Monthly Archives: August 2012

Simple Shabby


It amazes me to see how much shabby chic furniture, frames, etc can cost.  I can only imagine that most of the price goes on labour, because it is a time consuming process.  But because it’s really not that hard to do I can’t justify the expense of purchasing someone else’s handiwork.  Why deprive yourself of the joy of creating? Last week I taught a friend just how simple it can be.  She got stuck straight into a buffet make over. But then she’s a “jump in the deep end” kind of girl!  With her permission, I’ll take some pics of her finished product to show you what a newbie can accomplish with a bit of courage and plenty of enthusiasm!

Here I’m going to demonstrate an easy-peasy lamp make over.  I bought these from my local op shop for $2.50 each.

When you’re out hunting for potential wooden items to give the shabby treatment to, just make sure you like the shape of the thing.  Also, when buying electrical goods from second hand places, it doesn’t hurt to ask if they’ve been tested in store and are in working order.

Ok.  Let’s do this.

Grab some sandpaper and sand back the wooden surface.  The coarser the sandpaper, the quicker you’ll get the job done. However, you may end up with scratch marks on the timber.  All part of the look in my opinion.  The job does not need to be perfect.  Just rough up the varnish on the wood so the paint adheres.

Wipe off the dust with a damp cloth.  Allow the surface to dry, then paint!  Dulux Antique White USA is a popular shade for shabbying.  I happened to have some Hog Bristle Half laying around and used that.  Here’s what 2 coats looks like.

Once dry get your sandpaper and sand back parts that would naturally get knocked or bumped over the years.  Or not.  Just get in there and go for it!

I decided to try being a little braver than I normally might be.  I need to live with the results for a week or so to see if I love it.  Time will tell.  What do you think?

Finally, here the lamps are in their new habitat.  The lamp shades were bought years ago from Target, on special.  I still love their shape, but I may change the trim… It’s all a work in progress.

Happy upcycling!



Creating a Menu Board


I’ve been searching for a way to take a bit of the chaos out of menu planning and writing shopping lists.  It honestly takes me hours each week to flip through my recipe books and generate shopping lists – partly because I can be indecisive, partly because I’m bored/uninspired and partly because I have a strict budget that limits my choices.

I’ve been scouring pinterest for ideas for quite some time, and finally came across this absolute gem created by Clair at Once Upon a Chocolate Chip Pancake.  I love her visual tutorial, because when you’re excited about creating something new you don’t want to have to read through instructions – you just need the basic idea and you’re off! Right?!

Well, that’s my approach to most things.

Here’s mine menu board, and a few handy tips that I found along the way.  Read through Clair’s blog post first.  It truly is the ultimate-menu-board.  It’s fantastic!   I decided I wanted a bigger menu board than hers, because I wanted to plan for a fortnight.  I also didn’t worry about the little cute rotation boxes she has because I would have had to buy the crayon boxes and cover them. So I’m just going to keep my cards in a little basket on a nearby shelf.

(*Note: shelf does not yet exist.  Basket does.)

Here we go!  Firstly, it doesn’t have to cost a lot.  I picked up this super average looking frame for $15 from a Salvos store.

One word of advice when selecting a frame – make sure it has those metal bendy bits on the back that release the backing board from the frame.  I believe Clair’s tutorial even mentioned this, but of course, in my haste I purchased one that had the backing board stapled to the frame.  I created more work for myself… Yep, that’s how I roll.  I chose to sand & paint my frame.  I was considering making it a bit shabby by sanding the paint back, but I haven’t done so.  Yet.  I probably will.  Given enough time.


Next I covered the pegs with some fabric I had laying around.  Clair used scrapbooking paper for her project.  Using my patchwork gear, I measured the width of the pegs and cut a strip of fabric.  Then measured the length of the pegs and cross cut my strip.  The result was lots of little rectangles ready to be glued.  If I had it, I would use Mod Podge (google it, if you don’t know about it.)  But I don’t – watered down PVA glue will do the same job, and is probably waaaaay cheaper (which is what I want.)  Paint the pegs with glue, stick fabric down.  Then once dried (a bit, I mean, who wants to wait?)  paint over the top to give a “hard coat” finish.  You might want to do a few layers.  I did.  Can’t recall how many.  Probably 3.

I used fabric as the backing for my board, and some spray glue to stick it down.  Then I used vliesofix on the back of my fabric for the lettering.  I drew the letters on paper, cut it out, and used the cut-outs as a pattern to trace the lettering on my fabric.  I gently ironed it in place.  I put the whole thing back in the glass.  Job done.

Then came the part of sticking the pegs to glass.  Perhaps I was crazy to do this?  I used a hot glue gun.  Some of them stuck and some didn’t.  In my frustration (or thriftiness?) I used what I had in the garage – a silicone designed for fish tanks and wet areas to “glue” the pegs that kept coming off.  Apparently you’re not supposed to be able to use it on wood.  I did.  So far so good…

Next comes the bit where you need a bit of computer know-how.  Of course you probably have it, because you’ve found this blog post.  Using Clair’s instructions I created a table with 2 columns in Word.  One column has the recipe title, the other has your shopping list.  I left the internal lines on my table, but got rid of the left and right external table borders.  Try downloading a free font from somewhere to jazz it up.  No excuses for using “Comic Sans” in this day and age.  None.  Do you hear me?!

Print out your document on cardstock, cut along the horizontal lines of your table and fold on the middle line.  Laminate.  Here’s a trick I use when laminating tricky shapes so that the laminating sheet doesn’t get mashed up as it comes through the machine.  Maybe your machine doesn’t do this, but in case it does cut a narrow strip of card stock (you’ll have some left over bits from cutting up the recipe cards) and put it in the fold of the laminating pouch.  You’ll feed this into your laminating machine, and it’ll go through nicely without crinkling up your project.  Hurrah!  If you find that the sheet comes out a bit wrinkly, don’t worry, cut your cards up leaving a 1/4 inch border (yes, I know metric AND I’m a patchworker – so you’re going to get inches from time to time) and feed back through the machine.  Problem solved.

Here’s a close up in bad lighting.  I turned a few cards over so you can see the shopping list function of the cards.

And now it’s up on my wall, looking great!  The beautiful thing is that it now takes me 30 mins to write my shopping list for a FORTNIGHT!  I love it.  Because I can never remember what I’ve cooked the fortnight before, and this keeps track for me.  But mostly because I hate shopping with little people in tow.  Now I only need to shop once every 14 days.  Thank you Clair!  You have made my world run so much more smoothly.