Monday, May 28, 2012

Making Sunshine

So today I'm home from work with strep throat, which means I'm not making money and I'm not able to devote my day to projects either. Boo. One thing that has brightened my day is these wonderful flowers I bought at work a few days ago!

What better way to tell yourself "I love you" than buying yourself your favorite flowers? Such a simple way to brighten your own day.

It's a brand new day
I got lots of love to give away
It don't matter if it's raining
Nothing can [faze] me
I make my own sunshine 
If you think you can break me
Baby you're crazy
I make my own sunshine  
               Alyssa Bonagura "I Make My Own Sunshine

It's a sappy, happy, driving-with-sunglasses-on-and-the-windows-down kind of song that you sandwich in right between Corinne Bailey Rae's "Girl Put Your Records On" and something by Colbie Caillat. Haha I would be judging myself so hard too right now if I didn't enjoy singing these songs in the car as much as I do. However, I don't want the sunny, bubbly music to overtake the message. I think it's really important for the modern woman (and really everybody, for that matter) to take responsibility for her own happiness and remember that self-reliance and strength of character are the two best qualities she can cultivate in herself and encourage in her friends. It's so effortlessly and unconsciously that we get wrapped up in other people's lives that we forget that when everything boils down, we're the one driving. It's blindingly simple but also something I need to remind myself of frequently---so many things and especially people in my life bring me abundant happy moments and endless warm fuzzy feelings, but incorporating those into my happiness and not letting them entirely define my contentment and well-being is my responsibility. That's not to say I don't rely on anyone, but I remind myself that nobody is obligated to make sure I'm always a happy camper. It's something I forget, it's something my friends forget, and it's something that I fear young women don't consider often enough. A few popular novels that have been circulating, Twilight for one, horrify me with their depiction of a modern woman. I won't deny that I like the Twilight series as a very guilty pleasure, but Bella really is a horrible role model. When the time comes that my little sisters get caught up with the challenges that come their way, or more likely than not, boys, I'm going to remind them of all these things. And boy are they are going to kill me if they read this. Anyway, enough thinking. This is just what happens when I'm stuck on bedrest. Maybe I'll eat some ice cream and sneak down to the "studio"...

Enjoy your holiday! 

P.S. Don't discount the video on account of the supremely annoying misspelling of faze (phase? really?)

Saturday, May 26, 2012

How My Garden Grows

Hello! I've been working tons lately (at my job that is) and will be working even more in the coming weeks, so work on my projects will suffer and I probably won't have much exciting to post about :( However, the past few days I've been throwing all my extra time into a super secret project I'm really excited about. If you're reading this and know what I'm talking about, please don't comment anything revealing here or on fb! It has to be a surprise. I have splinters down my shins and in my hands, but pending any absolutely disastrous accidents of bad taste/ugliness or actual accidents (there's always a decent chance for any of those), it should be done and revealed in due time and should be duly awesome!

The only other thing worth commenting on (or not, really), is how much my charming little succulent has grown since my first post! I would make some horrible, trite connection between the germination of this plant and the development and maturation of my blog, but that'd be so less cute than this picture! (actually, I need to know--am I the only one who regards plants with the capacity to be cute? positively adorable? I might be crazy)


So much bigger! I haven't even watered it (oops)

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Asymmetrical Mirror Finished!

So as you saw in an earlier post, I picked up an old golden mirror at a garage sale a few weeks ago.  It's nice and heavy and appears to be rather old, but the finish was a cheap, one-dimensional gold finish that really didn't do anything for me.

All finished

I decided to paint it with AS chalk paint in a warm grey color called Coco. I distressed the paint to let the slightly metallic gold color come through a bit and then used a dark wax to accent the molding. I'm a bit unimpressed with it in general. I didn't quite get the effect I was expecting with the dark wax, but when I ask myself what I wanted to achieve with it I can't really tell myself precisely what I expected. I think it is an improvement over the original finish and I think it will look nice hung up, but I'm not crazy in love with it, like other things I've worked on. However, I am very pleased with how well it cleaned up. I thought it was going to have that vintage mirror feel with spots under the glass and uncleanable smudges, but it shined up exceptionally well.
       On top of that, I've come to embrace the asymmetry of the molding. In fact, I find it positively laughable that someone went to the trouble of creating this strange mirror with obvious symmetry issues. They were obviously either symmetrically challenged or an occasional lazy ass, both of which are similarities I share. I find the imperfections almost endearing and think they add some personality.

Also, I feel that the photographs don't do the mirror justice. Photographs rarely do their subjects justice anyway but this finish in particular was tricky to capture. I also wish I had a more realisic/homey/cute place to stage my finished pieces ;)

Please pardon the lovely gutter featured in the reflection

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Marbled Nutella Banana Bread yumm

       As much as I'd like to throw off the burden of expectations of filling gender roles, I must say it has been a thorn in my side for quite some time that I am not the most domestically gifted of women. I remember well the time a guy I was seeing asked me if I was domesticated. Domesticated? Well I don't pee outside of the toilet, I haven't chewed up a shoe in quite some time and I get along pretty well with humans, so yes I suppose I am domesticated! I found it quite humorous, but it did get me thinking that I am far from a natural homemaker. I don't cook very well and when I do laundry, I do a load of whites and a load of non-whites. Nothing fancy. If a future kid or husband wants to know the best way to wash something or whether hot or cold water sets a stain, I'll do the same thing they will---google it. I was just recently turned on to the existence of color-safe bleach, so that tells you how behind the times I am. I'm also vegetarian, so even though I can prepare a handful of tasty dishes, I don't know the first thing about preparing meat. Sometimes I feel like a failure as a woman, especially when I burn popcorn in the microwave (a domestically-challenged woman's best friend), but then I think of the one domestic thing I can do, BAKE!

       Not to toot my own horn too loudly now, but I'm known to make some awesome homemake cookies, banana bread (I must get it from my grandmother), pancakes, and quiches. Well, I'm probably more famous for the quiche because I accidentally added 2x the amount of cheese called for one time, so I had to improvise and ended up with 3 quiches instead of one. I'm not actually sure how that came about.

One thing I love to bake is banana bread, perhaps because I came to love eating it for breakfast every morning when we visited my grandma. She makes amazing banana bread. I've chosen a slightly different recipe, one more tailored to my personal taste---Nutella banana bread! I made it for the first time in Chile for Thanksgiving, and it's a miracle it "turned out" given my complete lack of measuring tools and baking powder and also the difference in degrees F and degrees C. This is my first time making it back in the good 'ole US of A and other than being a complete moron and thinking that 2 mini bread pans equal one 9 inch bread pan (which they obviously don't), it turned out surprisingly well.

My 2 biggest struggles when making banana bread are:

  • Using barely ripe bananas because I don't possess the foresight to get them early enough to ripen properly
  • Not being able to get the center cooked enough without drying out and burning the outside
This time I got the idea to make banana bread from two otherwise disgusting-looking bananas sitting on the fruit stand and I had also recently bought two mini bread pans to remedy that second problem, though I evidently should have bought three. 

As you can see they weren't the prettiest loaves, but the interior marbled nicely and they tasted great. I'll be straightforward and tell you though that as heavenly as the Nutella sounds, you can't exactly taste chocolate. Like at all. I prefer to smear (additional) Nutella on a toasted piece instead of butter :) I just really enjoy the marbled effect and the banana bread itself is wonderful, so I continue to use this fantastic recipe.

I have quite a few projects in the works, so keep your eyes open for the next update. Have a nice week!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Farmer's Market weekend

Last weekend the bf and I checked out the Franklin farmer's market, despite the dreary wet weather, and met up with my wonderful godparents. We enjoyed the most delicious donuts I have EVER tasted in my life, pumpkin in fact, from Ellie's Old Fashioned Doughnuts. They were hot, fresh, and rolled in cinnamon sugar. Good lord. We had seconds.

Those donuts were certainly my favorite part about the farmer's market, but my second favorite thing there was this poor little dog:

I hope you can tell, but in case you can't, it's a Pomeranian in a diaper. Why a dog needs a diaper, I can't imagine. I mean I do understand the frustration of a dog's natural tendency to embarrass his owner and poop in public places, never in the yard when you let him out first, but I would never ever want to change a hairy dog diaper. But this blog was not supposed to contain poop-talk, so lets move on! The bf suggested it could be because the dog is in heat, but who knows. I just enjoyed giggling every time I spotted the poor thing!

Update: apparently the dog was in heat. Enough said.

I also really enjoyed taking my pooch with us, she can't get enough of going on outings and she absolutely loves riding in the car--she usually curls up like a little lamb and falls asleep before we're out of the neighborhood.

For mother's day, I picked out a really neat "living salad" for my sisters to give to my mom since I already had a gift. Essentially this living salad consists of a cluster of little lettuce plants surrounding a tiny chive plant. The idea is to keep it on your porch or in your kitchen and to pick the lettuce from the outside of each plant, leaving the new leaves in the center untouched so the plant can continue to make you salad. Kind of a neat idea!

Clover and Pookie hanging out by the living salad bowl. They both tried to eat it actually

Now here is the picture I want to leave you with---my 20+ pound cat Pookie has been on a diet for years and actually gained weight. He's essentially a hairy bowling ball. I've caught him eating dog food when he thinks he's alone and when I was taking these pictures he tried desperately to eat the chives out of the living salad. I pushed him away and he roamed around the patio nibbling different plants until I found him voraciously tearing away at the grass, at which point I caught this moment. Here's your chuckle for the day :)

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Upcoming Projects

Now that I have FINALLY completed the table, it's time to start collecting more things to work on! I've already done most of the work on an Ethan Allen chair project, all that's left is recovering the cushions which I'm putting off because I don't like to measure and sew very much (well, mostly measure to be honest). I also have a dresser project in the works, it just needs some wax and a consensus on the knobs, which have been immensely polarizing. I have been garage sale-ing before work on the weekends like an addict (what can I say, really) and have started a little collection of things to work on.

My next small project will probably be this mirror that I picked up last weekend. The finish is really ugly and as I was taking pictures of it I realized that the molded designs are off-center! It doesn't bother me much though, and what drew me to this mirror was the potential to look really neat with dark wax and also that it appears to be pretty old, as it is thick and heavy and resembles in some ways a big vintage mirror my mom has.

I think this mirror will require that I upgrade my dark wax method, but I really can't shell out $35 for a special brush now (or really ever, that's crazy) so I'm going to have to fanangle myself some sort of imitation. I'll let you know how that turns out!

 If you're like most people, you're looking at this decrepit, flaky window and thinking "what in the world could you do with that?!" and probably also "be careful, that's likely lead paint!" in which case you're probably right, but back to the main question--it has been in the back of my mind for years now as this dilapidated piece has sat in my garage. And then inspiration struck! I chanced upon a similar project in which a diy-er made an old window into a vintage looking mirror. She went more for a mercury glass/antique mirror look, which could look really nice for this window. I still need to finish scraping off layer after layer of flaking paint and then paint it something else, but I'm excited to find this old friend a new look and a purpose. I haven't yet decided what to do about the missing panes, I honestly dislike measuring/messing with stuff enough that I might just knock out the one remaining pane on the bottom right to make it even and just leave it like that :)

Monday, May 14, 2012

The $6 Table---Finished!

I've had many requests to "put up pictures of the [$6] table already!" so on my day off I've finally gotten a hand dragging it outside to photograph. Unfortunately it was a bit overcast and I couldn't get help carrying it past the driveway, but the pictures should give you a decent idea of what it currently looks like.

The last pictures you saw had it in an awkward state--the top was sanded and stained but not sealed and the apron and legs had been painted Antibes green, which looked really tacky in my opinion.

My next step was to lay on 3 coats of polyurethane over the course of a few days, having to sand between each layer (will I never be done sanding this table??)

In between layers of polyurethane and bouts of frustrated sanding, I worked on dark waxing the chalk paint. It went on really nicely, but I got a bit carried away and it began to look generally dingy. To remedy this, I strategically wiped off dark wax using a rag with clear wax.

I spent quite a while trying to get the apron/legs just how I liked them (and more importantly, even), but after way too much wipe on/wipe off action I had to just accept that the legs would never be exactly the same (or even nearly so at my hand). I'm also still not perfectly satisfied with the smoothness of the top, it isn't as flawless as I had hoped, but after being told by many admirers that it is quite smooth and having impressed my toughest furniture critic, the bf, I think I'm going to call this table done. At least for now.

So here is how it looks all finished up...


Overall I'm pretty pleased with the piece, I think Duck Egg (greenish blue) would have looked really nice with the warm, dark wood but I like the green a lot, too. Also, the response to the new-and-improved $6 table has been really positive, which is always a great feeling. All I can say is that I never, ever, EVER want to sand this thing again.

Hope you like it! I always appreciate feedback, so whether you think it's awesome or hideous I'd love to hear what you think. I have enjoyed the comments, emails, and people dropping by/bringing people by to see it! Keep it coming :)