Condo Blues: 2012

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

My Top 10 DIY Posts for 2012

Wow 2012 you sure gave me some ups like appearing on Blog Talk Radio and in This Old House Magazine and in Beth Terry's book Plastic Free, and raising $1,080.00 for the Blitzkrieg Cancer Treatment Fund. Thank you thank you thank you again for helping our boy. It really means the world to us.

2012 gave me the the rock bottom of downs with fighting canine cancer and losing Blitzkrieg earlier to lymphona that we and his medical predicted.

Through the good and the bad. I did projects. Projects and keeping busy keep me sane. Well, as sane as anyone can hope for that is. From the looks of it, you like projects too! 

Here are my top ten posts of 2012 based on the mystical magical blog stats and algorithms. 

1. How to Make Dandruff Shampoo  

Friday, December 21, 2012

Shop Christmas Week Discounts to Save Money Next Christmas

It's a few days before Christmas. I have stuffers for the stockings ('cause I like to help Santa out - he's a busy guy on Christmas Eve!) All of the gifts are tagged, wrapped, and under the tree.

Now is the time to go Christmas shopping!

For next year.

It will save you time, money, and sanity next year.

Most frugal tipsters suggest you save money by buying Christmas wrapping paper and decorations at a deep discount the day after Christmas. Unfortunately with new sales cycles and the bad economy pushing stores to offer the steep discounts early, and such there may not be much available on December 26th. But, those things ARE available at the deep discount Christmas week.

I took this screen capture of Sears Christmas Shop today.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Renaissance Christmas Tree

I like Christmas and the excuse to dress up the house in its party clothes. This year it all seemed like work I had to do instead of work I wanted to do because Husband and I are feeling the loss of the biggest Christmas lover of all - Blitzkrieg.

Blitzkrieg didn't know anything about oil lamps burning longer than they should, or a baby being born in a barn, or if a special hunk of tree is burning in the fireplace. All he knew is when I brought certain boxes and tubs in from the garage (Blitzkrieg knew the difference. I moved some tubs into the house when cleaning the garage one summer. Blitzkrieg got excited and did the Pekingese Dance only when he saw me move the Christmas tree box into the house during the project), the Christmas tree was going up with a special soft blanket underneath to sit on. The Pack Leaders put things under the tree (but not in the special space we eventually left for Blitzkrieg to sit under the tree.) Then a special day comes when the humans divide the spoils to the pack and you go to bed with a belly full of homemade dried sweet potato treats.

Blitzkrieg photo bombing by cloth gift bag tutorial post.

Yeah, so basically, if you have a pet that clues in about the holidays, their understanding is all on a purely materialistic level despite your best efforts.

Monday, December 17, 2012

How to Make a Lush Christmas Garland for Free

I love big fat plush and lush Christmas garlands. I'm talking massive amounts of magazine worthy evergreen and boughs of holly. Sadly, I can't find anything like that for sale, real or fake. The one time I found something I liked, it cost scary money. Being a budget minded gal, I left the budget busting garland where I found it - at the store.

Keep reading! I'll teach you how to make this lush evergreen 
Christmas garland for little to no money!

I haven't seen anything like it since. All of the fake evergreen garland I see now looks anemic and hateful.

Friday, December 14, 2012

7 Dazzling Christmas Trees

Husband and I took a much needed vacation last week. We went to Frankenmuth Michigan, which is a lot like Brigadoon but with lederhosen. You can read about the first part of our trip on Lazy BudgetChef: I Ate My Way Around Frankenmuth, Michigan here.

The two things Frankenmuth has going for it are:

  1. It is a Bavarian town
  2. It is Christmas year round
There is a giant Christmas store in Frankenmuth called Bronner's. Husband described as, “It looks like Christmas threw up in here” although he meant it in a nice way. It is hard to impress upon anyone who hasn’t been there that Bronner's is not your typical pop up Christmas shop. 

 Examples of the items they sell to commercial customers are all around the store.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

10 Minute Gift: Cabinet Knob and Wine Cork Bottle Stopper

I decant our big ol' bottle of mouth wash into a prettier and easier to mange glass bottle. I'm surprised I haven't broken the bottle over the years given my traditional zombie like state as I get ready in the morning.

Basic green mouthwash rates a 3-4 (moderate hazard) on EWG's Skin Deep database so that's what I buy. Also, we hate the taste of the lower rated mouthwashes - blergh!

Instead of accidently breaking the bottle, Husband and I break the cork bottle stopper just to keep life interesting.


On a recent lunch date with an out of town friend followed by some serious drooling at a nearby Anthropologie, I came up with a plan to make an unbreakable (but cute!) bottle stopper for my bathroom.

How to Make a Bottle Stopper

Monday, December 10, 2012

West Elm Confetti Garland Knock Off

I found a bag of purple glass ball ornaments covered in hot glue and foam from a failed Christmas wreath project in the garage this year. A few hours of picking hot glue off the salvageable Christmas balls I have enough to hang them on my DIY garden trellises to turn them into trellis Christmas trees.

I made the stars from recycling bin cardboard using the tutorial in The Big Ass Book of Crafts 2 (one of last year's Christmas gift. Thanks sis!)

It looks like I accidentally changed the outdoor Christmas decor color scheme to purple, silver, and turquoise from red and white sparkly glam Christmas decor.  That's OK. Change is good.

I need something to tie the greenery around the door to the trellis Christmas trees near the yard. I thought I found it in West Elm's Confetti System Garland but it only comes in red.

A few days later I got blue and turquoise tissue paper in a delivery.

Light bulb moment!

How to Make West Elm Paper Confetti Garland

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Pop Can Poinsettia Wreath

I appreciate a good wreath. In fact, I like them so much I have a whole Pinterest board devoted to nothing but wreaths (give me a follow on Pinterest and I'll follow you back!)

Johnnie from Saved By Love Creations metal poinsettia wreath is my newest pin. Lookie! Lookie!

I love the paint technique she uses too. Photo courtesy of Saved By Love Creations.

At first I thought Johnnie took a metalworking art class because the poinsettas are so sculptural and the wreath is expensive-looking.

Friday, November 30, 2012

How to Make Doctor Who Dalek Potholders

Husband is a great guy. He puts up with living with DIY projects in process more than he likes (note: he hates it,) while also encouraging me by bringing home odd things for me to “do something with” because “you are creative” and “they were just going to throw it out. You can make it useful again.”

If there is anyone on my gift list who deserves a homemade Christmas gift it is Husband.

 Save this tutorial to your Pinterest boards for later! Share it with your friends!

My guy likes to cook. He likes Doctor Who (because he has excellent taste in science fiction). He also likes to keep his fingers from burning off around the stove. Homemade Dalek potholders? Perfect!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Build a Beer Advent Calender

It's time Christmas countdown calendar time! Whoo hoo!

Advent Calendars are a very Danish way to celebrate Christmas.

I never had one.

Clearly, I was horribly mistreated as a child. This has nothing to do with my parents didn't want two kids fighting over one daily calendar prize which we probably didn't need since Christmas was coming or extra treats that could negate the use of the most magical parental phrase to get two little girls to behave instantly, "Santa is watching."

Nope. It was out of pure parental meanness. I tell ya.

Now that I'm all grown up (stop laughing. It's true.) I guess I could get my own Advent calendar and countdown Christmas any. way. I. want.

I choose this.


Neener. Neener.

Monday, November 19, 2012

20 Cute and Eco! Christmas Ornaments

I think my love of tree ornaments comes from Grandmother making me ornaments each Christmas of my teenage years so I’d have a set when I went out on my own. My favorites will hang on our family Christmas tree. It feels like she is still with us during Christmas. 

I carry on the Christmas tree ornament gift tradition. I give each of my nine nieces and nephews a Baby’s First Christmas ornament on their first Christmas. Santa always puts a new ornament in Miss 3 of 9’s and Mr. 7 of 9’s Christmas stocking since those are the only kids who do stockings (besides my house.) I usually buy those ornaments so I don’t tip them off that Santa sometimes has help filling their stockings from this side of the North Pole. Not to mention, I get to satisfy my ornament addition, um fascination, by spending a lot of time browsing for their perfect yearly ornament.

Let’s check out some Christmas tree ornament eye candy!  

Friday, November 16, 2012

Have I Thanked You Lately? Because I Should

This post has been in the back and front of my mind for a long time. Last night I had a mild panic attack when I realized Thanksgiving is next week and I am unprepared. This is unusual but well, I’ve been a little busy fighting and losing to canine cancer this year.

These past five months I’ve been on a see saw. Feeling OK and moving within the online world only to retreat to my cave the following day. I feel guilty and selfish because I haven’t truly thanked you for what you did for us and before, during, and after Blitzkrieg’s cancer battle.

I’m thanking you now.

 Husband said I should share the photos I took of our visit to my hometown's beach. We let Blitzkrieg sniff and experience the smells of a Lake Erie beach after the winter storms and before the spring beach clean up. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How to Install an Under Sink Water Filter System

We are a tap water house. It is cheaper, greener, and lazier because I don’t buy and lug bottles to and from the store or send them to recycling limbo.

We’re also a filtered tap water in the refrigerator house. In theory. Unfortunately, the filtered water pitcher is the first thing jettisoned from the refrigerator when I need to make room for food after a shopping trip.

Monday, November 12, 2012

How to Make Color Denim Jeans for Five Dollars

It is officially jeans weather and I got a little surprise. Turns out the Kidney Stone Diet followed by the My Dog Has Cancer Diet followed by the Grief Diet (I do not recommend these diets At. All. It isn’t healthy and stinks on ice) made me lose enough weight to make my fat jeans too big.

I need a pair of temporary transitional size jeans. Colored denim jeans might be fun because now things are settled and I plan to start Wii-ing and biking on our new bike trail my way back to the normal range of my Body Mass Index (BMI). By then the colored skinny jean trend may have jumped the shark.

Thanks to a thrift store sale and a Michael’s coupon, I made a pair of purple denim jeans for $5.00.

You can too!

Here’s how.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

32 Gifts for Crafters and DIYers

I asked a bunch of my favorite craft and DIY bloggers what cool gifts for women they received or are on their gift list. While we all agreed gift cards to our favorite home improvement and craft stores are always winners, sometimes the people in our lives are looking for new and unique gift ideas because they have gone to the gift card well a little too often.

Ironically, most of the gift ideas we talked about I've gotten or given as gifts myself. True story.

Gift Ideas for a Quilter

Monday, November 5, 2012

DIY Spray Paint Booth

Sandy and her crazy cold nor'ester is trying to end outdoor spray paint season early because you can't spray paint in temperatures below 40 degrees (F) and expect your project to come out well. Guess how I know?

Eeking out a few more months of spray paint time in the garage doesn't work around here because Husband doesn't like the idea of spray paint splatter on the car. (It was ONE time, barely noticeable, and on MY car -  yeesh!)

That's why I pinned A Crafty Nest's spray paint booth to my Pinterest boards (follow me on Pinterest? I'm kinda lonely over there. Thanks.)

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Easy Citrus Basil Aloe Soap Tutorial

We used up the butter maple shea butter soap I made and colored with kitchen spices. A ton of people asked if the turmeric I used to color the soap turned our skin yellow. I’m happy to say, nope not a bit.

I have a bunch of  soap making supplies left from making my first batch of melt and pour soap. I also have some end of the season basil from our garden that doesn't taste that great in cooking. I put them together and made an orange citrus basil soap using an Aloe Vera vegan glycerin melt and pour soap base.

How to make orange citrus basil soap
 Save this easy soap tutorial to your Pinterest boards for later! Share it with your friends!

The result is scrubby dubby good and something I plan to make now for holiday gifts later. Hint: Citrus Basil soap makes great stocking stuffers and teacher gifts!

How Make Aloe Soap

Friday, October 26, 2012

How to Hang a Heavy Picture without it Crashing to the Ground

 My new living room accent wall looks good but adding a few pictures to the wall will make it look better.

Especially if I rehang this amazing gift from Michael. He painted it as part of his senior show at Parsons (yes, that Parsons The New School for Design Project Runway fans.) Michael gave us the painting to remember him by before he moved -sniff!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Schoolhouse Rock Costumes

Around here Halloween is ALL about the costume. I keep a running Halloween costume idea list in my head of unique and slightly out there costume ideas.

Last Halloween Husband and I went a Halloween party. The theme was Childhood. After mulling over the costume possibilities, I realized I had the perfect costume on my Halloween costume idea list. It’s something I’ve been wanted to build for a long time School House Rock's Bill from Capital Hill!    Husband got in on the School Rock costume action too. He was the Engineer from Conjunction Conjunction.

 Pin this costume idea to your Pinterest boards for later! Share it with your friends!

Friday, October 19, 2012

5 Fall Fun and Howling Halloween Projects

Kristina from Claiming Our Space asked me to co-host her Fall and and Howling Halloween Link Party along with the fabulous  The Chic GeekSecond Chance to DreamMaking My Apt a Home, The Cookie a Day Challenge, and Domestic Randomness here on Condo Blues.

I  love that I got to introduce my super crafty DIY friends to my clever green living friends. I feel like the hostess of a successful dinner party. I'm the Yenta of the blogging world introducing all of you over there to all of you over there!  I met a slew of new people myself too.

Wowzers gang. Your projects knocked my socks off! Kristina suggested the co-hosts pick a few favorites and share them on our blogs. It wasn't easy!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Dehydrating Garden Vegtables

Husband and I grew more than six tomatoes this summer. I can check one more goal off my 2012 DIY Project list. Yay!

I thanks to Food in Jars, I learned how to can five quarts and two pints of homegrown tomatoes for my September One Small Green Change. Double Yay!

Not so yay, our tomatoes are ripening in drips and drabs. It takes forever to collect enough ripe tomatoes to can them. I can one or two quarts at a time at most.

I see a lot of this and not much else.

I had some tomatoes that were getting close to the Eat-Me-Now-Or-Compost-Me-Later stage but enough to make a pint of canned tomatoes.

*light bulb goes off over my head* 

A compact florescent light bulb of course.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Three Halloween Door Decors

Door wreaths are festive and fun but decorating the whole door for Halloween is better! I want to share some of the Halloween door decorating ideas I pinned on Pinterest (follow me on Pinterest @condoblues pretty please?)

I know from experience that finding a door wreath that doesn't blend into a green door can make you tear your hair out.  Mel from Mel Designs  solves that by turning her green door into a goofy Frankenstein monster.

Photo courtesy of Mel Designs 

Friday, October 12, 2012

Mid Century Industrial Mood Board

Most days, I like my living room, especially after I painted an accent wall Hootenanny Green. I’m not making that up. Hootenanny Green is the name of the paint color I used. 

 Dancing in the living room! (because it could use more seating for guests)

That’s not to say when I’m watching almost unhealthy amounts of HGTV on the weekend that I don’t wish one of their designers would swoop in, redesign my living room, and punch up the personality and seating options for guests. Can you hear me Room Crashers? I’m talking to you and any other show that will listen.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Make a Louboutin Inspired Bracelet

As a green DIYer and crafter, I sometimes use products that may contain not so eco friendly ingredients. Generally, it is only one small component and I am fine with it because it contributes to the greater good of remaking the object into something clever, useful, or beautiful and saving it from the landfill. However, I am always on the lookout for an eco friendly equivalent that works just as well or better.

When I find a craft supply that promises me eco friendly ingredients AND is no odor AND eco-friendly AND water based AND low VOC I get excited. I racked my brain for an excuse to try them gift idea that lets me use the Delta Soy Stain and Soy Craft Paint I saw for sale on Scribbleshop AND makes a few Christmas gifts early.  

I am not using red for this demo because I don't want to be sued for trademark infringement.

Monday, October 8, 2012

25 DIY Superhero and Villian Costumes

Confession time. With superhero movies hitting the theaters, nephews who like superheros, and needing an escape from last summer's canine cancer battle Husband dabbled a bit in his childhood comic book hobby with an electronic subscription (much cheaper, greener, and he has access to comics published before, during, and after the time he spent all of his childhood paper route money on comic books.)

And he brought me along for the ride.

I had to read the paper books he kept from kid hood to save my marriage.

Are any of you buying that?

I thought not.

Since it is in our backyard, Husband and I got our geek on at the Mid-Ohio Comic Con 'cause you know how we are total sci fi nerds, into supporting local events.

Husband got into talking to the comic book artists he admired and collected. As a former costumer, I got into the cosplayers - the patrons who created and dressed up as their favorite characters from TV, movies, books, and video games. The detail on some of the costumes is amazing. Others were cheesy on purpose - my wacky sense of humor admires that too.

If you are looking for Halloween costume inspiration, this is the place to be.

Hero Costumes

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fall Porch Reveal

All of the projects are done and it's time to reveal my decorated fall front porch. This year I went with a fall theme instead of our traditional Halloween pirate theme. Husband and I aren't feeling skeletons and ghosts since our one eyed pirate dog Captain Blitzkrieg isn't here to pilot our ship this year.

That's why we're going with Fall y'all.

Sorry, can't help it. It rhymes.

I did the new fall porch decorations for under $20 because I remade and reused what I had on hand.

Let's break it down.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Quick and Easy Butter Maple Shea Butter Soap

I love handcrafted soap but figured I shouldn't jump into another hobby that requires so much new equipment, is stinky, and makes a ton of stuff we may or may not like cold process soap. 

Then I found handmade glycerin soap. I can make small amounts if need be and play with scents, colors, and additives more easily - that’s my favorite part. 

Let's give it a whirl.

I bought my soap making supplies from Consumer Crafts and may have gotten a little carried away while I was shopping.   I made an unboxing video to show you what I got in my order because my $50 budget went a very long way. Yay! Now I have extra supplies to make Christmas gifts.

I did a little comparison shopping at Michael's yesterday. Can I just say woo to the hoo for Consumer Crafts bigger selection and lower prices?

How to Color Natural Shea Butter Soap With Kitchen Spices

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fall Drop Cloth Garland

This year I’m going with more autumn fall decorations for our porch instead of Halloween garlands and ghouls. I’m also trying to use what I have on hand with a few little extras here and there. Not only is that greener and cheaper but it will also help me clear a bit of leftover the fabric I have stored in my craft room from my costuming days. High fives all around!

I like the garland décor I see all over Pinterest. I think strings of orange pennant flags over the windows and door will be festive. To tie the bunting flags in with the drop cloth house flag I made, I moved into an urban country chic decorating direction (I hope) and made a cloth garland from the leftover orange and drop cloth fabric. Waste not and all that.

If you are looking for a plastic free decorating idea, this one’s for you!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Barnwood Speaker Shelves

Its funny how one little DIY project like painting an accent wall turns into a tumble of DIY projects like installing a TV wall mount, updating the fireplace surround with paint, and now building barn wood shelves for the surround sound speakers. It is like eating Terra Chips around here. I can’t eat just one.

During the mounting the flat screen TV project I did as part of Husband’s birthday present, I originally wanted the surround sound speaker placement to be on the back wall around the TV for optimal sound. I realized I have more TV than TV niche wall space. Plan B: make surround sound shelves from the reclaimed wood I rescued from a broken fence.

Learn how to build these reclaimed wood display shelves. It's easy. Promise.

I feel like I should almost apologies for having a flat TV, surround sound, and TV components because in  having a TV, let alone cable and a video game system is pooh-poohed in eco circles. I’m going to address it but I’m not going to apologize for it.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Fall Drop Cloth House Flag

This year Husband and I decided to go with fall decorations for the porch and yard instead of our traditional sea dog cemetery since our one eyed pirate dog is not here to captain the ship.

I’m starting with our garden house flag. The LisaLand flag (an inside joke that Husband had made into my birthday present) is summery and a tad worn. Normally I replace it with a pirate flag I put up for InternationalTalk Like a Pirate Day (yarr!) and leave up until after Halloween. Yo ho ho and a bottle of chardonnay! (That’s what girlie pirates drink.)

I poked around a few stores for personalized house flags and the luck of being me, the house flags I like did not have a W. Who knew our initial was so popular?

When I can’t buy, I’ll DIY! 

Friday, September 14, 2012

I'm Canning Tomatoes!

Our almost illegal but not quite tomato plants (read the story on Lazy Budget Chef. It involves a police helicopter AND a paddy wagon) exploded into a bunch of tomatoes. We definitely met our 2012 DIY goal of growing more than six tomatoes. Yay!
The results are delicious.

But more than we can eat right now.

Last summer, I faced my fear of canning (don’t laugh. It’s true) and canned strawberry peach jam with leftover fruit (our eyes were bigger than our stomachs) and raspberry Moscato jam. No one died of botulism AND we had a nice stash of impromptu Christmas gifts in the pantry. I call that I double win.

You can find the recipes on my food blog Lazy Budget Chef

The use what canning equipment I had on hand method worked well enough for me to consider buying a canning kit to make home canning easier. Fortunately, my mom passed her canning supplies down to me. I was off and running. Well, actually, it is more like trotting.