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Blue Magazine Shelf

Blue magazine shelf

A couple years ago before I knew I was going to be remodeling a house and moving, I had designed and cut wood for a little magazine shelf for the bathroom. As we are getting projects completed and making space in the garage for more permanent functionality, I dug out the parts. Luckily it was a design that could also fit in the new bathroom space, so I decided I'd finish the project. More sanding was needed; then I stained the parts; assembled it with glue, clamps, and finishing nails; and protected it with a semi-gloss top coat.

Blue magazine shelf

Tadjer the cat is saying, "what do you mean you made something that I can't climb on?"

Blue magazine shelf

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Livingroom Shelf

Board for hanging keys

I got a piece of cherry board in order to make a place for hanging keys in the living room as well as a floating shelf for above the television.

Cut, routed, sanded, stained, painted a design with metallic paint, and finished with a top coat.

Board for hanging keys Livingroom floating shelf Livingroom floating shelf

How we got the board to "float" with invisible support is my secret technique. I may tell you about it if you ask me nicely.

Livingroom floating shelf

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Mudroom plans

The last piece of the kitchen remodel plan was to add a "mudroom" bench and cubby shelf between the kitchen pantries and the door to the garage. I measured, drew out plans, and went to the lumber store for red oak boards.

Mudroom parts

I did what cutting I could on the miter saw but had Rick rip a couple of the boards down long ways on the table saw. I'm still not brave enough to handle the table saw solo. Above are the boards cut up and laid out.


I sanded everything and routed the edges that would be exposed in the front. I glued and clamped two boards together to make the bench seat and stained all the wood before assembly. I assembled the bench shelfs and the upper shelf part before adding the protective top coats to everything. We put the bench supports in before installing the bench top in place.


The bottom cubbies are designed to fit different height boots and shoes, for example, snow boots on the bottom left, and rain boots on the bottom right, with other shoes and sandals in the shorter cubbies.


Wood supports were connected to the side of the pantry, with reinforcement attached on the inside as well, to hold up the bench and the upper shelf. I wanted a strong bench that didn't feel like it moved or creaked when being sat upon.

One of the most difficult parts to the project was getting the upper shelf to fit in the space which was not square and was narrower at the opening. Even with taking off the garage door molding it was a tricky fit. Rick ended up trimming the ends to get it to fit, which left it too narrow once installed. I think building that part in place would have made it a better fit.


The coat hooks were given to me by my sister who recently moved. I removed the hooks from one side of one, filled the holes where they had been, repainted, and it doubles as the support that holds up the left side of the upper shelves. I included a top board which is connected to the ceiling with spacers and served as a way to continue the crown molding from the pantry all the way around to give it a finished look.


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Workbench project

Last summer, as we ripped walls out of our kitchen to make it bigger, we knew we had a plan for the pile of 2x4 studs getting removed. We wanted to send as little as possible to the landfill from the destruction and construction of our kitchen/bath remodel and garage building project. We even made a choice to not get a refuse dumpster and deal with each material as best we could, the rest fitting in our regular trash bin. We did upgrade to a larger size bin for a few months and ended up filling it full almost every week. It's amazing how much debris is created in construction so it was good to be conscious of what could be reused. The project produced a pile of lumber, used boards or new scraps, that we've been using for other projects since.

Those 2x4 studs, though, we had immediately earmarked for turning into a workbench to put in the new garage. As we removed them, we used a marker to circle places where nails were cut-off and still in the wood so that they would not end up causing trouble in a saw later. Last month, we finally got around to finishing the workbench project.

This is the top after staining, but pre-polyurathane.

Workbench project

Rick cut, glued and clamped, and sanded eight of the boards to make a butcher block type of top. He used other 2x4s and a piece of plywood to create the base and "back splash". My job on this project was the finish. For the top, I used a mahogany stain that I've had sitting around. It matches a stain I used for a couple large hanging shelfs in the garage that store camping equipment, the same stain I used when refinishing a couple stools that now fit under the workbench. After staining, I protected the top with a few coats of polyurethane. For the base, I used a grey paint that we had bought on clearance to try out on the exterior and ended up not using. It ended up matching the grey of a vintage side table we are using as a battery charging station. The only thing we bought to make this table was wood glue and the leveling feet. The coordinating colors in the garage have become red and grey!

Workbench project

We designed the workbench table to fit perfectly over two tool cabinets we got to organize tools and hardware. The cabinets are on wheels so that we can move them out from under the table and have more legroom and more work surface area.

Workbench project

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Tajar Mahal

Cat tower project

In March of this year we picked out a cat off Craigslist from a couple nearby who fosters cats rescued from high kill shelters. This little orange guy was considered unadoptable by Kings County Animal Shelter due to blindness in one eye. We renamed him Tajar (or Tajer or Tadger) and fell instantly in love with his sweetness. His visual disability does not slow him down and he's the most athletic and stretchy mini-beast I've known. We decided he needed a tower to climb, his first birthday gift for August 11th.

We sketched out our plan. We wanted it to include a bed level, a top lookout level, as well as multiple scratching surfaces and a spot for replaceable cardboard scratching pads since that was so far his favorite thing to scratch on. In order to not create more visual obstructions looking out to the garden, the height of the levels were determined by the heights of the window panes in the back door. We made notes of the tools we would need to borrow from the Santa Rosa Tool Library.

Cat tower project

I wanted to use repurposed or scrap materials as much as possible. We picked out the materials and began cutting, sanding, staining, and assembling.

Cat tower project

While watching TV, Rick and I took turns carefully wrapping cordage around the 4x4 post that was to become one of the back legs. We used a roll that I had sitting around of grass cord on the bottom section and hemp cord (the only material we purchased for this project) to complete the top section of the post. Our hands and forearms were tired and sore after wrapping that heavy post!

Very curious what we were creating, he needed to test it periodically throughout the project.

Cat tower project

Rick cut notches in the two back posts to hold the middle shelf in place. The right post is a length of rough-cut redwood that was removed from the exterior of the house during remodeling last year. The middle leg and step post are scraps of sapele mahogany left over from putting trim around the garage doors. I had sections of foam padding removed from a former loft bed headboard that I had made and then disassembled when moving. We got a new cardboard scratcher refill to put in the frame I cut into the bottom plywood level using a jigsaw tool. There are three adjustable feet screwed up through the bottom into the three supporting posts. The feet were removed from some garage tool cabinets in order to put wheels on them.

Cat tower project

I traced out patterns on newsprint to aid in cutting fabric we picked out from my crafts stash.

Cat tower project

In order to make them removable, washable or replaceable, I used velcro to attach the padding to the tower. One side of the velcro is sewn to the fabric wrap-around tabs, the other side glued to the underside of the plywood levels.

Cat tower project

The middle level has a contoured padding for a bed. We picked out some batik fabric I acquired in Bali.

Cat tower project

Tajer gets very upset when he sees birds through the window, and does vicious damage to the feather toy we play with, so I joke that he hates birds. As a poke at him we centered the birds on his bed.

He doesn't seem to mind.

Cat tower project

We are all very happy how it turned out and how well he uses it, all the sleeping and scratching surfaces, as well as actually climbing from the floor up the cord wrapped post to the top level as a more adventurous route up.

Cat tower project

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Bedside Table Refinish

purple bedside table

I had bought this bedside table a few years back from a thrift store. It had some water damage (cup rings) and other wear in the finish so wanted to give it a new look.

bedside table with finish partially sanded off

It was a lot of work sanding the old finish off, especially in all the corners.

bedside table with stain and painted designs

After the finish was completely removed, I stained the inside, sides and under-top, with a yellowish orange color and the rest purple I mixed from a couple colors I had on hand. I painted a bronze design on it, then gave it a couple clear coat layers for protection.

bedside table with stain and painted designs bedside table with stain and painted designs

The sanding was a lot of work and took some time – as I had to keep recharging my sander batteries – but I had a lot of fun with the painting on it. The metallic design turned out subtle, showing better at some angles than others, and I like the mystery of that... and how the inside designs are mostly hidden.

purple bedside table

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Buckingham Chicken Tractor

chicken tractor

A "chicken tractor" is a portable, bottomless chicken cage that allows the farmer to move the chickens around a garden or pasture, giving the chickens access to fresh greenery and insects while the chickens give the soil fertilizer and earth tilling footwork. It can be a simple poultry mesh box to hold roasters (for meat chickens, eaten young) or a more elaborate coop containing roosts and nest boxes for housing egg-layers. My plan was for the latter, as I am yet to commit to the work of poultry processing, and wish to host a few hens to benefit my garden while converting proteins in the garden that I don't wish to eat – such as weeds, weed seeds, insects, and snails (I did try homegrown escargot) – into proteins I like to eat: eggs.

I sketched out my design using Illustrator, and calculated material needs. The plan was designed around a few limitations: 1) I wanted it to fit in my existing garden planter box, 2) I didn't want to cut or patch together the metal roofing, so sized the design to utilize two sheets of pre-cut roofing (scavenged from a previous chicken shed), 3) I wanted it to be light enough to move, and 4) I wanted it to be big enough to fit at least two or three adult hens comfortably.

chicken tractor plans

We cut all the 2x2 frame wood at once, keeping them labeled with sticky notes, and painted them; first with primer, then with low luster exterior paint in a "Buckingham Gardens" green. The woman at the paint counter in the local hardware store asked, while adding the color, "are you watching the Olympics?" I hadn't been (and still have not) so it took me a moment to make the connection from her question to the paint color. I find it appropriate that the chicken palace be named in honor of the 2012 Summer Olympics, as building it encompassed all my free time during the London games.

chicken tractor wood chicken tractor construction chicken tractor construction chicken tractor construction chicken tractor construction chicken tractor construction chicken tractor construction chicken tractor chicken tractor chicken tractor chicken tractor chicken tractor chicken tractor chicken tractor chicken tractor

Eleanor was taken at night, from her bamboo jungle roost at her downtown Santa Rosa home, where she was living a free, although lonely, re-wilded life – at risk of being eaten by raccoons, hawks, and neighbor dogs (as all her sisters had been) – and relocated to Buckingham.

A peek in the nest box the next afternoon....

chicken tractor

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Spiral Baby Blanket

spiral baby blanket

A baby blanket crocheted for my boyfriend's sister's unborn boy, with alpaca wool. I based it on a pattern by Cthulhu Crochet and Cousins which used two colors of yarn. Adding a third color completely changed it, and it took me some time, and several unsatisfactory starts, to get it going well. I love how soft it is and it's optical effect. I hope he likes it!

spiral baby blanket side spiral baby blanket close-up spiral baby blanket center

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Crocheted Creation Blanket

crocheted sunburst earth blanket

I spent the past year crocheting this blanket. It began with the intention of creating a blanket out of 12" squares of crocheted stitches, making the squares and then joining them together. I crocheted two to three dozen squares with a few different yarns and stitches, probably about half the blanket, before I got too bored of making squares to continue with the project that way. I put them aside and began to crochet a spiral, the spiral that turned into the center of the blanket. At first I planned to do the center this way, and then join the squares around the outside as the edge but ended up un-crocheting all the squares, as they no longer seemed to fit, and as yarn was needed to continue crocheting around and around the spiral, as I developed it into a sunburst shape and then began to work it to have square edges. I intentionally made it so that the bottom two corners were fitted to the bed.

It's certainly the largest crochet project I ever undertook. I watched 10 seasons of the show "Friends" while working on it, as well as many hours of other television and movies. The name "Creation Blanket" comes from someone who was admiring it while on 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine as they found it appeared to them as the sun, the energy and creation of life, and the earth... which is pretty much what I was imagining as I created it.

crocheted sunburst earth blanket crocheted sunburst earth blanket crocheted sunburst earth blanket

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Child's Rocking Chair Cushion

corduroy cushion for child rocking chair corduroy cushion for child rocking chair corduroy cushion for child rocking chair corduroy cushion for child rocking chair

I've had this little rocking chair since I was probably preschool or kindergarden age. There were many years it was stored in the barn loft after I got too big for it. It had a red velour cushion that never made it back from the barn so I recently sewed this cushion, complete with ties to hold it on, to match the ivory corduroy upholstery on a full size chair I have.

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Bag for Mother's Day

crocheted bag for Mom

I crocheted this cotton bag to hold a gift for my mom for mother's day.

crocheted bag for Mom crocheted bag for Mom

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Bag for Amanda's Birthday

crocheted bag for Amanda

I crocheted this cotton bag for my crafty friend Amanda and filled it with a few skeins of colorful wool yarn.

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Crochet Earring Hanger

crochet earring hanger

I created this to hang my earrings on using yarn found at a thrift store and a pair of wooden chopsticks which I sanded.

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Tiffen Box Flower

tiffen box with paper flower

I decorated this tiffen box gift with a paper cut-out flower.

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Purple Shelf

purple shelf with mehndi style design purple shelf with mehndi style design purple shelf with mehndi style design

I made this little shelf from a piece of pine board, rounded the corners, stained it purple, and painted a Mehndi style design (inspired by the Yogi tea boxes) on it with bronze paint.

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Key Hook Board

painted decoupage key hook board

I made this for me and housemates to hang keys on using a pine board I sanded, stained green, painted, and decoupaged.

painted decoupage key hook board painted decoupage key hook board painted decoupage key hook board painted decoupage key hook board painted decoupage key hook board

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Repurposed Quilted Purse Donation

repurposed quilted purse

I made this shoulder bag from a paisley metallic scarf and some remnants from a cotton canvas curtain. The flower shape in front is a little pocket, open at the top. A friend of a friend had an auction to fund a film they were making so I donated this purse for the cause.

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Waxing Moon of Enjoyment Collage

packaging moon collage

This collage represents pleasures since it's made with packaging from the three things that I enjoyed most in my life at the time I made it: nag champa incense, darjeeling tea, and djarum clove cigarettes. Made in around 1996. It's made 100% of packaging, except for the lamination sheeting covering it. Even the cardboard that it's on is repurposed.

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Tree of Health and Harmony Collage

painted packaging tree collage

This collage is made 100% of packaging and paint. Even the cardboard that it's on is repurposed.

painted packaging tree collage painted packaging tree collage

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Thank You Card Work Project

thank you card

Handmade paper using recycled shredded child data reports, scrap-booking paper, and stamp. A work project to create cards to send to people who had worked on the pilot study to create and develop the child development assessment instrument.

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Mother's Day Card 2007

mothers day card

Paper cut-out and paint.

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Fruit Bouquet

fruit and chocolate bouquet

I put this "bouquet" together for my Valentine using a variety of fruits, berries, and chocolate covered ginger on skewers stuck into florists clay inside a ceramic pot.

fruit and chocolate bouquet

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Loma's Blanket

crocheted baby blanket crocheted baby blanket crocheted baby blanket

I crocheted this blanket for the birth of my friend Yarrow's baby, Loma Jane. It's constructed from 100% organic cotton. I did most of the crochet work while watching the show Deadwood.

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Repurposed Quilt for Deanna

bird quilt

I used a combination of repurposed fabric from clothing and remnants for this small wall-hanging quilt for my mother-in-law's birthday gift.

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Repurposed Corduroy Pillow Covers

corduroy pillow covers

Constructed from corduroy pants.

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Repurposed Quilted Purse for Alicia

repurposed quilted purse

A purse for Alicia's birthday, constructed from a skirt that my mother wore in the '60's and Alicia and I wore in the late '80's.

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