Saturday, March 31, 2012

Garage Drywall: Hot Mud vs. Premixed Joint Compound


I have started to tackle the garage makeover, and the very first thing I needed to do was repair the unfinished drywall.   Because there is so much junk in the garage, I decided I would tackle it wall-by-wall. 
So, how did we get here? 

The first thing I did was remove everything from the wall and peel off all the old tape since it was falling off anyhow:
 I then re-taped using self adhesive mesh tape vs. the paper tape they originally used, but there are pros and cons to both types:
I mudded the joints and all the nail holes, first using the same hot mud method that I used in the MoneyPit 1.0 kitchen, and then with premixed joint compound (when I ran out of powdered setting compund.) 
I am pretty sure I am going to stick with hot mudding from now on, since the premixed stuff was too thick and was a pain to work with.  I like diluting my own joint compound.. call me old fashioned, but I have learned that I can eyeball to a perfect working consistency and make it in batches depending on how much area I need to mud.  Plus you can choose either 90, 45, 15 or 5 minute set times.  The premixed stuff takes FOREVER to dry.  Supposedly it is harder to sand, but I haven't had a problem. Maybe I'm just getting really good at having nice flat seams! 

One thing I did do differently was buy an inside corner tool
CHANGED.MY.LIFE.  
Unlike the MoneyPit1.0, where I hand molded both interior and exterior corners using flat trowels, I had such long seams I decided to spend the $9 and try it out.  IT was AWESOME! Even in tricky inside corners where three seams met, it made nice smooth lines:
Once the walls were taped, mudded and sanded I looked through my paint stash to see what I could use to paint the walls.   I came upon 4 gallons of minty green paint (the same leftover paint i used on my test cabinet that became my workbench.) Since half were flat and half were eggshell I decided to mix all four gallons together to get one standard finish. 
When I cracked some of those cans open they were not too pretty.  At least a few of the cans hadn't been opened in nearly 15 years (based on the dates on the labels):
Fortunately they mixed together fine and went up without a problem but the pale green was awful. (I sorta knew it would be, but I was using the free paint instead of buying primer.) 
For a final color I bought Martha Stewart's Sisal (which happens to be the exact same color as Benjamin Moore's Manchester Tan.)  
It is one shade lighter than (and actually shares the paint chip with) Bleeker Beige (aka Martha Stewart's Buckwheat Flour.) That is the color I used in the bathroom and stairwell.  I guess I'm not very daring.. or else I know what I like!

I love how it is looking.  Tonight I am going to sit down and plan the new garage layout.
Stay tuned..
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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Salted Caramel Bird's Nest Cookies

With Easter coming up I wanted to work on something with the kids that would be fun and easy, and when I saw bird's nest cookies on Pinterest, I knew it would be perfect.   The recipe contains only three (kid friendly) ingredients and they are no-bake.
Instead of using butterscotch (which the original recipe calls for) I decided to use caramel.  I knew that the carmel mixed with chocolate eggs and salty chow mein noodles would be a great flavor combination.

Salted Caramel Bird's Nests
Equal parts (by weight): 
Chow Mein Noodles 
Caramel Candy 

Cadbury Chocolate Mini-Eggs (or other egg shaped candy)

In my case I used a 12 oz bag of noodles and an 11 oz bag of Caramels, but this recipe is super easy to scale up and down, since the 2 ingredients you measure just need to be equal. 

 I used Caramel Bits (which are unwrapped small carmel pellets), but the standard carmel candies would work too.  Any kind of caramel you could melt to make caramel apples is good. 

I let the girls do as much as they could.  Including opening all the bags:
Pour the caramels into a microwave safe bowl:
This is what the Caramel Bits look like (I found they at Target.) The whole bag was only 99 cents, which also makes them cheaper than butterscotch chips:
Melt them in the microwave on medium power (stirring every 30 seconds or so.) While you are microwaving the caramel, line a cookie sheet or tray with parchment paper:
Once the caramel is melted, make sure it is thin enough that you can stir it easily.  If it is too thick you can add a small amount of warm water to thin it out.  You don't want to over dilute it, but it should be the consistency of creamy peanut butter when it is hot:
Next pour in the chow mein noodles:
Stir to coat the noodles completely.  The noodles will definitely break when you are stirring but that is fine.  If it gets too thick or hard to stir, just put it back in the microwave for 30 seconds. 
Scoop a heaping tablespoon of the noodles onto the parchment and form into a little nest (this is the one step the girls needed a little help with):
Add 2 or 3 mini eggs to the middle of each nest (unless of course you want to be an empty nester):
The girls insisted that the eggs needed to be the same color in the nests since birds only lay one color egg:
Let cool and enjoy.  They actually are quite delicious. The salty sweet with the chocolate egg makes them surprisingly addictive.  Good thing they are so easy to make! 

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

The Garage: BEFORE!


I wanted to post about my latest project.  The Garage!  
I have decided to completely do over my garage since it is close to unusable right now.  It is just a dumping ground for everything that needs to be stored... and I know it can be so much more.  
Let me give you the tour:  
Left hand side is lined by built in shelves. There also is a hose spigot on this wall.. since the front of the house has no external hose hookups.  There is a little "niche" between the end of the shelving and a exterior access utility closet where we currently house the freezer (no I am not talking the fridge in this photo.. that is being sold.. there is ANOTHER freezer hidden in there.)
Back wall.  The entry door as well as the furnace and water heater take up a large portion of this wall.  Plus when the van is pulled in far enough to close the garage door there is less than 12 inches of clearance at the front of the garage.  It is NOT a deep garage.

Right hand side.  The previous owners had nail riddled 1x2s on the wall (apparently to hang stuff from)  We currently tend to park on this side of the garage so we have everything pushed flush against the wall.


Not only are the contents of the garage a mess, but the garage ITSELF is a disaster. Whoever drywalled and taped it did a HORRIBLE job.  The joint compound is crumbling and the tape is peeling off.  

  Some areas it has puckered and torn.. and none of the nail holes were ever filled. 
 There also are DOZENS of random nails sticking out all over the place.   A lot of them are so loose they pull right out, so I have no idea what they must have held before.


And although the space is finished, it has never been painted which is another thing I want to remedy.  
I also hope to use a few of the ideas that I have seen on Pinterest (like redoing the entryway, since it is the door we use 99% of the time)

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But that is just the tip of the iceberg.
My goals for the space are to incorporate 5 functional areas (besides parking the car) to fufill the needs of our household.

Area 1: Storage
This is what we mainly use the garage for now.  This house has no basement, no attic access and limited closet space.  We are in a moderate climate, so the garage is suitable for storing just about everything. 
This is going to be a major component of the redesign because I am going to need to create storage "zones" for specific types of things.  For example: Lawn and Garden, Holidays, Camping Equipment, Sporting Equipment, Suitcases, Baby Gear/Kids Stuff.
There are some great options out there, if I can figure out how to accommodate them:

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Area 2: Workshop
Since starting my journey into the world of home improvement, I have accumulated a lot of tools and other stuff that I frequently need to access.  Right now all my tools and gear are chaotically scattered around the garage.  I want to make sure I get it all organized and easily accessible since right now everything takes longer because I have to spend so much time just finding what I need.  



I have a mini work/saw bench from the cabinets I tore out of the laundry room. I want to make sure I accommodate that as well as storage for specific things like lumber, saw horses, paint, ladders, hardware etc. 

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Area 3: Mudroom
Our house doesn't have a formal entryway.  There is a coat closet by the front door, but that is about it.  The coat closet is also the only closet on the ground floor so it houses all my brooms, vacuums, mops, along with coats, shoes, sporting equipment, a laundry hamper, dance shoes, school supplies... yadda yadda yadda.  

I want to designate a space in the garage specifically for a lot of that junk.  I am hoping to give each family member a cubby to keep all their coats and shoes and anything else that typically gets dumped either in the closet or on the floor on the way in from the garage. 

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Area 4: Pantry/Freezer
I have a small freezer in the garage that right now I cannot access. I want to make sure I plan for an outlet and ample space to house the freezer (and perhaps a few shelves for pantry items.)  The kitchen freezer is busting at the seams and I would love to be able to get that freezer back up and running.

Area 5: Trash
Yes I must house my trash cans in the garage per HOA rules.  Soooo... I have to take up a large footprint of the garage storing those bad boys.  They should be close enough to the garage door that they are easily wheeled to the curb, but also should be accessible from the house while the car is parked in the garage.   They are actually quite a pain to deal with.

The last big project I have planned is to epoxy the floor.  I have been painting on it without a drop cloth just knowing I was going to upgrade it.  
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All of that PLUS fit in my car! No problem.. right? 
One step at time.. one step at a time.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Easter Decor Mini-Tutorials

Earlier this week I posted my Easter mantle and I thought I would post the behind the scenes look of how I made all the components. 
Almost everything on this mantle is homemade:
 

The twine wrapped eggs were nothing more than twine glue gunned onto a plastic Easter egg.
It is much easier to cover light colored eggs (I thought yellow worked the best) because the darker colors are harder to conceal if you miss a spot.

The lower banner was made out of burlap and scrap fabric that I cut pennants out of. I backed the yellow fabric with Steam A' Seam fusible web and ironed it onto the burlap.
I ironed on fusible web to dark green fabric and traced out letters (make sure you trace the mirror images so when you iron them on they are facing the correct direction)
After cutting out the letters and ironing them to the yellow section of the pennant, I strung them onto a length of twine (stringing it through the natural holes in the burlap):


The upper banner was made of dollar store doilies that I sewed together with the sewing machine, exactly the same way I did my Valentine's and St. Patrick's paint chip garlands

The flowers were placed in clear glass vases that I spray painted using like the faux milk glass method.

The cross was made from scrap 1x3 left over from my board and batten project.  I cut it with the chop saw and glued it together with hot glue.

I then stained it with ebony stain leftover from my stair rail makeover.  I draped a strip of white scrap fabric over it to make it feel more like Easter.

I already posted tutorial for the loose Easter beans.  
For the egg shapes I attached undecorated beans to a foam egg with hot glue and then I spray painted it.
  This gives you a more consistent look and also colors all the glue.


Put it all together and you have a pretty darling little mantle:
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