Monday, November 29, 2010

Dining Room Chair Redo

I showed you all the toile I purchased to redo CG's great aunt's Dining Room chairs yesterday.  The chairs had such pretty needlepoint seat covers, but badly needed recovering.

Two of the chairs had already been recovered with fabric that matched her wing back chairs and even the seats that looked nice from the front were quite worn.

 After getting aproval of my fabric choice and some great ideas regarding the needlepoint from my cyber friends, I went ahead and took apart the first chair.
It was pretty neat to find that the fabric had been attached with actual furniture tacks, not staples.  Unfortunately, the tacks were much more difficult than staples to remove.  I ended up just ripping the fabric off without removing all of the tacks after suffering some bloody knuckles.

Instead of foam, the chairs had some kind of batting that came apart when I pulled the seat cover off.
So off to the fabric store to buy some 1" high density foam - with a 40%off coupon of course.  I cut the foam to shape and chamfered the edges so the fabric would roll over smoothly.  I didn't worry about how rough the chamfering was because it would be smoothed over with batting.
I cut batting about 2 1/2 inches larger than the seat in all directions.  I had quilt batting on hand so I used a double thickness of it.  If I had upholstery batting, I would have only used a single thickness.
I stapled close to the edge of the board in the middle of all 4 sides pulling tight enough to keep everything smooth, but not so tight as to cause puckering
and worked my way towards the corners making sure not to cover the screw hole for reattaching the seat to the chair.
I laid out the fabric on my seat making sure to keep whole parts of the pattern on the middle part of the seat and cut the fabric 4 inches larger than the seat on all 4 sides.
I held the fabric in place and flipped the seat over to staple it on.  Again I started in the middle of each side, pulling the fabric tight, but not too tight.  I like to staple the fabric further from the edge of the board, because it seems to help with keeping the fabric smooth and unpuckered.
 Again work your way to the corners making sure to leave the screw holes clear.
Flip it over and re-attach it to the chair.
Tada!  1 down, 5 to go.
I'm not trashing the gorgeous needlepoint.  Look for it to be upcycled sometime in the future.

Thanks for popping in and check out the other great projects at Between Naps on the Porch's Metamorphosis Monday, Craft-O-Maniac's Monday Link Party, and My Romantic Home's Show and Tell Party.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Our New(to Us) Dining Room Furniture

Our new furniture is in place and it's perfect!  I told you about selling off our old Dining Room suite and eating Thanksgiving dinner on a poker table and folding chairs here.  Well, Computer Genius's great aunt's furniture arrived and I won't lie - I was squealing with excitement.  CG's great aunt was such a smart, determined, well-researched, opinionated, vocal lady.  I love women who aren't afraid to voice an opinion and I love that we'll have a physical reminder of her in our home.

The table expands to an enormous size with 3 leaves and has those fantastic brass tipped feet.  I'll need to hit the top with a little Restore-a-Finish, but I don't plan on doing a major restoration, because I love the one burn on the top of the table.  CG's great aunt was never without a cigarette in her hand and, well, the burn fits.
All of the chairs have different colored needlepointed seats.  The needlepoint is soooo pretty, but in bad shape so I'll need to recover them.
I ran over to Joann's to grab some fabric and though I had a geometric in mind, I fell in love with this gorgeous toile while browsing the Home Dec fabrics.  And as luck would have it, it was in the wrong area and had been red-tagged for only $4/yd.  Woohoo!

The Dining Room suite also included a gorgeous curvy, bow fronted buffet with custom cut glass top
and china cabinet with more curves and enough drawer space to hold all of my extra china which had previously been divided up between a few pieces of furniture.
The most fun was going through the drawers.  While all of CG's great aunt's china and silver had gone to auction, the lawyers' people had left the miscellanea in the drawers.  CG's great aunt loved to set a proper table and it was neat to find her vintage placemats and napkins.
We also found about a million decks of cards.  She was a sharp bridge player.  In fact she was good at everything that she did whether it was bowling, golf, or cards.  My MIL said that she would have been happy that we got all the stuff, because I love to entertain with real cloth napkins and CG and I are the only family members who play cards.

Thanks for popping in and letting me show off our new(to us) furniture.

Friday, November 26, 2010

My Thanksgiving Table

Thanksgiving was a little different around these parts.  Typically we travel to Rochester to indulge in 3 separate Turkey dinners and crazy Black Friday shopping.  The one Thanksgiving we hosted here(I had just given birth to Snuggle Bunny) we hosted 12.  But this year, we couldn't travel because of Whirling Dervish's insane wrestling schedule.  He in fact had a 3.5 mile run Thanksgiving morning at the Rail Trail(1.75 miles each way.)  And it was snowing that morning.  That would be that white stuff.

The conversation Thursday morning went something like this. 
WD:  Why are you wearing shorts?
Me:  I thought I might run with you.
WD:  Moooom, I'm running with my friends!
Me:  So, I can't run with you?
WD:  NO!
Me:  Howabout I run 15 meters behind you?
WD:  Stay in the car.
I didn't.  I waited a minute, then hit the trail.  I passed WD and teammate at about the 1/4 mile mark and stayed out in front of them.  I was about 150 meters ahead of them at the turn and finished way ahead of them as they had to stop to walk a bit at the 2 mile mark.  Not knowing that they were walking and not wanting to be beat by my kid, I kept up a punishing pace and today I'm whimpering when I'm on the stairs.  Darn competitive pride.

Not only wouldn't we be hosting any guests, we wouldn't even have any Dining Room furniture for ourselves.  Why not?

Remember when I posted about Computer Genius's great-aunt passing here?  Well we'll be receiving her Dining Room furniture this Saturday.  Of course that meant that we needed to make room for the new furniture.  So I put our DR suite on craigslist.  Not wanting to be greedy, but wanting it gone before the new furniture arrived, I listed it for $500.  Even with the bottom having fallen out of the used furniture market, I think it was a bargain for the mahogany veneer set.
The gentleman who purchased the set, picked it up Wednesday.  I was sad to see our furniture go, but glad that it would be cared for.  The purchaser had just bought the Rice Mansion and I knew that he was a lover of antiques and history.

Of course this left us with no furniture for Thanksgiving.  Enter the card table.  For those of you who know me in real life, you know I have a few card tables laying around.  So a card table and folding chairs would have to do.
Since it was just us(and we were using folding furniture,) I went with a pretty bare table.
Grapevine napkin rings with just a bit of beading and an iron pumpkin candle holder I found clearanced for $5 at Target.  Spare, but still, Thanksgiving is about food, family, and football.  And we had all of that.  The recipes had to be tweaked for nutrition's sake, since WD is trying to stay on track to wrestle at 103 lbs.  I steamed cauliflower and put them in the blender with the potatoes, roasted garlic, and just a smidge of fat-free half & half to create the mashed potatoes.  WD said he liked them better than regular ones.  Sweet Potatoes were cut into wedges and tossed in some chili-garlic sauce then roasted and there were roasted parsnips in the sweetpotato puree.
Notice the silverware?  I know the spoon is wrong, but SB set the table and was so excited about getting the knife right(pointed in) that I didn't have the heart to move the spoon .

Thanks for popping in and checking out our makeshift Thanksgiving table.  Next time you see our table it'll be the inherited furniture.  I'm linking this table up to Between Naps on the Porch's Tablescape Thursday.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Day of Thanks

Today is a day to remember all of the things that we're thankful for.  I thought I'd share my top 7 things I'm thankful for (in no particular order.)

1.  I'm thankful for my family.  We're spread out across the country.  I'm in the Binghamton area, lil bro is in the Rochester area, middle sis is a California girl, and big sis is down in Virginia.  Our parents live in the Atlanta area.  I had a heck of a time finding a picture of all 4 of us siblings and couldn't find a single one with all 4 of us plus our parents without going all the way back to my wedding photos.  We'll have to make that a priority when we're all together in June.

me, middle sis, big sis, (not so) lil bro

2.  I'm thankful for my ultra supportive husband, the Computer Genius.  CG has always been supportive of my staying home with the kids.  He backs me up every time I get a crazy idea to do anything like rip out our kitchen down to the studs or take down a wall in our basement.  When I started writing this blog, I actually didn't tell anyone about it.  It was CG who trumpeted about how everyone should read it.  He tells me I'm beautiful even when I've put on 25 lbs and holds my hair when I'm sick.  Always, always there for me.

3.  I'm thankful for my kids.  Sure driving in circles everyday can wear on a person, but watching the smiles is totally worth it.  Watching Whirling Dervish mature into a young adult this year has been such a revelation.  All of a sudden he's helping without being asked and doing without being told.  And the unadulterated joy of listening to Snuggle Bunny's belly laugh - I love it.  They make me smile.

4.   I'm thankful that I both love and like my in-laws.  Apparently this is not a universal given.  With the holidays arriving, I've read some horror stories about "out-laws."  I'm thankful that I don't have any of those stories.  This isn't the most flattering picture of anyone, but we're eating & drinking & telling stories & having a good time.  The way it usually is when we all get together.

5.  I'm thankful for my friends both the ones in real life and the ones I've met in blogland.  Friends are what get us through the tough times with words of encouragement.  I'm so grateful for all of the readers that have stopped by and commented and encouraged me on this bloggy journey.

6.  I'm thankful for my health that allows me to participate in all of my boys' activities.  Without my health, I wouldn't be able to climb trees with WD.  Not the most flattering pic of me, but hey it's not all about me.

7.  I'm thankful for my home - toys & lacrosse sticks & all.  I love that the boys' friends enjoy hanging out here.  As many changes as we've made to this home, it's really, really ours.

Thanks for popping in and letting me get all mushy.  Happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Walnut Cranberry Pear Tart

I usually make at least 3 or 4 desserts for Thanksgiving, but this year it'll just be the 4 of us and Whirling Dervish is watching his caloric intake because of wrestling.  So the pumpkin swirl cheesecake I showed off here will not be making an appearance at our Thanksgiving table.  I've only made one dessert for Thanksgiving this year.  This Walnut Cranberry Pear Tart.
The base of this tart is a butter pastry.  I started by placing 1/2 cup of brown rice flour, 1/2 cup of tapioca flour, 1/4 cup coconut flour, 1/4 cup ground walnuts, 3 tbsps sugar, and 1/8 tsp xantham gum in the bowl of my food processor and giving it a whirl.
Add 1 stick of chilled butter cut into chunks and pulse until incorporated.
Mix in 3 egg yolks and sprinkle in 1-2 tbsps water.  The mixture will be crumbly not dough like.  Press into tart pan and chill for an hour.
After the pastry dough has chilled, place in an oven preheated to 300 and bake for 35-40 minutes.  When the crust is golden, pull it out of the oven and let it cool for 15 minutes before turning it out of the pan.
In the meantime place 2/3 cup cranberries, 1/4cup agave nectar, 1 tbsp butter, and 2 tbsps Grand Marnier(or GranGala or whatever orange flavored liqueur you have on hand) in a pan over medium low heat.  Peel, core, and slice 2 pears.  Toss them into the pan, too.
When the fruit has released it's juices, start pulling the pears out to arrange on the tart crust.  Let the sauce get syrupy and pour over the pears.  Sprinkle on some chopped toasted walnuts.

Thanks for popping in and check out the other great recipes over at GlutenFree Homemaker's Gluten Free Wednesdays, Lisa's Gluten Free's Health Food Carnival, Remodelaholic's Recipe Link Up Party, and Funky Junk Interiors's Saturday Night Special.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Crock Pot Beef Stew

We're running through another stretch of wrestling practices that end at 5:30 and lacrosse games that start at 6:00 which leads to us walking into the house at 7:30.  Which means turning to our dinnertime saviour - the crockpot.
Filling up the crockpot before Snuggle Bunny arrives home from school means that I can look through his folder and help him with any homework, fix him an afterschool snack, play a game or read a book, head out to grab Whirling Dervish from practice, jet over to the lax game, watch the game, and walk in the door at home to a ready meal instead of trying to whip something up to feed the kids just before bed.

Yesterday I made a crock pot beef stew.  I used a london broil, but the magic of the crock pot is that you could put any cut of meat in there and it would end up tender and wonderful.  I peeled and chopped potatoes, carrots, parsnips, celery, an onion, and 2 cloves of garlic.  That all went into the crockpot.  You can saute the onion and garlic to take away some of the bite, but I didn't bother.
I added ground black pepper, some chili powder, 2 tbsps tapioca flour, 1/2 cup cider and a cup of red wine.  I'm a big believer in using wine that you enjoy drinking in your cooking.  Since the alcohol cooks off and all you're left with is flavor, why not use the good stuff?  For last night's stew I used a fantastic montepulciano that was made by one of Computer Genius's friends and coworker.
How great is that label?  And it's a great drinking wine, too.  He doesn't add a lot of sulfites to his wine so even CG can drink the reds.

I turned the crockpot to high and left it for a couple of hours.  Just before heading out to pick up WD, I added chopped mushrooms and cabbage to the crockpot.  I like to add more delicate things like cabbage at the halfway point so that they don't end up mush.

One minute after re-entering the house, dinner was dished up.
Thanks for popping in and checking out what's for dinner.  I'm linking this up to GlutenFree Homemaker's Gluten Free Wednesdays.

Monday, November 22, 2010

DIY Silhouette Wall Art

A couple of weeks ago, I posted pictures of my toy and sportsgear filled living room here.  The fantastic interior designer, Magnaverde, left a long and thoughtful response on how to embrace the detritus of daily life by going with bold colors that would help to camouflage the sea of Legos and lacrosse sticks.  He said that stepping away from my safe colors with fun pillows and vibrant artwork would draw the eye to the great decorative pieces, embracing the lacrosse sticks like polo mallets in a Ralph Lauren ad would make them belong.  I hadn't thought of it that way before, but ideas started swimming around with how I could make small changes to my living room to make "how I live" beautiful despite the toys and sports gear.

The bulk of the updating will happen after the holidays, because of both time and money, but I do have one project to share right now.  I was putting away the paint cans after painting Snuggle Bunny's room here, when I thought they would be the perfect colors for some DIY art.  The orange and green combination was so fresh and vibrant and fun just like in this photo of Kate Spade's popup shop in London.
So I ran over to Michael's Craft Store with a 50% off coupon and bought an enormous 3'x4' canvas
and immediately rolled on some green.  I didn't worry about rolling the edges, because Computer Genius will be making a frame for me on the handy dandy router table I gave him for his birthday last year.
I don't know why the green looks so pale in this pic, but I assure you it's the same bright pea pod green used in SB's room.

I then went to my computer and printed off some pictures of the family from our last camping trip.  I printed them in grayscale in draft mode so as not to waste ink.
I cut around each person
and traced them out on contact paper.
If I did this project again, I'd skip the contact paper step and just spray the cutouts with stencil adhesive, because the contact paper didn't stick as well as I'd hoped it would.  I needed to use bits of blue tape to hold my cutouts down.
I nibbled bits off of the bottom edge of a piece of blue tape with my scissors for the ground that we'd be walking on.  After taping all of our silhouettes on, I went to work with the orange paint.  I first stippled over the silhouettes so that I wouldn't get any paint under them, then pulled the brush away from the silhouettes in broad strokes.
I pulled away the tape and contact paper and voila!  DIY Silhouette Art for $20 total.
Computer Genius is out front blazing the way, Snuggle Bunny is in the middle, I'm following with the backpack of snacks and drinks, and Whirling Dervish is taking up the rear of the procession, climbing down a fallen tree.  He's my tree climber and my hiking straggler.  This enormous piece of artwork is already on the wall and is doing a great job of drawing the eye away from the random bits of childhood while still embracing those same children even without a frame.  Watch for a picture of this "in situ" when I do the updated living room reveal after the holidays.

Thanks for popping in and checking out my DIY project and check out all the other fun projects at Keeping it Simple's Motivate Me Mondays Between Naps on the Porch's Metamorphosis Monday, and Cottage Instincts's Make it 4 Monday.