New porch in one nap time (plus a giveaway from HomeRight)

As many of you would concur, time is the most precious of all my resources. I’m constantly looking for ways to get a DIY project done faster. Restaining our wraparound porch floor was no exception. I had one afternoon last week to get it done, factoring in an hour or so of “life-guarding” to make sure no children or dogs stepped on the wet stain while it dried.

I should mention we have a fairly large porch, which is certainly awesome 99 percent of the time. The 1 percent of the time it’s not awesome is when we have to sweep, clean or restain it. 😉

Considering my short time frame for this project, I prepared the wooden porch floor for stain the night before. I scrubbed it down with my magic mildew wash, then power-washed it to remove any leftover dirt and loose finish. It’s important to have a clean, dry surface before applying any stain or paint.

Pressure washing porch

Because our floor was previously stained with a solid, beige color, that limited my choices to another solid stain. The good news is that there really are a lot of great color choices out there in solid, exterior stain.

I wanted to stain the floor a different color than our posts and railing, so I went with a rich chestnut color that I thought would work perfectly with our green house siding. (For help choosing colors that work together in a space, check out my color wheel lesson post here.)

When the big day (i.e. afternoon nap time) arrived, I gathered all my materials and tackled this beast with all the desperate fervor one caffeine-fueled toddler mom can muster.

Deck-staining-tools

The key to the success of this project? The right preparation and the right tools. Check out my short video below that highlights the process.

Here’s a list of the tools and products* that made this whirlwind project possible:

Here’s what my “new” porch looks like now:

Chestnut-stained-porch-floor

Chestnut-stained-porch

Now on to the giveaway! If you’ve got a large staining project on your to-do list that you’d like to tackle at lightning speed, HomeRight is giving away a Deck Pro StainStick with Gap Wheel Stain Applicator AND Deck Pro 12″ Flat & Gap Stainer to one of you luckies!

Enter below to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Special thanks to HomeRight for sponsoring this post and giveaway. I’m thrilled to be a brand ambassador for HomeRight and, as always, all thoughts, opinions and projects are my own.

homeright-brand-ambassador-sponsored-post2

** Affiliate links are provided in this post for your convenience. 

DIY hand soap and jar dispenser (plus Ball® giveaway)

It’s almost that time of year when our family gets together for an annual tomato canning extravaganza. It’s also the time when I fall in love, all over again, with my ever-growing collection of canning jars.

Since I have so many, I’ve explored different ways to use my Ball® jars beyond stuffing them with food. I’ve crafted a holiday vignette, displayed flowers, caught lightning bugs, and served drinks in them.

But I’m most proud of my latest canning jar creation – a DIY hand soap dispenser.

Essential-oils-hand-soap

To make your own soap dispenser and the homemade hand soap for it, you’ll need the following:

  • 1 Ball canning jar (pint-sized or smaller)
  • 1 canning lid and band (I’m loving the new Design Series lids.*)
  • 1 dispenser pump (I reused one from an empty bottle.)

Homemade essential oil foaming hand soap recipe:

  • 2-3 Tablespoons liquid castile soap
  • 5 or so drops of essential oil (I like the Young Living™ Thieves blend. The oil is optional, though.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vegetable glycerin or Vitamin E oil (also optional)
  • Filtered water

Homemade-soap-ingredients

Step 1: Use a 5/8-inch power drill bit to cut a hole in the center of the canning jar lid (or use whatever bit matches the size of your soap pump).

Drilling-jar-lid

Step 2: Insert soap pump into hole. To seal and secure it to the jar lid, I used hot glue.

Homemade-soap-dispenser-lid

(For the record, glue gun burns are the worst! They make me feel like saying words no church-going woman should ever say. Can I get an “Amen?”)

Step 3: Add homemade soap mixture and filtered water to jar.

Step 4: Secure top to jar. Shake vigorously to activate foam. Done!

Essential-oils-hand-soap-dispenser

To make my dispenser pretty, I added a chalkboard label from Walmart and wrote on it with a silver permanent marker. Tip: Use a smaller, narrow label. I had trouble getting mine to stick because it had to wrap around the jar.

Do you enjoy using your canning jars for more than food storage? Ball also has some cute jar accessories to help us multi-purpose our jars even more.

Ball-brand-drink-glass-accessories

Ball Regular Mouth Sip and Straw Lids on drink mugs

For all my fellow canning and jar enthusiasts: On Aug. 1, Jarden Home Brands will host this year’s fifth annual Can-It-Forward Day, broadcast live online at FreshPreserving.com from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. EST. The webcast will have an integrated chat function where consumers can submit home-canning questions to be answered in real time. New this year, there will also be an exciting celebrity mason jar auction unveiled during the webcast!

So be sure to tune in to that. I’ll be sharing a link to the broadcast here, so you can also check this post on Aug. 1 to watch.

Until then, enter below to win a coupon for a free case of jars. This year’s limited time, vintage-style jars are gorgeous!

Ball-vintage-jars

a Rafflecopter giveaway

* Affiliate links are provided in this post for your convenience. 

Dirty secrets of DIY bloggers

Last week, I had the privilege of attending another Atlanta-based Haven Conference for DIY bloggers.

There’s so much I love about this conference: rubbing elbows with famous DIYers and thought leaders; connecting with my favorite brands; gathering information from other bloggers to help me grow my business; and making new friends in the process of it all.

Kelly-Edwards

Chatting it up with HGTV star Kelly Edwards

Jon-Acuff

Enjoying an inspiring keynote speech from Jon Acuff

LaZBoy

Taking a break with LaZBoy (Yes. They’re wearing upholstery-fabric suits.)

Darla-DeMorrow

Enjoying a balmy Altanta evening with fellow author (and Pa. gal) Darla DeMorrow

But there’s something way more special to me about Haven than all these amazing opportunities. And it wasn’t until this year’s conference that I actually realized what it was …

It’s the dirty-secret sharing.

Let me explain.

We DIY bloggers work very hard – as in blood, sweat and tears hard – to bring our readers the very best we have to offer.

We try to produce clear, concise and professional-looking tutorials like what you might expect to see on TV or in magazines. And we painstakingly stage our photographs the same way.

We do all this because we know you’re looking for attainable inspiration that you want to replicate in your own homes. Plus we know we’re in competition with a lot of other media for your attention. So we’ve got to bring our “A” game, all the time.

But the reality is that, even as hard as we try, the life of a DIYer is fraught with unpredictable insanity. And that’s why I love Haven so much … because I love other DIY bloggers so much! These folks embrace the crazy with me. 

They refresh me and reassure me that I’m not alone. They empathize with me when I’m in my backyard with gnats stuck to my sweaty face, crying as my vision of a spray-painted work of art turns into a dumpster-bound nightmare.

Not only do we DIY bloggers share similar stories of heartbreaking, tragic project fails, but we also find ourselves in synonymous, somewhat scary (yet later hilarious) situations while picking up Craigslist furniture or chasing down deals.

When these other bloggers share their crazy DIY moments with me, I feel connected to them. (Plus I enjoy the fact that they make me laugh so hard I almost pee my pants.)

So my big take away from Haven this year is that I want you to experience this connection, too. In short, I want you to read a post of mine and feel like you might pee your pants. 😉

Historically, in my rush to get a blog post out with its pretty pictures and meticulous how-to details, I’ve often left out the “good stuff.” I’ve been guilty of omitting the crazy moments that weren’t pretty – or may have even been interpreted as downright insane. Next time, I’m going to include those moments.

Why? Because I think it makes us feel good when we realize we’re not the only crazy people out there. 😉

This post is dedicated to my Haven roommate, Shanna, who’s got the juiciest Craiglist stories I’ve ever been told. 

Blogging-buddies

From left to right, Shanna, Christy, me, Ashlynn (Christy’s daughter), and Debbie