Wednesday, October 19, 2011

DIY Chalkpaint Part Deux: Unsanded Grout Mix

I’ve been enjoying my original batch of plaster of paris based DIY chalk paint so much that it’s taken me a lot longer than I thought it would to get around to trying other methods.Finally, last Tuesday something possessed me to attack a little table I picked up at a church rummage sale a few weeks ago. 
Why now, when I could’ve instead opted to finish one or even two of the several other projects that are near completion?
Beats the heck out of me!
Here’s the before. 

Good bones, but plenty of gooey, filthy ooook on the top.  And because the picture above really doesn't do its stomach-turning nastiness justice:  
All together now ....  Ewwwwwww!!!

I scrubbed it down with some TSP and sanded the top...easy peasy because the finish was flaking off if you so much as looked at it crossways.  I was planning to do another dark stained top and creamy painted legs combo. Apparently, that’s my default “look”.
There were a few white spots on the legs that I thought I should sand off, just in case they were something that would screw with paint adhesion, so I hit those with the sandpaper, too. 

That’s when I realized that the legs had been painted brown. Ugh, am I the only one who’d like to put out a Public Service Announcement warning the general populace of the aesthetic dangers of brown paint on furniture??  No wonder this poor little table looked so dull and lifeless!
Anyway, once the paint started coming off the legs, I kind of started loving the look of the wood underneath…especially in the spots where a little of the paint was left behind. So next thing I know, my plan has been turned on its head…instead of dark/creamy I’m thinking super-distressed white top and chippy / natural legs.
Now, y’all know I am not a measurer.  I just poured the unsanded grout into the remains of the same Valspar oops cream color that I used on my first DIY chalkpaint table, until I felt like I had reached something in the neighborhood of the recommended 2 Tbs / 1 cup ratio.  I again added a little water because this mixture was super-thick, super-lumpy, and super hard to stir. 
I loved the way it went onto my table top.  Even after adding water and stirring till my shoulder nearly dislocated, there were definitely flecks of grit, but they brushed right out.  It was like magic, so cool!  The mixture had a nice feel on the brush, and best of all the bright white grout allowed the true, rich creamy color of the paint to shine through.  My one gripe about my plaster of paris mix is that it tends to change the tone of the base paint a little – it makes it look a little cooler, probably because the plaster of paris seems to have a subtle gray tinge.
I didn’t worry about getting even coverage, since I knew I was going to be sanding a LOT of the paint back off.  I was impressed, though, with how easily the paint dry brushed, and yet how thoroughly it covered when I left my brush loaded.  Once I sanded most of the paint off the top, I waxed the whole table with Johnson’s clear followed by a sparse application of light brown Briwax on the top.  Normally I’m not a huge fan of the light brown wax because I think it usually makes pieces look dirty, rather than the antiqued look that the dark wax lends.  But in this case I think just a smidge of light brown was just right.
Part of me wants is tempted to go back and paint the legs solid white with minimal distressing.  What would you do??

Or maybe sand the legs a wee bit more?

I was pretty happy with the final look, and with the way the paint performed as well.
But then I got a little cocky with it.  I have an awful dark brown laminate storage drawer thingie I bought several years ago as an emergency solution for the overflow of toys into the dining room, and I thought that it, too, would be a good candidate to test my new DIY chalkpaint formula.  Especially since I’m not using it in the dining room anymore, haha.  After all, my plaster of paris mixture handled cheap laminate with ease, and I honestly thought by the “feel” of it that the unsanded grout would adhere even better.

First of all, my experience was that the longer you leave the unsanded grout paint mix exposed to air, the grittier and lumpier it gets. (I painted the laminate right after I finished painting the table top.  Maybe 15-20 minutes air exposure tops??) I stirred like crazy and even added a little more water, but probably should have added more because at this point the grit simply refused to brush out.  And then woe of woes, once it was dry and I hit the grit with some 220 sandpaper, that paint peeled right up.  I sanded, recoated, and tried again a few days later and same result. 

Black & white because my camera put a yellow tint on this pic (taken at night) and I wouldn't want some silly discoloration to detract from your enjoyment of the awful lumpy grit.
Bummer, dudes.
Even though I’m disappointed with that outcome, I will still keep the grout paint in my arsenal.  For one thing, I still have about 1/3 of a quart left, and it’d have to be really awful for me to waste that much paint!  I was very happy with the way the paint performed on my raw wood table top, and I am hopeful that adding a bit more water will help with the grit. Even though technically, yes, I could also use regular old latex on raw wood, I think it dry brushed AND covered better than latex, and it definitely looked more aged than straight latex.  I’ll have to see how it does on unsanded wood, but I suspect it should be fine -- I’ll just make sure I stick to my plaster of paris mix on those rare occasions that I paint fake wood!
Up next – gesso mix, thanks to Friday’s lunchtime jaunt to the art supply place near my workplace!  Not sure what I’m going to paint, (alas, that’s what I’d intended  the Highway Telephone Stand for), although maybe I’ll try it on the awful dark brown laminate cabinet’s drawers just to see what happens …and who knows, maybe I’ll even go a little crazy and measure the gesso or something…all in the name of science, ya know!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Thrift Score Weekend Part 2: Aunt Ardelia’s Mirror and Thrift FAIL

When last I left you, my faithful readers, it was early afternoon on last Saturday and I had just returned home with some yard/estate sale scores that included beautiful milk glass, stinky upholstery, an outdoor sofa frame, and killer boots.  I did make it home before my self-imposed 12pm curfew (at about 11:59, hehehe), since I didn’t want to delay Hubs’ departure for Florida.
The kids were unabashedly anxious for Hubs to hit the road, since I’d promised them I’d take them out for lunch after daddy left.  Sweet Pea told him “I’m just waiting for you to go, Dad, so I can get some lunch!”  Once he was gone (finally, right Sweet Pea?!) we headed out to lunch at a place that requires us to pass one of my FAVorite thrift stores.  To my credit, I didn’t even think about seriously consider stopping, since I was feeling tapped out from my morning haul.  But then on the way home from lunch, Sweet Pea asked me if we could please go to the “grape” store, and the Little Dude immediately chimed in with, “Grape store, grape store!”.
Y’all, I was so proud.  My babies ASKED to go to the thrift store. I could shed a tear.
As for why it’s the “grape” store -- the store is called Blessingdale’s and features a bunch of grapes on a vine in the logo, as they support a charitable organization called The Living Vine Christian Maternity Home.  They have a few different locations and my favorite is the one in the somewhat seedy looking strip mall on the industrial side of town.  It looks like it would be grody but it is fabulous!  The children like it there because they have a separate room for children’s items, and no one gets huffy if the kids want to actually touch a toy or book. (Sadly, the same cannot be said for most of our local Goodwill stores). 

The kids picked out a cute wind up helicopter, while I found a vintage sheet set, fall clothes for Sweet Pea (buy 1 get 1 free!), and some 10 cent votives perfect for crafty projects brewing in the back of my mind. And, 3 child-size wooden chairs! I was very excited about this find, since I’ve been contemplating doing something like this:
(Photo from Sassy Sanctuary.  I’ve seen lots of these but I especially love her version.)
And no, we really don’t have room for it at our house, but I am powerless to resist the urge to create something so freakin-adorable, and well, Craigslist has been pretty good to us so far. I already have a table on-hand, and wanted to be able to list a couple of appropriately-sized chairs along with it.
The rest of the evening we spent hanging out at home, working practically every puzzle my son owns (he is obsessed and I think pretty advanced for a 4 yr old, he can put together puzzles with 200+ pieces with minimal assistance from us), decorating for Halloween (more on that later!), and snuggling on the couch to watch America’s Funniest Videos (they love that show and I love hearing them laugh uncontrollably).
The next day was rainy and yucky, but it did stay dry long enough in the late afternoon for us to meet friends to play at beautiful Forsyth Park and catch part of the Folk Music Festival. 
One the way home the kids were begging to stop at McDonald’s…ummm, not really what I had in mind guys, plus it’s not even time for dinner yet.  Sweet Pea pipes up and says “But if we go to the giveaway store for a little while, we could go to McDonald’s for supper after that.”  The giveaway store is her name for Goodwill, coined from once upon a time when we would primarily visit Goodwill to give stuff away, without even bringing more stuff home. (Can you imagine that?!!??) The great negotiator – does she know how to work a deal or what?
So, into Goodwill we went.  I didn’t mind taking them to this one, since the staff at that particular location tends to be less huffy than others.  Almost right away we found this cool old mirror in the Miscellaneous section:
Thanks to the horrid glare and reflection of Hubs' work truck, you can't see the awesome age spots on the mirrors.  No time to re-shoot as we had company arriving literally as I was snapping this one.
Normally we head straight for the back where the furniture and big items are located, but remember, I was officially out of the market for any more furniture or big stuff.  So we took our time and browsed around. 
And then we sauntered to the back and I saw it. O.M.G.
When I was a little girl, I used to spend a lot of time at my Great Great Aunt Ardelia’s house, while the rest of the family was at my uncle’s high school football games.  I have fond memories of eating snacks and listening to the game on the radio with her, and cheering together when they would say my uncle’s name or number (44!).  Ardelia was my great-grandmother’s sister, and they were just as close as two sisters could be…people often thought they were twins.  Here’s a picture of the two of them at my wedding in 2002, aren’t they adorable?
That's my great-grandmother, Nora, on the left; Great Great Aunt Ardelia on the right
Anyway, Ardelia’s house was decorated to the max.  She had the most fabulous blue and green mod wallpaper in her kitchen.  Clocks (all chiming at a slightly different time!) and fancy little knick knacks were everywhere.  I remember she liked intricate designs and gold tones…in quantity!  She had 3 gold velvet sofas that were so deep and slippery you’d inevitably plunge right into the crevasse between the cushions and back.  And over one of those sofas she had a triple oval mirror just like this one.
Don't you love how it's reflecting no less than 3 other works in progress in that 1 corner of the Garaj Mahal?
It faced another mirror on the opposite wall, so the overall reflective effect was positively mesmerizing. I’m not sure what happened to her mirror after she passed away in 2005, but I like to pretend think that somehow, someway, it made its way from Virginia all the way down to a Goodwill in Pooler, Georgia, just so I could find it.
To make the find even sweeter, about the same time as I laid myself across the mirror to stake my claim on it, the intercom announced 50% off all furniture items.  Score!!
So naturally, once a staffer had validated my claim on the mirror, I took another cruise around the furniture section to see what else might catch my eye.  No, I didn’t need anything, but 50% off furniture days are a rare opportunity not to be squandered!  I finally decided that for $5 I could find space for a darling little wooden telephone stand that only needed a fresh coat of paint.
By the time we checked out and headed around back for our furniture pick-up, it had started drizzling again.  A worker dude helped me load my items in the truck, and started telling me about a little telephone stand that he’s had for years but has no use for.  As he was describing it I realized he was talking about a gossip bench.  Before I could stop myself I blurted out, “A gossip bench? Oh my goodness, I’d love to find one of those!”
Next thing you know, his sweet self was offering to give me his bench.  I wasn’t sure how I felt about that, and I certainly wasn’t going to go look at it or pick it up without Hubs in tow, but he was insistent that I should write down his address.  So, I walked back around to the front of the truck, jotted down his address and directions on the back of a receipt, and jumped back in the truck.  I was getting soaked, and starting to get concerned about the stuff in my uncovered truck bed.
So, I fired up the Dodge, whipped through the parking lot and up the slight incline at the intersection to the main road.  Let me go ahead and note here that there were several cars behind me at the light.  The light turned green, I made my left turn onto the highway and I hear “Thu-Thu-Thu-Thu-THUMMMMMP!!!!!”  What the….????
I look in the rearview mirror and see my telephone stand lying in the middle of the highway.  Because in my distraction with Mr. Sweet Self Worker Dude, I had neglected to put the tailgate of the truck up.
As quickly but carefully as I could, I made another left into a parking lot, stopped the truck, put up the tailgate and headed back the way I’d come.  In the rearview mirror I had seen a blue truck stopped in the vicinity of my telephone stand and I was just praying that it hadn’t had some kind of accident because of me and my scatterbrained carelessness.  I travelled the few feet back down the road and realized that both the truck and telephone stand were gone! 
All I can figure is that the blue truck capitalized on my dumb-a$$ery and hauled home a perfectly sweet telephone stand (aside from some very recent dings and scratches, I assume).  I was a little dumbfounded, but I figured that was better than other outcomes that could possibly have occurred.
I am thankful, so thankful, that no one got hurt because of my carelessness.
I am thankful that no one’s vehicle was damaged, and there were no cops around to give me a big fat ticket for this little bit of negligence, and that apparently the stand found a new home rather than smashing into pieces on the roadway.  I am thankful that somehow, miraculously, my Aunt Ardelia mirror stayed right where I’d put it (that is one heavy mirror!).
But this I must ask you….if you were stopped at a red light, in a parking lot no less, behind someone who had a truckload of stuff and they didn’t have their tailgate up and clearly, obviously, these items weren’t strapped in somehow…wouldn’t you jump out and make sure that person knew?  Believe me, I would have been grateful for a tap on the window and a “Hey, dumba$$, did you know your tailgate’s down?” 
What kind of world are we living in that no one cares enough when some dumb-a$$ is about to make a stupid, stupid mistake to try and help them avoid it?
OK. I’m over it.  Plus when I got home I found $5 in the washing machine, so it’s like the universe even gave me a refund on my stupidity.
As for Aunt Ardelia’s mirror – it’s still hanging out in the Garaj Mahal, waiting for a wee little makeover.  I’m torn between trying out my Rub & Buff on it, or spraying it white.  And no, I have NOWHERE in mind to put this mirror.  Yikes is it heavy, and a little wobbly if you don’t pick it up just right.  (I unloaded it by myself and for a second or two I feared I was about to have a whole ‘nother fail on my hands.)  It’s going to take 3 people to hang it when I do find a place for it. But I couldn’t, just absolutely could not, leave it behind.
Closeup of detail

Now that I think about it, maybe I’m leaning toward leaving it at least somewhat gold. 
After all, that’s just the way Aunt Ardelia liked it!!!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Thrift Score Weekend Part 1: Thrift WINS

I was not planning any major thrifting this weekend.  Believe me when I say that I am ALLLLLL stocked up on projects for a good while, and Hubs was busy with preparations for an overnight jaunt to visit a friend in FL.  Still, there were a couple of sales that sounded intriguing, including an Estate Sale (my fave!) that promised lots of vintage items, and a garage sale that promised  free art/building materials (even better!).  What can I say, I am a sucker for free, so I figured I’d spend a couple of hours on the prowl and be back in plenty of time to take over child care duty so Hubs could hit the road.
Note – usually I take the children with me when I go to yard sales.  OK, OK – fine, I usually take the “Sweet” well-behaved child when I can pry her away from Saturday morning cartoons, and take both of them when I must.  But as a general rule, I do not take children to Estate sales because that typically means nothing entertaining for them to peruse and too many breakables for their grabby little hands to destroy.  Hence the reason that I was flying solo on this particular Saturday.
Little did I know that my weekend was going to bring some of my favorite thrift finds EVER!  And of course I have so much to say about all this thrifty goodness that I’ve decided I’d better divide this into 2 separate posts.
The Estate Sale house was packed with people AND stuff.  Aside from some cool vintage goodies, there were many handmade and customized pieces of wood furniture.  Prices were a little high for me, plus everything was so nice that there was no need for me to “rescue” anything, so I didn’t come out with any of those neat wooden items, but for $2 I did find this cutie:

It’s currently hanging on the outside fence for a little rain and sun action, since it smelled like … you know what, nevermind what it smelled like, because I’d like us continue with the illusion that I am a really nice person, and I don’t want to go there, ok?!  And yes, I took this photo while the quilt was actually hanging outside in the the, 5 minutes ago. Because I'm a slacker and didn't take the photo in the beautiful Saturday sunshine when I should've. (It's ok, you can totally judge me.)
As I was making my way to the line to hand over my 2 bucks for the baby skunk quilt (ya know, cute but stinky!), I spied this on the giant table of breakables:

I promise you it was not there the first time I walked by, and I may or may not have let out an audible gasp as I snatched it up before one of the other vultures patrons could so much as look at it the wrong way.  I am convinced it was my reward for persevering through the claustrophobic rooms packed with pushy people (ugh). I love it so much I even cleared out the “ugly” corner of my kitchen counter to make a home for it, and for me to deal with *that* fright zone is really saying something! (Although you will note that I haven't managed to find an alternate home for the charging cord snaking behind it and it's totally harshing on my milk glass buzz.  It's ok, though, because cord, your day is comin'!)
Then I headed over to the “free” sale, saw some ok stuff, nothing that really immediately caught my eye.  But wait, what is this? An outdoor iron sofa with no cushions?  Hmmm, Sweet Pea was really getting a kick out of the fancy outdoor sofas we saw on the upper balconies of the houses on the river last weekend…and I did promise her that someday we’d have an outside couch of our own…although sadly not on the upper balcony of a scenic waterfront home. 
One of the Isle of Hope houses I like, similar to the sofa'd bacony ones. 

Maybe I could even still find some cushions on clearance like the ones I saw at Lowes?  But wait, what’s this?  The FREE pile!  With a couple of outdoor cushions in it!  And scrap wood and old wood and tile and carpet squares?!  Score!!!  So for $20 this came home with me (can you see through the random junk backdrop? I'll do a better before pic when its transformation is imminent):
We seem to have achieved the white trash outdoor sofa look rather than the stately waterfront home outdoor sofa look.  Hmmm. Want to change this by spring!!!
I also came home with some of the free scrap wood, carpet squares for painting on, and some huge terracotta pots that have been begging me nonstop for this paint & graphics treatment, a la Heaven's Walk:
(Patience, girls, patience…there are but so many hours in the day!)

And, the cushions…oh, the cushions.  I actually found 4 total…2 outdoor and 2 that look like they might have come from a 90’s era denim loveseat.  And they smelled like they had been stored in that grody, creepy, Savannah cellar for the last decade.  Think moisture, lots of moisture…and maybe some cats.  Eeewwww. They are bad, but not so bad that I didn’t think they were worth throwing in the *back* of the truck and bringing home for free. I remembered Rebecca at You Are {Talking} Too Much telling us about how she dealt with some nasty cushions, and I thought it was worth a shot.  They, too, are hanging around outside letting the rain and sun work their magic…I hope. 
Cute cushion...too bad you can't smell it!

Cute and enthusiastic cushion-squisher. He didn't smell too great by this point, either!!

And then…do you ever have one of those thrifting moments where it’s like the find of the day was just calling you…leading you to where you needed to be to be united like the kindred spirits you are? 
Surely it can’t be just me???
So anyway, on the way home I was kind of zoned out, probably already daydreaming about what color I was going to paint my cushion-less, white-trash knock-off of a fancy river-mansion outdoor sofa, when I realized I’d accidentally auto-piloted my way toward my son’s daycare instead of taking the more direct route home.  Long story short, this takes me past a mega-yard-sale right off the side of the road, and I spy milk glass.  Powerless to resist, I pulled in to take a look.  Nothing I wanted in the milk glass pile, but I browsed around for a few minutes to be polite.  And then I turned around and saw them.  I’m pretty sure they leaped out from underneath a pile of strewn-about clothing just to fling themselves in my line of sight:

What, don’t  tell me you don’t get this excited about boots?
And not just any boots, but kick-a$$, perfectly worn leather Durango engineer’s boots in exactly Hubs’s size? 

I mean yeah, it would have been cool to find some in ~my~ size, but it is possible that I might already have a, um, few pairs, while my poor deprived husband had to, gasp, ~borrow~ boots to wear in my mom’s Western themed wedding last year.  I mean, really, what kind of wife am I to allow that to happen? Who cares if he’s more of a Vans guy than a boots guy? He knows I think engineer’s boots are the pinnacle of hot, HOTTTT manliness as far as footwear goes, so I’m sure he’ll find them worth wearing every now and again (wink, wink)!
And the best part? I figured I was about to hand over some double-digit cash for these babies, but when I asked how much for the boots the lady said, “Boots?”  (See, I told you, it’s like they fell from the sky just for me! She didn’t even know she ~had~ boots for sale!) “Oh, I don’t know, $5?” I said, “OK!” and she goes, “Tell you what, give me $4.”  Four dollars?! ! I think I might have skipped all the way back to the truck.
And so, arriving home with a few minutes to spare before wishing Hubs a fond fare-thee-well, this concludes part 1 of our mini-series on this weekends thrifty WINS.  Be sure and stay tuned for part 2, and the story of Great Aunt Ardelia’s mirror and a thrifty FAIL!
How about you guys?  Have you ever experienced divine thrift intervention, as I did with the boots? Or brought home items so smelly you couldn’t even bring them in the house? And does anyone care to guess the nature of my FAIL?!

Sunday, October 2, 2011

This Weekend Whooped My *** !

As I mentioned in my last post, I had a busy few days.  My best friend came from Atlanta to hang out for the weekend, and we definitely worked as hard as we could to cram in as much fun as possible.  And of course, Thursday evening was spent clearing up the furniture hoarding / project working / guest apartment space in anticipation of her arrival!

Friday evening we headed out to Tybee Island for a beautiful night spent on the back deck of the North Beach Grill.  We ate some fabulous popcorn crawfish, indulged in a beverage, or few, and laughed until our sides cried out for mercy.

 Oh, and I can't forget our main reason for driving out to the island -- listening to these guys, my most favorite local band:

On Saturday we hit a couple of yard sales too late to score any good stuff (I blame you, Train Wrecks! and maybe the margaritas, too!), and my favorite thrift store. No big ticket items at the thrift, just some cool vintage fabric and other craft supplies. Then we went home, packed up the cooler, loaded up the boat (well, hubs did that part, and I should note that of COURSE our boat is vintage, a 50'something Glaspar that hubs resurrected years ago after it was given to him for free because it was in such bad condition), and headed out on the Skidaway River for the rest of the day.  Temps have finally cooled so it was a perfect day to be out riding around for hours.

We made it home just in time for fried shrimp and oysters from the best little seafood market in the area.  If you ever find yourself in Savannah, don't be suckered into going to a certain famous foodie's brother's seafood restaurant, come find this place me on this!

Once the kids went to bed, we fired up the Netflix to watch The Wild and Wonderful Whites of West Virginia. Wow is all I can say about that one! I grew up in far southwest Virginia, so the familiarity was both entertaining and disturbing.

Today we spent as follows:

Salivating over the merch at 37th at Abercorn (too rich for my blood, though!):

Walking around downtown, including Shop Scad, where we enjoyed perusing the wares for sale by the local art college's students and alumni, and I drooled over this Vanessa Boulton bag:

Eating lunch at the historic Pirate's House, which first opened as a seafarers' inn in 1753, became a notorious pirates' hangout, and earned mention in Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island:

And meeting the hubs and kids for some family fun at Oktoberfest / First Weekend down on River Street...of which I sadly have no photos to share at the moment.

I accomplished not one single "productive" thing except hanging out with my bestie and I loved every minute of it...but I am definitely whooped!!!!