DIY: Refinish an Old Table.

If there was ever any question about how much I love the exchange shack at my dump, let me allay that with this post.  It is truly amazing to me what I have found up there, left for free for anyone to take- we have gotten bicycles, a large piano keyboard, terra cotta pots, hand weights, and lots more.  But on Tuesday, I came home with a real gem:

It was in rough shape, but it's a generally sturdy piece- and both drawers work- and I could see the potential in it.  The top was badly damaged.  I am all about loving on original wood, and especially in this tone, but it looked like someone spilled some kind of solvent on it because those white spots are stripped down to the wood, so once I really got to look it over I decided to sand it down and spray paint it.  The back piece is a drop-down, and it looked like someone had kept it near a dryer vent because it was so completely full of lint that when I hosed it down in the yard there were clods of it in the grass.

I took the antique brass hardware off and sprayed it with black chalkboard paint that I had bought for another purpose, and I took the drawers out to spray the fronts.  It was when I tipped the drawers up on end that I realized that it was likely that the table was handmade from found wood.  The drawer bottoms could have been from packaging crates.  As you can see in the photo above, the top slat is Fels-Naptha soap, and you can't see it really well but the bottom plank has a signature on it.  Very cool.

Using a sanding block to rough up the surface, I then used Krylon Covermaxx spray paint in Sunrise satin to hide all the defects.  It only took (almost) two cans, which, given the fact that I am not the most awesome spray painter, is pretty good.  I let it dry over night in the garage, and then Greta helped me put the hardware back on in the afternoon after she got home from school.  I think it turned out pretty cute:

The hardest part was getting in all those grooves on those spindle legs so I had to keep going back and doing more, but I love the bold color (it's more salmon than bright pink) and I think it's going to be a really fun piece.  Not bad for a free table and 2 cans of spray paint at $3.67 each!

Have you ever spray painted furniture before?  Anyone have a good free find lately?

10 Things I Grew Up With That My Kids Will Never Know About.

The other day while Greta was playing on the iPad, I realized that there are things in my memory that were kid staples growing up, that neither she nor Gus will ever come to know.  They are things long disappeared, unless you are able to mine them on Etsy or ebay, but they hold dearly in the recesses of my 1980s-child heart.

1. Roller skates.  Not roller blades- roller skates.  The big, clonky 4-wheeled ones with the big rubber stopper on the front.  My kids are never going to know the glory of pushing off and rolling off on a perfectly balanced shoe with training wheels.  Double that for indoor skating rinks with a Partners Skate.

2. The telephone booth, where you could make an in-state call for just ten cents.  Or call the operator for free and ask her the time...over and over again.  Besides, where does Superman change now?

3. Paste.  I couldn't even find a picture when I tried to find one, because no one took pictures of school paste back in the 80s, hanging out in dried up chunks in a little white paper cup.  But I did find this:

Bonus points if you know what this is and remember using it.

4. Winding a tape with a pencil.  My digital-age children will never know the frustration of a cassette tape that has come unwound.  A pencil was the obvious choice of tool for winding it back in, and you had to be careful not to wrinkle it or else the tape was pretty much done for.

5. Floppy disks.  This is what actually got me started on this post because Greta was using an app on the iPad, and I was thinking about how I used to play Carmen Sandiego and Jeopardy! on the computer, and the software would come with the big 5 1/4" floppy and the 3 1/2" diskette, depending on the system.  These are dinosaurs now!

6. Teenie drinks.  I actually found these under "Little Hugs" but I didn't know that was their name- we always called them Teenies.  I can't believe that my mom even let me drink such sugar-filled crap. The red was my favorite.

7. Chiclets.  When I was little, my dad would buy these for me when we went to the hardware store together, for probably $0.25 a pack or less.  I always got the fruit flavored ones and loved to crunch through the shell.

8. Bombardment: The Higher Level of Dodgeball.  Basically every man for himself, unless you are the last man standing and then you must catch the ball.  Schools today do not allow throwing anything in any form, much less approving of pegging each other with a red rubber gym ball.  I loved that game.

9. Library cards with metal.  Long before the days of barcodes and lasers were these humble cards, with a number stamped in metal attached to each card.  They also stamped books with the date so you would remember when to return them, since there were no computers to keep track.

10. Cereal box prizes.  Do you remember the days when you chose your cereal based on what the prize was inside?  And how long it would take you to eat that cereal before you could find it?  Gone are the days of a little bonus in your morning routine.

Do any of these bring back fond memories for you too?  Isn't it sad that future generators will not have such wonders??  What would you add to the list?

It's Funny How Things Change.

Hello, all!  It's been quite awhile since I've sat down to write anything here other than my monthly challenges with Paige.  I've not meant to leave everyone hanging, but I've felt like ideas and time to write them have been fleeting.  Plus, I've got a pretty big project in the works right now that's taking up some time, but there will be more on that soon enough.  For now, I've been thinking a lot about my place on the Internet and how it's changed since I first started connecting with people online.

In late 2010 and early 2011, I was home with one 18-month-old in a mid-renovation house and was going a little bit stir-crazy.  We were still relatively new to the area, and without a job to go to, there weren't many people for me to get to know, especially in the dead of winter when everyone stays closed up in their homes.  I got myself on Etsy, started the blog, and worked on building out social media accounts.  I met people who were like me, who were easy to talk to, who made cool things, and it was fun to chat about nonsense.  It still is, but now it's harder to find the time.

Right now I instead find myself with two growing children- the 18-month-old is almost six and his sister is three and a half.  Our house is still a work in progress, as we've been finishing off one last section of the basement and my husband has decided to take on painting the house this summer, but it's not the frenetic blur of renovation activity it once was.  Now we are wrapped up in more things outside of the house- birthday parties, get-togethers, dinners, playdates.  We know actual people now, and we're generally running off to one place or another, more often than not with things back to back.  In addition, we've started the kids in an activity each- Gus has been going to soccer and Greta is in gymnastics, both one day a week.  They both enjoy it, and for that I'm glad, but part of me also mourns that time at home.

Time at home, though, is now a blur of chores.  I find myself spending large chunks of time out of the house, running from location A to location B to location C, but having lag time in between and having to come up with a location B 2.0 to waste a little time.  It's exhausting being on the run so much and then trying to catch up at home.  Whole days are lost to being out and about, so then whole days are lost to returning the house to order, doing five and six loads of laundry in between clutter cleanup and bathroom duty.  It's a never-ending back-and-forth process.  And we're so lucky to have all of these things to do and the ability to do them, but part of me loves just the idea of being quiet at home and chatting on the Internet.

I'm looking forward to summer, when folks are away on vacations, when we don't have to be out to catch the bus every morning, where we might have a break from the constant motion.  I just looked at my July and August calendar and almost sighed out loud with bliss at the total emptiness of both months.  It will change, but for right now I'm reveling in what could be.

Funny enough, I also notice many friends who I met through Etsy are also online less, or in a different capacity than just hanging out and chatting.  Everyone's lives are in a different place now- moves, kids, new jobs change the amount of time we have to ourselves.  I feel a little better that it's not just me, that it's just life moving forward as it should be, though it does make me sad, for example, to read back on this blog and see names of people who I used to talk to quite frequently having moved on to other things and who have, for all intents and purposes, fallen off the Internet.  I'd like to chat them up and see how things are going but that's kind of awkward.

Then it comes down to what I want from my online time.  I still feel like I am constantly behind and like I am always playing the catch-up game, mostly because that's exactly how it is.  I can't just focus on what I need to do and get it done, and really, I can't, because my life is playing out in 30-minute intervals, and who has time to think in that short amount of time?  I'm hoping that summer will help me to slow down and give me some working time while the kids play in the yard.  I want to try and keep the connections that I've built and continue to interact with the people I've met along the way, but at the same time, I feel like my purpose with the Internet is different now, and I feel a little lost with it all.

How do you feel about the person you were when you first started putting yourself out there online?  Are you in a different place now, too?  For those who don't blog or have a presence on social media- how are you different from where you were just a few years ago?  Are there any noticeable differences?

Catalog Challenge: Crate & Barrel.

Another month has flown by, and it's time again for a Catalog Challenge! Each month, Paige from Little Nostalgia and I take on a catalog and design our dream room using only wares from that store. This month we are tackling Crate & Barrel and we decided to do an office, which I was keen on because that is one space where I generally know what type of pieces I need. But...I had a hard time with this one! I found all the basics but as far as decor goes, everything was just a little too trendy for me. So here's what I'm going with:

 desk // hobby table // chair // cabinet // short cabinet // rug // lamp // kiwi bird

Like I said, I've got all the basic pieces.  The desk is really cool because it has the shelves on the side, drawers, and the top lifts up to hide supplies.  They also offer a hobby table (say what?!?!) where the sides drop down so you can decrease its size down to the center console of shelves and then roll it out of the way.  Yes, I said roll it.  Genius.  Together, my sewing and cutting needs would be taken care of.  Add that lovely cushioned chair to the mix and I would be working happily.

Moving on from there: storage.  I have a ton of fabric and I like to keep it contained on shelves so I can see what I've got, so bookshelves and cabinets are great options.  The taller cabinet that I chose is actually white, and it would be a lovely way to store fabric, plus the doors would catch anything that would otherwise hit the floor.  I like it so much that I may need more than one.  The smaller cabinet is a lovely gray tone and would be perfect to hold my computer, printer, and packaging supplies.  Win-win.

I love the teal color of the area rug, and I think it would play nicely off the gray in the cabinet.  The desk light is a classic style, and I couldn't resist the kiwi bird, which you can stand up or sit on its bum so it's looking out at its feet. That's where I ran out of steam- the other decor items I would add to the room- a clock, some art, office supplies, etc.- were all too modern for my taste, and so I didn't really feel like I could commit to something that didn't really fit the aesthetic of the room.  They have some really fun decor items, but mostly stuff I would want to put in a living room or bedroom.  So, a minimalist workspace it is.  Maybe I would get more done that way!  And this space came in at just under $4000, which is pretty reasonable in dream-room land.

Make sure to hop on over to Little Nostalgia and see what Paige picked out- her rooms always come together so nicely!