Monday, September 21, 2015

A $12 Dollar Desk and a Lesson in Photoboming

What's up peeps?  My random thought of the day is how pretty the color pink is...until its in the eye of your 5 year old.  Then its the bane of your existence because she's a kindergartener who still LOVES school, and is super upset that her goopy eyes means she can't go.  So my week has been...trying, because pink eye really stinks.

So years ago we had a farm-style table that was given to us (who doesn't love freebies).  It had extending leaves that were stored in each end of the table.  One of our moves required us to put the table in storage for a few months.  The table didn't fair well in the humid, non-climate controlled storage arrangement that we had.  The table got super warped and janked up so we had to ditch it.  The leaves however were still in super great shape.  The finish was impeccable, and the stain color was pretty much awesomeness.  So I convinced Señor Hotness that they were worth saving because I would do something with them (I left out the word eventually, but it was implied).  Then I proceeded to move them with us 5 stinking times.  Don't judge me.  Sometimes I have a hard time pulling the trigger on a project.

Good things take time, though, am I right?  I promise I'm not a horder.  When we moved to the new house we sold off the bunk beds that we had been rocking for years since this home gave us enough space to ditch the bunks. I think bunks are very functional, and they have their purpose; but they're also super hard to change the sheets, make the bed, and they don't really work well with a nightstand.

So, needless to say we never had nightstands to go in the kids rooms before.  In addition to needing some kind of nightstand solution, we also really wanted a desk in the big girls rooms.  A place where they can do homework, draw in peace, or do any other desk related activities.

Which brings us back to the leftover table leaves, and the fact that they would be the perfect thing to repurpose as a desk/nightstand for the new bedrooms.  

We decided that instead of attaching 4 legs that we were only going to use two legs on the front, and then screw the back into the wall.  Señor Hotness routered out a space along the bottom and back of the leaf to allow a 1 x 4 piece of pine (that we had leftover from another project) to sit right in the groove.  The attached 1 x 4 would be the piece that we attached to the wall.  

Did I mention this was going in the tween's room so she was on deck to help dear ole dad get this desk project done.

She was not the only interested child, Pretty Miss P took time out of her peddling to see what all the fuss was about.

Even Pretty Miss J decided to strike a pose, and the teen photobombed her way into an honorable mention.

Señor Hotness measured the 1 x 4 to fit in the routered area.  A neat trick that Señor Hotness always does is using a speed square as a guide to ensure a nice square even cut.

Apparently, helping looked like so much fun that the teen decided she was the perfect assistant for the tween.

After cutting the board he glued, and clamped it into place. (and the teen photobombed...again)

Then he predrilled holes, and secured the board to the leaf using wood screws. (and another photobomb credit, this time to the tween)  Then, I used minwax dark walnut to stain the pine board to match the existing finish on the leaf.  I knew the board was going to be on the underside of the desk, but leaving it raw would have been just the kind of brain bug that would have made me twitchy...literally.  So I sacrificed the 5 minutes needed to slap some stain on that bad boy, especially as it would keep me twitch free.  Twitch free is the way to be.

The Tween struck her best 'founder father' pose to show off the table legs we had picked out.  I honestly thought that a chunkier leg would have looked better, but since this desk would be shared, we decided to use a skinnier leg so that two stools could fit under it, comfortably.

The legs we bought were already equipped with a screw top, and these are the receiver for the leg.  So Señor Hotness predrilled for the screws that would mount the receiver to the underside of the leaf.

Then he let the tween screw one in, and...

the moody 7 year old got screw in the other.

Then it was time to do the turn over test to make sure we didn't mount the legs wrong, and some how get one on there all janky.  Luckily for us they looked great, and the table was level.  Then it was time to turn our attention to finishing the legs.

The tween and moody 7 year old chose to paint them silver.  Which was lucky because I just so happened to have a can of silver in my spray paint stash.

What does every desk need?  A lamp.  I bought this cool silver barley twist lamp at the Super Goodwill in Tyler Texas for $6, a few years back, and had just not found the right place in our house for it so it had just been kicking about in our garage for a while, probably because it didn't have a shade.  A few weeks ago, I ran into the local thrift store of awesomeness, and there, sitting on a shelf, was a brand new lampshade (with original tags and everything) for $3.  So, yeah, that came home with me.  I think it looks pretty good for a $9 dollar lamp that I did nothing more than put a new light bulb in.

Next time I paint legs I'll need to rig up something to hold them upright while I paint.  As it is I did the old spray and flip on a piece of cardboard, then waited until they were dry enough to touch, and then screwed them onto the table to fully finish drying.

Okay so lets take a minute, shall we, and ignore the cool upcycled desk, and instead look at these gorgeous beds.  Señor Hotness and I found these for a steal at an antique shop in West Monroe.  They are antique mahogany, and they make me so happy to look at.  I'm still trying to research, but so far it appears that the furniture manufacturer that made them went out of business sometime around 1910.  As you can see this room hasn't gotten an updated paint job yet, but these beds can totally rock it out to the boring beige anyway.

Fun Fact: I didn't accessorize the desk all.  All the cuteness was added by the tween and the moody 7 year old, including the Eiffel Tower picture hanging on the wall.

I've been working on a fun design for storage stools to work with the desk, but we haven't had time to get started working on them yet.  Until then they are using a plain old folding chair, and yet it still looks fabulous.

I loved the things that my ladies had set up on their desk so much that I thought I would take a few close ups of all the extreme cuteness.

To give a quick rundown it was $12 (and change) for the legs and mounting accessories, $9 for a rad lamp, and that was all that we needed to transform this simple left over table leaf into custom, cool desk.  It was exactly what we needed to give this room the more sophisticated feel that my elegant young ladies wanted in their "big girl bedroom".

The lesson I learned was don't be afraid to look at what you might have in your own garage to repurpose into something incredibly cool.

Stand by to see the desk we are going to be making for the teen with the remaining table leaf.  We are going to be trying something a little different on it.  Until then...

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Triple Cheese Mac

Lets talk about Mac and Cheese in a box for a second.  Lets keep it real ladies and gents, I would venture to say no cheese in its natural form is, powdered.  The box stuff is just gross (there's that awesome vocabulary I'm in possession of).  Everyone needs a kicking homemade recipe, and this one is a great pantry friendly version.

-1 lb bag of macaroni
-4 tbsp butter
-1 package of cream cheese
-1 12oz can of evaporated milk (for a super rich mac use heavy cream)
-1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
-1/4 cup flour (I used white flour, but its super yummy with whole wheat too)
-1 cube of chicken bouillon, or 1 cup of chicken broth
-1 cup water (omit if using chicken broth)
-salt and pepper to taste
-1 cup of cheddar cheese (I personally prefer sharp cheddar, but I don't usually use it because my kiddos aren't huge fans)

First things first get your water boiling for your pasta then follow the package directions till its done.

In the meantime while the pasta is cooking, drop the bouillon cube in one cup of water, and microwave for 1 minute.  It dissolves super easy in really warm water.

My awesome camera operator was the teen.  

Which is why we have this awesome picture of Pretty Miss J.

First, melt the 4 tbsp of butter (don't judge) in a pan over medium high heat.

Then, if you never remember to think ahead enough to have room temperature cream cheese (to be perfectly honest I NEVER remember ahead of time) you can microwave it for about 30 seconds until softened.

After the butter is melted whisk in 1/4 cup parmesan cheese (cheese number 1).

Then whisk 1/4 cup of flour.

It will appear slightly lumpy (hello parmesan).

Then slowly whisk in the broth.  You will want to make SURE you add it slowly, and fully mix with each new addition of liquid because otherwise you will have a lumpy mess.

Look how awesome and creamy it looks.

Then whisk in the evaporate milk (also go slowly with this step).

Then its time for the cream cheese (if you're keeping count this is cheese number 2).

Just break apart and mix until smooth.

Then add your grated cheese (what up cheese 3).  I honestly never measure this stage.  I just add until it gets that awesome melted cheese string (you know what I'm talking about) when you lift the whisk out of the mixture.

Continue to whisk until fully melted and incorporated.  This is the best time to season.  I use garlic salt and pepper to taste.  

Through magic our pasta is done.

And ready for some sauce.

Give it a good stir to make sure all the pasta gets incorporated with the sauce.

The photo cred. for this shot goes to the tween who was insanely jealous that I let the teen take most of the pictures.

Then its time to dish up, and watch people enjoy (or not because that could be creepy).  

Or it could be incredibly cute if your have a little one that enjoys it with enthusiasm.  Even my pickiest eaters are lovers of the homemade mac.

I won't claim this is the kicking-est (I'm sure thats a real word...Right?) recipe on the planet, but its darn good and made with things most of us always have on hand.  So surprise your mac lovers with this super easy recipe sometime, and make sure to let me know what you think.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Explosively Cool Industrial Backpack Rack

Its time for another rousing game of KICK THAT CLUTTER!  More specifically kid clutter.  What is it about children the just seems to make your house resemble a ticker tape parade just went through.  EVERY. SINGLE. DAY.  I swear my kids are brilliant a hiding clutter.  

School is the biggest clutter creator on the planet.  They bring home so much paper its not even funny.  Its definitely contributing to our ticker-tape-parade-iness.  So instead of getting use to the steady twitch that I get every time I see my kids backpacks on the floor, Señor Hotness and I moved up the backpack rack on our overall priority list.

I was all for just throwing some hooks up on the wall.  I had even suggested using command strip hooks (which work awesome, but can be pricey for the big metal ones), but Señor Hotness wasn't having it.  Mostly because he had something cooler and sturdier in mind.  I didn't think sturdiness was a huge issue.  Clearly I had forgotten that I'm now a mother to a teen and a tween, and with that comes books...lots and lots of books.

I suggested that we do a wooden board with wooden pegs.  It has a very functional old school feel to it, but he loved his industrial bathroom shelf so much that he wanted to try and marry my peg board idea with his industrial touch.  So the idea for the industrial metal peg hanger was born.

Psst.  (Spoiler Alert) We totally pulled it off.

Crazy lucky for us we had just the right length of board left over from a previous project.  I love when I don't have to spend money.

Pretty Miss P demanded I snap her picture when I grabbed my camera to document the build.  Things after this quickly spiraled into bum shaking territory (which I have chosen NOT to share with you all fair people.  There are just some things a mother just keeps off the internet.)

So while Pretty Miss P and I were indulging in an impromptu photoshoot, Señor Hotness was down stairs, marking the board with the studs, and measuring out to pre-drill the holes on the board.

This is what I like to call a snub nose bit, but Señor Hotness has assured me that its really called a forstner bit.  I still think snub-nose sounds better, but I digress.  Back to the point of this picture.  If you look closely you will see that there is a faint mark on the bit.  That was the smarty pants idea that Señor Hotness had so as not to drill further than was needed.  He wanted the mounting screws to be down in the wood itself, and not just screws flush with the surface.  I was totally fine with seeing the screws used for mounting, but when I said that Señor Hotness looked at me like I had just suggested taking a leisurely stroll around the neighborhood wearing neon hot pants.

He obviously won that argument, and this is him pre-boring out shallow holes for the mounting screws to sink into.

They came out so nice and clean. 

After that he measured out where we would mount our metal pegs where they didn't look stupid because lets be honest nobody wants stupid looking peg placement.

On the first hole he used a regular bit to drill out the hole since this one was going to go all the way through the board.

It made a bit of a mess with the wood however.  So he took more care with the 4 remaining holes.

He predrilled them using the snub nose bit.  Before fully drilling them with a regular bit.

The end result was nice neat precise holes.

Then we put in the pronged T-Nuts.  We got these at Lowe's in the section where they sell all the loose screws of assorted sizes.

He put these on the back side of the board on the receiving end of the five holes we were going to use for the 5 metal pegs.

He beat them in gently using a rubber mallet so as to not scar the wood.

We decided to use black iron pipe again for this project.  Its cheaper than your standard galvanized pipe, and I personally prefer the color.  Señor Hotness steared clear of any kind of floor flange on this project.  I was all for it, but he wanted it to appear that the peg was just suspended off of the board, as though if by magic.  Okay I added the magic part, but that does sound sort of magical doesn't it?

So using 1/2 end cap he drilled a hole in the middle of it.

Then using crazy heavy duty screws he was able to attach the drilled out end caps to the board.  They threaded into the pronged t-nut that we hammered into the back of the board earlier.

Like so.

At this point I said we should scrap the how project, and just find a batch of ridiculously skinny candles, and call it a day.  He was not amused.

He only attached these temporarily to double check spacing, and just to get an idea of how it would look overall.  Then he removed them to finish prepping the board for stain.

Using my sander he sanded down all the rough edges of the board.

Which elicited some attention from Pretty Miss P.

Then it was time to attach the board to the wall.  We used a Minwax stain in Dark Walnut (my favorite) to stain the board.  The installation photos aren't great, or plentiful since I was the only other big person here at the time.

Okay so what I don't have a picture of is him putting the blue painters tape on the mounting holes.  Apparently when I left to help Pretty Miss P get down for a nap, he didn't feel the same need to take a siesta, and decided instead to get some extra work done.  He's such an over achiever.

And while Pretty Miss J is cute, in that janky old Cleopatra Halloween head dress, she possessed neither the height or the motivation to help.

Yesssss!  Its LEVEL!

Then using his trusty rubber hammer he knocked in red oak plugs that we also bought at Lowe's.  So that he could truly hide the mounting screws.  

If you look at the wood plugs they seem to kind of bell from the bottom to the top, little to big.  So when using these, knock them in as far as you can, and then use the super flexible saw to trim the excess off flush with the board.

Also I'm pretty sure that this sucker isn't going anywhere anytime soon.

He put the tape on there so as not to scratch his finish when he was cutting off the excess.

After removing the tape he used a q-tip to stain the wood plugs.

Then after attaching the drilled out end caps he finished it up with what is technically called a nipple, but, since I apparently have the maturity level of a 10 year old boy, the word nipple makes me want to giggle uncomfortably.  So for our purposes I'm just going to tell you that he finished it off with a 1/2 x 2 1/2 inch "pipe", and then another end cap.  

After we were done not only did I think it looked cool, but it really does look like its floating there on the board.  I also think it looks like we've decided to use small pipe bombs to hang our children's school bags from.  I jokingly told them that the way to keep them from exploding is to make sure you never hang up your back pack with homework undone, but since they didn't grow up amongst the scare of the uni-bomber they didn't really get my humor.

This is what it actually usually looks like. (See? Sturdy?)  My favorite backpack is Pretty Miss P's.  She loves Twilight Sparkle (girls moms will get the reference), but when she says it, it comes out sounding more like 'Devry Popsicle".  

I loved how our "explosively" cool industrial metal peg backpack rack (I dare you to say backpack rack 5 times fast) turned out.  Thanks to a handy husband, and mostly leftover scraps we were able to pull together not only a super awesome, but also incredibly strong piece to hang our backpacks on.