November’s Iccomplishments*!

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As the third month of the School Year Challenge ended, I took a look at my Project Wall and basked in the warm feeling of success for all I was able to iccomplish* in November!

Note: This post was first published December 4, 2017, and updated on August 31, 2020.

Just like September and October, I did not complete everything I set out to do. However, I did finish quite a bit and I am extremely proud of my progress on getting projects done!

You can read the details about why I selected the following projects in November’s Projects…Month Three!

First Project… The Raggedy Ann Tree Skirt

This project has been on my radar for three years (since Dec. 2014). For two of those years I forgot about the tree skirt from January until we would get the decorations down from the attic in Nov./Dec.

To keep that from happening a third time, I spent all of 2017 with the tree stand sitting in the entry way of my home as a visual reminder to make the tree skirt for my Raggy Christmas tree before December.

See the tree stand underneath the table on the right?

The first year I put up the Raggy tree my sister knew I wanted to make a tree skirt. That December she sent me a link to a blog post on titled20 Clever Ways to Decorate Your Christmas Tree {tree skirts and toppers}.”

The stripey tiny tree skirt found on the Polka Dot Chair blog was the inspiration for my Raggedy Ann tree skirt.

The tutorial on Polka Dot Chair was very informative but I had to make adjustments to the tree skirt measurements and the size of the triangle pattern because my tree is full size.

In addition, I had to do a little research on the measurement of strips in a jelly roll because I was choosing fabric from my stash and my mother’s stash (not using an already coordinated jelly roll) then do a little math to make the strips fit my triangle pattern.

Embellishments of ric-rac and eyelet lace were also modifications I made to the original tutorial and I am THRILLED with how the tree skirt came out!

A close up of the tree skirt shows the fabric choices are reminiscent of dress material Raggedy Ann would wear as is the color palette of red and blue.

In the past, the tree has had a place of honor in the middle of a window located on the front of the house. However, this year I had to move it to a corner of that front room (which is my sewing room) because my faithful companion, Caramel, likes to lay at the window and see what is going on.

The Raggedy Ann tree skirt takes up more room than the fabric wrapped tree stand I did in the past. Plus, I really didn’t want Caramel laying on the new skirt.

So, I moved a few things around in my sewing room to get the tree in the corner, but it looks great in its new spot and the tree lights can still be seen from the street at night. So it is a win-win situation for both Caramel and me!

Next Project…The Adirondack Chairs

I am making progress on the Adirondack chairs but they still aren’t done. These outdoor chairs (and matching footstools) were initially a project in October.

October was a month of ambitious projects and I didn’t get anything done on the chairs or footstools. (Read about October’s Successes here.) So I moved just the chairs to be a November project.

One of the things that needed to be figured out was how to stabilize the chairs. The back on both chairs listed to one side and made the chairs seem slightly unstable when sitting and getting up.

I relied on my husband, Douglas, to figure this out because my one and only idea of tightening the screws didn’t keep the chairs from leaning. In addition, my research skills had not revealed the results I was looking for and I was getting frustrated.

Douglas tried adding a board to the back of the chair thinking this would provide additional stability. He placed it at the bottom of the vertical slats. (You can kind of see the board he attached where the horizontal slats of the seat meet the vertical slats of the back). I’m sure you can tell this idea didn’t work either.

Shortly after that failure, Douglas and I were listening to a Young House Love podcast and John and Sherry talked about shelves he had made using Kreg tools. Douglas exclaimed, “I have the Kreg Jig. I bet I can use it to keep the chairs from leaning!”

After a few trials and errors with scraps of wood, Douglas was successful in getting one of the chairs stabilized.

He then guided me through the process on the second chair. He taught me how to cut wood with a circular saw. This was a little scary for me. I had a college professor who cut off a finger with a saw at the start of one of my graduate classes. One class period he had all ten fingers and the next class period he only had nine fingers and a heavily bandaged hand – but that is a story for another time.

My first cut was a little off but the second was right on the line and I still have all ten fingers!

First Cut
Second Cut

Douglas patiently showed me how to measure and drill holes with the Kreg Jig…

Using the Kreg Jig

… and drilling holes for regular screws.

Drilling Holes

He then talked me through attaching the prepared wood to the chair.

First, attaching through the Kreg Jig holes.
Second, attaching the back slats through regular holes.

All my hard work (and Douglas’ patience) resulted in a sturdy chair that doesn’t lean to the side anymore!

You probably notice the chair in the picture above has a gray arm and a couple back slats that are also gray.

Well, when starting off, I wasn’t sure if painting the wood furniture would be as easy and issue free as painting the metal table and chairs in October. (Spoiler: it wasn’t.)

The main concern I had was the wood was very weathered, rough, and covered with peeling paint.

I researched how to prep and paint Adirondack chairs and found several videos where scraping, sanding, and/or stripping the paint were options for prepping the outdoor furniture. I also found videos showing both spray paint and canned paint as options for painting.

I didn’t want to invest a lot of time and money in the chairs without really knowing what I needed to do so I practiced on the table that came with the Adirondak chairs.

The final results turned out amazing but the learning process was intense.

Table – before
Table – after

There were issues with every step of the process…from sanding to priming to painting. After all the trials and tribulations, I didn’t like the color. It was the same color I had used to spray paint the metal table and chairs in October but it looked waaaay too dark on the wood. So I repainted with a medium gray and was much happier with the results.

Because the process of prepping and painting the table was fraught with challenges, I did some additional research to get other tips and tried them out on one of the chairs. (That is what you saw in the photo above.) Unfortunately, the month ran out of days before I finished the chairs.

Even though the Adirondak chairs are not deck-ready for the winter weather yet, I am excited with how much I have learned so far about refurbishing outdoor furniture.

The last day of the month was a beautiful 80 degrees, so we pulled the chairs and table out of the garage and set them up on the deck to see how they would look.

After that, I had a little margarita to celebrate this month’s iccomplishments*!

Bonus Project – Large Ornaments

Bringing visual appeal to big-as-your-head ornaments from a Macy’s store closing sale was the bonus project for November.

First, I needed to figure out what I wanted the ornaments to look like after I painted them. I was inspired in both color and design by paper-mache ornaments I saw on the blog Blue Cricket Design.

I drew out what I wanted the ornaments to look like…

…and bought the necessary supplies. I couldn’t find spray paint the color green that I wanted, so I decided just to use green as an accent color with the design details.

I set up a spray painting station using a mobile plant stand Douglas made me several years ago and a plastic tarp.

Sheesh, I thought prepping and painting the Adirondack table was full of challenges. Spray painting the ornaments presented an entire new set of baffling issues!

Dripping paint was the first problem I encountered. Once I figured out the right distance to spray so I didn’t get run marks on the ornaments, I thought everything would be smooth sailing from there. Instead I had issues with coverage and crackling. There wasn’t any continuity when trying to problem solve these issues because the coverage and crackling happened on different ornament styles and with different colors. I’m still not entirely sure what caused the imperfections.

Most of the ornaments have 1 coat of paint.

I added a second coat of paint and from a distance any drips, runs, coverage, and crackling paint were not visible. (Thank goodness!)

Even though I didn’t get the design details added to the ornaments or get them hung in the tree, they are noticeably more vibrant and festive than the original red ornaments and add a flavor of Christmas to the front porch.

Budget – Another Success!

The total budget for November’s projects was $136.00. I came in under budget spending only $91.49!

The itemized budget looks like this:

  • Raggedy Ann Tree Skirt – total $0
    • $0 – I was able to find all the necessary supplies in my fabric stash or my mother’s. In addition, between the two of us I was able to acquire all the notions and embellishments.
  • Adirondak chairs and table – total $53.83
    • $11.94 – Diablo brand replacement sanding sheets for my Ryobi Corner Cat Compact Finish Sander.
    • $41.89 – Rustoleum spray paint and primer – I only used a portion of these supplies when painting the table. There should be enough left to do the chairs.
  • Large ornaments – total $37.66
    • $6.79 – brushes and round sponges
    • $24.14 – Rustoleum spray paint
    • $2.80 – craft paint for details
    • $3.93 – ScotchBlue painter’s tape

Final Reflection

The third month of my School Year Challenge has come and gone, and it was another month were I didn’t complete all the projects I had set out to do.

This failure to complete everything for the third month in a row is really not a failure, though.

Instead of focusing on what I didn’t get done, I celebrate everything I have iccomplished*.

For years, dedication to my career as an elementary school teacher consumed my life in regards to spending spare time at home doing school work such as planning, grading papers, contacting parents, and trying to catch up with all the administrative tasks that come with the position of a public school educator.

This resulted in little time and even less energy to tackle projects that I kept telling myself I would do.

With the School Year Challenge, I have challenged myself to stop thinking and start doing. I may be somewhat ambitious in what I want to get done, but every project I research and/or get started is a success for me whether I finish it or not because I have completed more projects in the last three months than I have gotten done in the last 7 years. (That isn’t an exaggeration either.)

By making my projects visible on my Project Wall I am reminded each day there is more to life than my career.

Since I have been planning projects and making it a priority to learn new skills, my home is slowly becoming the place I have envisioned for so long…that is a celebration indeed!

Read the previous post in the School Year Challenge.

Read the next post in the School Year Challenge.

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