Friday, January 29, 2010

A New Use for Used... Socks?

Last night we finally dismantled our Christmas tree.  Yes, on January 27.  Even after Rob suggested leaving it up until next year and I actually considered it.  So we found all of our "empties" in the basement, brought in our after-Christmas steals (mostly from Target), and re-organized our Christmas decorating stash while un-decorating the tree.

That's when I realized I had thrown away some of the plastic containers that some of our ornaments came packaged in originally.  I couldn't just throw the ornaments in among all of the other decorations.

And then it hit me! like a 2x4 - although, really... I don't know what that feels like.  I remembered that Rob recently emptied out his drawer-full-o-socks so that we could downsize our drawer space (in preparation for living with less dressers) and purchase only the same brand and type of socks, thus mostly eliminating the case of the solo sock that's partner can never be found.
I can read your mind.  I know that you're thinking "GROSS! Who in their right mind posts a picture of nasty old socks?!?"  Remember... this is the Normally-Odd Couple.  :)

Old socks make great ornament holders.  You just cut a sock in half (well, if your husband wears a size 13 shoe, that is).
Then insert an ornament like so (I leave the hangers on for ease the next year)...
And VOILA! A soft, protective barrier is placed between one ornament and another.  Then, I just carefully placed ornaments of like style in freezer ziploc bags.
Instant, safe, and recycled storage for years to come!  Used socks are more useful than one would think.  Does anyone still have their Christmas decorations up?  (Come on, Katie... who are you kidding!?)

Oh - and here's a little shout-out for the help from my sister-in-law Lindsey... thanks a million!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Home Tour Teaser

It's been about 2 months since we purchased and moved into our home, and lately I have been thinking about how many projects still need to be done (like I thought we'd get them done in 2 months or something?!) but how far we have come already.

And I thought some of you might like to join in on the fun of taking a little house tour with some befores (what the house looked like when we got our home inspected) and afters (what it looks like now!).  I want to be able to have everything in the same post, so I just wanted to whet your appetite for what is to come in the next few days with a little before-n-after of our den.

Hard to tell it's the same room, right?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Vanity Tray

The last time I visited one of my favorite craft stores, JoAnn Fabrics, I kind of got a little carried away with some of the home decor fabrics... so bought small amounts of a few different selections (it was a difficult choice!) to do a few small projects with.  One project was to add a little interest to a side table.  Another was to turn a Kohl's clearance picture frame into a vanity tray for my dresser that I could use for tossing my jewelry on at the end of the day.  $6 picture frame + a $1 snippet of fabric = well, take a look for yourself...

This could easily be used as wall are, too, but for now it will keep its place as my new vanity tray!

Friday, January 15, 2010

A Little Bit Goes a Long Way...

Well, this past week, we have been working on small projects around the house. It is amazing how such little improvements make such a major change in a room!  Take, for example, the outlets and light switches.  Every switch and outlet in the house was this ugly brownish-black, and the outlets were only two-pronged, so we needed to install new outlets that were grounded (making them safe and up to code!) but also consistent in color throughout the house.  We opted for white. 

We opted for white. Such a difference!

Another small project I accomplished was adding a little pizazz to this white nightstand, which used to be the TV stand in my first apartment.  

For this project, I started by finding some fabric (home decor fabric, to be more specific - so it's a little heavier than, say, quilting fabric) that would work as a nice accent color in this room (our guest bedroom - still in the making).  I bought a piece of posterboard at the fabric store, and cut it to the size of the glass.  Then, I ironed my fabric, and used some Fabri-Tac fabric glue - which is fabritastic! - to carefully and tightly wrap it around the back (pretty much like a package) and glue it in place.  This glue is mess-free and creates a quick bond.  I would recommend it in place of a hot glue gun anytime you need a thin but strong bond, don't want to sew, and are working with fabrics. I started in the middle of each side, working my way to the corners and finishing the corners last with a nice, tight fold & glue. Once it was dry, I simply placed it between the nightstand and the glass.  Easy as pie!

A close-up of the patterned "designer" fabric I purchased for only $9.99 per yard at my local JoAnn's.

And last, but certainly not least, I wanted to share the story of the date fund jar - an easy DIY project using a jar from IKEA, some magazine clippings, and the wonderfulness of mod podge - pictured below.  I made this as a Christmas present for Rob back in December 2004, and we've been using it as a cash/coin collection jar ever since.  Do we always use the money for a date? No... but at least we can see our pocket change add up in the end.  Over Christmas break, we took the jar to our local TD Bank (formerly Commerce Bank), which has the Penny Arcade - a fee-free coin counting machine.  We saved up $166.58! And we're going to make it a yearly competition now that we're married to empty it just after Christmas each year to see how much we've saved, and if we've outdone the year before.  You can see our jar already has some $$$ for 2010! 
Does anyone else out there save up their change?  What do you use it on?

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Cleaning Mode

With spare time a little more flexible and life a little more back to "normal" now that the holiday celebrations are over, I am in full clean-freak mode.  There's just something about things not feeling in place that seems wrong with the world to me.  It's probably a little OCDish, but when my closet is in order, my mind is in order.

Last Night's De-clutter: Our hallway closet. Known to us since we moved in as the dumping grounds for project supplies, shoes, purses, and anything we didn't know where else to put... it was a mess!     
And the re-organized after - well, it's not all that exciting, but at least you can see the floor.  But this easy closet makeover sure changed the look and feel.  I am eventually planning to paint it - including the shelves, and maybe an accent color on the back wall to add a little interest to an otherwise pretty boring space. And take down the metal hanging bars, as we don't really plan to use this for a coat closet because it's so deep and narrow. 

Sneak Peek of the Upcoming Dresser Project!

A few close-up mug shots of the furniture screaming for some DIY TLC.  New drawer liners, anyone?  I think so.  But the lines and detailing are great, and I can't wait to show you the finished product!

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Inspired Cooking

Another one of my Christmas presents, thanks to my dear husband, was the movie Julie & Julia, which we saw on a date to the movies this past summer.  I'm sure you've all seen it.  And I watched it last week with my friend Meg, and was instantly inspired to do some cooking.  We were having some friends of ours over for dinner on Sunday afternoon, after all, and what would be better than trying a new recipe out on guests?

Thankfully, after I saw the movie the first time, I was inspired to buy the cookbook for myself, so I just happened to have the recipe.

And I don't mean to brag... but my beef went from beef to something savory and delicious, thanks to Julia Child.  I can see why Julie felt so empowered by her... to conquer the creation of the classic French dish, boeuf bourguignon.  I was saying it out loud in the kitchen the whole time I was cooking... try it yourself - in your best J-Child impersonation.

The roughly five hours that went into making this dish (2 hours prep + 3 in the oven) were SO worth it!  And everyone who ate it agreed.  The recipe is too long to retype, and you wouldn't get the same feel as if it were coming straight from Julia herself.  But I would highly suggest getting your hands on a copy and trying it for yourself - especially during these frigid days of winter... it really warms the soul!

Monday, January 4, 2010

2010 Project Plan

We have many goals for ourselves in this new year, and 2010 will be our first full year in our new house. We are excited to look forward to all the projects we plan to accomplish this year. Here are our top ten!

1. Finish replacing outlets, light switches and cable boxes.  Rob has gotten a lesson on replacing all these things from a good friend of ours who has a background in all things electric, so he got busy starting this project - but every time we think a room is finished, we find another old outlet.
2. Refinish dresser for master bedroom.  The dresser we currently have is from Rob's childhood, and his mom painted it teal many years ago to compliment the jungle theme in his bedroom.  A fresh coat of black paint and some new hardware will make this look like it was meant to go with the bed we purchased a few months ago.
3. Remove wallpaper and paint. We're still working out all of the different design elements for the kitchen, as we eventually plan to put in new flooring and countertops, so stay tuned!
4. Sand and paint kitchen cabinets, followed by installing the new hardware we recently purchased at Lowe's over Christmas break on our huge shopping trip.
5. Update the look of our front door with paint (red or black? still trying to decide) and new locks and handles... and maybe a new storm door to create a better seal and save us some major mulah on the heating/cooling bill.
6. Linen wall board(s) project, like this one from PB, to help get our organization booties in gear.
7. Refinish daybed - paint and purchase some new, more fitted bedding and tons of throw pillows.
8. Organize basement. This will include sorting stuff that we've been receiving from our parents' storage, deciding what will go toward a yard sale that we hope to have sometime this spring, and figuring out an aesthetically pleasing way to store what we do want to keep - most likely with the help of an Ikea storage system (like this GORM system) that suits our needs.
9. Build workbench to maximize storage in garage, and provide an area for organizing our ever-growing collection of tools and project parts, like this great new cordless drill we got for Christmas.
10. Landscape, landscape, landscape.  This is Rob's main goal for the year. I think he could probably care less about some of the other projects on our list.  There is one section of our yard that needs to be graded away from our foundation on more of a slope, and we're hoping that will solve the one area of our basement that leaks the least bit.  But we want to get this taken care of so that we can plan how to refinish the basement in future years.  There are also some trees that need to be cut down, branches trimmed, beds redefined, and the list goes on.  So we will be looking forward to spring in a major way this year!

We hope that you'll stay tuned for what we hope will be a productive year here at The NOC, filled with many before and afters, great home-reno project lessons learned, and creativity expressed as we continue to make our house a home!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Curtain Sewing Project

The best thing about this sewing project is that there was no sewing involved!  When we recently installed the window treatment in our home-office (we haven't decided whether to call it the office or the den yet), there was some work that needed to be done on these WILMA shears from Ikea.  I didn't like the tabs, pictured below, so I simply snipped them off - being very careful not to cut into the actual top hem of the curtain.

In this picture, I had already cut off the first tab (to the very left), and you can see where there is still one of the tabs remaining.  Here's what it looks like totally cut:

Then, all I did was attach one of the clip rings to the center of where the tab was previously attached, which made it a cinch to evenly space all of the clip rings, and make it easy to slide the shears back and forth on the curtain rod.
Finally, all I had to do was hang the curtains, decide on a length for the bottom, and use Ikea's handy no-sew hem strip to iron the hem into the curtains.  After that, I just ironed the curtains, for a clean, not-fresh-out-of-the-package look and hung them up!  Such an easy fix to make the curtains into what I needed them to be!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Up with the New!

A week off from work for Christmas break for both of us has resulted in some free time, which we have been able to put to good use getting some projects accomplished that we have been meaning to get around to for a few weeks now.  One of our projects was installing the hardware and hanging curtains in the den. Here's a before & after shot, which I hope to get more of now that we got a Nikon D90 Digital SLR camera from Santa!
Here's the before...

...and after.

Pretty amazing what a little bit of ironed and hemmed (in the case of the shears - which we got from Ikea) curtains will do for a bare, lonely wall.  We decided to hang 'em high for a more luxurious effect. What do you think?

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