Posts Tagged With: DIY

Happy Callie, Checking In

I haven’t checked this blog in two months.  I know, I’m the worst.  I’m like the person that buys a really awesome potted plant, takes care of it, and then forgets to water it for a while.  (Actually, I’m not like that person– I am that person.  Plants are hard.)  But, here I am, dusting off the leaves and ready for sunshine.  And, to my amazement, my blog has stayed kicking without me, getting a steady stream of views through Google and Pinterest.  The roots are still very much alive.

This has been such an insane semester!  I did end up getting a new job; I was promoted to the lead secretary in the counseling department and I was put in charge of the high school’s College & Career Center.  I know, ironic right?  There I was, fresh out of college, ready to help kids figure out what to do with their lives when I’m still not so sure what to do with mine.  However, over the past few months I’ve found a lot of joy in helping kids discover a path in life that will take them where they want to go.  I’ve had to wipe a lot of tears and say, “Yes, the real world is scary, it’s true.  But it’s also awesome.”

Me at my desk. My office is decorated with college pennants, but the Hardin-Simmons one got prime wall space by my diploma.

One of my biggest projects this semester has been helping the seniors find scholarships.  I’ve spent countless hours scouring the internet for scholarship opportunities and talking to local scholarship donors.  I also organized Senior Awards Night, which was a huge ordeal and was probably about as stressful to plan as my wedding was.  Our seniors received $2.5 million in scholarships this year, partly because of my help!  The best thing this job has helped me realize is how much I love helping people.  Even though the job doesn’t pay much, it’s gratifying enough to make it worth it.

This is one of my projects for my students. I researched a bunch of scholarships and put them on slips of paper with the amount, due date, etc. I would remove them after they were due until they were all gone.

In March, I was finally approved to get breast reduction surgery.  This was something I thought about for a long time and I’m so glad I did it.  My chronic back pain is gone, I can exercise more, my clothes fit better, and I feel so much more confident.  The recovery process was difficult, but I feel back to normal now.  I’ve never been the type to condone plastic surgery, but now that I’ve been through it myself I understand a lot better why someone would want to go through that.  My surgery wasn’t for cosmetic reasons as much as it was to get rid of the back pain that often left me in tears after a long day of work.

Ready for surgery, but scared to pieces! I had never had surgery before.

The results have been more than I could ever have hoped for.  I feel 100% better.  I was out from work for nearly two weeks, and that made a stressful semester even more stressful.  However, I don’t regret it one bit.

Before, December 2012

After, June 2013

I spent my recovery surrounded by pandas…

… and a Panda, so I managed to recover just fine.

In other news, spring came and it brought bluebonnets!  God bless Texas.

My parents gave us this great old dresser.  Hopefully sometime this summer I will have a chance to paint it to match our bedroom.  Stay tuned for that!

My hair got super long…

Sam had a Star Wars themed birthday party, complete with a Darth Vader cake (chocolate cake recipe was Revell’s Food Cake) designed by me.

A bunch of friends came in to visit, and that was so great to see everybody and celebrate Sam’s special day.

A couple of weeks ago, we went to the Renaissance Faire with our friends Autumn and Vincent.

Ian the Korean came to visit!

Also, for the first time ever I got paid for a professional writing assignment!  I’ve been writing for a local magazine called NOW Magazine.  My first article will be published in July or August.  I will definitely post the link for you when it comes out.

Sam officially finished his first year of teaching today!  He cleared out his classroom and turned in his keys this morning.  That means we are moving again sometime this summer.  We don’t know where yet, but we are on the lookout for a Social Studies teaching position somewhere in Texas.  It’s always scary to be so uncertain about the future, but we are searching hard and I have faith something will turn up.  For now, Sam and I are enjoying the adventure.

Now you are all caught up!  I still have work for another three weeks, but after that I’ll be out for the summer and I’ll hopefully have more free time to devote to my little plant.

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Categories: My Life | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

DIY Mail Sorter

Bill.

That word can mean several things.  Some might think of ducks, some might think of a past president or celebrity.

When I see that word, I think of money: dollar bills, and the pieces of paper that come in the mail and take those dollar bills away.

Over the past few months, Sam and I have shed a bit of our newlywed status by becoming more independent and accepting more responsibilities.  That means paying for things we didn’t pay for in college: cell phone service, electricity, water, rent… It’s a lot to keep up with, and it’s exhausting to think that the bills will keep coming for the rest of our lives.

Since Sam is busy with his first semester of teaching, I’ve taken over most of our financial obligations.  I’m still looking for a job, but I’m still running into constant dead ends because I don’t have enough experience.  I only graduated last spring, so I don’t know how I’m supposed to gain experience if no one will hire me.  So, at this point, Sam makes the money and I spend it!  I don’t go on shopping sprees, though; I spend our money through bills, making sure we don’t get kicked out of our apartment for not paying rent, or get left in the dark when our electricity provider shuts us off.  I spend our money on groceries to make sure Sam doesn’t starve.

Keeping up with our mail has been an issue for me because it tends to float all over our apartment.  Sometimes I drop it off on the kitchen island, sometimes it ends up on the desk in our bedroom… It’s easy to lose track of it all.  I’ve been looking for a good mail sorter for a few weeks now.  Our town has several great antique stores, but none of them had exactly what I was looking for: I needed something that would have vertical slots for me to sort our mail so our bills don’t get lost.  I found baskets and other containers that were close to what I needed, but not quite.  I even went to Office Depot and considered buying a $40 stacking tray set, but couldn’t bring myself to spend that much money.

So, what’s a girl to do when what she wants doesn’t exist?  Do it herself!

Here’s how I made my simple mail sorter for my kitchen counter out of three basic magazine holders.  It was an easy and fun project that I completed in less than an hour, but it makes a huge difference in my house.

First, I started with three black magazine holders I found at Target for $4.99 each.  They’re made out of sturdy cardboard.

I removed the metal label holders on the front of them.  They popped off pretty easily.  After that, I stacked them on their sides and decided how I wanted them to fit in the corner on my counter.  Here’s what the corner looked like before:

Clutter!  An ugly, cheap toaster we never use, Sam’s Gatorade powder, some random ribbon, and a stained plastic cutting board.  The only thing I deemed worthy to stay was our adorable desktop panda calendar.  I wanted the mail sorter to fit in the corner where our Darth Vader cookie jar was, so I planned accordingly and glued them together with a hot glue gun.

Looks great, but I wanted to dress it up a bit.  I found these old reading flash cards at a local thrift store and thought they were charming.

I love the classic font and the antique, stained look.  I cut them to size and glued them to the side to give the mail sorter a fun, whimsical feel.

After that, the black top felt too plain.  I pulled out an old paperback copy of The Ponder Heart by Eudora Welty that I used in a previous craft project.  A professor assigned the book in a Southern Literature class in college, and I ordered this copy off Amazon for a penny.  It arrived with the first chapter missing, so I replaced it and use it for crafting now.  It has beautifully yellowed pages because it’s so old.  I used it to decoupage the top of the mail sorter.

Then, I cleared off my counter.  Everything found a new place, including Darth Vader, who now guards the fridge against Rebel forces:

And the mail sorter looks great on the counter!  It adds a lot of character to my kitchen.

This is a great project because it’s completely customizable.  You could use different patterns of scrapbook paper to make any color combination you want.  You could even make cute labels for each of the slots.

What do you think?  Should I have sprung for the stacking trays, or was this a good alternative?

Categories: DIY | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

I Fought My Ugly, Mismatched Furniture and Won!

That’s what my living room looked like this morning.  I’ve been hating on our living room furniture for a while now, but we don’t have the money to go out and buy a fancy living room set.  So, I’ve long since adopted the British mantra, “Make Do and Mend.”  I can make do with our ripped garage sale couch and mend our hand-me-down furniture.  No problem.  Today, I took on a huge project by gathering all of our mismatched living room furniture and painting it all a pretty matching green.  Why green?  Well, green is my favorite color, if you can’t tell from my blog.  When we moved into our first house, I promised Sam he could have his favorite colors (red and black) in the bedroom if I could have some green in the living room.

As you can see, I upheld my end of the bargain quite nicely.  So, this morning I made a 7:30 a.m. trip to Lowe’s and went to work!  Here are the culprits:

Exhibit A.  This is a record cabinet Sam’s dad made in the seventies.  It used to have a record player that’s long gone.  It was used and abused and, frankly, sort of sad looking.  It sat in Sam’s garage for a long time before it began acting as extra kitchen storage in our old house.  Now, it acts as a shelf behind the couch to catch all kinds of knick-knacks we leave lying around.  It was in desperate need of a makeover.

Exhibit B.  This is a table I bought at a thrift store a few years ago for $8.00.  As I began painting it, I realized how much I just didn’t like this table.  It’s wobbly, and I’m currently sporting a huge goose egg on my leg from when I ran into it.  It just clutters up our house, and after I realized how hard it would be to paint with all those nooks and crannies, I had no problem hauling it to the dumpster.  This one didn’t survive the war.

Exhibit C.  This is a nice cabinet that was in Sam’s room when he was a teenager.  It holds our board games and Sam’s Xbox games.  I wasn’t ready to part with it, but it was very scratched and needed some help.

Exhibit D.  In my first photo, you can see our TV stand.  It’s your very basic stand-on-wheels, nothing fancy.  The wood didn’t match anything in our house, and I figure if you’re going to stare at something so much while watching TV, you might as well make it pretty.

So, the battle began.  First, I cleaned each piece with a rag and Windex, and then I sanded everything with regular sandpaper.

I took the sliding doors off of the cabinet to make it less bulky and a little more modern.

Next, I applied a coat of primer.  I tried the kind in a spray can this time, but I didn’t like it as much as the regular brush-on kind.  This coat didn’t have to be perfect; just enough to create a surface for the paint to stick to.

Next came the first coat.  Honestly, I was pretty freaked out at this point.  The paint was looking much brighter than I anticipated, and it reminded me a lot of astroturf.  I wasn’t looking forward to explaining to Sam how I ruined all of our furniture while he was at work.

Sam calls this color “Putt-Putt Green.”

Although the color was a far cry from the “Shady Knoll” I was promised in the paint’s name, I took a deep breath and plowed on.  After three more coats, I had the color I wanted.

I sprayed the tops with a protective top coat because I knew they would be scratched easily.  That’s why they look a little shiny in some of these pictures.

Ignore the dust! It was still a work in progress.

And finally… voila!  My furniture has found new life, and they are forever grateful.

And they look like they belong together!

The cabinet ended up being my favorite.  I love the way the bronze hardware looks against the dark green!

Yay!  Brand new pretty living room!  :)

Here’s a before/after shot, just for fun:

This project took a full day’s work, but it was so worth it!  I hope you enjoyed the transformation as much as I do!

Categories: DIY | Tags: , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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