An old table made new!!!

A few months ago I received an email from a reader asking for a few more details on my refinishing technique. And I think she may have been looking for just a little "push!" Sometimes all a person needs is a little encouragement...and of course a good tutorial!

This tutorial for stripping old finishes is by far my favorite post and there have been many who have benefited from the information and encouragement! 

If you are like Chantelle, you may be looking at your table (or dresser or desk or heirloom cabinet) and wanting desperately to make a change. You see the potential...you just aren't sure how to get there.

Her biggest beef was the "heavy" orange finish.

The table is amazing but I agreed...the "orange" finish was pretty bad and as she noted, it really didn't go with their "new" kitchen.

But a cruddy old finish should never be a deal breaker for a solid piece of furniture with good bones....it is not a difficult thing to change with a little know-how and encouragement.

Sometimes all we need is someone to tell us YOU CAN DO IT!!!

She emailed me this week with pictures of her finished table...."The first picture shows the table how it was originally, the second picture shows how it was once I had completely stripped it and then sanded it down (you were right, it hardly needed any sanding) and the final picture shows how the table is now, after I applied my finish!"

Absolutely stunning!!!

I asked her what finish she used...

"It's called Osmo Top Oil. Really good stuff, someone left a ring mark on the worktop from a hot cup, and it just wiped straight off. Really impressive. "

Impressed I am...so I immediately started doing a little research on the product. Definitely something I will try in the future.

I am always open to new products. Just recently another reader posted a comment on this same tutorial about the use of oxalic acid to remove dark stains on raw wood. 

"....after the table was stripped, some ugly black spots remained on the top. Google told me that it was probably water damage, if water penetrates through the finishing, some woods with high tannin content (oak) can develop such spots due to a chemical reaction between the tannin and the traces of iron in the water. They can be removed with oxalic acid, and some sources advise to use distilled water to dissolve it. The guy from the specialized wood finishing shop, where I bought the acid laughed at the idea and ensured me that tap water would do. Instead of dissolving, I just sprinkled the acid (it is crystals, looks like sugar) on the spots, and then added several drops of water just to turn the crystals to paste. I wasn't sure how long it was going to take, so checked from time to time and could see how the spots were getting lighter and then completely vanished after maybe half an hour. Sorry for the long description but maybe it would be useful for some of your readers. I myself was unsure and a little bit scared that it could damage the table but it was very straightforward."

I have used numerous processes to remove dark stains on raw wood, with little success. So I immediately ordered the acid from Amazon and will give it a shot when I run across this problem again. 

I think the best advertisement for any product is the success stories of others! The processes and products I use may not necessarily be the best process or product for you, which is why I always encourage others to do their own research and use what works for YOU! 

I'll make sure I report in on my experiences with both products. Until then, if anyone else has had any experiences with these products, I sure would like your take on them. I emailed my blog-friend Cristina at Remodelandolacasa and she had not used the acid but is anxious as well to hear the results since she just recently ran into the "stain" problem on a table she refinished!

Until then.....

The secret to "empty nest" cooking....

Learning to cook as an "empty nester" has been tough for me. I am use to cooking for a "family" so now I find myself throwing away food...or eating the crock pot full of chicken chowder for three days.

No huge deal...Brian loves leftovers and I honestly don't care. But seriously, three days of the same old thing? 

I like to cook...what I don't like is the planning and shopping (and of course, wasting food!) Seriously, when I ask "What do you want for dinner?" I sincerely want to know what you want...because I'll cook anything (except liver and peas...I don't do liver and peas!) so just TELL ME WHAT YOU WANT TO EAT!!!!

So I found a solution that works for us. I'm not big on endorsing products, and I firmly believe in shopping around to find what works best for YOU! 

HomeChef meals work for us. I have three dinners automatically delivered every Wednesday and we look forward to it because we are eating flavors and foods we rarely ate before.

If you need to skip a week it is as simple as going onto the website and canceling the delivery for that week! (I did that the weeks of Thanksgiving and Christmas!)

I have said it before...if I had salt, pepper and garlic, I would be happy as a clam! But these meals are full of flavors I have rarely cooked with and they provide it all!!! The meat, veggies and all the seasonings. All you do is follow the super awesome recipe card they provide with each meal. They tell you everything you need to do from prep to plate!

For Brian and I this has been a God sent...I don't have to plan and shop for those meals and we get amazing meals perfectly proportioned! No waste! Truth be told, they are probably healthier than what I would normally cook as well.

So how does this help us?

First, financially. While the meals may seem a bit expensive ($10 each so $60 a week for 3-2 person meals) I spend far less at the grocery store AND there is no wasted food!

Second, I really think we are eating healthier. One of the great things about this service is they have meals specifically for people on gluten, sugar and other dietary restrictions. You can specify those restrictions...and since you can see your "menu" months in advance, you can always change the meals in advance! 

Third, it allows me to plan for holidays by allowing me to easily cancel a week's delivery, or even decrease or increase the number of meals!

Fourth, we are eating foods and flavors for the first time. Even if you are the worst cook, the super easy step-by-step instructions and all inclusive seasonings turn a novice into a gourmet chef! (if you need garlic, they send it...if you need cracked black pepper, they send it!) Seriously, this would be perfect for young couples just starting out who don't have the advantage of learning on the arm of a southern grandma ;) 

And lastly, it is a silly little thing Brian and I both look forward to together...OUR MEALS ARE COMING...YIPPEEE! Because every meal is something new, we look forward to cooking together and sharing something new! (Kind of like the new hip restaurant only you get to wear your pajamas!)

I still cook a crock pot full of chowder, stew or chili every weekend...and we still eat on it for two or three days! 

But those three meals a week are something we really look forward to! Not sure it would be a good option financially for a family, but it is perfect for us "empty nesters" and I think it would be ideal for a couple or even a single!

If you are cooking for two...or even just one...you might check it out. Don't snub your noise at "flavors" and foods you don't normally eat...I can honestly say in the four months we have been using the service, we have not had one bad meal! 

Try it...you might just like it!

 

 

 

Organizing one tiny step at a time!

This time of the year the blogs are filled with organizing tips. They are all great but man, can they be overwhelming! 

They feed into our desire to get our lives and homes in order. So I thought I would share a few TINY things I have done in each room of the house that have, in one way or another, made my life a tad simpler. Nothing major or earth shattering...just little things you can do that don't require a pickup load of storage boxes or a week of total madness in your quest to "get it right."

So I walked around my house with my camera and asked myself...what in THIS room makes my life a little easier.

First...my bedroom. Getting my bedroom the way I love it was a looooong process that I revealed here. But there is one tiny element that makes my life a little simpler....

This tiny little change to the outlet next to my bed was super simple to install (here I share how to install one!) and has made my bedtime ritual so much easier. I can still have my clock and lamp plugged in while charging my phone and Ipad.....zero hassle! 

My office...I have a ton of organizing tips for home office spaces, but my absolute favorite is simple...binders!

These are just a few I keep at my finger tips...on a shelf in my closet I also have binders for home and car insurance documents, tax returns, legal papers, etc. Since I have a business, all my receipts and invoices get tossed in a paper box each month and at the end of the year stored in the attic...just in case the IRS comes knocking! Super simple "filing" system! But the documents I need on a regular basis are kept in binders at my finger tips!

The toilet paper holder. Okay, this may seem silly but if you have ever had a puppy, kitten or toddler, you know the struggle....the daily ritual of cleaning up the toilet paper that has been "unrolled!" I discovered this little trick with my last kitten...

Install an "open ended" toilet paper holder vertically rather than horizontally. Not only does it take away the entertainment value of "unrolling" the paper it makes it super simple to replace the roll!

See, I told you these were simple little changes...

On to the laundry room. I have said time and again, I like pretty but it has to have function. One of my favorite little things to collect are the old Lane cedar boxes. Some believe they are old "sample" boxes used by Lane salesmen for their cedar chest line. Not so! They were actually little cedar boxes Lane gave away to girls when they graduated from high school to entice them to buy a large Lane cedar chest. I find them all the time at auctions and in flea markets. A quick strip with my acetone/lacquer thinner mixture and a few coats of tung oil and they are as good as new...and super pretty!

I use one to hold dryer sheets in my laundry room and I also have one on my dresser for reading glasses and such and one in my den to hold the remotes. Pretty with a purpose!

Which brings me to my kitchen. So many neat little ways I have made this space much more functional and organized, but I chose to share one of my few loves that really serve little purpose...my cutting boards....

Here and here I share how super simple it is to revive old cutting boards! Except for the one I use as a recipe holder, they really serve no purpose because I don't use wood cutting boards. But I love the warmth and whimsy they add to kitchen!

In the den a few more of my favorites "with a purpose!" When I started seeing all the "old work benches" being repurposed in the blogosphere I remembered I had my dad's old tool bench stuck back in a storage shed. I pulled it out and gave it a little makeover! It is one of the few "primitive" pieces I feature in my home. Because it was actually built and used by my dad, I LOVE it!!!

It is relatively small and doesn't take up a lot of space and serves as a perfect little side table next to the lounge chair in the den! 

Coffins...again, morbid sounding, I know. But they aren't REALLY coffins, that is just what they are called! I have several and I use them for storing fire wood, photo albums and books!

Another super simple "makeover" project that yields "pretty with a purpose!"

I did manage one major "purge" this year...partially out of necessity. When I redid my entry this year I created a dust bowl that forced me to remove a 30 year collection of hardback books for cleaning and I decided it was time to finally let go! Over 150 books found a new home and my bookcases finally found room to breath! 

I kept the collections of two of my favorite authors but the rest were boxed up and given to a friend.

Truthfully, I haven't missed them and now I think twice before spending money on another hardback. I still read, I just don't "buy to have"...I buy paperbacks I can leave for others or I download them on my Kindle. 

I will say that getting rid of clutter, a real heart wrenching purge and declutter, is ESSENTIAL to making your house a home. Maybe one or all of these tips will make that process a little easier!

Happy New Year!!!

This weekend we put another year in the books and begin a new one! 

I love when bloggers post their "favorite" projects of the year but for me it's a toss. Every project is a "favorite" because I love doing what I do and I learn something new every time I pick up a tool or a paint brush. So feel free to look around in my archives and find your favorite...and hopefully some inspiration! After all, that is why I share...to inspire and motivate! 

We had another wonderful Christmas...Mitchell couldn't make it home which always makes me sad. But this year we added two new members to the celebration. 

The first is our soon to be daughter-in-law! Taylor and Brandon will be married in Hawaii this summer (yes, we are going...yippeee!) so we let her sneak into the annual family photo. I told her if the wedding didn't happen I would have to "photoshop" her out...lol! Truth is, she is precious and a wonderful addition to our family and I expect her to be in our holiday photos in the future! 

The second? Well, as I have mentioned, I have quite a few "feral kitties" at my apartments and over the years several have made their way home with me. A few weeks ago a very friendly and tame kitty hopped in my car and seemed more than happy to come home with me. Seriously, what choice did I have? He obviously wasn't a "feral" kitty but he has been around for months and I can only assume he was abandoned. Naturally, I couldn't just bring it home...after all, he could be diseased or sick...and he obviously wasn't neutered. So we stopped off at the vet's, had a few tests run, got a bunch of shots and of course, neutered. 

Brian was not the least bit happy with the idea of "fostering" a kitty...after all, we already have four and that is a few too many as it is! But "Mr. Jinx" really is a precious kitty. The vet agreed that if he isn't full "Maine Coon," he definitely has some in him. Beautiful, precious personality (reminds me of my Molly!) and HUGE! Seriously, he is a big cat! 

So for now, he is the newest member of the family...until I am forced, kicking and screaming, to "rehome" him. But in my opinion, he is right at home here!

Today all the Christmas decor, except the tree, will be boxed and put into storage. Makes me sad...and the house just looks so "blank." 

Oh well...the wheels are already turning. Lots of projects in the garage and I'm sure I will find something in the house to tear up this year! 

Stay tuned...you never know what I might decide to "learn" this year...until then have a very safe and HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Making the holidays a tad easier...

"Its the most wonderful time of the year!!!" It is, but man, can it put a strain on our bodies, time and finances! 

Over the years I have found a few ways to make my holiday season just a tad easier and economical.

Today I want to share a few of those things....

LIGHT REMOTE

I bought mine at Lowe's....

This nifty little gadget allows you to turn on your indoor Christmas decor with the touch of a button. I have one on my big tree, one on my small tree in the den and one on the big wreath and trees in the den. Just plug anything into this outlet, plug it into the wall and punch a button...on or off...simple as it sounds!

TIMERS

Definite must-have for outdoor lighting! No more going out into the cold and unplugging the lights before you go to bed...or worse, FORGETTING to unplug the lights! I set my timers to 5 p.m. and 11 p.m. and know that my lights will automatically turn on and off! (Most home improvement stores carry them!)

STAR SHOWERS

These were pretty much out of necessity. Brian has been the official "outdoor light" guy for 16 years...but a few years ago he fell off the ladder and last year he had a hernia. So I had to find a way to light up the outdoors without killing him. Hence the Star Showers! One...mehhhh. Two...so-so....but two on the house and four pointed at the tall pine trees....WOW!!!! Beautiful. I almost don't miss all the colored and icicle lights...almost!

I bought mine at Bed, Bath and Beyond and I have seen them advertised online and on TV.

WRAPPING TABLE

Again, out of necessity. I'm too OCD to leave wrapping stuff strung out on my dining table for the entire season...and sitting on the floor wrapping presents for hours on end was more than my knees and back could handle. So now I set up this little table in my room and load up my wire baskets with paper, bows and boxes. Not only do I have a perfect spot for wrapping, I have the perfect place to stack gifts that need wrapping. Pens, scissors, labels and the tape dispenser are always at my finger tips!

WIRED RIBBON

I love this stuff...it makes beautiful simple bows for packages but the great thing is you can reuse it year after year. Just roll them up after all the gifts are open, thrown them in a box and you will have beautiful ribbon next year! Pretty and economical! 

STORAGE UNIT

This one is new for us this year. I have always stored my holiday decor in the attic. But as you get older, climbing up and down the rickety attic stairs with bulky boxes gets a little dicey. When Brian moved this year, we decided to get a storage unit big enough to hold some of his stuff and ALL our seasonal decor...both fall and Christmas. And there is A LOT! Yes, it is kind of a pain to have to go get the boxes and then take the empty boxes back, then go get the empty boxes, and then take them back. But honestly, it is easier than hauling it all in and out of the attic...and far safer! 

HEIRLOOM ORNAMENTS

I've shared this before...and it bares repeating...it is never too late to start a "tradition." When my oldest daughter was a baby my mother started giving her several special ornaments every year. She continued this "tradition" for all my children, who are now 35, 28, 27 and 19...2-3 ornaments times all those years! You can imagine how many I now have. My oldest daughter now has all her and her children's ornaments and they fill her tree. I still have the boys' and my youngest daughter's and will keep them until they have their own Christmas tree. Each ornament has some meaning...the year they went skiing, their first deer, high school and college graduations, glass ornaments created from the ash of Mr. St. Helen's...so many ornaments... enough to completely cover a 9' tree. I don't need ribbon or balls or "fillers"...I have a tree full of memories, each ornament marking a milestone or special time in our lives! Priceless...and beautiful! 

 

These are just a few little things that have made our holiday season a tad easier...and economical...and safer! 

Enjoy the season!

Farmhouse table....

Today I want to share a farmhouse table I put together using some "mismatched" pieces I picked up!

Sometimes I find things at the apartments and drag them home "just in case."

This ugly pine table top is a prime example....

(No, I have no idea what the black stuff was...paint maybe?)

It hung out in the garage for MONTHS because I knew I would have to find the perfect legs for it...and honestly it wasn't on my priority list.

Just so happens I snagged some nifty old table legs at an auction a few weeks ago...

By themselves they didn't amount to much!

I stripped the top using this process and stained it with gel stain. Chalk painted and distressed the legs and attached them to the top. Sealed it all with poly. 

Cute as a bugs ear.

I even managed to drag it into the dining room and stage it for a few pics. Okay, honestly it was cold outside when I decided to work on it so I brought it into the dining room to stain, paint and assemble! (NEVER strip furniture in the house...the chemicals are just too strong! I stripped it when it was warmer outside last week!)

You may notice that one of the wood castors on a leg was missing. I keep spares around but didn't have one the right size or four that matched so I just removed them all...no biggy!

Just another example of how easy it is to take something destined for the dumpster and create a beautiful piece!

I still love my dining table so this one is off to 410 Vintage! If you are local you should really drop in! Even if this table isn't your style, I PROMISE you will find something you will love! 

Next week I am going to share a few things that make my holidays soooo much easier!

Until then....

Thanksgiving bench....

Last year I shared a couple of little benches I whipped up out of necessity! 

My dining table spends 364 days a year against the wall with nothing more than a couple of chairs.

Since I host Thanksgiving dinner, the table is extended and pulled into the middle of the dining room so I need the additional seating!

It is no secret that I tend to stick with what I know so when it was time to pull out the table and get ready for Thanksgiving dinner last week, it was back to the garage to build another bench for the holiday!

Since I had already designed and built a few last year, I really didn't need to draw up new plans...I just needed to dig around in my scrap wood and find a few pieces I could use to construct a new bench.

That was pretty easy considering I had some oak left over from my stairway demo earlier in the year!  I found an old pine dresser at the apartments that was missing the drawers, but the sides and top were perfect slabs of solid wood for the top of the bench. I also had some trim from who knows what project. I always have paint and stain on hand! I had to pull a few nails and sand off some old mastic, but other than that I had everything I needed! In the end, the bench cost me nothing more than a little bit of time!

It's no secret that oak is not my favorite wood but since I just need this little bench for the day, no biggy! The benches I constructed last year served their purpose and then where promptly sold in my booth, which explains why I had to build a new one!

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving! After a day of stuffing our faces with turkey and EIGHT pies, I spent the weekend decorating for Christmas! Some people start off the holiday season fighting the crowds at the mall on Black Friday, I start mine wrestling with strings of lights and yards of garland...fun time! 

Little changes from year to year...rarely do I tackle holiday projects. Here I shared a cute little project made out of a butter dish ...

...and here you can see how I made this versatile primitive box display...

....but all in all things pretty much stay the same. 

Well, except the constant changes I keep making....

Fabric transfers...

I have shared several transfer and pillow creations...here, here and here

A few years ago I made this floor pillow out of drop cloth fabric and added a transfer graphic.

This weekend we went to an auction. At one point they had another one of those "nobody wants it" items so they add a few things...I ended up buying a pile of "stuff" just because I wanted a little stuffed opossum they threw in the pile. Seriously, a stuffed critter.

Turned out to be a pretty great pile for $1...some batting for upholstery projects, a few ticking cloth down pillows and of course, my critter.

Wasn't sure what to do with the pillows...cute but kind of plain! But they have that "farmhouse vibe" that is all the rage! I washed and dried them because, well, they are "used." 

Then I remembered my transfer paper.

I LOVE this stuff! I used it on the floor pillow and have used it on several other projects...never fails!

I buy it here, on Amazon. It's not the cheapest transfer paper you can buy but in my opinion it is the best!

For graphics, hands down, The Graphics Fairy! They have thousands of graphics for the taking. And they even have great tutorials for transferring to any project....fabric, furniture, signs, etc!

I choose this graphic for the pillows....

I decided to try to iron the transfer onto the pillows without deconstructing them. Probably not something I would have done had they been super stuffed, but they weren't and they turned out pretty good!

Print the graphic (mirror image) onto the transfer paper with any ink jet printer. I always trim the paper close to the graphic so there is no excess transfer paper.

 

Make sure the fabric you are transferring to has been washed and dried. Set your iron super hot, no steam, and iron away. I usually go over it until it is super hot, then CAREFULLY lift one corner to make sure the transfer is happening. If not, just keep ironing!

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Cute as a bugs ear!

Next week is Thanksgiving and I had to build another little bench for my dining table. I'll share that early next week. 

Lot of other projects going on around here...the biggest is the new privacy fence! Cleo has a habit of "wandering" so after 17 years I finally had to break down and put up a fence. I hired someone to install the fence but I had to rebuilt the swing harbor that was actually on the neighbor's property and God forbid I put in a plain ole' gate. So I did spend several days "constructing." I hate sharing anything in my yard this time of the year, but hopefully I will get around to it in the next few weeks! 

Until then....

Change is a coming....

If you have taken a peak at my "About me" page, you know Brian and I have been blissfully together for 16 years...me in my home, him in his.

This month, that all changed.

We are still blissful, but after 16 years we now have one home.

Truth be told, he's been here since his shoulder surgery in June. When you have to dress someone, put on their deodorant, cut up their food and share a relatively small bathroom, you find out real quick if you could live with that person full time. We have and we can. So over the last few months it has become apparent that living in the same household is doable and maintaining two households is a waste of time and money. 

Soooo....we took the leap. A couple of months ago he put his house on the market on a Tuesday, had two offers by Saturday and closed in three weeks. 

Wow! 

That was easy. 

The hard part was negotiating the "combining of households." And truthfully, that process really wasn't that difficult. We rented a storage building and had a massive garage sale. 

But there were still a few non-negotiables (even a few necessities).

Clothing: This is where Brian shows his "feminine" side....the man has waaaaay more clothes than I. Fortunately I am NOT a clothes hoarder and I am an "empty-nester." I donated 1/2 my clothes to free up space in the master closet. He also took over Katie's walk in closet upstairs for the clothes that didn't fit in the master closet. (I have to give him credit for scaling down from 3 to 1 1/2 closets!)

The brown leather couch and chair: First I am NOT a brown leather couch kinda gal.....not in my decor wheel-house. But honestly, it is kind of my fault. When Brian bought his house six years ago, we went furniture shopping. Being as that is not something I really enjoy, I yawned my way through most of the day. We found a beautiful couch and chair set at one store...price tag over $4500. We found another really nice couch priced around $1500. Later that day when he called for my opinion, he thought I told him to get the pricey one....I'm almost certain I did NOT! Anywho, a week later he had a $4500 couch and chair delivered....and six years later they had to come to my house! 

The black chair and ottoman will definitely need a makeover if it is going to stay in here...just too much "dark and heavy" going on. It will have to be moved out for the Christmas tree so maybe I will start on that project then...provided I can decide on a fabric!

Remember when I said something about decorating around a brown couch...yes, well, I am having to take my own advise. I am still struggling to mesh my "light and bright" quest with "humungus and dark," but somehow it will all come together...someday...maybe.

The flamingos and a frog: Not kidding. A pair of pink ceramic flamingos and a frog that lights up.

Again, my fault to some degree. He likes frogs. I found this "cute" lighted frog while picking up knick-knacks for his house. Honestly, it was kind of a joke but he loved it. The joke now has a new home....

He loves them, and I love him, and well....whatever.  

Almost forgot the massive giraffes...it's official, we have a zoo! Another auction buy. They are from Africa and were carved from some kind of tree root. They really are kind of cool, but again they will have to be relocated when I do my Christmas decorating. 

These are just a few of the "non-negotiables." There is also the massive safe that required a complete restructure of the master closet pantry. It is filled with his knife and coin collection. I had to clean out the large dresser to make room for his hoard of socks, under shirts, undies and such...I say hoard because, seriously the man has more undergarments than any reasonable human really needs. Especially considering I do laundry every other day! The Bow Flex and elliptical (we now have a "work out" room!)  His "electronic" obsession...2 computers, an ipad, blue ray players, stereo systems and OMGosh how many TVs does one person really need. 

Truth of the matter is, he made waaaay more sacrifices than I. And in the end, at our age and with the wisdom we have acquired over the years, the "give and takes" aren't really even sacrifices. 

I wish young couples REALLY understood this...