Saturday, April 30, 2011

Slightly less sophisticated

Today we go from Candice Olson to the thrift store. Um, slightly less sophisticated.

I had a ball (really!) piling up the kids in the ol' mini van and making the trek to a few favorite thrift stores. On the way there I told my two boys if they were good (no screaming, no running, no fighting) then we could go to McDonalds. Worked like a charm--for once! ha!

I ended up spending $60 on this craptastic-ness.

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What did I get? Two upper cabinets ($30 for the brown one and $15 for the white one).

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A couple baskets ($2 each) and a frame ($4).

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A pretty little vintage rose painting ($2), a heavily tarnished silver dish ($2), and that white strip that isn't photographing well is vintage wallpaper (thrown in for free when I bought the cabinets!).

Here's a better view of the wallpaper. The outside is heavily battered, but unroll it a bit and it looks great.

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I think it's quite modern. I actually really like it! I won't be wallpapering with it, instead I'll use it to line cabinets.

I bought the baskets at a separate store than the cabinets, but was happy to discover they fit! WOO HOO

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Going to try to polish this dish. I thought it'd be a perfect spot to rest jewelry. Maybe even a soap dish? If it doesn't polish well I'll spray paint it.

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So what do you think? Trash or treasure!?

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PS. good thoughts to all dealing with the aftermath of the tornadoes. Be well.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Crush on Candice

I have a serious crush on Candice Olson, and it's not just because we're the same height with similar color hair. I looooooove her designs! And I don't even hold it against her that I probably am twice her weight.

I have every show she's ever been on saved on my DVR. I was thrilled when she came out with a new show, Candice Tells All.

More eye candy. And besides, now I wouldn't have to watch the same shows over and over.

Although I totally would.

Now I just won't have to.

When Candice revealed this room, my eyes completely bugged out of my head.

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It's hard to tell, but behind the sectional there's a wallpaper. It's like a giant gorgeous chrysanthemum line drawing. Of course I had to track it down.

It's called Chrysanth Neutral and it is made by a company in the UK. I have linked the website here.

Here are some better views of the wallpaper.

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It even comes in different colors, like red.

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Do you know where I'm going with this?

Thinking about DIYing it. Have I totally, completely lost it?

Possibly.

But I have a history of complex paint ideas that have turned out ok.




I'm thinking I could sketch it out, and then just draw it with a metallic paint pen, kinda like the mom cave.

Eek!

I can see Mr. RBR's sigh and his head shake already.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Vermicomposting for Earth Day

Happy Earth Day! Here's a neat Earth Day project, vermicomposting.

It wasn't that long ago I heard about vermicomposting for the first time. What is vermicomposting? Well, in short, worms eat your garbage! How cool is that?

Do you feel as guilty as I do when I throw compost-able garbage in the trash? I felt like I was throwing away something that wasn't really trash. I knew that food scraps even had the potential for environmental benefits, if I only knew how to compost and turn it into fertilizer. The problem was I didn't really know how to start. And I was afraid of a big smelly pile in my backyard. I have heard if you do it right, it's not supposed to smell. Well, I didn't really know how to do it, so there you go. It seemed like a risky, long and smelly experiment.

Then I met someone who had a somewhat expensive store bought vermicomposting bin. She composted indoors, in a little compact area. No smell. The reason there was no smell is the food she threw in there would be gone--gone--in hours. And it left her with incredible fertilizer (humus). What is humus exactly? Well humus is technically worm poop. But it's not, um, poopy. It looks and smells just like soil. It basically is soil. Very nutrient rich soil. Some reports show plants grown with humus perform 126% better than those with commercial fertilizer!

Ahem, perfect for the seeds I started the other day!

I was sold! But I still couldn't justify the expense for a store bought system (about $80, plus shipping, plus worms. Probably $130 total). There had to be a way to do it cheaper.

Luckily I learned more about it at a free session at our local public library a couple days ago. I'll show you how to do it. It's very, very easy!

Supplies:
Container of choice
Drill, or another device to make air holes
Chlorine free water
Newspaper or computer paper
Handful of soil (from the yard is fine!)
Red Wiggler worms
Food scraps
Optional: Corn meal

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I found this bin at Target for about $5. You need about twice as much surface area as depth, and you can see this container is quite tall. No big deal, we just won't fill it all the way to the top. The reason is, these types of worms don't like to burrow very deep, so if you have a lot of depth it reduces the chances they'll get to all your scraps.

Worms also don't like light, so it's helpful if your container has a lid to keep out the light.

Worms breathe oxygen just like we do, so you'll have to make air holes. Using 1/8" drill bit, drill a couple rows of holes all the way around your bin, about 2-3 inches apart. No reason to measure or get uptight about it, just drill away. Avoid holes on the bottom, which will let moisture leak out. Avoid holes on the very top, which might let in light.

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Now you'll need to create the bedding for your new worm friends. Newspaper is cheap and easy bedding. Rip it or shred it. You'll also need to make it damp. Not soaking wet (you never want standing water in your bin), not too dry. But beware, the water you use to dampen your newspaper must be free of chlorine.

Municipal water systems use a lot of chlorine to get rid of germs in the water system. So if you have city water you can do one of two things. Let a container of water sit out overnight. The chlorine will off-gas and the remaining water will be chlorine-free. Or buy a gallon of distilled water.

Put the water in a bowl and dip in handfuls of shredded paper, taking care not to get it too wet. Alternatively, you could also dampen your paper with a squirt bottle. Whatever you feel is easiest.

Take your ripped or shredded damp newspaper and throw it in your bin. For a container my size, I added about 12-18 inches of newspaper.

Why shredded and why damp? Worms breathe through their skin. They need air pockets and moisture to be able to breathe. Why no chlorine? As I said, worms breathe through their skin. You know how your eyes get irritated if you open them in a pool? Yeah. Same idea.

Next add a handful of dirt.

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Dirt from the yard is fine. There are two things we're accomplishing by adding soil. One is beneficial microbes which aid in the breakdown of your scraps. Second, worms need the actual grit from the dirt to help with digestion.

This next step is optional, add 1-3 tablespoons of plain cornmeal (not a mix).

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According to the vermicomposting specialist at the library, worms love corn meal. It's a real "wake up call".

Of course no vermicomposting system is complete without WORMS!

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You'll need a type of worms known as Eisenia fetida. All of the sources I read says these are commonly known as "Red Wigglers." For the instant-gratification factor I went to a bait shop and asked for Red Wigglers. I was told this is a southern nickname, that we don't call them Red Wigglers in the North. Then he handed me a container of "Big Reds". So Red Wigglers, or Big Reds, you need a specific type of worm.

Red Wigglers are ideal because they do well in close quarters, don't burrow deeply and they eat a lot. If you use regular earthworms it may still work, but it will take a looooong time. Red Wigglers eat up to half their body weight every day. So figure it out with me. If you have a pound of worms (1 pound of worms = approx 1000 worms) in your bin, they'll eat 1/2 pound of garbage every day. SWEET, right? You'll be left with NO trash sitting around, getting stinky.

To get the worm/food scrap ratio right, you might want to keep track of how much food scrap you make each day for a week or so. Then you'll know exactly how many worms to buy. I didn't do this. I just winged it.

Also keep in mind that worms reproduce. Your worm population will double every 90 days or so. So it is possible to start small and work your way up.

The cheapest way to buy worms in bulk is online. Try redwigglerworms.com. One pound of worms (1000 quantity) will be shipped to your door for about $30 including shipping.

For instant gratification, nothing beats your local bait shop. I found one by googling "Live Bait" and my city name. However, you'll pay more per worm this way. I bought two packages of 36 worms yesterday for about $7. I paid approximately 10¢ per worm, when I could probably get them for about 3¢ per worm online. In case you wanted to know. ha! Plus I probably have about 1/10 of the worms I need to eat all my food trash. There are a couple things I can do about this. I can see how it goes and let them reproduce on their own, buy more worms at the bait shop, or buy a package of worms online. I haven't decided yet.

After all this explanation, go ahead and add your worms. Nestle them in all snug-like in their new home.

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All they need now is some food to munch. Add your scraps! Some people recommend putting scraps 1-2 inches under the bedding, so they are easier for the worms to reach.

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You can add pretty much any food scraps, but here are some things to avoid: meat, citrus, eggs (egg shells are fine), dairy, anything very oily or fatty. Pretty much anything else is fine! Even natural cloth like cotton can be composted!

All there is left to do is put the lid on.

It's perfectly fine to put this in the house, or leave it outside. However, worms do best in temperatures between 40º and 90ºF, so if you leave it outside, be sure to bring it in during periods of extreme temperatures. I put mine in my basement. My very own worm farm. Feeling very eco-friendly this Earth Day.

Wanna learn more? Check out this article from How Stuff Works.

Or buy the book Worms Eat my Garbage.

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I hope you give it a try! Still have questions? Leave a comment and I'll answer them.

I'm going to try to link to some of these link parties and hope I don't get kicked off! ha!


Update: I bought more worms! Read all about it here.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Spring Garden

We woke up to an inch of snow on the ground on Monday, but the c-c-c-cold weather is not going to stop me from moving forward with outdoor Spring projects.

Take that, snow!

We had a large garden when I was growing up, and while I hated weeding, I have fond memories of eating strawberry shortcake for dinner on the deck outside. My mom was trying to get rid of a huge surplus of strawberries. We didn't mind!

Is there anything like a ripe strawberry or tomato from your own garden? Nope!

I have been wanting to plant some yummy fruits and veggies in our small city yard for YEARS. But I haven't ever quite had the energy and confidence to get it started. I finally decided what the heck, let's give it a try.

Of course you can start with plants. Plant them in a garden with rich, balanced soil, good light, and water regularly. There you go. But it's cheaper to start with seeds. And I am cheap.

In our area, we typically have frost advisories well into May, so you don't want to plant outside too early (unless you take special precautions). With such a short growing season, it can make growing a garden tricky. But you can still start with seeds--give plants a head start by starting seeds inside.

So that's what I decided to do. I gathered a bunch of seeds, some dirt and containers (leftover egg cartons), and the kids. Then we put it all together.

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Follow the directions on the seed packet for how deep to plant, how many per hole, and when to start them ahead of time (our packages recommended starting 4-8 weeks before the last threat of frost).

Here is the finished product.

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And here is our sad, neglected, tiny side yard, which I hope to turn into a garden.

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As you can see the left half gets full sun, the right half shade. What I'd love to do is turn the left half into a garden, the right half a walkway. It'd be cool if I could screen the air conditioner too, somehow.

And of course replace that hideous old fence.

The work never ends, does it?

I'll be linking to some fun blog linking parties. Check 'em out!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Little Trip

Friday was a very special day at the Room By Room house. Three years ago today, something amazing happened.

This...

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Zack's adoption was very difficult. We were matched when he was 3 1/2 months old, and then things (legal things) went haywire. He finally came home at 20 months old. And we were so, SO happy.

To celebrate Zack's third adoption day anniversary (we call it his Family Day) we did a little bit of this...

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Can you get over that little pink flowered booty? AH!

We went to a water park for the day, then we went to my mom's cottage for a little weekend getaway. Would you believe me if I told you it SNOWED? Last weekend for Delaney's birthday party it was 80º and exactly one week later it snowed.

Argh. I'm sooooo over winter.

To cheer me up, here's some pictures of my two favorite sons in the whole wide world, soon after they both arrived three years ago.

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Happy third family day Zack. You mean the world to me.
Mom

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Half Bath - The Final Tally

In a couple weeks the half bath in our home got a glamorous makeover for just a little dough.

Check out yesterday's post for before and after shots.

So, wanna find out how much I spent? Me too.

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The biggest impact was obviously wall color. Can you believe that came in at $10?!

The white for the trim and cream was a free promotion at Menards (on sale for $11 with an $11 rebate). Well, I think the semigloss white was $2. Anyway I bought it for the kitchen, so I'm not counting it.

The dark color is Brown Velvet by Valspar (Lowes). I only needed a quart for this small room, which came to $10.

I replaced the knob on the medicine cabinet. A pretty cut glass little number for $6. Lowes.

I just about passed out when I saw the hand towel. I could not have found something with a more perfect design and color palette if I had created it myself! $10 each for the hand towels. I bought 2. World Market.

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I also bought a chandelier and new wall art. This is what they looked like before.

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And after a little spray paint magic....

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Did you notice I painted the ceiling blue? Loving it. It's subtle, but really pretty.

I used leftover spray paint for my chandelier and artwork. Just a couple swipes and it looks totally different!

Chandelier was $12 from Habitat Restore and wall art was $40 from Big Lots.

Last but not least, a new window shade.

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This match stick blind was on clearance for $5! From Lowes. It is meant for a french door. The shade was the right width, but was 72 inches long. Waaaay too long. Luckily I was able to shorten it and it looks great!

The total spent? $93. Under $100 for a totally new look. I'll take that!

Don't forget! I'd love it if you hopped over to Fireflies and Jellybeans to vote for my Iron Crafter logo!

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I was in the lead, but I've dropped to #2! My logo is option #3. It will take 3 seconds. Thanks a bunch!

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Half Bath - The Reveal!

I have good news! We had $700 on our credit card leftover from our airline tickets on January 1st. Those tickets were actually priceless. They brought us to South Korea and to our daughter! Well we just got our federal tax refund. It was for...

**drumroll please**

$695! ha! So instead of owing money, we are back to having no money. Hooray!

I'm kidding. Kind of. Seriously though, we are thrilled to be debt free (except our home mortgage) again! It means we're doing something right. I owe it all to a lot of sacrifice and tips from Dave Ramsey.

Being debt free means I had the green light to buy a couple little touches to the half bath, which means it is DONE! And I am sooooooo digging it. I can't wait for you to see it!

It is located right off the kitchen.

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Check out the whole house layout here.

And this is what the bathroom used to look like.

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This is what our half bath looks like now!

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Come back tomorrow to find out sources and how much I spent!

In the meantime, I'd love it if you hopped over to Fireflies and Jellybeans to vote for my Iron Crafter logo!

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I'm in the lead, but it's getting close! My logo is option #3. It will take 3 seconds. Thanks a bunch!

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Linking up to some of these great parties.
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