Sunday, October 15, 2017

holly's diy storage bed - the build

 It's finally done! Weeks and weeks of work on the design and build is finally done, and I can't believe it actually looks pretty darn good!

If you missed the design, you can see it here.

The bed is in place, clothes put away and the books are the shelves. A sigh of relief and the garage is finally back to holding cars and not bed parts. Here's some pictures of the build.

We started with the bookcase since it was the easiest to do.

The deal struck with Holly was since the veto was made on every bed we tried to purchase, that she would help sand and paint each piece.

She lived up to her end and what a fine job she did!

The back cabinets were easy also as they were only there to support the mattress. These cabinets would face the wall and not be seen.

Each piece was painted whether they were back or front cabinets.

Front cabinets were made which held the drawers. This was the hardest part for me, but they turned out fine.

The white paint made everything look bright and clean.

The drawer build wasn't as bad as I expected. We cut all the sides.

Dado cuts were made to help keep everything nice and square. 

Quarter inch plywood was cut and side into place.

Burke and Holly were absolutely fascinated that they could stand the broom up all by itself.

Work on the headboard began.

Wiring was done for the power center in the headboard.

Then we added some fancy trim at the top and leftover bead board from the basement ceiling was used as the back.

Special trim needs a bit of a pop of color - not too much.

Finally the bed is assembled.

Drawers were filled.

Items plugged into the power center.

Books put away.

Even a nightlight.

Snug as a bug in a rug. It was a lot of work - but she loves it, and so do we. 

Thank goodness for Ana White's website.  Parts and pieces were taken from this and that piece and together we created my daughters vision. Thanks Ana for the plans and the confidence to believe I could do it!

Saturday, October 7, 2017

holly's bed - the design

There's been some shake up to the household lately, which led to some rearranging of beds. First our grandson came to live with us and he took the room which was already set up for incoming exchange students. It was all ready to be occupied - no effort needed.

Next, we took in a very lovely Chinese exchange student, Ivy, who was in need of a host family.

Our guest room was equipped with a queen size bed and it had to go. It was meant for out of town family. It is lovely in the room, but there was no room for a desk and other things a teenager needs. So, out it came - and we turned my photography room into the new guest room.

So what to do about a bed then for our Ivy? I've been promising Holly a new bed for some time. So we moved Holly's full size bed into the Ivy's room complete with some fix up, a new mattress topper and desk. Room.Done.

Then the search for Holly's bed got under way. She picked out a new mattress, a very nice memory foam type that we got .... and who'd a thunk it - Menards all of places. They had the best price by far.

We began our exhaustive search for a new bed. Anyone who knows my Boo, knows that once she made up her mind, nothing changes it. The bed that even came close to what she wanted was well over $2000 - which was NOT going to happen.

So we settled into designing and building a bed for her. I spent quite a bit of time at Ana White's website, browsing designs and looking at what others have done. We've been going at it for a few weeks now, which has kept me from writing, but I believe we are ready for a semi reveal. 


The new full size storage bed with 4 (not 2) drawers, a bookcase in the head board and foot board, a built in charging station for her widgets and gizmos, and a motion sensor night light.

Honestly, the hardest part of this whole thing was the design. Getting the math right AND figuring out Sketchup is not for the faint heart.

It was an absolute requirement that the bed had 4 drawers and not the 2 you see on many storage beds. She veto'd many beds because of the 4 drawer rule.

Burke and I had the idea to add the USB charging station and night light. We also built in a normal plug outlet for her alarm clock. It's always to hard to reach the power behind these beds, so this time - we built it in.

The drawer cabinet design did take some time as well, calculating efficient use of wood and measurements. We went with 15 3/4 wide because we got the most out of our plywood.

I did look to see if I could buy these cabinets at IKEA or a second hand store, but we found nothing that wow'd us. Not to mention, I wanted the entire bed to be the same material and color. Drawers are not the easiest to build, but we'll manage.

Since her bed pushes up against a wall, the back cabinets really are just holders for the mattress. I took care to make each piece modular so we could easily move them about.

The bookcase was the easiest and gives her plenty of room to store her books and do hickies.

The drawers are never fun for me. We contemplated many different way to give her drawers including bins or just shelves. The girl just wanted some drawers - so that's what she'll have.

I problem is that they just have to be perfect when dealing with drawer slides and that's super hard.

Next week, come back to see the building of the bed. So far, we're done with the foot board, cabinets, and almost all the drawers. I'm hoping we can finish those today and begin work on the head board tomorrow.

The cost you ask? I would say $300-$350. The wood costs were right around $200-$250, but the USB outlet and motion censored light were about $50/piece. Still the cheapest in cost - but when you add in time, it was almost worth buying the $2000 bed and be done with it.

How long is it taking? We get about 1 day and 1/2 a week to work on it, and this will be our 3rd week. I have big dreams of finishing this weekend. Keep your fingers crossed!

Monday, September 4, 2017


I began looking through my photos for something to write about this week and I can't believe I didn't write this one up last year. Slipcovers! The couch has been done for a year now and I still love it.

Last year we vacationed in lovely Frankfort, MI. We rented a condo on Lake Michigan and I was very inspired by the furnishings of the condo. Everything was lake blue, fluffy cloud white, and sand brown. My favorites.

I donated our existing couch to our son and began looking around. As we all know, a good couch is very expensive. My idea was to find a very good quality couch and make a slipcover for it. We found this one online and took it home for a good steam cleaning. The brand was Ethan Allen. I pulled the cushion covers off, ripped one apart to use as a pattern, and even took out the zippers to reuse.

Then I ordered fabric. I got a great canvas blend online which is a medium weight fabric and washable.

I settled for a ocean blue - OR Detroit Lions blue. 

I found some upholstery there to match, and got my bobbins ready. I started with 4 but in the end, I probably used about 8 minimal.

I grabbed my favorite piping foot - which makes quick work of sewing piping. It came in very handy as there was A LOT of piping involved.

I then cut all my pieces for the piping. I believe these were 1 1/2 inch wide.

I sewed them together.

Cutting off the little triangle.

Good quality piping cord is essential. I ordered 10 yards online.

Then I sewed miles and miles of piping, okay only 10 yards.

I started by cutting a piece for the seat area. Using chalk, I drew out my cutting lines.

I just started cutting and pinning fabric. Make sure to get some good upholstery pins for a good sturdy hold.

Basically, pin fabric together so everything is wrong side out.

Cutting notches for the corners.

Pin together fabric with the piping in the middle. Every stitched area has piping.
Sew sections together as you go. Make cuts to release tension in the corners.

Turn it right side out and try it on for size.

I used Velcro for the corners to create a pocket.

Getting the sticky back tape was very helpful for placement. Then I sewed the Velcro to keep it in place.

Here's the solution for the bottom. I actually need to go back and redo this area as it did not turn out like I hoped. I think in the future, I will just do a skirt around the bottom. I was going for clean lines here. My solution was to put sticky Velcro on the bottom and to remove it when I wanted to clean the slipcover.

The cushions were easy. 
I simply used the old seat cushion that I ripped apart as my pattern and even reused the zippers.

Honestly .... when I was looking through my photos, I couldn't believe I didn't take final pictures. So today, I grabbed a few pictures. The slipcovers have been in place and do a great job of protecting it against dog crude. He rubs up against the bottom of the couch all the time.

Which is what I planned for. I can simply take it off and throw it in the washer. 

It's a good solution when you don't want to spend thousands and you want a new look.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

canning season! italian stewed tomatoes

Aunt Dottie and my grandmother were both avid gardeners. Although I had no interest in learning how to can from them when I was young, I found myself following in their footsteps.

This year I'm super excited about my garden. Last year, everything sucked. My soil was in a terrible state and nothing grew right. All my tomatoes had serious rot. I tried to correct the ship last year, but alias - it was in vain.

But THIS year! Oh my gosh!

I added a bag of manure to each bed and organic fertilizer. Plus I added some organic tomato food to each tomato plant. I planted 4 roma tomato plants and waited. I also have various pepper plants, broccoli, cucumbers and green beans.

I was SOOO relieved to see my lovely tomatoes come in with NO rot.

I broke out the canning jars and put them in the dishwasher to sterilize them. You can also stick them in the oven at 180 for about 10 minutes. Or.....  if your water bath is nice and hot, stick them in the water for a few minutes.

Then I started my pots. 

One for the water bath, one for blanching the tomatoes, one for cooking the tomatoes, and the little one for sterling the jar lids.

I blanched the tomatoes for about a minute.

Then stop the cooking with a cold water shock.

The skins came right off.

I quartered them and added the ingredients, garlic, green peppers, onion, and oregano. I followed this recipe, the exact measurements are here.

The longer you cook them the thicker they will become. I let mine cook for about 60 mins to reduce the water from the tomatoes in the sauce.

Fill them up leaving about a 1/2 inch. I also added 1/4 teaspoon of Ball Citric Acid additive which replaces the lemon juice. This increases the acidic level of the tomatoes. If you want to read more about that, here is an interesting article.

By now your pot of water should be ready, near boiling point. The water should be about an inch higher than the jars. Put the lid on and let boil for 20 minutes.

I ended up with 8 jars of delicious Italian stewed tomatoes. I've already used them in a few recipes. Sauce tastes so much better when it is home made.

And .... if you're way cool - you'll add these labels to your jars. I have already used up the jars with labels, but it's a nice way to label the date and type of tomatoes. I have washed these jars with the labels in the dishwasher over and over and they still remain awesome.