August 31, 2011

Oak Table Makeover

A quick break from the CHAIRS!  I wanted to show you the table I also re-did so I can do the big reveal all in one day!

This oak pedestal table was one of the first furniture purchases my mom made when she was about my age.  It was in her first apartment and transitioned to our home where I ate off of it as a little girl.  Since the last move, the table has been in my parents garage, waiting for its next home!

When I began the inital search for a table, I told my mom I was planning to search Craigslist and some other local spots in DC.  Immediately she thought of the table!  I knew with a little TLC the old table would look perfect with my old chairs.

The top was removed.  I am planning on stripping and staining the top at a later date.

I painted two coats of Annie Sloan's Old Ochre.  Remember to lightly sand between coats and afterwards for a smooth finish in preparation for the wax!

I very lightly distressed the legs using 150 grit sandpaper.

The table originally had metal wheels on the bottom of each leg.  I removed those and replaced them with wooden feet to add a little height.

Resourceful tip: These "table feet" are actually decorative fence post finials.  They had another rounded piece attached where the bottoms look flat now.  I used a hand saw to cut the rounded top off, leaving a flat bottom.  Kern hammered/screwed the new feet into the holes on the bottom where the metal castors had been.

August 30, 2011

Chair Re-do: Waxing

Once the chairs were painted, it was time to get artistic and wax them.  The wax coating not only seals in the paint and provides a professional finish, but it also allows you to alter the color and truly give your furniture that personal, hand painted touch.

I'm thrilled to share my first Furniture making VIDEO with you today!  Understanding the concept of waxing can be difficult from photos only, so I made a short video to aid in explaining the process.  Below the video, please note my step by steps instructions with the photos.

If you want some tips from real pros, I would also watch Shaunna's Waxing Tutorial from Perfectly Imperfect and Miss Mustard's Waxing Video.  These ladies are awesome!  I watched these videos multiple times before my first attempt.

Step 1: Lightly sand your piece so that the surface is smooth and remove any excess dust with a damp cloth

Step 2: Apply a thin coat of clear wax followed immediately by dark wax.
Note: if you wish to use clear wax only, the process is faster.  More details on clear wax coating coming soon with the re-do of a table.

Step 3: Go back over the area with clear wax to lighten and help smooth out any globs or rough patches left by the dark wax

Step 4: After the wax dries for 24 hours, use steel wool to gently buff each area, leaving a smooth and professional finish!  Use this opportunity to make the final color as light or as dark as you wish.

Here are some tips I found helpful along the way:

*I have a separate wax brush for clear wax and dark wax so that I can switch between the two quickly
*Wax a small area at a time.  The initial layer or clear should still be tacky when you apply the dark
*Have a rag nearby to wipe away any large globs of wax that get left behind
*If you accidentally get too much dark wax, don't panic!  Quickly apply some clear and buff the area with a cloth!
*Take good care of your brushes!  I found that vegetable oil actually cleans my wax brushes better than soap and water.

Kern made a "Brush Dryer" for me by manipulating an old coat hanger so I could loop the brushes through and let them hang dry outside.

August 29, 2011

Old Ochre Chair Re-do: Paint

Remember these chairs that I traveled to Virginia to purchase from a woman off Craigslist?

I owe a big thanks to Kern and his cousin Elliott for letting me store (and work on) my project at their house.  As with most projects, re-doing the chairs took me longer than I initially planned.

Kern unscrewed the chair bottoms.

The next step was painting the chairs.  I did two coats of Annie Sloan's Old Ochre.  
Remember, with Chalk Paint, you do not have to sand or prime!

I used a sponge brush on some hard to reach areas.

Tune in tomorrow for a tutorial on waxing furniture!

August 25, 2011

Rain Rain Go Away...Hunter Boots come to me today!

Today was my first day to walk into work in the pouring rain since I sold my car.  I hadn't really considered what  it might be like to walk on "bad weather" days since I was so used to hopping in Patty on days such as these.  Five minutes into my commute, my feet (adorned with trusty chacos) were completely drenched and so were my legs from the knees down.

It got me thinking that I might need to invest in some good rain boots.  What about these lovely Hunter Wellies? They are billed as "The Original wellington for Women."

They come in so many colors!  Which one would you pick?
 And bonus: you can purchase fleece liners for them!  Perfect for trudging through the snow that is sure to come this winter.

Now off to find that money tree growing somewhere in my backyard...

Hope your day is going "Wellie!"

August 14, 2011

Congratulations to Mary Mitchell and Will!

Mary Mitchell and Will got married at First Pres and had a beautiful reception at the Old Capitol Inn.  It was fun to have two DC (and Mississippi) friends tie the knot in my hometown.

The homily charged the couple to always "look up" and remember that their ultimate happiness and fulfillment was in God--and not in each other.  The pastor acknowledged that there would be times of ease and great joy, but also times where the dishes are piled up in the sink and the dogs are could hear a collective chuckle from all of the married couples in the congregation who knew all too well what he was talking about!  

There was a "T" on the floor!

My cute parents dancing up a storm!

My Little Sis, Ann Kirk.  Even though we lives thousands of miles away we always find a time to see each other!

Carolyn's first trip to Mississippi 

Lee and me

The beautiful bride and my dear friend Carolyn

Photo finishes courtesy of instagram

August 13, 2011

Welcome Home!

I got to Mississippi last night and will be here for the next TEN days.  I'm really looking forward to a DC sabbatical, even if it is the hottest month of the year!

These beautiful hanging flower baskets are on the door of my parents' house.  I was about to ask my mom where she bought them...until I realized that she made them herself!

I love hydrangeas and the mix of colors along with the greenery were the perfect summer statement for the front door.

There's no place like home!

August 11, 2011

Summer Reading: My Life in France

I'll be spending the next 10 days in Mississippi so naturally I needed a good summer read for my travels and lazy evenings spent relaxing.  A budding Franocphile, I have had Julia Child's memoir, My Life in France, for a month or so and been very excited about reading it.

I also have a bad habit of ordering books off  When I see a book (especially hardcover) on sale for $.01, I feel compelled to purchase it!  Lately I've been dreaming of France and decided I would love to know more about Julia's acclimation to Paris. 

The book I purchased for $.01 (yes, one penny) was an old cast off from the New York Public Library.

I adore the markings and stamp.  I can't help but wonder: what other kindred spirits have enjoyed this book?

What's on your summer reading list?

August 09, 2011

Christian Contentment

"Christian contentment is that sweet, inward, quiet, gracious frame of spirit, which freely submits to and delights in God's wise and fatherly disposal in every condition."

My mom sent me this quote on Sunday and I have been pondering it in light of last weekend's events.  It is easy to think, "Oh certainly whatever God sends my way must be of course I will "freely submit" and "delight in" each situation."  Once I knew that my car was beyond repair, I felt a strange sense of calmness.  Instead of being flooded with negative thoughts, I began to list the positive aspects of my situation: no insurance payments, more exercise with walking, thankfulness that I have a bike.  (Not to mention the fact that my mechanic bought the car, saving me the hassle of towing it again and finding someone to purchase it).  For about the past month, I had made a decision on my own to start walking more and leaving my car at home on purpose--a new habit that has made the transition easier.  And of course, Kern's willingness to drive me places such as the grocery store, church and out to Virginia to babysit, can certainly be listed as my greatest blessing.

Christian contentment should permeate every aspect of life--from the most seemingly insignificant details in the day to day grind to anchoring life in the most difficult times, such as sickness and death--and everywhere in between.  The good news is that no problem is too small or too large for God--he cares about each one of our needs.  As a result, we should feel free to bring our worries and troubles to Him and expect to be soothed by spending time with Him by reading the Bible and praying.

It is often in our weakest moments that we are the most strong and our light shines the brightest to others.  As Paul says in II Corinthians 12:10, "For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Make it a point to spend time with God this week--no matter how busy you are.  It will refresh and recharge you and make you able to be there for others.

August 07, 2011

When Plans don't go as planned...

Several months ago, Kern and I had planned to enjoy a weekend in the mountains at Wintergreen, Virginia with my cousins Carolyn and David.  As multiple heat waves have passed through Washington this summer, I was getting more and more excited at the idea of wearing a long sleeved shirt in the evenings and relaxing in the shade on a hiking trail.  We took time off work on Friday and set out with hopes to beat the rush hour/weekend traffic traveling south.  As some people may know, Patty, my 1999 Honda Accord, has been battling terminal transmission problems.  But she's been fine.  I mean really...a Honda can go to 200K miles, right?  A few miles (35 to be exact) outside of Washington, on Lee Highway, Patty breathed her last breath...and...we were barely able to roll to the shoulder of the road.

As we waited (over 2 hours) for a tow truck to take us back into the city, I whipped out my paper and pen and did the only thing I knew to do that would keep me from crying--write.  As I sat there, I had plenty of time to ponder my situation and actually began to see the blessings in the events of the day.  Although our vacation was cancelled, my car was kapootz and it felt like we had wasted a vacation day, I had the distinct sense that God was involved and in charge in every aspect.

In reality, we all make plans that get changed through no direct power of our own.  It's not always a situation as radical as having your car's transmission fail on the highway, but it's often smaller scenarios that frustrate us just as much.  The way we practice handling the small situations determines how we will cope when something major goes awry.  

I'd like to share with you a few pointers on how to handle a situation that does not go as you planned.

1.  Don't panic.  Kern repeats these two words to me multiple times per week in situations ranging from cooking to painting citing that, "It never improves the situation."  I did not realize how dire the car situation was initially because Kern remained so calm as the transmission failed.  He changed the car into third gear and carefully guided us onto the shoulder.

2. Be thankful.  Initially I was so upset about my car that I did not take time to sit back and thank God for the obvious blessings that were in front of me!  For starters: no one was hurt, Kern was driving (not me), we were only going about 50mph when the car failed (not 70 or 80), and two very kind Virginia State Troopers stopped to help us.

Kern and his new Trooper buddy discussed everything from guns to football while I moped and took pictures of Patty.
 3. Recognize that God's plans are not always our plans. When I called Carolyn to tell her we would be unable to make the weekend trip, I was so sad.  However, I knew that it was the right (and obvious) decision and I had to accept that this was the reality.  Consider this excerpt from Jesus Calling:

"Understanding will never bring you Peace.  That's why I have instructed you to trust in Me, not in your understanding.  Human beings have a voracious appetite for trying to figure things out, in order to gain a sense of mastery over their lives.  But the world presents you with an endless series of problems.  As soon as you master one set, another pops up to challenge you.  The relief you had anticipated is short lived.  Soon your mind is searching for understanding (mastery) instead of seeking Me (your Master).

My peace is not an elusive goal, hidden at the center of some complicated maze.  Actually you are always enveloped in Peace, which is inherent in My Presence."

If I had my way, Patty would last another 5 years!
 4. Plan.  Don't let your emotions overwhelm you.  We called a tow truck.  We called Kern's dad for advice.  I called ahead to my service station in DC because I knew they would close before we got back into the city.  I made preparations for Patty to be housed overnight.

5.  Try to laugh.  We broke down next to Ted's Tack Shack.  Perfect--a place that sells saddles.  All I needed was a horse to get me back to DC!

Ted's: I didn't see any horses, but I'm sure they had lovely saddles!
6.  Recognize that is OK to be sad.  I felt silly for being so sad, but then I realized that I have driven Patty since high school and she has given me many wonderful memories.  Not to mention the thought of walking and taking the metro everywhere the heat and enough to make any gal sad!

The story has an interesting ending.  I got a call the next morning from my mechanic.  He told me that the transmission (and one or two other things) were gone on the car and I could expect the repairs to cost about $3,200.  He then offered to buy Patty.  He said that his son was going to college and that it would not be as expensive for him to fix it (minus the cost of labor from that $3,200).  Kern and I walked to the service station with my car title and after a few minutes of haggling (you'll have to ask Kern how this went) we agreed upon a price.  I cleaned my remaining belongings out of Patty and said goodbye.

There are currently no plans to replace Patty.  That's why I have two good feet and a bike!

Proverbs 16:9 "In his heart a man plans his course, but the Lord determines his steps."

August 04, 2011

They're Flying South!

We all suspected this day might come, but we hoped that it would not come so soon.  Bob and Meg were married in June and have been living in DC since then.  However, they are moving back to Georgia now so that Bob can attend law school.  All of our friends are so excited for both of them, but sad that we will not be able to see them as often as we are used to!

Laura and Katie planned a Sunday brunch to send them off in style at The Yard's Park on the waterfront.

Mini pancakes, syrup, chicken salad, cheese and fruit, mini cinnamon rolls on sticks

Mimosas...gorgeous flowers!

Kern, me, Meg and Bob

Dear friends: Me, Meg, Katie and Carolyn

Sunday brunch, Dahling!

Relaxing and enjoying the good food and good company!

This is my fault--had the camera on the wrong setting.  It was so cute I had to post it though!
Bob and Meg: we will miss you so much, but we all wish you the best!

August 03, 2011

The Power of Words

"Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
Lord, my rock and my redeemer."
Psalm 19:14

This verse is one of the first Psalms I remember memorizing.  It's short, sweet and to the point.  Just two actions (words/talking and meditations/thoughts) and one requirement--that they be pleasing in God's sight.  Simple enough, right?

As a child, I equated these actions to not gossiping and making sure that I said my prayers.  As an adult, I understand that these actions encompass much more (although I am still learning).  An excerpt from the August 3rd Jesus Calling:

"Watch your words diligently.  Words have such a great power to bless or to wound.  When you speak carelessly or negatively, you damage others as well as yourself.  This ability to verbalize is an awesome privilege, granted only to those I created in My image.  You need help in wielding this mighty power responsibly.

Though the world applauds quick-witted retorts, My instructions about communication are quite different: Be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry..."

It's interesting to me that David (the author of Psalm 19) put words and thoughts in the same sentence.  It's not a secret that thoughts and words are nearly the same--one a manifestation of the other.  If our thoughts are full of negativity, then our words (and actions) will indicate that.  God does not expect us to go through life envisioning fields of flowers and skipping merrily to an imaginary tune when we are experiencing real pain and trials--or merely frustration with our circumstances.  When we do feel angry, sad, depressed or moody, instead of taking it out on other people or sulking, God offers a comforting ear to listen to our problems.  Prayer is not always the first activity I want to engage in when I feel frustrated, but I have found that when I do bring my worries and anxieties to the Jesus I come away feeling refreshed, filled and thankful that I have a God who cares enough about me to speak to my smallest fear and insecurity.  

So...back to the words.  Once I have spent time in prayer or reflecting on scripture, I am more ready to address other people (friends, family, co-workers, even strangers) with a more pleasant attitude.  It is a frightening and exciting realization when you understand that you have the power to build a person up or tear them down by the words that exit your mouth.  It is important to be intentional about the way we communicate with one another.

Who can you encourage today with your words?  Make it a point to genuinely compliment or uplift someone today through your conversation with him or her.

"Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."
John 7:38

August 02, 2011

Quinoa and Vegetable Salad with Tahini Dressing

Sometimes it's just too hot to eat a meal from the oven!  The temperature has reach nearly 100 degrees every day for the last two weeks in DC, which has caused me to seek out cool, fresh dinners!

I found this recipe in the August issue of Real Simple and decided to try it.  I've never used beets in a dish before, so I was excited to try something different.  Plus, I had almost every other ingredient already on hand.

1 cup quinoa
1 cup frozen shelled edamame
1 bunch watercress (trimmed)
1 pound raw beets (2 medium) peeled and coarsely grated (I chopped mine into small pieces)
8 radishes thinly sliced

1/3 cup tahini
2 TBS fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp grated fresh ginger (I had organic powdered on hand and used that/probably should have only used 1tsp)
1tsp honey
1/2 tsp Sea salt
1/4 tsp black pepper

1) Cook the quinoa and edamame according to the package directions and set aside to cool

2) In a small bowl, whisk together the tahini, lemon juice, ginger, honey, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper

3) Divide the watercress, beets, radishes, edamame and quinoa among plates and drizzle with dressing

*Serves 4 people, but Kern and I had 2 large helpings and used it as dinner and not a side.  It was very filling!

I hope you can enjoy this fresh summer salad!

August 01, 2011

Deficit Reduction, Debt Ceiling and August

Well y''s finally coming to an end.  The Senate will vote on Tuesday to pass the legislation (and send it to POTUS) that will end the phone calls from weeping grandmothers worried their social security will be cut off, perturbed Tea Party members and Americans who are fed up in general.  The calls won't end because they are no longer upset, but they will end because the August district work period or "Recess" as it is fondly called by all of Washington, will begin.  Members of Congress will return to their home districts and states and work from those offices.  In turn, the Washington staff will have time to regroup, reorganize and refresh.
Growing up, August meant "back to school" but as an adult, August means, "RECESS."
The press release below was issued by the Republican members of the Mississippi delegation.
WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Senators Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker, along with Congressmen Gregg  Harper, Alan Nunnelee and Steven Palazzo, all R-Miss, today announced that they support passage of compromise legislation that links significant federal spending cuts to an increase in the nation’s debt limit.
The House on Monday approved the bill on a 269-161 vote, and the Senate is expected to vote Tuesday.  The package mandates $917 billion in budget cuts over 10 years in exchange for increasing the debt limit by $900 billion.  It also sets the framework for an additional $1.5 trillion in savings over 10 years.
“I will vote for this legislation because it cuts spending and is necessary to prevent the United States from defaulting on its obligations.  I see this measure as a significant step forward in the long process of getting our fiscal house in order.  It locks in immediate spending cuts without increasing taxes, and will lead later this year to an up-or-down vote in Congress on more than a trillion dollars in additional savings and reforms.  Efforts to reduce spending, control debt and foster an economic environment that creates jobs will not end with this legislation,” Cochran said.
“The Budget Control Act makes real spending cuts and represents a change in direction for Washington,” said Wicker.  “The President wanted a blank check, but we succeeded in cutting Federal spending, preventing tax increases, and moving toward a Balanced Budget Amendment.  While not perfect, this legislation is an important step in the right direction.”
“The House of Representatives voted this evening to make a down payment on placing our fiscal house in order,” Harper said.
“The American people have had enough of empty promises and budget gimmicks.  That’s why from day one we have been fighting to change Washington’s broken political system.  While this agreement is not the ultimate solution to our spending-driven debt crisis, it offers a historic change in direction.  This legislation allows America to honor its financial obligations while giving us the framework to cut spending immediately, control future spending and put methods in place to hold Washington accountable,” said Nunnelee.
“House Republicans were sent to Washington on a mandate to hold President Obama’s feet to the fire on spending.  Never in history have spending cuts been enacted at this magnitude.  However, the battle over the budget will continue.  By taking control of the White House and the Senate in 2012, Republicans will be able to further reform government spending and save the American dream for future generations,” Palazzo said.
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