Category Archives: making do

How to Make a 1 Dollar Photo Projector

How to Make a $1 DIY Photo Projector | This American House

Back in the old days a couple would return from vacation and invite all of their friends over to their house for a slideshow of the amazing shots of far flung destinations that they the snapped. Drinks would be served and merriment would ensue as the guests would live vicariously through their traveling friends. And then digital photography came along and instead of getting together to see each other’s photos, we simply swipe through Instagram and Facebook feeds. Sure, it’s a little easier, but I miss the social aspect of slide shows.

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Adventures in Stripping: Or Maybe We’ll Paint

Adventures in Stripping: Maybe We'll Paint | This American House

The topic of the house’s woodwork and whether it should be stripped or painted has been hotly debated for months now. The Mister and I have gone back and forth on the issue at least a dozen times. He has a been a proponent of stripping the woodwork from the very beginning. I initially wanted to keep everything painted, but after some cajoling I, too, thought the trim and window frames should be stripped.

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Good Health & Hot Water: Don’t Know What You’ve Got ‘Til It’s Gone

This American House

Friday the 13th hit the dream house like a curse.

First, I’ve been battling a cold that has practically crippled me all week. Instead of working on house projects this week I’ve spent most of my time lying in bed watching episode after episode of Mad Men and sleeping for 12-hour stretches. I’ve probably slept more in the past five days than I have all month. I’ve also polished off two seasons of Mad Men. So, you know, it wasn’t all bad.

To top off the poor health, our water heater seems to be on the fritz. After rushing through a very cold shower Friday morning, I self-diagnosed the water heater issue and then called a plumber. It seems that the pilot light isn’t staying lit and thus the water heater isn’t cycling on to produce hot water. A plumber came by Friday afternoon and, based on my diagnosis, said that the pilot probably wasn’t getting enough oxygen and was therefore being smothered. He loosened some screws on the front of the water heater and said we should be good to go.

Desperate for some relief for my runny nose and chest congestion, I was looking forward to a long, hot shower Friday night. You can imagine my disappointment when I turned the hot water dial and felt the lukewarm water running out of the faucet. It seems that even with the water heater turned up to the highest setting, the one that says, “Warning: this water will scald you skin!” the most I could get was warm water.

I started calling plumbers again Saturday morning, starting with the same plumber who had provided the “quick fix” on Friday. No answer. I tried three other plumbers that I found in the yellow pages of the phone book (how quaint, right?) and still no answer. And that’s when I remembered: we’re not in the city anymore.

Back in the city I would have hundreds of options for plumbers and, while it probably would have been expensive, getting one to come out on a Saturday wouldn’t have been a problem. Out here in small town Iowa, where things are a little slower and options are limited, it’s mostly impossible to get a plumber to come to the house on a weekend day.

While we wait out the weekend we’re taking pioneer baths – boiling big pots of water on the stove, dumping them into the bathtub and then adding warm water until it’s the perfect temperature. There have been lots of Little House on the Prairie jokes while we’ve been doing this. “Ma, tell Laura to bring me more hot water for the bath!” and that sort of thing. Hey, when you’re faced with a difficult situation, make jokes. That’s how we roll anyway.

Image: This American House


Before & After: The Sofa That Lost Its Skirt

sofa skirt before and after

The conversation with our friend Joan went something like this:

Me: This sofa is so comfortable and I LOVE the white upholstery.

Joan: Oh, I’m so tired of them. I want to reupholster them but I’m not quite ready yet.

Me: I like the upholstery. 

Joan: But I need a change. 

Me: Have you thought about removing the skirt?

Joan: Yes!

A week later Joan and I had the sofa on its back, staple gun and scissors in hand, giving her living room a quick and easy makeover…

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10 Ways to Use Funky Drinking Glasses Around the House

10 other uses for vintage drinking glasses

In shopping for secondhand furniture and accessories for the Dream House, I’ve come across a lot of kitschy old vintage drinking glasses. Nearly every thrift store and resale shop has a few shelves stocked with 50 cent glasses. I started picking up mismatched glassware and, as my collection has grown, I’ve found quite a few ways to use the glasses that don’t involve drinking.

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