writing desk redo

One day my employer told us that the furniture in this one office was up for grabs, and because I believe in hoarding furniture whenever possible I ran upstairs to take a look. It’s a law firm that has been around awhile, so there is a lot of old furniture sitting around, including this old writing desk, which I grabbed because it suited my plans for a new but cheap home bar area. I’ve been collecting pictures on Pinterest of bar carts and wine racks and figured I could use it in those plans. It’s not 100% ideal, but it was free, so good enough!

The table had a green leather top that appeared to be ruined – I considered stripping the leather off and replacing it, but then when I looked up the cost leather samples, cutting tools, etc., it seemed like a lot of work and money for a free table.  Then I looked into some examples where people used milk paint on the entire piece of furniture – I guess the milk paint sticks pretty well to leather, according to the internet people who may or may not be reliable, but I wasn’t sure and I am not ready to try using milk paint just yet.  After a little more research I found this video online of a redo of an ottoman with Fiebings Leather Products.  I gotta tell ya, they may want to consider editing that bad boy. It’s ten solid minutes of wet and wild leather refinishing fun. However, despite the fact that I know how to fast forward I did watch the whole damn thing and proceeded to purchase their products on Amazon.  You won this round, Fiebings.

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The drawer in the table was cracked and a little gross looking.  Ideally at some point we will be putting some bar accessories in this (wine stoppers, swizzle sticks, a weird looking miniature cocktail whisk that I didn’t know I needed until I saw it but then needed it desperately so now I have it and am thrilled, etc.), so I wanted to somehow get that functioning and a little bit cleaner.

IMG_5695I sanded the desk a little and filled in some of the larger divots on the top, drawer front, and legs.  Then I used those Fiebings products to do my best to clean up that nasty leather top.  The first step was to apply some coats of “leather deglazer” as the video suggests.  I will have you know that it would behoove you to click directly on the link I have provided above, instead of doing what I did, which was to forget exactly what the stuff was called after watching that awesome Fiebings video, and Googling “leather stripper”.  The results I got were interesting, but they sure weren’t gonna get me anywhere near fixing that writing desk.

I also got Fiebings Leather Dye in Black and the Acrylic Resolene Dye Top Finish.  After deglazing the top, adding a few coats of the leather dye with a paintbrush, a day’s dry time and several coats of the resolene, the top looked a million times better! It’s not perfect but that’s okay – way better than I anticipated it would look.

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I also found these Mission Style Satin Nickel Ring Pulls on ATG Stores.com for only $4.73 each, with free shipping. I had not heard of ATG Stores but I was impressed – apparently Lowe’s owns it and there is free shipping and the prices are great and the selection is huge. Good deal.

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We had some leftover paint that we used to paint our Ikea patio furniture a few years ago (you can see that in the background) – it is a dark grey color.  Before I did that I liquid nailed a sheet of wood to the bottom of the drawer and clamped it together to dry.  So far, that appears to keeping the split drawer bottom together and it’s much more stable – we shall see. Then I used a layer of Minwax Special Walnut stain on the inside of the drawer.  I was then going to do a coat of Rustoleum Ultimate Wood Stain in Weathered Gray on top, but it is pretty opaque, so I mixed it with the Special Walnut and did a second coat.  I finished it off with a coat of Wipe-On Poly.  It is now smooth and shiny and pretty and something that isn’t gross to touch.

So that’s where we’re at – we have a few more things to do to fully execute the home mini bar area…come back later for that!

oh, hey there, fun times….

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Where have I been??? Lots of places – mostly work. LOTS of work. Lots of snow, lots of wedding plans, and so on.  My husband and I got married in April. I am sure when I have the energy I will post 100 pics going on and on about everything we did in Napa :)

Above you will find the cutest creature on the planet, enjoying a moment out on the balcony with the greenery in the background…yeah I am super excited for the leaves to be back on the trees. Oh, how I have missed it!

Back to the wedding – my husband and I eloped (the knot.com psycho bitches would chime in right about her to school me on the fact that elope, in fact, is defined as running off IN SECRET to marry your spouse against a family’s wishes….) in Napa, California on April 17, 2014, and stayed there a few more days for our honeymoon.  If we did a full wedding our plan was going to be to get married on November 1, 2014, which would’ve been great because it’s a Saturday and it’s our fifth anniversary, but we opted for the eloping route and couldn’t wait to get the hell out of Cincinnati after such a long winter.

I’ve noticed that life really is a bitch in the winter.  I mean, i LOVE the snow, I really do, and couldn’t live without it, but man!  Spring time is party after party – Cinci de Mayo, the Flying Pig marathon in Cinci, Party in the Park, Derby Day, great weather for finally getting outside….then summer comes.  You lay poolside day after day, go to more nonstop events, not to mention camping, canoeing, catching up on books that you can’t find time to read anywhere but near the pool…then comes fall…wearing scarves and blazers seems so novel and fun….Halloween…Thanksgiving…Christmas….New Year’s Eve….parties!! decorating!! eating delicious food and drinking delicious drinks!! Happy fun time abound!! WOOOOOO!!!!! Happiness everywhere!!!

Then, it happens. Literally, you wake up on January 1 with the worst hangover of your life, crying and clutching the toilet and screaming at your significant other, “WHY DID I DO THIS TO MYSELF?!?!” and that marks the beginning of four solid months of sitting on the couch, sleeping 12 hours a night, becoming deficient on Vitamin D, barely seeing a soul, and just generally feeling like reruns of Curb Your Enthusiasm on HBO Go are the best thing you’ve got in your life.  (That all isn’t what happened to me, I am just using it as a for instance……).  This is called January 1st through April 30th, and it’s brutal. Even the happiest person feels like a trapped, anxious little creature by the end of April – at least in these parts…I have no idea what the assholes in Florida and Hawaii are doing during this time….

So yeah, that’s all over and I am pretty pumped about it! HAPPY MAY! HAPPY SPRING! HAPPY SUMMER! buy a bathing suit and a fresh bottle of sunscreen!  load up on moisture-wicking fabrics from Lululemon, and book every weekend for fun times!

goodbye, 2013….

Hello!  I can’t believe that it will be 2014 tomorrow.  This year flew by but when I look back at one year ago, it feels like 3 years ago.  Every year at this time people spend time reflecting on their past year and contemplating the future and so, of course, that’s what I am doing. In short, this year was wonderful and everything I hoped for. I had a really hard time for a long time, and 2012 was downright horrible.  I lost pets, had a car wreck, had to cram a full time law school schedule into a part time one, among so many other things. The highlight of 2012 was getting my dog Ella, but other than that, it was a tough year. This day a year ago I thought, “good riddance, 2012…you sucked…” and also felt an enormous amount of uncertainty and fear before the bar exam.

The earliest post I had in 2013 was here. One day in January after lunch with my boyfriend I sat in his car right outside my office…crying and telling him how enormously fearful I was.  I told him if I don’t pass the bar exam, I could miss opportunities for jobs…I could have to retake it and spend many months more studying, sinking deeper into the exhaustion and edginess I felt, and not moving on with my life….I told him that I just felt this enormous burden because it was all up to me to make this year either an awesome one or another really bad one. I basically had about five very exhausting years and I just wanted it to be over.

I still stop and pinch myself every day now that normalcy has returned. I passed the bar exam…got a job, which has been going great…lost 17 of the 25 pounds I gained in law school…took a vacation, did tons of fun things with friends, got to enjoy my holidays for the first time in years, and got engaged to my boyfriend.  This year was very, very good to me!

I AM very sad the holidays are coming to an end.  Basically from October until now I was fully immersed in them and had a great time.  I started taking my Christmas decor down last night.  To get over that post-holiday sadness, I am thinking about what I’d like to do this winter.  I am really hoping for a VERY snowy winter. I’d like to go snowboarding again…I haven’t gone since January, 2008.  I am also looking forward to the Winter Olympics.  I have this inexplicable obsession with both the summer and winter olympics.  For two glorious weeks I let all my free time outside of work be consumed by televised sporting events.  Whether it’s skiing, iceskating, curling, whatever, I am glued to the TV.  In 2012 after my dog died, I had two weeks of nightly class, but then when it finally ended, I picked up my new puppy Ella…and the next day the Summer Olympics began.  In 2012, after all I had been going through, getting my new dog and playing with her every night while watching the olympics was the first time in many months I felt happy and at ease.

Other than hoping for lots of snow and watching the olympics I really don’t have much planned for this winter.  It might be good to slow down for awhile.

Anyway, I hope you have a great 2014.  Happy New Year!

 

 

 

 

Christmas decor pt. 3 ~ Stockings

 

 

 

I needed somewhere to put our stockings that looked good and could support the weight, since the stocking hooks on the shelf would not hold up when the stockings had anything in them.

I saw a commercial for 3M Command hooks, which made me wonder why I hadn’t thought of that myself a long time ago – I use those things all the time! So, I headed to Target and got three of them for about $4.50 each.  Done!

They no longer sell the monogram stockings I got at Target for my boyfriend and me, but I wanted a stocking for our doggie, Ella.

Luckily last week Pottery Barn was having a free shipping/free monogramming sale on some stockings, so I got her this Channel Quilted Velvet Stocking.

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Christmas decor, pt. 2 – Living Room decor

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some of these pics are from before I moves the stockings to a new place.

I have a bunch of my grandmother’s old Christmas cards from as long ago as the late 1930’s, so I put a couple of those in frames on the shelf.  I had real cedar garland last year, which I loved, but I don’t think “real” greenery is my thing.  I think you’re supposed to keep that stuff watered (somehow) so mine got SUPER dried out very quick, and for fear of it being a fire hazard I took it down before Christmas even arrived.  It made a huge mess and was a pain to get in garbage bags.  I left a trail of browned greenery all the way down the hall and in the elevator!

SO this year I just bought cheap garland at michael’s – $6 for 18 feet…bought two strands and doubled them up with a 100-light strand over the sliding door, and took one 18 foot strand and folded it in half and wound it with lights for the 6 ft. shelf. Much easier, cheap, and I can reuse them.  It doesn’t look quote as pretty as the cedar garland looked when I first hung it, but it’ll do.

I also made some name tags.  I found the “Let There Be Peace on Earth” free downloadable name tags here, and then made the National Lampoon Christmas vacation ones myself.  That is my favorite movie, so I wanted some funny ones, too :)

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Christmas decor, pt. 1 ~ “NOEL” banner

Hello everyone! I hope your holiday season has been carrying on merrily.  We have these target stocking hooks that we put on our shelf/mantle every year, but unfortunately, they don’t really seem to hold any weight.  They work fine for empty stockings, but if you try to put anything in the stockings, they flip right off the shelf.  No good.  Anyway, I came up with another spot to hang the stockings, but I figured the hooks would work perfectly for hanging a banner on the shelf.

I enjoyed making my Thanksgiving banner, and with all the crafty materials I had laying around, including a lot of leftover twine from the last banner, I figured I’d try my hand at a christmas banner.  I might try something more involved in the coming Christmases, but for this year I thought I’d start with something short and simple – “NOEL”.  We also got a printer recently, so instead of stenciling letters, I took a much easier route…I made the banner on Adobe Illustrator and printed them on card stock.

(Sidenote:  Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator can be prohibitively expensive, at several hundred dollars a piece, but once you learn how to use them they are seemingly invaluable.  Luckily now you can get these programs and a bunch of others for a monthly subscription rate rather than paying the full amour for creative suite which is like, a couple thousand bucks….totally worth it in my opinion!).

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I didn’t want the outline to show through so I did a mirror image of the text.  I chose Gill Sans Ultra Bold as my font – I was trying to keep it simple with some thick, block letter text.

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My cutting mat is nowhere to be found so I used a stack of newspaper.  I cut out the letters with an X-acto knife.  Scissors would work, too, but the X-acto knife is MUCH easier.  BAM – there you have it…NOEL! :)

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Then, yes, I cannot seem to get away from glitter – I decided to try my hand at glitter once again.  I sprayed each letter with spray adhesive, let the adhesive get tacky for exactly 2 minutes, and then i covered the letter with glitter.  I tapped the bottom of the tray all over the place until the letter was evenly coated with glitter.  DO NOT touch it! It will totally make it smudged and horrible looking.  I learned this the hard way.

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After they dried, I flipped the letters over on some newspaper and lined them evenly with the twine.

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Then, I took a glue gun and put glue around the entirely of the twine to hold it on…

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IMG_3417There you have it!! I think the letters could use some dimension, and maybe next year I will do a different word/words, different font, or add some extra layers or other trim, but for now, this is a good first try! :)

Thanksgiving decor, pt. 2 & Friendsgiving 2013

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!  Ok we’ve got a few more days but I got my Thanksgiving started early when we had our first “Friendsgiving” yesterday.  It was a great time.  I think it’s the first time we really had a party at this apartment.  We got to break in our new Ikea table, eat lots of food, play games, and hold a very high-stakes pie contest.

I completed my Thanksgiving decorating prior to Friendsgiving.  First we made and hung the Thanksgiving banner, and then I decorated the “mantle” (i.e. floating shelf over the TV), and table, and some other areas. I got these turkey salt and pepper shakers on sale at Michael’s for a couple dollars.  We certainly did not need any more salt and pepper shakers, and the print was sort of obnoxious, so I decided to cover them in…something.

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Against my good judgment, I decided to cover the first one in gold glitter. As always, that was a messy and frustrating disaster.  I continued down that path until it was all the way covered, but decided to NOT USE GLITTER EVER AGAIN after that (ok, I have said that many times and I cant seem to dump glitter completely, except for all over myself). IMG_3215

I had this gold nail polish I got for free in something, so I decided to cover the second turkey in that.  MUCH better. It took a couple minutes, no mess, and I also think it looks better. Lesson learned.

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Much to my delight, I found two of these concrete Smith and Hawken turkeys at Target in the clearance section for $6 each.  They would be perfect for the table! IMG_3250

I sprayed them with a flat paint to brighten them up a little bit, and then decided to try my hand at gold leaf. I don’t know if it’s because gold leafing is difficult, or because gold leafing an uneven concrete surface is difficult, but I got as far as gold leafing the beaks and gave the hell up. Good enough!

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Then I went to Trader Joe’s where I had previously obtained a whole lot of small pumpkins for my Halloween decor.  Unfortunately, finding pumpkins AFTER halloween is no easy task.  All they had left were some medium-sized “tiger” pumpkins that were cream colored and striped with either green or orange…not exactly matching my decor.  I got some high gloss white spray paint and painted them all and put them in the hurricane. tada!

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The next thing I did was decorate the shelf over our TV.  I also decorated this shelf for Halloween a month earlier. I was kind of at a loss as to what to do, and honestly I have no idea what I am doing with artificial/dried flowers/plants. Michael’s was having a 70% off sale on the fall-themed dried and artificial flowers by late October, so I grabbed a few in yellow, orange, and purple colors and figured I would figure something out.  I also got a 5′ strand of battery operated “Starry String Lights” in amber from Restoration Hardware.  Don’t you just love these?! I may get more in the silver color for Christmas.

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I also held on to a few of my Halloween Trader Joe’s pumpkins that were still in ok shape, got a roll of burlap at Michael’s, put some stuff in my apothecary jars and also added the painting I did at Cheers to Art recently.  Do you have a place like this in your city? Basically you and a bunch of your friends go paint a painting according to step-by-step instructions by someone while you drink wine. What a great idea.  Anyway, so the colors sort of matched the decor so I threw it in there, too.

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I am really loving burlap as a “trend” right now.  It’s neutral and cheap and you can use it for a million different things.

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IMG_6951The other day I was wandering around Ikea and saw these little square fall-colored Fyrkantig candles and candleholders at Ikea. 
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I also loved these Thanksgiving Printables from TomKat Studio.  I have Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop, so I made my own “Happy Thanksgiving” sign similar to the one they have available, and bought some super-cheap 3- and 4-packs of plastic frames at Big Lots.  IMG_6955 IMG_6960

Much of what I found to decorate the table and the buffet table, just like everything else, was decided based on what I already had and what was cheap and/or on sale at places like Michael’s, Big Lots, Home Goods, Ikea and Target. I just wanted everything to have the black, white, gold, silver, purple, orange and golden yellow colors that I put on the shelf.

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I found these great serving ware dishes at Big Lots for I think maybe $9 each, and three 4-packs of the white placemats for $6 a set.  I also found this burlap runner at Michael’s – a few yards for less than $10…I could cut it to the length of the table and it actually fits, versus all the table runners I found which were upwards of $40, $50+ and not even remotely long enough for the table. NO THANKS! I found the napkin rings and napkins at Homegoods, and got a bread basket at Ikea and used some black and white kitchen towels from Target that I’ve had for a couple years and haven’t ever used for anything.

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I made a couple different deviled eggs recipes and they were pretty good. I got these deviled eggs with goat cheese and proscuitto recipe from Food and Wine magazine (also available online), but took out the sour cornichons.  I got the Paula Deen’s loaded deviled eggs recipe here.  I also got the apples on horseback recipe from Food and Wine (here).  They were really good and super easy! I wrapped 16 slices of Manchego cheese/Fuji apple with panchetta, stuck them on some metal skewers, sprayed some foil with cooking oil and grilled them on the grill for a few minutes on each side.  I wanted appetizers that you could make without using the stove or oven since my boyfriend was busy with the turkey and other things…they were so easy and very good! I took them off the skewers and stuck them with toothpicks.  I got the roasted garlic and rosemary pumpkin hummus recipe here.   I made more labels, also inspired by the TomKat Studio post.

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I got a crockpot mulled cider recipe here.  It was so good and smelled even better! I also found this cute Pilgrim Rum picture online and swapped it out for the Bacardi Gold label…I didn’t want to make the cider alcoholic, so if somebody wanted it to be, they could just add as much rum as they wanted…and had cinnamon sticks as the stirs. :)

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And finally, I bought a couple chargers and a few candles at Michael’s and decorated them with some leftover twine.  My boyfriend really likes to go all out with things (for better or for worse, haha!) so his turkey was no exception.  We got a fresh turkey from the local Tewes Farm and did a dry brine on it for two days.  Then he wrapped it in bacon on Friday night and slow-roasted it at about 225 degrees for over 12 hours.  He had to get up every few hours to baste it.

IMG_3352If you can’t tell from these pics, it definitely turned out delicious. The only problem was that with the bacon fat in the turkey drippings, the homemade gravy didn’t really turn out. It tasted good, but the consistency was sort of clumpy.  When we make the turkey again on Thanksgiving for my family, we’re not doing the bacon!

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Last but not least, we held out First Annual Friendsgiving Pie-Off.  There were five entries.  I attempted to make some gluten-free, low carb “crustless pumpkin pies” in cupcake cups…Ugh! Haha.  I don’t recommend it (not that I thought they’d turn out great).

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We got this medal online for $5 with free engraving, plus shipping. Not bad!! IMG_3293 IMG_6981

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Overall it was really fun.  We are looking forward to doing it all again next year! :)