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5 posts from February 2011


Still Woozy...

Still woozy from stain vapors…


Well.. “build one” is in the books. My farmhouse bench is finished!  I have to say the plans were really simple to follow (bench plans).   I finished the whole thing in about 4 hours, and that includes the staining. Of course, there were a few hiccups along the way – more on that later – but first I’ll start with what went right. Focus on the positive, right?
(click here to see the story)
Everything on the shopping list was really easy to find. I’m a Home Depot regular myself, but I rarely venture down into the far end of the store where the serious building materials and the serious builders live.  You know, the “lumber” section.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m very familiar and comfortable with the “moldings” aisle. I can tell quarter-round from shoe, chair rail from picture rail. But sheeting from sub-floor? MDF from Particle board? 15/32 from 7/32?  Not quite.  So I was a bit nervous about steering my rickety metal flat bed cart down into that neighborhood. But it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought.  Everyone was very helpful, and my daughter and I picked out the “prettiest” stud quality 2 x 4’s, 1 x 3 furring strips, and pressure treated 1 x 2’s we could find and  $20  later ..we were on our way.

After reading the comments from other DIYers on Ana’s site, I decided to take their advice and do all of the cutting first. That really was the way to go because it made assembly a snap. The cuts were all straight forward, but I did notice a little blip on Ana’s plan. She called for four 16 ½” 2 x 4’s for legs, but you really need eight. So I had to run out and grab another 2 x 4, but other than that, building the actual bench was super easy.

What I learned:
-    Cut all of your boards to size first and LABEL them. This really helps assembly go fast.
-    Check, check and re-check the diagram before screwing or drilling, I put one of my bench legs together backwards. It wasn’t hard to take apart and redo, but it did give me an extra hole I needed to patch up.
-    Always pre-drill a pilot hole before screwing your boards together to avoid splitting. I skipped this step on one board, and let’s just say I won’t do that again.
-    Clean-up any oozing wood glue right away before it dries on the wood because, even though wood stain stains everything: skin, hair, children, tile floors, wainscoting, pets (trust me I know from experience, more on that coming up). wood stain does not stain wood glue.

Now, to the aforementioned “hiccup” portion of the project. I really thought the staining process was going to be the easiest part.  I was wrong. First off, let me say it seems quite obvious to me now that staining furniture in 5 degree weather is not the best plan. Why it didn’t seem so obvious at the time I’m not quite sure. Anyway, I lugged the bench up into my kitchen (better lighting) and decided I’d throw a quick coat of stain on that baby, and wham bam, I’d be done.  What could go wrong?

Well first, anyone who has ever stained furniture knows the fumes are just awful, which is why you need to do it in a “well ventilated” area.  Let me just say, cracking a window apparently does not qualify as “ventilated” at all.  So, I thought, “I’ll just go as fast as I can and get this over with.” Well, in my haste and new vapor-induced wooziness, I wound up knocking over my entire can of stain. Sure, I had an old sheet down as a drop cloth, but stain is like water, and of course soaked right through that sheet in about a second. So, now I had a large black puddle in the middle of my white kitchen floor!

Luckily, I still had enough brain cells remaining to sop-up the mess with the sheet. Some heavy-duty cleanser got the remainder off before I had a nice Jacobean stained floor to go with my new Jacobean stained bench. In the end, I did have enough stain left to finish off the bench, as for the brain cells…

For all of Ana White's designer furniture plans visit her website at : ana-white.com



Dream house come true!!


Is anyone else hopelessly addicted to those gorgeous  'my house will never look like this'  home store catalogs? You know the ones that come in the mail every couple weeks with names like Potterybarn, Ballard, and West Elm?  They have beautiful pictures of those strange foreign-looking family rooms, where everything is in its place.  There are no small toys strewn about, no sofa cushions askew or (gasp!) knocked on the floor by a jumping child.  No newspapers, coloring books or Popsicle wrappers cover the top of the nice chunky coffee table. (Yes, I found a Popsicle wrapper on my coffee table the other day, and it is February.)

I long to live in one of those catalogs. I pour over every page. I tear out the pictures and make notes about paint colors. I even save my favorites in a file folder.  Future dining room tables and bookcases have sat in that folder for years now.  Waiting for a time when they’ll leave that cartoon thought bubble over my head via UPS and arrive in my great room, where my smiling family (with no popsicles in sight) will be sitting on a white couch, eagerly awaiting their arrival.  Then, I notice the price tag that goes along with those perfectly distressed chunky tables and bookcases and POP! Back to reality. That is, until I discovered a lovely woman named Ana.

 Ana, like thousands of other design addicts out there, shares my love for organized bookcases, floating shelves, and storage benches.  The only difference is Ana doesn’t dream of having them one day. Sure, she too rips out the pictures of the pieces she likes and keeps them in a file folder, but she’s never going to buy them. Nope. Ana doesn’t dream of having those chunky tables and bookcases, because the stay-at-home mom BUILDS those chunky tables and bookcases. That’s right. Ana doesn’t have to dream because she can build! And you know what? You can too!! And the best part? You can make most of the pieces for less than $100! Some for less than $20! I get excited just thinking about it!

Coming up in our next installment of “What can Davis save us?” I’ll show you how you too can get the dream-home look without the nightmare price tag!  Only on 69 News at 10.


Spoil Your Sweetie

Syndicaster-20110116155531 Valentine’s Day and red have always gone hand and hand. Red for love and for passion of course,  but now also for the color your budget is in when the holiday is over. Although love is in the air on Valentine’s Day, it sure doesn’t come cheap.  The flowers, the chocolates, it all adds up, especially when the prices are jacked up!  

 Example: a quick shopping trip on the internet to some popular flower delivery services, and whoa! Sticker shock!  A dozen pink roses (red are nearly twice as much, so we’ll go with the more reasonable pink) are upwards of $70 a dozen! Throw in some chocolate covered strawberries for $60 a dozen and cue the Righteous Brothers, because “you’ve lost that lovin’ feelin’.”

 So when you’re a couple trying to save some cash, no one can blame your Valentine for telling you to skip the gifts this February 14th.  I for one can live without overpriced flowers, but what if I told you you could still spoil your sweetie without spoiling the budget?  You can!!  In the latest  installment of “What can Davis Save us?”  I’ll show you how to get those pink roses and that dozen of chocolate covered strawberries at a fraction of the price. (like 80% less!!)  It can be done, and it’s easier than you might think. 

To save on flowers, skip the florist. A lot of grocery stores like Wegman's have a fresh flower section. There you can find roses, tulips, daisies, you name it, all for a fraction of the price.  While you're there grab some strawberries and your favorite chocolate chips or chocolate bar. That's all you need to make those "delish" chocolate covered strawberries.  It's as easy as melting the chocolate and dip, dip, dip!

If you've never melted chocolate before it's super easy.  Here are some links to get you started.  You can do it like our chef Susan and use a double boiler or you can just use the microwave.

How-Cast: How to make chocolate covered strawberries

If you make some of these sweets for your sweetie take some pictures and send them along. We'd love to see them!!!

Good luck and Happy Valentine's Day.


Spoil your Sweetie!

Syndicaster-20110116155535 As I mentioned in an earlier post,  I truly have a love/hate relationship with Valentine’s day. I like the idea of a day devoted to showing love for one another, I do. And I truly love the fun colors that go with it -- the reds and pinks that brighten up the gloomy grays and stark whites outside our windows this time of year. Then there's the chocolate. It is hard to find fault with a day where chocolate is flowing freely. But -- and this a big but, and not the kind caused by all that free flowing chocolate. This "but" has to do with the price tag that goes along with all that "love." It doesn't have to be that way, however. Tonight, on 69 news at 10, I have some easy tips on how to spoil your sweetie without spoiling your budget!  And yes, there is chocolate!


Coupon 101

I have to say I’m a convert.

I love a deal.  In fact, I’ll admit I find it hard to pay full price for just about anything. I always wait for the sale, use a 20% off coupon at the department store, 40% off Internet coupons for the craft store, but for some reason I never really was sold on the grocery store coupons. Why do I need to buy two jars of pickles to save a dollar? I want only one. Or most times, even with the coupon, the store brand is still cheaper.

To me, it always seemed like a lot of work, with very little pay off.

Boy was I WRONG!

Jen Carl, the local mom behind the blog “Lehigh Valley Momma” opened my eyes to a whole new world. There are some serious savings to be had out there, if you know where to look. The best part? Her method takes only an hour or two of your time!

Jen was sweet enough to spend her Monday (the day before the big ice storm) sharing her knowledge with me at the Giant in Allentown. Girlfriend walks the walk! Let me tell ya! When it was all said and done, she had a cart full of goodies:  snacks, meat, fruit, cheese, coffee, plus lots of organic products totaling more than $120. But what did she pay? Just over $50 , a savings of more than 50%!! Crazy!! (watch the story here)

Her biggest tip: use the Internet! Let others, like her, do the work for you! Dozens of coupon bloggers out there comb the Sunday grocery store circulars and make a list of “match-ups,” couponer lingo for how to “match-up” a coupon to a sale. That’s the key to scoring big deals and free (yes free) items!

Jen’s a super healthy mom, really into buying organic, which, as many of you know, can be super expensive. She, however, can show you how to shop organic on a budget. She has links to coupons for organic products, plus she has tips on when it pays to “go organic” and when it pays to pass it over. It’s all on her blog, along with an intro on how to start couponing. (a must read for anyone who’s ready to start saving!)

Check her out at www.lehighvalleymomma.com. She made a believer out of me.

other great coupon links:

For the Mommas  ** Weis, Giant deals, and more!
Living Rich with Coupons  ** ShopRite, Stop and Shop, and more!
Couponing to Disney ** Drugstores and other grocery stores!
Totally Target (all Target, all the time)
Organic Deals (Organics)
Saving Naturally (Organics)


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