Refinished table and chairs

On the long list of things I’m thankful for this year is our beautiful refinished midcentury table and chairs. I’m excited to share how we transformed a pretty broken down set into something that looks like it came out of a West Elm catalog (and for a fraction of the cost).

So, way back in January, I think, we found this dining room set at the Cordelia Junction antique mall. It was covered in dishes, but I could see how cool it looked underneath. Although the set appeared to be missing a chair with arms and one without, it had all the other pieces, including two table leaves. And it was exactly the midcentury style I’d been hoping to find. So at $125 with 20% off, we felt like it was a deal not to be missed. Into the car it went.

The table itself was pretty bowed in the center and a little wobbly.

It also had quite a bit of damage to the surface and it was a pretty blah color.

Mike started by repairing the wood so that the table would be nice and flat and more sturdy. Then came the sanding part, which was not easy. Every curvy arm, nook and cranny of those chairs had to be sanded rough and then fine. We have very little free time these days, so he worked on it when he could. Eventually, all the parts were ready to be stained.

The staining went pretty quickly. We chose something darker, and a little more cherry colored. We felt it went with the rest of our furniture better.

Then we came to the final stages. While Mike was applying several coats of the clear finish, I decided to replace the nasty fabric on all the chair seats.

It took forever to get the fabric off the first seat, but the rest came off pretty easily. I used a hammer to pull out a lot of the staples and mostly just ripped the rest of the fabric off.

The seats had a layer of soft material underneath, but I added another layer of batting just to make them a little softer. Then I cut a square of (much more attractive) fabric around each seat and stapled it on.

It’s a little tricky to fold the fabric around the rounded corners, but overall it’s super easy. When in doubt, add more staples!

I thought the seats looked about 1000 times better when they were done.

Unfortunately, just as Mike was about to finish all the clear coats on the table and chairs, we had to get started on our bathroom remodel. So the table had to be put on hold for another 2 months. And just this week we finished the bathroom (more on that in another post) and so we could finish the table.

Doesn’t it look amazing? It’s just exactly what I wanted for that space, and I think it turned out so well. I’m glad we didn’t pay a huge amount of money for it, since it will be getting a lot of use by little ones in the next few years. I think with the initial cost, the sandpaper, stain, clear finish, batting and fabric, we probably came in less than $300. This one at West Elm is $600 plus $350 per chair.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that my mom had found some midcentury chairs out on the curb that we decided to incorporate into the set so we’d have 6 chairs. I covered those seats in matching fabric, and they fit in amazingly well. I think this project was meant to be!

Some dietary changes

I can’t believe I’ve already passed the 7 months pregnant mark. The rest of the pregnancy has seemed to move pretty slowly and somewhat uncomfortably. But now I actually feel pretty good and time is racing by. One of the reasons I feel better (I think) is that I’m eating differently now. I started this pregnancy 20 pounds heavier than with Harper and was pretty steadily gaining a pound a week, which felt like too much. With it being a lot warmer this time around, I had constant swollen cankles and just felt huge and puffy. So I decided it might help to start cutting carbs out of my diet.

Breakfast and lunch turned out to be a breeze, but most of my dinner recipes that I love to cook have some carbs. So I decided not to mess with dinner much. I switched from cereal or muffins to omelets for breakfast and then a lot of cottage cheese, salads, apples with peanut butter and that sort of thing during the day. The great thing about a low-carb diet is that it’s not a low-fat diet. You can have all the bacon, avocados and ranch dressing you want. So you get to enjoy these really satisfying foods. 

I noticed right away that the weight gain really eased up, even though I was in the third trimester, when the baby gains the most weight. I had just about outgrown all my maternity clothes, but some of them started to fit a little looser. And I just felt better during the day. I had felt so tired the past few months, but suddenly I had more energy. 

So, when all seemed to be going really well, I failed my glucose test. Just barely. It was kind of strange. They take blood 3 times, and only my fasting score was slightly over the limit. But it was enough to qualify me for the “Sweet Success” program they give to moms with gestational diabetes. At first I was PISSED. Mom was out of town and we had just started remodeling our bathroom, so it was already a super stressful time. I just didn’t need anything else on top of it all. But once I took the class where they teach you about what to eat and how to test your blood (4 times a day, eek), I got kind of into it. It’s really fascinating to see how your blood sugar fluctuates throughout the day and how your stress level or exercise can affect the numbers. Last week I got sick and my numbers spiked the highest they’d ever been. I’ve learned so much. So I am trying to turn a negative into a positive. 

The plus side on the diet part is that it’s darn similar to what I had just started doing. The emphasis is on eating more protein and fewer carbs. You still get to eat carbs, but you really have to restrict sugar. And that includes things that we are traditionally taught are healthy, like fruits, milk and yogurt. Obviously, desserts are a no-no. That’s the part that stung. But again, now that I’m not having them, I feel a lot better. For my birthday I did splurge and make lava cakes with vanilla ice cream (I figured a single-serving cake would be better than a whole huge one). And the next day I felt ravenous for something sugary. Amazingly I did not buy a single bag of Halloween candy! We have so few trick-or-treaters anyway that we decided to just skip it this year, and I’m glad. 

I’m trying to shop for more yummy snack foods, and I’m finding that there are a lot of great high-protein choices out there. Cheese sticks, cocoa dusted nuts (which come in 100-calorie packs), organic hummus from Target, cream cheese on brown rice thins — those have all been favorites lately. I got some almond milk so I can have that instead of regular milk in smoothies. I’m really trying to steer away from processed stuff when I do have carbs. I LOVE fruit, so I’m eating apples, pears and bananas when I can. The key is to always have them with a protein. I’ve made some incredible salads. And I really am not a salad person! But when you can pack them with hard boiled eggs, bacon, cheese crumbles, tomatoes, and have them with a rich dressing, they don’t seem so bad. 

I don’t see myself giving up my beloved baked goods altogether. But this has really shown me that I can live without them a lot of the time and still eat really well. I think I can continue on a similar diet once the baby is born and feel a lot better than I did with Harper. I’m still working on the exercise part. It seems like the first thing to go when I’m busy or stressed, but I see now that it has to be part of my lifestyle. 

Unfortunately, my fasting scores are still a little high. So we’ll see if they put me on any medication for the next 8 weeks. Hopefully it will return to normal after the baby’s born. 

If you’re looking for a great low-carb recipe, I can highly recommend these chicken satay lettuce wraps we had the other night. I don’t consider myself a lettuce wrap type of person either, but these were fantastic. Other things that are good this time of year: tortilla soup, beef stew, chili and roast chicken. Apparently Mexican street tacos are great because they come on thin corn tortillas, and some places give you a ton of meat. So I’ve been on the taco diet when we go out. I’ve discovered some really good al pastor at local restaurants. 

I’m sure it will be a challenge to make it through the 8 most holiday-filled weeks of the year on a low-sugar diet, but I feel pretty good about it.