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DIY Compass Rose Night Stand

This is a step-by-step How To Not Paint a 1970’s Night Stand.IMG_4369

I received two night stands from my sister, That Clever Chick. They were our Great-Grandmother’s night stands, but Dear Sweet Sissy didn’t have any use for them so they were sitting in her garage. I decided to take them and repaint them but hadn’t decided on anything in particular so then they lived in MY garage for a while. Finally, browsing Pinterest, I had come up with a few ideas. This was my original plan, found here:

Map Night Stand

Pretty maps are hard to find. These days, they have bright colors and I just don’t find them appealing. I went to Half Price Books to try to find a map book, but didn’t have much luck. (I also don’t have the patience to sift through their MASSIVE clearance section though, so if you do, give it a try!) I tried printing out some old world maps but they were too small, so instead I decided on a compass rose. It would be simple but still look awesome, and be easy to reproduce, since I have 2 night stands.

First, I tried taking some chemical stripper to them in order to get any finish, stain, or paint off of them. I will let you know now, that I will probably NEVER use chemical stripper again. Even using rubber gloves, I burned myself several times by getting this stuff on my skin. And, just by leaving a used shop towel on the garage floor, it ate the smooth layer off of the concrete on the garage floor. THIS IS SOME NASTY STUFF.

Next, I tried painting the night stands with leftover latex paint. Hubby was sick of the night stands taking up space in the garage, so I was trying to kill two birds with one stone and get rid of some old paint at the same time. Unfortunately the paint wouldn’t stay put. There was a plastic-y 1970s finish on the night stands that prevented paint from sticking to it.

Paint scraping of easily - you can't have that on a night stand!
Paint scraping of easily – you can’t have that on a night stand!

So I decided to power wash them. Fastest way to get paint off of them, right? Well, yes, but it also made a huge mess. There were chunks of latex paint all over the driveway, and the wood didn’t really like it either. There was some splitting of the layers of wood, since it was a composite instead of solid wood (I’m guessing it was in the 70s that the US started cheaping out on quality furniture?) Anyway, I got the paint off as much as possible, and then sanded the rest of the table smooth.

After it was power-washed
After it was power-washed

Then I decided to spray paint the tables. I bought 2 cans (one can for each table, right?) Man, that stuff DID NOT WANT TO COVER. There were patches where I could see the wood even after passing over the same spot several times with the spray paint. I ended up using 1 1/2 cans just for one table. The spray paint also didn’t go on smoothly. I’m not sure if it’s because of the chemical stripper, or because I bought a matte finish, but it’s bumpy. I like to think this will help prevent things from sliding off of the night stand in the future.

one can of spray paint was not enough
one can of spray paint was not enough

Then they stayed in the garage a while longer. One painted, the other one, not. We got busy, the days grew shorter, and I didn’t have a lot of daylight hours at home. So they waited.

Finally, while Hubby was out of town (probably hunting, but by now I can’t remember where he was) I decided enough was enough. I brought the painted night stand into the house and started working. I cut and traced the Compass Rose onto the wood, eye-balling it in the center. Then I started painting it in.

Drawing and Painting the pattern, free-handed with the exception of tracing the outline.
Drawing and Painting the pattern, free-handed with the exception of tracing the outline.

This part went perfectly. So perfectly in fact, that I’m afraid to start working on the other one, because I know it won’t turn out as well at the first one. I have seen this pattern my whole life – Beginner’s Luck turns into junk the second time around.

Finished!
Blurry, but Finished!
The Final Product
The Final Product

I am thinking that on the other night stand I might put an anchor or something instead of another Compass Rose, but I haven’t decided yet. At this point, January in Southeast Texas doesn’t bode well for outdoor projects, especially painting, so I guess I have some time to decide. What do you think I should do? Below are a few Photoshopped ideas:

Night Stand-idea1 Night Stand-idea2 Night Stand-idea3 Night Stand-idea4

So, all in all, it turned out well, even though there were a few hiccups along the way. Lessons I’m passing on to you: (1) try to avoid using chemical stripper, unless you are wearing a HAZMAT suit; (2) prime every time; (3) buy twice as much spray paint as you think you’ll need; (4) don’t use latex paint on furniture when it has a terrible plastic-y finish on it.

There you go. My experiences have paid off for you again. Learn from my mistakes, and you will be a crafting genius. Everyone will want to know where you got your furniture, and you can just say “I made it.”

Cheers!

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Reclaimed Wood Table

A few months ago I was able to get my hands on some great old wood when a gentleman I know rebuilt his front porch.  When I asked, “do you have a plan for all that old wood?” (trying to hint around that I wanted it) his response was, “a good match.”

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I couldn’t stand idly by and watch him burn that beautiful wood, so I asked if I could have it. Now, the tricky thing was this was in Louisiana. I live in Texas. And I had flown to Louisiana on this trip. I went to LA a lot for work at the time, and I knew that eventually (because of project circumstances) someone would have to drive the work truck out there instead of fly, so I would just ask them to bring the wood home for me. Easy peasy. I selected some nice pieces because I knew I wouldn’t need all of it, and I stored it away for the next team to drive up. However, there was a miss-communication and the gentleman that let me have the wood thought that I wanted all of it afterall! So when the next team drove up he helped them load a half-bed full of old lumber. Geez.

I ended up taking more than I had planned, but I felt terrible that the rest was thrown away. NO ONE WANTED IT! And I definitely didn’t have space for all that lumber. I couldn’t even fit it in my car – I DRIVE A PRIUS!

So several months have gone by, and I finally got the guts/energy/inspiration/whateveryouwanttocallit to finally do something with the old lumber.  However, since I have had it for several months, Hubby thought it was taking up too much room in the garage (which it was), so he put it outside next to the garage. Where it got rained on, and full of spiders and roaches, and started to grow fungus. Grreeeaaattt….

I was able to wipe all the surfaces down with a wet rag, kill all the spiders and roaches, and then I set the wood out to dry because it had absorbed so very much rainwater.

All set up and ready to dry. Three minutes later there was a major domino effect because of the clumsy lab, trying to get me to play fetch.
All set up and ready to dry. Three minutes later there was a major domino effect because of the clumsy lab, trying to get me to play fetch.
Cibolo trying to help me by knocking everything over trying to get me to throw his toy.
The Clumsy Lab.
That's a dog head, staring at the toy he just dropped.
That’s a dog head, staring at the toy he just dropped, which also knocked over my drying boards.

Also, I raided the barn at my parents’ house recently, and turned up with this:

Old bench
Old bench

This is an old bench that my mother has had forever, and it was her grandmother’s. Obviously something along the way had removed the top, so I decided this would be a great base for my first attempt with this old wood. And the bench was already a beautiful color, so there was no need to re-stain it.

Seeing as how I HATE spending money on things that I can make myself, I looked online for a nice pattern that I could turn into a stencil and I found this:

The stencil
The stencil

I thought about simply putting it into the corner of the bench and having two or four corners be decorated instead of the center, but then I thought that I really need to expand my horizons with stenciling, so I decided to put this into the center of the bench and using the same stencil four times to make a circular pattern. Also, I decided against doing my chalk method and instead attempted to cut out the pattern from a clear transparency, since I was going to be using the same stencil multiple times I didn’t want it to get stuck to the roller or soggy with paint.

Also, thanks to some advice from Ashley over at Domestic Imperfection, I got some clear polycrylic to protect the beautiful blue paint that was already the amount of distressed that I loved. The last thing I wanted to happen was for the blue paint to chip away the first time someone sat on the bench! Also thanks to Ashley’s advice, I tried it out on some extra wood first to see how it would behave. What I discovered was this: It looks much better brushed on than sprayed on – when it was sprayed it didn’t seem to go on evenly, and I could see bubbly marks. Luckily it dried slow enough that I could spray it on and smooth it out with a foam brush. Also, I tested what it would look like when I painted over the polycrylic. I did NOT like how this made the paint look. Because of the now smooth painted surface the new paint didn’t go on evenly. So I decided that I would paint on the pattern and then spray it with polycrylic to seal the final product. Also, as several DIYers have pointed out, I bought water-based polycrylic because the oil-based kind is known for causing discoloration in your paint over time.

The wood in place, and the stencil sort of in place
The wood in place, and the stencil sort of in place

The next step was to build a frame for the wood to screw into place. I didn’t want to attach the reclaimed wood directly to the bench wood, because I was afraid that I would screw it up terribly, and ruin perfectly good wooden bench legs. So instead I spent $1.67 on a 1″x2″x8′ dowel to use as a frame. I wasn’t quite sure where I was going with this because I have never framed anything out like this before, but after one or two miscalculations (this bench is a very weird size, so there aren’t exact inches. The measurements were like 11.62 inches instead of 12) I got the frame set.

Old legs plus new frame
Old legs plus new frame

I also was nervous about attaching this to the bench legs, but I guess I needed some sort of stability, so I bit the bullet and screwed the frame into the legs.Sort of.

Too scared to drill through the old wood, I didn't quite get the hole deep enough for the screws. Oops.
Too scared to drill through the old wood, I didn’t quite get the hole deep enough for the screws. Oops.

I drilled some cheater holes into the wood first, and then put in the screws. Unfortunately though, I was so concerned about drilling too deep and going right through the bench frame, that I didn’t drill deep enough so the screws started stripping before I got them flush with the wood. Good thing they will be hidden by the top 🙂

After a few cold snaps and not wanting to work in the garage/yard because I just wanted to be warm, I sucked it up and got the energy to work on it again. Also, and I will say this was the real hold up, I didn’t have a good way to steady the boards while I attached them to the frame. I was worried about them being too far apart from each other after I screwed them into the wood, and being stuck with them that way.

Until just a couple weeks ago, when Hubby and I went to Harbor Freight so he could buy a manual log splitter. I saw these awesome, huge, heavy-duty clamps, (that were only like $10 each) and I knew that was what was missing from my garage repertoire I had been trying to build up. A few days later, I had the top attached.

Top Attached with Pattern

Now, in order to do the pattern on the top, I had a couple ideas. I thought I could do the chalk method I had used in the past, but then I was afraid that the pattern would be too busy for the chalk to work. I thought about stenciling, but I had recently had bad luck with a home-made stencil, so I was a little gun shy. And the last thing I want to do is screw up this beautiful reclaimed wood! So I decided that I would cut out the negative (white) space, and use it to trace with a pencil. As I was cutting out the negative space, the positive space tore in a few places, so I was definitely going to have to trace with the pencil instead.

And I also discovered that the pattern was actually too big to put into the center and repeat it 4 times, making a perfect circle. Whoops, I guess I should have checked that. Oh well, I like the idea of the corners being decorated too!

I taped the stencil down and drew the shapes in with a pencil. I made sure to have lots of light in the form of a head lamp to make sure I could see what I was doing clearly.

Stencil in Place
Stencil in Place

Here is a close up of what the penciling looked like.

Penciled Stencil
Penciled Stencil

I did two layers of white paint and then added a light gray to the edge to make it pop out a little bit, but not too much.

And this is the final product!Finished Product

Detail shot

Staging

  So now I have a beautiful accent piece that cost $0, and an extra seat if needed!

Thrifty Gifty Crafts #2

I made a few gifts for friends of mine for Christmas, and I really tried to put a lot of thought into what they would like. Like Trixie with JD I knew that my friends Dr. and Mr. Smerek would love this:

Finished Product

I did get this idea off of Pinterest, but only the general idea. I used the wood that was reclaimed from an old patio that I used for another project that you will see soon!

This was a really easy project. I used the same technique for the lettering as I did for my Rustic Sign DIY and added a black shadow on the lettering to make it pop out against the blue background. I also used some twine for the hanger, and I used some steel brackets to connect the boards together. I did have some issues with connecting the boards together because the wood was so old that it was sort of bending and not looking at all like a finished product. I also tried to get some of those wood bracket things like these:

bracket

because I was low on tiny screws, so I was trying to not use any. THESE DID NOT WORK.  The super old wood was too hard to hammer them into the wood, and they ended up just bending and looking horrible. So I ended up getting some long steel bars that were made for this exact thing, and lo and behold!  It worked, and ended up looking great!

When I gave it to Dr. Smerek for Christmas, she loved it, and even hung it on their mantle just in time for their family Christmas. And when they decide to have their 6 kids, I left room for each name or birthday, or whatever they want 🙂

Rustic Sign DIY

I always see these great crafts in stores, but my problem (and the reason for the solution) is that I’m cheap. Usually when I see something, my first thought is, ‘I would buy that if it was half the price.’ And my second thought is, ‘I can make that.’

For Example:

I see signs like this everywhere, but they never have the perfect phrase on them.
I see signs like this everywhere, but they never have the perfect phrase on them.

Now, usually it ends there. I don’t think anything of it, I never actually make the thing that I said I could make, and I’m ok with it. However, I see signs like the above one at craft shops and flea markets, and they always seemed cute, but never worth spending money on. Aside from the whole I can make that thing, they never had the right phrase. Usually they are cute or romantic or something, but I read it once and then I think about how I could never look at that everyday, because I’m already sick of it, and it’s still in the store!

Until Hubby said something that was perfect. One day, I think when we were at The Salt Lick, I was taking pictures with my phone and uploading them to Instagram (What, My Wildhood is on Instagram!? Follow me here: @ my_wildhood) what I asked Hubby what I should hash-tag a photo. He suggested #OnEarthAsItIsInTexas and I thought that was so perfect, that I had to do more than just use it as a hash-tag. Of course, being a Texan, I had heard the phrase before, but it was logged away in my memory bank…Not really at the tip of my tongue.

So I decided THAT was going to be the perfect phrase to go onto the rustic wooden sign that I was going to make.

So there is the back story, and here is how I did it:

Free Pallet
Free Pallet

Step 1: Get a pallet. They are free everywhere. Tractor Supply has a giant stack outside that they HOPE people take. They are such a waste, really. They can be used multiple times, but when stores get them, it’s not like they are also shipping things out, so they have no use for them. Instead, they put them out by the dumpster free for the taking.

Pallet art/crafts have gotten pretty popular lately, and I can’t decide if I think everything made out of pallets looks good or crappy. Maybe it just depends on the construction. However, pallet wood is not meant to look pretty, so if you want it to look really good, you actually have to do a lot of work to them so they don’t look awful.

Step 2: Take it apart. This is A LOT harder than it sounds if you don’t want to damage the wood. The one I had was not actually nailed together. It had these interesting nail/screws holding it together so it wouldn’t come apart very easily on purpose. Good thing I have a big strong Hubby to help me out! I ended up cutting one end so that the edge was free of scrails and then he took a rubber mallet (so as to not put giant dents into the wood) to break the rest of it apart. Then I ripped out all of the scrails as soon as possible to avoid any injuries. (I have had nails go through my foot before – not a pretty sight!)

Step 3: Sand the boards. Like I mentioned, pallets are not made to be pretty. They are made out of the cheapest wood possible, so you want to sand it down to make it look and feel better. I used a medium sand paper, and it could have been coarser, but that was all I had and I already didn’t have a dime in this project, so I was not about to go BUY more sand paper!

Step 4: Measure Twice, Cut Once.  Figure out the dimensions you want the sign and how you want your boards arranged.

Step 5: This is the only thing you need true technology for. See, like I said: I’m cheap. So I was not about to have a stencil professionally made, or buy stencil letters, or anything like that, because they cost way too much for someone who doesn’t use that sort of thing all the time. So I went onto Pinterest and found a way to make your own letters, in whatever font you want!

Go into your word processor, and type out what you want it to say in the font and size you want. Now, on Pinterest, the chick that provided this info had one fatal flaw in her description. She suggested that you actually hold up a piece of paper to your computer screen, and trace the letters onto paper. I have no idea why she would think that is a good idea, because you aren’t even supposed to put finger pressure on the screens that people have these days, so the fact that she thought it was a good idea to press a pen or pencil into the screen BLOWS MY MIND. INSTEAD, all you have to do is this (and this is only for Microsoft, sorry Mac peeps) Go into the Font Section (Edit Font, or whatever it’s called) and go to the bottom of the window that says Text Effects. Another window will pop up, that has Text Fill and Text Outline. Click on Text Fill, and Select No Fill. Click on Text Outline, and select Solid Line. You can pick the color and thickness of the line. I suggest Black since that’s easiest to see, and pick at least a 1 pt. line so that it’s thick enough. Then print it out. It doesn’t waste ink, and you have all that you need.

Once you get the lettering home and cut the letters out in a general shape (not perfectly cut out, see below) then you color the back of the letters with chalk.  This works great on a black background, but if you are doing this on a lighter background you can use pencil instead of chalk.

Stencils in Place
Stencils in Place (see how I didn’t cut the words out perfectly?)

Step 6: Arrange the letters/words how you want them and tape them down. (I guess I kind of missed the step of painting your background color before you do this. Oops…Anyway, I guess that’s really step 4 1/2. I also took the sander and sanded the edges after it dried so they weren’t so harsh-looking).  Don’t use a very strong tape or it will pull up your background color.

Step 7: Time to act like a 10 year old and color inside the lines! You can use a pencil, pen, or even just a dull pointy object to transfer the chalk to the wood.

Step 8: Marvel at my your genius.

Chalk transferred onto wood
Chalk transferred onto wood

Step 9: Paint over the chalk letters.

Step 10: Wipe down the wood with a damp towel, and again marvel at my your genius!

Finished Product!
Finished Product!

So go forth, and make your own perfect phrase for your home! It’s easy, it’s a relatively quick project, and it’s super cheap to do!

Summer Project: Greenhouse

I started writing this post in September (which was still later than I would have liked to be writing it), but circumstances have prevented me from continuing until now. I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything, but hopefully that will all be changing soon!

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I have wanted a greenhouse for the longest time, and I finally had Hubby on board for putting one together, but he wanted to wait until Fall so it would be cooler.  Well, I found one online for a REALLY good deal that I couldn’t pass up, so we bought it and had it delivered in June instead. So much for putting it together in the cooler weather!

The plan was simple – move the shed out from behind the garage and into a different part of the yard. That detail was not important.  It turns out that we also had to move A LOT of other stuff from behind that garage that we didn’t realize was in the way until we started to measure.

This took longer than it looks like it should have.
This took longer than it looks like it should have.

See that plant growing in front of the shed? My main goal was to build the greenhouse around that plant. I believe it is a mimosa, but I’m still not sure because I have never seen it bloom. However, before we bough the house the previous owner had tried to kill it multiple times, and it continued to grow, so I figure it needs to be there for a reason. So we were going to build the greenhouse around it.

After we moved all the stuff into the yard….

I didn't look like it took up that much space when it was behind the garage...
I didn’t look like it took up that much space when it was behind the garage…

We decided it was a great time to get rid of some things.  The pile of wood in front is a burn pile – rotten logs and a bunch of small shrubs that had starting growing behind the shed, mostly.  Also, Hubby and I were planning on sticking the shed somewhere else in the yard but it was much bigger than we thought it was. He called his parents, and they wanted it for the goats. Yes, they have goats, and the goats needed a new goat house.

I’m not making this up.

So Hubby power-washed all the mildew off of it, and we loaded it up onto their trailer so they could take it home.  We had to take down a portion of out fence to get the thing out of the yard in one piece, but it was surprisingly simple with 4 people!

The shed, loaded up and going to a good home.
The shed, loaded up and going to a good home.

Then we went to the Grown-Up/Homeowner Toy Store (Home Depot) and bought I-don’t-even-remember-how-many bags of sand and rock for the floor of the greenhouse.

So many bags...
So many bags…

We got some weed blocking fabric from our neighbor, let’s call him “Ben”

Almost enough!
Almost enough!

We had almost enough to cover the entire footprint of the greenhouse. Notice how we cut around the weed blocker for the “mimosa.” And then we put down the sand and gravel for the floor.

Floor is finished
Floor is finished

I know it looks like it in the picture, but those orange flowers aren’t coming from my tiny “mimosa” tree – those are my neighbor’s on the other side of the fence.

Hubby was smart and had this set up while we were working!
Hubby was smart and had this set up while we were working!

After the weed block and the rock were put down, we had to wait for delivery…

The giant Semi-Truck backing down my street to unload the greenhouse.
The giant Semi-Truck backing down my street to unload the greenhouse.

Of course I had been anticipating this forever, but it was a day later than I was told it would be, and then the delivery guy called me lost, driving around town unable to find my neighborhood. He had apparently driven around for a long time, because he knew all of the landmarks/buildings around me! Then, he said they are just supposed to leave it on the curb for delivery, but since he was late he would take it up to the garage for us. I wanted to say, ‘you would leave a 200+ lb. package on the curb? When we have to be present to sign for the delivery?! How does that make any kind of sense?’ But the guy was nice, and I know he doesn’t make the rules, so I kept my mouth shut.

The greenhouse was delivered on a Tuesday, and Hubby and I had talked about waiting to build it until Saturday.

That didn’t work.

I got home from work on Wednesday, and Hubby already had the bottom frame built! It came together a little at a time every day, and by Sunday it was done. I’m so glad we didn’t wait until Saturday to START.

Day One
Day One
Progress
Progress
Almost there....
FINISHED!!

After we built the greenhouse, we of course had to FILL IT with stuff, and we had some shelves that we took out of the shed (the goats said they didn’t need shelves) and got some shelves from Hubby’s wonderful uncle Bubba. First thing we did was power-wash the shelves, and then I painted them.

Short shelf: Before
Short shelf: Before
Tall Shelf: Before
Tall Shelf: Before
I LOVE THIS COLOR.
I LOVE THIS COLOR.

I just bought a quart of this paint because I was sure it wouldn’t take that much to paint two short shelves, but I thought I was smart when I bought the paint to include primer in it, so it went on REALLY thick.

Short Shelves: After
Short Shelves: After

I realize that I don’t have an “after” picture of the tall shelves, but I had run out of the blue paint, so I just used the last bit of green paint from when I painted the kitchen after we bought the house. It looked great, and I had JUST ENOUGH to do 2 coats on the tall shelves before I ran out!

So here it is, in all its glory! The greenhouse, mostly full and beautiful ❤

TaDa!
Ta-Da!

Why I Prefer Dogs to Humans

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Last night, after a wonderful dinner with some great friends, I pulled into the driveway to find my plant pot missing from its place in the front yard. Now this is not just any old plant pot. This was a plant pot that I had taken the time to paint our house address on, and put a plant in it! I got the idea off of Pinterest, and I was do proud of myself. Not only did I pick out something from Pinterest and ACTUALLY do the project, but it turned out well! I have even gotten compliments about it from the Chinese delivery guy!

Well apparently someone else liked it too, because it was stolen. I couldn’t believe that someone had actually taken it out of my yard, especially because we live at the end of a dead end, so it probably wasn’t someone just happening by, but it was probably someone visiting one of my neighbors.

This is why I prefer dogs to humans. Dogs are loyal, every day is the best day of their life, and they know how to make you feel better when you are blue. Dogs have evolved with humans for thousands of years, which is why they are so utterly loyal to humans. This is why I don’t trust people who say they don’t like dogs. Obviously they haven’t evolved correctly.

But with the loss of my plant pot, it just gives me another project to do to display our address. Trust me, it is VERY IMPORTANT that the Chinese delivery guy know my address!

Home Inprovements #4

Hubby and I have the same birthday. So to celebrate, we usually do one day for me and one day for him, in which we choose something we each want to do. On Saturday, I decided I wanted to be outside taking advantage of the beautiful day and garden!

Don’t judge. I may still be in my 20s but I love to garden and don’t have enough time to do it!

I finally planted my loquat babies, Hubby knocked out a bunch of stumps from those awful builder shrubs, and I repotted some plants that I was neglecting taking such good care of that they were outgrowing their pots!

Also, a couple weeks ago, Hubby planted a navel orange tree and now it already has flowers on it! Yay for yummy oranges!

And since I’m out of town a lot, Hubby likes to keep himself busy. So he built a fire pit in the backyard! Our yard is great for bbqs, and everyone knows I’m going for the cantina vibe, so a fire put that everyone can gather around is a great addition!

And, BTW, I finally painted the backdrop for our dart board, so now we can officially keep score!

Not too shabby for a girl who never has time to do anything at home!

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