Sunday, February 14, 2016

DIY Sunday: Color Pencil Block

Happy Sunday!

Today's DIY is probably meant for children, but I decided to make it for myself. No regrets.

This summer while on vacation I bought an adult coloring book and color pencils. I spent my vacation relaxing in front of the lake with some wine and coloring. It was pretty much amazing. In an attempt to keep the good vibes up, I've kept coloring. I don't like to sit still especially while watching movies without doing something (knitting, painting, making lists excessively) which drives my husband crazy. I also talk excessively during I'm pretty much the worse movie companion ever.

I know there's tons of people that jumped on the coloring band wagon and probably have the same issue I have. I guard my color pencils with my life. I don't let the kids within 20 feet of them without very close supervision. The one time they used them without me watching, half of them were eaten by the dog. When I do go to use them, I always pick out 10 or 15 colors for that particular picture, and the pencils roll around everywhere. They get lost between seat cushions or in a blanket.

Goodwill to the rescue! I saw several pins where people took a old knife block and turned it into a coloring station for kids. Psh. I'm going to make this for myself.

DIY Color Pencil Station


Old Knife Block (I found a ton at Goodwill. I scored mine for $1.50)
A Piece of Scrap Wood
Wood Glue & Clamps
Drill & a Drill Bit (larger than a pencil diameter)


1. Prep Surface & Cut Wood

You will need to trim down your scrap wood to fit the top of the knife block. Since my knife block had two levels, I used two pieces of scrap wood. For the larger top, I used a 1x4. For the smaller part, I used a strip of lattice I had left over from my closet project (click here for the post).  After you trim down your wood, you will want to sand the knife block and the scrap wood. As you sand, you will probably want to round any harsh corners.

2. Glue Scrap Wood

I used Gorilla Glue brand wood glue. Using various size clamps, I glued the wood to the tops of the knife block. Let the glue dry over night.

3. Drill Holes

This is the trickest part and where I messed up. So learn from my mistakes!

First of all, take a minute and use a ruler to evenly mark out where you want to drill holes. You will not want to drill too close to the edges (or another hole) or you will split your scrap wood top (like I did). You will also want to make your holes in a straight line or at least in some pattern that looks intentional (unlike me).

When you go to start drilling, you will want to make each hole an equal depth down. Otherwise your pencils will sit at crazy heights (like mine).

Finally, due to the size of some of the previous holes in the knife block, some holes make hit a previous hole that is much wider than the hole your drilling. Which means that your pencil will fall through the knife block. That's pretty easy to fix. Simply fill in the old knife block hole from the bottom and tape up the bottom to keep the filling from falling out. I used pieces of balled up scrap paper or pieces of scrap wood as my filling (depending on the size of the hole). Expandable foam would work as well.

4. Finish with Paint or Stain

I decided to try out some blue chalk paint with a dark wax. Not so sure about the dark wax, but I love the blue. I finished off the front with a metal chalkboard tag I got in the 1$ section at Target. 


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Luggage Rehab


Our family is planning our first big family vacation since...well...probably my husband and I's honeymoon 8 years ago. (Man..that sounds terribly sad to type out!) When we started to plan everything, I pulled out our luggage to see what kind of shape it was in. Other than moving, the last time we flew with our large luggage was the honeymoon. I fly a couple of times a year for work, but I always stick with a carry on since it's usually only a few days.

So, when I pulled out the luggage I saw that it was in pretty sorry shape. The thing is, why buy new luggage when our next family vacation is probably a couple of years away? Luggage and vacations aren't exactly cheap, so I decided to take inventory of our problems and see if they were up to a little DIY.

Problem # 1: Burn Holes.

So, no I don't have a secret smoking habit. These lovely looking holes actually came from the luggage sitting up against a trunk light. Yeah, I didn't know that could happen either. Since my luggage has pockets in the front, the hole was only through the first pocket. The integrity of the main compartment wasn't compromised. So, I could just leave the hole. But, I knew that stupid hole was going to drive me insane. Plus, it took prevented me from using a pocket.

My solution was to add an applique to the front of the luggage. By some miracle, the burn mark was directly in the center, so I could easily add an applique without looking completely janky. This method would work well if you had a small tear that was on a similar pocket. I would hesitate to use this method if the hole had been down to the main compartment. I can just imagine a bag handler throwing this on a belt and entire thing splitting open. Not exactly a stress free vision.

I created an applique by using a sturdy fusible interfacing on fabric. I simply had to cut out a shape from the fabric and hand sew it on to the luggage. Ta Da! A fix appropriate for our family vacation.

Problem #2: Torn Inside Pocket

This was a relatively minor problem. The mesh pocket inside the luggage was torn. Since I already had thread out to sew on the applique, I took a few minutes and just quickly threaded zig zag like up the tear. After a few sturdy knots, the tear was repaired.

Problem #3: Broken Wheel

This was a bigger concern. I almost almost decided I couldn't fix the wheel and decided to buy a new carry on. As I said before, I actually use this suitcase quite a bit, and after 10 or so flights, the cheap suitcase decided to protest my very heavy packing style.

I sat down and looked at the wheel. The wheel itself was actually good shape. It looked like the glue that held the wheel in place had given away. (I guess that's what you get for a cheap bag..glue not screws!) Since the structure of the bag seemed to be okay, I decided to re secure the wheel to the hard sided suitcase.

After inspecting the problem, I decided to drill two holes through the hard sided luggage through the wheel unit. After I drilled the holes, I put a set of bolts from the outside to the inside. I added a locking washer and nut on the inside. The bolts I had on hand were a bit long, so to prevent them from punch through the interior lining, I added some cushion with a couple of layers of duct tape around the bolt. I've done a couple of test runs to make sure my fix wasn't just superficial. The entire unit seems to be in pretty good shape.

I hope someone else who is equally as cheap as me will find these small fixes helpful! Although I'm pretty sure our cat Max would have been happy with just taking them as a new bed.


Friday, February 5, 2016

DIY Growth Charts


I have been sick on and off for the past month, so I've been MIA. Isn't that the joy of having a kid in school? I spent yesterday disinfecting my keyboard, mouse and every door knob in the house. Today's project was a good distraction from the cold weather and germ fest. Years ago I made my daughter a growth chart from a piece of scrap wood I had laying around. It did the trick for many years. I just hung it a foot off the ground, and it covered her growth from baby until 5 years later.

However, now she's getting even taller  so it was time to make a large growth chart. My son has never had one. The curse of the second child, I suppose. I've been slipping post it notes into a drawer to track his height.

DIY Growth Charts


6 foot boards(mine were pre-cut pine boards from the hobby wood section of Lowe's)
Paint or Stain
Vinyl or Paper Numbers (either hand cut, cut with a Silhouette or prefab numbers from the hardware store)
Optional: Paper Shapes, Router, Mod Podge


1. Prepare Wood Surface.

So the first thing to do was get a nice piece of 6 foot pine wood. The great thing about this project is you can easily find pre-cut pieces of wood, so if you're not that handy, you can get away with using minimal power tools. I had my husband route around each board to make a fancy border. If you don't have a router (or struggle to use one like me...I have short arms and small a T-Rex), you can easily round the corners with a sander. Once you're done routing, sand the board to create a nice smooth surface.

2. Finish Boards

I did two different finishing methods.

Method One

My son's room has a "vintage hunting lodge" theme, so I did one like a big manly giant ruler. That chart got a coat of dark walnut stain by Minwax. After the stain dried, I simply added the vinyl (more on that below).

Method Two 

My daughter didn't want a boring ruler (her words). She liked the Mod Podge method I did with her old one, so I stuck with that. The first step was painting the board. The kids helped with this step. I just covered up a 12 area, gave them paint brushes and let them have at it. I came in and cleaned up the lines when they had painted most of the board in blue and green then I added the tree last.

3. Add Finishing Touches.

I have a Silhouette cutting machine, so I used that to cut my vinyl and paper. I didn't have that machine when I made my daughter's old growth chart. It's very easy to cut the paper into shapes by hand. Channel your inner kindergartener..or use one that happens to be standing around looking for something to do. If you're using method one, you could easily pick up the number stickers from a scrapbook section or a hardware store near the house numbers.

With my daughter's chart, she decided what shapes she wanted (an owl, a bird, a sun, and a boy and girl to represent her and her brother). I found the shapes in the Silhouette studio store and used my machine to cut them out. Once I had all the shapes cut out, including leaves and a catapillar, I used Mod Podge to attach all the shapes to the board. I did a final coat of Mod Podge over the top so everything was protected and glossy. For shapes that blended in, I went back and added a sharpie marker border around the shape.

With my son's chart, I simply cut the number and dashes out of vinyl using my Silhouette. To add the measurements to the board, I used a tape measure and taped it down to the board with some painters tape. I had to adjust the tape when I needed to see what was underneath, but it worked really well to accurately place the dashes and numbers.

4. Add Measurements and Hang.

After each growth chart was completed, I went in and put their previous measurements on each board with a black sharpie marker. To hang the boards I have large alligator picture hanging pieces. I'll either use that or just drill one hole in the top to attach the boards straight to the wall. They should sit flush with the floor, so they just need something to keep them from falling over, not take the weight of the board.


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