Crafts

A Nightstand Workbench for Ju-Ju

I walk most mornings again with my friend, Linda.  The hour walk goes by quickly as we share ideas, inspirations and tidbits of each other’s lives.   Linda offers me lots of recipe and shopping tips and shortcuts and I cherish her sage advice.  I find the walks healthy for my body and inspiring for my mind.

My kids think that the daily walks have nothing to do with exercise or friendship.

They often tell me that the early morning walks are really about scouring the neighborhood for cast-off furniture and other treasures to be recycled and upcycled.

They may just be right.

I had been thinking of designing a workbench for two-year old Ju-Ju.   Two weeks ago, I came across the perfect solid wood nightstand on the curb while walking with Linda.  The white nightstand was covered in dust and cobwebs, but was solidly constructed.  The one drawer featured intact hardware and dovetail construction.  It was perfect for my project.

I was delighted!  After the walk, I drove back to where I had seen the nightstand and loaded into my car.  I placed it right next to my front door and I just couldn’t wait to begin my newest project.

JuJu's nightstand workbench-before pic 2

Leah arrived home that evening and wasn’t too happy to see another dusty, worn castoff adorning our front porch.  She reminded me once again that my morning walks are really all about the hunt to find garbage.

I couldn’t have agreed more.

I cleaned the piece with a damp rag and turned it upside down.  I cleaned all the nooks and corners of the nightstand until it was perfectly clean.  I looked around until I found a square-ish piece of plywood that was the same width as the nightstand to use as a backsplash for the nightstand.

Using my inexpensive hand sander, I sanded the nightstand and the plywood down until all the surfaces were smooth, then sprayed the surfaces with blue spray paint.  I removed the drawer and sprayed that with silver metallic spray paint.

juju's nightstand workbench metallic drawer 2

I then ordered a square 16″ plastic pegboard and assorted pegboard accessories.   Don screwed the finished backsplash into the nightstand workbench and installed the pegboard.  I added a few good hooks on the sides to hang additional workbench accessories.

juju's nightstand workbench

I checked the toy boxes and scoured the dollar store for some play tools, safe real tools and tool boxes.  I ordered some kid-friendly power-tools and even personalized a hardhat for Ju-Ju.

Ju-Ju and Avigail loved the workbench and Leah even quizzed me on what I was thinking for the next upcycled project would be.

I just smiled mysteriously.  Let the morning walks continue…

juju's nightstand workbench metallic drawer top view

 

SUPPLIES and TOOLS

one solid-wood nightstand

1 square-ish piece of plywood the same width as the nightstand

hand sander

blue spray paint

silver metallic spray paint.

square 16″ plastic pegboard

assorted pegboard accessories

1 1/4″ round screws with nuts

small adhesive hooks

 

 

INSTRUCTIONS

Using a damp rag, clean the nightstand.  Make sure to clean all the nooks and crannies and insides and backs of the doors and drawers.  Turn the unit over and clean the bottom and all sides.

Find or purchase a square-ish piece of wood that is the same width as the nightstand for a backsplash.

Using a hand sander, sand the nightstand and the wood down until all the surfaces are smooth, paying special attention to the corners and edges of the nightstand and backsplash.

Remove the drawer(s) and sand separately.  Using a damp rag, wipe the entire unit clean and allow to dry.

Spray all surfaces of the nightstand and backsplash with blue spray paint.   Spray the drawer with silver metallic spray paint.

Screw the backspash into the back of the nightstand and then screw the  square 16″ plastic pegboard into the backsplash.  For the pegboard, we used 1 1/4″ round screws with nuts screwed from the back to the front.

Adhere small adhesive hooks to the sides of he nightstand workbench to hang additional hardware accessories like measuring tape, goggles and helmet.

Place assorted pegboard accessories into the pegboard and hang toy tools and safe real tools.  Fill small toolboxes with additional toy hardware and store in the workbench.

Get to work!

 

A Special Day for Savta

Today is a wonderful day for my mother.

After finally getting the all-clear to start bearing full weight on her hip after surgery, my mother is finally coming home.  It has been over six grueling weeks since Savta’s hip-revision surgery.

Savta will be continue to receive physical therapy here until she returns home to Cleveland later next week.

And, we are rolling out the red carpet.

With the red carpet, of course, we will need a welcome home sign.  And, a welcome home party thrown by the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  And, so the celebration begins…

Just in case the kids don’t get the sign here before Savta’s arrival, I quickly drew a welcome home sign.  I used a large piece of white foam board and poster markers in black and red.  I finished the exclamation sign off with a cloth bandage.

Welcome home, Savta!

SUPPLIES

white foam board
thick markers
Band-Aids

TIP

Display welcome home sign  in window.  That way, no tape is needed and sign can be turned around to be viewed indoors, as well.

Upcycled Chalkboard Chargers: Simple Placecard Alternative

chalkboard-charger-don-sample

I love the way chargers dress up a table.

It adds that extra flair to the table setting and makes the table look dressed even after the meal has begun.  It is one of the wonderful tools I implement in keeping my Pesach (Passover) seder table elegant and neat (see Seder Table Ideas and Inspirations).

Decades ago, I bought a set of gold chargers to use for Shabbos and special occasions. Then, gold was the only option and it matched the gold leaf border on my china.  The chargers were painted plastic and very heavy.

The top dozen of these chargers have been used over and over again and through constant use and cleaning, the gold has rubbed off and they have gotten just a bit grimy.   They have really been put to good use, but could really use a facelift.

Besides, nowadays chargers are much more common, much lighter and can be purchased at many discount stores.

I plan to purchase a new set of gold chargers and wanted a way to upcycle my faded and well-used chargers.

Enter….chalkboard spray paint.  It is one of those supplies that can be used in so many creative ways.  Among so many other projects, I used it to accent the  DIY Nightstand Play Kitchen for JuJu and it is so simple to apply.

While I was collecting the well-used chargers, I came across an oddball silver one that had been a gift, but had never matched the gold set.  I added it to my collection of soon-to-be-repurposed charges.

I washed the chargers with soapy water, dried them well and sprayed them with chalkboard paint.

blackboard-chargers

chalkboard-chargers-just-painted

I now have a new look that can even be easily personalized with chalk…voila!

A Homemade Warm Compress

I woke up earlier this week with a stiff neck that just seems to get achier.  Today, the pain radiated to my shoulder and down my arm. It seems like I may have pinched a nerve.

The pain and stiffness really needs some warm relief.  My husband, Don, suggested that I design a microwavable compress to ease the pain.

I did some internet research and found that it is quite simple to fashion a compress filled with uncooked rice, beans, oatmeal, barley or flaxseed.   The filler is placed into a cotton (non-synthetic) sack and tied, velcroed or sewn closed.

I looked around the house and found that I had plenty of raw beans, a brand new oven mitt and a variety of cotton socks.

With just a few moments of prep time, I was sitting at my desk writing this blog post with a warm compress soothing my neck and shoulder.

 

 

 

SUPPLIES

Cotton sock or oven mitt

Beans, uncooked rice or barley

Naturally dried herbs, essential oils, contents of an aromatic tea bags or spices for fragrance (optional)

 

DIRECTIONS

Fill a sock or oven mitt at least halfway with beans, rice or barley.  I found that it was easiest to use a stack of coffee filters to move the beans into my compress.

homemade-hot-compress-beans-in-coffee-filters

For a pleasant aroma, you can add a bit of dried herbs, fragrant powder or oils to your compress.

Seal the compress by tying a knot, placing a resealable velcro strip or sewing the ends shut.  For a firm compress, seal it with very little empty space.  For a looser compress, leave empty space before closing your compress.  A looser compress will allow for draping it around your neck and moving the beans to conform to your painful area.

Heat compress in microwave for about one minute, keeping an eye on the microwave during heating just in case the filler or compress starts to smoke.

Before applying compress, check that it is not too hot.  If it feels too hot, shake it and wait until it is just the right temperature for your aches and pains.

 

NOTES

Be careful!  Check that the compress is not too hot before applying it.  It is hard to tell how hot the microwaved compress will get, so please check before applying to your skin.

For extra safety against burns, place a layer of cloth (like a towel or t-shirt) between your skin and the compress.

Do not use heat therapy for acute injuries or if you are pregnant or have diabetes, poor circulation, high blood pressure or heart disease.   If you are not sure, consult with a doctor before using a warm compress to ease muscle or joint pain.

Burlap and Roses: Simple Yet Wow!

Burlap was never one of my favorite textures.  A few years ago, it seemed that everyone was decorating with burlap.  There were burlap tablecloths and table runners, burlap lampshades, burlap accents and flowers.  I was just burlapped out.

Although I love the idea of upcycling and using everyday objects in extraordinary ways, burlap just never made it to my list of favorites.

Until now.

This season, burlap has reappeared.  This time, I have seen it used sparingly and well-paired with other textures.  So, I thought, I would give it a try.

I purchased some burlap mesh on clearance and considered some ways to use it.

Here is the first.  I love the pairing of rough and tough, unsophisticated burlap and elegant, delicate roses.  I love the interplay between the textures of the different flowers, the recycled glass vase and the coarse burlap.  And, burlap kind of fits my decorating style. It works well with the earth tones in my home and matches the ecclectic nature of my decorating taste.  Yes, I have actually decided to embrace burlap.

burlap-arrangement-supplies

SUPPLIES

large square glass vase
three bunches of flowers in coordinating colors and differing textures
burlap mesh
wire,  pipe cleaner or floral tape
straight stick, skewer or chopstick
water

 

TOOLS

pruning shears or strong scissors Fiskars pruning shears

DIRECTIONS

Trim each of the bunches of flowers to a different height, leaving the fullest flowers to be the shortest and the sparsest flowers to be the tallest.  To keep flowers fresh, strip away all leaves that would be submerged in the water.

Arrange each bunch of flowers in the vase, setting each into a different corner of the square vase.

burlap arrangement-flowers only.jpg

Fill with water.

Cut a 6-8″ piece of the burlap mesh and roll.  Gather the center of the roll and tightly secure with wire, floral tape or pipe cleaner.  Secure to stick and place in the center of the arrangement.

 

Voila!

 

 

DIY Felt Hair Bows for Avigail

felt-bows

My 3 year old granddaughter, Avigail, has wispy blonde hair.  My husband, her “Papa”, has been threatening to cut her bangs for as long as I can remember, because he just cannot tolerate seeing her hair in her eyes..  Avigail will wear bows as long as they meet her fashion criteria and are lightweight

avigail with felt bow_edited

 When she was much younger, we purchased small bows at Gap and Gymboree.  To keep up with Avigail’s ever-evolving fashion criteria, we tried finding new bows at the local accessory boutique.  These hair bows are expensive and ordinary and many of them no longer pass Avigail’s fashion and comfort test.  We decided that it was time to make some lightweight and fashionable bows of our own.

 We purchased some felt squares (29 cents each at Walmart!) and created a template for making these bows.  They are simple to make, beautiful to wear, lightweight and best of all, Avigail loves them!

 

 

Bring ends of Piece A together overlapping slightly at the center (dotted line on template).  Sew the ends firmly together at the center.

 

 

Surround sewn piece A with piece B, making sure to pull piece B tightly around piece A.  This will create a loop around Piece A and pleat Piece A slightly.  Secure ends of loop by sewing together.

 

 Sew piece B to back of sewn piece A through the back layer only.  Sew securely to reinforce bow.

 

Center and sew Piece C to the back of the bow.

 

Center and glue hair clip to back of the bow securely using a glue gun.

Voila!  You now have a lightweight and gorgeous hair bow.

 

 

 

 

A Nightstand Castoff: Simply Upgraded and Gilded

 

gilded-nightstandKaitlyn has been wanting to find a new nightstand for quite a while.  Everything that she has found has just been too short and too ordinary for her height and taste.  She has been looking for something that has a retro feel with some originality in color and design.

A while back, she brought me an old maple nightstand that she had found on someone’s curb.  It had good bones in that it was in pretty good shape and had lovely wood details. The drawer had some damage, but had a built-in metal drawer pull.  The piece was a bit rickety and was a few inches too short to match the height of the beds in the bedroom.

This is basically what the nightstand looked like without the drawer:

nightstand sanded

I had purchased a hand sander last summer when I refinished two armoires for Michelle and Leah’s bedrooms.   It cost about $20 and is one of those indispensable tools for furniture refinishing. For this project, I also purchased foam brushes, metallic gold paint and I used a small can of mahogany stain that I had left from refinishing my sewing machine cabinet a few summers ago.

nightstand redo-materials

I spent about twenty minutes sanding all the surfaces with a hand sander.  I then wiped the sanded surfaces with a damp towel and let the surface dry.

With  1″ and 3″ foam brushes, I carefully applied Minwax mahogany stain to all the surfaces of the nightstand.  I used a small paintbrush to thin the paint out in the thin decorative recesses of the nightstand.  I applied about 3 coats of stain.

I covered the metallic drawer pull with painters tape and spray painted the drawer with metallic gold paint .

nightstand redo- drawer

I found some unfinished screw-in finials at Lowes to add height and interest to the bottom of the square legs of the nightstand:

nightstand redo-finials

I spray painted the tops and bottoms of the finials with metallic gold paint , being careful to keep the screws from getting painted.

Aaron drilled a hole in the bottom of each leg and then screwed the painted finials into them.

Voila!

nightstand redo-finished

Please Note: This post contains affiliate links from Amazon, which means I earn a small commission if you click and make a purchase.

Bobby’s Homemade Bubbles and Wands

Avigail and Juju are attending “Bobby Camp” and one of the favorite morning activities is playing with the water table on my front porch.  After breakfast and our morning walk, when the two of them are still in pajamas, we fill up the water table and have a good and messy time playing with all the water toys.  Best of all, when we are finished, everyone gets bathed and then changed and dressed for the day.

While we were outside playing, the kids asked Davida to blow bubbles or as seventeen month old Juju likes to say, “Bubboos”.  I did not have any bubbles or bubble wands, so we decided to make our own.  Davida fashioned some bubble wands out of pipe cleaners, straws and string.  Avigail was delighted that one of them was purple, her favorite color. We mixed water, dish detergent and pancake syrup, stirred gently…and voila.  The magic of bubbles was added to our messy water activities.

This was one of those simple things that created a wow of a time at the water table.

homemade bubbles for avigail and juju

We sang as we blew and popped bubbles…”Avigail is a bubble blower, bubble blower, bubble blower!”  “JuJu is a bubble popper, bubble popper, bubble popper…”

bubble supplies

SUPPLIES

container with a flat bottom

3 cup water

1/2 cup dish soap

drizzle of pancake or corn syrup (about 2-3 tablespoons)

scissors

straws

string

Pipe cleaners

bubbles with wands

DIRECTIONS

Place water in a bowl or container.  Carefully add soap and syrup, stirring gently, being careful not to foam up the bubble mixture.

Create bubble wands using pipe cleaners that are looped.  You can create different size loops to form differ size bubbles.

bubbles and bubble wands

Create large bubble wands by cutting straws in half and tying string around each of the straws, top and bottom.  To secure the string, cut a small slit near the end of each straw for the knotted string to rest.  This will keep the string from coming off the end of the straw.

bubble wand from straws and string.jpg

 

 

 

 

A Gallery Wall of Playgroup Art

Kaitlyn created a gallery wall for Avigail’s art.  Two-year old Avigail is a budding artist with so many art projects and pictures to display.   The gallery wall allows Kaitlyn a way to rotate all the different playgroup art that Avigail brings home from playgroup.

Kaitlyn used empty old frames and sprayed them all the same color blue to create a cohesive collection.  To each frame, she attached a thick string with a clothespin or two so that she can easily add and remove art as needed.

This gallery wall transformed the study area in their apartment and is the perfect spot for Avigail to display her art.

Here it is:

blue gallery wall for avigail's art

SUPPLIES

old frames

spray paint

Thick string or twine

small wooden clothespins

Assorted Command Strips for Picture Hanging

DIRECTIONS

Spray paint frames in well-ventilated area.  Allow to dry. Attach a length of twine using staple gun to backs of wood frames.

Use Command strips to attach frames to gallery wall, following directions on package. Attach clothespins to string.  Hang pictures using clothespins.

Voila!

 

 

Upcycled Glass Jar Floral Arrangement: Simply Stunning

My friend Marilyn, and her family joined us for a meal over Pesach (Passover). Since we were in a small apartment in Jerusalem with our extended family, we did not have enough room to host everyone in the dining room. Instead, we set up tables and ate in the courtyard. Marilyn sent flowers before Yom Tov (holiday) in the perfect arrangement. It was a gorgeous grouping of narrow clear bottles lined up side by side in a metal caddy spilling over with white garden roses. The arrangement was narrow and long, just perfect for our narrow outdoor tables.

It created a stunning visual impact without taking away from the table space needed for setting and serving. The white roses lasted for several days, but the centerpiece containers were so easy to fill that I refilled them for the last few days of our stay in Jerusalem with an array of other flowers. Both arrangements were simply stunning.

Over Pesach, I commented so many times about the beauty and the practicality of this centerpiece. I was determined to recreate it with upcycled materials for use back in the States. And….here it is!

upcycled square arrangement-top view (more…)

Robot Costume…Fashioned from Dollar Store Finds

 

robot costume

My daughter, Kaitlyn, creates the cutest costumes ever!  This is one of my favorites.  This robot costume is one that she designed for her husband, Aaron, to wear on Purim.

There is a custom to dress up in disguises on Purim to commemorate the events in ancient Persia whereby the Jewish nation was saved from a terrible decree of extermination. Unlike the outright miracles in the Jewish exodus from Egypt commemorated on Passover, the Purim story is one of natural events coordinated in such a way that the “hidden hand” of G-d was evident. We dress up on Purim to commemorate the disguised miracles for the Jewish people in Ancient Persia.

This robot costume is designed entirely out of dollar store and upcycled finds and it is creative, practical and very unique. Kaitlyn scoured her local dollar store for items that she could use for this costume.  You may find other items to use that will create your own robot design. Please feel free to share your own designs.

(more…)

A “Wow” knit pocketbook for Avigail…by Savta

My mother is Savta (Hebrew for Grandma) to my children and grandchildren.  Savta is the most wonderful grandmother ever, always on the lookout for something special for all her grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Savta loves to knit and she recently knit my two-year old granddaughter the most adorable pocketbook ever.  Avigail feels so grown-up carrying her own pocketbook. She has filled it with her own stash of emergency items, just in case.  Inside, you’ll find snacks, tissues, a hair bow and her favorite book.

I myself don’t knit, but my mother is a master knitter and crocheter.  When I was a small girl, she crocheted ponchos (remember those?) and matching skirts for me.  When I was a teen, she knit and crocheted beautiful sweaters with puffy ribboned sleeves for me.  Now, she knits all kinds of items for the next two generations.

I have asked my mother to  post the instructions for knitting this adorable and beautiful pocketbook.  Thanks, Mom! (more…)