Wednesday, April 15, 2015

DIY Restaurant for the kids

For christmas this year my 13 year old son decided that he wanted to build a diner for his little brothers.  I was terrified, but decided to take the plunge.

In addition to the actual structure, i made felt food and a set of salt and pepper shakers.

The diner is made of 1/2 inch ply wood with a fabric roof.  Its hard to tell from the pictures, but there is a speaker for orders.  We just drilled a bunch of holes and painted them.

May I help you?

First customer

Felt pizza and cheese sandwich

Felt ice cream

These are real salt and pepper shakers with beads.  The tops are glued on.

i added nutrition posters from the teacher store

hand made felt food

Order Here

Side entrance

Pizza on shelves inside of diner

The view from inside


This entire project including wood, nails, paint, fabric and felt cost about $60.  This entire structure is made if 1 piece of 1/2 inch ply.

For more CRAFTS, click here!

Monday, March 30, 2015

How to Extract a Broken Blub

No potatoes were harmed in the creation of this blog post!
In some ways this is the easiest blog post I've ever made.  Extracting a broken bulb seems like it would be easy.  Well - sometimes it's not!

First let me tell you my sad broken bulb tale.

In part of our house we have beautiful high ceilings and recessed lights.  This is (apparently) a very stylish look.  I like it a lot!  The only problem is that if you happen to break a bulb off inside a fixture - well that's NOT so stylish!

Recessed lights with high ceilings

About 2 years ago one of the bulbs broke off inside a recessed lighting fixture.  Try as I might, no potato could remove the broken bulb.  So I ignored the problem and hoped that it would go away.

Then last year, a second bulb broke off inside a fixture.  Now the room just looked shabby and nothing I tried helped!

Potato DIDN'T for me!

The potato method did not work for me.  The ceiling was too high for me to reach and the potato broke off bits of the remaining bulb.

Pliers too dangerous
I was advised to not use pliers as I might damage the light fixture.

I've had a light bulb installer pole (not its real name) for as long as I've had a house.  These poles are amazing and handy for putting in bulbs.  I had NO IDEA that they could also be used for removing broken bulbs!

The light bulb changing kit (its actual name) comes with these funny 2 pieces that I had (until yesterday) ignored.  The 2 yellow and black pieces are actually a broken bulb extractor set!  WHO KNEW!?

Broken Bulb Extractor! - WORKED!
The piece on the left attaches to the extender pole.  The piece on the right fits over the piece on the left.

Floor Covering!

Eye Covering

Put a towel on the floor and wear safety goggles.  There may well be falling bits of glass and metal.  Turn off the power to the room in question using the breaker box.

Now firmly press the rubber tip piece into the broken fixture and twist.

That's IT!  Out comes the broken bulb!

One of the problems I had was that I didn't know what to google when I was trying to fix this problem.  Every one kept showing me that stupid potato and it never worked.

If you have a stuck bulb and my trick didn't work for you, Google : Broken Bulb Extractor

There are tons of cheap little devices that might be able to help!

Be safe, have fun and good luck with your broken bulbs!

For more Home Repair Tips click HERE!

Monday, March 23, 2015

Dining Banquette from a Crib

Every second person on Pinterest has turned their kids old crib into a bench.  I LOVE this idea but wasn't sure I could do it.  Turns out - it's super easy!  It is also back breaking work!

This was a really fun project - mostly because I wasn't sure that what I wanted to do was possible.

My vision was to create a mission style banquette for my dining room.  My 2 youngest sons LOVE restaurants and HATE sitting still.  Banquette seating in the dining room would feel like a booth to them with is very restaurant-y.  Trapping them in a restaurant booth at home will (hopefully) keep butts glued to seats until the meal is complete.

This piece was my inspiration:

This banquette has simple smooth lines that I thought I might be able to replicate.  Also-I didn't need a corner banquette.  I basically just needed a long bench.

Here was my process:

Step #1- Find the old crib in the cluttered attic.

Old crib - disassembled
Step #2-  Assess the materials.  This crib was actually in really good shape, but it had long end posts that didn't really work for my design, so they had to go.

4 Post crib - before

Step #3 - I removed the posts

I sawed off all 4 posts
Step #4 -  The next step was to assemble my basic design.  I purchased a couple of 2x4's at the hardware store and had them cut to size.

2x4's attached to the crib head and foot board
I attached the 2x4 frame to the head and foot board of the crib.

Step #5 - Seating.  I used 3/4" plywood for the seat.  This made the project VERY heavy!  But it also made for a sturdy seat.

3/4" plywood seat
Step #5 - Bracing.  The back of the banquette felt sturdy and like it wasn't going to move around ,but I wanted to make sure.  I used a couple of mending plates to brace the 2 sides of the crib together.

Back Braces

Step #6 - Standing and finishing.  The plywood was pretty rough so I sanded the dickens out of it.  Now it's smooth like butter!  I made sure to sand all of the edges so that nobody gets a splinter!

Power sand everything!

Step #7 - Fill and stain.  I filled the screw holes and stained the bench.

Step #8 - Cushions. I'll be honest, i'm not in love with the cushions I chose for this project.  I wanted to make a tufted seat, but I also need something that is machine washable.  I had a couple of old couch cushions that I cut to size.

Cut couch cushions to size

An electric knife cuts dense foam easily!
Step #9 - I made slip covers from fabric that I found on sale and her you go!

Banquette with cushions

Step #10 -  All done!

This project took me 2 days to complete.  A lot of that time was waiting for the stain to dry (even though I had fast dry stain).

The Numbers:
Whenever I see projects like this I always want to know how much they cost.  This project cost me

I already had: The crib, tools, screws, drop cloth and the cushions

I purchased:
1 - sheet 3/4" plywood (I still have the left overs)  $29.00
2- 2x4's     $3.29/each
1 - qt stain  $7.95
1 - stain paint brush   $3.49
1 - 2 pack of mending plates  $3.15
1 - pack sand paper  $3.25
2.5 yards of panne fabric (on sale) $9.95

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Tips and Tricks: Play Date Cards

Yes, your kids need their own business card!

Play Date Cards

I know it seems like a super crazy idea at first, but just hear me out.

How many times have you had this conversation:

Child: Mom, can Sammy from school come over to play?
You:  It's fine with me, do you have his number, I'll call his mom.
Child:  Here!

Then you are handed some crumpled mess that doesn't make sense at all

Kid written Phone Number

This has happened to me more times can I can count!

The last time I got business cards for myself I also made some for my kids.  It's been a TOTAL life saver!

Each of my younger children carry 10 or so cards in a Ziploc in their back pack.  I carry a small stash in my purse.

Now when the kids want a play date, they give their card to the friend.

Instead of jotting down a phone number in the carpool lane or park, I hand others mom a play date card so that we can connect later.

My favorite play date cards include the child's picture.  That way I remember which friend is coming to play.

If your child as allergies or other health/dietary restrictions the play date card is the perfect way to pass the information along when s/he goes to play.

Allergy Warning Play Date Cards

See, you thought I was crazy at first; now you're "Googling" Play Date Cards.  To see where you can get a stash!

*  Look for deals online or in stores.  I usually pay about $10 for 100 cards.
*  Include a recent picture and update the pic at least once a year
*  Laminate a few cards to attach to backpacks and lunch boxes.
*  These cards are sometimes called "Mommy Cards"
*  Choose block lettering so that its easy to read
*  If you have a blog, ebay shop, or etsy shop, get cards for yourself too!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

HELP - My Ice Maker is Broken!

There are (apparently) a lot of little things I take for granted.  Ice and water from the refrigerator door is just one small example.

A couple of weeks ago our ice maker leaked a bunch of water on the floor and stopped working.  This didn't seem like such a big deal and then we ran out of ice!  The weeping and wailing from the kids (and let's face it - my loving husband) was crazy.  To them, on demand ice is a constitutional right! And so I set out to discover what was wrong with the ice maker.

To be honest, I made mistakes along the way.  Mistake #1 was assuming that if the ice maker wasn't working it was because the maker was broken.  Turns out - that's wrong.  I now know that my ice maker quit working because the water inlet valve had gone out.  I learned this important lesson AFTER I ordered and replaced the ice maker twice.  (Good times - NOT)

Looking on the bright side I now have lots of experience in replacing ice makers AND water inlet valves!


Step #1 - Find the model # of your fridge.  I do this by taking a picture of the sticker inside of the refrigerator.  That way I don't have to squint too hard or take too many perishables out.

Create a contact in your phone called "Model Numbers".  Use that contact to store all of the model numbers for appliances in your house.  This will save you MANY headaches when calling service people or ordering replacement parts.

model # saved in my phone
Step #2 - Read/research online and troubleshoot the ice maker.  There are many online repair forums that can help with this step.  If all else fails, google the symptoms.  For example, google "ice maker leaks" and read the results.

Step #3 - If you determine that the ice maker is the problem, purchase the new ice maker.  I order online from but you can order from or even  You might even be lucky enough to have a parts house in your area.

Step #4 - Some repair forums have videos that can teach you how to replace the part.  I used the one from Appliance Parts.  Here is the link to how to replace the Whirlpool ice maker.

You can also see the video by clicking HERE.

Remove the old ice maker:
  • Unplug the refrigerator
  • Remove the ice bin, shelves and any doors that are in the way of the ice maker
  • The ice maker (on the Whirlpool model) is held in place by 3 screws.  You only need to remove the bottom screw.
  • Loosen the top 2 screws.
  • Lift the ice maker off the 2 top mounting screws.
  • Gently remove the ice maker
  • Using a flat head screw driver release the locking clips for the ice maker plug.
Install the new ice maker:
  • Remove the wire bail arm from the old maker and install it on the new maker
  • Plug the ice maker into the refrigerator
  • Mount the ice maker on the top 2 screws and tighten.  
  • Re install the bottom screw.
  • Re install the ice bin, shelves and any trays you removed.
Now for the hard part - WAIT!  The ice maker has to get cold before it will make ice.  Usually this takes about 24 hours.

I did all of that and my ice maker still didn't work.  I actually uninstalled it and reinstalled it again!  Still - no ice.

That's when I did a little more reading and discovered that my problem was probably not my ice maker at all.  The problem was the water inlet valve.

Replacing the inlet valve is easy!

Here are some of the symptoms of a defective water inlet valve:
  • ice tray does not fill with water
  • ice tray overflows and drips water into the freezer
  • water from door dispenser comes out slowly
  • no ice is being made

Old Valve on the Left, New Valve on the Right
Step #1 - If you haven't already, locate the model number of your refrigerator.

Step #2 - Read everything you can find online about water inlet valves and the model number of your fridge just to make sure that that's the problem.  There are MANY online repair forums to help to identify what the problem might be.

Step #3 - If you're sure its the inlet valve, buy one one line, or at a local parts house.  As I stated before is my favorite parts house, but I've also gotten parts on  The choice is yours.

Step #4 - Now, here's the video for the repair.


Here's the link to the Video

Remove the old valve:
  • Unplug the refrigerator
  • Turn off the water to the refrigerator.
  • Remove all of the screws that hold the cardboard panel on the lower bottom of the refrigerator in place.
  • Disconnect (unscrew) the water line from the inlet valve
  • Using a screwdriver, remove the inlet valve from the refrigerator. 
  • Unplug the 2 connectors on the valve
  • Have towels ready, then carefully disconnect all 3 water lines  (some lines screw in.  Others are held in place with pressure connectors.  Consult the instruction page or the video listed above for your model).  Expect the water line to leak a gallon or 2 of water.
Install the new valve:
  • Insert all 3 water lines into the new valve.  The lines are all different sizes so each line will only fit into the proper hole
  • Re insert plugs into valve
  • Dry everything off and check for leaks on the water lines
  • Re mount the valve to the refrigerator
  • Re install the cardboard cover
  • Plug in the refrigerator
  • Turn the water back on.
Now wait for ice!

I thought it would take another few hours.  After I made this repair we had ice in about an hour!