Thursday, June 27, 2013

4th of July Felt Garlands

After spotting the garlands on the Land of Nod's website recently, I decided to try making my own 4th of July version. By making it myself, I not only save some cash, but I can also customize it. I was thinking it would be great to just alternate red white and blue.

I started out by cutting my sheets of felt out. For the circles I traced two different sizes of pillar candles. For the triangles, I just did it free hand.

The circles were VERY time consuming to cut out. And they aren't very "perfect" either. I figured they would be fine because the wouldn't be right in people's faces to examine how perfect or imperfect they are. This would probably be a better option if you had some sort of circle punch that worked with felt/fabric.

I also decided to do triangles as well. They were WAY easier to cut out. Again, they aren't perfect, but I didn't want them to be either.

Sewing was fairly simple. I pondered thread color for awhile, but finally decided to go with white. Mostly because it is the most neutral and maybe I had a bobbin of white already in the machine....

The circles worked out the easiest because I could just slide the next circle right under the foot when the other on was sewn all of the way across.

It took a second for the next circle to catch, so it gave them that little spacing in between. The circles took maybe 5-10 minutes to sew together. I used one sheet ($.29/each) each of red, white, and blue and ended up just over 9ft long. Not a bad deal.

Triangles were a bit more difficult to sew together because the machine didn't want to "grab" the next triangle. I spent a lot of time lifting the foot and putting the next one under. I broke a lot of thread trying to make it work without doing that...

For the triangles I used two sheets of each color, because they were WAY easier to cut up. And this one is really, really long. At least double the circle one, so probably close to 20 ft long.

I think I will be using one outside and one inside on the 4th of July, but I'm not quite sure how yet. You can definitely expect displayed photos then.

Project cost:
6 sheets of 9" x 12" at $.29 each = $1.74

Alternatively, the solid colored garlands over at Land of Nod cost $10.95 each at about 8 ft long.

Here are a couple shots of the garlands in action on the 4th of July!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

4th of July Ideas / Plans

This may be really ambitious, but I have two weeks until the 4th and these are my plans...

* Cake  -  I want to attempt to make a cake, a red, white, & blue cake. I think I'm going to generally follow this recipe from Craftaholics Anonymous. Idealy I want the exterior to look a little something like this cake over at Lil' Luna.

Party City | Patriotic Cake Pops How-To

* Cake Pops  -  These seem to be popular and I want to try making them once... I think that since I will be using white cake for the actual cake, I'll do these in chocolate. I plan on using Party City's Patriotic Cake Pops How-To.

Party City | Red, White, & Blue Assorted Paper Lanterns 6ct
* Hanging Decorations  -  My current plan is to get some hanging paper lanterns and some paper fan decorations. Party City is just down the road, so it's convenient and they have lots of awesome stuff.

Party City | Red, White, & Blue Assorted Paper Fan Decorations 6ct
* "Luminaries"  -  I have tons of jars left over from our wedding. They've even been used for another wedding, but they came back. I'm thinking about doing some "center pieces" for outside tables like these ones from My Blessed Life. Maybe not sooo decorative though. I think I even have ribbon left over from last year's tags (which I made tons, so there are enough for this year!).

* Felt Garland  -  I spotted some really cute garlands over at the Land of Nod and thought "hey, I can do that"... I wanted to try and give it a red, white, and blue theme though. I'm trying out circles and/or triangles. Let's just say that cutting out felt circles by had sucks and I'm thinking that one won't turn out as well. They have awesome triangle ones too. Depending on how they turn out I will might be making more for my sister's baby shower. Or I might just buy the ones from the Land of Nod... I've already started and there will be more on that soon...

I think that's it for decor and festive food... We usually do a pot luck type of thing but provide main things. So, I also need to make hamburgers, hotdogs, beans, maybe fruit if no one is bringing any, and whatever else I come up with that isn't too difficult.

Wish me luck. Lots to do in the next couple weeks...

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Door Knobs.

There has been a lot going on... and as usual, stuff breaks. Early last week, our door knob broke. Awesome. In all honesty, we only use that door, the front door, to get the mail, food delivery, solicitors, and new visitors who don't know better. Sounds like a lot, but really it's mostly to get the mail.

This is the beaut that 'died' on us...

A cast piece in the mechanism that makes that little guy that sticks out the door go inside the door so it can open is what broke. The handle still turned... we had hoped we could just buy that piece that had the broken part and just swap that out. We're still working on getting a bunch of stuff done to the house and that includes a new front door. We are still not really sure exactly what it is we want in terms of front door knob styles, so we were really hoping to avoid buying a whole new knob.

That empty area is where the piece was that broke.

Per any home improvement project, we made our way to the store, this time Home Depot, to check out what they had. They did have just the mechanism for inside the handle, but it was for a different brand. Examining the two brands (the other one was what we had), it was obvious that 'not our brand' wouldn't work in the 'our brand' handle. Bummer.

Obligatory "dog helping" shot.
After a quick browse session, we opted to grab a super cheap out door knob that locked in the finish we currently have.

Installing the new knob.

We got it home and installed and bam! We now have a door that opens. Nothing pretty to look at, but it works for now....

Monday, June 24, 2013

Lack of Electricity.

We survived!

Over the weekend there were LOTS of storms and lots of power outages... Our power went out about 3:40am on Friday, but came back on around noon. Then it went out again that night at about 7:45pm. At that point I called the electric company to report the outage and to see if they had any idea when it would be back on. I got a generic 3 hour message. So, Bill and I went out and killed some time. We came back home around 10:30 and ate sandwiches and watched a movie on the laptop that thankfully was fully charged. Around midnight I called again and they said it would be 2 hours still.

When we got up in the morning, it still wasn't on. We got ready for the day and headed out to run a bunch of errands. Came back home around 3pm to it still out. So, we packed up all the fridge and freezer food to bring over to my mom's house. We spent a few hours over there charging our electronics (cell phones and laptops). Power outages wouldn't be a big deal (besides all the food going bad), but we don't have a land line. The possibility of being cut off from everything, especially just the basic phone call, is not appealing.

By the time we made it back home, the power was back on. But of course, if we had left the food in the fridge, it would have been days. They had been saying that it could be Tuesday at the latest and actually as of today, I read that Wednesday everyone should be back on.

I think we got really lucky. We had a couple of dead branches come out of the tree in back. They didn't hit anything and they needed to come down anyways. Driving around over the weekend to run our errands was interesting... Tons of trees and large branches down everywhere.

So, that was a lot of my weekend. We didn't get much done around the house because of it.

Hopefully you all out there made it through the storms this weekend if you're in the area.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

New Uses.

New Uses is a store that sells your stuff. They buy you household goods and resell them. After the garage sale, I brought a bunch of stuff over them to see if they were interested in it. They took about half of what I brought in including an Ikea bookshelf, a mirror, a couple bulletin boards, a shaker, a set of mugs, and some other things.
It took them about 25 minutes to go through the small mountain that I brought in and in the end, I actually made more there than what I had the same stuff priced at in our garage sale. Win!

While I waited, I did scour the place for goodies but didn't see anything that I couldn't live without. Maybe next time.

I just thought I would share a great option to getting rid of some stuff around the house. Especially for those, like me, who tend to be a little Craig's List weary...

Monday, June 17, 2013

Garage Sales.

Are. So. Much. Work.

For over the past week I've been spending all of my free time over at my mom's house helping to get ready for the first garage sale she/we have ever had. In the past we've thrown things into other people's sales, but never really had our own.

In September, my mom is getting married. This means combining two households. Fun stuff. They decided that they would rent out his house (mostly because of location) and would live in her house. Both my sister and I have moved out and live in our own homes and we both may have had entire bedrooms of stuff at her house still. Oops.

So, I've been cleaning out my old room, going through all of my old stuff, tossing stuff, pricing stuff... I also made a sweep through our house and brought over a bunch of stuff.

There was an insane amount of stuff in this garage sale... the night before it started, we had stuff down the driveway covered in tarps because it wouldn't fit in the garage for overnight.

I would say it went decent. It would have been great if more had sold (obviously). The rest of it is being donated or tossed, depending on what it is. As soon as this posts, I'm on my way over to half priced books and another place that buys and re-sells household goods to try and see if they will buy some of the nicer stuff that was still left. Maybe make a couple extra bucks...

But that's where I've been and what I've been up to for the last couple weeks.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Adventures with the Gas Company.

A couple weeks ago, I swear I smelled gas in the font yard. I walked away and came back a couple times to make sure it wasn't something else... That and the fact that we have a giant dead spot of grass in our yard (a sign of a gas leak in the line is dead foliage) made me feel that it was better to be safe than sorry.

I called the gas company and they sent someone out right away. They arrived at about 9 o'clock in their normal small utility van/truck. The guy checked the yard quick and then came in to the house. He checked everything gas related; the meter (which was inconveniently located in the basement), all of the lines going to appliances, and all of the gas appliances. No leaks anywhere. While checking the meter, he noticed that the line coming into the house was corroded. Not good. He had to call in someone else to make a decision on that. In the meantime, he said he would go out and do some more checking. This involved pounding a metal pole/stake into the ground to test below ground as well. I'm also fairly certain that he was just sitting out in my grass for awhile, waiting for the other guys to show up.

Around 10 o'clock, a HUGE truck showed up complete with a tractor/digging contraptions and signage that would be used to block off a road... And it was not quiet. So, all of these guys go down into the basement and come back up about 5 minutes later to inform me that they would be replacing the line and moving our meter outside (yay to outside meter!). We figured out a day that would work and as we were wrapping it up, I could hear my neighbor outside "What's going on?!?" Presumable talking to another neighbor. So, I walked back out with the gas guys and let her know what was happening. I think she was glad that I wasn't trying to level the neighborhood.

Yesterday was the day that the meter was moved and the incoming line replaced.

It seemed to all go great. They arrived and came in to double check the meter and location. They had people come and go for the past week or so making the lawn with all of the different underground lines (Call before you dig!). They pulled out their pretty awesome digging machine, dug a big hole and moved/replaced what needed to be switched. 

The guy that did all of the work inside was awesome. I am very glad I cleaned up the dead bugs and spiders for him! Ick! Super nice, very respectful of our home, and very helpful with some tips on my gas appliances. After everything was done he showed me everything and made sure I didn't have any questions or concerns.

I was really hoping that this meter removal would make it so we didn't need a weird closet in the corner of the basement when we finish it, but it looks like we still might have to... I'll have to see what our contractor says when we get to that point, but it's a lot better than it is and my main concern, the old pipe still sticking out of the wall, might fit just fine within a wall still. I guess we'll have to see.

Monday, June 3, 2013

May Wrap Up

It's June already! How did that happen...?

This month, we did some exploring of a few new places in Minneapolis. As usual, I took lots of photos of the dog. We celebrated our 2 year anniversary, Bill's birthday, mother's day, and a wonderful friend's wedding.

May's To Do List...
  • Really finish painting the living room
  • Estimates/Quotes on work for the house 
  • Wrap up Bagster and get it outta here.
  • Hang up new curtain rods, clean curtains, hem -- living room.
  • Keep looking for office closet storage containers -- Still haven't really found anything, but I haven't been looking very hard either.
  • I have a new and exciting refinishing project -- I started it, messed it up, and now I'm sort of stuck. Ok, I didn't really mess it up but I'm not pleased with it.
  • Make some decisions on the big house work and get it rollin' -- Trying to work with our bank and long story short is that they are being VERY slow...
  • If the weather cooperates, get working on sprucing up the yard after a ridiculously long winter -- I've got the "flower beds" up front cleaned up. The back yard has been cleared of winter dog droppings. The yard has had some sort of fertilizer/grub killer put down along with seed in a few necessary spots. There is always a lot to do and the long, brutal winter killed of a lot of perennials... While we've done a lot of work so far, there is always a lot more of it.
I think I'm going to try and devote June a bit more to things to get ready for our annual 4th of July Party.

June's To Do List...
  • Gather new 4th of July decorations
  • Invite people!
  • YARD WORK! When isn't there yard work to be done?
  • Hopefully get this whole bank thing rollin' -- get house appraised
  • Fix up visual blahs around the house
    • Caulk what needs caulking -- new nail holes, weird spaces/cracks in molding
    • Address the hole in the kitchen ceiling
    • Fix kitchen paint
    • Possible remove grout between counter and back splash, replace with caulk
    • Re-caulk bathtub
A lot of the stuff on this list that pertains to house work is also stuff that I would like to get done for possibly hosting a baby shower for my sister at the end of July / beginning of August.

And as always, I'm sure I'm forgetting something...