Christmas, Holiday, Home Improvement, Paint

A mini fireplace renovation and Christmas decor

I love the winter holiday season and all of the decorating that comes with it. I was extra excited to decorate our mantel this year because I just completed a mini fireplace reno.

Do you remember this gem of a fireplace that we started with when we moved in?

Before fireplace

This is how we changed our fireplace after we did our family room reno.

fireplace

The difference in the brightness alone is nuts! But something was still missing. The fireplace was outdated with the old metal doors. New doors are so expensive, so I decided to DIY the doors and the inside of the fireplace to complete the three-years-long reno.

Brass doors

To start, I removed the doors and cleaned out the fireplace. Then, I painted the inside of the fireplace black with heat-resistant paint.

Fireplace unpainted

I did two coats of paint on the inside to cover up the soot, and it turned out really nice! I actually contemplated not adding the doors back on, but Brian said he prefered doors to an open fireplace.

Fireplace Brick

Once that was dry, I started to work on the doors. At first, I sprayed the doors with heat-resistant black spray paint. I taped the glass, but didn’t cover all of the panes with newspaper. (Word to the wise — cover the glass! I had to later scrape off paint. Oops.)

Spray painted

The spray paint didn’t hold up so great, so I ended up painting the doors with the same paint I used for the inside of the fireplace. Once that dried, I was able to rehang the doors.

Ready for the big (small?) reveal?

TA DA! Oh, and Christmas decorations 🙂

fireplace3

Do you love the black doors? It’s taken me a while — I actually hated them at first — but I really like them. I’ll admit that I wish they were new and fancy and not spray painted, but considering we don’t use the fireplace and the doors are rarely opened, this little DIY will work just great for us. Buh-bye brass!

The only downside to the painted doors is the paint does scratch off if nicked in the right way. Other than that, I’m really happy with the new look. I don’t miss the old, dated color at all.

OK, enough reno talk. Check out my Christmas decor! I absolutely love my Christmas mantel.

fireplaceremmy

As you can see, Remmy loves it, too. Really, he just loves to sniff his stocking to see if there’s anything in it yet. Sometimes he cries because he can’t get it down. I think it is hilarious — does that make me a mean doggie mom?

santas

On my mantel I have my collection of Jim Shore Santas. We got one as a wedding gift, and I’ve been in love with them ever since. I can’t wait to see which new Santas I get this year as gifts.

Christmas is the one time of year we do seasonal decorating, so we take it pretty seriously. We have one real Christmas tree, a small fake tree I decorate with flamingo ornaments, a decorated mantel, a decorated TV shelf and a decorate console table. We even decorate by our bar. And, of course, we do lights outside.

How do you all decorate for Christmas? If you have a blog, I’d love to see what you’ve been up to this holiday season. And if you don’t have a blog, no worries… the rest of my house (outside of these photos) is messed up with wrapping paper shreds and stuff I had to move out of the picture frame. It isn’t quite as perfect as it may appear 🙂

Speaking of perfect, I have not been on the ball this year with holiday cards and gifts. I am looking to get holiday cards a.s.a.p. and I found the most adorable cards on Shutterfly that are in the cutest shapes (i.e. not just rectangles). Some have scalloped edges, some have rounded corners and some look like quatrefoils. They are such a fun twist on normal cards — now I just need a cute photo of me, B and Rem!

I also need to get a kickstart on my gifts. I’ve purchased quite a few things, but there are so many gifts I want to make that I haven’t even started on! Work, class and other life craziness has made this holiday season fly by so far. Where are my elves when I need them?! Luckily, I am fortunate enough to have time off before Christmas, so I’ll be my own elf and make my gifts then.

Are you making gifts this year or tackling any mini makeovers before your relatives come to town this holiday season? I’d love to see your holiday decor, renos and crafts! The holidays really do bring out the most creative and fun ideas.

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Christmas, Craft Projects, Holiday

Christmas Eve Craft: Wooden Tree

Last year, err 2012, my dad and I did a craft on Christmas Eve. It was one of the highlights of my Christmas break and I was looking forward to doing one again this holiday season. My family loves traditions, and when you do something awesome, why not do it every year?!

meanddad

Well, turns out my dad scheduled carpal tunnel surgery the Thursday before Christmas Eve. ON BOTH HANDS! He is crazy, and tough, and did I mention crazy?

If I had asked him to Christmas craft with me on Christmas Eve, he probably would have said yes. So I didn’t ask. Sometimes the kid has to play parent.

Instead, I set out to make a craft as a final Christmas gift for him.

When we made our Christmas Tree craft in 2012, we cut out one extra base for this year — we had grand plans to make a light up tree!

Tree stencil

With the base already cut, I got out my supplies for my craft: shims, paint sticks, Minwax stain cloths, wood glue and battery operated lights.

First, I cut off the “tree stand” from the tree we created last year. Basically, I trimmed down the tree so it was a triangle with an itty bitty rectangle stump.

Then, I lined my shims and paint sticks in rows to see how many I had and if I wanted to cut any down to size.

Christmas Craft Shims

I definitely had a few to trim and sand, but first I got to staining.

Speaking of stain, I was fortunate to receive a few Minwax goodies before the holidays. One of the goodies I got was a new product I hadn’t heard about. Minwax now makes stain cloth wipes! They look kinda gross (OK, really gross), but they are awesome.

Christmas Craft Shims minwax wipes

I wanted two different tones of wood on the tree, so I opened both pouches. Each wipe is soaked in stain and each pouch comes with a handy set of gloves (it’s like they know I won’t wear gloves if they aren’t taped to the package!)… use a wipe, toss wipe, toss gloves, you are clean! I am pretty sure this product was designed for me…

Christmas Craft minwax wipesAwesome, huh?

Christmas Craft Shims stained dark

I let the stained shims dry for about an hour before moving on with the project.

Christmas Craft Shims Stained

Dry stain meant time to get moving. I was doing all of this on Christmas Eve after all. I used wood glue to adhere the shims to the tree base (after trimming down a few here and there with a hand saw). When all of the shims and paint sticks were in place, I smushed the entire tree under a heavy bin to put pressure on the shims to help them stay in place.

Christmas Craft Assembly

With the three dried and holding up well, I moved onto the lights. I bought battery-operated LED lights from Target. The strand had 18 itty bitty lights on it, so 18 itty bitty holes I drilled. I taped all of the wired down against the back of the tree and added the battery pack to the back with velcro command strips. Last, I drilled a hole in the top and wove a ribbon through the top.

Unfortunately, this next picture doesn’t do the tree justice. But in the hustle and bustle of the holiday, I didn’t really care to get the perfect picture. Forgive me?

Christmas Craft Complete

 

 

 

 

 

All that really matters is that my dad loved the tree. He hung it up immediately 🙂 In 2014, we are definitely crafting together though. That was just better, even if my tree is pretty darn cool.

Did I mention the lights twinkle, too? Light-up tree? Mission accomplished!

Craft Projects, Quick and Easy Crafts

Clearance Jug Lamps

I hope you all had a merry Christmas and a wonderful New Years! I’ve been off work for three whole weeks and it has been amazing! You might think I would update my blog more since I had a lot of time off, but I’ve been happily hanging out with my family and friends instead of doing work of any kind! That’s not to say I didn’t craft on my three-week staycation. Stay tuned for a bunch of new projects that I’ve been working on!

Today’s project couldn’t be easier to make. And yes, if you read the title of the post, it is a lamp!

An easy lamp? Yup!

I was browsing around at Michaels a couple of months ago and I found two beautiful green glass jugs on clearance for around $3 a piece. I knew right then and there that I wanted to turn them into a set of lamps for our night stands. You see, ever since B and I have lived together (oh, 4+ years), he’s had a lamp and I haven’t. Or at least that’s how I remember it. I definitely have had one since we moved to our house.

I’ve wanted to buy a matching set but they are SO EXPENSIVE. So when I saw these jugs I knew I already had the perfect tools to turn them into lamps.

Even longer ago — sheesh, probably two years ago — I bought a kit on Amazon to turn a wine bottle into a lamp. After I bought the kit I decided that a wine bottle makes for an awkward lamp, but I saved the kit for later. Perfectly enough, the clearance jugs had an opening and a neck as skinny as a wine bottle! So making my lamp was as easy as plugging the kit into the opening of the bottle. I thought I might have to seal it with glue, but the cork is in the neck of the jug very tightly.

 

 

Cork Adapter

You can see the cork in the neck of the bottle in the above photo. For a better photo, or to buy your own, check out this listing on Amazon. I definitely don’t think I paid $20 for a set of two. I think I paid closer to $10…. so maybe shop around?

Anyway, I made two lamps in two minutes. The hard part? Finding shades! See, the jugs aren’t huge, so a normal shade would be too big. And then I found one at Target I loved, but they only had one. I held onto the one for about a month before giving up on finding its mate. I returned my favorite shade, then found a set of two a couple of weeks later. SCORE!

Here’s how the lamps turned out:

Jug Lamp

The only downside to the kit is that the cord runs out at the fixture instead of through the lamp, but I love them regardless.

Jug Lamp On

 

And now I finally have a lamp to go in my nightstand. Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to me, amiright?

Hope you are all doing well in 2014! It’s back to work tomorrow and back to more diligent blogging. Getting back into the groove will be rough, but normal will be a nice change.