SMOKE DETECTORS | What you don't know could kill you

Okay, now that I have your attention, did you know that approximately every three hours, a home fire death occurs somewhere in our nation. And 66 % of those occur in homes without working smoke alarms or detectors?* The most common reason those detectors weren’t working? Worn out or removed battery.

Photo from CreativeCommons.org – courtesy of WickedChimp

I’m sure you have heard that you need to replace your detector batteries every time you change your clocks (Spring and Fall or every 6 months.) Are you good about doing that ? If not, I hope you will now. At the very least decide on a date to change your smoke detector batteries annually.

What about when you are vacationing? Do you test the smoke detectors in your rental house? Testing the detectors takes all of a few minutes to press the “Test” button on each detector and wait for the alarm to sound.

Don’t rely on the vacation homeowner to check the alarms. There is always a chance that renters could have removed a low battery from a detector. Several years ago there was a horrible fire a few blocks away from the beach house we usually rent. Seven young students died in the fire. It was never determined whether the smoke detectors were working or not, but one of the survivors didn’t remember hearing any go off. Don’t let yourself become a statistic.

What type of smoke detector should you buy? Read more

Galvanized Metal Star Garland | Pretty Handy Girl

Remember when I told you I’ve been on a galvanized metal kick? Yes, you may have noticed my Rustic Metal Magnetic Window Frame on Monday. When I put the windows over our fireplace mantel, I knew there was something missing. I tried a few different garlands in the space, but nothing felt quite right. When I gazed upon the leftover galvanized metal, the idea to create a Galvanized Metal Star Garland was born.

Galvanized Metal Magnetic Windows | Pretty Handy Girl

Today’s post is part of the Deck the Halls DIY-Style tour hosted by Jen Woodhouse, If you are just hopping over today from Sawdust and Embryos, amazing vignette, right?! My favorite is the monogrammed scroll snowflake. Welcome to my little slice of DIY Blog heaven. I can’t wait to show you how I made several elements over our fireplace mantel.

Deck the Halls DIY Style | Pretty Handy Girl

The Galvanized Metal Star Garland is so incredibly easy to make. You’ll be looking for more places to decorate with a garland of stars.

Ready to get started? Grab these things and let’s make something stellar!

Materials:
(contains affiliate links)

Instructions:

Draw stars on your galvanized sheet of metal. If you prefer a beautifully aged metal patina, you can follow this tutorial to make your metal age quickly.

Galvanized Metal Star Garland | Pretty Handy Girl

Cut out the star shapes with tin snips.

Galvanized Metal Star Garland | Pretty Handy Girl

Rub the pencil marks off the stars with a gloved hand. Read more

DIY Firepit and Seating | Pretty Handy Girl

Firepits are very popular right now. You can purchase a simple firepit at your local home improvement store, or put in a little sweat equity and create a DIY Firepit with Seating.

When we had several hardwood trees taken down in our yard, I asked the tree guy to cut some of the base pieces of the tree trunk into 18″ segments to use as stumps to sit on.

Then I set about creating a DIY firepit and seating in our back yard.

Materials:

  • Shovel
  • String
  • Stake
  • Stick
  • Rocks or fire ring
  • Sand
  • Bag of drainage gravel
  • Slate, stepping stones or pea gravel
  • Mulch or crushed stone
  • Stumps or seating
  • Wood to burn

Instructions:

Begin by locating a level location to build your fire pit. Take note of any overhanging branches and trim them away from the firepit area. Hammer the stake into the center of your firepit area. Attach string and make a loop in the string at 6 feet. Insert a stick into the loop and walk around pulling the string taut while dragging the stick in the earth to mark a 12 foot diameter circle. Create another loop at 4 feet and repeat marking an inner circle. Finally, create a loop at 1 foot and drag the stick to mark the firepit ring area.

DIY Firepit and Seating | Pretty Handy Girl

Dig a hole in the 2 foot firepit ring area. Remove any roots from the dirt. Dig about 12″ down. Fill the bottom of the hole with gravel. Add a layer of sand on top of the gravel. Line the 2′ firepit area with a fire ring or rocks (or both).

DIY Firepit and Seating | Pretty Handy Girl

Pour sand around the 8 foot diameter circle and set your stepping stones or pea gravel in this area. Read more

Build Your Own Giant Chalkboard | Pretty Handy Girl

Have you scoured antique stores or Craig’s List looking for a big giant vintage chalkboard? Those vintage school green chalkboards are highly sought after. But, hard to find. I have good news for you! You can build a Giant Chalkboard any size you want! (Although, typically you’ll be restricted to 4′ x 8′ if you want to use a sheet of masonite.) And you can mix your own chalkboard paint in any color.

Take out your notebooks, your pencils, and get ready to take notes.

Materials:

  • Masonite sheet cut to desired size (mine is 22″ x 48″)
  • 1×4″ pine boards for frame
  • 1 cup flat latex paint in color you desire
  • 2 tbsp. of unsanded grout
  • Pencil
  • Stain
  • White paint
  • Paint brush
  • Sanding block
  • Container to mix paint in
  • Kreg Jig
  • Drill
  • 1 1/4 inch pocket screws
  • Staplegun
  • 1/2″ staples

Instructions:

Build Your Own Giant Chalkboard | Pretty Handy Girl

Pour 2 tbsp. of unsanded grout into your empty container. Add 1 cup of flat latex paint and stir well. (Yes, I used satin and it still worked.)

Build Your Own Giant Chalkboard | Pretty Handy Girl

Paint the masonite with the chalkboard paint. Pull your brush in one direction. Then smooth out the paint by dragging the brush in a perpendicular direction.

Build Your Own Giant Chalkboard | Pretty Handy Girl

Let the paint dry. Lightly sand and add a second coat of chalkboard paint.

Build Your Own Giant Chalkboard | Pretty Handy Girl

Let that coat dry and sand smooth.

Assembling the chalkboard frame: Read more

31 Days of Handy Home Fixes | Pretty Handy Girl

You may sense a theme here, yesterday I talked about weatherstripping the garage. But, as the temps are dropping, it’s important to take some time to seal your home and eliminate drafts wherever they are lurking. One of the biggest offenders in our home was the fireplace. On cold nights, it is cozy to light a fire. But, on the evenings we didn’t light the fire, I had to bundle up in a blanket to combat the drafty fireplace. Even with the flue closed, it just isn’t weather tight.

full_fireplace_mantle

The solution can be as simple as cutting a piece of rigid foam insulation to fit into the opening of your fireplace. If you want some more attractive ideas, you could wrap the insulation with fabric. Or use construction adhesive to attach thin plywood and wood slices to the fireplace insert like Pepper Design Blog did:

Another option would be to cover the insulation with black craft paper and draw a chalkboard scene on it:

Chalkboard fireplaceInspiration from Sophia’s Decor

Finally, if you want an attractive reclaimed wood fireplace draft stopper, you can build your own following my tutorial here.

fireplace-insert-beauty-shot

At the very least you can cut a piece of rigid foam insulation to fit under the flue. Just remember to remove it before you light a fire.

Stay cozy and warm this winter.

PHGFancySign

Pin for later!

wooden fireplace cover to prevent drafts

Build a Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper with Reclaimed Lumber | Pretty Handy Girl

I’m a little bit of a fanatic when it comes to drafts. (Remember the time I weather stripped my garage doors?) Over time I’ve addressed most of the pesky cracks and crevices that invite cold air into our home. But, there was one draft that I’ve been meaning to serve an eviction notice to since the first winter we lived in our house.

Build a Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper with Reclaimed Lumber | Pretty Handy Girl

Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper

The source of this cold air is our fireplace. Even with the damper closed, there is a draft that escapes into the room. You can’t weatherstrip the damper (that would be a fire hazard), so I decided to build a rustic reclaimed wood fireplace insert to stop the draft.

Want to build your own fireplace insert draft stopper? It’s not hard and you can complete it in an afternoon!

Fireplace Insert Draft Stopper Materials:

Read more

Autumn Mantel Décor and Vignettes | Pretty Handy Girl

Fall is here! Hip Hip Hooray! I’m not exactly a summer gal (although I was born in June.) I prefer the cooler temperatures, the colorful landscape and jean weather! When the first cool day rolled into North Carolina, I was ready and waiting! But, my living room was still stuck on 4th of July (you know I’m a procrastinating decorator, right?!) I trudged up to the attic to pull down some fall décor. But, frankly, I wasn’t excited about putting the same stuff out again. I wanted a new look, something with bright colors and BLING!

That’s where my pals at Chippmunk.com come in. They gave me an advance to try out their site for scoping deals and coupon codes for your favorite online retailers. It took me less than 30 seconds to search for one of my favorite home decorating sites (ahem…Pottery Barn I’m talking about you!)

Chippmunk Savings Site

Up popped up a discount for $10 off when you sign up to receive emails from them. But, while browsing Chippmunk, I found loads of other stores that had special discounts like Williams-Sonoma, QVC, Fab, Kohl’s, Bed Bath & Beyond and many more. It was amazing how many discounts and coupon codes were right there in one spot!

Because I’m a frugal gal, I decided to scour the SALE section of Pottery Barn first to pull some accessories that I could use for my decorating. Then I rounded out my selection with some Autumn décor and classic pieces that could be used no matter the season.

Pottery Barn order

My total was $151.49. I saved $43.51 (2 sale items, plus a $10 credit for a future order.) PLUS, FREE SHIPPING on my order!

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And now, here’s your invitation to view my Fall mantel and living room vignettes. Come on in and cozy up near the hearth.

Autumn Mantel Décor and Vignettes | Pretty Handy Girl

I knew up front that I wanted to use an aqua and vermillion color scheme. I really love the bold contrast of colors.

Autumn Mantel Décor and Vignettes | Pretty Handy Girl

While patiently awaiting my Pottery Barn shipment, I spent an hour building a giant canvas with scrap 2″ x 2″ pieces of lumber and cheap fabric. Read more

Want to make an Autumn Book Page Leaf Garland to decorate around your mantle or a doorway? Two years ago, I saw this beautiful wreath in a magazine. I snapped a picture with my phone and figured I’d try to DIY my own version. Then I forgot about it until I stumbled upon the picture recently. After a little research, I found that the wreath was a Martha Stewart contest winner by Emily Morris.

I loved the leaf shape and the simplicity of the project. So, I decided to alter it slightly to work as a garland for our mantle. Read more

With the arrival of Autumn, I am looking forward to some fires in our fire pit and — of course — some S’mores! I made a fire pit in an afternoon last year after we had 14 trees taken down (boo hoo!) Sadly, they were dying or diseased. But, I was able to turn a negative into a positive by using some of the stumps for seating and the spot where two trees used to be as my fire circle.

Here are the detailed instructions about how I built (or rather dug) the fire pit. I guarantee you don’t need any special skills to create your own!

 

Fall is here, fall is here! Finally the cooler temps are near!

I’m not sure about your area of the world, but this summer seemed a little too hot for my liking. My husband told me about the term “Global Weirding“. It seems fitting for all this nonsense Mother Nature is throwing at us lately.

Luckily fall seems to have come just on time. Fall is my favorite time of year. Maybe it is the painter in me that loves all the colors. Or maybe it is the nature lover in me that longs to be outdoors in the fresh crisp air. Whatever it is, I love FALL!

I spent some time this past week putting out some autumn inspired décor. Although I’m definitely self conscious about my decorating skills, I tried to abide by my words from last year about not striving for perfection. So, now I’m taking a big breath and pressing the publish button to share my home looking warm and cozy (in my opinion.)

Antique books are my go-t0 decorating objects. I love books and I love those old linen covers. Even a torn and tattered book looks nice lassoed together with some friends.

Sometimes, even an open book can look warm and inviting.

I was so happy to bring my Ballard knock off painted pear out of storage. He really looks handsome with the autumn colors.

I love all the colors in this photo! I can’t imagine having a monotone autumn mantle.

Of course, Mr. Gourd looks handsome too. (Shhh. I don’t want to hurt his feelings, but I do love the pear more.)

Yes, I’m still switching things in and out like a high school football coach. I actually like the gourd, so he’s back in but the chicken wire basket is out. However, I wanted to show you the vintage map lampshade I made. The tutorial will be served up before you know it! Hopefully I’ll have a new lamp by then. This one is just a substitute for one on injured reserve.

You may have noticed this little terrarium on the side table. I was inspired by some insanely expensive versions here. Never fear, I will have a tutorial so you can make your own soon!

A full view of the mantle decorated. It is hard to believe that in a few months the stockings will need to be hung.

I had fun with this little vignette. A crow in an antique corn grinder? Now that is pretty silly. And another terrarium that makes me smile.

Quoth the Raven “Nevermore”

The acorn jar was an afterthought. It was just a quick little hot glue craft. Speaking of which, if you haven’t read my post about hot glue gun safety, it is a must! Your fingers will thank me.

It is fun having another surface to decorate. The top of our armoire (also known as the family command center) has some pretty purples and greens.

My Pottery Barn knockoff lantern makes a re-appearance.

Beautyberry and Orange Peel Cestrum from our yard.

The dining room has a simple centerpiece made with corn kernels and a candle.

But, I might be switching it out once I get this beauty back from my friends at the Habitat ReStore. Can you guess what it used to be? I’ll give you a hint: Hollywood glam never looked so good.