Drab to Fab: Recovering a Lampshade with Fabric

Hello everyone! :) I should be doing edits to my thesis right now, but instead I've spent a lazy Sunday afternoon editing vacation photos on Picnik. J and I spent a lovely week at Masanutten resort in Virginia, and we just got back yesterday. Although we had an amazing week, we are glad to be back with the pups! 

Before I move onto the point of this post, check out this gorgeous view atop Bearfence Mountain:
Bearfence Mountain - Shenandoah National Park, VA
Breathtaking, isn't it? Okay, moving on...
Today I'm going to show you another lampshade makeover. (Perhaps you have seen my first lampshade recovering project here.) 

Here is the before:
It's just a plain white lampshade that I got from Target for, I think, $12-14. This lampbase has worn a lot of different shades in its day. If my memory serves me, I have switched out the lampshade with various ones around the house about 5 times in the last 2 years. Nothing was working, so that's why I decided to buy this one.

I have a recovering-a-lampshade-with-fabric tutorial here, in case you are interested. 

Here is the after!
I used home decor fabric from Joann's. I bought it over a year ago, so I don't recall the price. It only took maybe 1/4 yards of fabric. Not bad at all!

What do you think of the before and after?
I like it a lot more! I'm not 100% thrilled with the edges, however. I wasn't as careful as I was the first time I recovered a lampshade. Oh well...I still like it! I'm just happy that it adds a pop of color in the corner of the room where the walls are renter's white.  :)

Have you recovered a lampshade before? Any other lamp projects? 

Thanks for reading! Have a great day!
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Perfect Summer Treat: Strawberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting

Confession: I am not much of a cook. Although I do eat at home for most my meals (not a fan of dining out frequently - besides who could afford it?), I typically do something quick and easy and marginally nutritious. The hubs and I are vegetarians, so I think we can get away with quick meals. For instance, while some people have to prepare meat entrees, I just heat up some black beans! haha!! :)

Okay, so what's my point in saying all that? Well, my point is that, although I don't like to cook meals, I do sort of enjoy baking desserts. And here is why:

Reason #1: I have a sweet tooth (that may in fact be reasons #2 and #3 also).
Reason #2: Homecooked desserts are almost always better than store-bought ones.
Reason #3: You can snack on your delicious treat for possibly weeks (or less, see #1). Compared to cooking meals, you get more bang for your buck, time-wise.
Reason #4: You get to decorate it! Holla! You can only do so much decorating with mashed potatos and peas. Cupcakes, on the other hand, are like a canvas for your creative juices.

Speaking of cupcakes, I think this post was originally supposed to be about a cupcake recipe. 

Here's the breakdown:

Strawberry Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
(yields 26 cupcakes; 183 calories/cupcake)

Ingredients for cupcakes (adapted from the version found here; mine has fewer calories: 108 cal/cupcake):
-white cake mix
-1/3 cup vegetable oil
-3 cage-free egg whites
-1 cup low fat buttermilk
-3 oz. strawberry jello
-2 cups fresh strawberries (optional: extra for garnishment)

Measure out 2 cups of strawberries (cut up, not whole). Use a mashing utensil (not sure that's the correct name?) to mash the strawberries until you have a juicy mixture. In a large bowl, add cake mix and dry jello mix and stir until blended. Then add strawberries, oil, buttermilk, and egg whites. Beat for 2 minutes, and then pour batter into lined cupcake pans. Bake for 15 to 17 minutes at 350 degrees.

Ingredients for cream cheese frosting (75 cal/cupcake):
-7 1/4 oz cream cheese (1/3 less fat kind)
-1 1/3 sticks of unsalted butter
-1 1/3 cups powdered sugar
-1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Let the butter thaw before you begin, but keep the cream cheese cold. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and cream cheese  for about 2 minutes. Add powdered sugar and vanilla. Beat until blended.

Tip: Put the cupcakes in the refrigerator while you make the frosting. That way they will be cool and ready for frosting. 


Do you have a favorite strawberry cupcake recipe? I'm open to trying different ones if you'd like to leave a link in the comments. :) Thanks!

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 Tip Junkie handmade projects
Cast Party Wednesday @ Lady Behind the Curtain 


Brass to Oil Rubbed Bronze Lamp

Hope everyone is having a good summer! Everything has been good here, but busy as usual. Today, I just have a quick before and after to show. When J and I got married and moved in together, he brought with him this brass lamp (picture on left). I must admit that I am to blame for this red lampshade (ick!). This lamp was part of my living and dining room decor for longer than I'd care to mention - I recently changed it, however, as the whole look was too traditional for my taste.

One quarter can of Rustoleum Oil Rubbed Bronze spray paint ($6/can), a lampshade I already owned, and 10 minutes later, and we have a whole new lamp!!! Check out the before and after below:

Has anyone else used ORB spray paint on a lamp base? What about any other projects? If so, please share - I'd love to see it! 

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How to Remove Popcorn Ceiling Texture {tutorial}

I never thought I would be writing a post about scraping off popcorn ceiling texture, but alas here I am. It’s a long story. Here are the gritty details:

What made you decide to remove the popcorn ceiling texture, especially when you are a renter?

The hubs, bless his heart, forgot to turn off the water in the upstairs bathroom…for 15 minutes. I’ll give you a moment to let that sink in.

Basically, all the water that flooded the upstairs bathroom trickled down into the subfloor and the layer between the top and bottom floors. The water had to go somewhere, and that means there was a 4x6 foot wet spot on the ceiling of the downstairs dining/living room. So we tackled the upstairs floor first and just let the 1st floor ceiling drip and then air dry.

Once it had dried, I thought I could just paint over the water stain. Wrong! As I rolled the paint on, the popcorn was coming off in chunks. A mold scare (turned out to be a false alarm) and a failed attempt at using the popcorn texture you get in a spray can from Lowes (it’s really only meant to patch up small areas) later, we arrived at the decision that we needed to remove the entire thing. Apparently, even a professional “popcorner” wouldn’t be able to match the new popcorn to the existing stuff. We really needed to scrape off the texture from the entire 1st floor ceiling if we ever wanted to dream of getting our $750 deposit back. Plus, I’d rather not look at this for the next 3 years.

So, that’s what happened. It is certainly an unfortunate situation to be in, but at the same time we’re learning a skill that we can use later down the road when we buy a house, one that might have popcorn ceilings. There’s always a silver lining, right? :) 

Now for the how-to. But before I talk about the process…

An important note on ASBESTOS:
Yeah, it’s true. A lot of popcorn ceilings contain up to 10% asbestos (and it’s more likely to be in your popcorn ceiling if the house was built prior to 1980). It’s not a big deal if you leave the popcorn texture alone. But it is dangerous to scrape it off and get all that poisonous dust and stuff in your lungs, which could lead to mesothelioma.

Step 1 – Test for asbestos! No surprise here. Scraping the ceiling texture is not a DIY project if the popcorn contains asbestos.

The hubs called all the local hardware stores before he found one that had an asbestos testing kit. I think it was around $12 or so. The kit is basically just instructions and a special postage-paid envelope that is addressed to the lab where you send the sample off for testing – I’m not so sure the kit was necessary. The lab we used was Pro-Lab: The Professional’s Choice for Environmental Testing in Weston, FL (954-384-4446).  

Once you have the kit, with a spray bottle filled with water, dampen the ceiling and wait for the texture to loosen up. Then take a razor (like the kind to open up moving boxes) and cut a ~ 2x2 inch sample. (I think J cut too deep, but do know that you’ll want to make sure you don’t miss any layers.)
Place the sample in your special envelope and mail it off. (Btw, you’ll have to send them a $30 check too – bummer.)

TIP: Plan on testing far in advance. It took 20 days from the time we put the sample in the mail before we got the email with the results! The wait was agonizing because if it had had asbestos it would have cost us thousands of dollars (yes, seriously) to hire someone to remove it safely.

Fortunately, our popcorn ceiling was asbestos-free!!! Let the removal process commence.

Step 2 – Buy your materials, assuming your ceiling is asbestos-free too (my fingers are crossed for you!).

Prep ($136)
·         Lots and lots of plastic tarps (i.e., drop cloths). Not so environmentally-friendly, but oh so necessary.
o   To figure out how many you’ll need, think about how much furniture has to stay in the room, wall space (you’ll be draping all of the walls & holding the tarps up with tape), and how much ground floor you’ll be covering.
o   In total, we spent around $38. That’s a lot of tarps!
·        2” Painter’s tape ($25 for 3 rolls) – As I mentioned, you’ll need it to hold up the tarps along the wall.
·     Protective gear: masks (3 for $12) +  eye protection (2 for $12)
Us wearing our protective glasses, masks, and coveralls. We're looking super stylish :)
·      Coveralls (2 for $14) & shoe covers (optional) – It’s a good idea for when you need to leave the construction zone. You can just slip it off and go get a drink of water without worrying about carrying the filth throughout the house.
·         Red rosin paper ($35 for 3 rolls)– lay on top of plastic sheet for easier cleanup.
    Scrape ($63)
    ·         Long poles (2 for $14) – We used bamboo poles that could be attached to the scraper, sander, & paint rollers.
    ·         Garden sprayer ($15) filled with water – You can find them at Lowes or Home Depot. I think you could also use a basic spray bottle, but it’s going to be a lot more work.
    ·         Step stool or ladder (already owned)
    ·         Ceiling texture scraper ($19 – but wasn’t worth the money) + a joint knife ($10) + putty knife ($5)

    Repair & Paint ($140)
    ·         Joint compound ($7) + joint tape ($2; we ended up not needing it)
    ·         Sand paper holder ($12), which could be attached to the pole + mesh screen sand paper (2 packs for $6) + rough hand-held sandpaper ($4)
    ·         Wallboard primer ($12 for 1 gallon)
    ·         Flat tintable ceiling paint (2.5  gallons for $57) – to return the ceiling to its original color after you’ve finished scraping. Or this would be a good excuse to get a little bit daring with your ceiling color.
    ·         Paint supplies – roller holders that could be attached to the poles ($8 for 2), paint rollers that are specifically designed for ceilings ($12 for a 6-pack), plastic trays ($7 for 3), paint brush ($4), & a nice sturdy paint holder with handle for spots that had to be touched up with a brush ($9)
    Note: Only some items include tax.

    TIME: 2.5 days to do 500 sq. ft.

    TOTAL COST (including the asbestos testing):  $381

    Although we spent a lot of money, we saved a ton by doing it ourselves. I’ve read that professional estimates run upwards of $2/square foot, and that’s just for the scraping and patching. Painting is an additional expense. On a message board forum, someone commented that the estimate for his 500 sq ft ceilings was $1,600 and included scraping, patchwork, and painting. I think it’s safe to say we saved well over $1,000 by DIYing this project!

    Step 3 – Turn off the electricity. Well, at least when you’re spraying water on areas around light fixtures. Our downstairs does not get enough natural light even during the daytime to be able to keep the electricity off the entire time. If you do get enough natural light, then you can keep your light fixtures looking good by removing them before you begin. We did this instead:
    TIP: If possible, have ample lighting as you scrape! In retrospect, we wish we would have had bright lights on the entire time we scraped because we did the worst job on the areas that we had trouble seeing.

    Click "read more" to see the full tutorial. 


    Reupholstering a Chair

    I've reupholstered a desk chair before, so I was up for a more challenging reupholstering job the second time around. I needed another one for the guest bedroom/study. I checked out Craigslist for a few days and found this beauty for $10.

    Pic of the back (couldn't find a photo of the front).
    It had seen better days - it was made in the late 70's after all (I found the date and manufacturer on its underbelly). It also wasn't the right colored fabric. But it had good bones, which is what attracted me to it.

    Here is a tutorial that I wrote before about my last reupholstering job. I have one more little tip about how to get the corners taut, which is especially important when you don't have a plastic cover to tuck the corners into.

    First, staple the fabric to one or two sides of the chair. Then, gather the fabric around corner and pinch it such that there are layers folding on one another.

    I'd also recommend turning it over while you're pinching the fabric to make sure everything looks right on the front. Then, staple it and admire your work!

    Here is the final product! By the way, I got the fabric from IKEA for around $4 or so per yard. I think I used half a yard. That means this desk chair cost me a total of $12!! Not bad at all, if I do say so myself.  :-)
    The front
    The back
    What have you reupholstered lately? Please comment with a link! I'd love to see your project!

    I'm linking to...
    The DIY Show Off

    PS - Dear Dad, I already spoke with you today, but just wanted to say again happy Father's Day! 
    Me & your little granddoggers, Heidi and Jini  :)


    Blog Love + Sharing a Reader's Chevron Painted Table

    Lately, I have been feeling the love from fellow DIY bloggers. Robin, from Rasz Art, wrote a very flattering post about my blog and my projects. Totally made my day!! She is so sweet, and a talented blogger and DIYer to boot. Thank you, Robin!

    Also, to those who leave me comments, thank you so much! The fact that you would take time out of your busy day to send some love my way speaks volumes about the kind of people you are - wonderful and kindhearted people, that's what you are.  :) Your comments are so encouraging and flattering that it knocks my socks off! It's like opening a present every time Blogger notifies me of a new one. 

    I also want to thank those of you who have recently or in the past sent me a blog award. It means so much to be recognized by talented DIYers like yourselves. 

    In addition to all that crazy awesome blog love, it seems like every week I've been gaining new people who are following along. [As a side note, I try to follow each and every one of you back. If I missed your blog somehow, please know it was not intentional and resend me your blog link in a comment.]

    Thanks so much, my blog and DIY colleagues! It has been great--and will continue to be great--connecting with you and getting to share project ideas with each other.
    On a similar note, I want to feature Tara's project now. She wrote me to say that she used my Chevron template to paint her Ikea end table. Here is a picture:

    Click here to see the picture on Tara's Pinterest board, where she initially posted it. 
    [Click the picture or this text to follow her inspirational boards on Pinterest.]

    Isn't it stunning?! I love the colors she chose, and this table seems to be the ideal piece of furniture to paint a pattern onto the top. Perfection! Thank you, Tara, for using my template and for sharing the pic with me! 

    When I created the Chevron template initially, I used it on a thrifted tray. Now, I'm looking around the room to see what else I can use it on. Ha ha! Here is the free, printable Chevron pattern template in case anyone else wants to use it. And if you do, please send me pics or a link like Tara did so that I can see your creation! :) I may show it off here with your permission. 


    Thrifty find: Replacing Outdated Shades on a Light Fixture

    I hate outdated light fixtures with a passion  And as a renter, I never seem to be able to escape horrific ones. (Perhaps, I'm being a wee bit dramatic. hehe)

    Now that we have that out of the way, let me show you this beaut (said in a facetious tone) that is in our living room. We've been looking at this everyday for the past 2 years. 

    Please excuse dustiness & popcorn ceiling
    Yikes! Right? 

    Also, check out how the bulbs extend past the shades. The new energy-saving bulbs are too long for these old fashioned shades. 

    Here's how I fixed that little problemo: 
    I spent months searching for the perfect chic & inexpensive shades. Yesterday, I decided I would try Lowes again, and low and behold I found these modern shades for $3.60 or something like that under $4. My heart skipped a beat when I spotted them. I even had a cashier double check that they were indeed under $4 like the sign said. It's just that <$4 is a much better price than similar shades that run $8 to $15 a pop. 

    The particular Lowes I went to only had 2 in stock, so I asked a lovely employee to tell me what locations it was in stock. I trekked across the Research Triangle in NC (okay, it was like 5 miles away, but there was traffic, people!), and I bought another 2. 

    Here is the exact same light fixture with new shades! 

    This pic doesn't do it justice. In real life, it looks like a whole new fan! I love love love it!

    Now some folks may wonder why I would spend money to update the homeowner's light fixture. To them I say...
    Yes, I know I'm a renter.
    Yes, I know that I'm adding value to a house that I do not own.
    Yes, I know that's money I will never get back.
    But if happiness could be measured in terms of dollars and cents, then I think I have already gotten a 200% return on my investment. I've been staring up at the new shades and swooning all day. Totally worth the $16 I paid and the time it took to drive around town to find them. 

    Do any of you DIYers agree with me that sometimes it's worth putting a little money and a little blood, sweat, and tears into a rental? I mean we do have to live in them after all.  :)


    Another Spray Paint Transformation

    Hello! Sorry to have been away for so long. I recently got back from a trip back home to OK. (It was a lovely visit - wish I was still there.) Although I've been absent from blog world, I have actually been working on several DIY projects (yay!!). I'm not sure they are all worth sharing because some are small and easy, but what the heck, I'm going to anyway.  :)

    The point of this post is to share with you another project involving a spray paint transformation. It's not a cute and darling project, but it is quite useful and frugal! Maybe it will inspire someone out there to look beyond the pattern or color of items discovered at a discount store. I firmly believe that almost anything can be transformed with a can of spray paint - who's with me?! 

    So, I was checking out my local Big Lots store when I came across this little trash can.

    Dislike: The fact that it looks like it belongs in a preteen girls bedroom. 
    Like: That it has a flip top cover (which is especially useful when I have two dogsters that can access the bathroom trashcan).

    Since it was only $6, I brought it home, taped off the black areas, and gave the rest a coat of Krylon metallic silver, which was leftover from a knob makeover. 

    15 minutes later and we have a brand new, dog-proof and trash-hiding garbage can!

    At Walmart, a small aluminum or stainless steel trash can costs upwards of fifteen or twenty bucks. I like my $6 version much better.  :)


    Linking to Finding Fabulous


    Paper Flower + Handmade Cards {tutorial}

    Everyone in my family knows that I send handmade cards rather than store-bought ones for all sorts of occasions - birthdays, Mother's and Father's Day, etc. My cards vary in their quality and attractiveness, usually depending on the amount of time I have, how tired I am, the materials I have on hand, blah blah blah. But guess what, fellow DIYers?! I believe I have created my signature card.

    Without further ado, I present to you..... 
    The Scrapbook Flower Card
    Dear family, you will be receiving lots of these sorts of cards in the future.  :)

    The clear focal point of this card design is the flower. Would you like to know how I made the paper flower? It is unbelievably easy and fast to make! 

    • Scrapbook paper { < $0.25} (multicolored paper works best in my opinion)
    • Water (I can hear you saying, "hmm?" We will revisit this in a sec.)
    • Cute design scissors {$1} (Not sure of the technical name - it's the kind that you use for crafting to get a curvy cut.)
    • Needle and thread {probably you will have this on hand}
    • Button {optional}
          Time:  4 minutes/ flower (c'mon, you have time to make this)

    3 Steps to Make a Scrapbook Paper Flower

    Step 1 - Cut out 5 loose circles with your fancy pants scissors. No guide is necessary. Just eyeball it and try to make each circle a little bit smaller or bigger than the last. Circles that are not perfectly round work best because it gives that natural, organic feel to your flower.

    Step 2 - Water your 5 cutouts. That's right - sprinkle a few drops on the paper until it's damp. Now the paper is more malleable and ready to bloom!! {hehe} Take each circle of paper and squish them in from the center, as shown below.

    Step 3 - Lay the 5 circle cutouts on top of one another, and then sew together in the center. 

    {Optional} Step 4 - Why not add a button to top it off? Cute :)

    What do you think? Me likey :)

    To create the handmade cards, I used  mod podge and scrapbook paper to cover some card forms (or you can make your own out of construction paper). Then I added a band of a different scrapbook paper going horizontally across the card. This combo seemed to please my eyes the most. Alternatively, you could make smaller flowers, which would save room to write Happy Birthday or anything you want on the card using sticker letters.

    Here are some more pics: 

    (This is the one shown in the steps. This card was before I discovered using buttons and bands of scrapbook paper.)

    I think the brighter ones are pretty too.

    All together now.

    Do you have any tips for making other sorts of paper flowers? I'm kind of obsessed with this one right now, but in a few weeks I don't doubt that I will be looking for a different flower to make.  :) 


    How to Edit Pictures in Picnik

    Let me start by saying that I have zero photography skills, I've never taken a class, and the camera I use is a regular Canon one that is 6 years old. Despite being a novice, I still get what I consider to be a good picture every now and then, and they can usually still use a little perking up. Even photos that seem hopelessly bad can be transformed into decent pictures with photo editing. 

    With that said, I highly recommend editing your photos using Picnik. This free online photo editing program can turn a so-so picture into a great picture! Many of you have probably used Picnik, but for those who have not used it yet, allow me to demonstrate how it works. Get excited because it is simply AMAZING! And it is so easy to use! 

    Let's start with this photograph...
    It's me and the husband at North Myrtle Beach in South Carolina. I like it, but it's umm...a little blue. I think we can do better, folks!

    Step 1: I usually start by changing the exposure levels. (FYI: There is an Edit and a Create tab - start in Edit.) I adjust the exposure first, bringing more light to my photo. I add contrast next.
    How much exposure and contrast you ask? It just depends on each photo - you have to play around with it. Be careful not to add too much exposure, however, because it can make your photo look grainy.

    Step 2: For pictures with natural light, I usually adjust the temperature to get rid of this bluish tint I always seem to get. The temperature setting (still in the Edit tab) will nip that problem in the bud. It begins at 0. If you slide the scale to the right, it makes the picture warmer (think reds, golden yellows, etc.). Sliding it to the left makes it cooler. For this picture, I made it warmer, as you can see below. The saturation scale is also a good one to use if your picture seems faded. I didn't need it in this case. 
    Ahh, yes, that's more like it. A little less smurf-ish.

    Step 3: Next, use the eye brightening tool (located under Touch-Up in the Create tab) to make eyes stand out more. It initially deepens and darkens the color, so I also adjust the lightness scale as well to allow the natural eye color to show through. The fade scale makes it so that you can choose how dramatic you want the eye brightening to be. Increase the fading if you want only a subtle brightening effect.

    You can't see it in the screen shot below, but this feature is super simple to use. You adjust the size of the circle to fit your eye and click. That's it. :)

    (Let me say that eye brightening is actually one of Picnik's paid membership features, and let me tell you - I think this feature alone is worth the $24.99/year. But there are still lots of great free features in Picnik, so don't let that keep you from trying it. I used it for about 3 or 4 months before I bought a 1-yr membership.)

    Step 4: Add mascara. Say whaat?! It's not what you think. It won't add false eyelashes or anything. It basically just sharpens and defines the area around the eye. So you will want to do this for not just women but men, dogs, and children too (or not, if you're worried about it). For a more natural look, you can lessen the strength. This tool is located under Touch-Up in the Create tab.

    Step 5: Use the focal soften tool (located under Effects in the Create tab). This feature is great because you can make the subject of your photo stand out more by softening and blurring the background.

    Select the area you want to focus in on - in this case, it's our faces. Adjust the blur scale to soften and blur everything outside of that circle. I think it's easy to go overboard with this feature (guilty!), so it's best to do a little bit at a time almost to where it's unnoticeable. You can always go back and add more focusing later.

    Step 6: Lastly, I decided to add a little more warmth to the picture by going back to Temperature under the Edit tab.
    Yay! We're done!

    Drumroll please....



    Okay, so the fun doesn't end there. Click to see more photo editing after the jump....