Thursday, August 18, 2011

On Dogs and Cocoa- a word to the wise

Yoshi is the chow hound of our 3 dogs (Katy is still a foster, but we are coming to think of her as ours now).  Actually, Yoshi is really a greyhound; we just call her a chow hound.


She’s our “lightest” dog at 66 pounds, but you wouldn’t think so with all she eats!

I envy her metabolism.

This dog is totally food driven.  She goes outside only because she knows that when she comes back in she’ll get a treat.

Sometimes she gets lazy and declines to go out with the other two but still comes running to the kitchen when I let them back in…expecting a treat anyway!

So it was no surprise to me last night when she declined to go outdoors after eating her dinner.  Normally she eats, determines there’s nothing more to be had and then goes upstairs to bed without even a backwards glance.

We had one of Mike’s nephews over to visit last night and were outside at the outdoor kitchen where Mike was fixing a nice dinner. 

Sandy and Katy were outside with us.

After we ate I went inside and noticed something on the floor…on closer inspection it was a brown plastic lid.

Where did that come from?

I turned the corner to the living room and there was Yoshi, sprawled out on a dog bed, an 8 oz can of Hershey's Cocoa powder between her paws and her nose thrust all the way into the can. 


She happily looked up at me and licked her chops.

I screeched!

The can was nearly empty!


Where on earth did she get hold of that?

Then I looked back in the kitchen and saw the corner lazy susan cabinet, which we use for spices and other baking ingredients; was open.

Mike had come into the house to grab some spices to cook dinner and forgot to roll the cupboard shut.


I called the our vet’s office and got the number for the emergency clinic.  I called them up and explained how much cocoa our dog had just eaten, (it was an open canister, but we figure it was at least half full if not more.)

Get her in here NOW! was the response.

So off we went, with a very happy Yoshi dog still licking her chops.

She wasn’t so happy when she came out of the emergency clinic, having been made to vomit out all the chocolate AND her dinner.

We had caught it quickly enough that it hadn’t absorbed into her system yet. 

No issues, thank God.

Just a bill for $247.

In retrospect I think the cocoa needs to be stored in a different place from now on.  That is, IF I ever buy it again.

So, do you have dogs too?  If so, where do you store your cocoa powder?

Did you know that baking cocoa is the most deadly of all chocolates to a dog?  It’s pure cocoa!


Oh, and one more thing, do you have Syrup of Ipecac on hand? 

(I’ll be picking some of that up today to add to my first aid kit)

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Laziness never pays (well, almost never)

You know by now that I’m apt to take the lazy way out of most jobs.  It’s in my nature, I just can’t help it.

If there’s a shortcut, I’m all over it.

So when Jason asked me to build him a bench from a bed, and said that he wanted it stained rather than painted, I started thinking of ways to avoid a ton of sanding.

One product I’ve used in the past pretty successfully is the Minwax PolyShades line of stain and poly all in one step.

According to the directions you can apply this directly over existing finishes.

So I got a can of the Bombay Mahogany Satin and went to town on the bench.


Only this time, I screwed up.

It could be because I had sanded a lot of the finish off already, or maybe it was the foam brush I decided to use.  (bad idea)

Maybe it was the high humidity that day.


The stain went on sloppy, and all the brushing in the world did not improve it.

For some reason I got stubborn about it and decided to finish the entire thing, even though I didn’t like how it was going.

Perhaps I thought the second coat would make it better, or that it would dry ok….

I can’t really explain it. 

Guess I was in denial.


I even tried to put the second coat on it, to see if it would even out.  It didn’t.

It was even more horrible if that’s even possible.


OMG, this was the nastiest looking stain job I ever did see. There was no way I could give it to Jason this way.

Poor Mike got his head bit off when he came home just then and very innocently said

“Wow, that bench is looking fantastic!. Love the finish.”

I may or may not have grabbed a hammer and chased him around the driveway with it.

(I know I wanted to!)

I got up Saturday morning and decided it was time to take my medicine for being so lazy.  It took me the greater part of the day to sand off all that nasty polyurethane.

Goodbye, good riddance.

I have learned my lesson the hard way.


Now that I was back to square one, it was time to pick out another stain.


(Remember how lazy I am?)

I chose this gel stain that promised it was easy to use, needed no brushes, and most importantly, “no sanding between coats”!

Even after a hard lesson like I had just had, leave it to me to still look for an easy way out….


The only “tools” I needed were 3 old socks.  One to apply, one to wipe off the excess, and one to buff with.

(and a pair of dish gloves to protect my hands from being stained for weeks)


I was thrilled to death after just one coat. 

Things are looking up again.

Thank goodness! 

I may finish this job yet.

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Thursday, August 11, 2011

On Headboard Benches, Past and Present

It’s been years since I’ve made a headboard bench.  Really. Years!

My first attempt was in 2007;  I had just discovered the message boards at HGTV and was intrigued by all the great projects those talented folks were talking about.

When I found a headboard at the side of the road, I knew just what I wanted to do with it.

Of course this is before blogging, and taking pictures of everything I did just wasn’t high on my list of priorities….

But I did take these pictures of it in my yard the following year.


Sandy 024

You really can’t tell in the photos, but the headboard was a queen size, and I used 2X4’s for the framing.  You have no idea how incredibly heavy this monster was!

And to top that off, I made the seat proportions to fit a giant with legs a mile long. 

Sitting on that bench reminded me of the Lily Tomlin “Edith Ann” character.  You know, the little girl sitting in the giant rocker? 

She always ended her spiel by saying “and that’s the truth” with a razz-berry for emphasis?
It was a fixture in my front yard for 2 years before I sold it in a garage sale for $10.

A year after making that first bench, I decided to make a whole bunch of benches at once, call it a bench marathon if you will.

That cured me of my headboard bench addiction big time!

The following photos show all the different headboard benches I made that weekend.

Are you ready?

First up,  I made this bench specifically for my sister Kathy to use by her pool.  This time I used a full size bed instead of a queen, much lighter!

This one had both a headboard and footboard.


Let’s just say it did not go together easily, ok?  See those spindles on the footboard?

Lots of pulled out hair trying to figure out how to make it all work!.

Note:  I’m not going to do a tutorial here, that’s already been done by Gail @ My Repurposed Life.  Gail has put together the best directions ever so if you want to know how to build one of these, go check out her tutes here, here and here, ok?  One thing I can tell you, no two benches I’ve ever made are ever exactly alike. 

Be prepared to go with the flow on each individual project!


After it was all together I used reclaimed porch floor boards for the seat.


I’m going to digress a little bit here.  That was the summer I  brought home almost an entire front porch I found at the curb one day.

From posts, to floorboards, to clapboards, to the bead board ceiling,  I got every piece I could salvage.  It took me several trips and I ended up storing a bunch of it at my Mom’s house since she lived pretty close to where I found it.

Ahhhh,… that was a great find…so many of the parts have been used on various projects already. 


(anybody recognize  those clapboards from a recent project?)


Ok, so now back to benches.

Here’s a picture of Kathy’s finished bench at poolside. 

I left the seat blue to mirror the color of the pool water.


This next one was made from a twin 4 poster bed that I was just in love with.  A thrift store treasure purchased for $10, I was so excited to find it.

bench marathon day 003

This one went together a lot easier than Kathy’s. 

I know the posts are way too tall, but they were my favorite part of this bed and I didn’t want to cut them down.

bench marathon day 007

I used L brackets to attach the side rails.

bench marathon day 010

Again I used some reclaimed porch floorboards for the seat.


Here it is painted back. 


I was bemoaning the fact that the back looked too plain to Gail, and she sent me a “Tatouage” rub on decal to dress it up. 

Isn’t she the best? :)



I had to paint over the original blue on the seat to make it match the decal better.

That bench was gifted to another of my sisters for her birthday that year.

This next bench is actually a crib bench. (I’m including it because it’s still technically a bed, right?)

I pictured something for a mud room. to sit and put your shoes on.

The seat is from an old bench, cut down to size.

The bottom shelf is from the crib railing.



I had it for sale at a booth during an outdoor show that year.

It didn’t sell.

I ended up donating it for a silent auction at a cancer benefit for a friend.

It brought in $100!


Ok, so this one coming up is my least favorite of all of them.  I almost didn’t include it in this post, but for the sake of keeping it real it’s good to know not every project comes out pretty.

bench marathon day 009

My youngest sister had requested a simple bench to put out in her yard for her cats to sun themselves on.

She wanted plain and utilitarian.  No frills.

I picked a twin size headboard to start with.  It was a curbside find and covered with stickers when I found it.

I went with a basic box seat and outside mounted legs.


Yuck.  I hated it!

So I changed the front legs out for some chair legs I had leftover from another project.


It was a little better, but still felt clunky to me.

This photo shows the bench painted and in the process of sealing with clear spray finish.


The next bench I made that day involved a footboard and some chair backs.

Technically I would call it a chair bench.  You can read more about it here.



This one sold quickly at my sale that year.


That bench marathon was back on the weekend of July 26 and 27th of 2008. (the basic’s were done on that weekend, it took a few more weekends to do the finishing)

I haven’t even been tempted to make another headboard bench since then.

That is, until Jason bribed me with all those goodies from his basement.

So here I am, back at it, making yet another headboard bench.

This time though, I got smarter…I listened to my pal Gail and went out and bought a Kreg Jr pocket hole jig.


It was so incredibly easy to put the pieces together, I couldn’t believe it!  It is well worth the $40 to buy it.


The basic bench took me less than an hour to cut and piece together.



It’s a start!

What I’m getting hung up on now is the stripping and re-staining.

Let’s just say it’s not going well. :(


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I’m linking this up to Gail’s Catch as Catch can party.  Check out all the great links over there!


Monday, August 8, 2011

What would it take?


I’m curious, just what would someone have to give you to get you to agree to make him a headboard bench?

And what if that someone wanted that bench to be stained, rather than painted?

And with a cushion, rather than a wooden seat?

What if it would involve STRIPPING off the old finish entirely, and staining it a darker color?

Would it take a lot of persuasion to get you to do that?

It would me! 

I hate stripping finishes, absolutely HATE it!

But what if a good friend of your daughter’s called you out of the blue and asked if you would be interested in an old media console?

And what if he said during the phone call, while you were hemming and hawing about whether you wanted it,

“I’m moving and I think I have some other things in the basement you might like”.?

Would you get right over there the next morning to check it out, or would you say “no thanks, I’m not interested”?

(now mind you, no mention had been made yet of an ulterior motive)

Well, being who I am, of COURSE I showed up bright and early the next morning to get that TV stand.


While not anything really special…


It still had good bones, and I could see it as a nice storage console for the office.

Why the printer could go on that sliding shelf, and files could be neatly stored in the divided compartment.

And maybe painted white, glazed, and with a dark stained top it would look really nice!

So I agree to take it. (no strings attached yet)

Then he says, I have some stuff in the basement too, want to see it?

So down the stairs we go.

First thing he shows me is this cedar lined trunk.


It has an old photo taped to the underside of the lid.  How cool is that?


The leather on the outside is worn off in places,

but the front has this cool star embossed on it.


And I’m drooling over the hardware.


And then he shows me this little gossip bench, how cute!


And a plant stand with the top falling off,


And a run of the mill wooden chair; plain, but very solid, not a wobble in sight.


And this old suitcase, with lots of travel stickers still clinging to it.


It opens up sideways, how cool is that?


Then a tool and dye storage box.


It has some cool cut outs inside where the parts used to fit in.


Ah, and then there was this trunk, made from old barn wood.


Will you look at that grain?  The saw marks are soooo cool!

It had been pretty recently made and has a polyurethane finish on it to showcase the wood grain.


There was an ice cream maker, (not really old, but all the parts are there)


And a huge 15 pane divided glass window. (apparently it came out of a credit union, the stickers on the glass tell that story)


What do you think?  Is that enough yet?

Or would you hold out for this window too?


It’s the door from a built in china cabinet. 


There’s an old soda crate.  Anyone out there remember Squirt?


What about this thing?


An old cider press, I think.


By this point I’m overwhelmed by all the possibilities, and drooling over each new piece he points out.

I mumble something like, “But these things are so great; I can’t just take them, let me pay you for them.”

AHA!  He must have been waiting for just that moment

because he says: “funny you should say that…..

(Uh-oh, now what did I do?)

He then shows me this.


It’s covered with yucky, moldy stuff. Ugh!


And says, “I would really like a bench made from this bed, it has a lot of sentimental value. 

Do you think you could do that for me, in exchange for all these other things?”

I think about it for a nanosecond, and of course agree.

(Duh!  No brainer there!)

And then happily proceed to load up as many of the goodies in my van as we can fit.


Yep, that’s what it takes to get me to make a headboard bench. (more on that to come later)

So what would it take for YOU to agree to that proposition?

If you could only pick one piece, which one would it be?

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