Friday, March 22, 2013


Well here I am with the first post the makes the new title of the blog make sense.  As I mentioned here, I do a lot of non-house-improvement related stuff that I thought I might want to share someday, and so here I am, sharing such things.  As those of you reading may or may not know, a little over a year ago I acquired the fairly random skill of crocheting.  I attended a beginning crochet class with my mom as her Christmas present last year, and surprise surprise I actually ended up really enjoying it.  Ironically, my mom never quite got the hang of it and gave up shortly after the class ended.  Unlike me, who pushes through my failures, my mom tends to give up after a few dozen oops.
Anyways, recently, for my friend Kelly's birthday I tackled my largest crochet project to date (so far I've tackled hats, headbands, iPad covers, earrings, bracelets and flowers).  Kelly is in training to be a yoga teacher, and sadly was without a bag for her yoga mat. So I decided to up and make her one. 


As you can see, I even managed to create a drawstring closure at the top, which I was surprised turned out as well as it did (it was actually ridiculously easy).

Here it is in action on my back (Piper photobomb alert).
I definitely did not create this pattern on my own, I used a pattern I found at Joyful Abode here.  I definitely am not skilled enough to make up my own patterns (yet?). But I did change up the colors and striping pattern on my own, so I put maybe 1% of my own creative juices into the project. Oh and bonus points to me that I was able to use all the yarn out of my already owned stash, so all this project cost me was some blood, sweat, tears, a few bajillion hours of my life and early-onset arthritis.
Oops Count: About 2.  See, I tend to be the Goldilocks of crocheting.  As with most of my projects, my first go around with this bag was too big.  So I unraveled and started over. Attempt #2 was too small. Finally, on attempt #3, it was juuuuuuust right. This is a pattern with me, I've learned to expect to have to start over any given crochet project at least once or twice. C'est la vie.
Lesson Learned: This is more a lesson the people in my life have had to learn. Basically, anytime a gift-giving occasion comes around, you can expect to receive something crocheted. Whether you like it or not. So you'd better start liking crocheted crap. :) 

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Insanity Loves Company

I already mentioned one of the projects I tackled at a recent Pinterest Party I hosted (aka eat, drink, be crafty with friends) here, but now I want to share one more project I conquered during that time (apparently copious amounts of sangria = productivity overload! I actually completed three projects during that party. Go me.)

So in this post you saw the awesome haul of stuff we found at a whirlwind trip to local thrift stores one Saturday.  To refresh your memory, here's what we walked away with:

Well that blue frame and the jute twine you see there got together and created an awesome lovechild for our front entryway.

This is a card that Phil got me for our anniversary a couple years back. I thought the sentiment was a perfect way to welcome friends and guests over as they enter our house.

I stumbled across the card in a basket of random stuff in our yet to be unpacked "office," and apparently I'm on a big framing-greeting-cards kick (I did it in the kitchen, too, as you can see here), so I rolled with it.  I loved the blue frame as is, and thought the blue went nicely against the chocolate milk colored walls, and added a fun punch of color.  However, the card wasn't quite big enough to fill the frame, and I didn't have a mat to use (so you could see the back of the frame around the edges of the card.  I could have just plopped some paper behind the card to cover up the naked back of the frame, but decided to get a little more creative than that.  Enter jute twine! I simply hot glued the twine around the frame to create a mat that covered up the empty space in the frame and added a really fun and unique element to the project in general. Love.

Oh, and one thing I've always grappled with when you hang picture frames is what the heck to do with those pesky stands that are on the back (to make the frame table-top ready).  I've ruined a few frames trying to just rip those suckers off (they are bolted on there with super-Hulk-strength hardware usually).  This time around I just decided to leave it be, and I just hot-glued the stand to the frame so it laid flat (otherwise it pushed the frame out from the wall just a touch). Hot glue cures all ailments. (Has anyone else figured out how to get around those things, though? I feel like there's gotta be a way to get rid of them and I just somehow missed the memo...)

There ya go. Just one more small step towards our house feeling more and more like home.

So, as the card states, insanity loves company. Come on over. :)

Oops Count: Zero! Wow. Gotta take these small wins when I can get 'em.

Lesson Learned: A giant ball of jute twine for $2.50 really is a brilliant purchase. Can't wait to see what else I can use that stuff for in the future. As of now, I see a jute twine wrapped vase in my near future.... (oh and I just thought you should know that only after proofreading this a handful of times I just noticed I had originally written "jute twine wrapped face." This is why you don't blog under the influence of cold medicine).

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

I Can't Think of a Good Armoire Pun

As I've already mentioned here and here  we are in the midst of (and probably finally over the halfway hump) redecorating our master bedroom and bathroom. Today I'm happy to report that one more element of that mass redecoration has been checked off the list!

We bought an armoire last summer from an old high school classmate of mine, and at the time didn't quite know what we were going to do with it but knew we would make good use of it somehow.  We finally decided it would be perfect for our bedroom, to house our TV (and other miscellaneous junk).  It started out black, like this:

As you may remember from my post about the plans for our bedroom color palette here all of the furniture going into the bedroom was destined to don a funky bright color, this armoire not excluded. We decided on Raspberry Mousse for this big guy, and now he is a tad more flashy, in an amazing sort of way: 

Oh yes, glorious.  To get this puppy looking like this, we sanded the armoire just enough to scratch up the surface, and followed with 2 coats of Zinsser's water-based primer.  
The paint guy at the Depot was kind enough to suggest tinting the white primer to help get the color where we wanted, so he brought the primer halfway to the actual color to help with that process (something I hadn't thought of before, so I was glad he suggested it!).  Followed by 3 coats of paint, here we are! We also spray painted the knobs with a couple coats of a metallic black spray paint just because they were a little dinged up. 

Here he is flashing you his goodies.  I love having the TV somewhere you can hide it away if you want, since TV's tend to not be all that nice to look at when you're not actually watching them. Plus it has additional storage for future stuff we are sure to accumulate.  And may I please say this is quite an upgrade from having our TV propped up on a box on the floor in the bedroom, which has been our setup since May. Yikes. 

Oh, and spoiler alert, you can get a sneak peek at the wall color in the bedroom in these pictures.  Our vision is turning out just how we had wanted, and we are feeling very optimistic now that we are getting closer to the finish line. Soon, grasshopper, soon. 

Oops Count: Possibly 1. I had read on other blogs that when painting over glossy, laminate-esque surfaces (like this guy was sporting), that Zisser's oil-based primer was the best at covering.  I was talked out of it by the Depot-guy and went with the water-based on his recommendation.  However, given that it took 2 coats of primer and 3 coats of paint to get this thing covered, and even then it's not crazy durable (the paint scratched off pretty easily and we had to touch up quite a few spots after hauling it upstairs), I'm thinking the blogosphere might have really known what they were talking about.

Lesson Learned: TBD. I think next time I'll try the oil-based primer and see for myself which is really better. Other than that one possible misstep though, this was a rather seamless process. Nice to have one of those every so often for a nice change of pace.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Escaping the Draft

No, we are not running from our civic duties.  Rather we are doing our best to keep our house cozy and energy-efficient in the cold winter months.  We were told back in April by our home inspector that it would be wise to insulate our attic fan, since it would be a direct line from the inside of our house and the chilly, drafty attic in the winter.  So Phil did a great job gettin' it done. Here's what our basic attic fan looks like from the attic:

 As you can see there is currently nothing keeping the cold attic air from seeping into the house other than the vent in the ceiling (which is certainly not a tight seal).  So to insulate it, Phil simply built a box out of insulated foam board and popped it on.

Ok so it wasn't that easy.  Here were the materials we were working with:

One piece of insulated foam board, heavy duty duct tape and an exacto knife.  Total cost was probably no more than $15.

Phil did a lot of internet searching to figure out the best approach and then ended up winging it.  It would have been a simple task if it weren't for the roof beams that cut so close to the attic fan that there wasn't room to just pop a box over the fan.  So Phil had to be a little more thoughtful with the shape of his box and how to make it fit in there.  After some trial and error, he figured it out.

As you can see Phil had to cut some of the sides at different widths in order to make it just right.  But he basically just measured, measured, measured. Cut the pieces of foam board to the right sizes, and then duct taped the seams together.

Bada bing...

Bada boom. 

Voila! It fits! Phil's version of this blog post would probably be much more filled with frustrated expletives.  I think it involved more trial and error than I may have even realized. But in the end he did a dang good job.  And a couple winter months later, I can tell you it has definitely made a difference. Prior to insulating the fan, the upstairs part of our house was pretty frigid - to the point we had to crank up the heat when we went to bed (the attic fan is located in the upstairs hallway directly outside our bedroom door.  Nowadays, we actually have to turn the heat way down when we go to bed to keep from overheating.  I'm gonna go ahead and chalk at least part of that up to our newly insulated ceiling hole. 
Oops Count: I'm gonna call this one a zero oops project. Phil had some trial and error with putting the box together but all in all once he put it together it was a done deal and fit perfectly the first time. Again, he might have a different oops count (I wasn't around for most of the process, I just got to witness the successful ending), but from my end this was a rare occurrence in our household of a project being pretty successful the first go around. Go us! (er, go Phil, I guess).

Lesson(s) Learned: There are certainly some home improvement DIY projects out there that are extremely cheap and totally do-able.  This one took a bit of research and trial and error but who knows how much it could have cost us to out-source this project.  Now let's just hope we remember to remove the box before turning the fan back on in the summer. Foam board confetti party anyone?!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

A New Name and a Baby Step

In case you didn't notice, "This Idiot's Guide to Home Improvement" is no more.   I had been toying with renaming the blog for a while, and finally bit the bullet.  I do a lot of DIY/crafty things that don't always fit into the category of "home improvement" that I might someday want to write about, so I decided the old title was too specific (and in a google search, get's buried under 1,000,000 "The Idiot's Guide to BLANK" search hits). So say hello to "One Oops At a Time."  Because whether it's home improvement, crafts or crochet.... you know I'm gonna screw it up at least once. So now my blog is more open to sharing other endeavors, while still highlighting my incompetence. Because self-esteem is for losers, obviously.

So, anyways, onto one of the latest updates going in our casa.  As I've mentioned previously, we are chest-deep in the complete redecoration of our master bedroom and bathroom (I hesitate to call it a "renovation" because we are really using what we've got - no major changes other than lots and lots of paint and actually having furniture for once).  One baby step along the way was painting our closet.  While most people might really wonder why the heck we are going through the trouble of painting our closet of all things, it made sense for us. Here's why... our master closet extends off of our master bathroom which extends off of our master bedroom. While the closet originally had a door, we quickly realized it served no purpose and just took up space (we never ever closed it, and so it just got in the way). Sayonara closet door. Oh and the bathroom is door-less too (there's a door separating off the toilet room, but other than that, the bedroom flows unobstructedly into the bathroom). So that means you have a constant view into our walk-in closet.  The new color scheme for our bathroom is a smoky gray with bright white trim.. so the peachy-pink-off-white walls and golden oak trim just could not stay in the closet, given the open flow of the rooms. So without further ado...



The closet will obviously fill up more with clothes and shelves and hampers, but you get the idea.  Our closet all of a sudden has class. Never thought I'd need a classy closet. But now that I have one, I'm happy. I'm in love with the colors, especially the contrast of the gray and the white trim.  And given that I've seen the bathroom evolve into this same color scheme, oh yeah, I'm excited. Can't wait to share the rest of the transformation.  The bathroom is about 90% done - all that's left is getting a new light fixture, touching up some paint, finding a new shower curtain  that Phil and I both like (which is harder than you might think, oy), and maayyyybe getting some new sink faucets while we are at it. Hopefully I can share a finished bathroom update soon! As for the bedroom, we are one last coat of paint away from being done painting our armoire, and once that's done we can start bringing the furniture in and rearranging the layout. All that's left then is to build a bed (no sweat), thrift some nightstands, get a new ceiling fan, get new curtains, bedding, lampshades and then get some art on the walls. So close, yet so far....

Lesson(s) Learned: Even the smallest little changes, like painting your closet, can bring joy to a homeowner's heart.  Don't be afraid to extend your updates into spaces like closets, it might be more exciting than you think!