I couldn’t decide whether this was a Make-It Monday entry or a Tiny Tuesday entry. The two often overlap, as many of the things I make around here are meant to increase my storage or organize my stuff. This one is kind of a combination.
First, the “make it” part, which is pictured above: I got sick of looking for the lid to my big saucepan — which has a bad habit of hiding in the back of the cabinet when I need it — so I got online and found some storage ideas. This one wasn’t the prettiest, but it was cheap and practical, and I knew I had a package of tiny screw eyes in the junk drawer and a roll of wire in my craft closet, so I grabbed the drill and rigged up an easy way to keep track of that lid.
While I was thinking about the unused space on the back of the cabinet, my eye fell on the small graniteware stockpot I’ve been using to store cooking utensils since we moved to Cape almost four years ago.
I really could have used that stockpot a few times last winter, but it was busy storing utensils on the countertop — handy but not really the highest and best use for the space or the stockpot.
I went back to the junk drawer and rustled up a handful of Command hooks, which I pressed into service holding measuring spoons and cups, kitchen shears, quail-egg scissors and any other odds and ends I could hang back there without hitting the shelf every time I closed the door.
I stuck a couple more on the back of the door to the cabinet where I keep mugs and drinking glasses and hung up my tea infuser and bottle opener.
IKEA came through the other day with an elegant solution to the problem of oversized utensils that wouldn’t hang well on the cabinet door, but I’ll save that post for another day.
As part of my redecorating project this summer, I got rid of the rickety, cheap-looking vertical shelf that had been supporting my turntable and DVD player and replaced it with an open-front credenza fashioned from a storage-cube unit and a set of mid-century-style legs. I love the credenza — which looks sleek, provides a lot of storage, and goes well with the rest of the furniture — but because it’s much shorter than the shelf it replaced, the cords for the television and peripherals were visible, and they looked anything but sleek.
You can get fabric cases for cords, but they don’t always match the walls. I wanted something I could paint the exact same color as the wall. I looked at some of the rigid PVC cord hiders at the hardware store, but they seemed unduly expensive, and they were all designed to mount flat against the wall, which wouldn’t work well with our swivel-mounted TV. I needed something lighter and more flexible but still paintable.
Enter the humble wrapping-paper tube.
Cardboard tubes are big enough to hold several fairly thick cords, and they’re lightweight enough that you can cut them with scissors and fold or twist them as the situation warrants. Perhaps best of all, they’re free. Here’s how to turn one into a cord concealer in about 10 minutes.
1. Use scissors or a sharp knife to slit it all the way up one side and trim it to the length you need.
2. Use leftover wall paint to cover the entire outside of the tube, the ends, the edges of the slit, and a few inches up the inside. (Note: You do NOT need to be very neat about that inside part.)
4. Bundle the cords together and use twist ties, Velcro strips, tape, or string to secure them in a couple of places.
5. Once the paint dries, slip the tube over the cords with the slit pointed toward the back. If necessary, secure it with a little transparent tape.
Free, easy, and it took me less than 15 minutes of actual work to create and install mine.
When I bought my Marshmallow couch a few weeks ago, my only real misgiving was Walter. The world is Walter’s obstacle course, and he spent most of his time lying on the back of our old couch, looking out the window or supervising the goings-on in the living room, so with visions of snagged leather dancing in my head, I set about trying to create a more suitable perch for him.
Forty bucks later, I came home with 10 lbs. of birdseed and a carpet-covered perch just the right height for him to use for birdwatching. I hung a birdfeeder from the front porch, removed the bubble wrap from the window to give him an unimpeded view, and set the perch next to the window.
He was wary at first, but once he figured out how to jump up on it, we couldn’t have kept him off of his perch if we’d wanted to.
Now our only problem is cleaning the hair off the carpeted surface. This cat sheds like — well, a cat — and it takes four or five layers of lint-roller tape to clean a perch the size of a notebook.
I’m not fond of wasting disposable materials at that rate, so I got on Pinterest to see how other pet owners had worked around this problem.
Rubber gloves, as it turns out, are great for removing pet hair from furniture. Put them on, rub your hands over the upholstered surface, and the friction does the rest. Two minutes of that treatment on Walter’s perch, and I came up with this:
Five minutes later, the whole perch — top, base and scratching post — was clean. File this one under “Pinterest win.” (Now I just have to find an equally effective means of getting the dog hair out of the office carpet. I’ll be testing a technique for that soon, too.)
I was so busy battling headaches when I got home from vacation this summer, I completely forgot to post my pictures from the trip — including the ones I took of the mural I traveled to Tucumcari to paint in one of the garages at the Blue Swallow Motel.
I’ll remedy that with some photos of the mural in progress on this Make-It Monday.
This was the most challenging mural I’ve painted up to this point. Portraits are always tricky, but in this case, I was painting a portrait of two old friends, one of whom was an artist whose work influenced my style.
The first old friend is the late Bob Waldmire, the artist behind the wheel of the VW Westfalia. The second old friend is the Westfalia herself. She had almost as much personality as Bob did, and I adored her for it.
My fondness for Bob and my respect for him and his work made it imperative that I get a good likeness, and it took either four or five tries (I eventually lost count) before I was finally satisfied with it.
Getting the Westfalia right was a matter of proportion and symmetry, which are difficult to render at that scale. Compounding the challenge was the fact I’d tried to set things up relative to the ground, which — as you can see — is gravel and not really level itself.
I wound up repainting several parts of the Westfalia, and they still didn’t end up perfectly symmetrical, although both Ron and Kevin, the Blue Swallow’s owner, were quick to note that old Volkswagens are rarely 100 percent symmetrical, either.
It has its flaws, but I think it looks like Bob, and I really like the way the headlights and reflectors on the Westfalia turned out.
This isn’t so much a “make-it” project as a “buy-it-and-install-it” project, but it was cheap, quick and might save us a few bucks on vet bills and insurance deductibles, so I thought I’d post it anyway.
Several months ago, Ron hit a slippery spot after a rainstorm and fell on the steps leading from our deck to the backyard, earning himself a nasty bruise in the process.
He wasn’t the only one who found treated lumber just a little too slick to negotiate safely after a rain; during a particularly wet period this summer, we noticed our aging collie mix, Songdog, stepping gingerly and occasionally slipping, so the next time I was at the hardware store, I picked up some tread tape and a package of tacks and set about making the steps a little safer for my boys.
The finished project would have looked a little neater if I’d cut the strips to length instead of tearing them, but I didn’t want to dull my scissors cutting tape with the texture of sandpaper. If you’re particular about such things, you could probably use a utility knife with a disposable blade to make a neater edge.
Riggy wasn’t impressed (lacking eyes, he navigates the world with his nose, ears and paws, and he doesn’t like it when familiar paths suddenly feel unfamiliar under his feet), but I’m sure we’re all safer, and even if he refuses to set a paw on the strips, they slow him down and force him to think about what he’s doing, so he’ll be less likely to slip when he comes charging in for dinner or cookie time.
You can buy narrow tread tape for about $1 a foot at most hardware stores; wider tape will run you a little more. I think the stuff I used was about two inches wide and came with a self-adhesive backing that I spent about 15 minutes reinforcing with tacks just to be sure it stayed put. Cheap, easy project, and one I highly recommend if you’ve got outdoor steps that are prone to get a little slippery in wet weather.
Here’s a cheap, easy timesaver for you, gleaned from one of those Pinterest-clickbait listicles. I’m not sure where the idea originated, as several variants on it have been making the rounds for a while, but the upshot is that you fill a dish wand with soap and vinegar, hang it in your shower, and use it to wipe down the walls and fixtures after you shower, thus keeping soap scum at bay and obviating the necessity of scrubbing.
You will need:
Hook you can hang in or just above your shower
Install the hook. (Protip: Command hooks are worthless for this. I want to love them, but I’ve never had any luck getting the adhesive to work in humid conditions, and the inside of a shower is about as humid as it gets.)
Fill the dish-wand reservoir halfway with dishwashing liquid. Most of the Pinterest versions of this will specify Dawn, as if it has magical properties, but the brand really isn’t important. I think we used Costco’s eco-friendly store brand, but whatever you have on hand is fine.
Fill the reservoir the rest of the way with vinegar (either apple-cider vinegar or plain distilled will work), screw the cap on, and shake it up.
Hang the dish wand from the hook. Before you step out of the shower each morning, give the dish wand a good shake and use it to wipe down the inside of the shower while it’s wet. Takes about 30 seconds and knocks down the soap residue before it has a chance to dry and leave a film on everything in the shower. Not bad for something that costs less than $5 and takes maybe 5 minutes to throw together.
Inspired by an end-of-season sale on echinacea, rudbeckia, and Oklahoma Indian blankets, I was just turning over the first few spades of dirt for a new flowerbed in the front yard when a young man walked up and asked if I’d consider paying him to do some yard work. He was stranded in town, he said, and was trying to earn enough money to buy a bus ticket home to Springfield, Missouri, to see his daughter.
I’d already hit three rocks by that point and was losing my enthusiasm for the project, so I told him I’d give him $20 an hour to spade up the area I wanted to plant and flatten out the rise left in the yard after the plumber replaced our sewer line last year.
I figured he’d be out there the rest of the afternoon, but he had the flowerbed spaded up in less than 15 minutes, and in the time it took me to install mulch cloth and plant my flowers, he’d flattened that rise. He was done in just over an hour, so I treated him like those fraction-of-an-hour-is-an-hour contractors and sent him off to the Greyhound station with $40, a big bottle of Gatorade, and a big smile.
After he left, I took myself to Lowe’s to pick up mulch and more flowers — including several daylilies to plant along the sewer line.
Between the two of us, I think we did a pretty good job.
I still need some flagstone to use as edging, and I need to move the coupler and spare hose to the front so I can water more easily, but I’m happy with this project so far, and I’m looking forward to expanding the beds in the coming months so they’ll be ready for planting in the spring.