Thursday, October 10, 2013

Do You Have It? GUTS!

This is Kerry - I've decided to take over Steph's blog for a post and talk to you about something near and dear to my heart.  No, I'm not talking about Stephanie - I'm talking about good old classic Nickelodeon television.   If you were born in the mid 80s, you were a kid of the 90s and know exactly what I'm talking about.

Growing up, I religiously watched Nickelodeon Guts.  For those who don't know what Guts is - it is American Gladiators for kids…except with Ghostbuster Mike O'Malley hosting, and "Mo" refereeing.  Kids would compete in various events with the finale being the Aggro CragMega Crag, Super Aggro Crag (ok they seriously renamed it enough times).  The Aggro Crag wasn't just any ol' event - it was a treacherous mountain climb (28 feet) with rock avalanches (foam boulders), nuclear flying crystals (glitter), and strobe lights.  The winner of the game got a piece of the "radical rock" and hoisted it above their head in victory knowing they just did something that every 9 year old wanted to do. Come on, who isn't excited?

Several months ago, we hosted a 90s party complete with dressing up in our 90s gear that we dug out from the thrift shop…or had been holding on to since 1998.  We also decked out the house with 90s gear, food, and brought out a Nintendo 64 in full standard definition.  More importantly, we created a DIY, homemade Aggro Crag!

You can buy (or make) foam ones on ebay and other places, but where is the fun in that?  At first, I wanted to go super realistic and cast it in resin.  It didn't get past the WAF - wife approval factor - so I had to come up with plan B.  Plan B consisted of some cheap plastic materials, wood, some cement glue, some lights and an array of tools.  So if you are looking to make your own Aggro Crag, here is how we did it and this is what it looked like at night:

  • 2 Polystyrene Lighting Panels
  • 1 2x4x8 piece of wood
  • 6ft+ of Electroluminescent Wire (EL wire) - green
  • Cement Glue
  • Hot Glue Gun
  • Screws
  • Sharpie
  • Nail Polish Remover
  • Saw and Dremel if you have one)
  • Exacto/Utility Knife
  • Screwdriver
First thing was to get the right design for the Crag.  Having studied the Crag in my youth my entire life (thank you Nick GAS), this wasn't too hard to do.  Stephanie freehand drew the design on some extra paper we had lying around and then cut it out.  It looked pretty good. The tall end was about 20.5 inches and the small end was about 8.25 inches.  The base was 20.5 inches.

We then traced the design onto the lighting panels using a sharpie.  The panels have 2 sides - one was smooth and the other had cracked texture.  We traced the first one so the cracked texture would be facing out.  So after we traced the first one, we traced it again on another panel.  Don't forget though, if you want the cracked texture on the outside for both sides (I recommend), you'll need to flip over the crag template or flip over the panel.  So now that we've got the patterns, it was time to cut out the Crag.

This was where it got a little bit ugly.  Polystyrene isn't the easiest to work with - it is prone to cracking - and our trip to Lowes didn't prove fruitful in finding some other type of plastic that was both rigid, cuttable, and had a neat texture to it. There were a couple options for cutting the light panels - either a saw or using a utility knife and scoring.  We went with option 2 and scored the plastic along our pattern (useful to use a straight edge to help guide you).  Once scored, you need to carefully split it.  If you put too much pressure, you will probably crack the plastic.  So keep scoring until it comes off fairly easily.  Be patient.  

After the two main side pieces, we cut out the 7 top and side pieces to connect the two main pieces together to create the true 3D look.  Some of this was trial and error to get the pieces to fit - luckily the pieces flexed a little bit.  You can see the pieces in the picture below (obviously taken after the Crag was complete).

So now that the plastic was cut, we needed a base - we made it 22 inches x 6 inches and used wood to give it some weight.  We cut the wood and screwed all the pieces together.  Worried that the plastic wouldn't be stable enough, I used a Dremel to make some grooves in the wood (a saw would probably work too) that the plastic would sit in.  After putting some wood glue over the screws and sanding, we painted the wood black and stuck a GUTS label on it.

At this point, you could just cement or hot glue the pieces together and place it on the base and call it quits.  But I was going for the full on effect.  With the 9 feet of EL wire I bought, the Crag would certainly have a "WOW" factor.  We couldn't find any good glow in the dark spray paint, so we went with the EL Wire (see below).  It actually ended up looking fine without the paint. 

To put the finishing touches, we taped the EL wire to the inside of the Crag and velcroed the EL wire battery pack/switch to the inside of the base.

So this is what the finished product looked like: in the daylight and at night.  Pretty rad, dude!

Will it stand the test of time?  Doubtful.  But at least for a day, I can hoist a piece of the glowing radical rock and fulfill my childhood dream.

Do you have it? GUTS!


Monday, September 16, 2013

'Wood' You Marry Me? 5 Year Anniversary Gift

On September 13, Kerry and I celebrated our five year anniversary.  I can't believe that we have been married for that long !  We actually aren't big gift givers for our anniversaries and we usually try to take a trip to celebrate.  In the past years, we've gone to Arizona, Tennessee, Colorado, and this year we went the Lone Star State - Texas !

So, the suggested gifts for five years is wood or silverware.  We really don't need any silverware and I couldn't think of any furniture needs either.  But while I was in Texas, I did some shopping and spotted a block of wood with some twine that was used as a picture "frame."  I figured, why buy it when I can make it, DIY style.

  • 8X8 wood block canvas (got mine at Michael's)
  • Brown paint
  • Modge Podge
  • Thick twine or hemp cording

  • Paint brush
  • Staple gun
  • Glue gun and stick
  • Hand sander (or a piece of sand paper)
First, I painted the front, four sides, and part of the back of the wood canvas.  Once it was dry, I put a very light coat of Modge Podge just to seal it and give it a little gloss.  The bottle looks like it is from the 60s (I've actually had it since 2000 and it is just about done) !

Once it was fully dry again, I took a little hand sander and sanded the edges to rub off some paint.  I also did the corners a bit to "round" them.  This gave it a little rustic/worn look to it.  Ok - so the picture is taken inside, but I definitely didn't sand it inside, otherwise my next picture would have been of me vacuuming the floor.

After that, I took the cording and stapled one end to the back, then wrapped it around about five times.  I stapled it once while I was wrapping, then again at the end to keep it tight.  Then I used some extra cording, tied a bow, and hot glued the bow to the cording.  DONE!  So simple and cute.

I found a nice picture of the two of us from a winery last year and popped it in there.  

I love it !  I couldn't wait to give it to Kerry.  I had to go over to my neighbor's house to show her, otherwise I would have given it to Kerry a couple days early…I ruin surprises because I get too excited about them.

This was such a quick and simple project.  You could use any color paint and probably even put in a 5 x 7 picture as well.  Love it !  And so did Kerry.  It is in his office as I write this.

What else have you used as a frame for a picture?

Now you can Do It Yourself Too !


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Artsy Lunchware

This post is SOO long over due.  I started this about a year ago, before last year's school year…

The end of August brings me to setting up my classroom.  I got this little idea from my school's fantastic art teacher. She has sets of IKEA plastic dishes connected by fish string and hung by color above her tables.

So I just borrowed her idea, got myself some IKEA dishes, drilled some holes, added some fish string and got some pretty cool ways to group my students by colors.  

I just attached the fishing string to a paperclip and shoved them in between the ceiling tiles.   Each color hung over either a row or a group of student desks…depending on how talkative well-behaved my students were at the time.  

I actually never got a chance to stand on top of a chair all last year to take a picture, so you won't actually see a final result - but it was a great way to add color to the room and divide my students up.

How do you divide and label your student groups?  

Now you can Do It Yourself, Too !


Monday, April 8, 2013

DIY Herringbone Art

Hello again !  We are finally getting some nice, warm weather down here in Virginia !  So glad !  Here is another post about my spring break projects.  This one is about our master bath.  Even though I put up a new shelf and word cloud in our master bath, above the bathtub was in dire need of some artwork.  See how bland looking this is??? 

This big, blank wall has just been begging for something to cover it since we moved in and I haven't been able to find the right piece of art…until I came across this gorgeous picture:

It was love at first sight.  I knew that I wanted to attempt to make this for the bathroom using sea blues and greens to match the teal in the word cloud I made a couple of months ago.  Plus, I think that blues and greens are soothing and calming.  So, I gathered my materials and went to work.

  • Canvas (any size you'd like - mine was 24 in. X 30 in.)
  • Painter's tape
  • Paints of your choice (used acrylics - some are waterproof)
  • Paint brush
  • Something to put paint in to mix
  • Foam roller brush
  • Tweezers (if needed)

I searched through my old paint class materials and found my disposable pallet pad.  It is essentially a tablet of wax paper.  It's pretty cool and easy to use because once you are finished, you just roll it up and throw it away.  I just squeezed dots of paints onto the pallet, mixed colors, and painted a crazy meld of colors.  Once the canvas was covered with paint, I almost wanted to stop here and put it up, but instead I proceeded to the herringbone pattern.

I let it dry for about a day before I placed the tape on it.  Cutting the tape was the most tedious part of this project.  I cut about 108 pieces of tape at 4.5 inches each.  It helped to stick the pieces of tape on something as I cut it, hence the chair full of tape.  I suggest cutting all pieces first, then place the tape on the canvas.  

For the tape, I started on the top left and placed the first piece of tape.  Then I placed a second piece of tape perpendicular to the first, and then the third as parallel to the first - this picture might explain better:

After I finished one row, I started the second row.  After all rows were finished, I pulled some pieces of tape off to get the "blank" pieces.  I ran out of tape midway so had to use a different brand of painter's tape that had some design on it, just in case you were wondering why there are two colors of tape.

Then I took my foam roller and white paint and rolled over the entire canvas.  I only did one "thick" layer of paint.  This part was fun !

While the paint was still wet, I started to peel off the tape.  The edges were easy since there was tape to grab, but I needed tweezers to grab the corners of the other pieces in the middle. Some paint did get under the tape and left little splotches.  I was able to carefully wipe some off, but I figured from far away no one would really notice. 

It was pretty neat to see how the pattern came put as I continued to peel off the tape.  Here is the finished product :

I love it !  The colors are great and the pattern looks awesome.  The first row is a little slanted, but who would notice?

It didn't take long to dry and when it was finished drying I added some wire to hang it like I do my frames.  Then I grabbed a picture hook and went upstairs to our bathroom to hang it.  

Well, let me tell you that once I hung it in the bathroom, I no longer liked the painting. I mean, I like the painting, but not in the bathroom.  I think the colors are all wrong and the herringbone pattern is too much pattern with the tile below it.  AND, I think that the canvas is too small.  Ah crap.  

It has been hanging up in the bathroom for over a week now and I'm trying to get used to it, but it looks like it might end up coming down.  Then I'll be back to square one with a big, blank wall.  The painting might end up in another room…or in storage until I find a better home for it.  Even though it didn't work out in the bathroom,  I'm glad that I made it because making the pattern with tape was a lot of fun.  And painting brought back some good memories from my painting class in college.

Now you can Do It Yourself Too !


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Going Vertical

This summer will be our third summer in the new house.  Each year, I start a beautiful garden in the back with hopes of a fruitful harvest and each year (well, just the past two since we've lived here) I get squash squat.  Actually I do get a zucchini or two, but my tomato plants rot from the bottom and only a handful of beans will grow.  It is a pretty pathetic site. 

This year, I am set on not letting it happen again.  I've decided to take a different approach this year.  Beans in the back up against a trellis, tomatoes in the front, and lots of potted veggies, like lettuce and bell peppers.  Also in pots will be my herbs - but I always grow some hearty herbs in a pot...I suppose you can't really mess up herbs (Hopefully I didn't just jinx that).

I have already started my garden in the little newspaper pots like I did last year, in hopes of planting them into the garden in a few weeks.  By the way, Punxsutawney Phil needs to look for a new job - spring did NOT come early this year.  The weather has been wacky lately.  We just had 4+ inches of snow last week - but hopefully it'll soon be warm enough to plant my seedlings.  

So on to making my garden better: the trellis. It is pretty simple to make, but I had to bring in some muscle to help me near the end (hubby to the rescue) to finish it.

  • Hand saw (or saw of choice)
  • Drill
  • Wire Cutters
  • Pliers (if needed)
  • Hammer
  • 3 pieces 1 X 2 X 8 treated pine 
  • Cage wire
  • Wire Cloth Staples
  • Screws/Nails

First, I sawed the wood to a little over 5 feet so it wasn't taller than my fence.  I used two of the leftover pieces for the top and the middle.  I used my drill to make holes and then screwed all the pieces together. I used some nails for extra reinforcement near the top.  Here is what the frame looked liked:

After the frame was made, it was time for the cage wire.  At first, I thought my heavy duty staple gun would be able to connect the wire to the wood - WRONG ! The cage wire was so thick that the staples kept popping out.  Maybe the staple gun would have worked with a thinner wire (or a seriously heavy duty staple gun).  So I had to run over to Ace and grab some staples that I could hammer in.  Thankfully Ace is less than a mile away because there was one time when one of us (hint: not me) went there more than a handful of times in one day while doing another home improvement project.  For this project, I just needed one visit :). 

I used the wire cutter to cut the cage to fit across the cage - not up and down because the frame was just a bit too wide.  This is where the muscle came in.  Kerry had to finish cutting the wire because it was just too hard to cut. You would think cutting wire wouldn't be hard, but after getting an arm workout cutting just a few wires, I couldn't finish it.   Once the hubby was done cutting, we hammered in the big staples over the wire. We hammered the staples in about every 2-3 inches, sometimes closer to make sure the wire stayed on the wood.  Even some of those kept popping out too!  It was like playing a game of whack-a-mole - we would hammer in one and a staple would pop out at the other end. 

Once we were finished, I just set it in my garden and leaned it up against the fence.  I used some floral wire to attach it to the fence so that it won't fall forward.

Now I just need my beans to sprout and some warm weather to plant outside !  We'll see how well this trellis holds up through the summer.

How do you go vertical in your garden?  What is your favorite vegetable to plant vertically?

Now you can Do It Yourself Too !


Monday, April 1, 2013

Coasting Into Spring: DIY Tile Coasters

Boy, did spring break go by fast ! If you celebrate Easter, I hope you had a wonderful weekend full of family, candy, and eggs.

I'd like to make a quick post about some coasters that I made.  This is a fairly popular project around the internet and it is easy to do.  Last year I made a bunch of these as Christmas gifts but now I'd like some for our house to use outside when we entertain.


  • Scrapbook paper with the design of your choice (I've also seen people use pictures, maps, or pretty cloth)
  • White 4.25 X 4.25 inch tiles (got mine at Lowe's)
  • A foam painting brush
  • Mod Podge
  • Sealing spray
  • Cork
  • Tacky glue

Cut your scrapbook paper into 4 X 4 inch squares.  Then brush some mod podge on the tile to "glue" the paper on. Place the paper on the tile and carefully smooth it out with the brush.  Make sure there are no air bubbles in the middle. You might also need to hold down the corners and edges for a few seconds so that they do not pop up.  

Then use the foam brush again to cover the entire top of the tile with the Mod Podge.  This helps to seal and protect it. Let it dry completely.  Maybe a half a day or less.  

Once it is dry, take the tiles outside to spray with a clear sealer.  This helps to make it water resistant. I placed mine on a cooling rack on top of cardboard to make sure that the grass doesn't get stuck on the tile when it is sprayed.

Let these dry outside for about a half a day as well.  Sometimes the spray has strong fumes, so you might need to keep it out longer (as long as it is a nice day out).  

Once the sealer has dried out, the tiles are ready for the backing.  The bottom of the tiles are a bit rough, so you'll want to put something on the bottom so they don't scratch your table.  I cut 4 X 4 inch pieces of crock from cork sheets that I purchased at Michael's a while back.  You could also use felt or some other soft, yet firm material.

I just used tacky glue, spread it all around the back, placed the cork on and let it dry.  Once the cork is on and the glue is dried, they are ready to be used !  

Now we just need some warm weather and friends to pop over for some fresh drinks.

If you're making them as gifts, stack them up once they are dry and tie them together with a pretty ribbon: 

How are you getting ready for warm weather?

Now you Can Do It Yourself Too !


Monday, March 25, 2013

Yay for Spring Break !

Let's just say that my DIY'ing has been put on hold for a while due to being busy…duh.  So before my spring break started, I made a long list of things that I wanted to do around the house + crafting.  I have been pumping out projects like crazy !

Some projects are gifts for friends, so I won't be able to post those until later, but others are for our house.  Once they are complete (some have been put on hold a little more since it started snowing…not so springy here) I will share !

Come back later this week for some finished projects!


Thursday, March 7, 2013

Springin' in More Towels

Last year, when I made some cute Easter hand towels, they caught my cousin's eye.  So she asked me to make her some for this Easter and I did: 
^ Towels before snap and button.

I purchased two towels last year when they were on sale and cut them in half, thus getting four hand towels.  

This is the post about the very first time that I made the hanging towel.  It gets a lot easier to make them after you do a few of them.  The longest part is tracing and cutting out the "handle" parts.  I am still sewing snaps instead of making a button hole because: 1. I still don't know how to sew a button hole and 2. I like the snaps better.  

So, there you have it.  A little spring action for you.  I've been lucky enough to have a couple snow days, but used it to clean instead of craft.  It sure is nice being a teacher !

Now you can Do It Yourself Too !


Monday, February 18, 2013

Some Fabric Wall Art

Finally, I have found something little to hang on our bedroom walls !  I'm sort of hesitant when it comes to hanging things up on walls…well, bedroom walls.  A big wall, like our stairwell wall, is easy to decorate since it's one wall with a bunch of frames.  But having to decorate FOUR walls in one room makes me a little anxious.  Having to make it all flow together and look good is what makes me a little nervous.

Back in June, I hung up some pictures above our bed.  That was easy because it seemed like a perfect space to hang some frames:

However, I have a bunch of wall space that still needs some love in our room.  Since it still makes me a little nervous about what and where I should hang, I figured I'd tackle a small area.  This little wall next to our bathroom door seemed like a good spot to hang something…baby steps.

The other day, as I was browsing through Pinterest…again…I found the idea to frame fabric.  Perfect!  Kerry and I headed to IKEA today for some Billy bookcases and I made a pit-stop in the frame section and picked up two RIBBA frames for $9.99 each.  

I still had some leftover fabric from the curtains I made for our room and felt that it would be a pretty pattern for the frames.  As soon as we got home, I went to work on the fabric.  I cut out a piece that would fit in the frame, taped it to the back of the matte, and hung it up.  Soo easy !

I think it looks great…now for the rest of the walls in our room :/  This was a very simple and easy project to add a little more color and decor in the room.

How do you know what to hang up on your bedroom walls?

Now you can Do It Yourself Too !


Sunday, February 10, 2013

No Elf on the Shelf Here !

Have you ever had some nice gifts from Christmas, wedding, or birthday that you want to put in your house, but just haven't found the perfect place for it?  Well, Kerry and I have been married for almost five years now and we received two pretty shelves as gifts from family friends…we did register for them…and they have been sitting under our guest bed since we moved in.  Now, give me some slack here - we did rent for our first three years of marriage so it was pointless hard to hang things up.

Well, I was inspired by a friend to get a move on figuring out a place for at least ONE of the two shelves.  It now has a home in our master bathroom.  Above the toilet was a nice, blank wall that needed some decor love, so I figured that would be the perfect spot for a shelf.  

To hang up the shelf, I spread some painter's tape across the back from hole to hole. I made sure that the top of the tape and the top of the shelf were of equal length so that it would be level.

Then I just poked a tiny hole in the tape where the nails would go.  Then I placed the painter's tape on the wall, made sure it was level, and drilled in two screws.  

Then I took off the tape and hung the shelf.  Ta da !

On the shelf, I placed an Elf on the Shelf…Just kidding ! I placed two candle holders that I purchased from IKEA awhile ago (which have also been needing a home) and a framed word cloud.

You can download mine here or you can make your own here. There are other websites out there to make word clouds, but I find this one fairly simple to use.  I printed out the cloud, taped it to some card stock I had on hand, made some circles, and placed it in the frame.  Love it!

This was a quick and simple update to our bathroom and the the word cloud makes me smile when I see it.  It also adds a little color to the bathroom since it is so neutral.

What little addition have you added to spruce up your home?

Now you can Do It Yourself Too!