Thursday, January 31, 2013

The forwarder I go, the behinder I get

There are probably 14 projects started in my studio (dining room) right now, in addition to the permanent furniture that inhabits it.  Not much room to walk, still less to roll, as my computer chair is usually how I get around in there. That way I can pivot from task to task without wasted time and the least wear and tear on my knees.  I know that one of my New Year's Resolutions was to finish things (and I fully intend to), but I had in mind that it be before I start something new. I finished 2 items tonight-not great pics, because not much room to stage!

Here are some quick before's.... and afters.

Mustard to....

Black!  Already has a new home.


Abandoned farm table that landed in front of my garage.

The side extensions were strong enough but dated.

Linoleum squares were glued to the top which I removed.

I stripped the top.

Added some wood strips for better definition.

Painted, stained, glazed the table.

Voila!  New life.  Will be listed on Craigslist for sale. [Update: No longer available]

Will keep plugging away as I am able.  I love what I do. Eventually, my dining room will empty out and be just like everyone else's.

As ever,
La Verne

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Happy Birthday Neil!

Sorry for the 10 year old photo. You've come a world away from that time, and brave every challenge you face with grace and courage. 

Found another that was more recent.  Same great smile.

With much love,
Mother dear

Monday, January 28, 2013


I'm very excited about Jake's barn which is finally finished.  Lynn personalized it in a most excellent way. Tada!

The doors open and close

Jen's present and former horses' names at the windows

Hayloft sports the Ohio map

Proprietor, Master Jake

We celebrated Jake's dad, Andrew's birthday tonight with a festive celebration at the homestead.


It has been an amazing, wonderful day-long in arriving.  Thanks everyone for their prayers and a truly awesome outcome. There are no words.

As ever,
La Verne

Sunday, January 27, 2013

My talented friend, Lynn

...took this $10.00 Craigslist table and turned it into a masterpiece that sits in her new living room.  She had been searching for something to showcase personal family and religious mementos.  The table we found was perfect in that it had a shadowbox glass top and drawers.  I was unable to find the BEFORE photo, but the AFTER's are a testament to her artistic ability.

Back view

She custom mixed the colors

Her scroll work blends beautifully with the restored maple finish

Front view-love it

Tomorrow, I will share with you the completed barn on which Lynn painted some very personal details that made it unique and precious.


It feels like Christmas Eve, I hope I will be able to sleep.  It's been a day filled with good news and exciting possibilities.

As ever,
La Verne

"Oh Lord, you have searched me, and you know me"..

Psalm 139:  One of my absolute favorites. "He knows when I sit and when I stand." Bernadette Farrell is a British Liturgical songwriter, with a definite Irish bent which you can hear in a lot of her music.  Here is a taste of today's offertory song.  It is not sung by her, but is a well done, reflective rendering.  Remember, a few days ago when I wrote that the words of the year that I was choosing were, Lightness, and Trust? This morning before church, I opened yesterday's mail and instantly had lightness and trust fulfilled.

In the pew the blinding sun shone down on me, and this is a sunless January day.

I still have one more post tonight.  TTYL.


A side order of dining table refinishing

Last night, while being on deck for the Rocky River grand children I decided to surprise Alisa and refinish her dining room table.  Here is a look at the BEFORE usually hidden under a table cloth:

A cautionary tale for future pizza boxes.

The table legs are brown, the top was a definite RED.  I stripped and applied a walnut stain, but the red was not wanting to be underscored, so let it be.

When Alisa got home from her night shift this morning, she was pleased with the results.

I have the best grand-kids ever. They unloaded supplies from the van, and scurried around and helped clean up the sawdust and kitchen with no complaints. Could I have a better life?

Will post later today on some completed projects.

As ever,
La Verne

Friday, January 25, 2013

Remember my Minwax tiff?

Well, they sent me a new gallon of polyurethane to make up for the shiny batch. But, in the meantime, I had to buy two other products to finish the project. Picture un-smiley face. A blog I follow called Miss Mustard Seed explains every thought I have about furniture finishes so I will defer to her to tell you. I will say more when you read her posting......


I wrote a post a long time ago about the topcoats I used and it’s been hanging out in the painting section on my side bar ever since.  A reader sent me an e-mail a couple of months ago asking me to update it.  I went back and read the post and she was right!  I hardly use any of the products anymore.  The main reason for that is soft wax.  I started using wax and I didn’t need to use other topcoats.  I occasionally use something else, but wax has stolen my furniture-refinishing heart.   
Here’s a breakdown of the topcoats I use now and how I feel about the ones I used to use…
Soft Wax -
How it’s applied: Apply the wax in a thin coat with a wax brush, bushy paint brush or soft cloth.  Work it into the surface until the wax is absorbed.  Allow it to dry for about five minutes and then buff it with a soft, clean cloth.  Apply additional coats for even more durability and shine.
What I like it for: Natural wood, porous painted surfaces (Milk Paint, Chalk Paint, flat latex, flat acrylic, etc.), especially when I want a soft luster to the finish, not a shine.  I also like that it provides a super smooth, hard finish and no brush strokes.
What I don’t like it for: I wouldn’t use it on a piece that has an existing intact finish and I don’t like it over non-porous surfaces like satin/semigloss paints.  It just sits on top of the surface instead of getting absorbed.
Pieces I used it on: Almost everything!  I used it on my dining table, kitchen table, all of the dressers I’ve done over the last year at least…
(Lest I look like I’m totally self-promoting, there are other great soft waxes out there.  Mine, of course, is my favorite, but I also like Annie Sloan’s Soft Wax and Fiddes & Sons.  Some others I’ve used that are okay, but very stinky, are Briwax and Mylands.  Use whatever you like.) 
Hemp Oil - 
How it’s applied: Just wipe it on with a soft cloth.  It’s one of the easiest topcoats out there to apply.
What I like it for: It’s an all-natural, food-safe product, so I like that.  I mainly use it for raw, thirsty and tired wood, but I also like it over porous paint (Milk Paint, Chalk Paint, flat latex, flat acrylic, etc.)
What I don’t like it for: Pieces with a non-porous finish.  Again, it just sits on top and doesn’t work as well.
Creative Uses: It can be used to revive wood and even cast iron.
Pieces I used it on: My t-shirt counter… 
… and a Milk Paint hutch I did for my mom (in a custom blue.)
Paste Wax –
How it’s applied: Wax on, wax off.  Rub the wax on with a soft/clean cloth.  Allow it to dry to a haze and then buff it off.
What I like it for: Natural wood, painted surfaces, especially when I want a soft luster to the finish, not a shine.  I also like that it provides a hard finish and no brush strokes.
What I don’t like it for: Pieces with a lot of texture or detail.  The wax gets clumped in the details and it’s a mess and a pain to get out.  I stick with smooth pieces.
Creative Uses: Dark Wax is a wonderful way to antique and provide protection all in one step.
One piece I used it on: My old dining room table top.
Why I don’t use it any more: Paste wax is a lot thicker and harder to work with than soft wax.  It’s sort of like the difference between chap stick and lip gloss.  Paste wax is a lot cheaper, but soft wax is so much easier to work with.
Polycrylic –
How it’s applied: This can be brushed or sprayed.  It’s water based, so it’s easy to wash out of brushes and equipment.
What I like it for: I use this most on chippy pieces that need to be sealed.  I can slather it on with a brush and it provides a hard, satin finish that protects my family from lead paint.  I also use my paint sprayer to apply this to painted furniture when I want a clean finish that isn’t distressed.
What I don’t like it for: Natural wood or pieces where the brush strokes are going to show.  This product leaves a lot of brush strokes, so I prefer to use it on pieces with texture (like chipping paint) or apply it with a sprayer.  Also, it does dry clear in most cases, but it can slightly yellow some whites or change the color of some paints.  You may want to test it on a small area before applying it to the entire piece.
Creative Uses: You can mix paint with it and use it as a glaze or extender.
One piece I used it on: My traditional hand painted dresser.
Why I don’t use it anymore: I always used the polycrylic as a topcoat over satin latex.  I’ve since learned that you don’t need a topcoat over satin latex.  That finish is hard enough on it’s own once cured.  If I did use it, I would only use it in a sprayer. 
Wipe-On Poly –
How it’s applied: Wipe it on with a clean, soft cloth.  Lightly sand with a fine sand paper or steel wool between coats.
What I like it for: Natural wood and dark painted pieces.
What I don’t like it for: Light painted pieces, because this product will really yellow paint.
One piece I used it on: The top of my vanity.
Why I don’t use it anymore: Again, wax has bumped this one aside.  I found that I never got a buttery smooth finish with the Wipe-On Poly, but I still think it’s a good easy-to-use product.  I just prefer wax.
Spray Polyurethane –
How it’s applied: Self-explanatory, I think!  Remember to use long, even strokes and hold the paint can an even distance from the piece you’re painting.  It’s better to apply several thin coats, instead of one thick (and drippy) one.
What I like it for: Sealing rusty metal pieces or finishing smaller pieces like accessories, chandeliers, etc.
What I don’t like it for: Furniture (just a personal preference) and light painted pieces (again this product yellows.)
One piece I used it on: A rusty chicken feeder.
Why I don’t use this product anymore: Actually, I do!  I still use it exactly the way I did a couple of years ago, but I never, ever, EVER use it on furniture.  Never.
These are just my preferences, so I encourage you to try several different products to see what you like!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Drat, I mailed my glasses

Last night, I was at the North Royalton Post Office at closing time.  I mean, AT CLOSING TIME.  5:00 on the button. The sentry was already posted to unlock the door and let people out, one by one, as they left, but not cast a glance at the outside of the door, as though those people do not exist. I had a letter that needed to be weighed, and I needed stamps, neither which of those services is available OUTSIDE of the locked door after hours. I could have gone to a number of PO's but chose my hometown, thinking Global, but acting Local.

Fast forward, because I couldn't buy stamps, I peeled out my checkbook and over-guesstimated that my last 4 stamps would be appropriate. I had my cane in one hand, my purse across my chest, and my envelopes and glasses in the other hand that I tossed in the stamped mail bin.  YIKES, I just threw my glasses in the mail bin!  BUT, it was CLOSING TIME, and the sentry was not being paid to see people on the OUTSIDE of the door!

I called the NRPO this morning to see if they had found them. They weren't even sure if the mail had been collected, but they gave me the number to a Mr. Cary Eady's office, which comes under the heading of "Loose in Mail". Mr. Eady must have been pretty busy today, because he didn't get a chance to return my calls, so I drove down to the Main Post Office to see if they could be located.  The nice lady that sold me the stamps (remember I used them all up last night) tried calling 3 numbers to check on the glasses' status, but couldn't get anyone to answer.  She advised that this was pretty early in the investigation to actually put one's hands on the glasses that could have been back in my hands last night. But, protocol is protocol.  Fortunately, I had an old scratched up, stretched out pair that would qualify as prescription lenses in case I get stopped by the po-po.


Good News! I finished a set of dining room arm chairs that turned out pretty sweet.  Here are the BEFORE pictures.

Yep. Plastic covered naugahyde. Beautiful lines.

And the AFTER:

Slate blue welting front and back.

Commissioned pieces.  Not for sale.

I wish I had a camera that would zoom in for a better look at the finish and the fabric.


Next project is a re-do on another coffee table. I have 2 delightful BEFORE photos:

And, an in-between picture, when I thought the piece was going to be mustard color.

By Friday, it should be a luxurious color of distressed Beluga.


Monday, Inauguration Day, my sister Therese of Baltimore, and cousins Kathleen and Larry from New York, were in attendance for our family.  Here is her account: 

"There is a lot to tell.  We did pretty good getting into Union Station on the Metro.  We left my house at 8so we missed the crowds.  We walked a mile by Larry's estimation to the Longworth Bldg, for a reception.  Same food from last time.  I mean the same food.  Rick had been there but we didn't get to see him or any family.  We had tickets with seats in the blue section, so it was an adventure getting to our spot.  We got there just as the program started.  It wasn't too long or too cold.  The crowd was in a celebratory mood that was pleasant and positive.  James Taylor sang and played "Oh Beautiful.."  Very mellow.  The president spoke well and crowd cheered except for one fool who kept ranting about abortion and who knows what.  He kept on long enough to be annoying.  We couldn't see him and I think he was far enough back so I'm hoping the president didn't hear him.  I thought it was disrespectful to the hundreds of thousands of people who made great efforts to be there.  We saw several elderly and disabled people using walkers and canes and wheelchairs.  He finally stopped after the band drowned him out.  

We left during the poetry reading per Larry, and because all of us were hungry.  Note to all:  No eating establishments in walking distance to be found. We got directed to Union Station but the wait was one and a half hours and the food court seating was packed.  Kids were sitting on the floor with their pizza slices. We finally decided to get a cab and have them drive us to a restaurant.  No empty cabs.  We finally found a Quiznos, where we could sit.  The have a prime rib sandwich, by the way.  Then we took a long cab ride in a circle to the McGrann's, of which we did not know the house number, only the street name. The cabbie was pleasant and he finally got us there.  Traffic was inching along and some streets were closed so it was expected.  Cinni had a great spread again, and half the people.  We sat by the fire again and had a great time telling more stories.  We stayed a little longer than we would have, waiting for Rick so that Larry could get his knife back from the swearing-in. But he gave up.  Al Franken was there when we got there.  I spotted him right away as he was standing by the beverage table.  Larry was the one who went up and asked for the photo op.  He was very cordial, and it was quick and painless.  I didn't say anything about Stuart, just nice to meet you.  So that's all that it was.

We saw the guy Andrew who helped with the fire last time. We were asking around for somebody who might know how to get a cab. He said he was leaving too and going our way, so we could ride with him in his Town Car. The first time I ever had a driver named Thomas, or any driver for that matter. We went to Union Station in style.

We had a great time together, but I can watch it on TV next time."

Love, Therese


That's all for tonight folks.

As ever,
La Verne