Category Archives: projecty type stuff

Climbing the Ladder Toward the Finishing Touches

I was looking through Pinterest earlier this year, and found this idea I loved that worked with my decor and even fit into my budget.  I just had to get the renovations to a place where we were ready to start adding the finishing touches.  Well, we’ve finally made it to that point in the living room, so I decided that this week would be the perfect time to try and recreate the Blanket Ladder I found…

I have several crocheted blankets that I’d love to display in my living room, but I don’t want the dogs to destroy them.  This project seems like the perfect solution to that problem.  I started by gathering the materials I needed: 2 5 foot pieces of 2×4, 4 17 inch pieces of 2×6, 16 2 1/2 inch wood screws, a drill (with a working battery), a rag and stain.  Once I had everything together, I stained all of the wood pieces and let them dry over night.

stain the wood

When the pieces were dry, I grabbed the tape measure and my drill.  I laid out the rungs of the ladder along the rails based on the measurements provided in the pin.  She wanted 4 rungs spaced 12 inches apart starting 3 inches from the to of the rails.  I decided to remove the final rung, because I liked the visual spacing better.  I also didn’t use pocket holes, because I’m too cheap to purchase a $100 Kreg Jig.  The design of the piece is rustic/industrial so face nailing the rails worked within the design.  After I had everything measured out, I used 2 screws for each side of each rung to secure the 2×6 pieces between the 2×4 rails.

laying out the rungs securing the rungs between the rails

After all 3 rungs were secured, I stood the ladder up and placed some of my blankets.  I’m not sure if I like the ladder.  I think that it’s not level, but it stands and the rails show level.  Maybe it’s just my crooked old house…

waiting for balnkets   $10 Blanket Ladder




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The Incredible Shrinking… Wardrobe!

On Wednesday I usually write about whatever craft project I have completed this week, but not today.  Today I am going to talk about something a bit different.  Why, you ask?  Well, because I haven’t actually finished this week’s project yet.  I was so overwhelmed and distracted by the Spring Cleaning task I took on this week, that between it and work there just wasn’t enough time for much else.  What kind of Spring Cleaning project could possibly be that overwhelming?  Going through, pairing down, and reorganizing my entire wardrobe!

What on Earth would make me want to tackle that monumental of a task?  We recently moved from Long Island, NY to Akron, OH.  We also went from living in extremely tight quarters (we’re talking less than a studio apartment small) to a 3 bedroom house.  I’ve changed jobs and lost 2 full sizes worth of weight; however, the biggest factor in this project was the design of the master closet.  The master is the last room we need to tackle, in order to get our house to place we want it to be.  The room became closetless when we remodeled the bathroom, so I get to design my closet from scratch.  In order to do that I needed to know exactly what I’m going to have to stuff into the new and improved closet space.  That’s what brought me to taking on this project now…  An influx of universal indicators that screamed at me to get off my ass and go through all of the boxes, tubs and suitcases.

I literally touched every piece of clothing, every single shoe, every boot, and every purse, hat or glove I own in the last 48 hours.  I started the project with great enthusiasm and optimism, but as I continued the process, it became harder and harder.  I evaluated whether each piece was something I liked, if it fit, and if it was something I couldn’t’ live without replacing if it didn’t meet the 2 previous criteria. I literally touched it all.  It was an amazing amount of stuff.

I’ve come to several conclusions during this process…

  1. I had approximately a metric ton of clothing
  2. I have officially left the “Plus Size” category of Women’s Clothing (and NEVER intend to return)
  3. I probably kept more than I should’ve
  4. I still need to replace some items with better fitting substitutions
  5. A woman can NEVER have too many shoes!
  6. I’m going to get a minor windfall of cash when I bring the “NO Pile” to Clothes Mentor!

Can you say consignment??   My Shoes!!!   The Keepers

I’ll keep you posted about the continued progress on the closet, but now that this is mostly finished (I still need to put away the clean clothes, wash some more laundry, bring the toss pile to the consignment shop, … oh it really is a never ending project!), I should be able to get back to my regularly scheduled craft projects.

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Necessity is the Mother of All Invention

Like last week, I was looking to solve a problem with this week’s craft project; however, I foolishly assumed I created the idea all by myself.  I was wrong…  I was looking for recipes on Pinterest when I came upon a pin that looks remarkably like the project I just completed.  My job has recently changed.  I’m still working at the same place, but I’ve moved into a more public position and my appearance is now more of a concern.  That’s not to say that I didn’t always make sure I washed my face, brushed my teeth and used deodorant.  It’s just that now I choose to use make up (which requires remover, too), hair styling products (I even unearthed my freaking blow dryer), and all sorts of other lotions and potions.  This meant that my formerly clear and clutter free bathroom counter was being overrun with clips, cotton balls and a bunch of other random stuff.  My OCD jumped into overdrive, so I had to find a solution to the problem.  I decided to make cute jars to stick all the stuff in, so it would still be accessible, but also out of my way.  Apparently, I wasn’t the only person who encountered this type of problem and solved it by repurposing jars from the recycle bin.

I grabbed a few jars from my stash.  (I save them for possible reuse.  It drives Gwen crazy, but I’d rater pay 99 cents for a drawer pull than $15 for a q-tip holder at the store.)  I originally chose three, but had to scrap the 3rd one, because I couldn’t seem to get rid of the garlic smell (anyone have a suggestion on how to solve that problem?).  I cleaned the jars with goo gone to get rid of the left over sticker goop.  Then I let them dry completely.

left over jars   clean with goo gone

Next I grabbed my cordless drill with a metal bit and drilled a hole in the center of the lid for each jar, so I could attach an inexpensive drawer pull to the tops.  I used shorter wood screws, that I had hanging around from another project, instead of the long ones that came with the knobs.  A jar lid is much thinner than a cabinet door, and I wanted the knobs to sit flush with the tops of the jars.

Drill a hole to attach the knobs   see the hole?   attach the knob  Ready for Paint

Now that the knobs were secure, the jars were ready for paint.  We have a bit of a grey color scheme running throughout our 2nd floor, so I grabbed the left over spray paint I had from painting a thrift store computer desk last weekend, and went to town on the jar lids.  I sprayed each lid thoroughly, making sure to coat the underside of the knobs.

Paint the tops   Let them Dry Completely

Once the tops were totally dry, I filled the jars and cleaned up some of the mess on my bathroom counter.

Bathroom Storage Jars

What do you think?


Filed under check-it-off-the-list, hunting for a new home, projecty type stuff, self improvement

Unwelcome Visitors…

As many of you know, I grew up in New York, where people mind their own business and generally don’t go where they weren’t invited.  There are the occasional door to door salesmen, but not a ridiculous number.  Since I’ve moved to Ohio, I’ve had more unwelcome visitors than I had in the entire time I lived in NY.  Now, keep in mind that we only moved into our house in mid-October and that the winter was ridiculously cold.  That means that over the course of the last few weeks I’ve had well over a dozen strangers coming to my door trying to help me find the Lord, convince me to vote for a backward thinking moron, and provide me services for the hard of hearing.  I had to figure out what I could do to keep the idiots at bay.  I’d seen a couple of cute “No Soliciting Signs” in my travels on Pinterest and decided to make one of my own.

First I found a wooden plaque that I had picked up at my local craft store, and stained it to match the house numbers we had made earlier.

Stain or Paint the Sign   Drying

I liked the sentiment, but I wanted to personalize it a bit, so I changed a few things to make it more my own.

Customize the Wording

I transferred the words using the chalk and tracing method I’ve used in the past.  Then I used a Sharpie Paint Pen to fill in the lettering.

Chalk over the back of the page   Then trace the image you want to transfer Fill in the outline with a Paint Pen   1/4 done  Finished

When I was done with the lettering, I sprayed the plaque with varnish to give it a protective covering, because it’s going to stay outside in the elements.  Then I attached a frame hanger to the back and hung it up.

Attach a frame hanger

It’s to the right of our front door…  I really hope it works!  I’m not very good at dealing with unwelcome visitors.

No Soliciting Sign   Good PLacement?

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Counting Down Until Opening Day!!!

Baseball (and softball) was an integral part of my childhood.  No matter how much my mother wanted us to be nerds (and she tried really hard to make that happen… maybe someday I will tell you about having to do workbook pages all summer long instead of getting to go play with the rest of the kids in our neighborhood), my dad made sure that each of us held a special place in our hearts for his favorite sport and arguably the best franchise in baseball, The New York Yankees.  I was a bit of a rebel in the mid ’80’s and pretended to be a Mets fan, but my true Yankee nature won out in the end.  For the last several years, we have been making an annual pilgrimage to George M. Steinbrenner Field in Florida for a week of Yankee Spring Training ball, but I just couldn’t do it this year.  I was terrified that I’d spend the entire time in tears, because my dad wasn’t with us, so I chose to spend Spring Training imagining him sitting with “The Boss” in the stands critiquing the current roster and recalling or rehashing all of the legendary moves of the past.  However, I couldn’t forsake the anticipation of the season completely, so I decided to pay homage to it with a welcoming symbol right on our front door.  I got the idea for a great wreath on Pinterest:

The pin connected to a giveaway that has long since expired, so I decided to try and make my own version.  I gathered my materials:  I found wire I thought would work to form the wreath, 12 old baseballs (I got mine at a local flea market last fall), ribbon to give it some personality, and a drill with a 5/8″ bit.

baseball wreath supplies

Once I had all of my supplies, I headed out to the garage to drill holes in the individual baseballs.  This is harder than you might think, there’s some mighty strange stuff inside a baseball, and it varies depending on the brand of the ball.  I secured each individual ball in a bench vise and used my cordless hand drill to make my holes, but you could also use a drill press if you happen to have access to one.

Drilling the ball   look at all that junk

Once all 12 balls had a hole, I cleaned up the mess and brought everything inside.  When I got inside, I started stringing the balls on the wire.  I tried coaxial cable first, but the wire was too thick, so I switched to thermostat wire from Home Depot.  I though that was going to work perfectly, but we’ll get to that later.  I started by threading one ball onto the wire and making a loop out of the wire at the base of the ball.

make a loop to close the wreath

Then I added the rest of the balls to the wire.  When I got to the end, I threaded the end of the wire through the loop I made earlier to close the wreath.  I left the end open, so I could add the bow and create a hanger to secure it to my door.

attach the 2 sides of the circle

Next I made the bow for the wreath.  This is a skill I’m going to have to work on, because I have to admit that my bows are a bit sad.  I used 2″ wide navy ride and 1″ white ribbon and tied loopy bows out of each.  I made the navy one larger than the white one, and placed them one on top of the other.  Then I took a 4″ piece of 1/2″ wide navy ribbon and wrapped it around the center of the stacked bows.  I then threaded the bows onto the wire I left sticking up before, and knotted the 1/2″ ribbon around it to secure everything together.

big blue bow   little white bow   stacked bow   all piled up together  attach it to the balls

Now that the bow was on the wreath, I made a final loop out of the wire to hang the entire thing on the door.  I made a circle and wound the wire around itself to make it secure to hang.

make the hanger

Now it was ready to hang on the door!

NY Yankee Themed Baseball Wreath

Then I actually hung it up, and it turned into an oval instead of a circle.  Grumble…  Next year, I’m going to have to change the wire to something that will hold it’s shape better.

Wreath on the door

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Tasty Tuesday – “Copy Cat” Broccoli Cheese Soup

It’s amazing!  I actually found this week’s Tasty Tuesday Recipe someplace other than Pinterest!  I found it in an old issue of Food Network Magazine (Jan./Feb. 2010).  What on earth was I doing going through old magazines?  Well, as you know, we just recently moved and I’m in the middle of setting up our new house.  I’m currently working on the Craft Room/Office and that’s where I keep all of my supplies and reference materials.  (I should really look for bookcase ideas on Pinterest…)  Ahh, but I digress, I have a huge pile of old magazines that I’ve been meaning to go through and clip some idea, recipe, or article out of, and now seemed like the right time to actually complete that project.  It was quite successful.  I went from a 4 foot stack of magazines (that’s 4 boxes if anyone’s wondering) to a much more manageable 6 inch pile of clippings.  Next step is to put away the clippings, but that can wait until the rest of the room is set up.  What was I talking about?  Oh, yeah where I found this week’s recipe…  It was in that pile of clippings that Gwen say the recipe and asked me to make it…  So this week I made a homemade version of Panera‘s Broccoli-Cheese Soup!

This recipe did require a bit of shopping, but not much.  I gathered my ingredients: 6 tablespoons of unsalted butter, 1 small onion, 1/4 cup flour, 2 cups half-and-half, 3 cups chicken broth, 2 bay leaves ( I left these out), 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (I use a microplane and a whole nut, but you can substitute dried), 4 cups of fresh broccoli florets, a handful of baby carrots, 4 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (the recipe only calls for 2 1/2 cups, but I added a bunch more), salt and pepper.

Broccoli Cheese Soup Ingredients

Start by making a roue.  To do this melt the butter in your soup pot, then add the onions and soften them.  Next whisk in the flour.  Once that’s combined completely (it looks almost like a paste) gradually whisk in the half-and-half until everything smooths out and it looks silky.

melt the butter  soften the onions  whisk in the flour  now the half-and-half

Once the cream sauce (I think that’s what constitutes a Bechamel sauce) is smooth and well combined, add in the chicken broth, nutmeg, bay leaves, salt & pepper.  Let it come up to temperature and then reduce the heat to medium-low and cook for about 20 minutes or until it’s really thick and creamy.

add the chicken broth  grate in the nutmeg

After the base is ready, it’s time to add the veggies.  While you are letting the soup thicken, cut up the broccoli and carrots, so that they can just go right in the pot when it’s time.  Add them to the pot and let them simmer for about 20 minutes or until they are tender.

add the carrots  now add the broccoli

After the broccoli is nice and soft comes the fun part.  You get to blend the soup.  There are several ways to do this, but I love my immersion blender and look for any reason to use it.  You could also take the soup out of the pot and run it through a food processor or the blender.

liquify the broccoli

Once the broccoli is pretty well smoothed out (no large chunks, just those yummy green floaties), it’s time to melt in the cheese!  (oh, on a side not, next time I’m going to reserve a couple of pieces of the softened broccoli to add back in, so that they are in the finished soup.)  Add in the cheese, whisking to melt it completely over medium heat.  The recipe says you can add up to 3/4 cup of water if it’s too thick, but I didn’t have that issue.

Cheesey Goodness!

Time to serve!  I ladled it into a regular sized soup bowl and had enough for 5 servings.  I also garnished it with some shredded cheese and served it with a crusty baguette on the side.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

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A Little Crown in my Dixie Cup…

Well, actually we know some folks who really enjoy drinking Crown Royal whiskey, and because I am a crafter at heart, they pass along all of the empty bottles.  I have managed to amass quite the collection, so I was looking for something to do with that style bottle in particular.  I found a cool idea on Pinterest for painting them to use as decorations.

The directions were very thorough, and pretty simple.  They supplies were also very reasonably priced.  I had most of them on hand.  I dug out one of my stash of crown bottles, an 80 grit sanding block, a can of metallic bronze spray paint, a sponge brush and a tester of wall paint.

painted bottles supplies

I had to remove the labels from the bottle to start, so I soaked it in a sink of warm water until the label just fell off.  Then I used a scrubby sponge to remove any of the remaining glue and gunk.

soaking the labels off

After the bottle was dry, I took it and the cap and spray painted them both with the Bronze Metallic paint.  I used a different style bottle than in the original pin, so my cap was plastic instead of glass.  I guess my friends don’t drink the really fancy stuff, only the semi-fancy whiskey.

Spraying on the base coat   Cap and bottle base coated

I let the base coat dry overnight, and then went over it with a nice thick coat of my top coat.  In the original pin, she used a different kind and color paint, but I’m not a big fan of turquoise, so I went with a nice creamy color and I’m on a budget, so I used the tester color I had leftover from choosing a new color for the living room walls.

Applying the top coat

When the top coat was completely dry, I distressed the bottle using an 80 grit sanding block to rub some of the top coat off, so you could see the metallic bronze color peaking through.

distressing a crown bottle

I think it came out great.  The bronze color and glass showing through make the bottle look like a really expensive knick knack, but it’s really just an empty liquor bottle rescued from the recycle bin.  The raised pattern on the bottle made the distressing look great!  What do you think?  What other colors should I make?  How about other types of bottles this would work on?

Distressed Painted Crown Royal Bottle



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