Category Archives: Tips and Tricks

Floating Headboard DIY (no nail holes!!!)

When I stumbled upon these pictures from Brian’s blog, Hazzard Family Blog, on Pinterest I knew immediately that this was the headboard project for me.

Initially I was leaning towards a DIY tufted headboard (cause they are all over Pinterest), but my fiance reminded me that he lives here too and the tufted style is a little too feminine for our bedroom.  (You’re welcome Nick!)

Here’s how we accomplished this project:

1. Buy Materials

  • 1 x 6″ boards. Make sure to get ones that are straight! I’d recommend a lumber store over a large home improvement retailer for better quality wood.
  • Stain – We love using Miniwax band stain. The color we picked was Dark Walnut (2716)
  • Polyurethane – We used a semi-gloss so that it’s glossy enough to be easy to dust but not super shiny.
  • Sandpaper – 220 grit for a smooth finish. You might want to buy a lower grit if your wood is rough and sand with that first.
  • Painters tape
  • 3M Command Strips – 12 lb. These are the heavy duty kind. You will need 4 per board for safety!
Here's what we used for stain, seal and strips!
Here’s what we used for stain, seal and strips!

2. Sand the BoardsPile of Wood Dust

Sand the flat part of BOTH SIDES of the boards. Don’t forget the edges too! You can hand-sand these, but if your neighbor has a sander I’d recommend borrowing it. There will be wood flakes everywhere, so be sure to do this activity in a space that can handle the mess. 

 

3. Stain the Boards

This is the BEST step. Staining wood is so very satisfying. Watching the wood go from plain to colorful is the best part of any wood project.

For this project I stained the wood once, let it dry overnight and then stained a second time the next day to darken the color. I used a roller to apply the stain and wiped it down with an old t-shirt.

Stain Layers

4. Seal the Boards

Polyurethane is basically a liquid plastic that will help seal in the color and give wood a finished look. Without it your wood project swill collect dirt and can stain with water.

*** Make sure to use a tool that you are ok throwing away for this step. Polyurethane is nearly impossible to wash out of a nice brush.*** I learned this the hard way 🙁

Applying Sealant

Apply the polyurethane using a roller. GO SLOW to avoid micro bubbles. Try to stir the can every few minutes using very smooth and slow strokes, trying to minimize the amount of air getting stirred in. If you have any bubbles that don’t go away in a few minutes, use a brush to smooth the sealant.

With and Without Stain

5. Hang the Boards

Ok folks, this is where the fun begins. I know that hanging 4 to 6 boards perfectly horizontal and keeping consistent spacing seems like an impossible feat, but believe me when I say THIS TOOK LESS THAN 45 MINUTES. Here are the methods I used to hang the boards.

To hang each board I used 3 or 4 of the 3M Command Strips shown above. The boards near the bottom got 3 and the ones near the top got 4. I was worried at first that this was a huge risk and I’d wake up with a broken nose, but our boards have been hanging for months and there have been zero issues.

To hang the first (lowest) board, use a piece of painters tape to create a level line on the wall. Align the board with this line to adhere to the wall. (If you need more help, check out my tutorial for hanging a mirror here. The same rules apply).

Apply a piece of level tape to the wall to place the first board.
Apply a piece of level tape to the wall to place the first board.

Now, I know that if you wanted to measure out an inch or two from the top of the first board and then reapply the tape and re-level the tape and then stick on another board, you could. BUT remember I promised getting this done quickly. So instead of doing it that way, I took about 5 minutes and turned on my engineering brain to find a better solution. The answer: BOUNCY BALLS! 

I tapes 4 bouncy balls to the top of the board and then set the bottom of the next board on top of those. Then move the bouncy balls up to the top of the new board and keep going. It took about 10 minutes to get all 5 boards (not including the first one) applied to the wall.

How to hang perfectly spaced boards
How to hang perfectly spaced boards

I also applied a piece of tape, leveled vertically, to the edge of the boards to help keep them aligned on the edge for a sharp modern look.

IMG_3304

Before and After

Before and After

Completed Floating Headboard DIY Project

How to Shop for Sustainable Fashion

We all want to be better. Look better, act better, eat better. But when it comes to fashion, American’s rarely think about what it means to dress better.

In this context, I am not using the word better to mean more designer brands, or clothing that fits well.

To me, “dress better” means:

  • Buy clothing with minimal environmental impact.
  • Buy from brands that give back in some way.
  • Shop from manufacturers who have a humanitarian supply chain.
  • Consume Less.
  • Re use more.
  • Love every item.

For those of you who want a better understanding of what I’m talking about, watch this piece about Fast Fashion by John Oliver on HBO’s Last Week Tonight:

“In 2013 American’s purchased on average 64 items per person.”

-John Oliver

So instead of buying 64 non-sustainable, cheaply made clothing items that won’t last, maybe this year you decide to limit your purchases to 24 items and to get all of them either second-hand, or from sustainable companies. That’s still two items a month! And instead of items that fall apart after 6 months, buying sustainable also means higher quality. These are things that can last a decade!

Brands that I love:

Tonlé –  This is an amazing brand! They make “Zero-waste fashion” by salvaging large quantities of scrap fabric and turning it into sell-able, beautiful, fashion. This is how all clothing should be made!

Swedish Stockings –  Yes even stockings/tights can be purchased from a sustainable source. On average these cost $20/pair which is comparable to brands such as Banana Republic.

Nisolo –  This is an amazing shoe brand that hand crafts leather shoes at a very reasonable price. Nisolo is committed to using local resources for their shoes, and every single shoe is made by hand. Price range: $90 – $250 on average for a pair of shoes. Nisolo means “Not Alone”. This brand is a constant reminder that our daily choices can impact others.

Pact – My lovely boyfriend Pact Socksbought me some boot socks from this company for the holidays. Pact makes socks, underwear, undershirts, camisoles, pajamas, leggings, and baby clothes from organic cotton! They have tons of styles, and even have socks for flats! Their motto – “We make clothes that don’t hurt people”. I’d compare prices to Express and The Limited, but the quality is much much better. No child labor, no sweatshops, no pesticides; shopping here is a no-brainier.

Pact Image

Cuyana – This isn’t the first time I’ve raved about Cuyana. I have purchased two tote bags from Cuyana and am so impressed with the company and the quality. For leather accessories there is no better brand out there. Every item is carefully crafted and look and feel way better than standard designer bags. A large tote costs about $160 and trust me, it’ll be softer leather than any tote you’ve felt from any brand at the mall. I’ve adopted Cuyana’s motto as my personal motto: Fewer, Better Things.

Everlane – This brand is all about Radical Transparency. So much in fact that the order page for every item comes with a Transparent Pricing guide that shoes you exactly how much each step of the process cost to make the garment.

Everlane - Transparent Pricing

Everlane is also transparent about their manufacturers. By partnering with small manufacturing shops around the world, and working closely with the owners of each shop, Everlane guarantees that the laborers who sew their clothes and farm their cotton  are paid a fair wage and have safe working conditions.

For the holidays I bought three items from Everlane for my boyfriend: a cotton t-shit, a cotton long sleeve button down shirt, and a leather belt. All three items were wonderful quality and the fit is impeccable. My friend Theresa purchased two of their silk sleeveless button ups and we couldn’t believe the quality of the fabric. It’s the thickest, softest silk that I’ve ever touched!

 

To learn more about  Consuming Less and Loving Everything You Own, check out my previous posts on living with a Capsule Wardrobe.

In the next post: I’ll reveal a way to re-use clothing that probably don’t know exists.

Butter London Nail Polish

Jaffa - Butter London 

 

If you look closely at the bottom of the nail polish bottle, you’ll see the words “3 Free Nail Lacquer”, but what does that mean?  I added a picture of the back of the bottle that explains that “3 Free” products are free from:

  • Dibutyl Phthalate
  • Toulene
  • Formaldehyde

Butter Jaffa

About 5 years ago I started to change out all of my cosmetics, lotions, shampoos, even laundry detergent and dish soap with product that use less synthetic chemicals.  My purge ended at my nail polish caboodle however.  At the time I didn’t know that less-chemically-harsh products existed for nails.  Now, at $15 a bottle I’m not going to run out and restock my entire nail polish collection, but I have been trying to slowly use up the toxic polishes and replace with “3 Free” and “5 Free” products like Butter.

PRO TIP!!!  Check out your local TJ Maxx or Marshalls for Butter nail polish.  I found 4 bottles (yes, only 4) at my local store for $5 each!  That’s 66% off the normal sticker price at Sephora or boutique stores. 
Butter Bumster

PROs: It dries quickly, the applicator brush is smaller which makes getting close to the cuticle easier, and the bottle shape makes for easy storage.  Plus the bottles are large and contain a lot of polish.

CONs: The price (yeesh!) and you can’t get away with just one coat.  You also must apply a top coat because the polish isn’t especially shiny by itself.

Let me know if you have any questions about Butter.  Not sure if you can afford a bottle for yourself?  Why not buy it as a gift for a friend and then invite yourself over for a manicure 🙂

 

VS Sport Bra and Knockout Crop

Are you in the market for some new performance athletic gear?  I just found out that Victoria’s Secret launched their new line of athletic wear.  Since its VS they obviously have a huge line of sports bras.  If there is one thing that VS does well, its supporting our lady parts.

My main physical activities are yoga (heated and non-heated) and walking/light jogging.  Below are my reviews on some of the new items from VS and how they perform for these activities.

The items I will be reviewing are:

The Incredible VS Sports Bra

The Knockout Mid-Rise Crop

Let’s talk about the Incredible Sport Bra first.  These are the performance details listed from the VS website:

♥  Maximum support

 Breathable padding with wicking liner to keep you extra dry

 Concealed wire for cushioned support
Padded straps and bonded, seamless technology that eliminates irritation

 Super-soft elastic band for comfort & movement
Cushioned, adjustable back closure

 Body-Wick keeps you cool & dry

Perfect for running, boxing and cardio

Of these claims, I absolutely agree with the claims indicated by a pink heart.  I do find that the T-strap design makes getting this bad boy on and off a little difficult.  I guess that’s part of the design.  If you’re bashful about your decolletage I do not recommend this bra.  It is definitely made to support your buxom and also to show your curves.

Ok time for the Knockout Crop.  The website boasts:

♥  Smooth seams for total comfort

 Medium rise with second skin fit and lined, reinforced gusset

 Hidden drawstring waist and hidden waistband pocket

♥  17″ inseam

 Body-Wick keeps you cool and dry

 Nylon performance fabric with four-way stretch

 Machine wash. Tumble dry.

As you can see this crop definitely is a total KNOCKOUT!  I agree with all of the website claims.  As an avid yoga pants/capri wearer (literally every day after work) these are great.  The mid-rise is very comfortable and flattering.  They are expensive at ~$60, but get them when you have a coupon and you will be pleased.  Plus that price isn’t bad compared to other performance wear brands that wick away sweat.

 


I received these products complimentary from Influenster for testing purposes. All opinions are my own.  This post permits contest entry.

How to Fix Leather and Suede Boots After Winter Weather

Nothing is worse than buying an expensive pair of leather or suede shoes and seeing them ruined by snow, salt, and dirt.  The good news is there there’s an easy way to clean and refurbish them.  The better news is that it’s also cheap to do.

Leather Shoe Chapstick before and after

First let’s talk about leather.  There’s a secret product called Chelsea Leather Food that is made for extending the life of high end leather soccer cleats.  You can find it on Amazon for about $16, direct link is in the sidebar for either the clear or black variety.  One jar should last a few winters depending on frequency of use.

Using Leather Food on Shoes

To use, just wipe the shoe clean with a damp cloth and then use a dry cloth to rub in the leather food.  I like to describe it as “chapstick for your shoes” because it’s got a soft wax consistency and you can immediately see the difference.  The Chelsea Leather Food will moisturize the leather (just like chapstick on lips) and will extend the life of the shoe.  My shoes pictured here have made it through three winters and they still look brand new.

Cleaning Suede Shoes

Moving on to suede.  Everyone knows that it’s impossible to keep suede clean.  My first suggestion is to not buy suede shoes, but if you have to (because they’re adorable and comfy) do yourself a favor and buy a dark color.

To clean dirt and salt off of suede make a small bowl of equal parts warm water and vinegar. Use a clean cotton towel to wipe the shoe clean. It only takes a few minutes. Make sure the suede has time to dry before wearing, and if there are annoying particles stuck to the suede when it’s still damp, you can brush them off after the material has dried.

 

Suede Shoes Before and After

Hope this helps keep your feet sparkling through winter!

How To Fold a Plastic Bag

It’s no secret that everybody has a drawer crammed full with plastic bags.  For some of us these bags are being saved for walks with the dog, kitty litter cleanup, or to wrap up smelly trash.  For others the bags are collected for the sole purpose of being eventually discarded or recycled. Either way why not have a neatly folder stack of bags instead of a piled up mess?

Go From Messy to Organized in Four Steps!

 

 

Here’s how to fold a plastic bag into the perfect triangle:

 

1) Lay the bag on a flat surface. Make sure that the bottom corners are properly folded in.

 

2) Fold the bag lengthwise into thirds.

 

3) Starting at the bottom, triangle fold alternating left and right the length of the bag.

 

4) Tuck the bag handles into the triangle opening.

 

Happy Pinning!

P.S. Thanks goes out to the guy at my dog daycare who I observed doing this yesterday, inspiring this post.

 

 

Homemade Armpit Stain Remover

Originally Pinned by The Prudent Pantry
See original pin here

Let’s face it, everyone hates armpit stains. I hate them so much that in recent years I have completely avoided buying any white shirt that has an arm at all! Luckily 21st century girls have Pinterest to remind us that there are simple fixes for common pesky issues like, to put it eloquently, “pit stains”.

Good news! This pin not only works but is CHEAP and SIMPLE! A double whammy. Just mix one part dish soap, two parts hydrogen peroxide and enough basking soda to form a paste.

Rub into the pits of your favorite white shirts and let sit for about an hour. Then throw them in with your light wash load and it’s done!

Here’s the before picture. This was a 100% cotton shirt that I have owned (and sweated in) for 5 years. It was my worst all all pit stains (and I’ll admit I’m slightly embarrassed to share a picture of it).

And the after, amazing!

May your white shirts rejoice, Happy Pinning!

Cutting Bread Upside Down

I came across a pin the other day that suggested cutting bread upside down to help eliminate loaf flattening while slicing. I can’t find the original pin but I think you get the idea. Here’s my attempt at using this trick:

Maybe it’s because I had fairly sturdy bread, but I didn’t notice a difference right-side-up or up-side-down when it comes to flattening the bread. However I did find that cutting it upside down helped me make equally sized slices. So overall I think I will use this trick again.

Happy Pinning!