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!

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Cooking - All Things Breakfast

I LOVE breakfast, but only if I have the time to make it right.  This post is a compilation of my past breakfast blogs, plus a few new recipes.

First things first - you've got to start with coffee.  I prefer iced coffee.  Here is my favorite recipe!


Iced Coffee Recipe #1

Iced Coffee Recipe #2

These 2 recipes are basically the same.  They're mixed in different vessels, but the taste is delish!


This recipe will give you easy, fluffy, buttery biscuits.  Read the entire recipe and follow the directions closely.

Buttery Homemade Biscuits
(makes approx 12 biscuits) 

For this recipe you will need:
1/4 c shortening
2 c. all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon sugar
Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 c milk  (I use almond milk, but cows milk is fine too)
2 Tablespoons melted butter 

STEP BY STEP directions (including pictures) are here. 



3 medium size potatoes (shredded)
1/2 large onion shredded
1 Tablespoon corn starch
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Paprika
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder 
1/8 teaspoon pepper
Oil for frying

Directions are here!


Homemade Pop Tarts
(makes approximately 16)

For this recipe you will need:
2 - Refrigerator pie crusts (I use the ones in the box, but homemade is fine too)
2-3 Tablespoons melted butter
Your favorite Jelly or Jam
granulated sugar (optional) 

Rolling Pin
Pastry brush

Complete Directions are here.

Yogurt with Granola

Homemade yogurt with granola is WAY easier to make than you think it is.  It takes a little planning and you'll have to make the yogurt ahead of time.  

Yogurt making is basically a science project.  All you need is:

Homemade Yogurt 

For this recipe you will need:

3 cups milk (any kind of dairy milk is fine.  I like fat free cow milk)
2/3 cups powdered milk
2 Tablespoons of yogurt starter (more on this in a minute)
I've done several versions of this recipe.  Read through them all and find out what works for you.  Choose your favorite version and give it a shot!

STEP BY STEP Directions.

Small Batch yogurt (made in the microwave)

DIY Activia

Yogurt Making Tips

Homemade Granola (at the bottom of the page)


Egg foo young is awesome for getting rid of your left overs.  It's perfect for a post holiday breakfast (the day after Thanksgiving or the day after Christmas).

Egg Foo Young

1/2 cup Cooked [chopped]meat (i'm using turkey but you can really use anything or no meat at all)
1 cup Cooked Vegetables
1/4 cup chopped cooked onion
3 Eggs
3 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
Cooked Rice
Cooking spray or oil 
Gravy (optional)
cooking mold (optional) 

Here are the step by step directions.

Brown Sugar Cake 

Who says you can't have dessert after breakfast.  This tiny cake bakes in 33 seconds in the microwave.  Easy, yummy and a great way to end a meal!

Brown Sugar Cake for 1 (with Frosting)

2 Tablespoons all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon milk
1 teaspoon oil
2 drops of vanilla

Step by step directions (with pictures) are here!

Homemade Sausage

Yes, you can make sausage homemade.  I had NO IDEA until a few years ago.  Sausage can be made with a few spices and just about any meat you like.  We enjoy Chicken Apple Sausage.

Kathy's Chicken Apple Sausage 

1 lb ground chicken (or any meat you like)
Tablespoon Frying Pan Pork Sausage Spice
1/4 cup applesauce (any kind is fine.  Homemade works great)
1 egg white (or 1 egg yolk) NOT BOTH
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed

For step by step directions, click  here!

For more recipes, Click HERE!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Tips and Tricks: Tooth Fairy's Knot

Tooth Fairy Knot

As a long time mom I'm happy to discover any tip or trick to make life easier.  This is a little diddy that I came up with when I was nearly discovered carrying out my tooth fairy duties.

Tiny Baby Tooth
My kids (like all kids) have tiny baby teeth. The poor tooth fairy barely stands a chance at finding such a tiny tooth tucker under (what seems like) a gigantic pillow.

All tied up

As soon as a tooth comes out I tie it in a handkerchief, cloth napkin or some other piece of cloth.

Ready for the Fairy

Place the tooth under the pillow.  The tooth is now MUCH easier for the fairy to locate and remove.

The Tooth Fairy

Good Luck with your Fairy Responsibilities!

For more Tips and Tricks, click HERE!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Sewing: PlusSize Refashion

Ok refashion friends, can we have a frank talk about plus size refashioning?  I buy most of my refashion projects at thrift shops.  I LOVE thrift shops but most of the clothes are NOT plus size.  Sometimes they are and that's great, but i'm more likely to find a dress that's too small than I am to find one that's too big.

In my opinion its WAY easier to make a dress smaller than it is to make it bigger.  In this blog post we will learn how I turned a teeny tiny print dress into a cute skirt for myself.

Size petite Small
Lets back up for a minute.  Here is where this dress started.

Starting materials
I found a print that I LOVED in a dress what is WAY too small.  This is a maxi dress size petite small!  I am a size 16/18.  I'm short but not small.  Here's what I did.

Step one:  Find fabric that you like.  Ideally something stretchy.  A dress (or skirt) with pleats works GREAT.  Those pleats mean that after you cut the dress there will be more fabric than you think.

Step two: Before you buy a too small dress you need to figure out if it could potentially fit you.  So, try it on as best you can.

Me squeezed into a too small dress
I squeezed into this dress the best way that I could.  I pulled it over my head and slipped one arm out an arm hole.  As you can tell from this shot there is enough fabric to wrap around my body.

Step Three:  Buy the dress and take it home.  Smart shoppers will know to buy refashion items on sale.  If the refashion doesn't work you're not out too much money.  I purchased this dress for $4.25 at Good Will.

 Now that you own it, cut the dress.  Simply cut off the parts that make it too small.  I've done this before so I know exactly where I need to cut on this style of dress.

Before the Cut

After the Cut

  I basically cut off that teeny tiny bodice, leaving just the skirt.

Step Five:  EXPERIMENT!  I like this fabric a LOT but I need to find a way to wear it that i'm comfortable with.  So - I tried it all different ways!

Look #1 - 
This is the dress with the bodice cut off.  I like the fabric but I'm not a skin tight dress kind of girl.

Just the fabric

 Look #2
This is the dress with a little sweater. 
Dress with a little sweater
Look #3
This is the dress with a wrap top.

Look #3 is my favorite and the way i'm most likely to wear this dress.  This look covers my hips and is appropriate for work.  It's a look that pairs well with heels for flats.  It's comfortable and flattering.

Step Six: Road test the look.  Before I cut this dress off and make is a skirt, i'll wear it to work just like it is.  I need to know how the fabric will behave during my normal work day.  Will it twist or bind?  Will it ride up?  I don't know.  So this outfit will have to go to work one day so that I can see.

Step Seven:  Complete the look.  Once I determined that my new skirt is comfortable, it can be cut into a skirt with added elastic or left as a dress.

Finished Skirt!


*  For a straight (more fitted) skirt use a straight cut dress.

*  For a more flared skirt use an A-line dress.

* Both of the dresses referenced in this blog as made from stretchy lycra fabric.  I LOVE this fabric because it's easy to work with, it's comfortable and packs easily (just wash and wear).

*  I almost always go prefer patterned lycra.  Because lycra clings to the body it can show every figure imperfection.  When the garment has a pattern the imperfections disappear!

For more ReFashion Tips, click HERE!