Get Fit With Me!

Hello there! This is my first video post for the site, just going over a new section I’d like to add to the site about fitness. I started doing Jillian Michaels 30 Day Shred and am going to be posting my updates and invite you to join me in getting fit and being healthy! I’m also talking about what’s coming up for the site and the future posts that I have planned for you guys. Till next post!!

Amber

Quick Lactose Free Vanilla Pudding

I haven’t posted in a couple weeks, I’ve been neglecting the site something awful. I was going through some of my recipes and re writing them to be a little neater and thought I’d share this one with you all. Especially since it’s getting colder outside eating this pudding while it’s still warm is a treat. This is just how I like to whip it up some times and is a recipe that I’ve come up with on my own but I based it on a fairly simple regular pudding recipe. I suppose this also counts a vegan as it omits using any eggs. (Fact of the day: adding in eggs would make it a custard!)

Lactose Free Vanilla Pudding:

Ingredients:

1/3 cup sugar

3 Tablespoons corn starch

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/2 cups vanilla soy or vanilla almond milk (you can use just plain milk here but I love the extra vanilla and sweetness)

1 cup coconut milk

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Directions:

Add the coconut milk and 1 1/4 of the soy/almond milk to a sauce pan and bring it just to steaming . Set the remaining milk aside in a bowl, we’ll use that later.

In your sauce pan stir in the vanilla, sugar, and salt until they are dissolved. Bring the mix up to boiling and while that is coming to temperature mix the cornstarch and the remaining milk.

Take the pot off the burner and slowly stir in the cornstarch mixture until it begins to thicken. Make sure that you are stirring constantly or the cornstarch could clump up on you and leave big globs in your pudding.

Let it cool a bit a thicken some more, then either enjoy it warm or put it in the fridge with a layer of saran wrap over the top. A trick to keeping it from forming a skin is to just let the saran wrap touch the surface of the pudding, that way no air comes in contact with it.

Hopefully you guys enjoy and I’ll post some more of my recipes up soon! Till next post,

Amber

Round Loom Knitting!

Hey all,

It’s been a couple weeks since I posted last. I was sick last week, then one of my bunnies was sick, then this past weekend was hubs and I’s first anniversary plus Thanksgiving here in Canada. But I found a new past time that I’ve been working on nonstop since yesterday afternoon. Knitting on a loom! I made my knitting needles and I kept thinking back to how my grandma taught me how to use a hoop loom to knit scarves on. I found them at Micheal’s and the set I like best was $25. Sad day because that’s a lot for some plastic looms.

But I caught a break because I found a coupon for 50% off any item in the store! Plus when I went I found yarn that is normally $7.99 on sale for $2.99. I almost felt bad making out with everything for so cheap. Here’s the set I got. It’s the Loops and Threads Knit Quick long loom set.

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The kit comes with four different size looms; a 10 in, 14 in, 18 in, and 22 inches. It also comes with a hook and a darning needle. I really like this set too because you can use it just like a round loom, since the pegs are continuous instead of only two parallel lines.

I wanted to make a lap blanket for the couch and picked up some super soft and gorgeous Lion Brand Yarn in Starlight. It’s a white bulky yarn with a gold thread running through it. Here Tucker is modeling with it so handsomely, lol.

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Here’s a close up of the metallic thread that runs through it:

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I’m absolutely in love with using the loom because I’m still a beginner at actually knitting anything and I still have a bit of a hard time. Right now I’m just basic knitting with the loom, but as I learn I’ll try and put up a tutorial. Here’s Tucker showing off what I’m working on now:

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I’ve got about 7 or 8 inches knit and it’s only taken maybe a third of the first skein. I picked up two so I should have plenty to do a small blanket. I cast on the same way I learned to do a round loom, but when I got to the end instead of going full circle I stopped, and just started winding around the other way. This gives me a flat piece that is double the length of the loom itself. The only problems I’m really having right now is the ends are curling a bit, but I may try to teach myself to crochet some scalloping around the edges to keep it flat.

If you guys would like to try this you can pick all of this up at Micheal’s. I’m not positive how long their yarn will be on sale but you can check it out HERE if you’re in Canada and HERE if you’re living in the United States. For the current coupons you can click HERE in Canada or HERE in the US. Right now there’s coupon’s for 50% off any one item, 40% off any one item, plus savings on scrap booking, Halloween decor, paints and supplies, beading, and framing services. They’re good until October 17, then there will be new ones. I’d really suggest keeping an eye on the different coupons and taking advantage of them because they can save some big bucks.

Til next post guys!

Amber

Make your own knitting needles!

I’ve been wanting to teach myself how to knit for a while now, and was looking at all the different supplies when I thought to myself: “I bet I could make these knitting needles pretty easily!

So I went on the hunt for materials to make them out of. At first I thought about making plastic ones, but when the hubs and I were out yesterday I found wooden dowel rods and knew that they would be the perfect thing. I got a pack of six of them for a dollar at the dollar store in our town centre. These are 9mm across which will turn into size 13 knitting needles. At the end of the post I’ll put up a size chart that shows the diameter of each size needle.

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The first thing that I did was to mark off where I wanted the tapered end to start. I chose to go about an inch and a half up from the end. I marked a circle all around each dowel so as I was carving I could tell where to begin.

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Then it’s time to start carving away. If you’ve never done any kind of whittling or wood carving this is a good project to start with, as it’s extremely simple. The directions I’m giving are for right handers but if you’re left handed all you need to do is the opposite of what I’m explaining.

You’re going to hold the dowel in your left hand with your fingers a couple inches back from the line where you’re going to begin carving. You want an extremely sharp knife, and it’s always easier to carve into a soft wood rather than a hard wood. Pretty much all the craft dowels you’ll ever get are going to be made from soft woods. Hold the knife in your right hand, with the blade facing away from you. You want your fingers wrapped around the front of the knife a good inch or so from the blade, with your thumb higher up towards the back of the blade. Here’s a picture of how I hold my blade for reference. I don’t have a good whittling knife yet so I’ve been using my trusty box knife.

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Another way that you can hold your knife is to lower your right thumb a bit and while the dowel is in your left hand, use your left thumb to push the blade. I feel like I have a little more control when I do it this way. It really works best when you’re carving in short strokes.

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Keep turning the dowel and carving away evenly until you get it to a point. It’s ok if it’s a little choppy looking or has some straight spots in it, you’ll just need to make shallower and shallower cuts the closer you get to the final shape. Here’s what mine looked like about half way through.

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Keep at it until you get it to a point. You don’t want a super sharp point, though. Nothing that would snag the yarn. Then you’re going to start sanding it. I picked up some 320 grit sandpaper from Canadian Tire for about $3. You could even go up to 1000 grit to get it super smooth, but I got a really smooth finish with the 320.

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Cut a piece about the size of your palm and start to smooth out the point. You can do it all by hand if you’d like, it’ll just take a bit. If you have an electric sander you can use that, turning the dowel as you go to avoid flat spots. What I ended up doing was sticking the dowel in my drill and using it as a make shift lathe. Just stick in the dowel and tighten the chuck, then hold your sandpaper to the end and move it back and forth and up and down as the dowel turns. The shorter the dowel the better this will work. If your dowel is too long the end will be really wobbly. My dowels were twelve inches and I had a lot of movement at the end. I just pressed the sandpaper to the dowel as it was spinning which got rid of any shaking.

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Here’s the before and after photo of the two dowels. Now that you know how to go about it, do the exact same thing to the other dowel to make your pair. After I had both of them done I went over them with a light coat of Krylon clear gloss then re-sanded it smooth.

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And there they are! I used these to teach myself how to knit with the help of this amazing video from knittinghelp.com. I hope you enjoyed this how to and if you have any questions just ask!

Till next post!

Amber

Here is the sizes chart I mentioned earlier. The website has all kinds of yarns and patterns for sale. Just click the picture to check it out.

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How I covered up my old phone jack

Hello again! This post will be fairly short and sweet but it has an important job to do. You see, there’s this awful thing in my kitchen and I just couldn’t figure out how to cover it up. It’s old, it’s no use to us, it’s gross and wiping it off with a rag does nothing to clean it. It’s set in the middle of the wall so it’s too low for a picture to cover it up without looking odd, and its sticking out of the wall by probably a half of an inch. What is this awful thing you ask?

dun Dun DUUUNNN

 

 

 

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It’s this old, gross phone jack just chilling out on my kitchen wall. Look at that! The screws won’t even go all the way in!

I wandered around the internet looking for ways to cover up an old phone jack. Since we rent I can’t exactly just take it out, so I had to find a clever way to disguise it. I found a post about making a cork board from an old picture frame and knew that’s what I was going to do. Except not the picture frame part. I wanted to make a custom cork board to cover up this bad boy.

I headed on over to (you know what’s coming) my trusty old Dollarama and lo and behold, I found some cork board.

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This package came with two tiles that were probably about a quarter of an inch thick, but that was perfect for me. I took one of the tiles and cut it into strips and then glued the strips around the back of the other piece of cork. This made sort of a frame around the back that let the board sit on the wall without butting into the jack.

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Well, that was easy… Just kidding, that’s not all I did. This is a quick project but not that quick.

I still wanted to decorate the front. I glued on a pad of paper for making grocery lists. A word of advice: gluing on cork can be tricky because it’s so porous. I used some Gorilla glue because (in my opinion) it’s some of the best glue you can find. It will stick anything to anything and I’ve used it for tons of projects in the past.

I decided that instead of thumb tacks poking holes all over it I’d use some twine and make a little clothes line across the top. It’d be super cute to use mini clothes pins but I decided to use paper clips instead. One because it’s what I had on hand, and two I’m too lazy to go back out searching for mini clothes pins. I also put a pen on the side as well for easy access.

I took the twine and wrapped it around the edges, then used my staple gun to staple them in place. I originally had used mounting tape to stick it to the wall but that didn’t hold up, so I stapled a piece of twine around the back and hung it up on a picture hanger. You could make yours even cuter by adding some decorative paper or fabric to it, or some cute accents, but we have a ridiculous amount of stuff I know will get put on this and just cover it up, so the plain old cork worked well for me.

Wanna see what I ended up with? Ok! Here it is:

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It looks a little plain here, but after I took this picture I put all the rest of our stuff up there and its all full. I may add some decoration to it later, but I’m ok with it for now. I’d say this looks and functions much better than that gross old phone jack and now I have even more room to post up random notes and recipes!

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My kitchen wall is that much cuter! Until next time guys!

Amber

DIY monogram wreath and other fall goodies!

It’s that time of year again! It’s starting to get colder and I’m putting up my summer decorations and moving on to fall. Except since this is really my first year of doing seasonal decorations I don’t have any fall things to put up. And you know I’m not going to be spending big bucks on pre-made wreaths and centerpieces. I’m going to share what I did to spruce up the apartment for fall all for about $15.00.

My first project: monogram wreath

I’ve been seeing all these adorable door wreaths on pinterest and really wanted to have one for the apartment. Looking at stores around here like Micheal’s and Canadian Tire fall wreaths were $20-$40 dollars. I even found some online as high as $100! A hundred dollars! For a wreath you only have on your door three months out of the year! I could spruce up our entire apartment on a hundred bucks. So after seeing those prices the cheapo in me came out full force and I decided I was going to make an adorable wreath to put those expensive ones to shame, and it was going to be customized to boot. And it was! I’m extremely happy with how it turned out.

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DIY it:

Here’s the big bundle of all the things that I got to do my decorating. There’s a few strings of leaves, I got two of them 5 ft for $1.25 and the other was sparkly and was $3. Then I have some ribbon, $1, the wreath, $2, the bowl, $1.25, flowers, $2, and a sprig with leaves and some berries and an acorn for $1.25. I was calling it my “fall haul”, lol.

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Phase one: The letter

First I started with the monogram. I cut out a stencil of how big I wanted my letter to be on computer paper. In this picture I hadn’t cut out the middle yet. I also originally made it a little smaller than I wanted to so I just used some tape to make it a little wider. I retraced it to get it as one single piece and cut a scrap of paper to the thickness I wanted my letter to be, making tick marks all around the inside. That way I knew that my letter would be even all the way around.

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I cut out the center of the letter with my trusty razor blade (I finally picked up some replacement blades for my box knife after this project, lol) and traced it onto cardboard. I actually used an empty rice box because it was really sturdy, but corrugated cardboard would work well for this too and you wouldn’t have to layer it as much. I wanted it to be a lot thicker than just one sheet of cardboard so I ended up cutting out four letters to stack together. In between each letter I used mounting tape, which gave it even more thickness. If you wanted you could even just buy a wooden letter and skip all of the previous steps.

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Then it was time to cover it! You can use any kind of yarn, ribbon, twine, etc. If you used just one thick piece of board you could even just paint it and leave it be. I used some twine because I felt like it went with the fall theme I wanted. I taped the beginning of the twine to the side of my letter and started winding it around. Letters that have holes in them are a little tricky because you can’t really fit the whole spool in there, so you have to work in sections. I made sure each new piece of thread I tied on was on the back of the letter. It was also really tricky transitioning from the curved part to the straight edge. I ended up just laying twine over the letter to fill in the spaces. I was stubborn and didn’t glue it, but I would definitely suggest you glue pieces down every so often as you go.

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And then the letter was all done! I love when you finish one stage of a project and it just makes you that much more excited to see the finished product.

Phase two: The Wreath

There are several different things you can use to make your wreath out off. Hangers, pool noodles, picture frames. I originally picked up a woven basket at the Dollar Tree and thought that would be a cool wreath, but when I was at my trusty Dollarama I found pre-made wreathes that were cute, but not what I’d want hanging on my wall. They only had a couple of decorations hot glued onto them though and it was about the size I was looking for. I decided that the basket could stay and basket and I could just deconstruct this wreath and make it into what I wanted. Here’s the before and after:

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I took one strand of leaves and wound it around the wreath but I really didn’t like how the leaves were just sticking out all over. I pulled off all the leaves that were on the back and started just hot gluing the leaves down where I wanted them. One of the strands had a couple of pieces of wheat and a cute little pumpkin, so I hot glued those on as well. I also wrapped some ribbon around it to tie everything together. To finish it off I glued on a couple of the flowers I picked up.

ImageAfter I got everything glued on where I wanted it I took the ribbon and looped it through my letter and tied it onto the wreath. Then I took a longer piece of ribbon and made a loop with a bow at the top to hang it on the wall. And that was that! I hung it up over the fireplace and I absolutely love it. I had quite a bit of leaves and things left over so I did a couple more decorations.

Other decorations:

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I used the bowl/basket that I had originally got for the wreath and made a centerpiece out of it for the coffee table. I put some stones in the bottom to weigh it down so it wouldn’t move/get knocked over by the cats. I just added the candle to the middle and arranged left over leaves and the pinecone and berry decoration around it.

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The final project I did was to update my vase on the fireplace. I got this vase soon after I moved to Canada and I absolutely love it. It is on our fireplace no matter what season it is and the one time the cats knocked it off I almost had a heart attack. I leave the ‘swirly twigs’ (I have no idea what they’re called, lol.) in there and just add different flowers and decorations to it. I wound the last string of leaves around it and added some extra leaves to the bottom. In the top I put all the extra flowers that I had.

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Here’s my fireplace mantle all put together and looking pretty! I love how everything goes together. The incense and holder I found at a dollar store somewhere while me and hubs were out exploring, and the bottle I got at Micheal’s as part of a $3 grab bag. All the rest of the things there are gifts that I love.  I tried I don’t know how many times to get a clear shot of this but every one seemed a little grainy and I don’t know why, so sorry about that!

That’s all for now! Next post I’m torn between either making a photo frame collage for the wall or finding a creative way for covering up an old and unused phone jack in the kitchen. We’ll see next week!!

Love,

Amber

Bring Potpourri Beads Back to Life!

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While I was at the Dollarama a while back (one of the best stores ever!) I found these air freshener beads and thought they would look really pretty in a glass jar in the bathroom. I had some back in college that lasted about a week or so before they dried out and I tossed them out.

I was watching YouTube videos about how polymers work which led me to learning about Orbies (a big polymer ball they made into a kids toy basically) because I’m a straight up nerd like that, and thought to myself hmmm… I bet that those scented beads are just polymers that have soaked up scented water. And that’s correct! Then I though hmmm… I bet I could just soak them in water or liquid potpourri whenever they start to shrink, so that’s what I’ve been doing for a couple months now.

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Here’s how tiny they are when they’re completely dried out compared to afterwards when they’re all filled with water.

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Just fill the container up with water until it covers up the beads and give it a swirl to get rid of any bubbles. Then just let it sit for around an hour to get back to full size.

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Walla! I have some in the living room as well and instead of just covering them with water I covered them with fresh linen liquid potpourri (That also came from the dollar store!) and it works the exact same way. I really can’t even smell the original vanilla scent anymore. I’ve found that after a couple times of doing it with water the scent starts to fade, but I’m guessing if you let them shrink down all the way, rinse them off and enlarge them again with water, then the next time you need to hydrate them the majority of the original smell will be gone and you can replace it with whatever you want. They don’t cost too terribly much to begin with and if you keep re-hydrating them you’ll have a really pretty air freshener for as long as you want it.

Re cover old countertops with Con-Tact Papers!

Hello! So for my very first post I’m going to show you a big project that I just finished.

Do you hate your counter tops? Do you rent and aren’t able to make changes? Or maybe you own your home but realize that new counter tops cost like, a gazillion (okay not really, but good counter tops sure seem to cost that much) dollars? Then boy have I got something for you! Recover those bad boys! I had talked about doing this in the apartment with my mom but I wasn’t sure how well it would turn out. I was worried it’d end up being expensive, really hard, or that there would be really obvious seams and when anyone would see it they would say “Why is your counter covered in sticky paper?” But after doing a little research and finding out how cheap this really is to do I figured I’d give it a shot.

I found granite contact paper on a 18in x 24ft roll for only $9.97 at Home Depot. I also found that Dollarama has rolls too but I think they’re only 4 ft or something like that and I tried one of them first on my bathroom sink and it just wasn’t working. It’s pretty flimsy and if by chance it sticks to itself, scrap the whole section cause it’s stuck for good. I used it on the top of the vanity in the bathroom to cover up the old stainless steel, but after working with Con-Tact I really prefer the brand name stuff. I also picked up a 18in x 9ft roll of faux wood grain paper for $4.97.  All together this project cost me about 30$ after taxes, and that’s only because Home Depot was sneaky and had the small rolls labeled as the larger ones so I ended up having to go back for more. I still have quite a bit left over even after doing my bathroom counter so one 24 ft roll should do you unless you have a lot of counter space.

What I did:

First off make sure your counters are clean and dry, I used some Vim and hot water and washed it down, then went over it again with regular warm water to make sure any residue was off.

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I also washed down a little piece of trim that’s right under the counter facing the living room, because I wanted to put the wood grain print there.

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Then I got to work measuring and cutting. You want to make sure to leave about an inch extra all around, then trim it with a box knife or razor blade to get it as close as possible. I wanted to have the grain going horizontal, so I just cut it out in long strips. The paper has a grid on the back that makes it a little easier to keep things square, though its plastered in directions that cover up a lot of the grid.

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Peel off the corner of the backing and then line it up with the edge. Those buddies can be pretty hard to separate so you might have to use your nails. You’ll also want a credit card or a small squeegee to help make sure no air bubbles get trapped under the paper. I used our laundry card, lol. You1 can also see my cat Tucker being a creeper. He was in the middle of licking his paw when I snapped this, he’s not that menacing all the time, I promise.

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After you get the first piece up, line the grain up with the second piece and make sure to leave about a centimeter of overlap. The directions say that it’s possible that the paper can shrink a little bit, so with this much overlap you won’t end up with any gaps. After you get the pieces up, take your blade and trim off the excess paper.

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It took three pieces to cover the length of the trim, and you can see the seams somewhat, but I really don’t mind at all. Getting this done just made me that much more excited for the counters!

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For the counter:

A couple “Before” shots. Yes that’s an upside down hanger wrapped around the cabinet handles. It’s the only way to keep Tucker out otherwise he gets in our trash. (I said he wasn’t menacing, but he is a little turd.) Our counter also has a built in cutting board that I neither trust nor use. I just drown it in bleach every so often because I’m convinced that germs are hiding all over it.

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I decided to start by the fridge and get the bare counter done before I moved on to trying to go around the sink and the cutting board. Halfway through rolling out the first section I was more excited than ever. Goodbye boring counter tops!

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There was a wall section that stuck out into the counter top because it has to be like the rest of the apartment and make me frustrated. I rolled up to the edge and then cut the notch out as I was smoothing out the paper. Look at that paint job! Things like that is why I’m working so hard to improve on this little apartment, lol.

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So after I forgot that the notch goes back in I learned why I picked the granite pattern. It is very forgiving. I just took some smaller scraps and patched in what wasn’t covered up and you couldn’t even tell. If you choose to go with marble or some other pattern that needs to be lined up, be careful because it isn’t nearly as forgiving.

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First section is done! From there it went really well, I got that entire section of counter done, then I realized that Home Depot pulled one over on me and sold me a short roll, so I had to go back for more. I used up as much as I could of the scraps that I had though, and did the corners of the sink when I looked over and saw Tucker being creepy yet again. I guess he thought I needed supervising, haha.

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So I did around the corners of the sink, that way I could just come in with some rectangular pieces to finish it off. I headed back to Home Depot feeling pretty proud of myself. (By the way I found several more mislabeled rolls that were in the more expensive spot, and when I told the cashier he said I was the only person who had bought contact paper in probably two months. Lets start covering counters and change that!)

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When I got back with my giganta roll of paper I filled in around the sink a bit more and started doing the little back splash area. By that time I had a nice collection of scraps hanging from my cabinets and had resolved that my next project was doing something with that hideous plug in/switch.

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Also just a word of advice, please try and get a box knife. I used a razor blade with one half wrapped in tape, because that’s what I learned to do when I was a poor college student majoring in fine arts. But seriously, safety first folks.

I had the sink completely surrounded and the back splash done, then I just filled in all the remaining space and went around the cutting board the same way I did the sink. I took some of the wood grain paper and filled in the middle of the cutting board. I never use it, but at least it’ll look pretty now.

The finished product:

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Overall I was extremely happy with how it turned out and I would definitely recommend that anyone on a budget or in a rental space try this out if they want to spruce up their old counter tops. Next, I’ll take my extra and do the bathroom… after I take a rest. In all this took me about three hours to do, but probably would have taken a little over two if I didn’t have to go pick up more Con-Tact Paper.

There it is! My first post all grown up and being read by the world! Hopefully you enjoyed this post and I’ll keep posting about the new projects I get myself into. For now just one more picture, because Tali didn’t want to be left out.

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See you guys next post,

Amber

* HEY YOU!

Just a disclaimer as short as someone who needs a stool to reach her top cabinets (me, what??) Con-Tact paper is not SUPPOSED to stick permanently. This is why it’s popular doing it with rentals/ as a nice change of scenery. But make sure your landlord won’t flip out on you before you do it. We’ve got a cool land lady and from when I did the vanity in my bathroom I didn’t have any problems with residue or stickiness, but use at YOUR OWN discretion aka common sense says sticky stuff might leave sticky stuff behind, and don’t blame me if it does, just read this. It’s “Helpful Hints” found on the back of the Con-Tact sheet.

1) Bubbles: Simply puncture bubble with pin and flatten. Smooth with a plastic straight edge.

2) Cleaning: Wipe with damp cloth or sponge and mild soap.

3) To Remove: Begin at one corner and peel off. Peel at 180 degree angle to minimize effect on surface. Gentle heat from a hairdryer can help.

4) To Remove Residual Adhesive: Use rubbing alcohol or denatured alcohol/household cleaners for tougher residue.