with a little help from my chickens

I picked up the little assistants today and we decided to take on a few more projects.  On the way home we stopped at Ikea to exchange Camille’s lamp with a clip type so I don’t have to mount it to the wall up top.  As always a trip to Ikea spirals out of control and we ended up with a few extra things.  Besides the Ikea Jansjo Clamp Spotlight for Camille Ayana decided she wanted pink rather than the orange she had picked up a few weeks ago.  I secretly wanted a Clamp spotlight for my own room so I let her pick the new color she wanted and will have hers.  (my kids aren’t spoiled though, no way).

Also ended up picking them up each a Pluggis Container Set for storage on their walls.  Ayana specifically wanted one to store her book in after reading at bedtime.  Who can fight that right? During the drive home I told Ayana about the cork board I’d picked up for her room at the thrift store.  It wasn’t in shabby shape but a typical boring cork board.  She’s growing up quickly and is getting into charms and chains and jewelry.  With some push pins I knew it would make a perfect way for her to hang her little bits and photos and other random keepsakes.  I had her search pinterest for Chevron Corkboard DIY and she was sold. Ayana is a very go go go non stop kinda person.  She is very neat and organized and focused.  That focus meant once we were home she was on me to hang the storage containers, wash the new duvet cover (oh i didn’t mention that?) and get that cork board ready to go.  So i set her loose.  I showed her how to sand it and then vacuum it and she went at the cork board.  I helped her tape off the edges then let her prime.  At this point I have no clue where Camille was or she was doing. DSC00599 DSC00602 While it was drying we hung the storage containers in her room and she talked her sister out of the two square mirrors that were intended for Camille’s room for the 4 pack.  She wanted the border white and the inside chevron gray.  Figured we could make it work by mixing some of the 3 year old red paint (Seattle Red that’s on the door) with some of the white primer.  After I got it to the pink of her approval they painted the frame.   Once i realized i’d mixed up waaayyy too much paint I had them grab the blond wood side table that was previously been in Camille’s room.  I gave it a quick good sanding and vacuuming and taped it off.  I let them paint on the pink stripes and border (yep, blame them for the bleeding).

After i started drawing lines for the Chevron on the cork board I realized things were not coming out balanced and it would be lots and lots of taping.  So I decided that we were over Chevron.  We went with diagonal stripes instead.  Easy enough for me to lay down a strip of painter’s tape and then use a mini piece to measure the space for the next. We pulled again from our paint stash.  This time using the dark gray from our family room.  Kelly Moore Martini Shaker Gray that came out nearly the same dark metallic like gray of their loft beds.   DSC00604 DSC00606 DSC00610 DSC00613 Camille very much enjoyed the peeling process.  We were very happy with how it came out.  Next time I would tape up the inside ledge so it would remain solid pink.  For some reason I thought it would look good with the gray running up the side. DSC00614 DSC00615 Here’s the improved space (with a table that was brought back out to the garage after the photo since i’d just applied another coat of Poly to it)  I told her to wait a bit for the paint to really cure on the cork board before she went pinning crazy.  We went ahead and hung a few pieces of her jewelry. DSC00619 DSC00620   DSC00625

Painting might not be my thing

I just don’t think I have the patience for this.  6 times with drying in between.  Meant sanding and vacuuming and coating it with 2 layers of primer, 2 layers of paint and 2 layers of poly.  And for what will probably be just decent results.  I can see brush strokes… maybe they will settle, maybe i’m just too used to laminate furniture.  Maybe I should never ever paint another piece of furniture ever again.  The pictures below are right before the last 2 coats of Poly.  Aka.  Paintint.. wait more painting.  I went with a clear satin finish and water based Minwax Polycrylic (water based because that’s what the guy told me to get and I had left my phone in the car and couldn’t google).

I was surprised when I opened the can to find the milky stuff.  I folded it and mixed it for a while like I was instructed and it went on surprisingly easy, I think i was expecting something more like molasses when I opened the can.  Despite my dusting and vacuuming I did manage to get a few stray bits that I had to brush and brush to get out.




Now to let this guy dry overnight.  Photos to come of it in it’s new home in Camille’s room.  (hopefully she loves the piece as much as I do when she sees it).

While i wait for the polyurethane to dry.

Yeah, i have nothing better to do than take photos and make a post. Not paint the fence or vacuum or much less shower before I have to head off on a long haul to pick up the kids.

Whatever, here it goes. I figured I should maybe break out one of the fancy cameras that has gone neglected since the fishing took over Ricky’s life and the home improvement mine and take some decent photos of some of the works in progress. After all I’m a photographer and those iPhone snapshots were just not doing things justice.

First off my peg board.  I mean, Ricky’s fishing world.  Could you imagine if that mess was just all piled up in boxes in the master bedroom or dining room table.  I’m so happy I decided to take on shaping up this area.  Ricky bought the rod holder on the left and with wall space at a premium I figured the side of his work station would make a perfect place for me to mount it.  (Too bad he’s now added a few more poles that I’ll need to find homes for).  I turned a mess pile into something useable, spending only $10 on peg hook kits and a few dollars on a 1×4.  All the money spent on the fishing gear and bait and boxes, i can’t speak on that.



I’m in love with these simple shelves.  They even tilt back to keep things from sliding off (Ayana was kind enough to point out the tilt which I told her was intentional, and i’m sticking to that).



I also found those $10 stools at the thrift store.  I really don’t care for that finish on anything (in the bottom right corner of the first photo you can see a little box of drawers I got in the same finish that I really want to do something about).  I wanted to sand them and paint them or do something but Ricky went ahead and stuck his Kayaking decals on them so I just have to let them be.



Before you go applauding my organization skills I’m going to share with you the OTHER corner of the garage.  It’s scary, so maybe scroll fast and don’t look too hard.


Yes, boxes on boxes of things i haven’t seen since I moved back to town nearly years ago.  The wood table there I fold out to be my little cutting and work table, another thrift store find.  Ok, enough of that mess.

I’ll leave you with this.  My little $5.00 metal table that I really love.  It’s missing an arm and has a bit of rust but who am I to judge.  I’ve seen some tutorials on painting metal chairs online and at first thought I might try it with this piece.  Decided instead I’m pretty fond of the gray and since it will serve as my garage assistant and will be living out there there really is no need.  I figure one day it will be full of all kinds of paint splatter and remnants of my projects.  I did give it a decent scrub with dish soap, a rag and wire brush.  (Not that you can really tell I did in the 3rd photo).  I saw a magnetic bowl tool/screw holder at Harbor Freight Tools that I think would work well for wheeling this cart around for projects.  (Because my going there every single day but one since Wednesday this week isn’t enough).




How a 6 dollar mirror turned into an all day painting experience

Trying to keep with the momentum of this craze of cleaning and organizing.  I’m really enjoying it.  What does the commercial say, “a body in motion stays in motion”, true or not my body could use much more motion.

Today’s project is Maricel​​ ‘s fault because she asked me to dinner Friday.  We decided to walk around Benicia after dinner to kill some time and check out some shops.  Most of them close at 5:30 but one happened to be open a bit later.  After nearly missing out on a back room of furniture we turned the corner and I found this.  It was $6.00.  I kind of have a weakness for wood and for $6. i needed it.  I’ve set in my mind that I can only buy things when I have a plan for them.  (see previous post on the state of my garage). So i decided that I’d turn this into a vanity/dressing table for Camille.  She’s been wanting a mirror in her room (not that it will keep her from using my full length closet mirror every morning) and this seemed like a good solution.


That night I looked up some plans for building a desk and really fell for some stuff over at the Ana White Blog.  (by the way, I want to be like her when I grow up.)  I was fairly set on building the child vanity she has plans for but I wanted something no more than 25 inches wide.  I craigslisted a bit and then decided I would get up the following day and visit a few thrift shops and try my luck.  If it came down to it I would go buy lumber to build a small table.  After i visited my usual thrift shops (and resisted looking at anything besides a small table).  I was coming up empty (Ok, in the search for a small table I did find a small gray metal typewriter desk for $5.00 that makes a perfect garage roll around with me with tools or paint or whatever table).

I decided to take a different way and happened to see a street side sale.  I stopped and then noticed across the street a small antique shop.  And then i found a little 26 inch wide “Martha Washington Sewing Cabinet”.  It has just been brought it and hadn’t even been priced yet.  For $20.  I bought it knowing the $6.00 mirror wasn’t going to work.  The mirror was just too bulky for such a delicate piece.  I tried it on for size in the garage anyways only to quickly confirm my thoughts.  Even if i mounted it to the wall above the table it just wouldn’t look right.

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I brought it in the room and tried it in the spot I want.  Her closet is just to the right.  She has a small leather chair that would work well with the tiny table that she can stack all her lip glosses and other girly-ness.  I googled and searched pinterest on how to paint furniture and went back to Home Depot to pick up some primer.  I have a few gallons of paint from when the house was painted so I figured i’d use some of that. After feeling bad for a while about the idea of painting wood and consulting a few people via text I went ahead and sanded that sucker. Primed.  And painted.  Then I started apologizing to the table because I realized.  I’m not very good at painting furniture.

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After 2 coats of primer.  2 coats of light gray “Portland whitbed” paint from the family room (that basically looks white in my garage light and was super thick for the first coat (3 years in the garage) before I figured I should water it down). Lots of drying time it’s now waiting to be sanded of the (many) imperfections and coated with some poly tomorrow morning.

the garage

Oh the garage.  Let me tell you about the garage.  It was a hot mess.  I don’t think anyone that has been to my house has actually seen it.  It was really just that bad.Amongst the various things in there was a box from the TV I bought 3 years ago, a twin mattress, a twin box spring, a metal day bed and trundle, a full size bottom bunk bed and ladder, a bookshelf with no shelves and other random random things.  a bulk garbage pick up and 2 truckloads of donations worth of stuff.  Not to mention all the camping stuff just strewn about the garage that never gets put away properly.

Another thing that sparked all this home improvement was these Costco Shelves i bought for the garage.  I really wanted the heavier duty taller shelving but had to make due with these smaller metal ones.  They were easy to  assemble and really reasonably priced.  But the garage cleaning, a major reason that had to happen was Ricky brought in a giant Kayak.  It’s hard to even call it a Kayak at 12 feet long and over 3 feet wide and 120 pounds.  On a good day one car can get into this two car garage but I wanted to be able to get at least the kayak and my car in regularly.  Not many pictures of the during in the garage and it’s very very much a work in progress (that and frankly it’s shameful).

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So there’s a peek of the mess and the pile on top unused wasted space of a work table.  I wanted to give Ricky a place to store all his fishing gear that was not boxes all over the master bedroom and also be able to find things without wasting time looking or hurting ourselves in the process.  So i started with the big purge and still have boxes on one side to be sorted and organized into the good plastic boxes but I have definitely made lots of progress.  The unused work bench has become a mini bait shop and tool storage aka my peg board obsession.  I bought a few boxes of peg board pins from Harbor Freight Tools and there’s a hook or attachment for everything.  I also cut and hung a few shelves using 1×4’s and long peg board hooks (using these directions) to store the bobble heads and other display items up high and a few non hangable items down low (the plan was for the high shelves but since the wood was 8 foot long i figured i might as well use the other 2 feet for something).

After deciding to move the Ikea Trofast storage into the garage I had to shift everything down a bit.  So i cleared the shelves, swept, moved and restocked everything.  The shelve organization isn’t quite exactly what I want but eventually I’ll get there.  Adding the trofast to the garage added lots of easy access drawers for things like rags, plastic grocery bags, and dog supplies.  It also frees up some shelve bins for things we access less often but still want to be able to get to easily.  I can’t forget my label maker in all of this.  I love that little thing.  When i told someone I was considering getting one the response was “i’m shocked you don’t already have one”.

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Amidst all this my friend Mike happened to have a desk he had refinished but didn’t fit into the space as he had planned.  He offered it up to us and Camille wanted it for her room.  The photo not he left is her happily using it, replacing a Target particle board desk, really functional and good but wasn’t a long term desk.  Behind her you see the old Ikea Trofast bins that we’ve had for at least 8 years from Ikea.  We had 2 at one point living in Sacramento.  I gave one away when we separated the girls bedrooms and this one we kept for Camille’s room.  Let me just tell you a little story about this kid and then maybe you can begin to understand why bins are NOT a good storage solution.  Her room is always a mess.  Somehow cleaning it makes things messier.  It just like, unearths a bunch a crap from who knows where.  One day while helping her clean and get rid of things I found one of those plastic eggs from the quarter machines in the market full of… pencil shavings.  My kid was saving pencil shavings.  It’s a running joke now for us but the kid is a collector from erasers to pencils to dry erase markers and EOS lip glosses to rocks… and pencil shavings.  (in case you were wondering we threw them away).

So, all that said the Trofast just wasn’t a good storage option for her.  She just loads it down with stuff, unorganized stuff, sometimes trash until it’s spilling out and looking a hot mess where she can’t even find what she wants.  After pulling it out of her room and moving it into the garage I assembled the little black book shelf that’s been in the garage in it’s original box for a while (ok, 3 years).  Luckily the wood didn’t warp or do weird things from sitting upright for so long.  I’m hoping this will be a good solution for her to keep her items on display rather than a crammed away mess.  It doesn’t match perfectly but maybe eventually I can build her a better shelf but for now it will do.  Without spending any money I was able to increase storage in my garage and hopefully better organize the little one.

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and then the gate fell down.

Down went the gate.  The gate that had been a wobbly rotting out mess for at least the 3 years we’ve been here.  The gate that was the only thing keeping Hassy the crazy dog away from the rest of the free world of squirrels and cats and dogs and passerbys and the street.  The following weekend gate building became the priority.  With the old downed gate as the model and some advice my tiny assistants and I were off to home depot for some pressure treated 2×4’s and hinges and latch.


The next morning I took to the old gate.  I thought I could unscrew and reuse the old wood parallel pieces but learned that most of the screw heads were rotted off or just impossible to remove.  Back to home depot for some furring strips and of course paint.  I got to work that day successfully building the frame out but when it came time to cut the pieces at an angle my circular saw went to sh*t.  I went ahead and tested the frame and attached the hinges and latch to be sure it all fit and then I texted Ricky all kinds of blame for buying me a cheap crappy saw for Christmas and got really frustrated.  Dwayne to the rescue came over and told me my blade was loose and tightened it for me (oops).  I went on to cut the support cross 2x4s and most of the furring.. until I ran out of course.  Oh yes, back to Home Depot for more wood and some screws.


I started out trying to just attached the up and down slats while the gate was hanging but I couldn’t get enough force to push the screws through the furring and then the pressure treated 2×4’s.  So i had to take down the gate… alone.  I decided to use some of the unused wood and stack it under the gate to hold it up and managed to unscrew it from the hinges and get it back into the garage.


and there she hangs.  Pre paint.  Ok, basically what it still looks like a week later.  I’m going to say that I’m allowing the pressure treated wood to dry out before I take on painting it.  That’s my story, i’m sticking to it.  That and painting it means locking Hassy away in the house so he won’t jump or rub up against the wet paint.  I have a cut slat in the garage that I just could not get through the old wood, and then, gave up.  The right slats are intentionally shorter to clear the gutter drain pipe (I wasn’t just being economical).



It started with a loft bed

I’ve now owned this home for 3 years and started out with lots of gusto in home cleaning and improvement.  It wasn’t all shiny and move in ready when i bought it so a lot of initial work went into it… and then I guess I just got tired… stayed tired.  Got distracted and fizzled out.

For some reason this spring has caused me to want to clean things out, make things nice, get rid of things we don’t need and just live in a more organized and simpler and prettier space.

It didn’t REALLY start with the loft bed.  It started with a trip to Ikea to get a Kallax Shelving Unit to turn into a “bar” for the dining room (the never ever used dining room).  But during this trip we happened upon the kids loft beds.  I’ve been wanting a loft bed for the girls since their bedrooms are so small and their toys and games were spilling into the rest of the house.  The Ikea metal ones were previously way too high and I don’t have the funds to splurge on anything (especially since things have to be bought in twos around here).

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Over an Ikea dinner I told the girls that if they could keep their rooms clean I would get them the loft beds.  This was a Thursday.  We took the Kallax shelf home and I assembled it that night.  Ayana helped me find things around the house and we shifted them into different places.  The kid has a good eye.

Come Saturday morning I get a call from my mom “what time do you want to leave to pick up the beds?, I have the truck”.  Apparently they’d discussed the loft beds with Lola and we were getting them.  Today.  Ok.  Saturday early morning we’re in Ikea picking up loft beds which ended up with me assembling two loft beds into the early evening.  Wasn’t really difficult just, “awkward”.  Especially when both of my helpers were small and weak tiny people.

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And then I realized Ayana’s mattress was too thick for the bed.  The following afternoon we headed back to Ikea (this is Sunday now and let me tell you Ikea busy craze was in full effect) to pick her up a thinner mattress.

Does this sound exhausting?  It was.  But also motivating.  It’s nice to see your kids gleam with pride.  Our home isn’t shabby but it’s not always the cleanest place.  We live here and we LIVE here.  And i work full time and parent the rest of the time and camp and explore when we can and sit on my butt and watch TV way too often.  and… enough with all that, you get it.