What is Old is New Again

Usually my posts are all about nutrition, fitness and health.  Well for a bit of a change I wanted to share one of the projects I have done for the house! I love working with my hands and it is so fun to have an real reason to get crafty.  I actually have a space to put everything when its done.

When we first moved into our house, it became painfully clear that we lacked certain essentials.  A kitchen table for instance.  Or chairs. We didn’t have a single chair.  We ended up with 4 couches (people love giving away couches) but that was the only place to sit.  Honestly, we are pretty easy going people when it comes to this stuff so we decided to take our time and buy what was right, rather than running out and spending a fortune on stuff just to fill the space.

One day I came home and Eric had bought us a BEAUTIFUL cherry dinning room table.  It had a great finish and color and he got it second hand so it was a steal. There are a couple of dings but they don’t bother us at all. The next weekend we went out and picked up 4 chairs for $10 a piece (Good Will baby!). As they were, they weren’t what we wanted exactly, so we got to work.

I forgot to take a “before” picture of the chair but the pine color is what they came as originally.

Step 1: Sand down the chairs.  They had a coat of polyurethane so we used sand paper to rough it up so new paint would stick. If you have access to an power sander, I would highly recommend it.  Getting every nook and cranny by hand took a couple hours and gets very tiring.

Step 2: Spray paint! We decided a white would look best to give the kitchen a bright, clean vibe.  It doesn’t exactly match the table but we decided that it “goes”.  And we usually have a table cloth on anyways to protect the wood.  I would recommend using a semi-gloss paint.  At first we used regular white paint that had an eggshell finish, what you would normally use for walls and it came out a little flat and dull.  We ended up doing about 2 coats per and that seems to be plenty.

Chair 2
Drying in our basement. Make sure to have some airflow to help it dry and prevent the painter from getting woozy.

Once they were dry, we decided to take this refinishing to the next level and add padded seats.  At first it seemed really intense but it was actually pretty easy.

Step 3: Remove the seats.  We were able to just unscrew them.

Step 4: Cut a piece of foam to the shape of the chair.  We used 1 inch thickness but this is variable based on how cushy you want it.  After you place your foam, take a sheet of batting and wrap it over.  Use a big peace as it is easy to trim later.

Step 5: Cover with your fabric.  Make sure to choose something that has some durability.  Fabric stores will likely have it labeled or you can always ask.  For this step, I would recommend 2 set of hands.  Have one person line everything up and keep it taught while the other uses a staple gun to secure the fabric on the bottom side of the seat.  Make sure to go far enough in so there are clean edges when you reattach the seat.  We bought furniture tacks but the stable gun was so much easier.  We went back later and used to the tacks to reinforce the fabric while the stables did the heavy lifting.

Chair 3
Finished product!

And there you have it! We did this over the course of a couple days, sanding one day and then doing the rest later on.  I am so happy we took this route.  Before we got these, we did actually go to IKEA just to check it out.  The only chairs that we were interested in that didn’t look like they belonged in a dorm were about $90 each!  I didn’t keep track of the cost of this project but I have a feeling that supplies were around, if not under $100.  We did have to make a couple trips out to get more paint and fabric.  Even if we went a bit over, we still came in way under buying new.

By doing it this way, we not only saved money, but we got to make custom furniture and now have something that is truly “us”.  We made them together which was also a fun bonding experience. We also got to re-purpose old chairs, reducing waste overall.  Now that I think of it, all of our furniture is actually used/antique.  It gives the house a bit of charm.

If you are debating whether or not to try a big project, just go for it! Definitely search for some how to’s to get tips and guidance, but you might as well give it a try.  You may just end up with something you love that you had a good time making.

What has been your favorite home improvement or craft project?


Getting your Fruits and Vegetables Into your Daily Routine

So now that you know how many servings of fruits and vegetables you need each day, what now?  If you have a very low intake, it may seem like a huge change to meet the recommendations.  As with everything I recommend, lots of small changes can make a large challenge manageable.  Here are my favorite ways to add produce into your daily routine.

box-of-fruit-and-vegetablesPack your Lunch

This is probably my most used method of controlling what I eat.  When I do get too busy or just forget to bring lunch with me, I am reminded that my alternatives are so sub par.  At my job I can pretty much get a burger, sandwich, pizza or other equally less healthy option.  I can drive to the grocery store for the salad bar, but am inundated with mac and cheese, fried chicken, more pizza, and other high calorie options.  Not only is buying a lunch typically lead to more calories and end up costing more, but 90% of the options don’t include a full serving of fruit or vegetable (no that slice of tomato doesn’t count).  For some guidance, check out my previous post here.  Include 1 fruit and 1 vegetable and you are almost halfway there for the day!

Packed lunchKeep a Stash

Where ever you are, have a serving handy.  This means at work, at home or in your car.  One way to do this is to pick up a bag of apples, baby carrots and hummus or a basket of clementines and keep them in the work fridge.  When I need a snack or need to round out my lunch, I can just grab one.  Easy peas-y.  You can also use more portable options like individual applesauce or fruit cups/pouches as well as dried fruit like raisins or apricots and keep them in your car.  When  you hit a batch of traffic and the roadside fast food starts looking tempting, you will have a healthful option at your fingertips.  And honestly, it has been so cold in the New England area, that you could probably leave fresh produce in the car too (obviously not a year round option).  You also may want to keep a fruit basket on the counter at home.  It makes the fruit visible and appealing.

Fruit basket
This is basket we have at home. It prevents the bananas from getting squished and you can also monitor their ripeness if you buy them a little green.

Shift your Thinking

Traditionally, we think about building our meals around the protein source.  Chicken for dinner! Steak for dinner! Fish for dinner! There is so much emphasis on these foods that everything else seems secondary.  Try putting the focus on the vegetable and plan around that.  Decide that tonight you want cauliflower for dinner.  Pick a recipe and then select what goes best with it.  This will make sure the vegetable is never forgotten.  It will also make you more likely to try preparing your vegetables in an exciting way that will make them more appealing in the future.  For example you can make mashed cauliflower, cauliflower tots, curried cauliflower, Parmesan roasted cauliflower, buffalo cauliflower…you get the point.  they don’t just have to be steamed or boiled.  Make them exciting.

Pinterest is your friend when exploring new recipes.
Pinterest is your friend when exploring new recipes.

Every time you Eat is an Opportunity

Each meal, each snack has the potential to get a serving in.  If you shoot to have a fruit or vegetable every time you eat, even if you don’t always succeed, you are making great progress.  Add berries to your morning yogurt or include spinach and mushrooms with your eggs.  Homemade kale chips or a bunch of grapes make a great snack.  Having a salad with both fruit and vegetables can be a satisfying lunch as an entree or side.  Experiment with fun vegetable recipes for dinner and have some cherries with a dollop of whipped cream for dessert.

Try adopting 1 or 2 changes at a time and see how it can be so easy to have all your fruit and vegetable servings if you pay attention to your intake and have a little planning.

How do you make sure you eat enough of the good stuff? Favorite recipes welcome!