Condo Blues: 2011

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

I Sorta Got Insulation for Christmas

Last year I asked Husband for garage insulation for Christmas  because I really want to get my garage workshop project moving after painting the walls Smurf Village blue. He thought I was being way too practical (again) and went in another direction.

I’ve been whimpering, or loudly whining and complaining if you want to believe (and you shouldn’t) the other member of my household, that I can’t spend quality time with my compound miter saw (last year’s Christmas gift) once the weather and garage grew cold.   

Lisa really likes this Pink Panther guy
Husband and I decided to bump this project up in priority on our (my) punch list. 

I did a bit of insulation research at the trifecta of home improvement stores (Lowes, Home Depot, and Menards) that are all so close to my house that I may never move for that fact alone. *happy sigh*

Here’s the wall insulation low down:

Friday, December 23, 2011

Make a Chainsaw Reindeer

Here’s a great idea if you have a bunch of tree branches and limbs cluttering your yard from a necessary trimming or a wicked storm – make a tree branch reindeer!  

 I like the little one best.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Floating Jedi Christmas Tree

Every single Christmas tree of my childhood was decorated with red glass balls and shiny gold tinsel garland. No deviation. At. All.

When I got out on my own I quickly changed that. Every Christmas tree I’ve ever had has been a collection of ornaments that coordinate but there was and is nary a shiny ball in the bunch.

Here’s the weird thing. I’m starting to jones for glass shiny ball ornaments.

When I saw not Martha’s take on shiny ball ornaments, I really wanted to run out and buy a set or seven.

Photo courtesy of notmartha.  

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

I Made a Gift Tag for Portland

I put a bird on it.

If you watch Portlandia you understand what I'm talking about. If you don't, watch the sketch below. Enjoy!

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

How to Make Reusable Cloth Gift Bags

I usually like wrapping Christmas gifts. I have all sorts of tips and tricks to upcycle just about anything into gift-wrap, ribbon, and bows to make Pinterest perfect gift-wrap. My gift wrap turned art projects reduce waste while the recipient  is none the wiser. All they see is a pretty package and that’s the way I like it.

I save paper gift bags like these in our stash stored in an under bed gift wrapping storage box similar to this onefor Husband because he claims he’s not as good at wrapping gifts as I am. This may or may not be a spousal management issue on his part because it means I end up wrapping almost everything. (I am including affiliate links in this post for your continence.)

As our extended family has grown so large that it takes me days to wrap all of their gifts. After last year’s four night wrap a thon left me less than holiday cheerful (to put it mildly), I promised myself I was going to make wrapping gifts easier this Christmas.

With reusable cloth gift bags!

how to make quick and easy cloth gift wrap bags
Pin this idea to your Pinterest Boards! Share it with your friends!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

How to Make Lavender Sugar Scrub

It’s not all power tools with me. I have my girlie girl moments too. One of the ways I like to pamper myself is with a nice sugar scrub. When I found out that my favorite spendy sugar scrub was nothing more than olive oil and white sugar, I decided to make it myself.

I’ve been experimenting with sugar scrub recipes ever since.

 Pin this recipe to your Pinterest boads! Share it with your friends!

Lavender Sugar Scrub Recipe

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Winter Outdoor Living Spaces an Interview with HGTV’s Dan Berger

HGTV landscaping shows make me jealous of big backyards because my tiny place will not hold a big deck, fire pit, or a little grotto with waterfall. I have a thing for gazebos too. *Wistful sigh*

To compensate, I designed our front porch to be as inviting as possible.

Now that it’s fall going into winter, my perennials are gone and my yard looks a little sad. I wish I had an HGTV designer on speed dial to help me make the outside of my Midwestern home as inviting and usable in the fall and winter as it is during the spring and summer.

I recently given the opportunity to interview Garden Designer and contributor Dan Berger and ask him all my questions about transitioning my outdoor spaces for fall and winter. Dan’s work is gorgeous! He really knows his stuff when it comes to landscaping and garden design. Dan is the owner of LandPlan Landscaping. He has appeared on numerous episode of the HGTV show "Landscape Smart." Dan has also worked with This Old House and been featured in Sunset Magazine.  

Monday, December 12, 2011

Make Christmas Shimmer Placemats

I’m using the holidays as an excuse to bling up the two tonecloth placemats I made yesterday with a little shimma shimma pizzazz..

Green and glitzty!

It's also an excause to play with the Tulip Fashion Glitter Shimmer Transfer Sheets  and the Tulip Fashion Glitter Shimmer Fabric Paint I got from I Love To Create.

I shy away from glitter because it's a hot mess to work with and often sheds from a project. Fortunately neither of these things is true with Shimmer products I used for this project. I rubbed the designs with my finger after the paint dried and the glitter stayed put!

If you do not sew, you can dress up a set of purchased placemats following the same tutorial.

You can also use the Tulip Shimmer products to give new life to thrift store or past its prime duds you already have by artfully covering a worn or stained area with a design cut from the Tulip Shimmer sheets or camouflaged with the Shimmer paints.

How to Make Glitter Placemats

Sunday, December 11, 2011

How to Make Two Tone Cloth Placemats

I want to replace my placemats for the holidays. Me being me, I figure why buy, when I can DIY? 

This project will also help me in my New Year’s Resolution to use my fabric scraps for impromptu projects before buying new fabric.  I made a deal with myself that I cannot start on the sewing room/guest room/room where-furniture-goes-to-die remodel I want to do until I do something with all of the fabric and supplies I’ve been hanging on to for Someday.

Today is Someday.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Make a Painted Snowman Candle

I did a little Small Business Saturday shopping at the thrift store and came home with a round candle. With a little Green DIY Diva magic, I turned it into a painted snowman candle in less than an hour.

 Hiya Frosty!

I wiped the candle down with rubbing alcohol to allow the paint adhere to the candle.

Since this is a petroleum based candle, I'm not going to burn it. It is for decorative use only.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

8 Plastic Free Artificial Christmas Trees

PhotobucketChristmas ornaments are my favorite part of the holiday! Every ornament on our tree tells a story. Some are handmade; others commemorate a trip or event. I always find myself staring at that tree of memories (not at the gifts under it) throughout the holiday season. It makes me smile.

Unfortunately, the yearly Green Christmas Tree Controversy does not make me smile. It makes me surly because it's a no win argument largely based on preference.

  • Real trees are a fire hazard dripping in pesticides that might be better served living outside and photosynthesizing their little hearts out. 
  • Fake trees can contain PVC and will never break down if chucked in a landfill. 

When it comes right down to it; neither a real tree nor a fake reusable tree is green because you are adding one more object that does not serve any real practical purpose to your house. That's how Grinchy this "controversy" makes me because one of my favorite parts of the holiday is our sentimental Christmas ornament collection.

While both types of trees have their good points and bad points, I don’t think having either type of Christmas tree in your house is like gathering around glowing plutonium. Although to be on the safe side, do not lick either type of Christmas tree cause, you know, possible pesticides or PVC.

To be even more truthy with you, I’m Team Fake Tree. I favor reusables over disposables, both Blitzkrieg and I have pollen allergies that make a real tree not so fun for us, and a fake tree allows me to break with Danish tradition and put my tree up right after Thanksgiving instead of on Christmas Eve.  

I realize many of you like the reusable aspect of an artificial Christmas tree but hate the thought of bringing new plastic into your home. I can help you out with that. I did untold hours of looking at Christmas decorations because I enjoy looking at Christmas decorations hard, hands on research to find a slew of  plastic free Christmas trees.
8 Plastic Free Reusable Christmas Trees 

Genuine Aluminum Christmas Tree - My little retro loving heart wants an aluminum Christmas tree like the one both sets of my grandparents had so bad. The only problem is you cannot put lights on it. If you do and there’s a short in your lights, the metal tree conducts electricity – zap! You just electrocuted Santa and shot straight to the top of The Naughty List.


Silver Iced Novelty Decorative Artificial Christmas Twig Tree - This tree might be more your speed if the thought of sorting and assembling all of the branches of a large aluminum tree crumbles your cookies, which is another reason why I don't have an aluminum Christmas tree. Boo.


This White Twig Christmas Tree - works well if the traditional pine tree isn’t your thing while still allowing you to hang ornaments from its metal branches.

Pewter Decorative Ornament Display Tree - screams Solstice to me I don’t know why. Maybe because it resembles the bare tree in my front yard.


Ornament Display Tree - allows you to put the focus on the ornaments and not the tree. I can see using one to display nothing but cherished kid created ornaments.

This 7 foot Gold Metal Tree - may be more your style if you want a full size ornament stand type of tree over the table top model.

Feather Tree and Stand If metal isn’t your thing, how about feathers?! For a more old timey Christmas you can’t beat this hand wrapped goose feather tree and iron tree stand. This tree begs for homemade ornaments!

If a Christmas tree and a Truffala tree had a baby it would be the Kurt S. Adler 4-Foot Shaggy Tree – Bring a little retro whimsy to your celebration with this funky bright green metallic tree. This kooky guy is my favorite of the bunch!


Once you made your choice, extend the life of your Christmas tree by:
  • Shop mindfully for your preferred type of Christmas tree.
  • Take care of it for as long as it is in your possession.
  • Dispose of it mindfully
What type of tree do you have? Real or fake?

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Sunday, December 4, 2011

I Organized My Office!

Clutter makes me cranky. Which made it easy to pick a project when Apartment Guide asked me to participate in their Holiday Home Organization Blogger Challenge.  I was sitting at it.

 Before: Clutter Central!

Apartment Guide gave me a budget of $150 dollars for my project. I spent a chunk of the budget on repainting and repairing a thrift store wood filing cabinet to replace the flimsy little guy in the office. Good call on that one because the drawer front snapped off when I opened the drawer on the old cabinet to clean it out for the last time. I can't tell you how happy I was when I chucked that baby into the city recycling bin!

After: Clean and Organized!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

More Martha Stewart Christmas Paint Crafts Than I Can Count!

Hello friends! Have I got a treat for you!

Are you ready for a little holiday craft eye candy? Eye candy is the best type of candy, because it's nonfatting and won't rot your teeth. 

Santa (in the form of the UPS driver) delivered a slew of Martha Stewart craft paint, stencils, and supplies to  a bunch of my crafty and DIY bloggy friends too! I used my supplies to make a stenciled snowflake bottlecap bracelet. 


We've been Facebooking, Tweeting, Pinning, and sharing our crafty holiday projects amongst ourselves. Then Rhonda, one of the gals at Dollar Store Crafts gets smart and generous and creates a linky of our projects so we can share them with you!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Does Twitter Hate Green Moms?

Twitter suspended the Shorty Award winning @Greenmoms Carnival Twitter account. We don’t know why and Twitter isn’t telling. Will you help @Greenmoms and our over 70,000 followers get our Twitter account reinstated?

A Little Background on @Greenmoms on Twitter and The Green Moms Carnival

In 2008, Lynn of  Organic Mania gathered a diverse group of green bloggers and suggested we host a monthly blog carnival on a specific green topic like the Green Pet Blog Carnival I hosted on Condo Blues in October for Adopt a Shelter Dog Month.

Not every member of The Green Moms Carnival has the same green focus or way we do things and we like that way! Some of us (like me) are not Moms to humans. However, what we all have in common is trying to live the Reduce, Reuse, Recycle (and in my case, Remake) way the best we know how and are eager to share our hits and our misses with all of you.

@condoblues, @greentalk, @mindfulmomma, @greenmom, @crunchygoddess, @fakeplasticfish
Lisa from Condo Blues, Anna from GreenTalk, Miceala from Mindful Momma, Sommer from Green and Clean Mom, Amy from Crunchy Domestic Goddess, and Beth of Fake Plastic Fish.
Photo courtesy of Crunchy Domestic Godddess.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Handy Ma’am Apron

I love spending quality time with my tools. I don’t always love being covered from head to toe in sawdust from those tools. If only there were a way to prevent that.

They have something for that. It’s called an apron.

I made this!

Friday, November 25, 2011

6 Reusable Christmas Countdown Advent Calendars

As I eagerly endured the days before Christmas as a kid, I wanted mark off the days on a Christmas countdown Advent calendar.

My mother never went for it.

Now I understand why. Most advent calendars reveal candy or a trinket each day the child crosses a date off the calendar. In a household with more than one kid, one Advent calendar can lead to squabbling.

One solution is to buy one countdown calendar for each kid. However, that doubles the amount of work filling it and the kids get more trinkets and candy during one of already gift and treat laden times of the year. I'm not anti- extra candy treats. I'm anti - kids on a month long sugar high and driving everyone else  crazy extra extra candy treats. 80/20 Rule, remember?

My solution is use an Advent calendar that focuses on the countdown instead of prizes each day.  I like these countdown calendars better because you can reuse them year after year with little effort.

6 Reusable Christmas Countdown Advent Calendars Your Kids Won’t Fight Over

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Trash to Treasure Filing Cabinet

I am the reason we do not have nice things.

 I rebuilt and made over this thrift store filing cabinet after breaking the old one too many times.

Why? Because I snapped the plastic, handle off this filing cabinet drawer almost as soon as we got it home.
Uncle Bob?

My Green DIY Diva powers came to the rescue! I spiffed up a set of sturdy second hand cabinet handles with paint, attached them to the drawer fronts, and Bob’s your uncle. 
  • A little later a drawer broke; Husband kvetched we need a less flimsy cabinet. I fixed the drawer.
  • A year later the bottom drawer broke, Husband kvetched we need a less flimsy cabinet. I fixed the drawer.
  • A few months after that the top drawer broke, Husband kvetched we need a less flimsy cabinet. I fixed the drawer.
A drawer broke again. I agreed. We need a less flimsy filing cabinet.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Holiday Home Organization Blogger Challenge and Giveaway

The public areas of our home are generally neat and tidy. The Condo Blues World Headquarters and Thunderdome is not the neat and organized space it should be. Our filing cabinet is woefully inadequate to keep things from exploding onto my desk. I need to get a handle on this because in that pile of papers are blog business receipts and paperwork I need to organize for my taxes in January.

Now that I've embarrassed myself by showing you my messy desk, I HAVE to clean it up.

The office gets a little worse when it comes time to decorate for December because I need a place to stash my current décor for a month to make room for the holiday stuff. My temporary (as in several years running) solution is to shut the door to the office and not let visitors in.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Make a Stenciled Bottlecap Bracelet

Husband gave me The Look. The bottlecap basket in the kitchen is overflowing again. “Are you ever going to make jewelry out of those caps you make me save?” he sighed.

I guess that time is now.

I’ve been putting off any number of painted bottle cap projects because I don’t like my decorative painting skill - or lack thereof. Every so often I stop by Michaels and drool over the new Martha Stewart Crafts paint and stencils by Plaid. Maybe stencils can help me with my craft paintaphobia? 

One of the things I like about Martha’s craft paints is that it works on wood, metal, ceramic/glass, and fabric unlike traditional craft paint. This cuts down on the number and type of paints I have to buy and store in my tiny house. I need a variety of paint types since I work with a variety of recycled materials.   

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sunday, November 6, 2011

My Garage Door Opener Might Be the Death of Me

My garage door opener is a fickle minx. When I press the wall button or the remote, I’m not sure what I’m going to get. Most of the time the garage door opener opens and closes the door, as it should. But take that for granted (as I did the night of our burglary) and the door will go down and pop back up. My favorite trick is after checking the batteries in the remote, a press of the button makes the light blink and the door stays open. The taunting blinking light always happens during a rainstorm or when I am in a hurry.

I spend a good chunk of time checking the garage door sensors for obstructions (rare), readjusting the garage door opener controls with the change of the seasons, and keeping the remotes fed with fresh batteries.

A slight turn with a screwdriver is all it takes to make the adjustment

Our burglary was the last straw. I didn’t watch the door to make sure it closed completely. The door popped back up and stayed open all night. That’s how the robbers got into the house while we slept.

Husband and I discussed our options:

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Garage Workshop Transformation: Insulate the Garage Door

After I put Insulate the Garage on the Garage Workshop punch list, I realized we’d lose heat through the garage door if we didn’t replace it with a new insulated garage door.

Then I fell over at the price of insulated garage doors.

I wondered if I could save myself a truck full of money and the hassle of installing a new garage door and disposing of the old one ethically by insulated my current garage door.

Turns out you can. Whew!

I looked at garage door insulation options.

Monday, October 31, 2011

DIY Edison Lights

Husband and I spent an evening at Brothers Drake Meadery.  I looked up as we tasted the wonderful locally brewed mead and saw these.

oooo industrial!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Make Solar Milk Jug Ghosts for Halloween

The rechargeable batteries in the solar garden lights I repainted last summer heaved their last breath. 

While I am searching for outdoor rechargeable batteries,  I need something to light the way for the Trick or Treaters.

Luminaries are simple and festive. However, I don’t want to with traditional candles in case the kids accidentally walk into them. Husband says lighting your neighbor’s children on fire is rude. What-ever.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

10 Handmade Halloween Costumes for Adults

I am ALL about the costume on Halloween. I don't decorate the house much because I'm usually working on costumes. I start thinking about my costume a least a month or two in advance. I want my costume to be something clever or different or just plain crazy - hopefully all three. Last Halloween's Little Edie from Gray Gardens costume fits the bill. It was super easy to make too. Yay for easy!




"Easy for you Lisa," you say, "You know how to sew. I can't sew. I can't make a Halloween costume. I'm just gonna to buy one at the pop up Halloween shop."

Stop right there! You do not need to know how to sew to make a great Halloween costume! Last Halloween I went to a party. I saw tons of clever homemade costumes. Some were home sewn but most, like the Little Edie costume I made were not.

Nine No or Low Sew Halloween Costumes for Adults

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Green Moms Carnival: Green Pet Edition!

Welcome to the Green Pet edition of the Green Moms Carnival! October is National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month as well as National Pet Wellness Month. I thought of no better way to celebrate than to ask my wonderful friends to share their stories about greening their pets.

Before we start, I want to introduce my guest editor and the inspiration for today’s carnival, my one eyed rescue Pekingese Blitzkrieg!

Hello everyone! I realize Lisa saying I am the guest editor is trite blogging device.
I humor her because she pays me in dog treats to pose for blog photos. 

Since it’s National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, let kick off the carnival with…

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Make Pumpkins out of Trash!

When life gives Scott Stoll trash, he recycles it – into amazing Halloween pumpkin and monster decorations! Can you believe Scott makes all of these creative creations from paper mache?!

Photo courtesy of Stolloween 


Sunday, October 2, 2011

I am Designing My Bathroom Around a Faucet

My new bathroom faucet!
I reorganized the guest bathroom vanity. I like it a bit better. It is allowed to stay in my house. I'm still not excited that my sink and faucet looks exactly like every other bathroom in my neighborhood. I need to do something about that.

I haven't decided what or if I should revamp the vanity or the sink. Knowing me, reworking the vanity/sink will likely snowball into a remodel I’m not quite ready to put on my punch list.

I have no idea what I want in those areas anyway. Except for the bathroom faucet.