March 30, 2012

Simple, Thrifty DIY Art


I like the idea of shopping for art.  But finding art for a specific spot in a home is hard, isn't it?  I want something that is the right size, incorporates the right colours and is affordable.  Oh, and I want it to make my heart sing, if that's not too much trouble.

So basically all my art shopping expeditions end up one of two ways:

a) I come home empty handed and disappointed.  
or
b) I come home with a mirror.

So when the local shops left me disappointed and toting a new mirror once again, I decided to make my own wall art for my master bedroom. 

I am very pleased with the results, and the price tag!

I started with a sheet of one inch thick stryrofoam insulation.  This stuff is more dense and less crumbly than regular packing styrofoam and will hold up better under abuse with a staple gun.  A 2 foot by 8  foot sheet costs about 15 dollars and will be enough for several wall hangings. If you need a few pieces of art, and already have some craft supplies and fabric laying around, this is cheaper than buying canvases.


Cheap-o art project #1


To cut the stryofoam you will want to use a straight edge and a sharp utility knife.


I cut three 11 inch by 28 inch panels and covered them with left over fabric from a duvet cover I recently made.


First I stapled the fabric tightly to the center of each edge.


And then I folded the corners as if I was wrapping a gift and stapled them.


Then I added more staples along each edge, pulling the fabric tight as I went.



I used a dollar store stencil and a sharpie paint pen to gussy up one of the panels.



I hung the panels by attaching some picture hanging hardware to the back with long sewing pins.


So far they haven't fallen on my head.




(The duvet cover, by the way, was made using this tutorial.  The fabrics are Premier Prints Ozborne Robin/White and Premier Prints Barber Taupe/Robin.)

Cheap-o Art Project #2


I cut a large piece of the styrofoam and wrapped it in some canvas drop cloth left over from this project and this project.



I used various paints I already had to paint the canvas. A combination of wall paint, craft paint, and oil paint gives the painting some dimension.


I had a lot of fun with this part and made a point not to obsess over it too much.  I used brush strokes in every direction and tried to create something that pleased my eye.


Since I used things I already had around the house, both art projects cost me a total of 15 dollars for the styrofoam, and I even have a piece leftover for another project!


Go ahead, create some simple, thrifty, happy art for your own walls!  I'd love to hear how it turns out!


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March 27, 2012

{Quick Tip} How I Prevent Scuff Marks on my Dining Room Walls


If you are a regular reader of imperfecthomemaking.com you probably know that I recently took down some fabulous Damask wallpaper in our dining space because we are staging our house to sell.

And I miss it.  *sniff*

Anyways, the reason we originally put it up in the first place was because our assortment of dark mismatched dining chairs had a tendency to leave dark scuff marks on our pale walls. Back then we discussed putting up a chair rail, but a black chair rail would've cut the room in half, visually speaking.  And thus the fabulous, dramatic, gorgeous wall paper was born. (And for the record, it was my husbands idea!)

So now that it's gone, here's what I've done to protect our walls:

I bought a pack of felt pads meant to protect the floor from furniture legs.


And stuck them to the backs of the chairs!


So...does it work?  So far, so good.  We've had the wall paper down for a couple weeks now and we don't have a single scuff mark on the wall!


Obviously the pads only protect the wall if the chairs hit it at an ordinary angle, which means that for the time being I've had to issue a moratorium on spinning the chairs around backwards to pretend that they are pirate ships.  


It's also a super thrifty solution.  It would be even thriftier if I could convince my 2 year old to stop peeling them off and sticking them to his face...

Thanks so much for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking!

March 24, 2012

My Favourite Get Well Soon Remedy: Cream of Garlic Soup


This simple soup, like most simple recipes, is so much more than the sum of it's parts.  It comes together quickly and has few ingredients, yet it is sweet and rich and so very comforting when you're fighting off a cold.

This is a soup our family reserves only for when we are sick.  I don't suggest going about your daily life, out there in public, with the scent of this soup oozing from your pores. That's just not a good way to make friends, ya know?


Cream of Garlic Soup

Coarsely chop two whole heads of garlic.

 

 Melt about a tablespoon of butter in your soup pot over medium heat.  



Add the garlic and a large pinch of Kosher salt.



Cook over medium heat, for 5-7 minutes or until the garlic begins to turn golden brown.  Be careful not to burn the garlic! 


Sprinkle the garlic with a 1/4 cup of all purpose flour (if you'd rather not measure, that is about a handful)) and stir the flour around for one minute.  Quickly add 1 cup of chicken broth or stock. Tilt pot and puree with a handheld stick blender (or place in an ordinary blender to puree and then return to the pot)


Stir in 3 more cups of chicken stock and bring soup to a boil.

Once the soup has boiled , remove it from heat and stir in 1/2 a cup of cream combined with a 1/2 cup of milk.  The proportions of the milk/cream mixture often varies based on how rich/poor/decadent I'm feeling.

Season to taste with pepper and more salt, if necessary.

Serve in soup bowls with a loaf of good sourdough bread or some large garlicky homemade croutons.  Or, better yet, just sip it from a favourite mug!


Here's the recipe without the pictures so that you can make the soup without having to scroll through the whole blog post:


Cream of Garlic Soup
1. Coarsely chop 2 heads of garlic.
2. Melt a tablespoon of butter in a soup pot over medium heat.
3. Add the garlic to the pot and sprinkle with a large pinch of kosher salt.
4. Cook over medium heat for 5-7 minutes or until the garlic begins to turn golden brown.  Be careful not to burn the garlic!  
5. Sprinkle the garlic with a 1/4 cup of all purpose flour and stir the flour around.  Quickly add 1 cup of chicken broth or stock. Tilt pot and puree with a handheld stick blender (or place in an ordinary blender to puree and then return to the pot)
6. Stir in 3 more cups of chicken stock and bring soup to a boil.
7..Once the soup has boiled , remove it from heat and stir in 1/2 a cup of cream combined with a 1/2 cup of milk.
8. Season to taste with pepper and more salt, if necessary.

Enjoy!  And get well soon!

Thanks so much for visiting The Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking!

March 22, 2012

10 Tips for Staging Kitchens and Dining Spaces


This is part 3 in a series called Home Staging 101.  The lovely and talented Kym Tarr of Shoestring Home Staging is teaching me how to stage my home for sale, and we are taking all of you along for the ride!


Here are 10 tips that Kym and I feel will help your kitchen and dining spaces look their best for prospective buyers!

1.  Clean your kitchen as if the sale of your home depends on it.  This is the simplest and cheapest way to make your kitchen look more attractive! You can find several of my kitchen cleaning tips and tricks here.

2. Limit counter top items to 2 essentials.  For me that was my stand mixer and my french press/electric kettle.  Technically those last items are two things, but I count them as one because, let's face it, I'm not going to be digging through the cabinets pre-caffiene.



3.Consider removing extra furnishings.  Free standing islands, kitchen trolleys and dining hutches can close in a space.  If you cannot remove these pieces, ruthlessly edit the items displayed on or in them.

Removing the island my husband lovingly built for me was emotional.  It really sunk in that soon this kitchen will be the hub of somebody else's home.  But by removing it, we've made room for prospective buyers to see this space as their dream kitchen, not mine.


4. Pot racks, although super handy, send the impression that the kitchen does not have enough storage.  Either remove pot racks or stage them sparingly with only 3 immaculately clean items.


5. Remove extra chairs from around the dining table.  Four to six chairs is ideal.  We've kept seven chairs because that is what our family needs, but we can easily tuck one out of sight for showings.

6.Choose a centerpiece for the kitchen table.  A vase of flowers, urn full of fruit, or a series of 3 simple decorative items will work well.

7. As a rule, remove table linens from tables.  My table is so long I feel it looks funny without a simple white table runner, so use your own judgement but remember that less is more and simple is beautiful.


(I kinda have this thing for white table runners.  They make my heart swoon.)    

8.  Let as much natural space into the area as possible.  Remove heavy drapes and consider replacing them with something light, like sheers.

9. If necessary, make upgrades to the kitchen.  This will depend largely on your budget and the age and style of the home.  New hardware can make a huge difference for a reasonably small cost.

10. Replace or remove any damaged or broken items.  Broken items send the message that the house is a fixer-upper....complete with a fixer-upper price!  Our beloved wallpaper behind the dining table, for example, had to come down because it was showing some wear and tear.


Bonus tip:  #11: Be thorough, but don't obsess.  Done is better than perfect. You could spend a lot of time and money trying to create the perfect kitchen, only to have the new owners hate it and change everything.  Your goal is to help your kitchen (and your home) put it's best foot forward!

Here is the before and after shot of my kitchen:


To learn more about Kym Tarr and her awesome Virtual Home Staging Service, check out her website.  Please also take a second to "like" her new facebook page.

I'll leave you with some more glamour shots of my fabulously clean and uncluttered kitchen.  Now all I have to do is figure out how to keep it this way!





Thanks so much for visiting the Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking!  

March 21, 2012

How to Clean and Shine your Sink, Naturally


Step One: Fill the sink to the brim with hot water and at least a cup of vinegar. Let sit for about half an hour.  Go browse pinterest for half an hour and if you start to feel bad about not doing anything productive, remind yourself that you are actually cleaning the sink!

Step Two: Mix baking soda and water to make a thin paste.  Use a soft scrubby sponge to scrub the sink with this solution.


Step Three:  Place a small amount of olive oil on a soft rag and rub your sink down with the olive oil.  This will make your sink shiny and beautiful.

Step Four: For stuck on soap scum or water scale, I use one of the nylon pan scrapers that comes with a pampered chef stoneware.  These little brown scrapers are seriously handy items!  I also use this thing to clean any gunk that gathers where the sink edge meets the counter top.

Don't obsess over it.  Your sink really doesn't need to be perfect. Just clean and shiny


Ta-Da!  A fabulously shiny sink without any dangerous chemicals!


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