Posts Tagged ‘DIY’

Hello folks! I had plans to go to a gig in Glasgow tonight but because of the snow I’m stuck at home. It’s not much snow but it all fell very quickly and the traffic was, apparently, astounding. Most public transport was cancelled, etc. Glad I only work 4 miles from home!!

Anyway, I’ve been meaning to put a post up about the Christmas crafting I’ve been doing. I am not sure what it is about the holidays but they make me want to hot glue gun and glitter out. So I have been hard at work.  Mostly I browse the internet and find something I want for the house and then try to make it myself. I enjoy the mystery involved because it could turn out wonderfully or it could be a complete waste of my time!!

Luckily the projects I have been working on over the past week or so have all turned out perfectly.  Well, mostly!! 🙂

First, and I have to give half the credit to my patient, wonderful husband, I saw this Wooden Christmas Tree on Apartment Therapy, found out if I wanted to buy it from the Etsy seller it would cost me over £100 and decided “I can do that!”. It took a LOT of sawing and drilling, sanding and staining and also about seven coats of varnish, but I could not be more pleased with the final result.  I love our new Christmas Tree SO MUCH!  It sits about 2 feet high, is made of pine stripping, took us about 24 hours to do all told but only cost us around £10 (if you include the fact that we had to buy an electric sander it’s closer to £25!). Tell me what you think!

forgive the lighting, please!


and here it is in its natural environment

Next I decided to take it a bit (a LOT) easier and made these adorable glitter “trees” out of florist foam cores. I got the idea from eighteen25 and adapted it for myself. As you can see in the photo below I do not have lovely fancy candlesticks as “trunks” for mine, just tiny ceramic flower pots turned upside down. I love the way they look on our table and they were so easy! If I had more time I would probably make more and more and more of them until we’re buried in glitter trees! I would love to know what you think of them!

glitter trees!

After scrolling through Under the Table and Dreaming’s fantastic website I was inspired to copycat her gorgeous reindeer. I did the best I could, being both new at this whole crafting craziness and also short on supplies. I love my little reindeer and I plan to make another one tomorrow. I would have made it tonight but I can’t decided to make the new one smaller or bigger than the one I already have.

again with the bad lighting! sorry!!!

On top of all of that I have also turned our cut-crystal centrepiece bowl into a Christmas Baubles Bowl and made my own potpourri:

baubles & battery-powered LED lights!

scratch & sniff? you wish!

The ceramic bowl contains nuts (in shell), chestnuts, cinnamon sticks, cloves and star anise and smells of cinnamon and clove essential oils. I also have one (not pictured) that contains little sprigs of pine and smells of pine (duh!) and cedar. Neither of them are overpowering, but the whole house smells like Christmas. Over the past few years I expect I have spent about £1,000 on scented Christmas candles and this year I said NO MORE!, went to the local health food store, bought some essential oils (enough to last forever!) and made my own.

Together with the Christmas tree and other various decorations I should think our house is properly decked out for the holidays this year. I have cooled my hot glue gun and stowed my crafting box away until I am overcome with the need to make more goodies (tomorrow-reindeer!).

I really would like to know what you all think of our new decorations. I am very happy with them and, considering they cost very little and too even less time to make, I can see myself concocting a home-made Christmas every year!


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Hello people! Sorry I’ve been away for so long. We still don’t have any internet – I am currently at my favourite coffee spot, Cafe Koko, thoroughly abusing their free Wi-Fi!

I thought I would go ahead and post about the redecoration project S and I undertook while we were in Ohio. We transformed my old bedroom at my Mom’s house into a nursery. At the moment the only person young enough to enjoy this nursery is my niece, Natalie, but who knows what the future holds? Either way it very much needed to be redecorated anyway.

First, a few BEFORE pictures. *note, the last time I properly lived in this room I was only 18! so no snide comments!!*

view across the bed towards mirrored closet doors

my old dresser overwhelmed with decorations and stuff!

my bed with posters everywhere, including the ceiling!

Right, so now you know what it USED to look like. Our first task was emptying the entire room, taking down the posters and all the decorations, clearing away every single item of mine including boxes and boxes of my old stuff, then spackleing over the ridiculous number of holes in the walls!! It took AGES!!

I suppose I should explain that we did all of this in secret not telling my Mom what our plans were at all. This took a good bit of trickery and plenty of lies on our part. We had to make sure that she would be out of the house for the whole day when we were planning all the painting. Think of that TV show Changing Spaces or whatever, and that’s exactly what we did!

We prepared the room, then painted everything white using low-VOC Sherwin Williams Harmony Interior Acrylic Latex Paint in Eg-Shel, including the woodwork (everything except the built-in bookshelves). For any environmentally friendly readers I give this paint an emphatic 10 out of 10. It went on easily and there were no horrible fumes at all. Well worth the extra few dollars per gallon.

We also spray-painted my old dresser white, the only piece of furniture we put back into the room. It turned out lovely, just the refresher it needed – It went from looking old and worn (seeing as it was bought in 1984, I think) to looking clean and brand-new. Excellent result. I know I could have done it better and painted it properly, but we didn’t have enough time.

Luckily neither my Mom nor I ever throw anything away and we were able to find most of the decorations and furniture in the basement and around the house. Some of my old stuffed animals made it back onto the shelves and there were quite a few kid-friendly books lying about, too. In the basement we found an adult rocking chair and also one for kids. Very luckily we had a neighbour with a crib to spare so we didn’t even need to buy one of those!!

Honestly, things could not have gone better.

Now, I don’t want you to think we did all the work ourselves, a few friends of mine (THANKS Alison & Stef!) helped with the painting and more friends (THANKS Matt, Charles & Betsey!) arrived in the afternoon to put the finishing touches on. I can’t express enough thanks to them because we would not have been able to do it on our own.

Anyway, with a few purchases at Toys R Us (foam alphabet flooring & building blocks) and a miraculous mural painted on the wall (unending thanks to my fabulous and artistic friend Matt) the room was complete. I know you are all waiting with baited breath to see the finished product, so here you go:

view from the door

The trees were fantastically well done by my friend Matt Soul. He’s wonderfully talented and I am extremely grateful that he agreed to help us out. As you can see he did a phenomenal job. On the right-hand side you’ll see my hastily assembled colour block made completely out of paint sample cards (free!). The line between the painted trees is meant to resemble a clothes line and has my own alphabet photos pegged to it.

The freshly painted dresser. I love that you can see the mural in the mirror!

The picture of boats was lurking somewhere in the basement and thankfully S discovered it in time to hang it on the walls. On either side are posters of Dora the Explorer because my Niece LOVES Dora more than anything. Most of the other items were things we already had, like my lovely purple butterfly night-light!

The windows and built-in bookcases.

This is the view from the doorway towards the windows. The gorgeous white wooden bookshelves and cabinets were installed in 1996 and were always my favourite part of my bedroom. The black paint between the windows is actually magnetic blackboard paint. Well, actually, it’s 12 coats of magnetic paint (no joke) and a few coats on top of that of blackboard paint. There’s almost a whole quart of magnetic paint on that small section of wall. The tin said “minimum two coats” and we thought it might take a few more than that. It took a LOT more than that before the little alphabet magnets would stick. Looks fantastic, though, and now it’s both magnetic AND a blackboard! Ingenious, if I do say so myself!! The removable stickers on the cabinets were mine but used to live on the mirrored closet doors (as you can see above).

Tree detail and alphabet pictures.

As you can see in the detailed picture above, the tree mural really was ingenious.  And gorgeous. And much appreciated.  You can also see a bit more of my alphabet photos. I took these in the month before our trip to Ohio, using those plastic alphabet magnets.  I am very pleased with myself and glad that they turned out so well.  Here is a sample of my favourites:

Apple, Flower, Rainbow, Yolk, Cat, Ice Cream

So there you have it, our fantastic room redecoration project. I know that my Mom was pleased as punch and I hope that my brother and sister-in-law liked it as well. My niece Natalie adored it and immediately started referring to it as “Natalie’s Room”, which was really nice. It was a lot of hard work and it took a long time, but it was worth it.

So, tell me, what do you think? Wonderful isn’t it!

I promise more posts about our trip to Ohio, probably one tomorrow if I get a chance to get somewhere with Wi-Fi again.


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It’s officially autumn which is my favourite season of the year. Don’t get me wrong, there are things about winter that I love and there are certainly things about spring and summer that I love as well, but nothing compares to the leaf-crunching, crisp air, hot chocolate and a good book, smell of distant smoke, perfect weather for baking loveliness of autumn.

And, boy, am I ever excited!

One thing, though, autumn here is just not as good as autumn in Ohio. The leaves on the tress change colours differently (it seems to happen overnight here…) and the air is more damp than crisp (read: constant rain). There aren’t (as far as I can find) any orchards nearby where I can go apple-picking. There are no choose-your-own pumpkin patches. No haunted houses. No trick-or-treating (unless you’re under the age of 7). I can’t find any non-alcoholic apple cider and there’s no anticipation of deep winter with feet and feet of snow. Not to mention their screaming lack of THANKSGIVING.

But I have resolved to make the most of it.

Attempt number one was my baking of Smitten Kitchen’s Jewish Apple Cake whish has to be my favorite First Thing To Bake in Fall. This would have worked wonderfully, I had visions of myself seated on the stairs of our deck drinking hot coffee and enjoying this cake in the mist of a chilly Sunday morning, however this was not to be. Why? Because after the cake was in the oven for nearly 3 hours and still liquid I had to admit to myself that the oven just isn’t working. So. Until we figure out what is wrong with our new oven I’m afraid my enjoyment of fall has been thwarted.

There will be no delicious apple cake, no dense and sticky gingerbread, no Christmas Morning Muffins fresh and hot from the oven. The way of tackling this problem is three fold. First I am going to ask my In-Laws if I can bake cake at their house (understanding I’ll surrender half shares in all baked goods), second I am going to plead with my husband to figure out how to fix our oven (thermostat? auto-shut off? who knows!) and if we can’t get it fixed I am going to beg my sister and brother in-laws (hi Alan!) to give us their old oven when they get their new oven installed during their kitchen renovation. Although the broken oven in our kitchen right now is the result of one such charitable donation and I’m wondering if it’s just a bad idea to begin with.

So, to take my mind off the broken oven and the startling lack of sweet cinnamon and apple smelling kitchen, S and I are redecorating our lounge. This is an ongoing task which is sapping my will to live. First the wallpaper had to come down which took forever, then we had to wash the wallpaper residue off the walls, which took forever. Since then we have painted two coats of white paint over the (lovely, ha) teal blue paint which had been hiding beneath the wallpaper (and I thought it couldn’t get worse than peach!). Now all that remains is gloss paint on the woodwork (loads of it!) and two coats of our chosen color on the walls.

We’ve been taking our time with this task so as not to wear ourselves out, however now we have a deadline in the form of S’s flat-screen television purchase which will be delivered a week from tomorrow. A race to finish the lounge so we can hang a television on our wall. Apparently it’s 3.8cm wide which is, apparently, amazing.

So this weekend will be spent not baking, but painting. My trip down to Galloway Forest Park will have to wait another week, although the leaves are still green so there’s no point in going until they start to change. I just hope they don’t do their spectacular changing colour in one evening and then falling off the trees in one fell swoop all over the course of 24 hours trick (see the Whomping Willow in Harry Potter 3), like they usually do. Because if I miss the leaves falling off their trees I might just cry until spring time.

Do yourselves a favor, though, and bake that apple cake.  It’s delicious and the perfect treat to have ready when returning into the house after raking a metric tonne of leaves off the lawn in the backyard.  And go to an orchard and pick-your-own apples to make it with.

Happy Fall.



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Obama Inauguration Celebration…


Goodbye & good riddance Bush, you old bastard.

Today is a very exciting day.  And to celebrate Obama’s Inauguration, I made cupcakes.  Devils Food, of course, with buttercream frosting.

And I decorated them to show my (finally renewed) sense of pride in being an American.  See?:

Congratulations President Obama!

Congratulations President Obama!

 And before you ask, no there are not exactly 50 stars.  My lovely husband enquired whether there were (at that point there were only 9 per cupcake and 9×4=36) and when I said no he laughed.  So then I had to make sure there WERE the correct amount of stars.  Except I stopped paying attention and went WAY overboard so there are actually 67 stars. 

Know any territories that would like to be made into US states?

In other news we got our new dining room table, chairs, stools and side table.  S actually saw them in a discount furniture store a week or so ago and we went this past Saturday to take a look.  Well, I followed S and fell immediately in love with this set.  It’s amazing.  It got delivered yesterday and S and I spent the night assembling chairs.  Want to see a picture?  OK!!

our new solid wood dining table  
our new solid wood dining table

And another shot, showing more chairs and the side table:

see the side table in the background?
see the side table in the background?

It’s a bit dark, but you get the idea.  The block of wood in the front of the picture is one of the stools – meant to be the chairs for the table, but we thought they might be a tad uncomfortable so we bought actual chairs as well as some stools.  The two dark squares on top of the table are the tops of the “legs” which are two solid square blocks of wood.

We’re buying a matching coffee table as well, but that has yet to be ordered. 
Leave a comment and let me know what you think.  I know it is not everyone’s cup of tea, but we LOVE it!!!

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2008 was a very good, very busy year. 

In 2008 I became an aunt, got engaged, got married, bought and moved into a new house and adopted 2 kittens.  Not to mention the 2 week holiday to the East Coast of America where I met my brand-new niece for the first time!  And the mountains of DIY we’ve undertaken at the new house.

We’ve gutted and re-decorated all three bedrooms, the kitchen and all three bathrooms.  Actually, the third bathroom is still waiting to be finished, but as it is only hanging of towel rails, mirrors and the like, I think we can call the ensuite finished.  Finally.

So what will 2009 have in store for me?  Hopefully not quite as much as 2008 because I don’t think I could do all  that again!!

I hate the word resolution and I don’t think you should have to wait until January to make goals in your life, but it is a rather convenient time to join the goal-setting bandwagon.  So here I go.

  • I will read a book a week.  Or, rather, an average of a book a week.  52 books in 2009 and I am sticking to it.  I’m already behind. (shh!)
  • I will make more of an effort to complete the list of 100 Snapshots listed here.  I miss my camera and I miss taking photographs.  Not just pictures, mind, but actual, thought-through photographs.  So I am going to try harder.
  • I will bake more of the recipes I see on the hundred or so food blogs I read religiously.  I may even post about some of them.  So far this year I’ve made  Gramercy Tavern’s Gingerbread from the recipe posted by Deb of  Smitten Kitchen which has to be my favorite blog.  Wonderful recipes, beautiful pictures and a handful of humour thrown in for good measure.  Go and visit her site, she is amazing. (And the gingerbread?  So very lovely…)
  • I will call my far-away family and friends more often.  I may be 3,444 miles from them but that is no excuse.
  • I will go see something at the theatre.
  • I will spend more time writing.  Writing, writing, writing…  One of these days I will finish the novels that I have started (yes, plural) and I’m not going to let any more half-as-talented-and-twice-as-annoying-as-me “writers” beat me to the punch, and the millions. 

My favorites from 2008?

Website – Cake Wrecks (The Cookie Monster cake still makes me laugh until I cry.)

Book – The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (Read it right now.  Seriously.)

Poem – i carry your heart with me by e e cummings (A late entry, but utterly perfect.  Thanks, Kate.)

Song, New – Revelry by Kings of Leon

Song, Old – An Olive Grove Facing the Sea by Snow Patrol is still my favorite.

Album – Only By the Night, Kings of Leon

Movie, New – The only film I saw in cinemas this year was Twilight and it certainly does not rate as a favorite.  It wasn’t very good. actually.  I’m looking forward to seeing Australia, if that counts.  If you want a movie I saw this year for the first time and loved, loved, loved then I’d go with Stardust (Thanks again, Kate).

Movie, Old – Pride & Prejudice (Not the BBC adaptation)

TV Show – Toss up between Pushing Daisies and The Big Bang Theory

And what am I looking forward to in 2009?  Going on honeymoon.  Finishing the last of the huge DIY projects.  Finding a new job (fingers crossed).  Watching my niece grow and grow and grow.  Getting my hair cut short.  Hopefully making it back to the States at some point to see people and finally box up all my books to ship over here.  The first year of married life.

That is it, I think.  Stay tuned for updates on the honeymoon, which has been booked, and my first of the 52 books of the year.

Happy 2009.



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a very busy weekend…

DIY is not fun.

Maybe it starts out fun at the very beginning when you look at all you have to do and see only possibilities and what it is going to look like when you are done. About midway through the DIY everything changes and instead of seeing possibilities you can only see what is left to do.

I reached this point about a week ago halfway through re-decorating the downstairs bathroom.  The carpet was ripped up and S was tiling the floor when I decided I’d had enough with this DIY rubbish.  So S was left to finish the room on his own.  Which he didn’t mind because, after all, I’d done the kitchen on my own anyway.

So the weekend drew closer and we were deciding what to do.  DIY?  Again?  Yes.  Except with bit of a break on Sunday when we drove down south to Galloway Forest to the shores of Loch Doon and Loch Doon Castle. 

Built during the late 13th Century, Loch Doon Caslte was besieged, surrendered and re-built throughout history until 1936 when it was re-located from an island in the middle of the loch to the embankment so the level of the loch could be raised via Loch Doon Damn for Hydro Electric purposes.

The castle is an irregular shape, a polygon with 11 sides, and as you can see from my photos below and HERE, there is not that much left of it. 

double doors, originally uploaded by holepunchintheshapeofastar.

 What is left of it, though, looked more like a jungle gym than a castle.  So S and I decided to climb and clamber over it.  A great idea, really.  Especially since it was raining and very windy.  I did not want to climb it in the first place because, even though you can’t really tell from the pictures, it is about 7 feet high in its shortest place.  And I am not.

Long story short is that after S gave me a leg up and I walked about 2 feet around the perimeter I decided that I’d had enough and all that was left was the getting down part.  Easier said than done.  Very much easier said than done. 

S did not have a problem, because at 6’2″ it is not so hard to get down.  But any shelf of rock or outcrop that he could reach was a foot too far down for my legs.  So after five or six Holding On for Dear Life attempts I finally was able to lower myself down with the use of a still-standing door frame.  S stood by me, climbing back up to help me get down more than once.  Sweet, really, if he hadn’t been laughing at me the entire time.

I was filthy and freezing cold by the end of it so we decided notto stop at Turnberry for tea on the way home.

On the way out we stopped so that I could photograph an old burnt-out Land Rover which had been left at the side of the road.  The picture below is my favorite from the set, which can be found HERE.

bent & broken, originally uploaded by holepunchintheshapeofastar.

After stopping off for hot chocolate in Girvan (lovely, and less posh than Turnberry) we headed home.  With a stop at B&Q to get more supplies for the DIY.

On Saturday we’d ripped up the carpet and S had laid down the vinyl tile flooring while I painted the tiles white.  Sunday I painted the walls while S replaced the taps on the bath and sink. 

Which, of course, led to disaster.  And us having to go to his parents’ house a 10pm to have showers because we couldn’t turn the water back on at ours.  It is a long story that involves sawing through copper pipes to remove old taps and then suddenly realizing, at 8:15pm on a Sunday, that we don’t have the part we need to re-connect the copper pipe and that B&Q is closed for the day. 

S says he’s fixed it today and I believe him, but I am remaining pessimistic and psyching myself up to have another shower at the In-Laws’.

Once we finish the family bathroom it only leaves the hallway and the master bedroom en-suite bathroom to re-decorate (renovate, really, because the bathroom needs to be gutted).  For having only lived in the house for just over 6 weeks and having already decorated three bedrooms, one bathroom and the kitchen, I’d say we’ve done pretty good for ourselves!

Next weekend?  The hallway.

Will wonders never cease?


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Oh, Monday.

It is Monday.  I hate Mondays.  Especially this one.

I don’t have a reason to hate this particular Monday any more than all of the others, but for some reason I feel as though I should.

The weekend was a waste, and that is putting it mildly.

We were painting the master bedroom this weekend.  And we are kind of in a hurry as we’ve only a week left until folks start arriving to stay for the wedding.  We are living out of the spare room at the moment and our bed is in the garage.  Not much room for people to sleep if we are in their room.  Unless they want to sleep in the garage.  Which is cold.  And full of spiders (see previous post).

So we’re in a hurry.  We chose a color and slapped some paint on the walls.  Most of it was finished on Friday evening since S was home.  Saturday afternoon I did a second coat of the edges which left only the second coat of roller paint on the main body of the walls.  Except I ran out of paint.  So off to B&Q with the empty can in hand so I can get paint from the same batch.  No small jars left so it cost £20 even though I did not need 2.5 litres.  Brought the paint home and rolled the second coat on the walls.

Different color.  Same batch number, according to the adolescent employee of B&Q, but different colors.  I gave up and went to bed.  S was out on his stag night*.

Trying to make the best of a bad situation, I decided to simply go over the edges again with the new batch of paint.  Up at 5:30 Sunday morning and in painting by 7:00.  Why?  Because I am insane.  So, I did a third coat of the edges with the new can of paint.

Different colors.  Noticeably different all over the room.  Like a patchwork quilt of Crown Fashion for Walls in Boutique. All gorgeous shades of the same basic color, but not all the same color.

I gave up.  When S woke around 11:30 I made him come to B&Q with me with the empty and half-empty cans of paint.  The woman was not very helpful.  She pointed out that they were different batches and, even though I explained to her that I’d asked a  member of her staff to help me the day before when buying the paint and had been assured it was the same batch, she still gave us a hard time about it before finally giving us a full can of the same batch number of paint.

So now there are two and three coats of paint on the walls of our bedroom and we still have to go over it all again so we can hopefully get it all to be the same exact shade of Boutique.

S told me to take the evening off yesterday.  So I did.  I was on the couch in my PJs with Abigail & Madeline shortly after he left for work.  Watching episodes of Ghost Whisperer in preparation of Scary Movie Season and Hallowe’en.  Watched too many episodes and was up half the night.

Tonight is dinner with L and then home to paint.  Again.  For crying out loud!!


 * Yes, S was on his stag night. Yes, he had a good time.  No, I did not enjoy it.  I woke at 5:30 and he was not in bed.  Cue panic.  From the time it took me to get from the spare room down to where he was asleep on the couch I had run through every possibility in my mind.  From hospitalized to passed out on the street to in jail and, my favorite, shacked up somewhere with the stripper.  But, thankfully, he was safe and sound and sleeping on the couch with the TV turned on. But I was too shaken to go back to bed.  Hence the painting at 7:00am.

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