Monday, May 17, 2010

Alexandria Draney

Everyone needs a Christine in their lives. The Christine in my life recently learned how to reupholster, and she asked a few acquaintances if they had any furniture she could practice on. For free. I may have knocked down a few pregnant ladies while tearing home to bring her my chair.

Everyone needs a Heather in their lives, or H² as I like to call her. That's her rapper name. Mine is J-Dawg. The Heather in my life sold me this chair for only $25.

Chair Before

She needed to rid her house of the chair because her newest little baby has huge, chubby, deliciously kissable cheeks, and they need more space to grow.

My plans were to reupholster the chair myself, which would have most likely resulted in this hot mess -


Rather, Christine saved the chair from it's fate, and she turned it into this -


I'm in love with my chair, Alexandria, which in turn makes me a bit protective. Only personages over the age of 22 are allowed to sit on her. And if you have gas, you're not allowed to occupy the same air space as Alexandria. Just kidding. Kind of. Her cushions are filled with pig hair, so if that deters you from plunking your bottom down, no hard feelings. It's probably for the best. And if you're wearing any kind of cotton, polyblend, or jean material, I'll have to ask you to sit elsewhere. Yeah, Christine told me that a cotton/polyblend/jean interaction with Alexandria may result in spontaneous combustion. Crazy, I know. I kind of think she's over reacting a bit, but better safe than sorry, right? Wow, it's all so confusing. I guess for arguments sake, let's just stick with the rule that if you're name doesn't start with a J and end with an aylee, you're living in couch city.

Alexandria and I have already been through so much together. Here she is with me back in 1948 -

vintage 1

And here she is just last night. Oh how I love her. And Doritos. And salt. It's a trifecta of love in this picture -


Christine will be teaching classes for reupholstry-inept individuals like my self. If you are interested, please leave a comment, and I'll get you in touch with her. And feel free to stop by any time to take a gander at Alexandria. But not for too long.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Stay away from 7th Ave and Indian School

This is a parking spot.

This is a parking spot

This is a fabulous store that carries a wide array of vintage dresses.

vintage stuff here

This is an oil lube shop.

Lube shop

This is an island.

This is an island

This island is supposed to deter drivers from making u-turns in the lube shop's parking lot.

This is my car stuck inside the island after I backed out and forgot I was parked next to a freakin island that was 10 feet long.

Me saying grrrr

This is Jose and Jesus (not the savior kind of Jesus, the hispanic kind of Jesus). They are friends who hold hands. I think Jesus is a bit jealous of Jose's abundant hair. They both work at the lube shop.

Jose and Jesus

After I said GRRRR!, I went inside the lube shop and sheepishly asked for help, and "Could someone come outside because I did something really stupid?". Jose and Jesus asked "Did you get your car stuck in the island?". Evidently, I was the second car this week, and like the 147th car since the installment of that contemptible island.

Jose and Jesus have a dedicated jack, cinder block, and spare tire devoted to helping expel idiots from the island. After a few fancy maneuvers, Jose and Jesus extracted my car.

After my many thank yous, and "I feel stupid"s, Jose picked off an oleander blossom from a bush nearby. He said "Doesn't this smell good? When you think about today, smell this blossom and don't feel stupid, feel good."


Jose, dear Jose, I just vinyl'ed your wisdom across my dining room.


Thursday, May 6, 2010

Anybody getting rid of any bowls?

Earlier today, a friend mentioned she was baking cookies. I said jokingly "what a good Mormon thing to do". If you were to read between the lines, you would have heard "I'm just jealous that you actually have the motivation to bake cookies for no other reason than just to bake them".

I was a dessert deprived child. My mother was a busy, working single mom, and while raising her heaven sent, well-behaved child, she was writing a Master's thesis in her spare time. If dinner was on the table, it wasn't followed up with dessert. Don't get me wrong; I didn't stare longingly at the cookie sheet while the sound of my mother's typewriter clicked in the background. I could always count on my Grandmother to provide me with baked goods, and the occasional $1 from my mom for an ice cream sandwich via the store. Eating dessert sparingly in my youth has molded me into what I am now: a salt fiend. Given my upbringing and lack of glucose enriched foods, I developed a molar-sized salt tooth. I've learned to enjoy dessert more as I've gotten older, but I don't have the unquenchable need to chase every savory dish with something sweet. With that said, I don't bake to bake. I think the last time I made cookies for that reason was back in 2004. Any baked items produced from my kitchen are linked to a cause, such as Teacher Appreciation Week chocolate chip cookie dough cupcakes which I thought were meh, and "the bananas are going bad and I can't stomach wasting food" banana bread. I think my lack of enthusiasm is also connected to the fact that I lack many of the necessary tools for baking, and I don't want to buy those tools because then I'll have more stuff and stuff drives me bonkers. So, I tend to borrow what I don't have from friends and family, which drives them bonkers (I have yet to discuss my wildly, out of control habit of borrowing that which I could easily buy; watch out for that 5-part post). Recently, my no-buy-just-borrow mentality failed me. A few days ago, I was making the cupcakes mentioned above for Emma's teacher. The bowl I was using was just that: a bowl. Not a mixing bowl, just a bowl. It was one of my larger bowls, but it's intended use is not for mixing in. I do own a proper mixing bowl. It's large, made of flexible plastic, and sufficient for my needs. But I own only one. At that moment, it was sitting on Asher's nightstand moonlighting as a throw-up bowl. Gross, I know. Do not fret future eaters of my food: that bowl is now the dedicated throw-up bowl and will be replaced post-haste. I should own two mixing bowls since the baking process usually involves separating wet and dry ingredients, and every time I bake I think "I should own two", but I bake so infrequently that it seems frivolous to own two mixing bowls. Frivolous to own TWO WHOLE mixing bowls? Yet it's not frivolous for me to own fifteen pairs of jeans. My priorities are a bit scewed. Anywho, into my small bowl went butter and sugar. I needed to cream them together, add eggs, vanilla, etc. I was attempting to bake at the wrong time of day: naptime. The walls in our house are paper thin, and Asher is a light-as-a-feather sleeper. I choose to take care of the mixing in the garage so as not to wake him. Our garage is currently full of furniture that I'm in the process of painting. The first available surface that was closest to the outlet was a desk, which had all it's drawers taken out and set on top of. Rather than removing the drawers from the desk's surface, I just shifted them towards the sides, giving me working space in the middle. I set the bowl on top of the desk and started mixing. My hand mixer has two speeds: high and sonic barrier breaking. I began to cream the ingredients, and after adding each egg one at time (placing the shells into a desk drawer, of course) the bowl's contents increased steadily and started flying out, landing all over me, the desk, it's drawers, the water heater, the ironing board, etc. The experience only increased my disdain for baking. And of course I blame the baking itself, not the fact that I only own one mixing bowl. Yet I want my grown children to fondly recall their mother in the kitchen, rolling out pie crust for her homemade apple dumplings, while wearing heels and lipstick. Currently, their memory stands at mom digging through the last two years of their Halloween candy, finding a package of sour gummy worms that aren't completely stiff, throwing it across the room, and asking them to share the package between themselves. Sad, right? But they know no different, and they LOVE when it's a dessert night, meaning they both choked down something they had a hard time eating, which roughly translated means they probably ate something healthy. Sorry kids, you're not entitled to an old Hershy's kiss after you've had pizza for dinner. I once made a goal to bake at least on Sunday nights. I failed on the first attempt. We ended up sharing a package of Runts (I gave all the bananas to Asher cuz they're blech). Maybe a pretty, red Kitchenaid will help motivate me. Does your Kitchenaid motivate you? I fear I would use it only to mix up concoctions involving tomatoes and Doritos

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Bed That Satan Made

A few months ago, I was drooling over this bed and was willing to sell my soul for something like it:


Sell my soul I did.

I happened upon a listing of an identical bed posted on Craigslist. The bed had matching lines and curves of the black vision seen above. I was giddy with the possibility of owning a similar piece. I debated the purchase for about 4.3 seconds and by the time second 5.5 rolled around, I was driving to pick it up. Satan was living in Litchfield at the time; the mileage was not a deterrent. I would have driven to Quebec at that point. Upon viewing the bed up close, I was heartbroken. The head board and foot board were two different colors of varnish (who uses varnish anymore?) and applied thicker than necessary, which had resulted in many clumpy, drippy areas. Undeterred, I set aside my disappointment and loaded the bed in my truck; I had already driven a bazillion miles and would not leave empty handed.

The bed sat in my garage for a few months. Asher was still sleeping in his crib, so I wasn't in any hurry to set it up. I was debating painting the piece or leaving it in it's current state: drippy brown goo.

Goo Bed

More Goo

I had no qualms about painting it. I've painted plenty of furniture, and this would be a breeze. But Satan doesn't do breezes. They're more like tornadoes.

I choose to paint the bed white. I wanted a color that I wouldn't have to repaint in the future. I love the sleekness of the black bed, but Asher's room is loosely based on a vintage alphabet theme. Black seemed a bit severe for that.

I rarely prime or sand any furniture before I paint it. This bed would be no different. I purchased a quart of satin white paint and got to work. I started on a spindle, but it proved to be a challenge as it was very awkward to paint. It took about an hour to paint one spindle, and I noted that the bed would probably need 3-4 coats. After waiting a few hours for the paint to dry, I began to apply the second coat, and as I brushed it on, I noticed my brush was tearing off my first coat of paint. The first coat wasn't adhering to the wood. I threw a mini tantrum, wiped off all the paint with a damp rag, and decided to prime.

After priming the entire head board, I started painting only the flat parts. I painted and painted and painted, and after I painted on about the 5th coat, the bed still looked like crap. I did a little research online and decided to shell out a few more dollars for a quart of Dunn Edwards paint. The clerk at the store promised me that the bed would look great after two coats. 3 more coats later, I threw my brush towards the heavens and stomped off to sulk and reassess the crap fest that was this bed. It sat unfinished in my dining room for a good two weeks. Each time I passed it, my hatred for it grew. But by this time, I had already invested too much time and money to give up.

I eventually decided to strip the bed of both it's paint and varnish layers, and hopefully discover that the natural wood would look decent enough on it's own. I applied stripper to a flat part of the wood. After it started to bubble, I gently started to scrape off the paint. I got a few good strokes in and was able to take off a lot of paint, but I knew I wouldn't have the patience to apply stripper, scrape, and repeat, which is what it needed. I found a guy that strips furniture professionally. I warned him of the disaster he would be seeing. As I pulled it out of the truck, he laughed. And laughed. And laughed. He apologized and explained that he had never seen so many different botched attempts on one piece of furniture. After a few days, I got a call from the laugher. Something went wrong while trying to strip the bed. The molding on top of the foot board was primarily made of plastic, and while it was soaking in the stripper tank, it melted off.


And as if that wasn't enough, the bed seemed to be made of two different types of wood, meaning the color of the head board and foot board didn't match. I think I consumed about a shaker full of salt that day.


Clint took some type of saw (who can keep track of all the names) and lopped off the top of the footboard. After some sanding, it almost (and I use that term loosely) looked passable. As far as the two different colored boards were concerned, it seemed the only coarse of action would be to paint the wood. It would be much easier now that I was starting with bare wood. I settled on painting the bed the same green that I painted Asher's nightstand. Fearing the time I would spend painting the spindles, I wised up and borrowed a paint sprayer. I purchased a quart of paint with the primer already mixed in, set up my spraying area in the backyard, and loaded up the hopper. As I was standing over the bed with my finger on the trigger, I couldn't find the nerve to start. It seemed like such a waste to paint beautiful wood. The pieces I've painted in the past all started out looking like they'd been marinated in cow manure. So, I chickened out and cleaned up my mess. While drowning my sorrows in a tub of T.J.'s pico and everything bagel chips, I devised a new plan. I would use the head board for now and store the foot board away until I was ready to paint the entire bed when Asher was older and in need of new decor. This plan required me to purchase a bed frame, and Clint figured out a way to secure the headboard to the wall. After setting it up and seeing the end result, I hated it. I hated that the end of the bed was visible while a beautiful foot board was sitting in the garage. It just looked so bare. I'm sure anyone else viewing it wouldn't think so, but I knew it's potential. I devised a new plan of attack: since the foot board had a red tone, I would stain the lighter-colored headboard mahogany, and would only apply a coat of poly to the foot board. After MANY MANY hours of sanding, I was pleased with my initial testing of stain:


We're nearing the home stretch people. After the bed was good and dry, we set it up in Asher's room. The bed comes with two rails that hook into each board. Clint layed the box spring on the railings. Turns out the minions in Satan's wood working shop thought it would be humorous to space the railings apart two inches wider than a normal bed frame. When we placed the box spring on the rails, it just fell onto the ground. I hated the bed. I wanted to chop off one of my arms just so I had something to throw at it. Clint went back to Lowes and purchased a piece of plywood the length and width of the bed, which the box spring now rests on.


And, here is Asher's bed today -


I'm pleased beyond belief with how it turned out, but with a bit more searching, I could have found something similar that wouldn't have required as much effort and money. It's my most expensive second-hand piece of furniture yet. Here's the rundown -

Bed - $40
Quart of white satin paint - $15ish
Quart of Dunn Edwards paint - $20ish
Professional stripping - $80
Quart of green paint - $15ish
Twin bed frame - $30ish
Stain - $5
Plywood - $20ish

Lesson learned.