Thursday, October 20, 2011

Fall Finery

I am told often that I'm "so creative".  I have always felt I'm more of a good copier.  Seeing what others are doing  I can take apart the pieces of what they have made to see  how they make it and then use it in my own way to make something (like using and old dress to make a new pattern).  Especially these days with homeschooling 2 high schoolers (Chemistry, World History, Compositions, and the worst Grammar) along with an 8th grader (U.S. history, General Science, Pre-Algebra, etc.), along with volunteering at a free clinic once a week and a husband that is gone for weeks at a time leaves me little time to "create" let alone "think" up new things to do.

Enter a challenge.  Donna at Funky Junk Interiors, is one creative person, and she wants to foster that in others, not to be afraid to try new things and just create.  How could I refuse?  (I never have been good at saying no!)

The assignment was to find something around your home and to use it in a fresh new way.  Hmmm, I have to be creative myself.  Okay, after reading the blogpost
 I happened to see a pile of things my daughter weeded out of her bedroom and set aside to be donated to the thrift store.  I spied something kinda furry and spider leggy looking...

It was a vintage ladies hat that I bought at a thrift store for her to play dress up with (sadly she is too old for that now :(.  Well, I thought maybe I could do something with this.  The spider idea had me thinking...

... of Fall, turn it upside down and it becomes a cradle for a pumpkin.
Add some other fall items, pinecones, gourds, leaves, feathers, and place them all on an old tarnished silver tray that just perfectly fits on the base I took off from a terrarium (or birdcage?).
Just one more thing to make it perfect (well in my eyes) a branch off the oak tree with a bit of Resurrection fern on it.  Resurrection fern will turn brown and look dead in dry weather, but with a little rain (we have had lots in the past few days) and it comes alive again.
A nice little Fall welcome for my front porch.

What have you been creative with lately?

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Restoring or Refinishing? & How to Clean Marble

My favorite local treasure store is the United Methodist Thrift store that is only a few blocks from my front door.  They are only open Tues, Thur and Sat from 8am to 11:30 am, so you need to work it into your schedule to make it when they are open.  It is worth it though, they have the best prices, and I think, the nicest volunteers that staff the business.  

I always try to go to the furniture building first, really just a small room, but they have had some great bargains there.   Like this for example:

At first glance it looked like it was in great shape.  Looking closer though I found that it had some "repairs" (like the keyhole in the drawer that was patched) 

 and the finish though not bad would need to be worked on, and the front left foot was off, but was in the top drawer.

 The worst part was the marble top (which was not attached, maybe a marriage from another piece?), it was really stained and dirty looking, and I wasn't sure that it could be cleaned.  My friends husband worked for a granite company for years though, so I knew who to go to for advice.  

The price tag was only $20.00. What would you have done?  The same as me?  I bought it!  After some "discussion" with my husband.  I can't blame him, I do have a tendency to start projects and not always finish, and he likes things spare and open, while I like to fill all available space.  He did reluctantly give me the green light on this one though.  Another lady was right behind me when I was paying for it, making sure I would buy it or she would have had it.  When I got it home I noticed one other thing wrong with it.

See the carving above, it's missing on the other side.  How could I have missed it?  Excitement does that to me!

Well this is how far it's come.

I "restored" the finish.  While doing the restoring I learned the difference of restoring and refinishing.  Restoring means keeping as much of the original finish as possible, and just "restoring" what is bad, while refinishing means to strip it down and create a new finish.  It was amazing to me how Mr. Bruce (see more about him here) showed me how to just clean the original finish with fine steel wool, then add 3 coats of wipe-on poly, and before the final coat to use acrylic artist paint to touch up the original finish, and to blend in the wood filler and new pieces we added to make up for broken or missing pieces (I still have to do a coat of wax to complete the finish).  Just wish I'd have taken photos of that part, but I was so into what we were doing I forgot.  He just mixed different wood toned browns with a little black and red, and a smidgen of orange to mimic the finish already there.  I can't tell the difference and I saw where it was painted on.  Amazing!
I still have to plug the hole the lock was in (not an antique or vintage looking lock) and then we'll cover it with a escutcheon.  And find 4 knobs that match, and do some work on the inside.  Oh, and carve a new piece to match the other carving.  Mr. Bruce is sure I can do it, so why not try?

The biggest difference though to me is the marble.  Remember this is how it looked?

This is how it looks now!

There are still chips and dings in it, but those I can live with, but not that nasty staining.  Want to know how I did it?  We tried lots of household cleaning products and also wet sanding with a power sander.  But these stains were deep down in the marble.  Online searches suggested 10% hydrogen solution and white clothes, but I couldn't find that strength easily.  The other suggestion?  Let it sit out in the sun and the rain.  I live in South Florida, in the summer we have plenty of both.  So I gave it a try.  After a few days I noticed some lightening.  So we carted the table with the marble in and out to the driveway each morning and evening.  Then my smart husband suggested placing it in the backyard on buckets and just leaving it there.  So it sat there for another couple weeks.  All together it was out for about 2 months.  So it produces great results if you're willing to wait for them.  I do need to seal the marble, but for now I'm just enjoying the piece as is in my dining room.

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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

This is What My Brain Looks Like

I was out for a day of Doctors visits with my oldest son on Monday.  Just a routine check that I had to make much harder, since my brain doesn't seem to exist.  We live in Estero, between Ft Myers and Naples, about a half hour to each city from our house.  His first appointment was at the new Endocrinologist we have been seeing, at 10am.  The second appointment was at 2:50 in Naples at the Dermatologist, and I had planned to go with him to the first, drop him off at home and have my husband take him to the second appointment, since I had a mile long list of things to do.

But we drove the half hour to get to the office in Ft Myers only to be told the appointment was at the Naples office (an hour away).  I told them I didn't even know they had an office there, and didn't know my appointment was supposed to be there, but they kindly set up with the other office for us to come in late.  So off to Naples we went.  They were very gracious in the Naples office, and I began to think on my way there, that I vaguely remember them mentioning a Naples office and choosing to come to that office since it was a slightly shorter trip from our house (haaa, haaa).  At least his visit went well, his HBA1C was 6.9 (for those who don't know that is a great number, especially for a 16 year old boy).  But then we had 2 hours to kill before the next appointment.  So he choose lunch at Five Guys, and then said how about going to the Military Mall, which happens to be inside an Antique Mall?  Sure, fine by me!

I just looked around since I was not planning on buying anything, but came across this and it just caught my eye. 


The color was the first thing I noticed, more green than in the photo from my phone, then what it was, had me thinking of Halloween projects since the head was hollow, but I just couldn't see spending $20 when I don't even decorate much for Halloween.  So we left her on the shelf and headed off to the next appointment and had good results there also.  I just keep wondering if my head were cut off would it be hollow inside also?

Would you have bought the hollow head?

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Wrought Iron Something

I've been enjoying Would You Buy It Wednesdays over at Junker Newbies blog for the past few weeks.

Each  post makes me think about things in a new light, how they have used something I would overlook, or suggestions from readers as to what they would do with that certain odd thing.

Now, I find myself adding in.  Heaven and my husband certainly know I bring my fair share of junk home.  Most I find a use for, some sits for a while.  If it sits for too long it disappears when my husband is "cleaning".  Is it just me or when they get rid of it do you figure out what you "could" have done with such a great item?

Well, if I'm not careful, this will be the next thing to go.
 For right now it is sitting on my front porch keeping all the millipedes company (if anyone knows how to get rid of millipedes I will pay you for the information!).

I actually got it for free from Goodwill, on a half price day, with my full punch card.  It's in good shape, and has a marble top (though not my colors of choice on the marble).  But what to do with it.  Plants are the most obvious choice, but in South Florida, it gets so hot, and the plants dry out so quickly, and I forget to water them, it would just be a massacre.
 You can tell the marble doesn't quite fit, but works okay.

Would you have "bought" it?  Well how about if I tell you there was more to it when Goodwill gave it to me?

This was the part I liked!  It must have originally had glass in the sides to make it like a terrarium (or whatever word that would be).  Our kitchen is large and has this dumb soffit that runs around the whole room with florescent lights underneath and then high ceilings above that.  I have tried decorating the top to breakup the vast space, but most things just looked dinky.  I realized I needed pieces that were larger or more solid and this fit the bill.  The pieces (top and bottom) were held together with screws and nuts that had rusted, so I had to cut the screws to get it apart.

After seeing both parts would you have taken this home?  Any suggestions as to what to do with the base?  I'm also asking for suggestions as to what to do with the kitchen. I plan on painting the cabinets, and at some point replacing the laminate countertops along with the appliances as they expire.  But what color appliances? Definitely not the 2 tone I have now!  I am thinking either distressed white or black (or possibly green my favorite color) for the cabinets, something that contrasts with the wall color which I like.  Everything is too much the same tone now.

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Friday, August 12, 2011

Nature Made Jewelry Holder

I don't remember where I saw it in Blogland, it was just a picture hanging on the wall in some room, but it jump started an idea for me.  It was a frame, with twigs where a photo or painting would go.  

I like trees and nature.  I spend a lot of time walking the dog and hiking for geocaches, and just observing the trees and creatures I come across (unless the dog is pulling me trying to get to the creatures!).

I had a frame already and the idea perking in my mind that I had seen.  Then I noticed, while walking the dog, an old orange tree from a grove behind our house that had died and fallen over during a storm.

I found the perfect branch, at the right price, free.  My idea was coming to fruition!  Okay bad pun.

Just a trim and the frame a little glue and a few nails (put in with nail gun) to hold it all together...

and my idea actually worked for once!

Love the finished project!  So would you bring home dead sticks and hang them on the wall?

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Cabinets Paint dilemma

I've been wanting to paint the kitchen cabinets for quite some time.

Especially since we painted the kitchen walls, now the wall color and cabinet color just seem to be the same tone, and blend in with each other.  With the ceilings so high it's just way too much of the same.

Love the wall color though, it's called Pear.

My dilemma is what color to paint the cabinets to have some contrast.  White, Cream, or Black?

It's a large kitchen and we have plenty of sunlight in Florida, so I think it could handle the black, but wondering if it would make it too heavy.

White would contrast nice, but would it be stark, and dirty quickly with 3 teenagers and all their friends in and out of the kitchen?

Or would cream be the best choice?  Maybe it would end up the same tone?

Don't look at all the mess, the teenagers I was talking about keep me constantly busy!  This was a background from another photo I was taking, just to show the tones. 

So what is your advice?  What color would you paint the cabinets?

What I did for Chalk paint

Blogs are full of the wonders of Chalk Paint. Everywhere you look are beautiful transformations of furniture the turning of junk into treasure with just the application of Chalk Paint, no sanding required. It looked so good, even though I like sanding, but the cost was holding me back. But the Rednecks spotted me the cash. Yes, you heard me right, Rednecks. See my friends have a catering business (City Smoke BBQ the best I've ever had!  Look for them on Facebook), and they ask me to work for them sometimes to help out. Usually during the winter though is their busy season. But they had booked Redneck Yacht Club for the Fourth of July weekend and needed some help. The Redneck Yacht Club is a large tract of land just north of where I live, that has huge mud pits for mud pulls, trails for riding ATV's, camping area's, and dirt and mud everywhere. Oh, and a bunch of hungry Rednecks.  I actually enjoy working with my friends, and the Redneck Yacht Club (being a Redneck at some points in life myself).  The only problem with it is it was July.  In South Florida.  Tons of flies.  Over 100 degrees with the heat index.  And 100 percent humidity (well it did rain, so I guess at least that amount).  Working on a wood fired pit for 11 hours straight.  Yes, let's not forget having to use the porta pottie, that had sat in the Florida heat for 2 days, used by aforementioned Rednecks who had been imbibing quantities of liquid stimulation all weekend.  

I did get a chance to be driven around by my 15 year old who was having a blast on a 4 wheeler.  The best part was that I made enough money to not feel guilty about ordering Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, wax and a wax brush!

My first project to experiment on was a 3 drawer oak chest that I'd purchased at a Goodwill for $10.00.  It was a half price day, and I'd filled in a stamp card worth another $10.00 off, so the $40.00 chest only cost $10.  I stripped the old paint off the dresser, and made numerous repairs since the chest had water damage, the outer shell was fine, but the drawers needed fixing (someone filled in the cracks with some kinda glue I had to chisel out) and the bottoms replaced.  The paint, like everyone else says, goes on easily, distresses wonderfully and looks beautiful.  I choose Provence Blue, and love how the color blends with the tones I already have in my home.  A quart seemed such a small amount, but I painted so many things with that one can of paint, and still have over half the can of wax leftover. 

The chest looked so great in my craft area, that when I saw this great office chair I knew even at $20. it would be perfect in the chalk paint.  (How did the dog manage to sneak her rope toy into the photo when I wasn't looking?)
(Look at her trying to look so innocent!)

Then my 13 year old wanted to paint the vanity table and stool my mother had had as a child, so SHE used the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint and wax with fabulous results.  No stripping or sanding the old painted chipped finish off for her, and the result was beautiful.  And yes, she has way more makeup than I do, but then she is a much more beautiful girl than me!

So 2 coats on the chest, 2 on the office chair, and 2 on each of the vanity and stool.  Just a little left in the can for my favorite makeover.  I don't have a before shot of the frame, just an average, black and gold frame, and a branch from an orange tree that died from old age in the grove behind our house.

Here's the before of the branch...

.....and the after, a nature made jewelry holder.  Love that I was able to bring in something from nature and use it in such an eye catching way.

So was the work I had to do to be able to afford the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint worth it?  Yes!

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

What Would You Do With This Item (whatever the dadgum thing is)?

On a recent vacation with my Doves (female friends from homeschooling, who have become a support for each other even though I'm the only one left homeschooling) we made a stop at a Goodwill in Brevard, NC and hit the jackpot. We all came out with fabulous bargains. One of mine was this little item for a dollar. Cheap, but what the heck is it? I just couldn't pass it up for the price. Maybe mount it (it does have screw holes in the base end) and hang necklaces?  It does close and open like an accordion, by pulling or pushing on the red knob at the end, and will swing left or right from the base. Closed it's about 3 inches and open about 6 or 7 .  Anyone know what it is?   What would you do with it? Would you have bought it?

P.S.  I've had a number of people say it's a tie rack.  So far I'm using it as a photo display, I turned it on it's side.
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Thursday, July 28, 2011

Would You Buy It?

I stumbled up Junker Newbies site and have been intrigued by the Would You Buy It Wednesday? posts.  She will post an item each week that she either has purchased or seen that week and looks for agreement or disagreement on what you would do if you saw the same piece for sale.  Then it's time for the readers to chime in with what they spied or added to their homes during the past week.  What is encouraging is to then see how they have used the item, or maybe they will ask for suggestions on hat to do with the find.

Well today is my first day posting, though I could find something every week, I just haven't found the time until today to actually type up the post.  A friend needed a ride to a doctors appointment, so I was off fairly early in the morning and drove from one end of town to another.  I dropped my friend at the doctors office and told her I would be at the store just down the road, since I don't get to this end of town much, it would be a great way for me to spend the time waiting to visit the thrift shop.  As I walked in the door I took a quick glance around at all the outdoor chairs they had by the entrance.  And then I noticed the desk chair.  Solid wood, in great condition, no arms, slightly similar to a Pottery Barn chair.  But no price tag.  So I entered and asked the price, after a small conference they said as the furniture was 30% off that day they would just sell it to me for a flat $20.00 (including the discount).  I had to think a few minutes, since my husband gets a little out of sorts when I have multi projects going (an understandable case since I tend to start and not finish things :).  In the end I decided to take a chance on it.
Would You Buy It?  I've already removed the seat and painted it with the Provence Annie Sloan Chalk paint that I used for an Oak Dresser (still need to post that one), but need to wax and distress it a little.  Oh, and recover that seat cushion.  But I'm glad I bought it.
And just so you know, that's not a fancy effect on the photo above.  It had rained and it was sooooo humid outside that my camera lens kept fogging up.  I'd wipe it off and try to take a photo, but it would just fog up again.  Summer in South Florida!

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