Sunday, July 29, 2012

How to Knit a Sweet Little Remnant Rug

This is a super easy project for anyone who can do a basic garter stitch. Use whatever fabric scraps you have on hand, or if you have a particular color scheme in mind, raid the remnants section at the fabric store. I found most of what I needed at the yearly Buddhist temple rummage sale in Perry District.

All you need...

Size 17 US circular knitting needles
Lots of fabric scraps. (The longer, the better)

The amount of fabric you need will depend on the rug size you want. My finished rug was about 22x36", and I probably used close to 3 yards to achieve that length.

Cut the remnants into 1/2" strips. These don't need to be particularly neat or precise. You can go wider or skinnier depending on your preference.

 You can either tie the strips together in a knot, or making a slit at the end, loop the strips together like you would a rubber band.

 Cast on 35 stitches. Make sure these are loose enough to work with comfortably. Depending on the width of your strips and type of fabrics you are using, you made need to change this number up a bit.

Start knitting!
Knit to the end of the first row.
Repeat row until desired length.
Bind off loosely and weave in the ends. 

Simple as can be!

This Rug is so easy and has a really neat texture under bare feet.

Puppy Approved. Dirty Dishes and all.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Fixing the Floors, Part One

Its important to note that up until now my husband and I hadn't done any renovations to the upstairs. I'd been dreading it. I can barely handle the downstairs, but the idea of starting on the upper floor was just overwhelming. Besides the raggedy carpet, there is a bathroom with peeling paint and drastically outdated vinyl floors. Pink bedrooms, missing light fixtures, unlevel floors and... well, you get the idea. I'm not ready for all these tasks. I'm barely proficient with a power drill. I suppose I just need to remember to breathe and take it one project at a time.

We finally pulled the upstairs carpet this weekend. My husband and I had been putting it off all summer and we finally caved in after our plans for the lake were spoiled. What can I say, the two of us are truly gluttons for punishment. If you are thinking about removing your carpets I have one solid recommendation; Make sure you are up to date on tetanus shots. Seriously. By the end of the day my hands were covered in scrapes, pin pricks and blisters.

Technically speaking, removing the carpet and foam was the easy part. Pulling the individual staples and nailboards from the floor took the majority of the afternoon.

When we started this job we weren't really sure how bad the floors would look underneath. The entryway and dinning room carpets had already been pulled and didn't look too bad, but for everything we knew, the floors upstairs could have a great amount of water damage or any number of things wrong.

Here's what we found.

The stairs are in surprisingly good shape. Not a lot of deep scratches and it looks like there may even be some original stain still showing. the rest is painted in two different shades of brown. Maybe from a runner that used to go down the center?

The second floor is a little worse for the wear, but not completely hopeless. Its painted a light grey and covered pretty thoroughly with scratches and dents. Hopefully nothing that a heavy sanding can't cure. These aren't any kind of fancy hardwood planks (just pine I think), but with a little love I think It will turn out okay. Here's a closeup of some of the damage. Thankfully its not all  that deep.

Next step: sanding. Wish us luck!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Thrifty Thursdays

I've been so good lately. I've hardly spent a penny on anything besides groceries, and even with those I've been trying really hard to stick to my list. I had the day off today and was planning on staying home and catching up on cleaning, but I just couldn't. I had too much on my mind and was in need of a good distraction.

One of my favorite things in the world is thrifting. Its a perfect way to spend an afternoon when you just want to get away from everything. I get such a thrill from rummaging through other peoples unwanted junk. It brightens up my day completely when I find something special and really unique that someone else discarded as trash. I'd like to think I'd have a similar fondness of yard sales, but the space always seems a bit too intimate, and the prospect of intruding on someones lawn is just way too intimidating. So I'm a thrifter. 

Over the years I've learned a few things. Thrift stores can be wonderful, but if you're not careful its very easy to get carried away.  I try to stick to a couple of steadfast rules that keep me from getting into trouble.

1. Always thrift on weekdays. The middle of the week is always the best time to go. Items will be less picked over, and you won't have to fight a crowd. 

2. Know the value of an item before you buy it. Unfortunately, you can't expect to get a good price just because you're at Goodwill or Value Village. If you have a specific item in mind, do some research ahead of time.

3. Don't buy it unless you really love it. Sometimes it takes me a half an hour of wandering around the store, hanging onto that one item, deciding whether I love it or not. If all else fails, sleep on it. If the item is still there the next time you go, it was simply meant to be.

Thrifty Thursday Finds
(all for under $10)

Embroidery hoops, Napkin Set, and Floss

I don't have much experience with embroidery, but its been something I've wanted to try for a while now. Who could resist?

I tried to pick a bag that had a descent assortment of colors.

So Pretty!

Better Homes and Gardens Cookbooks

I've recently come to really appreciate older cookbooks. These recipes are simple classics, some of them are the same as my grandma makes. I love the photography as well. Something about the off colored photos just makes me happy.

A small section dedicated to Russian Cuisine including Chicken Kiev, Borsch, and Cucumber in Sour Cream (Meals with a Foreign Flair, 1963)

Cheese and Wine Pairings (How to Cook with Cheese, 1966)

Flapper Pudding- look at those colors! The recipe doesn't sound bad either. (Snacks and Refreshments, 1963)

Did I mention I have a thing for Dachshunds?

Too bizarre to pass up. The second one is missing his second half. The girl at the shop gave me the strangest look when I asked her if she had seen a dog butt in the back room. No luck, but for 25¢ I figured I would adopt him anyways. 

Much better. Glad to have gotten that out of my system. Now back to saving pennies.

Friday, July 13, 2012

How to Clean Chalkboard Paint

Several months ago I decided to be bold and use chalkboard paint for the inside door of my kitchen cupboard. I had been wanting to give this a try for a while, but was a little nervous about how it would turn out. I decided to pick a spot that was easy to hide in case it turned out poorly. The results weren't terrible, but it never wiped away as cleanly as I had hoped it would.

While researching the paint ahead of time, I found a lot of people had this issue. Despite the warnings, I just couldn't resist. I just love how chalkboards look in the kitchen. After painting, however, I quickly found many of the complaints about messy smudges to be true. Over the past couple of months, I had tried everything from traditional erasers, to household cleaners, and everything in between. Every time, the cupboard would dry only to look like a smeared mess.

The other day while playing around on StumbleUpon (My new favorite internet distraction) I came across the suggestion to use Coke as a chalkboard cleaning agent. At first glance this seemed like a terrible and sticky idea, but since nothing else had worked so far, I was willing to give it a try.

I poured about a half cup of Coke into a shallow saucer. Using a dampened cloth I dabbed at the the soda and wiped it along the chalkboard. To my absolute amazement, this worked like a charm. The Coke dried clean without leaving chalk dust or sticky residue, with the exceptions of a few spots where I went a little overboard (you only need enough soda to wipe away the Chalk - there shouldn't be any dripping). This was simple enough to fix with a bit of water.

I wanted to keep my original drawing at the top, so I carefully touched up the design with cotton swabs. Paint brushes would probably have worked just as well, and even now I'm imagining some really cool painterly effects that could be achieved with this technique.

Like Night and Day

The Coke worked so nicely I decided to use it on our kitchen sign as well. I was a bit more hesitant about cleaning this one. I didn't want it to look too polished as it wouldn't be getting used in the same way as the cupboard door. I still wanted to maintain a bit of a rough hand-drawn look.

I started again by wiping way the larger negative spaces within the design with a dab of Coke. About halfway through, I noticed something pretty interesting. Next to the newly cleaned areas, the dusty areas surrounding the letters almost seemed as though they were painted in a watercolor grey scale.

I might be letting my creative side get the best of me,  but I think this looks really cool. I decided to keep some of the haze around the letters showing. Again, I did some really quick and loose detailing with the cotton swab and dabbed away any remaining Coke residue with water.

I'm really happy about this working out so well. We use the cupboard door for groceries all the time. I just snap a picture with my phone before I leave for the store and I never forget a thing.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Bringing Things to Light

 Another busy weekend, although not much interesting to write about. A lot of cleaning and organizing. While not all that fun, its definitely a welcome distraction from everything else over the past week.  The porch looks much better. I scrubbed the walls and moved all the junk that was sitting out to the garage. Added some summer porch lights, spaced out the wind chimes, and.....

Tada! Don't mind the missing lattice, that's another project for another weekend.

Besides that I also tried making a mason jar soap dispenser. I've seen the idea around the internet and its really easy. Literally a five minute project.

All you need is a mason jar (any size will do) and an old dispenser top from any disposable soap pump. I saved mine from a used up Bath and Body Works soap. I initially tried to drill a hole through the jar lid, but to be honest I've never been great with power drills. After a few tries and only leaving a small dent, I just ended up hammering a screw through the top. This was much easier for me. I stretched the hole to the size I needed using a pen, and then trimmed the pump tube to size. The fit was so perfect I didn't even have to glue anything together.

The dark blue dish soap is a little intense, but it definitely beats having an industrial sized Costco container next to your sink!

The last major project of the weekend was cleaning and switching out the kitchen lights. After all the work I've put in I'm still very self conscious about the kitchen. Those glaring white cabinets and checkered floor show every spec of dirt and flaw imaginable. There's simply not enough time in the world to clean a white kitchen. I've even held off on sharing projects because the photos have always seemed a bit dingy, even after working my fingers to the bone scrubbing. Well, I finally realized that the disappointing photos weren't so much my fault, but an effect of the lighting  

Regular fluorescent bulbs were casting a yellow light over everything. In most rooms I don't think its much of a problem, especially with neutrals. With cool tones it can even lend some much needed warmth. However the lights in the kitchen made everything look yellow and old. I replaced them with natural fluorescent bulbs, which are supposed to imitate sunlight with a slight blue tint. I can't believe the difference it's made.

To make up for lost time, here are some projects I never posted on because I couldn't get a decent photo.

Old liquor bottles as storage for dry goods (Legumes, Rice, Pasta, etc.)

Pot and pan wall

Old school faucet and nobs 

(I can't take credit for this one or the pots and pans above. My husband's not half bad at this stuff!)

Cute seed packets

(Found these at Farm chicks)

Three tier fruit basket

(See all those white specs on the ceiling? It really helps if you have the right tool for the job. I literally tried 15 or more holes before I realized I needed a toggle hook. Hopefully my dad doesn't see this. Har Har Har.)

One last thing... Russia is now officially The Creaking Floorboard's  largest audience outside of the United States! To celebrate, here are some matryoshkas from my collection. So cute.