Monday, August 15, 2011

Plastic Bottle Tip

Since we moved to an area that actually offers recycling, I've been building up quite a stash to take the local center. Since I've been on quite the repurposing kick lately, there have been some things that I wanted to keep for my own re-use.

I buy a lot of coffee syrup from DaVinci Gourmet. Usually I get the glass bottles, but sometimes I buy it at Sam's and get plastic instead. Although these bottles are recyclable, they are also pretty enough to use in other ways. . . if you can get the label off.

Today I had an epiphany. (I'm sorry, no pic - I tried but it just wouldn't photograph well.) I've never liked to get the label wet to remove it. I think that just makes it messier. But then I had the brilliant idea of putting water inside the bottle to loosen the glue, and it worked like a charm!

Just fill the bottle with the hottest water you can get from the tap. Let it sit for about five minutes, then the label will peel right off, glue and all. It may not come off in one piece, but it is still much easier to remove.

And if you've known this since the Dark Ages, humor me and pretend that this is news to you. :)

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Make Your Own Coasters

As if I needed something else to occupy my time, I have discovered Pinterest.

Oh. My. Word.

In case you haven't checked it out, you need to - it's a virtual idea board, filled with goodies from all corners of the web. I have found more things to make and cook than I ever could get done in my lifetime.

As an aside: you can "follow" people's feeds... follow me @ mandalee65. :)

Anyhoo, one pin that's been floating around lately is for homemade coasters, using floor tiles. This seemed like an easy and quick project, and since I've never actually had a set of coasters, I decided to try it. First, the result (forgive the somewhat fuzzy picture):

Since my living room is a combination of red, black, white(ish), and tan, I dug up some old B&W scrapbook papers for the project. It's super-easy - so much so that a kid could do it. Anyhow, here's a tutorial, in case you're too tired or impatient to go the trial-and-error route. :)


4x4 floor tiles, the smoothest surface you can find
scrapbook paper, the heavier the better
Mod Podge
foam brushes
Mod Podge acrylic sealer
old credit or gift card
felt to match the paper

1. Clean the tiles, making sure to get rid of all the dust.

2. Trim scrapbook paper to size of the tile. It doesn't have to be perfect since you'll be sanding off the edges anyway.

3. Using a foam brush (soooo much easier than a paintbrush), spread a thin layer of Mod Podge over the surface of the tile. Be sure to cover it evenly as possible.

4. Carefully lay paper on tile. You can sorta move it once it's down, but you risk tearing the paper. It's best to get as close as possible the first try.

5. Using the gift card as a squeegee, smooth out the paper onto the tile. This prevents bubbles and ensures a good stick.

6. Brush a coat of Mod Podge over the paper. Get it as smooth as you possibly can. Once the first layer is dry, use the sandpaper to smooth out the edges and make it fit the tile. Brush off any dust and apply another coat of Mod Podge.

7. Once both coats are completely dry, apply 2-3 coats of Mod Podge to the edges of the tile. This helps smooth out some of the roughness and just makes them feel nicer to hold.

8. When dry, spray with Mod Podge acrylic sealer. I did 3 coats.

9. Cut felt to fit the bottom of the tiles. (Note: they may say they are 4x4, but they're actually more like 3 3/4 x 3 3/4.) Adhesive-backed felt would be easiest, but I couldn't find any, so I used Scotch clear Scrapbooker's Glue to adhere the felt. It is holding quite nicely and didn't bleed through the felt, even though I used quite a bit.

There you have it - an easy-peasy project that would make really great hostess gifts or Christmas presents.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

New School

As much as I have looked forward to moving, the prospect of putting B in a new school was nerve-wracking at best. ACE was a complete unknown - we assumed he would be going to the larger Red Bank Elementary, but it turned out we were zoned for this tiny little school tucked back into a subdivision that half the people in Hamilton County had never heard of. Before the summer was out, we'd had a few people tell us B would do well there, but still - I didn't know a darn thing about it.

Tonight we went to meet his teacher, and a lot of my concerns were laid to rest. This school year will be much different than his previous ones. JES always kept the same class with the same teacher all day long. This time, he'll spend his day with all three teachers. Instead of kids being lumped together without respect to ability, they will be divided into groups according to how well they do. I think this is ideal for Braeden. Based on last year's scores, I anticipate him being put into the higher level classes. The kid needs to be challenged, and I think this setup is ideal for that.

Other things I liked: each teacher is doing the same subject all day long. This means she can concentrate on one thing instead of struggling with a zillion different subjects. Also, AR awards are given out every ten points, and an emphasis is placed on them that I hope will encourage B to read more.

Best of all (don't laugh at me) ....

He can take peanut butter to school!!!

Yeah. JES didn't allow it, and I have the pickiest kid in the world - one who won't eat much of anything, but loves peanut butter. Packing lunches him for him at JES was frustrating and expensive, because about the only thing he'd eat was pizza lunchables. Now the pizza can be a treat, and I will feel better sending him a healthier natural PB & honey on wheat, anyway.

So all in all, I'm feeling pretty good about this. I still don't like that he has a dress code (ridiculous in elementary, if you ask me), but I can tolerate that so long as I think he's getting what he needs.

Yep. I'm feeling pretty thankful (and relieved) tonight.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

From drab to (sort-of) fab!

I've been on a repurposing kick lately. Remember this? (Of course you do; it's only one post down! lol)

Yuck, right?

So are you ready to see the final product? It ain't perfect, but I learned some things, and I still think it was a huge improvement!

After peeling off the "decoupage" - which actually turned out to be a huge cheap sticker - I was left with a lot of ooky glue on the edges. I sanded at it for all I was worth, but it didn't quite come off. I originally wanted to do a checkerboard design, but then I decided to try my hand at a harlequin pattern instead.

In the process, I learned a few things:

1) I will never do a large-scale harlequin pattern. It is a tremendous pain in the rear to get it lined up right. As you can see, one of my corner diamonds is a little wonky.

2) I finished it off with a satin Krylon finish, but it created this weird dust-like stuff that had to be wiped off after each coat. Not sure if I'll use that again or not.

3) For small projects like this, good old Scotch tape is wonderful for marking off edges! It lays down easily, removes easily without messing up the paint, and I didn't have one bit of bleed. Obviously, it won't work on a rough surface, but for a small project with a smooth surface, I do believe it is better than masking tape.

This took a while, but I'm pleased with the result. Now it's off to work on the weird grape/olive thing. :)