Shelf Re-Do, Step Three – DIY Magazine / Project Notes Storage

Whilst browsing Pinterest one day after work I saw a lady who makes all kinds of storage stuff out of cereal boxes…I can’t find the pin now, I think I just looked at her blog without pinning. Oops. Here is the project that I remember best and decided to do myself. Cereal boxes into magazine storage containers.

Who doesn’t have cereal boxes in their home? All you have to do is measure and mark where five inches is on one side, use a ruler to draw a line up to the other corner and then cut along the lines. It’s that easy.

Yeah, I still eat like a five-year-old, don’t judge. Those marshmallows are delicious.

Simply cover the cut boxes with the paper of your choice. I decided to continue the brown paper theme I had going on the rest of my shelf and only have the pretty paper at the end that folk will see. I’m too cheap to have magazines coming to my house, but this is a great way for me to keep the notes and sketches I have for various projects organized.


Shelf Re-Do, Step Two – Storage Box Improvement

I have an awful lot of bits and pieces of things that I have collected for projects over the years. Normally these wonderful little scraps are consigned to little zippy bags in a nondescript box on a shelf in a room I hope no one will ever enter. What a sad way for them to wait to be made into something pretty. But no longer, today my little useful friends get to come live out here with me in the real house.

Just a normal $20 storage container from a hardware store.

I needed something at the store and instead of putting on my blinders like normal, grabbing that one thing and getting the heck out of there, I accidentally looked around and saw this storage container. Now, I wasn’t looking for a storage container but, I’m a crafter so I got a slight high thinking of all of the things that I could put in here. Dammit, now I had to buy it. It was ugly as sin so it sat in my tiny spare room for about a month waiting for me to put forth the effort to transfer all of my bits over … and then I got on my “organize the shelf” kick and I suddenly found myself with new pretty paper and project energy, which is really all a crafter needs.

Step One, Paint

I pulled all of the little plastic drawers out and painted the frame. At first I had everything painted in a dark teal/blue but I wasn’t loving the way that was covering the gray plastic. It had streaks and looked really dull. But, as I was painting the shelf back (see next post), I decided to latex the sides of this with the same color green. It worked out perfectly.

There are two different size drawers so I made a template of the front of each size by tracing it with a pencil and then fitting it inside and snipping away until it seems right. using these templates and two different papers that I had bought for my magazine holder project I decided upon a checker board pattern. Super simple, just Mad Podge the plastic and stick the paper in pretty side down, facing the glue. When it’s done the shiny plastic on the outside actually gives the paper almost a tile look and it matches other little accent pieces that I have in other places. Looks like I spent more than $23 dollars on it, and now I have easy access to my smaller crafting supplies.

Much Better

A shelf Re-Do, Step one – Cover books

I live on the other side of the world from my husband and family, and while I have friends here that I dearly love and a job that wipes me out every day…I am still left with too much time on my hands sometimes. And during those times I obsess over dumb things, because I live alone and no one stops me from being a little bit nutty.

One glorious Saturday it bothered me that the bookshelf I see from my bed did not have visual harmony, because that’s totally normal to worry about, right? My original plan was very simple (as they always start out), I’ll just pick up some brown paper bags from the grocery store and cover my books like I used to have to do in school. Yeah, it turns out I couldn’t figure out a tactful way to ask for 40 paper bags, and I live alone, so getting that many through the normal process of shopping would have taken for-ev-er. I’m a one, maybe two bags per trip shopper.

See! Nothing matches. Nothing! Gah!

So off to the local art store I go to look for pretty paper to cover my books with. Turns out pretty paper in Europe, not so cheap, but I do find brown wrapping paper (which I now know I could have gotten cheaper almost anywhere else – facepalm!) and a few sheets of nice patterned paper that I fell in love with and voilà, Plan B is born.

I then discovered that covering tons of books is a sloooooooowwwww process. But pretty easy, exactly as you remember it from when you were little. However, in case you have forgotten, here is a tutorial.

Ah, that’s better…things are starting to visually calm down

Still working through all of my bookshelves to cover all of my books, but already there is a vast improvement. As you can see from the picture below, I was not done with the insanity just yet – Oh no, this was only the beginning… More posts to follow.

Sneak Peek

Safety Thread – Why didn’t I think of this!

I can’t say my knitting skills have improved dramatically since I joined a knitting group, but that is NO reflection on my group.  They are hella-awesome knitters (and infinity more skilled at crochet than I am as well).  Nope, my lack of desire to think very hard whilst recreational knitting is the culprit here.  (Garter stitch all the way baby!  No patterns for Nikki.)

Typical pattern attempt:

“Concentrate, concentrate…think, think, think.”  Knit, purl, knit, knit, purl…Oooh, here it comes… “Ray.  When someone asks you if you’re a God, you say YES!”  Ha, ha! That’s never not funny…wait…knit, purl….purl, knit…? Crap, back up a few steps – pay attention Nikki! (Ten minutes later) Knit, knit, knitty-knit-knit…”CRAP! I remember purling being involved here somewhere. Ugh, time to frog again.”

But hard as I try to remain deaf to the good ideas I hear tossed around at my weekly knitting group, a few inevitably weasel their way into my head in between my bites of Qdoba chips and salsa, and I start to think, “Hey, if I did that maybe this pattern stuff wouldn’t be so bad.”

The first good idea was learning how stitch markers work.  Luckily for my knitting laziness patterns often shift and the stitch markers must shift in accordance to what is going on at the time.  Some thinking still required – Phbisht, I’m out.  You can’t trick me into the harder stuff based on these magic tools alone.


THEN I learned about a Safety Thread.  Dang!  My other big excuse for not working harder is that I often screw up at some unidentified location and I have to frog my project either all the to the beginning or way, way, way back until I reach a point where I know I was doing it right.  Then I have to manage to pick the stitches back up again without hopelessly losing or twisting them. And THEN if I manage to do all that, I have to try to guess correctly what row I am now on… Ugh, kill me.  (Are you starting to see where I might have gotten the notion that a Doctor Who scarf was just my speed.)  A Safety Thread makes that excuse obsolete.

How you Insert/Use a Safety Thread:

At certain intervals (like the end of large sets of repeats) you insert a thread into your work,  along the needle, where you know everything is correct. (Correct pattern, correct number of stitches, correct EVERYTHING.)  Then when you get caught up talking or watching TV and you look down and have a “What the Heck!” moment you don’t have to panic.  You just frog your project to its last perfect point (the yarn will stop the frogging just like you had a needle in there), reset your row counter and use the string as a guide to insert your needles back into the stitches perfectly.  When the project is finished just tug these strings out – there is nothing substantial holding them in.


Big giant Duh here! So simple that I have to say again. Why didn’t I think of this?

Thanks to my friend over at Bareblueskin for telling me about this last Monday at knitting group.

Refurbishing a Desk on the Cheap

Every house has it, the dreaded ugly piece of furniture. (Sometimes this horrific fiend has an entire family of ugly friends clogging up your space.) And like me you walk past it and sigh. You know you should do something about it…but who has the money to replace it or time to deal with it? Then one day your brain snaps and the ugly must be dealt with, but how you ask? Super Cheap I reply.  Behold the ugly desk.  This dark beast labored under my computer and piles of crap in a darkly painted entryway with no windows, relentlessly sucking out what little light managed to peek into that corner. (Whose bright idea was the dark brown paint anyway?…Oh wait, mine…moving on.) Due to drying times this project will require a weekend to accomplish.originalSomething must be done, so I took stock of what I had – you can see it there sitting on top of the desk. Three pretty pieces of paper and some Mod Podge…I’m totally prepared. My plan was to cover the drawer pulls with the gold paper and use what I could of the tiny amount of cranberry paisley paper that was super pretty and super scarce. Off to the store I go with a sample of these two papers. Turns out no paint matches both so I buy a perfect match for the background color of the paisley paper…Salmon.

Newsflash: Salmon is Benjamin Moore code speak for shocking band aid pink. You have been warned.after first coat
I determined very quickly that my new giant, band aid pink desk is not in fact an improvement over the previous incarnation. Think, think, think. New plan. Go under the sink and pull out more of the light brown paint from when we first moved in and I was painting the apartment. Using a giftcard to maintain an equal distance from the edge of the desk I tape off a square with painter’s tape and make a brown square.

Hint: for clean lines paint a quick edge inside the tape with the background color and let dry for a few minutes before moving onto the next color.
While watching TV that night I used scissors and an exacto knife to cut out the swirly flowery pattern on one of the pretty papers that I liked. After letting the paint dry over night I traced the edge of the square with a gold paint pen I had left over from an old project. (You can’t tell much but it’s nice up close.) Then I played with the best arrangements of the design for a while and put a thin layer of Mod Podge under the paper and a thicker layer on top to decoupage it to the desk. Let this dry completely, a few hours should do it. I would hit it with another layer of glue to help protect the image.
drawer details
I also decided to paint the front of the drawers brown (there was still WAY too much pink going on.) the only thing I left pink was the handles which I Mod Podged little strips of the paisley paper onto. It still looked a bit unfinished so I hot glued some mint green buttons on top of the whole shebang after the top and drawers of the desk got a quick coat of Minwax. (Along with everything else in the house I have been avoiding sealing for the past three years.) The fumes…Oh the fumes…

finished deskHere it is, my brand new desk ready to handle all of my crafting needs in style, all for the whopping sum of $15 dollars and I still have a TON of Salmon paint left, you know…should you be dying to paint something in your home the color of band aids.

Full list of supplies for non-crafting, non-packrats. Keep in mind this grew out of what I had on hand.  If you don’t have something improvise. I never would have come up with so many pretty things if the pink hadn’t been so unexpectedly ugly.

  • Mod Podge (or Elmers Glue)
  • Foam Brush
  • Paint
  • Paint Brush
  • Painter’s tape
  • Gold Paint pen
  • Decorative Paper
  • Exacto knife
  • Minwax sealant
  • Buttons
  • Hotglue Gun

Doctor Who Scarf, Post Three – Progress

First things first, Torchwood is now on my Netflix list because I am not afraid to say this loud and proud; Captain Jack is yummy. I don’t even care if the spin off is terribly good, as long as he is in every scene I will suffer through all three seasons.

Onto scarf progress.

I am so consistent it’s scary. My scarf has followed the same time honored path as everything else I have ever started. Transcript of my life: (Substitute the word that with anything I have ever wanted, it will still work.)

  1. Oooohhhhhh, I want that!
  3. Now, Now, Now, Now, Now!!!!!!
  4. Quickly find out everything the Internet knows about that.
  5. Purchase supplies in a frenzy of glee, often skipping around the store and/or squirming like a three-year-old who has to pee. (Stupid lines and driving, slow me down from starting my project.)
  6. Assuming something shiny has not yet at this point distracted my attention and taken me down a new path of “Oooohhhh, I want that!” I now begin building/drawing/cutting/knitting etc., said desired object which will bring me all the joy the universe has to offer.
  7. Get about 1/4 of the way into project and discover I should have maybe taken a little more time to plan, inevitably I do not have enough of something critical and there is no way I can justify this project costing even more.
  8. Scrap everything I learned in Step 4 and wing it from then on. Pattern or original idea be damned!
  9. After extensive alterations I have something that very nearly resembles that which I wanted in the first place.

We have accepted my compulsive nature and built a system around it. Like handguns, there is now a waiting period in my home for crafting projects (or anything really.) I have to wait a week from the first Ooooohhhh before I am allowed anywhere near a store.  (This helps to weed out the passing fancy shiny and pretty things and makes sure I have less than 100 projects at any one time.)  It also works pretty well for him and electronics…

scarf progress
My scarf didn’t let me down. Right about the second tan section I started to notice something funny, “Huh, I sure am going through this beige A LOT faster than anything else.  I wonder if I will have enough to finish the project? How many more rows of tan are there?”

You see the critical flaw in my plan now right?  This was the FIRST time that I counted and added up the number of rows that each color is expected to cover. (My master plan was I bought two of every color – surely that would be enough.) Ummm, problem.  There are 300 rows of tan, 270 rows of green and 80 rows of brown.  Clearly the colors are not spread out evenly…Slap forehead and rethink.

New plan, completely and radically rewrite pattern to space out all of the colors and salvage the project.  So now I no longer have a Doctor Who scarf…it’s more like a Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor scarf.  Whatever, I still love it. Whoever invented miles and miles of garter stitch must have known I would be born one day.  I know this bores everyone else on the planet, but not me. In my world the more repetitive and thought free an action can be the more I love it.buttons

Ah, and my buttons came in.  Luckily I have been sick and having fun with my scarf or these would have distracted me again.  Sock monsters would have been made, and James would have been sad.  As it is very likely that I would have cut up perfectly fine socks in my hurry to make them and he sure does love having a plethora of socks.  One fight averted by the common cold – thank you Rhinovirus.

Doctor Who Scarf Follow Along – Post Two – Progress

Day three of knitting while watching TV at night and here is where I am – about halfway through the first red section. (4th color change.)Doctor Who Scarf in Progress

I am loving making this! I think I actually like the back side more where you can see the colors mixing with each other.  I might take the picture from that side next time.

I think I would be much further along if I didn’t have to stop at each color change and wrap a new center pulling ball of yarn (can we say yawn).  But in honor of all of the practice I am getting at doing this…there is a tutorial coming.

OK – he’s gonna kill me for this, but I have to share.  My always interesting spouse is constantly popping out with doozies that I can’t share with the world because they are either way, way too wrong to share (as is half the stuff I say) or he would just kill me if I published it.  But this, this has to be shared:

(Background, he is OBSESSED with owning new socks and belts, seriously, socks and belts – this is a decade long conversation, just with a new ending.) Read the rest of this entry »