Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Junk Story: Shoe racks

I still have more shoes than my hubby... sigh...

This is going to be a series of junk making it into my home as a new repurposed function/furniture that is anesthetic enough to not look too shabby.

These shoe racks here is actually made out of 2 separate pieces I picked-up at the refuse room. The first rack (bottom half) doesn't even have any flaws on, it's lacquered, clean, have all the legs/supports but just sitting out in the refuse room.

The 2nd piece was however less of a good find. A 3-tier shoe rack, missing one of its support part, a little bit dirty and no varnish on.

But with a little modification, I have modified it into a 2-tier rack that serves its function, adding on top of my previous double-story shoe rack to make it 4. 2+2=4

Refurbish Cat Ledge Project

New cat ledge

It's been awhile since I posted (since October 2008?!) and I think I will start pick things up again. I'll try to keep my post short and sweet.

Short history, I've built a cat ledge with a board I found in the refuse room, but it had failed and grew unpleasant mold (ick!) that we junked it.

But the cats really enjoyed the ledge, so I decided to spend some money to build a reasonable priced one. It's technically a shelf by the window, that you use cats as the main decoration ;-)


FABIAN shelf

IKEA FABIAN shelves: RM 15.90

HALL bracket

IKEA HALL bracketts: 2 x RM 9.90 = RM 19.80

Screws and dowells for the walls and board. Be sure you have a suitable "anchor" if you're installing unto drywall/stud.

1 Liter can of Dulux black Satinwood: Free, my brother is letting me use some after his other DIY project here

(I'm real proud he's managed to refurbish an old office table we gave him. Though it's compacted particle board, it's still usable. I like the glossy finish he did.)

Painting materials and tools

2 Liter King Cobra thinner: RM 20 (leftover from my many oil-based paint projects
a random plastic container: free
an unused mug: free

Paint Brush: RM 1 (bought from 100% discount store in Kuching)
Electrical power drill and drill bit
Ruler, pencil

First coating

Firstly, I painted 3 coats of paint on the FABIAN untreated soft pine plank. Pretty straight forward painting, while waiting around 1-half hour for each coating to dry. Confirmed that it's NOT worth it to save a few bucks to skimp on paint brands. First attempt to repaint my dining table with a cheapo white glossy paint didn't work out so well. For months, I still get some paint sticking to my things. I have repainted my table with Nippon Odourless (white) matt paint, and no problems since. It's oil based but dries a lot quicker than glossy paint, even on some of the heavy drip part.

Anyway, because the brackets that comes with the FABIAN shelves are not tough enough to take the impact of the cats jumping from the high shelves in the laundry room, I thought the HALL brackets (made out of cast iron bars) should be sufficient.

The cats didn't like it for the first few months actually because it's painted. Now they don't mind it so much.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

DIY: Wood Pet Enclosure

Meeps has an appointment this Tuesday to be fixed (or spayed or neutered, whichever is the correct term), and was recommended by the veterinarian to confine her in a pet cage for 10 days. Reasons being to prevent her ripping off her sutures after the surgery. Now, both our cats are indoor cats. That already eliminates Meeps from getting an infection or tear her wound after the surgery. And after the surgery when the anesthesia wears out, she'll most probably be sore from the big cut in her abdomen, hopefully to keep her from being too hyperactive.

But then again, Meeps is a very hyperactive cat. I mean zooming up our row of sofas, then down to hubby's home office, up my old office chair to claw to the top, down the cubby holes of the coat hangers, then off to the sofas and repeat until hubby comes and stop her. This goes on for the entire day (claimed by hubby)until 3-5pm where she will take a cat nap. So, just in case this happens, we'll have a cage already in hand.

Bedframe crossbars in the background

I got these discarded crossbars from a bedframe to make the cat cage. In fact, two of these bedframe thingies of different wood quality and some unfortunately had grown mold on them. Minus the moldy planks, I have just enough materials to work with.

After taking the plank pieces apart, sawing them in half (from 3 feet long to 1.5 feet), I lay down the pieces on the floor like railway tracks. Partly I'm making this up as I go along, partly I want to see if the cage would be big enough to hold a cat litter box and room for her to roam in. Some of the planks are hard wood, and sawing with a handsaw is not that fun. A circular saw would have cut down the time I took by 80%. I'm expecting to have a sore shoulders+arms+legs for the next few days.

I sawed a lot of wood that day... -_-;

Next I cut up the thin wooden bar by half, that gives me the crossbars to hold the vertical planks as shown. Nailing seems to be a pain on the hard wood. Looked almost like a dwarf's picket fence if you ask me.

Each step as it progressed

The cage is not great, but good enough for its possible function to serve for 10 days. I could have marked, measured, drilling to precision, but I didn't. My initial plan was to have a swing door with two latches (top and bottom) to lock her in. In the end, since the cage is bottemless, we figure we'll just lift the cage up, while the other grab the cat litter box to clean out should be sufficient. Thus, we nailed the last side of the crate.

Of course, after fabrication, need to test them out. The cage itself weight almost 8Kg. Sufficient to keep her from tipping it over. Next, test subject: Meeps herself. Little Meeps is always curious every time I work on the balcony. So, we let her out and kept her in crate and it seems to hold. There are 1 spot where the gap is slightly too wide. Will need to fix that.

"Lemme out..."

Otherwise, it's good enough to keep her in, with enough space to lie down and rest. It is afterall, an enclosure to recovery, not a playpen.

Panya checking things out as well

Now we need to wait till Wednesday to pick her up after the surgery and keep her there. Fingers crossed and hope everything will go well. End of another weekend.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Mini DIYs

Egg in the Hole

It has been an alright weekend this time. Saturday, always a lot more fun because you got Sunday to follow-up with. But Sunday, always the pre-Monday Blues day, less fun. Anyway, Saturday morning, I got inspired to cook Rose's (mother-in-law) Egg in the Hole for breakfast after reading this post last Friday. Baked banana cake with Rose's sugar frosting in the afternoon with hubby always look forward to lick the leftover frostings. Also, had home-made burger and tatoes chips (microwaved chips!) for dinner. =) I love Saturdays!

With the feel good rant done, on with my DIY post. Now that my completed my major painting project (still breathing in "lovely" paint fumes -_-), and short of materials to continue my long list of home projects to do, as suggested on the title, this will be a short post about quick projects I've done.

First up, change jar. I have tonnes of jars at home. Jars as in glass jars. Plastic we reuse them to keep our kaya after opening from their cans. I gotten the idea to rid these jars of their ugly labels so could reuse them for other things. Being glass, they are prettier than plastic jars.

To rid of the labels, I soaked them in a big pot of hot water for about 30 minutes. Later, scrapped the wet labels off with hand. Leaving the stubborn glue that now can be scrubbed off with dishsoap and scrubber.

This blog has given me an idea to make my own change jar on my desk. I used to have change metal tins and piggy bank that looked stupid and I always ended up using all the change fed up it never gets full. Now, with a clear glass jar, hopefully I'll save some money every month.
Change jar

I admit, it's shoddy work, cuz I was too lazy to go back and get the proper tools to work on.
My raggety teeth chew on your coins

Another small DIY I did was made my own cladded hand sander that was used to sand my table before repainting white. Instead of just using a block of scrap wood, I just cut 2 pieces of 6" x 2" x 0.5" scrap wood, drilled holes on them to get the sides of the sand paper to be cladded together. That way the sand paper doesn't slide when too engrossed sanding.


Next time I'll spray paint the change jar top silver, and maybe improvise the sander to be able to hold a different graded sand paper on the otherside of the block.

That's a project for another day.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Trick O' Peeps! ^_^


Ok, a non-DIY related post here. This was a totally an impulsive buy at the Cold Storage check out counter. My eyes were drifting along the aisles of mints trap and saw Peeps. Pumpkin and ghost Peeps for the upcoming Halloween. It's obviously catering for the American expat living in KL, not that they'll let their kids roam house to house calling "Trick or Treat" and start throwing toilet paper rolls at houses. Anyway, I double checked that it cost RM 3.99 each box.

Ghost Peeps

For those who are unfamiliar, PEEPS are basically coloured marshmallows lightly coated in fine sugar, specialty mass produced candy for special holiday seasons in America like Easter (that's when it got really famous with its bird marshmallows), Christmas, Halloween and even Valentine's Day.

The original Easter Peeps

I remembered my mother-in-law was so cool she FedEx'd (9000 miles across the Pacific Ocean!) these lovely yellow Peeps and Cadbury Creme Eggs. They were so good. Unfortunately, Cadbury Creme Eggs are so elusive we only found them in Singapore's Cold Storage.

Look almost like 3 quarter cooked egg

Can't understand why those have a hard time getting here. Not that they couldn't have a whole section labeled "Non Halal" if any of the ingredients are of any concerns.

Double Pumpkins Peeps

The Pumpkin Peeps has 130 cal, and Ghost Peeps has 110 cal. Cool treat for a Friday homemade pizza night.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Repainting Table-White

Finished product and all set-up

I was going to name the title in "How NOT to repaint your furniture" by giving a bunch of NOT TO DO tips. But I think the title would end up too long. I'll list my instructions, and maybe someone could point out what I did wrong (besides hundreds of mistakes I've learned already)

  1. Prepping the furniture before painting it is a must. Sand all the surface until you cannot see the previous shining paint. I didn't sand the chair and that took longer to I ended up painting more coats cuz the paint won't stick/spread as evenly
  2. Obviously, wipe the furniture off with a damp cloth a few times. Don't have to be too obsessive with it cuz you'll do 2 or 3 coatings of paint
  3. Crack open that new can of 1 litre paint (I bought "Goldlux" white glossy oil-based paint cuz I can't find latex paint), have your 2 liter of thinner ready and pour about a dash of thinner into the paint for the first coat. I should probably prime it with a primer
  4. Dip the paint brush half way, brush slightly at the can opening to make sure it doesn't drip.
  5. Angle the brush almost at a 45 degree, apply pressure slightly before drag and apply more pressure, following the grains of the furniture. By this time, the paint would have thin and I would "steal" paint from the begining where I first apply the 1st stroke and run the paint a few times until it's evenly distrubuted. Many people say this is the wrong way of doing this, but I just can't help it that my skill sucks so much and the paint application is so uneven
  6. Repeat correct painting strokes until you finish 2 or 3 coats
  7. I turned the table upside down to paint the insides first or else you'll get a really sore shoulders if you want to paint looking up
Before After

I actually repainted a table, a dinky IKEA wooden chair, and a flimsy shelves (from my college years, surprised it's still standing honestly) to match with my office corner here. Now I need to get a pair of nice small white speakers, DIY myself a shallow white hutch on the desk and we're set. Oh and a 3' x 1' footstool for ergonomics set for my vertically challenged self.

I made a lot of mistakes, mainly due to my lack of any painting skills (Mr. Miyagi's advice didn't help), partly I should have started with practicing painting smaller objects, as well as not skimp on higher quality paint. Buy branded paint, preferably odourless, all of us agree that in an apartment with no ventilation (except when mommy's home), it's for best.

This "Goldlux" paint is very glossy and even when I left the table out on the balcony for almost 24 hours, the paint hasn't really dried. I gave up at 6pm today cuz I'm going back to work tomorrow (yay it's Friday, w00t!).

In future, I'm toying with the idea of getting non glossy paint (not to mention my apartment smells like kerosene) at all. Maybe get a semi gloss/sateen paint meant for interior homes, at least they're water based and you can wash them off with water.

Anyway, it was the drying that took so long, that I had to wait and wait and wait for each layer to dry. I did 3 layers on the table top, 2 layers of the shelves, and 3 layers on the chair too, I don't remember. Finished using the whole can of 1 liter white paint at least. Gotta find a bigger cardboard box for laying out the whole balcony.

Paint still waiting to dry with the feeble morning sun, and yes, I forgot to paint a strip on the bookrack

Do not use newspaper cuz they will stick to your freshly dripping painted furniture and stick to it. Start hording clean large pieces of cardboards. Plus, I was probably too rushed to get the whole thing painted quick after each layer before they're done. Should have taken Friday off so the painting can spread out but will make the whole project a drag. I still got those annoying kamikaze bugs that like to stick to mildly dried paint. I'm just glad to have my table back and have my things put back to their places again

Running out of space

Oh, and an electrical sander would probably helped if you don't have a long weekend to prep and paint and wait for the paint to dry and paint, and wait and paint. I hand-sanded the table and it was alright, probably should get finer sandpaper next time (200-300).

I just found a website that would have been useful thing before I bought the paint. A commenter mentioned it usually takes 24-48 hours for ONE coat of oil-based paint to dry. So, if you need the furniture like post-haste, be sure to use latex (if we have that over here) or I'll experiment with interior wall paints. -_-

Before After

Monday, September 29, 2008

DIY: Cardboard Cat Toy

Cardboard cut-outs

If your cat(s) are like mine, they like free toys. They seldom flinch with interest when you wave the hot-pink fluffy catch toys you bought. No, they want to burrow in that empty cereal box, hide in grocery bags (gotta watch them), tear the cardboard box for your IKEA furniture, while having a frantic time with a rubberband on the floor! cardboard toys template

Moderncat site featured DIY cardboard toys for kitties. You can download three templates for cat toys for free here.

"Cut... cut... cut..."

Instructions are pretty straight forward. Download template, glue template to whatever cardboard you got lying around, cut and assemble. I'm lazy tonight so I'm making the cardboard ball for them to play with. No need to print anything out.

Final product

Got a thin cardboard box, which was too flimsy for rough play. Glued 2 layers together solved the problem.

The cats are little bit impish today for some reason. Littliest Meeps was even attacking Panya, the bigger cat in the house. Hubby had to step in and held her away from Meeps.

Hmmm... perhaps it's time to "fix" lil' Meeps... ick >_<

Post DIY leanings:
  • I dropped the cardboard toys in a bag of catnip and Panya shredded them with her teeth within minutes
  • Download the template even it's a circle, it's faster to find the centre point to cut out the slot joint
  • Make tonnes with a thicker cardboard box if you have and if your pets like to shred them with their teeth

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Sand the table

In one of my long list of DIY projects to do, one of them is to repaint my IKEA-INGO dining table turned into my study table when we moved.

Earlier life the INGO was as a dining table, we found cheap and I love the natural white pine texture, so I have decided to use clear varnish and painstakingly painted it three-times. I even went as far as to drive out in the middle of the night and bought another new paint brush to get the smooth surface.
Now, the INGO is my work table since the condominium purchase came with basic furnishing, including a cheesy, bigger, metal-legs-glasstop dining table and chairs. My plan is to paint the INGO in glossy white paint. My research on how to repaint a furniture, lead me to prepare these items:
  1. CRAP brand Glossy white paint, oil-based. Cost: RM 15 (Unfornately, websites from the West recommends latex paint or water-based, semi gloss for best effect, and less odour. I'll have to thin my paint down with thinner. I know, I should use a better brand but this will be my first project and I'm not so sure of my painting skills. Better skills, better paint in future)
  2. PYE woodfiller. Cost: RM 9.80 (got some dent caused by my mistake of hiring a lousy moving people to move to my new apartment)
  3. 3" wide foam brush. Cost RM 2.50 (found this in ACE hardware store, this place is like a toy store for me. Website claims this brush will leave the least stroke streaks, we'll see)
  4. 2" wide normal paint brush. Cost RM 3.50 (for painting the table legs)
  5. Grade 100, 150 sand paper Cost: RM 1.60 ea
  6. 6" x 2.5" scrape block for sanding. Cost: FREE (picked up around the refused room)
Sanded table top

As I trace my fingers along the smooth glossy top of the INGO made me realized I did a good job with the varnishing. I almost couldn't do it, but thought about the new white table to match the room, I bit the bullet and sanded it.

After sanding top, sides and legs, I wiped the table with wet wipes (I'd have used a damped cloth if I got a real garage/workshop with convienient water tap) and old used sponge. Repair the dents with the wood filler, wipe residue with wet wipe and I'm done with sanding.
Before After

This would make painting of the table easier on 1 & 2 Oct (public holiday here) with the sanding taken cared of today. :) yay! Hopefully, my project will go well.
In the afternoon, hubby helped me to prep raw ingredients, I cook a week-long lunches and dinners. Mostly veggies, fritatta, sandwiches. I've started to bring lunches to work to cut back on my own monthly budgeted allowance, so I could save and buy something else for myself.

Really got into it when I bought a RM 15 dual compartment Lock N' Lock bento lunch box. It's seal proof, leak proof, which is important in a bag. I bring them to work, nuke them up at the office pantry. (Of course, I use separate pots dedicated for cooking these office lunches).

These days, I get so tired taking the train from work. Not needing to prep and cook my veggies and meals makes things really easy. That took about 2 hours to prep and cook (and cut part of my finger at that >_< ). After clean up, I began to prepare tonight's dinner. Tonight's dinner is my first try at using the rotating roast thingamajig (hubby says it's called a
rotisserie) to roast a whole chicken (minus the neck, feet and tail). Simple Italian herbs, salt & pepper (Sarawak black pepper is best), melted butter and a bit of lemon juice. Two things happened I didn't expect.

"Don't stick a fork in me, I'm almost done"
  1. Never thought the cheap Elba toaster-oven-sized oven have a rotisserie, after skewered the chicken and installed them on, it actually turns! Like Kenny Roger's or restaurant's display. Cool!
  2. The chicken turned out pretty good, perfectly browned and cooked, and juicy. Even the white meat is juicy. This come with repeated basting of the melted butter+herbs mix.
I have learn for future chicken roast, I'll drop a leaf of aluminium foil (size of the bottom of the oven)at the bottom of the grill to catch the anything falling off the hanging chicken. Should cut down the time of cleaning the oven.

Nonetheless, a great way to end a weekend.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Wifi Signal Booster

I'm not going to take any credit for this. But just to show that it worked for me and might be helpful for others. M. Erskine is the one who wrote this great article, and gave a great step by step instruction and even a template to work on. For those who want to skip what I have to say, please click HERE to go to Erskine's guide.

A bit of background of our situation. Here in Malaysia, houses and condominiums (known as apartments in other parts) are made out of concrete and bricks. The design of our condominium unit is not perfect. All telephone and internet jacks are allocated pre-construction and there's no way for you to modify/change the location. Basically, no jacks in the room we intended to turn into my husband's home office, we opt to get a Belkin wireless router. Due to the concrete and the angle, this created a "dead zone" for the wifi signal (as my husband call it) in his home office, having the internet die on you is frustrating at times. On a good day, getting 2 bars out of 4 on this wifi signal indicator, while most of the time it would go down to nil or negative (being sarcastic here >_>)

So, I have been researching online for solutions to this problem. Research lead me to find the famous commercial Cantenna, super expensive Belkin Wifi N models, and even DIY cantenna. This website I found seemed to be the most straight-forward and rational solution. If you've watch Mythbuster, you'll know that there's a "Adam's" complex solution, and "Jamie's" simple solution.

Anyway, Erskine's idea is like Jamie's clearcut solution.

I'm not going to go into details of how to do it step by step, but as Erskine mentioned, I love how you can fabricate this with just about anything that could reflect the wifi signal. I opt to use a cereal box, cut into pieces, some aluminium foil, glue stick, foam double-sided tape, scissors and pen-knife, and some masking tape, you're in business. Take some patience to get the parabolic curve to be as accurate as Erskine's template, that's the optimum effective curvature. We didn't use this software to "measure" the signal gain after adding the homemade booster, his received full (4 bars) wifi signal indicator on his Apple is good enough. \o/ ~ hurray and all that. It worked ok.

So there you have it. Great way to end a weekend. =)

Post DIY learning:
  • The wifi signal booster really helps where hubby is able to close the door to his home office and still able to get good signal
  • The human body obsorbs wifi signal, even with the booster. Basically it's like a great big concrete block so don't stand in front of the direction the booster is facing