A Weekend Project

I promised I would put together a DIY blog about my new hutch.  It’s honestly not been my best week as a homeowner.  My fridge developed a leak……and I’m really not at all equipped to adult on that level.  So, I shut off the water to the fridge so my kitchen doesn’t flood, and I’ll formulate some kinda plan to deal with that later.  In the mean time it’s back to drinking tap water and making ice in trays for me.

A couple weeks ago Momma found a hutch on Craigslist.  I have a bit of a skinny house, and it’s been challenging to find a hutch that would fit in the dining room without encroaching on the dining room table.  This particular piece was a bit more expensive than I would have liked, particularly because I ended up having to paint the whole thing.  But, it was one of those situations where you bite the bullet because the style and size was just right for the space.

Thank goodness Bestie has a truck and was free to go check out the piece and help me haul it home.  I hate making these kinds of decisions on my own…..actually, I hate making any decisions really, but that’s for another day.

The mini bar I built myself is painted in Old White by Annie Sloan, and I was hoping that the hutch’s original cream color would work with that and the Cocoa of the dining room table.  Sadly, it was very yellow in person….like so yellow that I can’t imagine that the color really matches anyone’s decor.  So, Saturday morning saw me off to the vintage store downtown for more Old White paint and some Aubusson Blue.  I had used the chalk paint before, but I had never done a two toned piece before.  I’ve already done some chalk paint furniture…..Because Every Home Needs a Bar!, so I won’t bore all of you with that again.  If you want more details about the process just lemme know and I can try and fill it all in.


The start of the project……in all it’s yellow glory!

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My phone doesn’t take the best pictures…..iphone 4 in the house! Hopefully you can see the yellowiness, and the fact that the back panel was nothing to write home about really. Two coats of Old White. In person it was very white. I always think the projects look very odd until you get all done. You just have to wait for it all to come together.

Two coats of Old White. In person it was very white. I always think the projects look very odd until you get all done. You just have to wait for it all to come together.  It’s similar to when you only have foundation on your face…..it just looks weird!

End of day 1!

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You might get stuck in a group text with the besties….if that happens, send them this pic to show them that you’re busy and don’t have the time for their shenanigans. It won’t help, but it’s worth a try!

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I was a bit stressed about where I should put the shelves so that I could get the distressing right.  Eventually I settled on just distressing the shelves and not carrying the dark wax onto the sides of the hutch.  This will let me move the shelves in the future if I need to.
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Doing this was my favorite part. It’s amazing what some distressing and some wax will do.

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Distressing details and some dark wax buildup in the corners. Don’t stress it….you can’t do any of this wrong.

photo 5The Finished Product!

A Dilly Bean Party and Other Homemaker Type Things

I learned a new skill, and I pickled green beans!!

(I wrote the bulk of this last night after I finished canning, but I couldn’t publish it until today, because I needed to let some stuff sit over night to make sure it all worked before I started spouting my epic successes…..I won some and I lost some.)

I didn’t even know that dilly beans were a thing until Momma’s friend sent me a jar last fall.  I’m totally hooked…..just the right amount of spicy and dilly!  Apparently, they are good in red beers and bloody mary’s.  I’ve never actually had a red beer, and while I do like bloody mary’s, I just eat the beans plain….straight outta the jar! I was a bit apprehensive about the whole canning process….it seemed harder than it actually ended up being.  Also, there was the small issue of all the green beans at the grocery stores looking…….questionable.  Momma informed me that it was past bean season, however I soldiered on, and collected some jars and other required paraphernalia from the basement at home in preparation.

Priority one was obviously trying to find beans.  After striking out at several grocery stores, I had an epiphany….THE FARMER’S MARKET!  I totally skipped out on morning Yoga Sculpt….ooops….in favor of hunting down several pounds of beans and dill.  I was totally victorious, and I also snagged myself a beautiful bouquet of dahlias……just becase sometimes you need flowers in your house!  Sadly, one of the dahlias is looking a bit wilty, hopefully he will perk up over night.

(….he has sadly not perked much….I cut off some more stem, but I might have lost a dahlia.)

Great shopping success!

Great shopping success!  8 pounds of beans and 2 fluffy bunches of dill…..



8 of the jars from Momma’s house went into the dishwasher, and I started prepping the veggies.  I had to do the canning in batches because only 4 jars would fit in my largest pot at once.  The beans went into the colander in batches, and I snapped the ends off and cleaned them.  Garlic cloves were smashed and peeled, celery and carrots cut, and Scout mooched the entire time for vegetable treats!

Getting organized

Getting organized and mentally prepared!

Prep work is key....can anyone say Mise en Place!?!?

Prep work is key….can anyone say Mise en Place!?!?  This was enough to do the first 4 jars.

While the jars were being washed and the beans were being prepped, I started my huge soup pot of water warming and the brine.  Mostly, the part about canning that stressed me out the most was that everything has to be hot, or the lids won’t seal.  More than once I sent out a panic text about the fact that the beans were stressing me.  However, I’m 98% confident that all my lids did in fact seal, and that I won’t have to consume my body weight in dilly beans in the next two weeks.

(Checked all the seals today, and they seem good.  Canning success!)

Smells horrific.....turns regular ol' beans into something amazing!

Smells horrific…..turns regular ol’ beans into something amazing!

I was also slightly concerned that I wasn’t packing the beans into the jars tight enough.  The first jar was a bit rough, but after that I think I got a technique down fairly well.  I did have to read about how to can using a water bath online….

A….because I have visions of horror whereby a pressure cooker blows up in my kitchen, and

B…..because all the recipes I found online just said “process jars”.

SOME OF US ARE DUMB NEWBIES!!!  How does one go about “processing jars”!?!?  Turns out you cover the jars fully plus 1 inch of water, and then start counting the time when the water returns to a gentle boil.  Also, I didn’t have a rack for the bottom of my pot, so my jars required a bit of babysitting so they didn’t bump around too much and break.  Don’t worry, I didn’t loose any jars!

The first jar, sealed and ready for the water bath!

The first jar, sealed and ready for the water bath!

Basically, you just keep repeating the jar filling process until you run out of stuff.  After the first batch of 4, I had run out of vinegar.  Helpful tip…..if you want to start pickling, just buy the biggest jug of vinegar you can find…..trust me, you’ll need it!  I did go out and grab more vinegar, and I ended up with 10 jars total from the 8 pounds of beans I started with.  I did have to run another batch of jars through the dishwasher, so I had sort of a long break between the second and third batch.

V is for Victory!

V is for Victory!

Look at all the deliciousness!

Look at all the deliciousness!

All in all, canning wasn’t a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Plus, now that I know what I’m doing I totally understand why people would want to do this.  It’s an easy way to be able to eat delicious veggies all winter long.  I come from a farming and canning family, and even though I will probably never get fancy enough to do jams and jellies, I would like to get to a point eventually where I can do tomatoes, pickles, beans…..the things I eat and use often.  Unfortunately, I don’t live on a farm, so the growing of all the veggies is still a bit problematic.

I might carve out some time next weekend to make more dilly beans, because I have a feeling these are going to be eaten pretty quickly!  Plus, it’s nice to keep old school skills alive.  If people my age don’t learn and use these skills they will eventually be lost.  I understand that we live in a world were it’s easier to drive to the store and buy cans of tomatoes….but that hasn’t always been a reality.  At the end of the day, it’s never a bad feeling know where your food comes from, plus there’s an extra sense of pride that comes from knowing that you did something yourself!

When you learn a new skill and are suddenly overtaken with the desire to do it all day everyday!

When you learn a new skill, and are suddenly overtaken with the desire to do it all day everyday!

It was actually a whole week of random home activities around here.  Monday I skipped out on work to finish up some of the furniture that sat in my garage all winter.  I had a set of dining room chairs I never got around to finishing, mostly because I bought other chairs to go with the table.  Monday was the day!!  The chairs were already painted, they just needed to be distressed and waxed.  Now, instead of chairs in the garage serving no purpose, I have chairs sprinkled randomly around the house. photo 1

Some sanding and some dark wax does wonders to fix up some ugly chairs.

Some sanding and some dark wax does wonders to fix up some ugly chairs.

I also suffered a bit of a landscaping crisis this week.  We’ve been having really strong winds all week, and one of my little trees is having some issues being a tree.  I had originally thought that the fees I pay the HOA every month went towards things like spraying weeds and making sure my trees grow in an upright direction, however I have slowly started to learn that that isn’t the case.  I haven’t quite gotten around the spraying the weeds and crab grass yet, but I did get the tree back on the up and up.  Fun fact, I ran into the Vinyl Enthusiast at Menards the other day and he had to help me find tree fixing accouterments.  Sometimes, it’s all about who you know!

(The wind picked up again last night, and pulled the stake out of the ground.  So, I’m once again back to having a tree that refuses to act like a tree.  At this point, it might just be easier to rip it out and plant something new.  Can’t win everything I guess!)

When you go outside and discover your tree having technical difficulties.

…..when you go outside and discover your tree having technical difficulties treeing……

……Because Every Home Needs A Bar!

PicMonkey Collage

About a month ago my Momma found the top of a hutch on Craigslist for $35.  That’s right….for the ultra bargain price of less than half my monthly gym membership I bought myself the start of a bar.  It didn’t start out looking all that promising really, but things really started to take shape when we decided to flip in over.  I know that sounds totally weird but hear me out.  If I had used the cabinet right side up I would have had to build a base to go around the bottom feet and a top.  By flipping the cabinet over I could skip building the base because the crown molding was already on the cabinet.  This meant that I only had to build a top.  Saving time and money is never, ever a bad thing! Also, it provided an extra shelf….extra shelves mean more booze storage!

Step one was taking the back panel and all three glass doors off.  The middle door had some recesses that needed to be filled around the edges, but I did that last to hide any nail holes.

...I may have been having questionable feelings about the whole activity at this point...

…I may have been having questionable feelings about the whole activity at this point…

To make the top and the wine cubbies, I used edge glued pine.  I ended up buying two 12”x72” pieces from Menards.  Additionally, I purchased a piece of 8′ molding to finish the edge of the top.  Once I decided on a top length that balanced out the bottom of the piece, I cut it to length using a radial arm saw.  You could cut all the trim pieces using the radial arm saw, but I prefer using a miter saw.  It’s super easy, you just click the blade over to the angle you need (45 degrees in this case) and cut away!  Make sure you mind the manicure! 

Reminder, Reminder, Reminder....MIND THE MANICURE!!!!

But seriously….MIND THE MANICURE!!!!

Since I bought 8’ of trim and needed less than that for the project I decided to cut the angles and then trim the back sides flat.  If you make the top longer and need to use all of the trim the measurements will need to be more exact.  You’ll need to make alternating cuts on each of the front corners so that they fit together to make a 90 degree corner.  Turn the blade to the right and cut the short side on the left hand side of the top.  The front piece will need a left angle cut on the left side and a right angle cut on the right side.  Finish off the trim with a left angle cut on the short right side.  Once the trim is cut and you’ve checked the fit attach it to the pine top using wood glue and some small finish nails.  Don’t forget to drill small pilot holes in the trim pieces for the nails before you glue!  The top got two coats of stain to help protect it from any spills.  Also to add some polish I buffed in a thin coat of Annie Sloan Clear Soft Wax.  I’ve never done that before but it really helped smooth out the wood and sealed it nicely.

Give your top a light sanding before you stain it.  It will just help even out any ridges between the pine and the trim.

Give your top a light sanding before you stain it. It will just help even out any ridges between the pine and the trim.

To keep the wine cubbies from looking too bulky I had to plane down pieces of the pine.  Using the extra from the top and the additional purchased 12”x72”, cut pieces to match the width and depth of your cubbies.  My cubbies ended up being about half an inch short on the back side because my planer can only handle 10″ pieces and my shelves are closer to 11′ deep.  No biggie, no one sees the back side!  The edge glued pine started at about 5/8” thick.  I planed that down to about half an inch.  The actual thickness isn’t really ciritical, just continue taking small layers off until you reach a thickness that seems visually pleasing.  I left the sides of both set of 4 and the bottom unplanned.  They are hidden from view and are just for support.  Using the radial arm saw again, cut a half inch grove into each of the 4 planed pieces.  This will allow them to slip together.  Before installing the cubbies, I recommend staining then.  This will allow you to get into all the nooks and crannies.  I used General Finishes Gel Stain in Java for the whole project.  The best part is you can use this stain over any existing stain without using any strippers!  Laziness wins again!  I also applied a coat of stain to the inside of the whole piece just to darken it slightly.

Don't forget to stain both sides!

Don’t forget to stain both sides!  Rubber gloves are a for sure must have for this.  I use foam brushes to apply the stain and then an old sock on one hand to rub it in and absorb any excess product.

I was on a slight deadline for this project because I’m hosting a party this week and the party needed a bar!!  So…..my Momma got the cubbies installed while I was back home working all week.  The groves slip together and then the crosses were installed as one piece.  The cubbies are attached to the piece itself with nails through the front recessed area.  Those nails were then covered with two small trim pieces.  The crosses were screwed into the side panels and the side panels were glued on the top and bottom sides to the existing shelving in the piece.

I decided to mirror the glass on the doors.  This serves two purposes, it matches the rest of my home better and it hides all the random bottles of booze in the cabinet.  It’s a simple process but it does take some time.  To preserve the inside of the doors, bust out the painter’s tape and go to town!!

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Don’t mix up your styling products and your vinegar water kids!

I’ve made several mercury glass style vases using the Krylon Looking Glass spray paint, but I had never tried making a solid mirror.  To achieve some mild distressing I sprayed a 50/50 mixture of white vinegar and water around the edges focusing on the corners.  Make sure you have room to lay the pieces you’re spraying down flat.  The paint is very runny and if the pieces don’t dry laying down you’ll get run marks.  I did 5 light coats total letting each coat dry in between.  About halfway through the process I sprayed on some more vinegar water.  This creates nice distressed bubbles.  Concentrate the spray in an area if you want larger bubbles.

After the mirror glass paint dries you can remove the tape on the back.  Flip the doors over and tape the front of the glass so that you can get the doors ready to paint.  I attached the doors back onto the piece before painting and distressing.  I just find it helps keep everything even.  I reattached the doors upside down also so that the curve of the wood was on the top of the door.  Doing this meant I had to move the magnets inside to hold the door closed and rethink some exterior hardware.  I painted the project using Annie Sloan Chalk Paint in Old White.  Everything I have read about the chalk paint says that you should be able to paint a project in one coat; I’ve never found this to be the case.  I’ve repainted a dinning room set, a small chest of drawers, and a bookcase and everything needed two coats.

Two coats of paint, two upside down doors, and the top.

Two coats of paint, two upside down doors, and the top.

After two coats of paint you’re ready to start distressing.  I went over the whole thing with some fine grit sandpaper.  This might not make any sense, but the sandpaper will sort of ‘tell you’ where to distress.  It will naturally strip more paint off of the high points and corners.  Anywhere the paint starts to distress, I focus a bit more.  This is the part I hate the most because it’s hard to decide when enough is enough.  Its helpful to take lots of steps back and assess the piece as a whole.  I also did some light distressing on the large flat sides and the back panel of the piece.  Its harder to distress large flat areas but just go until it looks good or your arm gives out….which ever comes first and I promise the piece will still end up fabulous!

Once the distressing is done make sure to wipe of all the paint dust.  A large paint brush works quite well for this.  I did hit a small roadblock because the paint dust turned all my gorgeous dark stained wood slightly milky, but I discovered an easy way to fix that.  We will talk about that in a minute.  After you get everything cleaned up its time to start waxing.  Honestly this is the step I hate because by this point everything looks finished, and you’ve put in all this time, and you just want to be done!  However, the chalk paint is delicate stuff until its waxed and sealed.  So, grab an old white t-shirt scrap, some gloves, and some Annie Sloan Soft Wax and buff it into the whole piece.  The paint color will change slightly but don’t worry about it too much.  I also made some dark wax by mixing a small amount of the java stain into a glob of clear wax.  Annie Sloan makes dark wax, but I’ve mixed stain and wax for all the projects in my house and its always worked just fine.  After applying a coat of clear wax you can gently buff in some of the dark wax anywhere you’d like some extra distressing.  I use fine steel wool for this and find that it’s almost impossible to overdo it because the wool will really buff it out if you apply too much.  The dark wax is a totally optional step!!  Also I used the dark wax on the wine cubbies to help remove the cloudiness from the paint dust!  It was a total shot in the dark but it actually worked really well.

This picture really shows off my whoopsy moment with the paint dust.  Also the oddly stained pieces were applied last to cover the recessed area where I had attached the wine cubbies.  Those two pieces were painted and distressed with the rest of the piece.

This picture really shows off my whoopsy moment with the paint dust. Also the oddly stained pieces were applied last to cover the recessed area where I had attached the wine cubbies. Those two pieces were painted and distressed with the rest of the piece.  The stain was applied to try and take away the unfinished wood look…it didn’t really work and I’d probably skip it if I had to do this again.

That’s pretty much it!  Allow the wax to cure overnight and reattach the back panel using small nails, screws, or a staple gun if you have it.  I attached the top to the piece with three small screws along the back side.  I salvaged new door pulls from Momma’s garage.  She had a bag of pulls from the kitchen remodel when I was a small tot and for some reason they were still laying around.  They were kind of a gross 80’s brass….barf…..but a coat of oil rubbed bronze spray paint darkened them up nicely.  Drill some holes in the doors and screw those puppies in an you have a completed piece!

Overall I would rate this as a moderately difficult piece.  I have the added benefit of having grown up around power tools and wood working.  My Dad basically built all the cabinets, doors, and trim in our house so I already had all the tools needed. Momma and I have a good handle on all the basic skills we needed to build this piece.  If you’re less experienced or feeling iffy about tackling this much work you could always leave out building the wine cubbies, just paint all the doors, and lay the bottles down inside on the shelves.  Also, if you have an extreme aversion to power tools, home improvement stores will cut lumber for you so if you know the length you want to the top to be and don’t want to trim it that would also be an option for you.

All set up in the house and ready to party!

All set up in the house and ready to party!