Saturday, October 31, 2009

Build With Me: Cute & Thrifty Play Kitchen -In Just Six Weeks

Kitchen Lesson Logo

I have decided to try something new. I have yet another cabinet ready to transform into a play kitchen. This time I thought I would give in-depth instructions (with lots of flexible options) on how I build my play kitchens. Then I thought, wouldn't it be fun to have a "Build Along." If you follow along, you could have your very own play kitchen to gift for Christmas. And, since this year things are tight for so many of us, I have come up with several even thriftier supplies and materials. I will list all my tools and supplies and detail carefully the costs. I even thought I would host a special give away at the end.

Can you build it? Yes you can!

Maybe your thinking, "I have never built anything in my life!"
Seventh grade shop class was the last time I  built anything before the pink play kitchen. I made a rack for VCR tapes. Now, that fact should show you just how long ago that was.

Maybe you're concerned about tools?
Tools do help, when I made the pink play kitchen I had a hand saw and a power drill/ screwdriver thing and that's about it. I have come up with some suggestions that can help you build a nearly tool free play kitchen!

Lesson 1 starts on Wednesday November 4. I hope you'll join me!

PS: Maybe you're like me and you haven't got a wee one to build a play kitchen for, yet you still want to make one just for fun. I hope you'll consider making one for your favorite charity. I have earned at least $100 for each of mine and that money has helped buy lunch for many homeless people in Hollywood.

Lesson 1 Supplies
Play Kitchen Inspiration & A Way To Give Back

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Citra-Solved My Problem

Last week I shared my photocopy transfer woes. Well, Melissa from Citra- Solv heard my cries and sent me a bottle of the Citra-Solv concentrate that is used for photocopy transfers!

Today it came in the mail.
4:00 Got home.
4:01 Opened package from Melissa. It included a very nice note and some extra goodies I will soon share.
4:02 Printed out a project I had waiting on the computer.
4:03 Headed to the copy store down the street to make my photocopies.
4:15 Citra-Solving Heaven!!

Citra-Solv Photo Copy Transfer I Spy Riddle

I have a bajillion ideas rolling around in my brain. The only thing holding me back now is time. I have the Long Beach Haute-Dog Halloween Parade on Saturday. If you're like me and enjoy a good puppy fix check out my Flickr set of Dogs in Costumes from the 2007 parade. Hopefully Monday I will have a tutorial and a Citra-Solv project to share.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Quick Craft Fix

Sunday I was crazzzzy busy. All good things, but somewhere about 8pm I decided I needed a craft fix. Something easy and satisfying.

Scrapbook paper cupcake picks! I'm thinking these would make good stocking stuffers.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Curb Alert Coffee Table Makeover, Purdy Paintbrush Review & Giveaway!


Lots going on here today. DYI, paint brush talk, wait for it.... Purdy Paintbrush giveaway!

First up a good n' thrifty DIY transformation. This coffee table that I got for free at a craigslist "curb alert" was a hot mess with several layers of scratched up drippy paint. The "thingy" that helps the drawer slide smoothly was broken and jerry-rigged with just a few nails.

Voila! The color is Beach House Brown by Dutch Boy. Five bucks and change for a sample sized container that has plenty left over after three coats.

Here's a sassy little pink drawer just because. Now that I have discovered the pick me up of a shot of color in a drawer, I don't think I'll ever have a naked drawer again. The pink is leftover paint from the pink kitchen.
I love it so much I am tempted to keep it, but I won't because it's for my dear Ms. S at school. Total cost- $5!

Next up- Purdy Paintbrush review and story along the way. So, a month or so ago I entered a drawing for a Purdy paintbrush on another DIY blog. I commented that I had spent much time picking out paint brush hairs from my project. I didn't win the contest, but to my surprise the Purdy people wrote to me and offered me a trial brush and roller set! Whoo hoo!

Meanwhile back at the ranch, I went garage saling one Saturday and found a Purdy paintbrush for sale. This was before I recieved trial kit in the mail. I was checking it out when the seller told me that it "was the kind the pros use." So we got to talking. The man's father was a professional painter much like my husband's grandfather and he was cleaning out his garage. After a while I just had to buy the paintbrush. It was a steal at $5. Since I don't have any walls to paint, I have decided to test the garage sale brush and offer the roller and brush pack as a giveaway. Read on for more details.

This past weekend- the coffee table project was my first chance to try out a Purdy brush. I prepared to prime the coffee table. I wish I could say that I sanded the whole thing lovingly. Or at all. But I barely did. I don't really trust old paint to be safe, so I just sand the worst of the drips and prime away. My usual dollar store paint brushes shed and shed and I pick and pick.The upside, they are disposable and cleanup is a breeze. Remember, I don't have a garage and have to clean up in the kitchen sink.

The Purdy brush shed exactly one hair on the first stroke and not another. Not one other hair shed through one coat of  primer and three coats of paint! That right there is worth the price! And I mean the real price not the garage sale price. (Although if you should be so lucky to find a Purdy brush at a garage sale snatch that brush and don't look back!)

I did have a major problem. I held off painting for several weeks while LA had a heat wave. Finally on Saturday the weather girl predicted a "cooling trend" of just 80 degrees. I got started early so it would be cooler, but by the time I was mid deep in primer- a the suns rays came laser straight to my balcony workshop and created what can only be described as a solar oven. I could not paint fast enough!

When I was done and went to wash my brush I was reminded of the other reviews of Purdy brushes and was looking for tons of paint to wash out. Nothing came. Nothing! My latex primer baked onto the bristles of my precious brush! Turns out it was a "quick dry formula" I'll say! I seriously wanted to cry. Thankfully, the Purdy packaging mentioned brushing the brush if you use oil paint so I decided the brush could handle a good scrub.

 I washed it in hot water, soaked it, and S-C-R-U-B-B-E-D it hard! I was like Lady Macbeth with that brush! Out, out damn paint! Slowly but surely the paint crumbled and came off.

Too bad I didn't just check Purdy's awesome "Help from the Paint Doctor" page. My very same situation is addressed and The Paint Doctor reccommends using a green scrub pad.

How many hairs were shed over this incident? Maybe ten. Maybe. I counted them as I noticed them coming out, but very few came out in the bursts of hard scrubbing I gave it.
Here is an after picture. You can see that some primer still remained. But as we say in Hollywood, "The show must go on."

I waited till dusk to paint the brown. Finally, it was truly a "cooling trend."

The Purdy paintbrush stood the test of the scrub brush and was completely shed free. I greatly enjoyed the absorbancy of this brush on the sunken drawer detail. Those bristles soaked up excess paint in the grooves so well.
This is what I like to see! Liquid paint washing out like a dream. Whew!

A few hours later I painted the pink drawer and again painting was shed free and clean up was easy.

I will never use oil paint as long as I am an apartment dweller. I already push the limits by painting and sawing and such on my 3' X 6' balcony. So, I can't tell you how the brush handles with those elements.However, for regular latex paint -painted in normal Earthly temperatures, clean up was a breeze.

Even though I am cheap super the end I am sold on Purdy paintbrushes.  They are made in the USA which feels really good. In fact they are made right here on the west coast in Oregon. Clearly from my review you can see they can take some real abuse. I  am far enough along on my DIY journet to see my tools as an investment. I am happy to have a brush on hand that can wash up and return to duty quickly. I can see this brush lasting a long time and maybe even saving money in the long run. At the very least it made painting much easier and more enjoyable- and isn't that what a hobby is all about?

So, here we are finally at the giveaway! Thanks for sticking around! Would you like to win a Purdy Paintbrush and Roller? Just leave a comment and I  will do a drawing on Sunday.


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Thank You! Thank You Very Much

 PK from Room Remix nominated me for the Kreativ Blogger Award and Shelly from I Like the Way You Do nominated me for an Over the Top Award.

Thank you ladies! I really am very flattered. 

The Kreativ Blogger award asks you to name seven things someone might not know and the Over the Top Award has a bunch of questions to answer with just one hopefully there are seven things in there you might not know. Funny thing was that Shelly and I had a lot of the same answers.

1. Where is your cell phone? Dunno?

2. Your hair? messy

3. Your mother? honest

4. Your father? industrious

5. Your favorite food?cheese

6. Your dream last night? none

7. Your favorite drink?Coke

8. Your dream/goal? mom

9. What room are you in? bedroom

10. Your hobby? blogging

11. Your fear?unemployment

12. Where do you want to be in 6 years? PTA

13. Where were you last night? home

14. Something that you aren’t? neat

15. Muffins?pumpkin

16. Wish list item?camcorder

17. Where did you grow up? Rochester
18. Last thing you did? paint

19. What are you wearing? PJ's

20. Your TV?off

21. Your pets? none

22. Friends? loyal

23. Your life?unpredictable

24. Your mood?fine

25. Missing someone?G'ma

26. Vehicle? Scion

27. Something you’re not wearing? Brazierre ha ha ha

28. Your favorite store? Target

29. Your favorite color? Red

30. When was the last time you laughed? Today

31. Last time you cried? recently

32. Your best friend? Husband

33. One place that I go to over and over?Goodwill

34. One person who emails me regularly?Martha

35. Favorite place to eat?Sushi

and I'm adding one more for fun:

36. Person who awarded you today: Talented

Now I have to give it to six bloggers - this is the part I don't like. It brings back memories of picking teams in PE.  I hate to think that I am leaving someone who wants this award out. There are so many blogs I love and admire. I follow over 200 on my Google reader! If your reading this and would like to answer these questions (they are fun) please consider yourself nominated.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

WIP: Table For Ms. S

Today I am out on my balcony working on this coffee table for Ms. S. It came from the craigslist curb alert haul of two play kitchens ago. That haul was seriously fodder for a years worth of blog posts, gifts and assorted projects. I love you craigslist! Unfortunately, the guy who gave all that stuff away left a no-reply email so I can never tell him how far his cast offs have gone or how much they have meant to me, but I hope he has been blessed by his generosity.

Speaking of generosity, my dear friend and colleague Ms. S is out on her Saturday cheering on the OFS fifth grade girls flag football team. They are in some sort of championship and she is giving her day to support them. That kind of thing is pretty typical for Ms. S who constantly gives back to her students and community.

She herself was a student at OFS and had many of the same personal challenges that our students face. As a suburban Penfield, NY kiddo, I have no idea the depth of what that really means. Except that determination was a huge factor in her success and I pray that everyone of my students is half as determined.

Against so many odds and with so many other responsiblities, Ms.S was able to buy a condo this summer! This is Los Angeles- condos are not cheap-even in a housing crisis. She did this entirely on her own. I could go on and on about how highly I think of Ms. S.

So here's to you Ms. S, a newly restored coffee table in the works.

By the way, the people of CitraSolv wrote to me in the comments and offered to send me the concentrate I needed for the Skeleton Transfer project! Too excited! Thank you CitraSolv! As I clean off the muck and yuck of a coffee table stored in an LA parking garage (read solidified smog) I am thankful for the pleasant, eco friendly orange aromas of the ready to use CitraSolv!

Happy, happy Saturday!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

To Quote Homer Simpson: Doh!

 I was all set to make a little skeleton softie with one of my student's drawings. I had read an interesting tutorial using CitraSolv cleaner and wanted to give it a try. Went to two Whole Foods to find it and set up my work space.

Look at these professional tutorial worthy pictures.

Just spray on the CitraSolv and rub the paper with the back of a spoon.
Peel back the paper and look at the transfer! Doh!

So, I researched other CitraSolv like products and read that Goo Gone was very similar! I have some of that! I start over with a new photocopy and new bit of fabric. Tape the whole thing and rub on the Goo Gone.


 Feeling like a mad scientist I tried WD40 too. What the heck!

Not so jolly now!

OK, so further research shows I should have bought the CitraSolv concentrate not the ready to use spray. I did not see that at either of the two Whole Foods I went to. So, I think I am going to abandon the environmental cleaner as transfer medium and go to Michaels and buy Omni Gel. 

 Hopefully more on this to come.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Quote Art

I have been wanting some original art for this skinny strip of wall near our bed. So far the art in our bedroom has been cheap prints from Michael's. They are pretty, but I wanted to get something more personal.

When I saw this great quote art on Ohdeedoh I started looking for the right canvas to make our own quote art.

I found this frame for just $4 at a local thrift store. It looked like it was a framed canvas. However, when I took it apart it was just a thick frame and a thin fabric wrapped cardboard.

 It was perfect for this project!  I recently saw someone who used a cut up book to make a text mosaic and loved the idea for the background. Perfect since my husband is a writer.

I used the Elison press at school to cut two old books into squares for the text mosaic. I used an old book of quotes and a book called Love and Glory. If you look close you can see lots of fun quotes, my name as one of the characters in Love and Glory and of course the word "love" many times. I chose the books mostly for their shades of age.

I used Modge Podge to glue the squares in an alternating pattern. I tried to select a variety of shades of yellowing.

Next I printed out a snippet of ee coming's poem i carry your heart printed in a large typewriter font. I scribbled with a dark pencil on the back to make carbon paper.

I secured it to the canvas with painters tape. This worked really well and did not damage the collage at all. I used a pen and pressed hard to trace the words. Next I used a Sharpie marker to fill in the letters. They are not perfect, but I am pleased with the overall effect.

I'd say it took two episodes of Glee (on Hulu) and two episodes of Dancing with the Stars to make this project. I can think of many other cool backgrounds. Perhaps a smaller photo or scrapbook paper.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

A List of Random

1. RIP Chalkboard Fridge

I snuck out early to go to a church rummage sale, Cliff woke up later to find a big puddle in the kitchen. It was the telltale sign that the fridge had died.  Breakfast may be the most important meal of the day, but I sure am glad I skipped it. Had I been the one to discover the puddle and I would have missed the rumage sale (and neighboring garage sales.) By the time I got back, Cliff had done a lions share of the clean up. He even arranged with the neighbors to take in some of our now homeless frozen food. My job was to go online and buy a new fridge. That's my kind of job. Hopefully it will be here tomorrow.

2. Since I was an early bird, I snagged these three frames for just seven bucks!

Speaking of being an early bird, I went garage saling at about 9 and I though I would have lots of company. I went to three sales that were advertised as being open 9-4 and none of them had stuff out yet. They weren't set up until nearly ten.When we had a garage sale in NJ, people knocked on our door at 7:30 even though we advertised 8. By 8 we had everything set up and were doing our most brisk business. No matter, that is how I snagged these great chunky frames!

3. Check out this fruit garnish Cliff came up with!

We have been doing breakfast for dinner a few times a month. It's yummy, quick and quite thrifty. I was so delighted when this beautiful fruit garnish turned up I had to take a picture. It just made my day.

Hope you are having a great weekend!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Christmas Stockings

I am thinking about Christmas stockings tonight.

These are our stockings of Christmas past. The knitted one is mine from childhood. My brother's stocking is a similar pattern. I am very partial to this knitted stocking because Santa was able stuff that puppy to the gills. My dad's stocking is a large wool sock. My mom's stocking is a vintage felt stocking her aunt brought back from Germany. One year my mother's whole family gathered for Christmas at our house and my mom made everyone reproductions of those wool stockings. It was a true labor of love.

Stockings are one of my favorite traditions. I like the clever little presents as much as regular gifts-probably even more now that I contribute to their filling.

Cliff's family has stockings, but they are only really used for decoration. They no longer fill them. My cousin's kids do not celebrate with Santa, so they use their stockings as part of a fun family tradition. At some point during the day mom or dad sneaks a small surprise in their stocking for the kids to discover. I imagine that as they grow older, they will begin to leave treats for each other as well.

This year my family is coming to LA for Christmas. It will be my first Christmas as hostess. We have traveled every year for the past 6 years, so I am pretty excited about staying home. To mark the occasion I wanted to make some new Christmas stockings so that each guest would have one. I have been trolling Flickr in search of some inspiration and as you can imagine, there is plenty. Here are some I starred in my Flickr favorites.

I have kicked around the idea of using felted sweaters. I have a few sweaters thrifted with that idea in mind. On the other hand, matching stockings would be nice too. I have plenty of that red and cream buffalo check form the futon to shoe bench project. Or maybe some redwork?

How about you? Do your stockings match? Are they homemade? Do you have any special stocking traditions?

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Black and White and Yellow All Over

 Glidden is giving away more free paint! If you haven't registered for your paint (Today! 10/11) go and do so now, then come back!

I signed up to get a cheery yellow called "Sunbeam."

I used to hate the color yellow. I personally look very bad in yellow clothes so I swore off having yellow in my home. Then I stayed at the Channel Road earlier this year. Our bathroom

(yes, that was just the bathroom) was so cheery and bright, I started to warm to the color yellow. Or maybe I was just warm from the wonderful hot tub. Anyway, as I am sure you know, once you start noticing something, you find it everywhere.

I found this delightful painting at a yard sale not too long ago. It doesn't go with anything in my home, but I just loved the black and white ribbon hanger and the classic sixties vibe of the painting. I seriously have no place to display this. One day I want to make a yellow, black and white room just for this painting.

So, today when I learned about another round of free paint from Glidden I got the Sunbeam yellow. It's a color that I probably wouldn't buy just yet. I have no idea what I will paint other than maybe another play kitchen. I thought about painting a few things for my balcony yellow and black. Could I just ignore the peach stucco?

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Behind the Scenes Confession

Thank you for all your kind comments on my current play kitchen. I love to make them. I love to share them. I love most all of it.


When I revealed the kitchen the other day I may have glossed over some of  the challenges behind the scenes. In fact, I did gloss over some sink issues with high gloss spray paint. You see, I made the hole for the sink a bit too snug and the enamel on the bowl "popped" a few chips when I was shoving it in there. I primed over the chips and sprayed the whole thing with spray paint. Not perfect, but certainly fine. Good enough for me if I was the buyer. Friday night I went ahead and listed it on craigslist.

About five minutes later I decided to give it one more coat of spray on varnish. For good measure.

I kid you not the paint on the bowl started to bubble and foam like a rabid dog! Try as I might there was no saving that bowl.

So Saturday morning I went to the doctors at 8 am (Yeah for Saturday appointments!) Then I went to my church planning retreat from 9:15-11:30.  Then I went on a mad search to find a bowl to fit the hole that I had already cut. You know, so as not to disturb all the painting and details already done. Done, as in listed on craigslist, done.

I went to Petco, Ross, Dollar General, two Goodwills and finally a restaurant supply place. (Good thing it wasn't a busy day. Grr!) Of course you always find things in the last place you look. I found something close at the last Goodwill and two other close options at the restaurant supply place.

Close but not quite. I came home and had to cut the hole bigger anyway. I had to sand, vacuum the mess, reposition the faucet, repaint the counter top, and spray the whole thing with varnish again. (By the way, saran wrap worked  great to protect the parts that I didn't want to repaint.)

Now I think it's safe to say that I am really done. My hope is to drop it off at church tomorrow.

I tell this story in the intrest of  transparency.  Sometimes I edit my posts to be more favorable than necessary. Sometimes the end product turns out terrific, but the journey involved cursing. If it happens to me, it probably happens to everyone.  I need to remember this story when I look at other people's gorgeous blog photos. Chances are there are a few more mishaps than are reported. Yet, the projects get done and they are gorgeous and those creative women go on to try other projects. And, so do I.

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Crayons Create: Haunted Houses

While my teaching blog My Many Colored Crayons is on a break, I couldn't resist sharing our latest project. It was last minute, cheap, easy and kept them entertained cooperatively for quite a long time. I needed to get some work done. (Lots of one on one testing for English proficiency.) This project kept 30 fourth graders entertained all at once! In fact, I think they could have spent hours on this project if allowed.

We started with boxes of all types, cereal boxes, tissue boxes, shoe boxes- you name it. It was wonderful to use an assortment of boxes because there was no pressure to come up with a shoebox at the last minute. I demonstrated on a brownie mix box. We wrapped the boxes in roll paper. This step was the only part that required my help. I happen to have roll paper at school, but if doing this at home you could use construction paper, wrapping paper or even a paper bag. They key is to wrap the "package" so that the end flaps are triangles. Then on one end, leave the last triangle flap sticking up. This becomes the roof.

Here you can see how that folded flap looks from behind.

I gave the kids some cotton balls, but Royal Blue came prepared with that spider web stuff and a bunch of spider rings to share with the class. The rest is just scrap paper.

This is a little arm punching through the door. The sign, the pumpkins and the stairs are all so detailed. Friends, this kind of detail takes time and concentration. The kind of time and concentration that allows your teacher to collate papers for back to school night and to administer the oral one on one English proficiency test to about five students.

Frankly, this is my favorite kind of kid project. I like to sit back and just observe the process. Since haunted houses are supposed to look crooked, every single one looks terrific. There is simply no way to fail at this project.

If you are looking to get something done, I highly recommend starting your kids on this project. You can thank me later.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Made It Without My Hubby

Today is a Made it Without My Hubby linky party at Shanty 2 Chic. As much as I would love to win that pink hammer, I've got nothing new to share. The Crayons, church activities and Back To School Night have plumb tuckered me out. (I did just renovate a whole kitchen last weekend. LOL) But, I couldn't not play along.

My hubby isn't into DIY at all. In fact, Home Depot drives him nuts. So all my projects were made with out his labor.His support for my messing up the apartment in the process is wonderful though!

Today I wanted to throw my two cents in the ring and encourage anyone reading this to tackle the projects they have been wanting to do. I live in an apartment-no garage or driveway. All my projects are done at the kitchen table or on the balcony and yet I have managed to make some pretty large things.

If your interested in making some of the projects I have made "without my hubby" there are tutorial type photo collections on my flicker.
Pot Holder ViewPretty in Pink

The play kitchens collection is here.
Front View

The futon upcycled into a shoe bench photo set is here.

Drawer to Shelf in Use
The drawer turned shelf photo set is here. 

I am always willing to answer questions. Just leave your questions on my flickr comments under the picture. That way I can look at the picture and answer the question easily.

Also today I thought I would share my "new" tool box with you all.

 And really, you know nothing I have is truly new.
This black chest used to hold my salt and pepper shakers.
The Bench with a Secret

Sure this is prettier, but...

Using it as my tool box is so much more functional. It holds my regular tool box and all my new power tools.

I am feeling much more comfortable with the power saws and I am glad I got them.

My philosphy about aquiring new tools (including my sewing machine) is to buy the very basic model with a little guidance from the tool guy at whatever store I am at. If I use it a lot, I can later justify an upgrade. If I don't use it that much, I haven't invested too much either. With my sewing machine, which gets a lot of use, the drill/driver and the saws, the basic models have all been just fine.

My specific drill screwdriver combo is no longer made, but I was thrilled to find out that I could find replacement bits.

I have found that my dollar stores are a great place to buy small tools like clamps andparts like hinges, corner braces and handles.

I hope you are inspired!

Don't forget to head on over to Shanty 2 Chic for tons more inspiration.

Shanty 2 Chic