Sunday, August 25, 2013

Furniture Updos - Painting Wooden Furniture {Old Dressers}

As many of you know, basically everything we have as far as household/living items is a hand me down.  Personally, I think it's fabulous because FURNITURE IS EXPENSIVE!  And we're pretty lucky that we got some well used, {but dang good} couches, tables, and other necessities.  I always wondered why furniture stores advertised their financing specials...  After considering purchasing a new bed frame, bookshelf, etc., I realized why.  It's freegin' expensive.  Not something I really want to spend money on at this point.  So currently, our bed is on the floor, and we make do with our tiny, secondhand dressers.  It works!

But hose are my enemies.  Our crappy dressers.  One of them we sniped as a who-knows-how-many-time-reused dresser from the fraternity house.  It has 3 drawers which I hammered back together to working order by myself in 2009.  The other, I literally have NO CLUE where it came from, but my brother had it when he lived at the rental house.  I don't ask questions...probably don't want to know!

Both of them are crappy wood, flimsy, and small.  But also, FREE and currently in our possession.
Coming to terms with that, I decided to feed my mint obsession by painting them.  I did a bit of online reading: blogs, e-how, and whatever else I could find.  Then I purchased my weapons.  My paint, that is.

1.  Zinsser Primer:  for all surfaces.  I think this was around 5$.  Make sure whatever primer you buy is worth your money.  One of my dressers was laminate (glossy surface), so I read online and decided this was the best primer.  I applied with both a brush and a roller.  Depending on what sort of edges you have, I started on them with a brush, and then rolled the larger portions.  Get a nice covering, but not too thick!  You essentially want to cover the darkness of the wood and give your paint something to adhere to.

2.  Paint.  I chose a color called Mint Shake from Wal-Mart.  You want INTERIOR paint, of course, and I chose a flat finish.  I got their cheapest brand, which was around $9 for a whole gallon.  You do not need anywhere near a whole gallon to paint a few dressers, but it was only a dollar more, so I sprang for it.  (After the two dressers I painting, and some waste, I probably still have about 2/3 of the gallon left.)

3.  Finish/lacquer.  I got the polycrylic.  Again, from reading online, this seemed like the best option. This was fairly expensive, around $13.  You probably could get something similar for cheaper, but for my first try, I wanted to go with what people suggested.

Now for the fun part, get painting!

1.  For laminate surfaces, start with your primer.  For regular wood surfaces, use a fine grain sand paper to even out your surface.  Remember to wipe down with a wet cloth (old rag, it will be messy) after sanding so that you don't have any residue while you are priming.  *Warning: sanding is not as fun as it looks, and is really tiring!!

After sanding the wood dresser

2.  Prime your surfaces.  Again, I used both a brush, and a roller.  And at times, a foam brush.  This depends on the detail your piece of furniture has, and what you feel comfortable using.  

Primed surfaces

3.  Allow ample time to dry.  Since I was doing this at night, I actually let each coat dry for approximately 24 hours, as I was only doing 1 coat per night.  That is not necessary, but make sure to read your paint/primer/sealant label to judge your proper drying time.  

4.  Paint your surfaces with your chosen color.  Depending on what color you have chosen, and what color your original was, you will have to do a number of coats.  I ended up doing 3 coats of my color. Since it was light, and the wood I started with was dark, it took a little more.  Generally, you will be doing two coats of paint.

5.  Use your sealant to finish off your project!  I chose the satin finish, as I didn't want something too glossy, but it is up to you.  This part was frustrating...  Everything I read said to use a brush to apply the finish.  It did not go on as smooth as I felt it should, and somehow there would randomly be dry spots.  I ended up doing two coats to make sure everything was completely covered and sealed up. This resulted in a slightly more glossy finish than I intended, but it looks great.  *Warning:  this dries fairly quickly, if you brush it too much, you will get a lot of streaks!  It is also very runny, so make sure you are fully prepared before starting this coat.  Be strategic and patient with your application.



For the 5 drawer dresser, I ended up using the original hardware, and it looks really great with the new, lighter color.  The 3 drawer dresser, I ordered some glass knobs from  I thought the glass would add to the vintage feel, and I am excited for them to arrive tomorrow!  

All in all, this was a major success, and I think I did pretty great for my first go around.  It definitely took longer than I thought it would, simply because I was doing it after work, and I was usually busy on the weekends.  

My Tips:

*Invest in a good brush and roller to ensure your paint is going on even and streak-free
*Be patient with yourself
*Buy a drop cloth to paint on.  I was very careful, but I dripped a lot!
*Make sure to let your layers dry adequately.  (By the end, I had 6 coats: primer, 3 coats of paint, and 2 coats of finish)
*Make sure you have a good primer, it will be the beginning of your whole project and you want a good base
*It helps to have an extra set of eyes available to watch for drips, smudges, etc. and to help you hold pieces while you are painting the bottom, edges, etc.  (Thanks to the hubby for being helpful, patient, and encouraging me!!)

I ABSOLUTELY LOVE my "new" dressers!  We have dark walls in our bedroom, and the mint color looks fantastic.  The finish is great, and I am so happy with the results.  Don't fret about old furniture, you can always revamp your hand me downs and give them new life!

Friday, August 23, 2013

How Much Do You Love Your Dad?

Dads.  What a strange part of life.

I was definitely a daddy’s girl.  I get my curly hair from my dad.  My sense of humor.  My love of animals. 

If anyone reading knows my dad, you know how awesome he is.  I say that often.  It’s true.  If you haven't met him yet, you need to.  He is a tie-dye wearing, motorcycle riding, jag-bomb taking, squeeze-you-til-you-can’t-breathe hug giving, pony tail wearing, always smiling, good guy, guy. 

My dad has always worked hard to support our family.  My mom told me a few months back how much she appreciates that she was able to stay home for a few years with us kids.  My dad worked crazy hours, long hours, but I always remember having my dad around.  We took naps together.  Did anything outside together.  Camping, motorcycle rides…my dad was a fun dad growing up. 

Dad and Nick in Vail
Personally, I think I’m his favorite because I’m the baby girl ;)  Although he let me do some things my mom probably wouldn’t have (“Go ask your father”), he came after me when he thought I was smoking, told my mom to talk to me when he thought I was having sex, and kept me in line when I needed it.  I was a good kid, but my dad always had his eye on me at the right times.

Dad @ my grad party
I think this has made our relationship really great.  I can talk to him if I need to, and he will back me up when I need it.  But he will also get hammered drunk with Mike the first night they meet, and send me picture messages of him with my friends at the bar! 

Mike and Dad, 2010
He has his own language.  “Artie-isms”, if you will. 
Shap-shap = Oh, shit!
Wolfchow = eat fast. 
Bo-bop = dog. 
Double whip-back hanger = half pony tail.
And the list goes on. 

BUT…I wouldn’t trade my dad for anyone.  I am so glad he was there to walk me down the aisle at my wedding.  In the back room beforehand, he was standing with his hands in his pockets (in a SUIT, mind you, which most people have never seen before), and I said “Well, what do you think, Dad?”.  I could tell he was “pondering”, as he likes to say, and all he could muster to say (I think he was on the edge of tears) was “Natalie”, in a dad-like tone with a head nod.  I knew then my dad loved me so much and was so happy for us. 

I think you can see his happiness here!
He pulled me together beforehand.  He held me tight and told me “Everything will be okay” right before he handed me off to Mike.  His baby girl, all grown up.  We danced to Paul Simon’s “You Can Call Me Al” for my wedding.  No way were we going to dance to Butterfly Kisses, or something slow.  We started slow dancing, but quickly broke out the robot, the Egyptian (our specialty), and many other crazy moves.  We were being us! 

My dad’s crazy attitude, loving heart, and huge smile have helped me become who I am today.  Although he is different, and might not be a “soccer dad”, he’s MY dad and I love him so much. 

Take a look at your relationships.  Take time to appreciate what each person in your life has done for you and means to you.  A little reflection will help you to see what amazing people you have in your life!

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Minneapolis Tap Room Road Trip

Back in July, Mike's best man visited with one purpose in mind:  Drink lots of good beer.

He arrived Friday night and they got right to it.  We got caught up on all the important chatter.  At midnight, I went to bed, and the guys retreated to the basement.  It got interesting.  After several hours, about $100 of beer {including Surly Seviin, Syx, and Pentagram, and many others}, listening to live shows, and guy talk...Mike came to bed around 4 am, and Josh unknowingly spent the night in the basement.

The next morning, Josh came upstairs around 9 and exclaimed "Mike, I slept in the basement!"  Yep, "Mr. Fall Asleep in Two Seconds and Passes Out Anywhere", you once again didn't make it to the bed we provided.  Boys, you're not as young as you once were.

I had a birthday brunch up in Northeast.  I wanted to be back home by noon to get the day rolling.  We had a large group, so that didn't happen, but it was to the benefit of the guys. When I got home, they were both laying on the couches, stuffed with BWW, and feeling their worst hangovers in months. HAHA!

When we left, I told Mike that he could drive until they were drunk and then I would drive. Simultaneously, they both said "I think we're already there".  So I hopped in the driver's seat.

First stop: Surly.  Furthest north, but worth the drive.  We got lucky that it was the Beer Dabbler, so many beer geeks were already occupied for the day.  This was to our benefit, as many of the taprooms were much less crowded.  Surly is the big cheese.  They are very established in Minnesota and have high demand.  They are opening a new brewpub soon and it is going to be OUT OF CONTROL.  I sampled the Cacao Bender.  Yum.  So good.  I also snagged a SevIIn tee for like $12.  Score!

Next stop:  Dangerous Man Brewing Co.  This is a very new brewery.  Love their logo.  Gorgeous wood on the inside, a huge bar, and you can bring in your own food.  The only thing I didn't like here was the wet glasses.  I HATE when places serve you something in a wet glass.  Call me crazy, but it drives me nuts.  Lots of space, great service, great beer.  I'm looking forward to seeing them grow.

Over to:  Indeed Brewing.  Still my favorite.  We went here for their grand opening and I just love the place.  They have a huge patio now, and a dark interior with awesome tables, vintage chairs, and great artwork.  They also have a great logo, I love symmetry :)  By the way, this is in a corner lot, obscured from view, so just keep walking, and you'll find it.

The Newbie:  612Brew.  They are currently distributing to a lot of Minneap bars.  Mike is not quite a fan.  We did the flight (highly recommended, I think it was $11) and it was a good experience for me. Mike is obviously much pickier.  Another place with awesome artwork, with comfy chairs, and an up close view of the brewery itself.  They have a fantastic outdoor space, but the brewery itself is hard to find. Look for the big red chimney.

To Minneapolis Proper:  Fulton Brewery.  I have been here before and definitely enjoy their Sweet Child of Vine.  Fair warning: parking can kind of suck.  They are now fully built, with a new patio, larger bathrooms, and extra seating.  I had their homemade soda (I think it was something like grapefruit mango) which was delicious, and their Ringer.  They didn't have much available, and by this time we were hungry, so we made out of there fairly quickly.

On to Food:  Northbound Smokehouse and Brewpub.  We went here for dinner, and they guys had a beer or two.  We ate outside, in the dark, with greenery.  It was a nice little break.  I didn't enjoy my food too much (I think I had the pulled pork), but the guys recommend the Trout Wrap, and the Reuben/Rachel.  Also...don't waste your time on the sweet potato fries...AWFUL.  They have a pretty good selection of beers available as well.  It is in south Minneapolis, AKA much quieter and a little more removed from the hubbub.

And for Entertainment:  Harriet Brewing.  This was our last stop.  We were exhausted.  There was a CD release party for a local group, and the temperature was perfect.  They have a taproom that really consists of a few taps, some furniture, and open garage doors.  A little on the shabby side...but "not too shabby".  They do have a tasting room in the front though, which I assume is probably nicer.  We stayed for a few songs, the guys drank a light beer to end the night, watched people dance, and finally headed home.
One Man String Band
It was a long day.  With beautiful weather.  And great guys.  A fun memory and definitely a check off of the Minneapolis bucket list.  I just sipped off of their beers all day.  This took over 8 hours, a sober driver (me) and some cash.

Wrangle up a good group, and you will have a blast.  The breweries also team up with the food trucks, and most -if not all- will have food trucks on site for amazing, local food.

Feel free to ask if you have any questions!

Cookies for Breakfast {Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Pancakes}

Yesterday we had cookies for breakfast.  Or at least it tasted like it!  We had chocolate chip oatmeal pancakes.  Which were actually pretty healthy.  No sugar, whole wheat flour, and no syrup needed.

My base recipe can be found here.

These are very easy to make.  I would say this makes enough for one person, or two people if you are also eating something else.  This made 3 medium pancakes for us, about softball size.  We split them and then had eggs as well.  If you are hungry/feeding more people, I would suggest doubling the recipe.


1 very ripe medium banana  (I used a large, ripe banana)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 flax egg (1 Tbsp flaxseed meal + 2.5 Tbsp water)  **I will explain this soon**
Pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoon almond butter  (I used peanut butter)
1 Tablespoon canola oil (I used coconut oil)
3 Tablespoons almond milk (or other milk)
1/2 cup rolled oats (or gluten free oats)
1/4 cup whole wheat flour
3 Tablespoons semisweet chocolate chips

FIRST:  Make your flaxseed egg.  WHAT THE HECK IS A FLAXSEED EGG?  It's a handmade egg substitute.  I got my start here.  I put 1 tbsp milled flax with just under 3 tbsp of water.  Stir, and put in fridge for about 15 minutes.  It will thicken in consistency and be much better binding for your pancakes.
This is the finished product
...Once that is finished, start with your actual recipe.

1.  Mash banana with your baking powder.  It gets sort of fizzy and weird.  Have no fear!

2.  Add your flax egg, oil, salt, vanilla, almond butter, almond milk and stir.

3.  Lightly stir in oats and flour.

4.  Gently fold in chocolate chips.

5.  Place on griddle and cook for 2-4 minutes on each side.

They take quite a while to cook.  Make sure your pan is not too hot.   Then...

ENJOY!!!  They are delicious!  

Next time, I will add cinnamon {ifreakinglovecinnamon}, maybe some more PB, and definitely double the recipe so we have more to enjoy.  This would be an easy thing to freeze and take to work for breakfast.  YUMM!!

Quick, easy, fairly healthy...just the way I like it!  And I happen to love pancakes.  

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Review of: Jeremy Messersmith Live {featuring John Mark Nelson}

I love Jeremy Messersmith.  He's quirky, cute, poetic, interesting, and his voice just makes me smile.

Mike and I got $10 tickets to see him earlier this week.  Yes, only 10 DOLLARS!  He played at 7th Street Entry {part of First Avenue}, and somehow was both of our first times there.  Capacity is 250, with a sunken "dancefloor" in front of the stage, and the rest is a bit elevated above the stage.  A small, intimate setting with lots of history.  Being short, I snagged a spot along the back wall where they have a sort of outcropping on the wall where you can sit/stand.

I always get angry at tall people at concerts...then I realized...Mike is one of them!

We arrived just after doors at 7:45-ish and saw the setlist:  John Mark Nelson @ 8:30, The Starfolk @ 9:30, and Jeremy @ 10:30.  This was a weeknight.  I'm normally in bed by 10:30!  Not to mention, I had no desire to be on my feet for 4 hours.  We considered ditching since the tickets were only 10$, but I realllly like Jeremy Messersmith, so we toughed it out.

John Mark Nelson is only 19 years old, local, and has a really smooth voice.  He played solo, had a good, light-hearted attitude, and generally impressed me.  He is soon releasing his music video via MTV, which is super exciting for a young, Minnesota artist!  I love local music, and hearing that he is getting some recognition is fantastic.  Definitely check him out.

Speaking of recognition, Jeremy Messersmith got signed to Glassnote Records probably over a year ago.  When I heard, I was so excited for him!  But according to his not-so-nice comments during this show, it seems he is frustrated with the whole situation.  He's been working on a new record for years, and the label keeps kicking songs back at him.  How discouraging to have your creative process stifled by "The Man".

In any case, his set was very entertaining.  I have seen him three times now, and he never disappoints.  First of all, he started with probably my favorite song:  Violet!  He also had live cello, which melts me.  Any live strings makes a show better!  He had a nice mixture of old songs from The Silver City and The Reluctant Graveyard, as well as some new ones, not yet performed or recorded.  Some of the new songs were great {one of them was something like "I need a hitman for my heart, loved that one}, some were a little too much of a "ditty"{"I wanna be your one-night stand}.

He is a great poet, which is why I appreciate his work, but I need something a little more exciting at a live show!  It will be interesting to see what his eventually new album sounds like.  If his label is giving him this much trouble, I am anxious to hear it.  In the meantime, I suggest you go listen to The Reluctant Graveyard.  He has an amazing mix of jazzy, upbeat, melodious songs.  You will enjoy!

His drummer sang in the harmonies, his guitarist ripped some solos, and the cellist also played keyboards and bass guitar, as well as backup vocals.  I envy talented people!  I really love a group that can shine at more than one instrument, and ANY drummer who can harmonize while playing boggles me.  SO much talent.  LOVE.

Jeremy's encore was him playing guitar and belting out a few solo songs.  He had to keep pushing his glasses up his nose,  has the vintage hairstyle, and is altogether a character.  I am obviously a fan.

I will touch on The Starfolk.  This is Jeremy's guitarist, his wife, and some others.  NOT A FAN of them.  First of all, the couple had the same haircut...disturbing.  And the wife does not have a good voice.  My suggestion...don't waste your time.  I was very unimpressed and frankly tried to block the sound out.  {Mind you, at this time it was late, I was already irritated and tired.}  Maybe that had something to do with it, but personally, I will not be checking them out again.

Moral of the story:  go listen to John Mark Nelson, see a Messersmith show, and embrace local music!