The Sideboard

After we’d bought our house but still living in our condo, I’d gone out for a walk one summer evening. I’d ended up at a thrift store about 15 minutes before closing time and impulse bought a sideboard. Of course, I had to call Jeremy to pick up me and my purchase while I kept my fingers crossed that it would even fit into the back of our old Mazda Protege.

It did, and it sat in our garage until we moved it into our new dining room.

It’s a solid piece, and from a distance it looked like it was in really good shape. It actually had quite a bit of damage, but nothing that couldn’t be disguised with a strategically placed plant or knick-knack. I did intended to have it repaired and refinished someday, but it was never a high priority.

sideboard

In March, when I began my redecorating spree, I decided I would restore it myself, so when Jeremy and my Dad were moving furniture to paint, I had them take the sideboard out to the garage.

While I’ve slapped a coat of paint on the odd dresser over the years, my furniture finishing experience was limited and I’d never worked with stain. I felt I was in over my head as soon as I removed the hardware. After I sanded it, no matter how many coats of primer, then paint, the original finish kept seeping though.

The doors were a whole other issue. I removed the original finish with that super scary furniture stripper that has about a thousand warning labels on it. Daunting for someone who is accident prone. If anyone was going to dump a can of something toxic and corrosive all over the garage, it will me me. I am relieved to report, the stripping went forward without incident.

Then, I sanded and prepared them for staining. This part of the project had been going pretty well until I started with the stain. I didn’t realize how hard it would be to get the right shade of dark cherry to match the other dining room furniture. My original attempt was too light and brown, so I ended up stripping them all over again and starting over. My second try was closer – not exactly what I wanted, but at that point I decided it was close enough. I figured it I kept trying for a perfect match, the doors would be paper thin from stripping and sanding by the time I was through. Finally, I attempted to give the doors a smooth shiny finish. Attempted, is the operative word in this sentence.

The whole experience was frustrating, although that frustration was actually a good thing for me at the time, as I really needed something tangible to focus the anger that came in waves between sadness during those early days after the baby. This project gave me that.

I was initially disappointed with the final outcome of this project, but now that it’s in the dimly lit side of the dining room I’m less annoyed but the flaws that were much more pronounced under the florescent lights of the garage.

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For the Birds

Last summer we had to cut down our beautiful birch tree. The foliage had been eaten by asian beetles and we just couldn’t save it. With birch branches still quite trendy in outdoor arrangements, I kept the larger pieces, hoping to somehow incorporate the branches back into our garden.

It took me a while to figure out what to do with them but it finally hit me when I was searching for bird baths on Pinterest. We’d been looking for one for years, but we hadn’t been able to find one with the right combination of tasteful (for Jeremy) and kitsch (for me). I was thinking of something that featured a ornate fountain with a statue of an animal or cherub relieving itself, but you know, classy like.

Birdbath

For the stand, I attached the branches with jute twine (leftover from the stool project) using this tutorial. The bath is a big bowl I found in a thrift shop.

tripodlash

This won’t be a permanent fixture – the branches and twine will surely rot over a couple of years. In the meantime though, I was happy to find a use for the branches.

I still have a few smaller pieces left over, so I’m thinking about a centerpiece like the one
I made for Christmas a few years ago. I’m open to suggestions though. Have you seen any cute or clever craft ideas using birch lately?

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Itty Bitty Hat

I’ve been trying so hard to not even think about baby clothes yet. After all, we haven’t even started on her bedroom, and there are so many more important baby things we need to accumulate. Clothes are the really the last thing I should be focused on right now.

However, this week I couldn’t hold out any longer. I had to have a look at the itty bitty baby things, and subsequently started buying. It was just a few things from the thrift store though. I bought a onesie and some sleepers, both were new with the tags still attached from Baby Gap, so I couldn’t resist.

Then, I decided that the newly purchased newborn sleepers needed a matching hat, so I picked up some yarn on my way home from work on Friday, and crocheted this:

Materials:
Category 4 Weight Yarn
5.50 mm Crochet Hook

Hat Pattern:
Round 1: ch 4, 12 dc in forth ch from hook (12 dc), sl st in top of stitch at starting point.
Round 2: ch 3, 2 dc in each dc around (24 dc), sl st in top of stitch at starting point.
Round 3: ch 3, 2 dc in next dc, dc in next dc around (36 stitches), sl st in top of stitch at starting point.
Round 4 – 8: ch 3, 36 dc, sl st in top of stitch at starting point.
Round 9 – ch 1, 36 sc
Round 10 (I used a contrasting for row 10) – ch 1, 36 sc, sl in at beginning.

Flower Pattern:
Round 1:, ch 2, 5 sc in 2nd ch from hook.
Join with sl st to first sc.
Round 2: ch 2, 3dc, ch 2, sl st in the each sc, sl st to the next sc

I think the sizing is about right for a newborn, as I’d based the size on another knitted hat, we’d received from a dear neighbour last week. It does have a bit of stretch, but I really hope it wouldn’t need to be any bigger…*shudder*

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