Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Homemade Dishwasher Rinse Aid - I Pinned It and Did it!

So a while back, my husband and I started noticing that our glasses weren't getting clean in our dishwasher.  We were a little confused by this problem because our dishwasher wasn't that old.  We had thought about calling our appliance repairman but hesitated since it was no longer under warranty.  Instead, I began hand washing our glasses.  Which was kind of a pain.  It took a lot of time and looked messy having dishes constantly drying on our counter top.   We soon discovered the cause of our cloudy glass problem - changes in the ingredients of our dish washing liquid.  And all brands were affected.  So, I continued to hand wash.  adding more work to my day.  Until Monday.  I was searching through Pinterest and I found the solution.  A homemade rinse agent.  And here's the best part - it's cheap!

I found this tip at Whole New Mom.  Ready?  Just add white vinegar to the rinse aid compartment.  Yup, that's all.  So, I tried it.  And it worked!!  Woohoo!  The glasses were so clear.  We actually thought all of the dishes felt cleaner.  It was just what I was looking for.  BTW, I simply added white vinegar, as my indicator will tell me when I need to add more.  If your dishwasher doesn't have an indicator, you can add a drop of food coloring to the vinegar so it's easier to see in the compartment.

I love this tip!  And I am so happy to be able to put everything in the dishwasher again!

Monday, January 30, 2012

Valentine's Day Wreath

After looking around Pinterest, I was inspired to make my own Valentine's Day wreath this year.  I don't usually do too much decorating for Valentine's Day, but I figured it would be fun - if I did it on a budget.  And, here it is-

I started with some supplies that I had on hand-

The wreath form is from Dollar Tree (I bought it to make a Christmas wreath, but then changed my mind and made this ornament wreath instead).  The jute is leftover from my dresser makeover.  I used my hot glue gun to attach the end of the jute to the wreath. Then wrapped the jute around and around, using more hot glue every few passes.

Once the wreath form was completely covered, I decided to decorate it with yarn balls.  I found all of the supplies I needed at Dollar Tree-

I secured the end of the yarn to the ball with a dab of hot glue, then wrapped the yarn around until the entire styrofoam ball was covered.  I used another dab of hot glue to secure the end.

Then, I hot glued them onto the wreath-

It was going really well - until I tried to hang it.  I had planned to use a piece of jute but the weight of the styrofoam balls made the whole wreath tilt.  And I didn't have any ribbon that matched.  So, I got a little creative.  I found an old white t-shirt and cut a strip out of it.  I used the strip to hang it-

Here's the cost breakdown-

wreath form - $1
styrofoam balls - $3  (I used 3 4-packs)
yarn  $3

Total - $7  (I already had the jute)

Valentine's Day just got a little more fun!

I've shared this project here - 

Tip Junkie handmade projects

Friday, January 27, 2012

My Friday Five - Week 12

Who loves free stuff?  I know I do.  And where do you find free stuff for your home?  At the hardware store, of course.  That's right - I'm talking about the paint chip aisle.  Did you know that those free little samples could be used to make so many great accessories for your home?  Well, I've done some searching and found five uses for those little rectangles.  Ready?

(notice the new "my friday five" graphic?  Cute huh?)

1) Paint chip art.  You've probably seen this done before but I thought I'd point it out again - 

Lisa from Before Meets After made this version.  I love the colors - and it would be so easy to adapt to your own decor.  Any colors or patterns would work.  It's just fun.

2)  Do you read a lot?  Why not make bookmarks out of paint chips?

That's just what Jessica from How About Orange did.  How cute are these?  

3)  Here's a project that I heart.  A lot.  A paint chip chandelier.

Rhi at Hey Gorgeous can show you how she put this whole thing together.  And, btw, her whole blog is gorgeous.  I highly recommend taking a look.  

4)  I found a great Valentine's Day paint chip project - 

These are beautiful!  And so easy!  Vanessa at Silly Eagle Books made these sweet Valentines. Head over to her blog to see how she did it.  I wish my kids were younger - I'd definitely make these for their classmates.  They are so much better than handing out Sponge Bob Valentines.

5)  This last idea is awesome.  It's smart, useful, and beautiful.  A paint chip calendar - 

I pinned this from The Aesthetic Writer - and it was repinned 20 times in about an hour.  It seems that everyone loves this idea!  And if you found an old frame at a thrift store, it would be cheap to make.  Yay for cheap!

Are you inspired yet?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My Blog Makeover

I am really excited to share my new blog design!  I think I have as much fun changing up my blog as I have changing up my house! Except it takes a whole lot longer to change up my blog.  I have zero experience in this kind of thing.  I just sort of wing it.  And do a lot of Google searches.  And cry.  Ok well actually there were no tears.  But I thought about it a couple of times.  :-)

So how did a complete novice make a new header, blog button, center the navigation bar, and tweak my borders?  With the help of my friends.  No, they aren't my real life friends (although it would be cool if they were because they are super smart).  They are my blog friends.  And they are awesome at explaining how to do your own blog stuff.

Yesterday, I told you about Kim at Cheap Chic Home.  She's the one who shared all that info to get my "Featured" and "Where I Link" pages looking better.  That was the first step.  It sort of snowballed from there.

I knew that I had to learn a new photo editing site - now that Picnik is closing.  So I downloaded GIMP.  And I soon realized that this was way over my head.  I had no idea how to even get started.  So, I went on the hunt for something a little easier.  I downloaded Pixlr.  (Side note - when I downloaded Pixlr, I had no idea there was a Pixlr Express.  I assume it is similar to Picnik - and I'm looking forward to trying it.)  It did take a while to figure out this photo editing program.  It really isn't as user friendly as Picnik.  But once I started adding layers and text, it was fun.  And I know that I haven't even scratched the surface on all that this program can do. But I wanted my header to be simple.  And I like the result.

I could probably throw together a small tutorial of the how-to's for the header.  If anyone is interested, please leave a comment.  I didn't really search out much help.  Again, I just winged it.  But the more I played around with it, the more comfortable I became.  And the more fun I had.  I would recommend giving it a try.

After designing my header, I was still trying to figure out how I could make it wider and more in line with my blog.  Another Google search brought me to Cindy at Cinsarah.  She has a beautiful blog - which she designed herself.  And she has a bunch of tutorials for the novice blog designer.  I found so many answers.  I learned how to get rid of the padding (so my header would be wider).  That's also where I found the coding to center my navigation bar (all of those tabs under my header).  She made it very easy.  Yay!

Trying new things isn't easy.  And I know my blog still needs some work (I'm still tweaking it).  But I love learning new things and I'm glad I took the time to do my blog makeover by myself.  It was a fun little break from painting!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Blog Tips - I Pinned It and Did It!

I started my blog in July.  I had have no idea what I'm doing yet.  :-)  But I'm willing to learn.  And, luckily, some people know exactly what they're doing.  And they are willing to share what they know.  And they have step-by-step instructions...with pictures.  Yay!  So, when I was looking for ways to make my blog look prettier, I did a little Google search.  And I found Kim at Cheap Chic Home.  She has some great blog tips which has helped me a ton.  I even pinned her whole blog onto my Pinterest "Blogs to Visit" board.

Over the last few days, I spent a lot of time cleaning up my "Featured!" and "Where I Link" pages.  I followed Kim's instructions and lined up all of those beautiful blog buttons.  I am thrilled with the result.  Actually, I'm so thrilled, that I finally made my own blog button!

If you're wondering why my button looks so different from the rest of my blog, it's because I decided to make more changes.  I designed a new header on Pixlr and I'll reveal it tomorrow (hopefully)!  I decided to jump into the world of graphic design - yikes.  It was not easy for me. I spent a couple of hours looking at a blank screen.  Completely confused.  But slowly, I was able to figure out how to add pictures and layers and all sorts of fun stuff.

So, check out my "Featured!" and "Where I Link" pages.  And, if you want to know how to line up all of those blog buttons on your blog, head over to Cheap Chic Home for great instructions!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Cleaning Tip - I Pinned It and I Did It!

Here's a cleaning tip that I found on Pinterest - how to get those nasty yellow armpit stains out of your white shirts.  Face it - we all have them. And they aren't easy to get rid of.  Until now.  Jillee from One Good Thing posted this tip - and I tried it.  And I'm happy to say that it worked!

I grabbed a couple of old t-shirts that were sitting at the bottom of my drawer and put them to the test.  And how did I get those stains out?  With these three ingredients - 

Mix equal parts of the Dawn and Hydrogen Peroxide, then add some baking soda.  Then scrub into the stain. And, as per Jillee's instructions, let it sit for about an hour before throwing it into the washing machine.

I have tried this on a few shirts, and I have had great success.  Here's a before and after (on one of the worst shirts I tried)

I know the lighting in the second picture is a little better, but believe me - there is a huge difference!  I can now bring some of those old t-shirts back to life - instead of turning them into rags.  Yay!

Monday, January 23, 2012

Homemade Bread - I Pinned It - And I Did It!

Let's be honest - Pinterest is fun.  I can spend so much time just looking around at all of the beautiful pictures.  Pinning projects that I think I'm going to get to...but I know that most of this inspiration is just going to sit on my boards.  Well, in the last week, I've actually DONE some of the things that I've pinned!  Woohoo!  And this week, I want to share some of these projects with you.

Over the weekend, I baked my own homemade sandwich bread.  I haven't made bread in years.  I used to have a bread machine but even with that, I wasn't always successful.  There was something about making bread that intimidated me.  But I found a recipe from The Hungry Mouse - and I had to try it.

I really wish you could smell this bread right now - it is amazing!  I actually made two loaves but this is all that's left!  Everyone in the house loved it! And it wasn't that hard to make (I highly recommend stopping over at The Hungry Mouse website for all of the instructions.  Jessie really breaks the whole process down - which is great for a baking novice like me.  And her pictures are wonderful!).

I'm so glad I tried this recipe.  There are so many benefits to making my own bread - it's healthy and inexpensive.  Now I want to try to make different types of bread - I'm not intimidated anymore!  Thanks Pinterest!

Friday, January 20, 2012

My Friday Five - Week 11

Here we go - another week of great inspiration from around the web.  I love spending countless hours some of my free time searching Pinterest for cool ideas - and sharing them with you.  So, grab a cup of coffee and enjoy.

1)  I am so in love with this pendant light - 

Can you see what it's made of?  Hundreds of paper fortune tellers.  Yup.  Those folded paper fortune tellers that you used to make in elementary school.  How awesome is that?  And I pinned it on my DIY Pinterest board - as if I could really DIY this thing.  Ha.  But Allison at the 3 R's blog could.  And did.  Wow.

2)  Here is a project that is more up my alley.  Spray painted wine glass stems - 

Alejandra from Always Order Dessert used chalkboard spray paint on her wine glasses to create this look.  How clever!  Not only do they look beautiful but they are functional too.  Your guests can write their names right on their glass.  

3)  Home accessories can get very expensive. I am always on the look out for inexpensive (or free) knick knacks to use around the house.  So when I came across this 3-d star, I was sold.

Lisa from grey luster girl used old cereal boxes to form a 3-d star decoration.  Head over to her blog to see the finished star - it's beautiful.  And you would never know it was made from a cereal box!  What a great way to recycle - and accessorize at the same time.

4)  Want another inexpensive way to accessorize your home?  Check out this penny art - 

I saw this at Embellishing Life and fell in love.  Jenny made it using old pennies.  Such an easy project - anyone could do this!  As a matter of fact - I think I'm going to do it too!  

5)  I pinned this last find a few days ago - and it was repinned over 50 times in a matter of minutes!  It seems that everyone wants to try this - 

Those are fried marbles.  Yup.  Who needs diamonds?  These are stunning.  Bethany at dream-it-make-it has the whole step-by-step directions on her blog.  Head over to see how she made ordinary glass marbles into beautiful necklaces.  

Are you inspired yet?

And if you're interested, head over to my money saving blog - thrifty house - for my first My Friday Five money saving tips!

Thursday, January 19, 2012

How I Get Free Stuff

I know that My Covered Bridge is a a blog about my home remodeling and decorating projects.  And I don't want to stray from that too much.  But in my real life, it's just a part of what I do.  And although, most days I am painting something, ripping off wallpaper, or shopping at a thrift store for something I can redo, my day also includes getting 4 kids off to school, cleaning the house, tons of laundry, running errands, and preparing meals.  And finding ways to stretch my budget.

I understand that my readers stop by this blog to see my projects.  But I also know that some of my readers are moms who are always looking for ways to get great deals on everyday stuff.  Even my friends ask me where I get these deals.  So I thought it might be better to start a separate blog with some of my favorite money saving tips.  If you want to see what I bought at Walgreens yesterday, head over to thrifty house.  It's my VERY new attempt to share the deals I find.

I will be spending some time in the next couple of weeks working on that blog, so please understand it's not at all perfect.  But I figured that I could share some deals and tips while I'm fixing it up.  I want this site to be more than just coupons.  I want to share my shopping trips, deals, sites I visit, and saving tips.  And I look forward to seeing your tips as well.  We can learn a lot from each other!

I'm really excited to get this site going - saving money can be fun!

And don't worry - I'm still working on this blog too.  Stop back tomorrow for My Friday Five - I have a few good finds already!  Hey - maybe I could start a My Friday Five over at thrifty house too - with everyday money saving tips.  I'd love to know your thoughts - leave a comment and let me know what you'd like to see.  

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Saving Money

I am always trying to find ways to save money.  I have already discussed my love for Swagbucks-

I have used them for years - it's a great way to earn $5 Amazon gift cards (and they can really add up!).  Well, now I'm trying something new.  I just signed up for Ebates -


It's a totally free way to earn cash back on your online purchases!  It looks simple enough - so why not?  And  right now they are offering new users a $10 gift card to Target, Home Depot, Barnes & Noble, or Magazines.com.  I chose the Target gift card.  The gift card is awarded after the first $25 Ebates check is earned.

I'm just trying to figure this program out but I wanted to pass the info along - just in case you wanted to snag one of those gift cards.  I'm not sure how long that promotion will last.

Pulled Pork

I have been getting bored with our dinner variety (or lack there of) lately so I have been looking for new recipes to try.  I searched around Pinterest and came across this one for Pulled Pork over at Ally's Sweet and Savory Eats.  I thought it looked easy and delicious so I gave it a try.  I only needed four ingredients:

3 lb Pork Butt
1/2 bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's Barbecue Sauce
1 can or bottle of Diet Pepsi
Season Salt

I coated the pork butt with the season salt and tossed it in my slow cooker.  Then I added the diet Pepsi and barbecue sauce.  I let it cook on low for 4 hours (as per the directions from the inspiration blog). So far so good.

But it wasn't quite ready.  It still required a couple of more hours (I know that everyone's slow cooker may be different) so I had to wait patiently.  Oh but it smelled delicious.  Once it cooked a little more, I used two forks to pull the meat apart.  

I did drain some of the liquid before we made sandwiches.  And some of the kids added a little more barbecue sauce.  But I have to say, this was a great recipe!  It was easy and inexpensive.  The pork was about $6.50 and the pop was $1.  I had everything else on hand (I stock up on barbecue sauce in the summer when they go on sale - usually using a coupon makes them free).  And there were leftovers the next day - so I was happy about that!  I will definitely make this recipe again.  Yum!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fun With DecoArt Paint - Part 2

Yesterday, I explained that I was asked to use DecoArt paints in a craft competition.  I had decided to use the paints in a group of projects for a table setting.

I shared two of the projects yesterday - the pedestal bowl and candlesticks -  so today, I'll show you the rest.  Let's start with the tablecloth.  I purchased an inexpensive one at Christmas Tree Shops and picked a DecoArt paint in Indian Turquoise - 

Then, I found a stencil (it was leftover from my coffee table makeover) - 

By the way, I thought that this was one of the easiest stenciling projects I have ever done.  I definitely plan on doing this again - what an inexpensive way to have a custom tablecloth!

And since I was on a stenciling kick, I went ahead and stenciled  some dollar store plates.  This time, I went back to the Calypso Blue Gloss paint - 

Again, pretty easy.  

With all of that blue and white on the table, it was time to add a punch of color.  As in my inspiration picture, I added some orange.  First, I found a bunch of wooden napkin rings at Salvation Army for $1.  And I painted them with Bright Orange Gloss paint - 

And I used the same paint on these $1 spheres that I found at Christmas Tree Shops - 

I placed them in paper cups and painted one side at a time - 

And I ended up with this - 

So to wrap it up, everything you see on this table has been painted with DecoArt paints.  And even though I took on this project as a craft competition challenge, I had a lot of fun with it.  Now I have to get back to my regular house projects!  

I've share this project here - 

Monday, January 16, 2012

Fun with DecoArt Paint

Last month, I was chosen to compete on One Month To Win It - an online craft competition.  Although I was eliminated in the first round, my second round project was already finished before I was given the sad news.  So, I still want to share this project - or collection of projects.  Our challenge in this round was to use DecoArt products.  I have used them before - most notably on my Homemade Dance Floor -

Yes, all of those circles were painted with DecoArt paint.  Now, I had to come up with some new ideas.  Of course, that meant a search through Pinterest.  The only idea that I had was to do some sort of table setting.  That would give me a chance to paint more than one thing and use more than one color.  So I searched.  And I was drawn to this - 

Unfortunately, I can't find the original source but I love it.  The turquoise and orange are so fun and fresh.  I decided to base my table setting around these colors.  So, on a tight budget and using DecoArt products, this is what I came up with - 

There are a few projects in this table setting, so I will break this up into two posts.  Today, I'll show you the pedestal bowl and candle holder projects.  If you've been a reader for a while, you know that I like to spray paint stuff.  All sorts of stuff.  And if I hadn't been told to use DecoArt paint, I probably would have done these projects with spray paint.  But, it was fun to look through all of the colors in the DecoArt line - there was a lot to chose from.  For the candle holders, I chose Calypso Blue.  It is a lot more turqiouse-y in person.  Much more like the inspiration picture.  I took a trip to Christmas Tree Shops for some supplies.  I love their selection of cheap affordable home accessories.  When I found these candle holders for $1.99 each, I was sold-

I painted two of them blue - 

It only took a couple of coats (the above picture is after the first coat).  The third candle holder was going to become the centerpiece.  I painted that one white - 

Now for the fun part - I added a $5 bowl (also from Christmas Tree Shops) using E-6000 adhesive - 

Hard to believe that this was the before - 

And there is the beginning of my table setting -

Tomorrow, I'll give you the scoop on all of the rest of the projects.