Category Archives: Ruin-it-Yourself Projects

DIY Nautical Nursery: Signal Flag Art

Greetings, extended Clutterfamily!  We here at Blue Palm Manor have been chugging away all weekend working on our DIY Nautical Nursery.  We’re super excited to finally begin sharing what we’ve got up our sleeves.  This is the first post in our tutorial series on how to create a Nautical nursery of your very own.

Look at all of those signal flags.

This is the ship I served on when I was in the Navy.  We were pulling into NYC for Fleet Week in this photo, but take a second to admire the colorful signal flags blowing in the wind.  Maritime signal flags have been in use for a long time, even before radio communications were available.  Each flag means something, and they can be flown in different combinations to communicate with other vessels.

Image courtesy of

I was perusing Etsy looking for Nautical themed items for the Clutterbaby’s room.  If I was crafty, I would sew him some signal flags . .  . but I’m not crafty.  Not even a little bit.

The problem I was running into was that many items have sailboats on them.  We are a Navy family, which is why we want a nautical theme, but we really don’t like sailing.  I did come across these amazing prints of various signal flags and their meanings.

Awesome. Please check out Bexpert's Etsy store if you're interested!

The only issue is that they’re roughly 8″x10″, and I was looking for something a little smaller.  I also wanted to spell out Clutterbaby’s name, or at least his initials.  These are a little too large for my wall space.  I might buy a couple for our living room at some point because I love them, but for now I had to come up with a DIY alternative for the nursery.  She’s also in the UK and I live in Japan, so I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.

I found a frame in the back of the closet with spot for two 4″x6″ photos, and dug out two pieces of 4″x6″ photo paper.  Photoshop and I were about to be become very good friends.

Keep in mind that there's a lot of work involved when I say "found" and "dug out."

I decided that I would make 2 small pictures with my son’s initials.  A quick Google search helped me find the images below, as well as the exact meanings of the flags.

"MIKE." My vessel is stopped and making no way through water.

"LIMA." You should stop your vessel instantly.

I decided not to make it exactly like Bexpert’s, but tweaked the basic idea a little.

1)  I started with a 4″x6″ Photoshop canvas, and added the title.
2)  Then I added the signal flag, as well as the letter it represents.  I decided to match the color of the font to the flag.
3)  I added text with the flag meaning and spaced it around everything else until it looked “right.”
I decided to switch the position of the flag and the letter for the other initial.  I want them to coordinate, but not match exactly.

I printed them on photo paper and popped them into my frame and voila!  Since I already had the frame and photo paper lying around Clutterhome, it was free nursery art!  Photos to come during the big DIY Nautical Nursery Reveal.



Filed under Clutterhome Family, Ruin-it-Yourself Projects

Crafts for the Uncrafty: Decoupage

Ever since I saw this picture on Pinteret, I’ve been wanting to make a similar one.  For us, home changes every couple of years (4 in the last 5 years), so in our world it’s more of a “Home is where the Navy sends you.”

Image from

I looked online to see if I could order only the Scrabble pieces that I needed, but it would have cost me roughly $15 plus shipping and handling.  I opted to just purchase the game for $13 instead.  It was a financially responsible move on my part (and those are rare!), but I also have enough pieces left over to spell my son and our two Clutterdogs’s names.  Bonus:  I can make this later (also found on Pinterest).

So if you find yourself some Scrabble pieces, this Uncraft is completely personalizable.  You could make a picture frame, a fun box for storing trinkets, or even a cute desk nameplate.  The sky’s the limit here, Clutterfans!


You will need:

1)  Something to serve as a base.  I used a blank canvas I bought over a year ago for a craft I never did.  How Clutterholic of me to pack it up and move it 10,000 miles with me.

2)  Scrabble pieces.  You could probably substitute magazine letters for an awesome ransom note cut & paste effect.

3)  Pretty paper or pictures to glue decoupage onto  your base.  (Did y’all know those pretty much mean the same thing?)

4)  Scissors and something to measure with if you’re going for perfection.

5)  Mod Podge, or you can make your own with equal parts of water and white glue.

6)  Foam brush for applying Mod Podge.

Shh... I had to make an H from a blank tile. Apparently Scrabble only comes with 2 H's.

Cut your paper and lay it out how you would like to apply it to your base.  I chose to use origami paper (60 sheets for $1, not too shabby) and made it into a quilt pattern.  Dip your brush into your Mod Podge and . . .

Easy peasy.

Wipe and smear it all over your base!  Stick your paper on in whatever design you came up with.

Wipey, smeary, sticky.

Smooth out as many wrinkles as you can (I skipped this step, oops), and cover the top of your paper with Mod Podge.  Fold the edges over and glue them in place.

Smoothy, foldy, gluey.

I did my corners like I was wrapping a present.  I love presents!  I made a flap, tucked it around the corner, and Mod Podged the life out of it.

Flappy, tucky, Mod-Podgey.

After the first layer of Mod Podge dried, I applied a second coat and stuck on my Scrabble letters.

I knew I wouldn't be able to get them on straight, so I went with a Clutterific and kind of lopside look. It's our Clutterhome way.

Viola!  It’s exactly what I was going for:  colorful, fun, and kind of tacky!  I’m going to hang it in my laundry room because that place needs some cheering up.  It might even inspire me to actually DO some laundry . . .

I love it! Wrinkles, homemade H and all!

Don’t forget!  I’ll be Guest Clutterblogging on Sugar in My Grits for the:

May 23- Life as a Clutterwife in Japan.  Read first hand how I’ve learned to adapt and overcome and really ENJOY life in Japan as a military spouse and SAH(almost)M.

May 29-Crafts for the Uncrafty (because you know that’s me!):  DIY Nautical Crafts for the Home 

And be sure to check out Sugar in my Grits over the next couple of weeks for some really interesting posts from military spouses around the world!  There will be some awesome giveaways, so keep your eyes open for those babies, too!


Filed under Crafts for the Uncrafty, Ruin-it-Yourself Projects

Worldless Wednesday: Nursery Painting

Leave a comment

Filed under Ruin-it-Yourself Projects, Wordless Wednesday

RIY Purchasing Paint Supplies

Welcome to “Clutterholic’s Guide to Purchasing Paint Supplies!”  I’m the queen of DIY Ruin-it-Yourself, but I want to paint this bare, boring room and turn it into something fabulous.  I’ve never successfully done anything like that, but there’s gotta be a first time for everything.

I want to have at least one room in my house that looks like grown ups live here. Oddly enough, it's going to be our nursery.

I knew that, obviously, I’d first have to measure my room so I’d know how much paint to buy. So . . .

STEP 1)  Measure your room.

Well, it made sense to ME.

I tried using the above method to measure the wall, but the tape measure kept slipping off the door frame.  Then I remembered when we replaced the carpet in our last house, the man measured everything on the floor.  I tried it, and it actually worked!

Much easier.

STEP 2)  Write is all down so you don’t forget.  Armed with my room measurements, I drew a diagram.  My theory was that I could just hand someone at the store my diagram and they would load my cart down with what I need.

For a 6th grade project, I made a house out of jellybeans and toothpicks and wrote a poem to go with it. I still remember the words. This picture totally looks like one of the rooms.

Then I realized I live in a country that uses the metric system, so I needed a new diagram that wasn’t in feet.  I messed up a few times trying to redraw the room, but eventually succeeded.  I have a handy iPhone app that does the conversions for me.  THIS IS MY STEP 3, but most people reading this can omit it.  Proceed on and skip this step, but take a second to admire my wrinkly and wonky tablecloth.

#&$! metric system.

STEP 4)  Using your room measurements, determine how much paint you need.  Since I know absolutely nothing about that sort of stuff, I had to consult my best friend.  I like to call him Mr. G.

Dummies! That's me!

This guide broke it down Barney-style and I learned that you need 1 gallon for every 350 square feet.

But it also started talking about things like primer and different kinds of paint.  What?  Painting is much harder than I thought.  I consulted Mr. G again to see if I could skip that whole priming thing.

Evidently not.

Knowing that I not only needed to buy PAINT, but also PRIMER, I set out to educate myself on how much primer I would need.  This is when it occurred to me that I might need more than one of coat of each, and I debated just scribbling on the walls with crayons and calling it art.

Danny Lipford’s blog was really helpful about explaining the difference between the different kinds of primer and how many coats I’d need of everything.  I determined that I would need to do one coat of primer, and two coats of paint per wall.  Neat.  Here’s my calculations:

I'm a visual person. I have to write it ALL out and see it, or else I won't get it. That's why college was so hard for me . . . my eyes were closed for most of it.

You’ll notice I also had to convert it all to metric-ness.  Thank you, iPhone, for simplifying everything in my life that requires brain cells.

Since I know I'm capable of doing the real math, I have no problem admitting I took the lazy way. Work smarter, not harder, folks!

STEP 423 5) Now that you know how much paint you need, you need to figure out what KIND of paint.  I kept it simple and Googled “difference between latex and acrylic paint” and learned here that latex paint is cheaper, but doesn’t last as long.  That works for me, because we’re moving in a year anyway.  Latex paint it is!

But back to Mr. Lipford’s thorough explanation.  Apparently there can be issues if you mix and match paints and primers, and it matters what kind of paint is already on the wall.  I honestly have no idea what’s already there, but told me that if your paint looks streaky (yes) and you can easily scratch it with your fingernail (YES!), then it’s latex.  Phew!  Since I already have latex paint, I won’t have any issues slapping on some latex paint and primer.

STEP 6)  Make a shopping list of the tools you will need.  I read about a billion websites and came up with a list of items that I needed:  painter’s tape, drop cloth, angled brush for corners, paint tray and liners, rollers, roller cover, and a roller pole.  After rooting through boxes in our shed and figuring out what I could borrow, I was able to narrow down my list significantly.

Lines through items on a list are so fulfilling.

The handy-dandy tutorial ends here, but keep reading to hear the rest of my Clutterholic paint shopping adventure.

I knew I wanted two colors: a darkish blue, and a lighter blue.  I figured I could waddle myself into the store and ooh and ah over paint chips until I found some that jumped out at me.  But apparently in Japan, the paint comes pre-colored and you don’t really have a lot of options.

Pre-mixed colors? Interesting.

Whatever.  Nit-picking over colors isn’t really my thing anyway.  “Dark blue” and “light blue” was about as specific as I really wanted to be anyway.

You’ll notice that these paints aren’t in English.  Is it latex?  Is it outdoor paint?  Is it lead based and horrible for the environment?  Who knows . . . not me.

It all looks the same to me.

No one offered to help me, but I don’t speak Japanese so someone offering to help wouldn’t have really helped that much anyway.  I decided to go with the cheapest paint that had a picture of a house on it.  I couldn’t tell what was primer and what was paint, so let’s hope I guessed correctly.

Also,  I only had one choice for dark blue and two choices for light blue.

The Clutterprints are next to the paint colors.

I went with the ones below.  I actually needed 1.9 liters of light paint, but that was including painting where there’s actually a window so I’m hoping this 1.6 liter can is enough.  I have more than enough dark paint.

The square paint can is kind of neat.

Stuff is expensive here.

If it's pink, it stinks.

I paid roughly $102.30 for 1.8 gallons of dark paint, and $40.52 for less than half a gallon of the light paint.  Neat.  Good thing the rest of the house is boring and white, and I’m fine with that.  The Clutterbaby room is going to be the only one with any sort of decorations, and that’s okay, too!  I just hope this doesn’t look awful.  That’s a whole lot of money for me to Clutter this up too bad.


Filed under Ruin-it-Yourself Projects

Ruin-it-Yourself Carpet Cleaning

I’ve been meaning to clean our “guest room” carpets for quite some time.  One of the dogs decided it looked like a mighty fine place to use the bathroom and left us a neat smell and cool stains.  We have company coming in 2 weeks (hooray, more ClutterFamily!) and we need to turn this into a functional place for them to sleep.  First, I had to move everything out of the room to begin the magical transformation.  Say sayonara to all of this stuff!

I want to paint to make it feel cozy, but that is so far outside of my domestic capabilities.

Ok, that’s actually not a very accurate representation of what we were starting with.  Last weekend, we cleared out tons and tons of junk to make room for furniture for our little LoganBug.  The bulky stuff  we took out was “temporarily” relocated to our bedroom and living room.  I really wish I had a before picture of the disaster, but here is a glimpse of what USED to be in there.

Hmm.. moving boxes that remain to be unpacked from our move a year ago.

We own several dehumidifiers, portable A/C and heating units, and fans.  We were told before moving in that our current home would be freezing in the winter and boiling in the summer.  That is not the case, so they mostly just sit in our guest room closets and bedroom.  I may have gone crazy before moving and purchased “extras” of everything so we wouldn’t be caught without some crucial cooling system in July.  I’m a little nutso.

Extra bed we bought for roughly $70 and our hall closest. Complete with nutso fans and another dehumidifier.

We bought a guest bed that’s a full on the bottom bunk and a twin on the top.  We need to somehow find a full mattress before our company gets here in 2 weeks.

Oh, and the desk (which wasn’t being used) was relocated to the living room because you can’t really walk in our bedroom now.

This is where all of the Clutterholic magic happens. Yes, I'm using a TV as a monitor. Hooking up the ACTUAL monitor would require too much effort on my part.

Ok, so back to moving everything out so I could work my DIY magic and clean the carpet!  This was fun.  But not really.

Not fat. Pregnant. Don't judge me and my desert-for-breakfast lifestyle.

That’s when I realized this was an opportune time to put the filters back into our A/C slash heater thing.  I made Clutterhubs clean them a week ago because I was convinced they were full of mold.  Turns out, there was no mold.

The remote control to our AC/heater is in Japanese. Being able to read Japanese would be *so* helpful since we live in Japan. We just mash buttons until air comes out. You win some, you lose some.

Once the room was empty, I busted out our vacuum.  It was probably super excited to be getting used, but that excitement undoubtedly turned into sadness when he got all plugged up with dog hair.  “Perfect” for pets.

Wanna know the worst part? There is a dead roach in the bottom. Clutterhubs sucked it up and I'm too wimpy to remove it myself.

So, onward with the “DIY Carpet Cleaning.”  If I lived in the US, I would absolutely pay someone to do this for me.  That’s just how we are, but since that’s not an option you get the pleasure of learning my secret technique.

Actually, it’s not much of a secret.  I was out of carpet cleaning stuff for the carpet cleaning machine I borrowed, but a quick Google search saved the day.  A couple of days ago, I learned from the blog My-Beautiful-Muslim-Life that you can use white vinegar to get smells out of laundry.

I actually used the kind in the plastic jug because it's cheaper. Gotta keep my man happy and all that.

Armed with that information, I typed “white vinegar DIY carpet cleaning” into Google and, voila!  That led me to which says you can dump that smelly awesomeness into a carpet cleaner and it will remove smells from carpet, too.

Except here’s the kicker . . . while it dries, everything will smell like vinegar.  Neat.  So in my effort to make everything clean and amazing, I made my whole house smell very strongly of vinegar.  Just another day in the life . . .

So I put our fans to good use, because I read that if you just let them dry then it can cause MOLD.  Ahhh!  So Clutterhome is airing out, and I’m thinking about heading out to walk Ben & Baxter while my DIY RIY cleaning job stops stinking.

Sadly, there are still 6 fans and 2 dehumidifiers elsewhere in Clutterhome that aren't pictured. Nutso.


Filed under Ruin-it-Yourself Projects

Ruin-it-Yourself Wonky Tablecloth

We moved about a year ago, and prior to the move we bought a new table.  We’re temporarily living in another country, so we left big stuff in storage in the good ol’ USA and bought smaller items to use overseas.  In less than a year, our table has gotten pretty beat up.  I’ve been telling myself I need to keep tablecloths on it so when I kick the bucket, my kids can fight over who gets to keep the *pristine* looking table they grew up with.  I know, I’m a little nuts.

My Mother's Day Flowers are sort of dying, but still make me happy.

The problem is, the only tablecloths we own are  the wrong shape.  I actually acquired them when we had a death in the family (Is that weird?  They were free!).  Anyway, I was pretty proud of myself when I actually bothered to measure our table and order a correctly-sized tablecloth.  HOWEVER, I wanted a “fitted” tablecloth with snug corners that wouldn’t slide off when my dogs got a little too sniffy with my dinner (like this, from Smashed Peas and Carrots).  I tried to find one to order online from Amazon and Esty, but couldn’t find what I wanted.

I was pretty excited that Smashed Peas and Carrots actually had a DIY tutorital on how to make exactly what I had in mind.  Neat!  Except I ruin DIY projects AND I can’t sew.  No problemo, though.  I had a plan.

First, I had to remove all of the stuff from my scratchy table in order to put  on my BRAND NEW tablecloth that I ordered JUST FOR THIS PROJECT.  That’s when I realized that newspaper was a week old, the registration paper for one of my Girl Scouts has been there for like 4 days, and my flowers are dying.  Oh well!  People actually *live* here at Blue Palm Manor (what I have affectionately named our home, details to come later).

I picked up that cool wooden thing a couple of years ago in Dakar, Senegal. We love wooden carved randomness.

Normally on the rare occasion that we buy something decorative for our house, we buy it in a maroon/burgundy color.  This was totally out of the norm, but I thought it was pretty cool and cheery.  Plus, it was our wedding color and we had a sweet cake with Mickey Mouse on top and fun stripes in this color.  We’re only pretending to be grown ups.

Hi, Erika! You cute, Clutterholic, you.

Oh, look.  My new tablecloth is wrinkly.  Normally I wouldn’t give that a second thought, but since I’m going to be altering this tablecloth I needed to get those babies (mostly) out.  Good housewives would iron.  I decided to just throw it in the dryer.  That’s when I discovered the sheets I washed over a week ago (much like the week old newspaper still on the table).  Yes, apparently it’s been longer than a week since I’ve done any other laundry.  That’s the Clutterhome way.  Instead of folding them nicely, I opted to toss them on top of the dryer.

I really like flannel sheets. Especially when they're the right color so dog hair is less visible.

Ok, so here is where I attempt a DIY tutorial on a totally slacker way of making a square edged fitted tablecloth.  Bear with me, I have no DIY skills.

You want to fold and pin the corners so the tablecloth sits nicely without all of that excess flappy stuff showing.  I guess it’s kind of like making hospital corners on a mattress, or maybe how some people wrap presents.  That’s the best way I can describe what I was going for.  Before you do this, you might want to actually iron out the wrinkles (the dryer didn’t work, but I just left ’em there).  You also might want to spend some time making sure your tablecloth is centered.  I certainly didn’t bother.  I have the patience of a turnip, but I’m cool with that.

Anyway, fold each corner like this:

If you're picky, spend a lot of time doing this so it's nice and straight. I spent about 5 minutes doing it, and you'll see why that's not a good idea in a bit.

Pin those puppies so it will hold in place when you remove the tablecloth and transfer to your ironing board.  Oh yeah, preheat your iron.  Or, do it like Erika and take time to do that after pinning and eat some ice cream while you wait.  Turn on some awesome country music and sing to yourself, too.

Side note:  I don’t actually own pins.  I had to find one of ClutterHusband’s unopened dress shirts and grab a bunch from there.  I’m not domestic enough to own cool things like straight pins for crafting, so I just made do.

So here is where I get lazy.  I can’t sew, so I use iron on hem tape.  Basically, it’s tape that you cut to size and when you put it between fabric and apply heat, like MAGIC it gets sticky and holds everything together.  You wanna stick pieces all-up-in your corner and iron it so the glue activates and everything holds together without the pins.

I was getting super impatient here. Stopping to take pictures almost didn't happen, but I thought Photoshopping pretend tape in would be *much* harder.

Apply some heat and make those corners stick!

I'm not normally this fat. That cute little bump is Logan. He's going to be quite the spoiled ClutterBaby here in couple months.

And like MAGIC, I had a finished product that was kind of like what I had in mind!  It stays put and doesn’t slip and slide around, which was the ultimate goal.  Beauty wasn’t the primary objective, so I wasn’t very careful.  The sides aren’t even, but I don’t care.  I achieved my goals; count it!

Ignore the cotton on the floor. A ClutterDog destroyed a toy earlier. The other ClutterDog also left those sweet smudges on the window . . . he likes to stand on the sill and rub his nose all over the place. There are worse things in life than fluff and beagle boogers, though. ❤

Oh, and before you get to thinking that I’m full of lies and deceit when I claim that I ruin all DIY projects, please let me show you my wonky corner that just didn’t quite work out for me.  But, it’s totally hideable AND my tablecloth stays put so we’re just gonna roll with it and use it as a reminder of why people like me should really just order handmade things from Etsy instead of attempting it themselves.  But in all seriousness, I’m glad it’s not perfect.  It’s got a little character and charm, right?  And if it was done properly and looked half decent, well that just wouldn’t be the Clutterhome way!

We'll just put this in the most unseen corner. No worries!


Filed under Ruin-it-Yourself Projects