Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Playing Hooky

     With only a few days left until Napoleon heads home and we start up yet another homeschooling year, I took a few days off to spend some quality time with the kids. 

     So far we've headed to the local lakefront beach, took a hike through ..an old-growth forest, and baked a lot of goodies.  I've got a Girl's Day planned for Napoleon and I- she needs to be measured for her uniforms and *ahem* other things that have suddenly appeared this summer.  Chaos and I are going to have a picnic up a tree.  Even little Doc has expressed his "perfect day"- watching Ponyo and eating ramen with ham in a living room fort.  Even Hubby is taking a day off to kick back with the kids. 

Barkcamp State Park- I so need a pedicure... or time to repaint my toenails. 
     I'll be back- I've got plenty of ideas to share- but for now I'm going to kick back and follow a chipmunk across a field.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Curtain Solutions: Part 2

     This is the second part of a series on curtain solutions.  If you are interested, the first part DIY Curtain Solutions for Oversized Windows is here.

 Curtain Solutions for Smaller Windows

     As I've mention before, our rental home has a TON of windows. Big windows.  Regular sized windows.  Small windows.  Windows that aren't needed for light as well as windows that are the only light source in the room.  But the windows I'm showing today, are some of the smallest in the house- at 1 foot tall by 2 foot wide, they've been problematic.  To add to the problem, this window is sunken in with NO place to mount any sort of hardware for hanging a curtain.

Items needed: Fabric (or curtains), scissors, and staple gun.
      This project couldn't have been simpler.  A local home discount home decor store recently went out of business.  The already low prices got lowered into the "stupidly low" price range.  (Seriously- I bought about twenty large bags of curtains, towels, kitchenware, etc... and only spent $15 bucks!)  I picked up these curtains for a measly .25 cents a pack.  This particular style happened to have two panels per pack.
Cut the panels about 8 inches above the hem.  This leaves only one raw edge of fabric.
     Fold over the raw edge of the fabric and, using the staple gun, nail the raw edge to the ceiling.  Yes, you will be stapling UNDER the fabric.  The result is a tailored little valance that still allows light to filter into the room.
The staples are not noticeable.  (Sorry about the photo, folks- the basement is already dark and to take a photo after dark is difficult.)

Cost Breakdown:
Curtains: .25 cents
Total Cost .25 cents

Total Time:
5 minutes

     The best part of this is that I've got leftover fabric from the curtains to play with.  Come back next week to see what I do with the other parts of the curtain.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

It's a Banner Day

     I HEART banners.  I wanted to add something fun and a little funky to our basement classroom without spending an arm and a leg (or taking hours to cut, paste, or sew!)

     This cute little banner fit the bill perfectly.  Look closely- it's made from larger paint swatch cards!  I was in the hardware store waiting for my floor color to get mixed up and I saw the huge display of paint swatches and thought they were just gorgeous.  In between is just a smaller paint swatch.

     Even the twine was free- it was leftover from bringing home the hardboard I used to make the chalkboard.  I cut the pieces and punched holes in them while Napoleon decided to put them in a "pretty pattern".  Then we just threaded the twine through and hung them up.  Super simple and easy peasy.

Cost Breakdown:
Paint Swatches  FREE
Twine   FREE
Total  Cost: $0

Time Breakdown:
15 Minutes

I'm seriously in love with our basement classroom.  These banners just give such amazing cheer!
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Weekend Bloggy Reading

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Budget Friendly DIY Chalkboard

     I knew, without a doubt, when I saw the basement here that we would convert part of it to a classroom.  I also knew that I'd have to take advantage of all that gorgeous wall space to put up a chalkboard.
  Sure, if I owned the house, I could slap some chalkboard paint on a wall and be done with it.  But... I don't own this place.  I'm borrowing it.  So, a wall-mounted board of some kind it would have to be.  A search online showed quickly that chalkboards are EXPENSIVE. 
This 4 by 8 foot magnetic chalkboard from Staples.com is $429.99! 

     I started with this:
One sheet of hardboard- $7.25

     This is a four-foot wide by eight-foot long piece of hardboard.  Hardboard is a type of compressed paper/wood fiber.  It's generally about an eighth of an inch thick and feels like super-heavy cardboard.
We started by priming it with a coat of magnetic primer.

Painting with magnetic primer is tricky.  It could seriously be it's own blog post.  Suffice to say that you get a base with a ton of teeeeeeeeeny little metal shavings in- most of which will have settled to the bottom of the can.  After stirring, and stirring, and even more stirring, you'll have distributed most the metal shavings back into the base. After even more stirring you'll be able to start applying the primer to your board.  The instructions tell you to constantly stir the mixture.  This is a MUST.  The shavings settle quickly.  It also tells you to apply several thin coats.  I'll let you know now that it's almost impossible to apply a "thin" coat of this stuff.  Use really good quality sponge rollers for this- not cheap ones.  I'll also let you know that you don't want to pour more than a couple of tablespoons into your paint tray at a time and re-stir the paint every time you pour more.
I even got Napoleon in on the painting.  She's small enough she could sit on the board without warping it.

     After priming the board and letting it dry, we added four coats of spay-on chalkboard paint.  Do this in a well-ventilated area- PLEASE!

      To hang the board, I pulled out an eight foot long piece of molding.
The smudges were taken care of when I painted over the nail-heads.

After leveling the board, I discovered something really interesting.  Our floor was not level.  I don't mean it's a little-bit askew.  I came to realize that in the corners we have 8 foot ceilings and in the center of the floor we have 10 foot ceilings.  It made the entire chalkboard look like it's sloping downhill.  (Turns out I had to adjust it by eyeballing it instead of using a level.)  Nailed the molding into place and used it to prop up the chalkboard as I attached it to the wall.  (Note: The landlord gave me permission to nail it to the wall- otherwise, I would have used mirror clamps or even hung it like a giant picture frame with wire.)
The kids enjoyed "curing" the chalkboard paint.

   To cure the chalkboard paint, you simply rub the side of a piece of chalk all over it.  Wipe off, and you're done.  A perfectly usable chalkboard for a fraction of the cost.

Cost Break-Down: 
Hardboard  $7.25
Molding $9.78
Magnetic Primer $12 (with coupon)
Chalkboard Spray Paint   3 Cans @ $2 each (with coupon)
Rollers, dropcloth, nails, chalk   FREE
Total Cost: Approximately $35

Time Break-Down:
2 Hours Active Painting Time
24 Hours Inactive Painting Time
15 Minutes Installation 
5 Minutes Installation Touch-Up
Total Time: Approximately 2 Days

    I can't wait until the classroom is completely finished.  Chaos loves his new chalkboard and is excited to start second-grade in our new basement classroom.  Even better- I saved about 92% on the cost of a new chalkboard!

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Note from the Management

     Sorry for the lack of content, folks.  I've been stuck on bed rest for most of the past two weeks.  And, since part of my bed rest instructions was to have "no stress", my husband sneakily changed settings on the router so I couldn't log in to the internet on my laptop.  (Even worse, my kids took his side of the "no stress" argument and tattled on me every time I tried to use the desktop- "Papa! She's out of beeeeed!"- or anytime I managed to sneak my cell phone into the bedroom with me- "Papa! She's twittering on her cell phone again!")

One of the many bracelets I've worn in the past 10 days.  Difficult to find clothes worthy of this lovely accessory.

     I'm hoping to be back up and blogging full time again by next Monday (can't wait for Design Star!) or as soon as I'm allowed up for more than twenty minutes without being babysat by my 11 year old. ("Papa!!!  She reaching for the SPRAYYYY PAIIINT!")