Sunday, May 24, 2015

Painted Patio Chairs

To all of you who own stock in the Rust-Oleum company: You're welcome. I'm pretty sure your profits are going to be waaaay up this quarter, courtesy of the deluge of painting projects I've undertaken. My most recent one: metal patio chairs.
I had four of these chairs that were part of a patio set we bought about 15 years ago. The table was taken out of commission a couple summers ago when strong winds blew the umbrella down, shattering the glass tabletop in the process. Unfortunately, when I pulled the chairs out of storage (under our porch) this spring, I saw the elements had taken a toll on them, too. 
The rust on one of the chairs in particular was so bad, it was beyond repair. The other three chairs seemed salvageable, though.
 The paint was flaking off where the rust was the worst.
I chipped off the flakes and sanded down the bad spots.
rusty metal primer
 I had some rusty metal primer left over from another project a couple years ago.
rusty metal primer
The primer was still good, so I mixed it up and painted it on the chairs.
Rust-Oleum rusty metal primer
The primer alone was a huge improvement.
After the primer dried, I spray painted the chairs black. The finish is a bit rough on some of the spots that were really chippy, but it's a great improvement over the rust.
Next, I tackled the cushions, which had acquired a weird pink cast over the years. It almost looked like they were rusting, too. I scrubbed them down with hot, soapy water, sprayed them with a bleach cleaner, and used a few Mr. Clean Magic Erasers on them... no avail. The pink was not letting go...
... so I decided to just paint over it. I'm not sure what the cushions are made of, but they clearly have some kind of waterproof coating that feels more like plastic than any natural fiber. I used a Rust-Oleum paint (Leafy Green, satin finish) that said it would bond to plastic, and it worked like a charm.
After two coats of paint, the shadows of the old stripes are still visible underneath, but it's a subtle two-tone green that looks nice, so I think I'm going to stop here instead of doing a third coat and trying to completely obliterate the stripes.
Each chair used two cans of black spray paint, and each cushion used two cans of leaf green. The paint cost about $3 per can. So (if I'm doing the math right, which is never a sure thing), each chair cost $12 (not counting the cost of the primer which I already had) to make over. That seems like a good deal for three "new" chairs. 

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

I Love (Other People's) Trash

I've spent most of my free time during the past few weeks cleaning, organizing and purging the clutter from my basement.

But one Saturday morning, I decided I needed a break, so I drove to a nearby town to check out a citywide rummage sale...
citywide rummage sale
... and came home with a whole new batch of clutter. It couldn't be helped. I kept finding great stuff at crazy low, low prices that I needed/wanted/bought impulsively and may or may not have regretted later.

Here are a few of my favorite finds of the day:
garage sale finds
A vintage Sultana Peanut Butter tin, minus the handle. I'd love to put a plant in it and set it on my deck, but I don't want it to rust. So it may end up holding markers or paintbrushes on my desk instead.
garage sale finds
The old type and graphics and its all-around orangeness more than make up for the missing handle as far as I'm concerned. (It was $2.)
garage sale finds
A reproduction Hutton's ham tin. It's not old like the peanut butter pail is (I paid 50 cents for it), but I love the graphics on the can, and it reminded me of a Granger Tobacco tin I bought at another rummage sale earlier this spring:
garage sale finds
They look like they belong together, don't they? The tobacco tin is the real deal (i.e., vintage). (And it was only $3). When I saw the Hutton's can, I immediately pictured it sitting next to the tobacco can.
garage sale finds
And in the fall, I can tuck a few gourds and pumpkins in among my three new tins and have an instant Halloween vignette.

A pewter plate with type around the rim.
garage sale finds
The alphabet plate is the new one (50 cents). It reminded of the cheese plate I already owned. Now both plates are in my hutch, nestled among my ironstone dishes, which brings me to my next find....
garage sale finds
Two small oval ironstone plates ($1) and a matching serving bowl ($1.50).
garage sale finds
They also happened to match a creamer I already had at home.

The three clear glass canning jar lids and the random silverware in the previous photo are the only things I bought that truly ended up getting stored in my (less-cluttered-than-before) basement. I use canning jars all the time for storage and craft projects, so the lids will definitely get used at some point. As for the lovely vintage flatware, I have a million different ideas for projects I'd like to make out of it, but it's so pretty as is I hesitate to bend it or stamp into it, so we'll see what becomes of it.
garage sale finds
This white canister, which I got for a quarter -- probably because it was missing a lid. Not a problem. I already had the lid for it at home.

I buy orphaned lids occasionally, when they are really, really cheap, hoping that someday I might be able to reunite them with containers. Often enough, I find a match. (It's my gift.)

As I don't really need another canister-canister, I think I will use this one for Calvin's cat chow.
garage sale finds
A white metal table, for $2. I'm going to set it on my deck between a couple of patio chairs. The top is plexiglass, which is practical but not real pretty. I'm thinking about tiling over the top of it. I'll live with it a while first. Maybe once I set a big bushy plant on it, I will forget all about the plexiglass.
garage sale findsA lefty scissors. Just because. (40 cents.)
garage sale finds
A Wisconsin pin (10 cents). I'm not sure what exactly that gold scrolly thing on it is. A company logo of some kind probably. Is it an "e"? A roll of paper? A toboggan? I tried Googling it but have come up empty so far. I feel like I should find out what it is before I start wearing it in public, just in case it turns out to be a symbol for the neo Nazis or something. (If anyone has any insight, please share.)
garage sale finds
A roll of newspaper print wallpaper ($2). I have no idea what I am going to do with it. But it is going to be fabulous.
garage sale finds
And finally, this little item.
garage sale finds
Do you recognize it? I didn't right away. There were no tags or markings on it.
garage sale finds
 I had to turn it over and study it from every angle before it finally dawned on me...
garage sale finds
 It's a Connect 4 game. I was so happy when I finally solved the riddle I had to buy it (for 50 cents).

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Sunday, May 17, 2015

Back from the Basement

Please excuse the lack of blog posts in recent weeks. I was sucked into the black hole that is my basement and, much like Kimmy Schmidt and the Indiana Mole Women, have only recently emerged back into the real world.
In my case, my subterranean exile was self-imposed; I was cleaning, sorting, purging and organizing 20 years worth of stuff that had piled up down there. 

I started at one end, where my husband built a huge 8-foot-long wall-o-shelves (which I blogged about here), and once I got into the cleaning groove, I just couldn't stop until I got clear across to the other end. 

The good news is: I'm (almost) done. (Just a couple small organizing projects left to deal with down there.) The even better news: I unearthed two decades worth of forgotten treasures and half-completed projects that should provide plenty of fodder for my blog in the coming days/weeks/months.

First up, a vintage green metal plant stand: 
I bought the stand, which had a white ceramic pot inside it, at an antique store 10 or 15 years ago. I loved its clean lines and industrial style. Unfortunately, the pot cracked, and then shattered, a few years ago, and the stand got moved down to the basement/dumping ground.
I could never find a replacement pot that was the right size and eventually I gave up looking.
But in the midst of my basement cleaning binge, I happened upon a big white vase that I had bought at a garage sale last summer, thinking at the time that it was the perfect size/shape/color to hold peonies. It hadn't occurred to me then that it might also be the perfect size/shape/color for my plant stand.
My brain finally made the connection between the two of them yesterday, and I was thrilled to discover the vase was indeed a perfect fit. The vase is much taller than the original pot was, but I actually like the proportions of it better.
I stopped at a greenhouse later in the day to pick up a few plants for my garden, and on a whim, I decided to buy a cute little oregano plant for my new/old plant stand.
Because the vase is taller than it needs to be to hold a potted plant, I placed an upside down plastic cup in the bottom to take up space without adding weight.
Since there are no holes in the vase, I poured a layer of gravel in for drainage.
Then I transplanted the oregano.
I'm not sure what I like best: the plant stand, the plant or the vase. They look like they were meant for each other, don't they?

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Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Let's Talk Terrariums

While cleaning and organizing in my basement recently, I found an old fish bowl/terrarium that I had picked up at a thrift store a couple years ago. I had always intended to set up a little nature scene in it, but I never found any houseplants that were small enough, so the terrarium languished, empty, on a shelf. 


Then last Saturday morning, I was making the rounds at the Lake Mills citywide rummage sale, when I happened upon a plant sale being held in someone's front yard. Among the plants there were some tiny succulents -- the perfect size for my small terrarium. The hen and chicks plant in the big pot at the top was $2. The three smaller square containers were three (pots) for $5 (and each pot had three or more plants in it). I picked up the plant that looks like peas at Wal-Mart the next day.

I had to buy some cactus potting mix and some small stones (I used aquarium gravel), but the rest of the supplies I already had.


I started with an inch or so of gravel at the bottom of the container for drainage.


Then I added a layer of charcoal, to filter the air and keep the soil fresh.


Bonus: the charcoal adds a pretty layered stripe to the terrarium.


On top of the charcoal: the soil. Instead of regular potting soil, I used a special blend that contains a mixture of Sphagnum moss, composted forest products, sand and perlite. It's designed to promote drainage, which is important for succulents.


I put the largest plant, the "hen" from the hen and chicks plant, in first.

I positioned it toward the back of the terrarium ...


... and then burrowed a miniature birdhouse into the soil next to it.


 Then I filled in the front with a bunch of the smaller plants.


 After I had everything planted, I spread some sheet moss across the top of the soil to make everything look pretty and green.


As a finishing touch, I added a path up to the little house with my aquarium gravel.


I took a few photos through the terrarium glass, but with all the reflection going on, it was hard to get a good shot. This was about the best I could do. It's a sweet little tableau. Now I just hope the plants grow (but not too fast that they outgrow the terrarium).

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