Tag Archive | diy

My pretty cat tree

Has anyone noticed that Pinterest, while full of pretty pictures tend to NOT have directions or even general info on the pictures when you follow the link?  Hopefully, this post, while not an exhaustive How-To will help you along.

my original inspiration picture

My finished product;img_4036

I loved that it was really a pretty tree with platforms.  Yes for a cat, however, more on the artistic shelf side than the “my cats own me” side.  I put out a call to my friends to see if anyone happened to have a tree similar in size and species (I was truly hoping for birch like the picture but free is a good reason to compromise).  Luckily a friend did, in fact, have a big birch that had been chewed down by bevers and she was happy to have it find a good home.  Personally, the bever part added to the tree backstory but she is annoyed at the bevers that seemed to chew down this tree just for sport because they did not bring it to their dam or anything.  Sorry, I digress, the providence of the tree now established we can move on.

Her husband was *awesome* about cutting the tree into very nice sections for me.  First, we picked the section with the fork and cut an 11-foot section (1.5 feet below the fork).   I intended on taking 9 feet but trees look smaller in the outside world.  The extra bits came in handy though and it fit in the trailer.  He also cut some round sections of the trunk for me.  In retrospect, round sections tend to dry out and crack but so far so good on these.  He did a great job cutting 4 sections about 4inches thick and about as level as one could ask for with a chain saw.


the extra stumps are for a different project.

After getting it home I put in in the garage for 2 weeks to let it dry (it was laying in snow and was in the water in the fall) and let any bugs hopefully move out and to think about my formats.  This is a more purposeful sculpture than a blueprint plan.

My goal was an 8f tall cat tree that looked like a naturally growing tree,


my rough plan

Part#1 getting it stable enough to stand up without building a supplemental something – most DIY Cat trees have a cat house at the base to lend stability.

  • My solution was 3 gigantic bolts.
    • I used an offcut of Ikea countertop I had leftover, it fit the bill of heavy and the right general size of 2fx2f (actually measures 23×26) and is 1.5 inches thick.
    • I used my trunk offcut to trace the tree diameter centered on my base and then used a 1 1/4 inch spade bit to sink the holes deep enough that the bolts would not touch the floor
    • Make sure the trunk is cut level.  I did this by hanging a plumb from an upper brace.  Trees just are not straight so I both used a speed square and did the 8f away look and see test.
    • Prop the tree up to using whatever means necessary to make it perpendicular to the base on your center marks/pre-drilled holes.
    • Pre-drill into the tree using a very long drill bit.  I got this one for building the playset, glad to use it twice.  I put a mark on the bit for depth so the bolt would extend just past my predrilled hole.
    • use a socket driver and put in the giant bolts (with washer!)
    • vola, it stands!

giant bolt, the biggest I could find. Yes dad, I know I overdid it.


my setup, use anything sturdy to hold it up, my giant drill bit and my impact driver.

Part #2 platforms.  I considered a few things;

  • I wanted one platform to be a convenient height and location to act as an end table,
  • what natural supports could I use that already exist on the tree?
  • my platforms needed to be natural looking but also greater than 10inches for the cat and in a ‘ladder’ style.

My Solution was to try a few arrangements using the forks and natural bumps to find self-supported spots.

  • I didn’t want to just trust gravity so I cut into the trunk apx a half-inch using a hand saw so the platforms would nook into the trunk.
  • I also used 2-inch deck screws to go diagonally through the platforms and into the trunk.
    • To make it look better I added small chunks of branch or tree cut to size to appear to support the platforms but really, the screws are doing the work.
  • The bottom 3 are rounds from the tree that I sanded, the top 2 are 1/4 inch scrap wood I had around cut into interesting shapes.  I choose lighter thinner wood for the top for balance.


The thought I put into this far exceeded the time it took to actually put it all together.  There was some trial and error of balancing and cutting platforms but I treated it more like a painting than a shelf – working a little here and a little there until it was done.  Once it was inside I used scrap fabric and some padding and a stapler to cover the top two platforms. It took about 4 hours of actual work time from beginning to end and I used the following tools;

  • hand saw – trimming un need branch, cutting the flat bottom, cutting into the tree
  • chop saw (this proved dangerous, uneven branches are not great on this tool)
  • jigsaw – for the shaped platforms
  • impact driver and drill
  • sander
  • stapler/fabric
  • level – yes, I made sure every platform is level as I went.  It was interesting


My cost on this was under $10 because I either had the items or they were free.  I only purchased the 3 massive bolts and 3 washers.  I hate when someone labels a project “Under $10 cat tree” but technically true.  Free tree, scrap wood, and an offcut countertop for the base and who doesn’t have a random half box of 2in deck screws?


Again, hope this how-to is helpful.  If you end up making your own tree I would love to see pictures.




post #10 Sew Happy

I’m running out of good titles for the catchall of my week post, so, this is my 10th post of 2020 and #2711th overall.  I have put a lot of words out there.

This week the kids actually went to school on a Monday and are expected to be there all week. The pace of winter activities is picking up and also this is the season for planning so even though there is snow on the ground I need to start mapping out camps and summer and softball and I’m also running an SCA event in May that has prep work and possibly another so I need to tour some sites.  All these moving parts are like balls of different sizes I’m chasing around a room.  If I was just working on 10 events that would be no problem but its the bran gear shift from project A to project c where I’m nearly a different person to each group gets the brain going loopy.  Occasionally I have to pause and think about how to sign an email because I’m not ‘just Kate’ I’m Kate+role.

(I’ve deleted apologies to you readers about my SCA resume post because it probably made no sense to half of you but welcome to my world~ it is diverse in this brain and I’m not apologizing.  I’m also genuine in each role, it is just a different part of me that gets the front stage, I sure hope I don’t sound schizophrenic now… )

Over the past week or so I’ve been in the happy finishing place for lots of projects.  I love the part when I actually get it done.  This is semi part of my organization quest of the year because by organizing things I find all the parts of the projects and instead of putting them other places to lose them again I am DOING them.  The list will never end but I’ll enjoy this spurt of time while I have it.

First I tackled a pile of ‘stuff’ that has been lurking by a wall long enough that traffic patterns in the house have adjusted to go around it.  In that pile was the end of Christmas, out to the garage it went.  The remainder was a mash-up of sewing to-do’s that I just couldn’t find a place to start so I asked my Facebook list and they helpfully voted.  They were all of roughly equal priority so I was happy for the nudge and once I was in, I could roll through.  Lars was also pleased that putting buttons on his shorts from maybe last year (maybe longer…) and fixing his gym bag made the list and they are all done now.

First I ironed a stack of napkins, like a taste of progress, and since the iron was hot I did every patch on all 3 vests.  Not shown is the collection of patches from last year(s) that never got done on older vests but moving forward they are ready.


then fired up the sewing machine for some curtain action; Niamh needed an extra set of panels in her room and I needed anything in my room.  Done and done with a bonus project of putting up curtain rods in my room that had been getting dusty in the corner of the room.

As I was hanging curtains in my room I was moving award scrolls for probably the 4th time since we moved and decided to quit moving them around and finished that project by finally hanging them all up.  *this project has been in process for months starting with the picture rail, moving on to frame buying, and finally getting it up and looking good.  It is cool enough I might do a how-to because I’m pretty pleased with the resources I found.


Back to the sewing pile, I had a stack of flannel I turned into things to blow your nose on and wash, the button sewing, a trio of seasonal pillowcases (that I am using the fabric from my old seasonal curtains that don’t work in this house as curtains) and finally I turned these three outgrown knit items into useful and custom throw pillows.  I’m glad I know the principals of knitting because I had to unknit the arms to make them work right.


no pets were disturbed with the taking of this picture

It was a busy few days for crafting and I’m very pleased to have focused long enough to turn a giant monster pile into a small basket of future projects.  There is a fine line between scope creep and project hopping and I’m not always sure where I stand but it feels good to do the job.  Now the spot in the hall is back, the corner of my room that was full of scrolls is empty and I can move on.

Next up in both cleaning spaces and getting ready for stuff I MUST make my garage into a functional cookie vault.  This means making the workbench less of a tool jumble sale and rearranging some things.  The weather is decent today and I’ve just downloaded a new audiobook so I’m going out there.  Thanks all for being a place I can both hold myself accountable and be proud of what I got done.  Self-motivation is not the easiest thing but I think I disserve to have that on my resume at this point!


Hey, November got crazy, I did finish the shed but it was a marathon!  I had tons of help and it was like a party, I can see how barn-raising used to be a community affair.  We did get the snow, as expected, and the weather just kept on for the entire long weekend.  However, it was not that cold so for me, that was really good.  Sure there was snow on the ground but my fingers and toes were cozy in normal layers so the finishing bits got done.  On Thanksgiving day I pulled out the ladder and air nailer and finished the roof tarp properly.  Then we installed the door.  It may have been what I was most worried about and in the end, it was the absolute easiest!  We had everything going for us;

  • High-quality Anderson door that was well built and had fewer steps for installing than my doorbell
  • We built the opening to match the door so we didn’t need to adjust anything
  • everything was square to start!  that was a big surprise to us all but it shows that being careful at the start pays off in the end.

The only snafu was the cat stepping in the silicon gel and we wasted a little time laughing at the cat (and googling if it was toxic) (it was not).  The thing was heavy but between 3 adults we shoved it in and that was more or less that.  It makes the shed look like a real building, I’m very pleased.


roof tarp secure, door installed.  (Lars’s look of concern is not about the door)

Thanksgiving afternoon, post-construction projects, progressed as holiday normal.  Friends came over, the table was set with cheer, food was cooked and consumed and everyone had a good time.  I went to bed happy, and, for the first time in weeks, I slept well because I had ZERO crazy deadline projects on my mind.


Our crew this year

The kids had off from Wednesday through the weekend, but, it was very crappy weather with snow, freezing rain, more snow interspersed with random decent weather.  This is NOT GOOD for going places but the kids really did have a great time playing in the snow around the house.  I can’t express in words how good it feels for them to decide to put on snow gear and go out and play.  They play nicely for ages.  It sounds dumb but it makes my heart full and happy, I hope I always remember this.


they ended up with 3 snow people and a fort started in the front yard

There was a vague plan to go get a Christmas tree ‘from the wild’ but the weather just wasn’t on our side so we went with our traditional visit to the Home Depot to pick a tree ‘from the not wild’.  It is still a fun little trip and I love the tree we picked.  The Home Depot must have extra jolly criteria for working the tree lot because like last year, the people who helped us were fun and happy and made the experience more than transactional.



In the past I’ve stressed about the ‘holiday card picture’ and over the past years, I’ve realized that I do better trying all year to get good pictures and then one low-stress fast fun photo if the opportunity arises.  The perfect opportunity presented itself on Sunday – we had been unpacking the decorations and found all the assorted shirts so everyone put one on, also found were the assorted Santa hats.  The day moved on and there was a break in the weather so everyone ran outside with boots, hats, scarfs and no other changes to outfit or hair or makeup and we took about 15 pictures in under 5 minutes and it worked great.  I have two great shots and zero crabby kids.

The balance of this week has been all about putting the house back together post project and 5 days of lazy vacation life.  I finished our Christmas card today and its at the printer and this weekend santa comes to our town to light the tree so I’m working on decorations and gift ideas too.

It is a different type of busy, Christmas still has its stresses and I create my own extra for wanting to do ‘all the things’ but it is a fun busy.  Who knows how long the particular magic of Santa will last but I plan on enjoying it all.



Racing the weather

Since Sunday I’ve been spending all my time shed building.  Timeline got critical because a big (early) snowstorm is predicted for tonight so it was pretty much the last chance to build my shed.  The shed has been pushed off all season because;

  1. very very wet spring, like standing water all spring
  2. Needed to research and decide and research and read and ask etc this takes a long time in my world, I probably should have started last January to actually be ready for a May build.
  3. You know, life, and kids and extra kids, travel, and the summer just flew and I’m not a fan of working in super hot sun either.
  4. Other projects stole time and resources, I did build a Pergola and a garden structure this year as well as some indoor things but the shed was always on my mind.
  5. Fall went back to rain every weekend, very non-conducive to getting something built.

Finally, I decided what I wanted, how it should go, and the weather was not wet and so last week I started digging foundation just in time for a hard freeze BUT there was a predicted nice week (this week) so in many ways this entire shed has been actually built between Sunday and today.


this was all I had done before Sunday.  Square and Level is a good start though.


Kids loved banging nails.  We had to add a little support to most wisely use our wood.

It was a team effort, even the kids helped, and everyone had fun doing it.  The impending snow was the challenge we needed to really get moving.  I have worked pretty constantly the past 3 days with breaks to drive kids or go to the hardware store.  If it was summer we could have done so much more because it is light out until 8pm but a 4:30 sunset adds to the difficulty and also makes it harder to over-do it because there is no way to push on and get to the stupid stage of the day.

According to the weather people, we should start seeing snow in about half an hour but at this point we are ready.  The foundation, frame, sheeting, and house wrap are done.  The roof trusses are up and so is the plywood and underlay for shingles, and, about 2 rows of shingles.  We put a giant tarp up, in the dark, because nobody was willing to shingle in the dark *even though I found a shop light!!*.  I also didn’t get the door in so there is a tarp over the opening.  The door is something I can get done in the snow but the roof is just going to wait until spring.  My fondest hope is a warmish day this week, I can shovel a path and it will be snug in there to put in the door and then add a few shelves, hooks for bikes etc and haul the stuff from the garage so then I can park in the garage for the rest of the season.  We will see…

My brain is super energized for getting so much done so fast, but, my body is telling me I used a lot of odd muscles.  Right now I’m tucked in bed early with my laptop enjoying putting my feet up and surrounding myself with pillows.  Tomorrow I tackle the things not yet done in the week, and, prep for Thanksgiving.  It is a mellow holiday with 2 friends families joining and provided we are not snowed in, I will shop tomorrow for all the things for a proper feast.  No other plans (other than the shed finishes) for the holiday but I foresee puzzles, games, TV and maybe some Christmas shopping and decorating.  Sorry, I didn’t post daily, hopefully nobody thought I was overcome by sleepover kids.  (that was a busy day, maybe I’ll post about it tomorrow)


Eket 2 drawer cabinet

First things first, if you came here because you are having trouble with your Eket, ME TOO.  I found ZERO people who had this issue so maybe it was just me, because, every other post was a glowing review about how simple and easy it is.  I agree, the frame is quite easy but this two-drawer cabinet has gliders that are, as standard for Ikea, genius yet inscrutable instructions.  I installed mine in what I thought was an absolute following of the directions but nope, I did it upsidedown and backward.

The key is getting the right and left sorted, so note carefully the grove and then what set of holes is closer to the ‘top’ when the keyholes are oriented correctly per picture.  I suppose that is what the pointing finger is trying to say but seriously Ikea, just use a word or two.73a050e9-1db7-48c9-9c14-3cd2eeb4d367-28320-00000ff69d78f7f4_file

Once that was done it was cake.  As easy as everyone says for sure.

Personally, I had another minor dilemma because originally I was just going to get the drawers and mount them just below the shelf, but, then the 4 cube was in the clearance section for a price that was too good to pass up.  I didn’t pay attention to the fact that it stacked up to exactly the same hight as the shelf.

Decision time, remove the shelf or go back to plan A and find a new home for the cube.  Lars preferred the potential of 4 new cubbies so we broke out the bolt cutters and trimmed out the shelf we no longer needed.  I did actually keep the bit to the left of the drawers, you can’t really see it but all I needed to do was move one support and it was stable so that was worth the effort.

As you can see, the eket is the perfect depth for a closet system.  Everything else is ClosetMaid standard and often other furniture stick out too far or are too far back.  This looks slightly proud because of our floor molding but that is ok by me because I can push the top unit back slightly so it has better balance when the drawers are out.

If you were wondering, Lars required his own drawer for accessories and these are very good because they are shallow so you don’t stack too much in there.  They also have the fun ‘pop open’ hardware so no knobs to worry about.


I think this improves our closet nicely, other then the frustration of putting it together 2x, I like it a lot.


ps. I also like the series because the name reminds me of my friend Ekat.

Happy Halloween – costume edition

I hope everyone had a great night with their trick or treating or hanging at home being cozy.  For once, we had a day go *as planned* with nearly no issues or problems and it was fun from beginning to end.

Kids went off to school, 1 in costume, 2 bringing costumes, and a bag full of treats to share (if they were allowed).  ::aside:: I’m glad I’m getting this teacher for #3 third so I already know the ropes because there was zero communication on what permutation or combination of holiday fun was happening in her room.  She is the more kind teacher so I asked for her but she isn’t as on top of the note sending.  ::tangent over::  I collected them under bright and not so cold sky and we zipped home to wait for Lars to finish work.

Everyone knows the drill and thankfully they all still love to pose for me.  We did a photo shoot for each costume and then had a meat and cheese tray for early dinner and went off to meet friends and then traveled in a mob house to house.

This year #1 went as Athena.  She is still in deep love with the Greek myths and legends but at least this goddess had some very easy to identify items so at least 3 people could guess who she was.


halloween 2019-006

Medusa head shield, spear, and then general Greek-ish clothing fit for a Goddess.halloween 2019-005 Her shield was drawn by me but colored and contoured by her.  It also has the ‘feed me’ feature where candy went into the mouth and we had a ziplock bag on the back.  We had to empty her fairy regularly into a normal size bag but making Madusa puke out candy was also kinda fun.halloween 2019-007

Her outfit is really quite pretty and while not mundanely reusable it will absolutely go into the garb collection.  Her costume was 100% hand made (except for the laurel leaf hairpiece) and you can’t have a real hand made Halloween without a little tin foil.


#2 As ever, is a little on the wild side.  She is a Pirate Parrot with a pair of Pistols.  It was a fun costume to collect and I’m really happy with how it came together.

halloween 2019-012

I think we hit the blend of Pirate and Parrot nicely.  She told one friend that her mom was a pirate and her dad was a parrot…  well, maybe we work on the reality of genetics some other day.halloween 2019-009

I’m really happy with the mask.  It is all fleece (leftover bits from the wings and tail) and I machine sewed the majority and hand sewed the beak on and into a curve.  This is not actually the best picture ever because usually it fit right up over the silly pirate logo on the hat for a pretty cool look but I wanted to get that smile in the picture.

She had fun with the pistols too although they did get put in their holsters and forgotten about for the rest of the night (thankfully).  I think having hands free to hold a candy bag and ring doorbells is an important trait in a costume.

halloween 2019-013

Hard to say this is a totally hand made costume since she is wearing a red T-shirt and normal pants and a store-bought hat/pistols, however, I made the wings and tail and mask.  So hand made parrot, store-bought pirate?  Regardless this won’t have too much future use other than dress up box but I might remake the fleece into cozy pillowcases.

#3 went a bit classic – she is A devil (not The Devil).  She is certainly impish plenty of the time so pretty suiting persona to put on.halloween 2019-003

She declined wings or a cape or a fluffy skirt in favor of the very classic horns and a tail.

halloween 2019-002

Her costume is possibly the least homemade as it is overall very simple.  I couldn’t resist the sparkle headband horns and it came with the pitchfork.   We found a blouse at goodwill that was the perfect color and I really loved the lace since it would dress up a dull red dress nicely.  I cut the shirt apart and resewed it to fit.  The tail was my only from scratch item – tube with stuffing and a bit of wire attached to a ribbon to tie on.  The tail did end up with some abuse over the last few weeks but 12 gauge wire is pretty flexible stuff.

halloween 2019-001

Her outfit is technically just a dress but I have low expectations of her wearing it not as dress up.  Who knows!  you might see it at Christmas, it is a very festive red.  Hornes were declared too itchy so they might get donated right away so another little devil can have the pleasure next year.  Overall she was comfortable and warm since I made it roomy enough to go completely over her winter coat (and I’m glad I did)

Here are all three, having some fun while we waited for 5:30.  You can see in the background my photo wall of every costume, it is a real fun project and it is so fun to see the costumes every year.

halloween 2019

I had been crossing my fingers the weather would be ok for the outside walk.  It was nearly perfect, clear and crisp and not too cold.  Sure we had to be creative about bundling up and double socks but everyone was warm.  We went to the same neighborhood as last year that really does it up, tons of kids running around and superb decorating and hospitality (fires and warming spots).  We came home at 7:30 and popped in a pizza to eat while watching a Halloween movie.  Everyone was happily asleep by 10 and I wasn’t far behind.  I love having an outlet for creating something fun and helping them become characters they love.


Fur cloak, wings are quite warm plus we had a red sweatshirt to replace the t-shirt and devil dress fits over her coat.  I’ll take credit for planning indoor/outdoor costumes thanks 🙂

Today the decorations come down but I’ll take pictures before I do for a slightly late Halloween House tour tomorrow.