Thursday, July 29, 2010

Talk About: Pop Garden

Can we just take a moment

to stare

at the wonder

that is

Pop Garden?

This thing I have for Heather Bailey seems to be growing stronger. 

Methinks I need to get my hands on some of this lovely fabric . . . it is quickly becoming the inspiration for the color scheme in the new sewing room.

What are your latest fabric obsessions?

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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Shoofly Block #4 - for Tracey

A few days ago I went to get the mail and saw that I had 4 packages waiting for me! Ok, actually 2, but one of them was from Deb who was sending for herself, Anissa, and me.  Mother load!  I also got a sweet bundle of fabrics from Tracey. Both of these packages came all the way from New Zealand! I never thought I'd be getting packages from that far away . . . it was quite a fun surprise. :)

Sorry for the less than stellar lighting of this photo.  I'm always getting itchy to post something and taking pictures after the sun's gone down.  ;)  I got a wide array of sweet scraps from Tracey and I tried to incorporate as many as I could while still maintaining the integrity of the block.  She really picked colors that coordinate well together and there was only one fabric I wasn't able to work in.  Hope she doesn't mind too terribly!

This block was a welcome break from the big cushion project of 2008.  I actually did finish all of the cushions last night . . . worked my little tail off into the wee hours of the morning.  Later on today I found out that my in-laws are actually NOT coming home on Wednesday, but actually sometime next week.

Oh well.  At least it's done and I can move onto some ever so much more, shall we say, creative endeavors.  :)


****This block was made as part of my first ever Quilting Bee. Want to see more blocks? Track my journey here: Vintage Sheet Freedom Bee.****

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Monday, July 26, 2010

Kind of Not Really Impressed with Myself

A long time ago (actually much longer ago than I realized before I started writing this post), my mother-in-law "hired" me to sew new covers for her couch cushions.  Given my skill level for such things at the time (non-existent), I cannot believe myself that I told her I was capable of doing this.

Then again, I've always had gumption.

You can read all about my trial run at my first cushion in a post I wrote with the cheeky title "Kind of Really Impressed with Myself" (I, like a dork, kind of really was).  As I dug back into the archives of this blog to reference that first posting, I realized a few things:
  1. I posted some atrociously poor photos back in the day.  Just awful.
  2. It's been almost 2 years TO THE DAY of when I first came to own my first sewing machine (!)
  3. It's been almost 2 years TO THE DAY of when I told my mother-in-law I would sew her new covers for her couch cushions (!!)
Hence why I'm kind of NOT really impressed with myself.  Sigh.

To be at least a teensy bit fair to myself, I have asked her about them several times over the past few years . . . asking her for a deadline or at least a goal line (have I always been a procrastinator?  Um . . . yes).  She is so laid back none was ever given.  I was pregnant for 10 months out of the last 2 years and I'm pretty sure she didn't want to bother me during that whole time either.  And then there was the actual fact that the fabric itself was not in my possession at any point past the initial trial run. 

It may not surprise you that recovering a whole couch (and a chair) requires a lot of fabric.  She wanted the covers to be washable so that meant that all the fabric needed to be washed prior to sewing.  AND then ironed.  (Still haven't made a decision about the whole ironing thing yet, by the way.)  I remember her telling me many times over that I had better things to do with my time than iron her fabric.  But don't we all?  It really wasn't that big of a deal.  She insisted that she would take care of the washing and ironing and get it back to me.  The thing is, I think she has even less time than I do.  Every time I asked her about it she told me she hadn't gotten around to it yet and not to worry.  I wasn't worried.  But I DID want to get it done for her!

This has become utterly long-winded (sorry!) but I felt that I needed to clarify what was happening for those of you that think I am a terrible person for taking 2 years to make some simple cushion covers.

Suffice it to say there were many factors standing in the way of NOT getting them done . . . none of which were actually GOOD reasons for not getting them done.

For the past month, my in-laws have been out of the country visiting relatives.  My brother and sister-in-law are house-sitting.  I'm not a snooper, but I did entreat my brother-in-law to scout around the house to find the fabric for me so I could take care of just getting them done already.  As a surprise.  I have the best in-laws in the world and they deserve better than a 2 year time line for a favor from me.

Status?

I have 8 cushion covers to make.
  • 1 seat cushion - DONE
  • 1 back cushion - DONE
  • The 3 remaining back cushions are sewn up but need zippers installed.
  • Of the 3 remaining seat cushions:
    • 1 is sewn and waiting for a zipper
    • 1 is cut out but not yet sewn
    • 1 is not even cut out yet
It has just been brought to my attention that my in-laws are due home Wednesday night.

Guess I finally got that deadline!  (I'll share pics when I finish.)

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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Shoofly Block #3 - for Mel

First off, thanks to all of you who weighed in on my I-need-a-new-iron-but-don't-know-where-to-start dilemma.  For those of you who haven't, pop over here and add your 2 cents to the discussion.  I am currently taking suggestions on what to get as well as what NOT to get so let me know if you own a gem or a lemon.  It would save me a lot of headache searching around.  :)

Now, onto the block!

Mel sent me a couple lovelies - - just 2, which is perfect actually because the Shoofly block only really calls for 2 different fabrics.  Sometimes less is more and simplifying it really lets the fabrics shine.  Plus, these 2 seem to coordinate so nicely together.

This project has gotten me in the sewing room just about every other day for the last week, even if just for nap time.  It's been a great motivator to get back into doing more sewing and less thinking about sewing.  I think I was kind of caught in that rut for awhile.  For those of you with not so much time on your hands per day to sew, making blocks is a nice way to get your fix and still feel like you "finished" something.  I know I'm not the only one with a few too many U.F.O.s in the ole project basket.

Any of you non-quilters getting the quilting bug yet? C'mon, you know you want to.  ;)




****This block was made as part of my first ever Quilting Bee. Want to see more blocks? Track my journey here: Vintage Sheet Freedom Bee.****

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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Quest for a New Iron


When I left home for college oh so many moons ago, I bought myself an iron. I'm not sure why actually? I guess because an iron is something that my mom had in her house and I thought, "I'm not going to be at home anymore . . . what if I need an iron and no one has one?!"

Why would I even think that? To this day I live in clothing that requires no pressing. Not because I never accidentally leave the clothes sitting in the dryer too long but because in those instances I just [gasp] run them through the dryer another time.  I know.  I'm a total energy waster that way.

Don't get too upset with me.  I wear jeans and t-shirts on a regular basis and generally don't find a need for the re-dry terribly often.

Anyway, that's not why I need an iron.  My old had-'er-since-college Black & Decker that I picked up as a floor model at Target for probably $20 is starting to kick the bucket.  You see, she's gotten a lot more of a workout in the last 3 years since I started sewing.

The main issue: she sputters and spews water like it's her job.

Secondary issue: the dang auto shut off feature.  I HATE that thing.  It's probably good for people ironing a pair of pants or people that often get sidetracked.  But it seriously drives me bonkers.  I don't mind it shutting off after, say, 20 minutes of non-use.  This thing seems to want to shut down after about 5 minutes and it stays off even after you come back to it and flip it horizontal to, you know, let it know you're ready to iron again.  Which means, I have to unplug the iron every 5 minutes to get it to turn back on again.

And it's smart.

It knows when I'm trying to do a quick unplug-then-plug-back-in maneuver and refuses to comply.  I have to literally count to 10 while I'm holding the plug in my hand and then plug it back in.  Why?  I think that's how long its little iron brain takes to shut down completely and *forget* that it was in auto WE DON'T WANT TO START A HOUSE FIRE shut off mode.

Trixy little minx.

Anyway, so she's breaking down in the usefulness department as well as breaking down in the steaming department.  I've been doing some research (and by doing research I mean googling stuff like "what is the best iron for quilters?" (You like that?  I'm 2 blocks into my first bee, and I'm googling like I'm a legit quilter.)

So far, I am coming up with some great threads on this question that are *completely worthless* because they were commented on several years ago and the irons mentioned are not even made anymore.  Searches on Amazon are not blowing my mind either.  Or rather, they are giving me a headache so I'm not going to do them anymore for awhile.  (Don't you love reviews split 50/50?  This is the best iron ever and you're a crazy person for not getting it already alongside Are you out of your mind this thing will electrocute and kill you how dare you even think about buying it?!)

So anyway, I thought I'd just ask you all . . . do you have an iron?  Do you like it?  Does it shut down on you when you're in the middle of something?  Does it spit scathing hot water on your feet when you move it too vigorously across your fabric?  Does it make all your dreams come true?  Do you love it so much you find yourself ironing things that don't need to be ironed just so you can use it?

See . . . this is the kind of info I need.

Please help.  I honestly really do need some direction.  Oh, and if it happens to be available at Jo-Ann that would be a bonus.  I have a gift card that is burning a hole in my pocket.

Oh, and when you're done commenting away on what iron I should get next (that may not make all my dreams come true but won't be a piece of crap), check out this article I found on my aforementioned Google search.  

Did NOT see that coming.

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Monday, July 19, 2010

Shoofly Block #2 - For Leslie

Leslie sent me a lovely collection of pieces parts for her block.  I was concerned when I opened them, however, that they would not be big enough to make the Shoofly.  I puzzled over them and arranged and rearranged them about 35 times until I came up with this:

Made of 4 different fabrics, I opted to change the outer corners this time.  I wasn't quite sure how I would feel about this block when I was cutting and moving and cutting and moving and changing my mind a million times.  Now that it's done, I would say I'm pretty happy with how it shook out.  Originally I was thinking about putting that butterfly front and center, but because there wasn't enough of that fabric left to make the triangle cuts I switched it up for the floral stripes.  I didn't want to lose the look of the actual block by mismatching everything.

BTW, these quilt blocks are FUN!  Every time I go to my mailbox and see a little package, it feels like Christmas.  I know I'm sending them all back, but I get the fun of taking what's been sent and making it into something lovely.  Definitely interested in doing some more of these types of activities.  WAY better than opening the mailbox and realizing all you got were a couple of bills and your alumni newsletter.

What's this?  Craft kit?!  HOORAY!

Isn't it time for your nap now, kiddos?


****This block was made as part of my first ever Quilting Bee. Want to see more blocks? Track my journey here: Vintage Sheet Freedom Bee.****

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Tab Topped Kitchen Curtains CONQUERED

Before we moved, Mr. Skooks and I had grand designs to paint the following rooms BEFORE we moved in (much easier than after all the jazz is in there, right?):

  1. the kitchen
  2. the bathrooms (2)
  3. the kids' bedroom
  4. our bedroom
  5. the sewing room
What was actually painted before we moved in:
  1. the kitchen
To be fair, the main bathroom was cut in also, but it remained that way for a few weeks while we worked on the myriad of other projects that came up the second that we set foot in the door as the new homeowners.  That bathroom has since been completely painted, and much to Mr. Skooks' chagrin (though he's being a good sport about it actually) I have decided I don't like the color in there.  It's going to the *bottom* of the list, but painting both bathrooms is back on there.  Oops.

*Thankfully* I do love the colors in the kitchen.  They were directly inspired by the fabric I introduced to you back here, Small Talk Blackbird by Waverly.  It may have seemed odd to the people that came through early on that we chose 2 different colors in the kitchen as the inspiration fabric was nowhere to be seen in the room.

I have been *itchy* to get the curtains done but just hadn't buckled down and done them.  It has taken me a month and a half to get around to actually sewing them and *what a relief!* I actually do like them.  :)

I opted for tab topped on the large window where you can actually see the curtain rod and did a simple pocket style for the one over the sink since I was only using a pressure mounted rod which would be hidden up under that curvy trim.  My fabric was not wide enough to cover the long window so I had to get creative with the piecing.  Thankfully, I came across this little tip on gluing your pieced fabric over on Oh Fransson! the other day and it made the whole process *worlds* easier.  It did not come out perfect, but I made sure to line up the parts that were pieced over the window trim pieces so at least it wouldn't be blaringly obvious when the sun was shining through that I had done so.  If you'll read between the lines on that last comment, you'll realize too that I didn't line them.  A little regretful of that at the moment, but like the already painted bathroom, that fix is going to the *bottom* of the list.  (Also the reason I took a pic of them at night rather than in the daytime.)  ;)

Anyone else been working on home improvement/beautification projects?  Send me links!  I love peeking into other people's lovely homes.

But not in a creepy way.  Promise.  :)



Linking up to some awesome parties this week. Check 'em out and come join the party here.

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Friday, July 16, 2010

Shoofly Block #1 - Take 2

At Mel's suggestion, I changed the center block rather than the corners to incorporate that 3rd print. What do you think?



****This block was made as part of my first ever Quilting Bee. Want to see more blocks? Track my journey here: Vintage Sheet Freedom Bee.****

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Shoofly Block #1 - for Brenda

This first block took me awhile.  In theory, it's a very simple block.  In practice (at least for me) I got a little jumbled up when I was making those corner triangle pieces.  For some reason even though I had measured and cut my pieces precisely and sewn the right seam allowance and all that business, I ended up with some wonky just ever so slightly too small pieces . . . it just wasn't working.  I redid the corners and I'm much happier with the result.  It's actually exactly 12.5"!  Like it's supposed to be!

Experienced quilters are chuckling right now and I'm ok with it.

Problem?  Sweet Brenda sent me 3 different sheets and um . . . I only used 2.

Would you leave a block like this in 2 prints or scrappy it up with a 3rd?  If so, where would you incorporate the 3rd print?  The corners?

Dear Brenda,
   I can redo this block for you and incorporate your 3 print if you want.  I promise you won't hurt my feelings if you request that I rip this block apart and start over.  :)
                     Your bee friend,
                             Skooks


****This block was made as part of my first ever Quilting Bee. Want to see more blocks? Track my journey here: Vintage Sheet Freedom Bee.****

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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Paper Dolls on Parade



What do you get when you take one Spontan Magnet Board:

One roll of adhesive magnet paper:

And a pack (or more) of your favorite paper dolls?  (How could I resist the Red Velvet Art girls?  They come with their own sewing machines.)

Tons of fun for everyone!

I know I said back on my birthday that I wouldn't let Little Miss play with my paper dolls, but I was only kidding.  (Would my coworkers find me a bit odd if they knew that I spent the birthday money they gave me on paper dolls?  Probably.) 

They do live in my new sewing room, however, because Kee-ku would eat them immediately if they lived on our fridge.  He puts absolutely *everything* in his mouth.  Sorry to those of you who come to my house and find that random things you touch are soggy.  No, I don't have a dog.  But yes, I do have a Kee-ku.

I did all the adhesing (that's not a word, I know) and cutting, and Little Miss did all the playing.  Well, ok.  I did some playing too.  With her.  Mostly.


Best part, it not only jazzes up the ole (I mean, new!) sewing space, but it gives Little Miss something to occupy herself with whilst I work on sewing projects.  (For the record, I'd love to teach her how to sew someday, but sometimes I just need to get down to business already.  Time to myself to sew is at a premium as it is.)

While this particular project was not free, you could get away with a cheaper version by printing up some free paper dolls from around the web, snagging some magnet paper with a 40% off coupon (Hobby Lobby, Michael's, etc. frequently have coupons in their circulars), and letting your kids go to town playing with them on your fridge (assuming you don't have a Kee-ku of your own). (Though, at $4 a set, the RVA Girls are not beyond reach by any means!)

Some of the cutest FREE paper dolls I found about the web (hooray for free!!):
I honestly didn't know that Little Miss would get into these as much as she did.  Maybe your little one would like to play too?  :)


P.S. If you dig the ones I got as much as L.M. and I do, head on over to Red Velvet Art. Elsie (the artist) was one of my teachers for my Indie Biz class and she is pretty much awesome.

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Monday, July 12, 2010

The Vintage Sheet Freedom Bee

Y'all remember that Sew Mama Sew Giveaway day awhile back? If you're anything like me, you went down the list and entered giveaways crazy style. I'm a complete nerd . . . I treated it like it was my job for 2 days.

My ridiculosity paid off though as I did actually win a couple things! (I'll get around to that post eventually if anyone is interested in what I won.)

The other great thing about giveaway day? Meeting so many more beauty-licious bloggers out there.  (Not booty-licious . . . beauty-licious.  Totally different.)  One giveaway I did NOT win (boo!) led me to something perhaps even better (yay!) . . . a Vintage Sheet Freedom Bee!  That I could join!



Ok, I know what you're thinking, "But you don't really know how to quilt . . . right?"

I know. You're right. I have attempted some EXTREMELY simple quilts (um . . . 2) in the past. My long-term readers might remember the quilt top I made for Kee-ku (argh . . . still not quilted yet and he is almost a year old! I better get on that one again since I started it, you know . . . before he was born.) There was also the quilt that I made for Quilts for Kids. (Great experience by the way, definitely get in on that if you have a chance. Sidenote: our Quilts for Kids Flickr group has grown to 30 members and there are 83 pics up there last I checked! They look awesome and so many kids will be blessed by the efforts of these quilters.  Great work, ladies!)

With all that being said, it seems odd that I would even be  allowed to be a part of a quilting bee.  But Deb from Works in Progress put out some feelers on giveaway day that she was thinking about hosting a Vintage Sheet Bee (if I recall correctly, she was giving away some lovely vintage sheets) if there was interest.  I went back and forth with her a few times because I really wanted to join but I needed her to understand that:
a) I am pretty much a complete novice at quilting and
b) I have no vintage sheets.

Seems like I should probably not be a part of this bee, right?

WRONG!

At Deb's encouragement and with her generous donation of some of her own stash of lovely vintage sheets, I will be taken under her wing to learn some simple blocks that I can make as part of the bee.  Hooray! 

Knowing only as much about quilting as I have learned from reading The Quiltmaker's Gift over and over and over again to Little Miss, I decided to google up some possibilities for simple quilt blocks that I could hopefully not only NOT ruin, but actually do well since my blocks will go on to live at different homes around the globe. 

Here are some blocks that I came up with that look promising (some are harder looking than others and I promise I have actually attempted ZERO of them so far):
What do you think?  I can do this, right?!  
What's your favorite quilt block?  I love Dresden Plates and Cathedral Windows, but I really don't think I'm quite ready for all that for my first bee.  ;)

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Thursday, July 8, 2010

IKEA Sewing Room Essentials

I wish I lived by an IKEA.  The closest one is several hours away, and I've never been to it.  Lucky for me my parents live about a half hour away from one, so when I visit them (sometimes) I drag Mr. Skooks get to go shopping for home goodies. 

With my sewing room makeover in progress, it was becoming more and more clear that a side trip to said Swedish mecca was in order.  This time thankfully, my sis and brother-in-law were gracious enough to host my kiddos so I didn't have to drag them along.  Not that they don't LOVE hours of oogling at home decor items and storage solutions, mind you. 

Notable purchases necessary to make the sewing room more functional included:

  1. A new permanent home for my machines.  YAY!  No more taking it all down and packing it away to unpack it again!!  I got the longest work top I could get to fit in my space and some shwanky little legs for her.  

  2. Some boxes to corral projects in process.
  3. And a few more for smaller patterns and books.
  4. A couple rolls of paper for drawing and cutting larger pattern pieces.  I may have been stealing from Little Miss' supply before.  Possibly.  Don't tell her.
  5. Icing.  On the cake.


    Yes, I know I know.  But you agree with me, don't you . . . the chandelier was NECESSARY.  ;)

    Anyone else make a trip to the Yellow and Blue superstore lately?  Do tell. :)

    *****UPDATED: Check out the new craft room all put together HERE and my monster post about how to get all your crafty stuff organized HERE.*****

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    Wednesday, July 7, 2010

    You Asked, I Answered, YOU DID IT!: Mermaid Tails

    After a relaxing and celebratory 4th of July weekend spent out of town, I was beyond stoked to come home and discover an email from one of my dear readers. You may remember the crazy doodle drawings I did for her awhile back a la *how to make a mermaid tail*. (Her daughter was set on having a mermaid party and of course, they were all gonna need to look the part.)

    Apparently from my ridiculously drawn awesome renderings of the multiple possibilities of tail design, the talented and creative Sammy came up with a party full of tails for all the attendees to enjoy.  What a lucky birthday girl!

    I am sharing the following images with her permission.

    Way to go, Sammy!  You're a rockstar!  If I had little bloggie awards to pass out, you'd be the first recipientFor reals, girl.  Good job.  :)

    *****Have a question you'd like answered?  I'm more than willing to give it a crack.  Email your requests to skooksplayground[at]gmail[dot]com, and I'll see what I can do for you.*****



    P.S. If you've made any projects inspired by something you've seen here on Skooks' Playground, please post them to our Flickr group! Now go make something, will ya? :)

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    Thursday, July 1, 2010

    Fragile Children's Art Projects

    It probably happens to everyone. When you move, there are inevitably things that get put in somewhat random spots because the movers (aka friends and family) are just not sure where they ought to go.

    After having lived in your still-being-unpacked-house for about a month, all of a sudden you have that "a-ha" moment. You know the one. The one that says, "THIS doesn't go here!" or "So THAT'S where that was!" There are boxes that you get so used to seeing stacked in a certain spot that you don't even really see them as things that could and SHOULD be moved anymore. Until the "a-ha!" your stuff is kinda stuck, and probably (depending on where those boxes are piled) so are you.

    I was having a lot of those "a-ha" moments yesterday. I blitzed a couple boxes of bathroom stuff that had been residing in our kitchen and finally took the time to organize our new medicine cabinet. While the kitchen is not completely outfitted yet to get it all completely in order (some shelves need to be moved around and some cabinet drawers need to be installed which I need Mr. Skooks help to finish), I still decided to try to boogie a couple boxes that had been unceremoniously stashed on top of our fridge.

    I have to keep reminding myself, "Just because the boxes are out of the way, it doesn't mean that they GO there."

    So I ventured to the top of the fridge and pulled down the boxes to see if, in fact, I could find a place for the items they held . . . you know, NOW.

    Label on the box: FRAGILE CHILDREN'S ART PROJECTS

    My lovely and wonderful sister packed up a good amount of my kitchen for me pre-move, so I was not completely sure what this meant.

    What I discovered: 3 salt dough handprint plaques that I had made with the kids at the beginning of May and 2 ikea ice cube trays filled with broken crayons that were waiting to be melted down into fun shapes.

    A-HA! So THAT'S where those went!

    I remember when we did those handprints. I had seen a little instructable over at Fun with Mama and we had worked them up right away. Per Nadia's suggestion we let them air-dry because supposedly then they were not supposed to crack.

    We did not find this to be the case.

    For one thing, they never fully dried. At least, not while we lived at our old house. They APPEARED to be dry, but I remember flipping them over and seeing that tbe back was still not really done. So I flipped them again with the non-done side up and when they APPEARED dry again I picked them back up.  We're talking a week of drying time on each side.  Problem was, when I picked them up the second time, the first side (which had previously seemed completely dry) was now NOT DRY anymore.  Huh?!  The whole thing was counfounding, but I didn't want them to crack so I did not bake them.

    Makes no sense because they sat around all month in a state of semi-dry and we couldn't really do anything with them.

    Perhaps there was something magical about the move, because when I located the box of Fragile Children's Art Projects those little buggers were completely dry and solid as a rock!  Apparently, however, the drying process made LM's hand crack.

    Oh well.  You win some you lose some.

    I decided to hang them in the kitchen on the side of the cabinet that I see whenever I come through the back door.  The salt dough kinda blended in with my cabinet though, so this morning I pulled out some leftovers from our kitchen-painting endeavor and painted them up.  Little Miss busied herself with some Do-A-Dot art which I found in one of the other boxes on top of the fridge (thank you Bisabuela!)

    Very simple, and yes, very um . . . coordinate-y with my kitchen.  But I'm fine with that.

    After all, the paint was free.  ;)

    *********************************************************
    EDITED TO ADD: Recently I came across this tutorial at The Pumpkin Patch that may help you come away with something a touch more polished and less crack-y.  Worth taking a look at I would say if you are interested in tackling this project.

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