A circle of cobbles

We needed a front patio to control the mud coming in the front door.


I am so thankful for a meticulous husband. He has this patio perfectly level, with a slight slope. WP_20130525_014

Instead of laying sand and chipped gravel, we tried the soft underlayment mats. They are square, and piece together to form any shape you need. Easy to cut, easy to install.WP_20130525_015
We had to use 2 circle kits from VillaStone made by Abbotsford Concrete Products.


Eventually (My! I use that word a lot…we have lots of plans, but limited time.), we will extend the cobbles to landscape the driveway and side of the house.


It is gratifying to take a look back at how we started. Here it is in April, 2012.


In August or September, 2012.DSC06735
And now. We also jack-hammered out the old concrete steps that led to the original front door on the side. (Under that window) Stephen was installing the siding to finish it off. Now, I get to decide what plants to put there!


Garden show off

I didn’t have a garden last year because of the remodel work. It was killing me! This garden plot was a weed area for the previous owner. It was covered in comfrey (devil weed), dandelions, butterfly bushes, poppies and morning glories. A few redeeming factors: This arch is now covered in Marion berries. The site gets FULL sun. It tucks in perfectly between the grape arbor and back lawn. arch

I couldn’t wait to start planning this year, and started to design and till the soil in March. Of course, a full till of the soil cut all the morning glory vines into millions of little vines that I will battle until kingdom come, but it needed one good till. We won’t till it again, instead use cover crops to work the soil each year.


This is the progression from my kitchen window. I laid black plastic between the beds for weed control on the paths. I am using raised beds without boxes. We just piled up the dirt high for the beds and lower for the paths.


Wood chips lay over the plastic. By April things were starting to green up.


I have a bed of potatoes under the straw bed right by the arch. I’ve failed at getting a good crop from potato towers, so I’m trying the old-fashioned way of piling up straw around the plants.


By June we were swimming in lettuce and the beans are to the tops of the teepees!

WP_20130628_001Time for the carrots and first planting of lettuce to come out to make way for the tomatoes.



Dining Chairs Mish-mash

Chair style 1

I prefer my  things don’t match. I like them to complement, but not be identical. So goes my dining chairs. I found two chairs for $15 each at a second-hand store. They had more, but again, no matchy-matchy for me!


The arms were scratched or chewed up by a critter, so I sanded and re-stained them.

DSC07190I thought the details, the knobs and crosses on the back, went great with my table. New cushions and fabric make them perfect.


Chair Style 2

This little guy I found at an estate sale up the road. It was $1.

Sanded it. Taped the wood off. Painted the metal a flat grey. (Yes, Eleanor, grey again!) Stained the wood walnut. Wa-laa!

Chair Style 3

These chairs, I picked up for $3 apiece. Man, they were musty. I don’t have a before picture, but the original fabric was a heavy mustard upholstery. I was thrilled that the wood matched my other chairs, and even the details were mimicked. Not exact, but similar.

chairI used the same fabric, and encored the pillow fabric on the back.WP_20130628_006

Now to find a two-person settee, and my set will be complete.

Dining Table Makeover Adventures

Last January, I found a vintage table listed on Craig’s List for $200. It was just what I’d been looking for: ornate legs, hide-a-table extenders that slide in and out, and casters. The listing said it was in fair condition. One leg was missing a chunk and the veneer on the top was peeling and in terrible shape. But, it was sturdy.

DSC07148I went to see it. Loved it. Made a deal to purchase it for $150, and then worried about spending too much for a peeling piece of junk. You know how that goes.


After experimenting with a few chairs, we decided the casters made the table too high. We removed them. Stephen squared up the legs, tightened screws and added a few more to make the leg support arch more stable.


I painted the legs Annie Sloan’s Paris Grey.

“Grey. Again?” My daughter asked.

“Yes, Eleanor. I want to marry the color grey.” DSC07151
After researching for hours on how to apply veneer, where to buy veneer, and how much it would cost; I decided NOT to re-du the veneer. I found one lonely forum entry by a professional furniture restorer explaining how he uses hardener epoxy to re-build damaged molding on antique pieces. It seemed easy enough. And it finishes smooth and very hard. I used 3Ms all-purpose filler. I peeled away all the loose veneer I could, sanded and then applied the epoxy- like drywall compound  -on the missing parts. Sand it smooth and repeat. Level and smooth. I’m not a perfectionist. I figured my kids would be slowly destroying the table for the next 10 years, so I wasn’t going to make myself crazy getting it perfect.


More Chalk Paint. More sanding. More compound epoxy. More sanding. More paint.


When I painted, the veneer sucked in the moisture, and started to pop up in places. I used a sharp syringe and watered-down wood glue to stab adhesive into the air bubbles. Then, I pressed it down with books and bench press weights overnight.  That works, but it is a tedious process.

DSC07187More sanding to shabby it up. Then paste wax and a good polish.


I can’t say enough good things about Annie Sloan’s Chalk Paint. It is a dream to work with. After applying wax, it hardens and shines beautifully.


After using the table for a few months, the veneer will still pop up in tiny places when I wipe it down or a it gets wet. Once it dries, it lays flat again. Having a painted table top was not my first choice, but I don’t hate it.


I love the way it looks, but its not the most comfortable to sit at. The scrollwork rubs our legs when we sit two to a side, and it stops the chair arms from tucking under. I’ll detail the chairs I re-did in a following post.

I still debate whether $150 (plus $100 for paint and epoxy) was a good deal for it. Hmmm. What do you think?