Monday, September 23, 2013

Flea Market Flip: Coffeetable Bench

I've been working on a new project!  I should really be packing, but I needed this for the new apartment, so I had to take a break...

A little over a month ago I went to the Elephant's Trunk Flea Market in New Milford, CT (Randy's town, I digress) with Karen and Dave and we had a blast.  Because I am secretly a middle aged person, who loves antiques and vintage things, etc.  This particular flea market is often featured on the HGTV show, "Flea Market Flip" with Lara Spencer, and I adore it.

Anyway, I have been on the lookout for a new coffee table, and I had it in my head that I would rather refinish a bench or something because most coffee tables I find are way too wide and over-sized for an apartment space.  Well, I was in luck.  I picked up this solid wood bench for only $30.  It was in pretty great condition other than some wear on one corner.  Also, the construction is pretty old school.  No screws, no nails.  Just wood pins, dovetails and probably glue.

Micah helped me sand and clean it all up.  It was adorable and he was a great little helper.

So, as I said, I sanded it all down after cleaning it.  I decided to use the same Behr ultra premium plus black shade I had used on the dresser and nightstand previously.  The color is actually closer to a really dark charcoal or a soft black, not a jet black, but I like it.   I rolled it on with mini rollers, and at that point, Shannon came over and helped too.  I did two coats all over the top and bottom.

color close-up

first coat

After it dried, I sprayed it with an acrylic varnish to waterproof the top only.  And?  After 24 hours, I hated it.  Absolutely hated it.  It looked splotchy and greasy.  I tried to save it by using a liquid varnish instead, hoping that would make the entire surface shiny and not splotchy.  It helped a little, but the original areas that were coated too heavily still showed through.  I knew that the perfectionist in me would be so annoyed every time the sun shone in the living room.   Can you see what I mean in these two perspectives?  It looks greasy.

So, I sanded the varnish off and did one more coat of black on the top, then coated that with the liquid varnish. 

Here is the final product.  Shiny, but not splotchy.  I will update you all with a pic when it's in my new living room next week!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Small Town Inconveniences...

So.  I thought I was from a small town.  I really did.

I mean, my hometown here in rural Connecticut has less than 10,000 people.  It took me forty five minutes today to drive to Whole Foods.   We have one major grocery store, and my high school graduating class had fewer than 100 kids.

But then I tried to move to rural New Hampshire, and I learned the difference.  There is a difference.

First I had to call Ant Bea at the Mayberry, I mean, Wolfeboro town hall to order my electric service.  What?  This town has it's own electric company?  I am picturing guinea pigs running on wheels to generate power on a quaint Victorian porch.   They need a deposit from me because I am a new customer and they aren't set up to take credit or debit cards, so I had to pop an old fashioned check in the mail today.  What?

The day before that I found out I have no mail delivery service to my house.  What? 

I live in the downtown of the largest village in the area and it's actually pretty bustling.  They don't have postal workers doing walking routes?  So, immediately when I get up there I have to sign up for a post office box.

I thought I'd save money on trash removal by purchasing a town dump sticker until I found out that's only good from April to the end of October, because they close for the winter.

Then I found out that my car insurance company, esurance, does not provide service to New Hampshire.  First, I was pissed at the inconvenience but I actually saved a ton of money per month by switching to Allstate.  So, blessing in disguise there.

First thing when I get there, I better go buy a gingham dress and sit on my porch with some lemonade.

But good news.  Good, good news.  I will have high speed internet and HBO by the afternoon of day two.  Cable services are no joke my friends.  No joke.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

New Hampshire Apartment

Well, I can finally give you the news that I was approved for the apartment I chose!  What a process.  These people were very thorough and I had one, from long ago, brief employer who would NOT call them back.  But finally they approved me without his two cents.

So, here are the pictures.  It needs some sprucing but I have a nice water view and the bike trail is right outside my front door.  I think I can really make this work.  This Victorian building would be gorgeous if they ever gave it a paint job.  Moving day is October 1st.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Clean Eating Recipes: Vegan Pumpkin Donuts and Grandma Lee's Whole Wheat Bread

So, I'm going on week three of clean eating.  Really into it so far.  In other words, really enjoying it!  I haven't had a single processed product or anything out of a package in about 17 days.  Feels great.  Down 9.8 lbs.

I thought I'd share two recipes.  I've been baking my own bread and I also made these Vegan Pumpkin Donuts to eat as the occasional breakfast.

Vegan Pumpkin Donuts

Combine ingredients in a bowl in this order:

2 cups whole wheat flour, preferably organic. If you have it, whole wheat pastry flour is the most delicate, but all purpose works too
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt, preferably organic if you have to use table salt because you want it bleach free.
2 tsp cinnamon and nutmeg each
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/3 cup olive oil or if you have to use canola, make sure it's non GMO
6 tbsp organic real maple syrup
1 mashed banana, squooshed really well
1 cup pumpkin puree unsweetened
2 tbsp unsweetened almond milk (I used vanilla flavored, doesn't matter)
I also threw in flax and chia seeds, probably about a tbsp of each

For me, this recipe made 40 mini donuts. My mom has a 12 count mini donut pan, and the donuts are about 2-3 inches across when baked.

I baked them for 10 minutes at 325 degrees

I actually put the dough in a freezer bag and cut a whole in a corner to make a pastry bag, then I filled the donut pans in a circle that way. You could also use that same method to make a circle on a baking sheet to replace the mini donut pan.
I also suspect that these would work well in a mini muffin pan, but you'd have to watch them to figure out baking time.

Great Grandma Lee's Whole Wheat bread (with Marisa's modifications to make it vegan)

Start with a 1/4 cup of warm water and 2 packages of quick yeast. Let sit in bowl for a few minutes to foam and make sure the yeast is alive.

Then add the rest of ingredients in this order:

1 and 1/4 cups warm water
4 tsp salt
1/2 cup olive oil
1/3 cup molasses or organic real maple syrup
3/4 cup almond milk
1 cup wheat germ
4 cups whole wheat flour
2 cups white flour or white wheat

Knead the ball of dough for 10 to 15 minutes, very important step. Just keep squooshing and folding it to activate the gluten. Do this in a warm area, and preferably not on a cold surface (not on granite) otherwise it will take longer to rise.

Return dough ball to a well oiled large bowl (probably the one you mixed in, just wash it out) and place saran wrap tightly over the top, and for additional warmth, layer a kitchen or tea towel over that. Keep covered until doubled in size, approximately 45 minutes or maybe even longer if your house is too cold. You don't want to heat the bread, but you want warm temps to encourage the rising.

When doubled in size, punch down the ball, and divide in half. Knead each half and shape until it's oblong to fit each into their respective 9x5 loaf pans. In a pinch 8x4 loaf pans will work too, but your bread may be taller and your cooking time might need an adjustment. Cover each loaf pan with saran wrap and maybe the tea towels again. Wait until doubled in size and then put in oven.

Bake at 350 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes or until the tops sound hollow when you tap on them.