Tuesday, March 30, 2010

My $1.99 Goodwill Chair

My $1.99 Goodwill chair.

I knew this chair was something special when I saw it marked down and down again. How on earth someone else didn't snag this chair for that price is beyond me. But, I saw it and fell in love. Seriously, one ninety nine. Unbelievable for a solid wood chair.

And, after further inspection, I found all the original tags and markings on the chair and determined that W. H. Gunlock Chair Company has made chairs for libraries, government agencies and several United States Presidents. Now, that's something special to say about my bargain find.

Needless to say, after finding the original paperwork on the bottom of the chair, researching, and realizing that chairs like this are selling for $399 at Pottery Barn, I decided I couldn't wait any longer to refinish this chair.

My first step was to sand the chair, fully dissemble the chair and remove the cushion. For my first step, I tried something new with this chair - liquid sander.

However, I was not that impressed with the product because it left a funky texture and residue on the chair. If you look close in the picture below, you can see the residue building up. The overall time process to use the liquid sander felt like it was double the work because I still had to sand the entire chair after using the liquid sander.

However, with the sanding and liquid sander, I was definitely able to strip the paint from all original coats of varnish/laquer or whatever the heck was layered on that chair.

After the sanding was finished, and after closer examination, I realized the base of the chai was actually brown, instead of black. The solution - tons of cleaning and a few simple coat of spray paint!

Let the painting begin. I decided on the paint with primer in it from Home Depot. Great choice for the chair and great to cut paint time in half! Thank you Home Depot.

Almost there.

The final results. Ahhhhh-mazing! My $1.99 chair looks much better.

Clear as mud, right? Overall, a much easier project than anticipated. Taking apart, sand, paint, recover chair, put chair back together, and enjoy!

One more note -- thank you to my lovely assistant (my mother-in-law) for all of her help. You can probably see a few other projects in the background that I'll be posting about in the near future. During her recent visit we were able to refinish a few furniture pieces and cross them off my to-do list. Thanks!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Book Rack

Check out my latest bargain find - a book (or magazine) rack for my daughter's bedroom.

My posts seem to be about the decorating items I've found lately instead of the items I have made or created, but I guess that just goes with the nature of life. I've been busy and haven't had time to highlight some of my recent projects.

I'll have to thank Goodwill for this $4.99 beauty! Seriously, I'm in love. Aren't all Goodwill treasures beautiful when you only need to clean and disinfect?

This latest bargain involved zero painting, zero elbow scraping and zero work on my part. Just a little cleaning, use of Mr Clean's Magic Eraser [I heart these things] and some Lysol and this book rack was good to go.

And another closer look.

I'll have to admit, my Goodwill purchase will compete with Pottery Barn's $99 magazine rack anyday.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


A new addition to our playroom upstairs. I love love love it! Thanks to a wonderful birthday gift from a college friend, Ms. A now has a new set of decor on one of her playroom walls. The wall art is called Wall Play, by WALLIES. It's absolutely amazing. The colors are bright and cheery - perfect for a little girls' playroom.

She loves it as well. I'm on the hunt to replace a few of the other wall decorations I currently have so they all match a tad better.

I'd say this look compares to cute Pottery Barn kids decorations and wall art. They are so sweet and girly. I'm debating out what kind of toys to place around the decorations and whether or not to move them to her bedroom or not. Decisions, as always. But for now, I love where they are in our playroom and my daugther does as well.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Thank You Craigslist

I've been on the hunt for a coffee table that fits with our sectional. Man, is that a tough task. My husband and I shopped all over our local area, only to find that Pottery Barn's Metropolitan collection's table was one of the few that would actually work. However, I've had a hard time justifying the extra shipping costs I'd encur by shopping PB online (since it's the only way I could order the table).

I did a little random online shopping one day though craigslist and found EXACTLY the table I was looking to purchase. And, it was $265 less (not including shipping fees, taxes, etc). I was sold!

I'm still deciding what to do with the table - paint it? refinish it? stain it? I can't decide. But, for now, it's sitting our living room just waiting to be refinished to match our other furniture in our family room. I did find out it's the older model of the current Metropolitan table, but I still like the smooth lines and classic, yet contemporary feel. Here's a close up.

Here's the table in our family room with my new pictures in the background. I made these myself thanks to a tutorial from Lowes. I'll be explaining how I made these in another post - stay tuned!

Friday, March 19, 2010

It's TIME for a Bargain

As promised, the start of my bargain shopping finds.

"Obsessed with bargain shopping" should seriously become my middle name. Or, at least for awhile until I get over this hump. We moved into our house back in November and gained tons of extra space. What does and what did that mean? More decorating for me. Now, a stay at home mom living off one income and needing to fill the walls to make our house a home. Thus, the reason to bargain shop. Plus, since my family moved two times in less than a year, decorating our house has become a mission.

Here's one of the bargains I found back when we lived in Vancouver. Too good to not show again. I can thank Goodwill for this beauty.

A beautiful clock, price at $99 brand new at Target.

Yes, I found this beauty at Goodwill for just $19. And, I must add, it was brand new, still in the box. You can start drooling now.

So, of course, a picture of Ms. A showing off my new find, which is now beautifully hanging in our kitchen eating area.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Pottery Barn Inspired Children's Table

What's not to love about Pottery Barn kids? There furniture is adorable, the colors are fantastic, and everything would look so great in my daughter's bedroom and play area. So what's not to love? The price tag. Gulp. Yes, the price tag's not to love.

During one of my recent shopping trips to search for play room ideas, I came across the cutest little kids table and chair set.

However with a price tag of $308 for the set - $139 (set of 2 chairs) and $169 for the table - it was easy to turn around and say, "Um, no thank you" and walk out of the store. Of course, I still loved the idea of the table and thought the colors were oh-so-girlie and too cute to resist.

What's a bargain mom like myself to do? Start shopping! And shopping is what I started to do. I headed to the nearest Goodwill for a thrifty shopping day and what did I spy? The PERFECT children's table. I truly think this table was meant to be mine. Who could have resisted a blue beauty like this. And, with a price tag of only $4.99, there was no second guessing.

Yes, the picture above is shown in the sanding phase, but isn't this a beauty? A solid wood, blue kids table. LOVE IT!

What did I do to turn my Goodwill treasure into a Pottery Barn inspired children's table?

Step 1: Sanded table. I used a lower grit sand paper first and then used a higher grit for the finishing touches.

Step 2: Wipe down table with lightly damp cloth.

Step 3: Primer. I used Kilz Primer. Let dry.

Step 4: Paint! I headed to Home Depot to pick up one of their sample sized paint containers. I debated and debated about paint colors, but finally decided on a mint green similar to Pottery Barn's color.

A closer look at the paint color and label. The perfect size paint for smaller projects like this one. And, with a price tag of less than $3 per container, the price can't be beat!

Drum Roll, please. The results?

My Pottery Barn inspired children's table is perfectly paired with two chairs from IKEA.

What a bargain, and for a fraction of the cost.

My final price tag:
$40 - two chairs
$5 - table
$3 - paint
primer, sanding supplies, cloth, paint brush (used from my supply drawer) - free

TOTAL: $48 for my DIY children's table or (Remember the pricey tag of $308 for Pottery Barn's version?)

I definitely had to sacrifice some on the look (the chairs are not the windsor PB style), but I think the colors go well with the look I was trying to achieve and my two year old will never know the difference. Add a tea set to the top and voila, perfect-O!

I love it! This was such an easy project and didn't require tons of tools. I still need to put a coat of polyurethane on the table, but wanted to make sure I had enough time for the paint to cure because it's been really humid in California the last week.

What's not to love? Nothing. It's purely perfect and fit for a little girl to have tea parties and host friends for playgroup.

I'm partying with ...

Frugal Friday Linky Party by The Shabby Nest

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Delicious Carrot Cake

For my husbands birthday, I decided to try a new recipe - carrot cake. Carrot cake is absolutely delicious. To a carrot cake lover, that is. Carrot cake is a sweet cake with grated carrot mixed into the batter. Absolutely delicious. My husband and I have had many carrot cakes throughout the years, but somehow, during our 5 years of marriage, I had yet to bake one on my own. As his 28th birthday celebration was approaching, he asked if I would bake him a carrot cake for his special treat.

I, being the Sous Chef, obliged and said yes.

A birthday cake for my husband and a new experient for myself. Sounded like a great plan! However, being in a new house and having recently used most of my staple baking supplies, my first step was to go to the grocery store and purchase all the staple ingedients to restock my pantry cupboard. It's amazing how expensive baking ingredients can be when you have to start from scratch to refill, but, with my Safeway card I was able to snag some great deals and save about 70 dollars from my grocery bill of $50. (I'll have to get more into the details of my bargain grocery shopping later. I even attended a Moms Club session on grocery savings and coupon clipping).

And so the mess began ...

One of the most crucial steps (according to the recipe giver, Ranae) is to let the grated carrots and brown sugar soak in together for 60 minutes. And, for those health concious people out there - this recipe called for 6 cups of grated carrots and 1 cup crushed pineapple - so if you think you aren't getting any healthy benefits from this cake, think again!

I eventually had to add the raisins to the carrot mixture and then mix the remaining ingredients in a separate bowl.

Mixing the frosting together. I used my Kitchen Aid mixture for this one. Mixing the frosting in the kitchenaid mixture definitely makes for a super smooth, easy to spread frosting mixture.

This is my secret recipe tip. If you are frosting a large cake and need to frost all sides. Instead of trying to frost and layer the cake all at once, try this. Put a think layer of frosting on the cake, not worrying about flaking crumbs or pieces of cake in the thin frosting layer. Next, refridgerate cake for 15-20 minutes to make the frosting harden. Take the cake out of fridge and refrost using a heavier layer. Trust me, this works! You will end up with a better looking cake without crumbs in the frosting.

After frosting entire cake, dust off cake decorating tools and get a little creative with the birthday cake. If you do not have a decorators frosting bag, just put frosting into a ziploc bag and cut off the corner. A simple trick that works almost the same.

I even colored the frosting to go with our orange "carrot" theme by adding a few drops of red and yellow food coloring.

The results? Drum roll, please.

An absolutely delicious, moist, incredibly flavorful Carrot Cake.

Yum-O! Thanks, Ranae for this scrumptious recipe (please see below)!

Carrot Cake Recipe

6 cups grated carrots
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup raisins
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tsps vanilla
1 cup crushed pineapple, drained
3 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup chopped walnuts

In a medium bowl, combine grated carrots and brown sugar. Set aside for 60 minutes, then stir in raisins.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two 10 inch cake pans.

In a large bowl, beat eggs until light. Gradually beat in the white sugar, oil and vanilla. Stir in the pineapple. Combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon and stir into the wet mixture until absorbed. Finally, stir in the carrot mixture and walnuts. Pour evenly into the prepared pans.

Bake for 45-50 minutes in preheated oven, until cake tests done with toothpick. Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pans. When completely cooled, frost with cream cheese frosting.

Vanilla Cream Cheese Frosting

1/2 cup butter (1 stick), softened (no substitutions)
1 package (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 package (16 ounces) confectioners sugar

In large bowl, with mixer at medium high speed, beat butter, cream cheese and vanilla 2 minutes or until light and fluffy. Reduce speed to low. Beat in confectioners sugar until blended. Increase speed to medium-high; beat 2 minutes or until light and creamy. I usually use more than 16 ounces. Make sure you do a few taste tests to see if the frosting is of the consistency you want.

Makes 3 1/2 cups.