A different kind of ladder…a blanket ladder!

I love blankets.  I love blankets because they are warm and cozy, but I also love blankets because my husband is always hot, and our house typically resembles the frozen tundra.  So not only do I love blankets, but I need blankets.

We have a few blankets hanging around our living room, and I am always folding them and trying to arrange them so they don’t look messy.  I also have a few blankets that are special to me, that have just been hanging out in a cabinet, because I don’t have anywhere to put them.  I started looking around for a remedy for this, and found a blanket ladder that I loved at Pottery Barn, but I did not love the $179 price tag.  I did some more research, and found there were plenty of tutorials. Colby and I looked at them, and decided to come up with our own version of a blanket ladder. Here we go!

Supply List:
2 Common Boards (ours were: 3 1/2 inch x 3/4 inch x 84 inches)
4 Dowels (ours were: 3/4 inch rounds)
Gorilla Glue
Stain (we used my favorite: Minwax PolyShades in Expresso Satin)

We bought our supplies and started on this project.  We did spend a little more on the common boards than we had to, because we wanted decent quality wood since it was going to be displayed in our living room.

To start, we decided how far apart we wanted to bars that hold the blanket.  I think you should base that on your blankets and your specific needs for the project. We chose to have 4 levels, so our ladder would be able to hold four blankets.  Once we marked where the dowels needed to be, drew a line across the board, and then measured to the middle, and that’s where we drilled our hole.
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We drilled a 3/4 inch width, so the dowels will fit exactly.

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Sanding is a very important piece of this process, as the final result will show any sanding indiscretions you leave.  Sanding around the hole, as well as inside the hole is important.  We found the easiest way was by taking a drill bit, wrapping a piece of sandpaper around it, and sand inside the hole.

Once the entire piece is sanded, it’s time to insert the dowels.  The dowels fit directly into the holes, but we reinforced the fit with gorilla glue.

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Again, be sure to sand everything, including the glue spots.

From here, comes the staining.  I don’t have any pictures of this, as it’s pretty standard.  I did, however, come across a tip that may be helpful when staining.  When I went to clean out my brush, I lost my mind for a moment, and tried to “wring” out my brush, like you would a regular paint brush.  It didn’t cross my mind that stain does not react the same way as paint.  Because of this, my hands looked like this:

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This was after using hand soap, and dish detergent, in and attempt to rinse them clean. My hands were very sticky, and this stuff wasn’t budging. After my super sympathetic husband stopped laughing at me, he googled the best way to remove stain from skin. Surprisingly enough, vegetable oil did the trick. It took it right off my hands, which made me a little nervous about what it does to my french fries, but that is neither here nor there.

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I LOVE the final product.

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It holds the blankets nicely, and looks nice when they are all hanging.  Our overall cost came to about $50, which is WAY better than the Pottery Barn price.  It was also nice to determine our own dimensions, color, etc.

Overall, a simple project that has a helpful purpose as well.  Enjoy!

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Hope Chests and Family Heirlooms

After my Dad passed away, my mom went through his things and let the kids take items that were special to us, or held a specific memory for us.  We came upon this chest, and she mentioned if no one wanted it, she was probably going to add it to the donate items.  I didn’t have any particular attachment to the chest, but I figured I could find something for it, and decided to take it home.

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It was pretty beat up, as it used to sit in the “Den” of our house growing up, which was really the kid’s TV and Nintendo room. That glass ring on the lower right corner was probably formed during a super intense game of Super Mario Brothers. I decided to strip the cedar chest down, and refinish it.  As I started poking around inside, I found that the inside of the chest was in perfect condition, and even found a warranty tag, dating it back to at least 1935.

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It’s a Lane Cedar Chest, which I did some research on, and it’s a furniture company that started in 1912.  I asked my Aunt about this chest, and she was almost certain that my Grandmother was given this chest as a teenager, which would date it back to the early 1920’s. The more I discovered about this chest, the more interested I became.  I briefly thought about not stripping it down, as it may take away from some of the value – but then decided the monetary value wasn’t worth nearly the keepsake value, and that I would be keeping this chest in my home.

I started by sanding down the top few layers of the finish.  The top and sides were pretty easy, as they were flat surfaces.  The front of the chest was tough.  It has a lot of intricate detail, and sanding those tiny little spaces was about as fun as poking spoons in my eyes.

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I used Minwax PolyShades in Tudor.  I prefer the PolyShades, because they come with the Polyurethan mixed right in, so this is a one and done stain. It also goes on with a paint brush, versus a rag (wiping on, wiping off, etc.) – for which I just don’t have the patience. I did two coats of stain, as I wanted it to have a pretty dark finish.

Once it was done, the chest found a home in my craft room.  It’ll probably be moved 100 times before it finds its true home.  I do know, I will take much better care of it then I did when I was a kid.  Funny how age does that to you.  The older I get, the more important these family heirlooms become to me.

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Do you have any family heirlooms that are special to you?  I’d love to hear your story.

The best strawberry lemonade…ever!

A few years back, my husband took me to Boston (his mothership) for the first time – and I LOVED it.  It is a beautiful city with lots of culture, and we want to go back and spend as much time there as possible.  We toured Fenway Park, Harvard, Thaniel Hall, Gillette Stadium, Samuel Adams brewery (and saw Bob Cannon, the bearded guy on all of the Sam Adams commercials – he really works there!) and so much more.

See, Bob Cannon.
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During our tour of Massachusetts, we found a chain restaurants there called 99.  If you’re from the area, I’m sure you familiar.  If not, it’s a Chilis/Ale House/TGIFridays-ish restaurant.  The food was good, but we absolutely fell in love with their strawberry lemonade.  We were obsessed.  We scouted out a 99 restaurant wherever we went, and would stop in and get a strawberry lemonade to go. On what we knew would be our last visit, we asked our server for their strawberry lemonade recipe – and she gave it to us (cue angels singing.)

We tried the recipe when we got home, and it was pretty darn close to the real thing. Even better – it’s SO easy.  We have made it quite frequently since, and I wanted to pass along the goodness for all.

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1 packet (makes 2 quarts) Pink Lemonade (We use crystal light)
1 cup strawberry daiquiri mix
Ready for this super complicated recipe?

Mix the pink lemonade according to the package directions
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Add one cup of strawberry daiquiri mix, and mix well
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And…that’s it.  Trust me, it’s delicious. We have used fresh crushed strawberries as a additive before, and that was equally as yummy.

Warning: you may become addicted to this.  You’re welcome.