Monthly Archives: May 2012

(Chalk) Painted Table

The dining room is looking better, folks!

A while ago, I posted about my dining table and chairs heartache. I received some really wonderful ideas and encouragement. To be honest, I still haven’t totally decided which direction to take the chairs. I have done more sanding, and they will be staying yellow. Beyond that, I’m not sure if I want to opt for a more crisp, clean paint job or more of a distressed look (since they’re looking pretty distressed after the additional sanding).

One thing I have decided is that this dining table won’t be forever. While I’m all for doing quality work, I’ll probably want and/or need something new (bigger) within the next 5 years, so I won’t be spending too much time (money) making sure it lasts a lifetime. 🙂

Another thing I have decided (finished, is more like it!) is to refinish the dining table! And I painted it in a pretty non-traditonal way.

Here’s the story:

My friend, Daniela, also has a lovely blog where she posted about homemade chalk paint. The link is:  Anyway, I was really intrigued but nervous about if I would like the look on our table. The last thing I wanted was to start over with another project! Daniela recommended that I try it on something small first to get a feel for it before I tackled the whole table.

So, I bought (since I didn’t already own) some climbing chalk. I used her formula to add to my own paint (I had bought $1 paint from the Habitat ReStore for this project last year). Next, I got to sanding. I especially worked on the table top since it had a lot of blemishes and pits.

I decided to go with a standard 11″ roller (not pictured) for the table top, a small foam roller for the legs and edging, and a foam brush for the crevices of the legs. Overall, I was very pleased with the paint consistency. It was difficult to stir thoroughly enough to get all of the chalk bits mixed in but pretty easy going on. With real chalk paint, no sanding or priming is needed. I chose to gamble and not prime my table. Maybe I’ll regret it. We’ll see.

Once I began painting, I had a sneaking suspicion (more like a sinking feeling) that I would not have enough paint for the entire table. I was pretty bent on not buying more paint (and not sure it would color match anyway since I bought it used), so I only worked on the table top.

Jonathan and I discussed some other options that included painting the legs yellow. But once I was staring at the rich, dark color on the table, I knew yellow legs would look funny. All or nothing, baby! It was worth the $10 risk. (I know, I can be stingy!)

I brought it home from the home improvement store without high hopes. It looked a lot lighter in the can. When I painted a small amount over the already painted brown (in an inconspicuous spot, of course), it didn’t look like it was gonna work…at all. But then it dried. I also think the chalk changed the color tone a tad as well.

Here’s what it looked like once I completed the legs:

I unscrewed the legs a bit to make sure I got full coverage where the legs meet the table.

After a few tops coats of polyurethane, things were looking good!

Okay, just for the full effect, let’s do the before first:

…and the after:

I’m amazed how much more encouraged I feel about completing the chairs since I did the table. Who knows, I may have regrets with the paint/lack of primer/etc. but I’ll let ya know how I’m feeling as time goes on.

I think I love it!



Filed under DIY projects, home improvements

The Art of Frugality: Home Improvements

Okay. So…we, somewhat unintentionally, made another upgrade to our den! Say hello to our new and improved entertainment center.

That is, we knew what we were doing when we bought it. I guess I say unintentionally because I kept thinking that buying unnecessary furniture like that was still far out in our future. Right now, we have to make our pennies count, so upgrading perfectly functional furniture isn’t at the top of the list.

But, then I found this for $60 on craigslist! That’s right, I got a real steal in this one. This is even better quality than the pictures portray. Just to give you an idea, most quality armoires sell for $175-$400 on craigslist.

We wanted something different mostly because Liam was getting into everything on the previous TV stand (i.e. the DVD player and little pieces to our board games). Also, I wasn’t thrilled with the way all of our stuff was constantly on display. It just made our den seem a little too chaotic, even when things were picked up. Here she was before:

Much improved, wouldn’t you say? Yeah…me too!

Now, we can hide all of our junk (from Liam…and guests)!

The previous one (along with the matching side table) is currently listed on craigslist. If all goes according to my hopes, we’ll only be around $20 in the hole for a quality, like new entertainment center!

Some of you reading this may never want to buy something used. To that, I say thank you for buying (and then selling) things that I can buy from you when you’re done! However, those of you reading this and thinking that I’m so lucky to “fall” into great deals all the time, I thought I would share a few pointers that I’m figuring out as I go.

There is a cost to being frugal, you know. It’s well worth it to me, though!

1. Look often. The places I most commonly find good deals include: craigslist (practically all of the major furniture in my house), yard sales (nice, newer neighborhoods are where I really tend to find the good stuff), and the Habitat ReStore (more for supplies/hardware/etc. than furniture). With all of these, namely the last two, it’s important to keep an open mind. You may not always know what you need until you find it. This does not mean I’m in favor of collecting a bunch of unnecessary junk.

2. Be Picky but realistic. If you have something specific in mind, don’t rush to buy the first thing that “fits the bill”. If you check these places often enough, you’ll learn what good prices are and how frequently they’re available. In general, I suffer from buyer’s remorse and, therefore, tend to not buy rather than buy. Over time, though, I think I’ve become more confident about when I’m coming across a true bargain.

3. Research before you “do”. I’m learning this one the hard way. I want to conceive an idea and BAM! be done with it. One of the problems with the internet being so accessible is that anyone can write about anything. Some things look nice in pictures, but lack quality to make it last. I feel frustrated when I’m stunted in my DIY project. I want it to be over about…2.5 minutes after I start it, but, in the end it’s much less of a headache if I do it right the first time.

4. Suffer the inconveniences. There are going to be plenty if you choose to do things on a budget (I mean a real budget). You may need to live with the “old” or the “transient” for months (or longer) before the perfect “new” comes along. Learning to fix, repurpose, or even just pick up the thing can be time consuming! For example, the night we went out to look at and purchase this piece, we almost turned around a couple of times. First of all, Jonathan graciously gave up his rare “night off” to join me in trek-ing across town. Then, we had to arrange borrowing a truck (thanks, Buckle!) since our little Volvo just doesn’t have the capacity (even more so with Liam in the back seat). Then, we hit terrible, stand still traffic. Then, we made a few wrong turns (out in the boondocks). And, of course, Liam missed his bedtime by, oh, an hour or two. 😦 It’s been a process for me to realize that one night of frustration is sometimes worth the joy/convenience of whatever it is we’re getting.

These are, of course, only tips about frugality as it pertains to home improvement. Maybe I’ll post some on other topics another time.

Hope it helps!


Filed under home improvements, money saving, personal thoughts


Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reintroduced to a familiar enemy of mine: comparison.

My life is not so exciting, you see. I’m a stay-at-home mom (even though I work as a nurse one day a week). The highlight of our day is often heading to the grocery store or post office. See what I mean?

We are making lots of friends in our new community, but I don’t usually have a friend that I see on a daily-or even weekly-basis. I’ve never been one to have a friend with which I do everything. I go to the bathroom by myself even when I’m with other women (except now, Liam usually joins me out of necessity). I guess I’m an independent girl.

The thing is, sometimes when I’m on Facebook  or Pinterest or someone’s blog, I start to believe that I’m the only one without an exciting life. What’s worse, those social mediums can start to become the standard whereby I measure my personal value.

I don’t have as many friends as so-and-so.

I must not be having as much fun as that person because I’m just not as fun of a person.

So-and-so has the coolest…everything!

How come I can’t go on as many trips as that person?

See how destructive that can be to my contentedness? Maybe I’m the only one who thinks silly things like that, but those thoughts can become the constant subliminal messages swimming in my head until I realize that I feel like I’m going to drown in despair.

That’s why sometimes I need the willpower to unplug for a while. I need to experience life as more than a means of posting things for the world to see. When we moved into our house last year, we ended up without internet for weeks, and you know what? It was sorta refreshing. Just like how we don’t have cable anymore (because our budget wouldn’t allow for it). I think I need that stuff until I don’t have it. And then I realize I live a little more fully when I don’t have it.

I want to spend a day with my family and feel happy because it made me happy and not because of how many people commented about it on Facebook. I want to read a book that speaks to me without considering how popular it is in the world today. You see, I am more than the sum of the online postings of my life. And I’ve found that sometimes I need a little space from all of that to remind me of who I am.

It doesn’t really matter if someone else has more friends than I do. All I have to do is remain faithful to the friends God has put in my life.

I have this deep, dark fear about not being fun enough. But the truth is, different people find different things fun. Who can really set the standard for someone else?

I may not have a lot of money (or the best taste, for that matter) to buy the coolest “everything”, but I’m not fulfilled by that stuff anyway.

Travel is something I love, and have been blessed enough to do, but there are seasons to things. Small children and travel don’t always mix well, anyway. I can wait. There is more to my life than the right now.

I recently saw this (ironically) on the the internet.

I think it’s true. My life will look better the less I focus on how my life is not someone else’s life.

I’m free to be me. And enjoy my life because it’s what has been given to me.


Filed under personal thoughts