Wednesday, August 26, 2009

My first Tutorial!! A Kid Calendar

I feel like I'm a real blogger now. Maybe because I'm about to show you something I made that's different and possibly original. Maybe there's no other tutorial out there on something like this. Maybe not. But let's not rain on my parade okay? It's hard to be originally creative when there are the likes of Pioneer Woman, Design Mom, Heather Bailey and others like them out there. It gets a person all in a dither and makes them want to hide in a closet. I'm just saying.

Phew. I've got issues, obviously. But enough about me. Let's talk bulletin boards. Months and months ago I spied this little beauty in the Potter Barn Kids catalog:

First of all, I covet this room. The obviously happy children in this picture can't help but get their homework done gleefully in a space like this. And I'm sure my children would cease to whine and complain if they have a light-filled $5000 room to add and subtract, spell and write. But, alas, I don't live in the Pottery Barn photo set. Sigh. But I was eyeing that calendar set up in the back of the photo. We keep out family calendar on the computer. But the kids don't know where that little program is, because I don't want them messing it up. I can't tell you how many times in one week I have to tell the kids when such and such is. A calendar for them to check, above their study space, big and beautiful on the wall sounded like a solution to me! So I checked online on how much a similar set up would cost me. $180 a piece. A piece!!! So that's a total $540 for those three boards, not including the letters and rulers. *Gasp*

I started to formulate my own idea. Bulletin boards at Staples of that size are around $60. But the frame isn't nearly as attractive. Like not at all. Think metal. But you could make your own frame, if you're a carpenter and can miter. Which I can'ter. So, I began to look around craft stores. Two months later I found what I was looking for, and I ended up making this today. Which I really happy with. That's a first in my life. Made something and happy out the door. No unpicking. No breaking glass. Okay, enough ... here it is:

First I started with 12"x36" frames, three 12"x12" squares of sheet metal, some paper I had on hand and some chipboard letters I've had for-ever.

I spray painted the letters, and cut out circles to back them on with my handy 3" Giga Punch.

While the paint on the letters was drying, I used my double-stick tape gun to adhere the paper to the sheet metal. Why use metal? So that it would be magnetic in the end. You'll see later.
The paper is fun aged school paper, which I thought was perfect for this project.

Once the letters were dry, I mounted them with glue to the circled I punched and drew a dividing line for each day to make the areas 12"x6" (that's the red line next to Friday).

I put it all together (paper-covered sheet metal, 3 of them tiled) behind the glass and closed up the frame. And then I started making some fun magnets. I just used a Glue Dot or a spot of glue on the back of some chipboard accents to secure one of those super strong magnets, strong enough to be attracted to the metal underneath the glass. You could try regular magnets, but I'm not sure if they would slip.

I made numbers, for times (those are above the glass) ...

And some fun ones too. I'm planning to make some more that say, "Soccer Game" or "Scouts" or "Mom's Day Off—Leave Her Alone." You know, events that happen enough around here they would warrant a sturdy tag.

For every day stuff that changes week to week, I'll just write on the glass with a dry erase marker which can easily be wiped clean at the end of the week. And there you have it. My kid calendar. End cost for this board was about $38.

I also made a matching cork board to hang below it in the office, for all of the cool art work and assignment reminders they bring home. This was a little more expensive than a cork board of this size (another $38) because I bought the darker cork instead of the usual bland "oak" colored cork (do you sense a theme here yet?)

Questions? Do you like? Say yes please, or I will retreat into the Throne Room (aka, my closet), never to return.

Just kidding. Only a little.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Painting old furniture

Cruising around blogdom these days, you see a lot of posts about "upcycling" or refinishing old furniture. Everyone makes it seems like a piece of cake. Well, I tried it and there was no cake involved. Just a lot of dust, some blue fingers, a ruined pedicure and a somewhat nicely painted bookshelf in the end.

I started with a plain oak bookcase. You know, the classic '90s yellow wood look? Yup. That's it. I fell in love with the rooms from the Pottery Barn Kids, but couldn't afford the bottom line.

Here's the end result (pardoning the unstaged books just stuffed in the shelves):

Here's what I learned ...

:: Spray paint is great for smooth surfaces, like metal, MDF or plastic. Not so great for heavily-grained woods like oak. After going through 3 cans and still missing the grain, I had to go and buy some blue paint to match. Painting with the paintbrush solved the problem.

:: Pre-sanding is a lot of work. A LOT. But worth doing a good job, since paint won't stick well to shiny surfaces. I tried to put my little slaves to work sanding, and they did good job for the most part, but missed a few spots. You get the picture.

:: You don't have to seal your project with Polyurethane, if you never want to dry dust your piece. If you do dry dust, I recommend going over it with some sealer, just to even out the rough spots. Take it from me, who didn't seal and now needs find a way to seal it in the room.

:: A project this size, with children to feed and life to live, takes about 4 days. Or two weeks if you do it the hard way, like I did.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Introducing ...

the newest additions to the family:

Meet the girls. They work as hard as my original set of girls, just completely different function. But every time I catch a glimpse of these they made me smile (as the originals ones kind of make me frown). Am loving the way they bring out the red in the tiles behind them. Eventually I want to add a folding counter above them, thus the reason why I didn't get the pedestals.

I know you can't take possessions with you to heaven, so that's why I've adopted them. They'll be coming with.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


Since moving into the new house, we've had a run of ill luck with the appliances. Is it because it sat for so long waiting for us to find her? Or is it because the appliance Gods have chosen to teach us a lesson about dependence and modern society? Who knows. But here I sit, on this beautiful morning, waiting for the technician to visit our house once again.

The first was the AC. The day we moved in, it was sweltering. But I was busy bustling around, directing traffic. Too busy to notice the upstairs registered a steamy 92. But at bedtime, I noticed. And so did every little body in the house. Three days later we had it working again, spewing cold air onto sweaty faces. The problem? No coolant in the system. A detail overlooked by the crew in the winter months when the house was finished.

The next to fall was the oven. Luckily, it was the second one. But unluckily, it was right as I was trying to bake a lemon cake for a BBQ our new neighbors had invited us to. I waited and waited for the cake to finish baking. But after preliminary browning and puffing, the center fell and the oven was stone cold. Electrical malfunction. Two weeks later it was once again warming my pizza and baking my cookies.

The day after the oven was fixed, the microwave inexplicably stopped heating. I say inexplicably because really, have you ever had a microwave completely stop waving? It looks like everything is working ... lights, motion, noise. But no heat. And I tell you, I've come to depend upon microwave heat. Melting butter, cooking oatmeal breakfasts, defrosting meat for dinner ... all daily tasks I put my microwave to.

Just a final word on the "window" service guys give. What is up with that? Is it so difficult to say, set an appointment? Like the rest of the civilized world? Can you imagine if your hairstylist said, "I'll see you sometime between 1 and 4 p.m. today. Please be waiting for me." Or if I told the school, "I'll have my children there sometime between 8 and 11 a.m." But yet they feel perfectly fine with telling me they'll be here sometime between 9 and 12 today. But because I need my microwave working again, I'm a sitting duck. Perfectly at their mercy and timeframe.

Open Letter

Dear Craigslist Postee,

When I email or call you about a particular item and you say, "I have other interested people, but you can see it first before they do." Then don't tell me 3 hours later when I call to get directions to your house that someone else is already on his way to view the item and if he doesn't buy it then you'll call me back. That's tacky. And really, really annoying. Since I rearranged my day to fit your schedule of when you would be at home to show it.

That would be lovely. And help me not to fume for 2 hours afterward.