Afternoon Tea

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

This past weekend my good friend and old roommate Leanne came to visit  and the weather was gorgeous so we tried to spend every second that we could outside. We packed our weekend with girlie things such as 1920's lady detective shows, British costume dramas, exploring local towns, and high tea on Saturday afternoon at the English Rose Tea Room in Carefree. We're talking a full 3 tiered stand of deliciousness and pots of tea. The scones especially were incredible and we spent the afternoon catching up and drinking our tea on the patio. It was all very tasty and civilized with little golden spoons and mismatched tea cups. Everything was great, but I would recommend this place for its scones alone. Ah-mazing.

Fun Reading Nook Update

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Quick fun fact for today - I was featured with a few other bloggers on an article by One Kings Lane featuring reading nooks! By the way, did you know they had a whole section devoted to articles on decor and furniture? They discuss the history of furniture, how to guides, and decor inspiration. How fun is that?! I may have spent a few hours indulging the history nerd in me and reading up on the background of sofa styles.

DIY Rustic Wooden Fence Board Headboard

Monday, February 17, 2014

I fell in love with all those reclaimed wood projects on Pinterest -especially the headboards. However, having moved from the land of barns to the land of cacti I no longer have access to any perfectly weathered gray barn boards to make fun projects. So instead, I decided to make our headboard a little more tailored looking, but still retain the rustic feel that you get from the reclaimed wood. Enter the cedar fence slats. They're light, the perfect thickness, and easily cut down to size by your handy Home Depot or Lowe's worker (or yourself if you can work a saw. We don't have one, hence the help from employees). 

Materials for a queen size bed:
6 cedar fence slats from Home Depot - have them cut to 63" long
2 two by fours for the legs - have them cut to 48" long
1 one by four cut to 32 inches for the center brace (or 1 inch shorter than the total height of the boards)
wood glue 
Minwax Water Based Pre Stain Wood Conditioner
Minwax Water Based Stain in Toffee
Ploycrylic Protective Finish
Rags for wiping stain on and off
Paint/foam brushes

 Start with the boards cut to the size you need. For a queen size bed, the length of my boards was 63 inches. We sanded them all down to remove any splinters. This can either take a few hours if you have an electric hand sander, or a few weeks if your husband won't let you buy one and promises to sand them all himself and then keeps forgetting. Ahem. Three weeks later I took a hammer to some of boards to give them that beaten, weathered look that you just don't get from new cuts of lumber.

Note - the boards I used are cedar fence slats. Cedar smells. I happen to love that smell but if you don't, you might want to think about using a different type of wood. It's been in our house for 6 months now and every time you enter the room you can still detect a faint woodsy cedar scent. Like I said, I love it because it makes me think of forests and the outdoors. But it doesn't go away quickly, so make sure you're ok with that!

I used a water based stain for this project since I have a fear of mineral spirits and don't want to use it to clean up regular wood stain. Minwax has a water based stain that comes as a clear tint and you add the color like you would a regular can of paint. I think it worked great and I had no trouble using it. I used the Pre-Stain Wood conditioner on the wood first to give it an even finish. I didn't use this on the headboard legs since they wouldn't be seen, and you can definitely tell the difference between the boards where I used the pre-stain and where I didn't. The boards had a much cleaner and even coloration when I used the conditioner first. 

I used 2 coats front and back of the "Toffee" color. After everything dried I finished it with a topcoat of Ploycrylic to protect and seal everything. Stain the slats and the 2 boards for the legs. I also stained the center brace because why not? This was my first time staining anything and I just followed the instructions on the cans. It worked beautifully.

Once everything dries it's time to assemble. Lay the boards out how you want them to go. Mine didn't line up perfectly, but I liked the warping and thought it added character. If you want yours to lay perfectly, check how the boards fit at the store before you buy them. 

Once everything is lined up, flip each of the boards over so the back of the headboard is facing up. Run a line of wood glue along the center brace and place perpendicular to the slats in the center of the board. Stack something heavy on top to weigh it down until the glue dries. See the photo below? The brace is under the middle bag of charcoal. My husband we have a lot of charcoal. Also, random dumbbells. 

Here's where it gets tricky. I wanted to nail the boards to the legs from the front so I could line up the nail heads. To do that, before I flipped the board back over, I lined up the legs and marked with chalk where I wanted the lowest board to land and made sure everything was level. Then I turned the whole thing over and slid the legs underneath, lining up the lowest board with the chalk marks. 

Note - I measured my bed frame and figured out exactly how far apart the holes were to screw in a headboard. If you don't want to screw the board directly to your frame, it's less important where the legs of the headboard go. 

Once I had the boards lined up, I nailed each of them to both the legs and the center brace. Then all that's left to do is screw it into your bed frame or attach it to the wall!

I absolutely love how it turned out, and I think I'm going to do it all over again to make a headboard for our new bed. It'll probably only take me another year or so.

Fun Stuff Around the Web - The Lizzie Bennet Diaries

Thursday, February 13, 2014

In honor of Valentine's Day and classic love I wanted to share something fun that I just recently discovered. A few things first - I'm not a Jane Austen fan. I've tried so many times, but I just don't find her stories interesting or engaging. I just don't care. Also, most of the female characters are incredibly annoying and I find myself wanting to bop them over the head instead of continuing the story. So I have no idea why I clicked through on this random link from Pinterest, but I did. And I found the most amazing web series I've seen since "Dr. Horrible's Sing Along Blog" - The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.

This is a modern retelling of Pride and Prejudice set as Lizzie's You Tube video blog. And I kind of love immensely in ways I never got on board with the original book. There are Newsie references! And awkwardness! And sex scandals! And impersonations of crazy southern moms and stuffy dads! And references to the original story! And Darcy is a hipster! And it made me giggle and squee like nothing had in a long time. I only discovered it late in 2013, but it started in early 2013 over several You Tube channels, tumblr, and twitter as the characters had their own accounts. It ended up being an Emmy award winning series, and if you make it all the way through, it's clear as to why. If you follow the link above you can see every part of the story in order. Personally, I discovered Lizzie's blog, and then found out that they had Lydia spin off episodes, which aren't essential, but have fun backstory that they couldn't fit into the main story. Anyway, I found out that I loved the story of these videos, even though I don't really love the original. And that's pretty awesome.

China Travel Diaries - Old City God Temple

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Here's the last batch of my China pictures. These are all from the old part of Shanghai, right outside Yu Garden, called the Old City God Temple area. This part of the city surrounds the old temple and dates back to at least the 1400s. It's become a shopping center and a bit touristy, but the amazing architecture is still there. As a bonus, we visited right before Chinese New Year, so the entire old city was decked out in these amazing and bright decorations! 

Even though I know it's not true, again, this is how I imagine China. The buildings are amazing and it truly feels like you're in another world. And the over the top New Year decorations just made it even better! Last year was the year of the Dragon and this year is the year of the horse, so horses were everywhere. It was so cool to be able to see a new culture, even if it was very brief. I hope I get to travel to Asia again someday, and not just for business! 

China Travel Diaries: Yu Garden

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

We left Hong Kong and headed up to Shanghai where we finished meeting with vendors and finalizing our products. After working 10+ hour days for the last 7 days straight, we were absolutely determined to take in some history and culture before we left. So the morning of our departing flight we woke up at the crack of dawn, finished packing, and headed out to get a quick glimpse of the city before catching our noon flight. We ended up walking into the eye of the storm. Within this busy, gigantic, crowded city lies Yuyuan (or Yu) Garden – a respite from the bustling noise of the outside world.

 A poster by the entrance to the garden. I wish they would have been selling them, I think it's beautiful and would have loved to have a larger print to hang in my home. 

Yu Garden is a 16th century garden from the Ming Dynasty era located near the “Old City God Temple” part of Shanghai (pictures of that next time). It was built by a government official in the 1500s as a tranquil retreat for his parents. As with most historical buildings it had several owners, various parts were destroyed, it was rebuilt and restored, and the garden opened to the public in the 1960s. Even for all this, it still maintains its peaceful and calming atmosphere and you really do feel like you’ve just stepped back in time. This is what I picture China to look like in my head. Even though I know for a fact that the cities are modernized (and crowded and dirty like any city), when I think of China this is what I see -fish ponds, stone walls, cloisters, and pavilions.

It was amazing and I wish I had more than an hour there. It would be a lovely place to spend an afternoon reading or people watching (or meditating or doing tai chi like some people were).

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