Oh The Things You Can Do With Paintsticks

Those humble little paint sticks. So useful for stirring paint. And for so many other things. I had a brief email conversation with a woman who had used paint sticks and adhered them to the side of a cabinet, gave it a quaint little finish, almost like siding. It was awesome.

I got to thinking about all the uses of those paint sticks, and more specifically, all the things I have used them for. They work wonders as shims, propping up furniture so that you can paint down to the bottom of a piece of furniture, heck, I’ve even used them for fly swatters.

I wanted to share with you something I am working on now. I am putting together a tall, skinny cabinet and needed a top for it. After scrounging in my wood pile, I just did not have something that would work and I bristled at the thought of yet another trip to The HomeDepot. I looked around the garage and what did I see?

DSCN2539Yes, my trusty bucket of paint sticks. And then brilliance struck. I would make a solid piece of wood using paint sticks. So one by one, I spread glue onto the sticks and positioned them together. They are actually made of two paints sticks end to end and then side to side, and staggered so that the ‘seam’ of the two sticks wouldn’t line up in a row on the finished piece.

I could have sworn that I had taken a photo of them while the glue was drying, but cannot find it now. But once the glue dried, I removed the clamps. As you can see in the picture, the surface – front and back – was a bit rough.

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I measured out the length that I needed. I marked it with a pencil and using a circular saw, The Kid trimmed both ends. I figured it would be easier to sand the thing if I was only sanding the section that I would be using.

DSCN2518Here is the rough piece and the ends that were cut off. Not too much excess. Still trying to figure out what I can do with the leftover pieces. Hmmm….

Top Made of Paint Sticks

Then the sanding began. This was not for the faint of heart… if I do something like this again, I will definitely be more careful with lining up the sticks. Also, I wouldn’t use quite so much glue. I think sanding off the glue was the hardest part.

Top RoughAfter much sanding, it started getting smooth. I must have gone through 6 sheets of sand paper working on this. At this stage, I used some wood filler on some of the gaps and divots and areas that needed more sanding. I figured that as long as there was still filler on the board, I would know where to continue sanding to make it all even.

DSCN2535Finally, it is smooth on all sides. I don’t know about you, but it looks like a solid piece of wood with some really great grain. Heavier than all get out, but I am still in love with this.

DSCN2536The Kid came out and did the routing on three sides. Just so minor sanding and then it was ready for the first coat of stain. I used a very light stain, as I don’t want to cover up that beauty, just keep it sealed. I ran out of the stain after the first coat though, so will have to finish this later.DSCN2537

Here is a shot of the end of the wood… I just love the way that looks!

I just wanted to point out the wonderful ways to use those paint stir sticks. It is a regular habit for both me and The Kid to stop and pick up a few on each trip to the store. I never feel like I am ‘stealing’ anything as I buy a butt-load of paint from them and they offer them free to their customers.

I’d love to see what you’ve made with stir sticks. They’re really handy!

julie

 

No Drought In Kansas City

As many of you know, I am a transplant to Kansas City from Northern California’s Silicon Valley. We celebrate ten years in the Show-Me state next month. Even so, I always pay attention to the weather and wild fires out in California, which I still think of as ‘home’. They’ve been through some devastating drought conditions which have led to major wild fires. I feel for my peeps on the west coast.

But drought is one thing that Kansas City has not experienced. Well, at least not this year! Everything is greener than green and if you follow my blog, you know that my strawberry patch…

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…and The Kid’s pumpkin patch…

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….are growing like gang-busters. As I understood strawberries, the plants really don’t mature until the third year and then you can expect some decent harvests. Well, mine are only in their second year but have already harvested many quarts. And this even with me leaving about a third on the ground to help fill in light patches!My HouseI have a larger than standard lot, as our house is on a semi-cul-de-sac. I don’t know what else to call it. It is a corner where one street turns 90 degrees and becomes another street, but the corner is set back and we have a wide half-round area in front of my house and two of my neighbors. This makes for larger backyards, which good or bad, means we have more lawn.

Screen Shot 2014-06-13 at 6.34.56 PMHowever, the way that our property is naturally graded, all run off from the eastern neighbor flows into a little stream through our back yard and then into a underground culvert that then feeds into a (very small) lake in the neighborhood just south of us. Thankfully this ugly culvert is in the back of my western neighbor and he has done a great job of camouflaging it.

One might reasonably think that this should work well and most of the time it does. However, when we have had multiple days of heavy rain (as we have recently), it doesn’t seem to work and we get a lot of standing water in our backyard. Or as I call it, “A River Runs Through It”.

DSCN2486The small leafy patch just to the left of the tree (behind the river) is the Kid’s pumpkin patch. Lots of rain is working a minor miracle on the plants… the vines have gone gangbusters and there are hundreds of blossoms! I think we can safely expect a lot of pumpkins… not the biggest, but I am expecting numbers! So, the standing water isn’t a big deal (although it does make it tough to mow that part of the yard), but mostly it keeps the grass beautifully green and nourishes my tree line.

All of Kansas City is just so healthy and green as well. For once, I can honestly look at Kansas City and call it beautiful! I don’t dislike KC, but there is nothing to compare with San Jose/San Francisco area and the Pacific Ocean and the Sierra Madre mountains and everything in between. I really miss California!

Me and The Kid have been slowly been working on some new projects – The Kid now more than me since I’ve gone back to work. Last night we sold the purple vanity (yay!) and I think I have a buyer for the umpteenth pink ombre dresser that I finished an evening or so ago. That leaves just the two-tone vanity left to sell and I will officially have my entry way cleared!

photoI am also about a third or so complete on a 8″ x 10″ cross stitch project, I just picked up the canvas and some thread and started stitching! I am thinking that I will make it into an iPad case when I am done. Or something. Ha! I always have to have something to do with my hands even when I am too tired to refinish furniture and just am sitting on the couch watching ‘Nurse Jackie’. (Don’t get me started talking about binge series watching… that’s another whole different post!)

Thankfully, today is Friday and the end of my first week on the new job. I am really liking it, as I have a super team and an even more super (super-duper?) manager and I am coming up to speed really quick. Which is great, ’cause I really don’t like being the ‘new’ person. I see me doing this for a while. I hope!

julie

The Weather is Just Not Co-operating. Argh!

Officially, spring came last week and with it, a couple of days of temperatures in the sixties. Windows open, doors ajar and lots of work in the garage. That lasted all of about two days and then it has dipped down into the ‘too cold to do anything fun outside’ range of temps. And now, today, they are calling for snow. Snow!

Too cold for even working in the garage… and I have so much that needs to get done.

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photo 2I picked up another vanity and a stool, but that leaves me one stool/bench short. Just like I started!

Over the last few months, I have been working on dollhouse furniture and clothing, getting ready for the ‘Dolls & Cupcakes’ website. I seem to be totally dragging on getting the website up and running, so I opted to put a few pieces on eBay, just to see how sales would be.

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DSCN2283So far, they’re not getting much attention, not as much as I thought. Maybe the American Girl craze is waning?

This weather is so non-conducive to working, but I am going to do my best to get something done today. Hope you’re having better luck than I!

julie

One More Denim (Finished a While Ago)

I know I made the proclamation that I wasn’t going to make any more quilts in denim for a while, but I actually did complete this some time ago and have had it stashed for a while. I finally when through the inventory in the guest bedroom, I ran across this one (and one other) that I have opted to place for sale on eBay.

DSCN2298I love the nuance in the shades of the denim, and I love the idea of the life that was worn into each of the squares of denim and then rescued and displayed in the quilt. The paisley fabric I chose for the trim looks almost like bandana material, and just compliments the denim. There is a small print red heart fabric on the back that really gives the calming influence of the blues and white – a nice contrast.

photo 1For what it is worth, this is the other quilt – also finished sometime ago – and going up on eBay:

DSCN2300I used the same fabric as in the sashing for the back. This is just hard candy colors and sometimes it is just fun to play with the dynamic colors. I could see this as a quilt for a boy or a girl that just graduated from a crib to a “big kid” bed. Or to hang on the wall of a nursery or kid’s room. I hope that someone buys it and loves the colors and the happy feeling that comes from it.

Okay, that’s it for today. I am in a very weird place… kind of in-between everything. I can’t really get excited about working on anything new and really, I shouldn’t be starting anything when I have so much to finish. But I really am having a tough time really getting back to the already-started-pieces because it means that there it will require working in the garage and the temps just aren’t all that comfortable. And that is probably just an excuse, I just am unable to get motivated.

Maybe tomorrow will be better.

julie

More Denim, This Is It For a While…

Okay, I persevered and finished another denim quilt. This one fought a long and hard battle. It is the first time that I had to really rip seams and fix mistaken cuts. And not just once. And to add to the fighting, the weight of all that denim had me uttering choice phrases to the sewing machine. I even had to throw my hands up in defeat and leave it for a couple of days while I pondered the best way to finish it.

I think it all boiled down to four diagonal set-in seams. I have never been a big fan of set-in seams anyway, but that they were on a bias and diagonal didn’t help. Oh and yeah, broke four! needles in the process. Denim is not kind but I love the end result.

IMG_6145Now I have three more denim tops completed and have really paired down my stash of recycled denim, I am going to swear off working with it for a while. I flipped through a few books and magazines that I’ve marked with possible ideas but nothing seems to be sparking or lighting a fire under me. Maybe I need to take a break from sewing and concentrate on finishing at least one or two of the Victrola cabinets that I picked up a few weeks ago.

I’ve decided with one that I am going to turn into a little bar… with a little ice tub and a place for bottles and decanters and store glasses and napkins in the cabinet where albums were kept. I am thinking a walnut stained top and painting the cabinet a deep brown. The other cabinet is going to be an entertainment cabinet… using the former horn as an amplifier for an iPhone/iPod/music player and then adding a turntable and also making place for game controllers. This piece is going to be walnut stained top with a deep red/maroon cabinet. I think this will be really sharp.

There are two additional cabinets, a taller one that I think The Kid has his eye on it to be restored to the same sort of end product… a place for gaming systems and also a music system. And the last one has the makings to be the perfect bathroom vanity. I will have to replace the top with a solid piece (it splits in the middle right now), but I could see this is a beautiful ivory with maybe a piece of granite or ivory on top. Guess we’ll have to see how this proceeds.

Tomorrow I may go down to the Habitat’s ReStore and check out what they have in terms of granite or ivory and if they might have any vessel sinks that might work. Or any other interesting pieces that might be fun to work with. I still have the whole garage/shop job that I have planned, a post for another day.

julie

Rescued Wardrobe… Finished At Last!

If you’ve been reading my blog, you will remember that quite some time ago, I started work on rescuing an antique wardrobe. Well, since my last contract ended, I took the last push and finished it. Put the handles on it last night and wiped down the interior and took the final photos.

DSCN2270So here it is, it all of its black, white and shades of grey. Oh and the smallest touches of turquoise. I think it quite striking and I wish that I had a place to display it and keep it in my home. It is that beautiful. Oh, and did I mention? It weighs like 300 pounds, which means, that me and the Kid gotta pick it up and deliver it somewhere. And if luck holds out, it will be on a second floor somewhere. Whew!

DSCN2269I got lucky and the doors open and close easily, no sticking or creaking. This piece was absolutely a gem in its heyday, it is just too bad that the previous owner left it sit in a garage and made a mess of the walnut veneer. I imagine it was an absolutely gem.

DSCN2271As you can see, the interior escaped most of the damage that incurred on the outside. A thorough cleaning of the interior and the replacement of one trim piece and it sparkles like it must have always.

DSCN2272Last shot, you can see the multiple coats of polyurethane just shine in the evening sun… I just love the way this turned out. I especially enjoy the color scheme that was chosen. The stark contrast of the black and white with the shades of grey are stunning. I debated about the accent color, but in the end, I went with a favorite of mine – a deep turquoise.

If you care to see the previous blogs, you can see them here, here and here.

Now, to get them sold and move on to the next projects… picked up these lovely cabinets thanks to the generousity of a gentleman who only wanted the guts of the old record players. I think these will turn out to be very lovely pieces.

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I’ve also started on the third piece of stained glass, after thinking long and hard, it hit me… it has to be my logo for the doll accessories and clothing and furniture that I’ve been creating. Lends itself perfectly to stained glass. I still have to show you the last one I finished, although I think I realized that the image I chose was much too intricate and am not very happy with the way it turned out. But we can talk about that more in the next blog post.

julie

For Sale: Handcrafted Doll House and Accessories

Need that perfect gift for your little doll mommy? Built for all 18″ dolls including American Girl, Today Girl, Journey Girl, Madame Alexander, My Twinn, Our Generation, KidKraft Sadie, Gotz and Disney Princess and more. After many months of planning, shopping, designing, building and furnishing, I am offering this one of a kind dollhouse for $3000.00.

DSCN1929Designed, built, handcrafted and lovingly assembled for your princess just in time for Christmas. Give your little girl a place to play and store all of her American Girl treasures!!

Two pieces, designed for delivery, assembled stands 80″ tall. But that doesn’t include the rooftop garden! Overall dimensions: 80″h x 25″d x 48″w. This was hand built by my son and I in our home and has many extras you won’t find in any other house.

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Three levels boasts a bedroom with adjoining bathroom, living room with fireplace and a state of the art kitchen with built in cabinets and turquoise appliances. Everything pictured is included with the exception of the doll. The doll is not included.

The pink bedroom with handcrafted bed and handmade linens sewn in awesome shades of pink. Includes a pillow with pillow case. Matching dresser in shades of pink (also called ombré style of painting) with four functional drawers. To round out the bedroom, we have a deep red wood stained armoire with a bar for hanging and three small drawers.

DSCN1912Enter the bathroom through the door in the bedroom to find a clawfoot bathtub, toilet and sink. Pink towel set – bath towel, hand towel and washcloth and a small basket with shampoo, conditioner and bath soap. The room is complete with actual white square tiles and baseboards.

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DSCN1911The kitchen is like no other you will ever see! Taking up the entire second floor, it boasts built in glass door cupboards above and below. Stainless steel sink with extendable sink sprayer sits on top of a glass tile countertop in beautiful shades of turquoise. The cupboard next to the store has a solid wood surface perfect for chopping vegetables, and houses a mixer and baking pans. Microwave above the over (sorry, door doesn’t open) but the range has an opening door with two wire shelves and plastic door to see when those pastries are browned. Refrigerator comes stocked with vegetables and food for hosting that perfect holiday party. Pantry next to the ‘fridge also boasts soup and assorted canned vegetables.

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DSCN1924The kitchen floor is a beautiful hardwood floor, three coats of varnish and three coats of polyurethane. This will look beautiful for years of play.  Same floor on the third floor, and has a hand hooked rug in between upholstered sofas. Put your feet up and relax in front of the fireplace (extra firewood in the wood box). A small table with a sewing box is near for mending socks on a late night. Plenty of room to include a Christmas tree for your dolls!

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On top, we have one more relaxing space… three piece wicker set with heart motif is surrounded by pots of colorful flowers. A wonderful place to enjoy the sunshine with a glass of tea!

DSCN1927Please keep in mind that I am simply someone who likes to tinker and collect, I am not a master carpenter so this is unique albeit not perfect.  The small imperfections make it a one of a kind but built and furnished with love and laughter!

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DSCN1902Keep in mind that although lots of little extras have been provided, there is still plenty of room to add your own special touches. Pictures, posters, doll clothes, food, dishes, jewelry… all those things that will make this dollhouse your daughter’s own.

Dollhouse will be available for local pick up in Kansas City MO once payment is received. Feel free to email me with ANY questions.

With regards to shipping: I want to work with you to make this your little girl’s perfect Christmas. I can deliver locally in and around Kansas City area for $50. That includes delivery and set up in your home. I will work with you on getting it to you, inquire about delivery outside the area, please send me an email.  Of course you are always welcome to swing through town and pick it up!

Please remember: The doll is not included. Everything else is.

I would love to hear your comments, questions, your own experiences. See previous posts for more in depth instructions and photos. I’ve truly enjoyed this process, but am ready to move on to something new and challenging.

Thanks for stopping by!

julie

The Finish Line is Within Sight!

So me and The Kid have been putting some real effort into finishing this dollhouse and we’re getting very close. I am hoping to have the bulk of it done by the end of the weekend. I am so ready for this project to be done and over with… and I can get my entry way back!

So, updates: The floors have been done in the bathroom and the bedroom. Laid 2″ square tiles in the bathroom and then grouted with caulk. Because the house still needs to be delivered and therefore undergo some critical traveling, I didn’t want the grout to break or crack so thought that the caulk would be a much better solution. DSCN1853Here is a quick shot of the tile installed. I used Liquid Nails to adhere it, not standard practice for the installation of tile but a good solid decision based on the size of the room and the number of tiles.

DSCN1855Here is the floor with the caulk ‘grout’. I am really liking the clean look of the tile.

DSCN1857Here it is with the baseboard trimming. Isn’t this sweet? And The Kid did a great job of making a door transition and gluing and then grouting the space between the bathroom and the bedroom.

DSCN1858A little bit of clean up to do and it is ready to be staged. You can see in this photo that the floor has been stained (two coats) and then polyurethaned (two coats) and the trim also installed. It, too, is ready for furniture!

DSCN1836You may recall that I started work on the love seats, I wanted to show you how I applied 1″ foam to the pieces to get ready for upholstery. One piece wraps up from the seat and over, all the way to the bottom. A couple of staples and lots of glue, a few clips to hold it in place while it dries.

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Next, I wrapped both arms with the same foam. This time I used clamps in addition to the staples, clips and glue to hold things together until they dried.

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Both loveseats got similar treatments with the foam on the front (forgot the photos). But they have been relocated to my sewing room for the upholstery work. Probably won’t get to them until we finish the work on the house and its ready to be furnished. Additional photos promised.

DSCN1850This is the side and back view of the third floor. Slowly this piece is coming along. You can see that I am toying with ideas for how to “roof” the angled pieces, and at this point, have not settled on a solution.

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I stumbled across the most wonderful little piece of furniture. It actually had three small photo albums in it, but it is going to be transformed into a fireplace. Which means, at some point, I need to scout “fire wood” for it. I also need to figure out how to put floor moulding with the tricky angles, but The Kid thinks he has a way. Ah, I love that Kid!

I won some glassware at a local auction, in additional to a 12 foot x 30″ purple counter top (all for the grand sum of $15!) that I have plans for. But… like I have said many times, no new projects started until this doll house is completed. Now that I have this quick update written, I am going to go work on the kitchen’s lower cabinets and get them ready for installation. Once that happens, then I can do the tile countertops, get the sink installed and complete the trim around the edges. Then its just a matter of details! I can see the finish line!

Once this has been done, it is going up for sale. If you are in the market for a custom doll house, watch this space. I have been thinking about the logistics of getting this shipped or (my choice) delivered, I know that whoever is the recipient of this gift is just going to love it. And just in time for Christmas!

Okay, thanks for stopping by and for following my progress. Remember to keep making beautiful things for the sake of beautiful things! And of course, I’d love to hear any ideas you might have for finishing touches!

Thanks again!

julie

Baby Steps… Can’t Rush the Creativity

Lots to talk about, things making progress but seemingly like getting nothing accomplished. Making steps on the dollhouse, getting an inventory for the doll accessories and clothing sale and finally making visible progress on the wardrobe.

I’ll give you an update on the wardrobe re-do, since I had the Kid take pictures :-) Since it takes up so much room in the foyer, it is difficult to get good photos, but since I have a landing on the second floor that overlooks the entry way, pictures are much easier that way.

So, first, I opted to go with the black, white and shades of gray. I had a lot of paint leftover from the ombré gray dressers back a while and the color scheme did get the most votes. Although no one color got many votes, it was the one I liked the most and if it comes down to it, it will go in just about any color schemed room.

Here was the art:

The Real Number 8I did redo the shades of gray ever so slightly, since once I picked up the brush and the first color, I realized about half way through that I had started in the wrong area! Whoops! So, I just cleared them and started again.

I just finished laying down the second color and I think I am really starting to see it coming together. And really am liking it. Right now the paint I am applying is flat, but once I am done, the whole art is going to get a couple coats of polyurethane and it will all be back to a nice gloss. Again, remember, that the interior is still a beautiful walnut and will only require a deep cleaning. I am getting excited about this piece. Even if it is breaking my back to lean over it to paint.

So, without further ado:IMG_9937There are a couple of reflections at the top from the light, makes it look a little weird. Again, from this angle, you can tell just how massive this piece is and how much of an impression it is going to make in whatever room it ends up in.

Okay, the weather has turned ugly outside and I think that we are going to unplug the network to avoid any voltage surges; we had a lightning strike right outside the house about a year ago that fried the network modem and a power surge protector and don’t want to take any chances when it comes to my computer equipment (did I ever happen to mention that I am a software quality assurance engineer at my day job?) and between me and the Kid, we have lots of expensive toys.

Thanks for dropping by, stay warm and dry and come back soon!

julie

 

Color Condendrum – Your Vote Counts!

I’ve been slowly making progress on that large wardrobe I picked up off Craigslist. It had been a beautiful piece at one time, but when it was handed down, the person on the receiving end either didn’t want it or didn’t know what to do with it. As the story was told to me, it had been relegated to the back corner of a garage, and there, the weather and other elements took its toll on the facade. The interior was – is – gorgeous and will only require a deep cleaning and a wood conditioner (and a couple pieces of missing trim), but it is the outside that has plagued me.

The two broad doors had been layered with walnut veneer that I cannot find to replace it, that is, even if I knew how to work with a veneer. It, too, took a corner position in my garage for a while, as I pondered alternatives. Finally, I opted to fill the sparse areas with wood filler and sand it all, then over the course of several months applied my favorite ‘deep space’ black. My son had done a fantastic job of building a replacement footer and shoring up the overall cabinet, now a strong and sturdy piece of furniture.

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I had been doing (as I do a lot) browsing on the web for interesting treatments to these massive pieces of furniture. The very size of it indicates that whatever room this eventually resides, it will be a focal piece. So I knew it had to have a special treatment. I’d love to show you some of my early influences, but for the life of me I can’t put my finger on it. Gah! Hate when that happens!

Anyway, I tripped across some abstract painting and fell in love with one in particular. You can see her work here. I chose a piece out of her coloring book that she sells on her website and with a little resizing (the wardrobe isn’t square) I was ready to get to work.Large Bold DesignI used an old school projector that I got for free off Craigslist and by simply cleaning it, it was fully functional. Obviously that never stops me, so I had to paint it a much cheerier color than that dismal office desk gray. So I printed the design onto a piece of clear transparency film and simply used white paint pens to mark the edges.

DSCN1815The first try I was a little short – the design didn’t cover the doors – so another couple of layers of black paint and I was ready to start again. While it was sitting in the garage waiting to be remarked, I tried to envision what colors I would use. There was a part of me that thought that the white against the black was unique enough, but the lines are a bit messy and I am not sure that I want to do something so ‘colorless‘.

Last night, me and the Kid manuavered the thing into the entry way and got it set for me to work on it. Now I simply cannot close the garage door to it, it really is an albatross sitting there. Here’s the view from the home office:

imagephotoThis is going to be hard to ignore.

So, this is where I need your help. I’ve taken the template and using Photoshop, tried out a bunch of color combinations. Which one feels right to you? Let me know in the comments or send me an email which one you like. Or use the template above and do your own coloring, I know a lot of you have great artistic skills and a great eye for color

.Color Voting

Work continues steadily on the 18″ sized doll house and the play pieces, furniture and clothing to go with it. The Kid is working on my logo and the web site colors and today we shopped for the new backend server computer. We’re going to be running SQL – this will be my first experience as a DBA and hopefully will hone my SQL skills. While we were shopping, we stopped into the local computer recycling center and then had an honest-to-goodness LISA there. As I was oohing and ahhing over it, the guy working there said rarely does anyone recognize it. Even though my experience with Mac computers go back a ways, it didn’t go back that far, but I admire that our sleek new iMacs and MacBookPros had their humble beginnings with this computer. My son found a G4 MacBook in excellent shape to, so for historical sake and to help my son see what we once thought was the biggest and baddest. He’s been installing the OS and games and apps for the better part of three hours now, so I think he’ll at least use it enough to get the $40 price tag’s worth.

Okay, signing off for now. Come back soon and don’t forget to vote on your favorite designs!

julie

 

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