Sunday, October 19, 2014

DIY Sunday: Staining Butcher Block Countertops


Our Ikea butcher block countertops are finally in! I was warned by other bloggers that they take a long time to get prepared, but I didn't plan on them taking almost 2 months. (Yeah. Seriously. I almost lost my mind). It was a learning experience, so I thought I would share some of my mishaps and tips I gained over my journey. I still have two large slabs to prepare for our island once the wall comes down, but I feel like they will be easy after this experience.

I followed the instructions from two different bloggers, This & That (Click here for the link) and Stillwater Story (Click here for the link). This & That has a great tutorial for an undermounted sink, where Stillwater Story has an apron front sink like I do.

My Countertop Preparation

1. We bought our countertops from Ikea. They are the Numerar countertops located here.
2. We cut our countertops with a jigsaw and then used a planer.
3. We used Minwax Wood Conditioner and Minwax Stain in "Special Walnut." The conditioner and stain go a long way. We have plenty of extra.
4. I did two coats of stain to achieve the dark color we wanted. I wanted a dark color so I was liberal with my application. Reminder: The Waterlox lightens the stain by at least (if not more) than a shade, so go darker than you want the final shade to be.
5. Buy a box of latex (or whatever) gloves. It makes clean up so much easier.
6. We used Waterlox for our sealer.  (We used the "Waterlox Original Sealer/Finish" type) I had to buy it off their website since it's not sold in our state.
7. I did 2 coats on the bottom and 5 coats on top. I ended up putting extra coats on the area that would be around the sink just to be safe.
8. It was quite humid here. I had to let the stain dry 2-3 days and the Waterlox had to dry 24 hours.
9. I applied the stain with an extra rag (a smaller rag so it doesn't drip and drag), and the Waterlox with deck stain brush.
10. We used almost an entire quart of the Waterlox for the small amount of countertops which surprised me. I was under the impression it would go further.
11. ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS remember to swipe the underside with a rag when you're applying the Waterlox. Otherwise it drips. And you ended up starting all over on that side. (See below on how that happened to me...and it sucked)
12. We used some wet/dry sandpaper to gently sand the countertops between coats of Waterlox. You may see a slight white discoloration but that will go away once you add a bit of moisture with the next coat (or final wipe down). (See picture below)

Last coat of Waterlox on the countertop.

The white discoloration post sanding is totally normal and goes away with a bit of moisture.

I didn't change/add much from these two awesome blogger's directions above except in 2 ways. 

1) We didn't do an angled cut in the corner. 

My husband and I talked about how we were going to cut the countertops over a couple of days. We had extra material since we had to buy 2 smaller slabs to make up for the one (out of stock) large slap. We decided to cut our smaller piece so the wood would go in the same direction as the larger piece. That meant there was some extra waste, but the piece looks like one solid piece. The seam blended in well with the wood since it was going the same direction. To give you an idea of what I mean by that (since my description is less than stellar), here are the three ways you can cut your countertops.

1. L shaped with just 2 cuts.

This is probably the easiest way to cut the corner (and was our original plan) and what Stillwater Story did. Here's her countertops:

{Picture from Stillwater Story}

2. Angled Corner.

This is what my husband originally wanted. I was scared of the difficulty of getting the angle correct.

{Picture from Domestic Imperfection}

3. L shaped with 3 cuts.

This is what method we ended up doing. We had to trim down the smaller piece twice so it would fit both length and width wise. I am happy we chose this way even though it involved an extra cut.

We joined our two pieces together using a biscuit joiner and not the hardware included with the countertops.

2) Wipe Excess Waterlox.

The second tip I would add to the instructions above is the importance to wipe the underside while you're using the Waterlox.

Maybe this is common sense. When I was applying the Waterlox, I noticed it was quite runny. (Hense the name Water-lox) I put it on and didn't take a second thought to drips. I wiped the under side with my brush and thought that would prevent any issue with the excess fluid.

Nope. So I did my two coats on the backside, went to flip the countertop and......uh oh. Many curse words streamed out of my mouth. Mostly because I had just spent weeks on these countertops and thought I was in the home stretch. There was big bumps of semi dried Waterlox on all the edges of the countertops. We tried to scrape them off. No dice. There was gunk all over my beautiful countertops.

So, we ended up having to sand down all the edges which gunked up a ton of sandpaper. Then, we had to restain the countertops and try to blend the color. All the edges blended just fine except this one side by the fridge. I don't notice it unless I'm looking closely (and if you don't know this by now, I just don't aim for perfection).  So save yourself weeks work and just grab a old rag and wipe up the excess!

Sanding away all that hard work.

Lightening on countertops from the excess Waterlox.
Here's the progress on the kitchen so far. We need to finish up the patchwork on the soffet. We're planning on attempting the backsplash next. We're thinking white subway tile with grey grout (a Nicole Curtis staple). I will then need to paint. (DEAR GOD WILL THE PAINTING EVER END?!). Then we'll be on to stage two. Stage two is getting the ugly wall down, island up and new floors.

I need to add a door to the cabinet my dad modified to fit the narrow opening. That will be another adventure!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Getting Personal: Spencer's Last Day


Normally I keep things on my blog light and funny. I don't share much outside of our family's crafty adventures. Today we had a hard day. We put our 14 year old yorkie/silkie mix to sleep this evening. We have talked about putting him down several times over the past couple of months. He was losing weight and struggling with digestive and neurological issues. Every time we thought it was time to make that decision, he would rally and perk up. My husband is a vet and kept a close eye on him.

However, this last time he wasn't getting better. After he refused to eat anything, including cake and bacon, we knew that the time was here. His labs had been questionable for a while. Two days ago he got lost, and I found him curled up in a ball covered in cockleburs in a corn field. He just was so tired and listless after that. Last night we made the hard decision. I decided to take the day today making sure he got to experience all the things he could still do that he loved. I took photographs so I could remember this special time we spent together.

We started out the morning with a bath. Spencer actually enjoyed getting baths and haircuts. He would always prance around the house after he went to the groomers. I also found something therapeutic about giving him a bath.

After our bath and haircut, he got a blow dry and snuggles while I got ready for the day.

It was time to run some errands. Spencer loved rides. I used to take him around with me anytime I had to run around town. I took him with today and turned on the seat heater. He fell asleep quickly.

Spencer is a typical dog and loved to stick his head out the car window. His legs hurt bad enough as of late that he couldn't reach up to the window. I put in on my lap and stuck his head out and cruised around.

Spencer tagged along as I picked up the kids from daycare. My husband and I decided not to tell our children about putting Spencer down until afterwards. I did make sure they got a lot of cuddles, kisses and hugs in before it was time to say good bye.

The one tough thing was telling the children. We chose to put Spencer to sleep at home so he wouldn't be scared about being in the vet clinic. The kids spent that time at their grandparents house. We told them about Spencer passing after we picked them up. Our son is too little to understand, but our daughter immediately started crying. We explained that Spencer was in pain and old. We tried to explain he's in heaven now and being taken care by mommy and daddy's grandpas. That seemed to help. She told me at bedtime that when Spencer died, Jesus drove to our house in a car and picked him up and took him to heaven. When we prayed that night, she asked God to make sure that he gave Spencer a lot of treats, played with him, let him out to go potty and made sure he rested so he wouldn't get too tired. She also has stated several times that she's sad that Spencer won't be around to play with her or cuddle him. It's heartbreaking to see her pain, but I'm glad she understands what happened.

Our daughter decided he needed to play a little dress up. He was always such a good sport about being part of the kids games.

We tried to give Spencer some chocolate cake as a little treat. He wasn't interested, but Lila sat on the floor and ate the cake and cuddled him. He probably appreciated the cuddles more anyways.

The real shame with dogs is that their lives are so short. Our Spencer was supposed to be put asleep at a shelter the day I got him. An independent rescue worker came to the shelter to drop off a food donation and saw him in a kennel. I had been in contact with the rescue for a couple of months asking for a small dog. She remembered me and asked if she could take him so he wouldn't be put down (it's a long story on why the shelter had to put him down). She called me and asked if I wanted to meet him and adopt him, but told me I needed to do it that day since she was already fostering 13 small dogs and didn't have room for another. I picked him up an hour later on 5-5-2005. He always had an attitude, but was nothing but loving around our children. He slept under their baby swings, tried to give them kisses the day we brought them home from the hospital and greeted them everyday after daycare. He really was a fantastic dog, and he is already missed by everyone in our family. I hope he's running around somewhere else, happy to finally be without pain.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Show & Tell: Arm & Finger Knitting [For Those Who Can't Knit or Crochet]


I had the itch to start something new this past weekend. That usually happens when I'm faced with a project that is half done and seems like it will never be finished (i.e. painting my walls and trim). My husband will look around at the disaster we're living in and be like, really? Of all the things to work on, you've picked this?

I was looking through my Pinterest boards and saw a couple of pins about arm knitting. I figured that I would try it out. I've had some pretty epic terrible experiences with knitting, crocheting and looms. I wasn't feeling too confident in my arm knitting skills.

I grabbed some yarn that I had sitting around. It wasn't very thick, so the stitches weren't very close together, but after watching Michael's YouTube video (click here), I was feeling pretty good. I bought some bulkier yarn the next day and went to work on my first real project. I also loved this YouTube video by Urban Angel because casting on the first line is much easier. It doesn't look quite as clean as the Michael's version, but you don't notice if you're making an infinity scarf.

My practice stitches.

The great thing about arm knitting is that you accomplish quite a bit during a short period of time. You can easily do it with watching a movie or while in the car. And the only supplies you need to bring with you are yarn and scissors.

My scarf wasn't perfect. I did three strands and 10 stitches across. That made my scarf quite bulky. I think I will either try less yarn or less width. I also got distracted a few times and didn't get all three strands through, so I had some loose yarn here and there. I used some of my left over yarn to tie up those loose pieces. The one downside is arm knitting uses a ton of yarn. Everything is so loose that you go through pieces pretty quick. I might try using some old t-shirts for future projects. I saw some Pins about that method.

My oops section.

The back side of the scarf.

Last night I was out of bulky yarn, but my daughter wanted her own scarf. I used the yarn I had on hand and used the same method on my fingers. It was a bit more tedious and painful, but I still made a scarf in one night.

I look forward to trying out more ideas. I think I might tackle a baby blanket next! Let me know if you try this out! It's really a nice easy project that doesn't take up too much of your time.

I don't know how beauty bloggers do pictures that are pretty all the time. This is how I really feel when I take a "selfie."