DIY Dare-a-thon Date Night

These days, finding ideas for an at-home date night are running a little thin. Justin and I love games and puzzles and have no shortage of them, but every once in a while it’s nice to do something else.

As I was scrolling Instagram yesterday, I noticed Angela Rose Home and Vintage Revivals are hosting a little DIY Dare-a-thon to help inspire people to get creative while social distancing. Their first challenge was to build something with scraps in your garage. I immediately thought this would be a fun date night for Justin and I, and the DIY Dare-a-thon Date Night (say that 5x fast ha!) was born.

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Deciding on a project was easy. We have a little nook under our stairs that we lovingly refer to as our Harry Potter closet. LJ loves to “hide” in there and now that we’re home so much, we’re spending a lot of time playing there. I eventually want to transform it into a magical little play space for our kids. One thing I’ve always envisioned doing is creating little ledges to store some books for our kids to read, and this seemed like the perfect little project for the dare-a-thon.

We put the kids down for bed, grabbed the baby monitor, and headed out to our garage/workshop. Since we couldn’t go anywhere to get supplies, we had to use what we had. Justin rounded up some scrap wood from past projects and we had two 1×3’s, a long 1×2, and a few 1×4’s.

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We decided to make two shelves: each shelf would be 21 inches long and would be made of a 1×2, 1×3, and 1×4. The 1×3 would form the base, with the 1×2 as the front lip and the 1×4 as the back. Since we were working with scraps, it wasn’t all the same kind of wood, but I figured the only thing that would really be visible was the very front, and the 1×2 was long enough to be used for both shelves so they would end up looking the same.

Justin got to work measuring each board and cutting them to 21 inches long with his miter saw.

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While he did that, I got to work sanding each piece with 80 grit sandpaper.

Once everything was cut to size and sanded, Justin used his kreg jig to create drill holes in each 1×4 and 1×3. Kreg jigs are easy to use and it kept us from visible nail/screw holes on the front of the finished project.

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We used square clamps to line up the boards perfectly, and then attached them with pocket hole screws.

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We first attached the 1×3 to the 1×2, then we attached the 1×4 to the 1×3.

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Here’s a glimpse at how everything attached.

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Once both shelves were assembled, Justin took some 120 grit sandpaper and a wood block to smooth over all the edges.

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It only took us about 90 minutes to go from a few pieces of scrap wood to two book ledges!

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Justin has a box of leftover stain from previous woodworking projects and after scrounging around, we found this lighter shade that was pretty close to my original vision.

We used a sponge brush to apply the stain and let it dry overnight.

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We talked about multiple ways to hang the shelves. We could have attached hooks, but I wanted the shelves to lay flush with the wall. We talked about notches on the back, but we wanted them to be sturdily attached to the wall so kids didn’t pull them off. We ultimately decided to just screw the 1×4 directly into the wall, knowing that books would cover the screws up. Before leaving for work this morning, Justin attached the shelves to the wall.

I put some of our favorite books on the shelves, and the project was complete!

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I am still dreaming of ways to transform this tiny space, but this was a great first step. I picture lots of cozy reading happening in here!

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Overall, this was a great experience! Justin and I had a fun time planning what to do and working together to complete the shelves. It was nice quality time and we both feel really good about the finished project. The project itself was relatively easy, quick to execute, and didn’t cost us any money. Plus we took our first step towards improving this little nook and I’m really happy with it! I can definitely see more DIY Date Nights in our future ūüôā

Easy DIY Basement Updates

With all this extra time at home, I’ve been itching for a home project to focus on. I didn’t want a huge renovation project right now, just something to stay busy and distract myself from all the stress and anxiety going on. After talking with Justin about a few smaller project options, I settled on sprucing up the basement, particularly the TV/den area.

Here’s where we started:

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Pretty lackluster, huh?

Our basement was one of the big selling points of the house when we first bought it: I think it was built with the idea of being an in-law living area because in addition to having the guest bedroom and bathroom, it also has a large multipurpose space with a full kitchen. It has great potential and we see this as a perfect space for entertaining and a great recreation space for our family as our kids get older, but it was painted brown and just seemed a bit dingy and dated. Since moving in, we haven’t really focused on it very much other than to put in some furniture and other random things that didn’t go anywhere else (like our treadmill ha!) or to store piles of things I’m decluttering.¬† Now that the guest suite renovation is finished, I wanted to focus on freshening up the rest of the level.

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We didn’t have the budget to do much and social distancing prevented me from going out and getting a ton of things anyways, but I knew that a fresh coat of paint could work wonders. I settled on Sherwin Williams Repose Gray because I painted the guest bedroom trim this color (tinted at 75%) so I knew it would tie the two spaces together and it’s a nice versatile greige (gray+beige) that works really well in an open-concept space. Justin tucked up all the surround sound speakers into the ceiling for now (we aren’t currently using them but might someday) and I got to work!

All I planned to do for now was paint; however, once I started priming the walls and reached the half-wall where our foundation lies, I knew I wanted to also do a small update here too. I actually don’t mind the wall itself and actually like having a ledge to put plants, artwork, etc. What I minded was the dated trim on either side of the ledge – I wanted a simple, clean look and decided to try to remove the trim.

I recruited Justin’s help, and he used a small crowbar to pry off the old trim.

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The wall behind the trim wasn’t in great shape. In many places, there were large gaps between the walls and the board on top of the ledge. We didn’t want to replace the ledge board (because, $$$!) but I believed we could get creative and work with what we had.

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First up, Justin took plasting patcher we already had and patched as much of the wall as he could. He used a putty knife to smooth down the plaster and let it dry overnight. There were a few areas where the wall was so bad that he needed to patch a few layers. Once everything was dry the following day, he took a sanding block and sanded all the areas smooth.

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The pictures above are just one small portion of the wall, but we did this for the whole length of the wall.

There were still gaps between the wall and the board. I knew I could caulk them, but some of the gaps were really big and I didn’t want to waste a ton of caulk. I bought this caulk backer rope and it was the perfect solution! It filled in the gaps and allowed me to just caulk over top. I just squished the rope in there and cut it to the correct length with scissors. In some areas, I had to use 2-3 layers of rope because the gap was so deep – imagine how much caulk that would take! This was a really great way to save a ton of time and money.

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I used the filler in all the gaps on both edges of the board and then caulked over it with a paintable silicone caulk. We already had the caulk gun and one tube of caulk, but I did end up needing to buy one more tube of caulk because the other one was already halfway used up. I gently smoothed over the caulk with a wet paper towel to ensure it had a nice, even finish.

Look at that difference! From freshly ripped off trim, to a patched and sanded wall with caulk filler, to a caulked gap, ready to be painted!

I needed to wait overnight to let the caulk dry because I had to use so much of it in some areas. The next day, I was able to finally paint primer + 2 coats of repose gray to finish the project!

It’s certainly not perfect, but I think it looks 100x better. I love the clean lines and simple look of the ledge now!

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I didn’t want to spend any money on decor, so I decided to shop my house for frames, plants, and other decor to put some finishing touches on the space. (Psst – if you’re one of my very few OG blog readers, you might recognize that “W” as our wedding guest book!)

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I follow a few other DIY bloggers and home designers and sometimes it seems like many people wait until a room is 100% DONE to post the “final” picture. But I don’t want to wait to celebrate this progress. This room is far from done and I still have plans for this space. Eventually we want to replace baseboards and window trim and get new carpet throughout. I’d love to update the side table and lamp and find a new place for the treadmill still hanging out behind the couch. Our TV is still on a slightly bent folding table and we plan to mount it and have a nicer console underneath. But for now, I’m practicing contentment and celebrating the progress that has been made.

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The cost of this project was pretty minimal. I spent around $100 on paint + primer and about $13 on the extra tube of caulk + caulk filler . Other than that, I already had all the supplies needed and I shopped my own house for decor. It just took some time and work . . . and strategically placed decor like picture frames hiding unused wires and internet jacks and a plant in a basket hiding the lamp cord. The space is definitely improved and I love the simple but significant transformation!

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Sources 

Primer: Kilz 2

Paint: Sherwin Williams Repose Gray in Eggshell

Patching Plaster

Putty Knife (similar)

Caulk Backer

Caulk

Sanding Block (similar)

 

 

 

 

DIY Pallet Flower Boxes

Hi there!

Now that it finally feels like spring is here to STAY (mid-May and we’re just now getting to the point where we go a whole week without a night with temps below freezing!) I’ve got a fun DIY project to share!

Since Justin and I love being outdoors as much as possible and we hang¬†out on our back deck frequently, I wanted¬†to liven up the space¬†with some flowers. That being said, I didn’t want to take away valuable floor space with potted plants (and, to be honest,¬†I also don’t trust our puppies to leave potted plants alone just yet!) After brainstorming with Justin about ways to tweak window boxes to fit our needs, we decided it would just be easier (and cheaper) to just make¬†something ourselves. I present to you:

DIY Pallet Flower BoxesNow, the directions might look a bit intimidating. Hopefully the pictures do a good job of conveying how simple this project really was! It fits right in with my requirements of easy, inexpensive, and functional!

DIY Pallet Window/Flower Box instructions

1- Get a pallet! We asked around at local businesses — several were more than willing to get rid of old pallets they had lying around. We also found some at the dumpster near Justin’s school.

2- Select the side of the pallet that you’d like to use. We actually decided to make two boxes so we used both ends of the pallet. Saw the end off¬†to the size you want the box to be. For this step, Justin used a hand saw.DIY Pallet Flower Boxes :: simplifythechaos.com3- Using the remaining pallet (not¬†the part you’re using as your flower box), remove one long board. Justin essentially just used a hammer to knock off a board running lengthwise. This will eventually form the bottom of the flower box.

DIY Pallet Flower Boxes :: simplifythechaos.com

DIY Pallet Flower Boxes :: simplifythechaos.com4-Before nailing the bottom board onto the flower box, seal all the wood with a sealant. ¬†Justin went out to Lowe’s and bought a $4 aerosol can of exterior weatherproof sealant. He sprayed down every surface of the box and let it dry (he let it dry overnight but yours could be ready much sooner depending on temperature).

DIY Pallet Flower Boxes :: simplifythechaos.com5- Once the sealant has totally dried, attach¬†the long board you removed from the excess pallet to the bottom of your flower box. Justin used nails, but you could use screws if you’d like. He used two nails on each end and also at the post in the middle so there for a total of six¬†nails attaching the bottom board.

DIY Pallet Flower Boxes :: simplifythechaos.comSidenote: If you’re concerned about everything lining up just right, consider taking a piece of sandpaper and running it along all the edges. We knew it was going to be outside and I was okay with a more “rustic” look so we didn’t sand it down.

6- Next, take a mesh lining (we used a cheap package of $4 fiberglass screening found at Lowe’s) and cut it to fit the inside of the box. This is to keep the potting soil from falling out of the cracks¬†once you fill the box.

DIY Pallet Flower Boxes :: simplifythechaos.com

DIY Pallet Flower Boxes :: simplifythechaos.com7- Fit the mesh inside the box. At this point, you could actually attach the mesh to the box (with a staple gun or something of the like) but we did not. Once the potting soil is in the box, it will hold the mesh in place.

DIY Pallet Flower Boxes :: simplifythechaos.comThe rest of the directions will vary depending on how/where you want to hang your pallet box. We hung it from our deck railing so we needed to find sturdy hooks to hang the boxes. Since we couldn’t find any that worked, we made them!

8- We bought a $3 pack of L-shaped corner braces at Lowe’s (ours measured 2 1/2″x 5/8″) seen below.

DIY Pallet Flower Boxes :: simplifythechaos.com9- The next part is complicated. Justin measured our railing to see how wide the hook needed to be to fit over the rail and marked that spot on the corner brace.

DIY Pallet Flower Boxes :: simplifythechaos.comSee the little black mark? From the corner to the black mark is how wide our railing is. Justin needed to bend the remaining part of the brace to parallel the part sticking up in order to form a “hook.”

10- After carefully measuring, Justin then put the brace in a vice and gently hammered the brace until it was bent at the place he had marked.

DIY Pallet Flower Boxes :: simplifythechaos.com

DIY Pallet Flower Boxes :: simplifythechaos.comThe picture is hard to see, but the black mark is at the very top of the vice. Justin hammered down the part sticking up to parallel the part sticking towards the camera.

DIY Pallet Flower Boxes :: simplifythechaos.comFinished product!

11- Attach the hook to the pallet box. We used two hooks¬†of the pallet box. Justin used 1/4″ screws to attach the hooks.

DIY Pallet Flower Boxes :: simplifythechaos.com DIY Pallet Flower Boxes :: simplifythechaos.comEh-hem. Please excuse the puppy photobomb.

12- At this point, all that was left to do was hang it up on the railing and add some potting soil and flowers and voila!

DIY Pallet Flower Boxes :: simplifythechaos.com

DIY Pallet Flower Boxes :: simplifythechaos.com

DIY Pallet Flower Boxes :: simplifythechaos.com DIY Pallet Flower Boxes :: simplifythechaos.com

DIY Pallet Flower Boxes :: simplifythechaos.comI used a bunch of random flowers found at my local farmer’s market —¬†I love all the vibrant colors! I’m hoping they continue to grow and fill out the box. And yes, I¬†know our view is the best thing ever.

And that’s it! This project cost less than $15 (most of the nails and screws we already had) which was significantly less than window boxes we looked at and¬†(in my opinion) much prettier than store-bought versions anyways! It was really pretty simple to put together and the fact that we were going for a “rustic” look made our margin for error much wider. ūüėČ

I cannot end this post without giving a HUGE thank you to my super talented handy-man of a hubby! This project would not have happened without him — he did the bulk of the work and I’m so so pleased with how it turned out!

Have a great Tuesday!

 

Simple DIY Wine Charm Labels

Hello there!

I don’t know about you, but I’ve got a serious case of the Mondays. We had two days off last week due to weather so I had a hard time rolling out of bed this morning. I needed a chocolate Hershey kiss to give me an extra boost at school!

Wine Charm Labels

On Saturday night, I had a bunch of friends over for a game night. We played the F-R-I-E-N-D-S version of Scene-It and it was a blast! There was a good mix of avid and casual F-R-I-E-N-D-S fans so we played on teams — we ended up just watching a ton of the DVD clips because the show is just too funny! I highly recommend the game to any fans of the show (buy it on Amazon here).

Friends Scene It

My mother-in-law gave me a mix for a hot-spice red wine for Christmas and I decided this was the perfect time to try it out! Usually when I host a big gathering, I use plastic solo cups so people can label their cup with a permanent market. People mingle and move around so much it’s nearly impossible to keep track of whose cup is whose so labeling is key! However, hot spiced wine in solo cups is just wrong in my book so I got out my wine glasses and decided to make some labels.

I see tons of creative wine charms using wire and beads on Pinterest and to be honest, I’ve already scoured craft stores for materials to make some of my own. I think it’s such a cute way to distinguish glasses but I have never had the time or energy to put forth into the task. For my game night, I wanted something simple, cute, and most importantly, quick!

simplifythechaos.com

I started with a piece of beige card stock and some brown gift tag labels from the $1 bin at Target (am I the only one who loves that part of the store!?)

simplifythechaos.comI decided to go with the thin banners on the bottom right corner of the sheet. I had two sheets of tags so I could make twelve total labels.

I cut out around the banners and left room at the top for a single hole punch.

simplifythechaos.comNext, I pulled out a bunch of white twisty-ties (is there a more scientific name for those? I really have no idea!) that come around various items in my pantry such as bread. Being the frugal person I am, I keep all the ties in a magnetic tin on my fridge because you just never know when they will come in handy. I was very glad to have plenty to choose from!simplifythechaos.com

I kept all the labels out next to the wine glasses with a pen for people to write their name and attach the label to their glass.

simplifythechaos.comSimple? Check.

Inexpensive? Check. The tags were 2 for $1 in the Target bin and I already had the card stock, single hole punch, and twisty-ties.

Quick? You betcha! The entire process took 10 minutes maximum.

I was very pleased with how these turned out and I got compliments on them from my guests. One modification I might make in the future would be to try to get chalkboard label tags so I can re-use them with different guests’ names. Since everyone at game night was a good friend who is sure to be back at my house for one thing or another, I am saving them for the future anyways!

Have a lovely Monday!

***

Today’s outfit was dots, dots, and more dots! Seriously loving the polka dot trend right now! As always, outfit details and links to available pieces can be found on my “wear” page.

simplifythechaos.comSweater: New York & Company

Blouse: New York & Company

Pants: Express

Flats: Target

Necklace: Purple Peridot

Stud diamond Earrings (not pictured): Lia Sophia

Recent Outfits:

simplifythechaos.comsimplifythechaos.com simplifythechaos.com

Candy Corn Overload

I am on candy overload.

We had absolutely NO trick-or-treaters come to our house on Halloween and therefore have an abundance of candy leftover. I took a ton to school today because as you can imagine, it is not a good idea to leave that stuff lying around our house. Too tempting!

I also had a TON of candy corn left over. I didn’t want to bring that to school but I also didn’t want to have it all around the house. Here’s what I came up with.

candles

I have to confess that I saw something similar on Pinterest using votive candles but I tweaked it to use mason jars. We can a lot of food so we have a seemingly endless supply of mason jars. I picked three different sizes (decor looks best in odd numbers), threw some cream candles in the center, and surrounded them with a few handfuls of candy corn. I also had some thin orange ribbon stashed away and I used a few pieces to tie bows for a nice finishing touch. (Don’t judge the bows…I am notoriously bad at tying bows ¬†and this is about as good as it gets for me.)

Simple? Check.

Easy? Check.

Budget-friendly? Check

My kind of decoration! And I figure candy corn is”fall” enough that I can leave it up through Thanksgiving. Yes!

I clustered these three together but I still have a ton of candy corn left so I may put a few solo candle jars around the house for a more festive feel.

***

Today’s outfit was based on my energy level. I think I finally caught that extra hour of sleep that we got with Daylight Savings and I woke up feeling energized and ready to go! I wanted a nice bold color to match that energy level and it doesn’t get much more bold than cherry red! However, I was so energized that I left for school early and forgot to take a picture so you’re stuck with a lovely selfie from the teacher bathroom. Classy, huh?

11-05 Outfit

Cardigan: Express

Lace cami: Old Navy

Grey dress pants: Maurices

Shoes: Fergalicious by Fergie

Necklace: Premier Jewelry

Bracelet set: Express