bookmark it

Busy bees over here.  Would you believe we are about knee-deep in Christmas inventory and decor for the shop?  True story.  But I’m not ready to jump the gun and share photos of Christmas just yet.  We are, however, stocking more books this time of year as they make the perfect gift.  I am very excited about the selection of garden to table books we have at The West End Garage in Cape May.

garden to table book inventory at West End Garage-4717

The newest release is the The Kitchn Cookbook from Apartment Therapy’s sister website, The Kitchn.  I’ve been paging through it the last couple of days.  This isn’t just a cookbook but more of a textbook with some really practical lessons like knife skills and kitchen layout.  The Kitchn Cookbook

I truly enjoy all of these gardening, cooking and cocktail books and reference them in my own home.  They live right in the kitchen.  We recently picked up a potting bench that we’re using as a microwave cart.  It is a fantastic addition to our kitchen.  Check out that zinc top!  The drawer holds linens and the shelf neatly organizes those books.  In addition, the pegs on the side allow tea towels to hang.

zinc top potting bench as microwave cart

We also started stocking Philadelphia-made diagram tea towels from Girls Can Tell.  I love their quirky designs and am especially drawn to the garden themes.  The evergreens are new in store.

Girls Can Tell for sale at West End Garage-4719

And while we’re making the rounds of new inventory, I must tell you about my latest obsession.  P.F. Candle Co. has the most delightful scents.  We’ve got some seasonal scents such as apple picking and pumpkin spice.  I can’t decide which is my favorite.  The simple packaging and branding make me very happy.  Check out the cute little amber jars.

autumn soy candle at West End Garage

We pulled the trigger and got these adorable ceramic egg crates in as well.  I’ve been using mine for years and am glad to share this novelty in the shop.  The egg crate makes a perfect gift paired with The Fresh Egg Cookbook for under $25!  Just sayin.

egg crate

So that about covers the “new” inventory we are stocking.  We are rolling out more and more vintage pieces every week.  In fact, we are running a sale on select furniture currently at The West End Garage.  Come in and check it out!

Fall Furniture Sale

I’ll leave you with this image.  Our popular autumn wreath on my favorite old chippy door.  Love the contrast in colors!  How about you?

autumn wreath at West End Garage-4747

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

 

 

chairs for all seasons

This funny thing happened the other day. It seems to occur to a lot of us in the vintage and furniture flipping industry. I finished refreshing a pair of chairs with milk paint, wax and fabric.  I posed them at either end of our breakfast table just for a mini before and after shoot before bringing them to the shop.  For sale.

grainsack milk paint dining chairs

Well…I think you know where this is headed.  As I snapped pictures to share with you here of the “new” chairs, I was growing more and more fond of them there at the table.

grainsack milk paint & ticking fabric dining chairs

…in our eclectic little nook.  Still a work in progress.  Always a work in progress really.  That is the fun of it naturally because you never know what treasures will find you next.

eclectic breakast nook

The grainsack milk painted chairs just seemed so much lighter and brighter in the space than the others we had in there.  And yes they match the table anyway!

grainsack milk paint dining chairs

The streamlined back is pretty comfortable.  And the caning allows more light to pass through.  It just feels summer-y.  We can change out chairs seasonally, right?

grainsack milk paint dining chairs

For the seats, I used Waverly ticking stripes which plays well off of the grainsack upholstered bench and linen bentwood chairs too.

ticking fabric upholstery

The walnut & mohair Ward Bennett chairs were looking winter-y there at the table.  However, they are my favorite and aren’t leaving the house.

Eclectic Flea Market Style Breakfast Nook

In fact, I carved out a little sitting area in the living room just for these chairs.  More pictures on that soon but for now an instagram shot preview…

vintage walnut & mohair ward bennet chairs

I certainly have a vintage chair fetish.  How about you?

vintage dining chairs
In other vintage chair related news, we’ll be at Clover Market on Sunday in Ardmore, PA.

Clover Market Spring 2014

And on Saturday at 11 am, I’ll be hosting another free Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint demonstration at Serendipity Shops of Doylestown.

Milk Paint Demo

Perhaps I’ll run into you this weekend!

 

upcycled lighting

Hey guys! I’m still in the spirit of Earth Day/Week here so I’d like to share how we turned this galvanized piece of junk into a one of a kind chandelier in our dining nook. And of course, I do mean junque.

Flea Market Style Industrial Galvanized Light Chandelier

The question still remains: What the heck is it?

Galvanized Light

We really don’t know but it seems like some sort of farm machinery.  Someone suggested that it may be for cotton picking.  I have no idea.  Do you?  It’s probably for manure…

It was not originally a funnel.  Ryan cut the hole to replicate a funnel so we could wire the light fixture through.

galvanized light

Galvanized Pendant Chandelier Light

This light transformation was easier than you might think because we had all of the parts already.  Do you remember the kitchen from when we first moved in?  Check out that 80’s light fixture.

kitchen before

Look a little closer because the innards for it are what made up our new light.

before

Breakfast Nook

We carefully took it apart saving all of the pieces.  A few tweaks were made to the innards – new light sleeves plus I sprayed the old shiny brass antique white and hemp oiled the wood.

making a light

Ryan wired the light using our new-to-us “shade” with all of the old light’s parts.  We also switched out the gold chain for a reasonably rusty galvanized chain to complete the look.

Breakfast Nook

We love turning random objects into lights and shades.  Here are a few of other favorites from the archives…

Galvanized Funnel Pendant Lights Galvanized Funnel Lights-3206

Mason Jar Pendant

Mason Jar Pendant

 Vintage Birdcage Light

Vintage Birdcage Light

Shell Fan/Chandelier

Shell Bathroom Fan/Chandelier

What have you upcycled or repurposed lately?

trail mix cookies

spring. Spring. SPRING!  I think it is really here.  The sun is pouring through the windows.  The trees are starting to bud.  It’s amazing!

Over the weekend, I made trail mix cookies.  This is the third or fourth time I’ve made these and they never last long.  I thought I’d share the recipe with you all because they’re pretty tasty, vegan and the trail mix ingredients pack a lot of energy. There’s not a ton of sugar either so they’re not overly sweet.  The cookies have a crunchy exterior and are soft inside almost like a granola bar.  Yum!

Trail Mix Cookies recipe

I’ve dubbed them Trail Mix Cookies because there is 3/4 cup of trail mix ingredients that you can choose – seeds, nuts, dried fruit.  I haven’t made these the same way twice.  Stay tuned and I’ll explain…

Trail Mix Cookies – makes about 2 dozen

  • 1/3 cup coconut oil
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 3/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 apple sauced
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup granola
  • 1/2 cup dried fruit
  • 1/4 cup seeds (1/8 c sunflower kernel + 1/8 c flaxseed)

Trail Mix Cookies recipe - 1 cup of granola

Pre-heat your oven to 275 degrees and grease 2 cookie sheets.

I like to sauce a fresh apple.  Core and peel an apple.  While measuring the other ingredients, allow the apple to boil.  Using an immersion blender, blend the apple into sauce.  (A work around for this step is to just add 1/2 cup of jarred apple sauce.)

Combine coconut oil, brown sugar, apple and vanilla.  Mix thoroughly.  This will make a nice adhesive for your trail mix.

Combine flours and baking soda and add to your mix.

Now for the fun part…and in the “trail mix” of your choice – 1 cup of granola + 1/2 cup of dried fruit (like cranberries, peaches or raisins) + 1/4 cup total of seeds and/or nuts.  I usually use 1/8 cup of sunflower kernels and 1/8 cup of flaxseed.  I have also used cashews.  The possibilities are endless.

Trail Mix Cookies recipe

Spoon cookies about 2 inches apart on your baking sheet.

Bake for 18-20 minutes.

Trail Mix Cookies recipe (5 of 10)

Enjoy!

Trail Mix Cookies recipe

For the brown sugar, we have been using Turbinado sugar which is essentially raw “brown sugar”.  We have been avoiding processed white sugar where we can.  Most brown sugars are just processed white sugar with the addition of molasses.  Turbinado is raw sugar with molasses.

Trail Mix Cookies recipe - Turbindao sugar

There are other modifications you can make to this recipe for it to work for your pantry choices.  For example, you can substitute the coconut oil for canola oil.

And while we’re in the kitchen, I don’t believe I shared you with you my two cents about oiling cast iron.  I posted last week over on Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint blog about the wonders of hemp oil and cast iron.  Check it out here.

Hemp Oil + Cast Iron

In fact, I’ve been all over the web lately.  I’m excited to share that our bathroom renovation was featured on Apartment Therapy and Hometalk over the weekend.  So if you’re new here, welcome!  Please enjoy our Trail Mix Cookies!

Trail Mix Cookies recipe

 

the valencia cocktail

Get excited because I have a fantastic cocktail recipe to share with you today.  Fortunately, I was able to book America’s next top model and canine for this very profesh photo shoot…

The Valencia - cocktail recipe

We have been juicing frequently here.  And when the mood strikes us we make cocktails using the fresh juice as a mixer.  The Drunken Botanist has had quite the influence on me.  I am in love with this book and all of the garden-to-cocktail concoctions it describes.  I have been considering which edible plants I want to grow this year based on the recipes and knowledge in this book.

Our new favorite cocktail is refreshing and fruity and sparkly.  Yum!  Plus it warms you up during these remaining winter days.  It’s called The Valencia.

The Valencia - cocktail recipe

Have you ever heard of it?  It’s an old time-y cocktail that has been around for ages.  Apparently there are different versions out there.  We use Apricot brandy and bitters combined with freshly squeezed orange juice and champagne.

The Valencia - cocktail recipe

1 1/2 ounces apricot liqueur

3/4 ounce orange juice

4 dashes Citrus Medica bitters

 Shake all of the ingredients over ice and strain into a cocktail glass.  Top with champagne and garnish.

The Valencia - cocktail recipe

We now carry an assortment of bitters at The West End Garage including Citrus Medica.  For those of you who are not familiar with bitters, they are essentially herbs with a bitter flavor processed into a liquid.  Bitters are traditionally used in both cocktails and non-alcoholic drinks like tea.  Less traditionally, bitters can be used to add flavor to salad dressings, soups and more.  They have therapeutic qualities and can help with digestion.

The Valencia - cocktail recipe and NJ state cutting board

The New Jersey cutting board pictured was a wedding shower gift that we just love.  When we’re not using it, we display it on the wall. You may have caught that in an earlier kitchen post.

Flea Market Style Eat-In Kitchen - Vintage Serve letters, Blueprint Wallpaper, Galvanized Pendant Light

It inspired us to stock the Made in the USA bamboo New Jersey cutting boards at West End Garage too.  On each one, Cape May is highlighted with a heart, star or home.

The Valencia - cocktail recipe

Thanks everyone for your enthusiasm around our shop news at The West End Garage!  Now, who is shaking up The Valencia tonight?

Or today?  No judgement here!