Build a Window Shelf & Upcycle Your Bustelo Cans

windowshelfSeptLowesfinalwithlogo

As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s in order to purchase supplies to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

This month’s challenge was “window treatments.” It took me awhile to figure out what I wanted to do because I’m not the type to get excited about curtains and such, plus, I like to let as much sunlight into the house as possible. If we didn’t have neighbors, I probably wouldn’t have blinds at all. So I looked at all my windows and brainstormed. I decided my kitchen window needed a mini-makeover. I have a tendency to keep all kinds of plants and jars in the kitchen window and it was getting crowded, so as you can see in the photo above, I decided to build a shelf into the window.

Building a shelf into a window is probably easier than you think. Here’s how we did it.

Build a Window Shelf

What you need:

measuring tape
a length of board cut to the dimensions of your window
decorative wood trim cut to the length of the board
4 L-brackets
pencil
level
screws
screwdriver
small nails
hammer

optional: Paint or wood stain, paint brush

Directions:

1. Carefully measure the inside frame of your window. You want to get a piece of wood cut to those dimensions. Get a piece of wood trim cut to the same length.

2. If painting or staining the wood, do this before continuing to step 3. We decided to paint our shelf white because eventually we want to paint the window frame and kitchen cabinets white. (So for now, it doesn’t match. Ideally you want to match the wood to the existing window frame color.) When the paint or stain is dry, you can use a hammer and nails to attach the decorative trim to the front side of the shelf. (This will help hide the L-brackets when the shelf is in place.)

3. Decide where within the frame you want the shelf, (i.e. right in the middle or up higher.) Use a pencil to mark where you want to install the L-brackets which will support the shelf. Use a level and the measuring tape to double check that you have marked in the right spot on both sides of the window frame.

4. Install the L-brackets using the screws and screwdriver.

5. Place the wood on top of the L-brackets. Check again with the level in case you need to make adjustments. If it’s level, congratulations, you’ve just built a perfect new window shelf.

Lbrackets_5

Need something to put on your new shelf? Buy a new plant and some potting dirt then put it into an empty coffee can. (I know some of you have plenty of empty Bustelo cans, so make good use of them!)

busteloplant_5

Check out more from Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network by subscribing to their Creative Ideas Magazine and E-Newsletter, following them on Pinterest, and by seeing what the other Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network members are up to.

Cold Horchata and a Low Electric Bill

fridge1_latinaish_x

It’s August which means it’s time to share my home improvement project of the month. This month Lowe’s challenged us to make our casita more energy efficient and to also get ready for autumn.

When I researched ways to make our home more energy efficient, I came up with a lot of options, but so much of the information pointed to one thing – “el refri” – (that’s Spanish for “the fridge.”) Check out some of these facts:

“Refrigerators and freezers consume about a sixth of all electricity in a typical American home – using more electricity than any other single household appliance.” – Source: ConsumerEnergyCenter.org

“ENERGY STAR certified refrigerators are required to use about 15% less energy than non-certified models…By properly recycling your old refrigerator and replacing it with a new ENERGY STAR certified refrigerator, you can save from $200–$1,100 on energy costs over its lifetime.” – Source: EnergyStar.gov

“Refrigerators are the top-consuming kitchen appliance in U.S. households…” – Source: Science.HowStuffWorks.com

It didn’t take long for me to get the message – especially knowing that our refrigerator was over 10 years old and not functioning well – (Although according to Carlos, our old fridge wasn’t completely broken compared to his childhood refrigerator in El Salvador. He says the door of his refrigerator wouldn’t stay closed so they installed a latch on the outside of it.)

Anyway, we went to Lowe’s and after browsing for a few minutes, we found an Energy Star refrigerator in our price range that fit the dimensions of our kitchen. It’s not one of those fancy side-by-side refrigerators and it isn’t made of shiny stainless steel, but we’re happy with it.

The next day Lowe’s delivered the new fridge and took away the old one for free.

WholeFridge_Lowes_August_Latinaish

As you can see from the two photos so far, I have the new fridge organized inside and out – which brings me to the “getting ready for autumn” portion of the challenge. For most families, August means it’s time to get ready for “back-to-school” and the refrigerator is one of those parts of the household that is impacted. There will be school lunches to pack and store on the inside, while the outside serves as a message center for events, permission slips, menu plans, grocery lists, calenders, art work, and graded assignments we want to display to show our orgullo when our niños do well.

Sticking all these things on the fridge haphazardly with magnets from the local pizza place doesn’t set a very good example for the kids when you hand them new school supplies and tell them to keep organized, plus it just looks messy, so I came up with a few do-it-yourself crafts to de-clutter and keep organized. See the directions below to make your own!

Do-it-Yourself Magnetic Frames & Corkboards

What you need:

• Picture frames
• Magnets (I found these in the hardware aisle at Lowe’s, you can use circular discs or rectangular blocks, depending on the size of your frame.)
• Hot glue gun & glue sticks
• Scissors
• Pen
• Style Selections 2′ x 4′ Cork Roll (at Lowe’s)
• Optional: Paint or spray paint

Directions:

1. Gather your supplies. For the frames, lightweight frames work best since you’ll want the magnets to hold it securely on your fridge. Check your dollar store and second hand stores for great deals on frames and get them in a variety of sizes. Smaller ones can be used for photos, but you’ll want larger document-sized ones for the corkboard and for displaying papers your child brings home from school.

Note: I left my frames silver because I thought they looked nice like that, but if you want to paint or spray paint the frames, you should do that before anything else. Just remove the backing and the glass, place on newspaper, and then paint or spray paint. (Lowe’s has a Valspar brand spray paint specifically for plastic if you’re using plastic frames.) Allow to dry before continuing.

2. Cut the cardboard stand off the back of the frame – you won’t need it. This doesn’t have to look pretty.

3. For a corkboard frame, remove the glass and use it to trace the shape/size onto the corkboard with a pen. Cut the corkboard out with scissors. Set aside.

4. With the glass removed, trace the inside of your frame onto the cardboard backing with a pen. These marks are what will guide you for positioning the corkboard in the center of the frame if needed. Remove the cardboard backing from the frame and use hot glue to attach the cork material to the cardboard. When finished, put the backing, now covered with the cork material, back into the frame.

5. To make both magnetic corkboards and regular magnetic frames, flip the frame to the backside, and attach a magnet in each corner with hot glue. If your frame is heavier, you may need to attach more magnets for it to stick securely to the fridge.

Note: I recommend not using the glass at all when frames are displayed on the fridge. The glass makes the frames heavier and considerably more dangerous if one happens to fall when opening or closing the door.

Lowes_fridgeorganized_outside_latinaish_x

Three Bonus Organizing and Energy-Saving Tips:

• Buy an expanding folder that closes securely. Hang this on your fridge using two strong magnetic clips. It’s great for keeping smaller clutter like business cards for local repair companies, coupons, frequently used recipes and restaurant menus, accessible but hidden.

• Label things and keep them organized inside your refrigerator to cut down on the amount of time you search for things. Keeping the refrigerator door open leads to higher energy bills.

• Keep a magnetic grocery list on the fridge and update it as needed throughout the week. This will save you from holding the fridge door open for an extended period on grocery shopping day to take inventory.

What is your best tip for keeping your electric bill down and staying organized? Díganos en comments!

Check out more from Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network by subscribing to their Creative Ideas Magazine and E-Newsletter, liking them on Facebook, following them on Twitter, (Hashtag: #LowesCreator), watching their videos on YouTube, re-pinning them on Pinterest, and by seeing what the other Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network members are up to at LowesCreativeIdeas.com.

Disclosure: This is not a paid or sponsored post. As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s to purchase products to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

How To Make Paper Fiesta Flowers For Hanging

paperfiestaflowers_latinaish

Ready to make a festive paper flower garland for your next fiesta? Here are step-by-step directions with photos to help you make decorative paper flower pom-poms which can be hung on a string, from the ceiling, on tree branches or wherever you like! (It’s a great craft to do with your niños!)

How To Make Paper Fiesta Flowers

What you need:

flores_step1_latinaish

Crepe paper (Tissue paper will probably work but that isn’t what I used.)
Wire (Small children may feel more comfortable working with pipe cleaners.)
String
Scissors

Directions:

1. Cut 4 sheets of crepe paper to the same length. (Mine were about 9 1/2 inches by 22 inches.) As I mentioned above, this will probably work with tissue paper but I use crepe paper because it’s stronger, doesn’t tear as easily, and has a little added texture compared to tissue paper.

flores_step2_latinaish

2. With the sheets of paper lined up on top of each other, fold width-wise in 1 1/2 inch fan/accordion style folds.

flores_step3_latinaish

flores_step4_latinaish

3. Secure in the middle with a length of wire about 7 inches long. Don’t secure it so tightly that you crush the paper too much. (It should now look like a bow tie.)

flores_step5_latinaish

4. Spread out the fan folds.

flores_step6_latinaish

5. Carefully separate each layer. Fluff and adjust as needed on each side so it is round in shape.

flores_step7_latinaish

flores_step8_latinaish

6. Secure the wire to a long length of string. Repeat until you have the garland as long as you want it.

7. Hang up your garland of pretty pom-pom flowers and throw a fiesta!

flores_final1_latinaish

8 Free Papel Picado Clipart and 2 Fiesta Invites

All this available free to download below!

All this available free to download below!

I’ve begun to work on actual preparations for my son’s quince (15th birthday party.) Yesterday I created some tissue paper decorations, (fun tutorial coming soon!), bought paper plates, and designed an invitation.

This is an example of what your invitation could look like once you add text!

This is an example of what your invitation could look like once you add text!

For the invitation I wanted a colorful Latin American fiesta theme with papel picado but I wasn’t finding any free templates online that fit what I needed. I decided to design my own fiesta-style invite and papel picado clipart from scratch. I wish I could invite all of you to the party, but since I can’t, here’s the template I created – free for you to use and adapt to your own personal needs. Just click the image for the larger version, right click and download to your computer. You can print it out and hand letter the invite, or upload and edit it in a program like Picmonkey. Have fun!

Free Papel Picado Clipart and Fiesta Invites

Click for large version.

Click for large version.

Click for large version.

Click for large version.

Click for large version.

Click for large version.

Click for large version.

Click for large version.

Click for large version.

Click for large version.

Click for large version.

Click for large version.

Click for large version.

Click for large version.

Click for large version.

Click for large version.

Click for large version.

Click for large version.

Click for large version.

Click for large version.

Note: The images within this blog post are free to use and adapt for personal, non-commercial use. Please do not add these images to clipart collections on other websites or use them for commercial purposes. Other images on this website outside of this post remain protected under copyright and may not be used without prior written consent.

How to Make a Backyard Ceramic Tile Mosaic

mosaictitlefinal

As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s in order to purchase supplies to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

The Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network challenge for July is “outdoor art.” I decided to pay tribute to one of my favorite artists, Fernando Llort. When we went to El Salvador in 2011, we visited The Catedral Metropolitana in San Salvador – a cathedral full of history and which featured a colorful tile mosaic façade by Llort. Months after we returned to the United States, that façade was thoughtlessly torn down. It’s difficult to say how sad and angry this made me – it still upsets me to this day. Making a replica of part of Llort’s mosaic felt like the right thing to do.

The cathedral before its destruction, and the section of the mosaic I decided to replicate.

A photo I took of the cathedral before the mosaic’s destruction, and the section of the mosaic I decided to replicate.

This project is time-consuming but worth it. Here’s how to make your own Backyard Ceramic Tile Mosaic.

How to Make a Backyard Ceramic Tile Mosaic

Materials:

square white ceramic tiles (amount depends on desired size of mosaic)
glass paint (gloss opaque in desired colors)
fine tip paint brush
ruler
rubbing alcohol
cotton balls
1/2 inch deep wood board cut to desired size (depends on desired size of mosaic)
screwdriver
2 screws
hanging wire
Gorilla Glue
needle-nose pliers
scissors
pencil
colored pencils
permanent marker
plastic gloves

Instructions:

1. Choose a design for your mosaic. This can be an existing design you want to re-create or one you created yourself. Decide how many tiles wide and high you want your mosaic to be and using a ruler and pencil, divide your image into a grid with an equal number of blocks. If your image is small, you may have to re-draw it larger. I recommend doing this the old-fashioned way instead of blowing the image up and applying a grid through computerized image editing, since the old-fashioned way gives you practice drawing the design. Use colored pencils to lightly color in the image if desired.

mosaicgridsketchFINAL

2. Number the blocks on the grid and the backs of the corresponding tiles to keep things organized in case you don’t finish in one sitting. (If your tiles come attached to each other, separate them and remove as much of the glue as possible using pliers.)

3. Screw the screws into the top edge of the board. Later you’ll tie the wire on but do this part now. You don’t want to do this after the tiles are attached and have the board crack.

4. Clean the surface of each tile with a cotton ball soaked in rubbing alcohol and then allow each to dry before applying paint. You can use a pencil and/or permanent marker to draw the outline of your design before you paint it.

5. Paint each tile, referring to your grid as a guide. Allow to dry.

6. To cure the paint on the tiles, place tiles in a cold oven on a foil-lined baking sheet. Set oven to 350 F, bake for 30 minutes. The foil is especially important if there is still glue on the backs of your tiles. This glue will melt in the oven and the tiles will attach themselves to your baking sheet! Turn oven off, allowing tiles to cool completely inside the oven before removing. Note that your tiles go into the oven when it’s cold and come out when it’s cold. They must be allowed to heat up and cool down properly. If you have a lot of tiles, you may have to do this in batches. Note: When moving tiles be careful not to chip the paint. The paint is not permanent until tiles are cured. If you do chip the paint, touch it up and wait for it to dry again. The tiles, (I believe because of the glue), smell strongly while being baked. I recommend having a few windows open while baking.

MosaicCollage2

7. Now you’re ready to assemble the mosaic and attach it to the wood. Put on some plastic gloves to avoid getting Gorilla Glue on your skin. Lightly moisten the back side of each tile with a damp paper towel and apply a very small amount of Gorilla Glue. Place tiles on your piece of wood in order using your grid as a reference. (Remember to check that the screws are at the top before attaching tiles!) Carefully place a flat heavy object, such as books, on top of the glued tiles to apply pressure. Wait 30 minutes until dry. If your mosaic is large, I recommend doing this step one section at a time. Note: You may want to test this process with extra tiles and a scrap piece of wood. Gorilla Glue expands and what you may think is a small amount, will be too much if you aren’t experienced in using it.

8. Wait 72 hours to be sure that paint and glue are fully cured before tying the hanging wire to the screws and hanging outside.

9. Optional: For a more finished look, you can glue thin pieces of wood molding around the outside of your mosaic. To make the mosaic more weather-proof, you could apply a ceramic tile surface sealer but I did not attempt this and can’t tell you whether it would affect the appearance of the painted tiles.

Note: Although the paint and glue are permanent, harsh weather will take a toll on your mosaic. Consider bringing your mosaic indoors during cold or rainy months, or display it in a sheltered area, such as a patio under an awning.

finalmosaicgrass

What will your mosaic design be?

Check out more from Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network by subscribing to their Creative Ideas Magazine and E-Newsletter, following them on Pinterest, and by seeing what the other Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network members are up to.

How To Make Your Own Fútbolito (Table Top Soccer Game)

I’m excited to show you the project I made for May as part of my partnership with the Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network and I think you guys are going to love this one, too.

Remember a couple years ago when I went to El Salvador and one of the souvenirs I came back with was a “fútbolito” (little table top soccer game)? … I mentioned in that post that we had actually always wanted to make our own “fútbolito” and so that’s what I decided to do for May’s project.

DoItYourselfFutbolito

For the month of May, the challenge was to use the PANTONE Universe’s Color of the Year, Emerald Green, (available exclusively at Lowe’s in Valspar Signature Paint.) … The color kind of reminded me of a soccer pitch and with my older son trying out for the soccer team again this summer, fútbolito is what came to mind!

To make your own, check out the directions below!

Make Your Own Fútbolito (Table Top Soccer Game)

You Need:

green paint (I used PANTONE Universe in Emerald, satin finish)
white paint (I just used craft paint)
a wooden board – 10 inches wide x 14 inches long x 3/4 inch deep
1 1/4 inch nails (I used white-colored nails but you can use nails of any color)
coffee straws (optional: Use different colored straws for each team)
hammer
pencil with eraser
scissors
medium flat paint brush
fine tip paint brush
ruler
protractor
drinking glass
white mason line (string)

suppliesMay

Directions:

1. With medium flat paint brush, paint the wood board green, allow to dry.

2. Measure and mark lines in pencil. (Refer to or print the diagram I made below!) Use the protractor for the half-moon at the front of the goal box. If you don’t have a protractor, you can use a drinking glass. Also use the drinking glass, (or a drafting compass if you want to be technical), to draw the circle in the center of the field.

(Click for full size version)

(Click for full size version)

3. With fine tip paint brush, paint lines white, allow to dry.

4. Mark spots for players, goal posts, and border in pencil as shown on the diagram.

5. Gently hammer nails into spots marked for goal posts and border. Note: Be careful not to crack the wood. This is more likely to happen when you’re close to the edge.)

6. Cut coffee straws into 3/4 inch sections. Slide a piece of coffee straw on each nail for players before hammering into place. Optional: If you can find two different colors of coffee straws, make one team one color and the other team another color.

7. Wrap string around nails on the outside line and around goal posts. I don’t have an exact method for this. Just tie the string on one corner nail and start going nail to nail, keeping the string taut, wrapping the string once around, before going to the next nail. Go around the entire perimeter and goal posts 4 times before tying off. Note: On your last pass over the goal posts, criss-cross at a diagonal as seen in the photos.

futbolitocollage

8. Erase stray pencil marks.

9. To play with your “fútbolito” (table top soccer game), you can use 2 popsicle sticks and a marble or other small round ball that will fit inside the goals. Another option is to use a penny or other coin and take turns flicking it.

10. Feeling extra creative? Paint or decorate wide “jumbo” popsicle sticks with brand names to make it look like the advertisements you see along the sides of real stadium soccer fields!

playfutbolito

Check out more from Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network by subscribing to their Creative Ideas Magazine and E-Newsletter, liking them on Facebook, following them on Twitter, (Hashtag: #LowesCreator), watching their videos on YouTube, re-pinning them on Pinterest, and by seeing what the other Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network members are up to.

Disclosure: This is not a paid or sponsored post. As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s to purchase products to complete projects. All opinions are my own.

Todo Me Parece Bonito!

Winter-Blogger-Badge_Square.jpg.jpgI am super feliz to announce that I’m now a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network – What this means is that each month I’ll be participating in creative home and garden improvement projects which I’ll share with you here.

We’ve been Lowe’s customers for a long time, (remember the video we made a couple years ago about how all the signage at Lowe’s is bilingual?) – and like most homeowners, we have a long list of things that need to be fixed – so somos una pareja perfecta (we’re a perfect match!)

For the month of March the challenge was to either bring spring indoors or do some spring cleaning and organization – I ended up doing a little of all of that. We live in a small house, (1,144 square feet to be exact), so the family computer is located in a corner of the living room – and it wasn’t a very pretty corner. I decided to salvage the beat up desk and chair by painting them a bright color, add potted plants, clean up the clutter, and change up the wall art. Here’s the result!

beforeafteroffice

What do you think? If you like any of these changes and want to re-create them in your own casita, here are some step-by-step directions to help you out.

Potted Plant How-To

lavenderhowto

What you need:
Pots of your choice (I chose the 3-pot herb tray planter, $9.97)
Plants of your choice (I chose lavender, $3.48 each)

Directions:

This is pretty easy! In my case, I chose lavender because not only is it pretty but it smells good so it works as a natural air freshener. Lavender is also known to de-stress, and since this computer area is used for stressful things like filing taxes and doing homework, I figured we could all use a dose!

The Lavender came in biodegradable pots which can be planted directly in the ground, but because I re-planted it in ceramic pots, I cut that part away and simply put the biodegradable part outside in the garden. If the plant you chose came with too much dirt, remove as much as needed to make it fit. If the opposite is true, (the plant didn’t come with enough dirt to fill your pot nicely), you may need to purchase a small bag of potting soil and add as needed.

Beach-style Sign How-To

signhowto

What you need:
A piece of lumber, 1 to 2 feet long
Screws, screwdriver
Hammer
Paint colors, (your choice)
A large paintbrush for the background color
A very fine paint brush for lettering
Picture wire ($3.18)
Wire cutters
Ruler
Pencil with eraser
Sandpaper (optional)

Directions:

1. For the piece of lumber I actually bought a “mailbox mount board” for $3.47 because it was the perfect size plus it came with a little bag of screws. Paint the board whichever color you like. I chose Valspar semi-gloss in “Sprinkler CI 250.” Choose a word or phrase and then measure lines lightly marked in pencil to guide you. (The phrase I chose, “Todo me parece bonito” ["Everything seems nice to me"] is from a Jarabe de Palo song.) Allow to dry before moving on to the next step.

2. I chose to hand letter my sign, but you can use stencils. Use a pencil to outline the text lightly and then you can paint them in. (I just used basic white craft paint which, like many of the supplies I didn’t price above, I already had on hand.)

3. Allow paint to dry completely and then gently erase any pencil marks that are still showing. Optional: If you want your sign to look more weather worn, lightly hand sand it with fine sandpaper.

4. I wanted my sign to look kind of casual and hastily made, like a real sign you might see on a beach, so I chose to make the screws and wire visible. If you don’t want the hanging mechanism to be visible, you can do it on the back side. To make your sign like mine, measure an inch in on each side of your sign on the top edge. Mark a dot at each end, which is where you’ll place a screw. Tap the screw with a hammer so that it stands on its own, and then use a screw driver to drill it in deeper, but not all the way.

5. Use wire cutters to cut a length of wire that is a couple inches longer than your board on each side. Tie the wire to each screw and wrap any extra length around the screw. Your sign is ready to hang!

Desk & Chair Makeover How-To

Jpainting

What you need:
Paint of your choice (I got a gallon of Valspar semi-gloss in “Sprinkler CI 250″ – cost $34.98)
Paint brushes ($2.98 to $3.98 each, depending on size)
Sandpaper ($5.97)
Cloth rags
Old newspapers
Eye protection
Face masks – aka “respirators” (3 pack, $5.97)
Candy (to “pay” your kids to do the dirty work)
Optional: electric sander

Directions:

1. If you can, take your furniture outside when you sand it – this saves you from making the house all dusty. The purpose of sanding before you paint is to help the paint adhere better to the wood and it will save you from having to do a second coat. Use eye protection and a face mask to keep the dust from sanding out of your eyes and lungs. You can sand by hand or use an electric sander. (If you hate sanding like I do, hire your kids to do it. Mine work for candy, which Lowe’s conveniently sells.)

2. Wipe the furniture down with old rags to remove all the dust.

3. Open the paint and stir. If painting inside, spread old newspapers under the furniture to protect your flooring. If painting outside, you can do the same if you don’t want your grass painted. A gallon is more than enough to paint your average-sized desk and chair – You will have plenty leftover for other projects.

4. Allow paint to dry completely before moving your furniture or putting anything on it.

officefinal

Check out more from Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network by subscribing to their Creative Ideas Magazine and E-Newsletter, liking them on Facebook, following them on Twitter, (Hashtag: #LowesCreator), watching their videos on YouTube, re-pinning them on Pinterest, and by seeing what the other Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network members are up to at LowesCreativeIdeas.com.

Disclosure: This is not a paid or sponsored post. As a member of Lowe’s Creative Ideas Network I received gift cards from Lowe’s to purchase products to complete projects. All opinions are my own.