Category

Projects

Every now and then, I like to get crafty with a few home projects.

Upcycled Armoire Into Office Space

So I’ve been busy lately.  Growing kids ready for their own rooms inspired me to swap out my office space (which was multitasking as an office, sewing room, craft room and storage space for all the crafty/officy stuff) into a much needed extra bedroom.

My solution was to upcycle an armoire.  Yay!  My goals were to repurpose as much as I could and be waste free as possible.  The idea was to also limit money waste as that is a very valuable resource.

So let’s begin at the thrift store where I found this very sturdy, all natural wood, what looks like hand made (in a good way), armoire with lots of personality.  I love that rounded top!

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Ta Da! So much potential for this natural wood beauty.

 

First there was a fix needed for the bottom boards and it made sense to do it while she was on her side in the back of the truck.  In its previous life, something heavy was placed in there and what was once flat became V shaped in the middle.  Not to worry.  A little hammer action and some bracer boards so that doesn’t happen again fixed it right up.

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Power tool action! Measure twice, cut once then nail gun into place.

 

Now that the bottom was fixed, it was time to move my future office into the house so I could work on it continuously in my underpants a temperature controlled environment.  I love sturdily made furniture.  Especially if it was perhaps hand crafted and made of real wood.  But Merlin’s Beard! is it heavy and non standard sized to move!

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Here I am planning with The Hubs the next best move to get this Behemoth in the front door sans wounded dolly. That’s a cracked wheel my lovelies. But you can see the groovy fix I made to the base of the armoire. Yay!

 

Next came a close up look at the hardware.  Normal hardware is politely screwed in and easy to remove.  Not so much the story here.  This hardware is attached by what I am calling ‘wood piercing’ methods.  What your’e looking at here is super cool, heavy duty, iron hammered pulls and hinges attached to the wood by another thin piece of iron piercing past the openings and loops, through the wood, then opened up on the other side like a brad you might find in an office supply store~ but industrial.

Luckily the door hinges were pierced on one side and screwed to the frame of the armoire on the other.  So the doors were removable.  Yay!

A little elbow grease and the hinges were straightened and happy again.  Of everything on this project, the hinges made me worry most as with the whole ‘piercing into the wood’ action going on, if the hinges failed, I was going to have a larger project on my hands than I had bargained for.  Massively glad this aspect went well.

Next I learned how to remove stripped screws and was on my way.  *I placed a piece of wide rubber band over the screw head and reversed them right on outa’ there.*

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1. Drawer pulls. How Bonanza are these?! 2. Wood Piercing. See what I’m talking about here with all that industrial metal going on? 3. Hinges that need TLC. Bent and covered in schmutz. 4. The door pull for the upper cabinet.

 

So I removed the doors and washed the entire armoire with Murphy Oil Soap. *The original kind*  I did this twice as there were areas that were crying out for a second go over.  Already it was looking so much nicer as I left my future office to dry overnight.  The next day I grabbed my handy dandy gloves and a rag and applied a generous layer of Howard Feed-N-Wax.  This stuff is amazing!  Here are the things I like about it:  1. It smells like sunshine and happiness.  2. It’s an orange oil and bees wax wood treatment made right here in California.  3. It was affordable.  4. Local product = a win for me.  5. It does the two things I wanted: just moisturize and protect the woods loveliness without too much weirdness.

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1. No longer a dirty girl. Washed, dry and ready for moisturizing to bring out it’s beauty and luster. 2. The super cool orange oil and bees wax I found made locally at a reasonable price and purchased at a tiny mom n’ pop hardware store just up the street. 3. Can you see the difference between the happy doors and the sad one? This wood was so thirsty and soaked the orange oil right up. I was sure I would have to jog up the street for another bottle. But see how happy it is now? And it smells like joyfulness. The key is wax on, wax off. Rub the wax on until your arm feels like it’s gonna fall off!

 

Now to replace those sad screws that were stripped and naughty to remove.  So off to the screw store to look for black screws.  They were surprisingly expensive.  I wasn’t willing to buy a huge package either.  How wasteful when I only needed 24.  While looking around, a friendly hardware store employee tried to entice me to purchase screws with black painted ends.  For a bazillion bucks.  No thank you.  However, I was pretty sure I was crafty enough to DIY this problem away.  So I bought 24 plain ol screws in the correct size and way more wallet friendly (I brought one of the sad screws in for a size comparison) and headed home to watch the IBD Round Table Discussion where Frank Garufi Jr. of The Crohn’s Colitis Effect was interviewed by Sara Ringer of Inflamed and Untamed.  Awesomeness ensued.  I laughed and played along while…. painting screws with raven nail polish that I already owned.  Black ended screws in no time flat!  Multitasking Win!

Inflamed & Untamed – Crohn’s/Colitis Suppo

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Frank sharing his story to inspire all of us and Sara -behind the scenes in this pic- as funniest show host ever with music and tights on the head drawing challenges. In the fore ground you see thrifty clever screw painting. In the pic below you can see they turned out amazing.

 

Things were really coming along and I was starting to get excited.  However, I needed a functional shelf in addition to the wooden one wedged in there towards the top.  Off to the hardware store to size up my options.  I ended up with this ultra cool, very sturdy, gray wire shelf that was almost exactly the size I needed at a price I was willing to pay.  Making it fit was loads of fun.

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I started with a hack saw which was satisfying once you get a good rhythm going. But then when I found the Dremel with the flying flamy bits and the rapid results, I really started having fun. Wee Sparks!!

 

So did anyone notice the sad, sad hole that someone cut in the back of this beauty?  It’s not even centered, poor thing. Upon brain storming with the The Hubby, one of us geniuses came up with the idea of wiring for electricity.  Why not?  And it would make use of the sad hole and make it a happy useful hole.  Even better.

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Sad holes ragged edge smoothed out and fitted with wiring for electricity. The Hubby has experience with this and was eager to lend a helping hand. Yay! And as you can tell from that green light, The Hub did a fine job. Plus he gave me a separate functioning on/off switch for the lighting system we installed at the same time. Electricity and lighting? Yes please. A miter box and a wee bit of moulding later and its all ‘framed in’. Fancy!

 

To go and buy a white board the size I wanted was going to frazzle my nerves.  White boards are expensive, come in only a few sizes and often have calendars and what not on them, which for some may be helpful, but not what I was looking for nor willing to settle for.  This Mark-R-Board Wainscot I found at Lowes for a wee over 10 bucks for a ginormous sheet would suit my needs perfectly.  You grab your board, sweetly ask it to be cut by the nice folks that work there, (bring your measurements) pay for it at the counter, and you are on your way.  With the exposed edges, I added some fabulous Duck Tape and it was ready to hang.

I have extra whiteboard for kiddo homework time, cool presents *Pretend to be surprised if you get white board for your birthday.* or donate to the kiddos teachers for those students who need to work out their maths visually.  You’re welcome. 🙂

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Yay! I may never buy a regular white board again now that I can thriftily make them any size I want. Here’s my kiddo trying it out. It works!  Don’t I have the coolest kids ever <3

 

At this time I decided I wanted a magnet board.  I looked around for a hardware store DIY but wasn’t all that crazy about the idea of bending over edges of sharp metal and things like that.  My brains kept yelling at me, ‘Stitches!’ and ‘There are not enough heavy duty gloves to protect you from all that disaster.’  and of course, ‘Blood loss is NOT your friend.’  So I searched around my home with a magnet in hand for a repurposing solution and found this fun platter that fits the space as if it were meant to be. With cool handles perfect for hanging, it works great.  Two cup holders to put it up, and Voila!  Lovely.  And zero blood loss.

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It’s really coming together. I’m loving my repurposed magnet board with Wonder Woman flying proudly. Plus doesn’t the lighting look all cozy and welcoming?

 

Then came more office add ins.  I started with a cork board I already owned and cut it to fit the inside of one of the upper doors with very little waste left over.  I then wanted removable hanging storage cups for small supplies like staples, rubber bands, paperclips and the like.  So I repurposed clear snap top lid containers that were once used as fruit cups in my kiddos lunches.  I used stick on velcro and adhered them to thick card board.  (I didn’t want to damage the wood with a bunch of velcro patches nor did I think the sticky aspect would adhere to an oiled and waxed surface.)  I used regular tacks to secure to the inner aspect of the lower doors.  *FYI:  I learned the hard way that self sticking velcro works better than hot gluing on velcro strips, or super gluing, or gorilla gluing ~even though I followed the directions and sand papered to create a rough surface.  Sharing is caring.)

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Velcroed on clear storage cups keeps supplies organized and happy versus sad and lost on your desk top or mixed up in your desk drawer.

 

So here I am done with an office I absolutely love.  I got to upcycle a dried up, sad armoire and make it pretty and functional again.  I got to use a bunch of power tools, be crafty, creative and think outside the box for clever solutions to waste less and save more.  My kids have their own rooms now which has led to more harmony in our home.  Plus my children were in on the process and will hopefully think about multiple ways the items around them can be repurposed.

Most of all it was fun.

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So here’s the cost run down:
Armoire = Originally $300.00 I got it for $100.00
Orange Oil/Bees Wax = $10.00
Whiteboard = $10.50
Gray Shelf = $15.00
Electricity/Lamp = $30.00
Screws = $2.50
Silverware Tray
(inside drawer) = $1.75
Baskets = 0.0
Velcro Storage Cup Project = 0.0
Cork Board = 0.0
Magnet Board = 0.0

TOTAL = $169.25

Not too bad for an office.  I’ll take it.

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What was once likely a TV cabinet now has a brand new life as an office.

 

Box Master

 

 

The start of our adventure; one box at a time.
You have not heard from me because I have been in the process of moving.  My husband and I are packing the home we have lived in for 10+ years.  It feels good to donate items we don’t use, toss items that are useless, and box up items that will help our future. It was the attic version of “This is your life” First came the dog and then came the kids. Lots of memories to sort through.

Moving is a process.  Today all the paperwork went through and our home now belongs to another couple.

Today was also phone call day. I spent all morning calling utilities, hospitals, clinics, insurance companies, and Home Depot to end service or give our forwarding address. Wow! We do business with so many people. I sure hope I didn’t miss anyone.I have missed the time away from blogging and look forward to posting more frequently.  I am working on an article with a working title of ‘The Over Share’.

Back to packing!

Love and Train Tables

The weekend that love made.

I was so lucky as to spend this morning with my sister and her two daughters in a sweet little café munching scones and drinking very good coffee.  After, I got to share the rest of the day with my eldest niece walking around downtown looking at shops, coming home with summer dresses, and a project for us to work on next time we see each other.  I ended my day by dropping my niece off and sharing fond goodbyes with my sister.  I had no idea my day was about to get so much sweeter.

While I was away my husband and daughter created the ultimate expression of love.  For those who don’t know, my son Sean is a special little guy.  He is three years old, super sweet, and very devoted to his favorite things, one of which is trains.  Sean would play trains all day if he were able.  Because of this, the last couple of years we have been contemplating various train tables, weighing benefits and detractors of each ones features.  Is it sturdy enough, ‘cool’ enough, have storage possibilities underneath for totes of train parts?  None seemed quite right, or they were very expensive.  So we happily made our dining table into elaborate train scenarios for him. On a daily basis Sean made train delightfulness all on his own; entwining his way around dining chairs, table legs, and boy made tunnels of all sorts. 

Upon entering my home this evening, I could not help but to notice the barely contained anticipation and out of breath expressions on my husband and daughter.  I felt as though I had caught them in the middle of some scheme of which they were trying, but badly hiding, their excitement.  Instead of ‘Hey Mama’ and a hug from Grace I got wide eyes, huge smile, and a vigorous shake of the head, ‘Nothing!  Nothing at all has happened’.  My husband, playing along, followed suit.  ‘Nothing babe, nothing at all’ as I receive my welcoming kiss and conspiratory wink and smile.   Hmmm, I good naturedly went to put my items away hoping I hadn’t missed something I was supposed to notice. 

In a moment I was brought to the play room, and a second later the door was opened with great flair.  One, two, three!  My eyes opened wide; it was so beautiful.  The time, effort, thought, planning, and love that went into this project was so touching.  My husband and daughter had spent all day working on an elaborate train table for our Sean.  It has four sturdy legs with bracers to add to the sturdiness, and an angular shape with three loop de loops of train track firmly attached.  The base is painted green and all edges were sanded smooth.  There is room for bins under, and it fits easily in and out the door so it can be moved to any room of the house to ensure our little train boy can play and still be social with us. 

 

My heart grew three sizes this day.  With love for my husband and his devotion to our children, his cleverness to make a project with our six year old daughter, (she has been begging to help paint something in our house) and his love of our sweet little boy.  This was a selfless act that took planning, time, and patience to pull off.  And to make it as a surprise for me and our son, amazing! 

Grace was so proud of herself and her role in helping create this for her brother.  What sweet memories of working with her daddy, getting to paint something that belongs in our home, and kindness for her brother.  She beamed with love and gently showed Sean all the special touches they had added to the train table for him.  My only suggestion is that they sign the bottom of the table for Sean in permanent marker with a message.  I found a pen for them as father and daughter lay side by side under the table scribing out their love for son and brother in permanent marker. 

I learned so much today.  I love my husband even more than I could have imagined.  I am prouder of my daughter than you will ever know.  My son is loved deeper and longer than can be measured.  And I am one happy Crohnie Mama.

Spring Cleaning

I am in the process of a heavy duty ‘spring’ cleaning at my house.  Every so often I go through a stage of transition where I feel the need to get rid of the clutter and toss or donate the things that do not benefit my life.  I go through every room of my house with the question, “Does this make me really happy and do I really need this?”
Late last night I was going through books.  I LOVE BOOKS!  These are the hardest to go through so I do it more than once to make sure I prune back as much as I truly should.  I have loads of medical journals.  I have loved these all my life but even more so after my UC, then Crohn’s diagnosis.  I clung to them as points of certainty when I was going through surgeries, medical tests, and painful waiting periods until I could get into my GI specialists.  Certainly, if it was written in a medical journal, I could depend on these facts.  They were a comfort and so I kept them.
As I paged through one after another I began to see how vague the information truly is.  Years ago these were words of hope and solid ground based on facts.  Now I see these were written about no one.  There are no happy endings.  Just statistics on ‘success’ rates that say nothing about if these people ever got well enough to go to the park with their kids or join the local gym.  Did they ever live a real life as active, funny, regular people after their treatments?  Did these people ever get well enough to dance and run and play?With all that I have been through, I know the personal side of IBD.  There is more to it than success rates and outcome reports.  It is about the persons will to thrive.  Do they have the spirit to go on in a happy way?  Have they created something to live for even though their lives have changed so drastically?  Are they willing to work to get back to old goals and create new ones along the way?  Will they accept the new change with a spirit of adventure and roll with the changes and sometimes upset that comes when what you planned for does not turn out?  To me, those would be marks of success. 

As a new patient and someone looking towards surgery, tests, and a team of specialists, that is what I would have liked to know.  Those would be medical journals worth keeping.

“Does this make me really happy and do I really need this?”  When it comes to these medical journals I would say NO.  Not anymore. 

Waste Free Kitchen


I was living my life, happily going along.  Then I realized that I was getting something completely wrong.  I was teaching my kids wasteful habits with my daily routine. 
I am a mom who loves to cook and make homemade food and snacks for my family.  I see it as an activity to do with my children and a way to nurture them.  But I have been doing it the wrong way. 

Once a week I clean out the refrigerator.  This week I noticed all the waste.  I realized we were not eating the food I was preparing and it was going in the trash.  That equals time, energy, and money in the can.  I was making too much food and we were not using leftovers; all a very sad waste.

Right there I decided to change.  That is when I came up with my plan for the waste free kitchen. 
*I try to make exactly what we can eat in one meal.
*Pre cook meat for the week (except for fish). 
*End of the week days are usually soup days or ‘decorate your own potato’ days.
*I implemented the ‘milk only at meal time’ routine.
*Reduce snack crackers.  When given every day they were less special and have little nutritional value.
*Switch to homemade hummus with vegetables or on wheat bread as a snack.
*Stopped making elaborate egg breakfasts that the children barely ate, and moved to oatmeal instead.
*Stopped buying extra items at the grocery store.
*Added more vegetables to our meals resulting in more contented children.
*Stopped making a ‘new dinner’ until any leftovers are used.

I am not so organized as to actually meal plan ahead so I came up with this weekly structure to build meals off of.  So far we are having great success.

Mon-Meat free
Tues-Pasta
Wed- Ethnic
Thur-Potato
Fri- Soup
Sat- Free day
Sun- Free day

Our grocery bill has gone down drastically.  Meal planning is far easier.  Almost no food goes to waste and my family likes the change. 

That makes this Crohnie Mama happy 😀