Monthly Archives: June 2010

This $12 chair will go down in history!

Becca is a friend of mine and a FANtastic photographer.  I love seeing the photos she’s taken – whether it be of happy couples, brides, weddings, babies or families.

With summer finally upon us, Becca’s shoots are moving outdoors.  And for good reason! Hello . . . have you seen the weather lately? But this means she has to create her own set and a few props will help out tremendously.

When she mentioned that she was looking for charming chair to use as a prop, I vowed to keep an eye out.  Naturally, she was looking for one that was full of spunk but that wouldn’t break the bank. I stumbled upon this beauty at the thrift store.  The price tag? A whopping $5.

Isn’t Jack a fantastic model? I just couldn’t resist.

The work was easy.  I tightened some bolts when I was sanding it down.  Then I put on two coats of Behr primer+paint in one.  I finished it up with a clear coat of polyurethane.

Isn’t it pretty?  Totally fitting for its big debut on the big screen.  Ok, ok, small screen.  Ok, photo paper. Whatever.

Well this chair is definitely spotlight-worthy – but it’s nothing compared to the pictures it has debuted in!  Check back  for Part II to see Becca’s work and how she’s incorporated this cheap prop!

The total cost of this project?

Chair . . . $5

Paint . . . $6 (about half a can that was $12ish)

Total . . . $12


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Past Party: Thing 1 Thing 2 First Birthday Party

My sister has beautiful twin girls who just turned one.  Props to her for surviving their first year! The girls have oodles of loving family and friends, all of whom my sister wanted around to celebrate their big day.  I gave her suggestion boards of all the ideas I’d put together and she whittled it down to one:   Thing 1 and Thing 2 from Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss.

Now, in all fairness, I’m not the first person to use this theme.  Several party planners had rocked it and showed off their images.  But I was so excited she picked this theme because I am loving the combination of light blue and red in all contexts – parties, weddings, clothing, etc.

My sister tackled the invites all on her own.  Using Mama Judd’s scrapbook tools, she created the invitation.

Pardon the poor quality of this iPhone photo.

The girls, of course, had to be dressed to kill.  I used iron-on fabric paper to create a Thing 1 and Thing 2 logo for the front of basic white onesies.  My sister decided that Thing 1 would be the first baby out – so as to prevent any arguing when they were older.  (Thinking ahead, that one!)  I ordered iron-on appliques of the Cat in the Hat for a little flair on the buttocks.  The tutus I made during a long road trip.  They weren’t as pretty as they could have been – oh, if I could only sew! – but they definitely had an impact.  Those stinkin’ kids are adorable.

Sewing would have also helped me create those crowns.  I can embroider, which was sufficient for this project, but I can see how a sewing machine could really go above and beyond.  I created the crowns using two pieces of felt, ironed together with fusible backing, and stitched around the edges.  I also used that fusible backing for the letters on the front. You can find a template here.

Apparently the girls didn’t think the crowns were as fabulous as I did.  We couldn’t keep them on their heads.

I wanted to make an impact from the moment the guests arrived so I created pinwheels for the entrance to the party.  There are several tutorials out there but I chose the easy way out.  I didn’t drill a hole through a dowel or anything fancy like that.  I just wrapped the pin around the dowel. Voila.  The pinwheels didn’t spin but I was more concerned that they were pretty. It wasn’t windy that day anyway, so it must have been meant to be.

In the foyer we displayed a memory board of pictures of the girls’ first year.  I bought an old cork board at the thrift store for $4 and covered it with fabric.  Around the board we displayed photos of the girls’ first birthday professional photo shoot.

I covered the tables in aqua blue cloths and adorned them with red spots of all different sizes.  Mama Judd really comes in handy with her scrapbook tools for anything using paper.

I did different centerpieces for each table. One used ostrich feathers and another used fake Gerber daisies.

I found some unique inspiration for the third centerpiece. These hip-looking orbs are actually Christmas tree ornaments that were 75 percent off at a closing Roberts’ store.  I balanced them (poorly) on Ikea candle holders.

Sprinkled throughout the ceiling were clumps of tissue paper pom poms.  We also had a banner we made using Mama Judd’s Cricut.  It said: “We are 1!”

On the fireplace we displayed a hat I created from poster board and wooden letters of the girls’ initials from the craft store that we painted to match our color scheme.

In the corner we played the original movie version of Cat in the Hat. (Doug’s technological brilliance is also key to my party planning success.)  If you haven’t watched the original film before, sit down and enjoy.  It’s 20 minutes of pure hilarity.

Each of the cousins received party favors.  I wrapped kites in aqua blue paper with red initials for their names.  The kites were inspired by the part of the book where Thing 1 and Thing 2 fly their kites throughout the house and make a big mess.

I placed a lollipop display near the food spread.  This cool red vase was also a Christmas section discount item.  Score!

Guests ate pretty cookies, but the birthday girls needed cake! Each got her very own cupcake, which was topped with cotton candy to resemble the crazy blue hair of Thing 1 and Thing 2.

To date, this is the party I’m most pleased with.  It is also, however, the party on which I’ve had the most time to plan.

Which is better: the original or Mike Myers Cat in the Hat film?


Filed under Party Planning

Tip Jar: The Sharpest Tool in the Shed

Today, our anonymous tipster is sending out love for a gardening tool called the “Hori, Hori.”  She may be spreading useful information, but I’m restraining myself from making inappropriate jokes.  Just know that I’m laughing on the inside.

. . .

The Hori Hori is the creme de la creme of garden tools.  Its unique serrated edge makes it your shovel and saw in one.  I’ve looked and, trust me, you simply won’t find anything that’s comparable. It digs into dirt, cuts through roots and weeds – you can even use it to open bags of mulch. And even better, you won’t need to go back and forth from the tool shed to get a project done.

Frankly, I use the Hori Hori for everything.  (Ignore Tasha’s giggles.)

There are two models of the Hori Hori.  I opted for the more expensive, stainless steel model for about $42.  I bought it last summer at Ward and Child at 678 South 700 East.  The second option is made of carbon steel and is about half the cost.  I haven’t spoken with anyone who has tried it out.

Do you know any fun Japanese words? Am I the only one in love smitten with the Hori Hori?


Filed under Garden, Tip Jar

Mimic a Trendy Lamp and make a DIY Lampshade

Change your home decor as often as you change your mind.

Isn’t that a lovely proposition?  Well, these hip lamps do just that. They have clear bases so you can fill them with whatever your heart desires as your mood – or the seasons – change.

Image and purchasing available here.

The Petersiks over at Young House Love have a similar lamp that they fill with all sorts of things.  I love the way they fill it with Christmas bulbs over the holidays. Look here to see how festive !  And how hip are these terrarium lamps?

Image found here.

The problem with these vases is that I can’t justify paying for one. The one at top retails for $99.99.  I can do a lot with $100.  That price point means that my love is a forbidden one.

So imagine my surprise when I stopped by the Deseret Industries (DI) in Tooele and found this beaut below for $1. Yes, I was in Tooele.  Yes, I went to the DI in Tooele. Don’t hate.

I almost missed it – hiding so quaintly behind the gaudy lamps up front.  But then I spotted it and – gasp! – not only is it fillable, but it’s a mason jar!  And this fillable lamp had a fantastic price point . . .

Oh Mason Jar, you had me at $1. (No kidding! $1!)

I sent the jar through the dishwasher to sparkle it up.  Then I dismantled another lamp for pieces to hold the shade.

Ah, the shade.  I’ve had several in the basement for a while as I try to visualize bedroom decor.  I really loved its green color but hadn’t used it for a couple of years because it no longer matched.  And although my new shades of my bedroom are also in greens, they don’t really mesh.

So I picked a fabric that worked with my inspiration print. ( You may recall my inspiration print for my dresser redo, here.)

First I prepared the fabric.  I measured the bottom of the shade (the widest part) and its height.  I cut the fabric, leaving several inches extra on each side of the fabric. Then I ironed the fabric to make sure that it would be presentable. (I also used starch to see if I could keep it the fabric as stiff and wrinkle free as possible.)

Second, I used a hot glue gun to secure the edge of the fabric to the shade starting on the crease of the shade.

Third, I hot glued the fabric all along the bottom of the shade.  I kept the fabric as tight as possible, using clothes pins along the way.

Next I glued the fabric to the top rim. I attached the fabric in two-inch increments to the rim, keeping the fabric as tight as possible.

Because the shade is narrower at the top, I created pleats to keep the fabric taut.  After the two inches were glued down to the top rim, I gathered the excess fabric at the top and glued it down to create pleats.

I did this all around the top until all the fabric was glued down.

I had used my pinking sheers to cut the edges so that the fabric wouldn’t fray.  To keep the final edge clean (where it met the crease of the shade), I folded the edge of the fabric over and glued it down so it looked merely like another pleat.

Finally, I had excess fabric in the inside of the shade.  I  I trimmed down the excess and glued down the inside flaps.


Now the fun part!  What shall I fill it with? I had been saving wine corks and asking everyone else I knew to save wine corks, too.  I knew there’d be a perfect project for them eventually.  Also, they were about $5 for 10 at the craft store.  What a racket!

For now I’ll sport the corks, but sooner than later I’ll want to change it up! Any suggestions?

Have you ever scored when you dropped in on a store in a totally different town?  Do you have a favorite thrift store find?


Filed under DIY

Black and White Bachelorette Party

The next party on my party-planning list is a black and white bachelorette party.  The gals will be celebrating at Keys on Main, a downtown piano bar, so I only have the table and chairs to incorporate the theme and make the bride to be feel oh-so special.

With such a limited space at the party, I have to pack a pretty punch in those table and chairs.

And for the love of pictures of beautiful party details, I’ve created this “brainstorm board” to inspire the event.

Images found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

I’m dreaming of black table cloths and black and white damask runners,  low flower arrangements, black and white cupcakes, and black and white boas.

I hope this little tidbit gets you excited for the reveal of this party. I can’t wait to develop all my ideas and share with you my final results!

Anyone have any ideas for throwing a great party at a venue that you can’t control?


Filed under Party Planning

The Dresser Diaries: Part II of II

Welcome back to The Dresser Diaries, the story of my first attempt to paint a piece of furniture.  Did you forget where we left off? Click here to see Part I.

I laughed. I cried.  After my first try at painting some furniture, I enthusiastically gave The Dresser . . . two thumbs way down.

You might recall that after finishing two coats of  paint, I applied the clear coat right before sundown.  I woke up to find The Dresser covered in a milky coating that could not be further from “clear.” For several weeks I pouted about my DIY failures. But after some self-diagnosing on that trusty-ole internet, I convinced myself that the cold weather was the culprit. So each morning I dug inside makeshift hampers to find clothes while I waited for the spring to come back to Utah.

Starting Fresh

When the sun came back (and before it went away again) I pumped myself up to start fresh.  No respectable DIYer would just walk away from a poorly-painted dresser.  There were no Rocky-like jumping jacks on our front steps, but I did crank up my iPod to my housework playlist.  (Stay tuned for that hot list to drop later on the blog.) Singing out loud to music no one else could hear, I begrudgingly re-sanded the entire thing.

Ready to start carefully painting again, I needed to shake up my routine and make sure I was getting the best possible outcome.  So this time I brushed the drawers instead of using the roller. I was very impressed but didn’t want to take the time to brush the entire dresser. So on the frame of the dresser itself, I used the large roller.  (I’d previously used the small roller.)

The large roller used so much more paint than the little roller but the finish turned out a lot better.  I was actually starting to admire the way it looked!

Is that clear?  Crystal.

I poured the clear coat into the paint pan, scowling at it.  But I wanted to keep the dresser protected from nicks and scratches so there was no way out of this step. I used the paint roller to apply the polyurethane on the first dresser drawer.  And it just didn’t feel right. I could tell right away that the paint was going to be milky again.  I could just tell. Panicking, I tried the paintbrush on the remaining four drawers.

After all was said and done, the four drawers that were brushed looked perfect!  The drawer that I rolled dried milky.

*light bulb* I was wrong – the weather didn’t cause the milky coat – the roller did.  Professing my never-ending love to my paint brush, I victoriously screwed in new handles that I purchased at Home Depot for under $20 total and voila!

Okay, okay.  Maybe “voila!” isn’t quite appropriate. But four out of five ain’t bad!

The asparagus color is a great match to my muse fabric, below.  That awesome fabric is part of my desk decor and coordinates perfectly with a DIY lampshade that I’ll reveal soon.

As far as this refinished dresser goes, it started out rough, but Siskel and Ebert would have given its ending rave reviews.

Tasha’s Top 3 Tips for Amateur Painters

  • If you can avoid it, don’t paint outside.  I’m not promoting huffing paint, but if you have an open indoor space you should consider it. You can sacrifice sunshine for a finish that is free of bugs and leaves.  I can attest that the slightest breeze wreaks havoc on wet paint.  Most paints are safe for indoor use and you’ll achieve far better results.
  • Use a large roller brush for large spaces. I know, right? You’d think I could have figured that one out without this entire debacle.  But I learned that the large brushes use more paint but roll on a more consistent coat.  But remember: Don’t use a roller made of foam. (Thanks YHL!)
  • Use a paintbrush for small spaces and for clear coats. If you bought that clear coat because you wanted it to be, ahem, clear, you must ditch that roller.  I have no scientific explanation for the “roller+clear coat = milky” theory – other than the grooves in the roller catch and release inconsistent amounts of clear paint.

I hope I can help you prevent any nasty mistakes and encourage you to give it painting a try.  I had so much fun that I’m already painting another piece of furniture now! Stay tuned for the fun purpose of this next project . . .

Anyone else prefer a paintbrush to a roller?  Do you have pictures of your painting successes? I’d love some inspiration!


Filed under DIY, Uncategorized

MJ’s Secret to a Sparkling Toilet

The Secret.

Perhaps to you it’s the self-help book.  Maybe it’s your great, great grandmother’s chocolate chip cookie recipe. Or maybe it’s that tattoo you’ve been hiding.

Those would be the secrets of normal families.

It should be no surprise by now that Mama Judd (lovingly, “MJ”) and I are built a little different from the rest.  To further incriminate our gene pool, today I reveal one of Mama Judd’s best-kept secrets.  And her best-kept secret is about a toilet.

Mama Judd created her unique toilet-cleaning procedure when the ordinary method wasn’t cutting it.  So the next time your toilet needs a deep clean, give her method a whirl!  (Whirl! Bah ha ha!)

The method to her madness?  She emails it over in all caps because, after all, this is serious business:


1. Remove the water from the bowl.

This is the step that separates Mama Judd from the rest.

Pretend your toilet brush is a plunger and pump away.  With each pump you are removing the water from the bowl.  With a waterless bowl, the cleaner isn’t diluted at the waterline, which is where you get that ugly ring of brown, pink grossness. Ew!  How can you thoroughly clean that nasty ring if your cleaner never actually touches it?

Anticipating my complaints about anything involving physical labor, Mama Judd writes: “It will take some muscle but, hey, it’s like a workout for the arms.  Switch every couple of plunges to give yourself a balanced workout.”

Thanks, Ma.

Notice that Mama Judd’s toilet is sparkling clean before she even cleans it.  This isn’t posed – this is how things look when she thinks they’re dirty. That’s how you know her tips work!

2. Apply the cleaner.

Coat the entire bowl with your cleaner.  Make sure the cleaner is directly on the surface of all of the porcelain.

3. Wait 5 minutes. No, seriously. Wait it out.

Give the cleaning agent some time to adhere to that porcelain throne.  This is the whole reason you removed the water from the bowl.  So don’t waste your efforts.  Walk away! Clean the sink, go have a snack, or watch the results of last night’s So You Think You Can Dance episode.

4. Scrub!

Scrub, scrub, scrub.  Consider it the second repetition in your arm workout.

5.  Clean the outside, too.

One last secret – Pinesol is your friend.  It works like a charm on the outside of the toilet and it smells so disinfected!  Well, I suppose “disinfected” isn’t a scent, but it should be.  (Surely Mama Judd and I aren’t the only nuts that would buy that candle.)

Now, stand back and admire your work.  And keep your husband at bay for as long as possible!

What have you found to be the best way to clean the throne?


Filed under Tip Jar