May 08, 2012

Smurf Project 2.0

My sister and I collected smurfs as kids. We got them all the time as gifts and my mom saved all of them. When I turned 30 I got my collection from my parents as a gift. For almost three years, the collection has been in the same box in my closet. Then one day I was surfing Pinterest and found this post about displaying LEGO figurines. I knew this would be perfect for my smurfs!

After washing, drying, sorting and organizing my smurfs, which meant laying them on the counter how I think they would look in a frame and estimating what size frame the smurfs needed, I purchased two shadow boxes at Michaels that measured 16" x 30". (I had to make one collection display for myself and one for my sister).

I picked up some trim at Home Depot that would work in the box. We measured the length of the shelves and added them all together. Then, in between each shelf, on the left and right side of the frame box, I have spacers that measure 2.125" tall. I glued them onto the sides of the frame and set the shelf on top of them. So the shelves themselves are removable. 

The boards we cut were spray painted a nice flat black - THANKS TO MY AWESOME HUSBAND! He is truly a SPRAY PAINTING GENIUS and I suck at it. I affixed the side spacers to the frame with tacky glue - because that's what I had on hand! I used glue dots on the feet of the smurf to affix them to the wood shelves.



Here is one of the finished pieces!


February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day

I can't take credit for my niece's valentines - although I did design and print them for her, I hounded my sister to let me tackle this project I found on pinterest and I hounded my sister for weeks to email me a photo. Two photos later and a shipment south and I received this photo of the finished pieces. I must admit they are pretty cute.


As for my daughter's valentine's, we had them done over a month ago! She helped me stir in the colors for the soaps. I didn't scent them because some of the younger kids might have issue with that. 



January 19, 2012

Towels-Hanging in the Kitchen

Thankfully my sister is not a blog stalker because I made her some hand towels for her kitchen. Her and I complain that the "craft show" towels are often "old lady" and don't match our kitchens. So I offered to sew some for her since I don't crochet.

I found some tutorials online (here and here) and in the end modified both to make my own creation I call the "modified beanie." The first project was a touch challenging because I had to use my button foot on my sewing machine to put a button hole in my towel. It worked awesome but I was unable to make it happen again so I just went with a different pattern.


The modified beanie pattern is my favorite, because it was the quickest to make. I used a lid to my medium size pyrex bowl to cut a nice semi-circle pattern. And I had leftover elastic in my sewing box. 

I need practice with this because my sewing isn't all that straight and I struggle sewing the towel together before adding the topper. But that's okay,they are functional and I have six more of my own to make as soon as I wash the towels and fabric. 


January 09, 2012

Button Tree Home Decor

Pinterest lead me a beautiful button tree. I set out to make one for my new bathroom. I had a hard time finding buttons and would pick them up wherever I saw some: Wal-mart, Joann's, Michaels, Meijer. I had a small collection going and had my husband cut me some of my pallet wood to create the piece.

It measures approximately 18" x 22". I made sure my pallet wood was nice and flat and held it together with screws and two vertical pieces on the back. I sorted my buttons into piles - brown and green/blue and laid out the design on the boards following the idea I found on Pinterest. I glued the buttons on the wood one-by-one with tacky glue (this task took about an hour). I let it dry and hung it in my bathroom.



November 30, 2011

Towel Tree for the Bathroom

With my new found confidence from Pinterest, I decided to make the towel tree that I pinned to my board a while ago. It can be purchased here for $127.75. It's a vinyl sticker that you affix to your wall. It's sold as a coat tree shown below.

I decided that price was outrageous so I decided to make my own tree. I was able to print the tree the actual size on about 15 sheets of 13x19 paper at work. I pieced it all together and then loosely traced the back side of it with a charcoal pencil (taped it to the sliding door to see through it). After you trace the back, you flip over the piece and trace the front with a regular pencil onto your wood. This allows the charcoal to transfer the image onto your wood. It's similar to using 'old school' carbon paper.  I should probably let you know I reversed the tree image and cut from the backside of the wood.

I him hawed about what type of wood to use, I didn't want it to be too flimsy so I nixed luan, I didn't want it to be too heavy and hard to cut so I decided not to use MDF board. And in the end, I just used the left over 3/4" plywood that we had in our garage. This decision was mainly because it resulted in no additional funds spent and we had the wood sitting there, left over from a floor fix from six months ago. The tree is in two pieces, the top and the trunk.

I cut it out with a jig saw - my first time using one and I love it. I bought a variety pack of blades and used the wood one they said was for "scroll" cutting. It took me about an hour to cut the entire piece, I broke one blade and didn't have any hand injuries or mishaps. I was pretty impressed with myself (thus boosting my confidence for more jigsaw projects). 

I sanded the good side and then my awesome husband cut two small holes to add the shaker pegs. I glued the shaker pegs into the piece. I painted it and we hung it on our wall (conveniently on a stud) with six screws - 3 on the top and 3 on the bottom. I covered the screws with wood filler and painted them. I planned to wood fill and paint the seam where the trunk and body met, but it didn't need it so I left it as is.

It's in our bathroom and all that needs to be done is the trim around it. 


I encourage you to tackle this project. If you don't have the ability to print and piece it together on your own, you can always contact a blueprint company and ask them to print it for you. I looked into this option and it was about $15 to have the tree printed.  If you would like the tree file I used for my layout, simply email me, I'll even send it actual size - just include the height and width of your area. Be sure to put "Towel Tree Pattern" in the subject line to avoid your request becoming spam. {kstrohs(at)hotmail(dot)com}

November 28, 2011

My Repurposed/Reclaimed Pallet Headboard

It started with Pinterest. I quickly became addicted to finding things I liked and pinning them to my board. Then I would visit the things I pinned and find out how other people completed these projects with the tutorials they had online. This research allowed me to have an increase in confidence. I thought to myself, "If this 'woman in Alaska' can build a headboard from pallets, so can I!" And so I began.

I loosely followed the tutorials of two women (you can find their instructions here and here). Initially I wanted to trim out my headboard, but I didn't have one piece of pallet wood long enough to trim out the long end, and I liked it without trim, so I left it as-is. I began by adjusting the measurements to work for the bed we have in our guest bedroom.

I grabbed some pallets from work and got busy the week my husband was in Germany. I spent almost every night in the garage tackling the super hard project of tearing apart pallets with pry bars, hammers and sweat and bullets. I learned quickly that I grit my teeth when something is difficult because my jaw began to get sore. The destruction seemed to take forever. Probably because I wasn't quite sure what I was doing and because I was trying to be careful with my wood. I hated it when I worked so hard to tear out staples and nails and then on the last end, I'd split the board!

I probably didn't do this job properly, but it is basically a frame covered with pallet boards. I did cut he pallets for the frame, because I didn't care about the nail holes being in the back, and cutting allowed me to keep things straight. Notice I said straight, not square. I didn't square anything up, because I really don't know how. I just eyeball things and I'm usually pretty accurate, and this time was no different.

I didn't take any tutorial/how-to photos because there are a gazillion blogs on the internet that have great plans complete with photos. I'll just show you the finished piece and tell you I spent $25 on this project - a can of ZAR Fruitwood stain and some brackets/braces for the board on the back side and finishing nails for the boards on the front. Yes, the boards are held on with finishing nails ** gasp ** I know and I said above I probably didn't do this job properly!




July 20, 2011

Fun in the Kitchen

If you've ever been to my house or stalked the home photos I have,  you will know that my kitchen and living room are very open. The "doorway" is over 12 feet wide, therefore, we cannot put a baby gate across it to prevent little hands from diving into the kitchen cupboards, or being in the kitchen when I cook. But this is fine with me. I love to be cooking in the kitchen, it can sometimes be annoying when a half-crying toddler is nagging on your knees, as you are trying to cut potatoes, but I'm glad she can see me in the kitchen and be a part of the cooking process (she watches and pours things in for me and stirs ingredients together). I think the most annoying thing about not blocking off this area to her, is the toys she hauls into the kitchen, the ones I almost always trip over while moving from stove to island counter top to sink to fridge while making a meal.

Anyhow, in an attempt to make cooking somewhat educational, while keeping her away from the hot stovetop and oven, I decided to make and display some educational items on my refrigerator. I typed up some items at work - ABC's, Colors, Shapes, Numbers - and printed them off on card stock. I then attached them to the fridge using clear contact paper. Now when we are in the kitchen together and she isn't hanging on my knees, we can  say our ABC's together and practice our colors, numbers, and shapes.

I have big plans (I've already purchased the flash cards) to cut and affix flash cards onto a sheet of paper according to their theme - such as, food, parts of the body, animals, etc. I then want to swap out the sheets of themes so each time we cook, we can cover a different topic! I think it will be fun to mix things up a little bit and keep Rachel entertained. 

This "sticker" is my effort to keep the refrigerator items on the refrigerator. We have the magnet letters, but they often get carried away with a handful of other things. 


August 23, 2010

Baby Food Addiction

Because of my recent addition to making baby food, I decided to tackle making teething biscuits. I found a few recipes online and tried one. The flavor can be compared to a wheat thin, without any salt. I'm not sure how I like them, I think they break apart too easily, but I did give one to Rachel to try.


The beginning of the dry ingredients get mixed together! 




I think the texture was freaking her out the most! It's very "grainy."

But don't worry, I wasn't discouraged or sad because baby Everett came over and gobbled them up. 


April 28, 2010

Favorite Snack Day

When I read "Show and Share your Favorite Snack" on Rachel's school calendar, I was excited! (Rachel was, too!) I sent (one of) her favorite snacks to school - Chocolate Cupcakes! I quickly decorated them one night after work and put chocolate butterflies on them. I totally forgot about photos and will admit, this is not my best work, but it was fun for the kids and they had no problem eating them!


Mini chocolate Chip Cupcakes, Green Frosting and Butterflies, ready to assemble! 

The finished product.

December 23, 2009

Batter Up

Why bother looking for a mini, pink Detroit Tigers batting helmet when you can make your own? 




After a coat of white primer, some raspberry paint, a new custom ordered/made D....


Too bad it won't fit on her head! Right now it's hanging out in her room on her dad's Tiger wall

December 09, 2009

Wall Artwork

I've never liked that our kitchen and living room share a wall. It makes painting each room a different color very difficult. When we painted our kitchen a year ago, I had big dreams to put a large stripe on the kitchen wall - from floor to ceiling - to tie in my kitchen wall artwork.  But, I picked out a paint that had a sand paper texture and I was concerned it would be difficult to repaint the wall, if necessary, due to the different textures next to each other.

My next big dream was to "build a frame" around my existing wall artwork and paint the frame the same color as the kitchen walls. I always have "great ideas" but rarely do I know the "best way" to implement these ideas. I thought about using plywood as the backer and mounting my frames onto it, then the talk of that being too heavy made me think of luan and finally, after a good solid year of thinking, I decided my best, cheapest, and most lightweight idea yet would be canvas.

I picked up a roll of primed canvas at Blick Art Materials in Dearborn. I only needed about a 4'x4' piece to complete this project, but I had to purchase a roll of 63" x 3 yard canvas. With the help of a tape measures, chalk line and sharp scissors, I cut my canvas to size. Then, my husband cut a frame for me out of 2" trim we purchased at Lowe's. I used a staple gun to tack the frame together and to tack the canvas to the frame. I painted the frame and canvas the same color as our kitchen walls. A touch of measuring here and there, some laser level lines, a few nails, and voila, my wall artwork is complete, tied into the kitchen and looking rather sharp!

Here is the wall artwork before.



Canvas purchased for the project.



Ready to paint the new canvas frame.



The completed project!



October 09, 2009

It's a Table...No, It's a Desk!

After replacing our sofa table with an ottoman in our living room, my husband expressed his desire to keep the sofa table because it belonged to his grandmother. I was fine with this because if you've read my previous posts, you know I am a lover and keeper of good furniture. I didn't know exactly what to do with this sofa table, so once we got our ottoman, I drug it into our office where it sat in the corner and occasionally collected "things." Now that we're having a child, we needed to clean out our office to make room for baby. I was not sure what to do with this piece of furniture. My husband expressed that we could get rid of it, and I kept my promise to keep it. And then I had an idea, convert it into a desk!

The sofa table belonged to his grandma and then passed to his parents and my husband remembers having this in his house as a kid, and eventually in his own house as an adult. It was a fine piece of furniture, the top had been re-done once by his dad and was in need of another refinish. The single drawer in the front had a broken handle, but that could be easily replaced. I asked my dad if he could put new legs on my table and I told him I would eventually bring the table to him. After researching how tall this desk should be, I realized I could buy replacement legs at Lowes or Home Depot for the table. So there was no need for him to fabricate new legs for me.

My trip to the big box stores didn't go well. They don't carry legs long enough for my desk. I needed 30" dining table legs and they only had 25" legs, which I later learned are end table height legs. This discovery came after I had removed the old legs and sanded down the old finish. So my project was on hold for about a week until I found some legs that would work with my new table. An internet search turned up Osborne Wood Products where I was able to purchase four new maple Cabriole table legs. They weren't exactly like the old Queen Anne legs that were on the table, but they were suitable for this project because the size matched the existing legs.

After removing all of the existing hardware and legs, I sanded everything down, omitting the use of a chemical stripper because I'm pregnant. The side finish actually came off quite easily, but the top, which had been previously refinished was a lot more work. I used a brass brush to get rid of most of the old varnish and stain in the routered edges on the table. I filled in the holes from the previous hardware with Plastic Wood filler.

I prepped the wood with Minwax Wood Conditioner before applying the stain. I used Minwax Stain in Ebony, the same intimidating color I used on the dresser project.  Another coat of stain and a long overnight drying and onto the varnish. I used a Minwax Polyurethane varnish in clear satin.

Besides having two files and a mosquito land on my varnish - don't worry, I got them off before the coat dried - the new desk turned out great and it now sits in our kitchen.


Here is the table before. 



A close up of the top which had been refinished once before. 



Here it is with its new legs. It's no longer a table, but a desk!



The finished product. I nabbed the chair and cushion from Ikea. 


October 02, 2009

It's a Dresser and a Changing Table

I don't like getting rid of good furniture, and as far as I could tell, the dresser my husband had since I met him was good furniture. It has a solid wood body and dovetail drawers and is still fully functional. Sure, aesthetically it isn't pleasing: outdated hardware, scratches on the varnish, spots of stain rubbing off, but on the inside it is a good piece of furniture.

I've always wanted to refinish this dresser, but never really had a reason, or any extra time to do so, but with a baby on the way, and no place to relocate this dresser, this refinishing project came to life. 

After removing all of the existing hardware, I sanded everything down, omitting the use of a chemical stripper because I'm pregnant. The finish actually came off quite easily. I think because it was such an old dresser. I filled in the holes from the previous hardware with Plastic Wood filler. Another few swipes with the sander and I was ready to stain.

I prepped the wood with Minwax Wood Conditioner before applying the stain. I purchased Minwax Stain in Ebony. This color is very intimidating. It looks black when you open the can, but once you apply the black to the wood color, it turns into an espresso like brown-black. Immediately I was in love with the color. Another coat of stain and a long overnight drying and onto the varnish. I used a Minwax Polyurethane varnish in clear satin.

The hardware I picked up from Ikea a month or so ago and my husband helped me install it. I was so worried about getting the two holes exactly 5 and 1/16" apart that after trying to get my measurements perfect for about 30 minutes, I decided I should hold off on my project until my husband could help me. He knocked out the task without any difficulty and taught me a thing or two about how to install this type of hardware in the future.

Here is the dresser before. 



And here it is after all my hard work! 


This photo really shows the holes from the existing hardware that I filled in, but I'm thinking it's just the garage lighting. (My husband has so many lights in our garage, it's as bright as an operating room.) Hopefully when we put this in the house, it won't be as noticeable. We'll be using this as a dresser in our daughter's room and will put a changing pad on the top so it will double as a changing table. 

September 27, 2009

Bookshelf + Baskets = Masterpiece

I think I am drawn to any sort of shelf and love to have them in all my closets and any other place I can stash them. In college I had my dad custom make shelves for each of the three places I lived. I'd measure and send him my "plans" and the next time I came home, my custom shelves were ready to take back to school with me.  When my grandfather passed away and I was given the opportunity to take almost anything I wanted, I couldn't pass up on two shelves. One was a bookshelf show below.

I wasn't sure what I was going to do with this shelf, and my husband rolled his eyes when I told him to load it into the truck, but I know that it's hard to come by decent, affordable (free in this case) bookshelves, so I stashed it in my garage for a few months. 

When I found out I was pregnant and we needed to reduce and relocate our office, I decided I'd find some sort of basket to put on my bookshelves and stash office items: tape, staples, note cards, pens, rubber bands, etc. I measured my area and checked out a few organization stores online. I found that Ikea had the size baskets I needed to fit my bookshelf. So one Sunday, my friend and I went to Ikea to get my baskets. Below is what happened when I got home.

Here is my "new" bookshelf. 


And the baskets I bought at Ikea. 




And this is the finished result! I'm amazed at all the storage! I was able to put candles and smelly things in the bottom three baskets and I still have one basket completely empty! 



December 19, 2008


As most everyone knows, I'm throwing myself a 29.5 birthday party in January at the roller skating rink. I just got most of my invites out this week and have discovered a TYPO! Nothing major, the invite is completely usable/readable/understandable with the typo, but I know it's there. Not sure if others will notice it, and if they do, they will most likely say nothing to me.

Why is this so frustrating, well, because checking for and noticing typos is part of my every day job. But what is worse is when I work on my own "projects'. I check and double check and triple check and ask other people to check and then I find an error! I am 100% responsible for this error and I think I know how it happened.

I'm a key command junkie. I rarely use my mouse in my programs, I use all of the key commands. Command P to print, Command C to copy, T for my type tool. I have the majority of the commands memorized including Select All, Move to Front, Move to Back, Show Guides, Hide Guides, Show Frames, Hide Frames, Show Invisibles, Step and Repeat, etc. This has backfired on me several times. And I'll try to explain why.

The type tool is the letter T and if I am already in the "type tool mode" and press the T key again, it will actually type the letter T wherever my cursor is. The letter T is my typo for this project. There is a bright side, 1-I printed 2 invites per page, therefore, only half of them are incorrect. 2-I had to print a few more invites because I didn't have enough (yeah, this Par-Tay is going to be huge) so it is possible the majority of the invites are fine, and it's just the extras that were misspelled. Comment and let me know if this is true or not.


December 11, 2008

Unique Jewelry Display Project

I've been searching the internet and stores for a way to store my jewelry. I don't have a lot, and much of it is costume jewelry (primarily necklaces and bracelets), but I have been struggling to find a way to store and display my jewelry in my huge bathroom that has minimal storage space.

My jewelry needs a home.

Here is what I came up with. I purchased a basswood board at Joann Fabrics for $9.99 (but I had a 40% off coupon, so I got the board for $5), a tube of acrylic paint (burnt umber is the color I picked), clear spray paint, various cabinet hardware from Lowe's and Home Depot, an easel from Pier One and my drill bits and screw gun.


I painted the wood board using the burnt umber acrylic paint and then used a crumpled up piece of newspaper to pat the board while the paint was wet. This created a textured look. When the paint was dry, I sprayed the wood with clear spray paint to seal the color and provide a protective coat.


I then planned my design by arranging the cabinet knobs on the board. It took a few tries, and I am glad I had my jewelry on hand to know which items I wanted to display.

I placed the board on the easel, hung my jewelry and my DIY Jewelry Display Project was done!