Saturday, August 26, 2017

Curio Cabinet (size small) Redo

My parents, especially my father, I think, had wanderlust. And, fortunately for their children, they took us along on their adventures. One of my favorite things is a simple wooden curio box that I bought years ago to house some of the tiny treasures that I found or was given during those journeys. Family and friends have added to my collection of "tinys" over the years:

Each little cubbie holds a treasure, and each treasure has a story. So when one of my granddaughters needed a place for her special things (out of reach of her darling but destructive little sister), I started the search for a curio cabinet for her.

The one I found--for a dollar at a resale shop--looks very different than mine, but I liked its classic style and the fact that it has doors to keep out the dust (and little fingers):

I carefully took out the glass, removed the doors and all the hardware, and gave it a couple of coats of white satin spray paint to match the blue and white decor of her bedroom:

A new generation of treasures has a home.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Recovering Dining Chairs

Several years ago, we decided it was time to buy a dining table that was actually large enough to seat at least most of our family. Knowing that whatever we bought would be "well used," we didn't want to buy anything too expensive. I lucked into a table and eight chairs at a furniture store that were on clearance--and that included a lovely china hutch thrown in for free. The table was already a bit scratched up and--this is the key point here--the chairs were covered in white upholstery fabric. You might ask what decorator would choose white for dining chairs, but it seems equally fair to ask what person would buy them? Yes, that would be me. I bought them knowing that I would have to recover them before too long. So here we go:

This is the before. I photographed the chair that was the least yucky.

The hardest part of this project by far was removing the old upholstery. I feel like I am a slow learner, but each chair taught me something new. I'll share what I learned:

Begin by unscrewing the chair bottom from the frame and legs. I suspect each kind of chair is different, but this is what I had to do:

Using an allen wrench, I unscrewed the front legs and the back from the frame. I put all hardware together in a ziplock bag to keep it from getting lost.

The seat was attached to the frame with long screws at each corner.

Once the seat was removed, the hard part began. After the first chair, I bought an upholstery staple remover. Do it! It will save you so much time and effort. Start by removing the black dust cover. I didn't have to take it all the way off; I just moved it out of the way as you can see below. 

My chairs had piping around the bottom edge that had to be removed next. By about chair number three, I realized that the easiest way was to pull an end free, grab it with pliers, and then roll the piping around the pliers as I pulled the staples loose. I hope that makes sense:

The hardest part was removing the upholstery fabric because the staples were tough to get out of the wood and the fabric tore. I don't have any tricks for that. I used a screw driver to pry the fabric up and loosen the staples and then worked the staples out with the staple remover. It took a lot of time and patience. Let me know if you have any tips. 

I found my fabric at my favorite resale shop for a dollar. I was so lucky--there was exactly the right amount for my eight chairs. Simply use one of the old covers for a pattern. I learned after chair number one to cut big, and, after chair number two, not to cut off the corners even if your pattern does. You can cut off the excess later:

There is probably a scientific way to put on the new cushion cover. I just centered it, stapled the back, stretched it to the front and stapled it, stretched and stapled both sides, and then rounded the corners, pleating as necessary as I stapled them in place. I didn't have enough fabric to replace the piping, but I wouldn't have done it anyway. I like the cleaner line (and less work) of the chairs without it. Staple the dust cover back in place.

As I finished them, I took each seat outside and sprayed the cushion with Scotch Guard. Hopefully, that will make the fabric more resistent to stains and easier to clean.

Simply screw the legs and back on, and. . .

Have a seat!

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Preschool Lesson: America

Happy Fourth of July week, folks! A month late? Can it really be August already? I really do love my country and its yearly birthday party (even though it was over 100 degrees... wowsers), so I was all the more tickled to have my turn to teach preschool fall near Independence Day.

I actually didn't find as much as I expected on the internet for a patriotic-themed preschool. I supposed the subject matter is a little mature in some ways; how do you explain to 3-year-olds about freedom from tyranny or revolution against sovereign powers? Instead, I decided we would travel together across the United States of America.

First I did give a brief introduction. I showed America on a globe and America on a map, pointing out that there are so many countries in the world, and ours is just one of them. I told them about our ancestors traveling on boats from Europe in search of religious freedom. I simplified the American Revolution as best I could, showing pictures of King George III, George Washington, and the signers of the constitution.

Whew. And then we talked about the American Flag. They each got their own little flag to wave, and together marched around the living room to the first verse of "You're a Grand Old Flag." We then counted the stripes and stars. This was my segue into how the stars represent 50 states, and who better to introduce them all than Wakko? Love me a song to memorize things; I don't remember all the capitols myself, so I'd better brush up by watching that video 50 more times...

Okay, so now to the roadtrip. With my own map in hand and two megablok figurines, we were ready to embark. We started in our home state and then visited 6 other locations: NYC, Washington, D.C., Texas, San Francisco, Hawaii, and Alaska. At each place, I put up a backdrop picture on our TV and took a "tourist picture" of the kids in the location. In New York, we did Times Square, in San Francisco, we had a trolley car and the Golden Gate Bridge... you get the gist. At the end, we traced our route and let each kiddo glue their pictures on their own maps.

After a quick airplane ride, we landed in New York City. There, we talked about the Statue of Liberty and flipped through this interactive tour. We wrapped up by painting our own crowns and torches. As per usual, SourPatch was minimalist with his painting.

We next hopped aboard a train for Washington, D.C. Here, we talked about our nation's government and how we have a President. After identifying our current president, I showed them pictures of  George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. We had fun pulling out dollar bills, pennies, and quarters to find them on our money, too. Now I have to confess that I love me a good pop-up book, so I was tickled to go on a White House tour together in this book.

We then built "White Houses" out of sugar cubes. Now I had no illusions of these houses being particularly complicated... or of staying together very well. All the same, it's fun to build out of tiny sugar squares.

A bus took us to Texas. We were pressed for time, so we didn't do more than snap a photo here (pity.) We then went to San Francisco, CA, both to pay tribute to Patch's birthplace and to read a quick 1, 2, 3 San Francisco (after which we ate fortune cookies, a true American treasure.) We swung by Hawaii and Alaska for a few more photo ops.

You can see how many more activities one could pack into this roadtrip! Unfortunately, we filled the two hours as is. We wrapped up by reading God Bless America.

Another fun adventure with a pair of wonderful kids. Thanks for the trip!