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DIY

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Dumpling Cats – A Crochet Book for Cat Lovers {review & giveaway}

Do you remember how I taught myself to crochet last year? With a little (lot of) help from YouTube, of course. Well, I’m still at it, still learning, and enjoying it as much as ever. I’m drawn to it for the creativity as well as just having something to do with my hands while I’m sitting watching a movie or chatting with a friend. It is truly fulfilling to see a creation come to life!

My most recent challenge – crocheting these little cuties. Dumpling Cats is a collection of crochet patterns you can use to create your own little menagerie of furry friends. There are 25 cats in all, and each comes with a little write-up on their name and personality. I found it fun to read through and decide which dumpling cat to hook first. The collection is inspired by the game Neko Atsume: Cat Collector, which immediately appealed to me, as I’ve been playing that on my phone for about a year now. (The game is simply about placing food and toys to entice adorable cats, each with a different personality and preferences, to come visit. You can take pictures of the cats for an album, or watch them play. It’s purely about the cuteness.)

The cats in Dumpling Cats are adorable. I brought the book with me on a recent cottage trip, so I could work on the Finneus pattern. According to his bio, Finneus really likes to eat, and his favourite spot to hang out is the cardboard box near the kitchen – so he can always be first in line for lunch. My fellow crafters, and the teen and tween girls who were there were all excited for the book. I now have my work cut out for me as each of the girls pointed out cats they need me to make for them.

So, first thumbs-up for this volume – the creations are really cute, interesting, and something any cat lover would be happy to make. The next question of course is how accurate and easy to follow are the patterns. So far I’ve only done one cat, but can confirm that even this newbie was able to follow the pattern and create something pretty close to looking like it was supposed to. I had some difficulty with the legs and ears, and I put that down to my newness with crochet terms. Looking at the legs I first made, I knew they had to be wrong, so I went back and re-read the instructions. I quickly picked out where I had misinterpreted, and fixed the problem on my second try.

Important to note – the excellent illustrations accompanying the different steps of each pattern were the clue to tell me I’d made a mistake. They are a great help, especially to a more novice crochet fan. At the same time, the patterns are varied enough to keep a more advanced crafter interested. The directions explain every stage, from ears to tail, and some of the patterns include accessories and costume items. Plus, there are bonus patterns for a cat bed, food bowls, and more!

Here is my little guy. I used a larger crochet hook than indicated in the pattern, so he’s a bit out of scale, but still adorable, IMO.

For More Information

Dumpling Cats is written by Sarah Sloyer, and published by Dover Publications. You can connect with Dover on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Buy It

You can purchase this volume from Amazon.ca. This is my affiliate link, and if you make a purchase after clicking here, I will receive a small commission from Amazon.

Win It

Dover Publications has generously offered a copy of Dumpling Cats as a giveaway to a lucky RMB reader. Entries are via the widget below and will be accepted until 11:59pm EDT, September 10. Giveaway is open to Canadian residents only. Best of luck!!

Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book. No financial compensation was received. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.

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Kids Craft: Paper Plate Easter Baskets

This is an idea I stole from Boo’s daycare many years ago. It’s a simple craft you can do with the kids and makes a nice decoration for your Easter table. These baskets aren’t sturdy enough for an egg hunt, but they will hold some Easter grass and chocolate eggs or candies. Plus, your kids will be super proud to display them as part of your family’s holiday decor.

What you will need:
Paper plates (the cheap kind you can get at the dollar store)
Crayons, markers, coloured pencils
Scissors
Hole punch
Ribbon

Instructions:
To begin, turn your paper plate face down and colour as desired all over the bottom of the plate, which will become the outside of your basket. Be creative. Be colourful. Let your kids have fun with this!

Next, cut a series of slits about an inch and a half apart, all around the outside of the plate. Cut in to about half an inch into the flat part of the plate. The deeper your cuts, the narrower and higher your basket will be. You will now have a series of “flaps” all around your plate.

Take your hole punch and make two holes in the top of each flap.

 This is what your plate should look like after all that cutting and hole punching.

Now, take your ribbon and begin to lace it through the holes, drawing the flaps up to make a rounded basket. Be sure to overlap the flaps consistently (over, over, over, …) all the way around to make an even basket that sits flat around the upper edge.

When you get back to the start with your ribbon, you will need to overlap and draw the ribbon through one of the first holes a second time, to bring it back to the outside. 
Tie your ribbon in a pretty bow, and you’re done!

You can fill these with a little Easter grass if you like, or just toss in some candies. Little Boo is really proud of the basket he coloured (on the left). These have been added to our Bunny Hutch and are filled with yummy gummy bunnies.

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The Silverware Chest – Refinished

A couple of years ago, I was going through the linen closet in my grandmother’s old apartment, and I found a silverware chest. It had an incomplete set of silver plate inside, including a few serving pieces. I liked the silverware, but the box was in awful shape.

It had been stored on a shelf along with a number of table cloths. The one resting directly on top of it was a vinyl table cloth, with that gauzy cotton backing. It was STUCK completely to the surface of the chest. Total disaster. There was even some sort of paper label seemingly glued on. But I took the chest anyway, figuring I could salvage it. Last weekend I finally dove in.
My plan was to first clean, then refinish the chest, so I could display it on my sideboard and have a safe home for my new set of “good” stainless cutlery. I thought a good dose of Goo Be Gone would do the trick, but this mess was too old and intractable. Total waste of time. Although the box smelled lovely.
Because I have a thing for power tools, I tried to lightly sand the mess away. Nope. I just managed to gouge the surface in a couple places. Sanding would have  done the trick eventually, but it would have taken away too much of the wood.
So, I turned to paint remover. This wasn’t my first choice, as it’s messy and smelly and the fumes were quite overwhelmng since I was doing this project inside, but it did a great job. I used a gel-style paint stripper, applying it on all sides. Only the top needed to be stripped, but if I didn’t do the whole piece, the stain would not have applied evenly. Required: paint stripper, scraper, gloves, drop cloth to protect the floor, and a big rag or rags to continually wipe the scraper of collected ick. Finish up by wiping the whole piece with a clean rag and paint thinner to ensure the surface is clean.
I was so eager to keep moving on this project, I forgot to get pictures of the paint stripping process. Essentially, once you let the gel sit for a few minutes, you simply push the paint scraper across the surface (gently but firmly) and slide off a big, gooey mess. Scrape, wipe the scraper, scrape again until it’s done.
After the scraping and then cleaning with paint thinner, let the piece dry before applying stain. For this small project I decided to try MinWax Wood Finishing Cloths. They are like baby wipes, just soaked in stain instead of distilled water and cleaning things. Super easy. 

Required: drop cloth to protect the work surface, MinWax Wood Finishing Cloths, gloves. That’s it. Put on your gloves, open the package to remove a wipe, close the package to avoid remaining wipes drying out, and then wipe the cloth across the wood, going with the direction of the grain.

The stain dries in about an hour, and then you can take another cloth and add a second coat, if you wish. Best thing? No brushes to clean! I slipped the glove off over the wipe and tossed them in the trash. No clean up required.

I’m pleased with how this has turned out, although I still need to replace the hinges, once I find something suitable. Once I got the guck off the top of the chest, the rest was easy. This isn’t what I’d call an heirloom piece; none of us can remember Nan actually ever using this silverware or chest. It may have come from some other relative and made its way to her closet. We’ll likely never know, and that’s ok. I’ll still think of her when I see it, and I’ll know that I gave it a new lease on life.

The inside wasn’t hurt, just a bit dusty.

Displayed with my late mother-in-law’s crystal bowl.
I didn’t do a perfect job of staining, but I’m happy with it.

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“Fixing” My Kitchen Reno #DIY

We made many mistakes when we got into our kitchen renovation in 2015. Many. And a few of those still haunt me today. But, the one I want to focus on is the lack of foresight and planning for our pantry.

Oh, how I lusted after a pantry. Any extra cupboard space, really. But a floor to ceiling pantry was second only to pot drawers on my list of “must-haves.” The designer dutifully drew my pantry in, right next to my fridge. And I was excited! He even included the dimensions for us. So much room! Glorious.

Our mistake was – we didn’t look closely at those dimensions. We knew it would mean tons of storage, but we didn’t adequately envision to what those dimensions would translate in real life.

Really freaking deep shelves.

See how far away this can is?? Who can reach that behind a whole slew of other cans?

If we had fully grasped this (or, perhaps, if we’d had a better contractor) we would have requested gliding shelves. But we didn’t. So I have spent the last year and a half blindly moving cans and bottles and boxes around, tossing armfuls on the counter, trying to find that one can of whatever that I just KNOW I bought last week.

You can’t find anything at the back of a 23 inch deep cupboard. Trust me on this one.

I finally got fed up. I debated having someone come to install proper gliding shelves. But instead I decided to do a quicker fix and ordered two pull-out cabinet organisers (affiliate link) from Simple Human. I figured I’d start with two and then get more if I was happy with them. To make a long story short – I am!

These heavy-guage metal baskets have a removable liner to keep your cabinets clean.  They glide effortlessly. And they were super easy to install.  Honestly – four screws. That’s it. I removed the liner, placed the basket, and used my cordless drill to quickly sink the screws. No pre-drilling required.

Be sure to account for the door and hinges when you are installing one of these sliding baskets.
You want to be sure it will slide all the way out!

And see how easily they move –

Of course in the process of emptying my pantry so I could install these, I found an embarrassingly large amount of forgotten and expired food. Also, many duplicates of items I clearly kept losing toward the back of the shelves. I had FIVE cans of Heinz Original Beans with Pork in Tomato Sauce. And not one, but THREE opened boxes of Ritz crackers (all stale). I may have cried a little at all the food I threw out. But now? Now I have a newly purged and organised pantry, with at least two shelves I can pull out to access the things at the back.

It’s all so tidy!!

So, my tip to you for your next kitchen reno is this – be careful what you wish for, and be sure to fully understand the plans for your new kitchen. If your cabinets will be especially deep, consider access to the far reaches. This is something we should have dealt with in the planning, and not as a later, needed fix. And, if you have deep cabinets now, know that there are solutions out there.

Oh! One last note. Since I installed these on adjustable shelves, we have to be careful when pulling them out. Pull too far without supporting the shelf, and the while thing will topple! (For the record, I didn’t have to learn that the hard way.)

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Re-finding My Inner HandyWoman

My father and grandfather were always super handy. Whether it was fixing the family car or putting an addition on the house, they were always into something. And I watched, and sometimes helped, and learned a few things along the way.

My grandfather gave me my own hammer before I had even started school. I used it once or twice, only with his help, but I was proud.

For Christmas when I was 27, my dad gave me a cordless drill. A male friend of mine got a microwave from his parents. We both laughed. But really, they were the perfect gifts for both of us. He had tons of tools already; I had all my kitchen stuff.

In my 20s, I felt pretty handy. I drilled holes to hang shelves, took down walls, did lots of painting, replaced light fixtures, hung blinds – basically whatever little fixes needed to be done, I was on them. But then I got myself a man, and he took over all those tasks. It wasn’t about sexism or machosim or anything. Jim, like me, liked to fix and build things, and he was good at it. Better than me, to be honest. Or at least more careful and precise. So, the handyman stuff went on his chores list (with the laundry, for the record – we didn’t have a totally gendered division of labour.)

So now I find myself back in the position of doing the handy(wo)man things. And although I’d love to be able to move those chores off my terribly long list and hand them off to someone else, I am actually enjoying getting hands-on with my power tools once again.

Other than hanging a few pictures last month (harder than it sounds with plaster walls), my first real “fix” involved adding a slide lock to our laundry room door. Just whom am I trying to keep out, you might ask? This beast:

I love Maxi, but she can be a real pest. Her greatest goal in life is to find her way into the laundry room when no one’s looking, so she can eat the cats’ food. And explore in their litter box. (Gross!!!!!) Jim put a cat flap in the door years ago, so cats had access, but not dogs. Maxi did manage to get in through it when we first got her, although she couldn’t manage to get back out. Now she’s quite a bit heavier and can’t sneak through anymore, so she watches for someone to accidentally leave the door open. I guess that wasn’t happening quite ofter enough, because she recently started butting her head at the door to break in. And she somehow managed to mess up the door knob enough that the door now no longer stays closed on its own.

I debated replacing the door knob, but decided instead to just quickly install a slide lock. Four screws, one small hole to drill. Just a bit of sawdust to vacuum up. And, voila!

Need a slide lock? I can do that.

I will admit that my drill hole was off ever-so-slightly, and I had to make some adjustments, but overall I am pretty pleased with myself. And now the cats may eat, as the dog can no longer get in. I have seen her try, and may or may not have laughed evilly at her as she butted her head against the now immovable door.

Power tools make me happy

Now, on to my next project. My office. I am hoping to get it cleared out next week so I can start painting. Then I have shelves to stain and hang, a whiteboard to put up, and a few other touches. I think the blinds need replacing too. It’s all completely within my capabilities – if I can only find the time! Wish me luck 🙂

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My Christmas Wreath Adventure

Well, I finally finished the wreath project I showed you last week. I really do love to craft, and need to make more time for it. This time of year gives me an extra push to get creative, and sometimes I get in a little over my head. This isn’t entirely one of those times, but I did find this project a lot more involved than I expected.

I blame Pinterest. And those time lapse DIY videos. Perhaps I should have done a little more research and preparation before I dove in, but that’s just not the way I roll. “Looks pretty straightforward. I have a glue gun. Let’s do this thing!”

First off, here is the finished project:

I do love the final effect, and it looks great from a distance, or in pictures. But when you get up close you see this:

Lots of gaps where the foam wreath form shows through. At least it’s green and kinda blends in. But this illustrates the base frustration with this project. Everything is round. And round things don’t fit together nicely; there will always be a gap.

Sigh.

Of course, this is common sense, and I should havve realised I needed to do a more careful plan, but, again, that’s not me. I needed a ton more balls than I thought I would, and definitely needed a variety of sizes to get the gaps covered up. If I do one again (and I’ve had a couple of requests), I’ll be better prepared, which is really why I’m telling you all about it today – so you can be too!

I’m not going to give you a step-by-step project guide here, mostly because I was just winging it. Also because folks far more talented than I have already covered this well. You’ll find a ton of how-tos on Pinterest. The basic idea is get a wreath form, hot glue gun balls around the inside, then the outside, then layer up with balls of varying sizes to fill all the holes. You can wrap a ribbon around the wreath to hang, weave it in under the balls when you’re done, or affix the ribbon first before you start gluing. Depends on who you ask.

Tips from me:

When you start out, lay out the balls around the inner circle BEFORE you start gluing. I just happily glued away until the end, where I ended up with an awkward gap not big enough for another ball. Do the same for the outside. Just space a tiny bit between the balls all around to make it even. (My eldest, studying construction management, suggested I should do actual measurements. Yeah, right.)

Use a low heat on your glue gun to avoid melting the foam form or cracking the plastic balls.

Use plastic balls.

Once the inner and outer circles are done, I found it best to build up a small area first, then move to the next. But do what works for you.

You will need way more balls than you think you will. Depending on the size of your wreath, probably 100.

You will need lots of smaller balls to fill in the gaps. Maybe try for three different sizes.

You will use tons of glue sticks. Have a good stock on hand.

Be prepared to spend the next week cleaning up glitter off your floor and clothes. Glue gun webs as well. I found my wreath was covered with fine strands of glue that I had to clean off before I could be happy with it. I was pretty covered as well.

Overall, this is a super easy project. Slap on some glue, stick on a ball. Repeat, Repeat, Repeat. It does take a long time, you do need to put in more initial thought than I did, and it is easy to get carried away. Be careful as you are filling gaps and building up that you don’t create a big bulge on one side, or you’ll perhaps end up back at the craft store looking for more balls so you can build up the other side.

Another tip – the supplies can get really expensive. I estimate (because I made more than one trip to the store) that this wreath was about $40, plus my time. And I purchased the balls at Michael’s on a good sale, with an extra coupon. So, if you are thinking about doing one of these, I suggest costing it out and comparing to the cost of buying one ready made. Don’t forget to consider your time commitment, on the negative side, as well as the feeling of pride and accomplishment in having created something so beautiful, on the positive.

Will I do one again? I said no, but I think I could change my mind. I’ll keep my eyes open for great deals on the balls after Christmas, and maybe check thrift stores as well. A homemade wreath would make a nice gift next year, don’t you think?

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Getting Crafty with Duct Tape Bags {giveaway}

It’s really amazing the things that can be done with duct tape. Over the past couple of years this tool box staple has become a crafting material of choice, and is available in an ever-growing array of colours and patterns. Boo has acquired a fair collection. He is particularly fond of using narrow, metallic duct tape to make decorative patterns on various belongings. 
Taking this crafting up at least a couple of levels, we have this new book from indie crafter, Richela Fabian Morgan, Duct Tape Bags: 40 Projects for Totes, Clutches, Messenger Bags, and Bowlers. Fabian Morgan began crafting with duct tape 8 years ago, with simple bifold wallets, and has 3 previous duct tape craft books in print. 
This latest volume lays out clear instructions for creating 40 different bags in a variety of sizes and styles. The step-by-step directions are accompanied by photos, making it easy to follow along and feel confident you’re on the right track. Before you get started on any of the projects, an introductory section lay out the basics of working with duct tape and the tools you will need. Specific tutorials walk you through the process of creating your duct tape fabric (the base of any project), and how to attach the three different bag closures required in the projects.
The projects are gorgeous, with easy to follow directions, and beautiful photography. Perfect for all you crafty types – maybe you can even use this to make some wonderful, hand-made bags for holiday gifting?

Get Social

You can connect with Richela Fabian Morgan and see what she’s up to on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest

The Giveaway

One lucky RMB winner will receive their own copy of Duct Tape Bags. Entries are via the widget below and will be accepted until 11:59pm ET, November 26. This giveaway is open to both Canadian and US residents. Best of luck!!!

Entry-Form

Disclosure: I received a complimentary review copy of this book. No financial compensation was received, and all opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.  This post contains affiliate links.

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10 Tips for the Garage Sale Shopper #LeonsGarageSale

I recently shared 10 Tips for holding a successful garage sale, and today I want to follow up with 10 tips for successfully shopping the garage sale. I’ve got a fair bit of experience in this area; I’ve been an avid garage sale fan since I was a teenager. And my home in my late 20s was almost exclusively furnished and decorated with garage sale and thrift store finds. Just because one person is done with something does not mean that it doesn’t hold lots of life still for another owner, and garage sales are great places to find super deals on unique items. This is one of my favourite ways to spend a summer Saturday morning.

Of course sometimes your finds need a little extra love before they find their place in your home. Since DIY is another love of mine, that’s pure bonus. I’m particularly fond of this one. I spied this rusty, stained. metal bar stand at a church sale. They were asking $2!!! How could I resist? A little cleaning, sanding, and spray paint, and I now have a beautiful, bright rolling table on my back deck.

Isn’t it pretty? The teapot is a garage sale find as well.
You can check out the full DIY in this post. This was a really easy and quick project with great results. Always keep an open mind and focus on the bones of an item, not its current cosmetics. Think how you could transform it to become the perfect item for you. DIY is so satisfying!

Garage Sale Tips

Thinking of heading out to the sales? Here are a few tips from me to you, to help you make the most of your garage sale shopping experience.

  1. Be prepared to bargain, but don’t be cheap. You’ll only insult the seller, and that will shut down negotiations quickly.
  2. But don’t quibble over a 25 cent item. Just pay it.
  3. Buy in bulk for deeper discounts. If you want a number of items from one seller, you can usually get a bundled cost. The price tags may add up to $11.50, but offer $10. Sellers usually just want to clear things out.
  4. Take your time. Sort through items to find the treasures. Look with your hands. And keep an open mind – what might this become?
  5. Be polite! Don’t call things junk, even if they are. Firstly, it’s just rude. Secondly, it’s not going to get you anywhere with negotiations.
  6. Decide on a budget and bring only that much with you. 
  7. Bring coins and small bills; not all sellers have a great collection of change on hand. Plus, presenting exact change can help you strike a bargain. “I’ve got $3.25. Is that good for these?”
  8. Bring your own bags and/or a buggy to carry your treasures.
  9. Also good manners – respect the advertised sale times. Early birds showing up an hour before the sale starts, while the family is still setting up = just plain rude. As with any engagement, 10 or 15 minutes early is acceptable, but be respectful of the sellers’ time.
  10. And a final note on timing – go early in the sale for the best selection, late in the sale for the best deals. You will likely find sellers more willing to negotiate on price the closer they are to facing packing everything up and trying to figure out what to do with it all now.

#LeonsGarageSale

Coming this weekend, July 31-August 3, Leon’s is hosting Canada’s Largest Garage Sale at their locations across the country. Come on out for great deals on new merchandise for your home! Plus there will be food and refreshments from local vendors and FREE LEMONADE!

A Giveaway

To celebrate their garage sale, Leon’s is offering up the chance to win a $150 gift card for their store. Entries are via the widget below and will be accepted until August 3rd 2015 at 11:59 PM. Giveaway is open to Canadian residents only, excluding Quebec. Best of luck!
Leons Garage Sale

Disclosure: This post is brought to you by Leon’s. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own.

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In the Garden: Hanging Baskets #DIY

Other than the time I spent sleeping (which was a fair amount), and an extended brunch with girlfriends on Sunday, I spent pretty much the entire long weekend in the garden or at the garden centre. I turned soil, added manure and fertilizer, removed weeds, and got busy setting up my planters. We even had our first meal of the year out on the deck. The weather in Toronto was stunning, the best Victoria Day weekend I can think of in years.

I decided to put together a little video to show you how easy it is to DIY your own hanging basket. You can of course buy one ready-made, but I think it’s extra special to select and arrange the plants yourself. And, depending on where you would normally buy your basket, planting one yourself can save a lot of money. These things get pricey! Once you have the basket itself, you can use it year after year with new plants.

The basic tips:
1. Choose your colour scheme.
2. Choose plants that will fill in and vine down over the sides, not stand straight up.
3. Grasp plants firmly, right at the soil line, and gently pull or squeeze out of their garden centre pots.
4. Remove excess roots and soil from your plants. It’s ok to be a little rough. Loosen roots to ensure best contact with soil.
5. Make a small depression in the soil and press your plant in. Firm it around with more soil.
6. The more the merrier. Containers should be planted tight for best moisture retention and best visual appeal.
7. Use a potting soil with a fertilizer added, or apply a fertilizer specific to planters. I like Miracle Gro products that feed continuously for 3-4 months. That way I don’t have to remember to feed again during the summer.

Did you find this video helpful? Are there gardening topics you’d like to see me cover in future videos? Let me know in the comments below!

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One Gal’s Trash is Another Gal’s Treasure #trash2treasure #DIY

Disclosure: This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions on this blog, as always, remain my own. #trash2treasure #CollectiveBias




There’s something about me that drives my husband nuts. (There may be more than one thing, to be fair.) We’ll be driving along, and I’ll spy something on the side of the road, and I’ll call out for him to STOP! What have I spied? Usually an old table, or chair, or sometimes a bookshelf. You see, I’m an inveterate dumpster diver. I love taking something old and making it new again. My husband? He never stops. Not for yard sales or antique shops either. It gets frustrating. So I prefer to drive on my own 🙂

I actually have a bit of a competition going with my friend across the street. We are cut from the same cloth and are both always on the lookout for great new finds left out by our neighbours. There’s a lot of comparing and friendly envy going on. Of course, she’s a professional designer and does some truly amazing things with her finds. But I think I do ok too.

Last summer I grabbed this amazing side table for $5 at our annual neighbourhood garage sale. It has two slanted shelves that I’ve been using for magazines, although the lady selling it said she believed it was originally designed for sheet music. Whatever the original purpose, it’s a great size for our living room, and I love the openness of the top shelf area.

It’s a bit of a mess though, with serious water stains and some goopy stuff on top. It desperately needs to be refinished, but I haven’t gotten around to it until now.
Looks like a potted plant leaked here on a regular basis.
My supplies – sandpaper, electric sander, paint roller and brushes, paint, latex gloves, stencil, painters’ tape. I’m using a simple, cheap plastic tablecloth from the dollar store as a drop cloth. I spent some time browsing in Home Depot, having a look at paint colours and debating between paint or stain. I decided on a neutral colour paint from Behr’s arts & crafts collection – Concord Buff. I want to add floral details on top, so I also grabbed some bright green paint. I like the sample sizes Home Depot sells for about $5. They are perfect for small detail jobs. A second trip to Michael’s craft store for a stencil, and ready to go.
There are so many different brands and formulations of paint available. Be sure to get the right finish for your project. Since I’ll want to be able to regularly wipe down this table, I went with an eggshell finish. 
To be honest, I really didn’t need the electric sander, but I like to find excuses to use my power tools. I used it on the top surface, and then lightly sanded the rest of the table by hand with a 180 grit. I just needed to rough up the finish a bit so the paint would stick on top of the stain. Before painting I wiped the table down with a damp rag to be sure all the sanding residue was gone.
I had chosen a 2-in-1 primer and paint combo to save a step, but since I was putting a light paint over a dark stain, I still needed to do two coats. I gave a third coat to the top for extra durability.  Larger surfaces I attacked with the mini rollers (love them!), and I had small artist’s brushes for the lattice work and edges. Getting in to the backs of the slanted shelves was a definite adventure, but I managed it. The disposable gloves protected my hands and wrists at least. Note to self – paint from inside out next time.
Tip: If you are taking a short break from painting with the same colour, you don’t need to wash your brushes and rollers. Store them in plastic baggies to keep them from drying out.
Once the whole piece had at least two coats on all surfaces I let it dry completely before applying the stencil. the painter’s tape allowed me to secure the stencil in place without leaving behind any sticky residue, or tearing up the painted surface. I did a random pattern over the top, including partial stencils at the edges to give it a more natural look. Important tip for stenciling – do not get too much paint on your brush! It’s pretty easy to have the paint bleed under the edge of the stencil, so you want a fairly dry brush and careful application.

Use a fairly dry brush for stencils, and be careful about paint pooling at the edges of the design.

This was such an easy and fun weekend project. I’m a bit mad at myself for waiting so long to get to it, to be honest. What do you think? Nice improvement, hey?

Next DIY? I have a found dining chair to re-finish and re-upholster. Time for a trip to the fabric store!

What about you? Are you an upcycling pro? Garage sale veteran? Tell me about some of your great finds!