Kitchen Table Redo: Part Two and a Half

Painting Day Two

Note to self, when purchasing expensive, somewhat destructive, materials for projects, do not leave them where your cat can find them. Professor Farnsworth (pictured below) found the polycrylic protective finish sitting on the end table in the living room yesterday. It sat there for three days next to a vase and a glass candle holder, which he never disturbs by the way, before he discovered it. You know what he did once he found it? He decided it was better off on the floor...

Doesn't he just look so peaceful and
sweet? Most of the time he is, but
 sometimes he just down right awful.
Yep! That is polycrylic on my hardwood floor!

It could have been much worse. My husband was home when Farns found and knocked it off the table and was able to clean it up without any damage. Which is a good thing too, because we rent and I cannot imagine how horrified our landlord would be if he saw this. I think am beginning to understand why ridiculously high pet deposits exist...

As for the table project, I did not get nearly as much done on day two as I would have hoped. This is due in large part to my being a bit under the weather recently. I even stayed home from work and slept in until 11am! But my illness did not keep me from attempting to work on the table, although it did put a huge damper on my productivity.

I set the painting mood with music and tea, and got to work, expecting to spend a few hours painting. Alas, the being up and moving around did not bode well with my sick body and I was exhausted after about 30 minutes, which is when I decided to call it quits and take a nap. In that 30 minutes, I was only able to paint one coat on two more chairs, leaving me with three more chairs to paint and 7 pieces of furniture to paint a second coat on. *sigh*

I expect to finish the painting process Saturday and begin the many layers of polycrylic on Sunday. I do, however, have to make a run to Home Depot first, because half of the can of polycrylic ended up on my floor. Silly cat, paint is for humans.

Kitchen Table Redo: Part Two

Painting Process
This process is going to take a lot longer than I expected. I imagine it will take me three, maybe even four days, painting about 3 hours each day, to complete this step. Maybe I am reading the wrong blogs and living in a fantasy land, but I did not expect to be painting for three to four days. I expected to have the whole kitchen table redone in four days. Well, now that I have officially landed on planet Earth and understand how things work in this world, I can better plan my future projects. But for those of you like me, who are novices in this arena, maybe you can benefit from my mistakes.

Painting: Day One
After the day I had at work, I was very much looking forward to painting my dining room set. I made myself a cup of green tea, put my iPod on the speaker dock, blasted the music into my work space, and settled right into what I knew would be an afternoon of relaxation and painting. After two and a half hours, I had painted one coat on the entire table (I painted underneath, even though many other furniture makeover bloggers choose not to do this) and finished one coat on ONE chair before my hand started cramping, leaving me with five chairs and a second coat on all 7 pieces to do before I will finish the painting portion of this project.

It was at this point that I really realized the misconceptions I have had about painting furniture, and decided to stop for the day. Plus it was getting dark and my work space has very poor lighting. I spent the remaining minutes of daylight walking my puppy down the street, which she seemed to greatly appreciate after being ignored for the two and half hours I was painting.

I did, however, forget to take a picture of my progress today while there was some daylight left. And since my work space has awful lighting, the pictures I did take after nightfall are too dark to see the black table and chair clearly. The white chairs show up quite nicely though.
Progress on day one of painting.
In spite of not getting nearly as far as I would have hoped, I think today was very successful. I am also quite relaxed and that is certainly a plus.

Kitchen Table Redo: Part One

In December, my husband Doug and I gathered up our furry family and moved from a tiny 800 sq. ft. house into a much larger house. The transition has been an easy one and I was able to find good homes for all of our things in the new found space. However, there remains a great many things that we did not need or want at our previous residence, mostly do to lack of space, that are becoming obvious areas of home improvement. The new dining room is the most evident example and the most glaringly empty space in need of some help. Which is why I have chosen this as my first project.

The dining room as it currently is. Also meet Euler (left) and
Professor Farnsworth, or Farns for short (Right)
Since the move I have been scouring Craigslist for a cheap table and chairs. Yesterday I got lucky and finally found a table and six chairs.They are in terrible shape, which the prior owners attributed to their teenage daughter and her friends. There are many scratches on both the table and the chairs, two of the chairs are missing one of their back posts, and they are covered in paint and oil drops. With that said, the foundation is great and I have high hopes for what they will look like when I get finished with them.

My new table that is in need of some tender love and care.
One of the chairs that is missing a back post.

An example of the scratches.

I plan to post this project is three posts, and will post the entire project in tutorial form once it is complete. Here it goes.

And So It Begins:

After spending only about 30 minutes on Pinterest looking for a good tutorial or two to follow, I actually came across a couple that I thought really gave me the information I was looking for. First, I have always wanted an all black dining set, but was not really sure if it would turn out. Then I stumbled upon Pink Toes and Power Tools and got the inspiration I needed. Her dining room set is very similar to the one I just purchased and I was able to see how awesome it would be! Second, because I do not own a sander, nor do I see any need to purchase one, I decided to follow the advice of Bless This Mess and use the non-sanding approach to redoing furniture. I am very grateful for this, because let me tell you, sanding furniture is a pain in the arse. I helped my father redo his dresser last summer and I swore I would never do that part again.

So today Doug and I set out to purchase the necessary equipment at Home Depot. Since we did not have any of it, our purchase was a bit more expensive that I would have liked, but I can reuse all of it on future projects I have planned. The following was what we purchased based on Bless this Mess's tutorial and our specific needs.
  1. Zinsser Cover Stain Oil Based Primer - $9
  2. Two medium grit sanding blocks - $7
  3. Minwax water-based Polycrylic - $18
  4. Paint - $9
  5. Gorilla Wood Glue - $5
  6. Three paint brushes - $15
  7. Dust/paint fume masks - $3
Total $66

Again, this was a bit higher than anticipated, but we did not have any of the materials. When I begin my next project, however, the cost will not be nearly as high. Woot!

Next, Doug and I decided to dive right into the painting part of the project first, and worry about the two chairs that are missing their back posts later. We spent about an hour and a half lightly, and I mean very lightly, sanding the every inch of the table and all six chairs. This took a bit longer than expected because we had to clean up some of the scratches and paint droppings.

The table after the cover stain had been applied.
We then busted out the Zinsser Cover Stain. According to Bless this Mess and pretty much every other no sanding furniture redo project tutorial I came across, the cover stain allows you to paint furniture without sanding. It seems wonderful and I hope it works as well as everyone says!

It took about three more hours, with both of us painting, to do two coats of the Zinsser Cover Stain on the table and one coat on each of the six chairs. The cover stain goes on easily though and dries quickly too. So far, so good.

The table and six chairs with the cover stain.
They already look better.
I also discovered that I really enjoy painting. Those three hours were easy labor to me, probably because I found the painting to be relaxing. I think I was the only one though, Doug does not share my enthusiasm.

I think the table is off to a great start! They already look a ton better and I cannot wait to apply the black paint tomorrow!!

Wonderfully Amazing Vegetarian Tacos

Growing up tacos were probably one of my favorite meals. I have very fond memories revolving around the smell of the taco seasoning, the look and taste of melted cheese, and the texture of the crunchy tortillas, because my dad always cooked them too long.

As an adult and vegetarian of about 16 years, I still absolutely love tacos, but mine vary a great deal from the traditional tacos my mom and dad used to make. My husband and I have been perfecting the following recipe for the last couple of years. We never make them exactly the same way, but the basics are always there.
Vegetarian Tacos
Prep Time: 5-10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Serves: 2 people 

The ingredients, minus the taco seasoning.

  • 2 leaves Romaine lettuce
  • 1 tomato
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 small onion
  • 1/2 bell pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil (I used Annie's Naturals Roasted Garlic Olive Oil because my husband and I love garlic, it tastes amazing, and you can get a large bottle for pretty cheap at Costco)
  • A large handful of mushrooms
  • 1/2 of a 12oz package of soy ground beef (beefless beef)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of taco seasoning
  • 4 tortillas (I used a corn and wheat tortilla hybrid from Trader Joe's because my husband and I disagree over whether corn or wheat tortillas are best, heh)

Prepared tomatoes and lettuce
  1. Wash your veggies
  2. Prepare your tomato and lettuce for tacos - dice tomatoes and cut lettuce into squares or strips depending on preference
  3. Shred 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese (use more if you like a lot of a cheese)
  4. Cut the 1/2 onion and the 1/2 bell pepper into 1/2 inch size pieces and saute in the 1 1/2 teaspoons of olive oil in a medium sized pan for about 2-3 minutes on medium heat, until the onions begin to look translucent.
  5. Mince the mushrooms and add to the onion and bell pepper and cook for an additional 2 minutes
  6. Add the 1/2 package of the beefless beef and 1 1/2 teaspoons of taco seasoning and cook until warm, about 3-5 minutes on low heat - use low heat and use this time to heat the tortillas up while it cooks
  7. Heat a large pan over medium heat. Add one tortilla and heat for about 30 - 45 seconds and flip it over and heat for additional 30 seconds. Repeat for each of the 4 tortillas.
  8. Put your tacos together and ENJOY!

Caramelized Onions and Mushrooms Grilled Cheese

As a vegetarian living in a rural college town I find that it is virtually impossible to find a decent vegetarian meal at our local restaurants. That is not to say that most restaurants don't try, they do, but they usually do so by offering a grilled veggie and cheese sandwich. I am a connoisseur of grilled cheeses, so this particular trend does not bother me in the slightest. In fact, I am delighted when I see it on a menu. What does bother me is when the local restaurants decide it is a good idea to take the lonely vegetarian option away and replace it with a grilled meat and cheese variety. This happened to me just last month at the new pub in town, The Handlebar. They not only have a very limited vegetarian menu (consisting of literally beer and their fabulous beer cheese and pretzels), but they also had the nerve to offer a caramelized onion grilled cheese sandwich with BACON. And if you do not want bacon, guess what? You cannot have the caramelized onions either, because they are cooked together. *sigh*

Tonight as I was rummaging through my refrigerator trying to figure out what my husband and I were going to have for dinner, I realized that I had the perfect ingredients to make a vegetarian friendly caramelized onion grilled cheese sandwich. The following recipe is what I concocted. Enjoy.

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 35 minutes
Serves: 2 people

  • A large handful of mushrooms
  • Half of a small onion
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • Cheddar cheese
  • Swiss cheese
  • Butter
  • Four pieces of sourdough bread (I used multi grain sourdough because I think it tastes fabulous)


1.   Heat the teaspoon of olive oil in a small pan.
2.   Slice the mushrooms and the half onion (keep the onion slices on the larger side)
3.   Put the sliced mushrooms and onion in the pan with the olive oil and cook for about 30 minutes on low heat. Cook until the onions brown, turning every couple of minutes.

(They should look something like this, when they are done.)

4.   Assemble your grilled cheese sandwich, adding the cooked caramelized onions and mushrooms to the sandwich. (I put the caramelized onions and mushrooms between the cheeses because the melted cheese on both sides will help keep the onions and mushrooms from falling out while you are eating it.)
5.   Cook the grilled cheese sandwich.
6.   Heat some tomato soup.
7.   Enjoy!

Enjoy, I know I did!

Edit: Based on reader response, I have a couple of suggestions for those of you who do not like mushrooms, or as someone put it, think they are out to kill you.

  1. You could replace the mushrooms with bell pepper
  2. You could leave the mushroom out all together and add a tomato when you cook the grilled cheese
  3. OR, if you like mushrooms, you could choose to add the bell pepper and tomato and make an even tastier grilled cheese


Last week a co-worker emailed everyone in our office a brief and comical article on time management she discovered while researching for an upcoming training she is presenting in. As I always do with the non-essential emails I receive on a daily basis, I opted to "read it later." Well, today is when I finally got around to  reading the 420 words on how people tend to waste the precious hours of the day and still claim to be busy. It is amazing the effect that five very simple common sense phrases can have when grouped together:

1. You're not busier than everyone else.
2. Society has not conspired to give you less leisure time.
3. You do, in fact, do what is important to you.
4. You can't have it all.
5. The world will not slow down.

I often feel that I am busier than my friends; I believed, until today, that leisure time is something for the elderly; I frequently experience a lack of time to do what I feel is important (e.g. reading, crafting, volunteering, and spending time with family); I have been told my entire life that I could, actually, have it all; and sometimes, I do wish the world would slow down and allow me to catch up.

I feel as if my entire outlook on life has been turned upside down. Okay, that is an exaggeration, but I have been unable to stop calculating all the different ways that I waste my time, when I think I am managing it well.  In fact, on my way home from work today, I really thought about it and I waste about 8 hours a week doing things like sitting on Pinterest pinning a great many wonderful projects and ideas to different boards, but never actually attempting any of them. Or, I tend to take a nap when I am tired, instead of going for a walk or playing with my puppy. Obviously, sometimes a nap is just what the doctor ordered, but more often than not, exercise would be more helpful and productive.

So to combat my masterful ability to waste time while trying to be productive, I have decided to share my creative antics and attempts at DIY projects with the larger blogging world. I should also mention that starting a blog has been on my radar for a couple years now, but I have always found that I was just too busy.