Friday, July 31, 2009

A Failure Friday

Come on, admit it.

You have had a project or recipe or something fail while you are building your home in progress. Anyone? Anyone? (Name that movie.)

And while I love, love, love all of the linky parties (in fact, I'm linked to some now) showcasing our project "wins" - you know that once in a while there are some project FAILS.... And I think that's OK. In fact, I think it's more than okay, I think it's fabulous. Who wants perfect projects all of the time?

So what better way to start the weekend than to laugh at some of our attempts to build a home that maybe didn't go as planned.

I'll go first, but I'm HOPING some of you out there will send me something I can use for next week's A Failure Friday.

Okay, I'm NOT a baker. I've had some successes, but mostly they turn out this way. This was my attempt at a German Chocolate Cake for my husband's birthday. No, don't adjust your computer monitor, it is that lopsided. Don't ask me why - I have no clue. It just ended up that way. We laughed, took a picture for posterity's sake, and ate it up. (It did taste good, which is what matters I guess.)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Chalkboard Labels

**If you're just visiting for the first time, make sure to enter my first giveaway - 8 of these little labels. Click here to enter!!**

Count me as one of the many people who have fallen in love with the chalkboard spray paint. There are TONS of great posts out there in blogland showing what you can transform into a fun chalkboard with the help of a little Krylon Chalkboard spray paint. I decided to make some chalkboard labels - they were SO easy and cheap. I think (not counting the spray paint, which I already had in my arsenal) the total was less than $4.00.

Here's what I did. First, I bought these puppies at Hobby Lobby - they are in the back of the store next to all sorts of wood projects.

I think there were 8 thin pieces of wood for $.99 - not too shabby. There are TONS of different shapes - I went for the plain rectangle shape.

Then pull out your trusty can of chalkboard spray paint. I think it took about three thin coats to get it covered sufficiently. Then you let it dry overnight (as torturous as waiting for things to dry is, my experience with chalkboard paint is LET IT DRY).

Then, I usually just swipe the newly created chalkboard label with the side of a piece of chalk. The paint can suggests you do this, so I just follow the directions and it works. (Maybe like seasoning a new skillet or something?) I supposed you could live on the edge and just start writing on it - who knows?

Then, because I am using these as labels - I drilled two tiny holes in the top. I threaded it with some black ribbon (could have used white for contrast now that I think about it) and labels for my linen closet and laundry hamper.

Next week, I'll show you what happens when chalkboard paint and a filing cabinet collide. It's good - oh yeah, it's good.

How do you feel about chalkboard paint? Have you used it in an interesting or fun way? If so, let me know about it! I would love to share your ideas here on A Home in Progress.

Linking up to Kimba's DIY party at ASPTL. Go check out other great projects!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Quick & Easy Kids Bath Idea

Since we rent, there isn't a lot we can do to change a room with painting the walls, etc. I know a lot of you are in the same position! I was looking for something to put up on a large, empty wall in the main bathroom my kids use. I didn't want to spend a lot of money, and I really wanted it to be fun for my kids. I would LOVE to have a nice guest bath with seashells and soaps and rolled up washcloths, but for now, this room is used by my toddlers 99% of the time so I really wanted it to reflect that in a cute way.

So........I found these great black frames (with white mats) for THREE dollars each at Walmart (yes, they're cheap, but they aren't being moved around a lot (at all) and they have stood up very well, actually!) and went to town.

First, I had my then almost 2-year-old help with some fingerpainting - I did the letters, and she helped decorate around them.

Then, I let them dry completely. (Took about two hours - did this during naptime.) When they were dry, I framed them in the bargain frames.

Next, I did the ribbons to hang the frames. Warning: if you have a black doesn't ever go with brown pet-peeve, just stop reading now. My walls are a nice deep brown. Since my frame was black, I used a darker brown ribbon to hang the frames because it was the only color I had I wanted to bring the colors together. I just cut four equal strips of ribbon, after figuring out how low I wanted the frames to hang. Then I just eye-balled the center of each strip, tied a bow, then hot-glued the ends of the ribbon onto the back of the frames.

Then, since I can never get a straight line EVER, and I didn't have another adult around to help - I decided to stagger the letters. I think it worked.

I also took a picture of my kids in their hooded bath towels after a bath one night and framed it. I used a small easel that wasn't being used to hold the picture.

My kids love seeing their art and a picture of themselves in the room, which (I think) is worth so much more than a bowl of guest soaps.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Magnet Board DIY

Here's a quick and easy project for your kitchen, mud room, or any other place you can think of. Thanks, Rachelle!

Magnet Board

I got this magnet board from Robert's Crafts to dress up my kitchen. I first painted it black.

After finding a variety of red and black scrapbook paper I liked, I cut them to size and painted a layer of Mod Podge on the board to glue the papers down. Make sure to smooth out the bubbles (try a credit/debit card).

Let that dry and then apply a layer of Mod Podge to the top to seal it all in.

Thanks, Rachelle! I love that you can use a variety of colors to help bring your room together.

I'm linking this over to a linky party at Twice Remembered - go take a peek at other great DIY projects!

If you have a project, recipe or any other tip that has helped you with your home in progress - please send it in!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Yogurt Cake....mmmm...

I'm all about ALL aspects of building a home here at A Home In Progress, so when I got this recipe from Erin at Home with the Boys - I just had to share! (It has everything NOTHING to do with my immense sweet tooth! Promise!) Without further's Erin!

My sister gave me this recipe and I fell in love. And now it is requested at special events all the time! It is very healthy and moist - a great combination for a cake! I usually make it as a 9x13 cake, but it works great for cupcakes as seen above. I made these for both boys' first birthdays.

And by the way, it is super easy and versatile. We have only done fruit flavors (strawberry, raspberry, peach) with a white cake mix, but you can use any kind of yogurt and cake mix combination. I might need to try chocolate next!

Yogurt Cake

Cake Ingredients:
1 box white or yellow cake mix
2 egg whites
1 cup water
8 oz. strawberry yogurt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix ingredients well (I use my stand mixer or a hand mixer). Pour into a greased cake pan. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean. Let the cake cool.

Frosting Ingredients:
4-8 oz. strawberry yogurt
1 8 oz. container of Cool Whip

Mix together yogurt and Cool Whip. Apply frosting to the cake once it has cooled. Top with sliced strawberries if desired.

Refrigerate and enjoy!

Thanks for sharing, Erin! I love that you can mix it up with different combinations of cake mix and yogurt. Erin has more recipes on her CUTE blog, so visit her at Or just click her cute button below:

Thanks again! If you have a recipe or home project you want to share, just email me at

Now I'm off to the store to buy some cake mix and yogurt......

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Easy DIY Art Project

Yay! We have our first project submission here at A Home In Progress. (Which is really, really what I want this place to be - a place for those of us who are working with our own homes (thus, the name A Home in Progress!) to post our projects and tips and hints and finds and.......just anything!

Anyway, I LOVE this idea because it just seems so simple and easy and makes a HUGE difference in the room. Here's what she did:

I wanted some art to hang on the wall of my daughter's room but wasn't finding anything I liked. I just decided to try to do something myself!

First, I bought some blank canvases.

I knew I wanted circles to match the bedding, but I wasn't sure about the placement. I used the computer to create an outline of different size circles and different placements. When I got it where I liked it, I printed it off and used it as a stencil for the canvases.

I painted one color at a time with some acrylic craft paint. Then I did two more coats over each color so there was no canvas showing through the circles.

I also painted the side of the canvas so it looked better when you walked into the room.

I really like how they turned out and they were very inexpensive and easy! I am doing two more to make a set of four.

Thank you so much Jentry! I love the art and the fact that when you couldn't find something you liked, you just decided to make it yourself!

If you have a project you've done lately, or a yummy recipe, or any other aspect of building your home in progress, send it in! We need lots of projects to get started!

Reupholstered Chair Cushions

Sorry for the delay in getting these photos posted, my camera is having issues. (Which figures since this is the week I decided to launch a blog!) Anyway, here's a quick and not-so-precise tutorial of how I reupholstered my dining room chair cushions.

In case you've forgotten, here's a reminder of the chair and cushion before:

The cream color really didn't stand up well to two toddlers learning how to eat independently and only succeeding about 50% of the time. Plus I just didn't love it anymore. Since we rent our home, I have focused more on making changes to the things that are ours (furniture, etc.) to help make the space more of my style. Anyway.....back to the chairs.

1. Buy Fabric. Because I'm a DIY-newbie (and total, total fabric newbie) I literally unscrewed one of my stained cushions, threw it in my bag and took it to the Hobby Lobby with me to find a fabric. I probably looked ridiculous (I stopped worrying about that a long time ago!) but I found a fabric I liked (I knew I wanted a toile, I love me some toile) and asked the lady working to help me figure out how much I needed. It was SO NICE to bring the cushion, because they aren't exact squares (more on that later) so we were able to be very precise in the amount of fabric needed. I got it all for $10.00 (on sale).

2. Since I knew we had measured the fabric correctly at the store, I brought it home and cut it into 4 squares (for the 4 cushions). Then, since the cushions were already unscrewed from the chair, I just started wrapping the cushion. You should start with the two sides that are most parallel to each other, so in this case, I started with the top and bottom because they are most closely parallel when compared with the left and right sides.

3. You just pull snugly (but not too tight) and start using your staple gun to hold the fabric in place. The corners are a bit tricky, especially for my shape cushion. I just folded them as neatly as I could. I knew it would look pleated and not perfectly taut, but that didn't bother me. I knew once the chairs were screwed back in, it wouldn't be that noticeable and really it looks kind of neat and tailored that way. But what do I know? I also trimmed the excess fabric after the cushion was completely stapled.

4. Just make sure when you do subsequent cushions that your fabric is all facing the same way - if you are using a striped pattern or something else, you'll want to make sure you start each cushion on the same stripe (or maybe you don't need to, it's totally up to you)! That's another reason why I loved the toile for this project, because it has so many things going on in the fabric, that as long as it all faced the same direction (I did towards the chair) it looked similar enough to be cohesive, but different enough to add some interest and variety to the table.

5. Because this is real life and not a show room, I sprayed the new cushions with this amazing fabric protector I also got at the Hobby Lobby. It has to set for 24 hours, but it is like super Scotch Guard, and any liquid that lands on the chair now beads up and slides off. MAGIC!

And there is my definitely not precise and definitely not perfect way of reupholstering my dining room chairs! If you try this, please share your results!!!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Cheap & Easy Flour Jar

While I'm waiting on the reupholstered cushion pictures to come through, here's a quick and easy project that I literally did in about fifteen minutes and for less than $15.

I needed new flour and sugar canisters and I LOVED this etched glass look from Martha Stewart. However, I didn't have the time, energy or money to get all of the supplies needed for a project like that. (If anybody has done this project, send it in because I LOVE the look of the finished product!) I loved the jars, though, so I used that as my starting point.

First, I got these amazing glass jars that look similar at Hobby Lobby for 50% off - which means the large one (and it is LARGE) was about $4.00 and the smaller one for about $3.00. SCORE!

Then, I bought these craft stickers from the scrapbook aisle on sale for 50% off. It's a BIG pack of these cute, whimsy letters that I KNOW I will use for cards and future projects. An investment, if you will.

Then, I just strung the letters on some thin silk yarn that I had around. I first thought the letters were a little too scrunched (technical term) together, so I added a few beads in between the letters to give each one some definition. Then I just tied the yarn onto the jars necklace style pretty snugly and then just trimmed the excess yarn.

I loved the Martha clean and streamlined look, but I think this brings a tiny touch of color and fun to the kitchen without having to commit to anything big - when I get sick of them, I'll change them out!

Linked to Frugal Friday at The Shabby Nest - click on over to find some GREAT thrifty finds and DIYs!

Monday, July 20, 2009

You CAN Do It!

Hello Living with Lindsay readers! I'm so glad you're here. Read on to get the specifics of my table re-do, but make sure to click over here to enter a small little giveaway!

We have had the same counter-height dining room table for the last four years. But with two toddlers, the table has taken a beating. Plus the shiny, brown veneer just is not my THING anymore!

Because our table was cheap not solid wood, I had been hesitant to change it to something I loved. Then this post from Living With Lindsay (such a fun site, you must visit) on how to paint laminate furniture (what??!?) inspired me. I CAN DO IT! And you can do it, too.

First, though, I must give you the before pictures (in all their embarrassing glory):

It's just so wrong.


This picture makes the table look lighter than it really is, but I used my flash so you could really see the table and all of the scratchy loveliness. Okay, that's enough of that.

After a lot of work and patience, here's what my table looks like today!

OK, not really - here's what my table really looks like today (just keeping it real, here. Have I mentioned I have two toddlers in my house?)'s the step-by-step (based off the instructions from Lindsay in post I linked above. I'm telling you check her out)!

1. REMOVE cushions by unscrewing them from the chair and gag as you see the stains.

2. LIGHTLY sand the table, being careful to not sand into the particle board if your table isn't solid wood. I used a palm sander for the flat surfaces and legs, and then hand sanded the harder to reach crevices. (Those cross backs on the chairs were KILLER.)

3. PRIME the table and chairs. I used Zinnser BIN Primer and was very pleased with the results. In the interest of imparting lessons learned (I'm a NEWBIE, remember?) I did NOT have the primer tinted (DUH!) and so covering the white was a bit....tedious. If you are planning on painting your piece a darker color, see if tinting the primer is a possibility.

4. PAINT the table and chairs. The hubby and I used a foam roller for every part we could and used bristle brushes for the chair backs. I did three (or four) THIN coats of red (Ralph Lauren Hunting Coat Red) allowing lots of dry time between coats. Then I did three (or four) thin coats of black (Ralph Lauren Black Truffles) again allowing for lots of dry time between coats. I wasn't AS careful to get in all of the crevices with the black paint, since I had planned on distressing it to show some of the red underneath anyway. (Plus I was REALLY sick of those cross-backs, have I mentioned that?)

5. DISTRESS the table and chairs. This was the fun part (for me). I used a fine-grit sandpaper and lightly sanded the edges of the surface of the table and the legs of the table. I also did the edges and legs of the chairs. Just wherever it felt right. In THEORY, the black was supposed to sand away to reveal the red underneath, like so:

In actuality, sometimes the red was sanded off with the black, revealing my non-tinted (see step 3) white primer. It still looks fine, I just wanted to share what REALLY happened during the distressing process! (This is all about sharing and learning, remember?)

6. PROTECT the surface by using a polyurethane top coat, applied with a bristle brush NOT a foam roller (don't ask how I know this). A top coat was especially important for my project because it was a dining room table that would be used heavily (see above pictures) and wiped frequently. I used a semi-gloss poly, because I didn't want the look of the shiny veneer back.

7. ALLOW ample dry-time before moving the piece back inside and using it daily.

So, what do you think? Are you inspired to tackle some of your not-in-love-with-it-but-can-I-paint-it pieces? If you are, PLEASE send us the results!

Up next: recovering the chair cushions (easy peasy).

I'm (attempting) to link up to Kimba's DIY party at A Soft Place to Land. If you've never visited her, you must! And take a look at other great DIY projects!

Sunday, July 19, 2009


Welcome to A Home in Progress! After months of daily visits to some of the best home decor/design blogs on the internet (see our blog list), I decided to take the plunge and start my own blog to post my own humble little projects and attempts at thrifty, cute and stylish home decor.

I hope for this blog to be a collaborative effort, for those of us who don't quite have enough knowledge to fill a blog on our own. (Which means I need your help! If you've recently completed a project and want to share your tips, lessons and photos of the finished project, PLEASE email us!)

So what is a home in progress? It's a home that isn't perfect. As one of the most inspiring bloggers out there, Nester, says "It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful." Maybe you're renting and haven't thought much about making your house a home, maybe you're just getting interested in DIY projects, maybe you're new to the whole home-making process.

A home in progress is NOT a model home, it's a home where messes occur, where happiness thrives and laughter is found is abundance.