Thursday, June 30, 2011

Name Your Seat

I've posted about my search for napkin rings here and have an update. I bought some. And by some I mean 24. And no, of course that doesn't seem excessive. Especially since they rang up at less that $24 ($23.79 to be exact) including shipping! I'm thinking of adding a pattern to at least half of them for some fun variety. Maybe I'll break out some metallic sharpies...
In the meantime, we've been using a dry-erase marker (that I borrow from here) to label them with funny/stupid/silly nicknames for dinner guests.

Sort of along the lines of these porcelain name plates that were on OneKingsLane awhile back, but mine do double-duty as napkin rings and didn't have quite so hefty a price tag.

I got the napkin rings of a sample sale site (surprise, right?)--called Joss & Main and my invite link is here
If you need an invite to OneKingsLane, you can email me for it!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Vestiges of the Weekend

The weekend before last was a blur of activity, including the culmination of my efforts helping out with the casual marriage celebration of friends. After working through details, accumulating supplies (while using a billion coupons!), and brandishing a hot glue gun, spraypaint cans, double stick tape and sharpies. True to typical form, I didn't take enough (ok, basically no) photos of the space, so you'll have to trust me that I loved the result and the all the spaces came together well, looked great and were functional.

I took this guy home with me and have been looking at it fondly remembering a really fun evening with really fun people.

This doesn't really to the layers of decor and variety of materials justice, so next time I'll make photos a priority, I promise.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Sawdust in the Wind

So I posted here about my craigslist table purchase, and I promised to post about my adventure refinishing it. In a timeliness that is relatively rare (as pertains to my posts, that is), I'm sharing my progress. I'm a visual learner, so let the photos begin!
Not only was the yellow-hued wood on the top of the table not my cup of tea, the color didn't match the reddish drop leaves. (Or is it leafs when you're referring to a table?--like the plural of a computer mouse is mouses, not mice...?)

So, I "splurged" on the sander with a handle (instead of the little curved rubber ones that you cup your hand over to use). It was about twice as much ($10 instead of $5), but definitely worth it! And the width happened to be perfect for the slats on the table, which was especially helpful in the areas where the slats intersect perpendicularly at the edge of each table section, since I didn't want to go against the grain and the width helped me keep the sanding controlled in the correct area. Below, I'm pretty sure that there's a conspiracy to make the sheets of sandpaper smaller than the the width of 3 sander refills--I mean, what am I going to do with the skinny one? Well, at least cutting the correct width of the sandpaper was easy to do because I kept the packaging of the sander to measure it out.
Below you can see some of the cracks that needed some attention. The one to the right of the umbrella opening was a giant splinter waiting to happen (handy for vampire defense but not much else, I suppose) and the big divot below the umbrella opening needed to get filled in and smoothed out.
First the giant splinter. I actually had some carpenter glue on hand (hooray for one less supply to buy!), but I need to clamp the splinter portion down after slopping glue all over it. I tried weighting in down, but that splinter was too stubborn, so I got creative (at least, I felt pretty resourceful) and an adjustable wrench worked like a charm! I was just lucky that it fit between the slats since it was a pretty tight squeeze.

I bought some semi-transparent outdoor wood sealant and here's one portion of the table with a fresh coat. I couldn't believe how much better it looked. I had some brushes that were the width of the slats on hand, which was great for containing the stain to go with the grain of the wood where the grain directions differed (much like lucky convenience with the sander's width).

I had to use wood filler on that divot that was front and center--and on one of the table legs that got a little love from the previous owner's furry friend. The wood filler on the table leg turned out nicely, but the filler on the tabletop was looking too obvious because it was oozing into the other slat. To fix that, I used the sandpaper as shown below and the back and forth sanding (I grabbed the edge of the sandpaper above the table and below the table) made the gap between the slats reappear. Hooray!
That center portion is almost done, huge improvement with the glue, wood filler and stain. I used a stainable wood filler, so that probably helped it blend in a little more, too.
After staining the whole table, I decided that a little added sheen would be nice (and help it survive the outdoors, even though it will be under the built out awning), so I added a coat of semi-satin polyurethane stain. Annnndddd....mission accomplished! Oooo, how pretty.
Let's just revisit where this all started...

Man, I feel accomplished!

A couple things that I would do differently:
  • Get a water-based clear coat. It was super convenient to have the water-based stain when rinsing the brush, but I definitely ruined a brush because I didn't understand it needed a good soaking in mineral spirits after a coat of the polyurethane. whoops.
  • Checked to see it the table easily came apart before painting. Yeah, I might have accidentally discovered that that the leaves could slide out easily after I had done the majority of the phases that required doing a part of the leaf or the table and then waiting for it to dry before I moved the leaf up or down to do the other taking them off to begin with would have saved some time.
  • Figured out an easier way to get the stain in between the slats earlier in the process--those little sponge brushes worked like a charm eventually!
Other than that, it was a fun project and I think the finished project looks much improved. We've used it for an outdoor dinner already, and I'll post of photo of it the next time it's all dolled-up.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Black and White and Striped all over

I own very few striped clothing items (a nautical-ish skiiny stripe casual sweater and pinstripe pants--does that even count), but I think I might need to get onboard with more stripes because all of these options are looking so cool and so versatile. I'm especially liking the wide stripes in black and white...

Stripey Sources:
1. Max Mara (Saks) $177
2. ModCloth shell $50
3. East&5th (JCPenney) $20
4. Nanette Lepore (Bloomingdale's) $77
5. JCrew dress $88
6. Y-3 (SSense) $72
7. ModCloth blouse $40

I would happily wear any one of those items. Just not all at once, since even the collage is giving me vertigo. I think that most of these could transition from a casual setting to a work environment nicely, too! (or the costume trailer for Beetlejuice, but that's not what I'm focusing on right now)

I think this stripe ogling could have been brought on because I just purchased some striped outdoor fabric...maybe some outdoor pillows for the backyard will appear before additions to my wardrobe.

Any trends you've warmed up to?

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Draggin' the Line

One of the challenges of being taller than average (not that I'm complaining, because I'm really not) is finding clothes that have enough length to fit well. But the challenge doesn't end there--you also have to launder them so the clothes stay that length so they continue to fit well. This is one of the reasons (besides my utility bill) that I air dry my clothes. All of them. Seriously, I don't care what it is, no clothing item goes in the dryer. Because, honestly, how convenient is drying a few socks when everything else is line drying anyway? I have a couple drying racks that help I use and I resort to using hangers for shirts when I have an extra procrastinated large load of laundry, but I still was coming up short on drying space, especially for larger items (including sheets and bedding--which sometimes go in the dryer, but not always with impeccable results--example here). So, since having more space would be convenient--and let me catch up on a couple loads of laundry during those off-peak hours all at once, instead of having to waiting for more available drying space--brainstorming ensued and resulted in the idea for a laundry line in the backyard. Woohoo! Simple, sweet, old-timey and feel-good-environmentally friendly, right? Hmmm, now my HOA prohibits visible clotheslines and my petite backyard doesn't really have a nice plot of permanently available space for a "drying zone". Cue more brainstorming. And cue result of brainstorming: retractable clothesline.

I ended up with this one, purchased by the bf (awww). The plan was to install it behind one of the pillars in the backyard and below the height of the fence. The pillar is one of a few that support the covered portion of my backyard. Since there was another post across from the wall, there was an ideal spot for a hook for the other end of the line. First, the retractable line portion--this required some drilling into the block wall:

I should really do something about my hairy arms. ha. I guess I can't take credit for this.

Here it is installed behind the post:

The pallets are supplies for a potential future project...

It's completely obscured if you're looking straight on--which is an unlikely position to be in, so it's not invisible to the normal visitor-to-the-backyard, but if you were in that spot under the patio cover it would look like this:

I decided to maximize the drying space by having 2 rows of the clothesline, so we installed 2 hooks on the opposite post...

and another hook under the retractable portion...

Hooray! Here it is in action:

And its mere presence makes doing laundry FUN!

Ok, that is a lie. But it is handy, especially for those sheets and tablecloths and those extra large loads of laundry that I should have washed weeks prior.

Any functional improvements to share? Anyone else with enough socks and underwear to last for 3 weeks?