It’s been a little while since we’ve published worked on a refinishing project, which honestly seems to be the most popular thing we do. We’ve been on the hunt for a while for some patio furniture we don’t detest. The problem is that it’s all ugly plastic or REALLY expensive. So we’ve kept our eyes out for something we can work with.

Finally this weekend we found some plain metal chairs. nothing special but the perfect base for a refinishing project. The chairs were $4.99 each, not in bad shape or rusted, and we bought two cans of spray paint at $3.50 or so each.


They started out black, with a few rust spots here and there. Still, they were stable and in decent shape.


Add a little paint…


And viola! They went from dud to fun in about ten minutes. We let the paint dry and set while we work on cushions for the seat and back (because hey, why not).

We haven’t made the cushions quite yet, but have our fabric planned out. This fabric was another Goodwill find at about $3.00.


I think this project will be a great start to spicing up our back patio. We have a really sizeable patio that is covered, which is nice, but doesn’t keep rain or snow or wind out. It’s nice for the summer when our house is sweltering because we have the stove, oven, and dishwasher running all day, and I’d like to make it more functional. I’m a super huge fan of the “outdoor rooms” you see set up at home improvement stores and such.

Don’t tell Katie, but I have designs on our outdoor space. I’m really tempted to put in a low wall around the slab and then put in canvas and vinyl or screen “walls” that we can roll down when it’s nice, and can go up when it’s not so nice. I think we can do it and it would be pretty much epic. I think it’s about time to recruit Father Burb and Father Burb in law to come out for a visit.


(Garden party last year, but you can see the space and get the idea. )


April 3, 2012

This weekend Katie and I put a lot of backbreaking work in to our gardens, to get them up to speed for the new seasons. Of particular pleasure is the fact that we planted two trees end of season and they both survived and are starting to leaf out. That’s a big deal.

So we weeded, we raked, we picked up sticks, we trimmed and primped and planted. We started our seedlings the other week for our veggies. All in all it was a good weekend.

Katie and I are currently discussing our goals for this season. We definitely have a garden we’d like to finish, as well as the veggies, and we’ve even started talking about a chicken coop. At 18 eggs a week, we could use the help.

So my question to you is, what are you doing to get ready for the new season? Cleaning? Gardening? Mowing? Cooking? Tell us in the comments!

Train Train Train

March 19, 2012

So one of my main purposes in life is to find vintage things that are cute. I’ve been looking for hat boxes and train cases FOREVER every week at the thrift stores and I’ve NEVER seen one…until this weekend. I found a cute red train case. It was perfect, at a half-off price of $1.50. I mean seriously.

Of course for that price it was a DISASTER inside. Gross. Like seriously gross. First step was to rip out the peeling and faded plastic linings.

As you can see, the trim was falling out everywhere, barely held in with safety pins and paper clips. Not good. Fortunately most of it ripped out intact. The exception being the bottom. What I found was that the elastic bands on the top were actually sewn in to a piece of canvas-covered  cardboard. there were other cardboard sections to help support, but those didn’t make it past the surgery.

Once everything was ripped out, I could see what we were working with.

Yeah so back to the innards.

The inside actually cleaned up pretty well. The top especially. The bottom I spent a while ripping batting and cardboard out. The bottom “fabric” also didn’t come out cleanly so there were shreds of that everywhere.

The next step was to use my fabric pieces as templates. I picked a modern riff for my inside fabrics. I wanted something punchy.

I got a yard and a half of the flower pattern, a fat quarter of the orange, and enough of the ribbon trim to go around the top.

Next step was to get the canvas cardboard separated from the fabric, and then glue that to the top.

I then sewed the elastic to the board.

Once those were sewn in, I made a flap and pocket to go under the top. I glued that and then top in place. The corners took a little working, and it wasn’t quite perfect. The ribbon trim went around the raw edge and hid my flaws.

The process was largely the same for the bottom. It was definitely harder, and I cut a band to hide my yucky corners. However, once put all together, it looked pretty darned cute.

Total investment was about $10, and approximately 3 hours of time. Lovely!

A Mary Poppins Moment

March 18, 2012

We may have already had one bird feeder here at Burbex. We were just excited to have more than little brown sparrows that we had when we lived in the city. We both come from a long tradition of bird-feeding families, though, and really, who doesn’t like some more birds. We do, and the cats REALLY do. So, based on a cute idea we saw on Pinterest, we set out to make a few more bird feeders.

We started with 3 glass globes from light fixtures that we picked up from the Re-store for $2 each (We had a little incident with one, which is why there are only two feeders in the last picture). We also got some metal rings from Joann’s and some small chain from Lowe’s ($.59 and $6.97 respectively).

For our first attempt, we tried to make three hanging chains, and attach them all to the ring. From there, we hung it from a hook, and inserted the globe.

The problem with this feeder is that the chains don’t stay in one place on the ring, so if you get anything out of balance, you can have a catastrophe. This is what happened to our mysterious missing globe. We ended up tying little pieces of string around the ring to help the chains stay in place, and we ended up with a version of this design that does work.


For the second design, we decided to try for something a little more stable. So instead of using the metal ring on the bottom, we made a loop of the chain, and then attached the ascending pieces to that. The links on the bottom loop keep the ascenders from moving around the loop, and it is more stable.


So in the end we have two cute bird feeders, and we bought two more globes this weekend, to replace the lost one. Because our goal in life is to make sure our cats never lack for entertainment.


February 11, 2012

With the addition of Twirly to my tool cavalry, I decided it was time to build them a home. I have to throw out there that I LOVE playing with my tools and building things. This doesn’t mean that I’m good at it in any capacity. This is a basic recipe for a toolbox that I’m sure you can do better than I did.

I started with a 24″ wide piece of 1/4″ plywood. I cut two long-side pieces 24″x10″ and two side pieces 10″x8″. Finally, I cut 1/2″ strips to create a stop, so that I could add a set-in shelf to the box. The shelf was the same dimensions but 3″ tall.

As you can see, I cut the tops of the side pieces to a point. This was so that I could insert a dowel later to create a handle. I’ll also admit now that I didn’t account for edge and what that would add to widths, so there are places that I had to re-measure and re-cut to account for that. Oops. Live and learn I guess.

Next step was to glue the stops on to the sides. I did this so that I could secure them with prior to assembling my box.

I used wood glue and clams to hold the stops in place until they dried.

Once the stops were in place, I began assembling the edges, to get the basic shape of my box.

As you can see, everything is together. I forgot to mention that I made a bottom to the box and the shelf. Just measure your frame and tack it in with finishing nails. I’ll also note that the plywood is hard and prone to splintering, so don’t get discouraged.

Once it was all together, I went ahead and gave her a pretty coat of paint. Red for the outside, white for the shelf. The tools fit in perfectly.

I haven’t put the dowel in yet because a) I’m not sure I left enough room at the pointy parts to do it and b) I don’t have a paddle bit for my drill with which to make the holes. We’ll see if that ever happens, but that is the intention.

For now, my tools have a home. Oh! And here’s a picture of Twirly, since this project was brought to you by the letter T.

Block Party

February 9, 2012

Maybe we’re crazy, but every day Katie and I have the same debate about what to have for dinner. We’ve moved in to a place of meal planning and after coming up with all kinds of fun and new ideas, we get tapped out before our list is complete.


I got creative and decided I’d make something to help us out.

I started with a piece of 2×2 and cut it in to uniform cubes.

I sanded down the edges so we didn’t have splinters, and then I got really lazy. The pretty thing to do would have been to paint them. I just didn’t care that much, so I took them inside and began making little suggestions for them.

Each block contains a set of foods – one is protein, one is veg, one is carb/starch and we just have a set to roll. I also did one for breakfast since we do a special Sunday breakfast each week.


This may all seem a bit silly, but the intention is to roll them to get a basic idea of where to go. It inspires ideas instead of sitting around with the convo “I don’t know, what do you want to have.”

This is an example. With this roll, I’d be inclined to pull together a BLT. Similarly you could make breakfast omelets with toast. It’s just a way to kick off some ideas. These aren’t fancy and took me less than 30 minutes to make INCLUDING the drying time of the glue. If you wanted to you could paint them, seal them, do all kinds of things to make them flashy.


Don’t Sink This Project

January 31, 2012

If you’re at all like me, I kind of need an excuse to do the really grody (can you still use that word?) chores, say, like cleaning under the stove. I’ll get to that in a minute.

This past week/weekened, father Burb visited the BurbEx and helped us out with a number of projects, for no other reason less than because he is a foot taller than either of us (thanks for closing the heating vents!). He also brought a circular saw in to the household. This will allow us to get SO much more done! (read- very excited).

The first project we decided to tackle was to rip out the floor under our kitchen sink. Because we have had so many plumbing issues, the floor was saggy and nasty, so I thought it would be a nice surprise for Katie to put in a new floor. The most perplexing thing about ripping the floor out was discovering just how much of our kitchen (and house for that matter) were built in place. It makes it somewhat harder to do some of this because I’d hate to have our sink fall out because we moved a piece of molding, you know?

Anyway, the floor came out distressingly easily by breaking out the rotting away wood.

Anyhoo, you can see the floor being ripped out piece by piece. Perhaps the funniest part of this is that we found an interesting piece of wood. The guy that owned our house prior to us was a real “do it yourself-er” except that he really kind of sucked at it. Shortcuts and shoddy work, which is what we spend so much of our time fixing now. Anyway, the support wood stuck under the floor included this little gem.

“CA” are the first two letters of dude’s last name. It appears he was practicing his wood burning skillz before “fixing” the sink.

Once all the old floor was ripped out, we took measurements so that we could cut our new floor. Because the old floor was built in place, it was one solid piece around a pipe. We had to do two pieces to accommodate.

Yay! Twirly! I love my new saw. We decided to use quarter inch plywood for the new floor, as we had bracings running along the edges that held a groove for the floor to be set in to. We began by cutting the two pieces of the floor.

As you can see, our fancy saw horse is made up of our recycling bin. After cutting the two main floor pieces, we had to measure and cut out a chunk on each piece to fit the pipe. I made two cuts on each side, and then we used a screwdriver and rubber mallet to score and pop the piece out.

Once the pieces were completed, we were able to set them in to the floor space. However, the bracing with the quarter inch groove was not properly cut or something because the floor did not quite fit. We had to do some jiggering and have a slightly incline floor. Oh well.

You can see that these were winched in and then we used the rubber mallet to tap them down in to place. Once the floor was set in, it was snug enough to not really need any additional bracing or support. I added one piece of 2×2 along the left edge under where the board is because we cut the smaller piece of floor above, and it needed a support to sit upon. Otherwise, there was structure in the middle as you can see, and running along the right-hand side.

Once the floor was in, since it was too cold out to paint, I got cheap dollar store contact paper that will serve just fine for now. Again, cut to size, peel back the backing and place the paper down.



This tale comes with another epic story. Remember how I said I needed an excuse to clean under the stove? Well it came as the result of one of our cats engaging in mischief. When we first moved in to our house, we lost one of our cats for about three days. We couldn’t figure out if she got out, was hiding, or what happened. It turned out that there is a hole that was cut for no apparent reason that we can determine, in the back side of the sink and neighboring cupboard. That gave the cat space to get behind the cupboard and under the counter.

Initially, father Burb and I stapled some dipped chicken wire in to place. We threw a cat in the cupboard and she wasn’t able to get back there.

Done and done, so we thought. However, we underestimated the sheer panic and strength of a desperate cat, and she ripped the wire right down and got behind the cupboard.

Fine we said. We’ll take the food away when we can’t monitor and she’ll have to come out to get some. After a day and a half, we tried reaching back there and bodily removing her. However that didn’t work because the gap behind the counter was shaped like an L”

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Well, that’s supposed to look like an L. Anyway, she would hide back behind the corner where our arms, vacuum, tape measure, and other assorted items just couldn’t reach. We tried wet food, where the smell would drive her out after two days of no food. No luck. Finally, I decided that desperate times called for desperate measures.

I looked at possibly popping out a wall of the cupboard or something but again, because of the built in place nature of the entire construction, that wasn’t possible. I then began to wonder if it would be possible to pop the side panel off. Again, shoddy construction was a possibility. So after the third day, we pulled the stove out of place, cleaned under it, and then I began removing nails from the side panel.

Gross counter. Don’t worry, we cleaned it.

You can see the space behind the cupboard.

And the hole she got through.

Ultimately we got her out by prying back (rather than removing) the side panel, and when we could see her, I blew canned air at her. She did NOT like that so she ran to the other side of the L, which then allowed Katie to scare her out with the tape measure. She took off like a shot, and then I screwed in a piece of board I had cut to the right size, just for this occasion. No more hole, no more stuck cat. She’s now pouting in the cat tower.

I can’t wait to build more things, so we’ll definitely keep you posted on that.



Please Be Seated

January 18, 2012

This here, is a bench.

Not only a bench, but an ugly bench. We picked it up because we always need more seating and such and figured we’d do something with it eventually. Well, eventually finally came, after the inspiration of our new bed pillows. We picked up a new bench fabric at the same time and figured now was good. The bench was about $5, and the fabric I’d guess is around $10, and the trim another $5 maybe. Of course, Katie could say differently if she wanted.

Anyway, reupholstering is another thing that makes a piece of furniture look pretty snazzy and it can be simple to do. This bench required unscrewing 11 screws, removing staples, stapling new fabric, cutting said fabric, and hot glue. Not bad.

First, take your object and disassemble it. This was a pretty straightforward project, but if you are doing something a bit more complicated, be sure to track your parts and order so that you know how to get it back together at the end.

Once the top was off, we removed the staples holding the black fabric and the mustard fabrics on. The black fabric is basically to keep the raw edges from showing underneath. Remove your staples carefully if you want to preserve this piece of fabric. I find a flat-head screwdriver or needle-nose pliers are best for removing staples.

Once all the staples are pulled out, you should be able to lift the top fabric off.

Underneath, hopefully you find foam or padding that is in good shape. If your foam is in tough shape, you can get new padding, glue it down, and you’re good to go. Ours was in good shape so we just recovered over the existing padding. The white in the corner is some extra padding to help fill out the foam, which was missing a chunk in the corner. We also were left with the frame. I’d like to paint our frame at some point but we didn’t have a good color at the time.

Next, take your new fabric, lay it out right-side-down and place the bench top on it upside down. Staple one edge with a staple gun, starting at the corners and middle, and filling in the in-betweens.

Next, pull your fabric under so that it is tight. You want it to be tight so that you don’t get loose fabric on your cover. It may take a buddy to help keep it tight while you staple.

Now, there are a couple ways to go about the corners, which I think is the trickiest part. You can measure and cut your corners ahead of time, and sew them in to the right shape (Make a cut from the corner in, then fold together and sew), as was done on the old cover. You can ease the corner around like fondant and avoid a crease, or you can miter the corner by folding it. We chose to miter it.

Once stapled, you can clean up your fabric edges if you want, or place your backing (old or new) on the bottom and staple it. Then, reassemble!

Our final touch was to add a decorative trim around the bottom. In our “final pictures” it hadn’t been glued on yet, but I basically took a glue gun and glued it to the bottom of the top piece (not the frame!).


Processing 2.0

January 9, 2012

Okay here’s another batch of process pictures. This one will be short and sweet.

Here’s where we left off. After Batman was left hovering with no legs, I filled the rest of him in.

I then started working on the Flash.

Blocking in the Flash and working in the detail on his top. You can see Batman up close too.

Top half finished…in a flash…yeah I went there.

Legs sketched and blocked in

Flash’s leg completed.

The completed trio.


Since the dude on the right is intimidating, I decided to start on Wonder Woman. I have her sketched in as the updated Wonder Woman, but upon request, I revamped her outfit.

I actually have Wonder Woman about done, but I have to fix the shadows and such so I didn’t want to post it yet. More details to come. Next up: The Green Lantern.

This weekend I popped out a quick project that is cute, functional, and cute. I guess I said that already. A friend of mine got married this weekend, and I decided she’d love nothing better than to get some hand-made placemats with matching coasters and napkins, held together of course, with napkin rings. The project cost was a little higher since I went for cute oil cloth, which runs about $17/yard. I think I got a half yard of everything, and a yard of the napkin fabric.

Here were my two choices. I went for a double-sided placemat set so that either side could be used. A set of four would be ideal but I didn’t quite have enough fabric, so I did two double-sided.

I went with oil cloth because it resists water, liquid, and yuckies. One side is green with a yellow and blue motif (even though it looks aqua) and the other a natural color with purple, blue, and orange. They totally didn’t go! I love it.

Decide how big you want your placemats to be, cut them out, and then pin right sides together.

I did the same for the coasters, making them 5×5″


You have a couple options for how you put these together. One option is to surge the edges together, in which case you’ll want to put wrong sides together. I went with a turned set, so I sewed wrong sides together on three and a half sides, then pulled it inside out. To get a nice edge, I pinned the open section and sewed a second seam around the edge to finish it off. You can’t even tell where the turn was.

For the napkins, I went with two double-sided lunch-sized napkins, so with wrong sides together, we surged the edges, so they looked like this:

The result is a nice clean edge.

Of course I forgot to take pictures of the final set before it was packed off to my friend. Oh well.

The napkin rings I did similarly to those in a previous post:

I picked felts to go with my placemats, embroidered the yellow, sewed on the button, glued it all together and hand stitched them up.

The entire project took two to three hours start to finish, and cost about $40.