Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Lessons Learned from a Commissioned Furniture Piece

This past summer, I took on a commissioned furniture restoration that would later be known as: "the coffee table project from hell”.  This evening, three months after I brought the piece to my garage workspace, the finished project made its way back home…

Whew.  Glad that is over.

I thought I’d share my experience with you in case you’re thinking of picking up some commissioned work for a little extra moolah, considering what I learned in this process.

Mind you, this was not my first furniture rodeo.  I’ve redone quite a bit of furniture over the last year or so… but I don’t know that I was quite ready to take on a project of this magnitude.  I’ll start by saying this is not your ordinary coffee table.  It’s a very large piece, measuring almost five feet in length with a beautiful parquet top (translated: wood grain in many different directions).  Oy.

coffee table

Lesson One: Give an estimate of cost, plus supplies, rather than a cut-and-dried bid.

I wayyyyyy underbid this project, both in terms of cost and time.  I had to apply four coats of stripper to completely remove years and layers of varnish, and it took a lot of scrubbing to get everything out of those grooves.  All of the edging had to be hand-sanded because the curves of the piece would have been ruined by an orbital sander.  And all of that pretty parquet meant a lot of time applying stain to the varying directions of wood grain.

Lesson Two: Be realistic with time expectations.

I also waaaaaaaay underestimated the amount of time it would take to complete this project, which lead to not only a frustrated customer, but a frustrated customer’s sister-in-law.  Besides this being a bigger project than I anticipated, I also started on it during the hottest part of the summer and when you live in Texas and your workshop is your 120 degree garage, it’s next to impossible to work on this without having a heat stroke.  Luckily, the customer was understanding, but it set me back about a month and a half.  Unluckily, aforementioned relative did not know the project was delayed and gave me a nice “talking-to” via Facebook messaging.  *sigh*

Lesson Three: Be realistic with how much time you can devote to the project.

After I got my butt chewed about the time delay, I made sure to remind said butt-chewer that I’m a full-time working mom with obligations to my family and children and church and that furniture restoration was not my full-time job, but rather a side business, so turnaround is not quick.  I should have reminded myself of this too, because there are sometimes 4-5 days in a row that my husband is gone working and I’m too exhausted at the end of the day to work on furniture (in my Africa-like garage).  When a piece is commissioned, there’s a deadline, whereas a piece I pick up, redo, and then sell has no set date to be completed.  Boy, is the difference amazing.

Lesson Four:  Never Say Never

Although this project did turn out to be somewhat of a nightmare, the bottom line is I do love restoring furniture.  It was painstaking but also gratifying to take this tired, worn coffee table through the stages of restoration.  Removing years of old finish and revealing the beautiful underlying wood… sanding the wood smooth… applying stain and removing until the perfect color emerges… and finally adding the protective glossy coat until smooth as glass… each step of the process is oddly fulfilling to a quirky gal like me.

While I can’t say that I’ll take on a wood furniture restoration project any time soon… I also can’t rule it out completely.  You just never know when I might get the itch to do this again.

Until then… I’ll rest easier knowing the coffee table is no longer in my possession.

Have you ever had a nightmarish furniture experience?

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Mod Podge Library Book Bin

One of my favorite places in our community is the local public library… there is a great children’s section that has a fantastic selection of books, a wall of computers with children’s games, and a play area for the littles.  It is truly a wonderful place and the best part?  It’s free!  (Take that, kindle.)
Our library is much more generous than the one I grew up with – we can check out up to thirty books on one card!  Can you believe it?!  And while we don’t usually pick out thirty books to take home, we do pick up quite a few… and inevitably, I wind up with a giant pile of books strewn all over my coffee table.
Enter my solution to this problem: a Mod Podge Library Book Bin!
library book bin
While cleaning out my game room closet, I found this rolling bin that I used for my girls’ toys when they were younger:
photo (22)
It had a little bit of wear but was still in decent shape.  I wasn’t feeling the red anymore, so I got to work covering that up with some torn book pages and Mod Podge.  I mixed in some children’s book pages for a little added whimsy (and if you’re gasping over tearing up a children’s book, never fear.  It was a free Chick-fil-A kid’s meal book).  The inside got a quick coat of ASCP in Duck Egg blue.
Once dry, I simply hot glued some lace and ribbon trim along the borders and added a mini slate chalkboard (from Hobby Lobby) to remind us when the books are due.
book bin
The girls have enjoyed rolling the bin out when it’s time for reading, and I’ve enjoyed being able to see the top of my coffee table… it’s the little things, peops.
library book bin 1

So tell me, what have you been up to?

Linking Up: Under the Table and Dreaming, Tuesday’s Treasures, Diamond in the Stuff, Savvy Southern Style. The 36th Avenue, Tatertots and Jello, Beneath My Heart

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Duck Egg Blue Chevron Side Table

Lest you think I’ve forgotten how to rehab furniture…
duck egg chevron table
This sweet little side table was part of a dresser/nightstand set that we scored on Craigslist for $75, but because of the dreadful heat this summer, it’s been sitting in my garage for a verrrrrrry long time looking all brown and glum like this:
So as soon as the weather cooled off, I was ready to knock out some furniture redos and I started with a cheery makeover for this table in ASCP in Duck Egg Blue and Pure White.  I liked the original hardware (and didn’t feel like buying new), so I just cleaned it up a little to remove the pre-existing grime.  I added a basket underneath for storage (and to make it look less like a nightstand).
duck egg chevron table 2
I think she’s the perfect, fun little addition to my office/game room/craft room.
Oh… and as for the dresser?  She’s getting a makeover too in what might be my new favorite ASCP color – you’ll have to stick around to find out which one!
Linking here:  Saturday Seven, Jennifer Rizzo, Three Mango Seeds, It’s So Very Cheri, Ask Anna, Cupcakes and Crinoline, Under the Table and Dreaming, Tuesday’s Treasures, Diamond in the Stuff, Primitive and Proper, Savvy Southern Style, Domestically Speaking, The 36th Avenue, PJH Designs, Tatertots and Jello, Funky Junk Interiors, Beneath My Heart

Thursday, October 18, 2012

13.1 Thursdays–The Even Longer Long Run


Welcome back to 13.1 Thursdays!  I totally forgot to post last week – I was at home with a case of pinkeye and it threw my game off a little bit.

This past week was exciting because I achieved a personal record for length of run… NINE miles!  Woohoo!  Considering I ran the first 3.5 in the rain (thanks to an earlier than forecasted rain cloud) and ran the rest of it in sopping wet shoes, it was quite an accomplishment for me.

I find these long runs are so good for my running confidence.  I don’t know if it’s just me, but the thought of running 13.1 miles is terrifying… what if I crash and burn?  What if I don’t finish?  What if???  Now that I know I can at least run nine miles, well over half of the race distance, I’m not as scared anymore.  Maybe I can do this and survive!

I’m planning on 8-10 this weekend – we’ll see just how far I decide to go.  Another mom and I are going to start trading out childcare so each of us can exercise – this is a godsend as I’ve had trouble getting my long runs in on weekends when my husband is working.  Now there’s no excuse!

So, how did it go this week?

Wednesday: Three miles

Thursday: Rest

Friday: Rest (Date Night won out over running)

Saturday: Rest (for shame!)

Sunday: Nine miles!!!

Monday: Rest (late gymnastics night)

Tuesday: Rest (I suck)

Wednesday: Four Miles

Thursday: Cross Train

Lots of rest days so not a very balanced training week, but I’m working on getting back on track.

Running Gear I Can’t Live Without

Neck Cooler Tie Hot Weather Ice Pack Cooler Tie Reusable Outdoor Living Sports Events Gardening

Neck Cooler from Comfy Creations – a friend had one of these and swore by it, so I bought one and I have to agree.  I’m one of those hot, red-faced, sweaty runners… not a Rachel runner, if you’re a Friends aficionado.  This neck cooler helps turn down the heat and at a price of $8.95, it’s a steal.

My Pick-Up-the-Pace Playlist

Diamonds: Rihanna

Die Young: Kesha

Don’t Wake Me Up: Chris Brown

It feels good to be back in my routine again for running… now just gotta hang in there.

24 days to 13.1!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Spooky Skeleton Garland

I shared my Spooky Skeleton Wreath with you and now it’s time to show you what I did with the rest of the bones… a Spooky Skeleton Garland!
spooky bone garland 1
My “bag of bones” didn’t necessarily equal a complete skeleton, so I sorted out the random bits of spine, femurs, and feet and turned it into a gory garnish for my halloween mantel.  These bone pieces are made from a thin plastic, so it was easy to poke holes in the ends with a felt needle and string them together with a black satin ribbon.  (I will confess that this idea came from my husband after my attempts at hot-gluing failed miserably!(
garland closeup
Nothing like a pair of metatarsals flanking your fireplace, right?
bone garland 2
My girls totally dig it – and it’s growing on me for sure.  I think, though, this garland may not escape a little glittering before the holiday is over… I do love me some glitter.

Are you guys getting excited for Halloween??  We’ll be doing pumpkins this weekend!

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Spooky Skeleton Wreath

It’s getting a little spooky ‘round here.

skeleton wreath

I’m slowly adding to my Halloween d├ęcor… but first up is, as always, my wreath!  You may be thinking that this wreath looks a little familiar and for good reason – it’s my Simple Moss and Pumpkin Wreath made over for Halloween!

I picked  up a “bag of bones” on an outing to Walgreens, and thought it would be fun to have a sort of 3-D skeleton wreath.  The hands had somewhat pointed ends from the mold so I simply pushed them into the styrofoam base and secured with hot glue.  The skull’s shape nestled perfectly in the wreath opening, and again, hot glue keeps it there.

skeleton wreath close

Mr. Bones greets my visitors with a glittered “boo” burlap banner.

skeleton wreath side 2

I love how the skeleton looks like he’s coming right out of my wreath… eek!

skeleton wreath side

Now if I could only get him to hand out my Halloween candy…

More fun to come with the remainder of the bones…

Don’t you love this time of year?!

Linking up here: Craftberry Bush, Jennifer Rizzo, Tatertots and Jello, Funky Junk Interiors, Show and Tell Saturday, eighteen 25, It’s Overflowing, Positively Splendid, I Heart Naptime

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Staying Healthy this Fall

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a full-time working mom, but I don’t know that I’ve ever really talked about what it is that I do… I have been a registered nurse for thirteen years, and currently, I manage an infection prevention and control program for an acute care hospital. Because so much of what I do focuses on prevention of illness and infection, I thought it fitting to share some tips with you on preventing illness this season.

Wash Your Hands

I’ve said this phrase more than I care to count in the past (almost) three years, but it’s a mantra to live by.  Study after study shows that the number one way to prevent illness is to wash your hands.  Think about how many things your hands touch throughout the course of a day and then how many times you touch your face, your lips, your eyes… it’s pretty easy to understand how we get sick.  Luckily, it’s easy to clean your hands on the go these days with the vast market of alcohol-based hand gels and sanitizing wipes that are available.  When all else fails, good old soap and water still hold up to the task as well.  There’s no excuse to not wash!

Get Vaccinated

With flu season upon us, the time to get your flu shot (or other form of vaccination) is now, if you haven’t done so already.  Complications from the flu continue to cause nearly 200,000 people to be hospitalized annually and anywhere from 3,000 – 49,000 deaths.  While the CDC recommends flu vaccination for any person 6 months of age or older, those at particular high risk of complications from flu are: the very young and/or very old, those with chronic illnesses, immunosuppressed persons, and pregnant mothers.  Now I understand that vaccination is a personal choice and many people, for many reasons, choose to not go this route… so don’t stone me over this.  My personal opinion is that vaccination is a great advancement of medicine – if you don’t believe me, read up a bit on the history of disease in a pre-vaccine era.  It’s a scary reminder of why our ancestors’ life spans weren’t very long.

Cover Your Cough

You would think that, as adults, we’d know better than to cough or sneeze in someone’s face… but oh no, we don’t.  We’re so bad at this, that the CDC has created signage for healthcare facilities to post in waiting rooms to remind us to do the right thing and cover our coughs.  When you cough or sneeze, those droplets can carry about three to six feet in the air before dropping to the ground, putting everyone within arm’s length at risk of falling prey to your illness.  (Ever had your child sneeze into your eye and then develop a raging case of pinkeye??  Yeah, me neither…)  So just do it people: cough into your elbow or into a tissue and then wash those hands!

Disinfect Surfaces

Finally, it’s so important to keep your home clean and disinfected, especially when illness strikes.  Some bacteria and viruses are capable of surviving on surfaces for hours or even days, so it’s essential to kill those bad boys with a good surface disinfectant.  Read your labels for your household products: most will have a claim to kill certain bacteria or viruses and products come in various formulations and scents so surely there’s one to please you.  Personally, I’m a bleach girl, but as long as it kills the germs, I’m not picky.


So there you go, friends.  A few simple reminders of good habits to build into your daily routine to keep your home healthy and happy this fall season.  Stay well!!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Ric Rac Pumpkins

I know I’m a little late to the pumpkin party here, but before I start getting my Halloween spook on, I wanted to share my Ric Rac pumpkins with you…
ric rac pumpkin
I picked out these plump round painting pumpkins for my kiddos but wanted to have my fun with them first.  I simply hot glued some white, ivory, and grey ric rac and pearl ribbon trim and they were exactly what I envisioned.
ric rach pumpkins 3
I love that a small thing like ribbon trim can be used to beautify something that nature already made gorgeous.
ric rac pumpkins
The ribbon and hot glue will easily peel off when my girls are ready to paint these for Halloween.
ric rac pumpkins 1
For now though, I’m going to enjoy them as they are… simple, beautiful, and a perfect reflection of fall.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

13.1 Thursdays–Juggling Life with Training for a Half Marathon


Welcome back to another week of 13.1 Thursdays!  If you’re new here, this is my weekly recap of my journey to 13.1 miles (my first half marathon in November!) – welcome!

These past couple of weeks have been challenging on the training front.  I’ve mentioned before that I work full-time outside of the home, have church commitments and two girls in activities, and my husband works long days rendering me a single parent (essentially) 3-4 days a week.  I’m not sharing this because I feel that my plate is more full than anyone else’s nor am I wanting your pity (I love my full life!) – I’m sharing this because one of the hard facts of training is that it is time-consuming, and 45 minute – 2+ hour training runs are time away from my family, time that is (many weeks) limited anyway around all of the other life “stuff” going on.

Do you get me here?

I find myself envious (a lot lately) of my husband’s schedule because during the week, he basically has free time while the girls are at school to do whatever he needs to do (work out, laundry (yes, be jealous), yardwork).  Now he would be the first person to tell you that I have a fair share of free time to get things done, but by free time, I mean time that is not shared with anyone else.  I don’t have that.  And that means that when I need to train, I pretty much have to ask permission or get advanced clearance or whatever you want to call it because I have to excuse myself from whatever’s going on with my family to do so.  I would love to even have one day a week where this wasn’t the case.

Now I know I signed up for this, so I pretty much asked for this… but it doesn’t make it any easier.  And come November 11, if I don’t figure out how to make it work it’ll be a painful 13.1 miles.

So, how’d I do, you ask?

Friday: Rest (thanks to some heavy downpours… yay rain!)

Saturday: 5 miles (treadmill secondary to aforementioned rain and that’s about all I could stand on the treadmill…)

Sunday: Rest

Monday: Cross-Training DVD

Tuesday: 3 miles (treadmill – one of those husbandless nights – kids played on the neighborhood playground while I ran; such troopers with mama’s training!)

Wednesday: Rest

I’m going to have to figure out how to fit in a long run tomorrow since the hubs is pulling four 12s this weekend (unless I find a babysitter I guess).  Wish me luck!

Running Gear I Can’t Live Without:

adidas Women's Climalite Cush NS 3Pk

Adidas Climalite Cush Socks

I’m sure you want to know this, but my feet sweat a lot when I run, making my feet slip around and giving me blisters.  Ouch!  These thick socks wick away the moisture and cushion my feet really well – they make a huge difference, believe me.

My Pick-Up-The-Pace Playlist:

Good Time: Owl City and Carly Rae Jepsen

Train: 50 Ways to Say Goodbye (love the part about the crappy purple Scion!)

Cher Lloyd: Want U Back (love going ugh!)


So another challenging week, but I’m not giving up.  I can do this!  If you’re finding it hard to stick to training or exercising because of all the life stuff, leave me a comment.  I’d love to send some encouragement your way!

38 days to go!

Monday, October 1, 2012

Fall Mantel Reveal

It’s the first day of October… so I believe it’s time I finally shared my fall mantel with you!

fall mantel 1

You can see my Moss Pumpkin Topiary flanking the left end, and do you recognize the little countdown sign in front of it?  Yes!  It’s my Back to School Countdown Pallet Board!

holiday countdown pallet board

  I really liked it but wanted it to be a little more multi-purpose, so I removed the chalkboard apple and replaced it with a framed chalkboard (purchased in the unfinished wood section at Hobby Lobby and painted).  I also painted over the word “school” with chalkboard paint so I could easily write in whatever countdown was currently upon us.  I added a ric rac trim to mimic the scalloping on the frame.

fall mantel

I’m all about the neutral fall palette this year… moss, grey, brown, ivory, and silver.  Mmmmmm.

silver leaf pumpkin

I gilded some cheap styrofoam pumpkins with silver Liquid Leaf… it came out so smooth and so much prettier than the funny orange color that these pumpkins used to be.

fall vignette

I replaced the crayons in my apothecary jar with a mixture of cinnamon sticks, moss, and burlap.  The cute mirror was stolen from my daughter’s room as she slept, blissfully unaware of the thievery taking place!

fall vignette 1

Another silver pumpkin and some moss are nestled in my antique Rose Point china creamer cup, and one can never go wrong with a few strategically placed pinecones.

I’m enjoying the simple, natural beauty of my fall mantel this year… I have plans on transitioning this mantel through Halloween and Thanksgiving with just a few minor changes - and I might just figure out a way to ease it into Christmas… who knows?

Hope you’re having a beautiful start to your October!

Linking Up here:

Savvy Southern Style, Transformation Thursday, Fox Hollow Cottage


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