a simple plate display rack

When I bought my tiny apartment I had this space above my kitchen cupboards which was pretty much useless. It has a lip so anything you put up there is partway hidden, and its up high so you can’t fit large items.

The place is also small and the kitchen area has upper cupboards which means there was nowhere to hang a plate display rack for my pretty dishes. Dishes I brought back from Australia. I gave away, threw away and sold so much of my collectible stuff… I had to keep SOME of it. The dishes were one thing I kept.

The only option was to make my own dish rack to the measurements I needed. I had my tools, a porch, some scrap pine I’d picked up from someone who was throwing it out, the weather was fine so why not?

First step was to design the sides. I drew them on newspaper and cut them out using a jigsaw.

Next step was to stain them. I used the old steel wool in vinegar trick I picked up from Pinterest. No money spent on this part. As you can see though, each piece turned a different shade of brown. No worries. I was going to paint it anyway, I just wanted darker timber to show through the distressed corners.

After cutting the sides and bottom piece, I used a piece of compressed cardboard like stuff I found in a dumpster behind the timber store for the back. Its similar to MDF but kind of ‘furrier’ and not as nice. But its the back. Who cares?

I did have to buy a thin rod for the front to hold the plates in place. I drilled partway into the sides, added glue, then joined the whole thing together. Last minute I also added a couple of ‘feet’ to raise it above the top cupboard’s ‘lip’.

Once it was all dry and finished, I gave it a coat of primer and two topcoats of a simple acrylic paint I had on hand. Lastly I have the edges a little sand to smooth them off and add a touch of distressing, not too much. After all, the plates are the hero here, not the rack.

What I realised afterwards was that the rod was too far forward for the plates… what I should have done was put a slim piece of timber along the bottom to hold them in place. I like the rod so that’s staying, but when I get a chance I’ll add the timber stop at the bottom. Sort of a double protection from plates slipping.

I’ve made a temporary shelf which the antique bowls sit on. I’m not sure how I’ll deal with them, but for now this works. I may just make a proper shelf for them at a later date.

My finished display rack

I have three larger platters I also want to display on the other wall, leaving more space in my bookcase, so I’ll be making another, longer one. I still have my template… And I have scrap timber… I might make the next one slightly different or I might make it the same… who knows?

z

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slowly does it

It seems so long since I got my Ikea bookcase and thought about white washing it (or liming it or whatever you want to call it). I actually started on it about 3 weeks ago thinking “great, one evening to lime the entire bookcase, two to varnish, done in 3 days!”

Three weeks ago and this is all I’d done:

I’m ashamed of myself. Where is the Zefi I used to know? The one who works like a machine and gets things done? It seems she has some bad days at work and comes home to sit in front of Netflix all night eating chocolate… Not good. Especially after all the hard work I put in last year in Australia to lose weight and get fit…

Well, I finally got off my butt and did some painting the other day. Of course it went a whole lot faster once I pulled the whole thing apart to paint it… turns out shortcuts are longcuts… painting the bookcase without taking it apart was a stupid move.

I still have to do it in sections, but now I have the whole first section (ie half the bookcase) painted. I still need to varnish the bits I painted before I can put it back together and start on the next half. I can’t do it all at once cause I dont have the space. Its way too windy to varnish outside cause things will get stuck in the varnish. Liming was quick and I did that outside since I can sand any dead insects off anyway. Not that I need to… it dries so fast.

I wanted the wood grain to show through so I just used some white acrylic paint I found in the cabinet when I bought my place, watered it down and used a kitchen sponge to apply the paint, rubbing it in and spreading it over the timber. I found I needed two coats to achieve the look I wanted… but I’m halfway there on the first half now.

And then I hit a road bump. A big one.

Once I was ready to move onto part 2 of the first half of the bookcase (varnishing) I went and bought some varnish. I went to my favourite hardware store (favourite cause its owned and run by a woman) and selected the varnish I thought I needed – it was water based, in gloss (a new thing for me! I’ve always done satin before) and said protection and varnish on it in Greek and English… Then along came the MAN who works there and said, no, this is what you need. I didn’t even read the label well – mainly cause 1. it was all in greek and 2. I couldn’t see the fine print without my glasses.

I did what I knew better than to do… I just got what someone recommended like some newbie.

In fact, I feel like an ignorant newbie a lot here cause I don’t know the words for things in greek and the greek writing on packaging sometimes stumps me. You’ll see me at hardware stores going ‘buzz buzz’ to indicate a drill, doing little spirals in the air to indicate drill bits, etc…

So I got home during my break (split shift day yesterday) and got to work sanding everything. Then I dusted it all off and started painting on the varnish…

It had a bit of a smell. It was sticky on my fingers. It was quite thick. I had a quick read of the instructions, not really letting them sink in. I just worked away thinking that one liter of the stuff wouldn’t be enough – but they don’t sell it in bigger sizes…

I was just about to start on the shelves when I decided to re-read the instructions just to be on the safe side. Something just didn’t feel right…

Yep. It was oil based, not water based. A low odour oil based product. It was the five hour drying time that really woke me up. But the worldwide icon for dummies on how to clean up wasn’t on the tin, and the greek word for turps was nowhere to be seen. They recommended ‘brush cleaner’ for cleanup… I was thinking it was some kind of SOAP.

Sigh.

I was pretty annoyed at myself for being such an idiot and not realising soon as I opened the tin…

By the time I stopped I’d done three uprights and the only shelves I didnt remove – the ones that hold the drawers cause they are a pain to do cause they have those little lugs that hold them in place. I’m not that lazy, but when I removed them last time I ended up breaking one shelf end bracket thingy… I didnt want to risk making it worse.

Meanwhile I hated the look… the varnish went on dark, a yellowish tinge to it even though its clear varnish. It didnt seem as clear as the polyurethane I used on stuff in Australia. I was thinking that I’d get water based varnish to finish the bookcase and hope that the difference isn’t really visible.

Last night I had to sleep with the bedroom door closed cause low odour or not, it bothered me. But the good news is that this morning I liked the way it looked and felt. It dried lighter than it went on and I’m loving the gloss finish.

So now I’ve started I just gotta keep the momentum going.

Mind you, you’d think that would be easy… I can’t really be moved in till the bookcase is finished cause I can’t bring my stuff out of storage till I can put things where I want them. So I gotta get it done. I will get it done.

Just keep me away from Netflix and chocolate…

z

social commentary and a lamp

I’m currently reading a book where the main character made a comment about manners… like how it was so important for a man to treat a woman like she was a precious gem… holding doors open, being polite, buying flowers, etc. But, she said, his mama would have taught him all that…

It struck me as funny in a sad “that’s how it might be in the south (of the USA) but this is Greece” way…

The difference being that southern mothers do/did instill in their sons a code of chivalrous behavior towards women. By contrast, all most greek mothers seem to do is spoil their sons and raise entitled spoilt brats who expect some woman to treat them like their mother did…

Okay… not all greek mothers are like that, nor all greek men.

Just the majority.

And I’m allowed to ‘greek-bash’ cause I’m greek.

So there.

It reminded me of a story mom told me. She said that, when we first moved back to Greece eons ago, my father would help her wash the clothes when we were on Paros. Back then there was no running water to the house (let alone a washing machine!) so washing was done by hand at the well on the side of a hill. In full view of the entire countryside. Buckets of water would be poured into wash tubs in the morning and left in the sun to heat up so clothes could be washed in warm water in the afternoon. Buckets of cold water would be brought up to rinse them and they would be hung on the dry stone walks to dry. Dad always helped mom. It was a hard job – ever washed sheets or towels by hand? Even with running water you didn’t have to pull up from a well yourself?

Anyway, dad’s mother was shocked. And embarrassed. What would people think – my mom had dad doing the washing! It was a disgrace.

Anyway, enough about greek men and how we spent years ‘showering’ by bucket in our bathers in full view of the neighbours…

I wanted to share a small project of mine. I saw a floor lamp advertised on the local buy/swap/sell Facebook page and jumped at it. The shade was broken but the base was sturdy and since when has a broken thing ever stopped me before?

Photo of the lamp shade, broken.

Same photo panned out a bit so you can see Lainee overseeing the project. Just goes to show how effective cropping can be. LOL

Anyway, I collected the lamp and thought about how I could fix it, change the shade etc. There were tons of possibilities but the easiest was to simply mend the existing shade and use rope to update it. I had the rope after all… and the hot glue…

So that’s what I did. I used a wide old ribbon to reconnect the shade to the wire support and make it secure. Then I simply hot glued the rope to the shade. Instant update. Instant gratification. New lamp for reading or crafting on the couch.

Excellent way to spend an afternoon.

z

the next installment

First up, a work in progress photo of the Ikea bookcase. Love the Ivar system. So easy and adaptable.

This is where I had planned to put the bookcase. Notice the powerpoint I had added on the wall where I thought I needed it… See the light fittings. Now look at how things are now:

Ok, maybe its not that easy to see. Basically I first bought a 32in TV thinking I didn’t need anything bigger… I got it home and from the couch it was like “where is the TV?”… so I had to swape it for a larger one. 50in. Much better.

Of course that lead to a lot of changes. The TV needed to be opposite the couch, so I had to move the whole bookcase down. Not to mention the bigger TV wouldn’t fit in the bookcase as it was. I needed to cut the bookcase to adapt it to fit a larger TV. I did that by cutting the front upright in the middle section. I have a bracket I plan to put there for added support for the shelves above. I’ll do that when I start painting the bookcase as I dont really want to be moving the TV twice.

I had planned on adding a narrow section to the end near the door, now I added it to the end by the wall. That meant I had to move the power point as it was now in the way. That was one of those 5 minute jobs that took 2 weeks cause I kept forgetting to buy the right drill bit with the right screws and plastic sleevey things. THEN it took 5 minutes to do.

The bookcase is all secured to the wall at the to so there’s no moving it now.

I ordered my narrow section and realised I forgot to get the little black feet… and didn’t order enough shelves… so now I wait to get those bits to finish the bookcase.

You can see I’ve got one section set up as my laptop station. I’m still not sure if I’ll extend that with a fold down section for a keyboard… We’ll see.

Meanwhile its just a general storage area till I get myself sorted. But there are pockets of pretty. Like this one with the little cactuses I bought a couple of weeks ago. Real ones!

The little stool is something I picked up at an antique store. They are something every greek house on the island had in various sizes – my grandfather made 3 of them for his grandkids. This was a dark green which I painted white. Of course. Its so Paros.

And this is me, right? Brushes and tools, the industrial light fitting, an antique photo frame…

The little table Barbara gave me (thanks again) is my sewing table while it waits for its makeover. It will always be my sewing table, but it will be painted and mended where Petey (her dog) snacked on it.

Another Zefi touch is the covered shoe (and other) boxes. I mean I couldn’t just have ugly boxes holding stuff on my shelves. I used brown paper bags from shops to cover those 3 and an old table cloth to temporarily cover the large one. The bigger shoe box holds the power cables cause who wants to see those?

Outside the front things happened for a while… My uncle and his buddies came over to install a sail for me. A nice big rectangle one. To keep the resin off the pine tree off any furniture I put out the front. They also did a few things out the back for me. The triangle sail to stop the hot afternoon sun from coming into my bedroom and provide some privacy, a washing line (no one seems to have those here… like, what? there is only so much you can fit onto a clothes airer!) And they put up a bamboo screen to the yard next door which does get occupied at times.

Well, in theory the front sail was a great idea. Till the wind grabbed it and ripped the post out of the wall.

Back to square one on that…. Now I’m thinking I’ll put the small triangle sail out the front and see how that goes and move the big rectangle one to the back where its protected from the wind. And next year, before things get busy, I’ll organise to build a pergola for the front. A real one. Built from timber. The wind shouldn’t take that one!

Meanwhile the coffee table is a craft station. I still haven’t recovered the dark brown cushions, I want to cheer the place up a bit. I did make the round cushion cover removable using fabric scraps I had on hand so it can be washed.

And Lainee keeps me company no matter what I’m doing. She’s settled in really well. Still very shy around people but loves other dogs and gets so excited when she sees one.

She’s begun to wag her tail for me, not often, and play short bursts of happy poodle. But the moment I try to join the game she stops… Its so sad. I don’t know why she’s like that. She doesn’t seem to get playing. She’s glued to me like a siamese twin, yet if I call her she will cower at my feet. And if anyone approaches her she just looks really worried.

Still… she’s improving all the time and I’m so glad to have her. She is the sweetest dog in the world and she’s helped to heal my aching heart from losing Montana and Romeo. And not being there when Montana died. She was such a special girl and I adored her. And Romeo was my boy from the day he took his first breath. Leaving them was one of the hardest things I ever had to do in my life. But they both found amazing homes with people who adore them. Its all I could want for them. It was just unfortunate that Montana only had a few months to enjoy the love of her new family.

Enough of that. It will make me cry.

I’m off to work now. No rest for the wicked. I hope that come off season I can get into a better routine and start making things again. Then I’ll have more stuff to share.

z

upcycled jewellery organiser

 

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I’m so excited about this project. I just love how it turned out, to the point of wanting to keep it for myself. But I have to be realistic. I don’t have the right place for it and I already have enough spots for my own jewellery (which I hardly ever wear –  bracelets or necklaces don’t go well with dog grooming … or power tools!

So, here’s the story of this project – It began life as a chair in our kitchen. I went through a phase of buying vintage chairs from tip shops (ie chairs people have thrown away. ie wobbly chairs), painting them, and using them in our kitchen.

All good, except when you have a partner who treats chairs with contempt. He’s not exactly gentle with them. And old chairs need TLC. This was one of his victims. He broke one of the back legs by leaning back on it, rendering the chair useless.

It sat in the workshop for ages while I figured out what to do with it. Obviously I cut off the legs. Then I decided I had to cut the seat in half cause it was way too big for a wall  shelf. That meant I needed to put an ‘end’ on it. Done.

The basics were done. Then came the fun part…

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Firstly I had to decide what this little chair would be in its new life. A jewellery organiser was my choice so I began by painting it with a DIY chalk paint I mixed up. Then I started working on what someone would need for their jewellery.

I found a round base, cut it in half and added it to the chair using a rusty hinge, providing an extra shelf. I added a vintage double hook under it for bracelets.

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Next I added little eye hooks for earrings.

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Last I added a variety of knobs for hanging necklaces.

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The result: very pretty, very practical project! A bit shabby, a bit fun and a lot girlie.

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I love how this turned out (did I mention that?). I’ve listed it for sale locally as its one of those things which are way too big to put in my Etsy shop.

So, back to work. No rest for the wicked yada yada. Yesterday I finished sorting out the jungle which was our vegie patch. The weeds were waist high. I had weeded the raspberry patch a few weeks ago in order to find the fruit and to plant some pumpkin and cucumber plants which were given to me by a friend. The rest remained buried under old growth weeds. I’ve managed to cover the two jungle beds with weed matting and heavy objects to kill both weeds and seeds. If that works, next year I’ll have nice enriched soil to plant things in. Without using poison.

At least that’s the theory.

Today is going to be too hot to work outside so its ‘clean up the craft room’ day. After grooming. If I’m not too tired or its too hot…

It’s good to have plans.

z

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kitchenalia

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I’ve always liked collecting old kitchen paraphernalia. Among other things. I basically collect anything that appeals to me. I mean, you never know when you’ll need ‘that’, right?

So, while making some wind chimes for the local market I found this extra long THING in my collection. I normally use these for my junky sun catcher/wind chimes.

These are two of my previous ones. Click on images to go to post.

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You can see other suncatchers and wind chimes here and here.

These things are so me. I love the mix of sparkle, rust and old wood. The one above was my first one and I kept that one for myself. I love looking at it.

But back to the kitchenalia one…

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A selection of old and vintage kitchen tools, a small steamer pot and a little airplane… cause, why not? Doesn’t everyone have a vintage wood airplan toy in their kitchen?

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It sold at the market as soon as I hung it up. Obviously I’m not the only one who likes these odd dangley things!

I have three more available at the moment. I’ll share them when I get photos of them and probably put them in my etsy shop.

z

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coconut oil and face creams

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Katie’s image from View From The Fridge.

You know how you get lost on Pinterest now and then, madly pinning everything that appeals to you, planning to make this, try that, or just collect pins cause they look cute?

Well, I saw this image on Pinterest one day and it grabbed my attention. Homemade face cream using only three ingredients? All natural and cheaper than store bought? What’s not to like?

I read on – I already had the essential oils and the supermarket had the coconut oil, so I decided to try it.

I’m not going to share the actual recipe – you can find it here along with the original post with all the details.

I have to say, I love it. I made the recipe according to Katie’s instructions and the only thing I’d change is that next time I’ll warm the coconut oil a bit first to make it easier to mix. Other than that, its fabulous! Just as the image says!

I’ve been using it on my face, neck, chest and shoulders every day, sometimes twice a day. I’ve used it on my hands, arms and body as well. Wayne uses it too and we’re only half way through the jar.

It is very oily when you put it on, but Katie’s right – you do absorb it really well and there’s no left over greasiness. Being winter its hard in the jar but melts on your hand instantly, making it easy to apply. My skin feels amazing and I think its even helped my neck lose that dry old look I was developing.

This is one Pinterest project that gets a huge tick from me.

Success.

Unlike the Greek fish soup with egg and lemon I made last night. That was not a success. It was edible, but not like mom makes it. sigh.

The dogs liked it ok. At least someone appreciates my cooking.

z

DIY grooming bench (the ugly bench finished)

I shared the ugly bench I made for drying dogs the other day. Its a bit rough and ready, made from leftover bits of timber and offcuts I had lying around, but its strong and sturdy and fits perfectly where I wanted it.

bench1

The bench stands in a corner opposite my hydrobath and its my drying area. It holds a small dog crate for cage drying small dogs, and fits over my show trolley for drying larger dogs. I stash my stand dryer in front, with two of its legs under the trolley, and my blaster sits on the floor in front of the wall my poodles destroyed going after some critter.

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That’s what it looked like when I finished it. The top was thick MDF, not water proof and thus not ideal as a drying bench.

This is what it looks like now:

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I visited the hardware store and bought some ribbed rubber matting. I bought enough in length to turn over the ends on either side, and had planned to cut the width off to simply turn over the sides as well.

However, when I laid it on top of the bench I thought “Hey… this is perfect!” By not cutting it and simply rolling it up the wall and fixing it onto the plasterboard with screws, I’ve successfully waterproofed the wall as well! Whoo-hoo!

My plan is to eventually reline all the walls in my washing/drying room using anything I can find that’s cheap (or preferably FREE) so it won’t look as tacky. Till then I’ve got myself a totally non-slip, waterproof, sturdy drying bench I don’t get a sore back drying dogs on!

I’m on a roll!

z

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the ugly bench

I did warn you. It ain’t pretty.

bench1

I’m not a builder. I’m not a furniture maker. I’m a furniture recycler, re-maker, re-configurer. I take things someone else made and change them. I don’t often make things from scratch.

And here’s the reason why:

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I’m not very good at it. Sure, I can make things, but they’re never quite… right.

They might not be stable enough. Or quite the right size. Or not quite straight.

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A little dog tries out the drying cage. I think he approves of my handiwork though he wishes he was somewhere else.

At least I get good marks for trying, right? Not to mention, I actually measured right and the trolley fits underneath it perfectly!

The drying bench is made out of 2 different size hardwood posts ‘borrowed’ from Wayne’s stash as legs, thick MDF from our kitchen makeover as the top, small size treated pine timber bought by me in the wrong size for something a few months ago, and leftover bits of pine lining from the grooming room reno as side braces.

Its 100% recycled.

Today I bought some rubber non-slip ribbed matting which will sit on top to make it waterproof and safe for dogs. I’ve already used it a few times and its a great height and size.

I’m happy.

P.S. If you noticed the ‘wall’ behind it, don’t worry. I groom in a shed (aka the ‘casita’) which houses my grooming room, my workshop, our feed room, tack room and what passes as a laundry. It needs work. And that’s an understatement.

 

z

oval chalkboard – again

This poor chalkboard has been through a lot.

I was given a broken oval frame by a friend a few years ago. It was in three pieces when I got it. I finally got around to doing something with it about a year ago. I glued it together, used a mix of gold and silver paint to disguise the joins, put in some MDF with chalkboard paint and called it good.

I used it as our shopping list chalkboard in our pantry for a while. Then I replaced it with something smaller and planned to sell it.

Then it fell down and broke again. Oops.

This time I got serious about fixing it. Not only did I re-glue the joins, I cut an oval board and liquid nails-ed the entire thing to it, making it so much stronger.

ovalchalkboard

Do you think I have enough clamps? I think I might have a few more here somewhere…

Once it was dry and as sturdy as I could make it, I decided I wanted to change the colour. I picked a greyish white. I’m not really a gold kinda gal.

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Much better, I think. Though it doesn’t look its best against the pale grey-ish outer wall of our house.

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If you look closely you can still see the joins, but what do you expect when it was in three pieces to start with? It’s a rescued frame, you can’t expect perfection!

I don’t expect perfection.

In fact, I like imperfection.

…I’m not entirely sure if I like imperfection and am therefore happy with it, or if my skills can’t quite reach perfection so I embrace imperfection.

Potato, potato. Who cares?

z