DIY pumpkins

Halloween is just a week away!  Fall is my favorite season and about a decade ago, Halloween was my favorite holiday.  Although celebrating Halloween has slipped from my radar, fall decor has not!  Earlier this season Ryan and I made pumpkins out of materials we already had on hand.  They are a bit abstract but they were fun to make none the less.  Check them out…

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Ryan cut a few logs to create wood slice pumpkins. Using a drill press, he made a hole in the top to insert the branch stem.  So rustic!

wood slice pumpkin-

I put a monochromatic spin on the popular fabric pumpkin by using just burlap and jute twine.  You’ll never guess what I stuffed the pumpkin with…shipping peanuts!  The shapes on these guys greatly varied just like in nature…

Burlap Pumpkin

In addition to DIYing pumpkins, we’ve been working with real ones as well – mostly in the kitchen.  This season we’ve enjoyed spiced pumpkin bread, pumpkin pizza and pumpkin pizelles. Yum!

What pumpkin inspired crafts & treats have you made?

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black & brass

About a month ago I crowd sourced facebook for some feedback on what to do with this little night stand.  I’m not usually a crowd-sourcer.  Typically I just follow my instinct but this one initially had me stumped on what direction I wanted to go.  I really love the shape and style.

vintage chest before

Thank you all for your feedback.  It was very enlightening!  Ultimately I decided on a soft black with light distressing highlighting the brown stain underneath. Typewriter (black) also happens to be the Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint color of the month for October.

I achieved this look in a very controlled way.  Although the top was a little scratched up, the finish on the edges was in great shape so I wanted to highlight it.  Before I even started painting I rubbed the wax puck over those high points to preserve that nice finish.  Normally I use the wax puck to create a resist between layers of different paint colors.  This seemed like a good time to try the same technique on the original finish.

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After the wax puck was applied, I painted on 2 coats of typewriter milk paint with bonding agent mixed in.  The finish on the veneer was pretty shiny and I didn’t want to risk major chipping on this mid-century piece.  The bonding agent worked like a charm.

Once the paint was dry, I carefully pulled away where the wax puck had been applied using a putty knife.  There was no need for sanding as that would have scratched the bottom layer.  Also, no dusty mess!

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I finished the entire piece with furniture wax for a protective topcoat.  I love the original brass knobs against the soft black.

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Pictured are also a pair of apron strings candlesticks finished with lots of antiquing wax for a warm fall look.

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The typewriter nightstand is new at The West End Garage.  Check it out!  We’re open everyday through October and move to a shortened week in November.  Typewriter night stand-4875

In the meantime, our Fall Furniture Sale is still going on with mark downs on select pieces!

Fall Furniture Sale

 

apron strings & terra cotta

Oh, apron strings! A winner every time – spring or fall. This MMS milk paint color is just so bright, feminine and fun.

Apron Strings-4806
The little chest of drawers is pretty versatile.  It was originally white washed pine.  It is a newer piece with likely a factory finish.  Sometimes milk paint adhesion on a factory finish can be tricky so I used bonding agent in each coat to be safe.  Worked like a charm.

Apron Strings-1

The color or finish under milk paint can sometimes influence the tone of the paint since milk paint is a thin, water based paint.  If you’ve come to one of my milk paint demonstrations, you’ve probably heard may say that.  This piece is a good example of what I mean.  The white wash effect definitely provides a lighter base.  If there was a mahogany stain under the paint, it would’ve been a bit deeper.  However, I darkened the finish with a hint of antiquing wax around the edges.  Overall, I used hemp oil as a protective top coat.  You can see the luster it left behind.

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The finish was looking a little too pristine for my taste so I decided on a heavily distressed painted knob.  I layered apron strings, flow blue and this custom green – while randomly wax pucking in between colors to encourage the layered, chipping effect on the knobs.  It provides a fun contrast to the body of the dresser where there is very subtle distressing.

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Check out the latest wreath topiary that we’re now offering at West End Garage.  Such a sweet shape that hints toward the holidays.

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Yes, I have the holidays on my mind…already!  I’ve been pricing ornaments as previewed on instagram yesterday.  They’re starting to make their way into The West End Garage and Serendipity Shops of Doylestown.  Falalalala!

The chest is also headed to Doylestown.  You can check it out on Saturday when I’ll be giving my next milk paint demonstration at 1 pm.  Hope to see you there!

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seed saving

seed saving-4678We had a prolific crop of bush beans this year.  It was probably the best yield in the garden, second to lettuce, with no pest issues.  We planted three rounds of bush beans in purple, green & yellow.  The purple is my favorite simply because they turn green when you cook them.  Right before your eyes!  We’ve been eating them fresh for a couple of months and I blanched and froze some for winter.

As we continue to harvest more, I’ve grouped the pods together in bunches to dry out.  Once the bean pods are all shriveled up, they’re ready for seed saving.  The pods open up pretty easily along the seam with a fingernail or scissors. And boom, there’s next year’s seeds so we can do it all over again.  A frugal little DIY…

seed saving

I have repeated these steps with snap peas as well so we have a little stash of peas to plant next spring.  This is a fun garden task to engage kids in.  The seeds are big so they’re hard to lose although I’ve had a few pop out of the pod and fly across the room!

These seeds are, in fact, the actual bean.  As in, the dry bean you buy from the store so we could always soak them and eat them this winter.  It is just another way to preserve the bean harvest.  I think we’ll plant a bigger crop next year so we can produce a decent amount of dry beans.  At this point, we have a few dozen – enough to plant but certainly not enough for a bean soup!

seed saving jar

Speaking of next year, The Old Farmer’s Almanac for 2015 is now available at The West End Garage.  I took a sneak peek at the weather forecasts!  Let’s just say that we may have been spoiled by our mild summer weather this year.

The Old Farmer's Almanac 2015 now available at The West End Garage

the topless table

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Flow Blue Gilded Table

This little side table is so cute and petite and just unique.  I brought it home topless.  I suppose it had a top when I found it though.  The flea market dealer I bought it from had a piece of glass over it that obviously belonged to another long, lost table because it wasn’t the right size or proportion.  I chose to leave the glass behind and knew we’d come up with something all our own for this little transformation.  The ‘before’ shot is pictured below with my new favorite chenille draped over it.

before...

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Ryan cut and secured a wood top to fit the table.  I customized the new top with Maison Blanche’s glacage.  Have you heard of this product?  It is essentially a texturizing embossing cream for wood.  Fellow vendor, Eastcote Lane, sells it at The West End Garage.  I was very excited to give this product a shot and am happy with the one-of-a-kind results.  Better than a wobbly, ill-fitting glass top!

Flow Blue milk paint + glacage

I gave the entire table two coats of milk paint in Flow Blue followed by furniture wax and a bit of antiquing wax on the textured top.  Something about these mid-century pieces always seem to call for a moody blue, navy or black in my opinion.  The finishing touch, though, was in the gilding wax around the edge.  I love how the gold captures the light.

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The formerly topless table is now for sale at The West End Garage along with a selection of gorgeous olive trees in perfectly weathered clay pots.

Flow Blue Gilded Table at West End Garage

we took the plunge

The Ardex plunge, that is. This product has taken the DIY world by storm lately. For those of you that don’t know, Ardex- Feather Finish is a concrete substrate traditionally used in subflooring.  It has been getting increasingly popular as a low-cost way to resurface laminate counter tops.  In my continued quest to update our 80’s kitchen on a tight budget, I thought it was worth a try.

Rustic Industrial Kitchen - wood backsplash & Ardex concrete counters

The über fake looking wood grain formica counter never jived well with the true wood backsplash we installed a couple of years back.

Pallet Wood Backsplash

Counters Before Ardex

Last you saw the space we installed chrome hardware, about a year ago.  At that time, I had searched for Ardex- Feather Finish planning to move right into the counter project. The product is difficult to find although I tracked it down at a local tile shop and now it is readily available on Amazon.

Rustic Industrial Wood & Concrete Kitchen - applying Ardex Feather Finish

I delayed the counter installation because I couldn’t make a decision on what sealer to use.  It is very much personal preference however you must choose a food safe sealer considering this is a kitchen counter after all.    Some concrete sealers have a fungicide in them which make sense in a shower or on a patio but on a counter I prefer not to have any pesticides as food may come in direct contact.  You also have the aesthetic choice of sealers with a matte finish, more of a sheen and even stains.

applying Ardex Feather Finish to laminate kitchen counters

We went with a sealer we had all along…Miss Mustard Seed’s hemp oil.  It stained and sealed the concrete, plus it is food safe.  I applied three coats back to back because the porous surface kept soaking it up.  I plan to apply another coat or two this week until it reaches total saturation.
hemp oil

Mixing Ardex is very similar to mixing milk paint.  It comes in a powder form and mixes easily with water.  (1 part Ardex to 1/2 part water)  To prep, we first sanded the countertop to rough it up a bit for best adhesion.  Then we carefully and quickly applied one thin coat right over the formica using a trowel.  It was much like icing a cake.  Ardex dries very quickly and turns to a clay like consistency.

Rustic Industrial Wood & Concrete Kitchen - applying Ardex Feather Finish

Twenty four hours later, it was dry and ready to be sanded down to a smooth finish.  I used 60 grit sandpaper and then 150.

applying Ardex Feather Finish to laminate kitchen counters

After vacuuming up the dust, I applied another slightly thicker coat. And then repeated the above steps again the following day to make for a third coat.  As you can see, we did not remove the sink.  We simply took the Ardex right up to the edge.

applying Ardex Feather Finish to laminate kitchen counters

On the third and final coat, I was more deliberate in my application and trowel marks as I realized these would be seen on the finished surface.

From laminate kitchen counters to concrete on a budget

The process went pretty quickly.  Actual application only took about 30 minutes each time as we didn’t have much counter space to cover.

Rustic Industrial Kitchen

The final step was sealing the concrete finish.  As I mentioned, we chose hemp oil since it is all natural and food safe. I simply brushed on the hemp oil.  This will need to be applied annually as will most sealers on a porous counter.  I am also considering applying a coat of furniture wax for a little luster.

Using hemp oil has a sealer on concrete counters

It soaked into the surface right before our eyes and we continued on with the next coat.

Using hemp oil has a sealer on concrete counters

Overall I love the final finish.  It has a natural rustic feel vs. the fake plastic look we had previously.  I am not convinced that it has the look of a poured concrete counter but I am happy with this low-budget transformation.

Rustic Industrial Kitchen - wood backsplash & Ardex concrete counters

Here’s where this space started and where it has progressed over the past few years.  You can review the transformation starting with painting laminate cabinets, installing a wood backsplash, adding hardware and now resurfacing the counters…

From 80's Laminate to Rustic Kitchen

Next up, the floors!  Then maybe a fancy range hood?

Rustic Industrial Kitchen - wood backsplash & Ardex concrete counters