Friday, February 27, 2015

Major accomplishment

I've been wanting to refinish our dining room table for years. It was an antique style table that we bought new about 9 1/2 years ago, but the finish had gotten terrible. It looked dark and cloudy and felt sticky. Everything stuck to it, especially paper. Once someone put a box of Cheerios on it, and it got stuck. Two years later, it still said "Cheerios." It always looked dirty, so I usually just covered it up with tablecloths.  I made a new year's resolution to refinish it myself or hire someone else to do it this year. Then we bought new dining room chairs in January (which I love!), and the table looked especially bad in comparison. I did a bunch of research online, bought supplies at Lowe's, and spent a whole Saturday stripping the top of the table. The finish came right off, as well as the red paint. I don't know why they painted it instead of staining it, but I was glad to see it go!


These are the products I used, and they are awesome! I highly recommend.

I'm not going to lie, it was a messy job! Everything got covered in thick, sticky, dark reddish/brown goop. I just threw away the silver bowl because it was so caked. I made many trips back to Lowe's (I can't seem to do house projects any other way). The one container of refinisher I bought wasn't nearly enough - we ended up using six! Between that and the supplies, I spent about $130. That's a lot cheaper than a new table!

After I got most of the red stuff off with the refinisher, I scraped and sanded it down even more. I was thrilled to see how beautiful the wood was underneath!

It was taking so long to do the top that I was temped to stop there. But when I saw how beautiful it was, I had to keep going. I did the two leaves, which we keep in all the time now because we've grown into them. They weren't nearly as bad as the main table, since they haven't been used as much, but I wanted everything to match. I also did the sides and legs. They went much faster - I don't think they put as many layers of finish on them.

Next it was time to stain. I tried one (Special Walnut by Minwax), but I thought it looked too yellow. So then I tried Espresso (also by Minwax) and loved it. A note about stains: you don't need much! I got the small 8oz container, and it was enough for the whole table. They're very cheap (only a few dollars), and you don't feel committed in case you don't like it.

After I let that dry, I applied the Formby's Tung Oil Finish. It took some of the stain off and spread it around, but I liked how it made it look more even and uniform in color. Then I let it dry 24 hours and applied another layer. I debated applying a polyurethane finish on top of this, which would protect the table better, but I just love the look and feel of it right now.  We'll see how it goes, but right now I am very protective.

Tada! I couldn't be happier with the end result. It doesn't even look like the same table. In fact I like it even better than when we bought it!

It looks a little blotchy in this picture, but it looks very natural in real life. I love it!

 I love how well the table matches the chairs. They look great together.

The wood is so pretty! And heavy! I couldn't believe how heavy it was when we had to turn it on its side and carry it in and out of the house. 

Talk about a major accomplishment. Now on to painting the whole upstairs, replacing baseboards, and installing new carpet. Renovations are addicting!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Wagon Caves

You're probably getting tired of my rock climbing posts, but that's too bad because they're really fun for me to do. Plus the boys love to see themselves climbing. So last month we went to one of our favorite places to climb; it's about an hour north of us, near Fort Hunter Liggett, and it's called Wagon Caves. The above rock is called Mavericks (see how it looks like a wave?), and it's the hardest climb we've done. No one we know is able to do it, not even our friend who writes in rock climbing books, but everyone wanted to try it.

The thing that makes it so hard is that it has an overhang, so the rope is constantly pulling you away from the rock. The moment you let go even the tiniest bit...

You swing away and have to start all over. On one hand, it's frustrating to lose the climb. On the other hand, it's a really fun swing!

Dave got the farthest up the rock, but I didn't get any pictures because I was the one belaying him.

Then we moved over to the main rock. We went to a place a little further down from the last time we went here. That was Memorial Day, and it was SO HOT there that day. This is a much better time to go!

What we especially love about this place is that it's sandstone and really easy to grip. Plus there are tons of great holes in the rock for handholds and footholds. There's a wide range of difficulty, so it's good for everyone.

Chloe especially loved the creek crossings on the way there and back. We opened up the windows and yelled and got a little wet. So fun!

The younger kids did a great job entertaining themselves. Levi took his LeapPad, and it cracked us up when he asked us, "Is there any wifi?" in his cute little Levi accent, literally in the middle of nowhere. Levi didn't want to climb, which was totally fine. 

I was tempted to stay home with Levi and Chloe, but Dave and the big kids talked me into going with them because apparently it's more fun when I go. Plus I help belay and take pictures. 

 It actually got a little chilly! I had to steal Dave's shirt.

                                                                Classic Tyler face!

Heading back. There's so much gear that everyone has to help carry.  

A little scramble. It seems like most rock climbing places we go to have tricky little hikes to get there. They're never, like, right next to a parking lot. At least it wasn't hot this time!

This is almost back at the car. To the right of this is the actual wagon cave. It's where the Salinan Indians lived (you can see the holes in the rock where they ground their flour) and later on where the Spaniards parked their wagons when traveling to the coast (you can see where they hung their tackle). There was a bit of a scare when we first arrived and a ranger-looking man approached us and said the Native Americans don't want people to rock climb there. We were friendly with him and explained we wouldn't be doing any lead climbing or adding any bolts to the rock, just top roping with anchors that were already there. We also told him our children were very respectful and wouldn't damage the rock in any way. He warmed up and asked us if we wanted a tour of the wagon cave. Apparently he was an archaeologist. He showed us all around and explained the history, which turned out to be quite fascinating. Shwew!

Such a fun, beautiful day! 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Coastal pictures

Most of the pictures from my family time post were from my phone. I just uploaded my real camera pictures, so I have to post them too because of course they're a lot better. I love the variety of beaches around here! Whenever we have a beach day, we first have to decide what kind of beach day we want to have: hiking, tide-pooling, boogie boarding, etc. These first half are from our tide-pooling trip with the cousins.

Spencer spotted this awesome red abalone shell in the ocean, so he stripped down to his shorts and jumped in to get it. It was not a warm day, and of course the water was freezing! He got a little scraped up from the rocks, but he said it was worth it. Those cost $25 at The Shell Shop.

Maggie, finding cool shells. 

Brennan's been losing teeth right and left these days.

 How cool is that?! 

He was very friendly. Dallin gave him a high five.

 Finding two octopuses was definitely a highlight of the trip.  

 We went at super low tide, and we were able to walk really far out. That's the best.

The rest of these are from our geocaching hike in Harmony. There were a ton of them (geocaches), so we found every other one on the way there and the other half on the way back to keep it interesting.

The hike itself was pretty plain and boring, but the geocaches kept it interesting.

 Then we climbed over a little hill and spotted the ocean! 

Naturally, the boys wanted to climb down and explore more tide pools. This time Tyler found an abalone; but it was still alive, so he had to leave it there.  

Then we hiked back. The lighting was really pretty, and the backdrop was lovely too. I took pictures. 

 A beautiful sunset on the top of highway 46, heading back home. So pretty!