Wednesday, June 27, 2018

I adore my electric sander. I use it every chance I get and buy projects where I know I can use my favorite tool. It has always been a quick, easy way to get rid of the old and give life to new pieces. So why, you ask, would I even consider doing anything other than sanding when it brings me so much joy??
Enter the demon chair. Why this one, you ask? Who knows!?!?!? All of the other three chairs sanded like a dream, but this one refused to relent. You may recognize these chairs from a previous post, Why You Should Never Buy Chairs From A Store Again. I finished three of the four chairs with my sander (one other did put up a bit of a fight) and tried my sander on the last one, of course, but it kept tearing up my sanding pads and was taking HOURS to budge the stain. I almost threw the chair away and got ready to sell them as a set of three. But never fear! The internet is here! It turns out there are a few products that could do the job, but the one that caught my eye was this one...
The little slogan on the can said everything I needed to hear! I was hooked. So here's a quick tutorial of how to use this stuff and my opinion of the projects it would be best for.

All you need for this project is the Minwax refinisher, steel wool, rubber gloves, and a nasty piece of furniture. As you can see, the stain that was on this chair was super oily and had a thick gummy consistency.
You can see how this mess could tear up my sander pretty quickly... The directions on the back of the Minwax suggest pouring some into a glass or metal container. Don't choose something you plan on using for food again! Once you put this stuff in, it's toast. Dip your steel wool in and begin rubbing the spot in circular motions. Here's a before and after of the back rest!
That's a significant difference. It got off all the gummy stuff, but left a little of the stain residue behind. Ultimately, if I didn't have to match three other chairs, I probably would have left it this way, but I had to sand off the excess (not easy being that it's oil) to get it to match the other four. Here are a videos that will explain the process in a little more detail...

So was this product the miracle cure I'd hoped for. No. I think the gunk made this job harder just like it made the sanding harder. Will I keep using it? YES. I see this as the perfect product for removing stain from detailed wood. I recently bought a table with spiral detailing, and I had been panicking about how to get it off without sanding the detail right off. This seems like the perfect solution! And I'm so elated to have my set FINALLY finished!
Have you used this product before? Have you used something similar that you prefer? Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!

Thursday, June 21, 2018

This summer, I was fortunate enough to travel to Houston with World Changers to rebuild homes after the devastation of Hurricane Harvey. It amazes me that, here we are, a year later, and there are still dozens of homes that are still unlivable. The home we worked on was so close to being finished, but we had spackling, sanding, painting, flooring, and baseboards to complete. The before and after pictures from a weeks worth of work are unbelievable! We were able to take an unusable home and make it almost move-in ready! Here's a before photo...
Image may contain: 3 people, people standing, shoes and indoor
We were a little unsure about how much we could accomplish in such a short period of time, but we got to work immediately. After getting the walls painted, we moved on to installing the laminate flooring. Yes, my heart was broken that we didn't have the time to restore the original wood floors, but the difference made by adding the laminate was like walking into a new home! I never thought installing laminate flooring was something I could do on my own, but after installing them in this home, I realized I could totally take on this project! But for real, this project isn't "building your own treehouse" hard, but it's definitely more difficult than many other DIY projects. This will take time, patience, and the ability to manage a saw. If this sounds scary, enlist the help of a hubby, teenage child, or another DIY diva. Two people will make this job move much faster.

Here are the supplies you'll need:
1. Laminate of your choice
     -This is tongue and groove floating laminate flooring. Floating means that it isn't attached to the floor beneath in any way.
     -When you buy laminate, expect that ten percent will end up being wasted by cutting and trimming. So if your room is 100 sq. ft., buy 110 sq. ft. just to be safe.
2. A moisture barrier pad
3. A floor installation kit
-The kit easier than buying each piece separately. Here's an example of the kit for only $15!
4. Knee pads (trust me)
5. A circular saw and/or a jigsaw
6. Tape measure
7. Pencil
8. A scraper (decide on size based on how much scraping needs to be done)

So your first mission is to make sure the floor is clean and flat. You may have to scrape up any excess left from the previous flooring or any spackle or paint that may make the flooring undulated. Hopefully, you won't need to do as much scraping as I did! Then, sweep up the excess.
Now your floor is ready for the flooring. First, lay down a strip of the moisture barrier. Start with only one strip so it isn't messed up as you move around. You can add the next strip as the flooring approaches the edge. Click on the blue roll for the best deal I found for you guys...

Next, measure the wall to see how many boards you will need and to what length you need to cut the board to fit in the room. Make sure the groove (the part that doesn't jut out) of the tongue and groove buts up against the wall. The first length of the wall is the most important because it sets the stage for the rest of the room. Once you have your pieces cut to fit the first line against the wall, you need to attach the boards together. This part is the most satisfying!
Start on the wall opposite the door and lay down your first board (groove side facing the wall). Make sure to place spacers between the wall and the board. These prevent warping when the laminate expands and contracts due to changes in humidity. Lay down your second board against the wall(remembering spacers) and fit it into the tongue and groove. Place the tapping block against the end and tap it with the mallet until it is flush with the previous board.

Once you have the first panels against the back wall, stand back and look at it. If it doesn't look straight, the whole room will look crooked. Stop. Fix the crooked spots. If the walls are not straight, you may have to trim the sides to make it fit against the wall. Keep working until it looks straight. The first length is the most time-consuming, but the rest of the flooring will move much more smoothly and look better if you take the time to get it right.

The next strip of panels needs to be laid out in brick like pattern. Don't lay panels side-by-side or they will be more likely to come up over time. Here's what I mean...
As you keep cutting, trimming, adding, and tapping in boards, keep standing up and checking your room. If anything ever begins to look crooked, stop and fix it! Don't forget to tap on the end AND tap it into the previous row.
As you get closer to the other wall, you'll have to measure and cut as needed to get into the crevices. Use your measuring tape and your good judgement :) 

And the finished product...
What the what?! This is an amazing difference! The baseboards have also been added in this picture, which you will need to do and will cover many transgressions. Make sure to remove the spacers between laminate and walls before installing baseboards. This is my first time to do this, but as a first timer (with a little expert help), I was pretty happy with the result and felt like the job was pretty reasonable. Do you have experience with this type of project? Did I leave out any important details? Leave reactions in the comments below!

Thursday, June 14, 2018

I love to decorate with books. Their colorful colors and faded pages carry a feeling of aged wisdom that bring warmth to a home. Sure, there are hundreds of ways to use books as decor, but when I got inspiration for this book lamp, I knew I had to make it! Let's get started...

1. Books
2. Lamp or lamp kit
3. Scissors/box cutter
4. Modpodge/glue
5. Tape
6. Drill
7. 3 inch screws

First, you have to get a lamp or a lamp kit that will work for this project. I started out with this lamp from IKEA...yes, I got mine at a garage sale for $3. I chose it because it had a flat bottom and all three books fit on it perfectly.

Now, you'll need to choose the books you'd like to use. I chose Reader's Digest books because they are colorful, cheap, and have the right width. Mark where you want the pole to go through the book. Make sure you mark on the bottom of the book so it won't be seen when you flip it over.

After taking this picture, I drew another line on either edge of where the pole would go through the pages, so I would know how large to cut the hole in the pages. Here is an edited version to show what I mean.

The red lines I drew on this picture are the lines you need to mark. The line closest to the binding is the one you will use to cut the pages out.

Next, I used a ruler to mark the straight line where I would need to cut and used a box cuter to cut the pages out. Scissors would probably work as well, but I had a hard time getting the scissors inside the book, so I went with the box cutter. I would cut away a handful of pages, then measure it with the lamp until it fit. 

Make sure you save the pieces of pages that you are cutting out! After you have the correct amount of space for the lamp, trim the pages that you cut out until they fit back into the book with the lamp inside the book. You can tape the page pieces together where the pages will be inside the book. This is a good way to make sure they don't slide as you attach the books together. 

The next step may require you to have a friend to help you. You are now going to use a drill and a long screw to attach two of the books together.

Stack another book under the book you have attached to the lamp (be sure to hold the pages tight so they don't shift). Line them up perfectly and hold them tight. You could use a clamp once they have them lined up. Hold the books tight and drill a hole for the screw. When you get ready to screw in the screw, make sure you have the books held tightly together. If you don't, the pages will separate and it will look messy. Drill one screw at the bottom of the book away from the binding (this helps to secure the pages that were loose from cutting) and one at the top in the same line.

Now, take the third book and place it next to the middle book. We want to avoid seeing the screws, so we aren't going to drill through the cover of the third book. Instead, we are going to open the cover and drill through the pages to the middle book. Make sure you don't hit the screws that you have already screwed in. Also be careful not to drill all the way through the pages! It's very easy to do.

After you attach the books together, the covers of the books are going to be loose and unattached. Simply take some glue and glue the covers to the pages and run some glue along the pages of the book. This simply creates a solid, sleek look. Finally, tape the books together until the glue dries.

Remove the tape, add a light bulb, and a shade, and...
I was compelled to go with a pretty funky shade. I used an old bed spring to bring an eclectic feel to the lamp. 

Here's the cost breakdown:
Books: $0.75
Lamp: $3
Spring: $1.50
Total cost: $5.25

What a steal for a cool new lamp! Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below!

Monday, June 11, 2018

*Disclosure: Some of the links below are affiliate links. That means if you choose to purchase items through these links, I receive a small profit at no additional cost to you.  

I adore working out in the garage. Something about sanding, sawing, and painting just puts me in my element. When I first began working on furniture, I was using half-working hand-me-downs that just didn't get the job done. Since buying these few tools, my jobs have been easier and my work has been more professional! But you guys know me...I'm not going to spend a ton of money on pricey tools I don't absolutely have to have! Here are the necessities to take your job from exhausting to a breeze!

Ladies, buy yourself a decent drill. You'll need this for everything from drilling holes through wood, to screwing in screws tightly and easy. That means you'll need some drill bits to get through the wood. I've even drilled through books! The one pictured above isn't the most expensive or nicest drill ever made, but it'll accomplish the mission.

Circular Saw
Most people don't need to go out an buy a crazy expensive or complicated saw. For the most part, I am only cutting straight edges, so this circular saw works perfectly for all of my jobs. It's easy to control and fairly lightweight. Being that I haven't cut off any limbs, it's pretty safe to say that this saw is a pretty good choice!

Alright, this is where I start getting all warm and fuzzy about my tools. This sander is powerful, easy to use, and has a detail attachment! Since I spend most of my time sanding and repainting, this sander and I spend a lot of time together. It has a dust catcher so that sawdust isn't constantly blowing up in your face, and the detail attachment makes it easy to get in all the nooks and crannies of a chair.

Wood Glue and Clamps

Yes, you need both. No, Elmer's and tape will not suffice. Trust me, invest in some good glue and a set of clamps. As someone who repairs a lot of broken wood, you would be amazed at how many projects could be easily fixed by these two cheap, simple items! So go ahead, buy that chair with the legs falling out! It's an easy fix!

Staple Gun

 I love my staple gun far more than I should. I love it so much that I have a bad habit of using it even in situations where it is not the best tool. But for reupholstering seats or attaching thin pieces of wood, it's a dream and WAY faster than a hammer and nail. I got this one for my birthday and love it!

Becoming a master of these few tools can take your refurbishing game up a level! Which item is your most used and loved? Leave a comment below and tell us your have-to-have DIY tool!
Save it for later!

Thursday, June 7, 2018


Everyone expects something different out of their shopping experience. Some people expect to buy the most on trend item at the fanciest boutique in town. Some people are hunters who go into a store long enough to buy what they need and leave. Others, like myself, are buyers of opportunity (dangerous, I know). Not everyone is willing to darken the driveway of a garage sale for one reason or another. Maybe they expect the wares to be broken or unusable. Maybe they think they are above buying someone's old junk. Who knows?! Well, now I do. I asked a diverse group of people about what turns them off at garage sales and heard some very untrue statements that are preventing people from getting some great deals. Here are a few misconceptions and the truths behind them!

1. A dirty or unkempt home is a sign that everything is trash.
 Yes, if a home is dirty, it might mean that the items are dirty, too. But can you say SOAP? You're going to let a little dirt keep you from finding a treasure? *eye roll activate* Dirty items aren't necessarily useless items! Take a cloth and dust off your bad attitude, so you can see the amazing items at these types of sales.

2. People at garage sales are going to squeeze you for every penny, so there's no point in bartering.
WOAH! That's a huge lie. Never don't barter (as my AP English teacher's ears bleed). But for real, always ask for a lower price. People hosting garage sales expect you to lower the price. Their main goal is to get rid of their crap, not to take you to the cleaners. I mean, what's the worst they can do, say no? Here are a few tips on How To Barter Better (without sounding like a jerk).

3. Unpriced items means they are going to charge more, so there's no reason to ask about the price.
On the contrary, people who don't have their items priced are probably going to give you a good deal. If they didn't care enough to price it, what makes you think they care enough to charge you a lot for it? I've never experienced people deciding how to price the item based on how much they think you'll pay. If they do that, you don't want their overpriced malarkey anyway.

4. The early bird gets the worm.
Yes, and no. When should you actually shop at garage sales? There is a trick to every time of day. I explain this one really well in my Exclusive Guide to Garage Sales. A little redundant to say it twice, yes?

5. Boxes on the ground are always full of junk.
Boxes on the ground mean one very exciting thing to me: books. My husband and I both search through every stack of books and come away with treasures. Other things of value that might be in boxes...records, antique tools, vintage dishes...I mean, the list goes on!

6. The better the neighborhood, the better the stuff.
Uh, no. I purposefully avoid upper middle class areas, because I don't want their stuff. There is nothing appealing to me about board games and overpriced lamps. Instead, lean toward the older and lower income neighborhoods. They've had some of those items in that house a long time!

7. Good signage means it's going to be a great garage sale!
Not always. Yes, good signage means you can at least find it, but good signage means they spent a lot of time and effort to get it up and running. Ultimately, that could mean they are going to charge more. And can we stop putting the word "HUGE" at the beginning of our signs. I know you're compensating for your tiny sale, and I'm tired of being lied to.

8. Clutter is a reason to keep driving.
NO! Clutter is a reason to stop! What is someone else's junk is your JACKPOT! Don't let a mess of unorganized chaos stop you from searching for some amazing items! I go into this point in detail in another post, Why I Find Better Deals At Garage Sales Than You Do. Don't leave before you read it!

So what's stopping you from buying amazing junk? Is it one of the above misconceptions? Is it something else? Let us know in the comments!

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Monday, June 4, 2018
I had a straight up vision. I had a huge, empty wall that needed some love, and I had spent hours researching ideas that would be reasonably priced. I had originally planned on a gallery wall, but I wasn't patient enough to gather items slowly, and I wasn't willing to go out and buy them at stores #broke. So one night, I had this idea come to my mind and had to get started right away! The next day, I went out to the woods behind my neighborhood to find a large, sturdy branch. This is a wild goose chase if you know that I live in North Texas. Large branches don't exactly just fall out of trees. My husband joked that I needed to take a saw and cut down a tree! So when we went to look for the branch for my project, we found this...
What?! Beavers?? I mean, how crazy to stumble upon this on my afternoon walk! No, I didn't get to see any of the cute fluffies, but it's totally clear that they are around! How great that I had a huge selection of branches! So I picked one up (much smaller than the one's above) and took it home.

To begin making your hanging gallery wall, cut the branch you've chosen to fit in the space you are wanting to hang it. This could be scaled up or down to fit any spot in your home. Cut off any extra branches that will get in your way. Then, sand down the branch lightly to remove any excess dirt and bark that would fall off in your home. You could sand off all the bark, but I love the look of the gray bark. I also didn't cut off the knobby bit because I loved the thought that a beaver chopped it down just for me!
 Next, lay out the branch on a large open space so you can place the pictures the way you want them. I used 12 frames because I got a good deal on them at Walmart, and I needed a lot of frames for this project! You could play around with different sizes, colors, and layouts as well! Once you lay them out and place them where you want them, tie some baker's twine (or other string of your choice) around the branch above where you want the pictures to hang and pull the string straight down over the frames as if they were hanging down (definitely take gravity into account as you work). Then place the frames over the string to get a feel for the finished product.
By this point, I was in love already! Flip the branch over and super glue the knots to the back so they won't be seen when it is hung up. Then, tie the picture frames securely onto the strings and super glue them in place as well. Make sure the super glue doesn't glue the frames shut!

Once everything is dry, add the pictures to the frames and use the baker's twine to add your hanging mechanism. I wrapped my twine around a few times so you could see it well, then super glued it in place on the back. I also added some picture frame teeth hooks to add some extra support.

Then with a quick few nails in the wall, you have a gorgeous piece to fill up large wall space. Way more fun than just hanging up a few pictures! It's as simple as that!
My cost totaled up to:
Branch: free (thanks beavers)
Frames: $8
Pictures: $3
Twine, sandpaper, and superglue: pre-owned
Total: $11 !!!

So you can fill up a huge wall for less than $15! And no one will ever guess you made it yourself ;) What are you waiting for? Start creating! Leave a comment letting us know the tweaks you made to make it your own!

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