Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The Chess Table, aka When DIY Goes Wrong

Once upon a time, I bought a chess table cheap off Craigslist, and attempted to refinish it all on my own.  Sometimes things just don't work out according to plan.

 It all started with this little guy.  Cute, structurally sound chess table in need of a home and some love.

I totally misread the Craigslist ad though, and overlooked that it was only 15 inches tall.  That's barely taller than our kitten, Thor.  Thor is unimpressed.

At first I was in denial.  Certainly I could just find some short stools or chairs, and this would still be a great table!  Alas, my thrift store hunting left me empty handed.  I found one chair that would work, but chess is better played with two.  So then I had the brilliant idea to just get new legs.  A search of Home Depot, and I came home with four of these poplar 26 inch sticks.  The pre-made table legs all seemed to grand (read expensive).

I also walked out with two small jars of stain.  One in a color called Kona, the other Golden Pecan.  I started sanding, in preparation for application of what I thought would be beautiful new stain.  I sanded and sanded, and developed a new callous on my thumb.  Someday I will invest in a hand sander.

So the color on the can of Kona looked like a dark brown with darker areas of the grain almost black.  When I opened the can, I thought "wow, this looks really dark, I wonder if I should trade it for a different color.  But I want to stain this now! I'm sure it will be fine."  Someday I will learn that it is better to get it right than get it quickly.  That stain was black.  The instructions said to wipe off in 10-15 minutes, I started wiping in off after 5.  You could barely see the wood grain.

I carried on though, thinking that once the lighter squares were the Golden Pecan color, it would look better. It didn't.

Google told me that stain stripper likely wouldn't work on new stain.  I tried anyway.  It sort of worked.  It lightened the stain at least.  My options were to leave the thing in the garage for a year and try stripping it again, re-sanding the whole thing, or just carrying on.  I chose the later.

I went back to Home Depot and chose Black Cherry.  It looked like a warm dark brown.  I opened the jar at home, and the stain looked purple.  Having totally failed to learn my lesson with the Kona, I applied it anyway.  Yep, purple.  Argh.  At that point, I decided to just stick with the Kona.  The Kona over the Black Cherry ended up looking ok though.  I pretty much started wiping the stain off as soon as it was applied, but the purple under the black ended up looking fine.

I attached the new legs, gave the whole thing a coating of polyurethane, and called it done.  I'm calling it the daddy long legs chess table.  I suppose not every project can work out.  After the holidays, I may start cruising Craigslist for a game table again.  This time, we'll just put our existing board on top of it.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

How we used our parents' night out

The kids' daycare hosted a parents' night out last night.  For $45, they fed the kids dinner, played games, and had a party, until 10:30 pm.  Not a bad deal for all three kids!  We were going to go to a movie, but there wasn't anything at our local theater that we really wanted to see, and we were too lazy to go farther away.

Instead, when we got home from work we changed our clothes and went running.  We weren't sure if the park where my husband usually runs was lighted or not, so we just ran a loop around the neighborhood.  I loved seeing all of the Christmas lights.  We went running together on Veterans' Day as well (day off for us, but not for the kids!), and that was the first time I'd been running since the Too Hot to Handle race in July.  I am getting lazy.

I signed my husband up for the Too Cold to Hold 10 mile race, but wimped out and signed myself up for the 5 mile course.  I just want to run a race all the way through, without stopping to walk, and I know I'd be setting myself up to fail if I singed up for 10 miles.  I'm looking forward to the race though, and hopefully having the race to prepare for will encourage me to get off my ass and run more than two times in five months!

We did 4 miles, and my slow pace, but it was a nice run.  I could have made it another mile, but had set 4 as my goal, and was looking forward to going out to eat without the kids!

Thursday, December 6, 2012

2012 Reading Challenge - Book #25

Book #25 was The Mysterious Benedict Society, by Trenton Lee Stewart.  We bought this book for my oldest son last Christmas, and started reading it in February, after we finished a How to Train Your Dragon book.  We didn't read this book every night, but we also didn't take many breaks from reading it either - it is a long book to read aloud!  It was a change for us, as the How to Train Your Dragon books are clearly written with the idea that they are likely to be read aloud by the adult.  The Mysterious Benedict Society  is not as suited for reading aloud, but I also think many young readers would struggle to read it independently, so I'm left a bit unsure as to what age group the book is intended for.  My son, who was turning 6 when we started it, and is now almost 7, was able to follow along fairly well, although he did forget some characters who are prominent in early chapters and then disappear until the final chapter.  The characters are well developed, and my son found the children's plotting and tricks hilarious.  He is eager to start the next book in the series, but we have convinced him to take a break with this series, and we'll come back to it in a year or so. 

My son wants to read The Chronicles of Narnia next.  I'm excited to read them to him, but am also a bit disappointed that I won't be able to count them towards the 2013 Reading Challenge, as only new reads count.  My goal for 2012 was 30 books, and it doesn't look like I'm going to make it.