Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Refurbished, painted thrift store hutch DIY

Our house is not huge and while we've turned the would be "formal dining" into a playroom, somehow the kids stuff still seems to creep into ALL rooms of the home.
We've had a hand me down piano sitting between the entry way and the dining room for a while.  I was hoping one of he kids would develop an interest in it.  Plus when family offers furniture and such, I have a hard time saying No as there always seems to be a use for it.  In this case, not so much... No one plays, it just gets banged on A LOT!   Time for it to get shoved into the playroom and listed on the web.
I need more storage.
The dining room table is always riddled with crayons, loose leaf paper, coloring books, pencils, and all other school or craft related items.  I need a place for all this mess to go when not in use.
Ideal vision would be a mid-century modern credenza.  Ya know, the kind with the doors that slide across the front.  But, obviously, with that being the trend it's not easy to find that kind of thing anymore without a dealer already having jacked up the price at a "repurpose" thrift store.  I went on a hunt anyway.  I thought I found this cute 70's side board with accordion doors and sides that folded up to make more surface area, but when we got to the dealer it turns out it was that fake formica-like wood on top.  Nothing I could sand off and therefore useless.  I was feeling pretty bummed, but my mom insisted we stop at a few random Thrifts on the way home.  One was asking $4000 for a "Mad men" look-a-like dining table....uhhh....bee line for the door, this place is way outta budget.
Another had some cute stuff, but no credenzas or hutches.  (although there was a super cute chest of drawers that I wish I had a place for)
The last place was a Hospice Thrift.  They mostly had clothes and crock pots, but in the  corner were two tall pieces of furniture.  One a particle board entertainment stand, the other.....

This piece.
Full hutch.  Top and all.
What caught my eye was the hardware.  I really like that style of pull.  It was priced right at $60, but I wasn't sure I could bring it back to life.  Then these two ladies started eyeballing it, too.  At the same time I realized they were having a one day sale...25% off all furniture!  45 bucks..I'll take it!  we can figure out the details later.  :)
Since I didn't want the top part that houses plates and such, it's currently listed on Craigslist.  Hopefully I will be able to update this post with a "sold" comment and the expense would be even less.
We put it in the garage and I got to sanding the top.
From experience of painting other pieces, I knew it was in my best interest to NOT paint the top.  The two little boys of mine can quickly undo lots of hard work.
Deciding on a color was pretty easy.  My mom had a bunch of swatches from an end table she had been debating color on.   I loved one of them called Royal Palm by Olympic.  I knew that was going to be the one.
Here's a look after sanding lots of old varnish off the top and a coat of primer for the bottom.  It already looks 1,000 times better.

Again, boys.  So I wanted to go for a kind of distressed look on the top.  I had a bit of gray wood stain, so I put a little and almost immediately wiped it.  I didn't want it to penetrate too much, just give a bit of a whitewash look.
Just a note: If you look close at the drawers you can see that the cool handles I fell for are not the original hardware.  The three middle drawers have an extra hole drilled where the new ones need to fit.  That worked out well...saved even more not having to go buy updated pulls or a can of spray paint. 
Here it is partially painted with one coat of polyurethane on the top.
The first coat never goes on perfect.  I hate having to wait overnight, re-sand and apply more, but it's definitely worth it in the long run.  I used clear satin for the poly finish. 

And here's the finished product

I'm super happy with the way it turned out.
And as soon as the paint is all cured all this...
Will be neatly tucked away in this.....

So for a grand total of $55 ($45 for the hutch add just over $10 for a sample jar of paint ((sings "Sample in a Jar" for my phellow Phish heads)) and small can of polyurethane) I have an awesome new buffet to greet anyone who comes through the front door. Sweet!
Gotta love those thrifty finds.

A few days later my mom found a cute little end table for $5!!
I used the leftover paint and poly from this project to spruce it up.
Sanding off the top and drawer revealed a cool distressed look that I couldn't have created if I tried, so I left it.  The top even had an old, barely noticeable drink ring and what seem to be burn marks for added character.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The never ending choices of a parent

It starts the moment you find out you are pregnant. There are hundreds of thousands of choices that a mother will have to make for her baby. What she should eat, which vitamins to take, when to sleep, which doctor to choose?  The decisions about the birth alone can be overwhelming. There are classes and books geared to help with these choices. Drugs or natural, midwife or doctor, hospital or birthing center?  When the baby is born it doesn't end. Breastfeeding or formula, co-sleeping or crib?  As your baby grows so does the list of things parents must decide. Daily.

It is easy to turn to the internet where there will be hundreds of thousands of articles to answer your hundreds of thousands of questions. In fact you can most likely find an article that will give you the exact answer you are looking for. And we all know if you can find it on the internet then it must be true! ;)

So how do you know what's the best for your child? Which preschool is best, public or private, school lunch or brown bag? Every day we are faced with decisions. It is my belief that as mothers and fathers we just do our best. We apply our life experiences, adjust for their personalities and hope we've chosen wisely. We arm ourselves with as much knowledge as possible and then we wing it. I think the saying is, 'We plan God laughs'. Most of us learn straight away at baby's delivery that we can take our plan and throw it out the window. You can invasion a million scenarios and number one million and one will be the outcome. (I know, because it happened to me both times.)

You're probably wondering where I'm going with this. Really, it spawned from a recent conversation I had on a social media site with a friend about iPad usage and children. That debate originated from an innocent video I posted with my 2.5 year old, grandma's new kitten and her iPad. Its freaking adorable. Most of the comments were "cute' and 'aww'. The expected comments. Then one comes, 'get that kid off the iPad' I took it very lighthearted. My response was a chuckle and a 'don't worry we balance it out with music festivals, nature and the pool'. I quickly realized the comment was not at all meant to be funny, but judgmental and serious. There was some more back and forth publicly and privately. What I didn't know, until I got a phone call later that day, that other friends where following the thread. I still kept it light and defended my friend, because he doesn't have children. Everyone in the parent club knows the drill. BC (before children) when you see kids acting out in public or running under the clothes rack in the store, you say 'my kids will NEVER do THAT. BC you plan that every meal will be balanced and organic, in reality hot dogs and ice cream for dinner will happen. Then there is the never ending debate of screen time. BC you're gonna be all Pinteresty and do all these cool experiments every day, in reality you put on Peppa Pig so can have 30min of peace or try and prepare dinner. I learned a lot from the responses that were posted. And, as of today there are 123 comments to a follow up post about how terrible it is to let your toddler get instant gratification from a game on the iPad. I gathered that some agreed. Keep in mind that I don't know everyone that posted, so I'm not sure if their comments are BC. But most of the people with kids gave scenarios of why they let their kids use technology so the parents were clear and the majority were commenting to defend their reasons for using technology.

This is where I needed to express my opinion. These parents don't need to defend their choices. They are the parents. For whatever reason they (and I) believe that the instant gratification given for completing a puzzle or helping Super Why find the missing letter is not permanently damaging the growing brain. Obviously I'm not condoning TV as a babysitter. I believe that balance is key. I also believe that what works for one family doesn't work for another. Who are we kidding? What works for one KID doesn't work for another.

Similar conversations and debates will come up often. Almost as often as the choices you are forced to make.  You can find them all over the internet. Vaccines, public breast feeding and home schooling are just a few others that can spark some pretty heated debates.

My main point here to parents is, when your intelligent friends with no kids tell you how you should be parenting your kids, just smile. Hopefully one day they will have little rug rats of their own and all their BC planning and theories will get tossed out the window and land in big pile next to your BC thoughts and plans. You will agree to disagree and be happy that you live in a place where my beliefs don't have to be your beliefs and vice versa. Then you can both have a good laugh.

For now just pour yourself a night cap, relax and hold on to your sanity while your kids run out all their endless energy before bedtime.


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Patio floor paint job

A while back, I painted the pool deck.  Really, I guess you could say I "stained" the pool deck.  A friend recommended H&C Concrete stain because he had done a few pool areas with it.  My paint guy at Lowes' didn't have a better suggestion and they didn't carry the H&C water based satin, so I headed to the Sherwin Williams.   I got a color one shade darker than the house on the color swatch.  It was nice that SW would match any brand's color. I got two gallons, because each is supposed to cover about 200 square feet.  I had to go back for two more.  The old, battered cool deck really sucked up the paint.  Besides the fact that I totally miscalculated how much paint I would need, the stain turned out beautifully.  It's been over a year and I have no complaints. 
So....I decided to do the covered part of the patio as well.  Originally, we planned to put down slate tiles, but it's a pricey project and not in our budget right now. Ryder's 7th birthday is coming up and we are having a pool party here at the house.  Not only is the patio area hideous, but it gets super slippery with just my two kids.  The covered part was almost exactly 200 hundred square feet and smooth.  One gallon would definitely do the trick.  I still had my paint swatch with the pool deck color and after a quick comparison, I decided to get one shade darker.  There was hardly a difference between them and we have a really bad pollen season here.  I am hoping that it will help hid the yellowish dust a bit more.  Right, so now I have three shades of gray.  All Valspar paint colors: the house is Tornado watch, the pool deck is Artichoke and the patio is Empire.  I also had the guy add some non slip powder to the paint can.  So for $35, I completely freshened up the patio.  It's funny because depending on the way the light shines, they can all look the same or totally different.  It looks good, nice and neutral. 
Who knows what the flooring was before, but it looked like the previous owners did plan to do something.  What ever was there before had been cleared away and the concrete had been prepped.  You could still see the orange-reddish grout lines and swirls from what may have been glue.  My guess would be that at some point there was tile and at some other time maybe indoor/outdoor carpet, but that will be a mystery never solved.

Here are a few before and during shots of the painting process.
You can totally see what I mean.  What the heck do you think they had going on here?

What ever they had going on, I am grateful that I didn't have to scrape up glue and grout.  The paint went on smooth.  It was a bit porous, but nothing like the cool deck.  One can gave me two coats. 

So, so much better.  And it's not slippery anymore...added little bonus for the kids. 
I have to wait to put the furniture back.  And my mom mentioned seeing some cheap area rugs at Ross, so I may put one of those down, too.   Give the space a pop of color. We all know a rug can "really tie the room together, Dude."  I've spent almost every single day watching the kids in the pool since school let out, so why not make my area feel homey?!

Here's my entertainment...

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Wild flying squirrels, not to be confused with wild sugar gliders in Florida

The cat brought in a present last night.  Like all other "presents" I grabbed a paper towel to take the kill outside.  You can imagine my surprise when the "dead" animal turned over, looked at me with it's big, cute eyes and ran up my arm.  I, of course, gave a small shriek and did a little on point jig while the little fella ran right into the bathroom.  I thought, perfect, he has no where to go, I will just corner him and bring him back outside.  Again, you can imagine my surprise when he shimmied up a teeny, tiny crevice under the cabinet.  To myself I said, "Where'd he go?" out loud I said, "Where'd whooo go?" (then I chuckled at my cool movie quote) I just stood there and stared in disbelief for a moment.  Now what? I can't demo the bathroom to get this little guy.  He can't go anywhere....I don't think.  So I stared some more.  Then I shut the bathroom door.  Then I texted my husband who just so happen to be out of town....his advice...."Name it."  Thanks babe.
I figured he would have to come out eventually, there was no where to go and he would get hungry.  I brushed my teeth, washed my face, shut the door and went to bed.
This morning when I woke up I surveyed the bathroom and nothing.  I went to shut the door and spotted a little brown fur ball out of the corner of my eye.  He was balled up near the little crevice under the cabinet.  I grabbed the cat carrier and headed in.  I put a little piece of cardboard to block the crack and pushed him into the carrier.  He hopped right in, I'm guessing because it was darker and there was a towel for him to nestle under.
I will wait until tonight to release him because they are nocturnal little guys.

A quick side note:  At first I thought is was a Sugar Glider.  It looks just like one; little and cute.  So I googled.  It seems that sugar gliders can survive in the wild, but are considered invasive and should not be re-released.  So I googled again, to try and confirm exactly what I had.  Come to find out it was as my son suspected a flying squirrel.
They don't look like the ones I've seen on the animal channels on tv.
Here's what we have.
wild florida/flying squirrels
image from outdooralabama.com

there's our little fella

You can Google flying squirrels in Florida and see tons of pics of these little cuties. 

Friday, May 30, 2014


It's been a while since I blogged, but I guess I've been busy.  We've taken the camper out on adventures twice and both times it was awesome. 
And...I'm in the beginning stages of getting my new business up and rolling.  Super exciting stuff.
Which means there is sure to be an influx of blogs next month. :)  (but here's a link to the biz, if you just can't wait.....http://sambrose.myrandf.com)

But for now....

It's the newest app on my phone and I love it!  Instead of hitting the camera icon, I hit the Paper Camera icon!
I just wanna post!  
and hashtag### 
and share it's awesomeness!
In consideration for my friends who, I'm sure may not share the complete and utter joy of the paper camera, I decided to put a couple several of the pictures on here instead. 

For your enjoyment....

"Comic Boom" was the first effect I used and I was instantly hooked. 
This effect is appropriately called "Andy pop" 

I was able to sneak a few posts onto Social media for Ryder's 1st grade graduation party..

"Sketch up"


"Pastel perfect"

"Pen and Paper" reminds me of high school.  Like advanced doodlers.

with "Contours" you can even have fun with a delivery truck.

There are a bunch more, but I haven't had a chance to apply them yet.  
Each picture is so different and the same effect will add some cool new layer of depth to an otherwise typical photo.  I find, I love a certain "brush stroke" of hair or blur of  background.  Overall, I am amazed at this app.  The instantaneous screen conversion is so neat.  The fact that any picture I take can immediately be made to look like I had it commissioned by an artist friend is so cool.

It can even do videos!  Technology can be so fun.

I will be sure to update this post as soon as I get some new material.

If you are bored with the effects your phone currently has, I would highly recommend downloading the Paper Camera.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Are we there yet? RV renovation facelift.

Every year in May we go to a music festival nearby called the Orange Blossom Jamboree.  It's at a great little campground.  The kids can play in the creek and the parents can enjoy great music without the crazy big festival crowds.
This year we inherited the RV that we always borrow.  It's ours!! Which means that it will be getting used much more than once a year and we need to make it feel like our home away from home.

 It took a while for it to totally sink in.  My first instinct was to sell it.   I mean, the extra money would be great and we could get a small pop up for our camping needs.  But.... with great effort, the hubs convinced me that keeping it and fixing it up was the best way to go.
After all, we do live in Florida, so year round camping in not out of the question.  There are a lot of options practically around the corner.  Beaches, springs, rivers, woods and lots of music festivals just to name a few.  The Florida State Park system is huge and beautiful.  And we have boys.  All boys like to be dirty and outside, even our little gamer. 
So.... we dove head first into a facelift for the old girl.
It's from the 90's AND it sat for a while under oak trees AND it's very humid here.  As you can imagine it really needed some TLC.
The hubs went to work on the outside: checking all the seams, putting coats of sealant on the roof and replacing lots of hinges and latches.  I tackled the aesthetics of the inside.  The whole thing: walls, cabinets, ceilings, windows and  floors got a deep cleaning of soapy bleach water.  I bombed it for bugs and cleaned again.   (We plan to keep some Damp Rid in there to avoid the mustiness it had.) The hubs spent more time doing some detailed caulking around all the windows and seams that were a problem in the past.  I told him when he was done we would be able to drive this thing underwater and not have a leak.
Since floral mauve and sea foam green are not our favorite colors, we decided that we would spend the money on some new fabric.  There is a couch that jackknifes into a bed (like a futon), a dinette with two cushion benches (like a restaurant booth) and some window valances.  If we brought those into the current decade it would give the interior a noticeable update.  We went modern, bold and, of course, blue.  Between my and my mother-in-law's stash of leftover paint, I didn't have to buy any.  She had a light sky blue and I had some teal and tan.  The walls took the paint very well.   My hubby's mom put her sewing machine to work on the bedroom valances and the room divider curtain.  They came out better than I imagined, as did the pieces I reupholstered with the staple gun.  Pretty good for amateurs.
Not gonna lie and say that I thought the reupholstering of the seating was going to be easy, but when we took the couch apart and realized that is was a metal frame my heart kind of sank.   My upholstery skills are pretty much limited to a staple gun.  Clearly, I couldn't staple anything onto a metal frame.  We brainstormed some ideas with needle and thread, maybe attaching new fabric to old underneath the frame without 100% confidence.  I've said it before and  I'll say it again, my hubs is very handy.  He surveyed how the original fabric was applied and realized we needed upholstery rings.  They are like little C-clamps that you "hook" on and pinch tight with pliers.  He finished the top cushion in one evening.  We even had some extra buttons from the ottoman project. and I was able to add a few details.
We really lucked out when my mother in law's good friend offered up her master seamstress skills to recover the dinette area cushions.  She did such an amazing job, better than a professional!!
So without further adieu here are the before and after pics....

What a difference a coat of paint makes, right?!  It's like removing old wallpaper.  Totally cleaned it up.  Plus, I got some fun wall decals for the bathroom and the "entry way".

The in-between shots....

The hubs up on the roof...
 Here the walls are painted and some new fabric put in, but no cushions yet..

The flooring got a good cleaning and maybe next year we will think about replacing it with some vinyl or laminate.  Luckily, it shouldn't be a pricey project since there isn't much floor to deal with.
For now we are waiting on a few small parts to fix the toilet and propane monitor, then we will be off on our maiden voyage....
A little bluegrass festival called String Break!

So until next time...
 You didn't think we'd drive around without representing a little Griswold family vaca, did ya?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Exploring at Chinsegut

We've done some fun hiking and canoeing adventures this Spring Break.  For the last day before Ryder has to go back to school we went on a hike at Chinsegut Conservation Center.....And we got a lot of awesome photos.

Butterfly Garden

What's your wingspan?

The sun made a few appearances on an otherwise overcast morning.

Cypress forest

Ryder took my picture

The beginning of spring and a fresh rain makes for lots of green in the woods.

Huge bunch of bamboo

He thought it would be funny to run from me.

A swing made by Mother Nature.

Bamboo monster..ahhh.

Here you can see the sink hole on the right and the massive bamboo patch on the left and behind them.

some fun editing

Time to go.