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Stripping and Painting Curvy Furniture

October 17, 2014

There are a lot of posts out there about refinishing and painting furniture. This here is not a glorious Before and After post, but rather what I learned about using Citristrip, the truth about sanding, and going with the flow. stripping and painting curvy furniture

First, let me point out that I knew this was going to be an arduous task and I just wanted to buy new chairs. Following a heated whisper-argument in the IKEA dining section, a few tears shed behind  an armoire display, and removing ourselves to separate corners of the kitchen staging area –  I knew that refinishing the chairs we already had was going to be a better option than buying new ones. (This is what the sign should say on the building: IKEA: Only the Strong Survive) (Also, IKEA would be better off having a bar instead of a food court). Anyway, on to the Citristrip. Directions on the bottle are pretty vague. And they say that you can leave it on for up to 24 hours. I left it on for 30 minutes and it was all dried out and impossible to get off. Here is how I got the Citristrip to work on these chairs, which are all curvy surfaces:

  1. Wear gloves.
  2. Glob on a VERY thick layer of the Citristrip. I was just dumping it right on the paintbrush and applying it that way. I’d say about a quarter inch thick or so. Work on one chair or a couple sections at a time.
  3. Let it sit for about five to ten minutes.
  4. Using a green scrubbing pad (those scratchy ones you can get in the dishwashing section), scrub the Citristrip around until you can see the bare wood. Then wipe it off with a rag. This is messy and you’ll need to rinse the scrub pad out as you go and/or switch to clean new ones every once in a while.
  5. If there are any spots of varnish or paint still left, you can dump Citristrip right on the scrub pad and really get at those problem areas.
  6. Once the chairs are bare, wipe everything off with mineral spirits.
  7. This process is three things: tedious, time consuming, and messy. But it worked for me. And if you have curvy surfaces, it will work for you. Citristrip can be scraped away, but really only on flat surfaces.

And now, the painting. I used regular old interior house paint, one that was a paint and primer in one (so I didn’t prime, duh). Here now is where I will be shunned by DIYers who do things right, who know what they’re doing, perfectionists who really have patience:

I. Did. Not. Use. Sandpaper.

Nope. After the Citristrip fiasco, there was no way I was going to apply several very thin layers of paint, sanding and cleaning between each layer. Heck no. You know what I did? I used a foam brush – a cheap foam brush. And it worked out just fine. It will probably work fine for you, too, so long as you use the broad side of the brush to kind of gently “smear” even layers of paint on. And be careful of drips. If you just smooth everything out as you go, all will be well, I swear. The key words here are: slow, deliberate, gentle, mindful. Do three thinnish layers of paint that way, allowing a few hours of dry time between each coat, and the surfaces will be very close to very smooth. And there you have it: it’s not perfection, but pretty darn close.

And that’s good enough for me.

Once the paint is good and dry, go ahead and reupholster the seats, too. That’s a breeze and Nicky and I did four chairs in about an hour.

stripping and painting curvy furniture

Karate Crackers

October 3, 2014

Nicky’s uncle makes these crackers that I can not get enough of. They are the carb equivalent of a terrible reality TV show: you know it’s so wrong, so bad for you, but you binge watch three seasons on Netflix anyway.

Karate Crackers

After looking around online for a recipe, I learned two things: most/all require a packet of Ranch powder . . . and they don’t really have a name.

I’ve never purchased ranch powder – have you read the ingredients on there? I needed these NOW, and I needed to make them with what I had in the house. And because everyone I know plows through these like a hand through a stack of boards (hi-YA!), I thought I’d call them Karate Crackers (BONUS: karate literally means “empty hand,” which also makes sense because these don’t stick around very long).

Karate Crackers

1¼ cup canola oil

1 tsp paprika

1 tsp seasoned or regular salt

1 tsp garlic granules (or powder)

2 tsp dried parsley

2 tsp dried dill

½ tsp cayenne . . . or more if you like more kick (hi-YA!)

4 sleeves of Saltine crackers

Mix together all ingredients except the crackers. Put the crackers in a big mixing bowl or casserole dish. Pour the oil mixture over the crackers and stir everything around CAREFULLY *. It is helpful to use a large spatula and do a drizzle/stir/drizzle/stir type situation. Once the crackers are good and oiled up, spread them on a cookie sheet or two. Pour any remaining marinade onto the crackers. Bake at 250° for 20 to 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

* You will inevitably break a few crackers. That’s okay, because that means you have permission to eat the broken ones while you are mixing. But don’t be like me and accidentally-on-purpose start breaking crackers so you can eat them before baking.

Everything is going to be OK

October 3, 2014


Well, hello there! It sure has been a while. How have you been?

The shop is back open and I will slowly be getting back my blogging legs and clearing out some cobwebs.

We’ve been through a lot this past 12 months, but everything is going to be OK.

It’s been the year of H: houses and hospitals and hiccups. First, we have been dealing with what is called recurrent miscarriage. Second, we bought a house! And it has turned into quite the little fixer-upper.

Between the surgeries (3), the bank, the house-hunting, the procedures and lab tests (so many lab tests), the issues with our new home . . . I have felt like a frog on a wax tray in some dumpy middle-school science lab (do kids still have to dissect frogs in school?).

We have been exhausted mentally, physically, and emotionally. So I needed a break. And that is OK.

This blog may start to look different: less patterns, shorter posts. And that is OK, too. I considered quitting all together, but decided a little bit is better than a no-bit. I’m not going to throw in the towel, I’m just going to throw in the washcloth.

For now, anyway.


Put a Bead on It

March 9, 2014

crochet scarf with beads

Maybe it’s the long winter. Or maybe it’s lack of creativity. Or, it’s probably both . . .

I have spent the last few months in what I will now refer to as “Heidi’s Scarf Phase.” I have made so many scarves that Nicky no longer asks, “Whatcha makin?” The question has turned to more of a statement of fact: “Another scarf?”

So, because I realize I have scarf issues, and I know scarves aren’t the most exciting thing in this world, I will just share this one with you. And my excuse is this: I solved a problem with this scarf.

Problem: the scarf I was making was not as long as I wanted it to be, and I had run out of the yarn I was using.

Solution: Put a bead on it! Or nine beads, to be exact.

crochet scarf with beads

You should do this, too – it’s so simple and easy. I just wove the last of my yarn through the end of the scarf, cinched it up, strung the beads, cinched it to the other end, and voila!

Here’s the nitty-gritty:

I used this yarn (several partial balls that I probably picked up at a yard sale, and is apparently no longer being made).

I followed this pattern, with some changes: I used a bigger hook (4.25 mm), a thicker yarn, and I did not make the edging.

And I strung on nine large beads that I picked up for a song at a surplus store.

crochet scarf with beads

Now, I am happy to say that the snow mountain outside is slowly melting, and I think Heidi’s Scarf Phase is melting along with it. To be replaced with “Heidi’s Tank Top Phase?” Time will tell <suspense>.

I made this. Whatever.

February 21, 2014

Whatever Banner

Because I saw it on Pinterest, of course.

Crochet is the Answer

February 14, 2014

Crochet Coral Reef

What do you do with a big glass fish? All of the things my Gramma tried didn’t seem right: it’s an awkward candy dish, it’s not deep enough for real fish, sticking a plant in there wouldn’t work well (no drainage, too high-maintenance, DIRT) . . .

So knowing that crochet was the answer, as it is for so many problems, I hijacked Gramma’s fish and put a coral reef in there.

Crochet Coral Reef

Crochet Coral Reef

Obviously, I was heavily inspired by Rachel’s work (and BTW, you can see her interview here). And PINTEREST. Pinterest is also the answer. Go on and do a search for “crochet coral,” and you’ll see what I mean.

Crochet Coral Reef


  1. Make bits of coral.
  2. Shave down a little mound of floral foam.
  3. Pin all of your coral bits to the floral foam with stick pins.
  4. Realize that your coral reef is too big to fit through the fish mouth. Curses!
  5. Remove all coral bits from foam.
  6. Stick naked floral foam into the fish gullet.
  7. Carefully stick coral bits into floral foam with pins (again). This was difficult, as I could only fit one hand into the fish mouth at a time.
  8. Feel like you are doing some bizarre form of reverse-crochet-taxidermy.
  9. Revel in your coral reef.

Crochet Coral Reef

Crochet Coral Reef


February 7, 2014

Large Embroidered Doily Mandala

Hello out there! I am back from the holidays, after all this long while. This time our holidays included a Thanksgiving, three Christmases, a New Year’s, a birthday, a wedding shower, and a bachelorette party – a lot of fun crammed into a short time!

It also included what I will just call a Significant Heartbreaking Event for Nicky and me. I will spare you the details, but suffice it to say that it was the type of Significant Heartbreaking Event that left me wanting to just be alone – I felt like the wind got knocked out of me and any type of motivation to do anything got sucked right out along with it.

Large Embroidered Doily Mandala

But, life does go on in spite of ourselves, and unlike the Polar Vortex nightmare that is going on outside right now, I do feel like I am slowly thawing out. In an effort to distract myself from myself, I started working on some projects I have been putting off for forever. It all began with some ancient crochet bedspreads . . .

I inherited two enormous bedspreads that my Great Grampa made – apparently he was an avid and very skilled crocheter. The bedspreads haven’t been well taken care of and they need some heavy-duty mending and stain-removal. I started in on what is turning out to be the herculean task of mending all of the rips and ravels and missing pieces . . . and just got overwhelmed (I will share the bedspreads with you in two years, the actual time it will take me to fix them). So, I moved on to something a bit more manageable: doilies.

Large Embroidered Doily Mandala

The doilies have been passed on to me from one of Nicky’s Great Grammas. I wanted them out for everyone to see . . . but I am not exactly the type of person to have doilies sitting out on tables and such. Enter Pinterest, as usual. I saw this post over at Goodknits and knew I had a winner – Lisa’s idea is genius!

Large Embroidered Doily Mandala

This project was many things: Meditative. Easy. Satisfying. Also, it made me feel really connected to the past in a weird way, and happy that I found a solution for displaying these heirlooms.

Large Embroidered Doily Mandala

No doilies were harmed in the making of these mandalas – I only stitched into the backing fabric, or gently slid the thread through stitches!

Large Embroidered Doily Mandala


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