Thursday, September 9, 2010

September is...

September is an exciting time of year. For many a new school year starts, vacations end, the trees start changing colors, and the air grows the tiniest bit brisk. In Boston, September is moving season. All the rentals turn over at once in a massive flurry of moving trucks, which cause traffic all over town on the first of the month. I, luckily, did not have to deal with the stress of moving this month, as my roommates and I have decided to stay put for another year. In fact, I have never had to move on September first, my last few apartments have had odd lease start dates that left me in the only moving truck on the street (November 1st, January 1st, November 18th- the last was a fluke related to delayed renovations). So instead of September equaling moving month in my mind, it is instead merely "sidewalk shopping month"- a time to take advantage of the discarded items left behind by those that moved. And this year I celebrated Sidewalk Shopping Month heartily. In the last week I have focused most of my energy on restoring the objects and furniture I picked up, and in turn, had very little remaining energy for cooking/baking.
A few of my finds

In the last week I did make a somewhat disappointing nectarine cake, and a few basic loaves of french bread, so it is not that I have not been producing food at all, simply that I have put less time toward it than usual.

There are many good food related holidays of note in September: it is National Honey Month, as well as Better Breakfast Month- plenty of potential for great recipes there! Single day holidays of note include Sewing Machine Day (September 10th- I have been contemplating picking up a used sewing machine I keep seeing at Goodwill, is this a sign? Should I go ahead and buy it come the 10th?) National Apple Dumpling Day (17th), and of course, the always amusing International Talk Like a Pirate Day (Ar- th' 19th). I think this month will require at least 2 little-known holiday posts.

As it has been keeping me quite so busy though, I do think I should show some pictures the finds/work I have done related to my very own celebration of "Sidewalk Shopping Day".

Project #1- new to me coffee table:

I found this coffee table in the trash on September 1st. It was scratched and banged up, covered in cracked and peeling polyurethane, and didn't look like much, but it was solid wood, and the legs were in nice shape. Over labor day weekend I sanded off the poly & stain from the top, restained/poly'd, and primed and painted the legs shiny black. I really love the result, what do you think?


In the middle of the sanding process, beautiful raw wood starting to emerge:

(yes, I sanded this in the back extension cord couldn't reach outside...I had a lot of sweeping to do after!)

I then stained it with minwax polyshades in dark walnut. I had a true learning experience, since I forgot to pick up paint thinner, and in trying to clean my brush ended up with polyurethane all over my hands, thick and sticky and uncomfortable. I tried everything I could think of, including coating my hands with nail polish remover, which did nothing besides sting in any open cuts. In the end I sheepishly headed down to my local hardware store, held up my sticky hands and told one of the employees my dilemma. He was so helpful and sweet, and suggested I use kerosene instead of paint thinner because it would be less harsh on my skin. Worked like a charm, and I managed to avoid fire until I had a chance to shower, I was a little concerned that my hands were a bit flammable.


by the way, those are coasters sitting on the table on the right...I will definitely enforce their use to keep my new/old table looking nice.

Project #2- That Ceramic Elephant

I was guilted into taking this elephant home. One of my roommates and I snatched the coffee table mentioned above and a couple other things from a couple guys moving out of the building behind us. They were sitting around on the stoop, trying to convince people to take their stuff and save it from the garbage truck. Happy to see eager customers, the former owner of my elephant explained how sad the poor elephant would be if he was trash. I fell for it, and I liked the elephant anyway, so it was easy. To be honest though, I had no good place to put said elephant and would have passed it up all together were it not for my keen ability to sympathize with inanimate objects. So the Elephant went home with me, and I painted him gray:


After. He now sits in the hall with our wireless router on his back, a noble animal guarding our interwebz.

Project #3- Purple Kitchen Chairs

Until recently my kitchen has definitely been the most boring room in the house. Which is kind of sad, given how much time I spend in it cooking/baking/doing endless dishes. White particle board cabinets (standard cheap rental style) white walls, too bright overhead lighting, and standard ikea kitchen table and chairs made for a room that left very little of an impression. I love living in a space that is comfortable and clean, well put together, colorful, a bit unusual, and functional. This kitchen was functional, but that was it. It was lacking personality. My roommate Sam and I took the first step towards a room with some personality recently when we painted the high chair rail which runs along one wall of our kitchen a deep shade of orange.This project spiraled and somehow inspired me to collect mis-matched vintage wooden chairs and paint them a unifying shade of plummy-purple (which I think plays off the orange fabulously). A kitchen full of funky details, and poppy unexpected colors? Much better than the boring space of a few weeks ago! A few more little projects to come in my kitchen, wouldn't you like to see the updates?
What happy chairs...

Happy Sidewalk Shopping Month!


  1. Nice going, Hannah. It all came out great!

  2. Love the purple chairs! And the elephant is the perfect combination of useful (router table) and funky (elephant?) and beautiful!