Tag: Easy

Affordable DIY Halloween Witch Cauldron

 

Bubble bubble toiling trouble. Holidays always get me excited for decorating. I think Halloween provides the best opportunity to try something new. This past Halloween, my mind was in over drive thinking about decorations I wanted to make. I really loved the bubbling cauldron look, so was excited to put my own spin on it. Follow along with this witch cauldron tutorial to make your own! 

 

Materials

Witch Cauldron

 

To save on the amount of spray foam needed, I cut a piece of cardboard to fit the inside rim of the cauldron. I usually have a stock of cardboard (supported by the increase in online purchases, thanks to the pandemic). As can be seen in the photo, small gaps are okay. I had to bend the cardboard in the middle a bit to get it into the inner rim. 

 

Paper Mache

My element of uniqueness was to hand a hand reaching out of the potion, which was scaling it back from the thought of using a styrofoam head sticking out as well. My first step was to create the hand using handy dandy paper mache. You are free to use whatever paper mache recipe floats your boat for this. I tend to go the easiest and cheapest route with a flour and water mixture. It admittedly isn’t quite as strong as a glue-based mix, but it certainly does the job. I used this same technique for my Candyland Lollipops for Christmas. Ultimate Paper Mache‘s site is a great source for recipes. There are five recipes here from which you can choose. After making the paste, cut or tear the newspaper into 1-inch strips.

If you have a willing volunteer, I’d definitely recommend using a hand that is not your own. I completed this on my left hand, so only had my right hand to do the work. Anyway, using the paper strips, dip them into the paper mache mixture and scrape off the excess. Wrap the paper mache strips around each finger and the rest of the hand. I recommend putting a solid layer all over.

It may be necessary to stuff it a bit to keep the shape while it dries.

Bubbling Potion

 

After using this “Great Stuff”, I definitely agree it’s great stuff. It could also be called “Super Easy” or “Crafting Gold”.  My 10 and 7 year olds enjoyed giving it a try. I started with spraying the base and spilling it over the sides. 

 

My little soccer player helped me out by holding the hand in place to look like it was reaching out of the cauldron. An argument could be made for the odd proportions, but I wasn’t worried about it. I guess I could have easily used one of my daughters’ hands. Live and learn. I sprayed the foam around the hand to get it to hold in place. With that, the bubbling was complete. 

 

Weather Protection

 

I was worried about the paper mache standing up to the weather outside, so I decided to use clay I made for another craft. To be honest, I shouldn’t have used this diy clay recipe and should have shifted to store bought clay. It was definitely a bit mistake on my part. It was too wet and loose, so it ended up making the paper mache hand soggy and saggy. I had to prop it up and use more clay than desired to give the saggy hand more shape. So, if anything, learn from my mistake and opt for the better store bought clay or maybe just a better recipe than I used that doesn’t included ingredients like baby oil. 

 

 

Using my airbrush, I painted the bubbling potion a lime green and gave it a second coat with darker green. I used my dremel to give the hand a more realistic look. Then, painted the hand and called it a day. To make this project even easier, you could quite honestly use a store bought Halloween hand. The path is yours to choose as far as how much DIY you want to do. 

 

Can Mistakes Be a Threat to Your Mental Health?

“Most people don’t like to make mistakes, but some people are more sensitive to errors than others, and that can make them more prone to anxiety…”

Greg Hajcak Proudfit, associate professor of psychology at Stony Brook University

 

I’m like anyone else and don’t care for making mistakes, especially when it effects my end results. I was kicking myself when I used the clay that I already had concerns. Sometimes, apathy and laziness get the best of me when I just want to knock things off my too long list of to dos. Apparently, there’s a region of the brain called the anterior cingulate cortex that is stimulated by the recognition of mistakes and when it’s stimulated, the increase in activity is called error-related negativity (ERN). I found this particular paragraph from When Mistakes Are a Threat to Mental Health pretty interesting, 

“What makes some people prone to higher ERNs and therefore anxiety? The ERN is somewhat heritable; for instance, healthy individuals who have immediate family members with anxiety and obsessive compulsive disorder tend to have a larger ERN. But situational factors also affect ERN. In lab studies, Proudfit has shown that it’s possible to induce a higher ERN by “punishing” participants for errors, for example by playing a very loud and aggravating sound after the participant makes a mistake.”

I think it’s definitely something to keep in mind when considering how you respond to your own mistakes and the mistakes of others, particularly children. As the article goes on to describe, hostile responses to mistakes can increase the ERN tendency, which will lead to higher anxiety levels. Give yourself and others grace for those mistakes. If they can be overcome, then there’s always a lesson to use for the next time. 

 

*This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

Create a Wow Factor in any Room with Easy Decorative Fretwork Panels

Home » Easy

 

While planning for our impending move, I was really looking to try some new things with the space. I came across some images for fretwork panels and was immediately hooked. Of course, I had to pass the idea through my husband. Thankfully, he also liked the look of them, so I had my ‘all clear’.

I did quite a bit of searching due to the variations in price and design. You can definitely get smaller panels. Given my chosen wall was quite lengthy, I was looking for larger panels. I admittedly did an abysmal job of predicting how much I would need to purchase. Due to the expense of the panels, it was absolutely hopeful thinking to order low and hope it covered enough. If I were to do it again, I probably would have gone with the fireplace wall in this same room simply for the cost savings. Definitely a live and learn moment for me. Regardless, it sure turned out pretty!

 

Fretwork Panel Supplies

My chosen paint color was Sherwin Williams Succulent from the Emerald Design color pallet. I was slightly worried the dark green would be too much in the space, but the whole family has really liked it. After a little looking at how others attached the fretwork panels to the wall, I found different versions of screws, glue, and tape. I opted for the tape below that has super good hold. I’m slightly worried about the day I want to take the panels down to repaint but will deal with that day when it comes. 

 

Easy as 1, 2, 3

 

It only takes four small cuts of the gooey double-sided tape in the corners to stick the panels to the wall. So easy that even my seven-year-old was able to help with this project. The tape has a plastic covering you have to peel off of the second sticky side. After 10 minutes of fighting with getting the plastic off the little cut strips, we smartened up. We pulled the plastic off a good portion of the tape and then cut the pieces. It was so much quicker that way. After creating our assembly line of tape cutter, tape placer, transporter, and leveler, we were lightning quick getting it up!

 

 

This next step is THE MOST IMPORTANT step of the whole thing; use a small level ON EVERY SINGLE PIECE. As you begin to place the pieces, it’s super easy to start by lining up the pieces along the ceiling and corners of the room. You’ll feel quite confident the panels are level doing so, but it’s still your best plan to level even those panels. For my chosen pattern, I had to measure the middle of the squared pieces to ensure the crosses would keep everything in line. I readily admit I was nervous to start this project thinking that it was going to be difficult to keep lined up. After just a few panels, it was a breeze and no worry at all. 

 

 

Level, Level, Level………………and Level some more

 

 

And below is when I ran out of panels (for a second time) to finish the bottom….

 

Easy Cuts to Finish off the Fretwork Panels Wall

 

After waiting another week for the next order to arrive, it was time to cut the panels to size. I used my old-school radial arm saw to get the job done. Some day, I’ll get some updated tools. 

 

 

The ultimate satisfaction; seeing the pieces fit in beautifully against the trim. 

 

Fretwork Panels Wall Finale

And with the last of the cut pieces in place, this project was completed. From a picture, it definitely looks like more of a stencil, so it definitely has more impact in person. I’m now toying with the idea of strategically placing pictures in the centers, so there may be an update in the future!

 

From removing clutter to adding art that speaks to your happy emotions, your living spaces can contribute to your mental health. We all feel a sense of comfort sitting in this room together as a family. As noted in the article, How to Optimize your Space for Your Mental Health,

While there are many ways to improve your mental health including therapy, meditation, exercise, hobbies, a healthy diet, and time spent with loved ones, there are also small things we can do to create a shift in our mood. One of those small things is tweaking the space in which we live and work. These small changes and tweaks can make a world of difference in your overall mental well-being.

Very Well Mind

Don’t delay in creating your happy places! Check out some other home designs; Rainbow Room, Calming Corner, or Teen Bedroom Design

 

*This page contains affiliate links. This means if you use one of my links to make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting Cathartic Crafting!

From Crib Rail to Blanket Ladder in 6 Easy Steps

 

When the baby grows out of the crib, it’s time to find renewed purpose for the crib parts only the dump seems to take. After three babies, it was time for me to dismantle our hand me down crib. With all the new regulations, you literally can’t get rid of cribs that have lived through a growing family.  My recycling and repurposing side wouldn’t allow me to just trash anything but the mattress support. From there, it was just a matter of deciding what to do with the crib rail that sat in wait in the garage for years. 

I ended up being inspired by the numerous throw blankets and mermaid tails that remained a fixture in my 6 year old’s room. Her room was the smallest in the house and she was the least organized. Those blankets always seemed to be strewn around the floor. It was time to give her a throw blanket ladder!

 

Tool List

  • Circular Saw
  • Jigsaw
  • Router and bit
  • Wood glue
  • Clamps

6 Steps to a Crib Rail Ladder

Step 1

 

This particular crib rail had a rounded top bar. Given that it didn’t match the bottom bar, I had to cut off the rounded end. While cutting it off, I also wanted to avoid chipping away the finish of the remaining edge. The best way to do that was to cover it in painter’s tape before starting to saw it off. With the tape in place, I used a circular saw to cut off the curve at the top. Thankfully, there was an indentation that I could use as my cutting guide.  It was also helpful to use an attachable saw guide to keep me completely straight while I went. Admittedly, I am not the best at sawing straight so I’ve come to rely heavily on guides to keep me on the mark. I’m crossing my fingers that refined skill will come with time and practice. 

 

crib rail start

Step 2

 

For step 2, a jigsaw was my best friend. It was time to cut off the extra rails so there would be enough space for the blankets. Using the jigsaw, I cut both sides of the bar as close to the top and bottom rail as I could. For your own project, you could certainly just leave as is at this point, if you don’t mind the extra width. I thought it was too much and wanted it to be narrower. So on to step 3 I went!

 

Step 3

This step was really quite simple. I used the jigsaw to cut the remaining bars from one side. The other side of the bars remained attached to the bottom of the crib rail. Then, it was just a matter of also cutting down the length of the bars to the width I wanted. 

Step 4

For such a small project, I certainly used a variety of tools. I pulled out my handy dandy Ryobi router for this step. It was important that the board stay in place while I routered the bar, so I put it in my clamp sawhorse. I used a keyhole bit that was the exact width of my bars to cut placement slots. It was pretty easy since I could use the previous spots as the guides.

Step 5

 

Using a miter saw, I cut the bottom of the post pieces at an angle so they would rest flat on the floor while leaning against the wall. 

Step 6

The final step was to use some wood glue in each slot before clamping it together to dry. Then it’s really up to you whether you paint it or not. I opted for gray for my crib rail blanket ladder.

Crib rail glued
One of my little helpers. With the constant calls for “mom”, it’s easy enough to get them to stick around to help for a few minutes.

Completed Crib Rail Blanket Ladder

Crib Rail Blanket Ladder in place

I would say that since the crib rail blanket ladder was put in her room, the blankets have been kept tidy….for the most part. I hope this quick run through helped you make one of your own and you find it just as cathartic as I do to find renewed purpose in washed up items! If you’re in need of other organization crafts (aka me time), check out Successfully Controlling Stuffed Animal Clutter with a Craft or 20 Brilliant Ideas for Decorating with Wooden Crates.

 

How to Make the Best Halloween Apothecary Jars

A few years ago, I couldn’t wait to start a collection of Halloween apothecary jars to add to my holiday decor. I started off with collecting regular food jars and random Goodwill finds to change into new and creepy decor. It doesn’t take much more than some simple materials to really get started.

Halloween Apothecary Jar Ideas

Materials:

  • Coffee Filters
  • Printer and Printer Paper
  • Clay
  • String
  • Paint
  • Mod Podge
  • Glue gun and Glue sticks
  • Food items: egg shells, Cantaloupe rind
  • Store bought creepy crawlers
  • Corks
  • Sandpaper
  • Saw

For this Ear of Troll I used the rind of some eaten cantaloupe. I gave it a week to dry out in the garage before closing it into the jar. I used a blank label in Word to type in the name. Mod podge was my go-to glue for all of these labels to get them to stick and to give it a coating for longevity. For this jar, in particular, used coffee filters served as the lid covering with string and craft glue decorating the jar curve.

Free label sites I used:

Spooky Apothecary Labels from Brooklyn Limestone

Free Halloween Bottle Labels from Holidappy 

Apothecary jar Labels from Halloween Forum

Rattle Snake Eggs

Similar techniques were used for these Rattle Snake Eggs Halloween Apothecary jar. The eggs were from a friend with chickens laying eggs in a variety of shades. Using a needle, I poked holes in both ends with one end being slightly larger to allow for the egg innards to be expelled. It’s also a lot easier to break up the yolk using the needle poked repeatedly through the holes. Once all that was done successfully without breaking the egg, I blew into the smaller hole to force the contents out the larger hole. Then I was ready to eat some scrambled eggs! I also gave the eggs a day to dry out a little more before coating them in Mod Podge.

 

Jellyfish Stingers

The same techniques are applied here for the outside. For the jellyfish stingers, I used hot glue on a baking pan. When it was cool, I was able to peel it off and stick it in the jar. 

Store bought creepy crawlers are center stage in this jars: Worms, mice and cockroaches anyone?

 

Clay Creations

 

Next up, for these three Halloween Apothecary jars, I used baking clay for the unicorn horn and bat wins and model magic for the fingers. I quite enjoy crafting clay creations. For the horn, I first rolled two equal ropes of clay. Then I twisted them together and rolled them on the counter to get a narrower pointed end. Presto! A lovely unicorn horn. I didn’t finish it off with glitter but it could definitely be a nice add.

 

 

Model magic is really easy to shape but doesn’t hold fine details like a real clay does. I used press on nails to give the real nail effect here. These lady fingers were complete with some painted on blood. You could really go grotesque with this if you want!

Pill Bottle Makeovers

 

These 5 bottles were all crafted from empty pill bottles. I used a saw to cut the tops off before sanding the smooth surface. The next step was to draw the label and image with hot glue. I used matte/satin paint in grays, browns, and black to paint all the bottles. Then, I glued on labels and string. 

 

Two Minute Snake Skin

For this lovely Halloween Apothecary jar of Snake Skin, I painted the jar with a few different colors of cheap acrylic paint that matched with the coloring of the label. (The color of the label being the result of a malfunctioning printer. The Lord knows the amount of angst that printer caused me at the end of its life.)   Generally for painting all the lids, I sanded them first to ensure the paint would adhere.

The actual innards of the jar were a combination of plastic wrap and hot glue. I cut a rectangle of the plastic wrap and laid it over the foil to protect the counters. From there, I glued a snake skin-esk pattern onto the plastic wrap. I noticed that as the glue got hotter, the plastic wrap shrunk more, which I was not so much a fan of seeing happen. If I were to do this again, I would do a portion, then unplug the glue gun for a 15 second cooling. Then repeat until finished. 

I got the free label for this jar from: 

Halloween Apothecary with 9 FREE potion bottle labels

 

 

I hope you gathered some of your favorite ideas for crafting some of your very own Halloween Apothecary Jars. If you’re looking more spooky Halloween decor, check out my Spooky Halloween Book Covers.

Super Simple Succulent Decor Ideas for a Struggling Plant Mom

You can’t buy happiness, but you can buy succulents! And that is pretty much the same thing.

-Unknown

This quote pretty accurately describes my feelings about succulents and other plants. In doing some research, I found this article on the 11 Ways Plants Enhance Your Mental and Emotional Health from Psychology Today. Take a look at #7; Higher levels of creativity! Who doesn’t love succulents and cacti? This article on the Top 8 House Plants to Help with Mental Health explains why those plants in particular help with your mental health. During these uncertain times, it’s definitely necessary to do what you can to keep stress and anxiety at bay. With that being said, who’s ready to put together some succulent decor?!

Time to Run through Three Ideas

Simplicity at it’s Best

Cacti Succulent Decor

This simple set up comes by the way of Lowe’s gardening center, Michaels’ rocks, pots from a failed potting present and Target. The rocks were my attempt at creating a more prosperous environment for hen and chicks after many deaths. It sadly failed just like those before it. At some point, I will figure out how to keep them alive, but for now, I decided I’d be best to stick with simpler cacti for a bit. This bluish-gray platter was on clearance at Target and a perfect fit for these pots. So far, I’ve been able to keep these cacti alive by spritzing them with water I spray these cacti with a spray bottle once a week. The flowers have stuck around for months, so I’m at last doing something right. 

Long Lasting Succulent Decor

When my daughter said she wanted to have succulent decor in her ‘new’ room, I pushed for the fake variety for her. I initially found some individual stems at Big Lots months before, but we needed more than what I’d gotten. We went on a little mother-daughter shopping trip to Michaels. My oldest is talented in a great many ways but doesn’t typically go the crafting route with me as my other two girls do. It was a nice time to get away and pick out some items for her to put together. She picked out the extra succulents, the glass container, and the sand color. 

All that was needed was to throw the sand into the glass and arrange the succulents as she liked. I enjoy the look of this angled bowl combined with the varying heights of the succulents. In order to achieve that, we had to cut the thick stems with wire cutters to make it all work together. You can see it in her renewed room here…

Easy Square Plant Hanger

A little woodworking never hurt anybody…. Just kidding, it definitely could if you’re not careful. This square hanger is super simple and involves a wee bit of woodworking.

Materials:

  • 1″ x 3″ x 6″ pine
  • Wood Glue
  • Paint or stain
  • Hook
  • Small planter hanger
  • A Plant
  • Nail Gun
  • Saw (I used this arm saw, but any variety of saws could cut the 4 pieces of wood.)

There are only a few steps for this project.

#1 Cut the wood to size. Two 10 inch long pieces and two 8 1/2 inch pieces.

#2 Put wood glue on the ends of the top and bottom pieces.

#3 Use a nail gun to nail the top and bottom in place.

#4 Stain/paint it

15 minutes and you could be finished with all four steps

I found this wood tint and plant holder (seen below) at an A.C. Moore going out of business sale. Those items inspired me to make this rustic wood holder. I hadn’t used ‘wood tint’ before this, so figured I’d give it a go. Even after using it, I’m wasn’t quite sure what the difference was between it and stain, because they seemed mostly the same to me. Given that, I did a quick internet search. I found a post from Repurpose and Upcycle that provides an awesome explanation of the two and when to use one over the other. The wood tint seemed to provide good initial coverage based on this first experience. It also dried quickly, which keeps for the quick and easy strategy here.

I found these river rocks at Lowe’s as well. Simple is the name of the game. Put the plant in and spoon the rocks in around it. Then, it’s ready to put the hook into the ceiling of the square. It’s best to pre-drill a hole for the hook but it can also just be screwed in without it. The rope that came with the glass globe was too long, so I used some twine I had on hand. I also preferred the look of the twine, so it was a win-win.

Final Succulent Decor

And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed the simplicity of these ideas. Two of them can be found in my daughter’s newly made-over bedroom. To read more, click here…

Don’t forget that plants help with stress reduction, so go ahead and place them in areas where you tend to feel a little more stressed. I guess that’s why I love keeping them in my office.

Super Simple to make DIY Hexagon Shelf for Personalized Decor

Hexagons are in and squares are out! It’s time to jump on the new trend wave with this DIY Hexagon Shelf. After updating my oldest daughter’s room, I knew this shelf would be the perfect compliment to her freshly painted wall. Don’t you think?!  You could certainly buy one for $30 plus, but I’m sure you’ll agree with me that this easy $10 project is the way to go.

Super Simple Supplies

These pre-sanded boards were ready for cutting. Doesn’t get much better than not having to stand.

If you’ve read some of my other woodworking posts, you’ve likely seen that I tend to use some older tools or am making do with what is available. This project is no exception. I’d love to get a new miter saw with all the bells and whistles but just can’t bring myself to spend money on it yet. This used radial arm saw was cheap and available, so that is how I came to have it. Anyway, it does the job. If you are new to woodworking and/or the whole tool game, you can be reassured you don’t have to have all the newest fancy gadgets to make neat functional projects.

Time to cut some wood!

First up, was figuring out how to utilize the size of the board. In order to maximize the boards at their current length, I decided to make each side 12 inches long. That meant I was cutting 3 of the boards in half and the other two would be cut for the shelves. 

The sides need to be cut at a 30-degree angle on each end of the boards. I’ll be totally honest here when I admit I couldn’t bring forth enough of my geometry memory to figure out the angle. Google was my friend in this instance. It makes me feel like I need to brush up along with my children as they learn it! While making the angled cuts, just make sure you’re not cutting off any length by cutting only the squared edge off.

I made the shelves 17 1/2 inches long to give more space to the middle shelf. The shelf boards also need to be cut at a 30 degree angle on both ends. It’s an option to save the hassle of angled cuts and nailing at an angle by cutting the shelves at a straight edge to attach to have hexagon with straight sides.

Testing out my angles. Looks good!

Hexagon Shelf Trick

Here’s a fun little trick to keep it all together. It’s not as strong a method as using something like ratchet straps, but I think more people have painter’s tape at the ready. Stretch out the painter’s tape, then line up the boards in a row. Put some wood glue into the crack and pull up the end. It’ll pull together as you go.

For those with little experience with glue and staining, I’ll let you in on a little secret. If you plan on staining the wood, you’d better take a wet cloth to the wood to clean off any trace of wood glue. If you don’t, it won’t stain properly. So, after you wipe the glue off, you’re best to leave the octag to dry. I will tell you that I didn’t wait for it to dry, so it was a tad difficult to nail it firm because of the shifting angles.

Time to bring out the nail gun

After the limited sawing and gluing, it’s time to nail it all together. My nail gun was jammed, so I borrowed my neighbor’s. His was better than mine because it had an arrow pointing at where the nail would come out. Mine doesn’t have that lovely little feature…because…mine is cheap. I’m very near buying a better one. I seem to use a nail gun a lot more than I’d ever anticipated so seems like a worthwhile purchase to me.

The hardest part was nailing the shelves in the right spot. Honestly, I didn’t want to wait for the glue to dry at the time. It would have been easier to have waited to nail it after it was set with glue.

Final Stretch for the Hexagon Shelf

All that’s left to do is paint it. My daughter picked a pink out of my spray paints. It ended up not matching well with the pink on her wall, so we ended up spray painting it gray.

Shelf brackets nailed into the back were the finishing touch. I have found the easiest way to hold the tiny nails is with needle nose pliers. You just hold them there while you hammer.

Little Mermaid Birthday Party for your Ocean Loving Princess

Princesses, princesses, princesses. All three of my daughters were entirely enthralled with them around the ages of 3-6. When we started talking about themes for her 5th birthday, a Little Mermaid themed party was a logical choice. I love a good theme and coordinating party activities. I was excited to take on this party planning. Coming from a child development background, I know there’s a fine balance of free play and structured activity time at a party for young children. Even knowing that, I still struggle to tone done my creative energies. Based on the sentiments spoken in the end, I struck the appropriate balance for those 5-year-olds. 

Snacks and Decor made Sea Simple

Easy table decor in the way of shells and Little Mermaid doll
Veggie corral: a big pile of veggie dip and an arrangement of veggies
A Boat server (a Homegoods clearance find)

Cake

Our typical cake planning method has been me asking the birthday girl what she wants her cake to look like. Sometimes, she plans it all herself, but other times, we peruse Pinterest for ideas. This Little Mermaid cake was my replicated Pinterest selection with the birthday girl’s desired cake and icing flavors. 

I was finishing this cake just before the party started. It’s never how I intend for things to go, but I seem to have a tendency to let my procrastinator habits get to me during the workweek. When making these special cakes, I try to make the layers 3 days ahead. My hope is to give myself a day or two to create the decorations. I, unfortunately, end up staying up late the night before to get the bulk of them finished. Then it turns out the kids only eat the icing and a few bites of the cake, and a little piece of me dies inside.

Ocean Obstacle Course

Crafting

The crafting for this party was minimal and made for a more relaxed party prepping experience. Streamers, a cut-up blue table cloth to serve as the water entryway to the ocean, a punch-out board and homemade jellyfish. For the jellyfish, you can make your own using paper lanterns and streamers or there’s a premade version available.

Option 2: Buy them! These are super cute, but not sure I’d want to pay $50+ for as many I had.
Option 1: Cut a paper lantern in half and glue streamers to the the inside of it. This is obviously the cheaper method.

Punch Board

This took a bit of time. You have to cut the circles out of the poster board before gluing the tissue paper to the board. After it dries, glue folded paper bags to the board with something inside. For this obstacle course, the goal was to get to Ariel’s Grotto and find the shell containing Ariel’s voice. 

Green streamers served as the seaweed. The jellyfish were hung with fishing wire at different heights. After that, I just used whatever I had available to make a fun 5-year-old course.

I had them crawl through the tunnel and stay within the jump rope lines. Masking tape would have made for a better path. While traversing the path to cave, they had to avoid touching the jellyfish tentacles.
Then the kids took turns to find the sea shell.

And that’s all it took for those 5-year-olds to have a mermaid fun time. If you’re looking for some other ideas, you could try a Pirate Party or a Detective Party.

A Straightforward DIY Living Room Table Set just for You

While trying to decide on the direction for our new living room that wouldn’t break the bank, I was inspired by pins on Ikea furniture hacks. One, in particular, struck my fancy because of its simplicity and look. I ended up finding a discounted Hemnes white coffee table which was the start of this living room table set project. If you’re looking for a simple project that will impress your friends, then follow along with me.

Living room table set coffee table
Ikea Hemnes Coffee Table

Personalizing Ikea

Supplies for Ikea top: 

  • 3- 1x6x8
  • 1- 1x3x6
  • 1″ Wood Screws

Supplies for Side Table:

  • 1- 1x2x6
  • 1- 2x2x8
  • 3- 1x6x8
  • Stain
  • 1 1/2″ Wood Screws 
  • Kreg jig & screws
  • Wood Glue

I assume you know how wood measurements work, but just in case, here’s a nice breakdown at Arch Toolbox. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if the name matched the actual size?! I was given some poplar boards from our builder that were perfect for the coffee table and as the main part of a coordinating side table. I used pine for the store-bought wood for it’s affordability. In general, pine is a softer wood, so choosing this option could mean finding nicks and scraps in the wood at some point. Poplar is a harder wood that will take more of a beating.  

Getting started on this Living Room Table Set

This portion of the project involved ripping the boards into 6 equal pieces at 4 3/4″ x 41 1/4″. You have two options on how to connect them side by side; doweling and pocket holes. Pocket holes are easier to do but can be tricky to ensure the boards stay completely flush. Doweling needs to be pretty precise, so it can be tedious and slightly difficult to do by yourself. I chose to go with the pocket holes route for both tables here. I also decided to sand down the corners of each board to ensure there was a distinction between the boards after they were secured together.

living room table set: ikea update

After the long middle boards were screwed together, I cut the end boards to size at 2 3/8″ and 29 1/4″. I used the Kreg jig to create the pocket holes to attach the ends. With the top together, I stained it and the sides with a white stain followed by three coats of clear polyacrylic. I wanted to keep the top white to match the table and go with the white, gray, yellow, and teal color scheme of the room.

living room table set: new top

To finish this easy table upgrade, I just needed to screw the wood top to the coffee table. This was simply done by turning the coffee table over to expose the bottom. It was best to clamp the top to the table to avoid a gap between the boards. I chose not to use glue and stick with just the screws. To make sure the wood wouldn’t splinter with the wood screws, I pre-drilled the holes.

Side Table

Cuts

  • 8 – 1″ x 4″ x 19″
  • 4 – 1″ x 4 1/2″ x 24″
  • 6 – 1″ x 2″ x 13 1/4″
  • 2 – 1″ x 2″ x 19″
  • 4 – 2″ x 2″ x 24″

The width of the legs and shelves is 14 3/4″ and the height of the side table is 24 3/4″.

The side table consisted of cutting the wood to size and using the kreg jig. I didn’t care to have to do more cuts than necessary, so my schematic limited the need for notched cuts by utilizing the 1×2’s.

living room table set: boards for side table

The poplar boards I used also needed to be ripped to size for the two shelves. I used a circular saw with a guide to cut the four boards, which works well enough. I would actually much rather have a table saw to use that would ensure an absolutely straight cut. My woodworking projects would be so much easier with a few extra tools, that’s for sure, but it just goes to show you don’t need all the special tools to complete a project. After cutting all the boards, sanding them smooth and making the pocket holes with the kreg jig was up next. 

Almost finished

Pocket holes galore. I used pocket holes to connect all the pieces together as you can see below, making sure to screw the shelf into all four legs and the 1×2’s. With all the hard work done, it was finally time to stain it. Rust-o-leum Antique White stain applied with a white rag gave it the finish I was trying to achieve. It needed three coats of stain to give it a consistent white. You generally shouldn’t need to do that many coats, but I felt it was warranted with this one. The most important point when staining is to go with the grain and not to allow it to pool in any one spot. 

And that’s all that is involved with creating a simple side table and giving an Ikea table an upgrade. If you’re looking for another easy project, check out Revamp a Composite Bookcase. It uses 1×2 pine boards just like some of this one.

living room table set top
living room table set bottom shelf

Completed Living Room Table Set Project

living room table set finished side table
living room table set: finished idea table

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Composite Bookcase Revamp into Unique Upscale Decor

Have you been hanging on to the affordable furniture you got when you were first married or moved into your first space? Is money still a bit to tight to buy nice stuff? The affordable option is to give that furniture an overhaul. In this post, I’ll show how to revamp a composite bookcase with just a few supplies. My bookcase was one of those items from good old Walmart. I’m sure I’m not the only one to have something like it. After use, these composite furniture items can even be hard to give away since many donation companies won’t take them. That leaves only a few options; the dump, a plea for someone to take it for free or to get into that happy mental space to give it a pleasing boost.

Getting to Work

First step is to give that shiny finish a really rough sanding with some low number grit sandpaper. I give a little more detail about the types of sandpaper in my wood paddle platter post as a reference. If you have an electric sander, you could use it for the outside and shelves. The inside corners will likely need hand sanding. I like the sanding blocks they sell now in stores, but in a pinch, you can use the method my dad always used. Fold the sandpaper sheet around a hand size scrap piece of wood. This makes it easier to hold and to sand. 

Supplies

  • 1/4″ plywood
  • 1×2 boards
  • Paint
  • Stencil
  • Paintbrushes
  • Wood filler
  • Wood glue

Tools

  • Nail gun and compressor (or nails and a hammer)
  • Kreg jig & screws
  • Wood glue
  • Dremel
  • Saw
  • Scraper

New Back Panel

Cardboard backs are pretty much a given with these composite bookcases, so it’s a given that it should be replaced. Cut the 1/4″ plywood to size before starting to paint. Then paint your base color. I wanted to give mine a fun feature, so I went with key stencils in the same color I chose for the outside. I was slightly disappointed about how hard it was to see. If I were to do it again, I would do the stenciling in a slightly darker shade.

Next up is to use the nail gun to attach the plywood to the back of the bookcase. To ensure it stays secure, put wood glue on before nailing the back.


Well on your way now

Composite bookcase painted interior

If you look below, you might be confused as to why it’s painted here and not painted later. That is simply because I didn’t start with the sanding part. I sadly admit to you that I take the lazy way out at times and it normally comes back to bite me in the end. You’d think I’d learn better than I do. This ended up meaning that the paint was scratching off when I started to work with it. I also needed to fill the peg holes with wood filler to create a flat surface. You should definitely do both of those things if you will be securing the shelves in place.

The Wood Frame for this Composite Bookcase

The measurements for the cuts of the 1×2’s really depends on the size of the bookcase. My cuts were:

  • 2   28″ pieces for the front horizontal bars
  • 4   31 3/4″ pieces for the vertical beams
  • 4   8 5/8″ pieces for the horizontal beams on the side

Cut them to size and drill holes with a Kreg jig. When connecting them together, you should start with creating the front square and the side rectangles. After those are together, it’s time to connect the sides with the front through the pocket holes. 

 

After the frame is completely built, it can be attached with glue and a nail gun. You should also attach the shelves with glue and a nail gun from the outside. There are a variety of nail guns out there. Mine is on the cheap side so doesn’t have any bells or whistles.

Even though I tried to keep the gun straight as can be, there were a few of the 1.5 inch nails that went askew. It meant they were sticking out of the shelves and needed to be cut. Talk about wanting to pull your hair out, I was completely annoyed. So be warned that it doesn’t always go smoothly. I chose to add vertical boards to support the sagging shelves, but you can leave without them if you like. Mine had experienced years of holding kids books. I used wood glue and nailed the boards from both the top and the bottom.

revamped composite bookcase with new frame
You can see here that the bottom board is not flush to the ground. That is with the intention of being flush with the bottom shelf and giving a bit of a gap with the floor. Be sure to measure where your bottom shelf falls before securing the horizontal beams to the vertical.
Composite bookcase with new frame

Time to Dremel for a Unique Touch

At the time, I hadn’t had a lot of experience with a dremel. I chose to add this touch to practice the skill. Obviously, you don’t have to go the same route, if you don’t have a dremel. If you are opting in, trace the stencil with pencil onto the wood before starting to cut it out. Take your time, go at it at a bit of an angle and you’ll be fine.

Paint

After all the cutting and drilling, it’s time to move into the home stretch with paint. I chose affordable paint from Michaels in Sea Glass. It went on easy and has held up perfectly well over the years.

For the top, cut a piece of wood or plywood that is an inch bigger on the sides and 1/4″ extra on the front than the bookcase measurements. The back of the top is flush (aka even) with the back. I used a white stain applied with a clean white rag on my piece to match more with my paint. If you don’t have much experience with stain, don’t worry. The important thing to remember is to go with the grain of the wood and not to allow large pools of stain to sit on the surface. Doing so will leave you with a spotty uneven look that can only be corrected with significant sanding. You can end it there with the stain or keep going as I did. 

DIY Rub-On Words

I came across this awesome tutorial on Pinterest on how to transfer images using wax paper and was pumped to try it with this project. If you are looking for a way to accomplish the task with materials you have at home, this is it. The hardest part is getting the printer to feed the wax paper without crumpling it. It was another one of those screaming in frustrating experiences. I found the best method was to tape the wax paper to a piece of computer paper to ensure 100% success every time.  I also had to learn how to get the words to be reversed for printing. This can be accomplished with 3-D Rotation of a text box in Microsoft Word. 

Reference below:


“Kind words are keys that fit in all locks.”

Revamped Composite Bookcase

The Final Look


 

It’s a bit hard to see here, but I added a white key and 2 lock stencils to the outside panels as well. 


Empty composite bookcase
I made the FAMILY hanger and placed the initials of my three girls to finish off the space.

Filled with Family:

Finished composite bookcase

That’s it! Not a terribly difficult project to take that humdrum composite bookcase to a new posh look. I hope you are happy with how yours turns out!

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