$25 Upcycled Table

Perhaps one of the most exciting parts of registering for our wedding is the idea that one day we might actually have real, adult-like belongings. True story, Matt eats off of speckled camping plates and my version of ‘fine china’ is my Tervis Tumbler collection.  In my fairy tale of married life, we will have a well-balanced meal every night and eat off of matching plates and silverware that weren’t purchased from Wal-Mart while in college. This vision also includes a dining table and that’s where the fairy tale comes to a screeching halt.

I had a table and 4 chairs that I basically ruined (read that mishap here) and then later sold on CraigsList for $60. That left us with the coffee-table-while-watching-Wheel-Of-Fortune option, and that’s definitely nowhere in my fairy tale.

My sweet coworker Kristi let me know that her neighbor was selling a kitchen table. While the table had lived on a back porch and needed some TLC, it was still a very nice, substantial piece of furniture. Because I have a serious issue with making any type of decision, I sent my Interior Decorator (also known as “Mom”) to check it out. She agreed that it would be money well spent. Matt and I went later that week to pick up the table without knowing it weighed upwards of 200+ lbs.  Our engagement was definitively tested trying to carrying it off the porch ourselves, through the yard, and then lifting it into the bed of a truck. We were able to unload it and store it in the garage of our new place; which is where I was afraid it would stay forever after Matt declared he never wanted to see it again. Lucky for me, my fiance’s long-term memory isn’t the best, and after a week or so he was ready to tackle the table project.

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We had borrowed my Dad’s pressure washer for a few other projects, so we figured we might as well use that to clean off the pollen and dirt from the table.

We first thought we could use a sanding block to take off the finish, at least down to a layer where we could either re-stain or paint over. That lasted all of 10 minutes before we realized we needed the electric orbital sander.

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And just a word to the wise…after 3+ hours of sanding, you’ll think you’re done…but don’t forget you also have to sand the leaf…

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Although it required a lot of elbow grease, the end result was well worth all of the time it took to sand it down to nothing.

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The following day we began the fun part, which was painting the base. Mom and I spent about 25 minutes picking out the color. Who knew there were SO many shades of cream?! The table took three coats of the paint to cover the previous black paint but looked great afterwards.

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Matt’s dad was in town for work so before he treated us to dinner, we asked if he could kindly help us carry the table inside.

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Once inside, we put two coats of Minwax Provincial on just the top and then sealed it with a clear polyurethane.

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My mom scored these two cane back dining chairs from the Habitat Restore for $30/chair. They are Drexel Heritage chairs and great quality. Won’t they look great reupholstered in velvet or animal hide? The options are endless! More to come on this project…

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We are so impressed with the final product. Isn’t she a beaut? All in, we spent about $50 on paint and supplies and then of course $25 for the actual table.

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At the end of the day, I will always love this table because it was the first real project Matt and I worked on together and where we will share our meals together. Now I guess this means I need to learn how to cook….

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Citristrip FAIL

In college I had a kitchen table and four chairs that I painted black, which at the time seemed like a good idea. It has been in storage the last five years because I haven’t had the space in my condo. Now that we are moving into a new {grown-up} place, it’s probably time we stop eating on the sofa and on an hard surface.

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We don’t anticipate being in our new place very long, so the table is just temporary until we are in our forever home and have the time and money to find a table we love. In the meantime, I figured I would stain the black college table a “mature” dark walnut. I googled many different solutions to removing paint from wood and repeatedly saw Citristrip. According to everything I read, you paint on the Citristrip gel, let it simmer for a bit, and then take a plastic scraper and the paint magically peels right off – hah!

Lucky for me, I’m engaged to my very own Ty Pennington who graciously helped (AKA is still wondering how he got roped into this) me with this project. He layered on the Citristrip and then went on a run (because that’s what you have to do when you’re on a wedding diet and you accidentally eat pizza and a milkshake the night before) while it worked its magic…

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I honestly think I ran faster because I was so excited to come back and see the table. In my imagination, the paint had already begun to peel itself off, leaving very little for us to actually do once we got back. Again….hah! Matt began to scrape the paint, and it wouldn’t even budge.

This picture shows the progress that was made after thirty solid minutes of Matt scraping with all of his might. We even used a metal scraper instead of plastic like the bottle suggested. Such a bummer!

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We decided to put on another really thick coat and let it sit for another 30 minutes. We came back outside, and again, no progress had really been made. A few hours and $40 down the drain, this is what the table looks like. At least you can see some wood now, right?

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We both were really frustrated that the product didn’t work like it did in all of the YouTube videos we watched. Our next plan of attack is to borrow an electric sander (Thanks Smit family!) and go that route.  Right now the couch and coffee table doesn’t look so bad. As always, we are very open to suggestions!

Blue & White Thanksgiving Tablescape

My grandmother passed away when I was in the 8th grade, but I have vivid memories of having Sunday dinner at her house in Virginia. We would all sit in the exact same seats and have the same meal, and we wouldn’t have had it any other way. She was the sweetest and I wish I would have had more time with her as an adult because I know there was a lot more to her than I ever got to know. Besides the exquisite butter beans and mashed potatoes, I remember her blue and white china that we would eat off of. When my grandfather eventually passed, my dad and his brothers divided up their belonging and then sold what they didn’t want to keep. Unfortunately, as an 18 year old, I never thought to ask my dad to keep her plates for me. Fast-forward to two years ago when I decided I had to have that china. There was a small chance that one of my uncles kept it which is when the investigation started. There were emails, texts and phone calls and then eventually tracking down an ex-wife, but unfortunately the search came up empty. Although I didn’t have my grandmothers personal china, I knew I could honor her memory (and mine) by finding something similar.

If you’ve ever searched for blue and white china, you’ll find there are many different brands and patterns out there. Most have an Asian motif, but I specifically remember my grandmothers having historical scenes on them.

After scouring antique shops, estate sales and yard sales, I finally found the version she had; Shaffordshire Liberty Blue china. It turns out, my grandmother purchased the china using S&H green stamps; which was a program popular from the 1930s to the 1980s that allowed consumers to collect stamps from the grocery store, gas station, dry cleaners, etc. and then redeem them for items. Just knowing that my grandmother tirelessly saved for her set makes me love them even more.

This past year I completed my set of 12 dinner plates. I still have a few more salad plates to go, but I’m almost there. I’ve been to antique stores from Concord, NC to Alabama and it has been such a fun adventure for my mom and me to collect. Since my set was recently completed, I knew I wanted to use them for my Thanksgiving Tablescape this year. Typically, I’m in charge of the deviled eggs…and that’s about it. So, my mom was pleasantly surprised when I asked to take over the décor for the event.

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The blue and white plates served as a great neutral for the palate I was going with, but wanted to add some pops of color as well. I used gold and magenta for accent colors and to create a modern look to balance out the “traditionalness” of the the plates. The magenta napkins were $7 for 14 napkins, so I knew at such a steal I could throw them away after the dinner and be fine with it. To personalize the napkins, I ordered heat transfer “H’s” and “S’s” from Surcee Monogram Shop and ironing them on was a breeze (AND they stayed on after the napkins were washed).

I also asked my family to take a silhouette picture of themselves and then turned them into these personalized place settings using some cheap wooden frames from Michael’s and gold spray paint. {silhouette tutorial here}

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For the centerpiece I bought two fake pumpkins from Michael’s, spray painted one a glossy blue and left the other orange. For the blue pumpkin, I added a large “H” vinyl decal and an assortment of navy polka dots to the orange pumpkin, again from Surcee. I cut a hole in both pumpkins and stuffed with some fall colored flowers.

I added some other small pumpkins, fall foliage from the yard, and lots of tea lights and candles to add to the ambiance. Overall, I am very happy with how my tablescape came together. It was such a fun project to work on and I love that in incorporated old and new, modern and traditional!

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Christmas Surcee’s

Don’t get me wrong, I love holiday parties. There’s nothing like a strong glass of Eggnog and sausage balls to alert you that Christmas is here! But I often get stressed out over what to bring the hostess….this week I have two ornament exchanges to attend. Again, cue stress. To me, ornaments are very personal. Maybe it’s my OCD, Type-A personality, but I’m very picky about what goes on my tree. I assume that others operate under this same principle, so choosing an ornament for someone else’s tree proves difficult.

My sister recently opened an adorable Etsy shop, Surcee Monogram Shop.  I knew I wanted to incorporate a few of her products to help put a personalized touch on my Christmas surcee’s. This time of year is super busy. So not only did I need a cute idea, but something easy (and cheap!).

I purchased flat, clear ornament balls (on sale for $1.00 each), red glitter paint ($4) and the 1.5″ vinyl initials from Surcee Monogram Shop ($3.50). I took the red glitter paint and swirled it around in the ornament. Doesn’t get much easier than that. You do have to be careful with how the paint dries. Once the entire ball is coated in paint, be sure to drain any excess paint from the ornament. I propped my ornaments upright to dry which seemed to work best. The ones I let lay on their sides ended up drying funky.

The first ornament I made is for an engagement shower I’m attending this weekend. I have to say I’m a little obsessed. The instructions were to bring the newly engaged couple an ornament they could use on their first tree as a couple. Nothing says Christmas in Dixie like having your new married monogram displayed proudly on your tree. For under $10, this is a personalized gift that I hope the couple will love forever.

I also have a Junior League ornament exchange this week. The problem with a gift exchange is that you don’t know who will end up with your ornament. That being the case, it’s impossible to use someone’s initials. I chose to use the Junior League logo since it is an organization that is important to all of the ladies who will be at the party.

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So what do you bring when the party is not an ornament exchange? Surcee Monogram Shop has other adorable hostess gifts. I love the Monogrammed Christmas Wine Bags. They are functional and also perfectly preppy.

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Surcee Monogram Shop is offering 10% off all products thru the end of the year. Use coupon code DILWORTH10 at checkout to receive the discount!

DIY Peppermint Initial Wreath

I don’t know about you, but I’m more in the holiday spirit this year than ever before. I think it has something to do with the fact that there is a week less to celebrate, so I’m overcompensating. Anyways, I saw this adorable wreath on the Two Twenty One blog. A craft project that requires minimal amounts of materials AND candy….sign me up!

Materials:

– Letter of your choice: I used a wooden letter H, but you can use paper mache, etc.

– Red paint

– Peppermints

– Red Ribbon

– Wreath Hanger

I started  by painting my letter red. I chose a dark red paint so that the bright red of the peppermints would pop. I used cheap craft paint because I live in a condo with an interior door. For those of you who have an exterior door, you might want to use a Rustoleum to protect it against the winter elements.

Next you might want to recruit a helper Elf to assist you in unwrapping all the peppermints…Then lay out all of the peppermints on the letter to make sure the spacing looks right. Once I had an idea of where I wanted them all, I used a glue gun to attach the peppermints. I think you could probably use Elmer’s glue as well.

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The next step was to glue the red ribbon to the back of the letter and finish with a bow.

 Note: I first used a suction cup to hang my wreath. After all of 10 seconds of the wreath being up, it fell, hit the ground and looked like this….yikes!

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Advice: Use the 3M Command Strips. They are cheap, and easy to apply. Plus they make it really easy to remove them with no damage when you’re ready.

Christmas in…August? Custom Needlepoint Belt

I’ve been meaning to post about this since Christmastime…and now that Christmas has come and gone, and Christmas in July has also passed us, I better get this post up before Christmas this year. I wanted to get Matt something really nice for Christmas since he always goes out of his way to spoil me. And lets face it, guys are REALLY hard to buy for.  Last summer we were out and saw a guy wearing a needlepoint belt, and Matt mentioned that he thought it was really neat. That’s where the adventure began!

I contacted an online company called Smathers & Branson. They specialize in all things needlepoint and have really great products. They sell pre-made belts, but will also help you design something custom. I sent them a few of my original ideas, and they sent back the below mock up, with the cost associated. I was shocked. I had no idea how expensive these things were, and figured I could do-it-myself cheaper.

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Please note that I had extremely lofty plans when I decided I would be able to needlepoint my own belt.  I am the person who has to YouTube “how to sew a button” – worst homemaker ever? Probably. I started at Po’s Po int in Phillips Place. This is a needle pointing utopia. They have a plethora of threads, designs, etc. From there, they put me in touch with a  lady name DeElda Wittmack. Dee and I had a phone conversation about what “icons” I wanted on the belt, and she gave me some advice on spacing, number of icons per belt, colors, etc.  From there, she mailed me a mock-up on a piece of paper and drawn in pencil (unfortunately forgot to take a picture of this step). I was able to approve the design and make tweaks before sending it back.

A couple of weeks later, I received the below design. Dee draws the icons you request, and then paints them on a canvas. This makes it a lot easier to know where what colors go where. Once this was received, it was time to head back to Po’s Point and purchase all of the thread colors I would need.  I originally thought I wanted a navy background, but Dee informed me that a neutral background would help the icons pop. Plus, tan can be worn with khakis, jeans, etc.

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My mom and I (mainly my mom) worked tirelessly from October until almost Christmas Eve to get the belt needle-pointed. It was a lot more time consuming than I think either of us had ever imagined it would be. The icons are so small and have so many details that you have to be really meticulous and focused. We got the entire belt needle-pointed just in the nick of time for me to wrap it up and put a bow on it.

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Matt loved the belt and was so surprised to find out that I had designed, and sewed it myself. However, the belt wasn’t complete yet. We had to take it back to Po’s Point to decide on what color leather we wanted the belt bound in, and the buckle color and style. Once those decisions were made, the canvas was sent to Kentucky to be wrapped in leather and made into an actual belt.

Below is the final product, and I couldn’t be more thrilled with how it turned out. The icons I decided on for the belt were: Matt’s initials (MRH), a bill fish since he loves to fish, fleur-de-lis for his love of the New Orleans Saint, bourbon bottles and tumbler, shotgun and shell, the state of Louisiana with a star on Baton Rouge for where he was born, American flag for his love of the US of A, a crown for the Queen City (Charlotte) because that’s where he lives, and where we met, golf ball and tee’s, and finally the University of Florida’s logo.

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The belt ended up costing more than if I had sent it Smathers & Branson, and took significantly more time than I think we had ever imagined. All that considered, I am so glad that I decided to do it myself. It was a great learning experience and now I can say that I needlepoint. Plus, it’s a very personal gift that Matt will have forever!


DIY: Monogrammed Acrylic Tray

I have been obsessed with the acrylic tray idea since I saw them being sold on the Haymarket Designs website. The obsession quickly came to a screeching halt when I realized they were selling anywhere from $85-$125! There had to be a cheaper alternative, so I set out to create my own DIY version.  With my sisters “Monograms and Mimosas” wedding shower right around the corner, I knew it would be the perfect place to debut my new creation!

1. Finding the tray: Finding the tray was the easy part. I purchased mine for $12 at The Container Store (while we’re on the subject of obsessions, can we talk about how FABULOUS The Container Store is???), but I have also seen them at Bed Bath & Beyond and Michael’s Arts and Crafts.

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2. Perfecting the insert: The possibilities for inserts are endless. The best part is that if you choose not to glue your insert in, you can remove it and mix-and-match for different occasions. I love the idea of having personalized inserts for different holidays.  Anyways, I headed to my favorite sercy shop in Charlotte, Paper Skyscraper, to find the perfect paper. After much debate, I decided on a gorgeous teal, navy and gold funky print. It was $4. What a steal! Other ideas for inserts could be wrapping paper, or designs you make yourself using programs on your computer.

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3. The extra touch: While I adored the paper I purchased, I figured my tray needed some extra pizzazz. Since this present was intended for a monogram shower (and who doesn’t love seeing their new married monogrammed on EVERYTHING?) – I knew what the extra touch would be. I ordered a 5″ interlocking decal from InitialYou’s Etsy shop for $4.95.  While I was there, I decided I should probably order my own monogram decal.

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4. Putting it all together: I simply traced the edges of the tray on the scrapbook paper and cut out the rectangle. Next step was applying the monogram deal. The was the only tricky part of the entire project. The monogram decal itself comes off of the paper easily just measuring and making sure it is centered took some time. Lastly, I took the cutout with monogram to Office Max to get it laminated. I figured if it would be used near a bar or bathroom, laminating the insert would be the smartest idea. Laminating only set me back $2.

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I am so in love with the final product! And for a grand total of $23, I think it turned out perfect! There are many things you can use your tray for. I paired it with my Altuzarra Neiman Marcus Target 18K Gold Double Old-Fashioned Glasses and a vintage wine opener that I found at the Junior League WeareHouse for .50! I also love the idea of using it on your dresser for perfume, jewelry, etc.

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Friday5 {Thanksgiving Edition}

I think I love Thanksgiving almost as much as I love Christmas. It is the one holiday where our family comes to Charlotte. For years we would pack up the car and travel to Virginia to my grandparents house. I’m so glad my parents finally made the decision that we would stay put and have everyone come to us. We have a very small extended family, but over the years we’ve been so lucky to “adopt” some members and our celebration has grown. It’s sad that it takes a specific day to recognize your blessings, but each year as I sit at the table, I am in awe at all that I have been provided with. This year we have even more to be thankful for – as we’re adding a new member, Bob, to the family in May!

 

 

1. DIY Chalkboard Menu Board: Chalkboard spray paint is around $7 and is super easy to use. For this menu board, you can spray glass from an old frame, an old mirror or even an old cabinet door. I also saw someone who had gotten a plastic silver platter from the dollar store and sprayed the interior portion and made it a menu board. This is a great way to display what your guests will be eating, and cheap and easy to make!

 

 

2. Corkcickle:  If you’re anything like the Hewitt’s, then you like some (a lot) of wine with your Thanksgiving meal. There is nothing worse than a lukewarm bottle of white wine. And unless you like ice cubes in your glass or making a million trips to the fridge, then this could really put a damper on your festivities. Plus, who has room on their table for an ice bucket? I plan to have my table filled to maximum capacity with FOOD. The “Corkcickle” is an amazing invention. Simply pop in the freezer for 2 hours before you plan to use it, insert into a chilled bottle and wah-lah! The “Corkcickle” can be cleaned and reused over and over and keeps wine at the perfect temperature.

 

 

3. Turkey Trot: Somehow I convinced every one in my family to run at 5K race on Thanksgiving morning…still not really sure how I pulled this one off?? None of us are runners. And none of us have ran 3 straight miles in a LONG time. Although the fam has been calling it the “death march”, I know we will all be proud we did it at the end. Personally, I think everyone should just be glad we’re not doing the 8K. Plus, the more calories you burn, the more you get to eat, right?

 

4. Clemson/Carolina Rivalry: Competition between sisters can be ruthless, especially when you both attended college at rival Universities. The Clemson/Carolina rivalry is unlike anything else. Regardless if they actually went to college at one of the schools, every person in the state of South Carolina has an allegiance to one school or the other.  Each year, “The Battle of the Palmetto State” reminds me of how lucky I am to feel so passionate about where I went to school. The game is the longest uninterrupted series in the South and the second longest uninterrupted series overall, having been played every year since 1909.  We also have started a family tradition involving the game. My Dad finds the wishbone in the turkey, and my sister and I each get a side to break.  The theory is that whoever gets the “lucky break” will have their team win the big game. So far it’s been true every year since we started doing it. Having many friends and family who went to Clemson keeps things very interesting and exciting and I love that we will always have this rivalry to keep things interesting. The history behind the event is so unique – and makes me very proud to be a Carolina Gamecock!

Clemson/Carolina 2011
(USC 34- CU 13)

Clemson/Carolina 2009
(USC – 34 CU -17)

5. Giving Back: So you’ve stuffed your face and start to doze off when the Post-Thanksgiving blues begin to set in. You realize the main event has come and gone and all that’s left to show for it is a bunch of dirty dishes and hopefully a few deviled eggs. Giving back to the community is a great way to re-energize! There are many opportunities to serve those around you. Besides the entire purpose of Thanksgiving is to be thankful for what you have and to give to those who don’t have as much.

 

Happy Thanksgiving, Y’all!

 

DIY: Monogrammed Picture Frame

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What’s that quote from Sweet Home Alabama about “if it isn’t moving, monogram it”? That pretty much sums up how I live my life. From pillow cases to shower curtains, chair covers to bathing suits, jeans, purses and necklaces too, “CMH” can be found sewn on most of my possessions. Monograms are a simple way to add some pizazz to any object.

This DIY picture frame took about 10 minutes and $10 to make. How simple and easy!

 First I went to www.lipstickshades.com. This site sells personalized iPhone and iPad cases, however I used it to make my design. You can make any custom design with your own fonts and colors, as if you were designing a case for your phone. Once you’re satisfied with the design, simply save the image to your computer. 

Next you will need to print the design. I went to Kinko’s and had them print it out on 8.5 x 11 inch cardstock. It cost .49 to do so, and the color quality was better than my own printer could have done.

 Lastly, go to Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, Yard Sale, Thrift Store or wherever and pick up a frame of your choice. I got my frames from Target, and weren’t crazy about them, but they will do. I think painting some old frames would also be neat.

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I loved mine so much that I decided to make my sister one with her soon-to-be married monogram. Her office has a purple and orange Clemson theme, so I decided to make one for her office. Here it is on her bookshelves. Looks great, Whitney Stanton (ahhh!!)

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