My Big Fat Project Update

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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Late-Spring Garden Tour 2014

When I started up F & N this winter (or re-started, I should say), one of my plans was to use this blog as a kind of garden journal. This is Erick’s and my first spring in our first house so we’ve been looking forward to seeing our garden bloom.

I cannot believe how quickly things change in a garden! Here is the very first picture we took of the front garden bed, on May 3rd:


Just two weeks ago, it looked like this: (Ah yes, fond memories of the dandelions)


Now, the front bed is alight with beautiful purple blossoms and more shades of green than I can count!


Those purple flowers just happened one day! I came home from work and *poof* there they were!


Admittedly, things are looking a little jungle-esque right now… But this year is a wait-and-see-what-grows situation.

The back yard has been a continuous source of joy and mystery, as it fills out a little more each day. Here it is on May 3rd:




And here are the “after” shots, taken today!


I’ll have a deck update for you next week! Stay tuned!


I love this birch tree, and the little ferns around its base just make me smile. It’s also pretty clear that the previous owner was a big fan of hostas.



Yes, the dandelions remain in the lawn. That is a battle for another day.


Another *poof* moment was this beautiful tree. We’re not quite sure what it is, because it looks and smells like a crabapple, but the fruit is more like cherries… Any tree sleuths out there have an idea?

I’ll leave you with my favourite picture so far. Have a great weekend, everyone!



A plethora of planters

Well, ok, only 3 1/2, but it felt like a lot when I was lugging soil and rocks to the car!

My story begins one fateful day one day when my mom asked me if I wanted some used planters from their garage. Since they are eager to get rid of junk stuff and I have no budget to speak of, I jumped at the chance for free planters! Especially since I’d been into Rona the week before to price out new planters and came away completely indignant at the inflated cost of plastic receptacles.

The only catch? They looked like this:


Hm. Not exactly the matchy-matchy magazine picture I envisioned. (And in case you’re wondering why they are pictured upside down, it is because it was about to rain and I am too lazy to pass up a free wash.)

So after several wasted hours a quick search of pinterest, I decided to spray paint those babies.

Enter helpful Rona lady, who directed me to Rust-oleum’s hammered metal finish spray paint. Visions of charcoal grey hammered metal planters danced in my head!I bought my can for a mere $10 (or so), and strolled out with a certain amount of spring in my step.


The can told me to lightly sand any glossy surfaces before spraying, so I did that on the first two planters. I was annoyed that on the second planter this step left scratches in the plastic, so I decided to go out on a limb and not sand the third planter. Surprise! It worked! The world did not stop rotating and the paint most definitely stuck.

And here is a picture demonstrating the importance of reading instructions carefully. Students: take note!


Don’t you just love my outfit? I like to think of it as spray-paint-gumboot chic. All the range on L’Ile Perrot.

And here they are after! *Cue sounds of angels singing*


SO much better! Bless you, kind Rona lady with your excellent suggestions!

Fast forward to Mother’s Day, when my lovely mother, Linda, was visiting from Ottawa. While my dad and Erick went fishing, she was kind enough to lend her knowledge of plants to my project.

We went round to the local garden centres, finally ending up at Maxi. They carry all the President’s Choice products, so for about $55, I bought a bunch of plants and flowers to fill up my newly spray-painted planters.





I’ll include a run-down of exactly what plants went where in the final reveal.

The first step was to put a layer of small rocks at the bottom of each pot, to enhance drainage.



Then I put down a fairly thick layer of newsprint, to stop the soil from seeping into the rock layer.


After putting in my soil on top of the newsprint, I divided up the plants amongst the planters and sorted out their placement.



I had purchased some bell pepper and tomato plants, which is why I said that I ended up with 3 1/2 planters. Not wanting to over-crowd them, the peppers ended up in their own pot:


Once I’d placed and re-planted everything, I gave them a good drink of water from my cheerful yellow watering can (thanks, Aunt Sheila!).


And now for the big reveal… Drum roll, please! ………………………..






I feel pretty pleased with the whole project, and the best part is that I got to create them with the help of my mom.

So here’s a run-down of what I used.


planter 3

planter 2

I love to read your comments! If you have a tip or a trick for planters, or just to tell me about your own garden projects, please drop me a line in the comments section.

Have a great Victoria Day weekend, flourishers!