Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Upcycling a Wire Basket

Although I've been busy with working on the living room I've spent the occasional half hour every now and then working on a small project for Sofi Sue's room.  I found this wire basket at goodwill for a few dollars.

It's a nice, large basket and I thought it would be perfect to hold Sofia's stuffed animals.  But it wasn't very attractive and I plan on only putting cute things into her new room.  So I decided to wrap it in yarn, kind of like we used to wrap braids back in high school.  Remember that?  I wasn't sure if there was some forgotten proper method to do this so I looked it up.

photo of two girls with hairwraps
Go to Craft Yarn Council if you want to look this cool.
 It turns out that all you really have to do is wrap the yarn around the braid, or in this case, wire, a whole bunch of times until it looks totally rad.  So I chose yarns from my stash in shades of purple, red, pink and orange and started wrapping.

And wrapping and wrapping and wrapping.  Whenever I had some extra time with no kids around I'd turn on Gilmore Girls (I plan on finishing the entire series before watching the new episodes on Netflix) and wrap yarn.  It took about a month of doing this here and there.  And I finally finished.

I think it looks super cute and can't wait to actually start on Sofi Sue's room!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Filling More Gaps

Living in an old house is not as fun as I thought it would be when I was younger.  I used to be obsessed with all things old; built in's, original wood floors, molding, and those little doors that used to lead from the porch to the ice box.  Now, I just want straight walls.  But there's no use crying about what you can't have, instead you just have to deal with what you've got.  And I've got majorly wonky walls.  Between my built in bookshelves and the walls on either side there are extremely uneven gaps that range from nearly two inches in some spots to a quarter of an inch in others.  I briefly considered using my original filling the gap method, but that would require too much time.  Instead I decided to fill the gap with pre-primed 1X2's.  I measured the gap in several spots and transferred those measurements onto my wood.

Then I used my belt sander to try and sand down to my line.

It took FOREVER!  So then I cut part with my miter saw, but that only would cut about twelve inches into my 1X2.  Then I took a hacksaw and went at what was left.

At least two hours after starting I had the wood for the left gap ready.  And I was dreading the next day when I would have to do it all over again on the right side.  But, the next day I realized I was being a dope.  This doesn't have to be filled in with one continuous piece of wood.  So I cut my 1X2 into twelve inch sections, marked the angels I needed to cut and used my miter saw to get it all done in less than half the time it had taken me the day before..  I'll need a little extra putty to cover up where the wood meets, but I plan on using a ton anyway, so what's a little more?  I also bought a couple of wooden shims to fill in the much narrower areas.

Then, today, I had to actually attach all of this wood.  I bought a small container of liquid nails and quickly realized that I didn't have the right angle to smear it onto the sides of the bookshelf.  So, I got creative and gooped the glue onto the handle of a fan and spread it with that.

Thanks Shakespeare!

I maneuvered the wood into place and shot a couple of brads to hold it in place.

It doesn't look perfect, but hopefully the putty will smooth everything out and hide the imperfections. 

Here's how it looked before:

And here's how it looks now:

I'll let you know how the puttying goes!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Messy Yard Cleanup

After a long summer of block parties, supper clubs and regular use our back yard was looking pretty sad.

View from the patio.

View from the blackberry bush.
I've got lots of work to do inside of the house, but I wanted to deal with the yard now so that winter doesn't sneak up and catch me with my pants down.  After putting away toys, deflating pools, reorganizing chairs, picking up garbage, drying out camping chairs and mowing the lawn it looks much better!

Now no one is allowed to come over to my house, I don't want to clean it up anymore!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Making an Old Backpack New Again

Henry would like to have a new backpack every year.  If I bought him one of those cheaply made character backpacks that he always wants I'd have to get him a new one each year.  The bottoms of those bags disintegrate quickly and you'll be lucky if they even last for one school year!  Unfortunately for Henry, I already had a good quality backpack that I had bought for myself years ago but didn't use much.  Two years ago I decided to stop buying cheap bags and just use the one I already had.  It was pretty plain Jane, a dark green backpack with no embellishments.  So the first year Henry used it I jazzed it up a bit with some felt into a monster backpack.  Of course, I don't have any pictures of that.  Last year I pulled off the monster and added a minion instead.  I have some scruffy, been used for an entire year pictures of that:

I'm holding up the mouth section since I forgot to take a picture before ripping it off of the bag.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Getting Close to Being Done!

Look at these beautiful shelves!  Look at them!

Mom and Dad were in town and stayed with us this past week.  Dad and I spent all week working on the living room bookshelves.  Amazingly, we got them up and secured to the walls despite realizing that I made two of the seven sections incorrectly and that my room slants down towards the middle of the house.  This causes the right side of the bookshelf to be much higher than the left because the floor is higher on that side of the room.  Oh, also, my walls in the living room are plaster and lathe and therefore not flat.  At all.

So here's what we did to make it work.  First, the shelves didn't fit into the dados I had made because the boards were still slightly warped and I had primed them, making the boards slightly too thick to fit.  We solved this by sanding the ends of the boards.  After that it was pretty simple to glue and nail the shelves together using some pipe clamps to make them nice and tight.

Then we had to screw them to one another so that the shelves would work together as one unit.

Action shot of Dad and me.
We ended up having to cut of an inch or so of the bottom of the right side bookshelf to compensate for the slanted floor.

In order to add the bookshelf over the door we had to hold it in place with some boards screwed into the sides of the left and right bookshelves so it wouldn't fall on our heads while we connected them all together.

Boy, this post makes the whole thing look so quick and easy!  There are still a lot of things that need to be done, including filling in all the nail and screw holes, filling in the gaps between the shelves and the walls on both sides, priming, painting and covering the wonky top with crown molding.  But I'm so happy to have gotten this far, which I never would have done without my dad's help.  Thanks Dad!

Get The Tools (affiliate links)
These are the tools I used to create this project:

Porter Cable Air Compressor I chose this because Dad recommended the company and it was reasonably priced.  Plus, it's cute!

Wen 18 Gauge 2" Brad Nailer This one got good reviews and was super cheap, my kind of tool!

If you want to see the entire project so far, here are some of my other posts on building these shelves:

Finally Starting the Bookshelves

Awesome Bookshelves, Slow Going

Baby Steps

Filling in the Knotholes

Hey Dad, I've Got Our Project Ready!

So I've Been a Little Lazy

Thursday, August 18, 2016

New Couch

Yesterday we accepted delivery of our new couch!

You can see our tired old green couch on the right and the spiffy (although not terribly fashionable) new sectional on the left.  We ended up purchasing the Chamberly Alloy Loveseat sectional.  We needed a fairly small sectional to fit in our tight living room.  It is sold by Ashley Furniture, so I stopped by the store to see if I liked it enough to commit to it for at least the next ten years.  Ashley sells it for $1,600 plus tax and delivery (although it is currently on sale for $1,279.99).  I wanted a much cheaper couch than that.  Strangely enough, a lot of other stores sell Ashley Furniture furniture.  I ended up purchasing it from  They have it on sale for $1,000 with no tax and free delivery, plus they had a little coupon flashing at the top of their page for $50 off, so I nabbed that as well and ended up paying $950 total.  I figure I saved about $1,000 off the full price of the couch once you count in tax and delivery charges.  I do love a good bargain! 

Friday, August 12, 2016

Block Party Trophy

Tomorrow is our block party.  I'm super excited about this because in our old house we couldn't have a block party.  The police might have frowned upon our blocking off four lanes of traffic to set up a bouncy house in the middle of the street!  But we now live on a nice quiet residential street and public works dropped off our barricades today!  So tomorrow the kids will bounce away.  And the adults will have a bags tournament.  Of course I need a bags trophy!  I've been stopping by Goodwill more frequently than I usually do lately in search of an unwanted trophy.  Sadly, there have been none.  I was briefly given hope that my brother in law's old trophies were available, but it turns out that they were mostly thrown away.  So my hopes of cutting a bowling ball or golf club off of the tiny trophy man's hand and gluing on a small bean bag have been dashed.  Then I decided to just make a large bean bag and that would be the trophy.  My genius niece, Maddy, suggested writing the winner's name on the trophy each year and having them return it the following year so that a new winner could be crowned.  So I quickly embroidered some fabric that has been laying around for more than 10 years and made the perfect trophy in time for tomorrow's festivities.  I'm super excited for our block party!

Friday, August 5, 2016

Broody Hen and Other News

Violet has gone broody.  That means that she wants to sit on her nest and hatch a brood of chicks.  The only problem is that without a rooster this is impossible.  Also, we steal all of her eggs daily so she is mostly just sitting on an empty nest.  Poor Violet.

It's kind of hard to see in this sideways picture, but Violet is puffing up all of her feathers in an attempt to intimidate us into leaving her eggs alone.  She also has started making this funny little noise every time we come near.  I've heard that broody hens monopolize the nesting box (Violet is sitting there for at least 22 of the 24 hours in a day) but Violet is nice enough to get off the nest long enough to let Paulie and Twink have a turn once in a while. 

In other news, I've scored several loads of old bricks recently.

I'm loading up in preparation for new raised garden beds for next year.  I realize that the summer squash won't share a bed with any other plants, and is actually trying to shade out our peppers in the neighboring bed!  I just have to figure out a good place to put the extra beds.  Here is what's happening in the gardens we have currently:

The (blurry) runner beans are showing up.  But they're fuzzy.  Am I supposed to eat that?

Our jalapenos are starting to fruit.

Our blackberries are producing like crazy, but someone is eating them before they fully ripen!
Stop by for more garden updates; I know this is riveting stuff!

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

So I've Been a Little Lazy

I haven't made much progress on my bookshelves since my last post.  I did spend four days priming each side of the boards twice.

After the first day of priming the boards by sitting on the ground next to them my back was killing me (I've become my father).  So the second day of priming I wised up and set up my folding table.

This was much less uncomfortable on my back.  Now I'm working on sanding both sides and putting them back into piles based on their order in the bookshelf. 

This way, when Dad shows up, we'll be all ready to glue and nail together the shelves.  Then I plan on giving them a final coat of primer, this time the yellow tinted primer.  Then we'll see if I have time to paint them before attaching them to the wall, or if I'll have to paint them after they are attached to the wall.  Maybe, while I'm waiting for Dad to come, I might even work a little on the counter top I started months ago for the laundry room.  I started the laundry room project way back in April, but after finishing the floors I haven't made much progress.  It would be nice to move along in a project, any project!  I keep on starting ones that are interrupted by new projects and none ever get completed!