New Pinterest Projects – Typesetter

I’ve been working steadily on some Pinterest inspired posts over the past few months and am glad to now be sharing them with this challenge!

These type set organizers are so great – we had one growing up that held all of our Sesame Street figurines and in early 2012 Mom gave it to me to use. It sat in the garage for almost a year until I could figure out how to use it. Here was my inspiration:


The problem with this is, of course, that I have maybe 5 spools of thread… I’ve also seen it done with stamps but I have fewer stamps.



While I do like this organizer I’ve already got my earrings and necklaces in DIY solutions but I do like how this one is hung on its side.  Here’s another one made for jewelry:



It’s… okay. The color is less than my favorite though and removing a section for hooks seems odd to me. But still, I love the idea of organizing lots of little things with one.

Finally, I decided where to use mine:

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Here it is in my master bath, I tested it out with a bunch of little stuff (here it’s sitting upside down) and decided that I really liked it. So everything came out and I dusted it well, then turned it around and screwed in three drywall screws to secure it to the wall:

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I made sure that the cabinet door doesn’t hit it but it’s also really accessible – I thought hanging it on the wall behind the toilet would be awkward. Then I got to fill it up with stuff:

2012_12_24 (05)I have a ton of perfume samples, and small sized lip gloss and such. Most of it fit in here and I’m looking at ways to use the top row which are much smaller, I’ve tried dental floss and hand sanitizer but nothing fits here yet.

But I love it!


Check out my Made These Things board for finished projects (and their inspiration pins) and upcoming projects on Make These Things.


New Pinterest Projects – Necklace Holder

Note: I’d prepared these posts a few weeks ago in anticipation of the Challenge. Which was great considering I’ve been focused on the details and family in the wake of Grandpa’s passing last week.

I think this is one of my few projects that pre-dates Pinterest! But it’s very Pinterest like with modge podge, book pages and jewelry storage all rolled up in one.

In November 2011 I made a purse out of a Nancy Drew hardcover book with my friend Melissa and took home the pages for projects. You already saw them here as ornaments for Christmas.

About the same time I picked up two black necklace holders from Michael’s. I can’t remember exactly but they were about $7 and $11 for the pair. The texture was black velvet which may be nice for exhibiting jewelry but is a bitch for modge podge because it just soaks in.

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So I poured it on, layered the book pages and it took days to get it right. Instead of trying to fold the paper around the back I just trimmed it.

Here’s the larger version:

2012_12_18 (12)and the smaller one:

2012_12_18 (13)Aren’t they great? I was going to send them as gifts but after a year of planning and waiting to get this one done I’m holding these close and shouting mine! Because I love them!

They’re now sitting on my master bedroom bookshelf:

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2013_02_14 (03)It’s one of those projects that sat unfinished for far too long and I’m so glad to have done!

Rest Peacefully, Grandpa

I’ll miss your grin, sticking your tongue out, your ornery spirit, and watching you light up when friends and family were nearby.  Hearing you say “fine, fine, fine” and your catch phrase “well, shiiiiit.”

Thankful for the stories, your legacy, how you touched so many lives and spending these last 7 years living here to take care of you and Grandma. Take care of Grandma and don’t get into too much trouble with JT. You two were kindred spirits. I know you’re surrounded by your brothers and sisters and together again with Harvey, David and PJ (who passed on just a few hours before you).

Know that I love you and always will.


March 1, 1928 – February 20, 2013

We say farewell March 7th, 4 years to the day after Grandma passed away.

Outdoor Work Continues

I spent some time last week after finishing the bench working on the front yard flower beds which I’m pretty sure I had not even touched since the New York Times showed up on my front porch.

Did I forget to mention that? Well, yeah last summer a NYT photographer out of the SF office drove all the way to my little town for a photo shoot. Of me. In my garden.

For those of you who know how black my thumb is, stop laughing. Really now.

The good news is that when it happened I found out on a Friday and scheduled the shoot for Monday. Knowing I wanted to be outside (since my office was poorly lit and a little dirty…) I started work immediately and spent $100 at Home Depot in the garden department.


The whole saga of going from blank slate to beautiful garden was covered in this post last August.

And on Labor Day weekend, the front page of the business section of the Sunday NYT featured the article Work Life Balance in which I am quoted and photographed. With Wilson. Sitting outside with my laptop.


Since then the patio has pretty much received zero attention. I didn’t have the bench done so it was hidden away behind the gate until I finished it last week. Once the bench was done it was time to address the rest of the crap so I could start using the space again with the good weather.

First up, the flower beds. I got down and dirty with my clippers, cutting back anything that was dead or dying, trimming the roses back further and pulling out leaves, sticks, and all manner of crap.

Despite so much crap in the flower beds it barely made a dent in filling up the toter.

The tulip, iris and daffodil bulbs were beginning to crop up so I made it a point to go out every day and water.

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One other minor change was the gap around the patio between the end of the cement slab and the fence which was notorious for picking up leaves, dirt and junk. I grabbed the small rocks I’ve been picking up from the side yard and filled in the gap:


Many of the potted plants were also dying so I did the usual: threw away the dead stems and leaves, added the soil to one of the flower beds and recycled the plastic pots.

The $5 Salvation Army bench has definitely seen better days – now that I’ve done the process on the swinging bench I am thinking of sanding this down, staining it a darker color and then doing the poly seal to protect it from the rain.

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Same with this little white table which I picked up from Wal-Mart after season on clearance for $9 – it’s constantly getting dirty so I think a scrubbing, fresh coat of white spray paint and spray protector and it might survive the summer and fall again.

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It’s almost time to bring all the succulents back outside for the spring so I’ll need these tables ready for use.

At least those are projects that I can do on my own with a little bit of motivation and caffeine. Some other outdoor projects need more muscle.

The next time Dad is in town during a good weather weekend I think we’ll trim back the sugar maple around the kitchen window, it drops so many leaves into these gutters in the fall!2013_02_16 (02)

And if I had 3 days, the budget and a ton of caffeine fueled energy here’s what else I would tackle:

  • replacing the wood around each of the window and door frames
  • flushing the gutters and installing leaf guards
  • install 2 rain barrels in the front yard from gutter downspouts and funnel the third into the flower bed
  • take down the lattice work over the front door, clean those gutters and re-secure the lattice

See this wood around the kitchen’s garden window? Yeah, the rain from the roof hits this corner and has rotted out the wood. It’ll need to be removed and replaced to protect the siding and framing.

2013_02_16 (06)Always a project (or twelve) around here!

Working it Out

So lately I’ve been pretty lax on posting here, not because there are not 15 simultaneous projects going on but because I have 100 business ones on top of that.

My business, She’s Got Systems, is hitting some major milestones with a new LLC in the works, clients on 4 continents and all across the United States, new software purchases to grow the marketing side and a slew of new partnerships, products and offers.

So there’s that.

And in an effort to make sure I am not stuck behind my desk all freakin’ day, but also productive, I recently ordered a treadmill for my living room. I chose one that is manual powered, folds up, weighs less than 50 pounds and is awesome.

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When it was delivered I was thrilled and assembled it the next night. But it had the same problem as all the treadmills at the gym… no place for anything except water.

So I picked up a piece of MDF at Home Depot and had it cut down. I wasn’t sure how to install it, and didn’t want a permanent solution (so I could move it anywhere).

Thus, some velcro and ta da!


The nice thing is that the table top can be flipped out out of the way to tuck it away:

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And moved out of the way:


A few people have asked how it holds up and because there’s no motor it can sometimes be jerky if you’re not used to pushing it. At first it feels like going faster is taking your life in your hands but once you get above about 4 or 5 the running is much smoother.

Typically I don’t do a lot of typing on the iPad while running, but it’s easy to read or watch TV and my FitBit pedometer registers the steps and miles each day and uploads it wirelessly to my account.

I still have my gym subscription and love it for the free weights and of course the pool, but now it’s easy to get in my cardio with working all these crazy hours. Most days I do intervals to get in my miles and it’s a nice break between calls, business and work around the house.

Swing, Baby, Swing

This blog post is also the title of one of my favorite songs from the DNC which reminded me to crank up the music and dance a little because I am so happy this project is done!

This project has a long history and it goes back to 2006 when I moved to this town. I was living with my maternal grandparents as their health declined, and spent many evenings working in my room after a long day of work in Sacramento. When I wasn’t freelancing I was managing pills, doctor appointments, shopping lists or pets.

Often my grandparents would turn off the TV (which was always blaring in the living room) and sit on the porch directly outside my room and swing on this modest bench. It was old, creaked and had a few broken boards. But they didn’t mind.

The house faced a busy street in town so they’d watch the cars and people go by, waving at friends and cops, as the sun went down.

It was one of the earliest reminders I had to slow the hell down. When I moved here I was stuck in a SF frame of mind – drive fast, lock your doors, be paranoid, go go GO! One of the lessons my grandparents taught me was to slow down and appreciate things more.

So when they moved into Assisted Living and my family kicked me out of their home (long story) I knew that I wanted the bench. The problem, of course, was that my Mom and her siblings had first dibs on everything which could be sold or put in storage. Luckily, no one else wanted this creaky, old bench and I loaded it in the back of the Jeep and brought it to my new home.


Almost right away I began plans to change it up. The wood which I’d tried to paint white was rotting and needed to be replaced. And if I were taking off all the wood I might as well sand down the frame and give it some paint too.

Did you notice that the frame is constructed out of these hollow tubes? Know what likes to hide in there?



So it took awhile to tear it apart, rinse it off and kill the arachnids.

Some of the bolts were so rusted on that we had to muscle them off. I picked up the wood and handed it off to Dad to cut down to size. He also pre-drilled my holes for the bolts which saved a ton of time later!

By the time the boards came back I had sanded and re-sanded the frame multiple times. I applied Oil Rub Bronze spray paint and loved the effect! Still dark but with flecks of gold and it just shimmers! It’s very hard to describe but in person it’s not flat or dull but very nice. I also painted the plastic end caps for the tubes. And the swirly decorative bits. And the chains. And the brackets.


I even sanded down the bolts and gave them a fresh coat of ORB paint.


The boards took a little longer to prep. They were sanded and sanded again. Then stained thrice. Some were turning out much darker than others but I knew that I couldn’t make them perfect and it would all be okay.

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Finally it was time to do the last part to seal the boards from the elements. I did 2 coats on each side of poly for the boards and a good covering of outdoor protector for the frame.


By Monday it was time to reassemble the whole shebang and I wondered if I would recall how it all fit!

First the boards had to be put in the order I wanted them so I laid ’em out on the tables – boards with knots near the middle or gouges were placed by the back because they’d get less direct pressure. On some boards there were stamps on the wood – those were turned facing down. Finally, I was ready to screw it all together.

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The middle frame piece went on first, not too tightly because the boards had to align on the frame pieces on either end as well. That’s why it looks so… wonky.

PhotobucketThis is better! Each board aligned with the frame and it’s balancing on these little tables so things don’t get scratched up and make me crazy.

Don’t you just love how the ORB bolts look against the wood? I am so glad I took the time to paint them! There was only 1 too bent to use so I picked up a replacement at ACE and it fit in just fine.


The ORB bolts next to the stained wood is one of my favorite things about this project.

Of course I didn’t have enough acorn nuts for the end of the bolts (many were missing when I moved the bench) so I picked up an even dozen at Ace Hardware to finish up the job.

It was hard to screw in the bolts, especially as the entire frame needed to connect each board at 3 points so if the middle bolts were too tight they wouldn’t align the boards on either end. Once all 39 screws were in the bolts were tightened down.

There was a lot of back and forth but finally the seat portion was ready. Now I just had to hang the whole contraption on the frame. It was surprisingly much easier than I thought and I balanced the entire seat on the tables, attached the chains and then lowered it into place. Final step was to reinstall these little scrolls which also got a scrub and fresh paint and seal job.

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Here it is, all done and ready to be used!2013_02_12 (06)

And with one of the throw pillows that I got from Home Depot a few years back:


One last comparison. Before…


and after….


Living Room Organization

Typically I have 100 projects going at once and not enough time to blog about them all. But recently I’ve spent a lot of time and focus in the living room trying to get it in good shape.

I started last weekend by moving the TV bench to the wall next to the fireplace, primarily so I wouldn’t have to rotate the screen when I was watching a movie and cooking in the kitchen. Since I don’t have cable it doesn’t matter where the TV goes if there’s a power outlet.


After rearranging the furniture I remembered that one of the next projects on my list is to revamp that foot chest and move it to the guest room. But since that project can’t be started anytime soon, I decided to work on the rest of the room!

First up, I was tired of this cell phone charger station. There were only two outlets inside and it quickly got dusty and dirty. So I went on the hunt for something I could use and thought about using an Ikea organizer like the one I’d just stained but alas they’re no longer for sale at the store.

So I picked up this one instead – it’s a shoe holder and here’s why I love it:

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The back has a zipper so it can fold flat meaning that I can feed the power strip into the back without making any unnecessary holes.

Next, it’s long enough for the power strip which used to sit on the floor next to the couch where dogs would knock over my cords and it got dusty.

The front is a flap that is secured with velcro meaning I can hide away the cords when things aren’t charging or thread them out for my phone, iPad or MacBook Pro. Love it!

The organizers came in a pack of 4 for $8 so this solution was just $2 and I now get to figure out where to use the other 3…

The new charging station is sitting on a very old Ikea nightstand that I bought well over 5 years ago. It’s held up pretty well and white goes with everything so I moved it from the office back when I re-organized that room in November.

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Top drawer holds notebooks so I have something at hand to jot down notes – there’s a  jar of pens on the top of the nightstand too. Second drawer has extra extension cords, iPad chargers and cords. It’s a mess really.

Third drawer has candles and candle holders for decoration. I try to keep them from taking over and only light a few at a time.

Next up on the mantle, I used a basket which came from Ikea ages ago to hold library books, magazines and a few coupons. Do you like the Herbs canister turned plant holder? It’s been in my kitchen hutch for ages and I decided it looked really good with this succulent I picked up. I’m trying to bring in more green shitz.


On the right side of the mantle I have 1 of 7 ORB wire baskets I bought a few years ago. This one stuff that I usually keep in my purse but since I trade out purses so often I empty everything in here so I just have on place to check on the way out the door.


After working on the charging station I found another place to use one of the shoe boxes – my Wii! Again, this is mostly to keep it dust free and the games in place.


I threaded the cords in the back again and then stacked the games up. To the right is an organizer with the controllers and to the left side of the bench are a few pillows waiting to be covered in new fabric I found at Jo-Anns. That project will be done when I learn to sew or when Mom comes to visit.

So basically when Mom comes to visit.

Here’s a sneak peek of the pillow fabric:

pillow picI thought it was time for fabric that wasn’t solid (brown or red) or striped like those curtains.

The shelf I brought in from the master bedroom in December is working great! I love having another horizontal surface to display decorations. After the holiday wreath came down I decided to hang up this puzzle, one of my favorites that my Grandma Thelma bought me when I was very young.


Also on the shelf I have this awesome shell bowl from Grandma, filled perpetually with walnuts. I’d been looking for a place to use these fishbowls that I bought for an event several years back and decided that they’d look good with candles.


I just found this succulent and decided to add it to another fishbowl – it’s almost too big for the bowl! This variety doesn’t need to be watered often so it’s perfect for forgetful me.


All together, I think it looks pretty good!


Finally, I added a plant because I want lots of things growing in here.

plantAs long as the dogs don’t water it, I’ll be happy. I still need to go through a few banker’s boxes full of papers, finish listing DVDs online for sale (about 30 more to go) and figure out how to store the half dozen blankets that get sprawled all over the room.

Oh, and I have an orphaned red chair that needs to find a home.