Friday, June 1, 2018

Refinishing a Mid-Century Lane Coffee Table

I think that I probably bought this coffee table on Craigslist about 9 years ago. It was never in great shape, but having a small child in the house made it much worse. Paint, markers, child-goo all build up. Not to mention probably 50 years of life, feet, coffee, etc.

I wanted to buy a new coffee table. I also want to buy a new couch. But the wise words of a friend echo in my mind: "don't buy new furniture until your kids are much older, because they ruin everything." So true. If I wanted to horrify you, I would should you some close-up pics of my couches...

Anyway. My table.

I got it into my head that I could refinish it. And even if I ruined it in the process, it would be better than what is happening now. So, I watched a million YouTube videos, and I went for it.

Here it was before:



It was a lot of work, but here is the after:


It's not perfect, but it is better.

Here are the steps, in brief:

1. Apply stripping gel. I used Citristrip.


Follow the instructions.

2. Scrape off goop layers of old finish. I used a putty knife, and some coarse steel wool.
3. Wipe it down with soapy water, and let it dry.
4. Sand it like you mean it. I started out hand-sanding, and that was short lived. Use your orbital sander.
5. Wipe it down with soapy water again, using lint-free cloths.
6. Apply Danish Oil. I used this one: Tried and True
Follow the instructions - I applied two layers (with 8 hours in between).

7. Pat yourself on the back and yell at your husband and child(ren) if they even think of putting something on your table.




 
I am super happy with the results, and hope this table will last us awhile! Now, I'm off to put magical Danish Oil over all my wood furniture (that stuff is amazing!)

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Painting the kids' room: take 2

The times they are a-changin. (Ron Burgundy had never heard that song).

Gratuitous Anchorman quote achieved!

When we moved into this house, we painted L's room a dark color - English Channel, it was called. H. and I both liked it, it was a lovely dark blue.

It went from this:



To this:



At the time, we didn't want to paint the trim, so we left it. And honestly, we did kind of crappy paint job because we couldn't get the painters tape off the trim. You can see it in these pics.

Anyway, almost two years later and now this is the shared room of both L and S, but L declared the room was too dark and scary. To be fair, it was dark. And the wood trim just made it look dated and darker.

After a long break, I've been feeling more and more like I can achieve desired changes in my house (not being pregnant is awesome), so I was ready to tackle this room and paint the trim. But, I really didn't want to sand it. Or use stripper to get the gloss off. Basically, I wanted to do it a semi-lazy way, so I bought an oil-based primer instead and primed the heck out of those mofos. And then two coats of paint on the trim.

For the color, we (actually L) chose Ethereal Mood by Behr, and it was a very fine choice.






It is so, so light in there now, and really lovely. Have you ever been so happy with how a room turned out, that you keep making excuses to go and look at it again? That was me for about 5 days after finishing the room.  Painting the trim was so worth the effort. And instead if using painters tape, we just used an angled brush and a little bit of focus: also worth it.

The whole second floor of our house has wood trim, and seeing how nice this looks in the kids' room; we've decided to paint it all white. At some point when we are full of energy and focus...

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Slowing my roll: in the garden

I have a need for instant gratification. I recognize this in myself, and I know it's problematic. I think this is partly why I tend to over shop, over indulge, and under-focus. I'm trying to get away from this, and that's partly why I'm drawn to the garden. There is no instant gratification in the garden.

Well, that's not entirely true: you can buy some plants at the garden center and stick them in the ground and bam! You have a lovely garden. And I have done that.

But I'm trying not to. I'm trying to grow things from seed or from root. It takes time, but it's so satisfying to watch them grow, and hope that the bunnies don't nibble too much.

Spring has sprung in our part of New Jersey and my garden is alive, the weeds are thriving.

But others are thriving too - small signs of life from last year. My parsley is booming, as is my oregano.



Excuse the weeds. Weeding without chemicals is a lot of work, and while I've devoted time the last few weekends to it, but there's so much more. I'm embracing the long tail of this pursuit.

18 months ago I planted a peony and a lilac, and they are appearing too. Though, I don't think they will flower this year - but they are getting bigger and they will be beautiful one day.



And finally, the first bud of the roses, planted by someone long gone, have appeared.


My goals now, and in the coming weeks and months: keep it slow, do it right, maintain maintain maintain. And stay on top of the weeds.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Garden Dreams for 2018

Last spring I had big dreams for growing a beautiful garden. Flowers, herbs, maybe a squash. It started off well, I tilled and fertilized, mulched, weeded, planted. I also discovered that we already had some beautiful plants that just needed a little love after a few years of neglect, including loads of roses!



Not roses, obviously.



They are so wonderful, it's lovely to look at them again now!

Neighbors told me that a woman lived in our house for a long time who was an excellent gardener, and the roses and other perennials (that are mostly not faring well these days) were hers. However, most of these have been neglected between her tenure here and ours.

When we moved in I had to unearth a number of hostas that had been planted into the ground within their plastic pots. Who does that??  But I have no beef with hostas. I hated them at first, and dug up a bunch of them (hence how I discovered they had been planted in their pots), but after trying and failing to kill them, I now have respect for their hardiness. Rock on, hostas. Rock on.

Anyway, things were going swimmingly last summer, but as my pregnancy progressed and I got bigger and more uncomfortable, and it got hotter and stickier, it became more difficult for me to keep up with the work that was required and I couldn't keep up after mid-July.

This year I am not pregnant (hooray!), so I'm planning a full summer's worth of work, which is to:

1) Keep the roses blooming through the summer.
2) Plant a "cottage garden" in the front and the back
3) Maintain and use my herb garden
4) Stay on top of the weeding
5) Nurse a long-neglected azalea back to health

When autumn comes, I plan to re-seed my lawn and nurse it back to health (at least back to green) without the use of chemicals and pesticides.

It may be a tall order, and will definitely test my need for instant gratification, but I'm absolutely determined to nurse the garden (front and back) back to its former glory.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

February 13

One year ago today I found out I was pregnant.

I remember the day because it was the morning after my birthday. I don't remember the day I found out I was pregnant with L. - maybe I should have made a note.

I was surprised to find I was pregnant. We had talked about having another baby, but then it happened so fast.

Some people say that pregnancies feel so quick after your first, and that was not my experience at all. It was just as long as the last one, but this time with more tests (because I was a "geriatric" mother - ie. over 35), and it was way more uncomfortable. I was tired, hot, huge, old.

Four months ago today we welcomed little S. into our lives.


Like his older brother, he's a sweet, easy-going little dude. Absolutely full of big gummy smiles. Unlike his brother, he has a temper - he goes from zero to very angry in about 3 seconds. He loves a schedule - where L. would (and still will) stay up absolutely as late as you let him, S. wants to be in bed by 8 PM sharp, or he has some choice words for you. Where L. would happily nurse all day every day and night, S. knows when he is full and is happy to fall asleep just looking around until he drifts off.

They say you shouldn't compare your kids, but it's impossible. I can't help but look at side-by-sides of the two of them.

L on the left, S on the right
 The don't even look alike!

With L, I went back to work at 12 weeks, and it was one of the hardest, worst feelings I've ever experienced. With S, I have taken 8 weeks on top of my 12 weeks. 8 weeks unpaid, but I'm thankful to my employer for allowing it. Still not enough though, and I hope in the near future the US and employers who value their employees will provide a more generous paid leave system.

It's been a rocky transition to big-brotherhood for L. He was so excited for months, but once the baby arrived L. realized that the attention he had previously gotten so freely and generously was now shared. It's better now, after four months, but he still needs lots of one-one-one mama time.

I thought that it would be easier with the second baby, that I'd already be a pro at this baby stuff. However, I find myself second-guessing myself more, and getting worried that things are different than they were with L, then reminding myself not to compare them.


I head back to work in just three weeks. I was feeling ready, but now I'm realizing how much I'll miss my quiet days with S.

Friday, February 9, 2018

LOL, Hi

First of all, I hate "LOL". I knew someone - someone I did not like, who would always use LOL in work emails when actually they were not laughing out loud, but rather undermining you. Since then I have avoided it. But, it seems appropriate today.

Here I am, back on my blog after more than a year of silence. Can I even remember how to do this? And of course, nobody reads blogs anymore, so I am writing to the void. And my mom - hi, Mom.

Over the 12 months that I have not been blogging, I have considered both deleting this blog forever, and also reviving it. You can obviously see what I chose.

So, what came of 2017? Well, I made a list of projects and goals, almost none of which I accomplished - so on-brand!

What I did do was gestate.


Now I am a mom to two sweet boys.


Right, so now I am a mom to two, a return to the blog makes sense, right? I have all the time in the world. Totally. But hey, let's have a go.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Dining Chairs: the Myth of Target's Porter Mid Century Chair

We bought our little dining table almost 3 years ago, and we still haven't found chairs.


I hate these chairs, which are ugly, old Ikea ones. Not only are they ugly, they're also uncomfortable, and they don't even fit this table.

The table, which is no longer available from West Elm, has been so problematic. It is very easily scratched and scuffed, and the table legs are so narrowly spaced that I'm not sure any chair would fit between them.

But then a couple weeks ago, H. and I were browsing the aisles at Target, and we saw their Porter Mid Century Dining Chairs - they were/are stylish, affordable, and narrow!

They are also, I believe, a myth.

Sold in sets of two, they cannot be bought online and are out of stock or unavailable at every single Target from what I can tell.


Yet Target still lists them on their website, and stores still carry a single floor model. It's infuriating! I thought about how far I'd be willing to drive, and searched those towns. In fact, when I searched Wilkes-barre, PA they were available, and yes I'd drive 100 miles if need be. But when I added to my cart to pick up in store, they didn't have 2 sets available; only 1... So I searched even further than I was actually willing to drive, and it was the same - in those rare case where a store had stock, they only had 1 set available. 

Is this some kind of Target conspiracy? Do these chairs exist, and every person in the country has them but I missed the memo? 

Will I never find dining chairs?

Should I sell this table on Craigslist for the troubles it causes me?

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