I am peddling my talents this year for Christmas gifts, but I didn’t know what to give my nieces… that is until yesterday when inspiration struck.
Backstory: This week has been all about scattered projects – things I never intended to do when I woke up. I am in the process of updating/painting the kitchen. We decided to paint the cabinets at the back of the kitchen red… and I was going to get started on that Monday, but there was this ugly piece of formica on the counter and I thought “I should rip this up before I continue with the painting.” I searched for a weak spot and lo and behold, I found one. Next thing you know, I was deep into cracking and prying off formica. What I found underneath was a *@$!*?!! cob job mess like so many other things in this house. I discovered that these country cabinets were built in two phases – 1/2 the counter was a layer of thick glue, over shellac, over several layers of paint over what looked to be decent wood; the other 1/2 of the counter was a layer of thick glue, over paperboard that looked like wood paneling, held down by a muddy cement over plywood.
Cob job for sure. And the process to get it to look as “good” as the picture above was not an easy one. To clean the left half required a heat gun, then a paint scraper. I wasn’t sure how I was going to bust through the nightmare on the right half, but through experimentation I stumbled upon something that worked. First I carved deep scratches into the surface to get through the glue and expose the paper below, then poured water in batches on small sections and left the water for a half hour to allow time for the water to soak in. I was then able to pry the paperboard up, followed by lots of scrubbing with a hot rag to clean up the muddy cement. That was Monday. Tuesday, with a hand sander, it took me most of the day to get it down to bare wood (with all the residue, the sandpaper had to be changed every few minutes because it kept gumming up). The most frustrating part of it all was when I was finished sanding, I had to clean EVERYTHING in the kitchen because it was coated with 1/4 inch of sawdust. I’m not sure how we’ll proceed with the counter… but at least now, I feel good about proceeding with the painting.
This brings me to my inspiration for my nieces. Cleaning everything in the kitchen also meant washing all the towels/aprons and as I was pulling them out of the dryer, I thought “I’ll make the girls aprons!” I love to bake and cook so much, and the girls love it when they get together with Grandy to bake cookies, so I am happy to encourage this hobby/skill/passion. Wednesday’s unplanned project took me all afternoon because even though I know how to sew and can figure out how most things go together, I am far from a professional. (Last year for my girlfriends I made little purses complete with lining and zipper – I was super impressed with myself on that one!) But I am thrilled with this gift for the girls and the results… not so bad.
And here we are, post-Christmas, with a picture of the girls in their aprons (I could barely break them away from their Nintendo DS games for this shot).