February 21, 2014

The Complete How-to for Fixing Sheetrock Joint Cracks

Hello friends and fellow DIY-ers. Have you ever walked into a room and noticed a crack above a window or door, or below a window? If you live in a house over twenty years old, you've probably seen them, especially if you live in an area where there is a lot of ground movement. Houses settle, we all know that, and with settling comes cracks, usually in the joint where two pieces of sheetrock meet.  Once you've ruled out or repaired foundation damage, this post is about how to fix the cracks when you finally decide it's time to do something about them.

This post is picture heavy, so I am going to place a page break here so it won't freeze slow-loading computers. Right click to open in another window or tab if your computer does load slowly and let it load while you look at something else.

February 17, 2014

Leftover Roast Beef and Gnocchi Soup

I had another post planned for Tuesday, but I just made this soup and thought I'd better write it down before I forgot how I made it. So this post is mainly for myself, but I hope you might be able to use it too. I thought it was great and even Hubby gave it his seal of approval. I looked online for a recipe using roast beef and gnocchi and couldn't find anything, so I made my own.

When I made the roast, I seared the rump roast on all sides and then made my own version of Lipton onion soup and sprinkled it on top. For that, I used 2 beef bouillon cubes, crushed, 8 teaspoons dried onions, 1/8 teaspoon onion powder, 1/8 teaspoon celery seed, 1/8 teaspoon black pepper and 1/2 teaspoon sugar. I also cooked potatoes and carrots with the roast, and while the potatoes probably thickened the broth, I don't think it made any difference in taste as I strained the broth before using it in the soup. There was about 2 cups of very thick broth. I put it in the fridge overnight and peeled the solid fat layer off the top before using. I think it would be great with just beef broth and no beef, but then I'm not really keen on meat.

Gnocchi Beef Soup Recipe

Chopped roast beef leftovers, between 1-2 cups
6 cups leftover beef broth or canned broth (my leftover broth was congealed and I mixed it with 4 cups water)
16 oz gnocchi (I used the dried, shrink wrapped kind from Costco)
4-6 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup sliced sweet onion (about 1/2 a large onion sliced 1/4inch thick)
1 cup sliced red and green sweet peppers (sliced about 1/4 inch thick)
1 cup sliced zucchini (I used 2 zucchini that were each about 6 inches long)
1 cup broccoli, cut into bite sizes (I used part of a broccoli crown)
1 cup sliced carrots (I used one big carrot, sliced about 1/4 inch thick)
1 cup green beans (I used canned because that's what I had)
1-2 Tablespoons tomato paste
Put 2-4 Tablespoons of olive oil in skillet, and sauté the sliced onions and peppers. Remove from skillet and then sauté the zucchini. Put all the sautéed veggies in a Dutch oven. Add the beef broth, water and tomato paste. (If you don't have tomato paste, use tomato sauce and don't add as much water.)

Mix and bring to a boil, and then add everything except gnocchi. Boil for 5 minutes, then add gnocchi and boil for another 3 minutes or until gnocchi is done. Sprinkle with grated parmesan if you like. We had crackers with it, but I think it would be better with biscuits.



The Real First Blooms of 2014

I planted these crocus years ago but they are very fickle and rarely bloom. This is a good year for them I guess.

That probably is a reflection of my horticultural inability.

February 13, 2014

Happy Valentine's Day!

Procrastinator that I am, I waited until the last minute to make a couple of Valentine's decorations. These fabric wreaths are nothing new, I first saw them over twenty years ago. I made one for my mother-in-law then and intended to make one for myself, but I never did. Then, they fell out of favor for many years, but now they are back, so I finally made one for myself.

February 11, 2014

Cute Prom otional Products

No, that's not a mistake in the title.  Since writing this post, I have been spammed by people selling the stuff so I had to make it less searchable.  Good grief!

Who doesn't like free stuff? Better if it's useful, but some of these are neat so I thought I'd show them to you. Not the usual pen and keychains. See the teeny tape dispenser with the office kit? So cute.

I especially like the little flashlight, though with the logo on it, fairly useless to use as a light.

If you own a business, you probably remember being inundated with mail from companies trying to sell promotional items when you first registered your business. I don't remember seeing anything like this when I registered and haven't gotten any of that type mail in years.. I guess it takes more to impress these days.


February 06, 2014

First Snow and Things You Should Not Try

If I hadn't been sitting by the window, I probably wouldn't have known it snowed. It spit ice flakes for a while, and then big, fluffy flakes began falling. So I put on my coat and grabbed my camera. By the time I found a background dark enough for the flakes to show, they were small and sparse again. So goes our typical snow.

I've also put a list together of things I have done this week that you should not try.

1. Remember the dry erase place card boards I made? The paint I used was an interior eggshell latex. After applying the five coats of Mod Podge, I noticed it was yellowing in places. I consulted Amy at Mod Podge Rocks and she said she had heard others tell of that happening and said to only use acrylic paint. My Hubby in-house paint consultant is out at the moment, but when he returns, I'll let you know what he says about latex/acrylic paint. The yellowing isn't bad, and over the past few days, it is evening out so it looks intentional, but still not what I wanted.

2. Don't substitute swiss cheese for American cheese in a grilled cheese sandwich. It's a bit on the tasteless side.

3. When grilling a cheese sandwich with your last piece of American cheese, don't scoop up the sandwich with your spatula and raise it over your head to see if it is browned on the bottom. I'm sure the surgeon general would concur that the five second rule doesn't apply to grilled cheese sandwiches. And after you throw it away, you're stuck eating a grilled swiss cheese sandwich.

4. Don't try to install a ceiling fan by yourself if it takes both hands to hold said fan up to the ceiling, unless of course, you need an upper body workout. In that case, lift it nine more times and you've done a rep.

I'm sure I've done other stupid things this week, but these are the only ones that come to mind. What are the don't-do-this things you'd like to share?


February 04, 2014

Never Say Never, Especially About Mice

Just last week I told a neighbor that we never have mice in the house since the cat came into our lives. We do have mice in the yard, shed and garage. Not as bad as when we first moved here and the pasture behind us was only mowed once in the fall, which triggered mini mouse stampedes.

All that ended when houses were built on the land behind us, but in the last few months, another nearby section was sold. It was a piece of land that hadn't been touched by development or agriculture since we've lived here, if ever. But after they started clearing trees, the homeless mice, coyotes, and at least one bobcat began relocating.

A few days ago I started hearing noises in the house when it was quiet. At first I thought it was Hubby rattling papers in another room. I hoped it was Hubby rattling papers in another room. But he denied doing it, and since I walked into the bedroom after I heard it to find him sound asleep, I think he might be telling the truth.

Last night I couldn't get to sleep. I did everything I usually do to try to get to sleep, and finally I just lay awake thinking, and listening. And I heard it again. The sound of rustling paper and plastic. It was coming from the kitchen. As wide awake as I was then, it was cold outside the covers, and I was snuggled down into my blankets. And safety.

Or was it safe? I didn't know what it was, a mouse, maybe a rat, or maybe something even bigger, like a weasel. And maybe it would leave the kitchen and come into the bedroom, waiting to jump onto the bed as soon as I fell asleep. I heaved a big sigh, threw the covers back, and felt for my slippers with my toes - bouncing them a few times to make sure there wasn't a mouse inside them.

Stealthily, I crept down the hall so I could surprise the creature to see what it was, but I had forgotten about the motion detector night light in the hall. Well, so much for stealth. It was quiet as, well, quiet as a church mouse when I walked into the kitchen. I flipped on the light and nothing moved. I put up a few things that had been left out, checking for teeny tooth marks first. I found a package of sticky trap things for mice, so I placed one by the trash can and one in the water heater closet. Then I went back to bed fully expecting to hear a squeaky mouse scream and the sound of the trap being dragged across the floor. But there was nothing.

Now I was beyond wide awake. I was awake, nerves on edge, and cold. I curled up into a comfortable position and tried to convince myself that it was just trash in the trash can, something heavy that shifted with gravity, and then shifted a few more times. I tried to think sleepy thoughts but it was no use. I wondered if I could trap the little varmit with the sheet before it skittered up my leg. I drew the blankets closer around me and tried to convince myself that Hubby was now an easier target for a marauding mouse.

Then I heard rustling that sounded like it was coming from my bathroom. I rolled onto my back so I could hear with both ears. Yep, coming from the bathroom. I eased the covers back and crept into the dark bathroom. The noise continued; it was in the wall. Or the ceiling, it was hard to tell. Somewhere above me. Then silence. I think the silence was worse than the rustling noise. At least I knew where it was when I heard rustling.

By then, Hubby was awake, and not happy. Not happy with me; it had nothing to do with the mouse, or rat, or whatever it was. He couldn't hear the rustling even with both of his ears off the pillow. All he could hear was me sitting up to listen, me throwing the covers back, me tapping my slippers on the floor, and me making noise in the kitchen. Now we were both wide awake, so we discussed the noise. Or I discussed. Hubby listened for a few minutes, said it was probably a mouse, and then rolled over and started snoring within minutes.

I glanced at the clock, 3:30. In two hours Hubby would get up. Should I stay awake or try to go to sleep? If I went to sleep, there was no way I was going to be able to wake up when my alarm went off at 6:45. While I was trying to decide whether to sleep or stay awake, I must have fallen asleep. The next thing I knew, Hubby was up and shouting from the kitchen that he got one. Turns out, he had heard rustling in the trash can and saw the mouse trying to climb out. He shook the trash can so it fell in again, and he closed the bag and hauled it off.

One down, how many more to go? They can probably do anything they want tonight. I'm so tired I think I'll be able to sleep through a bobcat fight in the kitchen. But I went to the store today and bought real traps. It's either that, or let Buddy spend the night inside the house on mouse patrol. And I think that would keep me awake. Especially if he brought it to us in the middle of the night, trying to meow his triumph with a mouth full of wriggling mouse.

Think good thoughts if you have a moment, for us, not the mice.


February 03, 2014

February 01, 2014

Wood Dry Erase and Chalk Board Place Cards Tutorial

Dry erase board place cards:

Chalk board place cards:

After I finished the three planter boxes, I had a lot of scraps. I have a hard time throwing away scraps, which is how I had enough wood to make the planter boxes. But these were much smaller pieces, from six inches to about three feet. Just for fun, I wanted to see what I could make with the six inch pieces.   Before making the planters, I searched the internet for ideas to use tongue and groove pine leftovers, and couldn't find a thing.  Maybe this will help others searching for ideas.

I'm going to show you how to do this solely with a miter saw, or using a combination of table saw, miter saw, and router.  I began with the miter saw because I really didn't have a plan when I started, just an idea, and this saw was easier to tweak the design. After I made, remade, and remade the first few, I knew how I could do it faster, easier, and with precise dimensions on the other saws. But it's possible to do it all on the miter saw if that's all you have.

By the way, these instructions are detailed for the beginning woodworker.  Experienced woodworkers can glance at the photos and figure out what I did and how to do it better and easier, I'm sure.

Miter Saw Version

My boards are tongue and groove (T&G) pine, 5-1/8 inches wide plus the tongue (I'm not counting the tongue because I cut it off.)

To make a set of four place holders, you would need:

24" T&G pine, cut into 5-1/2 inch pieces
primer (I like BIN for this)
white or light eggshell paint
Mod Podge
4 sheets of decorated paper or fabric (I used paper napkins for the above)
clear dry erase paint or chalkboard paint
foam paint brush
medium grit sand paper
wood glue

Step 1: Make angle cuts on one side
Step 1: Set miter saw at 30 degrees and cut one side of each board.

Step 2: Make angle cuts on other side
Step 2: Turn board around, measure 4 inches from top of cut edge and cut the same angle. I found it easier to draw a line for this. Yes, my board is longer than 5-1/2 inches, but I took this photo while still in the experiment stage.

Step 3:  Make beveled cut on tongue side
Step 3: Now the edge with the tongue. Draw a line or just line up the blade so it cuts on the line. You'll end up with an beveled edge there.

Step 4: Cut bevels on sides
Step 4: Set the miter saw back at 0 degrees (normal position). Measure 1/4 inch from bottom of each side, and cut on your line. Now you have matching bevels on three sides.

Now you have four boards that are roughly 5x5 inches. The grooved side is the bottom.

Step 5: Cut bottom angle
Step 5: Set the miter saw to 30 degrees again. Turn your boards over and measure 3-1/2 inches from the top. This cut will be opposite all the others which is why you are cutting from the back.

When you turn them over, you will see that the last cut is an inverted angle, and you'll now have eight pieces like this. Don't throw away the grooved part, it will be your stand and pen holder.

Step 6: Glue stand onto back
Step 6:  This is where the phrase "Do as I say and not as I do" comes into play.  This is the part that should come next - even though it was by doing it differently and running into problems that made me realize this.  So at this point, glue the board and stand together, making sure the bottom lines up smoothly and the groove of the stand is facing up. I put a light pressure clamp on it. (The dark Masonite is there only as background - the boards were too similar in color to the work table and was hard to see.)

Step 7: Prime all sides
Step 7:  Prime all sides.  Do this whether you are going to use chalk paint or dry erase paint. I like BIN because it can be sanded very smooth and it dries quickly. After that, how you finish is up to you.

Step 8:  Finishing.  You can paint it all one color, or let your artistic  skills loose.  Originally, I wanted to do some op art designs on it, but didn't like the way I was doing it and how long it took.  You can Mod Podge onto it, which is what I ended up doing.  I thought it would be quick and easy.  I was wrong, of course.   I followed the basic Mod Podge instructions using paper napkins  from Modge Podge Rocks.

The only tips I can give you on finishing is what NOT to do.

1.  Don't paint chalk paint before Mod Podge-ing.
Mistake #1:  After priming, I taped off the area I wanted to paint with chalk board paint, and painted the rest of the board with white.  I patted myself on the back as I taped off the white area so I could paint the chalk board paint last because I thought the tape residue might mess up the chalk board.  Then I waited a couple of days, conditioned the chalk board paint.  That's when I realized I would have to tape over the chalk board part when applying the Mod Podge.  And yes, that did mess up the conditioned chalk board.  So now I have to wait until all the Mod Podge is done, and redo the chalk board.  Fun.

2.  Don't paint over stickers
Mistake #2:  I wanted to paint white polka dots over a black base.  When figuring how many coats of  white it would take to cover the black, I hit upon the idea to put dot stickers on the white paint, paint the black over it, and then peel off the dots.  You guessed it, the dots wouldn't peel off.

Mistake #3:  The instructions for Mod Podge paper napkins say to wait until the Mod Podge is tacky before applying the napkin.  They speak the truth.  If the Mod Podge is still fresh, the napkin puckers up when you roll the brayer across it.  Also,  if the brayer gets any Mod Podge on it, it will pucker, and or, rip the napkin.  I did find that  if  the napkin did pucker, I could pat it with a damp finger and it would settle into the Mod Podge.  I first tried to wrap the napkins around the beveled edges but it didn't work well.  Same with the groove on the front.  It was too hard to smooth the tissue thin napkins.  Best to work on the flat areas if you are a beginner like me.  I'm all ears and email if anyone has tips on how to work with the napkins.

4.  Don't put stand on after Mod Podged paper
Mistake #4:  Not only was the glue visible, but it loosened the Mod Podge.  It did dry again, but it wrinkled the paper.  Better to glue raw wood together.

I just finished the dry erase place card boards today, so I'm not ready to write on them yet. Reviews online are not encouraging, but I wanted to try it because dry erase pens are easier to keep up with than chalk and they don't break into little bitty pieces when you drop them.  The chalk board place cards turned out great.

Table Saw, Miter Box, and Router Version

If you are only going to make four place cards, setting up all these may not be worth it to you.  As it was, I had a lot of scraps in the two to five foot range, so this greatly sped up the process and made each piece the same.  I'm really unhappy with imperfection, so this was good for me.

Step 1:  Set table saw at 5-1/8 inch
Step 1: I set the fence on the table saw at 5-1/8 inch so it would just cut off the tongue.

Step 2: Clamp wood stop to miter saw
Step 2: I wanted each piece to be exactly 5 inches, so clamped a block to the fence of the miter saw to act as a stop so it would cut in the right place every time.

Step 3: Choose a router bit for the edge depending on how you plan on finishing the edge. I am going to paint these, so wanted some curves on these. Router the three straight sides; leave the grooved side alone. That is the bottom side.

Step 4: (This is basically as Step 5 above) Set the miter saw at 30 degree angle. Turn the piece over and measure 3-1/2 inches from the top. Clamp a block to the fence of the miter saw so it makes the right cut every time.

I'm linking to these parties:
Frugal Friday at The Shabby Nest #263
Catch as Catch Can at My Repurposed Life #76
Made U Look at Made in a Day #178
Show and Tell Friday at My Romantic Home #263
Thrifty Things Friday at The Thrifty Groove #78
Fabulously Creative Friday at Jennifer Rizzo #119
Be Inspired at Common Ground #240
Home Sweet Home at The Charm of Home #121
Pin Me at Diana Rambles #187
That DIY Party at The DIY Showoff #104