So Much to Say ~ by Sam

After seeing how well the photo-heavy post worked last week, I decided to do another this week.  Perhaps, I will just keep posting that way, just to keep posting something.  Shane has promised to post about the computer he is building ~ oh, the trials and tribulations of the Great Computer Build of 2016! ~ when he has time, but he is, as usual, working several jobs at once, so it might be some time before he gets to that.  Well, he is not working several jobs at the moment.  At this particular moment, he is sleeping, as he should, after a much-needed night out for just the two of us at Cheesecake Factory (and, yes, there are things I can eat there ~ there is a Vegan Cobb Salad, in fact, that is quite good, and almost as large as I, to boot, so I will be eating that for days) and a very heavy work week.  Kaia is at a friend’s Bat Mitzvah, and the other kids are still asleep, because it is Saturday morning, so they can sleep in.  Me?  I was up to get the kid to the early Bat Mitzvah, and now I am drinking coffee, writing, and neglecting chores.  Three of my favourite pastimes!

I decided to do another photo-post this week, because I enjoyed looking back on my week.  Sometimes, I feel like the days and weeks and months all bleed together, and I find myself gasping for air and thinking, “Wait!  Stop!  What??  It’s April?!!  When did that happen??  Where were January, February, March???  Didn’t we celebrate Christmas???!!!!  Slow down already!!!”  It is my hope that, by taking time to make a regualr “Week in Review” post, I will remember to pause and appreciate all of the moments, big and small, that make up our lives.  As Social Distortion told me: “Life goes by so fast!  You only want to do what you think is right.  Close your eyes and it’s past.”  Yeah, that certainly is the “Story of My Life,” too.  So, I am pausing to think, and I am letting you in, if you want to come along for the ride.  Here it is, then, my week in review:

We went to see The Tempest at the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival (find more info here: Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival

I had a lot of busy days, but am trying really hard to remember to make healthy choices.  I don’t like much fruit, but I know it’s good for me.  The medication I am on impairs my appetite somewhat, and can, in combination with another medication I must take, cause dehydration, so I have to be very careful to make sure I:
a) REMEMBER TO EAT (trust me, this is not as easy as it sounds ~ and yes, I realize how ridiculous that is), and
Because I practically live in my car, I have to eat there, sometimes, too; but I am trying to make healthy choices when I do.  Pears I can stand.  They are an acceptable fruit.  Coconut water is very hydrating.  Violets are always a winner.


Right.  That thing about being healthy.  I just said that, and now, I am gonna post poptarts.  It’s true, I made poptarts.  I made them because it’s all good and well to be healthy, but you have to also eat delicious things and have fun, too, and homemade poptarts are really the best poptarts.  You can make your own crust, or just use store bought piecrust (I make my own, because I prefer it, and it’s really pretty simple, using an oil pastry recipe my mom gave me) and you can fill them with jam or, as I did, brown sugar & cinnamon mixed w/ a little almond meal, butter and pinch of salt.  Okay, so they are still a little bit healthy and kind of nerdy, as compared to regular poptarts.  Being a little bit healthy and kind of nerdy, myself, I can live with that.


I added a few little touches to the Alice Garden, including teacup & saucer birdfeeders I made using pieces purchased from a thrift store; and while I wouldn’t call it “finished,” by any stretch of the imagination (and I don’t think I ever will), I do think it is looking quite “Alice-y,” indeed.

Shane brought me a tiny bouquet of flowers; and I picked up two magazines about two pretty amazing people, but I haven’t had time to start reading either of them yet.

I continue to walk and use the free equipment at the local park 2-3 times/week.  I keep thinking about signing up for a gym membership or the YMCA, and I might just do it when it gets too cold for me to be outdoors, but, for now, this is my gym:


Saw yet another positively glorious North Hollywood sunset.  I got to enjoy it with my kids, thanks to a phone call from Shane, to give us a heads-up from our homework and chores.  I love that we do this for each other.  Any one of the five of us will call or text to say, “You have to go outside and see (the Moon/sunset/rainbow,etc.).”  It’s just one of the things that makes us who we are.  I hope we always do that.  As usual, the pictures just don’t do it justice.  The sun was glowing deep red.  I did the best I could to capture it with my little phone camera, but you’ll just have to trust me, it was roughly 8,000x more glorious.

We celebrated Gene Kelly’s birthday by watching a bunch of his best dance numbers (which pretty much means all of them ~ they were all his best).

I baked a darned good gluten-free apple pie, if I do say so myself (I do, by the way)!  I didn’t intend for it to be gluten-free, but discovered, after I had already started peeling apples, that I didn’t have enough regular flour to make pie crust.  I did, however, happen to have some gluten-free flour left over from a baking project Kaia had done for her Girl Scout troop, so I decided to just go ahead and make a gluten-free pie crust.  Turned out great, so, should the need arise, I now know I can do this.  Also, I got to have pie for breakfast one day.  Oh, we totally had pie for dinner.  It has fruit, see, and fruit is good for us.

Justice brought home a huge bouquet of sunflowers!  Thank you!


Kaia did her homework outside one day; and it was accidentally left outside.  The next morning, at 5:00 a.m., the sprinklers went off.  Later that morning, as she was getting ready to leave for school, she couldn’t find her homework. I’ll bet you can guess where it was.  Yeah.  We used a hairdryer set on low to dry it.  Only one finished math equation was completely washed away.  Her teachers were very understanding about its rumpled condition.


I FINALLY started painting the detail above the shower in the kids’ bathroom.  I know.  It still looks pretty shoddy here.  Give me some time.  And look with your hearts. The Fox taught me that is only with the heart that one can see rightly.  What is essential is invisible to the eye!  (I’ll post more pics when it’s done.)


Last, but not least, I played my banjo.  I am getting used to the new banjo.  She looks, feels and plays different than the old banjo.  I will still play both, but, for now, I am just playing the new one, because…well, the old one is a little easier to play, I guess; so I feel like I need to work with the new one until I get used to her.  The new banjo is so much heavier!  I feel like I am lifting a small child (or a medium-sized child…who is carrying a small dog).  I love her.  I mean, she’s beautiful, so it was kind of love at first sight, if you believe in that sort of thing.  Have you met her?  Her name is Babe.  Ain’t she a beaut?




Lace-Stenciled Table & Chairs

Recently, Shane and I have been preparing for a big shindig here at the Homestead.  This July, we will be gathering friends and family in our backyard (and front yard, and house, and driveway, because our backyard isn’t very big) to celebrate our 20th Anniversary.  To that end, we have made a list of Things To Do Before The Big Day.  On the list are a number of projects, including “Paint Patio Table & Chairs.”  Now, when I say “Patio Table and Chairs,” I don’t mean what most people mean.  I mean the table and chairs that used to be our dining table and chairs before we had more kids and outgrew it, so we just moved it outdoors.  In all fairness, it has been painted at least twice before.  Nevertheless, it was in desperate need of a new paint job.  Don’t believe me?  Get a load of this:


Fancy, eh?  I suppose one could argue that it goes with the rest of the yard, but we are working on that situation, too.  Besides, that’s rude.  One could also NOT say that, thank you.

Anyway, as you can see, it had seen better days, having been purchased when our oldest child (now 18) learned to climb up through the back of the folding chairs onto the folding picnic table we had been using as our dining set, and then relegated to the outdoors when our little family outgrew it.  You might also note that when we outgrew it, one kid was still in a kid chair.  Perhaps, one day, I will acquire another grown-up-sized chair.  Then again, we often host kid-sized guests, and we have plenty of grown-up sized chairs that do not match the set, so I am cool with this as it is.  Except that the paint job kind of sucked.  So, I started looking for ideas.  I wanted something fun, colourful, eye-catching.  I decided I did not want it all matchy-matchy, and that I would like to try my hand at stenciling something onto the table.  I thought maybe flowers, words, birds, a garden-theme… And then I saw furniture stenciled with lace.  I had seen this idea used to stencil other items, and I liked the look, so I did a little research, read up on how it was done, worried a lot about all of the ways in which I could possibly mess it up… and then I just got over it and bought some paint, some lace, and some repositionable adhesive.

If you want to try this, here is what you will need:

Furniture to be painted
Mild Detergent & Water
Spray paint (at least two colours)
Repositionable Adhesive (I used Aleene’s)

*Optional Items:
Clear Coat
Painter’s Tape/Masking Tape

The first thing I did was wash my furniture thoroughly but gently and dry it very well.  Now, a lot of people will probably advise against getting wood furniture wet, and they are right, I’m sure, but mine had been living outdoors for some time, so a) that ship had sailed, and b) it was super grimy.  I washed it using just a few drops of Dr. Bronner’s Liquid soap (you could use dish soap or any mild detergent) and water, rinsed it well, dried it thoroughly with a towel and then let it air dry for a while, just to be sure it was good and dry.  Because my furniture was…well…let’s say, “weathered,” some of the paint flaked off when I cleaned it.  After cleaning it, I lightly sanded it to make sure there was no lose paint or splintery wood.

Now, the wood was ready for painting.  I used spray paint for this whole project.  These are the colours I chose for the table:

And for the chairs:

So, in case you cannot read all of that, that’s:
Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch 2x Ultracover Paint & Primer in Marigold, Real Orange and Aubergine for the table;
and Rust-Oleum Painter’s Touch 2X Ultracover Paint & Primer in Green Apple & Aubergine, and Rust-Oleum Universal Paint & Primer in One in Robin’s Egg for the chairs.

I really wanted some robin’s egg blue (my favourite colour) in this project, and I coudln’t find exactly the right shade in the 2X Ultracover series, so I used the Universal line, instead.  I will say, the 2X line really does cover better, so, if you are doing a larger piece, you might want to buy more paint if you end up using the Universal.  I was okay with a sort of sheer, weathered look on some of the chairs, and I was going to be stenciling over my base coat and finishing it all with a clear coat to seal it, so I decided one can was enough for two chairs, but, if you want a more smooth, even look, you might need more if using that product.  I ended up using a whole can of orange, a whole can of green, a whole can of marigold a whole can of robin’s egg and about a can and a half of aubergine, I think.  It took a lot of paint.  In fact, I might have used a can and a half of orange, now that think of it, but my table was in REALLY BAD shape.  Your furniture might need a lighter coat of paint, if it’s in better shape.  You’ll note I used the Aubergine to tie all of the pieces together so it reads as a set, despite not being overly matchy.  More about that later.

Now, down to business.  The first thing I did was to pain the underside of my table, which was just going to be a plain, bright orange.  Nothing fancy ~ just turned the table upside down on a tarp and sprayed two nice, even coats of Real Orange.  Wow!  Is that ever bright!  Just what I wanted!IMG_0672

In the background, you can see that I had also started to spray the basecoat on some of my chairs.  At this point, I knew I was using orange and robin’s egg, my favourite colour combo, and I knew I would be adding aubergine overall.  The rest was yet to be decided, and I was off to the hardware store to try to make some decisions.  Luckily, I had my phone, and Shane doesn’t mind too much if I pester him about these things.

Originally, I was going to paint the whole table orange, but then I saw this lovely shande called “Marigold,” and, you know, Aubergine is a purple shade, and “Marigold,” being a yellow, would be a perfect complement for a purple…so, yeah, I totally got the Marigold.   Then, I came home, flipped over my table, and painted the top Marigold.  I was so tickled with it, I took another picture.IMG_0683

It’s totally cute, even just like that.  Already way cuter than it was way back at the beginning of this post, right?  Once that was dry (in a couple of days), it was time to start stenciling.

I was lucky enough to find a gorgeous piece of lace both on sale and on the end of the bolt, so I got a double discount ~ and I had a coupon, so it cost me so little that I didn’t even remember to write it down.  I am so sorry.  I did not keep track of costs for this project at all.  The size of the lace you need to buy will depend on the size of the piece of furniture you are painting.  Sorry, that’s all I’ve got.  It should be big enough to fit over the thing you want it to fit over.

When you get your lace home, you will want to lay it out on top of your piece of furniture and get a rough idea of how you want to position it, keeping in mind that you will want to place it with the smoother side down, against the furniture. The reason for this is that, if you place the rougher side against the furniture, you will leave more little gaps for your paint to leak through, and you want a nice tight seal between your stencil and your surface.  So, lay your lace out on your piece of furniture and decide how you want it to look.  I wanted mine to kind of hang over on some sides and not quite reach others, so the pretty border would be visible.  You can play around with it, reposition it until you think it looks good. (You should not be using any adhesive at this point.  Your furniture is painted and has dried for several days, and you are just setting a piece of fabric on it.) When you think it looks right, stand back and look at it from several angles to make sure you like it.  Maybe take a picture or two.  When you are sure you like it, cut your fabric to fit.  It doesn’t have to be perfect.  I was lucky enough to have a nice big piece, so I had one large piece to use for the table and a smaller one to use for the chairs.

I am going to put a picture here of one of the chairs before I started painting it, because I think you need to see how lovely they were.  IMG_0436

As you can see, they have a very nice shape, but the paint is faded, chipped and peeling.  (in the background, you can see my sad, old rocking chair.  Don’t worry, it gets a makeover, too ~ more about that in another post.)

Okay.  Back to stenciling.  This is the repositionable adhesive I used.  IMG_0706
I looked at a lot of them, and this one seemed like it would work well.  After reading a lot about the process online, I decided to wait for at least a couple of days between painting the basecoat and trying to do the stencil, since it would mean sticking the stencil to the fresh paint with adhesive (even temporarily).  That did mean this project took a hefty chunk of time, but I think the result makes it worth it.

Lay the lace carefully on your tarp with the smooth side up, taking great care to smooth any wrinkles.  It’s a really good idea not to do any of this on a windy day, by the way.  Spray painting on a windy day is an exercise in futility, and trying to keep your lace flat and prevent it from sticking to itself after it has been sprayed with adhesive (even if it is only temporary) will be frustrating, at best.  Follow the directions on your adhesive.  I found it useful to spray a light, even coat over the surface, then wait about one minute before positioning it on the furniture.  If it doesn’t go down exactly as you like, or, if your lace sticks to itself, DON’T PANIC.  Remember, your adhesive is repositionable.  Just calmly peel it up and reposition it.  It happened.  It freaked me out.  My table and I survived.   Here is a picture of my lace, all ready to be turned into a fabulous stencil. It does not yet know it holds the power to transform the drab into the fabulous. IMG_0707

And here is a picture of my lace as stencil ~ holy cow!  This is actually happening!!IMG_0708

Okay, so, now that you have actually placed your stencil on your table, you want to make extra sure to carefully smooth out any small wrinkles or bubbles.  This may involve lifting and repositioning small parts of your stencil if you are working with a large piece, such as a tabletop.  This is why the “repositionable” aspect of the adhesive comes in handy.  Well, this, and the fact that you don’t actually want the lace itself to be a permanent feature of your table.  You need to firmly press and smooth down every little bit of your stencil.  Any tiny piece your miss sticking to your furniture will not work as a stencil, so you need to be super carefully to stick it all down.  Or not.  I mean, it really depends how much of a stickler you are for detail, I guess.

Now that it is all stuck in place, you can start painting.  Again, I used spray paint, and I did several light coats. The wind was interfering with my spraypaint this day (remember what I said about wind?  I said it with far more expletives that day), but I had already stuck the stencil in place, so I decided to gently turn the table on its side, so the wind would work with me.  Then, I took this one very blurry picture, so I am afraid that is all you get.  Sorry.  There will be more stencil-painting-in-process pictures later.  IMG_0711I let it dry for a little while (but not completely) before I carefully lifted the stencil, and ~ voila! Stenciled lace tabletop!  IMG_0715

You guys, I was stunned.  Like completely stunned.  Like knock-me-over-with-a-feather stunned. I was sure I was going to be running to the hardware store for another can of paint to paint over the whole thing in a solid colour when this didn’t work ~ but…it worked!!  And, look, if I can do this, you can do it.

So then, I figured, well, I did the table, now I’ve got to do the chairs to match.  Sorta.  So I did.  Sorta.  I followed the same process, giving them each their basecoat: Two in Robin’s Egg, two in Green Apple:


Then, I played around with my lace again:

Sometimes, I used paper and tape to mask parts I didn’t want aubergined:

I tried turning the lace in different directions:

And in the end, I decided, the one finishing touch the chairs needed to tie them in perfectly with the table was a little touch of Marigold or Real Orange, so that’s just what I gave them:IMG_0822

The last step I took might have been unnecessary, but a gentleman who assisted me in the paint department at Home Depot suggested that I consider finishing everything with 2 coats of this stuff:

Screen Shot 2016-06-01 at 8.35.44 AM

So I did.  My understanding is that the paint itself should be enough to protect the wood, but, after all my hard work, I would like this to last a long time, so I figured it wouldn’t hurt to add an extra clear coat or two on top.  It’s like insurance.

It took me a couple of weeks to complete this project, partially because we are a family and we were busy being a family and living our lives, and partially because all of the various coats needed to dry in between; but, in the end, we have this beautiful new patio set, and I absolutely love it.  IMG_0843

If you enjoyed this post, and you decide to try your hand at using lace to stencil your own furniture, please let me know how it worked out for you.  I would love to hear about your experience (and to see pictures).

~ Sam.