Not the look I was going for…

I purchased this little table for $5 during our neighbordhood yardsale.  I posted this picture of it before saying it was in process, which was quite a while ago, but DIY does not always go as planned.

It had definitely seen better days, but since it was so rough looking I thought it would be an easy makeover.  I was definitely wrong on that one!  The sanding was simple enough with my power sander.  I got it down to the bare surface and ready to be stained.

It was missing one of the screw covers in one leg, so I applied a stainable wood filler to it.  I had never used the product before, but I thought it was worth a try.

After that was dried and set, I got started on my staining. When I took “Paint and Stain 101” at the Haven Conference, I learned that when I was staining I really should use a pre-stain wood conditioner.  This product prepares the wood to accept the stain equally, so you don’t end up with a blotchy stain.  So, this was my first time also trying that product.  I followed all the directions on it, then got to work staining.  And, this is where the good progress stops!

Despite all my direction following, I still ended up with blotchy stain.  I can overlook blotchy spots if the overall look is still good, but this one really was not the look I was going for.  The picture above is the table still in the garage, because I just can’t decide what to do with it.  I tried applying a darker stain overtop to see if that would warm it up a bit, but that didn’t change it much at all.  And, the stainable wood filler did not really work either….I didn’t take a picture of it, because it looks really bad! 

So, does anyone have any recommendations for how to save this piece?  Should I accept the current stain and just put a satin poly on it?  Should I throw in the towel on staining and paint it?  What would you do?

Frog City

We have an egress window in our basement, which is the required emergency exit.  Its not very pretty to look at, but it provides natural light so we didn’t want to hide it.  We tried to dress up the window by adding blinds and curtains, and even went as far as putting pebble stones in the window well.  Then, I had the great idea to put a plant in the window well.  Since it is a basement, it is challenging to add plant life because of the lack of natural light.  But, the window well got light and this way the plant would have a better chance of survival.  I got a nice big fern and put it in the window well.

You might notice there is a large piece of driftwood in the window well also.  The driftwood was a later addition, after we realized that the window well had become home to some frogs.  Before the driftwood, Bob added a water bowl that I picked up at Goodwill.

The frogs loved the water bowl.  The shells were added because they seemed to have difficulty getting up the sides of the bowl.  Eventually, since the frogs seemed to multiply…or at least tell their frog friends that it was a nice place to live, we added a real water dish from the pet store.

Oh, and we also started feeding them crickets!!  We would go get about 50 crickets and the frogs just had a party.

Some of these pictures are from last summer.  The frogs provided us with so much enjoyment, that we created Frog City (as my nephews named it) again this year.  Puddy absolutely loves the frogs.  If we are watching out the window, he will jump up and down and cry and want up to see the frogs too.

Puddy also gets excited about looking out the window because it seems to attract other creatures as well.  We have had our fair share of bunnies and even larger rabbits end up in the window well.  One time there was a cat in there too…it had preyed on a bunny and they both landed in the window well.  We apply immediate catch and release with the other animals.  This summer, we had 2 baby birdies in the well.

The birdies were just learning to fly and couldn’t figure out how to get out of the window well, so I had to climb out there and help them back to the yard so they could get back to their momma, who was close by watching.

As the weather begins to turn into colder nights, we slowly release the frogs back into nature so they can bury themselves into the ground to survive the winter.

We released the frogs a few weeks ago after a family dinner.  As I said, the frogs have provided us with much enjoyment, so it was only natural to make an event out of releasing them.  But, it seems frog season was not over, because last week a new one landed in the window well.  And, he’s a big bull frog!

We will release him too…but not before our family gets to come over and see the big guy!

“New” Foyer Light

I was shopping and running errands Saturday and was doing quite well, so even though all my must-do stops were done, I made one more stop on the way home.  I stopped at the Stock Swap, which is a local consignment store.  They have a nice selection of furniture and home decor items.  I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, just looking.  I looked up and spotted this light. 

I took the above picture of it and sent it to Bob, asking if he thought it would work for either our foyer or hallway.  I also added the important part – it was half-price, so it was $32.50.  He called me and said it looks nice and was worth a try, and worse case scenario was that I could re-sell it.  I had been looking for different lights for our foyer and hallway for a while, just because they were the builder basic ones.  We bought a spec house and all the lighting had been installed, and fortunately most of it we liked.  I just do not like these lights – this was the current foyer light.  While it functions fine, it doesn’t have the welcoming look that I would prefer in the foyer.

When I got home, Bob had done some house cleaning and did not want anything sitting around.  So, we got right to work with installing the new light. 

The light had definitely never been previously installed.  The wire was all new and no chain links had been removed.  Of course, there was not instructions with it either.  We did some google and you tube searching, because when Bob removed the old light, this is what the wires looked like.

And, of course the new light did not have wire colors that matched.  It had a ground wire, and then what looked like 1 other wire, that looked more like a normal lamp cord.  We were able to determine from our searches that we just needed to separate that wire and strip the plastic off and then get to work connecting the wires.  This was much easier said then done.  It took quite a bit of trial and error.  And, just to note we shut off the power supply to the area prior to starting any of this work!!  Fortunately our errors were not in the wire connecting part, it was just in how we fed the wires through the lamp and ceiling connector that caused our trial and error delays.  Overall, it still did not take us too long, and now we have a nice new look for our foyer.

The new light creates a nice glow in the foyer too.

Anyone else with a recent unexpected project?  Or, any other good weekend shopping finds?  As I said, it was a successful day of thrift store and bargain shopping, so I will have some other upcoming projects to share.

Cheap Sconce Makeover

My sconces makeover took much longer than I expected.  The actual transformation of the sconces was relatively quick and easy.  This is the before look, which I showed previously.

I bought the sconces for $2.99 each at the Salvation Army.  I gave them a few thin coats of spraypaint, and they were ready to be hung.  I ran into issues with finding the right candles though.  The distance from the candle holder base to the ring was 6″, which I thought would work with most standard pillar candles, but unfortunately most 6″ pillar candles are really only 5.5″, so it ended up looking really strange.  I did find some nice candles in my searches, but I was not about to pay $27 for a candle to put in a sconce I paid $3.  Finally, I found success at Wal-Mart.  They had 8″ pillar candles for $6 each.  I bought 2 and was finally ready to share my sconces.

The only problem was that the overall look  just seemed weird.  We had the picture hanging on the wall for a long time and it always looked very sparse in its surroundings. I should have taken an true before picture to show how lonely it looked.  Its a very long wall in our basement and the couch doesn’t sit directly against the wall, it is probably about 10-12 feet away from it, so the long wall really needed help.  The sconces did help, but then I decided to try what had once been our foyer table under the picture.  This was all part of the rearranging that occured with my free corner shelf and the sconces.  The previous foyer table had just been living under another picture in the basement near the bar/dining area of the space.  So, I stole that table and its accessories and lived with it under the picture for a while and decided it could stay.  Here’s the current look.

And,  here is another view so that you can see the perspective of sofa in front of it.

It is also really difficult to take nice pictures in a basement!  These are about as accurate as I can get the colors without much natural light.  So, what started out as quick little project, ended up creating a lot of rearranging in our basement.  But, the good thing is I think it created some improvements.  The lamp on the table under the pictures creates really nice light as we are relaxing on the sofa watching TV or reading.  I have more areas of the basement to show in some upcoming posts.  There were many projects that happened along the way as we furnished the basement.  Plus, I’ll share the true before and after of the basement with the concrete walls and floors, to the warm cozy family area we have now.

Anyone else work on a quick, easy project that ended up snowballing into many other projects?

Annual Tractor Ride

Each year on the first Sunday in October, our family has a day of tradition.  It is the annual tractor ride in my parent’s town.  Last year, it was so cold the organizers canceled the ride.  But, that didn’t stop us…we made our own ride!  This year, my Dad organized the whole ride.  We started from a new location and followed the route that he mapped out.  The forecast was to be chilly and rainy, but we lucked out and while it was brisk it wasn’t nearly as cold as last year and the rain didn’t start until later in the day.  We think the forecast put a bit of a damper on the attendance, but there were still 10 tractors in the ride.  Some had wagons, some didn’t.  Some were green, some were red – We definitely have a preference, but we don’t discriminate.   But, everyone was there for the same reason – to take the tractors out for a ride, spend time together, and enjoy the beauty of the Fall season in the country.

Puddy waiting for us to get the ride started.

Puddy’s John Deere Shirt – One of my latest crafty creations

The parade of tractors starting to head out of town.

Dad was our driver and the leader of the parade of tractors.

The ride took us along some beautiful scenes.  It was very peaceful.

Puddy wasn’t the only dog along for the ride.  Smokey was enjoying it too.  He was all decked out in John Deere gear as well.   I wasn’t sure he’d like a t-shirt, so he got a John Deere bandana.  Then he got cold, so he got to use the John Deere blanket too!

Bob spotted this scarecrow hiding in the field along the way.

Overall, it was a nice hour and half ride through the country, in the area I grew up.  Its always a nice reminder of the beauty and peacefulness of the country.  And, best of all it is a great day spent with family.  We were missing some family Sunday.  My brother was busy running his first half marathon, so he couldn’t make it to the ride.  We missed him and his family, but it just meant we got to eat more of the candy ourselves! 🙂  Oh yeah, we take candy along to throw to any kids along the way.  This year I think we only saw one group of kids, so we kept up tradition and ate most of the candy as we rode!

Anyone else have a special family tradition to share?  Any other tractor rides out there?

My FREE Corner Shelf

So, I teased before about the free corner shelf that I found when I was out yardsale shopping.  This is what it looked like the last time you saw it.

In order to keep it a free project, I had to use what I had in my supplies already.  Fortunately, I won a quart of Annie Sloan Chalk paint at the Haven Conference.  And, I also got a new Purdy brush in my swag bag at Haven too!

Chalk paint is great because you do not have to prime, so I was able to just get to work painting the shelf.  I did give it a quick sand just to make sure it was smooth and it had some grit to it for the paint to adhere.  I did my first coat with the brush, but unfortunately it had too many streaks for my liking.

Since it was all flat surfaces, I decided to use a little 4″ foam roller for my second coat.  It looked much better, and it was a faster process.  Bob ended up helping me out and he put a line of caulk down the back corner where the two upright boards met.  It helped it look more complete.  Then, I just shopped the house for items to put on the shelves, and this is the current look.

Puddy seems to think that anytime I get out the camera that he needs to be in the picture!  I do think he makes them look cuter though, and since the blog is named after him it only seems right to include him!!  I used random pictures that we had in other places in the house and also some that had been stored in the closet.  The bottom “picture” is just another piece of scrapbook paper in a frame.  The only new item is the clock on the wall, and I did have that I just hadn’t found a spot for it in the basement until we rearranged for the corner shelf.  The Fall picture on the wall was taken by one of Bob’s co-workers, so he gets artistic credit for that one.  It used to hang in our hallway upstairs, but after trying a few other pictures in that spot, Bob thought of that picture and said it would look better…and he was right!  I used some real pumpkins and some fake ones to complete the look for Fall.

Anyone else score some curbside freebies lately?  What did you do to give them a new life?

Be Our Guest

Our guest room is a good example of working with what we have.  Puddy says, “Come on over and be our guest!” Of course, you might have to kick him out of the guest room….that bed is one of his favorite spots, mainly because he can see right out the front windows and bark at anyone who walks by.

When Bob and I bought our house, I didn’t have much furniture to contribute to it, outside of the living room furniture, because most of my furniture was hand-me-downs that were on their way out.  Bob fortunately had more furniture that we could use in our new home.  Since we had decided on purchasing a new bedroom set for our bedroom, we used Bob’s old furniture for the guest room.  He had a queen size bed on just a frame and a set of dressers and night stands.
Just like many other rooms in our house, it took a while before I decided on how I wanted to decorate the room.  Finally, I decided to paint it a nice cheery yellow.  I can’t recall if that was before or after I completed the headboard makeover.  I knew I wanted an upholstered headboard, but wanted to make it as inexpensively as possible.  I finally found one on Craigslist that I thought would work.

I can’t remember exactly how much I paid for the headboard, maybe $45.  I know the person was trying to sell the whole set of matching bedding to go with the headboard, so I negotiated the price by buying only the headboard.  I took off all the old fabric and then used a white duckcloth to reupholster it.  I used a white trim to hide my staples in the seam, because I have not yet mastered welting.  I’m still considering using nailhead trim in that space to give it a little more interest.

The rest of the guest room has some other small projects of mine, as well as yard sale finds and Home Goods/TJ Maxx purchases.  The quilts are from Home Goods/TJ Maxx, as well as the flower pillow.  I bought the yellow pillows at a church thrift store.  The 3 pictures are Monet prints that I bought at a yard sale with the intention of just using the frames and painting them and adding my own pictures, but one day I held them up in the guest room and decided that they will work for now.

The only other projects are the “vases.”  I took a wine bottle and some vases that I either got for free or 50 cents or less at yard sales and decided to spray paint them.  The wine bottle got a nice yellow color, while the vases were painted a metallic silver.

Anyone else reupholster a headboard?  Or maybe spraypainted vases for a new look?