Succulent Planter and DIY Hanging Solar Lights

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I’m having fun adding some life to our porch this year. We have had these 3 candle holders hanging on the porch for a couple summers now. They look fine but the problem is you can pretty much never burn real candles because of the wind, plus I wouldn’t want to catch our outdoor curtains on fire (See this post to find out how to keep your curtains from blowing in the wind). I tried to use battery operated candles but it was a hassle to turn them all on and take them in during bad weather. So my candle holders just hung there empty all summer long. This year that all changed.
Let’s start with the large orb candle holder.

Succulent planter and solar lights (1 of 3)

I thought this would make a great succulent planter so I ran to home depot and bought some cute succulents. I planted them all and they looked cute for a short time. Then they started dying. I know I have a brown thumb but I really thought I could keep succulents alive! I’m guessing they were getting too much rain or beat up too much by the wind or the pots were too small. Obviously I have no idea why they were giving up on life. Anyway, don’t worry no plants were harmed in this project. I replanted them in a large pot and placed it under the porch where it won’t get rain. Amazingly all the plants bounced back. Maybe my thumb is more tan than brown after all.

succulents

Actually I have to give my husband credit for saving the plants lives. After the 10th time of him telling me they were dying and needed repotted I finally did it. Notice all the other beautiful plants in the yard?

garden flowers

Yeah, I have nothing to do with that.

As luck would have it I was browsing Michaels and found cute little faux succulents already potted in white planters. I think I can maintain fake plants pretty well. I hadn’t been to Michaels in a bit and was surprised to find a little section with all kinds of cute miscellaneous items for a few bucks each. The succulents came 2 to a pack and were $3 I think. They look a little fake if you are too close but they are perfect for what I needed them for. Because the planters were square they didn’t quite fit all the way down into my candle holder. To remedy this I used E600 glue to glue metal washers to the inside of the candle holder and then glued my planter to the washers. I tried hot glue but it didn’t stick to the metal. I really like how it turned out. So far these little plants have been able to stand up to the rain, sun and wind with no problems and the best part is I can’t kill them.

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The smaller wire candle holders honestly look just fine without anything in them but I wanted to make them more functional.

diy solar pendant lights before

First I brightened them up with some rustoleum spray paint I had in my spray paint collection. It was really easy to turn them into solar pendant lights taking about 5 minutes and $3 worth of materials purchased from dollar tree. All you need is a solar light (the kind that have stakes) and floral wire. Take the cup that holds the candle out of the candle holder and flip it over. After removing the solar light from its stake it will fit right into the candle holder. Then use floral wire to secure the light in place and shape a loop to hang it by.

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I wasn’t sure if the solar lights would get enough sun but they do. They actually stay lit all night too which really surprised me, especially considering they cost a buck each.

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I peek out at them every night before bed, they are just so cute. Now I want to turn everything into a solar pendant light!

My One Year Blogiversary

Wow, I can’t believe I have actually kept up with blogging for an entire year! I really didn’t know if I would stick with it at first. My whole purpose for the blog was to kind of force myself to stick with a project and not hop to a new one before the old one was finished. I do think I’ve become better at this the past year. I tend to jump between 2 to 3 projects until they are finished. Unlike before when it was like 7 or more at a time. It is also fun to have a record of all my projects from the past year. I’m surprised I actually posted 51 times. Granted a few of my projects were from before I started blogging, but I am still amazed so many projects were actually completed. Yay, starting a blog has helped me! Here are a few of my favorite projects from the past 6 months. For even more projects you can check out my favorites list from 2013. I also included some preview pics of upcoming projects at the end of the post!

I really love these bedside lights, maybe because of the remote control

pendant light wood accent light diy
Bedside Pendant Lights

This has to be one of the most functional projects I’ve done for our home. It was so simple but has made such a big difference.

wall shoe organizer
Wall Peg Shoe Organizer

This is the project I’m most proud off. It took a while and was frustrating but turned out so well.

diamond tufting diy
Diamond Tufted Ottoman

These 2 projects were fun because they made someone else smile.

minion twinkie basket
Minion Twinkies

anna frozen costume
Princess Anna costume

One downside of blogging for me was that once I started my own blog I also started reading a lot more home/DIY blogs. Before I started blogging I felt inspired by other blogs but now I felt like I had to keep up. So many bloggers seem to have perfect, gorgeous, organized homes and can spit out new projects like crazy. I loved all the eye candy and inspiration but I found myself frustrated and unhappy because I couldn’t keep up with the list of projects in my own head. I drove myself (and husband) crazy trying to do too much and got burnt out. Then I remembered why I started my blog. I blog for my projects I don’t do projects for the blog. I also don’t do this for a living, I don’t have to post a certain amount of times or get a certain amount of hits. Realizing that really helped take the pressure off and I was able to enjoy my home and blogging again. Feeling discontent about your home isn’t fun. Sometimes you need an attitude adjustment and sometimes some elbow grease. I needed a little of both and am loving my home more than ever now. I want to make it a nice inviting space that is “us”. I want it to function well, and be beautiful. I’m working toward that and I feel lucky just to have such a nice home to begin with.

One thing, I am hoping to change this year, is to focus more on redecorating entire rooms. I do so many random projects that sometimes it doesn’t feel like anything around here looks different. Last year I did get our bedroom redecorated and the playroom partially done but this year I’m hoping to do more. I’m going to go ahead and list a few of my goals for everyone to see then hopefully by year 2 I can check them off. First off, I want to give the living room a whole new look. Right now I’m working on a floating media cabinet. I also plan to build a console table, make some floor poufs, finally do something about the fireplace wall (I ripped the mantel off almost 2 years ago with no plan), add curtains and some various other projects. So hopefully I will have a whole before and after room to show you in the not too distant future. I also really want to make our laundry room more functional and attractive. It is one of the things we really didn’t like in the house so I am hoping to change that. Maybe we can even love it, I’m hoping. I also want to reupholster some dining room chairs. Of course, I have WAY more plans than that but I’m going to keep it safe and make my public list small.
Here is a little preview of some of my to do list and some in progress projects.

upcomingprojects

I want to thank everyone who reads my blog and all my friends and family for being so supportive! I hope you find inspiration here to make your home your own.

No Blow DIY Outdoor Curtains

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The first time I saw our porch I knew I wanted to put outdoor curtains around it. I love the breezy, vacation feel they give a porch. I did not however think about how windy it is around here. They seriously just put up a sign on the interstate which reads, “Gusty Winds Next 8 miles”. It took me about 3 years to finally figure out the best hanging method for my curtains so I will share it with you. Here is how I keep my outdoor curtains from blowing away here in Tornado Alley.

The Curtains
I will start with the curtains. Our porch is 10 feet high so I had to sew them myself because most don’t come in that length. I bought marine canvas off ebay for around $5 a yard. This is the 4th year I have had them up and they have no tears and are in good shape. I take them down in the fall, wash them and store them with the patio furniture until spring. The first 3 years I used metal curtain rings to hang them. Each year I had to replace some of them and some had rusted and left small rust spots behind. This year I decided to add tabs from outdoor fabric. I like the look much better so hopefully they will hold up well.

diyoutdoorcurtaintabs

Hanging the Curtains
I first hung my curtains by stretching a cable through eye screws we put on the frame of the porch. The problem with this was it was really hard to get the cable tight and it always sagged in the middle. The curtains would slide to the middle instead of staying where we put them.

outdoorcurtainsdiy

Tightening the line and hanging the curtains was also a pain. It usually took me about 30 minutes or more of balancing on a ladder to get them up every year. Next, I decided to give conduit pipe a try. They are cheap and pretty sturdy. The short side of the porch is the perfect length for one pipe so I just drilled a hole in each end, threaded a spring link through and hung it from my already existing eye screws on the side of the porch.

diyoutdoorcurtains

For the long side, I used 2 sizes of conduit pipes and just placed the smaller one inside the larger. We can hang all the curtains within 5 minutes. It is sooo much easier plus it looks much nicer than the cable and no sag. Win, win, win!

Keeping the curtains from flying away

I discovered pretty quickly why many homes don’t have outdoor curtains around here. They fly all over the place. My first attempt to fix this was to weight the bottoms. I sewed twill ties spaced out along the bottom and tied washers on. I tied them on so they can be removed and the curtains washed. Unfortunately, the washers weren’t heavy enough to beat the breeze. Next, I strung a cable through the washers and used camping stakes to hold each end down.

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This worked better but the stakes would still get pulled out occasionally. Then I spotted the dog tie out in the garage.

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I picked up a few more and they worked perfectly. They stay firmly in the ground all summer and have yet to be pulled out. I do tie our curtains to the posts when storms are coming.

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I love our curtains. They give a little bit of a vacation feel to the porch plus add privacy and shade from the afternoon sun. So what do you think? Would you go to all this trouble for outdoor curtains?

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Lighted Wood Accent Panel (and cord hider)

diy wood accent light
I meant to post on this much earlier but my keyboard and trackpad decided to stop working on my laptop. After some phone calls with apple support, a trip to an authorized repair person an hour away, and finally shipping it to apple it is fixed. So here you go! A post on how to make wood accent light panels.
These came about because I wanted something decorative to take up some white space on the wall but also wanted something to hide the cords from my bedside pendant lights. While designing the panels I came up with the idea to add lights behind the panel for accent lighting. To start you will need to decide how large you want your panel. I used 1.5” primed mdf for my frame but if I was to do it again I would use 3” pine and stain it. I was originally planning to use canvases so the primed mdf frame worked well with the canvas.

canvas frame

Then I decided the room needed a little bit more of a rustic accent so I ripped the canvas panels off and added the wood.
To make your own you will first need to build a frame using a pocket hole jig.

wood panel frame

Next, determine the angle you want for the design and affix your first piece of lath with a nail gun.

wood accent panel

I used lath because it is cheap and already cut in thin pieces. I got a whole bundle for $12. It is not however even or smooth. For a less rustic look you may prefer to use a different type of board. After the first board is in place, nail on the rest of your boards leaving a small gap between each one. After you finish this step your piece will look like this.

accent panel wood

I used a jig saw to cut off the overhanging boards but a circular saw or table saw may work better.

panel wood accent

Next I nailed lath pieces all around the outside of the frame.

accent panel wood light

I stained my panel after it was put together but pre-staining the lath would ensure all the edges are evenly stained. I used four different stains I had on hand and just randomly stained boards so there was no defined pattern. After the stain was dry I used coax staples and attached Christmas lights around the perimeter of the frame.

wood panel light

The lights looked okay but as Christmas lights tend to do one string burnt out within a week. I picked up these lights on a recent IKEA trip and they look much better and were easier to install. Plus the cords aren’t lighted and can be hidden behind the bed more easily. To install the lights use the included hardware and screw into the frame. These lights are plugged into the remote I described in this post. Now the bedside lights and accent light are all controlled by remote. Here are what the panels look like during the day

bedroomafter

and at night

woodaccent light panel

We surprisingly use these lights every day. In the evening we turn them on so we can pass through our bedroom without turning on the overhead lights. They are also nice to turn on in the morning to acclimate your eyes. I like how the panels add a little bit of rustic to the clean white and navy of the room. They serve the purpose I wanted them too, adding some interest to a blank wall and hiding the bedside light cords. The added accent lighting is just a great bonus.

How to make inexpensive weather resistant outdoor pillows

diy inexpensive outdoor pillows
The weather has been so nice around here the past week so we decided it was time to drag our lawn furniture up from the basement. We arranged it all and then I noticed how blah it all looked. Tan, some black and gray. No color at all.

porch
After “schemeing” a bit I came up with all kinds of ideas to liven up our porch. Of course, some of these will probably take me all summer to complete. I did get some pillows made though so let’s start with them. Outdoor pillows can be expensive and hard to find in patterns you may actually like. Sewing your own solves the problem of patterns because there are so many great outdoor fabrics available. Unfortunately, outdoor pillow inserts are not cheap, especially if you want more than a few pillows. My first challenge was to find a filler material which was inexpensive and would hold up to the elements. I had run across bean bag filler when researching for another project so I checked into it a little more.

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I found out it is waterproof and it is used in outdoor bean bags as well as indoor ones. So far so good but I had to do my own tests. I ordered a bag from walmart and put some in a bowl of water for 3 days. It tested well and didn’t absorb any water so I figured it would work for my pillows.

diy outdoor pillows

I made a trip to Joanne’s and picked up some cute outdoor fabrics which were all on sale for 50% off. I also picked up some outdoor thread and zippers. Get your zippers at walmart. They are much cheaper and the exact same as the ones from Joanne’s.

inexpensive outdoor diy pillows

Check out this tutorial for an easy way to sew zippers in pillows. After they were sewn all that was left to do was stuff them. Just a warning, these little beads will cling to everything so do this somewhere you won’t mind a mess, and not right before guests are coming over or something. Fill the case with the polystyrene beads and zip up. You can put less in for a more squishy pillow or more for a firm feel. They will feel a little more bean bag like than pillow insert would but still nice. You can also get them to “chop” like down filled pillows if you like that look. They are light weight though so put them away if storms are coming so they don’t blow away. I’m planning on using this UV protectant spray on them too so they will last more than a year or two (hopefully).

diy outdoor inexpensive pillows

I did buy one pillow. The cute bird pillow is from Lowe’s. I just couldn’t pass it up. Have you started decorating your outdoor space yet?

 

DIY Braided Rope Cord Cover and Night Stand Pendant Lights

rope cord cover diy pendant light
I don’t like a cluttered nightstand. I’m not good at having surfaces covered with pretty decorative items. Especially, in the middle of the night when I am reaching for a glass of water or tissue or whatever. I’m klutzy and could never seem to turn on the light without knocking everything over.
I decided I wanted pendant lights for our nightstands but didn’t want to hassle with an electrician so I came up with an alternative (which can be easily undone if needed). I started out with 2 old shades I got from a garage sale. Only $3 for a pair of lamps, what a steal.

pendant drum shades before

I covered the shades with some fabric I had purchased because I loved it and had been hoarding it for something special. This qualified as something special. Covering the shade was pretty easy. There are lots of different methods to cover a lampshade. These were easy because they didn’t taper so I didn’t need to make a pattern or anything. You can check out some tutorials here, here and here.

pendant light and wood accent light

After the shades were done all that was left was to screw a hook in the ceiling and pair the shade with a pendant light kit. I finally tracked down a pendant light kit at Lowes designed to hold a drum shade.
But wait, pendant light cords are not pretty especially the type which plug into the wall.

pendant cord before

There had to be something I could do to make these lights more attractive other than the standard chains you see on old swag lights. While searching through online images I came across this light from west elm (it took me so long to write this post it is discontinued now) I loved the rope cord and decided to replicate it.

It turns out it was fairly easy and cheap to do myself. All you need is sisal rope (or cotton rope for a less rustic look) scissors and a hot glue gun. I would also recommend gloves if you use sisal rope. It would probably be easiest to buy 3 roles of rope. Of course I did not do it that way and just unrolled the rope and cut it into 3 pieces. Tie the ends of the rope together and secure them to something and then start braiding. I put mine under the leg of a chair. This is where having it still in the original rolls would have made it much much easier. Once it is braided tie off the end. Coil the rope around the cord about 5 or 6 times and run glue along the tops of each piece.

diy rope cord cover

Then press them together and hold for a few seconds. Continue on like this until you cover the cord. I made sure to glue the rope to its self and not the cord but I did get some glue on the cord at one point.

rope cord cover

After it dried I peeled it off and it had not damaged the cord at all. I only went up to the ceiling with my cord because I had plans to build wood accent panel lights which the rest of the cord could be hidden behind. You could easily just cover the entire cord and let it hang down the wall though.

pendant light wood accent light diy

It is nice to have pendant lights instead of lamps cluttering up the nightstand but I still had a problem. It wasn’t easy to get to the cords to turn them on. Luckily they make really neat remotes you can plug any lamp into.

pendant light remote

Mine will operate 3 lamps. I use the first 2 buttons for the pendant lights and the 3rd button for my wood accent lights. All you do is plug the base into an outlet and plug your light cord into the base. They have worked perfectly.
We just got one remote but if you wanted there are kits with 2 remotes as well.

I will post the details on the Wood Accent Light Panel soon.

diy wood accent light

 

DIY Frozen Princess Anna costume

anna frozen costume
A couple days before my niece’s 4th birthday party I realized I didn’t have a present. I texted my brother to see if he thought she would like a felt garden. He thought she would but also started talking about how much she loves Frozen and her new Anna doll. So I decided to make her a frozen costume since she also loves dressing up. I’m not quite sure why I do things like this. Normal people would just go to ToysRUs but I feel the need to make a whole costume in a little over a day. We also had date nights planned for both evenings of the weekend so I pretty much had Saturday for a few hours. Luckily, Greg was very sweet and entertained Jbug.
I don’t consider myself a good seamstress, but after completing Jbug’s Girly Bird Costume
I felt pretty confident I could pull this one off. I think I am one of the few people out there who has not seen Frozen so I searched the web for images and tried to figure out what fabrics would look best. Depending on where I looked the cape was purple or pink and the hat had white or light blue trim. Luckily I found directions and patterns online which of course made it sooooo much easier. For the cape I used this tutorial.

anna frozen cape

I used dark purple pompoms and lace and a fushia/purple fleece.

drozen cape anna

I also used some interfacing to stiffen up the collar. Besides that I just followed her directions. It was pretty straightforward and simple. My favorite part is the clasp which is from Joanne’s.

frozen anna cape

Of course, I couldn’t just make a cape. My niece loves gloves so I had to make those too. I found this mitten pattern and made some light blue mittens and went ahead and added left over pompom trim.

frozen anna costume gloves

Now for the hat, I used this pattern to make a fleece hat and it turned out WAY too small. Probably my fault because I didn’t take time to watch the video and just winged it. I had enough fabric left to make a hat without lining so that is what I ended up with. All I did to change the pattern was round and shorten the ear flaps a little. I wanted to make it so she could wear the hat without the hair but if I did it again I think I would just have the braids attached to the hat. If you make the hat correctly you could sew them in between the lining and the outer part of the hat pretty easily.

princess anna costume hat

 

anna frozen costume

Anyway the hair is the only thing I didn’t use a pattern for so I will show you how to do it. First decide the approximate length you want the hair to be and find something a little bit longer than that to wrap it around. I used a cutting board but the hair was too short so I used a thin canvas board for the second one. Remember the braids will shorten the hair a little. Wrap the yarn around your board, canvas, whatever until you get the desired thickness.

anna frozen hair diy

Cut the yarn across and you will be left with evenly cut “hair”. Now tie some yarn around the end and braid about one third of the yarn and tie with another piece of yarn. Do the same for the other side so it looks like this.

anna frozen diy hair

Now hot glue the hair to a piece of stiff felt.

anna frozen hair

Then glue the felt to the underside of a headband. I got this sparkly one for a $1 at Joanne’s.

frozen anna costume hair

anna costume frozen cape

Since presentation is everything I wanted to make a fancy place for her to store her costume. I had a hat box from my wedding I wasn’t using so I printed a frozen image onto sticker paper, added some photo corners and a ribbon and was all set. The box turned out really cute but apparently I forgot to take a photo of it. Oops. My niece really loved the gift and came down the next morning in it so all the hard work was worth it!

frozen anna costume