DIY Sunburst Mirror {Tutorial}


I’ve been loving The Nester’s blog series on “Lovely Limitations” this month! The entire series has focused on creating something under a limited medium, budget, space, or other limitation. The Nester says, “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.” I struggle, and I mean struggle, with the compulsive need for things to be “perfect” before I will accept them as beautiful. My obsession with perfection often hampers my desire to even get started: This is a big obstacle, and a total personality flaw, for me. This week I’ve been working on overcoming that… starting with this project!

I love the new home decor trend of sunburst mirrors but I dislike the high price tag of most of them. A Google image search of “sunburst mirrors” brings up oodles of gorgeous metallic, extravagant, and modern mirrors sure to make you drool. In keeping with the concept of “lovely limitations” I got this idea to recycle (up-cycle, re-purpose, re-use, whatever) some of the bead catalogs that flood my mailbox to create something crafty…a sunburst mirror seemed like the perfect idea. Now on to the tutorial! I snapped all of the progress photos with my iPhone as I watched TV… perfection was not my goal-hence the DSLR sleeping soundly in its case until the “finished product” photos at the end!

Materials:

Hot glue gun, mirror (I had a 12″ mirror from Michael’s lying around my house

Magazines or any paper you want! (I ended up using something like 150 pages)

Scissors

Writing tools

Measuring tape or ruler

Poster Board (not pictured, oops)

Step 1 and 2: I used 2 different sizes of cylindrical objects (1 hot glue stick and 1 make up brush handle). I used the cylindrical objects to help me create perfect tubes of paper in 2 different diameters so that my finished sun would have a look of variety and randomness.

Step 3: Cut a piece of poster board a little larger than your mirror and glue it to the back. This is what you will start to glue your paper tubes onto on both the front and back sides. My poster board was about 1″ larger in diameter than my mirror. Then get a cute doggie to check himself out in your mirror…he thinks he’s one tasty little morsel.

Step 4 and 5: Start at the back of the mirror and begin gluing down the tubes. Place 4 tubes at the “north, south, east, west” positions of the circle. Make sure you get these even and straight. I used a tape measure stretched all the way across my mirror to help me keep the tubes as straight as possible.

Step 6: I used the larger tube size to measure out equal distances between the remainder of the tubes to fill in the back side of the mirror. The tubes were glued about a half inch inside the edge of the mirror (as marked by the pencil line)

Step 7: This isn’t actually another step, just a close up photo of step 6 to show the even spacing of the foundation row of tubes.

Step 8: Glue the larger tubes to the front half inch lip of poster board around the mirror. I used the edge of the mirror as a guide to make sure the tubes were straight. I placed a large tube in between each small tube that I had glued from the back. I generously glued these things down! Since I was using magazine paper the more generously I glued, the more stability I gained.

Step 9: This photo is also not really a step, but a close up photo of the finished row of larger tubes.

Step 10: Next place another row of small tubes. I placed 1 small tube in between each large tube. I placed a cereal bowl in the middle of the mirror (which I completely forgot to photograph) to help me place the small tubes evenly and closer to the center of the mirror than the larger tubes. Essentially a sunburst mirror has a small mirror center and a very large proportion of rays so I needed to bring the rays into the middle more.

Step 11: I added more tubes in different lengths at this point. This was a bit of a trial and error step as I added in tubes 1 row at a time until I felt there were enough rows and the fullness was to my liking.

Step 12: I cut a strip of poster board to create a smooth inner cylinder to add stability to the center of the sunburst. I liberally glued the strip of paper to each of the paper tubes to add stability. I also cute a piece of black card stock to make a 1 inch “ring” to glue over and cover up the raw edges of tubes and white card stock center.

Last Step: Spray paint! I used Rustoleum “Oil Rubbed Bronze” because I wanted the finished look to have a metallic texture. I envisioned the final color with a warmer “bronzy” undertone, but overall I’m really satisfied with it! I could always repaint it to something else if I got bored with it. I think a matte navy or glossy mustard would look pretty amazing; hammered gold or silver would probably be pretty awesome as well.

My sunburst is definitely not perfect, but I am so happy with the process I went through. It was tedious enough to push me out of my comfort zone, easy enough to work on while watching The Sing Off, and random enough to allow me to wing-it and be entertained.

In the future I think I might try using a medium with a little less flexibility. PVC pipe, wooden dowels, chopsticks, straws, kebab skewers, or even a stronger paper like card stock, would make perfect materials with a little less “bend” and a little more strength.

Decking the Halls {DIY Magazine Christmas Trees}


We’ve been getting in the Christmas spirit over here with tree trimming, bread baking, Christmas music playing, and advent calender displaying! In our house the tree goes up in its full glory the day after Thanksgiving. I can’t bring myself to put it up any earlier as I refuse to skip a holiday, but as soon as I’ve stuffed myself beyond all reason it’s tree time!

This year I’ve been trying to add little bits of Christmas all over the house without breaking the bank, or looking like an overdone department store. I’ve been perusing some of my absolute favorite blogs for DIY inspiration and have come up with a “to DIY” list that is 10 times longer than any child’s list for Santa. Ruffle wreaths, paper bunting, re-purposed ornament window decor, table centerpieces, and handmade wrapping paper that’s all too pretty to use have begun to fill up my list quickly.

I figured I would kick off December with one project from my list of “must makes”. I found this “Paper Christmas Tree” tutorial through one of my favorite blogs Creature Comforts who got the DIY from on of my newest favorite blogs Renee-Anne :)

Instead of taking photos of each and every step of the process you can just grab all the great detailed photos via the tutorial link here and I’ll just show you my finished product.

I used a Good Housekeeping magazine for the taller tree and a Baby Talk magazine for the smaller one. In the tutorial you will find that a staple spine magazine is advised, not a thick spine like my Good Housekeeping magazine. I, unfortunately, didn’t have any staple spine mags laying around and I wasn’t about to go buy a magazine to make into a tree so I figured I’d give it a shot and I’m incredibly pleased with the results!

The tutorial calls for 2 staple spine magazines and since I used such a thick magazine to begin with I only needed one for each tree. The biggest challenge, I found, was getting the tree to open up perfectly even because the spine was so thick; but I solved that problem with a little extra bending at the spine and viola!

One last tip: I learned after making the first tree that some pages are boring on one side and incredibly colorful on the other side. So instead of folding every page the same direction, I alternated folding to the front or back depending on which side was more colorful. The second tree turned out just as even as the first and has a bit more color pop to it. Although if you wanted to go for a more monochromatic look; find a magazine with fewer images!

Merry Christmas and happy DIY decorating!

Thrifty finds are so nifty- How to shop frugally


I’ve been making grand plans for slightly ridiculous and big changes in our living/bedroom. I’ve been wracking my brain for creative furniture arrangements to maximize space and function. Many furniture pieces have made a grand appearance in our house only to make a quick exit because of size, color, shape, or my sometimes fickle design tastes. Even though many new pieces have made an entrance, they’ve been scored for low prices and took some creativity to suit our home just the way we want them to. I thought I would share some of my favorite pieces I’ve scored recently.

The flooring in our house is quite old, ancient really, and pretty darn ugly. Even though I love putting paint on the walls and spending some dough on furniture, I have to draw the line at replacing the floor in a rental, so we have to make due with some area rugs. So check out this shagadelic rug I picked up at the thrift store around the corner from our house. It was priced at a whopping $8.99, I figured for that price I could give it a try in our house and see if it was totally radical or a complete disaster.

Once I got it to the register it was 30% off! Score, I spent a whole $6.29 on this little gem. Just shaggy enough, super soft and squishy for our little guy’s toes, and a fun shade of celery green! Jack is obviously loving the fun new texture on the floor…

I was recently admiring a vase on this coffee table over at Young House Love, and wanted to find something in similar size and texture for our table. Isn’t their living room gorgeous?

So I perused the glassware section at the thrift store without any real expectation of finding something, when I spotted this vase for $12.99. I was hesitant to spend the full price but knew that it was a really great deal for such a large vase and figured I could splurge a bit….

When I got to the register I asked the woman if there was any price negotiation on home décor items, I figured it couldn’t hurt to ask! She said no. Then the sweet woman said the magic words, “It’s labeled with a ‘T’, which means it is color coded ‘tan’, which happens to be 75% off”. I paid a whole $3.25 for this beauty. Score!

Isn’t the vase lovely on my refinished coffee table and thrifty nifty rug? The entire look cost me all of $29.54. Not too shabby I’d say….

So are there any thrifty finds you’ve managed to nab recently? Feel free to share photos!

-E

Old Made New: How to refinish a coffee table {Tutorial}


I love coming across a piece of furniture with character and personality; aged, flawed, forgotten, unappreciated, and undervalued. Thrift stores, garage sales, craigslist, and curbsides offer up amazing pieces that at first glance might be cast off or ignored, but after a second look their character becomes evident and a new project takes shape.

I found this sweet antique table on craigslist for a mere $20 and turned it into a coffee table with a fresh and chic new look. This gem was drowning under a thick, sticky, and drippy coat of stain and then slathered in, what seamed like, a gallon of shiny lacquer.

I loved the simplicity of the table with the tapered legs and the slightly rippled edges that gave it a little extra character. Our house houses a somewhat ridiculous amount of Ikea furniture that was beginning to make me feel like I was living in one of their showrooms, so this coffee table was a refreshing find, one that helps break up and eliminate that “matchy matchy” feel in our living room.

So, are you just biting your fingernails in suspense wondering what the “afterlife” for this little table looks like? You’ll have to bite them a little longer because I just have to give you the rundown on the extreme makeover I pulled on this little lady.

I started off with a plan to simply sand the table to knock down the blinding shine in order to prepare the surface for paint. But once I started to sand it, I realized the ooey and gooey lacquer was holding on for dear life.

Here’s a photo after the initial sanding:

My trusty assistant got in on the job and gave it some serious elbow grease:

I quickly realized I was going to have to call in the big guns in order to truly reveal the beauty beneath the mask of stain and shine…I called a stripper and highered a gun… ok not that kind of stripper or that kind of gun…

I called in some highly toxic and disgusting furniture stripper and my trusty spray gun, oh and some rubber gloves, oh yeah baby. This table was going to take some serious work to get to the bottom of the grime.

Stripper is seriously nothing to mess around with. It is highly toxic to kids and pets and should never be used in their presence as it is not only a chemical that can cause serious burns, but its fumes are atrocious as well. My little guy was bundled up on the couch with his puppy watching a movie while I worked in the backyard with fresh air on this project. ALWAYS wear gloves (and shoes….speaking from experience over here) when working with this stuff.

I sprayed the stripper onto the table top and we got this disgusting and yet so delicious looking (delicious because scraping that nasty stuff off is like frosting a cake) layer of bubbling goo…

Then I got to frost the cake, oh yeah nothing like stripper to make you hungry…and scraped all the gunk from the table.

After some scrubbing and serious scraping I rinsed the table using a stiff bristled scrub brush and hot soapy water. I wanted to make sure I could scrub into the hard to reach places and get all the stripper residue off. Without the hot soapy water some of the stripper might be left behind, resulting in serious bubbling of the paint I was going to refinish the table with.


After the table dried in the summer sun I put my grandpa’s ancient electric sander to good use (probably its last project in life as the darn dinosaur died on me at the very end) and sanded the entire table.

Bare wood antique coffee table

Sigh… isn’t raw wood beautiful? I have absolutely no clue what kind of wood this is, I also didn’t sand completely down to the true rawest part of the wood purely for time’s sake, especially since I was going to paint the table, not re-stain it. If re-staining had been my mission it would have been really important to get every last bit of old stain and lacquer off to ensure an even new coat. But that’s a tutorial for another day, and another piece of furniture!

So, final steps of the project included painting the legs and sides of the table in a vanilla cream color, so warm and inviting. The top of the table is painted a crisp white which makes me think of vanilla ice cream with whipped cream on top… I think I must be hungry.

The Olympic paint line sold at Lowes boasts a zero VOC latex paint that was super wonderful to work with and cost exactly the same price as traditional paint. I was really excited to find the no VOC for so inexpensive. Unfortunately Minwax polyurethane isn’t no VOC, it’s probably double VOC, this stuff smells so bad…but it works wonders.

The table took 2 coats of each color using a ¼” nap mini roller. I wanted the roller to leave a super smooth finish and opted not to use a brush for that very reason. I made sure to do thin coats to eliminate drips or goop between coats. I purchased the paint in a quart size but I think I seriously used a 10th of it, now I’ll have to use the paint on some other project…. picture frames anyone? I finished the table off with a few coats of poly to ensure I could wipe sticky finger prints and toy car tracks off the top when necessary.

And now for the big reveal….. drum roll please….

Gorgeous right? I love it! The fresh cream and white color combination adds so much light to our space and the size of the coffee table is perfectly proportioned to our living room. Major score thanks to craigslist!

So, are there any pieces of furniture in your house that could be completely transformed by a few coats of paint and some elbow grease? Have questions about any of the steps outlined above? Leave a comment!

-E

Mom’s Banana Bread {Recipe and Tutorial}


What could be better then the smell of fresh baked homemade banana bread? The taste of course. What could be better then the taste and smell of such bread? Getting to eat it without having to bake it yourself…

Growing up my mom frequently filled our home with the delicious sights and smells of fresh baked breads, delectable canned jams, sweet pie fillings, and tasty cookies. These beautifully packaged goodies were sent off to friends, family, and new neighbors for special occasions, holidays, and just because moments.

I treasure the memories I have of baking and tasting each batch of homemade goodness, preparing and packaging each bundle with care, and delivering a handmade and very much home loved gift to a friend or family member.

So, as a little tribute to my amazing mom, and as a sweet opportunity to bless our wonderful neighbors, Lucas and I baked up a few batches of warm, mouth-wateringly yummy banana bread. In true homage to my childhood memories, I had to package these goodies up with some flare. Enjoy the little “how to” tutorial below, maybe these almost edible photos will inspire you to give it a try and bless someone in your life with some homemade goodness!

Banana Bread Recipe:

2 1/2 C flour
1 t salt
2 t baking soda
1 C Margarine or butter
2 C sugar
2 C mashed ripe bananas (4-6)
4 egss, slightly beaten

Added options: walnuts, dried cranberries, candied almonds, chocolate chips

Baking Instructions

1. Preheat oven to 350°
2. Grease and flour baking pan (*muffin tins or bread pan)
3. Combine flour, salt, baking soda – set aside
4. In a large mixing bowl, combine margarine, sugar and eggs, belnd well. Add bananas and blend well.
5. Add flour mixture to the banana mixture until thoroughly blended. Batter may be lumpy from bananas.
6. Pour into prepared pan or muffin tins.
Bake until center is done when checked with a wooden skewer.
7. Baking times for full recipe:
4 mini loaf pans : 45 minutes
24 mini muffins : 15-17 minutes
18 large muffins : 25 minutes
2 loaf pans: 65-70 minutes

NOTES:
Muffins and bread will turn a very dark brown. Check center for doneness. Remove from oven and cool for 5-10 minutes before inverting.

Ripe bananas can be tossed in the freezer for months, peels and all until ready to use, Just simply defrost.

Packaging:

Materials:

Wax paper

Ribbon (or jute, twine, string, anything you want to tie the loafs with)

Patterned Paper

Scissors

Corner Punch

Instructions:

1.) Make labels. I baked mini loafs for our neighbors so my gift tags/labels measured 2.5” x 2”. I cut the labels to a size I liked atop the loaves but you can make them any size that you like. I also pre-printed “Happy Summer: Homemade Banana Bread” using Microsoft Word because I don’t particularly care for my own handwriting.

I layered the pre-printed label onto some rose printed paper I had in my stash then punched the corners using my favorite corner punch.

3.) Wrap each loaf in a sheet of wax paper just like you would wrap a gift. Wax paper is perfect for use as food gift wrap as nothing will stick to it and your loaves will stay perfectly moist in it.

4.) Tie each wrapped loaf like you would a gift and stick your label under the tie to hold in place. I used some quarter inch ivory satin ribbon but jute twine, thread, or other materials would look equally perfect.

5.) Deliver your packages! Lucas and I walked around our little circle to each of our 3 neighbors homes and handed them each 2 loaves of bread.

It was a perfect afternoon of baking with my little guy, sharing special memories, and blessing our neighbors with something homemade. Not a penny was spent to make these loaves as we already had everything on hand- such a small investment in loving on our neighbors.

How can you bless your neighbor today?

-E