Category Archives: Home and Lawn

From Clock to Shadow Box

A couple of years ago, we bought a thrift store clock to gut out its gears for our Steampunk costumes.


We have had a lot of upheaval in our home and have been forced to go through all of our crap and decide what stays and what goes. When I got to the clock I decided to keep it–but only if I immediately put it to use.  This was one of the fastest and easier projects I’ve done in a while.


Old clock

I wanted a shadow box, but I couldn’t decide what to put in it.  I’m trying to incorporate my girlier tastes with my family’s more Geeky tastes in our family room and my husband’s more masculine taste as well.  So I decided on our family crest, since we are Genealogy geeks, it is fun and adds some heritage and character to the space.

Added Paint and family crest display

I kind of love it and can’t wait to finish the wall around it and hide those cords.




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Filed under Crafts and Gifts, DIY, Home and Lawn

How to: Grout Tile Flooring

How To: Grout Tile Flooring

Step 1: Pick out the type of grout you need for the space you are using (we used sanded grout for flooring). Decide on color and then mix in a large bucket per manufacturers instructions. Make sure to wear proper protective equipment while mixing as the grout dust will fly up and get into your eye’s, nose and mouth if you don’t (yuck!). Once the water is thoroughly mixed in allow the grout to set up – it should be about the consistency of damp beach sand when it is ready to use.

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Step 2: Begin work in the corner furthest from the exit door, and work your way out of the room. Using a tile float (looks like a tile trowel but the base is rubber or foam instead of metal) scoop up a large amount of grout and begin to work it into the seams between the tiles. If you have smaller tiles you can drag the grout all the way across the tiles in sweeping patters to push the grout into all of the seams. We are laying larger tiles here and so we focused around the seams. You do need to work the grout in using multiple directions in order to force as much grout into the joint as possible. This will help to create a strong bond and keep your floors in great condition for years to come.

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Step 3: Allow the grout to set up for approx. 30min depending on the manufacturers instructions. Once it has had the initial set up time using a damp sponge begin to remove the excess grout from the top of the tiles.

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Work in a circular motion with a lite touch to ensure you don’t pull grout out of the seams. There will still be a haze over the floor, this is okay. Allow the grout to set up another 2 hrs or so (again refer to manufacturer guidelines) and then go over the tiles again with a barely damp sponge or cloth. Wipe up the haze and then go over it with a dry cloth after. Once the tiles are clean allow the grout to cure for a few days.

Step 4: Step back and admire your newly grouted tile floor. Allow floors to cure for a few days before moving onto sealing.


Step 5: If you have made it this far in your floor improvement project…Congratulations you are only one step away from being done! With the commercial sealer of choice in hand start once again in the back corner of the room and run a thin line of grout sealer over each joint. Do not wash over tile with sealer…stick to the grout! Allow first coat to sit for 20 minutes and then go over the grout again. Then allow the sealer to sit overnight and vowalla…you are done! Clean out the tools, repaint your walls, put your floor boards back up, and start using your lovely new floor!


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Filed under Budget, DIY, Education, Home and Lawn

Time to Harvest Grapes!


Write text here…


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by | September 28, 2013 · 10:50 pm

How To: Lay Tile Flooring

How To: Lay Tile Flooring

Step 1. Remove all previous flooring, base boards, fixtures (toilets/sinks) and adhesive from the floor in the room you wish to tile. Be sure the floor surface is clean and free from all debris. If the subflooring is particle board, hardwood, etc (non cement) you will need to lay cement backer board first.


If you have cement flooring you don’t need backer board but you will need to check to see if the floor is level. If there are spots that need repair make sure to fix them first and give the area a few days to cure before beginning.


Step 2. Once your floor is prepped decide what pattern you want for your tiles and create a layout.


Step 3. Measure and cut all tiles needed to complete your layout. Do not begin setting any tiles until you have a full room layout. This ensures you won’t find yourself in a pickle (such as being one tile short) when attempting to lay your flooring.


Step 4. Ensure all difficult cuts line up well and maintain proper spacing once installed. Adjust as necessary. Measure twice…cut once.

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Step 5. With your full room layout complete and all tiles cut you can begin laying your tile. Begin work from the furthest point away from the exit door so that you don’t have to walk on or disturb the tile once you have begun. Start by removing two rows from your layout at a time (Keep tiles in order as you remove your two rows so you can quickly and easily grab each tile as you go). With a notched trowel scoop up a large amount of tile adhesive and begin to spread it across the floor evenly using multiple strokes to drag and pull the adhesive. Only apply enough adhesive to lay 1-2 tiles at a time to prevent the adhesive from beginning to dry before laying (I did about one tile at a time because the tiles I used were large). Take your time and make sure your tiles fit back into the layout you created as you go.

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Step 6. Place tile spacers between your tiles as you lay them to ensure you maintain the same width/gap between each tile. This will be important for grouting and the over all look later.


Step 7. Once you have worked your way out of the room and placed your last tile…step back and admire your handiwork. Now walk away and let your new tile cure for a few days before moving on to grouting and sealing.



Filed under Budget, DIY, Education, Home and Lawn

How to: Level a Cement Floor

How to: Level a Cement Floor

Step 1: Determine if you have a cement floor that needs to be leveled – perhaps to lay new time flooring for example. Using a handy dandy leveler check the overall integrity of your floor and identify spots that may need help.


Step 2. Gather the needed supplies – Rubber gloves, floor leveling cement, a disposable cup or bucket to mix the cement in, and a trowel to spread the cement.


Step 3. Mix cement via manufacturers instructions, and allow to set up. Then pour cement over area needing to be leveled.

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Step 4. Using the flat side of your trowel spread the cement over the affected area in fluid strokes. Continue to work the cement into the un-level or cracked areas until you have a nice flat surface.

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Step 5: Ensure the newly cemented area is nice and level with the rest of the floor. Make adjustments as needed and then allow to set up overnight or per the manufacturers instructions.


Congratulations you just leveled your floor! You are ready to begin tile work!

Side note…if the area needing to be leveled is high instead of sunken, you may need to sand/chip down the area or raise the floor level of the whole room. If you are unsure about the thickness of the cement flooring and the ability to rough sand down an area don’t proceed! Always contact a professional if you aren’t sure about the integrity of the space you are working on.

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How to: Remove an Old Toilet

How To: Remove an Old Toilet

Here are very basic step by step instructions for removing an old toilet…for when you find yourself in need of upgrading your porcelain throne, remodeling your bathroom, or fixing a leak. (Please excuse the black floors – these were taken in the beginning of the renovation process)

Step 1: Identify the offending toilet in need of removal.


Step 2: Find the water shut off valve behind the toilet. Turn the water off.


Step 3: Remove the lid from the tank on the back of your toilet and flush the toilet to allow the water to drain.


Step 4: With your dollar store rubber gloves on and a large dollar store sponge- soak up the remaining water in the bottom of the tank and empty it into a bucket.


Step 5: There will be water still in the bowl from flushing the tank. Use your handy-dandy plunger to plunge the bulk of the water out of the toilet before going in with the sponge to soak up the rest.

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Step 6: Squeeze out all the excess water into your bucket, and admire your empty ready to be removed toilet.

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Step 7: Disconnect your water line from the bottom of the tank (place your bucket under the valve if you weren’t able to get all of the water up with your sponge).


Step 8: Remove the bolts from the base of the toilet and use a utility knife or multi-tool to cut the seal around the base of the toilet (many times it is simply a thin layer of silicone).

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Step 9: Call in the muscle! (If you are taking the toilet out on your own and don’t think you can lift it whole, you can separate the tank from the base and remove each portion one at a time.) Rock the toilet back and forth in order to break the wax seal between the toilet and the drain. Then pick that bad boy up and haul it away!

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Step 10. After you have removed the toilet, scrape around the drain to remove the old wax seal and prep the area for the new toilet. Finally place a rag into the drain opening (preferably an old rag or section of towel) to prevent sewer fumes from coming up the pipe and to prevent tools from falling into the hole. Make sure the rag is big enough to fit snug and not to simply fall down into the pipe.


Congratulations you have just removed your very own toilet and by doing it yourself you just saved a bunch of hard earned cash!

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How to: Remove Laminate Flooring

How To: Remove Laminate Flooring

1. Identify the room you wish to change the flooring in.


Step 2. Remove baseboards, decorative molding, etc from around the perimeter of the room (occasionally this may not be over the top of the laminate but you will want to pull it up anyway so you can place your new floor properly.)


Step 3. Use a box cutter or multi-use tool to cut the silicone seal around the base of any fixture you are not removing before or at the same time as the flooring (these fixtures should however be removed prior to laying the new flooring. (It is never wise to lay new flooring around an existing fixture such as a toilet or sink. In the event of an accident or leak down the road having access to the base of these fixtures is very important.)

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Step 4. Using your same multi-use tool (I’m using my SHUR LINE 10 in 1 tool available at the local hardware store ) or utility knife start in the corner of the room furthest from the door. Cut a line straight out from the corner, use the edge of your multi-tool to get underneath the laminate flooring and lift along the cut area. Then grab with your gloved hand (It will be very sticky under the laminate) and pull.

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Step 5. Remove all laminate from the floor working toward the door so you don’t have to step on the adhesive under the laminate (which will stick to the bottom of your shoes and then come off somewhere else in your house you don’t want to find it). The laminate may come up in one piece if you are lucky…or if (like this room) the previous owners used black tar to adhere  the laminate to the subflooring you may be in for a bit more work. The laminate in this room was very difficult to peal up and I had to take it out in strips. Eventually I worked out a system where I would muscle up a piece large enough to hold on to and then I would squat and lean back so my backside could do the heavily lifting for me (What can I say it was one of those times I felt thankful for all that junk in my trunk lol). It was a lot more work than I expected but in the end I had a room free of laminate and ready for cleaning to start the tiling process!


Step 6. Admire your laminate free floor before heading to the store to pick up adhesive remover.

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Side note…here is the other bathroom I have removed the laminate flooring in. In this room the previous owners used self sticking individual laminate squares. The adhesive on these is much less durable than the black tar adhesive used for large sheets of laminate…as a result these squares came up very easy. Simply place the tip of your multi-tool under the edge of each square and pop them up! A few stuck better than others, but on whole the process in this bathroom was very easy.

Congratulations you just removed your old laminate flooring!


Filed under Budget, DIY, Education, Home and Lawn

DIY Water Blob via Pinterest attempt

Over a week of 100+ degrees and our swampcooler and sprinklers broke.  Our grass was dying and our already tired of being together girls were about ready to kill each other. It was time to pull out the big guns.  Mom’s best resource… my Pin board.

You might have seen this on Pinterest.  The concept is appealingly simple.  EVERYONE makes this seem so easy.

1 roll of thick, clear plastic sheeting

Duct tape

Garden hose

Voila!  A lovely way to cool off that looks oh, so easy to put together. Right?  Ugh.  Wrong.

First off, Duct taping this baby alone is already really freaking tricky.  With excited little girls bouncing around, it is nearly impossible.  ADVICE:  Find two other grownups and don’t have the kids around.

Second, if there is event he slightest incline in your yard, don’t do it.  As it fills with water, it looks like a waterbed mattress… a King size.  It is heavy.  I tried this the first time and couldn’t even take a pictures as we have an almost unnoticeable incline in our front yard and as soon as it got enough water that I couldn’t move it, it began rolling, so sneakily, toward the street.

Third, If you do this where the neighborhood will see it, you will get hoards of happy children jumping on it, even if it isn’t done yet. It seems so awesome to them that they can’t help it. As it was rolling down toward the street, I was trying desperately to hold this giant water bladder up so little feet and legs weren’t trapped as it rolled forward.  But oh, were those kids happy.

Fourth.  LEAKS.  No matter how much we taped it, there were leaks.  DO NOT USE THE CUTESY DUCT TAPE.  It isn’t water resistant.  I recommend Gorilla Tape… a lot of it.

After the front yard fiasco, we drained it, and let it dry for another day to use in the back yard.  I decided I would be really smart and turn it inside out, taping it AGAINfrom the other side.  It was DOUBLE TAPED on the inside and out.

It still leaked.

Lastly, none of the post I saw talked about the last corner where the hose was filling it up.  After much debate, we decided to burp the blob of as much air as we could at about half way full and tape the hose IN TO the blob, since it was leaking anyway.

Even in our seemingly FLAT back yard, it still rolled to the point that we made a barricade. This worked and the kids had a blast that I’m still not sure was worth the headache.  But it made for good, clean fun in 103 degrees and looks great in a scrapbook.

It also makes a delightful addition to a water fun obstacle course.


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Filed under Children, DIY, Family, Home and Lawn, Motherhood, Pinterest Attempts

DIY Lawn Tonic via Tim Heffron (as seen on the news)

Did anyone else see the headliner a few years ago about a guy in Colorado who used a crazy DIY lawn tonic to get amazingly green grass in drought stricken Colorado? ME TOO! Only I didn’t have a lawn at the time I was in desperate need of sprucing up so unfortunately I didn’t write down the recipe. Now however, on the verge of getting the keys to a new home, as well as helping my mom spruce things up before she sells her home I see two lawns in need of some help. I Googled make your lawn green and DIY miracle grow a while back without luck, but that didn’t stop me. I knew as the heat of the summer approached and more of my fellow dry state individuals (Utah, Colorado, Arizona, Wyoming, Vegas, etc, etc) began to see their lovely spring lawns fade my search results would begin to yield better results. Sure enough this time when I typed in DIY Miracle grow for lawns the original story I was in search of popped right up.

There before me a plethora of sites talking about the lawn tonic from news stations to every day bloggers. However, one thing I didn’t immediately see was pictures of lawns that had used the tonic. I am in need of an all out grass roots revival (literally grass roots lol) so I don’t just want to read a recipe….I want to see before and after pictures so I know what to expect. Alas, at this point I haven’t had any luck. So, I’ve decided that despite my reservations about application without photo evidence I am going to give this a try because honestly these lawns can’t get much worse…and if they do I can always kill everything and then re-sod.

I am going to add before and after photos for comparison and honest review of this lawn tonic. To start….here is the recipe.

Tim Heffron’s lawn tonic recipe

  • 1 can of regular beer (no light beer)
  • 1 can of regular soda (any kind except diet soda)
  • 1/2 cup of general liquid soap (any kind accept NO anti-bacterial)
  • 1/2 cup of liquid ammonia
  • 1/2 cup of mouthwash (any brand)
  • Pour into 10-gallon hose-end sprayer (other sizes will work too)

Dry Lawn 6-30-13

Before photo of a portion of lawn at my mothers house. 30 June 2013 (I’m sure she’s going to love having this one posted on the world wide web. Sorry mom 🙂

DIY lawn 7-18-2013

After photo 17 July 2013. This is after only one application and a few days of rain. There is a dramatic difference! I intend on going over the yard again and then waiting another few weeks to see the results. According to Tim Heffron you should only use this every few weeks (3 weeks seems to be the sweet spot), otherwise it can burn your lawn instead of helping it.

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