bath combo side of the room.


Both the downstairs guest room bath and the upstairs hallway bath have sliding shower doors. At least these fixtures are in chrome, although my preference would be to remove them and just put up a bar and nice curtain. At the bottom of the picture above you can see another lovely color combo of cream colored tile against a white porcelain tub. Again ??????


But no expense was spared in adding accents to this bath/shower combo! No, a lively diamond pattern in pale pink was added to jazz things up. Because, you know, pale pink goes with deep maroon, hunter green and gold. Oh yes, and about six different shades of cream. Right?


Swinging around, the tour ends with a look at the nicely sized linen closet that hides behind the bathroom door, plus you can see yet another shade of creamy beige in the floor tiles. Oh yeah, and if you look closely above you can also see more gold knobs and hinges mixed with a chrome door hook.


Aside from being decorated by a legally blind person in love with the romance of Waverly wall paper and early 1990’s color combinations, our guest bath is the BOMB! I know you are all green with jealousy! (or, maybe that’s the vomit in the back of your throat?)

I cannot wait to get these stripes out of here. My only problem now is deciding how to tackle this project. I could go in so many directions.

Here are some of my Concerns:

-No Natural Light

-Sconces and ceiling fan light give off nothing more than a candle flame

-Extra large, overpowering mirror

-Gold mixed with chrome and white porcelain

-Cream and white fixtures (vanity top, toilet, tub and tile surround)

-No budget for new tile

-No budget for new vanity

Here are some of my Ideas:

-Paint the vanity cabinet a fun bright color (light, beachy green maybe?)


-Gel stain the vanity to make it look like dark wood

-Remove the wallpaper and paint the walls a light color (pale taupe to help neutralize the vanity top?)

-Frame the large mirror (it does help to reflect what little light is in there)

-Replace or paint the sconces and switch out the shades for something more stylish

-Paint all woodwork, and doors bright white

-Remove glass shelf behind toilet and replace with artwork or a more substantial shelf unit

-Add art work or large mirror to the end wall of the room

-Change cabinet hardware, door knobs and hinges

If I had a bigger budget, or one day…..

-Would love to chip out the row of pink tiles in tub surround and replace with something more modern in a neutral color combo

-Would love to switch out the cream colored powder room toilet with the white one in here

-Would love to remove the sliding tub door and replace with an extra high bar and long custom curtain

-Would love to remove the large mirror and replace with smaller, individual oval mirrors

-Would love to get all new lighting

-Would love to remove vanity completely and replace with a higher cabinet (this one hits below my mid-thigh) and a Carrera marble top

Now that I have put it out there, I guess I better get busy, right? What DIY projects have you guys been working on lately? Any suggestions for our space? Remember we are on a super tight budget and will have to make due with mostly paintable changes right now. However, all suggestions are welcomed!

Kitsch Krafts

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DIY And Decorating : Small Space Display

November 7, 2011 07:07 by ehouston

Ever since moving in to our new home here in Richmond, VA I have been struggling with how to decorate the open space at the top of the stairs.  We have one long flight up to the second story with an open railing along the top portion.  It makes for a nice and roomy landing at the top before you make your way down the hall toward the bedrooms, but it also felt a little lost too.  At first we just put our old telephone table in that space, to have something there.  Although we never used it for holding our phone, this spot was quite fitting since it’s the only oddball wall in the house with a old school phone jack.  However, the last thing we wanted right outside the Little Guy’s room was an old school ringer.  Prior to painting the upstairs hallway I had two pictures hanging above the telephone table, but the arrangement was always off and too small for the overall space. 

I got it in my mind that I wanted to put a comfy chair here and a smaller table, but that did not quite make sense for the landing either.  Then after spying a couple of small and modern styled vintage dining room hutches at the local Salvation Army I got a whole different idea.  I thought it would be nice to have some vertical display, along with some lower extra storage.  I just thought one of these smaller hutches would do the trick of filling up the space without overwhelming it.  So, two weeks ago I brought one of those hutches home.


I love the simple clean lines of the overall piece and the fun graduated rectangle design on the bottom doors.  I also liked the lightness of the whole thing being up on thin legs.  At first I just planned to bring it home, clean it up and put it in place.  But, when I started the clean up process I found that the previous owner’s had left cup rings on nearly every shelf, and the top.  Those plus the other various scrapes made it a little more shabby than chic for my taste.  So, I dug up my leftover can of Minwax, Gel Stain in Red Elm from the bar project, and gave it a quick couple of coats. 




I also pulled the back off the upper portion and spray painted it bright, glossy white in an attempt to lighten it up.  After disassembling, painting and staining, then putting it all back together, I ended up with this.





It now has a smooth and slightly darker finish with a less cave-like display cabinet.  I also switched out the knobs for some simple round ones that started life as our ugly brass kitchen cabinet pulls.  All the hardware was removed and sprayed with Rust-o-leum’s Oil Rubbed Bronze.  Normally I would have opted for hammered nickel, but it felt wrong this time around with the darker wood stain.  I like how the darker hardware is noticeable, but does not pop out and smack you in the face. 

So far, I have placed some of my extra random pieces of mid-century pottery on display, but I imagine that down the line they will move on to make space for something more interesting.  I like the change up from the little table and couple of pictures, and the price was right.  I scored the hutch for $95.00 and the rest of the materials to complete the makeover were already on hand.  It has only been in place for a week and I am still getting used to something this size in that space.  I am not ready yet to say it’s not quite right and feel I need to give it a little more time before jumping to another idea.  Who knows where this guy will end up, but for now he has found a new lease on life and a comfy spot to settle in.

Kitsch Krafts

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DIY : Repairing A Chipped Plaster Mirror

September 28, 2011 05:58 by ehouston

I am sad to announce that 50% off Wednesday’s at the Salvation Army recently ended.  I don’t have any idea what the reason for the change was, but they have switched up their policies and only certain items are discounted on certain days.  What a bummer!  Oh well, I just need to figure out their new discounting program and then I can get back on the thrifting horse.  Anywhoo- just before the new policy went into place I was able to score an oval mirror in the perfect size for our powder room.  At $4.99 it was an absolute bargain, of course the bonus was that the price was another 50% off.  Yes, you read that correctly, I basically paid $2.50 for a large, beveled glass oval mirror.  I had been pricing these recently and the cheapest I had found was an okay wood-ish (I think it was probably some kind of plastic or resin) model at Lowe’s for around the 50 dollar mark. 


I was super excited at what I consider a total steal, but I have to be honest and share some of the not so pretty details.  This mirror had definitely seen better days. 


There were several areas that had missing plaster, serious gouges and plenty of chips. 



Even with all the blemishes I knew I could make this mirror pretty again and that it would be the right size for our powder room.  Right now that space houses a very large, somewhat ornate burnished gold toned rectangular mirror that has always seemed giant to me.


Although, I have never attempted fixing a plaster style frame before I knew I could at least make it look better.  The previous owners had applied paint to several spots in an effort to hide the chips, but I wanted to put the dimension back into the curves and I decided that wood filler might be the trick. 


I know this is not the proper way to restore a plaster mirror, but I also don’t believe this to be a high quality antique either.  It does have some pocking and streaks in the mirror silver, but I really don’t think that comes from a nice vintage, just serious wear and tear.  However, I do like those marks because they give the mirror a little history and charm.  At least in my eyes.



After applying thick clumps of wood filler to slightly dampened chips and gouges I left the mirror alone for about a week in order to thoroughly dry.  Wood filler is not meant to be applied in thick layers and often cracks and crumbles with it’s not done in thinner increments.  I guess I got lucky because we had a week of damp, rainy days and even though the mirror was indoors the whole time, I think the high humidity helped keep the serious cracks at bay.  Once the filler was dry I sanded those parts down, trying to match the curves up as much as possible.  Another thing to remember when working with wood filler is that it shrinks as it dries, so you want to apply more than you think you will need to get to the right height and width of the area you are trying to match.  I cleaned up my sanding mess, added a coat of primer and then a final coat of the same French Gray paint I used on the chair rail molding in the dining room. After all was said and done the really big chips seemed to disappear.  I will admit to rushing this one a bit because after painting and hanging it in place I noticed a few spots that I really should have sanded down some more.  Another tip from what I learned with this project is to re-inspect the filler after sanding AND wiping down.  I think the dust had settled a little too well in some spots leading me to believe that all the sanding was complete and level.   However, once I started painting I noticed a less seamless appearance than I would have liked.  One saving grace is that I opted to leave some of the other cracks and chips that were not a part of the major problem areas.  Again, I did not want to take away from the original finish to much and in the end I think it helps to disguise my not-so-perfect sanding job.



I think the addition of the blue-gray in this space adds a nice, although subtle, pop of color in this otherwise taupe and cream powder room.  Also, I am not sure if it’s because I am so used to the size of the old mirror, but the new one seems so small now.  Eventually I plan to switch out the light fixture for something a bit more modern and I would love to add white bead board and top ledge molding to the walls.  So, I think once the other changes come around the new smaller oval mirror will look even better.  But, those are projects for another day.  In the meantime, I will accept the things I cannot change.  ;o)

Kitsch Krafts

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DIY : Island Birthday Party On A Budget

September 7, 2011 06:29 by ehouston

Like everything we do around here our son’s 2nd birthday party was all about budget.  Not to just cheap out, but the reality is that the older he gets and the more kids he knows, the more expensive these little shindigs are going to become.  Not only did we want to celebrate his big day with him, but we thought it would be fun to expand on the “playdate” idea and invite his playgroup friends over with their families.  That way my husband could meet the other dads and we could all socialize for a short time while the kids went crazy- plus we needed someone to eat all the cake!

As you know from the post earlier this week, we went with an “Island” theme.  This was part of our "cheap” plan because we wanted to include water activities to keep the kids occupied.  Meaning we could set up our already-owned sprinkler and kiddie pool and let them have at it.  Being that they are all two-year-olds anything involving water and getting wet equals big fun.  So, I dusted off my Photoshop skills and applied them to  I have to use because I lost my Photoshop set up when I got my new computer a couple of years ago.  (I don’t know how that happened exactly, but I no longer question the tech guy.)  I say dusted off, but really they were never anything to get excited about in the first place.  Using clip art that I scrounged up through Google, I managed to put together an erupting volcano card for the announcement.




The invite reads, “KA-BAM!, KA-POW!, KA-BOOM! (on each puff of erupting smoke) Liam is turning 2!, Join us for water fun in the sun at our Island Jam!”, followed by the address and RSVP number.  Simple, but effective.  I used standard white cardstock to print the pop-up portion, as well as, the outer card.  The volcano image was found through a Google image search and than altered in, using the Effects tab, Artistic and Ink Sketch.  I printed the volcano image on one half of another sheet of white cardstock so that, after trimming, the blank side could be folded around to the backside of the volcano base image.  I ran an Exact-o knife across the top portion of the volcano image to create a slit just wide enough to hold the folded “eruption” styled message.  After folding the eruption puffs in, I slide the message through the slit in the base card.  Then I folded the flap over the back side of the volcano image and using a glue stick I secured the back of the base card to the front, covering the inner workings of the pop-up message.

I also printed those envelops shown above with our return address in the “Hurry Up” font and another found image of a tiki with surfboards, and the greeting, “Aloha”.  It all came out with a nice island vibe, but not too girlie which was my concern about this theme from the get go.  I figured if I stuck with tikis, surfboards and volcanoes we would be golden.  I even used more images captured through a Google search to create the thank you cards, again with a tiki and surfboard theme. 


The inside of the thank you cards reads “Aloha and Mahalo”, which the internet said meant “Hello, or Greetings and Thank you”.  Hope that was correct, because they have all been sent out.  ;o)

We used orange and yellow streamers to decorate the formal living and dining rooms, along with the kitchen and the family room.  Out of all the streamer colors I picked up, these seemed to match most closely with the majority of the printed materials, i.e.- the invite, cake decorations and the thank you cards.  At the last minute I also put together a simple pennant “Happy Birthday” banner using old light blue cardstock I had on hand and the same “Hurry Up” font used in the invites. 

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Tabletop tiki with plastic flower embellished lea.


Before I deleted all the fun images I had grabbed from Google I decided to print out some kooky little tiki gods that I had come across, and then I hung them with some of the streamers. (wish I had a better picture of them hanging up. They were really cute and funny. We hung them from the chandelier in the dining room too.)


We also kept the food simple for this gathering so that we could feed everyone and stay within budget, which by the way, I set at $50.00.  Yep!  I know, insane, right?  I will follow up on that more later.  We wanted to have the party from 11:00 to 1:00, so that meant we needed to serve up some lunch.  Hotdogs seemed like the easy way to accomplish this.  Plus, they could act as our roast pig for the island party theme.  We offered up hotdogs, buns, ketchup, mustard and relish.  Simple.  Along with our “roast pork” we had a big bowl of regular potato chips and another large bowl full of veggie straws.  We put these out early so that everyone could munch while chatting and waiting for the dogs to come off the grill.  My poor Mister manned that grill through torrential downpours, by the way.  What a great dad! 


The last item on the food list was a watermelon boat full of fruit salad, complete with a paper sail, which I sunk into the mix of pineapple, strawberries, watermelon and blueberries using a khabob skewer.  As with most of my party food estimations, we had more than enough to go around.  I never seem to be able to get the numbers right when predicting how much people will eat, but I have yet to run out of food at one of my gatherings, so I guess that’s the silver lining.  To wash it all down I had pitchers of ice water, decaf sweet tea, and 2 liters of decaf soda.  We also offered beer and wine to folks since it did, after all, end up being a crazy hurricane party.  And, we had takers!  Can’t blame them when having to deal with screaming toddlers running all over the place.  ;o)


To decorate the cake I simply cut out more images found on Google and stuck them right into the frosting. Since the cake was in the shape of a volcano, complete with a red lava eruption and dry ice smoke, I figured the rest of the decorations could be pretty simple. I used a couple of Tiki head cut-outs, a couple of surfboards and a palm tree.


He was just dying to grab those little tikis up front and play with them.

Then I added an old Ron Jon Surf shop image that I doctored to read, “Hang 2 Dude!” since I was unable to find a number 2 shaped candle at the last minute. We just added two regular cake candles for him to blow out later.  To make the volcano cake, I used three angel food cakes, stacked with a foil wrapped paper towel tube in the center.  I wrapped the cardboard tube with foil not only to keep it from getting mushy from the moist cake, but also to hold the dry ice and water for the smoke effect.  I actually baked each of the cakes using the recipe in the Fanny Farmer Cookbook.  The day before the party I checked around the bakery when I stopped for last minute items at the grocery store, but what I thought was common could not be found.  It seems like there are always angel food cakes in the bakery, but not this week!  The baking was not hard, it was realizing the number of egg whites needed that seemed daunting.  Whenever I have to get the stiffness of beaten egg whites just right for a recipe I get nervous.  Each cake ended up coming out just fine, though- Thank GOD, right?!!  (The reason for this choice of cake was simply that I already owned the proper pan and they seemed to bake up a little higher than your average Bundt cake.  I figured I would get more height this way.) 

After each cake thoroughly cooled, I stacked them up sans any icing in between the layers since they are so sticky any way.  I shoved the foiled wrapped paper towel tube down the center and then began to carve away at the top two cakes to get more of a tapered mountain shape.  I used pieces of the carved away cake to cover the very top of the tube and then iced away!  I made homemade chocolate frosting from the recipe right on the back of the Hershey’s baker’s cocoa box and put one thin layer on to start in hopes that it would bind everything together.  I slipped the whole cake into the refrigerator to keep cool until the next morning.  I believe this was the key to keeping this cake upright.  The weight of the first layer of frosting was already bringing the cake down and pulling it away from the top edge of the inner tube by morning.  I was able to use the second layer of frosting to smooth out the imperfections and cover the exposed tube. 

Using the pieces of cake that had been carved away I created a beach around the volcano base, which I then sprinkled with crushed graham crackers to look like sand.  The night before I also attempted to make a huge pan of Jello Jigglers in a deep blue green to use as water around the island volcano, however the pan jelled up very quickly and I was not able to get the wave effect I was going for.  Rather than toss it all out I decided to use it any way and the chunks of blue green Jello did give the look of water after all.  Just before guests arrived I took a tube of red Betty Crocker icing and warmed it a bit in a cup of hot water.  After just a few minutes warming and then a little kneading of the tube I squirted it around the top edge of the volcano and down one side.  After adding the paper cut outs the volcano really took shape.  The Little Guy had been begging to eat it from the moment the first angel food cake came out of the oven, so he was anxious to see the smoke and dig in.

We waited until time to cut the cake to perform the smoke eruption because my big 5 pound block of dry ice had dwindled to almost nothing by morning despite the reassurance of the dry ice company pamphlet that it would last for days in a cooler.  Liars!  I was just happy that we had enough to get a couple of good smoke eruptions before calling it a day. 

Last, but not least, we wanted to send each child off with some kind of small gift.  I had hoped that the beach towels would go on sale soon enough to fall into our price range (two summers ago I scored a really nice, big one from Target for $2.75) so that I could roll them up and then add a beachy raffia bow.  Perfect for an island theme, right?  Well, no luck.  At the last minute I decided to grab some bottles of bubbles (always a hit with this age), snacks and stickers. 


I looked all over for stickers with an island sort of theme, but only came across some fruit shapes.  I figured that was fine since all they want to do is pull them off the backing anyway.  Again, I used another tiki with surfboard image from my Google search for the name tag background.  After printing the images I cut them out and added each child’s name with foam stickers.  We filled paper lunch sacks (I figured the brown was sort of beachy), folded over the tops and added the name tags with a bit of tape.  Wholla!  Party Finneet-O!

Now, for the breakdown of how we pulled this all together for under the $50.00 mark:


Already-owned kiddie pool and indoor toys     Free

Music – Reggae Channel                               Free

Beach Ball (bought on sale at Target)            $.97


Already-owned wooden tikis & floral cloth       Free

Streamers in orange and yellow                     $1.98

Balloons in multi shapes and sizes                  $3.98

12 Ruffled Plastic Leis (on sale)                      $1.78

White Poster Board for Photos & Boat Sail       $.50

Already-owned Flower Bowls & Plates              Free

Already-owned Solo drinking cups                   Free

Dry Ice for cake eruption                                $1.98


24 pack of Hotdogs                                        $4.98

1 pack of 16 ct Buns                                      $2.28

Already owned Condiments                             Free

1/2 Bag of Regular Potato Chips (on sale)        $.99

1/3 bag of Veggie Straws                               $1.43

Fruit Salad                                                    $8.29

Jell-o for Jigglers cake decor                           $2.12

Red icing for lava (on sale)                             $1.49

40 Eggs for cake                                            $4.86

1/2 box of “Cake” flour                                   $2.50

2 - 2 Liter Bottles of Soda (on sale)                 $3.78

Pitchers of Tea & Water                                  Free

Party Favor Bags:

4 Paper lunch bags                                        $.10

4 bottles of bubbles                                       $1.50

4 sheets of fruity stickers                               $.66

4 Bags of Animal Crackers                              $1.33

All the paper items:

Already-owned cardstock                                Free

Grand Total:                                                  $48.49  *

*Please Note: This number reflects actual usage.  In other words, some of the items were purchased in larger quantities than what was actually used.  If I add up the actual cost of everything, including what we did not use, or eat, the grand total is in the neighborhood of $68.00.  Still not bad for a gathering of about 20 people.

It was a lot of work, but a definite labor of love.  Happy 2nd Birthday my sweet William!

Kitsch Krafts

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DIY : The Laundry Room

July 29, 2011 07:45 by ehouston

This is a project that has been in progress since we moved to Richmond, VA back in July 2009.  I say it has been in the works for that long because I actually painted the walls just days before our new washer and dryer arrived.  Then, shortly after, I installed the shelves and hanging bars.  A few days later I cleaned and papered the shelves in the bank of cupboards opposite the washing area.  Whew!  Remembering what it took to make all of that happen while about 8 months pregnant makes me dizzy.  But, I was determined to have a decent laundry area since I new heaps of it was in my very near future.  Plus, this is what we were working with on move-in day.


(The right side of the galley laundry area as you enter from the garage door.)


(Here is a shot looking back toward the garage door from where the washing machine now sits.)


(Looking back into the galley laundry area from the back hallway to the family room and opposite the garage door.)


(The left side of the room from the garage entry with a sunny window to the back yard.)


(The scene just below the window on the back wall.  Lots of dings and dirt to clean and cover with paint before the new machines arrive.)


(One last shot of the dirty mayhem.)

It was all white, white and white with lots of dirt and grime mixed in.  Since settling in I have dreamt of the many ways I could remake the space for much better flow, but because that requires knocking down a wall, adding another and some plumbing and electrical work, I don’t see it happening any time soon.  Oh well.  In the meantime I decided to try to cutify (yes, I made that up) this area to make my time there a little less sad and stressed.  Sad, because it was a drab space and stressed because it’s a galley with the back entry from our dirty old garage.  So, I am constantly combating dirt and gunk in the same place I am trying to clean our clothing- yuck!  The first step was to paint the walls.  To save money I just mixed the white and brown paint I had used in the nursery to create a nice taupe.  Then I used some of the leftover glossy white paint from that same project to give the grimy cream colored trim a nice new, bright color.  The window and doors got the glossy white treatment, but the baseboards were coated in the same dark chocolate brown as the nursery.  The floor in this room is a dull creamy white linoleum with a simple square tile design.  The “grout” lines appear to be a mauve color, but it could just be that they have faded over time.  Either way, the light floor shows dirt before you can even walk across it and the mauve wasn’t doing anything for us.  So, I bought some inexpensive chocolate brown rag rugs from Target to cover this eyesore.  They are easy to shake out and then they can be tossed into the washer and dryer to really get the dirt out.  I also moved our cream colored shag door mat from the front entryway into this space, not only because I bought a new rug for the entry (as seen here), but because we really needed another spot to wipe our shoes before coming any further into the house.  This was all stage one in the laundry room makeover and we lived with just these changes until earlier this year.

Several months ago I decided to use some of my vintage fabrics and finds to make the space a little more inviting.  First, I attacked the big, VERY useful, but super ugly washtub.  I wanted to skirt it and had this idea that I could just whip up something tiered and slightly ruffled, slap it on and be done.  And, the project pretty much went just like that.  ;o) 



I scrounged up some complimentary fabrics and with a little measuring stitched them together.  Then I added some heavy-duty hook and loop tape (which I found out they make in set lengths specifically for skirting tables and such!) to the tub, and then the top band of the skirt.   Done!  Now, the tub looks a bit nicer and I can hide a bin of cleaning supplies out of sight (and out of the way from the floor of the adjacent closet-yeah!).

Next, I decided to use a vintage laundry bag with neat hand embroidery to create a café curtain for the really sunny window.  I actually enjoy how sunny this space usually is, but sometimes when I am working in there it’s blinding.  As with most of the rooms in our house, we still employ the lovely accordion-style, builder’s blinds to keep the sun out.  In order to hide that fact, I also added a coordinating valance that just covers the stack of blinds when they are pulled to the tippy top. 


(Sorry, bright day = bright spot shots.  But, you guys get the drift.)


It’s attached with vintage clothes pins to a clothesline stretched between the shelf brackets on either side of the window.  I enjoy seeing this little treasure I picked up years ago every day, but when the sun moves across the yard and it’s possible to open things up, I just pull back a corner and use one of the pins to hold the curtain open.  To learn more about this project click here.

Speaking of clothes pins, although I don’t hang clothing up on a line, I do use clothespins to keep things on the hangers while they dry.  So, I used some of the same vintage fabrics from the tub skirt to create a hanging bag to hold my supply. 


This handy little bag is attached to a vintage hangar that, again, I have had for years.  I think it’s pretty perfect for our laundry space!

The last vintage item I pulled together for the laundry nook is a magnetic message board made from an old scrub board. 


This piece had been left in our last home we owned back in Nashville, TN.  Rather than tossing it out I had used it for my laundry inspired craft fair displays and it managed to make the trip here to Richmond, VA. 


The only other thing I added to the area are a couple of baskets from Target that we already owned and covered storage boxes for the shelves above the hanging bars.  They are used to hold seasonal things, like our beach and pool gear.  Here is the post about how those came together.  As far as the shelves and hanging bars, I just bought wood and dowels, cut them to fit the spaces on either side of the window, painted them glossy white, and hung them up on closet brackets.  I added small wooden finials to the ends of the hanging bars just for fun and to give them a more polished, less homemade look.




Some big plans are in the works for the counter and cupboard area directly across from the washer and dryer, but that is for another time.  You know, after I tackle the million other things I have on the list!

How do you guys brighten the drudgery of laundry day?

Kitsch Krafts

PS- Stayed tuned for more detailed info on how I created the magnet board, the clothespin bag, the storage boxes, the curtains and the sink tub skirt.  It’s sure to rock your world….at least a little, or maybe not.  :0)

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