Breaking the "rules"....

I don't know if it is an actual "rule" or if it is something I made up in my head.

But who made the "rule" that pots and pans have to be stored in a lower cabinet next to the stove?

For years my pots and pans were in a small lower corner cabinet next to the stove. Total nightmare to dig out a pot or pan....something I use EVERY day!

A few years ago, I installed this nifty pull out for my casserole dishes and mixing bowls and eventually moved the pots and pans to the space to the left...across from the stove. (The crock pots and extra casserole dishes went into the nightmare cabinet!)

Accessing them still required that I move this little stool...

static1.squarespace.jpg

...and crawl around on the floor to get to them all.

(This is one advantage to having a small kitchen...you can put anything anywhere and still access it in just a few steps!)

When I was shuffling things around in my pantry thinking I MIGHT put a microwave in there I found that I had a bit more room than I thought! Again, I am not cooking for a family any more, so food storage is not as big a deal as it was years ago!

Truth be told, there are food items I rarely use (like my daughter-in-law's gluten free flour and boxes of dry goods) as opposed to the pots and pans I use every single day. So that got me to thinking...WHY do I store things I use daily in an inconvenient place? Is there some kind of "kitchen rule" I would be breaking and risk being fined by the kitchen police? Can I not move the things I use EVERY day to an easier space to access and store the stuff I only use occasionally in their place?

ABSOLUTELY! So I did....

I moved the pots and pans to the pantry...eye level and easy to access. I installed another slide out shelf and use it for boxed and dry goods I only need to access to occasionally.

And you know what...I LOVE it!

I guess if the kitchen police show up to inspect I will have to move it all back. In the meantime I will enjoy being just a tad rebellious.

Keep in mind I have "purged" down to the daily essentials...that is something you need to take into consideration when you feel cramped for space! Do you really use 4 identical casserole dishes...or 3 egg pans...or 2 full size crock pots on a regular basis. If you only need them during the holidays or for family gatherings, consider moving them out of the kitchen. I store my large three crock cooker in my laundry room because I only use it during Thanksgiving...no need for it to take up valuable kitchen real estate year round. 

Think about it...are rarely used items taking up valuable space...are you storing every day items in a space that is "proper" but just doesn't work for you? MOVE IT! 

static1.squarespace.png

Simple "before and afters"...

Some of the simplest "befores" turn out to be my favorite "afters."

Which explains why I often don't have decent "before" pictures...I think "oh, that's no biggy" and dive right in to giving them a simple little makeover. Then they turn out so stinking cute I wonder why I didn't take time to take "before" pictures.

They are a reminder of why do this blog...to show you how easy it is to take a simple, boring, out-dated, dark piece of furniture and turn it into something you will want in your home rather than in your yard at the next garage sale!

We DIYers live for those hidden treasures...pieces of furniture that people want to get rid of... they drop them at their local thrift store or sell them for pennies in garage sales or just set them out on the curb...we take them home, clean them up and work a little DIY magic. 

The worst...you live with the ugly, dark furniture because you can't afford to replace it!

I get it...you paid a small fortune for your "matchy-matchy" bedroom furniture so you can't bring yourself to get rid of it.

I've shared "makeovers" hundreds of time...too many times to link ALL the pieces I have "upcycled" over the years. But I would bet money you still have a few pieces lurking around your house that serve a purpose or are "family heirlooms" or you paid too much to get rid of it...so you just live with it.

Don't fret...take the plunge...buy some primer and some paint AND CHANGE IT!

LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO LIVE WITH UGLY FURNITURE!

This shelf was your typical Target cheapo...dark finish...no I did not take a picture of it "before." Honestly, I think it was a piece someone left at the apartments so I loaded it up and brought it home.

I removed the back panels...primed and painted the frame and shelves with one of my "sample" pots of white (KSTP). I painted the back panels with a sample pot of teal and then reattached them.

Super simple and too stinking cute!

This little bedside table came with a set I bought at an auction. Someone bought the dresser, chest and bed but didn't want this little table.

Meh....

Simple makeover! I removed the drawer and simply brightened it up with some Restorafinish. I primed the cabinet, sand, tack and white gloss paint. It was missing a knob so I ordered two new ones...

....again, SUPER SIMPLE and so stinking cute!

This old oak dresser...the finish and the little applique' really dated the piece.

I popped off the appliques using a chisel...lift carefully...chances are they are applied with a little bit of glue and a few tiny nails.

... sanded the old glue, stained the top with gel stain (no need to strip the old finish) and chalked painted the rest of it....distressed and sealed the whole thing with poly...

Too stinking cute!

Simple...simple...simple! 

Nothing earth shattering on any of the pieces...just super simple little makeovers that updated the pieces and gave them new life! 

Walk around your house...what simple little piece can you haul out to the garage and work a little "DIY magic." Trust me...if you don't like it when you are done, you won't get any less for it at a garage sale! 

Another Facelift for the storage shed....

A few years ago (okay so it's been FIVE YEARS!!!!) I gave my storage shed a little facelift! I rebuilt the door, added little scallops in the gable and added some trim to cover up some siding boo-boos!

At the time I primed and painted most of the trim with some paint I had on hand...most of it...not all of it. I figured I would eventually find the time to pick up some quality exterior paint and paint the rest of it. I didn't. 

So when Brian hit it with the power washer a few weeks ago much of the old paint and primer came right off! Fortunately the siding color held tight so I didn't have to repaint that!

Some of the trim around the door had cracked so I used wood filler to repair it. Caulked the gaps between the trim and siding.

The hard part, scrapping peeling paint, was taken care of with the power washer. I used a metal brush to remove what little peeling paint was left.

I had a little bit of leftover deck stain so I decided to freshen the deck as well!

A high quality exterior primer and exterior white paint...

Not only did a good coat of paint freshen it up a bit, it seals the wood to prevent the wood from deteriorating!

It is important to use a high quality "exterior" paint and primer on exterior projects. Exterior paint is specifically formulated to resist mildew and fading from sunlight. I would bet that I did not use a good quality exterior paint and primer on the trim a few years ago...which would explain why it could not withstand the beating from a 2800 PSI power washer!

Modifying a cabinet...

When I first remodeled my master bathroom, I loved it...honestly, I still do! But someday soon I want to make some major changes just for practical purposes. Specifically, I want to remove the whirlpool tub (seriously, I think I have used it 3 times in the last 20 years!) and add a walk in shower.

As much as I love the existing tile, I know that will mean picking new tile for the shower....which means I will want to go ahead and replace the floor tiles...you know, while there is already a mess! But picking a tile that will carry me through another 20 years is tough for me...I know people say this or that is "timeless" but I can assure you NO home decor is timeless.

This will all happen as soon as I can find the perfect tile person to construct the shower. I do not want to hire someone who isn't VERY experienced because one of the worst things that can happen would be a shower that leaks! 

There is one other tiny detail that kinda bugged me...the "medicine cabinet."

While I love the look, it just wasn't practical. Why? Because everything in the back half of the cabinet goes there to die! Seriously, I found a bunch of products and pills that had expired years ago.

I cut down my kitchen pantry several years ago and have never regretted losing that extra 12" of space. I like how the smaller cabinet opens up the kitchen a bit! And again, everything in the back of the cabinet had a tendency to expire before I got to it. (No, I don't have a picture of the pantry before I cut it down...that was "preblog!")

So I knew cutting down the depth of the cabinet in the bathroom was doable! 

The first thing I did was take EVERYTHING out of the cabinet and took inventory. Major purgefest! I made sure that what was needed or wanted would fit comfortably if I only had 6" of depth. Yep, all but the basket of old prescription medication and most of it had expired. 

Once I knew that cutting down the cabinet wouldn't pose a logistical problem, I removed the cabinets from the wall, cut them down, rebuilt the back and reinstalled them. (Did I take pictures of this process...of course not...who knew I would share something so mundane!)

Sounds easy...honestly, it wasn't. There was an electrical outlet to deal with and the trim detail and then of course there was the exposed sheetrock boo-boos from the old marble backsplash...curses. I always think a project will be easier than it is!

But again, it was doable, and after a day of cutting and cussing I had a smaller cabinet.

The sheetrock boo-boo was an easy fix...mud, sand and retexture. Since I am good about keeping old paint for touchups...no biggy. Except it had been so long since I painted the bathroom, the paint had hardened. So I got to repaint the entire bathroom! Yippee!

Fortunately I had a couple of left over gallons of paint from when I painted my living areas...

Now I am eyeballing my kitchen again. I am a sucker for the "power of suggestion" so when I read that big ole' hulking over-the-range microwaves are now a kitchen "faux pas" I decided I want to remove the microwave above the stove...which means I have to find a place for a smaller microwave. The counter is not an option since I have a small kitchen and limited counter space. Hum...the pantry...maybe I can put it in the pantry. Well, I could if it weren't so stinking shallow...remember I cut it down so now no microwave more than 13" deep will fit. Thank goodness for the internet...I spent days researching microwaves. Fortunately, I found a few that would work so that's one hurdle! Small little things but honestly the only thing I use a microwave for is to boil water, warm coffee and melt butter.

Hurdle #2...can I afford to loose shelf space in the pantry? Again, I pulled everything out and start measuring cans of beans and moving shelves around. 

Doable! Keep in mind we are now a family of two and I don't need the food storage space I use to!

Hurdle #3...when I take down the over-the-range microwave...what then?

Honestly, I didn't know.

And then I found a solution that changed my whole plan...

A compact over the range microwave by Whirlpool!

I would post a picture but the site won't let me steal the pictures so just go look at it!

How cool is THIS! It's only about 10" tall so I won't feel like I have a big ole' hulking appliance hanging above my head while I am cooking.

I ordered the black stainless even though my stove is black.

I hate to buy new appliances when they work perfectly fine so I thought I would live with my old black stove for the time being.

(Fortunately for me the ignitor went out on the oven this week. Yippeee! Perfect excuse to order the new black stainless stove I drool on every time I go to Lowe's! God forbid I fix it with the $30 part!)

Now I don't have to give up pantry space or counter space. I guess it is still technically a "kitchen faux pas" since it is an "over the range microwave." But you know what...I'm okay with it. I'm probably one of the few who hasn't painted my kitchen cabinets, I have no shiplap in my house and while I would love to retile my entire kitchen and dining area with beautiful, light travertine tile, it's not happening...so I'm okay with bucking the decor trends!

The only problem I have is the space that will have to be tiled after the big ole' hulking microwave is removed. Fortunately, I am a pack rat and kept all my scraps from when I retiled the kitchen backsplash! Yea me! Thank goodness because that stuff was E.X.P.E.N.S.I.V.E!

So when I get the new microwave and stove are installed and the tile work done I'll share...can't wait!

 

Funky little chair makeover and a few upholstery tips....

Another auction buy that languished in the garage for months until I pulled it out and thought..."Hum, I kinda think that is cool!"

It may not LOOK cool, but it is a funky little chair...and I like "different." Not really my style (Hollywood Regency maybe?) but since my style is "eclectic," I can find a place for it! 

I'm not sure exactly what wood it is...my guess is walnut. But the finish was the typical dark stain with black flecks I see on a lot on furniture from the 70's...not really attractive...

 

After I stripped all the old fabric, I used my 1/2 and 1/2 mixture and stripping process to strip the old finish and stain...then I applied 4 coats of tung oil finish (no stain)! I like the warmth of natural wood.

As always, if one comes in, one must go out. So this little chair in my office was moved upstairs into the guest room until I have room in my space at 410 Vintage! I bought it 25 years ago at an estate auction and it was my first real reupholstery project.

Fabric is always a tough one for me...maybe because I know how hard it is to reupholster a piece and I don't want to do something I will tire of and have to redo. I found several fabrics I thought I might like, brought samples home and did what I always do...stare at it for a few days. In the end I went with this fun but somewhat conservative "geo" pattern...I like that it is relatively neutral and could be spiced up with a pillow or throw...

IMG_3177.JPG

And spice it I did. When I was looking at fabrics I found an awesome pink velvet. I was briefly tempted to cover the chair in the fabric but I knew it would be a "fad color" I would later regret. But I couldn't stop obsessing over the pink so I decided to find a pink accent pillow.

Naturally, I couldn't find a pillow I like so I ended up buying a little bit of the pink velvet and made a little pillow. Instead of cording, I decided to go with tassels on the corners but couldn't find any I liked...so I made little "tufts" out of feather cording...just too stinking cute!

A simple but fun little detail that brings in the pink I was drooling over without the huge commitment of covering an entire chair in it! I would advise taking this approach on all "big ticket items." Couches, chairs, bedding...keep them neutral and add the "fad" details and colors with pillows, throws, curtains and rugs...accents that are relatively inexpensive to change out when the color falls out of favor in a few short years!

By the way, you may have noticed I changed the curtain...I went with white just to lighten the corner a bit!

I could never post a good tutorial on how to upholstery YOUR piece of furniture...there are so many great video tutorials online for just about any style of chair/couch/ottoman/etc and I strongly suggest you do a lot of research before you start your project. Find a tutorial that best suits YOUR needs.

I will share a few tips that will make your job a tad easier. It doesn't matter if you are recovering a chair or couch or ottoman...these rules apply!

First, learn to sew. Every DIYer should know how to use a sewing machine if for no other reason than to sew pillows or curtains or do basic upholstery or even hem a pair of pants. If you don't know how to sew a straight stitch, learn! I was fortunate that my mother made me take sewing lessons when I was young but I know a lot of local county extensions and hobby stores offer cheap (if not FREE) lessons! Take them...learn! And don't think you need an expensive sewing machine...I have a basic cheap machine that is at least 30 years old! 

Start simple. Before you tackle an heirloom wingback chair with expensive fabric, try something simple like this ottoman....

The drop cloth material I used was relatively inexpensive and super easy to sew. And I used a premade bias tape for the cording.

Take your time! I always think a project will take a lot less time than it actually does...so know that reupholstering anything isn't a "rainy day project!" Maybe a rainy WEEK...but deconstructing alone will take time and a lot of patience and you want to do it right!

Take LOTS of pictures while you deconstruct! Just snap random pictures as you strip the piece. If you are like me you THINK you will remember, but you won't...and you will find yourself sitting there wishing you knew how in the world it was originally put together. So take pictures!

It is always good to have a visual reference!

TRY to keep the pieces of the old upholstery intact so you can use them as a pattern for the new. If the old is really stinky and ewwwy, make a "pattern" with them out of butcher block paper or old newspaper. Make sure you label each pattern piece or old fabric so you know where it goes! And keep in mind that the fabric you remove has been trimmed...so add a few inches on each side of the piece...you can always trim after it is attached!

If you are going to strip and stain or paint, do it after you strip the old upholstery but before the new! 

Take time to make repairs! Make any repairs that need to be made BEFORE you start painting/stripping/staining and reupholstering! Do not spend the time and money reupholstering a chair if it wobbles or needs new strapping. If you don't know how to repair something property, Google it! Or email me! And remember, glue and clamps are your friend...not silicone, not sheetrock screws, not nails. Do it right or you are wasting your time!!!

Remove ALL the old upholstery nails and staples...all of them. And honestly, I have bought every tool on the market to make the job easier and I always revert back to a plain ole' flat screw driver, a hammer and a pair of good needle nose pliers!

Which reminds me...wear shoes! I don't care how careful you are, those nails and staples fly all over the place and you WILL find them with your bare feet!

Speaking of tools, I think I have tried every electric and manual stapler on the market. I have found that MOST will not set a staple flush or securely. So now I use a pneumatic stapler, similar to this one.  Best. Stapler. Ever!!!!  But word of warning...don't make a mistake and don't plan on recovering the piece any time soon because those staples aren't coming out!

Alway cover old batting with new. Even if the old batting seems to be in good condition, cover it with new batting. Always! If it has old horse hair stuffing replace it...if it has old "strapping," now is the time to replace it!!! On a few chairs, I have actually stripped everything down to the bare wooden bones and added new everything. Trust me, that is better than getting it all back together and discovering that the seat still sags or is lumpy and it smells!

Buy enough material! When you buy material make sure you account for any piping (welt cording) you might have to make. You can buy premade cording, but if you are going to make it out of the upholstery fabric it MUST be cut on the bias...in other words, diagonal across the fabric. To give you an example, on this little chair, I needed less than two yards for the seat and back, but I needed another yard just so I would have enough to make the welting. Again, google welt cording/piping and you will find great tutorials that will show you exactly how to make it. 

Make sure you have enough fabric to complete the project before you start. Lay ALL your "pattern pieces" out on the fabric and account for the welting before you start cutting. Nothing is worse than getting half way through the project only to discover you don't have enough fabric...and you bought the last bit of it! If all else fails you can always use two different fabrics on the project like I did on these little tuffets...but PLAN for it!

 

Google, google, google. I learned a lot at the elbow of my dad but today we have the world at our finger tips and you can find a good tutorial for just about any project...even upholstering furniture! I always advise watching as many tutorials as you can find and use the one that makes the most sense to you and your project! Watching DIY tutorials is also a great way to decide if you even want to tackle the project...advisable before you buy a wingback chair at a garage sale for $20 with the intent of "learning to upholstery!" 

Until next week when I hope to share Matt's entry makeover...

 

 

 

Twofer...

What is a twofer...well, in this case it was one chest of drawers made into two...twofer-the-price-of-one.

Clever, huh?

The chest was obviously "dated" and too tall...

....but it appeared to be three separate sections. I pulled the drawers out and did some sloothing and found that it was indeed three sections stacked on top of each other, secured with screws. No biggy! I just removed the screws attaching the top two drawer section and presto-bingo, I had two chests...one with four drawers and one with two.

The top had a little boo-boo...a little "wood sculpting" and it was good as new.

I wish I had taken a picture of the finished repair, but honestly I forgot all about it it! Just know that it takes a little wood putty and patience to "sculpt" a repair....but not impossible!

I removed the hardware on the sides and puttied the holes.

I removed all the drawer hardware and puttied the holes I knew I wouldn't use with the new hardware

I chalk painted and distressed the four drawer chest and replaced the dated hardware with nice cup pulls.

I am a "hoarder" of legs so I took a set I had stocked away and attached it to the two drawer section.

I KSTPed (kilz, sand, tack cloth and paint) the two drawer section and painted it with a high gloss white lacquer....simple new hardware!

Twofer....

Entry cabinet/console/buffet makeover...

Occasionally I will buy something at an auction for resale I THINK I won't need to do anything to! Example...this nifty "primitive" cabinet/console/buffet...

It could be used for many things...hence the cabinet-slash-console-slash-buffet.

It would make a darling entry table. Or a tv console. Or even a small dining buffet.

The wood is really rustic and rough...nifty iron hardware.

But alas, no one shared my vision and it sat in my space at 410 Vintage for MONTHS!

Last week I did a little reset...technical word in the world of retail for "move stuff around." Since this little cabinet/console/buffet had been hanging out for quite some time I decided to bring it home and give it a little facelift.

IMG_3061.JPG

Darker gel stain on the top and a grey/blue chalk paint and distress on the base.

I think it is darling and HOPEFULLY someone else will agree! 

Another example of how easy it is to change things up a bit with just a little effort!

Losing weight is a bitch...

Okay, so it's not the WORST journey I have ever embarked on...quitting smoking was a tough one. After 27 years of smoking and countless failed attempts to quit, I finally did it...it has been 4 or 5 years and I still use an e-cig. I am so hell-bent on NEVER picking up another cigarette I will use these little e-cigs as long as there is a smidge of urge or until someone convinces me they are worse than smoking a real cigarette.

My grandmother chewed nicotine gum for the last 10 years of her life after a life time of smoking 3 packs a day. 

I was also a down-to-bleeding-finger-tips nail bitter through my teens...

My point...quiting smoking, loosing weight or dropping any bad habit is tough...no question. But I approached each with the same mind set I approach a daunting DIY project.

How do you eat an elephant...one bite at a time.

Through my 20s I stayed in the 120s...through my 30s I stayed in the 130s...in my 40s I crept into the 140s and got so frustrated I tossed my scales (like it was their fault!). I hit 50, quit smoking and went through menopause and that was when all hell (and seams) broke loose! I finally realized that at this rate I am going to die a very over weight person.

My daughter Katie is my inspiration (and my hero) After gaining the obligatory 10+ pounds (and more) her first two years in college she finally set out to loose weight last year...65 pounds to date. I am in complete awe of that girl! She looks and feels amazing!

Because of the extra weight I am carrying I look and feel like a complete frump.

Sooooo....last month I decided to take the first bite and loose a few pounds.

So here are a few tips I would like to share that seem to be working for me. 

Get your mind right. Seriously...this can't be an "I want," it has to be an "I need"...and you have to really get your mind right. In other words, be committed to making some serious changes and be willing to make the sacrifices...every day. 

Set REALISTIC goals. The thought of losing 30 pounds was mentally defeating and seemed so daunting. So don't think big, think small baby steps. For the first six weeks my goal was 10 pounds. I have reached that goal and now my goal is to get to a solid 150 (2 more pounds) by the end of the month. My next goal will be another 10 pounds by the end of June. I'm not going to beat myself up if I don't make it, but I will make an honest assessment of what I am doing wrong! If I meet that goal, I will set a new REALISTIC goal.

Maybe pounds isn't your goal...maybe it is a specific clothing size...regardless, set realistic baby steps! 

Buy a good set of scales. I bought the dial kind because I didn't want a digital scale telling me I gained or lost 2/10ths of a pound. Just a personal preference! I weigh every day.

Skip the fad diets. And pills...and shakes...and wraps. I know they are all the rage and you can loose a lot of weight fast, but when you go back to eating carbs or protein or normal homemade meals, you will not only gain all the weight back, you may gain even more. So I decided to NOT "diet." Rather I made a decision to make a "food-choice" change.

Identify foods you can and need to live without...your "danger" foods.

Cutting out ALL sugary drinks is a must. Fortunately I did this years ago...no more sweet tea or cokes. I drink water...but now I make it a priority to drink more every day. I fill my large Yeti cup with ice water in the morning and drink it all day! Coffee is okay and I even allow myself creamer...knowing there ARE calories in creamer!

I love bread but I can live without it...so no breads (or chips or crackers)! Same with white potatoes, pasta, nuts, cheese, ice cream, cookies and brownies. Love them all...and I can do some serious binging on all of them... but I can live without them!

No more sandwiches or hamburgers...no more bowls of Cheez-Its and peanuts...no more big bowls of ice cream/chocolate chip cookies/brownies every single night! No more afternoon binging on crackers and cheese and no more french fries or bake potatoes smothered in butter, sour cream and cheese!

I don't completely deprive myself...I ate some tortilleni alfredo during Sarah's birthday dinner and I had a bite or two of some brownies Sunday night.... but I am VERY cognizant of how much I eat of my "danger" foods!

Count calories. They matter! I love ranch dressing but I thought oil and vinegar dressing would be better...but come to find out olive oil has TWICE the calories as most ranch dressings. WHAT!!!!!???? I know olive oil is probably "healthier" but since my goal is to seriously cut down on calories for the time being, ranch it is.

HOWEVER, I read labels, I know the calories I am taking in and I carefully watch the portion size! I found a chart online that tells me how many calories I can eat a day and while I don't micro-count every single calorie, I have a good, HONEST idea of what I eat every day.

The first week is tough! Just getting out of the "habit" of grazing all day and not snacking on sweets in the evening takes some serious self-discipline! But once you get through the first week or two and you see the results on the scales it gets a little easier. For me, it has made me even more determined!

Increase the calories you burn. After all losing weight is all about calories in, calories out! So do something. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Take a walk around the block. Get out and do some gardening. Do something. No need to buy a gym membership, a new bike, or an expensive piece of exercise equipment just yet. Just increase your movement. Eventually you might want to add some REAL exercise to your regiment, but at first, just get moving!

What does my daily "diet" look like?

I eat two scrambled eggs every morning. 

For lunch I have a veggie salad.

I eat a normal dinner...eliminating potatoes, bread and pasta. So while I may still cook potatoes, I fill my plate with the veggies and skip the "fattening" stuff!

For snacks I stick with dehydrated bananas (crunchy and sweet) and veggies. If I get desperate for something sweet, I keep "diet" candy bars on hand...like Atkins or Weight Watchers...but again, watch the calories in each bar...they can run 200+ and that is a lot of calories if you are trying to keep your daily intake below 1200! I eat ONE...not all 10 in the box like I use to...again, this takes some self-discipline!

My go-to warm veggie salad is super filling and super yummy!

I saute' chopped veggies in bulk and keep them in the refrigerator and warm when I am ready to eat. 

1-2 scallion (or onion if you prefer...)

6 small zucchinis (chopped 1/2" cubes)

2 bunches of asparagus (chopped 1" long)

1-2 cups of frozen corn

I saute' these veggies in 1 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper. I also splash in a tad of balsamic vinegar and oil dressing...just for some flavor.

Balsamic vinegar and oil dressing

2 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon of agave nectar

1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice (the bottled kind works just fine!)

6 tablespoons of olive oil

Salt and pepper

Every week I chop up leaf lettuce and a bag of spinach for salad. Handful of salad, a cup or two of sauteed veggies and low fat ranch. Sooooo yummy and very filling.

All this being said, if you HONESTLY watch your calories and increase your daily activity and the scales just don't budge, I would suggest having your thyroid and hormone levels checked...those things really can affect your weight...but again, be honest...are you REALLY making a conscience effort?!

One time I went to the doctor and told him I just knew something was wrong with my thyroid...I had gained 10+ pounds in a month. He checked...nothing. After the visit I made my daily run to Starbucks....my son had given me a $150 gift card for Christmas so I had been going to Starbucks and getting a venti mocha every day...for over a month. Yeah, lightbulb moment!

That one little "habit" had added 450 empty calories to my daily intake!

Losing weight is one of the hardest things I have ever done. It took getting brutally honest with myself about what exactly I was doing (and not doing) every single day.

Most important, I had to realize that it took decades for me develop some pretty bad "food choice" habits and gain this weight...so losing it wasn't going to happen in a month...or even two. 

I hesitate to even share this journey...but here it is. If I eat a loaded baked potato or bag of Reese's peanut butter cups tomorrow I know I will feel like crud. But at least I know I can get up the next day and start eating that elephant again. 

Baby steps.....

 

 

 

 

Gel stain tutorial on table makeovers...

I did it again...dove head straight into a project without taking a "before" picture. But at least this time I got an "inbetween" picture!

These little tables were simple makeovers. I picked up the side table at an auction a few weeks ago. Got it for a few dollars because, well, it was nasty, the color is pretty putrid AND the top had come unglued.

No biggy for me. I glued and clamped the top, then I sanded off the old finish on it. Yes, you heard me right, I sanded it. Two reason...first, I got glue on the top when I repaired it and stain will not adhere to glue. Second, it is solid wood and I knew I couldn't do a lot of damage to it. Light sanding...220 grit! Just enough to remove the old finish and glue residue.

I got the drop leaf table from my neighbors. I told you I am the dumping ground for neighborhood furniture...it just "appears." Again, the top is solid so I gave it a light sanding.

I knew I wanted to paint both tables but as always I have to have my fix of stained wood. So I used gel stain on both tops. 

Gel stain is SUPER easy to apply IF you use the right technique and product. As I have said before the ONLY gel stain I will use is General Finishes. It is not a brand the big box improvement stores carry so I usually order mine on Amazon. I have tried other gel stains and have not been happy with the results. The General Finishes brand never disappoints. I have used both the Java and Brown Mahogany colors.

I am going to share how I gel stain...it is a super easy application process and perfect for real wood or even that cheapo fake stuff you find on the ends of cabinets. Since it goes on fairly translucent, the wood grain (real or fake) will show through.

I have used this process on cabinets, tables, dresser tops and drawer fronts....some I have stripped down to bare wood, others I simply applied it over the existing finish.  It is a great process to use on any project where you want "stain" but know you might not get a good result by completely stripping the piece and applying penetrating stain!

First step for ANY makeover (after repairs of course)...give the piece a good cleaning. In this case, since both tops were solid wood, I also gave them a good sanding. Sanding is NOT necessary but you want to make sure that any old finish is stable and somewhat smooth. So if your old finish is flaking or a bit rough, sand it smooth with 220 grit paper.

You will need....

The gel stain...again, I ONLY use General Finishes. A quart will cost you around $30+ but it seriously goes a loooong way!!! If you just have a small project, get a pint. I have found that it doesn't store well.

The gel stain top coat...in this case I used the GF Poly wipe-on top coat. But I have used a spray on Polyurethane and Polycrylic and they work just as well. 

Disposable rubber gloves. I always have those on hand. Just the cheap latex gloves you buy in a box so you can toss when finished.

Old athletic socks. Again, I keep a stash on hand. Any time I find old socks at thrift stores or garage sales I buy them. They are perfect for applying any type of stain or finish and I can toss them when I am finished.

That's it...a relatively short list of supplies!

The trick to applying gel stain is to remember it is suppose to be somewhat "translucent." Put on a rubber glove, then an old sock over the glove...dip you finger tips into the gel stain and wipe the gel stain on the piece with the grain. The first coat will look like crud so don't try to get perfect solid coverage! Just wipe it on LIGHTLY WITH THE GRAIN....do not "glob" it or apply it thick...it is NOT paint. I usually wipe it on, then use the clean side of the sock to give it one final wipe WITH THE GRAIN...working edge to edge. 

THE FIRST COAT WILL LOOK LIKE CRUD!!!! I can not stress this enough...you are better to go light than to try to make the first coat look decent. It is not going to! If you can't see the grain through the coat of stain, it is WAY to thick.

Now, let that dry over night. Then do it again. New glove, new sock. Wipe on a second LIGHT COAT! The second coat will look a tad better, but not great. THAT IS OKAY. Keep it light and translucent! 

Let the second coat dry over night. Then with a new glove and sock, apply the third coat. NOW it should look good. The stain should allow the grain to show through!

If you feel like you have messed up....too thick, too streaky, just don't like it...you can still wash this stain off with mineral spirits if you haven't applied a top coat! 

Let the third coat dry overnight. If you are happy with the look, apply your top coat. Again, I used the GF gel wipe on poly on these tables...super easy to apply. Rubber glove, sock, wipe on. As simple as it sounds. You may want to apply 2-3 coats of the finish...especially on tops or cabinets that get a lot of use...just make sure you wipe it down with 0000 steel wool and tack cloth between coats. You will get a nice smooth finish that way!

Presto, bingo! This really is an easy application IF you don't overthink it and try to get a decent looking finish on the first and second coat...if you do, you will put the gel stain on too thick and I promise you won't be happy with it! My neighbor, Tammy, tried this process on a little side table...and sure enough she put the stain on too thick...it did not turn out well! Each coat should be light and "translucent." 

After I let the top coat dry well for a few days, I painted the rest with chalk paint...a light distressing with 220 grit sand paper and sealed with a spray on polyurethane. Again, sometimes I use polyurethane, sometimes polycrylic. I find that the urethane tends to "yellow" and give the piece a bit of an aged look...which is kind of what I was going for here. The polycrylic is a true clear coat and won't alter the color of the paint or yellow with time.

(As you can see the sun was very bright the day I tried to get decent pictures of these two tables...trust me that was the ONLY day this past week that it wasn't dreary, raining or cold as crud. I even had to cover my hostas this week to protect them from a freeze...and they are predicting another freeze this weekend...grrr!)

My recipe for chalk paint is 5 tablespoons of Plaster of Paris, 3 tablespoons of water, mix well then add two cups of flat latex paint. I usually paint two thin coats, then sand and seal.

Cute as a bugs ear and ready for another generation of use!

This week I decided I am getting too old and tired to paint my own house. I actually hired someone to paint my living room, kitchen and den! Ten years ago I would never have paid someone to do something like that! 

But just the process of getting ready to paint creates a mess and is exhausting!

This, my friends, is the reality of home improvement...normally we bloggers only share the beautifully styled and perfect "after." Truth is, most projects make a mess!

I'm a pretty clean person...or so I thought until I moved things that haven't been moved in years...yuck! 

I'm painting my living areas the same color I used in the master bedroom and guest room....SW Nuance. I'm a little nervous about painting these rooms a different color...I told you, change is hard for me. But I have lived with this color in those two rooms and I THINK I will like it! The painter will be here around 10 so there is no turning back now!

Hopefully the weather will take a turn for the better and I can finish and share a few fun projects I have waiting in the wings next week!

Until then....

Cherry tv cabinet makeover....

I've said it before...I am a bad blogger and mediocre photographer at best.

Bad because I often get in such a hurry to start a project I completely forget to take a "before" picture. Mediocre photographer because...well, my photos speak for themselves.

As is the case of this Queen Anne Cherry tv cabinet. Hello 1998! 

60_queen_anne_cherry_tv_armoire_entertainment_center_by_hooker_furniture_22038986.jpg

No, I did not take a "before" picture. So I did a little google search and found a cabinet that was SIMILAR to the one I acquired from my neighbor. Color and style are the same, but mine does not have a drawer. 

We have all seen this furniture style...many of us still have it in our homes! I had similar bedroom furniture...not the Queen Anne style, but heavy and dark. I painted my bedroom furniture a few years ago and honestly I don't give it a second thought these days!! In other words, update the outdated and you may stop feeling the need to spend thousands on new!

There are several problems with this tv cabinet. First, who still uses these cabinets for housing tvs? Most of us have transitioned to flat screens...I finally pitched my last hold out a few years ago. 

Second...it is dark and "heavy" looking. Not really the in thing right now.

But they are still good solid pieces that have use and purpose. Maybe not for their original intent, but who couldn't use more storage! 

It is super simple to give these pieces a little update. I know most will not want this piece for a tv cabinet but everyone is looking for storage pieces for crafts, linens or even clothing. Honestly, it could be used in a kitchen for pantry space or a bathroom for towels and such!

Again, it just needs a little facelift.

I removed the back...super simple since they are usually just stapled on.

I added a new shelf then primed the inside of the cabinet with Kilz, sanded, tacked and spray painted it with white paint (KTSP!)

I used bead board to make a new back to add a little "interest." I used THIS process to "stain" it. Normally I would use an accent color but this time I used the same latex paint I mixed up as chalk paint for the exterior.

Making your own chalk paint is super simple...thoroughly mix 3 tablespoons of water and 5 tablespoons of Plaster of Paris and then add 2 cups of FLAT latex paint. You can use satin or eggshell paint but I have found that the flat tends to "chalk" better when you sand.

Sand and seal! Again I never use wax on chalk paint...usually polyurethane or polycrylic. If you want the added character that you get with dark wax, try applying a dark "glaze" before you seal. Personally, I think you get the same affect without having to use wax. I have even used stain as a "glaze"...this mirror being a good example.

IMG_2609.JPG

Finally, I added simple knobs.

Sealing the piece with poly makes it super simple to repaint when the "distressed" craze ends...and trust me it will eventually! 

Some of us remember when this dark "cherry" look was all the rage...