On Wednesday, our oldest begins private school. They start them at Pre-K, but they evaluate the kids in the spring for the incoming year. When our son was 4, they decided he wasn’t mature enough to focus well and handle the class. Plus he would have been the youngest in the class more than likely, so it was fine with us that we waited another year. Now that he’s 5 and has grown up so much and matured, he’s completely ready to begin Pre-K at Daddy’s school. That’s right, my husband teaches there as well.

We’re pretty well known for doing what we can to be “green” and keep costs down, so when we bought our son his lunch box, we also found some reusable sandwich and snack bags at Target.

BuiltNY_Skulls I didn’t give it a whole lot of thought at the time, even though I was shocked to be paying $9.99 for these two bags. It cost us more than the lunch box my son had just picked out.

Fast-forward to today. We’re out fishing and I’m thinking about how we’re going to pack his lunch and snacks, and then it hits me that I can now buy PUL (waterproof fabric) at JoAnn’s Fabrics. I asked my husband how much he thought a yard cost. I started thinking about the dimensions of the bags I’d need to make and decided that a quarter yard would probably be enough, or half a yard at the most. Besides, I had a coupon for 50% off (and another for 40% off for my second transaction), so I could get half a yard for $4.

After we got home, I left the kids with the hubby and made my way to JoAnn’s with coupons in hand. There are so many cute patterns to choose from that it took me a little bit to decide which ones to buy. When I got up to the register for my first purchase, I found out JoAnn also has an app to get my coupons and I could use my paper one and the one from my app, so I went back and got my second cut of the other pattern I wanted.

After returning home, I did a little bit of research on designs. The design hubby wanted me to use seemed like it took more planning and was more complicated. I was in the mood for simple, so that just wasn’t going to cut it. I settled on dimensions close to a Zip-Loc bag. Cut two pieces (make one 2 inches taller than the other). Sew on the velcro, sew the side and bottom seam, and you’re done! Easy-peasy!

first one done

I was pretty pleased with how the first one turned out. I took it outside to show my son and got a very enthusiastic “Cool!” I went back to work and completed some more. These are all I got done tonight and I’ll finish some more this week while I’m on vacation.



all done

He’s going to have a very cool lunchbox indeed!


{October 27, 2011}   We Have a House!

We finally closed escrow on the house we’ve been trying to buy….for 5+ months…It all worked out fabulously. The only hiccup in the escrow process was the appraisal. It came in $15,000 lower than our purchase price, and because we were getting an FHA loan, the short sale bank had no choice but to lower the purchase price to the appraised value. Score for us! So, we got this place for what we originally wanted to spend on a house. When we revised our offer to beat out two other offers, we increased our price above what we wanted to do originally, but this place is totally fabulous and worth it, plus we could afford to go higher. It still totally floors me that our mortgage, with the added county/city utilities is cheaper than what we are paying in rent.

I’ve done a few repairs. Put new locks on the doors, put the mailbox up, fixed the running toilet, weed eated 1/3 of the overgrown grass. I put up several test paint swatches. Tomorrow night the hubby and I are painting the living room and hopefully kitchen and hallway. I’m not sure I’m loving the blues we picked for our bedroom, so I’ll give it another looksy tomorrow after it has dried.

For now I need to get to bed. All this work is kicking my ass, plus I had class tonight until late.

Over the summer, a good friend of mine took a couple weeks off for vacation. We’d planned on doing some DIY work in her bathroom. My hubby was off for the summer and could watch the boy while I got my DIY fix. My friend had planned on using Rustoleum’s Cabinet Transformations to paint her cabinets. She also sent me a picture of her existing hinge hardware. Here’s the before shot.

Oh boy, definitely needs updating, right? So off to the hardware store we went. After some debate, she finally settled on their Linen color. We got it tinted and off we went with our supplies. The transformation isn’t too much work. First you use a solution and green scrubby sponge to de-gloss and sort of prime the surface. Next you fill in any hardware holes or scratches with wood putty and sand those areas. Then you paint on your tinted bond coat. You can do just one coat, or two. We opted for two coats of bond coat. Next you paint on the decorative glaze and wipe with a cloth to give the cabinets a faux wood grain finish. And lastly, you paint on the protective clear coat. Here’s a picture of me installing the new hardware she picked.

That center attached faux drawer was a pain in the butt to get the hardware installed on. The sink was in the way so it was hard to get the screwdriver in the right spot to get everything secured. This next picture is of all the hardware installed, but we couldn’t close everything because the protective clear coat wasn’t set yet. If you click to see the full-sized picture, you can barely see the drill hole on the left-most cabinet door down on the bottom right corner. I got a little drill-bit happy and drilled 3 right-hand cabinets, and one left-hand one. Oops.

Pretty fantastic, right? And it only took a couple of days. Later, my friend emailed me a picture of the color she was painting the lower half of her bathroom wall and you can see how everything looks now that it’s dried.

So, what do you think of the bathroom makeover? What’s your next transformation project?

{September 8, 2011}   Theme Thursday – Halloween

I love Halloween. It is probably my favorite holiday of the year. My birthday follows it, so it’s a double bonus for me. Can you believe I haven’t picked our costumes for this year yet? I think we might go with a Star Wars theme as we introduced our son to the original Star Wars and he’s obsessed with RD2 and PPO and runs around the house yelling, “Darth Vader! Darth Vader!” Bonus that we are planning to trick-or-treat with my girly and her daughter who might dress up as Princess Leia.

Our first entry comes from Care 2. We did something like this one halloween when we had a looooong driveway. I love luminaries and this tutorial on paper bag luminaries will have your Halloween lit up with awesome sauce as well.

Our next pick is all about pumpkin carving. puts out lots and lots of templates you can download and print and use for your own pumpkins.

And, lastly, the Centers for Disease Control has safety tips so that everyone can enjoy a totally awesome Halloween.

That’s all for this week’s Theme Thursday. Thank you all so much for your patience over the last week and a half as I studied for my job interview and then got the flu right after. I’m finally feeling human again.

{August 30, 2011}   Posts?

Hi Folks. Sorry I seem to be slacking. This past weekend I was single parenting it while the hubby was away on a fun trip and this week I’m frantically studying/reviewing my Quantitative Analysis chemistry notes and practice problems to prepare for a job interview I have on Thursday. I haven’t forgotten about ya’ll, just spending my time on trying to get this job. I’ve been unemployed since May 2010, trying to make a career change (hence studying for my interview), and buying a house. Gotta study study study. If anyone wants to bring me a Grande Java Chip Frap Light from Starbucks, you’d be my favorite person ever!

{August 26, 2011}   Fiber Friday – Knitting Socks

I have a love/hate relationship with yarn. I love the meditative state I can get into while knitting or crocheting, but I can also get bored easily and leave projects unfinished for a very long time. In the craft world we refer to those as UFOs, or unfinished objects. I usually like to work on socks because they are small and therefore, in theory, don’t take very long to complete. My first pair took me a year to complete.

First socks I ever made.

What’s the first thing you notice about this pair? The top sock is indeed smaller than the bottom sock. I made the top sock first and got around to the second sock later. This is often referred to as Second Sock Syndrome and is often the reason many people don’t tackle sock patterns. Then I made a much simpler pattern that I didn’t have to think about for me and the hubster.

Anne's sock detailOur new house socksHubster's sock detail

These were done with a worsted weight wool that I picked up at JoAnn Fabrics. I wish I could remember which yarn this is because it was nice to work with, but I did these socks a couple years ago. I really like the spiral design on hubby’s pair. If I recall correctly, my design was made by pulling the yarn to the purl side, slipping two stitches and pulling the yarn back to the knit side.

Right now I’m working on a beautiful pair called Leaves of Whimsy. This pattern was designed in 2006 by Rebecca Mercier of Whimsical Knitting Designs. Here’s what the pattern is supposed to look like.

Fabulous, right? But here’s where you’ll ask, “Is this girl crazy?” I’ve been working on this pattern for almost two years. I started it in October 2009 when my mom and I spent some time in Calistoga for our almost annual B&B trip to Lavender Spa for our hot baths and massages. I had been wanting to find a pattern to use this fabulous fall color varigated yarn I had picked up a couple years earlier. Don’t ask me what it is or what it’s content is because I have long since lost the tag for it. I’m sure if I visited the yarn shop I bought it at I could find it again and get all the details, but for now, I got nothin’.

Sock yarn!

One of *the* most perfect yarns for fall, IMO. Having learned that doing one sock at a time creates problems actually creating matching socks, I decided that I’d do this sock via the Two Socks on Two Circs technique. You use two circular needles, with half of each sock’s stitches on each needle, and two balls of yarn. It looks really complicated is and quite the conversation starter with people who don’t knit, but it’s actually fairly easy once you get the hang of working with all that stuff. You can see my work in progress and it looks pretty messy.

Work in progressPattern

I assure you it is a fabulous technique that has the most important advantage that when you are finished, *BOTH* socks are finished *AND* both socks are the same gauge which means you have two socks that are the same size. Winning! You can visit Sheron Goldin’s web site to view her lesson on how to knit with this technique; it’s where I learned how to do it.  It is also useful if you are knitting sleeves or pant legs in the round so that everything comes out the same size. You might not be able to tell by this picture that I knit inside out, and by that I mean the purl side is the outside of the sock and the knit side is inside. My friend, Barb, thinks I knit weird, but that’s just how everything came out when I started knitting socks and no one had ever shown me otherwise.

Work in progress

I still have a few more inches to knit before I can start the toe decreases. I will be glad to ditch the pattern stitch as that is why I haven’t been motivated to finish this piece, but now that I’m back in school, I take my bag with me to work on my socks during any downtime, so hopefully I’ll be done soon. I have to say this yarn is so small that I don’t get very far for each round I complete, and based on that, I probably won’t use yarn like this again any time soon. Now do you understand why I have a love/hate relationship with yarn?

Have any projects you think I might like to try knitting or crocheting? Leave a link in the comments.

{August 25, 2011}   Theme Thursday – Fall Crafts

As the summer winds down and the temperatures cool off, we look once again to fall crafts to keep us busy. One of my favorite fall crafts is carving pumpkins with my son as well as paper machéing his Trick or Treat bucket. This year, I’ve been wanting to get my hands on a grapevine wreath form to make a beautiful front door wreath. I’m tired of having the same flower wreath up year round.

This first Fall craft really inspires me and I think I’ll actually make this for our front door. It’s from Martha Stewart Living and was created by Emily Morris for MSL’s Handmade Gift Contest. This is a Vintage Paper Leaf Wreath that would be perfect for anyone’s front door.

Vintage Paper Leaf Wreath

I find Disney’s Family Fun web site full of great ideas for crafts to do with kids. If you live in an area that’s not suitable for any kind of gardening during the winter months, you can start these great Plastic Bottle Herb Planters to bring your herbs in from the garden during the cold months. It will also teach children about growing herbs themselves as this setup makes it easy for them to help take care of the indoor herb garden.

Do you like to offer your guests candy year-round? This Halloween-inspired Terra Cotta Pumpkin Pot over at Kaboose would make a great candy dish for the Fall season.

Want to add some beauty to your outdoor setting? Make Mandalas! Over at Moment to Moment you can find ideas on making Nature Mandalas. All it takes is some outdoor finds, a glue gun, and some cardboard.

And finally, if you need some fabulous Fall candles for your table, hop on over to All You for their tutorial on making Corn Husk Candles. You could easily save your corn husks from dinner, dry them, and then use them in this project, thus eliminating you having to spend extra money on this DIY craft. Don’t these look fabulous?!

Thanks for visiting today. I hope you have found inspiration in these DIY crafts. Do you have a favorite Fall craft you’d like to share? Link it up in the comments. Come back tomorrow for Fiber Friday where I’ll be talking about my love/hate relationship with knitting socks, and the pair I’ve been working on for almost 2 years.

{August 24, 2011}   Webby Wednesday 8/24

Welcome to Webby Wednesday where I find all sorts of DIY links that are cool enough to share with you.

My first one comes from Suzy’s Artsy Crafty Sitcom and features her popscicle stick bracelets. These bracelets are absolutely gorgeous and don’t cost much to make.

For the geek in all of us, there’s Lifehacker. Their post on Ethernet Keychains and Wall Docks is genius. I could totally see myself doing something like this when we get our new house.

Keychain rack using ethernet parts

For us science geeks, we can read all about Ben Krasnow’s homemade (DIY) Scanning Electron Microscope over at Popular Science. Incidentally, speaking science to each other is what made my hubby and I fall in love. Today is our 8th anniversary of our first date. But I digress. Ben spent $1500 and 100 hours and can get 50x magnification with his machine.

Having trouble getting the finish you want while using sandpaper? Hop on over to Living With Lindsay for her Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Sandpaper tutorial. She’ll explain what grit is and what the numbers mean as well as what tools you can use with sandpaper. This tutorial has given me a lot to think about as I continue to refinish furniture and have future projects in mind.

Orbital sander

And finally, do you like journaling, but feel like you don’t have the time to write as much as you want? Check out this great idea for a Twitter-like journal. Each card is assigned a date, and each year you write a one-line entry on each card. Take a look at Design Sponge for this tutorial on making your own Vintage Postcard Calendar Journal.

Vintage postcard calendar journal

Well, folks, that’s all for today. Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on Theme Thursday when our theme will be Fall crafts.

While I was in the middle of transforming that fabulous sidetable I picked up for $3, I had passed a garage sale just down the street from my house where I saw this fabulous 4-drawer dresser. I didn’t stop to check it out because, well, I already had another piece I was working on. Every time I drove by this house, I could hear the dresser calling my name. On Monday morning I passed this house again on my way to the gym and noticed that the dresser was still sitting out front. After my workout, I stopped by the house and left a note with my phone number asking the owners to call me if it was still available. Sure enough, 10 minutes after I arrived home, they called. When I asked how much they wanted for it, the lady told me $5. I couldn’t pass that up, so I put the kid back in the car and drove over to pick up this beauty.

Dresser before transformation

Beautiful, right? It doesn’t really matter to me that she’s missing a drawer pull as I’ll be replacing them anyway. When first glancing at all the drawers, I thought one of them was missing its plastic guide, but I found that hiding in the very back stuck between some wood pieces. Score! One less thing I have to spend money on. Now the dilemma was how to paint this beauty. I knew I didn’t want it to be all one color. I figured I might as well use more of the minty green Footpath color that I had used on the sidetable transformation, and I also remembered I had a very dark grey color from when we painted our son’s bookshelf.

Dresser color scheme

Pretty, right? So, now all I have to do is use wood filler to fix the gouges in the top and the holes from the original drawer pulls. Follow that up with the orbital sander to smooth out the surfaces before painting and I’ll be all set to go.

Dovetailing detail

I painted two coats of primer on every surface. Then I decided to paint the frame and top with the Footpath color and paint the drawer fronts with that dark grey color we had used on our son’s bookcase. I have to say, I wasn’t a fan of the fact they dark grey was semigloss. It shows a lot of brush strokes and I had to paint the drawer fronts with three coats so that you couldn’t see the primer poking through. Next I headed over to Lowe’s Home Improvement to look for drawer pulls. I had no idea how hard it is to pick out drawer pulls, but I found these fabulous leaf design pulls.

Hubby asked me why I didn’t paint the kick plate with the dark grey, but i think it would have been too much dark on such a pretty piece. Spray paint with Valspar Gloss Clear Coat for protection, and shazam! you have a fabulously retro-looking piece.

Finished 4-Drawer Dresser

Color-wise it matches the sidetable which means they can both go in the same room. I’m not planning on keeping this piece either. Once again, I have it listed on our local Craigslist site, but no bites yet. I’m thinking this piece would likely sell better on Etsy, so I need to revamp my etsy store front.

What a fabulous transformation, right? And it only cost me $5. What’s your favorite part? How would you have done this differently?

{August 23, 2011}   Side Table Makeover

Being inspired by DIY blogs, I decided to take some me time and leave the kid at home with daddy and go do some garage sailing by myself. I was looking for a single piece of furniture for cheap that I could redo just to try out some of the new ideas I had been reading about. Just around the corner from my house, I found this. I was quite surprised it was only $3. I threw it in the back of my car and drove promptly to Lowe’s to get a few supplies like more sand paper and wood filler. And since the hubby wrecked my good angled brush, I had to get a new one of those, too.

Sidetable as acquired from a garage sale.

Main usable surface.Drawer dovetailing detail

Pretty beatup, right? It has nice dovetailing in the drawer and seems pretty sturdy, though. I contemplated what to do with it, then decided that since I had so much leftover paint from my massage office, I would start there. It’s a beautiful minty green.

Massage office color turned furniure paint color.

I needed to do a little repair on the  corner on top with some wood filler. I also decided that I didn’t want to have to find or buy 4 new drawer pulls, so I decided to fill in the cross pattern and the original drawer pull locations with wood putty.

I sanded the entire thing with the orbital sander so I could get an even coat of paint on it. Then I painted two coats of primer and two coats of eggshell in the Footpath color. I got a little crazy with the painting and probably painted way too many surfaces. The drawer is a little bit sticky when opening and closing (which I had been warned about, but did I listen? Nooooooo!). The drawer pulls are from Ikea that I had picked up several years ago, but they no longer carry it, so I can’t link ’em up for you. Spray with clear gloss spray paint to protect the finish and shazam! a whole new piece that can be used as a living room side table or bedside nightstand.

Sidetable finished!

I’m actually not going to keep this piece. I am trying to sell it on my local Craigslist site, so I made a little faux living room showing how this would fit in well with other furniture. Yes, that’s my garage door and yes I’m taking this picture in my driveway, but doesn’t the sidetable look great?

Sidetable in action!

It’s amazing what a little bit of imagination and free time can accomplish. I think it’s pretty good first attempt at refinishing furniture with paint, and all it cost me was $3. So, here’s the before and after, shown together.

Next time I think I’ll use a roller instead of a brush. I went a little batty obsessing over all the brush strokes in the primer and actual paint. What’s your favorite part of this transformation? If you had to do this yourself, how would you refinish this piece?

et cetera