Friday, August 10, 2012

Boy's Sports Room

When my son was entering Kindergarten, we bought a pre-owned loft bed with a slide from a friend who needed to get rid of it to make room for a new baby. It was interesting how that happened becuase I was searching all over Craigslist so we wouldn't have to spend a lot to get him a bed. I happened to be complaining about my lack of luck in my Facebook status and a friend contacted me saying they were selling a really cool bed. SOLD! We got it for about $100 and of course I knew it was time for a room makeover for the growing boy. No more baby jungle animals on the wall...time for something more fun - SPORTS!

Of course, I didn't want to spend a fortune buying an entire matching set of items from Target because it would have added up quickly. You can't just buy a comforter anymore - it's a bed-in-a-bag. Then there are the matching curtains, the lamp, the wall art, the list just goes on and on.

Bed-in-a-bag from Target

I did end up at Target and decided to splurge on the bed-in-a-bag and a pack of coordinating wall stickers. But I said no to the curtains and other goodies. Instead, I hit up a store called Ollie's Bargain Outlet (similar to Odd Lots). I was able to get navy blue valances for $4 a piece.

I wanted to add my special touch (naturally) so I scanned the wall stickers and saved the file. I cropped different copies for each of the pictures and saved them as separate files.

I bought Avery® Inkjet Fabric Transfer Paper and printed each ball (twice - once for each valance) on the transfer paper and ironed it onto squares of tan fabric.

Using a bright red thread, a triple zig-zag stitch and my sewing machine, I stitched the tan squares to the valances and viola!

Well, my other problem was since there is an open crawl space under this new bed, what can I do with it? My first idea was storage. But we use the closet for that. There really isn't anything to hide under there that can't find another home. Why not make it a 'fort'?

I got some super cheap navy blue fabric, tan double-fold bias tape, and some sewable super-sticky velcro. To enclose three sides of the bed, I made 4 panels. One on each side and two in the front (to allow for a doorway).

I measured the space across the front (height and width). I transferred the measurements to the blue fabric and added 1/2" on all four sides for seam allowance and velcro. I cut it right up the center to turn it into two panels and hemmed all four sides of each piece.

What's a fort without windows? In the center of the two front panels, I cut the sides and bottom of a window (not the top). Lined it with bias tape along with the doorway. If he wants the windows open, he just flips them up and stuffs them behind the lowest wood beam above them.

I made a few more tan squares (with the transfer paper), stitched them on with the red triple zig-zag stitch to bring that look from the curtains in.

I then stitched the unsticky side of the velcro in three pieces across the top back. I stuck the opposite side of the velcro on the underside of the edge of the bed and there it hangs!

I couldn't resist making a couple pillows too:

Kitchen Cabinets $100

Well, when I first began my blog I started talking about my kitchen cabinets and how I managed to update the look and bring them new life for only $100. My husband swore that this was impossible to do and I am here to tell you that it IS possible! With the right materials, some time, and a smidge of elbow grease, you can have this look (or a different one) too.

I searched and searched until my fingers were going numb from typing. My bleary eyes were seeing the same DIY's over and over. Most of them were from contractors who, in my opinion, wanted your business. Then I came across a woman who used this miracle product that did exactly what I wanted it to more on top of the wood rather than penetrate it deeply. It's almost a cross between a stain and a paint. What is this said miracle product? General Finishes Gel Stain. I used the Java but there are a few other colors available as well.

At the time, this was hard to find. I called several hardware stores and finally found it in a small store about 25 miles away. It was worth the trip for me.

Now I'm going to tell you how I did it!


  • a Dual Angle Sanding Sponge
  • General Finishes Gel Stain (two pints did the entire job for me)
  • a pack of Paint Sponges
  • a pack of knobs and drawer pulls (a big pack from Home Depot was only ($20)
  • a can of spray paint to match the knobs
  • a piece of cardboard
  • drop cloth
  • a can of Minwax Fast-Drying Polyurethane
  • 120-grit sand paper
  • masking tape
  • a Sharpie
  • a bottle of Citristrip
  • an old rag or small towel


  • Screwdrivers (for the hardware)
  • Drill (to ADD hardware if you don't already have it)
  • Electric Sander
  • First, remove all the doors, drawer fronts and hardware (we didn't have any hardware aside from hinges).

Remove all doors, drawer fronts, hardware (if any), hinges, and any little hidden attachments inside the doors. I marked each door and drawer front with a number on a piece of masking tape and a matching number on a shelf in each cabinet so I would remember which door went where.

As you can see, we had the standard boring oak cabinets with no hardware and little life

This is the part that requires the elbow grease - Get your Dual Angle Sanding Sponge and sand, sand sand!!! Our cabinets have a raised panel so i had to get the sander edge in that crevice. I took each door out (one at a time in case it rained) and sanded lightly to scuff up the surface (front and back) to allow penetration of the new color. This is probably the most important step of the whole process. If you do not sand it, it will not work.

Dual Angle Sanding Sponge
Next get out your sandpaper and electric sander and sand down the frame and the fronts of the shelves. (I did not stain the insides of the cabinets. I left them the way they were since everything would go back in there and cover it all up anyhow.)

We borrowed a sander and if you don't have one, this can also be done with the sanding sponge. The outer sides of ours was veneer with a matching 'oak' contact paper type on the outer layer. Honestly, we sanded that too. Same with the veneer on the back of the island. It worked out well.

Once every inch of wood is sanded, it's time to get messy. Make sure you have plenty of space to lay out each door and drawer front. If you have space in a garage, that is ideal to protect from the sun or rain.

Get out your drop cloth and put a few doors on it. Space them out so you have room to work. Using a large paint sponge and your Gel Stain, paint a layer of gel stain on the side facing up. Let them dry COMPLETELY (or else you'll permanently have your fingerprints as part of your home) before flipping them over to do the other side. Don't forget to keep the masking tape label by the door or drawer so you still know where it goes. One coat did the trick for me! This stuff is a gloppy mess. Be careful!

Paint Sponges

While the doors and drawers are drying, you can work on staining the frame.

If you managed to get this sticky mess on anything, I can honestly say that the best product to get this off (of flooring, hands, etc) is Citristrip. I am not typically the 'organic' mom but considering I was already working with harsh chemicals and their odors, I wanted something that wouldn't damage my new floor if needed there. It really worked well too.

I had brass hinges and nickel hardware. So, I took the hinges and laid them out and sprayed them to match the hardware with metallic spray paint. I liked the 'hammered' finish so that's what I went with. But the possibilities are endless. Don't forget to spray the screw heads too. Poke them into a piece of cardboard (so they are all facing up) and spray them.

Once all the wood doors, drawer fronts and frame are dry, they can be coated with the Fast-Drying Polyurethane. This offers a durable finish that allows the cabinets to be wiped with a sponge to clean them when something spills. Use a clean paint sponge to apply it.

Finally, if you are adding hardware when no handles existed in the first place, then you'll need a drill and the new hardware. Choose the right size drill bit to accommodate the hardware. Place a piece of masking tape over the spot and mark the spot on that. This will alleviate splintering of the wood and make for a smoother hole. NOTE - BEFORE YOU DRILL, MAKE SURE THE HINGE HOLES ARE ON THE CORRECT SIDE FOR REHANGING. I made that mistake with one of the doors and ended up with a hole in the upper corner instead of the bottom corner of one of the doors. LOL (a little wood putty and a splotch of the stain and varnish quickly covers this up).  Attach your hardware and you're ready to rehang all your doors! I simply reused the hinges and painted them so I wouldn't have to worry about the holes lining up.

Please don't laugh at my old floor. This has since been replaced. But the cabinets look great!

This is the old counter before we replaced it. But the cabinets look great - right? :)

Specialty Cakes

Specialty Cakes

This is not a How-To but you're welcome to use my creations as inspiration if you desire. :)

I am finally ready to start marketing my cakes and if you live in the Philadelphia area and would like to order, please send me a message at explaining what type of cake you are looking for, how many people and what inclusions/exclusions you'd like. Or simply send me a message with your name and phone number and I will give you a call.

I can do many different styles and sizes but I'm not quite ready for the wedding cake business.

I am posting photos of the various cakes I've made in the past for an idea of the work I can handle.

PLEASE NOTE: Some of these are my early works from years ago. I am just showcasing the variety. I apologize for the photo quality of some of these as some of them were taken with old cell phone cameras.

These are in no particular order:

Spongebob Squarepants

Lego Ninjago

Toy Story

 Fairy Land

Fairy Land Closeup

Beach Theme

Fashion / Makeup

Fashion / Makeup Closeup

Super Mario Brothers (4 UP)

Blue's Clues

 Sesame Street (Elmo)

Sweet Sixteen

Yo Gabba Gabba!

Baby Girl's First

Beach Themed Bridal Shower

Student Teacher

First Holy Communion

Thirtieth Birthday

Sixty (complete with sixty candles)

DIY Ninjago Invitation

DIY Ninjago Invitation

I used Adobe Photoshop Elements to create this invitation. Unfortunately, I do not have screen shots of this one. For future tutorials, I will make sure I save screen shots as I progress.

First, I opened a blank file in Photoshop Elements. I sized it 5" wide x 7" tall.

Then, I turned to Google Images to find the photo of the Ninjago characters and saved it to my computer. I opened it in Photoshop elements. Select it, copy it and paste it into your blank file. Position it and resize it near the bottom but allow for a border if you want to add one.

Select the Gradient tool. This creates that faded look of the background. Use the eyedropper to touch the baby blue background to select your primary color. Then choose white as your secondary color. Select the background layer (deselect the photo layer) and draw a line from the bottom to the top with the Gradient tool. You can repeat this process with shorter or longer lines until the fade is to your liking. Play around with the placement of the start of the line until you can match up the colors.

Next, I returned to Google Images to find a set of Ninjago eyes. Save it to your computer. Open it in Photoshop as a new file. You can copy and paste it directly onto your invitation as is or if you'd like to put your child's eyes in there, follow the next step.

On the Ninjago eyes, use your Quick Selection tool to outline the yellow face and the eyes. Once the entire section is selected, select the Background Eraser tool (the icon is an eraser with a pair of scissors). Use this all over your selection to erase the eyes area and this leaves it transparent so you can slip something (a pair of eyes) behind it. If the edges are too choppy or blunt, you can select the Blur tool and adjust the strength to about 50% and run the cursor around the entire inner edge to soften it a bit. Once you're finished, if you'd like to change the color of the ninja garb, go to the top menu and select Enhance. In the drop down menu, select Adjust Color and click Adjust Hue/Saturation. Play with the Hue slider until you reach the color you want.

Open a good quality photo of your little ninja. Use your Marquis Selection tool and draw a similar sized rectangle around his/her eyes. Copy it and paste it where the Ninjago eyes are. On the lower right side, reverse the order of the layers if necessary. Play with the placement of the two photos until you are satisfied with the result. Go to the layers palette, hold Ctrl and select both layers. Right click and select Merge Layers. Now it is one 'picture'.

Copy that picture, go back to your invitation file where the rest of the ninjas are patiently waiting, and paste your new ninja. resize and reposition until you are happy.

Add your text. Select the text box, add your party information and adjust fonts, etc to your liking.

For a border, again return to Google Images. Here is the border I used. Save it to your computer. Open it as a new file. Adjust the Hue/Saturation again until it is the color you want. You'll also have to use the Background Eraser tool on the inner section of this border so it will be transparent. Then copy and paste it onto your invitation and resize to fit.

For many of these functions, if you are not familiar with these tools, it may take some practice but once you've mastered them, the possibilities are endless!!

Feel free to post comments if you have questions about this.

My son Chase recently had his seventh birthday party and like most boys his age, he loves Lego Ninjago. He wanted to have a Ninjago party and I was immediately flooded with ideas. First was the invitation:

If you have Adobe Photoshop or Adobe Photoshop Elements, this is super easy to put together using Google images, a photo of your 'ninja', and your text. For complete instructions, click here.

Since my son's birthday is in August and we have a pool, his party is always a pool party. Not many of the kids at this age are very interested in playing 'pin the sword on the ninja' or any of the other staple party games. Besides, it is nearly IMPOSSIBLE to round up all these kids to play anything when there is a pool. So, wanted to do something that only took a minute and that didn't require all the kids to gather at once. I used a plastic pretzel rods container, printed a label, counted legos (427 to be exact) and filled the container. The child with the closest guess won a Lego Ninjago booster pack:

I primarily focused on the food and decor since no one wanted to waste precious swimming time with silly games. For a healthy option I made the 'Great Devour' out of 3 cucmumbers. I used a grape tomato sliced in half for the eyes and carved a tongue out of a sliced carrot (I secured this in the mouth with a toothpick). The kids NEVER touch the veggie trays but this one went fast! Funny how if you jazz something up the kids flock to it:

A simple creamy Italian pasta salad was topped with Chinese Noodles in lieu of croutons:

For drinks I typically put out juice boxes but this time I also added Ninja Water. I seriously could NOT believe that more water than juice was consumed by the kids! All it took was a roll of packing tape and some glossy photo paper. I only used the small 8oz bottles (a case of 70 was only approximately $5 at COSTCO). I printed these (I will post link soon) on glossy photo paper and cut the strips down. I was concerned about the colors running when the bottles got wet in the cooler so I flattened a strip of packing tape over the label and fastened it to the bottle over the original label:

For a sweet option aside from cake, we made 'sushi'. I had a coupon for a box of 50 Rice Krispy Treats at COSTCO so I didn't make those myself. I got a tub of Swedish Fish and a box of Fruit by the Foot, cut the Fruit by the Foot down to 6"-7" strips (do this before taking the tape off the back), and folded them in half so that they are 6" x 1/2". I placed the fish on top of the Krispy Treat and wrapped it with the Fruit by the Foot. This stuff is sticky so it secured to itself easily:

For decor, I borrowed a large Lego sorting container from my friend. These retail for about $40 at Toys R Us and when you dump the Legos in, it automatically sorts them by size. I will be investing in one of these. :) For now, I borrowed the giant head and simply wrapped a red square table cloth around it to resemble the red ninja:

For the balloons, we converted them into ninja heads. This part did not work out as well as I intended but I know what I did wrong. For one, my printer was not working properly so a lot of my preparation time was consumed by troubleshooting it and ultimately ended up buying a new printer. With that said, I bought self stick address labels, printed the ninja eyes on them and stuck them to the balloons. What I SHOULD have done was just print the yellow face part and NOT use transparent labels. I didn't realize I bought transparent labels until I printed on them and at that point I was out of time and couldn't get back to the store for the right kind. We did this on black, blue, red and white balloons. To save money, we blew them up ourselves and just put some on top of vases, taped them to walls, etc. The rest were just all over the floor in the basement (playroom) in case some kids came inside to play.

Here is the cake. I do decorate cakes. If you live in the Philadelphia area and are interested in ordering a specialty cake, please contact me! To be honest, I was very pressed for time and this poor cake suffered some shortcuts but I am still pleased with the result:

For the favors, I searched high and low for the colored Chinese take-out containers. Many people told me they were at Target in the dollar section but my Target was wiped clean of them. As I mentioned, I was running out of time so we stopped at a Chinese restaurant and for $5 they sold me 25 authentic containers! I slapped a Ninjago label on each and stuffed them. We made chocolate covered pretzel rods, paired them, tied them together with a red shoestring licorice and attached a tag to the bag that read 'Congratulations, young master! You have earned your nun-chucks'. I found a candy store at the King of Prussia Mall (Sweet Factory) that sells Lego candy. Some of it borders the base of the cake (above) and the rest of it was distributed amongst the loot containers. We also added one fortune cookie and a pair of chop sticks:

Happy birthday, Chase!!! I'll do anything for my little man. My first, truest love. <3

Since I have never done this before, I am trying to gather some of my favorite projects so I can photograph and make an entry for each one. The variety ranges greatly from kitchen cabinetry to seat cushions to simple crafts and birthday invitations.

My favorite project is definitely the kitchen cabinets. Thanks to the world wide web, I was able to reface and add hardware in a week without outside help and only spent LITERALLY $100. It wasn't difficult at all. I can't wait to share this with everyone! I completed this project in 2010 and I am still in love with the results!



I will post the simple instructions as soon as I can.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Coming soon - Lisa's Latest...

A blog showing all the projects I take on around the house for decor, inexpensive must-have's, kid's stuff, cakes, party ideas...the list goes on and on. I can't wait to share with you how I manage to accomplish some seemingly impossible projects so you can do it too.