When the Cow Came Home

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 |

It's no secret that I have a soft spot for "hopeless cases".  As a physical therapist, I was drawn most to patients who had been told by someone or the other that "they couldn't" or "they wouldn't" or "they shouldn't".

Those bullies who said "you can't" "you won't", "there's no hope", etc...those guys are like Biff.  You remember Biff, right?  Back to the Future....remember that dude???  Here's a refresher, just in case...
Anyways, I happened upon this "hopeless case" kicked curbside a couple of years ago.
Of course it couldn't stay there.  I took it into the rehab wing (AKA the garage) at the Heathered Nest.  Admittedly, it was in bad shape.  Rusted frame...
Rotten wood...
Still,  I knew that someday, this little baby could shine again.

But then, my husband....we'll call him "Biff" in this story.  Biff got home.  He sees my new patient and says to me "Hey, what are you thinking McFly?" "You think you can fix this piece of junk up?" "Why you gotta be so gullible McFly?"

I seethed.  I waited for inspiration to strike.  After two years, it finally did.

I live in the country, and happen to have kind of a thing for cowhide. I had wanted one of these sleek, modern looking cowhide and chrome chairs for years.  You know those kind of chairs?

Like this one...
the lovely Maison Jansen Style Chrome and Cowhide Chair for $2800. No, I did not just forget a decimal between the 28 and the 00.  That's really a TWO THOUSAND EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLAR chair.

Not in your budget, you say?  Then perhaps you should consider the "Spoleto Chair".  Yours for $1256.  Talk about a "cash cow".
Or, how bout this lovely lady?  Gorgeous chair, to be sure.  You can pick her up for $861...USED.  That's right, not only has this cowhide already been used by the cow, it's been used by another human's tushie as well!  Sign me up!
So, hey diddle-diddle, I knew that unless those cows could actually jump over a moon, there's no way "budget-conscious-Biff" would allow one of these bovine beauties to cross the threshold of our home.

Heavy on inspiration, and light on funding,  the rehabilitation of my curb-side-chair began.
Above is a catalog shot of an Ikea cowhide rug.  Instead of paying full sticker price, I snagged one from craigslist for $70.  Don't worry, I scoped it out, and the sellers were very clean-type folks, and this rug was almost new.  Yes, I get it if you'd be totally skeeved about re-upholstering with a used rug...I kind of am, too, now that I'm reading that back.  BUT, at the same time, a new rug from IKEA, while still very reasonably priced (as far as cowhide goes), will still run you $200.  So I opted (as usual) to be as thrifty as possible.  What's great though is that no matter which rug I would have chosen, new or used, there is SO MUCH MATERIAL leftover for more projects!!!

At some point, if you guys are interested, drop a line in the comments section and let me know if you'd like the full "how to" on this project.  On a scale of 0-10, if 0 is napping on a beach in Hawaii, and 10 is climbing Everest, this project was about a 3.6.

For now, I'll just show you how it turned out, after taking the bull by the horns, as they say.  It's my big "take that" moment to that ol' Bully, Biff.
 BA-BAM!  Knockout.  Take that in the ol' kisser, Biff-O.
I don't know if you'd ever have guessed this beauty had been put out to pasture, once upon a time.
 The chrome is shiny and wonderful again (mostly).
 While I no longer treat living, breathing patients, a good redemption story is still something I live for.
 Don't tell me something isn't worth saving, or fixing.  Anything, and anyone, can be rehabilitated, if given the chance.
You can quote me on that. 
For now, I'll sit here in my cowhide and chrome glory, relishing in my victory.  I'll count the money I saved, savor the "told you so" moment I had with "Biff", and smile at the dignity I've restored to this little bull of a chair who is now fit for any china shop.  It's been a good day here at the Heathered Nest Center for Rehabilitative and Re-Uphosterative Medicine. 

So, why not give it a try?  Scout a little old chair on Craigslist, then DO "have a cow", and give this project a try!

**Please note, all references to the aforementioned "Biff" were made purely in jest.  Anyone who knows my sweet as pie husband...since we're speaking of cows here, would call "Bull-s$%^" on this character assassination, as he is truly the nicest guy around, and puts up with my malarkey on a constant, most agonizing basis.

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Cast'rway!

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 |

Meet Willy.
I know what you're thinking.  And you're right.  Willy bears a strong family resemblance to his great uncle...
Great Uncle Wilson.  Pretty famous relative, but Willy doesn't talk about his Uncle much...apparently the poor guy met with a pretty tragic end.  Anyways, Willy lives at our place.  And he has a VERY large family.
This is Eunice.  That's Willy's girl.
And their lovely children.
Oh, that guy?  He's one of the neighbor kids...always hangin' around here, asking for snacks.

We enjoy having Willy and his family (and the neighbor kid) here, but what hasn't been so fun is the lack of a real place "of their own" in our home.  I'm a hopeless optimist, and even though I realize it is completely insane with three small children to attempt to live by the mantra of "a place for everything and everything in its' place," I'm no quitter.  And I knew that if these guys didn't find an appropriate place to bunk down at night, I was gonna call my buddy Jeff Probst, and have someone kicked off this island.

That's when I found these...
Lovely, extra large wire baskets from Target.  (By the way, if you shop at Target as much as we do here, you really should consider geting their Red Card...5% off of EVERY purchase!  PLUS, free shipping...on EVERYTHING.  For someone who doesn't like actually GOING to the store (like me) that's pretty clutch.  If you want to learn more, click these text LINKS or click on the image below, and you'll head to the right spot over on Target's website.
While these baskets are great, we have hardwood floors in our home, and if the kids drug these around as is, we would end up with very banged up floors.  Luckily, there is a 5-minute, very inexpensive solution to this little dilemma.  
Nylon cable ties.  Otherwise known as zip ties.  Cheap, strong, and VERY useful for all kinds of projects!!  We got a big tub on Amazon (another retailer that delivers right to my door...coincidence?  Heck no.  We bought it years ago and still have plenty left despite using these things afor all kinds of projects.  Here's a link:
Next, you need some casters.  I recommend swivel casters, which will make rolling these around a lot easier.
Here's a link to the ones we used.   We used three casters per basket, but four would make it a bit more stable (we were being as thrifty as possible).
All that needs to be done now is to zip tie the casters onto the bottom of your wire basket.
Use two zip ties per caster, and make sure when you tighten the zip tie down that it's not going to interfere with the movement of the swiveling wheel.  Once you pull these things tightly, those casters won't be going anywhere.  Use scissors to clip off the excess zip tie material, and...
You're done!!  Literally one minute per caster!

I chose to spruce the bins up a bit more with a little labeling (extraneous, yes.  I am working through my obsessive need to label, but I haven't made too much progress).  I got some mini-picture frames at the Dollar Store.  
Sprayed the glass with some Rust-Oleum Chalk Board spray paint.  
Drilled two holes in the back of the frame (the piece that you remove in order to put the picture inside the frame), then used a couple more zip ties to fasten the frames to the wire basket.  Image below is the zip tie placed through one side of the back piece of the frame.  Fish the other end of the tie through the other hole.  
Below is how the frame will look, once installed with the zip tie, from the inside of the basket. 
Then, label to your hearts content...and the great thing about chalkboard paint....YOU CAN CHANGE YOUR MIND/LABEL anytime you want! 
And with that, order is restored, and I can re-consider that urge to "jump ship" or escape on that enticing "three hour tour".
Isn't organization lovely? 
And of course, the best part of this story is that Willie, Eunice and the gang...they now have their own berth aboard this ship.  A cozy little place for the whole family to hang out together in wonderfully organized harmony. 
Look how happy they are!
 Even that kinda pesky little neighbor kid.
So go ahead and "Caster Away"!  And help that S.O.S. mess go from "shipwreck" to "ship-shape" in about five shakes of a scallywag's tail.  

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Do-Over in the Dungeon

Wednesday, January 14, 2015 |

At night, after we read bedtime stories, the kids usually ask us to also tell them a made-up a story.  I love this, in concept.  But in reality, there's a problem.   That is that after a long day of preparing three-course meals Ramen Noodles, washing and ironing clothes (seriously, WHO irons?  I wanna meet that girl), running interference during skirmishes about someone else having the audacity to look at them, answering a million questions (incorrectly) such as...

Q: How does the internet work?
A: Sorcery

WHO HAS THE ENERGY FOR IMAGINATION?!  So I have a new strategy.  Today, I'm drafting a bedtime story ahead of time so that tonight, I'm ready.  I'm gonna run it by you guys, and ask for some constructive criticism and editorial commentary.  Here it goes:

Once upon a time, in a kingdom far, far away (actually a 1950's cape cod in Maryland, but this is fiction, folks), lived a haggard housewife beautiful, fair, brilliant, accomplished but humble queen (work with me here).   She had three lovely servants....er, children who vowed to be good little royal offspring by helping to keep the fair queen's castle well groomed and respectable at all times (or at least once or twice a decade).

Because the queen loved her obedient, tidy children so very much (and because she wanted FIVE MINUTES to drink half of a cup of coffee in SILENCE), she renovated what had been a dark, decrepit, perilous dungeon (or basement) into a glorious playroom.  There, her children could enjoy hours upon hours of imaginative and enriching playtime, getting along harmoniously, whilst happily and equitably sharing in all the kingdom's toys (I LOVE this part, so nobody rain on my tirade, er parade here).

But there was a problem...DUN DUN DUN.  This was the dungeon lavatory.
Obviously, not at all appropriate for our royal heirs.  I mean....that's a plastic shower curtain...grody to the max.

Princess be lookin' at me like:
And the two princes?  They be lookin' at me like:
It's an eclectic royal family here.


Instead of using this low-class loo, the royal children would trudge their way back up from the playroom, and infringe, no...bother...also no...how about "kindly visit" the queen during her five minutes of zen, requiring to use the facilities in her part of the castle.  

The queen decided to take matters into her own hands. 
Do you see the queen's look of fatigue coupled with sheer determination?
What do you mean unrealistic?  Maybe most queens don't use power tools, but our queen is a bad-a*&!   
The queen toiled and toiled, lovingly, painstakingly, putting the bathroom back together again. 
Oh look!  There's the king and the queen tiling together over a beer!  NO, that can't be right!  That must be tea.  Tea in a fancy bottle-esque-looking cup.  Also, the king and queen had graciously given their ladiesmaid and valet the day off, sooooo, they weren't dressed in their normal attire.  Anyways...

At last, the castle's new facilities were complete.  Still no natural light (boo hiss), BUT, a lot more charm and royal pizazz, if you will.
It's difficult to see, but the ceiling got some special treatment in here, as well.  You can see a tad more in the image below, which was taken before the shower enclosure was completed.  The ceiling is covered in bead board, and in real life, looks lovely.  *Note* since this is a bathroom, which inherently has moisture, do NOT use real wood bead board if you want to try this.  Go with the PVC/plastic variety...trust me.  It looks great, paints easier, is simpler to install, and will not warp or buckle with exposure to steam from the shower.  
We installed a heating element under the tiling to keep the princess and princes' toes-eys toasty. The floor tile is hexagonal carerra marble.   
The shower surround is a combination of several types of tile to include (mostly) white carerra marble subway tile, marble pencil moulding tile and a smaller accent area of a more expensive glass, steel and marble mosaic tile similar to THIS one.
The sink we chose was an American Standard console variety.  The sink and faucet were sold separately from the console.
One of my favorite features of this bath is the rustic medicine cabinet.  It is an upcycle from a vintage window.  The back got stenciled with a moroccan geometric pattern using the same paint color that is on the walls.  It adds a vintage element to an otherwise very polished, shiny, metallic room.
And so, the good people of the kingdom could now rejoice!  The dungeon bath had been banished, and now, the queen could (hypothetically) enjoy her coffee in peace while the princes and princess frolicked in their royal playroom.  It was a very happily ever after for all, indeed.

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We've shared this blog post at a bunch of fantastic blog link parties, such as Savvy Southern Style & Remodelaholic...check them out *HERE*
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