Monday, August 26, 2013

Giant Table Makeover

The top before, with yellowed wood and cigarette burns
 I call this makeover "giant" because it was big in every way.  It was a big time score from craigslist, because a nice family who had purchased a new dining set gave it away for FREE.  I knew on first sight I had to have it.  Hubby and I have always wanted a round dining table and we've admired pedestal tables with a white pedestal and wood finish on top.  This was our chance to have something we certainly could not afford.  The table itself is HUGE - the diameter is over 5 feet.  I was worried right up to the moment we brought it in that it would be too big for the space. Now, it needed some work for sure but we were up for the challenge.  The wood finish definitely had a "patina", if you will.
Another view of the tabletop - it was a hot mess
The chairs and covers were filthy
The Before on the chair detail
 It was not a nice color.  It appeared yellowed and it was obvious that its previous owners used it frequently.  It had a few cigarette burns in the top, some black marks on it, glitter, sticky stuff - you name it, this table had it.  The chairs were in the same shape, but required some more intensive cleaning because of all the detail, cracks and crevices in the design.  The seat covers were white at one time but now had a greyish color, and were possibly the most offensive thing about the entire set.

 We got to work on the top, cleaning it up as best we could and sanding the finish off, which was very labor intensive (mostly for hubby).  We did the top and the side, but since we had already decided to paint the pedestal and the apron(?) part of the table, we left the finish on that part.
The edge had to be sanded by hand
 Four belts on our poor, tired old sander were broken during this part of the process.

We found the PERFECT fabric for the seats!
 Meanwhile, I got to work on the chairs.  They took 4 coats of paint each.  I used Martha Stewart's Heavy Cream for the color.  It is my favorite of all the whites, because I really don't care for white, but this one has a warmth I like.  We found a teal and white fabric with a great seahorse print on it - perfect for our house!
After all the painting was done I used a stain to accentuate the detail in the chairs, pedestal and bottom of the table.

The chairs looked better already with a couple coats of paint

The stuff we used to create the new finishes

We chose weathered oak by Minwax because we really like the grey color or it.  We used Watco Danish oil on the tabletop.  It's a product that the wood really absorbs.  We weren't sure about it with the first coat because the color is called Dark Walnut and it wasn't as dark as we expected.  It never did get as dark as what we had envisioned but with a couple more coats and a few hours of sinking in it turned a color that we liked.

The stain really brings out the detail in the chairs

I repeated the staining technique around the tabletop detail and on the pedestal as well.  Once everything was dry came the fun part of moving it into the house.  The table top we were able to carefully roll from the porch into the house.  The pedestal, however, was painted in our driveway and had to make it up three steps to get into the house.  Hubby carried it on a handtruck up the steps and had to use all his muscle power to get it into the front door, plus some creative angling since it was so enormous.  Once it was in place and it FIT I was overjoyed.  It looks truly amazing in our dining room.  I am very proud of this project.  For under $100 and several hours of labor we turned it into the dining set we've always dreamed of.

I can't wait to have some friends over to sit around it with us!

It looks fantastic in our dining room!

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Jewish Penicillin for the Soul

After a couple days of being home sick and having absolutely no voice I decided I must do something today.  It's ridiculously beautiful out at the Jersey Shore today and I hate that I am not taking my daughter to the beach, park, or somewhere outdoors.  So, making the best of it, I did a run through at the grocery store this morning, bed head and all.  I grabbed a 4 lb. roaster, some carrots and celery and made a b-line for home to hunker down for the day.  Luckily, I have the most well behaved and understanding 8 year old child there ever was.  She is okay with staying home, opening up all the windows for sunshine and fresh air, and playing with her barbies while I cook, write and rest my weary body.   

Making chicken soup today just feels essential.  The making of it is therapeutic for me - just as much as eating it and reaping its mystical health benefits.  This is not a recipe or a tutorial, more of an anecdote with pictures of my process.  The only "must have" ingredients for chicken soup are chicken, carrots, celery, onion.  The other seasonings can be whatever I have on hand, whatever I'm in the mood for.  Today I'm keeping it simple.  I'm roasting this little gal with nothing more than a rub down with canola oil, some salt and pepper and a couple of sage leaves, mainly because I have an overabundance of sage in my garden at the moment.  
This little lady is known as the "perfect pan".  She is the perfect size for baking ANYTHING!

 I'll pop her in the oven for an hour while I get the gizzards in my stock pot with some carrots, celery, onions, garlic and herbs.  I used all the herbs I have in my garden - a sprig or two of each, and extra thyme because I love the taste of chicken cooked with thyme.  

I use the leafy part of the celery because my grandmother taught me it adds flavor to soups.  Nothing gets chopped up here - carrots and celery are halved, onion is quartered and garlic is left whole.
 I add about 10 cups of water and boil it all down and discard everything that's not liquid gold anyway.  After this little beaut comes out of the oven with a bit of a tan, I plunk her entire body straight into the stock pot on top of everything else and simmer that down for another hour.  Meanwhile I chop more carrots and celery and one little secret ingredient.  The kids don't like their food too spicy but when I am stuffed up I need a little heat to help clear me out.  I picked this little baby jalapeno from the garden and I'm throwing it in, seeds and all.
By the time the kids read this it will be too late! *evil laugh*
  I've also decided to add some ginger.  Not a typical chicken soup ingredient but I love the spiciness and flavor so a little bit of that is going in.  Dried thyme in addition to the fresh, because there really is no such thing as too much thyme when cooking chicken, a *pinch* of this awesome Wildtree Garlic Galore seasoning because it's got really powerful flavor, and a splash of white wine never hurt anyone that I know of.
When my stock is cooked and drained I add these with the chopped veggies and chicken meat and cook for an hour.
For a little bird she gave me a lot of meat.

Last but not least, when this glorious pot of golden deliciousness is about 10 minutes away from being done, I add the only ingredient that is truly Jewish - the Manischewitz egg noodles.  There really is no substitute.

Finally, almost three hours later... my scrumptious labor of love is complete.  And, as I ladel the soup into my bowl I realize, I feel better already...

Happy Birthday Grandma

Today is a very special day.  It is the eighty third birthday of a truly amazing woman and grandmother - mine.  Betty is the smartest, most glamorous, most generous woman I know.  Her heart is full of love for her nine grandchildren and her great granddaughter, and she is anxiously anticipating the arrival of a great grandson. She has been my strongest supporter in good times and has been my rock in some of the worst times you could imagine. Her love and devotion is unwavering. I have learned to listen to her advice and appreciate her wisdom - it is a resource many people do not have access to. Although I wish I could be with her today I know she is in good hands with my Aunt, Uncle and cousins in the Boston area.  I know they will make her day as special as she is.  Happy Birthday, Grandma.  We love you to the moon and back!

Grandma hamming it up

Beauty AND brains

Two rockin chicks
At 83 she's still got "it"!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Faking a Collection

So, we have been working on our table and chair makeover for our dining room, and it is a really big job.  It's going to be rewarding in the end, but it's not giving me the instant gratification that I crave from my projects.  Looking around the dining area, I realize that there isn't going to be room for much else once the big table is in there, but I am lucky to have two sweet built in cabinets in the dining room, separating it from the kitchen.  These cabinets were actually a selling point for me when we purchased our home.  They add a lot of charm to this small space.  I was thinking that it would look really great to have a collection of some type in there but I didn't have enough of any one thing to make it work.  That was before I stumbled upon a plethora of DIY mercury glass tutorials on the internet.  The technique is super simple and it involves my BFF, spray paint.  The only materials needed are glass objects to change, a spray bottle of vinegar and water, paper towels, gold spray paint and Krylon Looking Glass spray paint.   Who doesn't have a bunch of glass vases and things laying around the house?  I rounded up some of mine, and bought a few cheap knick knacks at Goodwill.  The total cost was about $20.

It only took about an hour for me to make 9 pieces of faux mercury glass, and even though it couldn't actually pass for the real thing I really like the weathered look of it.
This was the first piece I made/

This jelly jar style light globe that I picked up at Goodwill is my favorite piece.  Something about it feels nautical to me.
I used the gold spray paint on some of the pieces, and some just the looking glass paint.  I think the gold gives it a more antiqued look.  I like it both ways and I'm glad I decided to mix it up.

Side note: That wedding cake you see was made for us by my super talented father.

I put some of my glass things back into the cabinets for now until I make more.  


I can't wait to finish this room and show you the final result!  Then it will be time for a wine and cheese party to break it in...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

"The Boys"

Allow me to introduce you to my fur babies, and one of our favorite house guests.  First up is Roger.  He was my first baby, even before my daughter was born he was with us.  We found him as a stray.  He was a teeny tiny kitten and all by himself.  We started putting food out for him and he got closer and closer to us over time.  One day he just walked in when we opened our door and he's been ours ever since.

He thinks he's human.  He will sit with us at the dinner table - not because he's begging for food, just because he thinks he belongs there.

This guy is a rascal and a stinker, but when he decides to be a love he's a real love.  He is the only cat on Earth who loves water.  He practically lives in the bathtub and will get in the shower with you if you let him!

Next let me introduce my youngest, Duke.  He is about 3 years old.  We saw an ad on craigslist posted by a young couple who had adopted this handsome guy but weren't able to keep him.  We went to meet him and brought him home the same day.  My life hasn't been the same since.  He is the sweetest and most loving creature I have ever known, and has totally turned me into a "dog person".

Snuggles with Daddy

He takes great care of my human baby, and treats her like she's his own little girl.

You really just can't help falling in love with this guy.

Last but not least, it's our favorite house guest.  He's the only guest who gets to stay as long as he wants anytime he wants.  He's my parents' cat, Toby.  We are his babysitters when his mommy and daddy are on vacation.  We all look forward to him coming - even Roger is starting to warm up to him!

Is this guy handsome or what?
The kitties chillin together


How could you not love these guys???

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Decorating the Dining Room

I haven't had much time to write between work and the project we are currently working on, but here is a sneak peek.  We are finally decorating our little dining room, having scored an AMAZING dining set on craigslist.  Here is a before and after of one of the chairs...

Dirty and dingy but they have great bones

The original upholstery

The perfect fabric to recover the seats!

I can't wait to show you the finished project in its entirety!!  And after this one, I think we will finally be able to work on fixing up our porch, which is known as our "workshop" at the moment.

One down, five to go...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Bush Whacking

Since the weather here at the Jersey Shore has been so amazing this August, we've been able to start working on some of the outdoor, curb appeal boosting projects we planned on doing in the Fall.  First up was losing three flowering almond bushes that grew along this darling little split rail fence in our front yard.  They bloomed for a very short time in the early spring.  I was not thrilled with the show, and I was even less happy when the greenery filled out and blocked my view of everything when I sat out on the front patio.

The winter view, before the almond bushes got big and green
The front yard, with its new knockout rose bed

Hubby started things off by bringing me home 5 knockout rose bushes that he bought on sale for less than $6 a piece.  After agonizing over where to plant them, I thought why not kill two birds with one stone and lose the hated flowering almonds while adding some color to the front yard.  The first thing we did was rip out the bushes.  We wrapped a chain around the bottom of each bush and connected the other end to hubby's truck, which loosened them up a lot for us.  We dug and pulled the rest of the way out.  They were pretty mature and some of those roots were  tough to pull out.  We started late in the day, and were still working past dark.  

Of course this project was done on a budget.  We bought everything at Home Depot and spent a total of about $50.

Next we sunk the little rose bushes into the ground and gave them a good soaking before we called it a night.  The next day, we finished off with landscaping fabric, edging and black mulch.  We also freshened up the rock border on the patio side with some nice clean white granite chips, which cost less than $4 a bag.  We used three bags in this area.  We are so pleased with the result, and are loving sitting out on the patio with a glass of wine watching the sun set over the lagoon in the evening.

The last piece of the puzzle will be finishing off the edge with something decorative.  I'm thinking stacked slate.  What do you think?