Pallet Shelf and Nautical Wall

I’ll just cut to chase:

Nautical WallAfter updating the bench with a new cushion cover and relocating it, I wanted a way to make the bench blend in more with the media room. Jeremy received the octopus/squid art for Christmas and we had not yet found a place for it. The art is printed on plywood, so it compliments the wooden bench. I also have my ship art (that I made here) so I decided to seek out other elements for a nautical themed wall.


BarometerThe barometer and weathered pulley are from an antiques shop in Annapolis. The barometer is British made. It’s difficult to tell if it is working properly or not, but the hands have moved (on their own) over the past few days as the weather has changed (it reported that today was windy and cool). There was a larger, way cooler barometer at the shop, but it was $235 while this one was $35. The man at the shop estimated that the more expensive barometer was WWII era. There were several pulleys at the shop but I like this one best because it is wooden and metal. Most of the others were completely metal, and more rusted. This one is weathered, but not damaged.

While selecting pulleys Jeremy and I brainstormed how to display the pulley. Hang it by the hook? Lace rope through the pulley and hang the rope from the ceiling? Then we decided we could display it on a shelf. Then Jeremy got the crazy idea to make a shelf from a pallet.

PalletYou might remember last week I mentioned that a pallet was one of the many things crowding our garage. Now that the garage was organized, Jeremy decided to put the workspace to use. He started by lightly sanding the rough pallet with his orbital sander.

Sanded PalletJeremy sanded the boards just enough to smooth them out, but not enough to remove the great texture that’s pictured. I liked that you could see the blade marks from when the boards were first sliced. After some sanding, Jeremy just chopped off a section of the pallet to form a shelf.

Pallet ShelfHere is the sanded pallet shelf, ready to be treated. In this photo, the top left corner of the shelf has already been treated with Behandla polish from IKEA. We purchased this sealant for my table in the craft room. It seals and protects the wood without needing to be sanded like varnish. It is also less toxic.

One Coat Two CoatsJeremy gave the shelf (top, bottom and sides) a coat of the sealant. As you can see, it brought back the rich colors that were “lost” with the sanding.

Hanging the shelfTo hang the self, Jeremy inserted a small 2×4 block into the shelf. He pre-drilled three screw holes into the block for mounting. Then Jeremy attached the block with three of the original pallet nails through the top of the shelf. I held the shelf in place while Jeremy screwed the block into the wall. The center screw is in a stud and the other two are in drywall.

Finished ShelfTo hide the mounting mechanism, Jeremy wedged in another piece of wood from the pallet.

Pulley on the ShelfThe pallet shelf is rugged and weathered like the pulley. I love that the shelf is imperfect. A shelf like this would be great for an entryway. Below the overhang you could mount some hooks for jackets or keys. Jeremy likes the shelf because it cost zero dollars.

Nautical CornerWe’re really happy with how everything turned out. There are so many interesting things happening in that corner of the room. All the different wood tones bring a warm element to the cool greys, blues and greens in the room. The nautical theme continues a little onto the mantel, where the ship art still resides with our vases of stones from the beach. Definitely still keeping my eyes open for an anchor or small ship’s wheel to add to the wall. A wheel would look awesome over the mantel.

What do you think or this nautical arrangement? Totally love Jeremy’s pallet shelf?

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Continued Clean-Up

Last week I posted about the little bench cushion revamp. Moving the bench to the other side of the media room left the corner by the window looking like this:

Hot MessThe first order of business was cleaning up the items on the shelf. Jeremy replaced the chunky green surge protector with a smaller, off-white one. He was also able to replace the ethernet wire and coaxial cable with shorter ones. The other wires were cleaned up with a few twisty-ties.

ImprovementHard to believe something so simple could make such an impact. While the wires are still not ideal, it’s much cleaner than before. We did some brainstorming about how we could possibly do a little built-in cubby for the routers. This is the only access we have to the internet, so we don’t have any options for moving the routers to a hidden location. But the shelf is hollow, so we could possible build-in a nook for them. We’ll see if those ideas come to fruition.

Owl BookendCarved BookendsThe routers are sitting on these cool wooden owl bookends Jeremy found at the thrift store. It’s a weird combination of bookends and shelf, which connects the two owls. The shelf has some cool carvings, which I forgot to capture before covering them with electronics. The shot above was the best I could do, without moving everything. Since we have our horse bookends and built-in bookcase we didn’t need these owls for books. using the bookends with the routers makes the mess feel more contained.

At the end of the shelf, I placed our music books (sheet music and guitar tabs). Then we brought over the keyboard to make this music corner complete.

Music CornerPlus, the keyboard helps hide those two remaining wires. Do you think it looks better than before?

Hot MessI don’t know if it is the new arrangement or the bright sunshine coming through the window, but everything just feels so much lighter. All I need to do now is update the keyboard’s cover with fabric that matches better. Did I mention I have a fabric problem? And the ladies at the quilt shop are enablers.

Octagon – The Miracle Soap?

My Aunt first introduced me to Octagon soap. Since then I have read several blog posts about the multitude of uses for the soap. Even the label says it’s full of magic:

“For removing hard-to-get-out spots from the family wash, OCTAGON soap is excellent! And – it makes dish washing quick and easy… because it dissolves grease fast. You’ll like it, also, to help you keep your stove, cabinets and woodwork sparkling clean.”

I picked up the soap from Food Lion for about 80 cents a bar (I searched five different stores) in hopes of making a safe bio-degradable pesticide for our raspberry bushes.

Pictured is evidence of bug damage. I am not sure what kind of slimy bug is pictured in the first photo. In the second photo you can see the eaten leaves. I wanted a way to protect the plants from bugs eating the leaves and the fruit.

Using a grater I shaved approximately 1/4″ off the soap. I put the soap shavings in a spray bottle and then filled the bottle with luke-warm water.

I then sprayed the bushes with the soap spray. It has been fairly wet over the past few weeks, so I have had to re-spray the plants. The spray does seem to be safe for the plants. There has not been any discoloring of the leaves. The plants are still producing fruit, and I have noticed a decrease in ant activity. The trick now is remembering to reapply after it rains.

In terms of its other miracle uses, I have used the soap spray to clean the kitchen. The soap has a sort of lemony scent – reminds me of my great grandmother’s house. I use the spray to wipe down my counters, stove top and sink. I believe it does just was well as my other cleaners. Haven’t used it to wash dishes or remove clothing stains yet.

Anyone else having adventures with Octagon soap? Know any grandmas that used this to wash clothes?

More Thrifty Finds

After we cleaned-up the office (a little) we took our donations to the thrift store. Jeremy was looking for cedar shoe trees for his new dress shoes. Luckily, he found some:

Both pairs cost $4.44 each. The pair on the right indicated on the tree itself that they are cedar. The pair on the left is definitely part plastic, and the wood was a mystery to us. Jeremy lightly sanded both pairs, and found the plastic pair to be part cedar as well. The sanding helped renew the cedar smell. Jeremy put one pair in his leather boots, and another pair in his new dress shoes. The cedar trees help to absorb moisture and odors, as well as maintain the shape of the shoes. These features are nice for shoes that don’t get worn as often.

For myself, I picked up this fun giraffe ring holder:

I had looked for a cute yet cheap ring holder for my nightstand. This little guy was only $1.91. The only problem was the filth. There was a sticker on the felted bottom of the stand that said it was silver plated. I found this helpful wiki about how to clean silver and silver-plated items. I also watched this video on how to clean silver and silver-plated items with warm water, salt and aluminum foil.

On other sites I read warnings about using salt to clean silver. Yet the success of the video convinced me to give it a try. Plus, I wouldn’t be too heartbroken if I ruined my giraffe (as opposed to ruining something expensive)

I lined a small glass baking dish with tin foil and filled the dish with hot water from the tap. Then I added salt – I just shook the container over the dish, maybe a tablespoon at most. I stirred the water gently until all the salt had dissolved. Then I added the giraffe.

Many websites noted that the reaction only works when the item is in contact with the foil. I rotated the giraffe and crunched the foil around it so that all parts had contact with the foil. Periodically, I would take the giraffe out and buff it with a microfiber cloth. This would reveal any clean parts, then I re-submerged the giraffe to clean more. In all, it soaked for 25 minutes.

Here you can see the mostly clean base of the ring stand. To clean the base more, I used plain white toothpaste. I put a teeth-brushing  amount of paste on my microfiber and then rubbed. I also used q-tips to get into the grooves of the base.

It’s an improvement, but there it still some tarnish around the edges of his feet, and the edges of the base.

The giraffe also has this problem area on his hind quarters. It looks as though the silver-plating is wearing off. The metal is rough at this spot – possibly corroded.

Although not perfect, the ring stand is a lot shinier than before! The only disappointment is that my rings can’t be worn on his neck (it would be so cute). Oh well, we’re still happy with our finds. What do you think?

A Night at the Opera

This week was my spring break and I’ve spent time with family exploring the shops in historic Annapolis and Frederick. One of my favorite finds of this week is a pair of opera glasses:

I found these glasses at a sort of antiques consignment shop in Frederick. Not everything in the store is a certifiable antique, but the prices are reasonable. The woman at the store did not know anything of the origin of these glasses or how old they are. The inscription on the one eye-piece is “Chevalier, Paris” (and the other eye-piece is missing). I found similar glasses for sale on eBay and antique auction sites (for more than we paid). As far as origin, these glasses were produced by Chevalier Optics Co, established from 1765 – 1889. These glasses, with the mother of pearl inlays, are 19th century.

The case is leather, and appears to be the original. I did not find a label or inscription on the case. The latch works well, but the bottom seam is tearing. The leather is just too soft and worn around the seams. You can see that the lining is shredded. I would love to work some magic on this case. Suggestions for how to go about a restoration?

For now I’ve taken the glasses out of the case and place them on the bookcase in the living room. Hopefully I can put them to use (and I don’t mean spying on our neighbors). Last summer before we went to Wicked! at the Kennedy Center I contemplated buying some opera glasses, but I decided that they were too expensive. I am very happy to own this pair – now I need some theater tickets.

Anyone else have some great thrifty finds?

Our New Ceramic Friends

Recently Target started displaying this awesome ceramic horse head:

I’ve been crushing on it; I think it would look nice on our fireplace mantel. Only I am not ready to splurge $25. Thankfully, Jeremy and I came across these bookends at the thrift store one weekend:

Despite being different colors, they are identical in shape. I hypothesize that they are from one of those paint your own pottery places. One was $3.43 and the other $2.42 ($6.20 total after tax). Our plan is to paint them the same color.

The black horse had a piece of felt hot glued to the bottom. It needed to be removed for painting.

That hot glue was not leaving without a fight. I used an x-acto knife to slice off the glue. It took a while, but I finally got the bottom cleaned.

Then I took the bookends to the garage for priming. I used the primer from our ceiling fan project. We placed the horses in a drawer from a broken IKEA dresser, in a corner of the garage.

Here are the horses after a light dusting of the primer.

After a coat of the primer they are starting to become indistinguishable from one another. Once the horses were good and primed, we painted them Valspar’s Luscious Green (~$5).

It took several coats to cover the horses completely. There was lots of rotating to get in all the crevices. The snouts are particularly difficult to paint. Once the paint cured, I attached new felt to the bottoms.

The bottoms were cut from a 29 cent sheet of felt (hooray!). I tried attaching the felt with hot glue, like the previous owner. That was not very successful, so I used spray adhesive instead. I sprayed a light coat onto both the bottom on the bookends, and to the rough side of the felt. I then pressed the felt firmly to the bookends, and let them dry upside down (as pictured) for a few hours.

Here’s a finished bookend on our built-in bookcase. He fits nicely on that angled shelf, and coordinates well with the other green elements. Although the middle picture frame is more olive in color, the horses tie-in with the frame and art on the other two shelves.

Here are the two bookends working together to hold up our video games and movies. I think the green looks great with the white and dark grey.

Although the bookends are not as glossy as I had hoped, I still love the color. This project was fairly cheap ($11.49), and has satisfied my ceramic horse craving (for now). Who knows, maybe that Target horse will join our green friends one day. What about you, are you loving the green? Do you also have a crush on ceramic animals?

A Teacher, A Baker, A Candlestick Holder

This weekend I went to the thrift store to seek out Jenga games for a math lesson. I did pick up three games for $10 (one new game retails at $12). I also found these treasures: a bell, a jar and a candlestick holder.

Despite its tarnished appearance, the bell spoke to me right away. Maybe it is because I am a teacher. Jeremy cleaned it up with some brasso and a microfiber cloth.

So shiny and nice. Not only does it look good, but the bell is nice and loud too. Jeremy is excited to use it on Thanksgiving to summon everyone to the table.

I really love the hand etched flowers and leaves. I am not sure if it is antique or not. Etched on the inside is “Inidia 1007″. Jeremy and I have been looking for info online, but with no success.

I was also really excited to find this awesome glass jar for $3.43:

It was one of two jars with “flour” printed on it, but the one’s latch didn’t work. This lid still makes a tight seal, but I think the rubber might need replacing. “2L” is printed on the bottom, so I assume it is two liters (approx 8.5 cups or 67.6 oz). It was great to find a glass jar that’s so large for so cheap – definitely a leg up on our pantry reorganization project.

Lastly, I couldn’t resist this candle holder:

It seemed perfect for when the power goes out. Now I can safely carry a candle with me wherever I go. Again, Jeremy cleaned it up with brasso and a microfiber cloth.

I really love the extra flourish around the candle. I think it looks like a lotus flower.

Naturally, I then lit my candle and walked around the house. It somehow made me feel all Christmas-y, like a character in a children’s book sneaking around on Christmas Eve. We haven’t decided yet where we display our bell and candle holder. Do you have any thrifty finds to report?