Monday, August 18, 2014

It's a Blogland Tour!

Hey, everyone! Exciting stuff is goin' on here today..!

See, there's this awesome Tour de Blogland, and last week, the Queen of Free (and so totally awesome), Mindi, of My Love 2 Create featured my blog. In sharing with the good Karma, I asked many-a-blogger to participate with me, but unfortunately, this seems to be a busy time for Blog Mavens.

However! My good friend Meg, blogger over at A Crunchy Situation, and au naturale extraordinaire gave me the honor of featuring her! See, Meg is awesome on so many levels, from sharing her delish recipes to dabbling in essential oils, to telling us all about her efforts to raise chickens. I love her, but go check her out and fall in love yourself!

Here's from Meg.

"I'm Meg - I love local farmers, Crock flip-flops, cooking at home, and Shea butter experiments. I'm a silly and moderately inappropriate crunchy kinda gal, a mom, and wifey extraordinaire to a VERY patient dude!"

Um, yum!

She just shared her Meg-Version of chiles rellenos, and I'm drooling. I love me some good chiles rellenos!

So now I get to answer a few questions about myself. Excuse me while I fumble around a lot, this is a lot harder than it seems!

1. What am I working on?

Halloween!! I haven't been blogging about it, because e.v.e.r.y.o.n.e. is asking, "Already?" - YES! ALREADY! But I won't put you all in a place you don't want to be yet. 

A big storm knocked down our tree where I usually set up our cemetery, so I have a lot of reconfiguring/rethinking to do.. I built this tripod to hold a cauldron from our fallen tree's branches, in addition to building 47 feet of fencing and starting a giant spider. 

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

This is tough! There are so many bloggers out there that build/craft/design (and they don't procrastinate nearly as much as I do!). I really can't say..!

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

Another tough question! I started this blog because I was sharing photos of my "creations" with my sister, and she said, "You should start a blog!". So I did! But the amazing people and opportunities this blog has introduced me to is what keeps me going. I'll never be one of those bloggers who posts every day (my "crafts" have to finish and be cleaned up so my house can be lived in before I start dinner), and will never reach big time fame (even though I've been recognized in Lowe's and Home Depot! HI GUYS!!!), but it's fun and I wouldn't trade it for anything. 

4. How does your writing/ creating process work? 

So... I'll think of something, and then procrastinate starting it. Then I start it, get to a part that requires some brain activity, and then procrastinate... Eventually I'll pick up where I left off, probably get overheated and then procrastinate. I really am that lazy. When it's finished, I'll procrastinate writing about it because it requires me to edit pictures and actually think about what I'm going to say. Oh gosh, this is so bad to admit!

If you haven't had the chance to go on tour with all the amazing bloggers, I'd say to start with Mindi and work your way back. It's such a fun read, and you'll find so many amazing bloggers along the way!

Monday, July 14, 2014

French Doors: 1 - Goats: 0

French doors kicked our butts.

But I guess I have to start at the beginning..

Before I posted that I was putting it into the universe that I wanted to widen the rough opening for my patio door and install this, our slider had started wearing out. Sliding doors wheels are typically meant to last about 20 years, but ours decided to bite the dust a few years early and had left the back door difficult to open.

Mr. Goats and I took the door off and replaced the wheels, but that didn't completely fix the problem as the track was bent.

It was a whole big thing.

Long story... less long! I could no longer open the slider without throwing my back out, so something had to be done about it immediately. This meant that I couldn't get my dream doors, but we got a good substitute.

Mr. Goats and I like the 10-pane look (and there actually aren't 10-panes to clean! they're "dividers" inside two glass panes), and the price was beyond amazing!

When it came to installation, we changed our minds multiple times as to whether we'd have help, hire someone, or do it ourselves. Ultimately, when help fell through, I convinced Mr. Goats that we could do it ourselves (how hard can it be?!).

Famous last words, right (foreshadowing)?

We got the slider removed and the rough opening prepped for a new door (sill pan, weather stripping, etc) done and the new door in place in under 2 hours. At this point, the only thing to do was to get the door square and level and plumb, and all those technical terms.

And we.. couldn't... get... it... right!

Mr. Goats and I worked on the door from 6 am until about 4pm, and by the time we threw in the towel, the new door was only a tiny bit easier to open than the slider.

What a mess.

Luckily, my friend's husband has a home renovation company, and sent someone to our rescue!

All that was left to do was to seal it and trim it out! (note, it's a pre-primed door and the trim had a coat of paint, so there are color discrepancies - it'll look better when everything's been painted)

And pick a paint color...!

This post just goes to show that, no matter how easy doing something seems on paper, sometimes you just gotta call in the big guns.

Have you installed french doors yourself, or did you know better to have help? Heck, how 'bout ANY doors? I'd love to hear!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Children's Sensory Board

Hey everyone!

I have a project that I can't quite call a "build," even though there were a couple of "builds" involved.

Make sense?

Probably not, so let me explain!

My friend Stephanie converted her 3 car garage into the most amazing Preschool/Day Care. She has defined areas for work, play and interaction and it's blown me away every time I've gone in there. There was a big wall to fill, though, and she wanted a sensory board for it!

There have been so many amazing sensory boards posted online that we had plenty of inspiration to draw from. Something that she really wanted to do was have ball chutes, locks/latches, a doorbell and the spinning hourglasses. Everything else that was done is just stuff she and her sister found at thrift stores and yard sales. Can you believe their knack for finding the most perfect stuff?

Really, the whole thing was a build, rather than me just attaching stuff. After everything was ordered, all it came down to was getting it on the board.

Children's safety was the most important factor in this whole thing. Because of that, I made sure to use Purebond Plywood, which is formaldehyde-free (and also stunning).

I also over-attached some things, I'm sure, but I really thought that it was better safe than sorry.

The ball chutes are actually made from this dust collector hose (except that I got it on sale at Woodcraft for $30).

The tube has a wire coil inside, which made it perfect for this project. Even if someone manages to cut a hole in the tube (because we know how kids are), they'll still have good structure from the wires. To attach them to the board, I predrilled a hole through hose clamps and glued/screwed them in place. After that, it was just putting the tubes into the hose clamps and tightening them.

Stephanie found an adorable magnifying glass and they had a great idea to include a shadow box for the kids to find things in.

To build that, I cut a dado through a strip of the Purebond Plywood that I had left over from the main board and built a frame around an 8x10" of plexiglass.

Then ran that through the table saw to get two pieces.

The reason I did it this way is that, sometimes it's hard to make a frame and a back match up perfectly, so if you build it as a single piece and cut it into two pieces, you know that it'll be exactly the same shape. I recommend doing this when building trunks or any box with a lid.

After that, it was time to attach the hardware! I used a locking window sash so that kids couldn't open the shadow box and fiddle with it's contents.

I later painted it, but the gist is still the same. To attach, I screwed through the back piece into the main board.

Other than that, I built the box to catch the balls underneath the ball chute and screwed things in place.

You may recognize the circles that the hourglasses and steering wheel are on.

Those were the reason I needed four perfect circles which inspired this post on how to make them (notice the wood in the background vs. the circles? That's just the sensory board with a few coats of poly - I love the difference!).

I can't include links to everything, because a lot was found thrift stores, but here are a few things that I can link to. Hope this helps with anyone wanting to "build" their own sensory board!

Door bell - Step 2 Replacement Door Bell
Hourglasses - Giant Sand Timers
Board with Doors - Melissa & Doug Deluxe Latches Board
Ball Chute - 4" Clear Dust Collection Hose
Board - Purebond Plywood in Oak 

I'd love to answer any questions you might have on this, but more importantly, I'd love to see if anyone draws inspiration from this and "builds" their own!

Have you done a sensory board? Is there anything that you included that we left out?

Stephanie had promised to send me photos of the board hung in her space, so I'll update this when I get them!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Basketweave Bench Update


Since I shared the arbor/bench that I built with you on Monday, I figured that I'd share an update that I made to the basketweave bench that was built last year.

This bench is still one of my all time favorite builds, but it was getting weathered pretty quickly. I built it out of soft pine, but finished it with an exterior grade stain. That had worked for my shed, but the poor bench (which was sitting on a covered patio) just wasn't faring well.

The wood had started peeling and curling up

The seat boards were cracking (this was after I'd already begun sanding it)

There were just signs of damage all over the poor thing.

So Baby Goats and I sanded and painted the whole thing a semi-gloss exterior gray paint (I wish I could give you the exact color, but it was from the OOPS bin!). I should also note that I filled the cracks with interior/exterior caulk for a smoother finish.

But it just wasn't looking as awesome as I wanted it to (probably because it's not blue, and this bench is destined to be blue - I just know it!). So I thought I'd add some flair (and home pride) by painting our house numbers on it!

Printed and traced the numbers onto the bench...

It had to be blue!

(this is the same blue that I used on my basketweave trellis' - also an OOPS bin color)

I still swoon over them..!

And set the bench out front to display my house numbers!

This definitely taught me that the tough Phoenix sun can destroy even protected finishes, so now I have to build with exterior grade woods and use more durable finishes. The last thing I want is for my hard work to go down the drain because of a simple finishing mistake.

It's good that I learned my lesson...

Kinda sucks that outdoor stuff's gonna be more expensive. But I'll take it over having to rebuild every few years.

How's your outdoor furniture doing? What's maintenance like for people with a less harsh environment? Any tips/tricks? I'd love to know!!

Monday, June 9, 2014

My New Favorite Spring Project

*for now

Remember when I compiled a list of my favorite Spring projects?

Let's add a mega spectacular one right to the top of the list.

A bench/arbor combo made out of redwood for under $250.

This might actually look slightly familiar to some of you. Remember when Ana White posted the plans for the children's bench/arbor back in August?

I couldn't get enough of it. Obviously the only thing to do was to shamelessly beg her to draw up plans for an adult sized one, right?

So that's exactly what I did!

Let me tell you that I had completely underestimated what I was getting myself into, and when I brought all of the lumber home (and it took over half of my garage) I felt overwhelmed. It was only after I made all of the cuts on the cut list that the pile of wood didn't look so intimidating.

The only thing left to do before assembling was to figure out what shapes I wanted the shade slats to be.

I sat down and looked at countless pictures of pergolas to get a feel for the shapes that I like or dislike, and settled on four possible options.

The top one (called an ogee) is my favorite, but it was obviously the most difficult. The big question there is, do I like it enough to justify the added time/effort it would take to cut that out of the seven top slats and both sides of four of the cross beams?

The answer was a resounding "YES!"

And the best part is that they weren't very difficult to do!

Just made a template out of scrap MDF to trace onto the front of the boards and then cut it out with my jig saw (tried to use a pattern cutting bit on my router - which is why there are nails in that - but I wasn't comfortable enough with it to use it on a real project, yet!).

To make my life easier, I only cut the pattern on the boards that would be at the front of the arbor, though. The back boards just got a 45 degree trim with my circular saw.

The trick for consistency here was marking a spot on my speed square so that, when it lined up with the edge of the board, I could draw a line and make the cut right along it.

(I did the same thing for the seat aprons, too)

This is the largest thing that I have built, I think, and it's really my new favorite (maybe I say that about every project...). It was simple, but there are some things I want to mention before saying that ANYONE can build this.

First thing, I want to recommend that you build the sides and the seat back support before all else. My 4x4s are 1/8" less than the typical nominal 4x4 widths, which made my sides 1/4" smaller than the plans called for. That meant that my seat/side stretchers had to be 1/4" smaller.

For the back, it just made assembling it easier (built-in spacing!). We put the back in place when we began assembling and adjusted off of it. Also made it easier to know that the sides were squared up.

Second, there was no way I would have been able to do this myself. I hate to play the "small and helpless" card, but there was no way I was strong enough to adjust this as I was getting started. Mr. Goats had to help me with the second and third steps, and I know there would be no way I could have done this without him.

Finally, Lowe's and Home Depot will NOT cut your lattice for you!!! Okay, maybe yours will, but no one at either of my local stores would even touch it, saying that it would crumble under the panel saw. Even the employees that I'm on first-name basis' with (which is my way of saying they're the ones that I've bribed with Panda Express gift cards on a few occasions) wouldn't attempt it. To cut mine, I used a chalk like to mark where I should cut and ran it through my table saw (again, a two person job!), trying my best to avoid the staples.

Mr. Goats'll be the first to tell you that we didn't completely avoid the staples, though.


For finishing, I decided to let the redwood sit out for the summer and will stain it in the Fall. That's part laziness and part what I was told to do to let the sun "open" the wood to rid it of "mill glaze". Obviously I'll share when I do stain it!

I have to thank Ana for drawing up the plans for us. They were so super easy to follow! Make sure you check them out, here! (Will link when they're posted)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Tips & Tricks: Router Jig for Circles

Do you follow me on Facebook?

If so, you may have seen this!

I'm working on a big project and needed four 7 3/4" circles. My first attempt was to use the circle cutting attachment on my Dremel Trio, but when I broke my bit and couldn't find a replacement in local stores (had to be ordered online only), I had to get creative.

Now, I have a jig saw, but even my best-cut circle wasn't perfect.

The jig saw wasn't gonna do.

There are tutorials on how to make circles on a table saw, but I'm not sure that such a small diameter would be a good idea (plus, I'm still kinda afraid of my table saw), soooooo that's out.

But I do have a router! Haven't had many chances to use it yet, so why not bust it out and try to make a jig?

The first thing to do was to see how I would attach it to my router. This was my first router jig, so I was pleasantly surprised to figure out that the clear baseplate on the bottom of my plunge base came off easily by just unscrewing four screws (you're totally allowed to laugh at me if this is common knowledge).

After that was removed, I grabbed some scrap 1/4" ply and traced the baseplate onto the plywood (including the screw holes).

And cut it out using my jig saw (doing a not-so-great job, which made me even more grateful I was making a jig instead of trying to cut four circles by hand).

I took this picture after I routed out the circles, but wanted to share how I marked it with the measurements with the circle's diameter, not it's actual distance from the inside of the bit (so four inches away from the bit would create an 8" circle. I plan to nail through the appropriate measurement into the board I'll be cutting when I use this in the future (the screw hole was just too big!).

A piece of advice if you make one: Make sure the nail is as straight as possible for the most accurate circle.

There are some great tutorials for prettier, fancier jigs (like this one on Instructables!)

But if you need a quick/easy one, this is always an option ;-)

Do you have a router? What kind of jigs do you have (or have you made)? I'm excited for the possibilities on this one!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My Favorite Spring Projects*

*To date

Hey everyone! I know that snow's melted and the weather's warming up in most of the country (we've already had our first 100 degree day, so we've moved on from Spring to Summer!), so it's time to get outside and soak up some SUN!

Here are a few of my favorite outdoor projects that I hope will inspire you to go out and ENJOY!

First, one of the first plans that I drew up (and a popular build!), a covered sand box with built-in seats!

(this one was built by user SARA1)

Find the plans here.

Next up is my shed. I love my shed, and know that it's a great place for gardening/pool equipment (Not that I use it for that - but I could!).

Find the plans here.

A great way to organize the yard tools that might go inside the shed is to build something like my yard tool storage caddy (putting it on casters might make it even better..!).

Read about this, here!

After you've gotten all of your tools organized, you should be all set for gardening! You'll need a potting bench, won't you?!

Read about that (and get to the plans) here. 

Now, after you've grown your plans, you'll need somewhere to PUT THEM!

Check out my woven back trellis planters here! (but don't laugh at my writing, I had way too much candy that day!)

Oh, they go with this bench.

But I have to admit that my favorite Spring projects aren't something I've built, but sewn.

I've made the girls a few skirts using the pattern I blogged about here, and just love seeing them run around in them without a care in the world.

And with that, I think I want to water my plants, or pull some weeds, or something "Springy". How's your Spring weather? Are you still frost bitten, or does it feel like summer already?