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Chalk One Up For The Home Team!

February 20, 2013

Hello Again!  Sorry about Monday, I’ve been traveling for work and Em has been working on some new teeth… that leaves little time for blogging!  But we’re back, and that’s what’s important! 

Anywho, let’s take a jump back to last week’s holiday themed mantle and discuss chalkboards! 


When I put up the picture of the blue arrow, I started getting lots of emails about how I did that and my answer – Pinterest.  I love Pinterest, don’t you?!  Anywho, there are MANY phenominal tutorials out on this wide web to make your own chalkboard paint, but I thought I’d give you a quick run down of how I achieved the arrow above.


First, I gathered up all my supplies.  Originally I had planned to simply pick up some “XOXO’s” wooden letters from Walmart, paint them blue and be done, but alas… Walmart had X’s but no O’s, so I had to go to Plan B.  I saw this wooden arrow there for about $8 and thought why not… the rest of my mantle was free so I could spluge.  Then I grabbed some UnSanded White Tile Grout, a sample pot of paint and a cheapo paintbrush from Menards and got busy.


First, I gave the arrow a quick sanding to smooth things out.


Like I mentioned above, I’d snatched up a sample pot of paint while at Menards (Dutch Boy’s Newborn Blue in case you were wondering).  I just loved the brightness of it!


First, I meaured out half a cup of paint, and then mixed in one tablespoon of the grout.  Be sure to mix it really well and your paint is smooth again!


Then just apply away!  I put on two coats.  Note that it will dry fairly quick and the paint/grout mixture you made will not store well!  After these two coats, I realized that I had made way too much paint… note for next time, cut ratios in half!  And I’m glad I used the cheapo paintbrush, cause there was really no cleaning it out… I just tossed it.


Once everything had dried, I grabbed some chalk from my junk drawer and a rag… cause it was time to condition!


I believe we talked about conditioning a few months back when I made a chalkboard for the lake house to keep tally of the fish count over the summer months… but it super simple.


All you need to do is use the side of your piece of chalk and rub it all over your new chalkboard!


Then just wipe it off again, and bam!


You’ve made yourself a chalkboard in a beautiful bright color!  Or any color you choose!  Trust me… now that I’ve got myself a litte tub of grout mix… I’ll be making a couple more chalkboards around this joint!

Oh, and I’ve taken a little grief for not giving budget breakdowns like in the past… so hereare the approximates (or the best of my memory) for ya!

  • Wooden Arrow – $8
  • Tile Grout – $5
  • Sample Paint – $3
  • Paintbrush – $1
  • Everything Else – $0, I had it on hand
  • Total Project Cost – $17

And I know that $17 seems sorta pricey, but I justified it by know that the $5 spent on grout mix will last me many projects in the future!  Possibly even throw some gifts, so it was well worth it!  And the $3 of sample paint could have been slimmed down if I had known that I should’ve cut the “recipe” in half… I’ve heard you can also do this with acrilyc paint – so one of those $.97 ones from Walmart probably would’ve worked just as well!

So, anything around your house you’d like to spruce up?  Or jot down your notes on?  How about a cute cutting board in the kitchen as decoration?  Or a flower vase for the upcoming spring blooms?  Can you tell I’m getting excited for spring and warmer weather?!  The colors in my house just can’t get bright enough at the moment!


A Little Something…

February 15, 2013

After decorating our mantle, like I blogged about on Monday, we pushed out one extra project before Valentines day, but I didn’t get the chance to blog about it.  So I figured I would wrap up this week with a little love…


I decided that the mantle was missing a little something personal… so I gathered my supplies!


For this project you’ll need paint, paper, a diapered baby and an assistant it definitely useful!


I put a little bit of paint (which I already had on hand) onto a papertowel, and applied it to Emma’s feet (one foot at a time).  FYI – The plastic cup’s purpose in this project was to occupy said infant 🙂


Oh, papertowels are also very helpful in keeping the paint off of everything else!


With the help of my lovely sister, we picked Em up and got a good footprint on some cardstock, success!  Sorry, no pictures, this was a swift process that required all hands on deck!


We applied paint to her right foot next, and repeated the picking up of the babe and quickly getting a print, to create a sweet little heart!  This project was followed by a swift bath for Emma, she was very excited about that part!  This little miss loooooooves bath time!


With the addition of a frame found in the attic, it was exactly what the mantle was missing! 


That little extra touch, makes this “our” mantle.  The rhino makes me smile, but the feet make me melt!  And, to top it off, it was free 🙂  Have you done any valentines projects this year?!  I’d love to hear about them!

Oh and for those who have asked, yes, I’ll be blogging about the arrow next week, and I picked up the Brass Urchin by Nate Berkus from a local goodwill.  You can find them new at Target, but mine was found on a lonely shelf with one broken point – but that made him only $1.50… which if you know me is a score for this cheap frugal gal!

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Happy Valentine’s Day!

February 14, 2013


Happy Valentine’s Day, from The Helm House!

Treats for Daycare!

February 13, 2013

Well, with this being Valentines Week, you had to assume I’d be discussing treats, right?!  Isn’t that everybody’s favorite part of Valentines Day?!  Well, this year, with Emma being too young to pick out her own Valentines, Mommy got to do it for her!  Yay for Mommy!  So I decided to do something a little different.


I gathered my supplies, which included apple of my eyes printables from Love the Day on Etsy!  I figured the $5 “splurge” was worth it, so that Mommy didn’t need to spend any time designing them.  Time is definitely worth something, and why create something when these are soooo cute?!  Anywho, back to supplies… we got juice boxes, grabbed some ribbon from the stash, a scissors to cut out the apple tags, a marker to sign Em’s name and a hole puncher!  Supplies for treats came to a total cost of around $8, for the tags and juice.


They were easy peasy!  Just punch the hole…


I signed Emma’s name and measured out my ribbon.  A quick little knot, and we had a finished project!


I love them, and think that they’ll be something unique at the daycare party tomorrow!  What sort of treats are you giving this year?!

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Let Valentine’s Week Begin!

February 11, 2013

So, one of my personal goals this year is to celebrate holidays a little more in 2013 with Ms. Emma!  I sluffed off during 2012, figuring Emma didn’t care if I decorated for Halloween or getting a late start to Christmas… but in 2013, I want to make sure I put forth a little more effort!  I decided for Valentines day, it would be the fireplace mantle and some crafts!


The theme was to keep it simple and cheap.  We just put in the carpet, and with February being our most expensive month in bills (it’s chilly here in Minnesota), low cost was key!


We moved the fireplace into the newly carpeted den, and grabbed a couple of supplies to spruce it up!  So I grabbed a frame from my stash in the attic, and put in this awesome “Love You” printable!  I found this free printable at I Heart Nap Time.


Next up, and totally free and simple project.  I snagged some paint strips from Walmart, a scissors and some ribbon for my craft box.


After a couple of snips, I had myself a cute little garland!  I have to admit, I am totally in love with it!  My need to use this for more holidays throughout the year… does it looke Eastery to you? 🙂  Well, we’ll be back throughout the week to share more projects that we completed last weekend… a couple of quick 5-minute projects like this garland and printable.  See you later!

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That Warm Fuzzy Feeling

February 7, 2013

Let’s talk carpet!  I have to tell you, I was pretty darn excited about carpet!  I MISS CARPET!  Hardwood floors are pretty, but when you want to lay on the floor and play with your minions… it’s not the most comfortable.  So I sang to the heavens the day I convinced Chris that we needed carpet in at least one room!  So we decided on the den.

 As I mentioned on Tuesday, I den has been a dumping ground for the past two and a half years.  When we moved in, it help the computer/desk, sewing and craft supplies.  But really, we never used it.  We unplugged the laptops to use in the living room while watching TV and the crafting took place in better lit areas of the house, like the dining room and the kitchen.


Once we decided on the den, we decided to change it’s purpose.  The den would become a “family den” – a sort of cozy smaller TV watching and lounging area.  A place for kids to crawl up to a coffee table and color.  To watch a movie as a family.  A general relaxing area, full of toys and memories – yep, I started daydreaming immediately. 

Then Chris brought me back down to earth, and we got down to researching.  We knew that we didn’t want anything “permanent” installed – for two reasons, the hardwood is beautiful and we didn’t want to ruin it.  We wanted something that could be easily removed for resale if needed, with minimal damage.  So buying woven back carpet that required installing carpet tack strips was out of the question.

We immediately headed for residential carpet tiles at our local Menards.  We found these tiles by Legato, all that you had to do was cut them to size and lay them in place.  Nothing to adhere.  Perfect!  Well almost perfect… the price was just something I mulled over for weeks.

Our room is 12’1” by 14’… that would require 6 boxes of tiles, coming in at around $620 after tax… yikes.  One room.  We tossed around other ideas and had our “ah ha” moment when we realized that really the only difference between carpet with attached backing and tiles was the size.  We could roll out carpet with an attached back, the kind that doesn’t require stretching, and cut to size ourselves.  So we cleared out the den and went back to Menards!


We decided on this carpet by Crestview, it was perfect, soft and comfy.  One hiccup, it was only 12’ wide.  We decided as DIYers, we weren’t going to let this phase us.  We would buy a little extra and cut a small strip to run along a wall behind a couch.  So we bought 15’ and it totaled approximately $248, and we bought during their 11% Rebate promotion, so we’ll get about $25 back to use on a future project!  Awesome!

 We brought the roll home, and rolled it out.  The plan was simple.  We knew we would be filling in with a strip on one wall anyways, so we would cut out 3” on one side to allow for extra carpet in the threshold… does that make sense?  See in the picture below…


This was a great plan!  One problem.  We trusted that when they told us is was 12’ wide, that’s what it truly was… wrong.  The carpet was actually 12’4”… so we could have done wall-to-wall without a strip… bummer… oh well.  Lesson learned. 


We got over that fast once it was all rolled out and cut to fit! 


Isn’t it beautiful?!  Emma loves it, and couldn’t stay off of it once she woke up from her nap!


Chris cut the filler strips for the walls… yes plural… apparently our house isn’t square… go figure.  Either way, once the strips were fit in, it looks perfect!  We decided that to hold it in place, we would simply take a staple gun, and tack it to the floor in a few places around the edge.  *This has yet to happen, cause I seemed to have misplaced the staple gun… boo… but once I find it, the stapling will commence!*


We think that as we fill the room with furniture, that will also help hold the carpet in place and we can enjoy it!  We might not be able to afford new furniture for a while, because we have different plans for our leftover budget… but for now…


Hand me down florals are the cat’s meow! 🙂  And I think an entertainment center is making its way up the list…


…before Emma ruins those baby blues of hers!

Planning 2013

February 5, 2013

Well… nearly three months… yep. Can’t say I’m proud of it, but time just simply got away from us. We headed into holiday season as a family and as always in the winter my job goes bat-crap crazy. So as things start to slow down here a little, I’ll try to get back into the blogging routine, and hope that some of you stuck out the hiatus with me…

Where to begin?! Well there were the holidays! Thanksgiving and Christmas… yep they were fun, crazy busy fun. It was all just a total whirlwind this year with Emma joining the crew and bad blogger/mommy was so over it, that she pretty much left her camera at home the entire time.


Yep, I pretty much hit a wall at the mid-November… I’d had a lot of photoshoots, family gatherings and real-work stuff.  So I decided that with the new year, came a new plan!  As usual, my hopes always start out high!  So Chris and I sat down to figure out the large house projects we wanted to tackle this year and get a game plan!  We decided that five major projects would help keep us on task… Today I am going to share those with you, lucky you! 🙂  

#1 – Carpet for the Den (Budget $600)

 When we made the list after Christmas, Emma was 7 ½ months old, and really working on her crawling.  We knew that this one would be a priority.  We have been discussing carpet for a long time now, and needed to settle on a game plan.  See our house still has its original hardwood floors, and they were recently refinished before we moved in… covering them up seemed like a crime.  But, I continued to insist that one room in the house have carpet for kiddos to crawl around on.  After some debate, the den was the lucky winner.


This room has been a dumping ground for the 2 ½ years we’ve lived in this house, an unused, gather all room.  Time for a change!  We decided that we are going to turn this into a cozy little family room, complete with carpet!  First step, clear it out.


Then it was time to haul in the carpet, but wait, more on that later!  Before I go out and write that entire post here, let’s talk budget.  The budget for the carpeting this room was set at $600, seems high for a cheapskate like me, but that’s how important it is to me!  Next task…

 #2 – Finish Upstairs Bathroom (Budget $1500)

It’s about darn time!  The upstairs bathroom has been in a state of total disarray since January of 2011!  See that January, I started working on our little guestroom upstairs, remember this little post?  While I was working on demoing this room, my husband got the itch to demo the bathroom, with no plan on how to fix it.  Yeah.  He pulled out all the cabinets/shelving… it still looks like that two years later.  Sorry – no photo right now… bad blogger.

But, n his defense, the shower dripped before the demo.  He removed the cabinets to access the plumbing and he fixed the drip.  But that’s the only thing we’ve done to this bathroom.  So this will be a major focus this year.  The plan will be laid out at a later date on the blog, but overall we are looking at a total gut job.  New sheetrock, flooring, shower, vanity, storage, mirror, lighting and HEAT, yes HEAT!  In our century old home, neither of our bathrooms is heated… this is going to change! 

 #3 – Finish the Porch (Budget $450)

 Yep, we are the homeowners that fix the main problem and don’t finish up the job.  Like with the bathroom, we fixed the drip and walked away… the same goes for the porch.  Remember during the summer of 2011, we replaced the roof on the porch?  Yep, it had a leak.  So we fixed the leak and walked away.


This left our porch an empty shell for over a year and a half now.  Well that’s about to change.  This year we will finish off the ceiling and install the lighting.  The type of ceiling is still being debated, and whether to insulate or not is still in question also.  Either way… the budget is set and we’ll have to work around that, because I’m a stickler like that.  But I’m pretty positive we can come in under budget considering all I want to ensure is that a ceiling goes in, as well as lighting… we’ll fill that space another year.  My personal goal – come in way under budget and put in a new exterior door!

 #4 – Attack the Attic (Budget $1000)

 Our attic… yeah.  That’s about all I can say about it…



The previous owner had a dream to turn this into a master bedroom… insert eye-rolling here.  First issue, you access the attic through a closet in one of two bedrooms.  Second issue, laundry is in the basement.  Third issue, they had no clue what they were doing!  The sheetrocking job looks like it was patched together by a first grader, and bonus, they forgot to install a vapor barrier behind the sheetrock.  So this pretty much leaves this entire space useless for anything but storage… which is fine by us!  We knew about all of these things before purchasing the home, so we have simply used it as storage since we moved in.

 Well this year, we are going to gut the attic… Why?!  Because we are losing heat.  When they began their master suite adventure, they ducted heat into the attic and without proper insulation, we are now attempting to heat the neighborhood.  So we simply intend to gut it and get it back to its former glory, keep the heat in.  We aren’t exactly sure what this will entail, but we are budgeting high to hopefully cover anything that may pop up!  Fingers crossed people!

 #5 – Kitchen Facelift (Budget $450)

 Our kitchen is one of the hangouts in our home, and it needs a facelift.  While this is not really a “functional” task like the other four goals, it is one that will bring a smile to our faces.  The cabinets on our west wall around the sink are original (the island and counter between stove/fridge are from Ikea), and they could use a little love! 


We have done small updates in the kitchen like shelving above the stove and adding some more functionality with additional outlets, but nothing big.  So this year, we want to show our kitchen a little love.  I would love to makeover our cabinets on the west wall, add new lighting and possible update the countertops.  We’ll have to see how thrifty we can, as this facelift wasn’t allotted much of the budget this year! 🙂

Well, those are our large goals this year – totaling a whopping $4000.  Whew.  Now those of your who know me well… understand that in my mind, that is a lot of moolah, imagine all the fun you could buy at Goodwill with $4000!  But it’s time to think larger… and tackle some of these bigger items.

 We also have small goals to complete, the stuff that keeps me sane during all the chaos… those haven’t been dumped, but they are getting minimal funding this year.  For example, I’m currently in the middle of a master bedroom makeover, with a total budget of $100.  Yeah.  Tight.  But we’ll discuss those smaller goals as we get to them.

 For now, I hope you’ll join me back here on Thursday to discuss carpet!  And next week, we’ll we talking about Valentine’s day on Monday, Wednesday & Friday.  Trying to embrace holidays this year with a little one… personal goal.  Check! 🙂