Monday, December 29, 2014

My 10 Best DIY Projects of 2014

Wow, 2014 was a great year for Condo Blues! I made a lot of changes behind the scenes to bring you the best projects and content possible. My hard work paid off because more of you have stopped by to my virtual home to say hello.

top 10 DIY projects of 2014

 
Let’s look at the 10 most popular posts on Condo Blues in 2014!

Monday, December 22, 2014

42 Homemade Christmas Gift Tags

I like wrapping a pretty gifts for Christmas. I keep a box of gift boxes and bags I reuse every year and another box of wrapping paper and things like silk flowers, fabric ribbon, and bows I recycle into clever gift toppers for the Christmas gifts I need to ship.

  42 handmade printable gift tags r


For the gifts I deliver in person, I made gift wrapping easier on myself by using the reusable cloth gift bags I sewed from my historical costuming scrap stash. I still get the pretty and fancy look I like but with a time and sanity saving green twist because I reuse my homemade gift bags year after year.


I sewed my cloth gift bags as a post- Christmas cabin fever project and used them the following year. Read my homemade cloth gift bag tutorial here.

With all of the attention I pay to buying meaningful gifts and their fancy wrappings, I’m ashamed to say I have long history of phoning it in when it comes to Christmas gift tags.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Outdoor Christmas Décor: Modern Lighted Tomato Cage Christmas Trees

For as much I enjoy looking at Christmas light displays you’d think I’d do something fancy outside of my own home.

modern tomato cage Christmas tree with lights
Nope. I keep it simple.

Why?

Because it is always too cold outside to put up and take down elaborate Christmas decorations!

Peace, love, joy, and warmth. That’s what my outdoor Christmas décor is all about.

And by warmth I mean not freezing my legs off while I’m outside or in the garage building new Christmas decorations.

This year I made a few changes in our outdoor Christmas décor and especially in what I used to display them. I wore the right work pants for the job, my Duluth Trading Company Women's Fleece-Lined DuluthFlex Fire Hose Pants.

Did I mention these multi-pocketed wonder pants are lined with warm and soft fleece, one of my favorite cold weather fabrics? Oh yes, my friends. My new fancy pants kept me warm while installing Christmas decorations. They proved their worth later that evening on a walk with Lacey to look at Christmas lights a local park. We left early because Husband wore jeans and got cold. Me? Not cold at all.

fleece lined fire hose pants
The best thing about Duluth Trading Company clothes is they realize women need just as many pockets in their clothing as men.  DuluthFlex Fire Hose Pants have six packets: 2 front pockets, a zippered thigh cargo pocket, 2 back pockets, and a Pokey Things Pocket (their name, not mine) on the right back thigh.

Monday, December 15, 2014

15 Things I am Not Going to Do This Christmas

It amazes me how some folks use Christmas time to make others feel horrible because they have different holiday thoughts, traditions, or celebrate (or not) a different December holiday.

Sadly, I internalize their criticism of the way we do things as not green enough, too generous, too stingy, too religious, not religious enough, too secular, or too fill in the blank.  I always let them make me feel sad, angry, and depressed for several days during my favorite time of the year.

This Christmas, I am going to try not to fall into that trap.  I can’t change others but I can change how I let others make me feel about myself and how we like to celebrate the holidays.


15 things I am not doing for christmas to keep my sanity



I will also try to keep my attitude about others in check because fair is fair.

15 Things I am Not Going to Do for Christmas 

Monday, December 8, 2014

Christmas Kid Craft: Waterless Mason Jar Snow Globes

Last Christmas my nephews Mr. 5 of 10 and Mr. 9 of 10 surprised Husband and I with a homemade Christmas gift. My sister-in-law said that they wanted to make a Christmas gift for me because I often make gifts for them. Yay!

My sister-in-law tried to hedge things a bit by saying, “it might not be very good…” as I unwrapped our gift but I cut her off with a happy squeal. “Look the boys made us a mason jar snow globe! I love it!”

Because I do. 

diy waterless Christmas snow globe


With a little adult help, your kids can make waterless mason jar snow globes too. They make fabulous gifts and even better Christmas decorations!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Forget Elf on the Shelf! We Have Yoda on the Soda

People are insane about Elf on the Shelf.

Either they think Elf is a fun tradition and love it or they think Elf is a creepy stalker partying like a student on Spring Break and hate it.


There is no middle ground.

Husband came up with an Elf on the Shelf alternative.

I present:


Yoda on the Soda
“You will know (the good from the bad) when you are calm, at peace. Passive. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.”

Yoda on the Soda.

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Monday, December 1, 2014

Easy Outdoor Christmas Swag Decor

I want to add vertical live evergreen swags to my outdoor Christmas decorations. I couldn’t find them for sale this early in the season. My source for free evergreen branches (Christmas tree lots) didn’t have any to give either.

I thought I might have to wait until next year to do the project until I found my inspiration. A red and silver jingle bell door knob decoration! I’ll take four please. One to swag and hang on each of my four porch posts. 

how to make an outdoor jinglebell evergreen Christmas
  Pin this step by step tutorial for later!

This tutorial is so ridiculously easy. Lacey could do it if she had thumbs.

How to Make a Vertical Jingle Bell Christmas Swag


Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Captain America On Your Left T Shirt

Not a week goes by after Husband comes home from a training run that he has a story about how someone refuses to follow the rules of our running/biking/walking/rollerblading trails and almost causes an accident.  Apparently folks like to use the center of the trail instead of keeping to the right hand side. Verbally signaling when they are about to pass someone, which should be on the left, doesn't always happen either.

The first time we watched Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier (we see every Marvel movie at least three times in the theater) Husband leaned over and excitedly whispered in my ear, “See! See! Captain America has good running etiquette!” during the scene where Steve Rodgers is out for a  jog and calls out, “on your left” every time he passes a fellow runner.


Captain America On Your Left Freezer Stencil Shirt


I knew right then and there I needed to give Husband a Captain America On Your Left t shirt as a gift. I couldn't find one in a store so I made one! You can too. Here’s how.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Black and Bronze Bottle Cap Christmas Wreath

You need to start DIYing early, If you want to make this year a crafty Christmas and I have just the project for you!

I poked around my bottle cap collection, got some Christmas decoration inspiration from this year’s popular bronze and copper color scheme, and made a glitzy bottle cap Christmas wreath!


bottle cap Christmas wreath


How in the world did I recycle metal bottle caps into something green AND glitzy, two words that normally don’t’ go together?

Thursday, November 20, 2014

How to Hide an Emergency Tool Box in Your Hair

Husband saw personalized Swiss Army type knives in a shop when we were on vacation one year. In a rare impulse buy we ended up with His and Hers Swiss Army knives. Husband got silly giddy and said I HAD to have the knife with Handyman engraved on it. Husband bought a matching one with his name on it to replace the knife he lost. 

We changed Handyman to Handyma’am with my wood burning tool when we got home.

Husband uses the screwdriver on his Swiss Army knife all the time so yeah, of course, I’m all for him getting a replacement.

Me? I didn’t think I’d use it but if at all but if all it takes to make Husband happy is to carry a Handyma’am Swiss Army knife in the bottom of my purse I get off easy don’t I?

Thing is, the guy knows how handy those little emergency tool kit knives are. He was right and I was wrong. Those little tools have gotten me out of a jam time and time again. For example, if you follow @condoblues on Instagram (click and follow pretty please?) you might have already seen this Doomsday scenario the corkscrew on my Swiss Army knife helped my sister and I avoid on a Saturday night.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Behind the Scenes of My Good Day Columbus TV Cooking Segment


Last Sunday, Good Day Columbus asked me to do a Lazy Budget Chef five minute crock pot cooking segment on their TV show.  I thought I’d give you a peek on some of the things that happen and what you should be aware of when you present a tutorial or recipe on TV.

When I worked in TV, I was on the other side of the camera. This felt weird.
All photos in this post are courtesy of my food blog Lazy Budget Chef.

First, before I commented to anything, I ask the producer a bunch of questions. They wanted me to teach the show anchors how to cook a comfort food slow cooker meal viewers can make later in the week during the upcoming Arctic cold front.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

How to Make Bottle Cap Pattern Weights

I use some of the same sewing patterns more than once and if I use straight pins to pin the pattern to the fabric before cutting it out - holy pattern pin holes Batman! My patterns get pin holed to shreds.

how to make magnetic bottle cap pattern weights


Pattern weights keep sewing patterns from slipping and shifting on the fabric when you cut it out. They don't leave holes or marks in your fabric either. I have a lot of Christmas sewing coming up. I figure it was about time I used pattern weights instead of straight pins.
handmade gift idea
I tried using metal bottle caps as pattern weights. I wanted my weights to be be heavier.  I could have filled the bottle caps with plaster of Paris to add weight but I didn’t want to deal with the mess. 

Friday, October 31, 2014

Santa $1,000 Paypal Cash Giveaway! Closed

One of the things I cherish most is that just like my IRL condo, my virtual condo is full of diversity. You, yes you, the one reading this right now, makes making Condo Blues not just a blog, but a community.

I'm always looking for giveaway opportunities to thank you for being part of the Condo Blues community. A bunch of my blogger friends want to find a way to reward their readers in the same way.

We got together and thought what would people like? The December holidays are coming up. Everyone has a different opinion on what is and is not the perfect gift. Many of you don't celebrate the same holidays  or live in the same country as I do.   We thought....

What would you do with an extra $500 to spend this holiday season?

Santa $1,000* Paypal Cash Giveaway!


I know Santa implies Christmas but that's the majority of us celebrate in December. Please don't let this stop you from entering the giveaway. It is open to world wide entries!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

How to Get Rid of the Rubber Smell from Stinky Latex Halloween Masks

Husband and I couldn’t wait for the Guardians of the Galaxy movie to come out last summer. Of all of the Guardians, it is no surprise that our favorite a the smart aleck little guy Rocket.

Who just so happens to be a talking raccoon.

Followed by our other favorite Groot, a talking tree.

It was decided long before the movie came out that Husband and I would be Rocket Raccoon and Groot for Halloween. We only waited until this year because we hoped Marvel would release costume pieces because I didn’t know how to fabricate the character heads.

How to Get Rid of the Rubber Smell from Stinky Latex Halloween Masks

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Craft Fail, the Book!

craft fail book

In my crafting and DIY life, I have projects that come together just as I imagined. If I am really lucky, the beauty photograph comes out on the first few tries and I look like a clever, clever girl.
More often than not, in between the coming up with a crazy scheme stage and the perfect beauty shot stage there is an epic fail stage like the time I tried to make homemade shaving cream and it exploded all over my kitchen.


The fuzzy spots in the photo are shaving cream on my camera lens.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Fearful Dog Behavior Training

One of our favorite ways to socialize a rescue dog with behavioral issues is going to pet rescue events. It is a dog appropriate venue with better behaved dogs, rescue people understand if you ask them to approach your dog in a weird way because you are working on an issue.

They also understand if you have to leave early because your dog is tapped out or has an issue. We learn about new ways to help our dog, support great causes, and it is fun!


how to use dog events for behavoiral rehab training
Hey Charlie, do you need help with those bungee cords? I’m feeling a little distracted. Lisa says I should do something to put that energy in a positive direction when I feel this way.


The Capital Area Humane Society Halloween Pet Parade is something we look forward to all year. We work up to it by going to smaller dog rescue events throughout the summer. This event can be overwhelming to a dog because there are a lot of people and animals in a small space and costumes are involved.

Some of the people and dog Halloween costumes are clever and amazing. Here are a few of our favorites.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Bathroom Vanity Hunt Begins, Maybe

We are ready to move forward in renovating the water damaged master and guest bathrooms.

And by move forward, I mean trying to decide on a bathroom design plan, pricing options, what to keep, what to refurbish, and what to replace besides what needs to be replaced due to the water damage.



Both bathrooms have this plain jane basic builder's style vanity. The master bath has a double sink and vanity which is the secret to our long and happy marriage.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Wood Laminate Floors: Yay or Nay?

 I never really thought about the carpeting in my house except for vacuuming dog fur tumbleweeds when Lacey's coat changes for the season and spot cleaning coffee spills because I am a klutz.



Th Great Water Damage Room Renovations is forcing me to think about replacing my bedroom floor covering. The question is with what?  And am I stuck with horrible wood laminate flooring if we don't go with carpet?

Sunday, October 12, 2014

How to Make a Mini Top Hat

I made a super simple fluffy tutu (read my no sew tutu tutorial here) for a costume. I’m going for a kooky Dresden Dolls, Steampunk, Katy Perry, retro, vaudeville kind of vibe. I need one more thing so I can pull off the look: a little top hat fascinator.



 Tiny top hats make Halloween costumes more fun!

Instead of running to the store to buy top hat making supplies, I bought the materials by treating myself to a cup of take out coffee. That’s right!  I made my ring leader’s hat from a disposable cup.

The steps in this tutorial are very forgiving. Like my Fourth of July Uncle Sam fascinator, you don’t necessarily need to do the steps in the order I have them listed in this tutorial with the exception of assembling the hat pieces and hot gluing them together.

Although I think it is easier to add the decorative trim,  hat band, feathers, etc. after the hat is assembled because it gives me the option of using the decorations to hide any seams or hot glue blobs. Sneaky! Sneaky!

How to Make a Top Hat Out of a Cup


Thursday, October 9, 2014

How to Make a Fluffy No Sew Tutu

I need a costume for a performance. I opened our costume closet and came up with a costume idea with a kooky Dresden Dolls, Steampunk, Katy Perry, vaudeville kind of vibe.

Best of all I my costume includes a tutu! I always wanted to wear a tutu as a kid but unfortunately modern dancers don't do the tutu.

Sorry Martha Graham, this gal is making her long denied tutu dreams come true!


Dancers tip: Wear a pair of flesh colored tights (or pantyhose if you wearing them as part of a Halloween costume) under your fishnet tights. The hose will even out the skin tone of  your legs. It also helps the fish nets stay on and from bagging around your ankles with movement.
Dancers tip #2: Don't buy the cheapo fishnet tights at the Halloween store buy professional dancer's fishnet tights (get more info about them here.) Dancer's tights have a flat nylon sole so you aren't painfully walking on little ropes all night. They cost a little more but are totally worth it!

Sunday, September 28, 2014

How to Cover Popcorn and Textured Ceilings

One of the first things Husband wanted to change when we bought in our condo are the textured ceilings. I told Husband if he wanted to soak the texture with water so it is loose enough to scrape off off with a hand scraper while standing on a ladder in. every. room. of. the. house. the project is all his.

10 years later we still have textured ceilings we don't like.



We learned to deal with the fifth wall in every room we aren't crazy about. We didn't think about changing our ceilings until I flooded the house and damaged the kitchen ceiling. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

How to Remove Grout and Regrout Tile

The grout in the Master bathroom shower is chipping. The other grout patches I did as a quick fix are discoloring. I’ve been putting this job off forever. When Husband went out of town on business, I figured it was time to do remove the bathroom grout and add new grout to the tile. 




This job isn’t hard. However is probably messier and takes longer than you might originally think. At least it did for me.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Easy DIY Custom Wedding or Anniversary Artwork

Mother and Father in Law celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary by renewing their vows. They asked me to decorate the reception after the ceremony.

After I designed the party centerpieces (I’ll show them in a future post,) I turned my attention to the cake table. My plan was to place the flowers from the church alter on either side of the cake and Mom’s bouquet in a vase behind the cake in the center of the table. It still felt sparse and I got this feeling that Mom hoped I’d make something for the reception.

I made a custom You Are My Happily Ever After sign for the cake table. I put it on an easel for the party and gave it to Mom and Dad to hang on the wall at home. You can make this sign as an anniversary, wedding, or just because decoration.




Monday, September 15, 2014

No Sew Halloween Apron

My sister and I are foodies. We often send each other email with the subject line MAKE THIS and a recipe. During one of our conversations the subject turned to food, as it usually does, and how cooking messes can ruin clothes.

There is a solution for that. It’s called an apron.




Halloween is my sister’s favorite holiday. We share the same warped sense of humor. I made her a no sew apron I know she’ll wear for Halloween and quite possibly during the rest of the year to serve as a funny warning to others.

Don’t Make Me Poison Your Dinner Apron

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy Craft Awesome Mix Tape USB Flash Drive

Marvel released a new superhero movie and of course Husband has seen Guardians of the Galaxy multiple times. Me too.

I didn't' know much if anything about Guardians of the Galaxy until Husband dug out an old Guardians comic book for me to read before we saw the movie. The Guardians in the movie are the same bunch of space jerks as they are in the comic books. The only difference is the movie has a much better soundtrack due to Peter Quill's mom making her son a real live 1980's style mix tape. Peter (aka Star Lord) he plays it in his Sony Walkman as he roams the galaxy.

  Yep, that's a TARDIS USB hub on my desk! Many of you asked where I got it. I bought my USB TARDIS hub from Amazon here.


We have a USB port in our car, not a cassette player. The only way we can play Peter's Awesome Mix Vol 1. is if I decorate a thumb storage drive as an  Awesome Mix Volume One cassette tape.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Nine Uses for Nine Naturals Repairing Body Balm


Friends in my community marching band pestered me so much about joining concert band that I finally gave in. I dusted off the flute I haven’t even looked at since high school.

Needless to day, the flute joints were dry. After a long household search I found a jar of petroleum jelly buried in the back of a cupboard I was going to use to grease my flute joints.

That got me thinking. Are there were any eco friendly and non toxic alternative to petroleum jelly?




Google told me that my middle school music teacher was wrong. I should polish the joints on my flute to make them fit smoothly, not grease them with petroleum jelly. Good to know.

I was still curious about nontoxic petroleum jelly alternatives because there are times when I need to use it as a skin barrier.  Nine Naturals offered to send me samples of their no bad stuff added Simply Natural Lip Balm and Repairing Body Balm to try. I like that Nine Natural products are 100% Natural. Sulfate-free, Paraben-free, Phthalate-free, BPA-free, Triclosan-free, DEA-free, and Petrochemical-free. Natural products don’t contain artificial chemicals, dyes or synthetic fragrance either.

I have a very bad history with natural ingredient lip balms chapping my lips because they often contain honey. Not to mention I was confused about the difference between the Repairing Body Balm and their Unscented Moisturizing Pregnancy Body Cream both sounded like heavy duty moisturizers. I mentioned my concerns because I was tipping toward, “no thank you.” Nine Naturals quickly sent me answers to my questions.
  • Nine Naturals products can be used by anyone. You don’t have to be pregnant, nursing, or even a woman to use them.
  • Simply Natural Lip Balm is vegan. No honey in it to potentially chap my lips! I was intrigued. I use lip balm constantly. Would a vegan lip balm works on my I-don’t-care-if-you-want-safer-products-we-want-parabens lips?
  • The Repairing Body Balm is a vegan and non-toxic alternative to petroleum jelly. 
I decided to give Nine Naturals a try.

9 Health and Beauty Uses for Non  Petroleum Jelly Balm

Thursday, August 28, 2014

How to Make an Office Chair Duct Tape Foot Rest in Ten Minutes Flat!

My feet don’t reach the floor when I sit in my desk chair to work on the computer.

If I lower my chair so my feet reach the floor, then my computer monitor and the keyboard tray on my desk are too high and give me a slight shrug while I work. You will not believe how much head, neck, and back pain that barely noticeable tic of non alignment can cause.

If I don't get a migraine, the pain makes me feel beaten up all over my body, pain shoots down my extremities, and I feel like I want to vomit.

It took me years to  find the right person to tell me that a poor ergonomic work station not tailored to someone of my petite stature is the cause of my mystery symptoms.

Luckily, since I already use a desk with a lowered keyboard tray,  most of the adjustments I need to do to make sure my arms are wrists are parallel to my keyboard are on my desk chair.   I use a couple of thick books as a monitor stand (,) some painter tape on the bottom of my desk chair to remind me where to reset my chair height, and awareness that if for example, I'm starting to feel a shooting pain in my arm I might be hunching over or set the mouse just a little too far right from its original position which makes me overreach slightly.

That's the shirt story long on why my feet often dangle three and half inches above the floor everyday while I work.


The is part of the fun of being fun sized!


This is not ergonomic for the lower half of my body. Sometimes I get a slight knee ache.