Thursday, April 28, 2011

Six New Dining Chairs for $16 (well... sort of)

Spoiler: This is how it ends. With my reupholstered chairs, and joy.

Nearly three years ago, my parents bought me brand new dining room furniture for my new house. The furniture I'd had was built-it-yourself plywood furniture from Crate and Barrel. While I did painstakingly build it, it wasn't built well, and the materials were cheap and shabby. I like real wood, wood that gets scarred with use, showing signs of the people who enjoyed spending time at it's side. I would have liked a giant, old butcher table, but that was not in my offered price range. The table I have now subs nicely.

This new furniture was from Raymour & Flanigan, and is strong and fairly well built. It's heavy wood, and comes with a side piece that holds all of my vintage stemware and plates. The seats, however, have accumulated various small stain spots. Nothing major, but definitely obvious. Since we have a three year protection plan on the furniture, the company has to come out and remove the stains. Or so I was told.

When the technician arrived though, he nearly laughed and said, "I'm not cleaning these seats." He did, however, spray something on one small, unnoticeable stain. After it dried, it was a hundred times worse.

He sprayed the cleaning foam in a ring, and created this stain.
All that was there before he sprayed it was a quarter-sized water stain.

I called the company to complain and to get help, and they offered to credit me the price of the chairs so that I could pick new ones. They wouldn't match the set, and it's the kind of set that needs to stay together. I love mismatched furniture most of the time, but not in this instance. I didn't want new ones, I just wanted the ones that I had to be clean. My son's belt had carved notches (literally) into the back of the chair, my red toenail polish had marked the legs of one or two of them, and W taught the kids to play poker in them. We've had good times in those chairs, and they are practically brand new.

I bought $16 worth of fabric -- about 3 yards -- and reupholstered the chairs. I love the fabric, and the colors (buttery yellow and a dark pink) and feel so good about having done them myself, and preserving the chairs. Now, they are my new favorite chairs.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Outdoor Living (and really cheap, beautiful ferns)

I think that this is probably my favorite time of the year. It's time to start going outside for pretty much everything. Reading, eating, entertaining. The spirit of summer swiftly landed on me today, with sunlight and temperatures pushing the mid-80s. This is probably why I have a Cinco de Mayo party every year. I just can't wait until Memorial Day to kick off outdoor living. That, and I just can't pass up a night centered around Mexican beer and hot sauce.

The greening of the yard became official last week when a landscaping truck pulled up in front of my house, loaded with trees. I had six Canadian Hemlocks planted, and as many Leatherleaf Viburnums. While I would have loved to personally dig the holes and plant the trees myself, I just cannot break through the rocky soil, so I had Bill LaFlesh come plant them for me. I am so happy with them, and they have made being in the backyard that much nicer.

I continued readying the yard for summer entertaining by mulching my garden beds, or at least getting started. I am not sure how many yards are in the bags of mulch that I buy, but I got 10 bags today and will need about 20 more to get the whole yard done. I like the spruce/pine mulch because it smells nice naturally, and has a dark color without any artificial dyes. At my local garden center, they have coupons for 10% off purchases of $100 or more, so I took advantage of that by getting as much mulch that could fit in my trunk, a bunch of coleus in different styles and colors, and some English ivy. I checked out the Boston ferns, which were $24 and weren't very big. I decided to shop around for them.

Good thing I did.

Wal-mart had a slew of Boston's lining their garden center. The poor things were out baking in the sun  browning (ferns love shade and water), and just looked like they were dying of thirst. But they were big, and I knew that a good soaking of water and some time left to cool in the shade would bring them back to life. I usually don't buy my plants from Wal-mart but these seemed like they were worth a shot and, God, did they need rescuing.  It wasn't until I paid and checked the receipt that I saw that the ferns were only $10.88 each. I brought them home, put them in coconut-lined hanging baskets -- I always keep them in the plastic and then put the plastic basket (you can't see it) into the pretty coconut-lined one, as the plastic helps retain the plant's moisture -- and gave them a nice soak with the garden hose. Sure enough, they perked up beautifully.

Tonight, as I lay in bed writing this, the breeze is blowing in the aroma of spruce/pine mulch and every part of my body is sore. My hamstrings, my heels, even my fingertips. It's a good feeling though, because I know that it's the product of a lot of hard, physical work. Outdoors.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Oh, Life

It's been about a month since my last post. Life had gotten crazy and I needed to take a break. It's finally mellowing and I've decided to try and write about the domestic aspects of it, once again. While having dinner with friends last night, someone mentioned that I haven't been blogging or facebooking. Though I don't miss facebook, I do miss writing this blog. So here I am again. And to my friends from dinner last night, I am still dreaming about that cracker pizza, even after a huge Easter meal.

During this last month, lots of cool things have occurred. First, Savannah Hope Vintage had their grand re-opening party in the new space on 906 Main Street in Boonton. I had two of three of the kids that night and didn't know if they'd be interested in checking out the reception, but when I pitched it to them, they said that they were up for a party (and had hoped to see the owner's dog, Flynn, who hangs there) so we went. They loved all the reception snacks, including the cheeses and chips that were in the new vintage gallery space that is opening next door. That space is the space of the SHV owner's friend Dean, and will be a gallery that features vintage art. They had everyone write on the walls, because they are going to demo it shortly. I love this painting, so we all signed this wall.

Wall at the gallery, notice the kids graffiti. Vintage art that I want is in the center.

I had a blast at the opening, loving every inch of ADeM's new space. You have to go check it out. It was fantastic! Look, she wrote DG RULES with these wooden blocks.

DG RULES! Oh, get out. You are da bestest, ADeM!
Next was W's sister's shower that I helped plan along with his mother and sister-in-law. We did it all ourselves, for the most part. I brought the linens, stemware, water glasses, and some place settings. W's mom did most of the place settings, the silverware, and the table decorations. We made a wishing well out of a laundry basket, and I die cut a banner that said the bride and groom's names. Family was in from out of town, which was just so much fun, and his sister was just so thrilled to be there. It was sunny and warm, so the little girls got to play outside. We served filtered water in old lemonade glass bottles (old Efferve lemonade bottles are so beautiful), and did lots of fun things to keep the decorating eco-friendly. We sent out personalized recipe cards with the invitations, for people to write their favorite recipes for the bride, and W and the girls made a recipe box in which to house them.

One of the tables at the shower. Spring like and fabulous!

While I didn't cook for the bridal shower, I did happen make a cool pasta salad for Easter today. W and I began the day slowly, which was nice. We went to his parent's house in the afternoon for an Easter egg hunt (that his parents create with great effort and detail each year) and dinner. The boys grilled sliders today, and G made a giant steak with cooked onions for us to eat on rolls. M made deviled eggs (I still want that recipe), and so I made a lemony pasta salad to go with all of it. The pasta salad that I usually make is very Italian and garlicky, and I just thought something lighter was in order. It was a hit, so I am sharing the recipe with you here. It's Neely's Lemon Pasta Salad, but in Neely's, they use peas where I used spinach. I also used half the feta and subbed the other half out with goat cheese, because goat cheese has way less sodium. It was delightfully refreshing. I hope you enjoy it.

neely's lemon pasta salad (modified by DG)

  • 1 lb corkscrew pasta  I used tricolor
  • 1 lb asparagus
  • 2 T Dijon mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 c fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 c extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 c fresh chopped dill leaves
  • 1 c frozen organic spinach, defrosted
  • 3 oz. crumbled goat cheese
  • 4 oz. crumbled feta

Cook pasta. Drain and set aside.
Blanch asparagus in pot of salted boiling water until bright green and tender, about 3 minutes. Remove from water and shock in ice bath. Dry well. Trim the ends of asparagus and cut into bite size pieces.
Whisk together mustard, garlic, lemon juice, and extra virgin olive oil in a small bowl. Salt and pepper to taste.
Combine asparagus and pasta. Add tomatoes, dill, spinach, crumbled goat and feta. Toss with dressing to coat. Serve cold.