Friday, May 24, 2013

Painting the Fireplace

Downstairs, we have pretty brick. But upstairs, it was this uniform brick with a bright brass fireplace surround:


Sorry about the little mirror – it was something we threw up there when a picture frame broke and just never moved it. Something had to be done – this is just not an attractive look. If you’ve seen my last three posts, you’re probably guessing I painted it in Annie Sloan, Mod Podged on a graphic, painted the metal in Rustoleum Oil Rubbed Bronze, and dark waxed it (snort . . . ). Well, two out of four anyway. Annie Sloan “French Grey” and Rustoleum ORB. We had a mirror we’d picked up for $10, seen here ready for painting, which I did in Old Ochre and dark wax (plus a glue-on wood decal):




As you can see, we still need some quarter-round molding on the floor (and fix the broken pane), but wow, what a difference. You can guess that this was the biggest shocker for the Patriarch when he walked in from his trip, eh?

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Two Small Table Makeovers

My Uncle Art died a long time ago. I want to say 1990. For some reason, this little nightstand came home with me back then – it had lived in his bathroom, of all places, holding extra toilet paper and towels if I remember.
The Patriarch has used it as his nightstand for years, but admit it: this is uuggg-ly. And our bed is way higher than this chest, too. This was one of the first projects I decided on when I was plotting my Nefarious Trip Plot.
Painted it with Annie Sloan “Old Ochre” left over from the kitchen, Mod Podged an old map of Jamaica I’d “vintaged” with color manipulation and editing out the airports ( :-) ), distressed it, clear waxed it, painted the shiny brass handles with Rustoleum’s “Oil Rubbed Bronze” spray paint, added legs from Home Depot, then aged it some more with Annie Sloan dark wax. The lamp is one I picked up at Goodwill and painted with Annie Sloan “Graphite” and added a Walmart shade:
The second table I also picked up at Goodwill. Marked $7 because it was kind of scratched up:
I painted it Annie Sloan 2 Paris Grey to 1 Graphite, then Mod Podged (yes, I know, I’ve got a theme party here) a graphic on the top where I removed the original center and added “Shady Fifth” in French in the center, and again with the aging with dark wax:
All graphics used in these projects (crates as well) are from The Graphics Fairy – visit her for more free wonderful graphics than you can ever use. 

Making “Vintage” Crates

I have done this before but decided to take pictures this time around. I am doing these a couple at a time for organization in our kitchen. I love the look of vintage wine or fruit crates, but the prices are insane. Perhaps not everywhere in the country, but here the cheapest I’ve seen on Craigslist was $75 and it was about to fall apart. So I make ‘em.

I start with a craft crate from JoAnn’s or Michael’s. I actually have a preference for the brand carried by Michael’s, but this depends on which has the highest turnover – if they sit on the store shelf a long time, you have dust sunk in which makes a mess. A coupon makes them less than $8.

Here’s what the crates look like:


Lucinda is starting the first step in this picture: painting the crates with white vinegar that has had steel wool sitting in it for at least 24 hours. I let this sit overnight, then the crate is painted with strong tea (any cheap tea will do, as long as it sits four or five hours). These steps can be reversed, doesn’t matter which comes first. Here is a picture where the crate on the left has been painted with tea, and the crate on the right is steel wool/vinegar only:


Next up I use Mod Podge to apply a graphic, printed mirror-image with a laser printer. We don’t have a laser printer so I go all wild with the budget and spend 11 cents a print at our local copy shop. This needs to dry another 24 hours, then the whole thing is dampened (I use a spray bottle with warm water) and rubbed with a finger to remove all of the paper, leaving the graphic behind. At least in theory. I find that I need to let it sit 12 or so hours, and do that “finger sanding” step again, as it’s never all done the first time.

One crate with label still on, one where rubbing has begun:


Dampen the paper thoroughly. You should see the graphic through the paper:


Then start rubbing with your finger:


After the graphic is how I like it, I apply a coat of spoon oil to the whole thing. I use these for food, and if an onion goes bad in the bottom of the crate, I don’t want goop sinking into the open wood. Spoon oil is what we use on our countertops, and works great for these crates. Spoon oil is 4 ounces beeswax (I buy mine organic for the food exposure) to 16 ounces mineral oil from the laxative aisle, so it’s food safe. After the oil sits on the crates for another day or so, use paper towels or old T shirts you don’t mind tossing to wipe off the excess and buff in the oil a bit. Here Araminta is doing this job:


The two crates I did for this post, and two I’d done before:


You can see a box of chicken stock peeping through the handle of “Ville De Paris”. Makes perfect storage for potatoes, onions, and fruit, but also cans and boxes, and makes me feel good when I look at them :-).

Cat Was Away

When The Patriarch goes away on a trip, I can never sleep . . . this has always been the case, and he was career Army so there were plenty of separations. Early in our marriage I realized that when he’s gone, I fall asleep at 3 am. So also early on, I realized that his trips were good opportunities to paint a room, sew some children’s clothes, get something done in the wee hours. I got large swathes of painting done during those military years.

If you’ve been reading here awhile, you’ll remember awhile back when he went to visit his mother, I painted the kitchen cabinets and sanded a wall in preparation for making it a chalkboard.

You know where this is heading, right? Yup, he just spent almost a week visiting Mother over Mother’s Day. I did a bunch of projects and will divide them out in a few posts. The whole situation with the cancer nausea is so strange. I got progressively more and more nauseated through this, but I am very susceptible to increased nausea when tired, so there was no way around it. And I’d just HAD IT with nothing getting done, had it.

So we did a bunch. I had my helpers, with the exception of Clara and Nigel, who are deep in finals. They are our strong people, so they’d leave the books for a minute to lift something for us, but that was the extent of it. Araminta, Lucinda, and Gareth really kept at it and we’re all happy with the “surprise” for the Patriarch (although frankly, after decades of this, he does know something will be different on his return).

Posts ahead!

Saturday, May 4, 2013

This will be an Odd Garden Year

All fall and winter, each time we cleaned out the barn, I directed the boys to toss the used straw and goat/duck poop on the garden beds. Merrily thinking, “Oh boy, won’t they be so fertile? Yay!”

Never crossed my mind to actually look this up, and as it turns out, used barn bedding has to either be composted or sit on the bed a year before that bed is used for food crops.


A few beds avoided my attention, and I’ll plant those, but most of the beds are useless this year. Fortunately, it furthermore occurred to us that this would be a great opportunity for Araminta and Lucinda to plant the flowers they’ve been wanting to plant.

They have gotten the seed into the ground, and we’ll see what comes up. It’ll be a fun little change, and we’ll still have a small amount of food, so it does all work. Stay posted for pictures of flower beds this year, hopefully (some of the seed packages had tricky planting instructions which we blithely ignored).

Milestone for our “Herd”

Can you call it a “herd” if you have two goats? Well, we have a herd name, and I’m not sure how else to refer to it. “Our pair”? How about “Our collection”?


a) Sorry about the over-a-month silence, and

b) We did have a milestone.


We sold the babies! Yayy, the first goats to go out under our herd name. We had the most wonderful first sale ever, I’m certain. Just as I was gearing up to put them on Craigslist, the fabulous Kristin at the blog Farmer Chick messaged me. She had had someone talk to her about buying some goats, but all of Kristin’s crop from this year were sold or spoken for. Would I be interested in speaking to Maria, the potential buyer?

Well yeah.

The doelings went to just the nicest place ever. Maria and her husband were dream buyers and the girlies are well on their way to being spoiled, in the best possible way. They have two acres to run on, and best of all, they went together. Here is a picture Maria sent(used by permission):

tire spool

I know every sale won’t leave us feeling so happy, but this first transition was a great one.

We were surprised by the lack of screaming on their mothers’ parts, as well. The first day they both wanted Gareth with them all day. Nobody else would do. Fortunately it was a very lovely day, and he camped out in their area with a math book and his Kindle:


They both seemed a little pensive and depressed at first, although they’re pretty much back to normal now.





Bye bye, little goats. We’ll miss you. Produce a ton of wonderful sweet goat milk for your new owners, and be fabulous foundation stock for their herd.