Thursday, January 02, 2014

DIY: Casters for A Small Pantry Cabinet; Saving An Insulated Wheeled Bag from Extinction for $0

I love a little pantry cabinet that I picked up for $40 in a thrift shop nine years ago. It is a perfect space saving idea for my small kitchen.

The problem is that the swing-out shelf doors need three inches of empty space on either side, making it hard to find the right spot for it.

The pantry slides into the folding-shelves by leaving the bottom two shelves up.

I also bought the folding shelves in a thrift shop. I stack two, instead of using a baker's rack for open storage. This gives me six shelves instead of the typical three or four on a baker's rack. The shelves are narrower, making storage more accessible and a better fit in a galley kitchen.

As the photo shows, the doors will not open, however.

That's why I installed casters on the bottom.

As long as I had it upside down, I put three screws into the backing which was coming loose along that bottom edge.

With casters, I can slide the cabinet forward when I need to access my canned goods, tea, and other dry goods. Then I can slide it back into its nook.

Unfortunately, the wheels made the pantry just a tad too high so that the top shelf would no longer fold down. Simple fix: I shoved some sliders under the bottom of the shelves. Sliders are intended for putting under furniture when moving them. Now the height is perfect.

Installing the casters was easy peasy, so I moved onto to fixing an insulated food bag with a saggy bottom.

This project required some creative problem-solving.

The bag cost less than $20 and was designed to fold into a narrow profile for storage. It has toted a lot of weight it was never meant to carry over the past decade.

I picked up some scrap molding at Home Depot.

The boards are shown along the back of the freezer bag along the pull-up handle. Right below that handle, there was another break where two boards meet but had no support. You can see how I cleverly used two curtain rod brackets to provide stability. They are just below and to the side of each wheel.

I placed the curtain bracket edges toward the bag--see close-up photo. Knowing me, I would rip into a bare shin with one of those if the edges faced out. I used a washer under each screw to compensate for the slightly raised bracket edges. See photo.

I had hoped the scrap molding wood could support the bag's bottom. This wasn't feasible. The original bottom was two wood sections with nothing but quilted bag between them and an interior square cardboard panel.

No wonder this poor bag was sagging!

Neither scrap strip was wide enough to screw into both of the original wood sections, yet they were too long to use in the other direction.

Instead, I used two shim strips that I had on hand. I inserted them under the torn vinyl cover and screwed them into the existing wood construction.

I sealed the opening with a hot glue gun and added a piece of heavy duty laminate. I took the photo on close-up setting so it looks a lot messier than it is.

Remember, this is on the bottom of the bag toward the pavement, where no one can see it.


With the main repairs completed, the scrap molding came in handy to stabilize the inside. I hot-glued the strips into place.

The bag has a fold-down bottom for the expanded dimensions; this covers the wood under-floor.

The bag no longer folds, but it hasn't been used in the slim-line configuration for years. Plus, I can probably get a few more years' use out of this handy bag -- and all the things I used to fix it (except my time) with FREE. Free is good!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Jupiter to Stuart: Discovering Wild Places As Old Florida Vanishes

It is hard to find places with a vista uninterrupted by development in South Florida, like this birding sanctuary in Jensen Beach.
It is right off U.S. 1. No one was there on this hot September Saturday.
One of my favorite things-to-do on a beautiful blue-sky day is drive north to discover things I've never seen or that have changed since last I saw them.

My first September in South Florida, 1982, I was surprised every time I went outdoors the palm trees and heat.

I traveled from New York State on Labor Day weekend, 1982, accompanied by the annual snowbird migration; it seemed as if every fifth car on that great flyover route, I-95, had a northern license plate.

I would soon learn that September can be one of the hottest months of summer, the autumnal equinox that ushers in Fall notwithstanding.

There is a shaded picnic hut for bird watchers well down the trail; I doubt you can see the tiny speck in this this photo.

In this direction, you may see some high-rise condominiums just on the horizon line.

The first time I saw this area, it was so undeveloped, one followed foot trails between the sea grape bushes -- particularly nice one left -- and scrub palmetto to the ocean. We emerged from the dark canopy to the stunning vista of sky so blue it hurt the eyes and sand as white as salt.

L'Ombre, my Doberman Pinscher, mistook the sand for snow. He threw up a snoutful and chomped down to eat some, as he did with snow.

But Mother Nature had played a cruel trick on him and was about to pay another.
He ran to the ocean to get the sand out of his mouth, only to be confronted with another thing he had never before encountered -- salt water. Poor doggie.

But he loved the beach and to swim in the ocean, something none of my other dogs ever did. They feared the water and hated the hot sand on their feet.

The next set of photos is from a detailed mural with sections in relief, in an arcade leading to a small hole-in-the-wall bar and little gift shops. I think this is Port Salerno, but I'm not sure.

The first photo blends trompe l'oiel with a real potted plant. Other depictions are a sailfish, a popular sport fishing catch; underwater scene with mermaid, and a school of fishes under the gift shop window.

In an art gallery just around the corner from the arcade, I found beautiful art that captures the South Florida ambiance I love. Some of the photos turned out darker and more shadowed than I could rememdy.

This mermaid sculpture is a lovely piece for home that would need to be larger than mine to accommodate it.

The charming watercolor depict the insouciance of a Florida that is decades gone and never to return.

On the way home, I took a wrong turn and wound up in an area that seemed deserted -- even of cars. It is unnerving to think about being stranded miles from anywhere on a road for which I don't know the name and could only be sure that I was driving generally East.

Assuming there is cell phone coverage -- and I wasn't -- how would I tell the tow-truck to find me on a road off the Kanner Highway with a sign pointing toward I-95?

At first, the fields had cows grazing; after a mile two there was what you see in the photo.

I like knowing there are still wild places in Florida -- even though this looks like second growth -- but I don't necessarily want to live or be stranded in such a place.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Warehouse with Artistic Mural Captures Eye of the Hurricane

Even our warehouses are better in Fort Lauderdale.

This ordinary gray cinderblock warehouse is probably will not be on any tourists' list of things-to-do in Fort Lauderdale.

Located on a street parallel to Dixie Highway, the muralist made the best of the dull gray exterior by using it for an eye-of-the-hurricane scene.

I like the energy of the storm and the way the palm trees are shown bending in the wind.

So far, we've escaped any hurricanes, but I learned this morning on the Weather Channel, that 49% of all hurricanes hit the East Coast USA in September. And 82% come in September or October.

I remember some doozies late in the season. Wilma, for one, had schools closed in November. Tropical Storm Irene, later upgraded to hurricane, knocked down our fence and closed roads.

Going back to the Eighties, I remember the time a tanker washed up in the back yard of Palm Beach socialite Molly Wilmot. She fed the Venezuelan crew finger sandwiches and adopted their cat. If you are intrigued, you can read her 2002 New York Times obituary here.