DIY Kitchen Sink Backsplash

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One day, my neighbor (gotta love him) offered me some free tiles.  He had just finished a project of his own and had extra tile he didn’t plan on using.  Of course I can never turn anything “free” down, so I happily accepted them and thanked him graciously.  Of course at the time, I had no idea what I was going to do with them.  I always wanted a kitchen backsplash, but I had never worked with tile before.  He had more faith I could do it than I had in myself.  He told me it was a relatively easy project to do.  My neighbor had suggested that I buy the adhesive and grout in one.  It worked out great and was simple to use.  The tiles my neighbor gifted to me were plain white.  I wanted to add more color, so I went to Home Depot, and purchased smaller blue mosaic tiles.  I laugh at this now, but I had no idea I could cut and glue and apply them on the mesh sheet they come on.  So, yes (are you ready to laugh at me and learn from my rookie mistake?)  I took every tile off and applied them individually!  This took forever and I wish I knew then what I knew now… It would have cut the project time in half!  It also would have been easier to measure and keep the tile from being applied crooked.  I had to fight to keep it straight.  You live and you learn!  I used a tiling trowel to spread out the grout adhesive.  I them applied the tiles.  I used the same mixture to grout the tiles and fill in the spaces in between.  Luckily, I didn’t need a tile cutter, which was a good thing, because I didn’t buy one!  Did it come out perfect? No, but it wasn’t terrible and gave me the confidence to try other things.  So I would say overall it was a success and cost under $50.00.

Since discovering Mod Podge I am thinking about decoupaging a few of the tiles to add more pop, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet!  If I do, I will be sure and share.

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Sesame Street Birthday decorations made from construction paper

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As we get closer to our daughter’s 2nd birthday party this Saturday, I thought I would share some tips from last year’s party.  One of the more expensive elements of throwing a party, other than food is the party decorations.  My husband and I always try to follow a budget the best we can.  We plan, make lists and try to keep costs down, but in this current economy that can sometimes be difficult.  Our theme last year was Sesame Street and since my daughter is still obsessed with these characters, I didn’t stray too far this year from her 1st birthday theme.  Her theme this year is all her favorite Sprout channel characters with a patriotic twist in celebration of Memorial Day.  Stay tuned for more on this idea.

Last year, I created most of her decorations from construction paper and glue.  I searched the internet for all her favorite Sesame characters and used the more basic cartoon images as a guide for making the different characters.  Most of the characters are based on simple shapes, so I drew these shapes onto the construction paper, cut them out and glued together to form the individual characters.  Pretty simple, cost effective, and I think they turned out great and are unique in their own way. I also summoned my old elementary school days cutting out strips of construction paper and making paper chains.  I also used re-cycled gift bags and anything else I could get my hands on, cut out and make into a party decoration.  There are so many great ideas on Pinterest as well, much more than I could ever try myself.  Let your imagination run wild and in the process save a little money!

Elmo Birthday Decoration

Sesame Street sign made from construction paper

Bert and Ernie Birthday Decoration

Oscar Trash Can

Sesame Street Decorations

Adding “Bling” to your outdoor table with glass marbles and tile

One day I was sitting outside staring at our old patio table.  Like a lot of things in our home the table was rescued from the trash heap.  It was given to us when my mom moved from a house into an apartment.  It worked out great for us, because at the time all we had was a plastic patio table that had seen better days.  I would go to department stores and pine over all the elaborate outdoor furniture.  Fancy Fire pits, gazebo’s etc. OK so I am a bit of a dreamer, since there was no way I could afford any of it!  Of course that didn’t stop yours truly from stealing a good idea or two from my window shopping and making my own “shabby shiek” version.  I had some left over mosaic tiles so I thought I would add a little “bling” to the table’s edges.  If you are really an adventurous type, you could actually add the tiles to the whole table.  For the job I used a Grout and adhesive in one. There are varying opinions on the internet regarding the use of this product and whether it works as well as grout and adhesive do independently.   I find that it has worked well for the smaller tile projects I have  completed.  The table has been out in all weather conditions and I have not lost one tile so I find that the combo product has held up pretty well.  I used small mosaic tiles along with decorative glass marbles I purchased at  dollar tree.  I think this small change gave the table a lot more character.  Also, another money saving tip:  If you want to save money on a table umbrella, the beach umbrella’s work just as well and are $10-$20 (and even more in some cases) less than the actual table umbrella’s.

I may not be able to afford that fancy gazebo, but through some ingenuity I can have my own little backyard oasis at a discount!

Tiled outdoor table

Beach umbrella VS Table Umbrella save money!

Necessity, The Mother of Invention-using left over tile to create a counter top cutting board/hot plate

They say necessity is the mother of invention.  When it comes to home improvement, sometimes you are forced to think outside the box, as was with the case of our burned kitchen counter top.  When we moved into our home about 7 years ago, our house was in need of some major TLC.  Up until that point the house was more like a college dorm than a family home.  The young man we purchased the home from had moved out to California, and he was letting his friends rent the home from him while he worked on selling it.  Needless to say, they did more damage while they were there, than good.  My husband and I were on a strict budget.  Most of the issues in the home were minor, but irritated us regardless.  One of those “annoyances” involved our kitchen counter top.  Their was a huge, highly visible burn mark right in the middle of the laminate counter top.  My husband and I could not afford to put in replacement counter tops, so for a while I simply used Velcro to fasten a small wooden cutting board to cover the ghastly burn mark, but I needed to come up with a more permanent solution.  My neighbor, god bless him, gave me some left over tile he had from a project he had just completed.  I used most of it for a  backsplash .  While putting up the back splash, I came up with a cost effective solution to our burned counter top problem.  I used the extra tiles to create a ceramic cutting board/ hot plate and matched it to the back splash.  I purchased a combination tile adhesive/grout which works great and is easy to use.  I took the tile and adhered them to the counter top using the adhesive and grout.  I then used the same adhesive and grout in one product  to seal over top and fill in the spaces between the tiles.  I used the smaller mosaic tiles to frame and add some color.  The result was something I could live with and it saved me hundreds of dollars in costs to have the counter top replaced.  I thought I would share this for those like us on a budget, but looking for inexpensive solutions to home improvement problems.  Almost 7 years later we still use the space as a hot plate and cutting board and replacing the counter tops became less of a priority on our to do list!

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