Thursday, July 26, 2012

DIY: Painted Ikea Erslev Rug

I've been seeing a lot of DIY painted rugs on Pinterest lately. People take the $40 white Erslev rug from Ikea and use some paint to jazz it up. E has been getting more creative with her snack time lately, leading to some added artwork on our somewhat white, but nevertheless recently cleaned, carpet.

We were at Ikea a couple weeks ago and picked up the Erslev rug. It's a nice rug and very inexpensive but it is WHITE. Not exactly the ideal color for a toddler. One day and a cup of mandarin orange juice later, and I knew we needed to add some color or something to hide the inevitable stains that will come.

First, I used an old box lid to make a stencil. Just make three rows of marks every nine inches apart (horizontally and vertically) and connect the lines diagonally. Lowe's has a much better chevron how to on their Creative Ideas site. (That's piggy in the picture - she's our moral support.)

Once I had the stencil, I used it to tape out the lines on the rug. I probably could have just freehanded it with the paint, but again I have a toddler. A toddler very interested in moving cardboard. So I used the tape. I did have to make some marks on the rug at certain points to ensure I maintained a consistent width - and didn't add an extra inch because of the width of the tape. And the tape helped keep the lines straight and crisp. Also, I started a little into the pattern just to satisfy my own need for symmetry. What would happen if I started at one part in the pattern at one end and ended at a different part at the other? I couldn't handle it. I'd have to throw it out and start over.

I have a lot of extra paint in my basement from various rooms in our house that I used here - what better way to make sure your new room matches your color scheme than to use that exact color?  The green is from my kitchen. The blue is from my master bathroom. The pink/red is combo of two $3 samples from Home Depot. I also mixed in a bit of textile medium from Michael's ($6 for 8 oz but less if you use a coupon!). It turns any paint into fabric paint and hopefully avoids the crunchy dried paint feel. I probably should have used more than I did - the bottle says two parts paint to one part medium - but I only bought one bottle and was too lazy to go back to the store for more.

I used a combo of a foam roller ($3) and sponge brushes (7 cents each on sale at Michael's) to paint the rows. It took a bit to make sure the paint got into all the grooves, but it wasn't a painful process. I was a little nervous to pull the tape off in the morning, afraid that the paint had bled underneath. I was pleasantly surprised that the lines were crisp and clean.

There were some spots where the paint didn't fully penetrate the rug - it is woven, after all.  I thought about putting on a second coat, but decided against it. It's a rug, and it's only going to get walked on, adding to the worn-in look. I've decided to embrace it.

Here's how it looked when all the tape was removed. I love it. It's fun and bright, and yet still matches everything else in the adult side of the family room.

And here's how it is with the room all put together again.

This project was a bit intimidating to me - who paints a rug? That's crazy. But it only took about six hours total, and that included time out for dinner, bath time and bed time. I started before the evening news and I was done by the end of Leno. And cheap too - less than $60 for the rug, paint and supplies. It has me thinking where else I can do this - a baby room maybe?

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Peace, Love and Zebras

This week Ben's cousin Rachel celebrated her 11th birthday and she asked me to make her a cake for her family party. She asked for a two-tier zebra cake with pink peace signs on it.

I googled "zebra peace cake" to get some ideas, thinking I'd get lots of results for zebra cakes or peace sign cakes. I was surprised to find hundreds of pink cakes with zebra print AND peace signs, most for tween girls. What's the deal with all the zebra peace stuff? Did Justin Bieber wear a zebra-patterned peace sign on national TV or something? I guess I am just out of the tween loop.

Anyway, back to the cake. I saw a neat method on pinterest where you layer chocolate and white cake to get a zebra effect on in the cake. I thought I'd give it a try, which meant baking a lot of cake. Way more than I needed, in fact.

But that's OK. Fortunately I have a couple willing eaters in the house to help me take care of all the excess.

It was pretty warm in the house this weekend, so I was worried about the fondant melting. I typically crumb coat the cakes in buttercream, then put them in the fridge to set before applying the fondant. Then after applying fondant and decorations, I usually put it back in the fridge. I realized today I had been doing things ALL WRONG.

Apparently fondant will naturally acclimate to whatever temperature it is, so as long as it's not excessively humid, the fondant is just fine unrefrigerated. But if you have a cold cake, and you put room temp fondant on it, and leave it out, it will start to sweat while the cold cake warms up. Not fun to work with!

After a while, however, when the cake and fondant adjust to room temp, the cake will dry out and be fine. So if you don't have a perishable filling, keep the cake at room temperature!

Here's the sweaty cake before I realized I shouldn't keep putting it in the fridge.

Oooh, shiny. And when that black fondant gets shiny, it gets messy and the color transfers everywhere. Black-tinted fondant really is a pain, in my opinion.

So this morning, I took the cake out of the fridge and let it sit on the counter for a couple hours. What a huge difference!

The gooey, slimy fondant dried out and became much more stable. Hooray! That means I could apply more disco dust (that's edible glitter!) to all the pink areas. Disco dust and slimy fondant don't get along.

I used a printout of a zebra pattern and a pastry cutter to make the zebra stripes and a circle cutter to make the peace signs. I also used the fondant to make a number 11 for the top. I stuck some toothpicks in them and left them out to dry overnight. There they are on the side.

And here's the final cake all put together.

And here's how the inside looked. Not exactly zebra striped, but close enough.

 And tasty too!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

DIY My Family Board Book

We have family scattered all over the country, so when E was born, I wanted to give her a book that had pictures of her family so she could learn more about them and learn their names.

I took a basic board book ($.50 at Goodwill), some family photos (FREE thanks to a Walgreens special), some scrapbook paper (6/$1 at Michael's) and alphabet stickers ($7 at Michael's) and put together this My Family board book for less than $10.

Here's how I did it:

I started by tracing the shape of the pages of the book on the scrapbook paper. I did individual pages and not the full spreads because I wanted to keep the center clear to help the book close better. I used mod podge and a sponge brush to glue the pages to the book, and then photos to pages.

This step also involved an ice cream break. This is an important part of the process. Do it.

After the glue had dried, I used alphabet stickers to label each of the pages. I'm sure there is a much fancier way to do this, but this was certainly easy. It just took four packs of stickers to make sure I had enough of each letter.

The final step was to add a spine to the book, again using paper and mod podge. I used the scoring blade on my paper cutter to make sure the paper fit perfectly.

I still may coat the entire thing inside and out in mod podge to help ward off damage from sticky fingers and to keep all those stickers stuck. But for now, this was a simple project that I hope will help E feel connected to her family around the country.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Happy Birthday Ben! Running Records Display

So, it's nearly the middle of July. Which means that I have finally given my husband, Ben, his birthday present. His birthday, of course, being in June. But while I got a very late start on this one, I was very excited about this project.

If you know us at all, you know that Ben likes to run. A lot. He runs a lot of races and earns a lot of medals and sets a lot of new personal best times. So many that I can't keep them all straight. 

Until now, Ben kept his medals, race bibs and other running stuff up in our spare bedroom. With a new baby coming soon, Ben has to clear out his upstairs man cave and move it to the dark, damp basement. I wanted to give him a little something to cheer up the space.

I saw an idea online for a way to display marathon times and thought it would be fun to give Ben a way to showcase all his best times for all the major distances he's run.

Here's how I did it: 

I started with eight plain pine boards from Lowe's. Seven of them were 4 inches wide by 2 feet long and one was 6 inches wide by 2 feet long. They come pre-cut in the lumber department for a couple bucks each, and I think you can pick between pine, poplar and oak if you're picky. (The total cost of this project was about $35 for wood, paint, stickers and supplies.) I bought seven colors of acrylic paint from Hobby Lobby and painted each board a different color. Then I taped off 9-inch segments on the ends of the 4-inch boards and painted them gray.

When that was dry, I used Americana Chalkboard Coating to turn the gray areas into a chalkboard. This is great stuff - it goes on clear and can change any surface into a chalkboard with just two coats. It was only about five bucks and I barely used any of it! This will definitely be used again.

Using a ruler and a little math, I spaced out some alphabet stickers and applied them to the boards.  The verse at the top is from Hebrews 12:1 and Ben helped me pick out the seven race distances that he wanted to display.

After applying the stickers, I put a coat of matte mod podge over all the boards, skipping the chalkboard areas. Once that was dry, I used basic screw-in cup hooks to attach all the boards together. The wood is soft enough that I could do this by hand, so my fingers are crossed that they stay put once we hang it up! Per the directions on the chalkboard coating, I covered the entire chalkboard area with a thin coat of chalk to prime it before cleaning it off and writing in the times.

Here's another look at the completed project, with Ben's times written in.