Mommy Corner: My Baby Has Been Framed

Good afternoon.  Today I am going to share a nursery project, but this one could be for any room really.  I mentioned early on in the blog that most things have a back story, and this project started with a frame that was came from my grandmother.  Lovingly referred to as Neinee, she painted quite a bit in her retirement.  Because she was raised in a time where you didn’t waste much, she reused canvas boards and frame moldings.  This often made for odd size pictures.  I received a beautiful painting of magnolias after her passing and had the picture custom framed.  Wanting to carry on the tradition of waste not, want not, I kept the frame in case I ever needed it again. 
Then the day came when I figured out a use for Neinee’s ornate frame.  I had a rather large expanse of wall in the baby’s nursery that needed some filling.  I wanted to frame pictures of the baby, but they grow so fast that I needed something more flexible than the traditional frame.  

I began by priming the frame and several others I used for my parents 50th anniversary.  I then painted them all the trim color I chose for the room. 

Next I gathered up some supplies: the frame, cork board, material, batting, upholstery tacks, and ribbon. For tools I used a skill saw, stapler and framing square.  I searched high and low for a cork board that had a solid backing, most of them were cardboard, and I found this one atTarget. 
I removed the molding from the cork board, measured, marked it with the square, and cut it to the size of the frame. 


I then ironed my fabric, cut it to size leaving a 2 inch overhang all the way around and stapled it to the board.  I wrapped the corners similar to that of a package.  I placed the ribbon in a criss cross pattern and stapled it to the back as well.  

Next I fit the board inside the frame and secured it with a few staples.  I then chose the center overlaps to add my upholstery tacks. 
That’s all there was to it.  I made this the focal point of my frame wall, and surrounded it with baby pictures of all the rest of us.  I think it turned out sweet.
This way as the baby grows and I take what I'm sure will be tons of pictures; I can keep the pictures current without a lot of hassle. I will be sure to give you all a full nursery tour real soon.  Thanks for stopping by and be sure to come and see what I have going on next. 

Tool Talk: Piece of Cake

I know it may seem a little soon for another Tool Talk, but it has been a crazy weekend.  The youngest has a chest cough and cold and after a quick trip to the after hours clinic I spent a good part of the weekend rocking a sick baby.  What does that mean? It means another Tool Talk, yay!
This is about kitchen tools; a few that I simply could not live without.  Even with all the baby rocking this weekend, I found time to bake a cake for my nephew. He is in the Navy, and about to be stationed in Japan for two years.  I made him the strawberry cake found here, and I decided to highlight a few things that made this job easier. 

Let’s start with the Kitchen Aid.  The Kitchen Aid really deserves a post all its own, and doesn’t require much said except I don’t know why I waited so long to add this one to my arsenal. 
The star of this post is parchment paper.  This one gets a lot of use in my kitchen.  Because of parchment paper I rarely ever have to wash a cookie sheet in my house, I never worry about cakes sticking, and it even makes an occasional appearance in craft projects. 

If I’m using a round pan I grab a pencil and trace my pan, I fold the paper in half until the pencil marks line up and I channel my inner kindergartner and cut a circle just inside the pencil lines. I pop it into the pan and I’m good to go.  Today I am using a 9x13 so the process it slightly different.  I roll the paper up and hold it in the pan to estimate the size, I then use my kitchen scissors the snip the rolled up paper to the proper width. 

I unroll and roll it in the other direction and repeat for the length.  I use Pam for Baking on the sides and a little spray in the middle to keep the paper from moving while I pour. 

The other tools that I pulled out for today’s baking are a raised cooling rack, my favorite scraping spatula, good oven mitts, and my cake cutter to cut the layers. 

 You can click on any one of these to see where I got them.  Enjoy your Sunday, and I will be back on Monday with a post to start off the week. 

Tool Talk: Opposites Attract

Today I am going to begin a new series that I will call Tool Talk. This isn’t going to just be about power tools, although they are one of my favorite subjects.  This is going to be about any tool that you need to get a job done. Be it indoors or outdoors, if it’s about the tools needed to get the job done right and efficiently this is where I’ll talk about it. 
I am going to begin with one that may seem simple, but it is the biggest multi-tasker in my home. Also, share a tip to make those simply little fixes a lot easier.  This is my favorite screwdriver. I have one of these in the house, storage room, and each glove compartment of our cars. 

They are inexpensive and basically 6 tools in one.  It has 2 sizes of Phillips head and plan screw drivers, and 2 size nut drivers.  Where in the world can you get 6 tools in one handy unit?

I really could not survive without this one and you’ll find it in a pencil cup on my desk in the kitchen.  You’d be surprised how many things need tightening around the house on a regular bases and it is great for all the child and baby electronics that need frequent battery changes.  Monitors, Leapsters, remote control toys you name it we’ve change it.  You get the picture. 

Recently I was changing out some friction latches on the kitchen cabinets, because several of them were broken and I was tired of staring at open cabinet doors.  During this project I remembered a little trick that is so simple and so effective.  These latches required very small screws that are often hard to handle, and my favorite tool is not magnetic.  So I pulled a document magnet off the fridge and turned it over to reveal the mega-magnet on the underside. 
I gently rubbed the screwdriver head back and forth across the magnet.  I won’t go into the physics of how this works, just know that it does. I now had a magnetic screw driver to continue my project without dropping tiny, impossible to find, screws all over the kitchen floor. 
To exhibit how this will work on just about all tools I brought in a couple more screwdrivers from the store room.  The yellow handled one took a few tries but it did eventually proved my point, this is such a quick an easy trick. 

There you have it our first Tool Talk.  Have a great day and be sure to check in for more Tool Talk to come.

Chicken On The Fly

Okay, for today’s crock pot goodies we have a recipe that I made up based solely on what was in the pantry this particular morning.  I was working late on this day. Now I kind of like the late schedule because I don’t have to be at work until 9:30am, this gives me all kinds of time in the morning to do chores, write a post, or maybe just enjoy two quiet seconds in an empty house.  The draw back of course is I don’t end my work day until 6:00pm, and often times I am rushed to get dinner on the table before there is an all out mutiny.  This is part of the reason I have such an obsession with crock pot cooking. 
One morning last week I surveyed the contents of the fridge and decided the boneless, skinless thigh filets I purchased were just the thing for dinner from the crock pot.  So without having any plan what-so-ever I peered into the pantry stocked full of promise and came up with this recipe.  I knew I needed meat, a cooking liquid, texture and flavor.  I emerged arms loaded down with the following:
Marta’s Veggie Chicken

1 package of boneless skinless thighs
1 can Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup

1 can Swanson Chicken Broth

I began by washing and patting dry the chicken, now is the time to trim any fat with kitchen scissors if you’d like.  I always like to leave a little for the flavor.  I poured half the can of broth over the thighs arranged in the bottom of the crock pot. 

I then mixed in a small mixing bowl the remaining broth, cream of chicken soup and the Knorr Vegetable recipe mix.  I poured this over the top of the chicken and set my crock pot on low for 9 hours.  That was it, it was that simple. 

I would imagine you could do this with any cut of meat you’d like, this just happen to be what was on sale that week.  There was plenty of gravy, so I served this over rice with a side of carrots. 

The carrots I peeled and chopped, then I sautéed half a diced onion added the carrots and covered with water.  I brought the water to a boil then cut it down with a lid on it to simmer until the carrots were tender.  I love to make fresh carrots this way, the sweetness really comes through. 
So there you have it my recipe for chicken on the “fly.”  Get it? I crack me up.  Enjoy and remember to share it with a friend.

Well, It Hit The Fan

I thought today I would share with you the story of a little DIY fan project that should have taken 30 minutes tops, and ended up taking closer to 5 hours.  I want to be sure to share with you the good, the bad, and the ugly of all our projects.  Sit back and revel in the knowledge that Murphy’s Law can happen to all of us. 

 Last week our bedroom light and fan gave up on us.  The hubby was getting ready for work in the morning when the bulb went out.  He changed out the bulb to no avail and called to tell me that the light had officially retired.  Thinking we were in for another 30-40 minutes fan install we popped over to the Lowe's around the corner and purchase a 52" inch ceiling fan for the Master bedroom.  This one was large, white, came with a fancy remote, and was the right price so into the buggy it went to come home with us. 

Lowe's Fan
 Now to be fair when I say 5 hours this time includes time for the removal of the dinosaur that was hanging in the room, time to discover the problem, time to wait for back up in the form of a baby sitter because we knew this was going to take the both of us, time to correct the problem,  time to install the new fan, time to clean up the mess we made, and finally time to shower and change after covering ourselves in insulation. 

Curious now aren't you?  First we turned off the breaker and checked the fan and lights with a volt meter to be sure we were safe.  I checked and rechecked because if there is one thing I have a healthy respect for its electricity.  Down came the old fan piece by piece until finally we reached the ceiling medallion.  It was there that the issue revealed itself.  These fans are quite old and do not hang from an electrical box, they hang from a large hook usually screwed into a support above the joist with the electrical box above for the wiring.  This is the third one we have done in this house and the first one we have seen that hung sans the electrical box.  No box equals nothing to support our nice new fan.  Baffled and covered in insulations that fell from the gaping hole in the ceiling I realized this was not going to be the 30 minute install we were used to. 

I called to cancel afternoon plans with a friend and she graciously accepted my apology and offered to come and sit with the baby while we solved our DIY problem.  Well I'm no fool and I immediately took her up on her offer.  While she was on her way I went into the attic located the spot and slid away the attic floor that hovered over my problem.  Turns out the fan was supported by a hook as suspected, but the support was only anchored on one side and the electrical box was resting precariously on the drywall above our bed. One quick tug on the support and it was free.  I disconnected the wires to the last piece of the fan hanging on and got a good look at the problem.  

I ran to the Naylor's, a locally owned hardware store, to get a support for the electrical box.  I like to support the local stores in addition to the big box stores.  The customer service is excellent when I have detailed questions and it is often easier to pop in and out for one item.   Although I did buy a darling Halloween Black Cat blow up for the yard, it was a deal and I was powerless against the kryptonite sale sign on my way to the register.  Bracket and decoration in hand I headed back to the house to get started on the electrical box.  We gathered up the drill, drill bits, screw driver, 1 ¼ inch drywall screws, pry bar and pliers.  To be honest not all of these things came up the stairs at one time, and Mr. On A Mission descended several times to fetch the tools we needed.  Thanks honey.

I punched the hole out of the electrical box and bent it back and forth to remove it.  I then attached it to the bracket using the nut and screw provided.  I placed the bracket to be sure it would line up with the existing hole in and ceiling.  Thank goodness it all lined up.

  Here's the tricky part.  These brackets are designed to be installed prior to the drywall going up; if you look closely you'll see the screws are on the underside of the bracket.  This needs to be pretty close to get the box low enough to support the fan.  This was a pretty tight fit in a dark corner of the attic so this operation was pretty daunting.  I decided to mark and pre-drill the holes and then the hubby would use his man power to screw the bracket in to place by hand.  I pre-drilled the holes at a slight down angle because the left side of the bracket was a pretty tight squeeze for the screw driver. 
 The hubby went back down and pulled the wire through the side of the box while I fished them through.  He then used a screw to secure the bracket that holds the wires so they wouldn't budge.  It all worked as planned and we were out of the attic in no time.  I'm glad this project came after a cold front came through and we didn't have to do this in a 150 degree attic mid-summer. 

 We were back in familiar territory and spent about an hour on the installation.  This model, as I mentioned, has a fancy remote and we had to wire the remote to the house wiring and the fan to the remote and get it all to it back inside the housing and out of site.  We didn't need a down rod so I cut the excess wire and stripped the ends to complete the wiring.  We had a little trouble with some cross threading while installing the housing at the ceiling, but at this point I gave up and figured it was up so high no one would notice.  I promised the good, bad, and the ugly, sometimes you have to make the hard calls and not sweat the small stuff.  In the end I am very pleased with the result.

 You know I thought the remote was kind of silly, but I must say I really like it.  It dims the lights to varying degrees, and operates and adjusts the fan's 3 speeds. It's really nice to keep by the bed and turn out the lights at the end of a long day.  So here are the pros and cons of my new fan.  Pro side: the price is reasonable, the remote is handy, the look is nice, and you don't have the look of exposed light bulbs.  Con side: the install can be moderately difficult if you are a first timer and not familiar with wiring, the wiring is pretty crammed so don't be afraid to get rough with it, and the max on the bulbs is 40 watts.  All in all we are very pleased with the end result, and I would install this in the last two rooms where the fans are on their last legs.  Man I hope they have boxes in place, but if not I am confident we can handle it.  Thanks for stopping by and be sure to come and see what we have going next. 

Gateway to Paradise

 I know that title may seem a bit extreme, but that is exactly what not having to mow the lawn with a push mower is to me, paradise.  Did I mention that I have a Construction Management degree from Louisiana State University?  Well I do.  I did some work refinishing older homes in the garden district in college where I learned a few things, that along with all the projects I helped my father and brothers with over the years, piqued my interest and thus my career choice was born.

 That being said, this project came about when we received a riding lawn mower from my brother–in-law.  He had a new house with some strange slopes and yard shapes and he was handing his riding mower down to us. Yay, thanks BIL!

 Now I needed a gate built, and forgetting my senses for a moment I went out and got some quotes.  We live on a corner lot, and I have 70 feet of chain link with a 3 foot gate on one side of the house and a 6 foot wooden fence on the other with no gate. The first company said they could drop in a 5 foot gate in the chain link for $485, or a wood gate in the front for $585.  The second quote was much crazier but did offer more bang for my buck with a $685 minimum on any chain link work.  This was crazy to me that they couldn’t leave their parking lot for less than almost $700, but because of the minimum and the condition of my current fence they quoted me all 70 feet of chain link, a 3 foot gate, and a new 5 foot gate along the side for the total price of $685.  Now that was a deal, except for the fact that I hadn’t really planned on spending that kind of money for the convenience of no longer cutting the back yard by hand.  Crazier than that, the minimum for wood fencing work was $785 and that length was less than 8 feet.  So while I do have plans to take them up on the chain link option later, both of these were a no go.

 I continued for another couple of months to store the riding mower under the carport cleverly disguised under a painting tarp and cut the back yard with my trusty push mower.  Then one weekend my husband asked me, “So what do you want to do this weekend?” He saw that wide eyed look on my face and knew he was in for a home project.  I ran outside with a tape measure and measured the width of the mower at its widest point, the width of the space between the fence post, and the width of the clearance between the HVAC unit and the fence.  All the numbers added up and I decided we were a go on the new gate.

 The items I purchased for this project were treated 2x4’s, pine fence boards, hinges, one 4 inch caster, screw shank nails, and lock hardware.  I used this video on the Home Depot website to get me started and then stared at the fence for a good long time before making my first move.  I got a few tools together including my reciprocating saw, compound miter saw, cordless drill, a hammer, a square and my trusty tool belt.

 I know the boards here have a few good years on them, but they were all sturdy despite their aged patina.  The fence posts have withstood several hurricanes and are very solid, but seeing as how the side closest to the house is not anchored to anything more than the post itself I decided not to remove all of the boards in this section and only remove the ones needed to construct the gate. Once I removed the two boards closest to the post I used the reciprocating saw to remove the section of fence.

 The dolly pictured here is how you haul off a section of fence without having to bug the hubby, ladies. I carefully measured the opening and determined the size of the gate I needed.  I then constructed the gate as shown in the video with a few modifications and dry fit it into the space. I checked the spacing and with some muscle help from the hubby attached the hinges.

 I then determined the cross boards' heights and screwed those into place.  My biggest hurdle here was trying to fit a square gate into an older not-so-square space. Fortunately I was able to wiggle this into the space and secure the cross boards to help it hold the shape I needed.  I hammered a couple of nails vertically into the existing boards and used a string level to keep my fence boards at the same height as I secured them with screw shanked nails.  I shimmed the gate to the height I needed to swing freely and attached the caster using some long wood screws. Voila, one working gate!

  Now I will say that because of the clearance problem due to the slope of the yard there is a gap just the right size for the dog to escape, but I am currently using a 2x4 and a couple of bricks to solve this problem temporarily until I can devise a more permanent solution.  I would also like to use a few concrete pavers to keep the ground under the caster’s path solid, but hey, another day another project.

  So there you have it, my “make my life so much easier” gate.  Look how happy the yard man looks.  By the way, don’t judge me I didn’t say I did the yard every week myself.  The yardman and I take turns; sometimes this momma needs a hand.

By the way if you live in the area and need a great lawn care provider email me, I'd be happy to give you his name. Thanks for stopping by and be sure to come back see what I’ve going on next.