After all, I'm just downloading and editing the few pictures that I took at Thanksgiving. I know, it's weird to see so much red and white at Thanksgiving time (candy cane stripes with pumpkins?!) but I had just put my "Minnie Mouse" drapes up (had to add length to my original ones plus make 2 new panels) and the striped napkins seemed to fit the mood at the time.
Our awesome neighbors and my little brother (who happens to be stationed nearby and had just come back from a 6 month deployment) were able to join us for dinner, which was really great. It's always nice to have extra adults at Thanksgiving time, as my kids are not of the opinion that any traditional Thanksgiving food is worth eating - except for the rolls - and it's no fun to cook a big turkey with all the fixins just for Steve and myself. Actually, I have to say that Hyrum did try the turkey this year and he even admitted that he liked it, so there's progress. :-) Eliza saw the turkey in all its raw glory that morning, so there was no way we were going to convince her to eat any of the cooked version. She loves animals and can't stand the thought of eating one...although she hasn't quite figured out that Costco meatballs and McDonald's hamburgers are in the meat category. Wait - the McD's hamburger hardly qualifies as real beef...I can't stand those things.
ANYWAY, one of the (many) reasons I'm feeling so far behind this Christmas is the swingset we finally finished enough to attach the swings to. It's a work in progress, but at least they can start playing on it now.
What was supposed to be a fall project turned into a slighty early Christmas present! Can you believe the weather is warm enough for my kids to be playing on it with bare feet and no jackets? In mid-December, no less? Not that I'm complaining - I was very grateful to be working on it in 60 degree weather, I assure you!
I've been meaning to get a swingset built for them for months now, but we've been slightly preoccupied with other things. One fine day about 2 months ago, when Steve was gone on a business trip, I decided that it was time to start - I was very weary of the kids whining about being bored with "nothing to do". Harrumpf. So I drew up some plans (I wanted a TALL swingset with lots of swinging capablity), went to the store and bought all the lumber, and got started. Silly me, I honestly thought I'd be able to get a lot of it done in one day with Hyrum to help me hold the posts steady. I dug the holes, got the posts all level, filled the holes, and got the wood ready to brace the center posts at the appropriate angles. Then darkness fell before I could brace the tall center posts.
And then Hurricane Sandy happened.
And then I discovered that my posts weren't in the ground deep enough because when the ground got waterlogged, they decided to lean. A lot.
So a few weeks later, with Steve to help me this time (and some very helpful advice from our neighbor), we dug up the posts and started again. This time we dug the holes 30 inches deep and added 4 additional posts (30 inches deep as well) for the angled boards to tie into, so there's no way that puppy is going to budge now!
It took 3 weekends, a few more trips to the store, and some help from our local missionary friends, but we finally got it to the functional stage.
And Hyrum is jumping for joy.
I guess I should impose a "no jumping out of the swing" rule, but look at that kid's face! I used to jump out of swings all the time as a girl = felt like I was flying. Good thing kids are flexible and resilient. :-)
Here are Reasons #2 and #3 that Christmas has come too quickly this year...
Last week the weather was AMAZINGLY perfect for refinishing furniture, and these diamonds-in-the-rough had been waiting patiently for over 6 months for just such a time. Being so close to the coast, I've discovered, means lots of breeze and wind...which can be wonderful in the summer but is a lousy climate for refinishing furniture. But last Monday was different. There was NO wind, it was warm but not too humid, and so I pulled the Carpe Diem and went to work.
After spending hours sanding all the grime, waxy buildup, and sticky paper from dresser #1 (dresser #2 was less work, but still needed sanding), I sprayed grey primer on them and then 2 coats of satin grey spray paint. Once I had them back in the house I brushed 2 coats of a homemade mix of Martha Stewart metallic paint in Thundercloud + an asphaltum glaze + black paint on each dresser.
The result was a dark, lustrous, gorgeous finish with a rich but subtle sheen that looked exactly like polished hematite. But it was a bit too dark and I wanted to accentuate the carved details in the woodwork, so then I very carefully applied and wiped off a silver glaze (also Martha's, as seen on the left of the paint photo) in the carvings and along all the edges.
The dresser above had a million intentionally-inflicted small distress marks from the original factory finish, which I didn't even notice until I primed the entire thing. I debated whether or not to spend the time filling and sanding all of them, I opted not to but now I think I probably should have. The metallic paint really highlights all of the miniature dents, which you can probably see on the drawer fronts. Oops. It actually looks a lot better in real life - the dents don't scream out like they do in the photo.
The silver glaze was a very time-consuming process (5 hours for the 2 dressers) because I had to make sure I wiped every last bit of glaze off the flat planes (without wiping it out of the grooves and along the edges) of the wood with a damp rag because any leftover glaze would have left an uneven silvery sheen and it would have ruined the hematite look.
I also took all the original hardware, scrubbed off the waxy gunk, and dabbed 2 light coats of silver glaze with a t-shirt scrap onto all the surfaces. The result is more of a patina than a paint layer, which I love.
So here are my silver hematite beauties side by side (they really are the same color, but one is closer to the window), a practical nod to the Hollywood Regency style that I love but don't have the budget or the lifestyle to embrace completely. Mirrored finishes and lucite coffee tables are pretty, but expensive - not to mention easily damaged! My 2 dressers cost me a whopping $125 together (thanks to Craigslist in DC) and all the paint was another $40 or $50.
When we finish remodeling, there will be a fireplace centered on that wall and the dressers will flank it on either side - so their stylistic differences won't be quite so apparent. And the walls will be painted grey. Can't wait to see it all come together!
Here we have Reason #4 for falling behind. This barrister bookcase used to be dark brown, but I wanted it to be white in its new location by the kitchen table.
This is how it used to look when it resided in our office. Some of the glass doors had been damaged, and there were lots of dings from our move.
I painted the entire thing white, distressed the edges, then cut out cardboard and wrapped it with fabric to cover the grooves from the missing glass cover thingy on the top shelf. Plus I just love how the fabric backing looks in general, and I would have done it even if I weren't trying to hide grooves! :-)
I created a mercury glass mirrored finish on the glass by spritzing the backs of the glass with water, then spraying Krylon Mirror spray paint in several thin layers on top of the water droplets. Wherever the water drops were, the paint didn't stick so it created that mercury look. This photo is just showing the reflection of the floor, so it's impossible to see the silvery finish - I'll have to get better pictures later.
In November I sanded and painted our kitchen table, just before Thanksgiving. It had one of those Queen Anne high gloss cherry finishes, so I had to spend a LOT of time with Mr. Sander getting all the gloss off.
Terrible picture, again my apologies...I promise I'll have better ones when I'm all done decorating for Christmas.
I used Annie Sloan's chalk paint in Paris Grey for this piece (2 coats). Then I sanded it down to a smooth finish (the trouble with that paint are the inevitable brush strokes) and distressed through to the old wood color in places. I really like using distressed finishes because it makes me much less paranoid about damaging my furniture. Any new damage tends to blend in...and for a kitchen table with 3 young kids in the house, damage is not a matter of IF, but WHEN.
I then put 5 coats of Minwax Polyurethane on it for good measure. I used a small foam roller for super smooth surfaces, it worked out better than a brush would have...although using a sprayer would have been the best tool. Don't have one of those though, so the roller was the next best thing.
That table was another DC Craigslist bargain, I think I paid $70 for it. I have another leaf for it too (not pictured) so it can be REALLY long = perfect for parties and get-togethers!
So there you have it, folks...5 big reasons why I haven't been blogging and why I'm STILL not done with my decorations, let alone making all the gifts I have planned! Hmmm...too bad humans need sleep, cuz I sure could use several extra hours in my days. I'm hoping to have my big Christmas post up and running by next week - wish me luck, and Merry Christmas to you all!