it's christmas

hello everyone,

This is just a quick note to say...
(or whichever winter holiday your family celebrates this time of year)

I hope you feel very blessed and enjoy time surrounded by family and friends.
If I could share a cup of cinnamon tea or glass of eggnog with each of you, I would! 

Thank you for reading this year -- I really appreciate you
spending time on my little corner of the "interwebs". 
Best wishes for 2014!



refinished shelf aka "the tetanus game"

first off...wedding countdown = 37 days!!!

I finally completed a fairly easy furniture refinishing project I've been procrastinating on for a while. Proof that there's nothing like an impending wedding and husband moving in to make you get your act together.

Looking back almost 4 years, I was a bright-eyed college grad, independent in her first solo apartment and zero furniture. Certainly no decent furniture. As such, I got most of what I'm still using either on Craigslist, at yard sales, or cheap at Walmart and Target --enter the dreaded $30 bookshelf. Don't get me wrong, they're inexpensive, easy to assemble, and will hold just about anything...except their weight in books. Behold IKEAs best kept secret: chipboard furniture is ultimately just garbage. Especially when poorly organized and unattractive like the one shown to the right (which has definitely *not* resided in my living room for 2+ years). Please note the obvious warping under the weight of the Chronicles of Mr. Potter.

To remedy this decorative and bibliophile tragedy, I sought out a vintage piece to do the job -- because solid modern furniture is too pricey, naturally. I found a beauty at a local showroom and bartered the seller down from $45 to $20 because of the serious damage to the back panel. You can't completely tell from the pictures but all those darker spots are thinned almost-holes and the entire bottom of the back panel wasn't even attached anymore.

So, to restore it back to its former glory, I started by measuring the existing back panel and taking that info down to (you guessed it) Lowe's. A friendly employee in the lumber department taught me a fun new term..."lauan" plywood which is a decoratively finished plywood, thin and easy to use for non-weight-bearing projects like the back of a bookshelf. The more you know! So I snagged a big ole' piece for $8 and after a bit of consulting on how to cut it down to the right size, I headed home. 

Lauan is so thin, you can actually just cut it with a sharp x-acto knife so I sat in the floor with a ruler and got to work. Following his instructions, I scored each cut several times then bent the unwanted pieces back until they snapped off. I lightly sanded the edges then stained the entire panel with a *thankfully* matching can of stain I already had.
If you've never wood stained anything before, it is one of the easiest tricks in the book, especially when starting with natural unfinished wood. Just use a foam brush like shown and paint it in long, even strokes. I usually go back and add a spotted second coat to certain areas to darken the stain and make it less uniform. Dry overnight before moving on.

I didn't take any photos of the next part, but while my new panel was drying, I stripped the old panel off the back of the bookshelf. It came off pretty easily once I got a corner loose and peeled away from the nails in long strips and made a giant mess all over the place. Word of warning - be careful when peeling, the strips are extremely sharp and a little unpredictable. Next I pulled up a chair and used a hammer and needle-nose pliers to get all the nails out of the shelf where the back panel had been. This, I have coined "The Tetanus Game" because with nails that small and rusty, every one you pull out without it going into your hand is a winner. I managed to extract every one, probably 25 in all. (And no tetanus, in case you were wondering - I consider myself the current Tetanus Game Champion.)

From there, it was easy peasy. I laid the bookshelf face down and attached the new panel with wood glue and stacks of books (irony, no?). While the wood glue was drying, I worked my way around the whole shelf, using small nails to secure the panel. Stand 'er up and let 'er dry. Voila - old shelf, new life. And by glorious accident, I realized that the bottom shelf is tall enough for awkwardly sized cookbooks that finally have a new home.
Much improved, in my opinion! Scroll up and check that first pic for a comparison shot. Sidenote- the stool is a temporary placeholder until Strider moves in and his small, dark wood end table may find a home there with coasters for couch guests. I'm so pleased! 

On an unrelated note - a slightly warped chipboard bookshelf is looking for a new home and open to inquiries.


operation dress-pickup!

Well, according to Target.com's wedding registry page, there are only 45 days till the wedding!

And though the picture is awful, can I get a "woot woot" for my dress coming in a full week early?! 

Mom and I drove out to pick it up today and took it straight to the alterations guy. 
I'm feeling very blessed and breathing deeply knowing that it is within driving distance.

Just for fun, check out this short & sweet article on the #staymarried blog about actor Tom Hanks and his 25-year marriage to Rita Wilson. For all the terrible marriage role models in Hollywood, they get major props. And I love what he says about her, "That woman has loved me skinny, she's loved me fat. She's loved me bald, she's loved me hairy. That woman, I know, she loves me. So I'm a lucky man."

Strider and I may just be at the beginning, but I'm feeling pretty lucky too!