Sunday, September 16, 2012

Hanging a Cutting Board (on the fly)

One of the gems I found in my mum's storage shed was the cutting board I made her way back when I was 7th grade. She is the one I owe thanks to for my love of chickens in the kitchen, and bestowed my gift back to me now that I have a big ol' kitchen of my own. The only thing was I had no cabinets with space on top, like she did, or free counter space to display my chicken-themed, wood shaping prowess. The last thing I wanted to do was drill a gaping hole (say, where the eye should be) to hang it off a nail by a thread. It would just look wrong; it would ruin the cutting board. And god knows I'm not really willing to part with my money (probably $15 worth given my experience with prices on domestic stuff) on a cutting board hanging apparatus at one of the expensive kitchen/box stores.

In one of the boxes of things that should have gone to the trash, but somehow ended up getting moved over, I found our former gold-colored curtain rod hooks. They are useless now because the windows in the house already came equipped with hooks (in old metal-covered in white paint color) in addition to the fact that I only had 3 of the 4 hooks that originally came with the rods. Frequent loss of some, but not all, matching things is a given occurrence during moves with bonus points if they are irreplaceable without buying a whole new set, too. The final hook will probably show up as we're moving again in a box we previously checked 15 times or more.

Seeing that it could no longer serve its original purpose, I was about to toss it out when I realized that they could indeed hold something. A cutting board perhaps? Yes! Bear pointed out that if I flipped over the hook so that the opening faced down, there was a nice flat part for the cutting board to rest on. It was then that I wondered if we could bend the opening completely closed for a 2-in-1 deal: combination cutting board wall display and oven mitt hangers.

The gist is, you take those old curtains hooks and bend the u-shaped part closed with a strong enough tool.

Before the squeeze.

After the squeeze. It would be useful to insert the bent napkin rings just before you get it closed all the way. We did not have that solution figured out by then.

Get a ruler, level it, and mark on the wall where you'd like to put the hooks. Then drill the screws in a bit, put the hooks on, and finish drilling in to the point where it's snug, but not too tight. Oh, and make sure to measure how far apart you'd like them (so you don't put them too far apart or too close together).
Make sure it's level! Ours is just a tad off, but we're not too worried about it.

Yay! Up on the wall to proudly display my chicken-rendering abilities!

Mum brought up some bargain napkin holders. Two of them (out of the twelve total) were a little bent anyway so I thought they'd make great hangers. I simply  bent the ring upwards to hang (inside will work better if you've planned this out ahead of time, unlike me) and then pulled one of the "vines" out to make a hook that could hang the oven mitts. This will probably only work with napkin ring holders that are made of cheaper aluminum and have a lot of give. Anything else will either be impossible or snap on you, making you upset and the hanger useless.

Less effort for me means a happy Rabbit, indeed!

All done! I can finally rest easy knowing I have a place for my mitts.

From the porch-front: shelves are still in progress and very frustrating for Bear. Though things are moving along slowly, they are moving along! Keep checking in...I think when I find the hardware I'll post my pattern and tutorial for a clothespin bag!


Sunday, September 9, 2012

I Saw Rabbit Speaking with the Devil!

We're in the midst of building shelves and such, which takes a bit more work than we expected. Actually, Bear is in the midst of it and getting greatly annoyed, so he stopped for a bit. That left me, after a very bad week that I won't get into, taking my time and keeping the pace down by replacing that ugly pantry blue/white grid with something more down my alley. It's still vinyl covering, but at least I like the pattern more than the old one.

What I really wanted was a chicken pattern, but upon being able to find none I went with a scrolled black and white design that was marginally more agreeable than the faux wood, fiesta, or plain white options I had at the Dollar General. Why did no place have an ugly, ridiculous, and lovable chicken pattern? I have no clue. This stuff is primarily used for kitchens, and I only accept chickens as adequate kitchen decor. Everything else is sub-par. So there.

This vinyl covering for shelves is called Magic Cover. I thought this was merely a marketing ploy to emphasize the easy application of said vinyl. After working with it, with the knowledge that I am not a smart woman, I am convinced that what I have participated in is indeed a form of witchcraft. It was too easy to apply the first shelf's worth, and the second shelf's problem was that I am a firm supporter of "measure once, cut twice."

First, I pulled up the old vinyl covering after wondering if it would come up and picking at it. Turns out, it comes off easy and revealed the original, unpainted shelves that are quite nice, but just not okay enough to be left alone. Someone painted the edges white, and they were sticky from what I'm guessing is years of vinyl covering. Just not really acceptable for the time-being, although Bear took a look at it with that glimmer in his eye and stated vaguely that "it's gonna be a summer thing," which sends a shudder across my entire body and makes me wince. With the way the shelves are going, I may have to stave him off. He really is capable, and has a natural knack for woodwork (genetic...his grandfather did a lot of woodwork in his time, and his great grandfather built a church or two). The problem is that he is impatient. This will be covered in another post on the battle between Bear and the Oak.

 After peeling that up with great ease, I started cutting the vinyl. They provide a nice little grid on the back for straight cutting, and my shelves are a simple rectangle that made measuring a breeze. No shelf parts to cut into the vinyl and such.

With the cutting done, I peeled about 4 inches of the backing away, folded it under as I laid the vinyl right-side up, and started laying down the exposed vinyl. As I smoothed the sticky vinyl down with my left hand, I continued to peel the backing away bit by bit with my right hand, making my work a constant study of "did I screw anything is obviously witchcraft."

With the top completely down, I marveled at my pretty decent work. I did manage to have about 1/4" hanging out over the front edge of the shelf, but taking a hard-cover book spine and rubbing it along the vinyl really hard (but slow) got it to finally stick down firmly. The second shelf was the problem.

Let me just say, the magic was still in effect. Magic Cover was doing its sorcery just as it should. I was short in measuring. God, was I short. Instead of doing what I did originally--laying it down in the roll on the shelf, pressing down firmly at the end so that it made a crease in the paper backing, and then cutting 2 squares up from the crease line--I decided to just use the ruler provided on the backing (goes from 0-18" repeatedly)! How (not) smart of me! Little did I think, the roll doesn't necessarily start at 0. It obviously didn't, because I was 6" off from my "last" cut at 17.5" for the first shelf. I ended at 18" just to be safe for the second shelf...and yet I was 6" short. Yup. So I botched that one. Oh well.

All fixed! The overhang was later tamped down and I might actually cut it with a straight razor because if it pops back up I'm not going to deal with that.

That's right. Oh well. I'm totally okay with it. Why? Because I'm going to cover that slip up with Bear's soap making supplies and it will never be seen by the eyes of company. Oh sure, you'll see it here, and I'll see that damn overlap in my nightmares, but visitors at my house...if they really need to look at my pantry for some reason, will not be able to see it. And that will make me very happy, because I love to fool myself a lot of the time.

Bottom shelf: Bear's soap supplies. Top shelf: more cooking stuff. Within 10 minutes of taking this photo, I put a hole into the vinyl with a cutting board edge.

So, the bottom pantry shelves look a lot better to me (they may be hideous to you, but get your own pantry if you don't like it!) even though the house is an absolute wreck. Things are moving slowly. After this awful week I've had, though, I'm going to start measuring success not in how much closer I am to the finish line, but in the things I see along the way.

I put a spell on you, but you're free to go now!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Bless This Mess

Sorry, folks. Bear and I did not mean to be away for so long, but life happened and we were waiting on a very important piece of mail that hindered a lot of our efforts at working on the Home. What piece of paper could possibly prevent us from cleaning up some more and getting our Home into order?

Our security deposit return. It's no new fact that moving costs a lot, and that librarians don't exactly make bank. So, when it comes to a check in the mail totaling a rather large amount that could make or break our efforts, it's a pretty big deal. Well, on Saturday, we finally got the check and it was more than we really could have imagined. I did put a lot of effort into cleaning the old place, but I was pretty sure, based on old experiences and word of mouth about our old Warren company, that we wouldn't be seeing much of our security deposit come back. There was only one charge: the gas charge to shut off our account when we left. So with this minimal deduction, we ran to the bank and deposited the check and made off like bandits to some discount/cheap stores to get what we needed.

Around Big Town, we just got a new store called Home Goods. It's basically Marshall's or TJ Maxx for domestics, which means hit or miss on good deals. It also means you either find really awesome things or a lot of junk depending on their weekly/monthly shipments. You have to shop often, and in the meantime gird yourself in shopper's armor to make sure you don't leave with bags of stuff you really don't need. I do this by containing my search to the clearance shelves. Luckily we found a lot of stuff that we needed and that I felt were essential to getting started on settling things. Bathroom rugs, for instance, and some rug pads to keep the new rug (thanks Mum!) from slipping around on the hardwood floor, and a 3-tier basket thingy for fruits and onions/potatoes/garlic. On the other hand, we were still out a new set of towel racks/toilet rod/etc., curtain rods, bookshelves, etc, because those things were pricey at Home Goods and I wasn't about to pay $15 for a fancy toilet brush (we went to Target and found that a week after the students arrive, EVERYTHING domestic is basically on clearance and got a plastic version for $5).

Besides that, we also invested in mover's coupons offered by USPS, and then signed up on Bed, Bath and Beyond for mover's coupons. So, when the time comes to shop again after Bear has recouped from shopper's exhaustion (it takes about 1 hour of relaxation to every 10 minutes of shopping, and we were shopping for 2 hours), we'll be using those to get things that we missed or some more supplies for our next project: shelving.

Our new Home has one great disadvantage compared to the Warren: closet space. We have one closet, a "mud room" addition that is in bad condition due to poor construction, an attic, and a very dank basement. That leaves us with boxes of books, trinkets, and things that used to just go in boxes in the 4 closets we used to have at the Warren. I have one requirement now that we've got everything moved and lots of big stuff where it needs to be in the house layout, and that is to "get it off the damn floor and somewhere I don't have to walk around it. That's it. If you move perfectly, and everything is set up by the first week in, and you don't have boxes for a few weeks littering the place as you try and get things in order, you are a moving God/Goddess and I bow down to you. You probably also have movers, lots of money to spend on moving, and already mapped out the place and had extra storage space built before you got there. Probably. Otherwise, you are just efficient and I need to talk to you. Now. Because I sure as hell don't move like that and I need some moving therapy to get me straight.

On this rainy holiday weekend, we decided to build some shelves from free plywood we scored at the dump bins from our local furniture factory. They like to put out these bins and fill them with "scrap" that ranges in size from teeny-tiny real wood pieces to large veneered plywood pieces they just can't use, but know the community can use. It is very nice of them, and depending on their scrap levels that day and if people check, it's just like shopping at Home Goods. Either really bad or really good. Luckily, we got a good day in and brought home some walnut, red oak, and maple plywood. More on this after we finish today and I take some pictures to go with it. I really am horrible with picture-taking.

You haven't missed much here. Things have moved between rooms. It's like a very large, domestic version of Jenga...or Tetris. It's still crowded. We are totally working on that. And I suspect that today will be awesome because we'll get some physical work done that will clear up the floor and allow us to move even more stuff around until it finally ends up where its supposed to, or at least where I think it should. So, enjoy the holiday and I'll be back this week with our adventure in woodworking!