Making a new crate look vintage by staining with tea

I picked up a new, inexpensive crate on sale at Michael’s for only $3.99. I wanted it to look old, so I surfed around on the internet for a good, non-toxic way to stain it. I’ve heard of staining wood with tea (black tea contains tannins, which can darken wood), but I’ve never tried it before. I thought I’d give it a whirl. It turned out wonderful and it was so great to do it all without gross, toxic chemicals!


First, you take a little steel wool and soak it in some white vinegar (enough to cover the steel wool) for a few days. I let mine sit in a mason jar (with the cap just sitting on top) for 3 days. The steel wool will partially disintegrate, but not completely.


Second, you need some used tea bags. I make a 3 quart pitcher of iced tea every day, so I saved the used tea bags in a bowl for about 5-6 days. That means I had about15-18 family size tea bags all together.


When the steel wool/vinegar mixture is ready to use, place your tea bags in a separate container or bowl. Boil some water, pour the hot water over the tea bags and leave to steep for a few hours.



Discard the tea bags. Brush the tea mixture onto your entire prepped wood project. The tea contains tannic acid that is transferred to the wood.The tea mixture does not need to stay hot for this to work. The color will not really change, it will just look wet. Let the wood dry.


After the entire piece is dry, brush the steel wool/vinegar mixture onto your piece, the color will immediately start to change and will continue to darken as it dries. Let it dry completely. You can sand it afterward (to lighten the color) or leave it as is.




While I was at it, I also stained a little star sign that I picked up at Michael’s for.. you guessed it… $3.99. The star was pre-aged, but the little sign was plain, unstained wood.




Wear gloves.

Cover your work surface (if you care about it)

I’m planning to sand the crate just a little and then add some character to it (not sure what yet). I’ll post an update when I do.

Vi snakkes! (“See you later” in Norwegian)

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Look what arrived in the mail!


Last month, I entered a giveaway for a Kreg Jig Jr on The Quaint Cottage and I won! The other day, the Kreg came in the mail and I can’t wait to use it!

What should I make first? I’m thinking of making a little bed for the cat to sleep in on the laundry room window sill. She likes to sleep in any laundry basket that I walk away from for half a second… especially clean, warm clothes.

Or, maybe I should make the wooden planter I’ve been admiring on PinterestMaybe I’ll make both! Anyway, thank you Karen for the giveaway!

Also, you may have read my post about my rosemary seeds growing into a cilantro plant. Well, Burpee sent me a replacement pack. Wasn’t that nice of them?

I love getting good stuff in the mail! Don’t you?

Vi snakkes! (“See you later” in Norwegian)


$1 Kitchen Update and a $10 Window!

At a yard sale a few weekends ago, Mike (my awesome hubby) spotted a pile of brushed nickel cabinet pulls. About two-thirds of them had been used, but looked brand new, and the other third were still sealed in the package. I pointed to them and asked the seller “How much?” and he replied “A buck”. While trying to gauge how many pulls were in the pile (31), I said “How much for all of them?” and he replied “A buck for ALL of them”.” SOLD!!!!! I love sellers who really want to get things out of their house.

A few days before, we’d been discussing installing drawer knobs and pulls on our cabinets. In the not to distant future, we plan on rearranging the cabinets, re-facing them and replacing all the doors and drawer fronts. But, that project isn’t going to be done right away and we really hate not having pulls. Mike had saved a stash of 30+ brushed nickel knobs from a cabinet job he did about 14 years ago (yes, he’s a saver). We’d been considering buying either more of the knobs or a coordinating pull, but we waited because we knew that we would be choosing a totally different style when we update the cabinets. So, when we saw the pulls at this sale, we couldn’t believe it. They were a perfect match.

So, last weekend we (mostly Mike, but I helped) installed the knobs and pulls. Mike also had the brilliant idea to move two of the glass cabinet doors to a different cabinet, which we use as a liquor cabinet. We love the way it turned out. We think it makes the cabinets look so much nicer. It definitely helps us live with the cabinets in their current form. I smile every time I walk into the kitchen and it only cost us one dollar! Plus, we have 13 pulls leftover.









We also bought this brand new, unused Andersen window with trim and everything for $10! The seller bought four of them and then decided to use only three. We’re planning to eventually finish our attic and make it into more living space. This window is perfect for what we’re planning to do.



Did I mention how much I LOVE yard sales? Open-mouthed smile

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Handmade Christmas Gifts (Part Deux)

I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things… I play with leaves. I skip down the street and run against the wind. ~ Leo F. Buscaglia

This year, I had all these ideas and lists for handmade Christmas presents. Scarves, lanterns, jewelry, etc. You know that saying about the best laid plans? It’s true.

I started collecting the supplies a few months before Christmas and began working on projects whenever I had a free moment. Let me just say I don’t get a lot of those.

I started on the scarves first. I saw a picture of this scarf in a sewing book a couple of years ago and always wanted to make one, but never had. This would be the year! I worked a little here and a little there and I ended up making three scarves. One for my mom, one for my mom-in-law and one for Z Man’s girlfriend.

I think they turned out really cute and I’m in the process of making more. The girls want me to make them each one and I’m also making one for myself. I really like making them and I’m planning to make more after I finish these three.

In the end, I didn’t end up making any other gifts this year. But, at least I have ideas for birthdays, Mother’s Day… and there’s always next Christmas! I’m just glad I had time to make those three scarves. I hope the recipients like them as much as I do.

Below are a couple of photos of two of them. The pic of the red scarf was a quickie (sorry for the dark pic) and I completely forgot to take a picture of the other one, but it was a white fleece scarf with the green/brown leaves. 

Green scarf w/ green/brown leaves (for my mom)

Same green scarf

Red scarf w/ Fall foliage for my mom-in-law

Mike also made a couple of gifts this year. He made two beautiful wooden trivets. Of course, I didn’t get any pictures….

Getting settled and changing some things

Change in all things is sweet. ~ Aristotle

We’re mostly settled and have changed and/or fixed some things since we moved in to our new home. We haven’t made any huge changes yet, but we’re planning them. The longer we live here, the more we understand what we want in the long run. We are not the “call the contractor” kind of people. Mike is the contractor! No really, he’s a licensed general contractor. He’s licensed to do it all, but custom finish work and furniture is his forte. He is an artist with wood. I can’t wait to see what he creates for the house. Pretty much everything that has been or will be done to this house will be completed with our own hands. Probably Mike’s more than mine, but I don’t mind getting my hands dirty either. I’m always willing to help. Things may take a little longer to get done, because we only have so much free time (and money), but we’ll know they were done right and for the right price.

One of the first things we did was trim all the trees and clear brush from the entire property. We had to do this to make the insurance company happy, but we were very happy when it was all done. The yard looked so good! We have lots of very tall trees. Our house and yard get a ton of shade. It took a lot of tine just moving the cut branches across the yard. We got help from our son with this project and it still took a couple of weeks to complete.

In September, Mike completely re-plumbed and re-wired the well filtering system in our pump house. When we first moved in the filtering system was being by-passed and the water was full of sediment and was VERY hard. In fact, we had the water tested by the State Of Nevada Water Lab and they sent us a report and then we received a follow-up by the State of Nevada! They wanted to make sure we knew just how hard the water was. We used bottled water until my sweet and very handy hubby got everything up and running correctly.

He also installed an under the counter R/O system for our drinking water. Things are much, much better now! I also learned that you can put a half a cup of white vinegar in the dishwasher to help with hard water film on your dishes. It works great. Luckily, I don’t have to use it anymore. Which reminds me… We also installed a new GE Profile dishwasher. It’s a nice one with the hidden controls and it’s all stainless steel inside. The existing dishwasher did not work and was completely stained and clogged inside from the hard, sediment heavy water. I heart my new dishwasher!

We installed some new, but vintage looking light fixtures around the house. We are planning to return the house to it’s former (vintage) style. The previous owners/tenants had installed some god awful light fixtures. Sometimes, I look at something that was changed and wonder “what the hell were they thinking? Why would they do that?”! Anyway, there are still a couple of ceiling fans that need to be replaced, not because they don’t work, they just don’t work very well (squeak, squeak, squeak…) and they’re very ugly. We live in the old west and ceiling fans are a necessity here. Especially for someone like me, who feels that the only time the A/C should be used is when there’s a possibility that you could DIE otherwise!

We’ve torn out the ugly blue carpet and uncovered the original hardwood floors in the master bedroom, girls room, hallway and living room. We plan to refinish the floors, but they’re in pretty good shape and we’re happy for the time being. We plan to remove the remaining UBC (ugly blue carpet) in the family room and install matching hardwood floors. That room is a newer addition and is just carpet over plywood sub-floor. After we install the new floor, we plan to finish all the floors at the same time. 

Original Hardwood Floors!

Family Room

We tore out the ugly dark 70’s fake paneling that lined the hallway. Underneath we found the original lath and plaster walls. There is some cracking, peeling and chipping under there. For a split second, it looked like there was black mold on the wall underneath. Then we realized that whoever put up this lovely paneling cut it too short and improvised with black spray paint in the seam. Nice! Even with the exposed damage, it looks better than the dark fake wood paneling. We’re planning to install new beadboard paneling throughout the entire hallway. I can’t wait.

Hallway Before

Hallway After

We installed a new (and very girly) ceiling fan in the girls room. Their room (including most of the walls/trim/outlet covers and the ceiling was/is painted an ugly brown/gold/baby poop color which we plan to paint over soon. The remainder of their room is covered in the same paneling as the hallway. For the time being, I’m going to prime and paint the paneling instead of removing it and having to tear out all of the original lath and plaster (which I’m sure is in terrible shape like the hallway). Then it will be painted white and the walls will be painted pink (of course!). We (well, Mike) will also be installing a whole wall of shelving, so we can finally unpack the 10+ boxes of books and toys still sitting against the wall.

Girls Room - Before

The hallway bathroom needs a ton of work. We aren’t even using it right now. It has several different colors of tile in it. It has 1950’s pink and black wall tile, a couple colors of lavenderish tan tile on the shower walls and (when I tore out the disgusting carpet taped down on the bathroom floor) I found a very old (possibly original?) green tile on the floor! I wish the floor tile was salvageable because it looks like it used to be a really pretty color, but it’s beyond saving. I’s too bad because the green tile looks really good next to the hallway hardwood. We’re planning to tear this bathroom out completely and start over. We bought an awesome claw foot tub with the shower enclosure and all the hardware on Craigslist (a great deal for $300) and we bought a new granite counter top with double sinks at a garage sale for $15! We also need to buy a new dual flush toilet. The toilet currently in this bathroom was manufactured in 1932 (3 years before the house was built) and uses so much water when flushed that you can practically hear the water table being lowered! It will be awesome when the bathroom is all remodeled.

Hallway Bath - Before

Hall Bath floor tile next to hardwood floor (ignore the tape residue please)

The claw foot tub we bought)

I’ve been addicted to Pinterest for the last several months. I’ve had so many ideas for the house running through my mind and I love being able to find examples of ideas and pin them to my boards. AWESOME! I can’t wait to get it all done!

I hope your new year is starting out well!

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We bought the farm!

Well, it’s more of a ranch than a farm. 😉

Since my last post on this blog (exactly a year ago today), we moved back to Nevada and bought a house! Yay! I can’t even tell you how happy it makes me to be able to say that, so let me just say it again. We bought a house! We moved in July.

Not only that, but we bought a house on an acre of land with a big barn, corrals, a pump house (we have our own well), a potting shed, a dog run and a huge 4-car garage (that is now Mike’s shop). It’s so unreal. Sometimes I drive up to the house and it hits me again and I’m so happy!

We had been thinking of moving back for quite a while. Before moving to the SF Bay area for 2 years, we had lived in Northern Nevada for over 9 years. We didn’t think we would miss this area, but it turns out that every time we returned for a visit, it felt like we were returning home. Our 20 year-old son lives in Reno and we still have lots of friends in the Reno/Tahoe/Truckee area, so we visited a bunch. Plus, the cost of living in the SF Bay area was just unbelievable. We moved there because that’s where the work was, but there was no way we could ever (or would want to) buy a house there. We rented a small house with a great view, but I think our view now (of the beautiful Sierras) rivals the old bay view. The schools there were good, but the overcrowding was getting to be a real issue. The schools here are just as good and in some ways, better. I do miss my bay area friends though. They are moms I met through school or the neighborhood and my former co-workers. Luckily, I still chat with them on the phone, via email and on Facebook.

Anyway… we started the process of looking at houses (online) at the beginning of the year. We decided to go ahead with serious looking at the end of March. We spent the month of May driving up on weekends to look at houses. We looked at a lot of houses. Every one of them was a foreclosure. It wasn’t because we only wanted to look at foreclosures, but because that’s what there was. We did have some other houses on our to-see list, but they were short sales and those were taking 6-18 months to close and we did not have that kind of time.

The house we bought, was the last house we looked at. It had been on our list, but we hadn’t made it out to look at it. We only had so much time on the weekends to actually tour houses and this one kept getting moved down on our list. Why you ask? Well, we did most of our preliminary house research online. In the listing photos, the living room/kitchen area views made it look like a mobile home. The previous owners had removed the original walls and doorway that separated the living room from the kitchen/dining area. The end result makes those rooms more “open”, but it also makes it look more like a trailer. When we finally saw the house, we saw that the photos looked different then the real thing. We loved the house and immediately made an offer. We’re planning to put some character back into that area with a half-wall bookcase and wood trim separating those rooms. Something that fits with the original style of the house.

Our house is over 70 years old. It was a two bedroom, one bath house. The previous owners added on a big family room (with pellet stove), a large full bathroom, the huge garage, and 3 separate wood decks in 2005. The house has almost all of the original interior doors and hardware. We love the ball hinges and the crystal door knobs! We also uncovered the beautiful original hardwood floors when we tore out the carpet in the bedrooms, living room and hallway! We are planning to take out the very ugly blue sculpted carpet in the family room, when we have it in the budget to put in new flooring. Because it’s not original, the family room has only plywood sub-floor under that “taste specific” carpet! We want to take out all the tile in the kitchen, hallway and mudroom also. We’re pretty sure the original hardwood still runs under the tile. That’s on our long term plan.

The previous owners also remodeled the kitchen a few years ago. The oak cabinets are nice, at least the bones of the cabinets are. They’re pretty well made cabinets (for mass production), have good slides, slide-out shelves and a corner lazy susan. The doors aren’t our style, but we’re going to replace those (I happen to know an awesome craftsman). We’ve already discussed removing all of the cabinets and reworking them into a better layout. We can even reuse the solid surface counter tops. When the previous owners remodeled the kitchen, they closed up one of the entrances to the hallway. They closed it up and put the refrigerator in it’s place! According to our neighbor (who has lived in her house for 30 years), there used to be an archway into the hallway (like the one in the entrance to the master bedroom). We want to regain access to the bedrooms from the other side of the house and, hopefully, uncover the arch. We have tons of ideas and plan to stay in this house forever.

The view from our house

The View

The view from the highway

I’m so glad to be blogging again. I’ll be posting more soon. Thanks for reading this!

Happy New Year!!