Sunday, December 8, 2013

Minecraft Cake

We celebrated my middle child's birthday tonight.  He really wanted his favorite dinner (chicken strips, fries, and corn) and a Minecraft cake.  So here is what I came up with.  I made a cake that is half cake/half brownie and mixed chocolate chips into the whole thing.  Green frosting on top makes it into a huge dirt block (with a few Hersheys for depth and "pixels").  The toys are easily available right now from Target/Walmart/etc.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013


My mother bought this table when I was in middle school and several years ago she passed it on to me. Between my sisters and I, and now my kids, this poor table has been through quite a lot.

A lot of wear and tear and a fair bit of water sitting on the table (my kids used to leave spills for the magic fairy to clean up) and the clear coat broke down. The table was pretty damaged and I considered building a new one.

Here's a wider shot that also shows the water rings, paint spots, and marker streaks that have graced the table over the years.

So I thought maybe I would try to refinish it first and if it didn't work out then I would build a replacement. I bought some Citristrip and liberally sprayed the table then let it sit for about 3 hours. I then came back and scraped off all of the goop (eww), wiped it down, sanded a little, and tried to stain it.

I say tried because what I ended up with was an ugly blotchy mess. I was pretty sure the table was ruined and it's been sitting in my garage for 2 weeks while I was really bummed about the outcome.

Then yesterday I was out in the garage and I noticed that actually the dark spots were the color the stain was supposed to be and the rest was kind of yellow. I realized that the Citristrip must have only taken off part of the clear coat but not all of it. I felt a small glimmer of hope that I had a thick enough veneer left to sand again and restain. I pulled out my mouse sander and went to town. By the time I was done the table was so smooth it felt like butter.

I reapplied stain and, lo and behold, it was a consistent color! I applied two coats yesterday and today I'll add another 2 coats.

It's finally working! I'm not done yet so there's still a chance I'll ruin it but so far I'm really happy with the outcome. The legs will get painted white and I think it will look really nice with the walnut top. Then it will get an absolutely ridiculous amount of poly to be sure that it never looks so sad and abused again.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Hole in the Wall

I have been dying to cut a hole in this wall for YEARS and I finally got the chance.  The front living room is pretty dark and doesn't get a lot of natural light.  By opening up the wall it brightened it up considerably since the great room has several windows.  It's not a supporting wall so that made this project a whole lot simpler.  I started out by "framing" the opening with painters tape so i could visualize and be sure it was the placement I wanted.

The next step was to cut the power in the wall and let the kids go to town with hammers.  They had a blast beating holes all over it.

This was our first glimpse of the new view from the great room to the office and front living room.  The electrical still needed to be moved into the new header and the plugs needed to be moved into their new placements.

This let so much more light into the rest of the house!  We moved 1 plug to either side of the new opening and put the cables above the new header.

I still need to caulk/paint the trim, texture above the door on this side, and touch up paint on the walls and baseboards.

I also need to cut a piece out of our extra vinyl (left over from when the house was built) to patch in the floor.  The plan is to replace the flooring in the great room fairly soon anyway so it doesn't have to be terribly perfect but I'll try to at least match up the pattern.

And here's a quick Before and After.  I love love love the new doorway.  Of course, now I'm totally itching to case the rest of the doorways in the downstairs (4 of them) but next to removing a wall that will seem simple by comparison.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Homemade Coffee Table

It was time to get a little more grown up in tables and the train table needed to move on.  So I turned to Ana White and her awesome plans.  I modified her plans for the Adirondack Coffee Table and created this a little wider and longer (49" x 33") with a lower shelf that will hold up to 6 of our toy buckets.  It's 20" tall to accommodate the extra storage.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Cabinets and Counter Tops

With the boys moved in to their rooms we are working on the cabinets on the outside of the wall. I'm pretty happy with how they are turning out so far.

I didn't want to buy expensive countertops for this and even the cheap prefab laminate counters were $100 each and I needed two. Yeah, no thanks. So I built my own counters for about $55 total. Thrifty Decor Chick just did something similar here and I thought I could work that idea in to my project. Because I was putting this on top of 12" cabinets I couldn't use 1x4s only (at 3.5 inches it would only be 10.5 inches total and I needed more like 12.5 inches). I did still want it to look like it was intentional so I didn't want to tack a random 2" piece on the back.  Luckily, it turns out the measurements worked out for 2 1x4s with a 1x6 in the middle which looks way more balanced. In order to hold it all together I put a 1x12 underneath to screw through but since that's only really 11.25 and not 12 it didn't stretch all the way. See the hole there on the back of the bottom?

To fix that I just used a tiny piece of scrap from the 1x4 I had chopped off earlier. I screwed all of the boards up from the bottom into the top boards so there wouldn't be any holes to patch later.

The cabinets on the left were going to have an angular hole to the side of them that will hold a computer switch. We were going to need access to it so we cut a hole under the shelf in the back so we could get a hand or two in when needed. 

I also cut a hole in the back of the cabinet for the power plug but I forgot to take a picture of that part (whoops).  I'm hoping that having it up high under the counter will prevent more things from falling in there but at least it will be easily accessible if they do.

So here is where we are at now. The bases and the cabinets are installed. The counter has been fabricated for about $55 (not including the stain we'll need later).  I will need to stain and paint next week and then I can start work on the shelves to go on top.  

One of my little helpers refused to eat dinner so he got to come hang out and keep me company for a bit. At least we got to have a nice chat while we worked on our tasks.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Minecraft Creeper Wall Art

The kids have been into Minecraft all year and Glenn has been begging for me to paint his bedroom walls with creepers and zombies. Knowing that they will outgrow it in a year or so I wasn't too keen on painting the walls again that quickly, though. But with a painting we can swap it out later when tastes change and this way we're both happy.

The pixelated style of the game makes painting very simple. Lay out a quick grid with some pencil and start filling. I used 5 shades of green and just randomly picked the squares as I went.

A little black paint fills in the face and voila! It's a Minecraft Creeper.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Room Building

We have walls!  The tape is done on the outer wall and will be done in the two rooms today.  The plan is to do the texture in the morning and since we are using quick drying texture we can hopefully paint tomorrow night.

Our four footed helper is very excited about the changes even if she has no idea what it is that we're doing.

Thursday, January 31, 2013


Erin said she wanted to go to Build-A-Bear for her birthday and to go with that she wanted a "Destruct-A-Bear" birthday cake. She wanted to make a bear at the store and pull one apart with a cupcake cake. I heard a friend talking about putting cupcake papers into a shaped pan to make a cake that was basically precut. She was doing it with a flower shaped tin but said she got the idea from someone else who did it with a round one. I thought that would be a good basis for a pull apart bear and easier to frost than separate cupcakes. I have to admit, it worked better than I thought it would.

I frosted everything in chocolate and just put the white frosting right on top of it. For the nose I used a Starburst cut in half. Then, to make the lines for his mouth I dipped a butter knife into the chocolate frosting and drew with the point of it. Add a couple of eyes from M&Ms and two ears from extra cupcakes and you have yourself a very quick and easy Destruct-A-Bear cake.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

All Times

I started this blog on my birthday in 2009 as my 30th birthday present to myself. As the 4 year anniversary of that is coming up next month I thought it would be fun to go back and showcase some of the most popular projects that I've done since the beginning.

Lamps in Toyland has certainly been one of the biggest. This was inspired by an artist named Ryan McElhinney. My creation as I made it is here and the finished lamp is here.

Toy Lamp

The headboard I created for Erin's tween room has been featured a few times.  This project was under $20 to make and it created a great statement piece in her room.

Grow Tween Headboard

The Monster Truck Birthday cake made a pretty big splash on Pinterest.  It was really easy to make and the kids loved it!

Monster Truck Birthday Cake

My stone cabinet knobs/pulls were fun to make and I like that they have some history to them.

Stone Cabinet Knobs/Pulls

The framed foreign coin collection also went kind of viral on Pinterest.  I think there are a lot of us out there who have coin collections building up in jars on a shelf somewhere.

Framed Coin Art

The PVC Pipe Fort/Playhouse that I made for the kids near the beginning of my blog has always been one of the number one hits from Google.

PVC Pipe Fort/Playhouse
The Cupcake and Cake Stand that I made for my wedding is really easy to make, collapses for storage, and pretty cheap to get the supplies for.  It's nice and durable and I still use it today.

Cupcake and Cake Stand

The Dollhouse Refurbish was a real labor of love.  This was my dollhouse when I was a kid and it had really seen some better days after all of the kids it had gone through.

Part I - The original derelict
Part II - Fixing her up
Part III - Repaired and pretty

Dollhouse Remodel
The instructions for how to make dollhouse stairs out of a single piece of 2x4 goes along with that.  My dad taught me this trick and I've used it several times now.

Dollhouse Stairs
Right now we are working on a monster of a project, remodeling to give my two oldest boys rooms of their own.  I'm hoping we'll be ready to move them into it within a couple of weeks but I'll be sharing pictures as we move along. 


So many new visitors today.  Welcome!  I've got a few fun projects in the works right now and I'm looking forward to getting those projects up here in the next few weeks.  My two oldest boys have been sharing a bedroom and it's time to get them into their own spaces so we are remodeling.  The framing is up, electrical is in progress and hopefully the drywall will be coming quickly along behind that.  As they have two very different personalities they will also have two pretty different bedrooms so the crafting going in to that will be fun as well.  I just snapped a quick photo with my cell but look for some more fun pictures to come!