Eek, now what? Confessions of a new Cricut Maker Owner

So this happened!


I have a new Cricut!  It’s been sitting on my desk in the box for the last week — yes, an entire week.  Why?  Because I have no freakin’ idea where to start and I’m a little paralyzed.  I’m seriously questioning yet another hobby, although I can totally justify that sewing/quilting and machine cutting are somewhat related — sort of, if I really try.

I’ve sent some time this week in a Facebook Cricut group, and watching videos from Auntie Tay and Lorrie Nunemaker on YouTube — thank you both if you see this.  I’m about ready to haul this sucker out and start.  I have two small projects to start with — a street sign and a small helmet sticker for MartMan — hopefully the rest will just come to me.  You know, if you build it ….

There are some bigger projects down the road, I hope.  I feel like a new parent.

Creativity, don’t fail me now.  Putting on my brave now.

Dresden Plate Clock

What time is it?

I knocked my sewing room atomic clock off the wall the other day and damaged the display, so I decided I needed a new clock. I searched Amazon, Etsy, and eBay for sewing-themed clocks and decor and found a lot of cute things, but nothing that spoke to me enough to buy. In my search, I ran across a few pictures of a handmade clock using a vintage quilt block design called the Dresden Plate, and I fell in love with it. The original purpose of a Dresden Plate quilt was to use the smallest fabric scraps so nothing went to waste, and this random piecework style seemed to suit my crafting and sewing style.

This is my version of the Dresden Plate clock.



Traditional Dresden Plates have 16 petals, but my first Dresden Plate blades were made using a template I accidentally found online at The Crafty Quilter that yielded 12 blades per Dresden, perfect for clock making. I chose a 12″ x 12″ x 1″ square artist’s canvas to mount my clock to, and found that a 5″ tall blade created a Dresden with a final diameter of 11-1/2″ including the center circle.

Here’s what you need to make your own:

  • A 12-blade Dresden Plate — quilted to a piece of coordinating fabric at least 14″ x 14″ or bigger so it wraps around the canvas frame to be secured in place on the back.
  • Batting — I used white fleece on this, since the fabric content really didn’t matter. The fleece was almost too bulky on the corners of the frame.
  • 12″ x 12″ artist’s stretched canvas — available in the crafts section at Walmart, or any crafting store like Michael’s or Jo-Ann’s, as well as Amazon
  • Clock works kit — the kit you choose is partially determined by the depth of your stretched canvas frame. I bought the 3/4″ kit for the 1″ deep canvas. Available at Michael’s or Amazon.
  • Staple gun
  • A tube of E6000 glue or a hot glue gun
  • One piece of shim or other long flat wood, at least 12″ long

After sewing the Dresden, I applied it to the background fabric with a running top stitch, and quilted the background fabric with a simple echo outline of the petals. You can get as creative or simple as you want. I centered and stretched the finished block on the canvas, and secured it using an electric staple gun, stapling it to the back of the canvas’s frame, much like you’d reupholster a chair. Find the center of the Dresden Plate by putting a straight pin through it from the front, and mark that location on the back of the canvas. Clip a small hole where you marked the pin, put the stem through the fabric from the back and on the front, assemble the hands on the front as directed in the clock works instructions. Finish by hot gluing the back of the clock works to the shim so it is straight and won’t move, and secure the shim to the frame of the canvas with hot glue. Be sure you don’t cover up the dial adjustment or battery case on the back with the shim. My mounting was disappointingly askew on my first clock, but it will be better next time. Trim any excess fabric on the back, hang and enjoy!


Bathroom Vanity and Medicine Cabinet Makeover #2

Goodbye 1980s.



My latest project has been freshening up my hall bathroom vanity and medicine cabinet with a good coat of paint.  My house was built in 1986, and both were showing their useful life and style ages.

I opted to do something a little more current than the dark Java Gel Stain I’d used in the kitchen and master bathroom.  All the big kids seem to be using white right now, so I picked out a nice antique white.  I used:

  • Sander, sanding block and sandpaper.
  • TSP cleaner.
  • Dutch Boy Cabinet and Trim Paint, primer and paint, tinted 011W Antique White.  This vanity didn’t even take an entire pint container.
  • Small dense roller and tray, and small paint brush.

I removed the doors and hardware, cleaned the surfaces to be painted with TSP, lightly sanded them with a hand sander, sanding block and sandpaper to remove what was left of the old poly topcoat, then I dusted them, taped all the edges off with painters tape, and started painting.  It took three coats of brushing on the detail, then rolling the entire surface.  Rolling is the only way to go and gives a flawless finish.

Once you start painting, just know the first couple of coats will look TERRIBLE and make you question life itself.  It gets better.  Be sure to allow plenty of time for this project because you should wait about 24 hours between paint coats.  I started painting on Saturday and wasn’t done until Tuesday.  I encourage you to search YouTube for detailed instructions, as there are lots of very helpful videos out there.

Have plenty nitrile gloves handy, a wipe rag, and a couple of large zip top bags.  Since cabinet and trim paint is acrylic, you won’t be rinsing out your tools between coats.  Just drop them in a sealed bag and they’ll be fine overnight.  I threw them away when I was done.

We replaced the old antiqued gold hardware with weathered nickel.  Eventually I can see the walls painted a soft gray and new flooring, but I’m totally out of the mood for more painting projects right now.

I still like the look of the medicine cabinet in java, but this is nice and clean.  See my post on our master bathroom to see how this same cabinet looks in the dark java gel stain.  Bathroom Vanity and Medicine Cabinet Makeover Project




Sewing Room Makeover

I’m still fighting the winter blahs and have been creatively uninspired in my sewing room lately, so I decided to do something I’ve been wanting for myself for a while.

Several weeks ago, I moved my sewing room from the front of my family room, to the back.  It’s a slightly smaller space, so I did a lot of de-cluttering and organizing and am extremely happy with the outcome.  I also now have a nice sitting area in front of our lovely fireplace again in the front part of the room.

Sewing Room Makeover

The new space.  I’ve been asked about the tables — the table on the left is our old dining room table with the center leaf in place; the table in the center is two 4-cube bookshelves with an Ikea butcher block top, total cost about $150.  The wrought iron shelving is a $5 find at a garage sale.  The large 18 cube organizer is my fabric.

I’ve been wanting to make dust covers for my embroidery and sewing machines to help finish off the reorganizing. The fabric I wound up using was a hand-me-down from my friend, Anne, and worked out yardage-wise for some quick dust covers. Fitting a cover to the embroidery arm on the embroidery machine was a challenge, and I’m satisfied with the result.

I still don’t know what to do next, but I do feel like I got something done.  Hopefully, with Spring just around the corner, I’ll start feeling creative again.


Hello Fireplace!  Maybe wine and a good book?





Office Chair Makeover. Update your chair with new fabric.

Office Chair Makeover – No Sew Fabric Update

Office Chair Makeover. Update your chair with new fabric.

20171014_170002.jpgSecond office chair makeover, stripped screws and a trip to the hardware store

Meet my very expensive Merit chair that I’ve had for probably 20 years.  Ask any transcriptionist, our chair is our life.  We spend hours upon hours firmly planted in a chair working and if the chair doesn’t fit, your body will tell you all about it.  I love this chair, but I’m notoriously hard on my stuff, and she was showing wear.  The seat was very dirty, and probably 10 years ago I attempted a  “slipcover” of sorts and wound up with this very baggy, ugly plaid thing, making a dirty chair dirty and ugly.

20171015_165428.jpgToday I took apart her apart, and the only difference from the last makeover I did was this chair has a finished back on it, requiring fabric for both sides.  Taking the back apart required a pry bar and some gentle but firm coaxing.  Taking the screws that held the front of the backrest to the backrest support bar was a MAJOR challenge.  The screws that were originally used were machine screws and I swear they were glued in as they were screwed down.  I wound up stripping the Phillips heads while trying to take them out.  So, I also highly recommend a little device called the Grabit Damaged Screw Remover, which was easy enough that even I could work it.  A couple of new machine screws — thank you Lowe’s guy for helping me find the tool and the right screws — and the project was smooth sailing from there.

This project required:

  • Mallet
  • Pry bar
  • Pliers
  • A magnet to clean up all the staples you wind up removing (optional)
  • Phillips and flat head screw driver
  • 3/8″ staples
  • 1/4″ staples
  • Electric staple gun
  • Fabric, and fabric shears
  • Grabit Damaged Screw Remover and power drill (really optional)
Office Chair makeover with fabric for a fresh new look

Office chair makeover for a fresh new look

Office Chair makeover with fabric for a fresh new look

I had five consecutive days off of work, during which time I had a wishlist of things to get done.  I wound up only getting a few of the things on my list finished, but fortunately, the big one was my craft room chair makeover.

This chair is 20+ years old, and looked it.  There are tons of step-by-step videos on YouTube, and I would recommend starting there if you want to tackle a project like this.  It only took a few hours and some hard work once I got started.

A few tips:

  • share_temporary.jpg
    Krypto was totally uninterested in what I was doing

    Make sure that you have enough of whatever fabric you choose to match patterns if you need to.  I didn’t on this project because I was just using up a large upholstery weight remnant that I would never in a million years use for anything else and was doing the project just to see if I could.  I came close, but not quite.  Fortunately, this chair also has a black plastic shell for the backrest, so I only had to upholster the seat and front of the backrest.  We’ll just call my pattern mismatching intentional.

  • Work on those corners and angles.  I didn’t do it very well, so there are some visible folds on the edges, but they look okay, and definitely better than before.  My fabric didn’t have a lot of stretch, and that may have been the problem.
  • Take pictures, not just for before and after photos, but so you know how to reassemble your chair after you’ve disassembled it.
  • This project required a Phillips-head screwdriver, hammer, mallet, and Allen Wrenches.
  • I used an electric staple gun and 3/8″ staples.  Be prepared to use a little muscle to get your staples to go all the way in your wooden base.  I tried using longer staples, and they would not go all the way in.  In this case, less is better.
  • Have a sheet or something down on the floor so you can work without worrying about getting your project dirty.
  • I added some poly quilt batting, especially to the arms, which had totally deflated over the years.
  • I chose not to spray paint anything, as the base was in great condition.  The back is also a black plastic shell, with only minimal scuffing.  I just cleaned it well.

I still have a lot of leave left for this leave year, and two more chairs to do.  And better fabric.  And a little more motivation now that I’ve done it once.

UPDATE:  I had to redo my sad little lumbar pillow too.  I reused the stuffing with a little added.



Time for new door decor

21641008_10215044818220392_913276088074674046_oToday I made the switch from summer to Halloween on my front door.  I found a similar wreath on the enternetz, and this is my take on it with the pieces/parts I could source locally.  I think she came out pretty well.  I have materials to make more, so if you’re interested in your very own for $120, leave me a comment and I’ll get back to you!

Chalk Paint Antique Magnet Frame

We bought a new fridge a couple of weeks ago.  My old ivory side-by-side fridge was also my travel memory board with magnets from all my various travels in the last 10 years.  My fridge always looked cluttered and messy though, which I didn’t like.  I couldn’t bring myself to clutter the front of my shiny new stainless steel fridge.

I had thought it would be fun to take an old, ornate frame, antique patina it, and put sheet metal in it to make a magnet board.  I actually started to do this a year and a half ago when a friend gave me an old frame that was headed to the trash from her garage.  I bought the supplies and started to work on the frame last summer.  I got sidelined by a rear-end accident last August, that left me with severe whiplash and a lot of pain and headaches. It took several months to pick this project back up, and when I did I could only do a little bit of distressing at a time. In between pain relief procedures, short stints of sanding would leave me with intense headaches, sore and hurting for days.  Pressing, and back and forth movement is hard.

But I persevered, and here is the finished project.  

I like how it turned out.  I can’t point you to any particular blog or directions.  I used information from several different YouTube videos and just kind of winged it. I can tell you what supplies I used, in the order of use. 

  • Hammered Bronze spray paint
  • FolkArt Home Decor Furniture and Craft Paint in Patina
  • Sand paper, sanding blocks, 60 to 120 grit
  • Minwax Paste Finishing Wax, Special Dark (this one is thick and you work it on with a round craft brush)
  • FolkArt Home Decor Finishing Wax, clear (this one is thin and paints on, rather than rubs on)

The metal is a sheet of vent flashing from the hardware store.  Don’t buy “sheet metal” pieces, that can cost $30-$35 a piece, but go to the HVAC department.  I paid $8 for the sheet I used.  My husband did the assembly. 

I really don’t want to do this kind of project again, until I’m pain free, it was too much.  I have plenty of supplies though, just in case. 

Arbor Day

Here’s a random memory that came to me today. Way back in second grade — I don’t even remember what school I was going to — I had written a story for Arbor Day.  Somehow my story won a school wide contest and I won a tree from a local nursery.  We were homeless so I never got my tree.

I don’t know how to process this memory now, but here are some pictures from my yard today.


Japanese Maple.  I bought this on a Home Depot clearance for $10 the summer I worked part-time watering plants.


And while not trees, my bushes on the west side of the house.

Summer Wine Ninebarks.  We bought them distressed on clearance in gallon buckets, and they thanked us by thriving.

We have more, but my trees are my favorites.

Freshen your tired bathroom vanity cabinet with a gel stain makeover

Bathroom Vanity and Medicine Cabinet Makeover Project

Freshen your tired bathroom vanity cabinet with a gel stain makeover

Over my Christmas break, I decided it was time to update the bathroom vanity in our Master.  30+ years was showing on the finish.  I love the look of the General Finishes gel stain product, and we had used it over the Christmas break in 2014 in the kitchen. The Java color seems to be really in style right now as well if you pay attention to all the home flipping and DIY shows on HGTV and DIY Network.

This is not a hard project, just time consuming. So here’s before and after.


And here’s what it takes, generally, to do it.

  • 71rtztfzfsl-_sy355_General Finishes gel stain in Java. A little bit of stain goes a LONG way. This project took a fraction of a pint can of stain and topcoat.
  • General Finishes satin gel stain topcoat.
  • Tri-sodium phosphate (TSP) cleaner and a bucket of water, cleaning sponges and cleaning rags.
  • 1″ and 3″ sponge craft brushes.
  • A small water color brush to get into corners.
  • Latex gloves – a whole box. Trust me.
  • An old cotton sock.
  • Ziploc bags and and saran wrap.

Gel stain is communicable and TSP is not friendly to surfaces you are not working on, so prep first.  Really.  It travels if you’re not careful.  Cover your floor with an old sheet or painter’s tarp, tape off edges with painters tape and mask your work areas. This stuff is seriously messy if you don’t control it. Prep, prep, prep.

Clean the wood surface with a TSP solution and allow to dry several hours.  You can get TSP in the paint supplies section of your local hardware store.  It comes in a powder you dissolve in a bucket of water.  Do not get this on any wooden out painted surfaces you are not staining.  It will damage your finish.

When prepping, be sure you tape off your line inside your cabinet where you’re going to stop staining so it looks nice and neat when you’re done.  I didn’t want to stain the entire inside, just the inside of the doors, so I stained the lip inside the cabinet doors and stopped with a nice, straight tape line, leaving the rest of the interior its original wood color.

Remove hardware, doors and drawers.  I worked on them separately on sawhorses in the garage. If you’re not replacing hardware, this is a good time to clean your existing hardware. Drop your hardware into a Dawn/white vinegar and water solution and let it soak overnight. Have an old toothbrush handy to give them a bit of a scrub.

Lightly sand all surfaces you’re going to stain with a sanding block to rough up the surface, then wipe down to remove dust.  Allow to dry if you used water to wipe down.

Now you can stain. I used the sponge brushes to apply the stain, but you can wipe it on too.  An old cotton sock is great for this. Regardless of how you apply, wear gloves.  Have a box handy.  Trust me.  You will need gloves. As far as timing, the doors will take twice as long as the vanity and cabinet base since you can’t stain both sides at the same time.

Just so you know, the first coat will look like CRAP and you’ll be wondering WTF you just did to your cabinet. Don’t panic. Be patient. By the second and then the third coats, it will start to look fabulous.


1st coat.  Ack!  What have I done?!?

Allow each coat to dry 6-8 hours.

Do NOT rinse your work tools. This is stain, not paint, so it will stain your sink. Just wrap your brush in saran wrap and store in a closed ziploc bag between coats. The brushes are cheap.

Once you’ve stained the wood to the desired color and it is dry, apply your gel topcoat with your cotton sock. Wipe on, let dry, wipe on again. I used three coats. Again, a little bit goes a long way. Allow to dry 6-8 hours between coats.

If you accidentally get stain on your wall, counter top or floor, clean it IMMEDIATELY. I found water, a scrubby sponge or brush, and some Soft Scrub will remove fresh, wet stain completely.

My little project took four or five days with all the drying time. I could have done it faster if I’d have stained early morning and again in the evening every day, accomplishing two coats in one day. But I was on break after all.

After the last coat is dry, put your hardware back on, touch up where you need to, and you are DONE.

I felt so accomplished.  All grown up and everything.

If you’re buying new hinges, take one of the old ones with you to the hardware store so you buy exactly the right style. It will save you a trip. I bought mine at a store here called Locks and Pulls. Cabinet and door hardware is all they sell and they have a huge selection.