Month: March 2020

Basement Renovation

We have started a major project! I thought I would take you along for the ride. This project is going to take some time so I will post when I have updates. We are doing a basement renovation. The plan is to take a wall down between our family room and our extra room to form a playroom/family room combo.

We started this project a few weeks ago by taking down the wall between the two rooms. Right after things started picking up with the Covid-19 virus in Minnesota, we started to social distance ourselves. Both my husband and I are in the health care field. I am able to work at home but he still goes into work. While we are doing what we can during this time, it has made it rather hard to take the next steps in the basement renovation, which is getting supplies. We do not want to be going out in public unless it’s absolutely necessary, so we are on hold until we can go out again.

However, lets jump into the progress we have made so far!

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Tools List

Below are a list of the tools I used for the first stage of this project.

Taking down the walls

The first task in this basement renovation is taking down the wall between the two rooms. In the past the extra room down here was used as a guest room, but it tended to just collect all of our clutter. The room does not have an egress window so it can’t be an official bedroom. While having a guest space is nice, it is only used once per year. So we decided that using the room as a play room would be a much better use. We do plan on putting in a Murphy bed, so stay tuned for that project.

Taking the walls down was pretty easy. The walls are a cardboard-like material. I found it best to try to loosen the nails on the studs and peal back the boards. The wall materials are not easy to nail into, they are bowing, and they have very obvious seams (over which the previous owners just put a piece of trim up). Needless to say, the look isn’t great. We have decided to replace all of these walls with drywall.

The first thing I did was take down the cardboard on each side of the walls.

basement renovation starting walls.
basement renovation taking down walls

Layers of the cardboard walls.

Assessing the wall

When I started this project, I had a feeling that this wall was not load bearing. I reached this conclusion a number of ways. The first is that these walls are not original to the house, so probably not carrying a structural load. The second is that there is a railroad tie running the length our our house and being used as the central beam. In our laundry room there is a steal post holding up the rail road tie, so I hoped there was a similar one in this wall. The third was that this wall was very poorly constructed and would move when I pressed on it. A solid wall shouldn’t do that.

I did proceed with caution and assessed at each step. If you are unsure about a wall or if it is structural, ask a contractor or engineer for help.

basement renovation

The tops of the studs are notched and nailed in with one nail. They are definitely not supporting the weight of the house so they are safe to take down. I also found a steel post within the wall, which is holding up the rail road tie. I will obviously be leaving this in place.

And the wall is done. Don’t you love that orange? We don’t and will be painting that wall.

Fixing the floor

After I removed the wall, there was a gap left in the carpet tiles and some holes left by the bolts. I used some extra caulk that I had to fill the holes. Then I removed the tiles around the gap. My father in law just happened to find a box of carpet tiles that look exactly like ours at a garage sale a couple years ago. I have held on to them all this time and now they are coming in handy. They are just a peal and stick so I pulled up the old ones and put down the new ones.

basement renovation flooring

Once we were done taking down the walls, we removed the cardboard from the rest of the walls, but left the studs up.

Beam insulation

So one of the projects we have been putting off and finally decided to take action on was our basement walls. There is a crack running horizontally on two of the walls. This is a big job and we got the professionals in to help. We talked to two different companies who both said our walls are in grade 2 wall failure and needed beams to help support them. Below is one of the beams and we had 11 in total installed. While this was a huge expense and one that surprised us, we decided to move ahead with the project. If we left it, it would be a bigger, more costly project later on. We also wanted to get this done before we started fixing up the basement.

You can see the gap in the picture below between the beam and the wall. There should not be a gap…hence the need for a beam to hold the wall up.

basement renovation steel beams

Once we are able to get supplies we will move forward with putting up drywall and finish the basement renovation. I’ll keep you posted on the progress. Any thoughts or questions, let me know in the comments below!

While your here checkout our bathroom reno on a budget!

Homemade recycled paper

I have been pondering what to do with all of our shredded paper for a while now because it’s starting to build up. I am looking more and more like a hoarder! With limited recycling options in town, I wanted to get creative. So I decided to make my own homemade recycled paper! I made paper a long time ago for a girl scout project, so I thought it would be pretty easy to make again.

I first intended to make this as a project to do with my Little One. However, it ended up being too delicate of a project for a one year old. My first try ended up with lots of little finger prints that dented the paper. After this first attempt I realized it would be a perfect activity for older children.

Materials

Making paper is a pretty simple process and you can use simple tools you already have around your home. The toughest part is getting a screen. Your local hardware store would have some, or even take a look around your garage, maybe there is a spare screen you forgot about. I got mine from my father-in-law, who has a window and screen repair business. I did learn that using a metal screen is better then using a plastic-based screen.

Making a Deckle

The screen is needed to make the deckle. I’ll link a couple of videos on how to make one and where to purchase one. I made one by using a screen and an old photo frame from the dollar store. First I popped the glass out and the metal pieces that hold the backing on. I did this with a pair of pliers. Next I used a hot glue gun to glue the edge of the screen to the edge of the frame. Once it dried I used duct tape over the raw edge of the screen and over the sides of the picture frame. It’s not my prettiest work but it will do.

Supplies

The supplies you will need are…

There are many tutorials out there on how to make paper. I watched this video before I started. However, I wanted to try a couple different methods. The first is that I wanted to keep this as eco-friendly as possible, and that means not using paper towel. Instead I used old bath towels and flour sack cloth…lots and lots of them. I used a big bath towel on the counter top and flour sack cloth towel to lay the paper on.

Many of the tutorials out there make use of a second screen. I found an easy way around this that involves flipping it onto the towel.

homemade recycled paper

Making the Paper

Making homemade recycled paper is really simple. Place a hand full of shredded paper into the blender. You can also add colored paper and newspaper to change the color of the paper. I just stuck to my shredded paper simply because I have a lot of it! Next, add water to the blender. You need quite a bit, but don’t over fill the blender. Blend until it gets to a consistency you like. It took 20-40 seconds for me. See my before and after pictures below.

homemade recycled paper
homemade recycled paper

Creating the Paper

This next part is really fun. I used my sink and filled it with a couple of inches of water and put the deckle in the water. Then I poured the paper mixture on to the deckle. Spread out the mixture on the deckle, using your fingers to spread the mixture over the deckle in an even layer. Next, raise the deckle out of the water and shake it to even out the layer and let the excess water drip off.

homemade recycled paper

Drying the Paper

Flip the deckle over on top of a bath towel and flour sack towel. With the deckle still down, use a sponge to wick away some of the water and squeeze it back into the sink. Continue until you are no longer getting water out of the paper. Carefully take the deckle off the paper and place it to the side.

Next, fold the other half of the flour sack towel over the paper and press it with an iron. Keeping the towel folded, flip the towel over and press the other side of the paper. Flip again and gently fold back the flour sack towel. Use a cutting board or some other large flat service and place it on top of the paper. Flip it over and then gently pull back the flour sack towel. Finally transfer the paper onto a dry towel and leave it to dry. See the photos below for reference.

homemade recycling paper
Iron homemade recycled paper
finished homemade recycled paper

That’s it, your homemade paper is officially done! I plan on using the paper for cards/notes and as coloring paper for Little One. What do you think? Will you turn your own shredded paper into homemade recycled paper? Let me know of any tips or tricks you may have in the comments below!

Feel like more DIYing? Check out my homemade beeswax wraps.

April Bullet Journal

April is just a few short weeks away! For the sake of you planners out there, I got my April bullet journal ready way ahead of time. I don’t know about you but April always seems to be my busiest month next to December. Regardless, spring is on the way and with the warmer days the snow is starting to melt and flowers are starting to pop up. The first ones are usually daffodils and irises. However, in regards to the bullet journal, the month of April is dedicated to the delightful daisy.

I also tried something a little different this month and decided to use watercolor. I found out that I loved it! It was so easy and it didn’t bleed through like some of the markers do. First, I did a test page just to make sure it would be okay on my paper. I found that I had to use a very light hand or the paper would get all crinkly.

I have taken inspiration from Shayda Campbell and if you are new to watercolor, check out her tutorials. While she doesn’t have her April bullet journal spread out yet, I did take inspiration from her previous layouts.

Watercolor

So as mentioned above, I used watercolor for this month’s spread. This could easily be done with a kids water color pallet, but if you are going to start water coloring, I’ll link some suggestions below. I purchased these paints while I was in college, and although I really don’t watercolor often, they have lasted a long time. I used Yellow Ochre for the center of the daisies and a mixture of Yellow Ochre, Burnt Sienna, and Viridian Hue to create the leaves.

Windsor & Newton Cotman Water Colors

Water Brush Pen

April Monthly Spreads

I have kept my monthly spreads similar to last months, but I made a couple of changes. The first is that I have new quotes – I love adding quotes to my bullet journal. The first one is one of my all time favorites because it is such a great way to illustrate the power of perspective. I also thought that it went well with the daisy, considering some people think this delightful flower is a weed.

The other big change is that I did away with my usual monthly habit tracker. I found I wasn’t filling it out because I was having to flip around too much from my weekly spreads. So this month I added a simpler habit tracker to each of my weekly spreads.

I also included a packing list because we are planning on visiting family over Easter and it is just myself and my son going. So I need to be extra organized travelling by myself.

All these little changes this month will hopefully help me continue to reach my goals. A great thing about bullet journals is that they can cater to each person’s individual needs.

April bullet journal
April bullet journal calendar lay out
April bullet journal packing list and brain bump
April bullet journal weekly spread

That’s it for the April bullet journal spread! Let me know what you think about it in the comments below. If you recreate any of these spread, please tag me on Facebook – I would love to see your work!

Check out my 2020 bullet journal set up!

Eco Friendly Easter Ideas

This year we are trying to make a greener Easter basket for our Little One. So I thought I would share some Eco friendly Easter ideas to include in your basket for your kiddos!

Play Dough

Homemade play dough is so much fun to play with and is a great eco-friendly option for your Little One’s Easter basket. There are many simple recipes like this one on Pinterest. This year for Easter I want to try to make play dough using homemade natural dyes. So stay tuned to see how it goes…

Felt Animals/Food items

Little One has so much fun playing with his play food. These felt food are items are very enjoyable and are great for creating little chefs!

Wooden Cars

Wooden cars can bring a lot of excitement for Little One’s play time. These ones are a great size and would be very easy to hide in a scavenger hunt. We personally love these cars because they are easy to pack and take on trips with us.

Chalk

Chalk is a great option for an Easter basket. It gets kids outside and lets their creativity soar! The best part is once a rain storm comes along (or a hose), the canvas is cleared and the next masterpiece can be created.

Art and Craft Supplies

Arts and craft supplies are always great to give. Have you tried these honey sticks? Fun fact – they are made out of beeswax!

Green Kid Craft Box

This is a favorite of mine – it’s the Green Kid craft box. In the box there are a couple of activities that are created to engage your child. These boxes are a great option for an eco-friendly Easter treat.

Pass for an Activity

Passes for an activity is always great fun, too. Do you have a local children’s museum, zoo, or aquarium? If not, something as simple as going to the movie theater or creating a themed home movie party can make memories. Doing an activity can be so much fun!

Seeds and Gardening Tools

Seeds and gardening tools are great for the spring. Kids love to help out and gardening is a great way to get them outside. There are a couple of great options, likes these wood and metal ones, or these recycled plastic ones. You could also try these seed bombs, which are so easy to plant and you get to watch the flowers grow!

Sand Toys

These sand toys are great for playing outside. The bucket would also make a useful Easter basket. The toys are made out of recycled milk jugs, which makes it a green option. These baskets are also built to last and are so much sturdier then the ones you can find in the dollar stores.

DIY Veggie Garden

I made this felt veggie garden for Little One last year for Easter. It’s so cute and Little One really enjoys planting and harvesting the veggies from the garden. In addition to just being fun, this garden can be an educational opportunity for Little One’s expanding mind.

Candies from Bulk Bin

If you are wanting to give sweet treats, go the waste-free route and try a bulk bin. Our local co-op has some great options and if you bring your own container, you cut out the plastic.

I encourage you to change up the Easter basket this year and try some greener alternatives. It’s easy to just go buy the big bag of jelly beans, but these ideas switch up the normal routine and give great eco-friendly alternatives! Do you have any other Eco Friendly Easter ideas? Let me know in the comments below.