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Fix it Friday… Leaky toilet

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For the past month or so, the toilet in the master bathroom has been ‘running’ almost constantly.  It started off quietly with only a little bit of water leaking into the bowl but over time it had become a pretty consistent stream.  The constant bubbling noise was getting on my nerves but knowing how much water we were wasting was even worse.

The last several weeks I adjusted everything that could be adjusted, over and over and in any combination that was possible.  Nothing seemed to help, last week while I was again trying to figure out what was going on I noticed bubbles coming up from the bottom of the water inlet valve.  I looked around online for some information on how to fix a possible leak in the water inlet valve and found this tutorial from Let’s Fix It with Dan Jiles 

I went to Home Depot today and bought a new Fluidmaster Universal Fill Valve for less than $8.  I got some additional tips from Al at the HD near Gramma’s house.  Once I got home, I followed the directions from the tutorial and had everything fixed in less than 20 minutes.  It would have been less than 10 minutes but the nut on the old fill valve was being difficult.  Sully had to come in to hold the top of the valve so I could muscle the nut in the tight space between the toilet and the sink cabinet.

It’s all fixed, no more bubbling sounds and more importantly, no more water being wasted.  Yay!!!

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Getting ahead…

In my quest to get our Halloween costumes finished early this year, I have been doing lots and lots of online research.  One of the cool things I have found are some really pretty pirate hats decorated with ribbon, lace and other trims by different crafters.  There are a few tutorials but mostly people selling these gorgeous hats on Etsy.com.  I, of course, would like to decorate my own hat, so that it matches my outfit and so that I can add what I want to it.  I’ll write more on that later…

I ordered some hats off of eBay that can be decorated however we want.  They are plain, black, wide-brimmed wool hats that will work perfectly for the pirate costumes.  They are pretty floppy though, and that might it difficult to work on them.  I was toying with different ideas on what I could use to make the whole process easier.  After some thought I decided that the foam forms that you can get at beauty supply stores would probably be the easiest and most economical.  The forms generally run about $5.00 give or take a few quarters.

So after deciding that that the foam forms are what I needed I remembered that the closest beauty supply store had closed a few months ago.  I had already run errands earlier in the day and going out again in 108 degree weather held no appeal.  I took a few moments for a quick internal discussion and started looking at what I could do with what I had in the house.  We have one foam form that we use at Halloween to display one of many masks and/or hats.  I had seen some tutorials on making duct tape dress forms** the other day and I wondered if I could use the same technique to make my own hat display.

I didn’t think to take pictures until I was almost done with the second form so bear with me.

Materials –

  • foam head form
  • plastic bag
  • duct tape
  • cardboard
  • stuffing (plastic bags, newspaper, etc)

I started with the foam head and covered it with a plastic grocery bag.  I used strips of duct tape around the neck the part to hold the bag down and pull it tight around the form.  Next I started ripping strips of duct tape and wrapping the plastic covered foam form.  I split the strips vertically, some half the width and some in thirds.  I used the third widths across and along the nose and eyes to contour to the shape of the form.   The half widths I used starting along the jawline and moved up the side of the form.  I also put a long piece of tape down the center starting above the nose and continuing down the back of the neck.  I continued to lay down strips until the entire form was covered.  I did my first layer with a solid color duct tape and a decorative duct tape for the second layer.  The second layer is just like the first, I was just more careful to smooth down the duct tape.

When the form was covered with the second layer then I cut through the duct tape/plastic up the back and pulled the duct tape covering off of the form.  Use another few strips of the patterned duct tape to close up the back again.

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I used plastic grocery bags and crumpled up newspapers/ad mailers for stuffing, I was careful to fill in the contoured areas with the bags and filled the center with the crumpled paper.  I traced the bottom of the foam form on cardboard and cut it out.  After it was filled as much as it was going to be I put in the cardboard and covered it with the decorative duct tape.

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Here are the final results.  Now I have two hat forms that i can stick pins into and keep the hat in place while I work on decorating them.  Clearly, I could have bought two of the foam forms for about $10 and in about a third of the time that I spent making these.  For me, it was about being resourceful and using the materials that I had close at hand.   I am pretty pleased.

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**Duct tape dress forms – Google “how to make a duct tape dress form” for tutorials.   I liked this one, it has good info on the duct tape part, this one has more details on how to set up the form.

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Kindle coverage…

Kindle Case Cover3 KimCz

A few weeks ago, I talked about Sully, Boo and I each having Kindle 2s  with the same Amazon black cover.   We are loving our Kindles, and the Amazon brand cover.  It’s a great cover but we keep mixing up our Kindles, and I wouldn’t mind a little color.  I decided to try to make a slipcover for my Kindle cover.

I like using fat quarters because you can quickly grab whatever catches your eye.  You can use whatever fabric floats your boat.

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After some internet research, I found this tutorial on the College Prep blog.  It’s basically a fabric version of the paper book covers that most of us made at one point or another in grade school.  I followed her directions for the most part but then, because I seem to lack the ability to follow directions I made some changes.

First, the measurements –

I laid the Kindle case down on top of the fabric and marked an inch above and below, and three inches on each side.

Changes –

At the beginning –

– I used light fusible interfacing to make the slipcover look a bit sharper.  The inside edges look more finished, as well.

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– I put the Kindle case into the slipcover and pinned a piece of elastic at the top at the fold.  I ran it down the fold and pinned it at the bottom and stitched the elastic to the fabric.  I folded the elastic under at both ends and unfolded the fabric before stitching to keep the front of the cover stitch free.

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 Your slipcover will look like this.  The black elastic looks out of place here but blends in when it’s on the cover.  It keeps the slipcover from bunching when you open and close the cover.

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I made the pink one for Boo and the blue one for me.  Sully decided to stick with his black cover.

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It was a pretty easy craft project.  The first one took an hour or so as figured out what I was doing.  The second cover took less than 30 minutes.

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments section.

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Makeover…

The backstory…

Vinyl curtain

Several years ago, Sully and I bought this shower curtain.  We had slowly started to decorate our master bathroom for Christmas.  We’d gotten some snowman towels and a few other items as gifts the previous year.  I saw this ‘Let it Snow’ set in an ad, either Bed, Bath and Beyond or Linens and Things before they shut down their stores.  I really liked how it looked with the curtain and the towels, cute and fun without being  juvenile.  Of course, it helped that it was mostly blue and snowflakes are cool.

Years ago, I had no idea that I would eventually change the decor in the bathroom for each season.  One of the reasons that I liked the ‘Let it Snow’ set was because it was more Winter themed than Christmas.  The rest of the house is red and green and the bathroom is all blue and white.  I really enjoy it and because it is a winter bathroom I can keep it in there for an extra month or two.

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curtain hook set

The shower curtain was packaged together with the hooks.  The hooks are cute, white with sparkles.  I believe the collection originally had small and larger hand towels, bath towels, a trash can, a rug and the shower curtain and hook set that all matched.  By the time that we were looking at it the hand towels, shower curtain, trash can and rug were left.  The trash cans didn’t look great, one was cracked and the other was scratched up.  We passed on the trash can and the rug, which was white, not a good idea in our house.

In the years since, we have collected various decorations and now have a fully decorated winter bathroom.  It’s all snowmen and snowflakes in blue, silver and white.  The crazy thing is that we’ve only bought a few of the decorations.  Most of them have been gifts and a few were handmade crafts, projects for gifts and the prototype ended up in the bathroom.

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The makeover…

  Shower curtain

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I bought a white fabric shower curtain at Bed Bath and Beyond.  I used clothespins to pin the vinylIMG_1637 - Copy curtain to the fabric curtain.  Then I used white thread to sew the two curtains together with a zig zag stitch along the seam between the curtain and the top.   I trimmed the top section off leaving the white ring area for the hooks.

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Trim…

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I bought some trim to cover up the zig zag stitch and the raw edge of the vinyl curtain.  My first thought was the oversized bric a brac trim, but I was worried that the raw edge wouldn’ t be completely covered.  Boo saw this trim and thought that the poof balls looked like snowballs.  I liked the wide base of the trim and the loops in between the poofs.  I used tacky glue to attach the trim to the curtain.  I wrapped the trim around the end and kept it in place with a clothespin.                       

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I don’t have a picture of the new and improved curtain hanging up.  It was time to change out the winter decorations with the spring decorations.  I will try to remember to post an updated picture next December.

  Hooks…

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The hooks needed some help too.  I should have taken a before picture but didn’t think about it.  Both the glitter and the paint was coming off of the snowflakes.

I punched some holes in the side of this box, stuck the hooks through and used painter’s tape to hold them straight.

First, I painted them white.  After the second coat of white paint dried, I decided to re-apply the glitter.  I painted the snowflakes with white craft glue and then dipped them in glitter.  I taped each snowflake back on the box and let it dry overnight.  They look good as new, actually better than new.  Super sparkly is good.  

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Simple…

Sometimes the best solution is the simplest.  

I’ve spent a fair amount of time trying to find bins with straight vertical sides to go up on the top shelf of my laundry area.*  I hung a curtain but the bins on the top shelf stick out beyond the shelf.  This causes the curtain to stick out in front of the shelves.  It looks weird and it casts an odd shadow on the counter below.   I’ve looked online.  I’ve visited stores.  I’ve gone back to looking online but this time looking for instructions on how to make my own bins.  

Finally, tonight I had a stroke of genius.  I remembered that the wire cube shelves are straight.  We have the wire grids all over the house. We have some in the pantry, Boo’s closet, the bunny condo in the great room and storage in the garage.  After some online chatting with Faith, I had it all figured out.  

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In this photo you can see the zip tie used to secure the two grids together.  I used wire clips to attach the grids to the shelf.  I tipped the grids against the back wall while I hammered in the clips.  Luckily, I had both the zip ties and the wire clips in the garage already.

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After the clips were hammered into the shelves, I pulled the grids up straight and marked the wall.  I used a wall anchor and a screw to attach the wire grid to the wall.   I put some bags behind the grid and it was amazingly stable.  I thought I might need some ‘L’ brackets but the wire clips and the wall anchor worked really well.  

I repeated the process on the other side.   Once all of the grids were secured to the shelf and walls,  I began to unload the contents of the bins back onto the shelf.  I left the middle open for better access.   

The grids work great.  I’ve got purses and accessories on the left and backpacks and miscellaneous  bags on the right.  There’s enough room in the middle to stash something else.  I haven’t decided what yet though.  Now, I can work on the curtains, hopefully I will get a chance to work on them this weekend.

 

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I should have taken the photos before I loaded the shelves but I wasn’t completely sure it was going to work until I’d gotten some bags loaded into it.  Honestly, after I’d gotten stuff up there, pictures for the blog wasn’t enough motivation to unload it all again.  🙂

*I call it the laundry area because I am not sure what to call it.   You can’t walk into it, so not the ‘laundry room’.  It has no doors so ‘laundry closet’ doesn’t work either.  Ugh…laundry area.

Phase 2:  Day 20

Not really much to report, I didn’t walk and I didn’t do my lower body exercises because I knew I would be up and down the ladder a bunch while working on the shelves in the laundry area.

The morning and nighttime routine is still going great.

Believe me I realize these daily updates are seriously boring but they keep me honest.

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Pieces…

I spent most of the day doing things in pieces.    As soon as I woke up, I got dressed and went out to the garage to add a second coat of paint to the counter top piece of MDF.  I knew we had to run errands and figured the paint could dry while we were out and about.  I knew that I needed to work on putting in the shelves and counter before the Super Bowl started.

Most of the afternoon was spent putting in the support boards for the shelves and counter.   It took a lot longer than I had planned, granted I had a lot to do and a few interruptions.  I brought the counter in about twenty minutes before the game started but soon found out that it wouldn’t slide in.  I had to remove the lower shelf first, which was the original shelf.  I was afraid that the builders had used 500 nails to attach it to the support boards.  Those guys get trigger happy with the nail gun.  I was in luck though there were only a few nails that I had to hammer out.

Sully ended up having to help me with the counter.  I had to do a special cutout to make room for the actual switches for the lights.  I still can’t believe that I missed that, it didn’t even occur to me that they would cause an issue with installing the counter piece.  Of course, I was hoping that I would be able to tip the counter piece in without messing with the middle shelf.  Live and learn, right?

Here’s a before pic…

washer and dryer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After…

Here is what it looks like with the bins and baskets that I bought after Christmas.  Those are on the counter and the lowest shelf.  The plastic bins at the top of the picture will be covered at a later date.

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The baskets and bins are completely empty at this point.  I was just excited to see how they looked in this new space.  There’s still a fair amount of work to do until I can call it done but I am really happy that I have gotten to this point.  The counter was such a pain to get in and it scratched up the walls a fair amount.  So, in addition to organizing everything I will have to do a bit of touch up painting and I really would like to add some curtains to cover the upper shelves.

Overall, the basic setup has been fun.  I really can’t wait to see what it looks like with curtains and some decorations.  Yay!

Phase 2: Day 8

I spent the day working in the laundry area, up and down the ladder and laying across the washer and dryer using the drill in all sorts of crazy positions.  I am worn out and there was no walk.

My morning and night routines are going well.  I suppose I should try to get to sleep earlier in the night.  I will have to work on that.

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Coping…

I spent today packing up Christmas decorations and watching football.  Overall, the day was somewhat disappointing.  I am still not done with the decorations and the Broncos lost in overtime to the Ravens.

In all honesty, the Christmas decorations are mostly packed.  I have a lot of crates that are ready to be moved into the garage.  It was dark by the time the game was over.  I will move them first thing in the morning.  After that I have to pack up the inside decorations and the large items that get packed in the big zippered bags.

The zippered bags are awesome.  I have three of these large square bags.  I use these to pack small Christmas trees, baskets, garlands, and other decorations that are too big or oddly shaped to go in the crates.

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This cube is super cool too and it is amazingly roomy.  In the cube, I can fit a large basket filled with a floral arrangement, a window decoration, plastic placemats, a hanging card holder, two large grapevine wreaths, a medium straw wreath,  and two small straw wreaths.
I need to get another storage cube, I love how much I can get into it.
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As for the Broncos, I am really bummed.  It was a great season and Peyton Manning deserved to get farther into the playoffs.  I keep trying to look at the silver lining, Peyton didn’t play at all last year and for him to get his team this far into the playoffs is amazing. I guess at this point all I can do is hope for a better season next year.  Positive thoughts, right?!
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I feel that I should add that although I titled this post “Coping” I am being somewhat sarcastic.  I am fully aware that dealing holiday decorations and losing a football games aren’t life disasters.  After everything that happened in 2012, I am thankful for what I have and I feel truly blessed.  I was just bummed and wanted to whine.  That is all.  🙂
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Phase 1:  Day 7…
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So between packing boxes and yelling at the TV I forgot to walk. I was already pretty bummed and realizing that I didn’t take my walk didn’t help my mood at all.  I suppose walking six days out of seven is a great improvement to zero days out of seven.
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Upper body workout –  this was also completely forgotten.  Luckily I can do these on Sunday.  I don’t plan anything but more intense stretching so that it can be an overflow day.  I can catch up on any strength workouts to finish the week off.
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Water = 48 ounces