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Posted by on Jan 3, 2012 | 1 comment

Before & After: Alley Cast-Off Becomes Functional Kitchen Island

Before & After: Alley Cast-Off Becomes Functional Kitchen Island

For the past seven years I’ve been living with two feet of counter space in my kitchen. I have only myself to blame for this. We renovated the 1950s galley kitchen after we moved in in 2004 but we made some poor decisions. I won’t bore you with the details but it’s the result of new homeowner ignorance + lack of HGTV inspiration + financial limitations. I recently decided it was time to make a change and get a real kitchen workspace. If we ever decided to sell, our “kitchenette” would surely scare off buyers. The plan was to add a built-in peninsula using the same cabinets and countertop in the existing kitchen. I went to Home Depot and drew up plans with a super-friendly kitchen designer (really, she was super nice!). But to my utter horror, my master plan was going to cost nearly $2000. Not in the cards. Days later while taking the trash out to the alley something piqued my attention — a wood desk and...

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Posted by on Dec 23, 2011 | 2 comments

How to Create a Serene and Peaceful Home Year-Round

How to Create a Serene and Peaceful Home Year-Round

Del Ray resident Marybeth Walsh, a holistic health coach, tells a moving story of her personal path to wellness on her Web site. In her personal life and through her work, Marybeth strives to impart a state of balance through nutrition, exercise, and lifestyle awareness. She also creates balance in her home. Marybeth was more than happy to open the doors of her lovely and might I add, peaceful and serene, home to DIY Del Ray. As she says, “your home — whether big, small, or somewhere in between — should be your sanctuary, a place where stress is left at the door and your soul is nurtured.” Here are some ways you can create a more comforting environment, just as Marybeth has, in her home during the holidays and year-round. Bring the outdoors in. Cut flowers and blooming bulbs, or pieces of wood, rocks, and other natural elements can create a feeling of nature indoors. Even beautiful woven baskets can enhance this feeling in a home. Nuture green plants...

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Posted by on Dec 14, 2011 | 3 comments

Home-Grown Loofah: Cleaning the Eco-Friendly Way

Home-Grown Loofah: Cleaning the Eco-Friendly Way

One of the best parts about DIY is that you are always learning something new. One little tidbit I just learned is that you can grow loofah right in your backyard. I never knew those hard spongy things you use as a body scrub were actually plants, let alone something you could grow yourself. Local resident Mellenie Runion grows and sells loofah as part of her business, Truly-Life Eco-Friendly Gifts. At the recomendation of a friend, I stopped by her house over the weekend to see what growing loofah was all about. While the recent cold snap has been harsh on the loofah plants, there were still a few holding strong on the vines. They grow in full sun and need supports like the ones you would have for tomatoes. Next year Mellenie plans to build a small structure to better support the plants. After the loofah have grown (they look a lot like cucumbers), you simply remove from the vine, peel off the green exterior, and let them dry...

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Posted by on Nov 17, 2011 | 1 comment

Furoshiki: A Twist on Traditional Gift Wrapping

Furoshiki: A Twist on Traditional Gift Wrapping

You can find a wealth of ideas for wrapping presents with paper and ribbon. If you want to try something different, a gift wrapping technique that is both lovely and environmentally friendly, look no further than furoshiki. The technique originates in Japan and is simply cloth that you fold in various ways to wrap items to give as gifts — both for boxes for under the tree or for housewarming or hostess gifts. You can also make shopping bags or decorative items for your home. You can buy cloth specifically designed for furoshiki folding, but it’s easy enough to use festive cloth and hem it, or else find scarves at consignment shops to use. We’ve also seen it done with cloth napkins and decorative dish towels. Katie and I tried out a few different folds to demonstrate how easy it is to master furoshiki. We consulted the furoshiki Web site and its handy step-by-step descriptions of folds. Wrap number 1. We started with a big square cloth and used...

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Posted by on Nov 16, 2011 | 2 comments

Free Stuff Around Every Corner

Free Stuff Around Every Corner

I’m always amazed by the amount of free stuff you can find in your neighborhood. No, I don’t troll the streets of Del Ray rummaging through the trash, I usually just stumble upon things sitting on the curb practically screaming “take me home! fix me!” It’s great when you want to try out a new DIY project but don’t want to risk messing up something valuable. Like this chair I saw while walking my son to school. It needed a new seat, but otherwise was stable. I had seen a chair made from old belts and knew this would be perfect for that project. And it was.    Or these lovely dining chairs I found in the alley (Leslie sent me a tip earlier in the day that they were there). Again, in great condition, just needed a new seat. A reader sent in the story of her metal pail turned garden hose organizer, found in the garbage as well. Nature is also a great source of free stuff....

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