DIY Project: Back Porch Light Fixture

NOTE:  I am NOT an electrician.  I’m sure there is an electrician somewhere on earth reading this right now and cringing.  I just like to do things myself.  If you do not feel comfortable working with electricity – don’t.


I love when I find things at yard sales or thrift stores for a great price.

I found this beauty at my local goodwill for $4.99.  In 2016.  Good grief.

See the date above the price?  Do you want to know how long it took me to change out the fixture?  Three minutes.  Or it would have taken me three minutes if the stupid mounting plate that was in the original fixture matched the new one. So in actuality, it took me twelve minutes to completely change the mounting plate and the fixture.  This is another example of my brain convincing me that “that’s going to take forever“.  Light fixtures are easy people!

Here’s what we started with.  I know.  That’s gross and disgusting and I should clean it.  There was nothing wrong with it other than the fact that it is 23 years old – I just don’t like it.

I do like this, however.  Isn’t it pretty? 

Like I said, light fixtures are easy.  First things first.  Before you begin dismantling your original light fixture, make sure that your breaker is off. Even if you know you turned off the correct breaker, test it out by trying to turn the light on. This is usually a quick way to make sure you turned off the correct breaker. However, for safety’s sake, you should still use a voltmeter to test the wires when you remove your original fixture before you touch them.

Then assess if your original fixture plate will fit the new fixture.  Mine didn’t.  To remove it, unscrew the two screws holding it to the wall.  Easy.  Screw the new plate to the wall in the exact same place and run the wires through and connect like with like.

I always connect the ground wires together first and wrap it around the ground screw.  It’s that odd greenish blue screw.

Next, connect the white wires.

Finally the black wires. Place the new fixture over the protruding screws and screw them down.

Lastly, hunt down the Deep Woods Off spray so that you can sit outside and admire your new light fixture.  Mosquitoes love me, unfortunately. 

You can see all of my other DIY projects with the link below.  Go change a light fixture!

All of my  other DIY Projects

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Save the Hardware!

Anytime you trash a piece of furniture, take the hardware off and stick it in a drawer.    Or if you are like me you can separate them into little compartments in your garage.  You may need it later.  I’ve done this for years with everything from screws, nuts and bolts, to drawer pulls.  I’ve only had to run over to the Tractor Supply once in the past ten years for a weird screw that I didn’t have to replace a light fixture I was installing.

First, it keeps things out of the landfill that will NEVER decompose.  Second, who knows when you will need just a random screw.  Who wants to be driving across town to buy that?  Not me, see above.  It costs me gas money and time.  My time is worth a lot of money.

I love YouTube.  You can learn anything now.  Granted there are a LOT of people on there who know very little about what they are doing and think that they are experts, so you have to be careful about who’s advice you are following.

When I find a YouTuber that I like, I almost always go back to the beginning of their channel and watch everything forward just like a TV show.  The problem with this is that I don’t feel like I can leave a comment on something that happened three years ago.

Example:  One of the women that I watch likes to organize, clean and build stuff.  Which is right up my alley.  She decided that to store things better, she needed to get rid of her cheap particle board armoires that were taking up too much room.  She took the time to dismantle them and put them out for the garbage truck.  The entire time I’m yelling at the screen for her to save the hardware.  It was really good hardware; cheap particle board pretend wood, but excellent hardware.  Go figure.

Fast forward in YouTube time to three months later and she’s building something again.  You know what’s coming.  She went to Home Depot and spent $13.00 EACH for new hinges for her project.  After THROWING AWAY PERFECTLY EXCELLENT HINGES in the garbage.

I’m not suggesting that you become a hoarder and keep things that definitely need to go into the garbage.  Notice I didn’t say, Hey, she should have keep that broken particle board, just in case!  No.  I understand that some things are garbage.  But even if she didn’t keep the hardware, she could have put it all in a baggy and donated it and someone would have happily bought it for a few bucks.  Instead of having to run over to the Home Depot and spending $13.00 EACH for hinges.

Anywho, just don’t throw them away!  Do you keep hardware from things that are no longer useful?

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3 Ingredient Taco Seasoning Recipe

I don’t buy things like taco seasoning anymore because I have all the ingredients on hand in my pantry.  I bet you do too!

My base is only three ingredients.  1 tablespoon each of chili powder, cumin and garlic powder.

That’s it.  You can add in anything else that strikes your fancy and it will only make it better in my opinion.  Onion powder, paprika, ground black pepper, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, sea salt, cilantro.  The possibilities are endless.  Just make sure you have those first three ingredients and you are golden.

This will be enough for up to two pounds of meat, but you can mix it in bulk and store it in an airtight container.

 

FREE Tip: Essential Oils in the Bathroom

This is an easy way to freshen your bathroom every time someone needs the loo.

Drop five to ten drops of your favorite essential oils into the cardboard tube of toilet paper.

Every time someone rolls off some TP, your bathroom will be scented with the refreshing scent of  – in my case Limes.

Everyone who visits your bathroom will thank you!

A Place for Everything. The Shred Pile.

It’s that time of year isn’t it?  Everywhere I look someone is talking about how to organize and clean, or purge things.  Which I love.  But, sometimes things can be a little or a lot vague.

As we all know, I need a plan to follow or nothing is going to be accomplished.  I can say all day long, I need to organize all those papers……  Unless I have a direction and a objective for getting those papers organized, I might as well just leave them sitting in the pile.

So!  I thought I’d share one of my practices that keep me from being buried alive by all of the paperwork that comes into our house.

I have a large filing cabinet that I keep in my living room.  It looks like a piece of furniture and I love it.  It boggles my Mama’s mind.  She says I’m just like my Papaw Calvin.  One of the many, many reasons I loved that man.  He was a keeper and a filer like me.  That’s where anything that I need to keep ends up.  Tax paperwork, school records, the last years bills that I still get in paper form, things like that.

Someone very close to me told me that they don’t keep their month to month bills.  They look at the amount, pay the bill and throw the paperwork away.  That gives me heart palpitations.  What if your next bill comes and it’s wrong!  What if you need to call and give the people in Whoville a piece of your mind because they overcharged you for whatzits that month?!?  These are the things that can keep me up at night.  I’ll keep my monthly bills for a year thank you very much.

Eventually those things go into the shred pile.  Especially if it has an account number on it.  I can’t imagine why someone would want my water bill with the account number, but still.

Also, I don’t throw anything away with our name and address on it.  I can only imagine some crazed mail stealer waiting for me to throw away a piece of mail with our name and address on it so they can use it for nefarious purposes.  Denton constantly reminds me that our name and address is listed in the local phone book.  I don’t care.  I’m not taking any chances.  Anything with our name and address, anything with an account number, all of those things go into the shred pile.

My shred pile used to overwhelm me.  I had a beautiful piece of furniture to store all of my records in, but the shred pile just sat and stared at me from across the room.  Who has time to shred things all day long?  Not me.  So I put them into a pile to accumulate and I would shred all of them at once.  Usually every couple of months.  Sigh…..  I decided to do something about it.

My shred pile used to sit in that beautiful tray that now houses our air purifier.  And it would grow and grow and become the equivalent of Mt. Everest in papers that needed to be disposed of. So I put them into a container.  Once the container is full, I need to take care of it.  It is also hidden to the left of the filing cabinet.  It’s still very handy to shove all of the papers into, but out of direct site lines of the general public in my house.

See? You don’t even notice my pile o’ papers, do you?

Do you have a shred pile at your house too, or do you just chunk yours in the garbage like Denton does when I’m not looking?

DIY: A New to Me, Vintage Chair.

NOTE:  Every single time I finish up a project another one rears its ugly head.  See:  That red wall.  It has to go, but I HATE painting.  Moving on!

I found this little beauty at my local Salvation Army a few weeks ago.  It was $2.00.  Seriously.  As soon as I saw it I started dragging it towards the checkout counter.  Just look at those lines.  The beautiful curved wood.  Love.  I love it.  The original upholstery……No, I did not love it.  But it passed the smell test, from three feet away and then incrementally closer until I had my nose plastered against it.  If it had reeked of cigarette smoke or other smelly things you don’t even want to consider, I would never have bought it – no matter how little they were asking for it.

But apparently, they thought no one would buy it because it was so, so ugly, hence the wonderful price.  Yay, for me!

Lovely, bendy wood arms.

Filthy, but not for long.

Even more stunning from the back.  Just ignore the hideous upholstery. 

Okay.  First things first.  If you look closely at photo three, you’ll see that this chair is attached with two bolts on each side.  There were another three  3 1/2 inch screws on the front of the chair that attached it to the base.   That’s it.  Awesome.

I got out our trusty allen wrench set and got to work.  Easy peasy.  The screws took longer, but I mastered those bad boys.  Even if I had to rest between each one.

Then I started ripping off 942 year old upholstery.  Gross.  Seriously gross stuff.  Even if it doesn’t smell.  Old upholstery is just gross.  Good thing it was going away.

More ripping and tearing.

Ahhh, the loveliness.  If you read my post from earlier last week, you’ll remember that I got this bolt of material for $2.50!!  Yay, for thrift stores.

Just compare…..

Nope, there is no comparison.

After I removed most of the sections of old material, I measured out what I would need to replace it with on the back of my new material…… (ignore my sewing machine, it was out for yet another project I’m working on)

I placed the new material over the wooden bones of the chair……

Got out my trusty staple gun and went to town.  Stretch and staple in place, stretch and staple in place.  Rinse and repeat all the way around the back.

Then I scoured my pillow collection for an unredeemable one to sacrifice for the open bottom of the chair.

Slice it open and rip…….

These contraptions are for the back of the chair that you can see in the fourth photo from the top.  I ended up throwing the cardboard one on the left away and just stapling that top portion in place from the underside, but the two metal pieces are gold.

I wrapped the right side edge around and pressed the sharp as hades points through…..

Ditto for the left side…..Then started hammering the right side into place.  Did the same thing on the left side.  Denton came through at one point and asked why I was using his framing hammer.  Because, I couldn’t find MY hammer.  And in my world a hammer is a hammer.  Please don’t send me emails explaining the difference.

I measured out my repurposed pillowcase to the underside of the chair and stapled it in place.  (this took the place of the nasty black felt that was on the original, that you can see in photo 5)

Flipped it back over and put the three screws and four bolts back into place and ….. Tada!

I am so pleased with how it turned out.

It’s soft as a cloud.

And it looks like a baby lamb.

Don’t you love those wood angles?

Love it.  I love it.

I want to display it like this so everyone can see the marvelous back.

Exquisite.  I love it, did I mention that to you yet?  The moral of this story is, don’t let ugly, outdated upholstery stop you from buying something that you find lovely.  All you need is an afternoon, a $2.50 bolt of material from your thrift store and your own trusty staple gun,  allen wrench and framing hammer.

You can do it!

P.S.  Here are the tools I used on this project, just in case you need to build your own collection.

BOSTITCH 51-855 20oz Steel Hammer Rip Claw

Craftsman 9-47139 Phillips Screwdriver Set, 5 Piece

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Brass Lamp Makeover: The Power of Spray Paint

I’ve had this little beauty sitting on the floor in my bedroom for a while now.  I love the shape and the dimension it has, but I was not crazy about the patina which wasn’t even.

Spray paint to the rescue.  $1.00 spray paint to be exact.  For something like this that is never going to be exposed to the elements, I would highly recommend trying out the paint at your local Walmart in the dollar section.  There are quite a few colors, but I almost always have black and white on hand.  You can buy all of the colors in flat or shiny finish.  I used flat on this lamp.

When Denton and I bought our house, the shutters were a terrible mix of Navy, Cyan, and baby blue.  Depending on how the light hit them.  I had Denton climb up and take them all down and in one afternoon I painted all of them with this brand of spray paint in black.  It lasted for over six years before it started to fade.  For $3.00 and an hour of my time, it was awesome.

I’ve found the key to getting a great paint job with this spray paint is to do very light coats, multiple times.  You don’t want this stuff to run!  Keep the can about 10 inches away and spray with a long sweeping action of your arm.  It dries very quickly.  I worked my way around the piece and by the time I was back to my original starting point I could start again.  I circled the lamp about eight times until it was coated sufficiently.

I love how the paint made the different depths stand out.

Spray paint.  I love it and what it can do.

What have you spray painted lately?

Deep Thoughts: Grill Igniter

This morning I was going through my emails and I clicked on the newest one from Pretty Handy Girl.  Do you read her blog?  I love it, she is amazing.  Right now she is saving a house that she calls Etta.  You should follow along, it’s pretty cool.

Anyway, her blog post was about replacing your grill’s igniter button.  And my brain just stutter-stopped.  You know those moments when your brain flashes 38 different instances in front of your eyes in 0.4 seconds?  That’s what happened.

The flashes were of me or Denton (mostly Denton because I sort of like my eyebrows, some days) over the last four or five years lighting our gas grill with a twisted up piece of paper towel that’s on fire – me – or lit matches – Denton – to light our grill.

I had somehow blocked out the reasoning behind this curious thing we’ve been doing for years.  And it’s because our igniter button no longer works.  Huh.  How do you forget the reason behind something you do at least twice a week, for years?  Or maybe it isn’t that we forgot, but it’s just something that we’ve grown so used to doing and it’s not irritating enough to us yet that we would do something about it.

Possibly, I could have had the thought cross my thrifty brain that the cost of a new igniter would be upwards of what I paid for the thing five years ago at a yard sale – ergo – it would be cost prohibitive to replace.  It’s a very nice gas grill, but I’m not willing to sink money into a button that would save me 16 seconds twice a week, if it’s going to cost more than I paid for the grill itself.

Do you face these dilemma’s on a daily basis too?  I’m going to go set out my vitamins next to my stove, because it’s the first thing I see in the mornings, so I’ll be sure to take them.  And possibly take a nap.  Good luck with your igniter button.

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When your time and sanity are worth more than money.

The windshield on our 1995 Jeep Wrangler is cracked so it is time to get it replaced.  For some reason our insurance isn’t covering this – note to self, check into this – so we are having to foot the bill.

I am ever the frugal queen and checked to see what a replacement would cost.  $99.99.   Plus the cost for the gaskets, which are around $89.00.   After taxes, right about $200.00.  Yay for flat windshields.  But the catch would be that Denton and I would have to spend who knows how long installing this bad boy ourselves.

If you have ever DIYed anything, ever, you know that how long you believe a certain job will take you, you should double it.  Seriously.  Especially if it’s something that you have never tackled before.  I would probably go so far to say you may want to triple or quadruple your time frame.  It’s better to think this way, so when it does take you three hours to remove thirty square feet of carpeting, the tack strips, and 967,452,124 staples you won’t be surprised.  Ahem.

Anyway, I had Denton order the windshield so we could get this taken care of.  But, he called me back and said that he checked with a local glass dealer who installs windshields and the guy will order the windshield and gaskets, and install it for $232.00.

So.  $32.00.  Denton seriously didn’t want to tell me this.  He knows how hard I will pinch a penny.  Until it screams.

But, I have discovered something about myself these last few years.  My time and sanity are precious.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love DIY.  Hayden and I have had some serious quality time together laying the wood floors in our house.  I would even go so far as to say that we are enjoying it.  His words.

But you also have to do the math and be reasonable about things.  $32.00.  I would wager a guess and say that I think that Denton and I could get the old windshield out in about an hour.  This is from watching random people on YouTube who know what they are doing.  So using my fool-proof method, I will double that and say it will actually take us two hours to remove.

I believe that we are perfectly capable of installing the new windshield and gaskets, but would estimate with the doubling that it will actually take us around 3 – 4 hours to actually get it in.  That’s if everything goes perfectly.  Which it probably wouldn’t.

Six hours.  $32.00 divided by six hours of manual labor equals $5.33 an hour.  Divide that by 2 because it would take both of us, you get $2.66 an hour.  For something that I already know isn’t going to bring me or Denton joy and happiness.  No, thank you.

I think that he was surprised.  He kept trying to give me reasons of why we should just have this guy do it.  I agreed with him.  Over and over.  He knows me well after all of these years.

Here is the caveat, and there is almost always a caveat with me.  If you had given me this scenario 15 years ago, we would definitely be doing this ourselves.  Money is a big factor.  Saving even just $32.00 would have been a big deal back then.  So if you are in a place where spending the day with someone you love, even if it’s doing something that you know you are not going to enjoy and it saves you some moolah, go for it.  You’ll learn something new and save some money at the same time.

Just try not to kill one another.

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When you can’t find your heating pad…..

Make your own.

IMG_3204It has been one of those mornings.  Up before dawn, with severe cramps.  My daughter has been cursed with this lovely gift most of the women in our family inherited.  We have a special heating pad for days just like this that wraps completely around her body, but it’s MIA today. It’s this one.  If you’re ever in this situation and you can’t find your trusty heating pad, here is a simple solution that actually works.

IMG_3202Find your oldest, softest pillowcase…..

IMG_3199Pour in a few cups or 10 of rice…..

IMG_3203Roll it up like a burrito…..

IMG_3201And microwave for a minute to a minute and a half.  It will stay toasty warm for at least an hour.  Reheat as often as you need.

You’re welcome!