Busyness, the Evil Kitchen, and Boxes

It has been a busy few weeks and I’ve not posted much, so here is an update on all things Susie Homemaker: DIY Goddess and some boxes!

After I finished the Impossible Shelf, I began reorganizing my kitchen, which spawned a few projects that have kept me hopping. One of those projects was ridiculous and frustrating and … I’m still procrastinating deciding what to about it next. Stupid trash bin

The Crafty and Crap Sort is still underway and the more I work on it, the more I realize it is just one of those things that will NEVER be done. Sure, I may get it down to a box or two, but really it will never REALLY be DONE. :( However, I will do my best and perhaps I can get it down to a couple of small boxes I can stuff in a cupboard somewhere, rather than in my closet ;)

Day to day life has been tugging at me too. Halloween costumes for the kids, Cross Country meets, gearing up for colder weather and the fast approaching holidays. Not to mention the usual cooking, cleaning, laundry and taxiing. I’ve been toying with make-ahead breakfast ideas too, which is when I discovered that my electric hand mixer had been murdered (still investigating) and that it needed to be replaced ASAP. Especially with the holidays upon us.

We all know my kitchen is super small and lacks storage and counter space (which is why I’ve suffered with just a hand mixer for so long…), but the thought of buying a new electric hand mixer when I could have a stand mixer … just hurt my brain! However, with the addition of the Island, I think we may be able to swing it! Insert days and days of research for the best one and where to buy it, what attachments to get, and on and on and on. Don’t be fooled: I love research, but it didn’t help alleviate any of my recent absurd busyness. Decisions have been made, some of my parts have even arrived, and if all goes well: I will have it today! So excited!

Of late, I’ve also had a hard lesson reinforced, yet again. Regardless of finances, hobbies, projects, and absurd busyness, it is just not healthy for a 30-year-old, healthy, and educated woman to be home ALONE for 9 hours a day, almost every day…. The kids and Hubby leave around 8am every morning and don’t return until 4 or 5 pm. This is the first year it has been this bad. Both kids are in Middle school this year and their days are longer; exacerbating the problem. Even with the pets and all the things to keep me occupied: it is just not enough. Especially, when you are of the female type and not a very outgoing person to begin with. Loneliness and isolation sink in, take hold and when combined with changing seasons can drive a person into, literal, insanity.  So I have been applying for jobs and researching volunteer work. I don’t want or need to work (and, god knows, I have enough to do…), but at the end of the day, sometimes you just need busyness of different kind. On the upside, I have the luxury of being picky and, hopefully, will find something that I enjoy doing part time. Wouldn’t want me climbing the walls now, would we… So add “writing resumes” and “job hunting” to the list of busyness of late.

Whew! Let’s build some boxes!

Little Boxes/Crates

In an attempt to optimize my kitchen: I went on a hunt for a few things it still needed. One of them was a place to store fresh produce. Specifically, potatoes, onions and the like. Time to hit Pinterest!

A couple weeks back I shared this photo in a Happy Friday post because it helped inspire this project.


 Those wire bins would be perfect for potatoes and the like, but where could I put such a thing, in, or adjacent to, my kitchen?

The hooks

Perhaps I could add a shelf and some bins to my existing broom holder with hooks? I guess I need to build a shelf? WAIT! I already have a shelf left over from my entryway project last year!

Well that takes care of the where, and the shelf, but I still needed bins.

Via Pinterest I found amazing plans for Chalkboard Produce Crates on Ana White free building plans website. I love this website. It has so many great plans and they actually encourage you to alter, build and share the things you create with their plans. You can even share plans you’ve designed! The particular plan I used also gives instructions for how to alter the dimensions of the crates you want to build for a custom fit!

crate plans

Image: AnaWhite.com

So, I altered the dimensions to fit my, particular, shelf, acquired my materials and was off!

This project has gone pretty well, but I learned something about purchasing building materials. These plans called for 1×3’s and to purchase the amount I needed in hardwood  was going to be more than I wanted to spend on this project. Instead, I opted for some 1×3 furing boards (basically solid wood stud boards).

8ft Hemlock 1×3: $6 vs. 8ft furing 1×3: $.96

That is quite the price point and …  these are CRATES. They can totally be made out of crappy wood. I mean seriously, I’m going to put POTATOES in them…  I learned better and earned myself a headache and a ton of extra work.

lopsided board

One end is wider than the other and the corners are not “square”

At the store, I did my best to pick straight boards with as few knots or damaged parts as possible, but for some reason, it never occurred to me that the boards might not be “square”. Or perhaps I didn’t think it would be an issue…. For this particular project it WAS and the first few end frames I made were “bowed” instead of being nice and straight  like I needed. Fortunately, I’d just glued the pieces together before I put in any nails or screws so I was able to salvage most of my wood from the first couple end frames I made.

To solve the issue, I went back through all my boards, found the most square one I could, and after I cut the pieces to length, sanded the sides of them until they were square enough. It was a bit of extra work, but I’m going to keep telling myself it was worth the cost savings…

Also, my miter saw blade has become dull after years of use and I have been in desperate need of a new one … the new one is being delivered today, but during this project I just had to suffer and ended up doing A LOT of unnecessary sanding…

shredded boards

Boards my dull saw blade just shredded….

smooth boards

After a few minutes with my sander

All my boards cut to length, square, and sanded to perfection, I FINALLY got to build some awesome crates!

setting up

One of the most important parts of this project is making the pieces the exact same length. I use a measuring tape to mark my cuts and such, but I always make sure I line them up and double check before I start attaching them.

dry fit

After a dry fit, I applied the glue and clamped them together until dry.

glueing and clamping

After that I drilled two pocket holes on each side (I really need to get a jig…) and put in some nice finishing screws for extra support. I wanted three boxes to fit the shelf, so I made six of these end pieces.

Next I wanted to try my hand at cutting out the handles. This is the kind of thing I normally have Hubby do, but I need to stop relying on him so much for things that require “muscle” so I did it myself and my arm and hand are still sore….

I apologize for not having any images of how I cut out the handles. I was working on this part of the project in between crying over my stupid trash bin project and I guess I just wasn’t in a photo taking mood.

To cut the handles I first marked their dimensions on the board and then used a 3/4″ paddle bit on my drill to cut the middle and ends out. An added benefit of doing it this way ensured that the handles had nice round and even ends on them. A lot of the bruising and soreness I suffered came from when the paddle bit actually broke through the wood and snagged itself on the surrounding wood. It would jerk my arm and wrench the drill into the outside edge of my palm. I got some deep tissue bruising in my hand and even after a week, my palm still hurts…

Once I got three holes cut through, I put the pieces in my workbench clamp and, very carefully, used a jig saw to cut between the holes and get the handle shape. After that I used my Dremel with a sanding bit to make sure they were nice and smooth. I think they came out pretty well.

a crate

Once I had six end frames done, it was time to attach the side boards. This was a bit tricky, but I am nothing if not resourceful.

Masking tape: my bestest friend

A strategically placed piece of masking tape is often my bestest friend during projects. For this project it did a great job holding the boards right where I wanted them, just long enough for me to get the nailer positioned and fire a few to attach the side pieces.

Next, I cut some 1/4″ plywood scrap for the bottoms and attached them with the nailer. Then I used the nail setter to make sure all the nails were set low enough so I could putty all the holes and then give everything one last good sanding.

At this point I applied a couple coats of my favorite water based poly to give them a good finish and some protection from any dirty or rotting produce in their future. Three rounds of finish and sanding and a good day to cure up and I was almost done.

During all this I had also cut, sanded and painted some scrap 1/4″ plywood I had to make the chalk board end pieces.

Once the poly was cured, all I had left to do was glue in the chalk boards and I was done!


I love my new shelf and boxes! This is such an awesome and simple idea and I have plans to make more boxes for other areas of the house! Not to mention: it is ALWAYS a good day when I hate my kitchen a little less ;)

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