Tuesday, November 22, 2011

CHEAP DIY Photo Canvases

I know it has been FOREVER since I last posted on my blog.  I’m sorry—I have been to buys living my life to blog about it.  But I am SO EXCITED about the most recent project that I just finished that I had to run up to my computer and write a post about it.

To start off—let me just explain that my family just got our family pictures taken for the first time.  Now—when I say the first time—I really mean that this is the first time that we haven’t gone to SEARS portrait studio with our coupon and been forced to sit in a tiny little room with our whole family and try and smile and act like we were having a grand old time—while really we were all hating it and the pictures showed how much we were hating it.  We were then forced to choose one pose according to our coupon—and we had to choose from 2 or 3 pictures—all of which we really disliked to begin with—so that we could get our blessed pictures!

So—as I was saying—this is the first time that our family had our pictures taken by a professional—out in the real world with the gorgeous fall landscape as our beautiful background.  We were so at ease—we actually had a great time at the photo shoot—and it shows!!  Our pictures turned out amazing!!!  And we had SO MANY to choose from!!  It was truly a wonderful experience!

So now that our pictures were taken and turned out beautifully—I had a GIANT BARE NAKED wall in our home (our stair wall) that I wanted to turn into our gallery wall. 

I really love the look of a ton of pictures on a wall—but knew that framing all of those pictures could be VERY costly.  So I didn’t really know what I was going to do.

BUT THEN my awesome sister Michelle, sent me a link to THIS tutorial of how to make your own photo canvases!!!  It is PURE GENIUS I tell you!!  And the answer to my picture wall dilemma.

So I RAN to the hardware store and got one 8 foot sheet of 1” Styrofoam insulation and then ran to the fabric store and got 2 yards of black fabric.

And this is what I did:

First I got out some paper and cut out a random assortment of sizes and shapes—and I started taping them up on my wall until I was happy with the layout.


Then I went to my computer and chose which pictures would go where and cropped them to size and ordered them on Costco.com.  (The sizes ranged from a 16x20 to 5x7s)

Next I traced out the shapes of all of my pictures on the Styrofoam and labeled them (I really did this with a ruler and didn’t actually trace my pictures—so as not to bend them)


Next I TRIED to cut them out myself using a razor blade (which is the way the gal said she cut some of hers with)—but that ended in DISASTERLY rough and gnarly edges that looked HORRIBLE.  So I stopped after one attempt and then had my sweet hubby cut the rest of them with his table saw.  He did an AMAZING job at getting them PERFECTLY straight!


Next I cut a piece of fabric slightly larger than each square.


And then I wrapped them up like a present and stapled all the ends down with a regular stapler.  There is no need to be fancy or to wrap the whole back of it—because no one is going to see the back side.


I would recommend getting a little more fabric than you think you will need.  I didn’t and I came CRAZILY close to not having enough to finish this project.  Anyhoo—I made sure to use a lot of staples to make it secure—and I was SUPER ANAL and CAREFUL to fold the corners just right as to have them crease perfectly and not look POOCHY.


I found that PRESSING the corners down with steam really helped them to lie flat and almost disappear.


Next I finished off the back with Duct Tape to secure the whole thing.


Then I took all the canvases out the my garage and sprayed the fabric fronts of the canvases with this spray glue that I already had on hand.


Then I carefully placed the pictures on each one and gently rubbed them with a soft towel until they had adhered.

Next for the hanging.

The gal in her tutorial hung her canvases with velcro—and I almost did too—until I pulled off the backing to the velcro and felt how sticky that stuff is.  I figured if I ever wanted to change things up—I didn’t want to have to patch holes in my wall from tearing off chunks of my wall where that crazy sticky velcro was.   And so we found these little picture hooky things in our stash that were perfect.  I placed a little hot glue on the back to make sure that they stayed on securely.


Next I laid out all my pictures again on the floor…


And then tried to get them in as close to the same spots on the wall as I could.  I have to say that it is pretty hard to hang stuff when you are standing on stairs.  I was able to hang all but 2 of them.  Then I brought in the big guns to hang the ones I couldn’t reach.  We make a good team that way.   (He’s standing on a stool here and still having a hard time reaching.  It really was difficult!  Apparently we need to get one of those ladders that does stairs!)


Then we stood back and admired our handy work.




I am SO IN LOVE with how this project turned out.  I have already had a ton of comments and ooohs and aaaahs on this project.  And everyone is SHOCKED when I tell them that I made these guys and at how much I spent.


And how much did I spend?

The foam insulation from Lowes: $8.98

2 Yards of Black Fabric from Joann’s: $5.50 with coupon.

Grand Total: $14.48

And I probably spent around $40 for the pictures to be printed at Costco.  I had a ton of other pictures printed and Christmas cards done all at the same time—so I’m not super sure and I am too lazy at this particular moment to figure it out.  All I know is that it seemed like a good deal for all that I got.

And just today I went to Walmart and bought a frame for another picture we had enlarged—and I bought a CHEAP PLASTIC FRAME and it was over $15!!  Just for this one LOW QUALITY frame!!


So this just goes to show how great and thrifty this project really is.  AND in a couple years time—when we get our pictures taken again—I can just peel off the pictures and glue on new ones—or refabric them for a few bucks! 

I will definitely be using this idea again.


Friday, October 14, 2011

Canvas + Paint Chips = Awesome Art

I came across THIS awesome idea for using paint chips to create custom art MONTHS and MONTHS ago:

This is my inspiration piece from Life Crafts and Whatever


—and I have been wanting to give it a try ever since. 

one.  because it looks like custom, awesome art that you would pay big money for.

and two. because you get all the chips for free and so it hardly costs you anything!!!  I’m cheap like that.

So I started by collecting a ton of paint chips every time I went to the paint isle in Walmart and Home Depot and then cut them down into uniform squares (and the way I determined the size of squares was just taking the width of the paint chips and just cutting the other edge so that it was a square—it saved me on the amount of cuts I had to do.  However—not all the paint chips I collected were the exact same width—so then I did have to cut some down on both sides). 

Here I am with my adorable sister starting to cut and lay them all out.


And just let me tell you—if you are going to do a large one like I did--you need A LOT of paint chips.  I think that mine had almost 200 squares that measured over 2 and a half inches each.  So I opted to gather all my squares in a few trips rather than stuffing my purse full of 200 paint chips at one shot!

I decided to glue my paint chips onto a canvas instead of a wooden board.  Just because I wanted it to be light weight and easy to hang—and it has such a nice finished edge.  I wanted a really big one—and they just happened to be on sale at Michaels for 40% off and I had a coupon for an additional 20% off.  SO I paid something like $14 for a $40 2 x 4 foot canvas!!!

So I started off by addressing the edge of the canvas first.  I wanted them brown—so I used brown craft paint (don’t be fooled by the little can of stain in this picture—I was going to use stain—but it wasn’t getting a rich enough color—so I decided to use paint instead.) and I painted the edges of my canvas.


Here it is all painted on the edges.  Next I found the center of the canvas and drew some pencil lines making myself a grid so I would have something to keep me gluing all my squares on straight.


Then I did a practice run and laid out all of my squares before actually gluing.  I wanted to make sure that I liked the configuration of colors before I started gluing!


Then I stacked them all into piles according to their row.  Then I laid all the piles in order—and starting in the center I started mod podging them all on to the canvas.

Now—this was the hardest part.  So I don’t have any pictures of this process because I was so in the thick of all the glue and such that I couldn’t take a picture. 

But—what happened here was that as I was gluing the paint chips onto the canvas—they wanted to curl up and not lay flat.  So I would have to press them down as best I could and then lay a flat board over them while I moved onto the next section.  And finally after finishing gluing all of the pieces down—I turned the whole thing over and let it lay face down on the table with a few boards on the back of it to hold it down so that all the paint chips would be pressed flat!

This worked out all right in the end—but during this whole process I thought it was going to end up a DISASTER!  I was just thinking that I had wasted all my time and money on this wild project!!

(As I am writing this post—I just went back and read the post from my inspiration piece—and she used SPRAY ADHESIVE instead of mod podge!!!  I wish I would have read more carefully and done that!  It would have saved myself a lot of grief!!)

But finally that part was over and I could move on to the next part.

So next I put two coats of mod podge over the paint chips to seal it. 


Then I took some dark stain and put a good layer of stain over the whole thing and let it sit for a few minutes—then wiped it off.


I actually ended up wanting it a bit darker—so I did that step twice.

And I have to admit that I am in LOVE with the finished product.


I LOVE how big it is on the wall.


And I LOVE the pop of color that it gives the entry way.


But most of all—I LOVE that I made it, and that it only cost me $14!

Friday, September 16, 2011

Candyland Cake

As I mentioned yesterday, we have 2 summer birthdays.  Well, the second one is my daughter Nicole’s B-day. 


She turned 9 this year.

She also happens to be in love with anything made of SUGAR.  She LOVES candy, licorice, suckers, marshmallows, and anything and everything that is sweet!  But her absolute favorite thing is GUM.  I really think she is a relative of Violet Beauregarde from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.  She LOVES gum and can’t get enough of it.

So this year I thought it would only be fitting to make her birthday cake full of her favorite things—LOTS OF CANDY.  So I decided to make a CANDYLAND CAKE.

My friend dropped by and took a picture of me in my kitchen of chaos!  (Apparently I am a messy baker!)


But all my messy kitchen was worth it as this is what I came up with:





I think it turned out great--and she LOVED it!



It was a very SWEET birthday for a very SWEET little girl!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Assemble the Minions!

I have a so many posts to do to catch up with all the projects and things we have been doing over the summer.  It has been a very busy few months!

First off—We had a couple birthdays over the summer!  We have 2 birthdays within 2 weeks of each other.  Our first summer birthday is for this little guy:


He turned 5 this year.

His birthday was at a super busy time for our family.  So this year I needed to go SIMPLE. 

We decided to have take him and a few friends to our local Jump Around Fun Zone.  So I needed a cake that could transported easily and eaten without a whole lot of hassle. 

I had seen THIS idea a while back and new it would be perfect for my little man’s special day.

So I made these little guys using twinkies, black gel frosting, smarties for the eyes, and brown sprinkles for the hair.



And these little guys transported great in a little 9x13.


And they made this birthday boy very happy!


(And next time Mom will remember to turn the cake around before taking a picture!)


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Granite Counters and Travertine Backsplash

I am so excited to show you my kitchen!!  It is not near finished yet—but the granite counters and the backsplash are finally done!  And I LOVE THEM!!!!

So once again—where we ended off at my last post:


Here we are about half way through the mini slabs being installed.  (And yes—I know we still haven’t patched the wall so I can paint it from where we took down the old cabinets!!  That will happen this weekend—and I can’t wait to stop looking at that horrible piece of wall!)


Anyhoo--the tops are done here—but the edging and grouting are still needing to be done.


And then Viola—the countertops are in—and my good man Steve is working on the backsplash. 


We fell in love with the look of tumbled travertine—we liked that it was fairly neutral and timeless (as much as we LOVE all the glass tile and everything that is out there now—we just didn’t want to be replacing the backsplash a few years down the road if glass tiles go out of style). 

So we chose to do a mixture of subway tiles on the top and bottom and an accent strip of 4” squares in a diamond pattern.  We really loved the pattern we came up with--we just had a hard time choosing what to do with the backsplash on the breakfast bar wall.  We debated FOREVER whether we should do the full backsplash all the way around or cut it short on that wall.


In the end we decided it would be WAY too much tile on that wall and would detract from the beautiful granite—so we decided to just do 2 rows of subways with a little pencil tile on top to finish it off.  then as you turn the corner of that wall—the full backsplash starts under the cabinet.


In the end I am SO GLAD we decided to do it that way.  I love that the main focus of the breakfast bar area is this beautiful granite—and the backsplash is just a nice neutral backdrop and not fighting for center stage.


And on this wall you can see the pretty pattern and texture of the travertine.  Of course it will stand out a lot more and be MUCH MORE BEAUTIFUL after we finish painting up the cabinets white!  But even now—it is still beautiful.


And here it is with all my lovely kitchen essentials out on the counters.


I debated about whether I should tuck away our toaster and my kitchen tools and such—but the fact is that this is a working kitchen folks.  Having my kitchen FUNCTIONAL is very important to me—and if that means that you will see my pampered chef tool turntable on top of my counters—so be it!


This is a horrible picture—but I am having a major crush on my new stainless sink and faucet.  I REALLY don’t miss my white porcelain one that would scratch every time you put a dish into it.  And stain every time you washed some spaghetti sauce down the drain.  Stainless really means what it says—IT DOESN’T STAIN!!!


And my new faucet and soap dispenser ROCKS THE HOUSE!!!  I didn’t know how I would like the huge faucet with the LONG and curvy giraffe neck—but I must confess that I really, really love it!

And just another picture from a different angle of my beautiful granite!!  Doesn’t it look like a big old slab?  The seams really aren’t that noticeable! 


I am SO HAPPY with how this kitchen is shaping up!

Now all we need is a lot of this:


A bunch of these:

Drawer Knobs

And these:

drawer pulls

And a few of these:


Design House 517094 Bristol Mini Pendant Light, Satin Nickel


And then our kitchen will be complete.

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