Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Morning Launch Site

School started on August 14th and it took me until August 15th to realize we have a problem.

My entry way turned into a dump site.  Shoes, backpacks, binders and folders all went tumbling into a pile as soon as the kids got home.  They were eventually sorted out and homework completed but then the backpacks, neatly packed, were tossed back on to the floor.  After an incident involving my big toe and some colorful words, I decided this problem would need a solution!

Here it is:

It's an odd little corner we have between the front door (right) and the bathroom door (left).  I thought it might be perfect for a school morning launch pad.

I started with two document frames I picked up at a garage sale.  I used pretty scrapbook paper and the Sizzix to punch out the kids' names.

When you put the paper in the frame with the glass on top you have created a dry erase board.  I hung them up using the Command Strips that hold most things in my house.

The hooks are Hobby Lobby specials.  They're half off so I paid $3.99 for both of them.  It didn't come with any hardware so I used drywall anchors to put them into the wall.

See the bright silver screws?  Use a black permanent marker to color over the top and they'll blend in.

That's it!  The kids come home and drop off their backpacks on the hook.  The result:  no tripping, no cussing and a happy momma!  The top hook will be perfect for the coats during the colder months and, when company is expected, it's a simple thing to put everything away in the closet.  The kids use the dry erase board to leave notes for me (Send in school picture form) and I use it to leave notes for them (Study your spelling words BEFORE you go outside to play).  It's working!

If I do it again:

I wish I had a bigger space.  I'm on the lookout for some hanging file folders or something that I can use for the kids to deposit papers that need to be signed and other "important" things for me to see.  Right now my space is very limited so it has to be the size that stands upright, not lays on its side.  Even then, I'm not sure it will fit. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Door to Door Organics and Zucchini for Kids

In an effort to eat healthier and to introduce a variety of vegetables into our diet, I signed up with Door to Door Organics.  It's been a month so far and we've been pleased.

I really like the service.  Every Friday I get an e-mail about what will be in my "box" for the following week.  (Boxes come in a few sizes but, for the most part, we get the Medium box.  I upgrade to a large on weeks we are having company.)  The great thing about this service is that, after I get my e-mail, I can "customize" my box.  I'm allowed five substitutions.  I can take out whatever fruit or vegetable I DON'T want and substitute it for something I do.  This week the eggplant was removed (ick, ick, ick!) and I substituted some lovely tomatoes.  Mmmmm!

Thursday, sometime around noon, the vegetable man drops off a nice box full of fruits and vegetables and we get to enjoy them.  The service is good, the food is good and it keeps me out of the store.  Price wise it's about the same as the stores BUT the stores don't usually have all of these items available as organic.  I'm not a huge organic freak but there are just some things I prefer to be organic.  I also like the variety and the kids have tried some new foods.  They will even eat zucchini in some forms.  Here's my Zucchini For Kids recipe:

Zucchini for Kids

2 Zucchini Squash
1/2 c Panko bread crumbs
1/4 t garlic salt
1/4 c Parmesan cheese (the ground up, grainy kind, not shredded or fresh)
1 egg

Start by washing your zucchini and cutting off the top.  Cut each zucchini into thirds width wise.

Cut each third into half.  And half again.

Cut each half into planks.  You might have to cut those planks in half.

Beat your egg in a bowl.
Mix up other ingredients on a plate.  I add a pinch of my homemade Italian Herb mix. 

Dip zucchini in the egg and then roll in the crumbs.  Panko bread crumbs are essential for this recipe. . . don't use regular ones.

Place on a foil covered and cooking oil sprayed cookie sheet.  Don't let them touch!

Bake 425 degrees for eight minutes.  Flip and bake another eight minutes.

Serve with ranch dressing or pizza sauce for dipping!

Excuse the last photo. . . I was yelling "Don't eat those!  I have to take a picture!" as the kids were reaching for the zukes.  It was a fast photo.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fabric Covered File Box

I've been organizing my office space, trying to get books on shelves and to get rid of things I no longer want/need.  I decided to get rid of my file cabinet.

The file cabinet was being utilized as storage for only a few files so I decided to go from a cabinet to a box.  I had an old cardboard banker's box that would do the trick.  It is ugly and doesn't really go with the whole "look how cool I am. . . I'm organized AND stylish" look I'm going for.

Start with your ugly box, some fabric (or patterned paper) and some spray adhesive.  Also grab a pair of good scissors.

You might notice that I have all of this stuff sitting on some cardboard.  That's because spray adhesive is messy and hard to get off from things.  Cover your workspace!  I will feel bad for you if you get this stuff on your carpet but I won't feel guilty 'cause I warned you!

Cut your fabric to cover the outside of the box. 

Pick a side to start and give it a nice coating of the adhesive.

 Smooth on your fabric.

Make sure to leave overhang on both sides.  Continue around the entire box and fold up the last side to be even with the edge of the box to finish it up.

Fold the fabric in at the bottom like you are wrapping a present.  Squirt some adhesive under the fabric and stick it to the box.

I used two pieces of 8 1/2 x 11 paper to add a base to the box and make it a bit more "professional" looking.

Fold in the fabric to the inside of your box and tack into place with the adhesive.

I liked the look of the paper I used on the base so I cut 2 1/2 inch strips of the paper and used it inside the box to give some contrast.

I also covered the handle since I wasn't going to carry this box around.

I also decided to add a strip of paper around the outside to break up how busy the fabric is.

I used the spray adhesive on the back of the paper to stick it directly to the fabric.  Ribbon would have worked great, too, but I didn't have any I liked and this is a no-cost, all materials on hand, project.

Finished!  Fill with files. . . .
. . . . and set on the bookcase.  I may move this to a corner spot but I do like the look!  It will also be pushed in to the back of the bookcase most of the time so it doesn't stick out so much.

If I do it again:

I think a pretty wrapping paper would be an excellent thing to cover this box with.  I also toyed with the idea of burlap. . . I do adore the texture of burlap!

Monday, August 20, 2012

More "Custom" Bookcases

I have a very small office space that's off from my bedroom.  It's actually supposed to be a second walk in closet but, since I have a LOT more books than I have clothes and shoes, this became our office.

Valentine's Day, two years ago, my husband and I put in an entire wall of bookshelves.  You can see that project here. 

It was a lot of fun to do but it didn't take care of my book problem.  I have a lot of books.  A LOT.  My bookcases were overflowing and they no longer looked nice.  They looked cluttered and junky.

I decided to take a corner of  the office and do another "custom" bookcase there.  It was previously home to an old file cabinet that was filled with (you guessed it) books so I wasn't going to be losing any prime storage space.

I took two cheap WalMart bookcases.  If you have an IKEA, I would bet that they would have something that would work better but we are not so blessed.  I chose the 72 inch Mainstay bookcases for $28.00 apiece.  

I was able to pick them up in the store so I saved the shipping costs.  Be careful. . . these are particle board so if the box is crushed, there's a chance a shelf or piece is crushed.  This happened to me but since I had to cut a bookcase down this wasn't an issue.

I assembled one per directions and put it in the location I wanted it.  I knew how I wanted the second bookcase to sit so I took very careful measurements.   Make sure to take into account how wide the side support pieces are when you cut your shelves down to size.  Also, with this piece, the third shelf is fixed and goes all the way across so it had to be a little longer.  Just measure VERY carefully and you will be fine.  Take into account your baseboards in the measurements. . . more on that later.

I made sure to do all of my cuts on the side that was going to be hidden so that I didn't have to worry about how "pretty" the piece was going together.  One one side, I assembled it per directions.  On the other side I just screwed black wood screws into the piece.  It actually turned out more sturdy my way!

 The "ugly" side.  All unfinished, cut sides go this way since it will be hidden.
The black wood screws.  This is the hidden side so  don't worry about it matching!
 When I set this up it looked a bit odd with how narrow it was and how tall the shelves were.  I had brief thoughts about putting some decorative glass on some of the shelves to pretty it up but I really need the book storage so I went ahead and put extra shelves in this instead.  I had to drill more holes for the shelf brackets but that wasn't a big deal.  I set up a shelf, put the drill on it and drilled straight in with the drill bottom resting on the lower shelf.  This was an easy way to make sure everything was level.

Extra holes for shelf brackets.

As you probably guessed, I didn't have enough shelf brackets for all my extra shelves.  When I ran out, I used 1/2 inch wood screws and left them sitting out a tiny bit.

This ended up being the perfect size to store some of my paperback books.

I'm pleased to say that this extra bookshelf system has gotten all of my books out of the file cabinets, off the floor and off the top of the other bookshelves.  I was even able to squeeze in a small plant and a photo!

At some point in the very near future I will trim this out with the same "crown molding" that I put over the other bookshelves but it won't be today!

If I do it again:

What I wanted to do is have the bookcases meet and leave a V shape where they met.  I was then going to put a piece of quarter round down the corner to trim it out and fancy it up.  Here's where the baseboards come in.  I didn't take into account that my baseboards push out the bookcase 1/4 inch from the wall.  With both bookcases pushed out, I lost a half inch so the bookcases sit flush.  It's not bad. . . it looks like I meant to do it this way. . . but it's not what I had intended so it will probably always bug me!  I thought about taking the bookcase apart and cutting off an additional half inch from everything but particle board is a bit tricky to work with.  Once you screw into particle board you really can't take the screws out.  If you do, they don't hold anymore.  I'll live with it but always wonder how much better it would have looked!!!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Alcohol Ink Washer Ornaments

While purchasing washers for my bookmarks, I saw a box of HUGE washers. They were ten for $3.99 so I picked them up thinking that I would do something with them.  They're very cool looking and measure almost three inches across!  BIG!

I recently discovered alcohol ink and, while not a fan of the staining qualities (my hands), I do love the results.  I decided to try my inks on the washers.  Here are my results:

These were very easy and very fast to make.

You will need:
alcohol ink in two colors.  I chose red pepper and black ink
wire - I used 22 gauge
leftover beads
sticker letters

Start by picking out some Christmas words and putting them on your washer.

Cut up a piece of felt and fold it into an applicator shape.  Mine is roughly triangular.

Dot on your alcohol inks. . .

. . . . and dab on to your washer, covering the entire thing.  Dab, dab and keep dabbing.  This ended up too black for my taste so I cut another piece of felt and went over the whole thing with just red.  The inks blend very well.

Let dry.  It will only take a few minutes.  Apply ink to the edges and let dry.

Pull off the sticker letters.

You may want to seal these to prevent fading.  Check to make sure your sealer won't cause the ink to run into your blank letter spaces.  I found flat sealers don't run but glossy ones do.  I coated these with flat, first, and then gave them a glossy coating.

Time to decorate them!  I took an 18 inch length of wire and started wrapping it around the washer.  I added beads to a few of the turns.

Add your ribbon hanger.  I wanted a few hanging beads so I took some leftover wire and turned the end.

Round nose pliers are the easiest way to do this.  String your beads and wrap around the ribbon.  You are finished!

Total cost for this project was less than a dollar apiece.  The stickers are leftovers and the ink can be bought at Joann's for $2.99 each with a coupon or at 40% off (they periodically go on sale).  Raid your old jewelry. . . earrings would look cute hanging from the ribbons. . . and find the ribbon around the house or re-purposed from old gift bags or wrappings.  Have fun!

If I do it again:

I wish I had another color of red. . . something nice but a little more contrasting.  I'd use three colors instead of two and make it look really marbled.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Fixing a Fugly

I adore candles but I always forget to blow them out when I leave the house.  Knowing this, I rarely light them and will leave myself notes stuck to the car door when I do.  The guilt I would have if I accidentally burned down our house is not something I think I could live with.

I was quite excited to find a candle warmer at a garage sale.  I paid my two bucks and took home this beauty:

I think the proper term is "fugly".  Not exactly my style.

But I wanted it. . . bad!  So I fixed it.  It took an afternoon of patience and two colors of spray paint.

I taped off the little light at the back, part of the cord and around the top and gave it a coat of spray paint.  You may recognize this as the color I used on the frame of my menu board.  It also happens to be the color of my husband's wheelbarrow.

It was a bit blah so I went ahead and taped off the top half.  I used painters tape and a bag.

I sprayed the bottom ring part a flat black which I also had in the garage from a previous project.

Much better!  Add your candle, plug in and enjoy the scent!  

If I do it again:

If I wasn't so cheap I would probably get a different color of spray paint.  I happen to really like hammered bronze.  Stencils might be nice, too, but I'm not too sure how busy I wanted this piece to be.