I’ve been terribly lax about posting lately and I apologize sincerely for the delay! The past two weeks have been unbelievably busy ones for me, with two major school concerts, and their obligatory dress rehearsals. Life is now back to normal, though, and the end of concert season marks the beginning of blog project season!

Since you’ve been waiting over a week for a new post, I’ll make this one the motherlode of project updates. On the menu is a progress report on the four wooden chairs I’ve been making over, a deck update, and the low-down on our new BBQ!

The last time I posted about the chairs, they looked like this:


Approximately 20 hours later, they now look like this:


Sanding was definitely the most time-consuming step so far, but I really wanted to achieve a beautiful smooth finish, so that the paint would go on evenly.

I ended up doing most of the sanding by hand with 180 grit sandpaper. I know what you’re thinking: “But you own a sander! Why would you do it by hand? Egads!” (I’m trying to bring that one back into fashion.) After that first afternoon using the electric sander, I discovered that it was a lot trickier to try to get it into all those little nooks and crannies. Even after scraping down one chair, it was still faster to use sandpaper. If I’d been refinishing the chairs, I would definitely have scraped them down to the bare wood, but since the plan all along was to paint them, it didn’t seem worth the time.

I did take a short and extremely frustrating detour one afternoon where I tried to use varnish stripper. The brand was Bio-Option Heirloom Furniture Stripper. The guy at Rona suggested it as the chairs are antiques, but since it is water-based, it didn’t even come close to being effective. Maybe I didn’t use it correctly or maybe I was too impatient (I’m pretty sure I waited the requisite 15 minutes between applying and scraping), but it was certainly not something I would be quick to try again. It mostly left sticky residue on the chairs that I then needed to scrape or sand off. There was a lot of scowling that afternoon. Mercifully, I’d only applied two small test patches, so I was able to correct my misguided notion fairly easily. Lesson most definitely learned.

Once they were sanded down to a smooth finish, I primed them using Rona’s house brand of white primer-sealer. We used it on the ceiling in our bedroom and had lots left over (still do!) so that part was – technically – free. So far, with sandpaper, that stupid varnish stripper, and some foam brushes, this project’s bottom line stood at about $20. Not bad at all!



Once the chairs were primed, Erick stepped in to help with the seat reinforcements. We bought a large sheet of plywood at Rona for about $10, along with a can of white Trem-Clad anti-rust paint (which you can use on wood if it is primed) and some brushes. The total for the second part of the project was around $35.

Erick made a template of the seat of one of the chairs, which he used to cut out the new plywood seats.


Lucky for us, the seats of the four chairs are almost exactly the same, so just some careful sanding will allow each one to fit properly. To finish up this project I still need to:

– Sand the seats

– Prime and paint the seats

– Apply a second coat of Trem-Clad to the chairs

– Glue and screw down the seats

– Buy or make tie-on seat cushions

Clearly, I’m not out of the woods yet. But I am more than 50% done, which isn’t a bad feeling.

In other news, we bought a BBQ! This is one of the things we’ve most looked forward to since buying our house. Erick and I both love to cook, and some of our favourite summer memories of late involve outdoor meals at my parents’ place in Ottawa. My dad is the king of the grill (but not in the cliché-grilling-apron-way), and his BBQed pork tenderloin is To. Die. For. Also his BBQed ribs… And his grilled veggies… Yum.

We knew that our budget wasn’t huge ($300 including the propane tank and basic BBQ tools), BUT we also didn’t want to completely cheap out and end up with something that wouldn’t cook properly. So after shopping around, we decided that Home Depot had the best prices and quality. We ended up choosing the Char-Broil Classic, which had the elements we were looking for, plus a few extras we hadn’t thought we would get in our price range. Four burners (we had anticipated only three), 48 000 BTU, stainless hood, very sturdy frame, and a side burner! Egads!

Here it is, in all its grilling glory!


Last night we got our first chance to take her (him?) for a spin. We did pork tenderloin with a maple dijon marinade, grilled marinated red peppers, cheese-stuffed spicy sausages, and potato salad. And all shared with one of our best friends, Annie (who you’ll remember from her guest post about DIY ink blot art). Bliss!


So now that you’ve had a sneak peek of what the deck is looking like these days, here it is, complete with DIY planters, a summery table setting, and our gorgeous new hanging baskets of red begonias!



I declare summer officially OPEN! You know what else I declare open? That bottle of Reisling waiting in the fridge. Cheers!

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