Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Story of the $6 Table

If you have talked to me at all in the past month or two, you have undoubtedly heard about my mom and my garage sale finds (and probably in greater detail than you care to)(sorry). You may have heard about the Ethan Allen chair I have been redoing, or the 2 ugly-pink wingback chairs (in good condition though) that my mother got for $15 and plans to re-upholster (lol). I'm sure you've heard about the epic $6 table though.
        It was being sold by a very young couple who was raising money to adopt domestically. Their friends had donated tons of things for them to hold a garage sale and Friday morning was their "practice run" they said. The couple obviously didn't know much about garage sales and, as opposed to most in this state, were selling everything really cheap. Perhaps this was actually a genius strategy because things were literally flying off the lawn--the woman couldn't even drag everything outside because of all the people asking her for prices. When she told me $6 for the table, I was shocked and to this day I wish I could remember their address so I could drop a check in their mailbox. This table needed quite a bit of work and was never going to look like new, but it was worth a good deal more than six measly bucks and they were obviously a loving young couple who just wanted a child. The guilt will probably stick with me for a while. Anyway, this table was exactly what I had been looking for and perfect for the distressed farmhouse table look I have been envying. Here is what I did with the $6 table:

Original state

Here it is in the original state--partially stripped top, cracked and dry wood, primed apron and legs. Somebody obviously had grand plans for this table but never got around to it.

Sanded and ready to go

It was hard to tell, but any sort of finish seemed to have been previously removed, so I sanded the crap of out it (until the electric sander spontaneously broke, not my fault I swear!) It took a couple days, esp when I had to finish it by hand, and I breathed in way too much dust from this. Yeah, you know what that means--wooden boogies. Ew. Moving on!

Stained table-top

After sanding it to a buttery softness, and sanding off way too much of my nails, I stained the top a nice chestnut color. I also distressed the legs a bit because when I sand through the Annie Sloan (AS) chalk paint, I would rather a darker color show through instead of the stark white primer. (Remember, with AS chalk paint neither priming nor sanding is required, this was just what was done already/needed to be done for the effect I wanted.)

Save your judgement for the next stage!

Now, I know you are seeing this picture and immediately questioning my judgement. Believe me, I know--St. Patricks Day. That's all I could think about when I saw it, 'I hate it I hate it I hate it' would play through my head and I stopped working on it briefly because it frustrated me so much. (You don't want to know how long my first project took me). This AS color is called Antibes green, and I really love it, but as-is it just wasn't right for this table. Thankfully, it gets a lot better.

The next step is to wax and distress the apron and legs. And in this case, dark wax the crap out of it too, which will prove to be the saving grace for the $6 table. Check back to see the final results, I am in the process of finishing her up and getting pictures!

Have a lovely week!

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Introduction

For the past few months, a great deal of my time, effort, and money has been spent refinishing furniture. Sounds like a rather strange hobby for an impatient broke chick with nowhere to live, but it has really been something I enjoy immensely. The one thing that has immeasurably contributed to this enjoyment is the type of paint I use--it's called Annie Sloan's chalk paint and it's awesome.

I am far from a diy guru (I typically spend at least an hour talking to a Home Depot associate before starting anything beyond painting), so this chalk paint really makes my life easier. Disclaimer: you CAN get a clean, crisp finish with this paint, but the point is really that you can distress and antique it to give your project that worn-in look. Here are the top 5 reasons I love this stuff and you will too:

1)  No prepping beyond cleaning the surface to be painted (no sanding, no priming)
2)  It sticks to just about any surface you want, really
3)  Water-based (skip the mineral spirits for your brushes) and essentially odor-free
4)  Fast drying (I'm talking an hour, 2 hours tops)
5)  Distresses with a natural and soft effect

These mean that you can finish a piece in a day. It's faster and a great deal less effort than other paints. Also, because of these factors, if you mess up--no big deal. Because of #1 and #2, you can just paint right over it. Or according to #5, you could just sand it right off and paint back over the smooth surface with no one the wiser. And thanks to #4, you can mess up almost infinitely and still be done in a day. Essentially idiot-proof.

When you are happy with how your piece looks, or you think you are, the best way to finish it is with a wax (I use Annie Sloan's waxes or Minwax). It wipes on easily and over the course of a week or so cures to a smooth, shiny and hard finish. Clear wax will give you a natural looking coat of protection, while those wanting an even more antiqued look can opt for a dark wax, which lends a very aged effect to your project.

But WAIT! You painted your piece, thought you liked it, went ahead and waxed it but over the course of a few weeks have decided it's not exactly what you want.... well that's too damn bad!! Right? Not quite! Go back and read #1 and #2. Just haul it back down to the basement and fix it right up. No weird layers, no cracking no peeling no mineral spirits and no prep work. Sounds like a dream right?? The ONLY non-dreamy thing about this wondrous Annie Sloan chalk paint is the price. A quart of paint will run you about 35 bucks. Ouch! It will see you through quite a few decently sized projects, but in the end how many of the same colored pieces of furniture does one need? I'm more into the mismached, colorful look myself (as you will see in future posts), but thankfully my mom and a friend of ours are both addic--i mean enthusiasts too, which means color trading is the way to go.

If you are in the Brentwood/Nashville (TN) area and are thinking about giving this wild stuff a try, a great source of inspiration/information/paint is a store called C'est Moi off Church Street in Brentwood. Stop in and look through the chalk painted pieces. If you dig it, they sell the paint and the lovely ladies there can answer all your questions. If you need more guided help and aren't already broke from buying paint, you can take a class at C'est Moi that will teach you how to really work with chalk paint. If you are like me, you're going to google the crap out of Annie Sloan chalk paint tutorials and that's okay too, you'll be just fine. You really can't mess up with this stuff, so just relax and enjoy!

Here is a great site to get you started:

To find C'est Moi, check out

Spring Blooms and Flower Questions

This flower was a lovely surprise from the bf (he plucked it but "not from someone's yard, promise!") I have no idea what kind of flower it is though! Flowers are always such welcome gifts, but roses smell kind of gross to me and most other flowers smell like death, because I associate them with funerals. This one however is completely new to me and smells glorious. It has bright yellow stamen (I think I have my flower anatomy right...) and is a bit larger than my fist.

Any ideas what it could be?

Update:  I had a strange compulsion to google image search 'peony' and found some that matched, some that didn't. Is it a peony? It never opened up in the middle, it just kinda died after a handful of days. Idk if that's because it's just not a peony or because of my brown thumb...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Add Weird Stuff to Your Smoothies!

       Does this smoothie look great or what?? I've really gotten into a smoothie kick recently. It could be over tomorrow next week or next year, but for now I've been skipping coffee (a recent interest, what did I say about those fickle kicks?) and opting for an idiot-proof way to add some nutrition to my diet. I am lucky enough to have a Blendtec at my disposal, I'm not sure how a regular blender would handle the things I'd put in it, but it really is as simple as adding whatever you have at hand. I'm a big fan of fresh strawberries, grapes, an orange, lemon zest, and some sort of frozen fruit to give it that frosty texture instead of a frothy one. On top of those traditional ingredients, I add raw almonds for their protein, calcium and vitamin E, as well as coconut oil because it tastes great and studies suggest it's good for the brain (I have Alzheimer's in my family). I've also been experimenting with "weird" healthy things, like chia seeds.
        These teeny tiny seeds, native to ancient Mesoamerica, have been termed a "superfood" for their super healthy nutrition profile--they contain protein, a good bit of minerals like potassium and iron, tons of fiber (who needs coffee!), and are the richest plant source of omega-3s (more than salmon, I hear). They also have this strange propensity to create a gel when added to water, so they make you feel significantly fuller when added to whatever you're eating and also help with hydration and blood sugar control. I personally think they're great because they look like tiny dinosaur eggs. Anyway, this is not an attempt to convert anyone to a Mayan superfood smoothie diet or even a terrible "how to make a smoothie" instructional, but rather my way of sharing how I've found this absolutely painless way of making my life just the littlest bit healthier. Truly, these smoothies can absorb the most absurd and often disgusting tasting things--without affecting the flavor. I have eaten a handful of chia seeds on their own and they sure taste like dinosaur eggs. Okay that makes no sense, who knows what dinosaur eggs would taste like (probably bad) but these little things on their own are not tasty. I've also put some of my mother's absolutely repulsive tasting lactose-free whey-free gluten-free natural organic nonGMO ostentatious protein powder in it too and viola, tastelessly absorbed! Well to a degree, that stuff really does taste like dried Yetti poo. My mother is also known for sneaking handfulls of spinach into smoothies she makes for my family, but it doesn't really fool anyone because they come out bright green (although there is no trace of spinach in their fruity flavor!).
       The point of all this though is that smoothies are so great for absorbing healthy things you want to put into your body without taking the time (or discomfort) to chew them, whether they taste awesome or are more along the lines of dinosaur eggs and Yetti poo... Oh one exception though! Peanut butter. That just makes a bad smoothie. One last fantastic thing about these smoothies, you don't have to add any sweetener! As big of a sweet tooth as I have, all that fruit is more than enough to sweeten the entire thing. So there you are, just thought I would let you know where I am in my smoothie experiments! It gets more interesting every day :P

(Thanks Google)
Dino eggs! What'd I tell you?

Next time you're feeling a little weird and/or daring, toss some dino eggs into your smoothie/oatmeal/preferably flavored yogurt. I've seen them sprinkled on peanut butter toast before, too. You are really only limited by your imagination with these little guys!

A thought to leave you with,

"Habit is habit, and not to be flung out of the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs one step at a time. " - Mark Twain

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Littlest (and probably cutest) Desk Plant

     Whew, feels like there's a bit of pressure on this first post! Although to be quite honest I don't expect much traffic. I'm just here to write a bit and share the things that I'm working on, the things that excite me and make me smile. Like this adorable little succulent (of the genus Echeveria) that I absolutely couldn't leave Home Depot without yesterday! I've spent a lot of time there recently for various projects (which I shall expand on in future posts) and meandered into the plant section. I found myself trying to leave with, I kid you not, an armful of succulents (those funny little plants with weirdly thick and juicy leaves). In short, I left with just this single, darling little plant. I painted a little pot for it and it sits happily on my windowsill. As it looks very lotus-like to me, it brings me a sense of serenity and a smile every time I catch sight of it. Unfortunately, I have not been blessed with a green thumb. In fact, it has been said I have a brown thumb (lets not be gross now). We'll see how long I can keep it alive! :)