97. The Table’s Tale

I think I might have been the first item they purchased for the cottage.

I was reduced to being sold for $35 at the Habitat for Humanity Restore in Washington. It was absolutely humiliating, but they were very delighted. She wrote about it in her second post 2. The Sanding Queen, dated May 30, 2012 and called it a great deal. I shudder to think of it.

This is what I looked like the day they bought me. Table--before

Yes, I admit I was no beauty anymore; I was a bit down and out, but I had solid black wrought iron underneath, and at one time I was imposing. (Imported from Europe, but I don’t like to brag.) Plus, I lived Large. Lots of people could squeeze around me, say grace, shout about the mashed potatoes, spill gravy, slosh coffee, and just, well, eat, drink and be merry. I was a table that said Home.

I heard her say that she was just going to paint me and let me be a shabby chic table;  I don’t know what that means, but I am no Shabby Chick! I put all my hopes on the man; I could see he was a carpenter — all those tools! He could appreciate nice looking wood, even if I was just a fancy veneer over plain pine.  Everyone has a veneer, right? And my heart and covering were both good solid woods. (And I do have great, curvy legs, if I do say so myself…) When the man got out his sander I was a bit nervous, but he was easy on me and I came out looking like this:harvest table

A bit pale maybe, but definitely not shabby! Suddenly I’m feeling sort of Pottery Barn-ish.

work tableI tell you I was thinking, Yes! Now I’m home and there will be real meals again! And then I was covered up in layers of plastic tablecloths, sheets, and tarps, and it was back to being a work table for two more years! Even though They Said they were going to fix me up, I was  beginning to lose hope.

Then she uncovered me, moved me around, and started with the sandpaper on my legs… I wasn’t sure what to think about that pot of green paint she had with her. I thought that whole paint thing had been taken care of already. I made her bump her head a few times before I decided I kind of liked that silky green paint on my legs…

Table

But still they hadn’t done anything to keep those gravy stains from permanently damaging my new complexion. When they finally moved me in place, I tried my best to look like I needed a vacation to the islands or somewhere sunny. Alas, all they did was give me a fake tan. But that oil rubbed on my skin did warm me up, and three coats belonging to Polly somebody have just brought out my inner glow.putting poly on table

At least they have fixed up the walls I’m sitting beside. Talk about shabby? Oh, my! And those little lights above me are very sweet — they can be dim or bright depending on their mood, but we all have our little quirks, don’t you think? I think we’ll get along fabulously.

Am I not beautiful?

Dining room table and breadboard

What concerns me now is the chairs she might surround me with… I don’t want to tangle legs with mismatched Duncan Phyfes or lazy benches or painted-up shabby chicks. And no bistro chairs, please. What is a redeemed table to do but worry about the company she keeps? I think several upright parson’s chairs would do quite nicely, thank you.

dining table

“Eh,” she says, “you’re getting a bit uppity don’t you think? I don’t need La Table telling me what to do!”

table and green legsBut may I quote Better Homes and Gardens here? The dining table is “a substantial piece of furniture that sets the tone for the entire room…”

“Ahem!” she says. “I saw another table just like you today for sale at Construction Junction for $45, so don’t go upscale on me!”

Forty-five dollars?

Hey, bring on those cheap shabby chick chairs…

93. Goin’ to town and buyin’ the mantel

Mr. H.C. is famous for saying “Well, as Dad used to say…” and then he’ll pop off with some odd phrase, and nine times out of ten, my mom (or grandfather) said it too. It might be just old time country talk, or it might be real Greene County lingo, I’m not sure. But three of four of our parents were Greene County lifers (Clara always made sure to tell you that she was from California!) so this post is lovingly for them — and anyone else who loves the hollows, ridges, and idioms of Greene County.

Over a year ago we wandered into Jan’s Country Nook, a little hardware/antique/secondhand store on the main street of town. The window display drew us in — cast iron ash buckets, galvanized wash tubs, old tools, and a fireplace mantel — together with a jumble of other old and odd items led us into thinking that if we found any diamonds or rhinestones, they might not be too high. After all, we have champagne taste and a beer pocketbook.

We pooshed open the door, but nobody paid us any mind. Two old codgers in red and black plaid wool jackets and orange hunting caps were loudly discussing the pros and cons of the weather, and what it had to do with the price of eggs, and the salt situation in India. One was settin’ a spell on an upside down tub, and the other was leanin’ his elbow on a cluttered ledge. He was big enough to eat hay, and he crowded out the place.  Nearby was a small, thin lady with longish gray hair and a gravelly voice; she was puttin’ in her two cents as well. They both seemed to be hollering at the man who was sittin’ down; could have been he was deaf as a stump, or maybe he just had the flaps of his hat pulled over his ears.

Mr. H.C never met an old tool he didn’t like, and I was chompin’ at the bit for a galvanized washtub, so we were in hog heaven. The wood floor creaked as I walked down the right side, Mr. H.C walked down the left side and we met in the back of the store and conferred. There was a double washtub (on a stand!) but we allowed how it was in pretty bad shape, and Mr. H.C. can be tight-fisted with a dollar. We agreed it wasn’t worth the money, switched places, and moseyed up the other sides.

Old dolls, blue canning jars, and wooden Flexible Flyer sleds mingled with hard-to-find hardware items. Mr.H.C. bought some slotted brass screws that are scarcer than hen’s teeth these days. He was tickled pink to find them.

Mantel

I found this in the archives. Proof of the date of purchase and of the fireplace soot on the finish. We were keepin’ our fingers crossed that it just needed cleaned.

Neither of us can remember who saw it first, but Mr. H.C. is givin’ me credit. It was leaning against the wall and it looked like it had been around the barn once or twice. In fact, we’d been all around Robin Hood’s barn looking at mantels in other places — in the Burgh and in little Worshington — but all the ones we had seen were for the birds, and they were too pricey to boot. We had a rough opening measurement, but not exact, so after we had given it the once-over and allowed how it might do, we had to go back to Apple Hill to be sure it would fit. We told her we only lived down the road a piece, and we’d be back if the crick didn’t rise.

What we had to work with…

Well, we had to redd up the place to make room; the area around the fireplace looked like a cyclone had struck it. But we measured it twice and determined it would fit, so we high-tailed it back to the store.

Seventy-five dollars, firm.

Seventy-five dollars, firm.

I asked her if she would take $65, but she was firm. “The price is $75,” she said.

So we followed her back to the counter and settled up. She must have felt bad for not bargaining with us, so she gave us a handy dandy little 2013 calendar book and pen to make up for it, which I just found and threw away last week.

And to think we pert’near bought one for $150 at Construction Junction down in the city…

coal burning fireplace
The mantel pretty much looked like this for the last 11 months — collecting dust, odds & ends and serving as a tool shelf. All along I had planned on lightly sanding it and experimenting with Annie Sloan’s Chalk paint. I’ve read about it, watched You-tube videos and I was ready for the challenge. Then I added up how much it would cost. Jumpin’ Jehoshaphat! It would have been a pretty penny, and we already talked about that beer pocketbook, and Mr. H.C. isn’t the only one who can be tightfisted with a dollar. As Joe would say, “We were feeling too poor to paint and too proud to whitewash.”

So for the next month I worked like a dog — I got paint in my hair and primer on my britches. I reckon I looked like the wild woman of Borneo. Here are some pictures of it getting fixed up…

I reckon I’m gonna try to make my own chalk paint sometime soon; I’ve got a bee in my bonnet about it, and I’ve heard tell all you need is some plaster of paris. And some paint. Wait till you see the dining room chairs…

92. DIY Organic Hand Cleaner for Oil-stains and paints (that’s actually good for your hands)

I had an amazing brainstorm discovery yesterday — and really? These things don’t happen to me that often, folks! I got so excited, I have to share this with you.

Sanding is hard on hands

Sanding is hard on hands

Since we have been redoing the cottage, my hands have not been lovely. They never were, but now they are worse. Stains under fingernails, oil paint that won’t come off, dry skin from various kinds of dirt and toxins. And now it’s winter!

Off and on for the past two years, I have been experimenting with DIY lotions and creams. I’ve made Lovely Lavender Lotion from Healing Heart Oils; Grapefruit Body Butter from One Good Thing by Jillee; Homemade Lavender Deodorant from Full of Graces; and Olive Oil Cleansing Lotion from Wellness Mama. I recently got really brave and made up my own recipe for Body Bomb from a ratio recipe. All these links are tried and make great stuff from easily available, edible foods and oils, and if you are at all inclined, I encourage you to check them out and make your own. Nothing like being able to eat your hand cream!

Yesterday I was using oil stain on the fireplace mantle that I am messing around with sanding, staining, priming and painting. I’m a tactile kind of person, and I hate wearing gloves. So at the end of the staining session, my hands and fingernails were stained a lovely red mahogany. A good name for a new nail polish?

This is a before picture of the fireplace mantle -- It is currently dis-mantled and sitting on sawhorses in the living room. Look for another post about it soon -- when it is finished.

This is a before picture of the fireplace mantle — It is currently dis-mantled and sitting on sawhorses in the living room. Look for another post about it soon — when it is finished.

I was looking disgustedly at my hands, thinking:

1. I’m glad tomorrow isn’t Sunday; and

2. Hmm. It’s time to make dinner and I’m going to make meatballs with these hands?

I washed my hands with kitchen soap and water, but I knew it wouldn’t be enough. They were still sticky with stain. Mr. H.C. always has wipes I can use, but the jar specifically says “Not intended for personal cleansing.” Hmmm.

As I was stewing about the stain on my hands, the phrase “Oil cleans oil” flashed through my brain. I practically ran into the bathroom to get my jar of newly made Olive Oil Facial Cleanser. I put a good dollop on my hands and rubbed them all over, and the red mahogany stain magically and wonderfully disappeared. Not only did it clean my hands, it made them feel wonderfully soft. After all, this is a facial cleanser!

So I hurried to find a jar that would hold the little cleanser pads that you can buy at drug stores for very cheap. I put half in the jar, and poured in half the oil; then filled the jar and poured in the rest of the oil mixture. Now I have handy little cleansing pads for either my face OR my paint-and-stain-covered hands.

And I finally found a good use for my Vintage Burma-Shave jar that we found in the glass dump on our property last summer!

And I finally found a good use for my Vintage Burma-Shave jar that we found in the Apple Hill Glass Dump last summer!

Here is the oh-so-simple way to make it:

Extra Virgin Olive Oil (or expeller-pressed Sweet Almond Oil)
Castor Oil (you can find this in most drug stores)
Essential oil of your choice — I used peppermint; lemon or grapefruit would be nice too.
Cleanser pads
Wide mouth jar with tight fitting lid

Mix the oils together and add a few drops of essential oil until you like the smell. If you are using peppermint, don’t overdo it; it is a facial cleanser as well, and peppermint isn’t always good in the eyes!

Here is the important idea: the castor oil is the astringent, so you don’t want to leave it out entirely, but depending on your skin type or the season of year, you can add more or less to the Olive oil. The mix to start with is one part Castor Oil to four parts Olive Oil. (If you would like to know the specific idea and ratios behind the Oil Cleansing Method, go to theOilCleansingMethod.com for an in-depth discussion and also options for differing oils and ratios to use in your mix.) Wellness Mama also has a very good article on it, and it is where I found my original recipe.

And just because I didn’t want to give you false information, I also tried this again today on my oil-paint-stained hands. (Mr. H.C. said to tell you all that this was stinky, sticky oil-based primer that gave us both watery eyes).

Before

Before

After 5 minutes with my little oil-saturated cleansing pad.

After — Just 5 minutes with my little oil-saturated cleansing pad.

It is also an amazing make-up remover. This wonderful stuff cleans your hands, takes off your makeup, and gently cleans your face — all with the same natural Olive Oil Cleanser. Try it, and let me know what you think.