Tag Archives: DIY

Tuesday Challenge: Window Screen Repair

26 Jul

spline roller

(This is a Phifer spline roller, available at Lowes.)

If this post had a subtitle it would be: Or, Should You Buy Those Little Tools That Won’t Get Used After This One Project Is Over?

In case you’re wondering, a spline roller is just such a tool. A cheap tool with one use and one use only: To put spline into place as you repair a window screen. Now, I have been alive for 29 years, and this is the first time I’ve ever had use for a spline roller (or a window screen replacement tutorial). If this is the start of a trend, I won’t need a spline roller again until… 2040.

So here’s the story: Casa Glazebrook is on a get-things-done-around-the-house tear. And one of the things that we got done recently was replacing a broken screen on the door of our screened-in porch. And that required spline, a piece of thick rubber string, to be carefully placed. The spline is what holds the screen on the door, using the super-awesome magic of friction. (Also known as “being wedged into place really, really tight.”)

I must admit, I kind of jumped into this screen-fixing problem in a rather random and unplanned manner. We had screen. And spline. I had time to kill between applications of primer and paint. And I had once (a few years ago) read an article about how to replace a screen, and the article said DIY was totally easy. So I just went ahead and got started. Then, after I had disassembled everything, I decided that maybe a refresher course was in order, and stopped to watch a video, and thus learned about the magic of spline rollers.

Now, I had two options: Stop and go buy a spline roller, or just make something lying around the house work.

I decided to start with option B: Make Something Else Work. Thus was born today’s challenge.

 Challenge: Spline Roller

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Uses For Failed Peanut Butter

7 Jul

Remember that peanut butter that I made, that was really more like a thick peanut paste? It didn’t go to waste! It works brilliantly well in scotcharoos! (I’m not into chocolate, so these are really just peanut butter Rice Krispie treats.) Just melt it a bit and toss it in. Yum!

Tuesday Challenge: Laundry Detergent

21 Jun
adding laundry detergent to the washing machine

Step One: Add Homemade Laundry Detergent!

CONFESSION: I like doing laundry. I don’t know why, but I do. I don’t so much like the folding and putting away of laundry, but I like having big fluffy piles of clean, fresh-smelling clothes. And I like getting to pull something freshly warmed out of the dryer. I even like the swishy whir sound of the washer, working away in the background. I dream of a house that has a bright laundry room with a cabinet with shelving and neatly ordered supplies and a wall-mounted ironing board and a window to let in a little sunlight. (I also dream of a house with a very large kitchen, but that‘s another post.) And don’t even get me started on sun-dried clothes – the way they smell all sweet and summery? Divine. (Except for jeans. Jeans need a dryer.)

So, when my friend/blogger Cat of Hipster Housewife suggested a detergent-making party (she was already through her first batch, and she SWEARS by the homemade stuff), I was all in. Along with a few other friends, we made epic amounts of laundry detergent to share. But now I have a fourth of an epic amount of laundry soap, which is still quite a lot, plus all the stuff needed to make detergent until approximately 2026. And so I need to know (since I’m going to be using it for quite some time), how does my homemade laundry detergent stack-up to the store-bought laundry detergent?

Challenge: Laundry Detergent

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Tuesday Challenge: Body Scrub

14 Jun
Body scrub!

Lavender-Lemon Body Scrub!

I have a deep and abiding affection for scrubby products. When I was younger, it was because my skin was a mess and I liked to imagine the scrubs were helping clear out the gunk. Now, I like them after my long-run weekend workouts: It gets rid of all the caked-on sweat, and massaging it on is kind of like a reward for my legs, a little “thanks for not falling off back at mile 8” sort of thing. (Not that they would fall off, but you know…)

Anyway, the problem with commercial scrubs? You get what you pay for. For example: Drug-store St. Ives Apricot Scrub? Highly effective, very affordable… but also rough and drying on the ol’ skin. (Yes, I know it’s marketed for the face. But it works everywhere.) Special-order Arbonne SeaSource Foaming Sea Salt Scrub? (My favorite!) Fantastic on the ol’ skin, but a bit harsh on the wallet. Now, we all need little indulgences, but I like to save my indulgences for things I can’t replicate myself, like a good haircut or a really awesome butterscotch malt. Does body scrub really fit that category?

Challenge: Body Scrub
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Olive Tapenade

24 May
crackers with tapenade

Tasty tapenades!

Is there anything better in the world than olives? Yes. Tapenade. This salty, briny, capery mixture is pretty much the best thing ever invented. According to CliffordAWright.com, tapenade is French, from Provence, which helps explain why it’s awesome. Rob and I started making our own when we tried a recipe for grilled tuna steaks with tapenade topper. Yum. We had leftovers, so we started experimenting, putting tapenade on veggies, on crackers, on cheese, on chips, on pretty much everything. And then I started making it to bring to parties, because we always have olives and capers on hand – which is kind of weird, when you think about it, considering we’re two born-and-raised Midwesterners. But it’s a great party dish – it pairs with goat cheese, with brie, with pita chips, with bread, with hummus, with many other equally delicious things.

But I digress. Tapenade is very hard to find in stores (in Des Moines, at least). Our regular grocery store doesn’t carry it, so up until now it’s been a forced DIY. But the other day, we were picking up gourmet $1.50-per-dog hot dogs at a local specialty grocery store (don’t judge – they’re the best hot dogs I’ve ever tasted), and Lo! What did we find but tapenade!  Thus, I decided that the time had come for…

Challenge: Tapenade

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Homemade Vanilla

10 May
homemade vanilla

After five months... it's awesome

You know, the more I do this DIY stuff, the more I realize how many things I buy out of sheer laziness and lack of planning. For example, vanilla.

It’s absurdly, laughably easy to make. I saw this post over on the ReadyMade blog about how to do it, and quite literally laughed out loud. Because, who knew it was just two readily available ingredients? (Answer: ReadyMade.)

Anyway, in a Sign From The Universe, right around the time I discovered the recipe for making vanilla, I also discovered that They (the makers of most vanillas that you buy in the spice aisle) jazz it up with sugar and/or corn syrup. Really?


In fact, it was an advertisement that clued me into it. Vanilla Maker A claimed their product, made with love and sugar, was better than Vanilla Maker B’s product, which was made with less love because of the corn syrup. Let’s just put aside the whole sugar/corn syrup debate for a minute to ponder why, why, why would someone want to sweeten their vanilla?

I mean, doesn’t vanilla usually go into things that are ALREADY sugared? Like, cookies, cakes, pies, custards, waffles, [fill in your favorite desert here], etc… Why do we need to further sweeten ourselves? DO we need the sugar in vanilla to make it taste good?

So. I decided to try making my own vanilla, full of love but lacking in sugar and corn syrup. And thus, we come to…

Challenge: Vanilla
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Closet Shelving

8 Feb
shelving stacked

Shelving. And an iron. It makes sense later, I promise.

Rob and I share a closet. And not one of those grand, walk-in, almost-second-bedroom closets. A skinny, long closet with a single rail and two shelves and sliding doors that always block at least half of the space. It makes getting ready in the morning something of a challenge.

Anyway, to make things more fun, there’s this strange awkward bump-out on my side of the closet. Our best guess is that it conceals some sort of pipe or wiring, but who really knows? There’s nothing in the hall or the opposite bedroom to explain it. Anyway, I used to have this hanging Ikea storage sectional there, but I put too much stuff in it and it collapsed. So, I decided, something more sturdy, like shelving, was the way to go. Because finding shelving is easy, right?

This topic isn’t so much a DIY or Buy, exactly. It’s more a combo: By combining the powers of DIY and Buy, you too can put shelves in the awkward spaces in your home!

Challenge: Closet Shelving

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