Sort of Stainless Steel Kitchen Backsplash

After posting pictures of the kitchen on the message boards of my local mom’s group, I had a few questions about the kitchen backsplash.

Sigh, I still get that first-date feeling every time I walk in the room.

Anyway– I can’t tell the backsplash story without starting with the countertops. Countertops aren’t cheap, but I got lucky one afternoon, getting a bunch of black granite tile for about $1.25 a square foot.

I had leapt at the granite, without considering the backsplash. Imagine (and laugh– go ahead, it’s funny–now) my surprise and JB’s annoyance when I vetoed every single tile sample for the backsplash. Most them gave the kitchen that Tuscany look. I’m not a fan, being neither Italian, nor a patron of the Olive Garden. Now, give me a piece of subway or glass tile– that’s my look. Even the subway tile didn’t look right, unless it was custom glass subway tile (cha-ching!). So, we both kept coming back to stainless steel. Okay, but at $120 for a 30×30 sheet? I just…couldn’t.

For a year, I walked the aisles of home improvement and salvage/re-use stores, just looking and thinking. I spent an hour in the roofing section, trying to convert large rolls of flashing into a backsplash.

Then came the day I found the solution. And that is the DIY high, what keeps me going back for more each time: $9.34 per 24×36 inch sheet compared to $120 per 30×30 inch sheet? Um, yes please.

A few small words of caution. This is professional grade stuff; the edges are sharp– get some heavy duty gloves. And good tin snips. Cutting out the holes for the electric sockets looked like it sucked– JB’s job, what with all that superior upper body strength.

Beyond that? Easy. We glued it to the wall with paneling caulk stuff rated for wood and metal. Maybe even cement and moon rock, I can’t remember.

The cardboard and painters tape accent pieces? Those were the templates for the tile that would someday hide the sharp cut edges. I’m guessing you could sand the sharpness away, assuming you cut a straight line. With tin snips. I’m almost certain that it’s not possible. Those cardboard pieces stayed just like that for 6 months. Then, around the time we tiled the master bath, I grabbed a few sheets of the 12×12 mosaic tiles and silicone caulked myself a new border. No need for thinset since they were sitting on top of the metal. I hadn’t intended to grout, but tile without grout looks strange, so we fixed that another night.

Total backsplash cost? It took 6 sheets of the metal, so $56 plus tax + 3 of the tile sheets, which cost $4 each, $12 plus tax. Which means that we did the whole project for less than what one sheet of the other stuff would have cost.

Tomorrow the boys (all 3 of ’em) and I are going to finish the crib-to-lego-table project. Then perhaps I’ll get the cabinet handles installed. Again. Don’t ask– when it’s done, I’ll tell you all about it.

Painting Kitchen Cabinets with your Kids Home?

Painting kitchen cabinets with your kids home? Totally easy– if you’re insane.

Phase 1: Collect Underpants.
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Profit.

I have had this nonsense from the Gnomes episode of Southpark going through my head for days. You’re welcome.

Oh, and the actual point of the post, which is to tell everyone (in my best Australian sham-wow voice) that lives in the internet how YES, you CAN have a BRAND NEW KITCHEN for a the low, low price of $63.00 and many a few hours of sweat equity.

The first step is, of course, to do some internet research (I mostly used pinterest and BHG and gather your supplies based on your decisions. I did most of my shopping in the basement, thus this assortment of preparatory items cost me $0. But if you aren’t a hoarder, you’d need to get a degreaser, sand-paper, oil-based primer, rags, and foam rollers. I did have to buy a few packages of foam rollers ($13).

Next you will remove and label all of your cabinet doors, handles, and hinges. My kitchen has a large foot print, without as many cabinets (by choice). I labeled the top row of doors with letters, the bottoms with numbers. I’m not sure why– but it made sense at the time. Phase 1: Collect Underpants, right?

Lay something down on the ground and wash the cabinets with a degreaser. I used a TSP product because it was–say it with me, “already in the basement”. Otherwise I probably would have used warm vinegar and water. Note, all the internet advice for cleaning cabinets recommends a TSP product. I also sanded out here, rather than in the basement like normal. We have 3 different electric hand sanders (…why?), so I picked the one on top, and sanded.

Sit down and stare at the jumbled mess inside your cabinets. Berate yourself for allowing that which is behind closed doors to be in such disorder. Start calculating the number of hours that have been wasted from retrieving–and returning–pans to their part of the stack. Wonder why you aren’t storing all baking, spices, oil and vinegar in the lazy susan. You know, where you can reach them. Plan to make a different plan while you are priming the doors.

Appropriate all flat kitchen surfaces for priming. You could use the basement, but then you’d have to clean all the dog hair and dust first. *shudder*

Gaze in joy at the primed surfaces, right before leaving for a children’s museum that will be hosting no less than 10 elementary school classes on field trips.

I did several coats of the primer to make sure nothing would bleed through. Once everything dried, it was time to start on the finish coats.

Lightly coat with paint (I used Benjamin Moore’s Low VOC Natura paint–$50– in Super White). Let dry. Sand (280 grit). Wipe (fancy folks use tack cloth– I used a damp cloth diaper).

Rinse and repeat until you are satisfied with the finish.

Re-attach the hinges and the doors.



Now, part of any home improvement project is how much time it will actually take. Well, I always think it will take an hour, and JB always thinks it will take 4 months. Somewhere in between is the real answer, but I needed data.

I could add all that up for y’all, but I promised the Small People a hot wheels track. Like an hour ago– whoops. Y’all are smart though– you can do the math, right?

Kitchen Remodel: Phase II

Remember the Phase I post from a few days ago?

You wonder– is she actually done?!
Done is often such a subjective word, don’t you think? It’s like perfect– can the pure meaning of those words exist in the world of paint or furniture placement? No, really– JB wants to know if done exists in someone else’s house.

Ahem. So the answer is no, I’m not done. But I’ve met the first major milestone– a working kitchen, with many, many coats of beautiful brilliant white paint.

There are handles to rehang and another coat of paint (hmmm…sharpie?) around the counter-tops. Speaking of molding– we need some around the top of the cabinets. And to add the furniture feet at the kick plates. And to paint the door (quick, no one look up– so don’t wanna paint that popcorn ceiling!)

But not tonight.

I’m also going to move two of our bookshelves to surround the big dining room window, adding cabinet doors at the bottom to mimic a built-in look. Which means more sanding/priming/painting.

But not tonight.

I want to add beadboard inserts to replace the current panels in the cabinet doors (paint the beadboard after cutting, then it’s just a simple glue-caulk-quicky top coat type of install). Yes, I did stare at a package of wood shims for 10 minutes, trying to decide if they could be turned into some facsimile of beadboard. Then I stared at the dremel kit and considered.

JB googled the instructions for involuntary commitment of spouse.

Thankfully, none of that is happening tonight.

The computer-armoire-turned-food-pantry needs more shelves. All the cabinets either need shelves or vertical stacking systems. Maybe some pull out drawers. Both the kitchen and dining room windows need new curtains.

But not tonight.

I want a new dining room table– round this time. Which would then free up the current table to be scavenged for parts. That I plan to turn into a mini-kitchen island. With a pot rack. On wheels.

But not tonight.

Why? Because last night, what you saw up there looked like:

Me? I set up a hard deadline by hosting my mother-in-law’s birthday dinner here today. For 11 people. Why? Because I’m not stupid organized enough to fall for those soft, internal deadlines. I need the adrenaline-fueled energy that can only come from a looming event requiring the use of whatever space is currently deconstructed.

I’m supposed to run–5.5 miles. Anyone want to take the over/under on whether THAT happens tonight?

But I did at least find the inspiration for the design– what great paper! Yes, it did occur to me to use it as wall paper accents in some of the panels. Yes, JB did threaten to lock me in the bathroom if I came within 10 feet of the kitchen with wallpaper paste. Now all I have to do is narrow down the accent color. Bright turquoise blue? Shhh… orange?

The Beauty of Love

This was the little story that JB and I (snort, who we kidding, it was I, all I) included on our wedding announcement. Sweet, hunh?

Now, that I rediscovered the thing a few hours after screeching for him to bring me crowbar? Just amusing.
That he brought me the crowbar, with the only comment delivered being a reminder to not accidentally knock a hole in the wall? That’s trust– trust I haven’t necessarily earned.

But, hey, when I did this to the wall, in a different room, a week later, I had it patched long before he got home!

Why is the trust so impressive? Well, I ask you all– do you know what your couch looks like under the fabric and foam?

I do. I absolutely know that most couches are made of a few pieces of wood and some really strong cardboard. Why? Because I took a reciprocating saw to our old one once, just to see.

Any-hoo. I needed that crowbar because I was doing my own version of Habitat for Humanity for the homeless stuff in our house. Mostly mine. And the Small People. Not much of it is JB’s. That’s the issue with DIY (and ADHD). A person needs supplies if they are going to craft their own environment. An ADHDer goes and buys those supplies, shoves them in a drawer, laundry basket, box, bag, or closet which promptly wipes stuff’s existence from working memory. Then, while frantically looking for a missing plastic shark for the Smallest Small Person, she opens up a box, and it’s christmas all over again.

I can’t even claim this behavior is new– I’ve always been this way. Which is probably why I hooked up with a guy who moved the totality of his belongings in a Saturn Coupe, whilst I needed a 17 foot uhaul.

Then the hoarder and the minimalist had two children, whereupon they realized their stuff spreads like kudzu over a southern telephone pole. And just like kudzu, you can metaphorically burn that shit to the ground, only to step on the sharpest part of a lego brick which is lying in mocking repose right next to your bed, the very next morning. True story: I threw away a plastic kazoo 17 million times– before finally crushing it to death in the driveway and throwing it in the neighbor’s trashcan. Never underestimate the staying power of a cheap (yet costly in its annoyance factor) toy.

I started with some free wire shelving and some not-so-free tracks and brackets (why, pray tell, are those damn brackets $3.50 each? Because if you don’t want the shit to fall down, you have to buy them, that’s why). And technically those shelves were installed a few months ago– just not correctly and were being held up with duct tape, which just isn’t safe.

Thus it went from this:

to this:

Ahhh— I might not be able to get a whole room of my own, but dammit I made myself a writing nook–as per my not-resolution resolution’s list to write more. And no nook would be complete without my Quixote, ready to tilt at some windmills. And all the old shoe boxes I decoupaged, thus saving them from JB’s need to throw away the things I’m saving finishing the planned upcycling project.

One mess done, one giant one to go.

Bunk Bed Tents

Before anyone starts doing the cough-laugh thing whilst whispering “bless her heart” to themselves… I know. I feel the same way about the tent portion of the bed tent. The images on the inside? I traced what they wanted from that google place onto leftover scrap material, added some acrylic paint (and some glow in the dark paint) and was done in an hour. JB did the Millennium Falcon, after he fell to the floor laughing about how my version looked like a penis with some sort of testicle disease.

I had many,many dreams for the bed tents (damn you, pinterest!) But dreams are dreams and reality is, well. Life. 😀

Dream: You wait until the last minute (December 21st…) for stuff like this, while blithely waving your hand, saying, “it’ll take me an hour– tops”.
Reality: Your youngest child will puke that night followed by your oldest, 48 hours later. In between they will seek your love and attention. You will feel like a douchebag for ditching them to sew. You sigh and sit with your children. As it should be.

Dream: You will decide to wait until Christmas night, since you know you are getting a new sewing machine.
Reality: Sixteen seconds after you get motivated to unpack the new toy, you– and the rest of the street, oy he’s loud– hear your husband vomit. He will then spend the first 2 days of vacation either holding down the couch, or sitting really still on the floor watching cars spin on a track. I must pause and give some love– he was made a strong effort to play enough with the kids that I wasn’t bombarded the entire time.

Dream: Your husband is finally well enough to take kids away from the house for a 3 hour window. You can finish the tents!
Reality: You realize that the very reinforced window is crooked as hell. You will also realize that the up-cycled bed sheet is so old that ripping out seams is not an option. You nash your teeth, figure out a way to hang the monstrosity in the living room window and stare at it for 2 days.

Dream: You’ll just start over, you think.
Reality: Your kid has already said he didn’t care about the crooked window. If you start over you are in direct conflict with the “not everything has to be perfect”** life vibe you keep preaching.

Solution: You do your tracing thing and hot glue gun the pictures over the crooked window, which will now face the wall. Then you glance at your shiny new sewing machine and the now-hated bed tent. You feel the weight of the already heated glue gun. You hot glue gun the rest of it– sewing be damned.

**will resist urge to obsess about making upgraded bed tents. will…resist…**

Can’t call it a bucket list…

Because, as my DH pointed out– we don’t plan to die in 2012, thus a kick the bucket list isn’t really appropriate. I don’t want to call them resolutions, because those are 1) what everyone else is doing, and 2) has, in the past, represented a list of things for which we eventually fail.

JB and I tried for all of 5 minutes last night, (while watching South Park reruns; we par-tay on New Year’s Eve round here) to come up with some witty replacement. To Do list– heavy on the witty, yes?

In no particular order.

    1. Go camping
    2. Run a half marathon (me, maybe JB)
    3. Read more than 3 popular fiction books (JB)
    4. Read 5 of those classic books that I totally pretend to have read because I was, you know, an English major for awhile and therefore would never, ever read the cliff notes instead of the novel. {cough}
    5. Learn how to make at least six four interesting dinners eaten by anyone with working thumbs.
    6. Stop considering how neat it would be write down some of those random story ideas and actually just do it.

    True story: you know what they call an embarrassingly untalented published author? Published.

    7. Be *in* more pictures. I have a hard-drive’s worth of fantastic photos–of everyone else. Me? Um, I looked for a picture of myself one day… Yeah, I need proof of both my smiling presence for all this family fun I plan. Otherwise I’m just the byotch that packs the snacks. That’s not okay.
    8. Stop. Wasting. So. Much. Of. Everything. Okay, so this applies to me certainly– I am no icon of frugality. However, in this house I’m the least offensive of the water/electricity/food waste folks. I kinda want to plant little microchips in all three of them programmed with the Joshua’s voice from WarGames*. Instead of “shall we play a game” it would murmur “shall we turn off the damn lights”.
    9. Clean up at least one toy on New Year’s Day (Zach)
    10. Drive a race car and ride a dolphin. Tomorrow (Elliot)

*If you got the WarGames reference without following the hyperlink…well, I think that adds cool points to a person, but I equate geek and cool points. So.

I’m already getting brownie points for being in-pictures. Here’s one of JB showing me affection (in public, people).

DIY Christmas Tree Memory Ornament

So, I’ve mentioned my obsession with pinterest, right? Any website that directs me to a place where I learn how to fold an origami box

for a ridiculously large pool noodle wreath AND how to do an overnight sock curl for my hair? This is my place.

Ha. Place. Like the internet is a tangible world. /Wait? It isn’t?/

So, I’ve had 16 clear glass ornaments for 3 years. I bought them on clearance during my E postpartum hormone binge. They then found their way onto that high closet shelf where my ideas go to wither and die. But these didn’t die– instead I would spuriously rediscover them every January. Until last January’s discovery, where a perfect storm of cleaning and ADHD medication prompted me to actually go put them with the other holiday decorations. It’s the little things that seem the most obvious (and simple) that kick my butt every time.

JB is out of town, which means I should be all sad about being on-tap for the solo parenting gig, especially during the crazy psychosis period that is Small People Leading up to Any Major Holiday. But instead I gleefully spread all my crafty stuff, covering every flat surface in the house. The kids might mention the cramped (nonexistent) sitting space– but then I turned on Mario Kart for an hour to buy their silence.

I am not ashamed.

Last night, I stumbled upon marblized glass ornaments.

Boo-ya. Easy-peasy. Okay, mine still need some loving (practice) but, dude. How simple is this? SO.Simple. Theoretically a 5 year old could do it– if they could handle watching paint dry. Which they can’t.

Where it gets exciting for me was thinking to make ornaments for each Small Person and some of their yearly highlights/interests. I went ahead and did some for JB and I, too. New family tradition? Done. Advice? Use the plastic ornaments for this one– E broke his within 10 minutes of it hitting the tree.

Not all my crafty projects have been successes. I plain a “FAIL” post when I’m finally done. Now I either need to go to bed or attempt a Batman snowflake. Thanks, Cathi. Just thanks. 🙂

Don’t trash it, repurpose it!

Don’t trash it, repurpose it! This is why I am sort of a hoarder-light. There are so many things that I can look at and think, “NO, that’s not GARBAGE! It can be reused. Into what, I have no idea.”

My darling husband is more of a, once a shower curtain, always a shower curtain kind of guy. So when our dog decided to protest the Small People by eating most of the puzzle pieces JB would have tossed the leftovers.

But I saw future opportunity! Snatching up the square tiles and hiding them adding them to my craft collection, they sat patiently for 3 years.

Apparently I’m on an anti-Pottery Barn kick. Because as I flipped through their christmas decorations and saw these signs (and prices), I immediately thought about my lonely puzzle boards.

Pottery Barn Hanging Signs

In two nights of half-watching South Park and Robot Chicken with the husband, I made these. Not perfect, not totally done. More importantly? Definitely not $100 worth of once-a-year-signs. I’m going to guesstimate my cost at $10 bucks, because once upon a time I had to buy the puzzles, the paint and the brushes. But they were all in-house when I got inspired. Which is why I don’t throw anything away.

Scattermom version

Craft Bonanza

This time of year is Merry Important! (New phrase, courtesy of Z.)

My version of holiday decorating–especially with the Small People. This kind of magic is important to them– they have no idea what all the social implications are behind a Made In China Snoopy ornament, or the amount of money and fossil fuels that are wasted in the name of Griswald. They don’t conceptualize the vomitous greed that is stabbing someone with an ornament. Or that the current Occupy movements across the country are fighting the corporate greed of the credit cards that are underwriting everyone’s holiday cheer (and January antidepressants).

Now, as the adult, I do know about all of that crap. And as the adult, I get to decide how much of that crap comes into my house. Knowing about it is how I ended up on this crafting ride to begin with, you know? Because while I can’t craft a Batman Geotrax train (no really), I can craft something to offset that purchase.

It’s the crafting version of carbon credits.

And making new decorations after copying becoming inspired by more expensive options makes me happy. Case in point– this Christmas tree shaped advent calendar from Pottery Barn, for which they charged $69.

I started this last December… somewhere around December 6th, because that’s how a scattermom does things. I used felt because I have an abundance of green felt (situation NOT improved by a husband who thought briefly of being Gumby for Halloween this year).

As I tried to coax my aging, and damn cranky, sewing machine into cheerfully sewing 3 layers of felt last night, I realized that I didn’t care enough about the finish work on this particular project. You know– decorative zig-zag stitch around the pockets, quilted batting, etc. Ahem… numbering the days. (okay, I will add the numbers).

My husband– always my biggest supporter *sarcasm*– critically pointed out that mine wouldn’t ever look like the pottery barn one anyway, so why bother? I choose to take it as a compliment that he looked at my version against the picture of theirs and replied, “I stand corrected, that’s not too bad.” 

PB Advent Tree

Where the felt tree monstrosity secures its position in our tradition is what was left behind from last year. I had spent the evening up to this point sort of wailing and complaining about the testosterone in this house. Sometimes I feel as if I’m the only one here that makes any sense.   Probably as often as they mumble about crazy mom.

No matter.

As I had finally calmed down about the injustice of my force-the-constipated-three-year-old-to-graciously-accept-the-suppository kind of day, I noticed a piece of paper in one of the pockets.

And this is what I found:

*Love* my short-hand on the word complaining. Adds to the appeal? I have no recollection on when/where/why I wrote this down- but it’s my handwriting so I claim it.

A not-so-subtle reminder that *my* life is also a carnival, compared to many others. And even my day, fraught with sibling bickering and general domestic nonsense
wasn’t that bad. After all, it was a suppository, not an enema.


My Creative Mind

Long before I had my own children, I overheard a stranger lightly scold her child’s use of his “creative mind” at a grocery store. That child was 1) old enough to know better, and 2) opening all of the freezer doors to knock down the carefully arranged boxes of food.

What does that story have to do with this post? Um. Nothing. Except I can’t use the phrase, creative mind without also thinking troublemaker. And considering that my husband reacts to 85.3% of my creative project ideas with the same thought, it seemed apropos.

One of my biggest ADHD challenges isn’t focus. Watch me read a book from a favorite author. 600 pages in a day? No problem. They refer to that as hyperfocus, and while challenging and disruptive, I cope okay.

No, my catastrophic problems occur more in the time estimation/management arena. For example, I think I can do almost anything in an hour, and that it only ever takes 15 minutes to get from Point A to B. Nevermind that nothing can be done in an hour anymore (Small People!) and it takes me 15 minutes to transition activities. That my tried and true time management methodology includes crisis and looming deadlines is problematic. But when some “normie” (aka, a typically thinking, non-ADHD person known as husband) tries to help me plan effectively, my immediate reaction is, “WTF—I’m not an idiot! I use to be a project manager!” And while both of those statements are true, I still slid right up to every deadline, often making them only by the hair of my chiny-chin-chin. Just a teeny bit of an adrenaline junky.

It’s that complete lack of time management that took me from webmd (checking for early strep throat symptoms– just in case) to facebook, to pinterest, then to here. It’s not a lack of focus– I’m hyperfocusing on NOT putting away a Mt. Everest sized pile of laundry. I’m totally smitten with pinterest. The possibilities. The creativity. The ability to symbolically collect magazine clippings without having a bunch of magazine clippings.

It brings joy to my heart, people.