Tuesday, June 24, 2014

From Table Top to Wall Art

You might remember last year when I painted this table. I picked it up at the Salvation Army around ten years ago for thirty bucks. My son and I used it for a school table until he went to high school and then it was relegated to the back porch. I then slapped an ugly coat of red paint on it, decided that was hideous and covered it up with a table cloth.

The table seemed like it would be useful, but the truth is we just never ate out on our porch. The table was wobbly from having been taken apart and put back together so many times, the chairs were the wrong height, so while it looked charming it wasn't practical. Time for change (get it?). Here's a recap of the table redo. Here's the link if you want the details: Time To Update a Table.

Here's the "table's" new function--being awesome. And yes I have looked at clock kits to make it a functional timepiece but it's a bit thicker than the ones I've found so far.

Oh! And the bottom of the table got a new life as a pedestal for a statue on the porch. There's no rule that says you have to use pieces the way they were intended.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Checking Out Strano Sicilian Kitchen

I think a new restaurant qualifies as a fresh start and a great one just opened up in one of my favorite areas of Memphis, Cooper Young. How would my paleo diet hold up there?

Strano Sicilian Kitchen has only been open a few weeks and is already all the rave among locals. A full bar, excellent wine list, and authentic Sicilian cuisine combine with a sleek Italian vibe and live music for an atmosphere that will have you sitting around the table with friends remarking "Isn't this a lot like when we were in Italy?"

My husband, daughter, and son in law were keen to see what I could find on the menu to suit my paleo needs. I'll admit the basket of freshly baked bread that arrived along with flavored oil for dipping (you get to choose from several flavors) were pretty and tempting. My dinner companions assured me I was missing the best thing ever.

The paleo conscious eater will be glad to know that all the meat and poultry is grass fed, farm raised, with access to fresh air and sunshine.   They are also supporting sustainable, local, and urban gardening. Check out their list of local vendors here.

I went with the Rosemarie’s Sicilian Salad: baby arugula tossed with house brined olives, tomatoes, roasted walnuts, bacon crisps, garlic Montagio cheese with a house balsamic vinaigrette.  It was perfectly fresh and delicious.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Tennessee Back Porch Living

This spring has been all about outdoor living. We have had a lot of rain but it also didn't get hot quite as early as usual here in the south so when I haven't been working on indoor projects I've been outside. Last week's little triumph was that I gave away this metal cabinet to a friend. It had been useful for over 2 decades on my back porch to store extra paper towels or party supplies. But since my goal is less of everything that means needing fewer places to put stuff. So out it went. I dragged it away from the wall and took a pic to post on Facebook. If you have things you don't need and someone else might post a pic and give it away to a friend who will come and get it! It's a win/win.

Look how everything opened up without that giant cabinet!

There's something about having an outdoor space. It lends itself to conversation and book reading. It's also a perfect place to watch bees, chickens, and dogs. Nothing beats it on those long awaited rains after too many dry hot summer days...

A porch is easily decorated with yard sale and thrift store finds. A cozy cottage look is easy to achieve with random pieces.

And on the patio adjacent to the porch there is now morning coffee in the swing and meditation.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

How the Half Windsor Became My Dad's Best Gift to Me

The best gift my dad ever gave me was teaching me to tie a half Windsor, but I couldn't have known it at the time. 

It was several years ago and the night of my son's first high school dance. As luck would have it my husband was out of town so I was in charge of helping him get ready for his big night. He hung out around the house all day and around 5:00 casually said that he should probably take a shower. I imagined the frenzy that had been going on all day at the girl's house and laughed. I'd pressed his clothes already and after he was dressed he came downstairs to borrow one of his dad's ties. He stood in front of the full length mirror and studied himself. He held up the tie he'd chosen. After years of wearing nothing but t-shirts the moment had come when he had to put on a coat and tie.

 "Mom, do you know how to tie a tie?"

I stopped in the doorway and time stood still.

I heard my dad's voice. "Let me teach you how to tie a tie."

I stepped into the room where my son stood and said "Let me tell you the story of how I know how to do this."

I adjusted the tie around his collar. "This is the half Windsor knot. " Start with the wide end of the tie on your right and extending a foot before the narrow end. 

"I was just your age and I was getting ready for church on a Sunday morning. As I passed my parents' bedroom my dad said 'Hey come here a minute."

"I'm trying to get ready!"

"I know but I want to show you how to tie a tie."

Cross wide end over narrow and turn back underneath.

 I said "I'm a girl. Why do I need to know how to tie a tie?"

 Bring it up and turn it down through the loop, Pass the wide in from the front, from the left and to the right.

"Because someday you are going to have a son and you will need to teach him how."

"Won't my husband do that?"

"What if he isn't around for some reason?"

 Then, end up through the loop, and put it down through the knot in the front, tighten the knot carefully and draw it up to the collar.

"And here we are. I know how to help you because my dad imagined a moment just like this."

"Wow. You never told me that."

I realized I had forgotten it completely until this evening. How like my father to teach me something I'd need long after he was gone. Teaching someone something is a way of reaching into the future.

I straightened my son's tie and stood back to notice how tall he had gotten the year before. How much like his grandfather he looked. I tamped down emotion and smoothed over freshly unearthed pain.

"Thanks, Mom."

I smiled at the son I'm so proud of and wished my dad was here to see this moment. My son is so like him in looks and personality. They would have loved each other so. I hate that they missed each other in time.

"Thanks, Dad." I whispered to myself as I left the room. I silently marveled at what had just happened. Through whatever means; premonition, fatherly foresight, dumb luck...my father had managed to show up just at the moment I needed him and be part of a special event for his grandson.

Thanks again, Dad. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Updating a Kitchen Island in an Afternoon

In the last two weeks I have painted the bathroom, stairs, hallway, and kitchen. I've got the living room and dining room in my sights so I'll be sharing about those makeovers next month. My favorite project this week (and there were several) was my island make over. I built this island by myself a few years back, out of stock cabinets from Lowe's. I bolted them together, trimmed them out (don't judge me you real life carpenters), painted and added hardware. I used a black piece of granite (I didn't put that on myself because I'd never have been able to lift it) because I didn't want it to match the counter tops. Plus that way I could save a ton of money by picking up a remnant.

Here's the before. I kind of had a thing for yellow.

Those saddle style bar stools are from Ikea and were useful but it was definitely time for an upgrade.

 The first thing I did for this project was remove the corner trim on the other side where I wanted to put bead board. I pried it off carefully so I could reuse it.

 I painted the front and sides. While it was drying I measured and cut the bead board for the side that faces my front door. I nearly cut off my thumb in the process. Here's a tip: wear gloves. Just basically all the time. I'm impatient and sometimes think "I could be done with this by the time I find my gloves and put them on." I know you thought I learned that during the black widow spider crisis of 2012. Nope.

When the bleeding stopped I attached the bead board. So worth a little blood. This bead board was left over from the bathroom ceiling. I try to use up every single thing I have around here!

I reattached the trim at the corners and painted. I love the new black and white look so much!

 I had to wait a week for the new bar stools to arrive but it was worth it. I love them. There are pricier versions around but I found this pair on Amazon for $77.00 plus shipping. You can find them at Target for around the same price if you catch them on sale. And they come in cool colors like apple green and construction yellow. I was totally tempted by the yellow...

Oh wait! There needs to be some trim at the bottom!

That's better! I was about to buy some trim and noticed my neighbors had cleaned out a shed and thrown a bunch of stuff out. Guess what was in the pile! Yep. All kinds of molding.

Earlier in the week I shared with you about the dingy stairs and their redemption. Here's the finished product.

Next time I'll share what happened in the rest of the kitchen.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Spring Projects: Bathroom Ceiling and Stairs

I was having so much fun during Project Week that I took a little selfie.  I'm happiest when I'm covered with dirt in the garden or paint in the house.

Last year I redecorated our cluttered and tired bedroom into a calm retreat of blue and white.

 The bathroom followed but was plagued with ceiling problems.  Here's a tip: don't do a plaster ceiling in a bathroom. After years of dealing with crumbling plaster and repairs, I solved the problem by having bead board installed. Here's the result prior to painting:

Several years ago when I removed the carpet from the stairs and painted them I thought polyurethane would only yellow in direct sunlight. Wrong. The risers yellowed almost immediately and I've been trying to get to this project ever since. I took this pic about halfway through so you could see the difference. They now make some fabulous non yellowing polys so check those out before you commit. I'm just leaving these as is since as empty nesters there is a LOT less wear and tear on them. 

 I went all out with the white. I've been painting using Valspar High Hide White and Bright White. My house is situated in such a way that it gets very little direct sunlight so I'm making the most of what there is. If you had a home with lots of natural light these might be a bit blinding so be careful.

Later in the week I'll be sharing a couple of other projects and revealing the finished results of these two.

I love the smell of fresh paint in the morning.