June 30, 2011

Double Whammy: First Sewing and Baby Project!

A bassinet mattress cover

I might’ve mentioned last week that we were heading out of town last weekend to help my mom with a garage sale at her house.  While we were there, some folks stopped by and helpfully commented that they’d just been to another garage sale where a nice looking bassinet was for sale.

There are a few things I really hope to find second-hand for our bun-in-the-oven, and although I wasn’t sure we needed/wanted a “bassinet”, I figured it could easily be a pack-n-play (which is a great secondhand contender in my mind) so we headed down the street to check it out. 

And before we get too far, let me just say that YES, I know buying a used pack-n-play isn’t recommended due to recalls etc.  But something told me (our bank account, perhaps?) it was still worth checking out.

The “bassinet” actually did turn out to be a Graco pack-n-play with a bassinet insert.  It was in really good shape, in proper working order, a neutral color, the nice smaller size of pack-n-play (see! I’ve done a little homework), and it had a pretty fantastic $20 price tag.  We didn’t pay that…but I’ll get to that in a minute.

Knowing Graco was the top recommended brand of pack-n-plays in the proverbial “Baby Bargains” book, we decided it was worth it to buy it and do more research once we got it home.  Plus, it’s black and white (the colors of the future baby room – though granted, that doesn’t matter much for a pack-n-play).

Graco Bassinet

Long story short, it was a total score.  <Happy Dance!> I found the exact model online (retailing for $90 and with fantastic user reviews), was able to verify it hadn’t had any recalls, and after a thorough washing of all the parts in a couple bathtubs full of soapy water, it looks beautiful and ready for a baby!  (uh, “our” baby….whoa……)

But wait… this isn’t a perfect happy ending (yet).  There was one minor problem.  One of the 4 narrow support boards in the “mattress” was broken in two and would fall down inside the mattress while transporting the pack–n-play in its bag.  Then, we’d have to be shake it back to the proper end when we set the thing up again.  Annoying, yes.  Totally fixable……yes!

The "mattress"

Enter me, armed with a seam ripper and my brand-spanking new sewing machine!  To save the day, of course.  Or just make things nice and smooth and as functional as they’re supposed to be…

Removing trim

I carefully cut the trim away from one end and slid the board out.  Initially, I thought I’d use duct tape and some paint stir sticks to reinforce it to being one long piece again…..but a piece of junk posed a better solution.

Broken support board

While rummaging in the basement for paint stirrers, I noticed an old framed poster I’ve been using to spray paint on.  And lucky me….the frame backboard was the same material as the broken board!

Junk can be handy sometimes...

I traced out the proper size and cut it out with the miter box saw and then roughly rounded off the corners with the coping saw, since the original (broken) board had rounded corners and I figured they might be rounded for a reason.

Replacement support board

I didn’t even bother sanding the edges (gasp!).

I slid the new board back into the “mattress” (this thing is like….1 inch thick, so “mattress” is a stretch) and christened the sewing machine by sewing the trim back on.

Fixing 'er upMad sewing skills!

While I was doing this, I’d been thinking about the mechanics of this mattress thing and how the cover really should be able to come off and be washed.  Babies get poop on stuff, right?  Like, all the time?

Call me poop averse, but I decided the mattress needed a vinyl cover on it to prevent messes from soaking in.

So…I ran to the fabric store to find some picnic-table-tablecloth fabric – you know, the kind that’s vinyl on one side and fuzzy on the other. 

In the second easiest “sewing” project ever, I cut it to size and sewed an elastic loop onto each corner to keep it on the mattress.  I think a sheet then goes on top and will cover the vinyl.

Bassinet mattress cover strapsBassinet mattress cover

BOOYAH.  A perfectly functional, poop-proof bassinet mattress for our little bundle!


Bassinet before


Bassinet after - with mattress coverBassinet vinyl mattress cover

Oh yeah, and we didn’t pay $20 for it…..because there was booster seat also at that garage sale that got thrown in.  We paid $20 for both, and the booster turned out to be the top rated “Baby Bargains” booster, too.  Clearly, Garage Sale Lady had bought all the “right” gear!

I put the removable parts in the dishwasher, scrubbed the rest of it down in the sink, and it’s looking brand new and ready to be splattered afresh with our kid’s messes.

Booster seat - made my day!

Moral of the story:  there’s good stuff at garage sales!!!  (Even if it needs a little cleaning/fixing up)

Thanks for stopping by!!


I’m linked to:

The Thrifty Home’s Penny Pinching Party

House of Hepworths

The Shabby Chic Cottage

Fireflies & Jellybeans

June 29, 2011

Time Capsule: Kitchen Cabinet Redo FAQs

Jump back in time with me to see what we were working on a year ago this month!  *Actually, we started this project a year ago this month (June) and we finished two months later in August, but it makes more sense to keep all the posts together!

I’ve been getting quite a few questions on my kitchen and cabinet facelift because apparently, I didn’t give nearly enough details as I was going along.  So this post will address the FAQs surrounding the cabinet painting project in our kitchen.  Be sure and let me know if I miss something.

1.  Did you use oil or latex paint on your cabinets?

I used Behr interior latex paint.  Before I got started, I saw only a few examples where people used oil-based paint on their cabinets (oil has a harder finish so it’s more durable, and it’s supposedly an easier surface to clean).  I also asked the guy at Sherwin Williams his thoughts, and he said latex paint has come so far that there is absolutely no need to use oil-based paint on kitchen cabinets unless you just really want to!  I poured Flowtrol directly into the can of paint to help the paint spread and hide brush strokes.

2.  What colors did you use?

The green walls are Martha Stewart’s “Saguaro”.  Go here to see how looooong it took me to make THAT decision.  Yeesh.  The cabinets are painted with Behr’s “Cotton Knit”.

3.  Did you sand the cabinets?

Yes!  I bought an orbital sander for about $40 to help with the sanding.  I used a fine grit (180 or 220) and just went over all the surfaces fairly lightly.  I did not sand enough to remove the existing finish, and unless you want to re-stain your cabinets (good luck!) there’s no need to sand down to the bare wood.

4.  What primer did you use?

I usually use Kilz for everything….BUT this time around I asked at the store for a primer specifically for kitchen cabinets, and they handed me Behr interior enamel primer (in a purple can).  I used it up and then used Kilz for the rest (which wasn’t much.)

5.  Did you use brushes or rollers or a sprayer?

I used a foam roller on the cabinet boxes, and it worked pretty well.  But on the cabinet doors (painted in the garage during 90+ heat), I used a high quality brush only.  I tried to use the roller but it couldn’t load up enough paint to keep the surface wet while I was working, so bits would dry a little and then the roller would “pull” on those spots and create an orange peel texture.  The brush worked great as long as you load the brush all the way with as much paint as it will hold and then work quickly to spread it.  No using the edge of the can to get drips off, just dip the brush as deep as the bristles go and immediately move to your work surface. 

6.  Did you use polyurethane or another type of clear coat?

Nope.  I thought about it, and I decided to put the doors back up and see if they are hard to clean or if they are getting dinged up or anything.  So far, they wipe clean perfectly and I haven’t seen any dents/dings in the paint surface.  Update:  one year later I still don’t miss a clear coat – everything cleans up just fine.

7.  Can you see the oak’s wood grain through the paint?

Yes, you can see the wood grain texture when the light hits just right.  Most of the time you can’t tell, but when I do notice it, I think it looks fine.  Personally I think a little wood grain in painted cabinets looks more like a ‘cottage kitchen’ than the perfectly smooth brand-new cabinets you see in the sample kitchens at the home improvement stores. 

Wood grain on painted cabinets

 Close up wood grain painted cabinets

8.  How did you go about painting the cabinet doors?

I didn’t rig up anything special like I’ve seen some folks do (like using cup hooks in the top edge to suspend the cabinets and paint both sides at once.)  I set up a workspace in the garage with some saw horses and I painted the backs of all of them, placed them in various places in the garage to dry, then I came along and flipped them all over once they were dry and painted the other side.  It took a few weekends.  I did one coat of primer and two coats of paint.


Well folks, there you have it :)   I hope I’ve answered your burning questions, but if I missed something, just leave a comment and I promise I’ll address it.

June 28, 2011

Time Capsule: DIY Cabinet Upgrade Part III – DONE!

Jump back in time with me to see what we were working on a year ago this month!  *Actually, we started this project a year ago this month (June) and we finished in August, but it makes more sense to keep all the posts together!



(Disclaimer:  Subject to future glazing if I decide to go that route.  :))


In Part I, I installed the crown molding.


In Part II, we sanded, primed, and painted the cabinet boxes.


Somewhere in between Part II and Part III, I installed the last piece of decorative trim, and sanded, primed, and painted the doors over a couple of weekends. 

And our kitchen has been transformed from this last July (2009) when we moved in:


IMGP0624 IMGP0655





IMG_2153 IMG_2155   IMG_2173



Whoo to the HOO!  It’s done and it feels so good to have a “brand new” kitchen :) 

I just get the feeling of CLEAN and BRIGHT and CHEERY and HERB-EY COTTAGE-GARDEN-EY GOODNESS about our new space, and that’s exactly what I was hoping for.

Y’all get what I’m saying?

I know you do!


The FAQ post is coming tomorrow!

June 27, 2011

Time Capsule: DIY Cabinet Upgrade Part II

Jump back in time with me to see what we were working on a year ago this month!

A little bit of sanding with my new sander….


A little bit of primer…..



And two coats of paint….


And we’re on to the next step!  The DOORS! :)

June 24, 2011

Time Capsule: DIY Cabinet Upgrade Part I

Jump back in time with me to see what we were working on a year ago this month!

Our orangey oak builder-basic cabinets have been screaming for some attention since we moved in.  Plus, yesterday I realized that the cabinets in my kitchen at home are the exact same cabinets as the ones in the kitchen at work.  (Crikey.)

So here are some before pictures:

Right after we moved in


At Christmas


After we painted and had the fluorescent light fixture box replaced with recessed lights


That should give you a pretty good idea! 

Alright, so first thing to do in our upgrade is install some trim.

I picked up some 1x2s, some molding (I chose a shorter and squattier version of crown), and some brass brackets.  I spent about $30.

I cut the 1x2s to size with a hand saw.

I cut the trim angles with a miter box.


I used Liquid Nails and brads from my staple gun to attach the trim to the 1x2s.

Then I countersunk all the brads and filled the holes in with wood filler. 

Finally, I coped the single inside angle with a coping saw. 


I discovered an “oops” at the same time.  (See below)

Then it was time to install!

I set each piece on top of the cabinets and originally intended to use the brackets to attach it from the back.  No dice.  I don’t know what the deal was, but I couldn’t get the screws to screw into the back of the cabinet facing.  I’m thinking maybe I’m not strong enough to give it the pressure it needed, or I couldn’t get enough leverage (standing on the counters doesn’t give you much leverage) or both?  So I made do. 


I ended up using 2” wood screws and because they weren’t quite long enough to go through the 1x2 AND into the top of the cabinet, I had to use the weird little boring tool I used on the headboard. 

I drilled the holes probably a quarter inch into the 1x2 and then my screws were long enough.  Then I could just drill a screw straight down through the 1x2 and into the top edge of the cabinets. 


The picture above was from my headboard project, but that’s the little tool I used on the cabinet trim as well.


And now the cabinets are ready to be sanded and primed!


So the one “oops” I discovered was I needed to cut the crown one inch shorter than the 1x2 in the inside corner.  Otherwise, the 1x2 that butts up against it will be impeded by the crown.  But I installed my molding and THEN realized I should’ve cut it shorter.  My solution was cutting a notch out of the other 1x2 so that it would fit in nicely under the crown of its neighbor. 

If I’d thought more about this project before I started, I might’ve realized that.  But when you’re impatient to get going and you think you can figure it out as you go, I guess you have to deal with the bumps as best you can.


June 23, 2011

The June Haps

After a lovely, though somewhat chilly, last weekend at the lake with family, we’re busy catching up on life before we head off again this weekend to help with a big garage sale at my mom’s house.

Luckily, despite our lack of weekend time lately, Nick has some time off work this week, so he thought it would be a prime time to tackle our uninsulated garage.

I grew up with an insulated, drywalled, and even textured/painted garage interior, so I was surprised when we moved into this house and it had a mostly unfinished garage.  The areas of the garage which touch other areas of the house are drywalled (no doubt a minimum requirement) but the outside and front walls, plus a vaulted ceiling area right over the door, were all just 2x4s and funky black plywood stuff (or regular plywood).

No big deal, right?  It gave us plenty of joist-space to stash random bits of crap, like the I-totally-need-to-keep-this piece of downspout recently chopped off to make room for the rain barrel. 

Right????  Right…..


Well, really, it wasn’t a big deal as long as we didn’t really need the two bedrooms over the garage.  In the summer they are blisteringly hot, and in the winter, guests shiver through the night even with extra blankets.  But…we kept the doors shut most of the time and endured when we needed to go in there(and my computer kept me warm enough while working in the office on those cold winter days.)

But now…. a wee someone will be living in one of these bedrooms full time come November.  Ergo….insulating the garage weaseled its way to the top of the to-do list.

Turns out it’s a pretty easy job.  Nick got half done yesterday and he’s working on the other half today.  Sounds like the hardest parts are cutting the insulation to go in the long narrow spaces, as well as cutting it lengthwise to sandwich various electrical cords, pipes, etc.  Apparently, you can’t just squish insulation in, or it loses its effectiveness (good thing I’m not in charge!).  It has to be cut to size for each cavity.


For the vaulted portion of the ceiling (hidden whenever the garage door is open), we *were* going to rent a scaffold for the staggering sum of $24 a day. 

Fort Knox, watch out!

Anyone else surprised scaffold is that cheap? 

Eh, too bad it didn’t fit in our car. We’ll have to figure out another option.

Insulating is an easy one-man job, but when we get to the drywall portion of the project, it looks like Nick’s dad and/or I (you know, all “two” of me) will help out.  We’ve never drywalled before, but a garage seems like the best place to start!

Meanwhile, I FINALLY got my butt in gear and got annual flowers in all the planters.  (There were 10+ different planters….took me forever!)

Don’t mind the ankle-deep grass.  We figure the neighbors appreciate our savannah because it makes their yards look better, so in the name of neighborly relations, we decided to roll with it.  After two weeks, it’s finally getting the overgrown mullet look we wanted.

Or the mower is in the shop. 

Take your pick.

Despite the grass looking less than awesome, all the summer veg seeds etc are also finally sown and growing nicely….

BackyardVeg again
And the flowers are just generally pretty happy, especially with all the rain we’ve been getting.  Folks around these parts are so used to complaining about “the drought” that we’re all still in shock at our current precipitation and water table levels.  Give us all another month or so, and we’ll start complaining again.

When we get back from our string of weekend engagements….we’ll start painting and decorating the nursery!  I threw out the black/white/teal idea to Nick and he loved it, so that’s the plan. 

Thanks for reading and staying tuned….the project pipeline will begin to flow again soon.

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