Thursday, July 22, 2010


I am getting ready to finish the baby cardigan I've been working on for the past week; the Helena for my boss' grandneice Holly to wear this fall. I've actually done the collar and the little ties in the front closure too but I don't have a picture handy of them yet.

I've also finished my Bottom-Up Birch! Below, is yesterday morning - stretched across my patio table so you can see what a nondescript lump lace looks like before the magic of blocking!

Below is my soak water after about 30 minutes of the project just sitting in it. If you're using this yarn, be careful washing it! It's a superwash, so the unwarned may toss it in with a load of laundry (I don't think I know people who would do something so terrible... right?) The yarn is Dream in Color's new Knitosophy in the "Laugh" colorway. It looks like opals to me, and while the colors are terribly busy, they are also bright and all my favorites so I should be able to wear this with a lot of my outfits to have some pop-colors. I can't wait for fall! Maybe I'll wear it to work today.

Below is it on me. Nevermind the hutch to my right that needs me to pick one of the four colors on it and repaint it! See how the lace pattern is actually visible now? The blocking faeries did a great job, as per usual.

I blocked it on my son Kieffer's bed yesterday morning. Before work. Yes, I woke him up, asked him to walk the dogs for me, then proceeded to pin out the shawl on his bed. Ha ha, I had to bribe him when he came back in and realized he'd been duped!

Also, I have no pictures, but I went to dance class last night and it was great. I went with a willing Kieffer, too! I'm really liking him at 14, I hope this doesn't change for the worse when he gets a little bit older. We've been to two dance classes so far (I've been to three, one without him because I didn't know how much fun they would be) and I think I have found the one that I want to join. It was a riot, and there were plenty of men to dance with. Of course, they were all old retired VFW men but I'm thinking after the fun night we had that's more of a plus too!

They have a website if you want to google them, they are the Nashville Dance Club at the VFW. Back room is for dancing and the front room is for drinking! What more could you ask for? Unlike a lot of other dance places, there are tons of men for practicing with! Dance lessons are Wednesdays (sorry, knit group) and they are $7 for non-members and $5 for members. This is ballroom-style dance stuff, so there is NO lower price anywhere in town! We are in the middle of a series of Swing lessons there now - I stepped-in on #3 beginner class and next month is intermediate.

If you just want to try out a free dance class, go this Saturday to Centennial Park, down by the locomotive (not the Parthenon, farther down) and they will have a live band and a free dance lesson sometime around 7pm. This week they will be doing the waltz. Next week they will be filming for the show "So you think you can dance"! Bring your a-game!

Next post: Garden update! (teaser: I've got tomatoes & peppers *squee*)

Monday, July 12, 2010

Piano Bench Refinish

Look below! That's my beautiful piano bench... albeit, somewhat ruined. That's my exquisite Kara-dog behind it too, making sure the picture is aesthetically pleasing since the bench is so ugly. That appears to be some kind of super glue spots (not dog snot!) and scrapes and other unmentionable things on it. What paint or stain was on it is now abandoning ship. You can kindof see the pretty legs on it though. It's a very fancy ornate little bench.

I went to Home Depot and got some felt pads for the bottom of the legs (haven't put them on yet) and then decided... well, refinishing a piano is a BIG job and I don't want to get 1/3 of the way through it and give up. Lets see how difficult it will be to refinish a piano BENCH instead! Oh, and look, I have one handy that needs it! How convenient is that? So I did a little research into how I would theoretically want to refinish the piano should I ever undertake that particular endeavor. Looks like French Polish / Shellac is the way to go. Yup, no easy way to do it, lots of hard work and elbow grease, and time. PERFECT! I'll just do the top of the bench, so I have a nice place to sit and if I hate the work or if I suck at it, at least I have a nice bench (top) out of the deal.

I sanded (and sanded, and slept and then sanded some more the next day), and I stained it ebony black. Then I sat back and said, "GAWD, if this was a whole piano I'd move away!" Not really, I was feeling rather proud of myself at that point. The top of the bench felt like satin! Anyway, sanding and staining and sanding some more and staining some more and rubbing and buffing and dang my arms hurt!

I got my shellac supplies and put the first coat on. Look how pretty it is! Now only 15-20 more coats and it should look great. There's some of my supplies below. Not really that interesting, but shared anyway.

Here (below) is the picture of it as of yesterday afternoon when I quit working on it out of necessity. I had a billion other things to do. But look, this is somewhere around 8-10 coats of shellac. It's getting there! You can see my reflection, fairly clearly!

Now, I have already learned some things. First: get a paint stripper, because sanding paint off sucks. Buy a nice expensive paint stripper too, don't go the cheap route. (My Mom says you -always- have to spend the big bucks to get a good stripper! ha ha ha) You will have so much sanding to do anyway that you'll still get your exercise and then some.
Second: I sanded and was very careful about getting everything glass-smooth with an extremely fine grade of wet/dry sandpaper... but I still have areas that absorbed the shellac & show grain. Next time I will use something called pummice to fill the grain after my first coat of shellac. I didn't read about that until I was already past the first coat.
Third: Shellac is extremely forgiving and easy to repair. Not just if you mess up while doing it but also if you or a kid or dog does something to it in the future. That is one of the main reasons I chose to French Polish rather than doing something easier. That, and I am completely infatuated with "old fashioned" things! Plus, shellac is a renewable resource. Just can't beat all that!

I'm going to get some paint stripper in the next few days. It seems I have a lot of projects that I can use it on. My outdoor metal chair is coming along quite nicely, and I've got a cabinet/hutch that's all different colors that desperately needs me to choose one and run with it! And the rest of this bench needs to be finished too, of course. Now, I used an ebony stain and an amber colored shellac, but the jury is still out on whether or not I like the color it has become. I was hoping for more of a warm black than a warm orange... but it's still not too late to re-do it. Even though I have a bazillion "coats" of the stuff on it already, it's really only a very thin layer that can be easily removed.

Look What I Bought!

I found this amazing place online, , while looking for a piano tuner. Yes, sometimes the cart DOES come before the horse. Ok, ok, full story; I found a similar piano at Habitat for Humanity Homestore for $150 and I wanted to get a tuner out to look at it ASAP. Looking for the tuner brought me to the website where I could get a guarantee and a free delivery on a piano of my choice for around the same price! Of course I ran right out there, met Jerrold who runs the place, and selected a couple of pianos that tickled my fancy. Jerrold had the tuner-guy take a look at them both and I came back with a check after he said they would both hold a tune.

Here above is my baby in the warehouse, dusty and hidden like a treasure waiting to be found. The picture looks nice and bright but the spot where she was really wasn't. I was surprised when I got home & saw the pictures. Below is a detail of the scrollwork on the front. That beautiful cherry color was definitely not evident to me at the time. In fact, even now that it's home it's still a little darker than that to the naked eye.

Here she is (below) in my living room. I had to move book cases to get her in, now I have even MORE stuff I don't have room for upstairs. Thank GOD the rebuild on the downstairs room is going really really well.
Below is what she looks like with her "clothes" off. This was minutes after the delivery happened and Jerrold had left. I was cleaning, and considering how difficult it would be to re-do her finish, and I just started unscrewing things to find out what could & couldn't be done! I'm like that though... Jerrold said it was definitely within a beginner's grasp to re-do the finish on their own piano. It's not like it's really worth a bundle of $ or anything, my love and $250 is all!

He also let me pick out a bench to go with it. I selected a lovely one with ornate legs and a terrible ruined finish. My next post will be of that project. It's really a great piano, only slightly out of tune - and not too painfully at that. I've been very happy already. Toward the end of the month, the tuner will come out to my home for my first tuning (which was included in the purchase price, along with delivery). I'm so excited, I could do the dance all over again just thinking about my good fortune!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Some Random Pictures to Share

Driving home from work the other day, after what I thought was a very normal rain shower, I noticed this. Several trees down in front of Andrew Jackson Elementary School on Shute Ln. This one was down by the corner near OHB, but farther down where there's a chain link fence around the kids' park area there was another tree down right over the fence and there was a lot of wood debris in piles along the entrance way like someone had already cleared a lot of it out. Strangeness!

This past Saturday I bought the kids a frosty cool drink after they helped me haul some stuff off to the dump. When we got back home, one of the boys left their drink to condensate on the rock wall near my garden. When I was walking past I noticed that a beautiful dragonfly had landed on the straw for a sip of water. It let me get close enough to take this picture then it flew off.

Shannie & I went to a dinner at a local winery recently. We had delish crawfish foods and a wine tasting & I brought home a tasty bottle of wine as a souvenir. The place was really magical, beautiful, and the people delightful and friendly. It's out in Columbia, TN - Amber Falls Winery. If anyone likes wine, please please please make the trip out to see this place. The wine is great, the scenery is amazing and the whole place is without compare.

Speaking of magical, PJ and I attended his friend Phillip's wedding, and it was magnificent. I will have to find a picture or two to share of it here. You just wouldn't believe! I also managed to dress in her colors and looked vaguely like a decoration. One of our friends snapped this picture of us. We don't get a lot of pics together, this one is extra-special.

Finally, Kieffer graduated from Middle School. Next school year he will be in High School. He's halfway there! PJ, Keegan and I drove up to KY to see him graduate. After the ceremony & festivities at the school, we took my Mom with us out to eat at the only buffet in town, a chinese restaurant. It was great. On the way out, the boys asked for 50 cents for the gumball/toy machines. Strangely, the one machine they picked had disguise mustaches in it! I guess it's a KY thing... Kieffer got the Hitler, and Keegan got the Pancho Villa. These kids never fail to delight me. Can life get much better?