Moveable Memories

Moveable Memories 1

For Christmas, I gave the Pie a stick. This stick, to be specific. It’s actually a piece of moulding too knotty for my dad to use, and I scavenged it out of his garage. Trust me though, I have a plan.

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I’m sure all of you have a relative with a cottage or grandparents’ home where, be it a door jamb or a piece of wall panelling, they have accumulated the heights of all the family members as they’ve grown over the years. At the cottage my great-grandfather built (now owned by my mother’s cousin), these height markings go back several generations. And it’s always sad when the time comes to leave that house behind, together with those memories that are so firmly a part of the house. Sometimes you can get away with removing the fixture they’re on, but sometimes not.

We plan to stay in this house for a long time, but you never know what will happen, so I wanted to make sure that when we leave we can take our memories with us.

First order of business is cutting down the wood to fit. I made sure it was cut so it sits above the moulding on the floor, runs parallel to the doorjamb in our guest bedroom, and ends at the top of the lintel, so it’s low profile. Then I drilled three holes (one at either end and one in the middle), and sanded it down.

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During one of LongJohn’s naps I popped just outside the backdoor and spray painted the whole stick white. Then I had to kick around my newly white leaves so the Pie wouldn’t see them. Fortunately it snowed soon thereafter so I was safe.

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Once the paint was dry I started marking distances with craft paint. We use mostly Metric in Canada but because we’re so close to the United States we are pretty fluent in Imperial as well, so I decided to go with both. For the centimetres I made a bigger mark every 10 and for the inches I made a bigger one every 6. I also made sure to start my measurements on the stick at the distance it sits from the floor, which when you take into account the moulding at the bottom of the wall, was about 10cm. In retrospect I wish I’d used a finer paint brush but what’s done is done.

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I added in the numbers in a different colour (again, wish I’d used a finer brush). Then I sprayed the whole thing with a clear lacquer to keep the markings fresh.

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Then I wrapped it and hid it behind a bookcase. Now when we take our measurements, we mark them in permanent marker and I dab a little clear nail polish over them to keep them from rubbing off. And when we’re ready to leave, we can take it with us!

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Granny’s Porch, and other Memories

Granny's Porch Furniture 3

This little furniture trio was a permanent feature of my grandmother’s screened-in veranda at her cottage. We would bring them out in the spring and haul them into storage in the winter. For wicker furniture, they’re surprisingly comfortable, and I have many memories of enjoying Slimo while listening to cicadas in the shade.

Granny's Porch Furniture 1

They’ve been bright yellow for as long as I can remember, but my mother says they’ve been other colours in the past, like a paler yellow and a deep green. In any case, it’s been a while since their last paint job and they’re in serious need of a touch-up. I asked the Pie what colour he wanted to paint them, and – no surprise – he picked orange. Orange it was to be.

Granny's Porch Furniture 4

This little metal patio bistro set I bought with Cait when she first moved into her solo apartment almost a decade ago. It was cute and green and suited her little tiny balcony perfectly. She no longer lives there, of course, and the furniture no longer suits her new place, so, being Cait, she foisted it off on me. After many years in the sun the green is more of a pastel than it used to be, and needed a bit of a boost.

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Gren supervises from an almost-safe distance.

Now time for spray paint! Full disclosure: I have a box of half-finished cans of spray paint in the garage. The Pie thinks it’s more than that. I have another box full of empty spray paint cans in the garage as well. They’re waiting for a day when I’m not pregnant and can sit down and empty all the air out of them before putting them in the recycling. So he’s not keen on me buying yet MORE spray paint. In this particular case, however, I perfectly estimated the amount that I would need. Because the metal set just needed a boost from its original colour, no major repairs or changes, I needed two cans to coat all three pieces (four if you count the table top and legs separately). For the wicker, I estimated that I needed two thick coats on each of the three pieces, and that it would take me two cans each. So I bought eight cans of spray paint, in total, to the Pie’s horror. After it was all over, I have a few spritzes of the green left and I’m totally out of the orange. It’s like I knew what I was doing or something.

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Not to worry – I wore that mask, gloves, and eye protection the whole time I was painting.

Look at the cheery difference already with the first coat!

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The orange stuff took significantly longer to do and was much more finicky, what with getting around legs and whatnot. I was very tired of bending over and squatting down by the time I was done.

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In the late afternoon sun though the stuff positively glows!

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Now all I need is a non-rotting deck to fully enjoy it (that’s next summer’s project).

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Refresh Your Shelf

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So this isn’t really a how-to, more of a what-I-did-when-quarantined kind of thing. This little shelf used to belong to my mother as a child. I think her dad or her grandfather built it for her. It used to be white, and she painted it red some time before I was born. Then it was mine for a long time (well it’s still mine). When the Pie and I moved in together I painted it black because it needed a new coat and that was what I had on hand. Since I painted it, it’s always been in my kitchen. I always keep my oils and vinegars on the top shelf, and the other spaces serve whatever needs they serve at any given time, no matter what the kitchen it’s in.

Kitchen Shelf 3

But it needed a new coat of paint (a lighter one, I thought), and Gen. Zod has developed a weird tendency to bite chunks out of my cork trivets when he comes over so I wanted to make them a little less accessible to tiny sticky hands.

Kitchen Shelf 1

So. You may remember that I told you that while I was quarantined I made little wire baskets for stuff. Well, I also made BIG wire baskets.

Kitchen Shelf 4

I custom sized them to fit each shelf (because it’s handmade, each shelf is at a totally different height). They ended up being bigger than the mesh I had so I had to put three sides together first and then attach a back as a separate piece.

Kitchen Shelf 5

Which involved a tremendous amount of wire winding. My hands were quite tired and sore the next day.

Kitchen Shelf 6

I made the baskets so they were a snug fit into the shelf so that they couldn’t be pulled out easily.

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All the baskets complete. But that’s not all I’m gonna do.

Kitchen Shelf 11

The shelf is in dire need of a re-do. Years of glass bottles filled with oils and vinegars have stripped away some of the paint on the top. And in order to get paint to stick to that it’s going to need a serious cleaning.

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So a scrubbing was in order. If you don’t get all that oil gone it will come up through the paint. Like magic. Really annoying magic.

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While it dried I quickly spray-painted all the baskets I made.

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I’d previously been using the Krylon ColorMaster and Indoor/Outdoor because someone recommended it for use on plastic and metal. I’d always had a bit of difficulty with adhesion but I thought I was just doing it wrong or something. But when I was looking for green spray paint I found this Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch stuff that goes on like a double coat AND LET ME TELL YOU IT’S AMAZING.

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So amazing that for the shelf I bought it in a white primer, gloss coat, and sealant.

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The shelf needed a good sanding down from top to bottom. This is the bottom. The underside of that bottom shelf was never painted. Then I clearly forgot to spray the second-from-bottom shelf.

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Gren watched through the garage door.

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All sanded. Then it needed another good cleaning. As did I. I was covered in black paint dust.

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Shelf all painted.

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And in situ.

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And with the basketry in place.

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The General is going to have a hard time eating my trivets now.

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Don’t Fence Me In – Make Baskets Instead

Wire Baskets 12

This is another wee project I picked up to keep me from going stir crazy when I was sick last weekend. I’m behind the trend on this again (surprise, surprise), but I’ve wanted to make these custom wire baskets for ever. The Pie as a rule is against wire baskets because he always feels like he’s going to jam his fingers in the holes and hurt himself, but then again when it comes to me getting up to shenanigans when he’s out of town, I’m not really considering anyone’s happiness but my own. For these baskets all you need is some welded hardware mesh, usually used for fencing off gardens and things like that (this one has 1/2″ square holes), a wire cutter, and a pair of pliers. Or, if you’re lucky, you can get a two-in-one that’s both cutters and pliers. And you’ll need some patience and strong wrists. This is going to take a while.

Wire Baskets 1

I was warned that when I opened the package it might spring open and seriously harm me.

Wire Baskets 2

The only thing between me and certain death was this little bitty wire.

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When I undid the wire, the whole roll spontaneously sprang open — about three inches. I was expecting a large-scale disruption as it fully unraveled and let me tell you, I was disappointed.

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But I kept the wire. Because I always keep wire. And ribbons. And small pieces of string. Man am I a hoarder or what.

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Then it was easy to clip out the basket frame in the size I wanted – the best part about this project is being able to make them exactly the size you need. Make sure to leave those nice sharp open prongs. You’ll need at least one set of those on each seam.

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Folding it up was a little harder than I expected.

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But all the edges matched which was good.

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Folding the prongs down over the other side of the basket took some time. And I made a bunch of baskets on this day. So that took a lot of time.

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I also folded down the tops for a smoother edge.

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It’s just a wee basket.

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But it can hold things like coasters.

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Or my orchid.

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I even made a round one, out of scraps. It was not as hard as I thought it would be.

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I made a bunch more and even painted them for another project I started that weekend, so stay tuned for the results shortly!

Cheapo Chandelier

Cheapo Chandelier 20

When this little DIY popped up in my Feedly from Hammer and Heels, a light went on over my head (literally).  We suffer from boob lights in our house (they’re the cheapest lights contractors can buy in bulk), and because we rent I can’t change too many things. This is a great solution to temporarily dress up what’s otherwise a super stupid-looking lighting system.

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You need a coconut hanging basket-type thing. You don’t need the coconut part, just the wire basket. So any wire basket thing you like will do. I found these at Dollarama for $3 each.

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This basket doesn’t have the swoopy elegance of the Hammer and Heels version but I kind of like the industrial nature of it. Plus it was THREE BUCKS.

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And you need some beaded string or wire or something on a string that is pretty and light looks pretty going through it. I found this stuff for decorating wedding bouquets on Amazon for $30. It took a while to get here from China but it was cheap and that’s what counts in this case.

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So remove the coconut lining and the hanging mechanisms from the baskets (if they have them). Save the bits for something else. You never know when stuff like this will come in handy.

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I sprayed two of the baskets (I had four) silver with spray paint. Just one coat did a pretty decent job. Then I ran out of silver and painted the other two gold (and then I didn’t end up making the other two chandeliers … yet. I might just turn them back into hanging baskets, who knows?).

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Once those were dry I could begin. I used a dab of hot glue on the low setting (so it wouldn’t melt my string) to secure the ends onto the basket. Then I wrapped the string around all the little junctions, going all over the basket, making sure that most of the beads and stuff were on the underside of the basket so you could see them better.

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I worked with 10-foot lengths of string to make it easier to manipulate it around all the little twists and turns.

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I just went kind of random after I got a good base of string down, switching directions to fill various gaps as I saw fit. I ended up using 40 feet of string on each chandelier, and I think it was just enough and not too much.

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Now to put it up. This is how it will disguise the boob. But I don’t want anything that will be permanent or will damage the ceiling or fixture.

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Solution: paper clips!

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They’re just narrow enough to slide snugly between the ceiling and the fixture.

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And they clip easily onto my basket, which is not very heavy (do remember that if you’re using a heavy basket, do not attach it directly to the light fixture – anchor it more securely or bad things will happen).

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The first one I used like SEVEN paperclips to stick it up and I needn’t have bothered.

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This one I just used four and it’s totally fine. And you really don’t notice the paper clips unless you’re looking for them. If it bothers you that they look like paper clips, then just bend them into a different shape!

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To me it looks like a dew-covered spiderweb over a chain link fence and I like it a whole lot. The pictures don’t really do it justice, unfortunately.

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Estimated total cost of each chandelier: NINE DOLLARS (Basket: $3; 40ft Beaded String: $6; Spray Paint, Hot Glue, Paper Clips: on hand, and in minimal amounts).

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Busy Board

Busy Boards 9

I didn’t take as many photos of this as I should have, but it kind of came together in fits and starts when I could work on it and I may have forgotten my camera a few times. In any case, this is a great gift for the toddlers in your life, and it’s very simple to make: grab a board, paint it up, add bits of hardware and you’re set. It’s all the stuff that small children are fascinated with around the house in one convenient spot where they can play with it safely.

So I started with a wide pine board, which I cut in half. I made one for Rosa and one for Gen. Zod for Christmas.

Busy Boards 1

Drilled screw holes at all the corners so it could be mounted on the wall for added security.

Busy Boards 2

I later put felt at the corners as well so it could also lay flat on the floor without damaging anything.

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Sanded and spray painted it.

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Added stripes to make it look like a construction sign.

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They didn’t come out perfectly, but if you’ve ever seen the types of signs the construction workers make around here this is a freaking masterpiece in comparison.

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Then I gathered an assortment of hardware: slide bolt (also known as a barrel bolt), casters from my old computer desk, a padlock, spring door bumper (the kind that makes farty noises when you twang it), a hinge from a door and a security chain. I discovered that if you screw one side of a hinge too tightly to its surface the hinge won’t turn (or won’t be moveable by a toddler in any case), so make sure to adjust that accordingly if you use one.

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Then I just painted around them with some craft paint for visual interest and added a little caution sign at the top. Now it’s a toddler trap, because they can’t stay away!

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Animal Magnetism

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By now I’m sure you’re familiar with my odd addiction to rare earth magnets.  I just love how STRONG they are.  These I made up for Rusty’s babymama and I think that both she and baby-to-come will enjoy them.

I had a handful of small plastic animal figurines I’d picked up in a bag from a thrift store.  I sprayed half of them silver and half of them gold with spray paint.

Animal Magnetism 1

Then I laid them out and used GOOP to affix the rare earth magnets to the animals.

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I lined a small box with scrap book paper …

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And then used tiny pieces of tape to stick the dried magnets to it.

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The dinosaurs are my favourite.

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Though I do love how the magnet is stuck to this gorilla’s butt.  It makes me giggle.

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