I heart deuglified blue dressers

Refinished blue wood dresser, Coffee Under The Umbrella

Look, Chinese Food! Shiny dresser top!

I love blue. Blue ceilings, blue walls, blue vases, blueberries. My favorite house that I’ve lived in was bright blue. My favorite room in my house is blue. My kid loves Blue’s Clues.

Whenever I see blue oops paint, I snatch it up. I’ll paint anything blue. I’d paint my cat blue if she’d sit still long enough.

I went out on a limb and took a risk by painting this dresser blue, as well as the desk I posted a few weeks ago. And, erm, well, I don’t have much to say because I had the good fortune of not having to do much to this dresser as it was actually in pretty good shape. I wheeled and dealed a little when I bought it as the owner was moving and just needed it out, so I got a good deal on it.
Solid wood, structurally in good shape. Just needed some (well, a lot of) putty and new knobs to replace the old ugly wood ones. I used Valspar’s oops paint for the blue and Antique White for the drawers with some glass knobs.
I also tried General Finishes’ water-based polycrylic for the first time, and I’ll say that I don’t know that I can go back to Minwax. GF is more expensive, but the ease of working with the product surpasses Minwax by far. I tried the first coat with a Purdy brush, and I’ll say that I’ve always had trouble brushing on poly – I think it just takes practice – but this was actually ok in that there were far fewer brush marks than with Minwax’s product (whether that was because of the product itself or the brush I’m not sure of). I had trouble getting it on really evenly though, til I read this little tip from Mouse in Your House and used a small foam roller the next pass. I had never read of any blogger who did that, but I have to say that rolling it on worked like a charm.

ugly wood dresser, before


Refinished blue wood dresser, Coffee Under The Umbrella

Refinished blue wood dresser, Coffee Under The Umbrella

Pretty pretty


A bathroom storage shelf is the perfect excuse to avoid working

oak refinished bathroom shelf towel storage

I have towel and TP storage! And I don’t have to go outside in the cold now!

I am a cold weather wuss.

It’s about 50 degrees and windy out, and I’m afraid to go in my uninsulated garage to poly a dresser I’m almost finished working on. I know, more FWP…I’m not complaining because I’m also not in the middle of a “Frankenstorm” or a hurricane. I can’t stand being cold. Give me 105 degrees in August, and I will putz all day in the garage.

So today is a perfect day to find other things to do, like scrape caulk off the bathtub, which my husband has just tasked me with if I want to avoid spending $450 on labor to install a new one. Does he know how much lumber that could buy? Or what kind of router or how many shoes and purses at Marshalls?

Before I scrape away, I realized I forgot to post one of my first projects. My house, as I have said several times, was built in the 70s. Homes from the 70s are known, aside from their glorious popcorn ceilings, for their lack of storage and sensible layouts and awesome ugliness.

I’m afraid I don’t have a before picture, but I saw on Craigslist an oak bathroom cabinet for $25, and I needed wall storage in the bathroom since the floor was completely taken up by a toilet, a vanity, and a bathtub. I suppose I could have put something on the floor, but I decided to indulge my family by not creating an obstacle course to any of these three. It had 2 mirrored doors on it – just let your imagination feed on the 80s honey oak-stained awesomeness.

So I knew nothing about joints, filling in holes, sanding, etc at the time. Looking at it now, it’s actually built really nicely. I don’t know if it’s handmade, but the box, I would guess, seems to be put together with dowels or pins, and it attached to the wall with the horizontal bar, sort of like a French cleat but inside the box rather than behind it, that runs under each shelf – if you look closely you can see it.

I removed the mirrored doors, primed, and painted. Distressed lightly with a medium grit sand block, glued the applique to the top, and with spray adhesive, attached some countertop sticky paper that I liked to the back.

So this was a productive use of time that kept me from going into the garage. Now I will have to finish my dresser tonight after it gets even colder.

Bath shelf applique

Added some girly-girl

A picture in which I am awkwardly standing and holding a book

ana white

Ana White and me, with me standing awkwardly to the side holding a book

Ana White, the woman who started it all (“it” being my furniture obsession), came to Houston to promote her new book, The Handbuilt Home. My 5th wedding anniversary gift to myself was to get myself in the car at 7am this morning and drive from Austin to a Home Depot in Houston. My gift to my husband was to leave him with the toddler for most of today.

Ana first complimented my necklace. She’s just as beautiful, down to earth, and positive as she is on her website and Facebook page. I handed her my book to sign and she asked if I build. I told her that yes, I had posted my builds on her site and Facebook page. I introduced myself by my first name. She responded, “Oh, you’re June Solomon (not actually my real name).”

This was a pretty awesome day. Now off to celebrate my anniversary for real.

ana white handbuilt home book signing

I think I can die happy now

I am not a food blog, but I occasionally play one on the internet – Raw Brownies!

ground walnuts raw brownies

I promise this is not the same picture as my ground almonds!

I really like food. I do not like to cook, but I like to partake. My food board on Pinterest is somehow my largest board, much more so than any DIY, decor, furniture, etc boards of mine.

That being said, I cook for my family most of the time, and I buy organic when I can. And avoiding processed foods is something really important to me. We’re in the middle of changing our eating habits, which were not bad to begin with, but we’re trying to cut down on as many animal products as we’re comfortable with. We’re not sure where that point is yet, but that is for another post.

Anyway, I have been intrigued with the concept of raw foods for awhile and alternative forms of sugar. I eliminated white sugar and high fructose corn syrup from my diet years ago and have used evaporated organic cane juice instead – white sugar now gives me a pounding headache – but my husband is far more sensitive to sweeteners than I am, so we’re playing with cutting out more sugar and perhaps replacing fructose with glucose where we can. Enter dates.

I found this video which addresses different types of sweeteners from a health perspective. Point of my blathering: date sugar is the healthiest form of sweetener. So my husband asked me to start buying dates, which then made me remember this recipe for raw brownies that I saw awhile back. I didn’t know where I could buy medjool dates at the time (affordably) so it didn’t cross my radar, but I recently saw that my Costco began carrying them in 2 lb boxes for about $8, so I went for it. Plus I have a weakness for brownies, my favorite recipe being Mark Bittman’s from his How To Cook Everything. The blogger discusses the various health benefits of medjool dates so I won’t cover that here, and I also have not tried to make date sugar to date.

So tonight I desserted on raw brownies after priming an ugly dresser.These are VERY rich and moist. They’re actually pretty amazing. No dairy, no sugar, no gluten. I think this may be heresy to raw food enthusiasts, but since I didn’t have raw cacao on hand, I used this organic cocoa powder my MIL sent me that she bought at her church. Which still bests Hersheys by far.

Here is my modified recipe that I made in my blender. The original is made in a food processor, but mine sucks so I used my blender.

Raw brownies for slightly more than 1

1/2 cup whole walnuts
6 Medjool dates, pitted
1/4 cup organic cocoa powder

1. Place walnuts in the blender. Blend at speed 3. It should be ground to a fine powder.

2. Add cocoa powder and dates.

3. Pulse 3-4 times, about 5 seconds each. Consistency should be very cakey and moist.

4. Mash it into a bowl and put it in the refrigerator to set. Go sand and prime some furniture.

This batch didn’t grind all of the walnuts to a powder, but I kind of liked it with the chunks.

raw brownie gluten free dairy free

I cannot for the life of me figure out how food bloggers make the most beautiful pictures of brownies, but that is why I am not a food blogger.

organic fair trade baking cocoa

This is the cocoa I used. Yum.

Note: this is the second time I tried this today after tweaking the blender settings. The first time I made half this amount, and I used almond flour that I had on hand instead. It was still good, but much more crumbly. Whether it was the almond flour or not enough dates I don’t know, but this version is far and away superior to my first attempt. Also, if it’s not sweet or moist enough to your liking, add another date.

Let me know in the comments if you try this and what you thought. Til the next furniture redo – cheers.

Edit: This is why I should never post after midnight. I am incapable of differentiating between ok pictures and crappy pictures.

The Tiffany desk, a broken foot, and a nomination


Shinyinlove.com has kindly nominated me for the One Lovely Blog award! Thanks to Larkin for the nomination. Now go show her some blog love.

I snatched up this desk when my BFF Craigslist told me about it.

wood vanity old desk before

She had potential

I sped over to the house, stopping at an ATM on the way, and pulled up where a man had placed it outside on the front walk. I suppose there’s always the temptation to pick it up and run, but I wouldn’t have been able to anyway because this. was. Heavy.

The man called a teenage boy in the house to help me load it in the back of my car. I drove off with it nervously shifting side to side in my trunk, and I shuddered at every thud I heard when I turned. Husband had to help me load it in the garage.

Later that week. I went to the garage to work on it, thinking it would be a fairly quick project since it was structurally sound and just had cosmetic damage, and that I would definitely be able to finish before leaving for our midwest vacation and the symphony started for me.

It was not to be.

broken foot leg


The foot had broken off completely. I didn’t know how I missed that. There was no way I was willing to sell this thing with a missing foot.

I initially dealt with this by ignoring it completely and addressing all the other cosmetic issues. Like the fact that it needed to be bathed in wood putty.

desk cosmetic fix wood putty

Desk and wood putty: head-on collision.

Then I sanded, sanded some more, puttied some more, sanded again, primed and painted several coats. Went on vacation, got my symphony music. And it sat in the garage, lamenting the fact that it was a fabulous color of blue but had no leg or drawers.

To condense a lot of boring details, I eventually decided to deal with the foot after talking to several “real” woodworkers by getting a rasp, a coping saw, and making the foot myself.  I did consider just prying off all the legs and replacing them with new ones, but after realizing how heavy this desk is and seeing how all 8 legs are heavily braced, this is the route I decided to take.

Here’s what I started with.

broken desk foot

The canvas I had to work with.

Here’s my arsenal:

Coping saw

coping saw

Arsenal of Insanity 1


rasp 2x4 leg

Arsenal of Insanity 2

I took a piece of scrap 2×4, cut it to the correct height, placed it against the other leg, and traced the shape. Then I took the biggest drill bit I had and started drilling holes into the end grain around the border of the leg, if that makes sense. I cut away the excess with the coping saw, then rounded the concave part with the rasp. I lost a significant amount of sanity while whittling shavings away. I assume most woodworkers who had no access to power tools are legally insane.

attached wood desk foot

I whittled away my sanity, but at least I had a leg.

Finally, I had this.

wood desk foot

The left half is the foot I repaired. The right is one I was trying to match.

I pondered for awhile what to paint the drawers. I wanted white but as I mentioned in my previous post, I was afraid of it being too 8-year-old girl. I considered keeping the blue and also silver, but the majority liked the idea of white. A commenter on my FB page opined that the white against blue looked very “Tiffany’s” and I was sold.

Here’s the final product from a few angles.

Refinished Tiffany blue wood desk, via Coffee Under The Umbrella

I have to say, I LOVE this color combination.

Refinished Tiffany blue wood desk, via Coffee Under The Umbrella

Refinished Tiffany blue wood desk, via Coffee Under The Umbrella

Look at these details!

Here’s the breakdown of steps and materials used.

1. Wood putty and spackle to fill in dents, gaps, other imperfections. Overfilled each one.

2. With my Bosch RO sander and 150-220 grit sandpaper, sanded off the excess putty after it dried. By hand in spaces too small for my sander.

3. Puttied again because inevitably there are always spots you miss, the putty shrinks more than you anticipated, etc.

4. This time, sanded by hand.

5. Vacuumed off dust, then wiped with a damp cloth or tack cloth, whichever was handy at the time.

6. Primed with Kilz latex. I am meh about this primer – it was on sale awhile back, but once this is gone, I don’t think I’ll be going back. It doesn’t wow me at all in terms of adhesion. It’s not horrible, but I think there are other primers that are better.

7. Sanded with 220 grit on the RO sander.

8. Vacuum, wipe, etc.

9. With roller, rolled on some Valspar oops paint I got awhile back that I’d been dying to use but hadn’t had a chance to. Added Floetrol and rolled on thin coats – thin as in, barely enough to cover the surface.

10. Brushed on where it’s too small for the roller.

11. Sanded with 220/320.

12. Lathered, rinsed, repeated steps 9-11 3 times.

13. Sprayed Minwax’s spray-on water based polycrylic in the blue can in semi-gloss. I’d had problems in the past with this product looking splotchy on darker colors (as in, anything darker than white), but I made sure to keep at least 10 in. of distance and went really light. It looked better after sanding with 320 grit by hand. I have mixed feelings about Minwax products at this time.

14. Scrap 2×4 for the foot – cut to size, traced the shape, drilled off the excess wood with a drill, cut off extra with a coping saw, then used the rasp to smooth out the curves.

15. Glued and clamped to the foot after filing the broken edge down, filled the crack between the two with putty, and sanded. Attached a block to the inside like the others with glue and wood screws.

16. New hardware from Hobby Lobby. Fixed the one drawer bottom with water damage by breaking it, then sliding in a replacement piece of plywood. Painted and top coated drawers.

This sits patiently (for now) awaiting a buyer. If you are local (Austin) and are interested, drop me a line through my contact page.

So the end of summer is finally upon us in central Texas, and while my output was slow last month, I have a garage full of furniture, a head full of ideas, and a house full of crap with nowhere to go, so the projects will again be forthcoming!

Update: I applied General Finishes’ water-based polycrylic to just the top in gloss. Hard as nails.

Linking up at Liz Marie’s linky party!