Monday, April 14, 2014

Grandson visit!

I was so happy to have my little grandson come and visit for a few days during spring break.  He's an action-packed bundle of fun, and we enjoyed having him out!

The things that grandma and grandpa let him get away with!  Here he is treating the fridge like monkey bars.

At home, one of his favorite things to play with is a paint roller, since his mom and dad are painting the living room.  So we cut one down so Parker had a Parker-sized paint roller!  he loved rolling everything with it.  He also dipped it into the pool in the backyard so he could drip it on everything.

We also cut down a swiffer to a Parker-sized swiffer, because that's one of his other favorite toys, but somehow I didn't get any shots of that.

He figured out that the table had a perfect perch at just his height!

He's such a happy little guy, and we had a ton of fun with him!

chasing bubbles around the backyard --
and of course, a visit to the beach!  The time sure flew by way too fast -- can't wait until I get to see him again in June!

Sunday, April 06, 2014

Finally found a door for my kitchen....

I've been stalking Craigslist in order to find a good 10-lite or full view door for my kitchen - I needed one 30" wide.  The door we had in there (it was the door I turned into a dutch door), was 32" wide, and just barely cleared the island.  I wanted someting that would let a lot of light into the kitchen, give me a view to the backyard, and fit into my budget (as cheap as possible).  I've seen a couple on Craigslist free, but I've always missed out on them. But finally I struck it lucky and we picked one up yesterday. 

It had a few dings in it, but  nothing I couldn't fix with a little bondo and filler, lots of sanding and general all-around touchups.  For my favorite price (free!), I don't mind at all putting a little work into it.

All we had to buy was a 2 x 6 to cut for the hinge side.  I removed all the trim carefully, and we reused the hinges from the old door.  Other than leveling the door, it went pretty quickly. 

It looks really great, even though I still have to paint it and patch the wall on the right side.

Just that extra 2" of space, a quick coat of plaster and a new coat of paint and it'll be good as new.

On the outside, Dale will have to fill the stucco and blend it in to the existing wall.  This would normally be a big deal for me, but since that's what he does, it's nice to know it'll look just fine.  He still has the bump out for the pantry to stucco, so it's good he can get this all done at the same time.

The cats, of course, were very interested.  They can now spy on things in the backyard and when we go out to do something, they have more choices of where to sit and meow at us.

So this week, I will get the inside patched, painted and get the door all painted.  I want to get my little curtain rehung as well. 

I do have a great post that I'm working on with my adorable grandson - we had 5 great days playing with him.  Spring break was a success around here!

Friday, March 28, 2014

Ready for guests

This weekend I am off to a conference (and I am so looking forward to meeting up with my grad school friends and all my art teacher friends from all over the US!), and when I get back on Monday, my daughter and our little grandson Parker will be here waiting for me!

We really wanted to have the whole house ready so we weren't in mid-reno like we were last time they were out.  We still have plywood counters, we shopped for soapstone last weekend, but amazingly, we just couldn't find much to choose from and the one place that had it, the slabs were kind of meh.  So for what it would cost (around 3K), I think we are going to make our out concrete countertops.  If we like them, they'll stay around awhile, and maybe I'll find my dream soapstone in the future.  I think they'll cost around 500-600 dollars, which is a great solution and might be a great permanent one.

But this week, we got almost all the finishing touches done - still a few art pieces here and there to hang, but it's definitely presentable.  I hung some family pictures in the hallway:
I had set up a gallery of pictures previously, but Dale was feeling under-represented in the family area, so we went through his family pictures and found a few to add in.  I also hung a few things over the fireplace, which meant we had to use our hilti-gun again:
OMG, so glad we bought that.  I am SICK of drilling/placing anchors in concrete.  The wall above the fireplace looks like drywall, but it's concrete.  So that stuff aint going nowhere.  Ever.

I also arranged a gallery wall over the sofa -- I still have a couple of empty frames, but I can come up with a fun project here and there --
I don't know what I'm going to put on that pedestal bracket.  I'll find something.  And now that I look at the Mexican blanket on the sofa, well, that's a big mistake.  I'll remedy that ASAP.  Just trying to add some color into our rather neutral furnishings.

I ordered a nice, large kilim rug that should, Lebowski-style, "pull the whole room together", but it hasn't gotten here yet.  I'm getting a bit frustrated, hasn't been shipped yet, and I need to call next week to see what's up.  It's already been 2 weeks and it should at least have been shipped out of the warehouse.  So for now, we have a smaller area rug.  That rug is 5 x 7, the new one is 7 x 11, so I am hoping it will help the room read as a unit. 

On another wall, I have a small table that I want to do a fun paint job on.  I also have a few empty jars that I am once again going to make an attempt to create terrariums in.  My last attempt was foiled by Mercury, who reached in and pulled all the plants out.  This time, I have a big one with a lid, and I'll figure out something for the two open topped jars.

I'd also like to get some orchids, and I think this would be a good place for them to get bright, indirect light.  And maybe I can get my cats to leave them alone....

One of my favorite things is this curtain rod. I was really frustrated before with our curtain situation - we have 3 panels (instead of 4), and because of the length of the run, we had to have a center support, which meant that we couldn't evenly space the panels when the sun comes in during the early evening as it's setting.  So originally, I was thinking I'd install a pipe from the left wall to the fireplace wall, but when I went to Lowe's to price that out, I was a little shocked. 

So I went over the curtain rod area to see what they had, and since the span is right at 12', I didn't think I'd find anything.  But -- then I saw this rod with built in clips with wheeled runners ---

and the center bracket holder was open on the bottom -- score!  exactly what I needed!

so now I can put my two panels on one side, one on the other, and when I need to, they roll easily right across the entire area.

These panels are from Ikea, and they originally had tab tops, but since these rods have clips, I cut and re-sewed the tops to a plain hem, then finally hemmed the bottoms to fit.  I've had these panels for 3 years unhemmed, so it's nice to see them all finished.  I do really like the curtains, and they're a great deal at 19.99 per panel.  I just didn't want to have to buy a third just so I could meet the sets in the center.

Another sewing project this week was to re-do the bench seat in the kitchen. I'd gotten this great fabric at Mood while I was in NY, but once i got the cushion covered, it was just too much.  I love the fabric and I will make pillows for my sofa or another area with it, but it wasn't working in the kitchen. So I was out and found this fabric with a busy, tapestry look that had the same greens as the wall in it, and I make a replacement cover for the cushion.  I like it so much better --

So there it is - all ready for company!  Next post will likely have an abundance of grandson pictures!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Small Projects

We finally got the walls done in the living room - although I still need to get the artwork hung and I'm waiting for a new rug to be delivered....So this morning, I went out to the garage, intending to spray paint some old frames that I have in order to put together a gallery wall over the sofa, and I saw one of our three nesting tables there.  The old top was peeling, and I had intended to take it apart and paint the base, so I started there.  And halfway through painting the base, my spray can clogged and would not clear, so....down the drain goes my plan of painting frames. I found another can of black paint, and finished painting the base, and then I figured I might as well get the top done, too.  I had already reworked two of the tables awhile back, but I wasn't happy with them for two reasons:  I didn't like the metal top on one of them, and I had cut the top about 1/4" too big for the ruler one.  So, learning from my earlier mistakes, I cut a new table top for the largest of the three tables (they looked like this before I started):
Cleaning out another one of our classrooms, I found another cache of old wooden yardsticks, which I brought home and had set aside to work on the other table tops.  So I cut a top out of 3/4" plywood, of which I have a TON of scraps leftover from the bookshelves and cabinets. 

I painted the bases black, and created a different pattern for each table top.

I am really enjoying the way they look!

I love some of the old advertising on the yardsticks. I do have a couple of newer ones in there, but I really like the charm of the older ones.

You can see a hint of the wall color here. It's a light gray - "Pelican" by valspar.  I am liking these tables as you enter the room -- before, we had them tucked away behind the recliners, because they were so unsightly, but now that they all look so good, I am all for bringing them into the limelight.  I did have some older end tables on either side of the sofa, but I might be willing to get rid of them since this table set looks so finished.

So I hope to have some more of the artwork up this week - I've got a busy schedule at work so I can't get much done until later in the week, but I wan to arrange a nice gallery wall.  I've hung a couple of our pieces, but I have a lot still to go.  And I want to get the curtains up again as soon as I can get a decent curtain rod. 

Now that the heavy lifting type work is done, it's nice to have a lot of smaller, more manageable things on my plate!  I am especially looking forward to having no projects for a bit so I can enjoy my guests coming in the next couple of weeks!

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Kitchen artwork

Our kitchen, with the travertine tile and stainless appliances - could easily look a little sterile.  This week, I've been adding all kinds of personal touches with artworks that we've collected.  Yesterday, I took everything down and finally painted the ceiling a fresh coat, and the walls got the final coat of green.  Other than a few major details -- like soapstone counter tops and replacing a window and door, the kitchen is close to finished.  All the colorful artwork makes it a cheerful and happy place:

First of all, I got the seat cushion covered.  I am about 90 percent happy with it - I might take it off, put a layer of batting over the foam (I bought it but thought I wouldn't need it).  

Wow, the table looks like it's skewed in this picture - it's perfectly straight.

On this wall, where there was previously a door, I hung some of my many many many Chinese checkerboards.  Above them is a mosaic snake that I made for my classroom when I still lived and taught in Indiana.  He's a fun art piece and I enjoy seeing him here!

On the window wall, I have one of two masks (the other one is on the other side of the window) that I made while teaching a unit on masks. I like making art with my students.   Below that is a great cat collage I bought while at a conference in Florida.

The color is a bit off in this picture -- but this is the other mask to the right of the window.  I also hung my awesome little kit-kat clock, and beside it are two of my small paintings from my dear friend Doris who passed about 8 or 9 years ago. 

Below the mask is an image from Lynda Barry's work - I printed it on transparency and then hand colored it in from the back.  It's in a vintage frame I found at a garage sale.

Above the ugly air-conditioner window, I hung three lizards.  The one on the left is a Mexcian carving I bought while at a conference in New Orleans, where Dale and I went to a street sale.  The one on the right was a gift from a student while I was teaching in Indiana.  The one in the center is one I bought in Pismo Beach.

Over the kitchen door, we hung a set of cow horns that were mounted by a friend who has a ranch in Colorado.  We were glad to find a place for these, they're fun but not the kind of thing you can just put anywhere! 

I hung a curtain I made from fabric strips over the window.  I made this for the first house we rented here in California - it was in the bathroom there, but I love how fun it is.

Under the clock are the small portraits of Persephone.  Don't worry, I'm working on a set of Mercury paintings, too.

Over the greenhouse window is a ceramic replica I made of one of my very favorite pieces of Medieval art -- the Magi Asleep by Giselbertus. 

The angel is waking the three magi (who are all sleeping in the same bed!), and pointing out the star.  Her single finger waking the king at the top, whose eyes have popped open -- I love this piece and am glad to have it in a place I can see it all the time. 
So - we are still waiting to find the perfect door (at the perfect price), order a window and buy countertops, but the kitchen is very liveable and lively.

In the meantime, while I was painting and hanging artwork, Dale was skim coating the fireplace --

We started off by putting a board that will act as a bit of a "mini-mantel" - a divider between the wall and the fireplace below.

We bought a hilti-gun (actually, the cheaper, hammer activated piece) that uses a .22 caliber shell to shoot nails into mortar.  We got sick of drilling anchors, and this tool works super well (and super loudly).  

Then Dale coated the part above with a bonding agent, then mixed up a mixture of plaster and cement.  He did one coat, and it dried faster than he had expected, and had time to put another coat on yesterday.  This morning, he's doing a finish coat and cleaning up the corner.  It looks really dark right now, but as it dries, it'll lighten then we'll see if we need to add a skim coat of plaster, although the way it's looking right now, it might just be fine as it with primer and paint.

Eventually, we want to retile the brick below - a nice ledger stone perhaps, but for now I am just going to paint it with the same paint I've used on the cabinets, so it will all blend together. I need to get a new fireplace cover that fits, and it will look super nice.  This has been one of those problem spots in the room - it was from the first minute we saw the house, but I think between all the cabinets, and smooth-coating the top, we might have actually managed to minimize this space so it works for us.

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Table is finished

Last week when I posted, I had built all the basic parts, but I still needed to do the sanding, painting and detailing.  First thing I did was choose the graphics for across the top --I got this one from The Graphics Fairy, which is where I found my last vintage typography as well.  This time I went for an American theme:

I got the image transferred to the table top with a overhead projector, and sketched it out in pencil.  I then went over it with a fine brush and black acrylic paint.  After that, I sanded the text down so it had a little bit of a vintage look, as if it had been on an old crate.

After that, I gave it two coats of stain - the same stain I used on the trim of our kitchen cabinets, so it would be harmonious with them.   Then I had to let that dry for a day before applying 6 coats of spar varnish, letting each dry and then sanding lightly before applying the next coat.

In the meantime, I sanded, primed and painted the base.

For the first black coat, I used some leftover paint from the outside furniture.  After that dried well, I sanded it and then applied a coat of black satin spray - the same paint I used on the old table.  I like the finish -- not too shiny, but a nice, deep black (this picture is of the initial coat of slightly off-black paint).

And this is of the deeper Rustoleum satin finish black.

Then I glued and screwed the base to the top from underneath.

I actually finished the coats of varnish earlier in the week but I wanted to let the topcoat harden a bit before I brought it in, because I know a couple of cats will waste no time walking across it with their tippy tappy toes.

I applied a coat of paste wax so hopefully we won't get too many nicks in the finish.  I will say that the last table looked brand new when we sold it, so all these layers seem to do the trick.

Oh, I sure wish that ugly air conditioner was gone!  We've got to replace the window to get rid of it.....

Now I need to finish the cushion for the bench seat. I have the pieces all cut and partially sewn - but with the rain today, I am enjoying just watching old movies on TV and snacking on Girl Scout cookies!  Maybe I'll get to it later tonight!

Note added:  If you want to build a table like this yourself, you can check out my plans at here.

Monday, February 24, 2014


We ended up selling our kitchen table - the one I made from a Craigslist Free find.  As a reminder, here's how it looked:
I really liked the table, but in our remodeled space, it was too large.  I wanted something a little smaller, and actually, I really like rectangular tables more.  So I ended up selling it on Craiglist for a hundred bucks.  Not bad.  Anyway, then I was keeping an eye out for something free/cheap, and hadn't found anything yet.  I did see a couple of nice tables that might work, but knew I'd have to cut them down somewhat, and I hate to do that to a nice antique table. :)

Dale and I saw some really cool pipe base tables, and thought we might really enjoy that look in our kitchen.  So we sketched out a plan and went over to Lowe's to buy the pipe.  As we loaded the pieces into our cart, we were a little shocked at the prices -- and then we decided to add up the total before we made a decision, and the pieces came up to 144 dollars -- way beyond what we wanted to spend (and that only included the base!).

Luckily, I had pinned another table that I really liked -- and I knew I could make a replica of this WAY cheaper.  Here's the image I pinned:

Nice style, but too much oak, and the price....well, we're not buying that table! 

But I know I can make it.  Luckily, I had some maple plywood left over from my shelves, and it was just about the right size.  I added a lip around with 1x2 pine--

 I built the base from 4 x 4s for the legs, and some 1x4 slats on the side.  A center brace of a 2x4 -- and a lot of leftover trim from our previous work around the house. 

We spent a total of 40 dollars on wood and that's much better for me.  I still have some sanding (even out the wood filler on the nail holes and trim, stain the top, paint the base and then assemble it.  But so far, it's looking good!

 We went with squares instead of circles on the ends -- we used 3 slats across instead of 4, and the circles would have been a challenge.  Plus, we have a lot of squares with the tile pattern so I thought this would match up better.  I like the proportions, it'll fit nicely in our space. Just wide enough for us!

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