How To Refresh Wood

DSC_0229I found this vintage message center made of awesome at Savers for $1.50. It needed a little work, but it was totally worth it. In particular, it needed a new cork board, and the wood was a little sad and dry. In the picture below, you can see especially on the chalkboard side that it was just in need of attention. It’s hard to tell in the picture, but whoever owned this first probably had it in their kitchen, and then stored in a garage. It had an icky greasy, dusty film when I bought it. I was able to get a lot of that off with Pledge, but it was still not perfect. Plus, when we took out the old cork board, there was some iffy stuff behind it.

Let’s just say, it needed a good cleaning.


Here’s what I used:

DSC_0225Murphey Oil Soap, Watco Rejuvenating Oil, Howard Feed-n-Wax, 000 steel wool, rags out of a cotton t-shirt, and water. I mixed 1/4 cup of the Murphey Oil Soap in a bucket of about a half-gallon of water, then used a rag first, followed by the steel wool to clean the frame. Always rub with the wood grain, and don’t soak the wood too much. You don’t want it to get water logged. I dried it off with a dry rag right away.

Here’s how it looked after the Murphey:

waxIt looked so much better just with cleaning that I almost stopped there. I went ahead with the oil though. Believe it or not, the hardest part of the whole project was getting the cap off the oil can! Once I (finally) did, I put a little on a piece of steel wool and rubbed it in with the grain of the wood. The steel wool helps get the oil into any scratches or nicks in the wood. The instructions said to let it sit 10 minutes and then dry it with a rag. I was a little afraid that the oil was just going to sit on top and get all sticky, but the wood must have drank that stuff in, because after 10 minutes there wasn’t much to dry off.

Here’s how it looked after the oil. The difference wasn’t huge, but the wood just seemed healthier afterward. I’m glad I went ahead with it.

oilFinally, I put a little of the wax on a soft rag and rubbed it in all over. Can I just say first that this stuff smells amazing? The best smelling cleaning product ever. The instructions said to leave it for 30 minutes, then buff it with a dry rag.

I was a little surprised by what a difference the wax made. It gave the wood a beautiful glow. Here’s how it looked at the end, with the original picture right under it for comparison.



Excluding waiting times, this whole job took me maybe 15 minutes. The results were kind of amazing. The oil and wax each cost about $8, but I only had to use a tiny bit for this project. I’ll be able to refresh several pieces of furniture without buying more. I bought them at Home Depot. Murphy Oil Soap is widely available. I bought mine at the grocery store for about $4.

We bought a four-pack of cork board squares at Wal-Mart for $5 and cut one down to replace the warped original cork.

Overall, I spent $27 on the board itself, plus all the materials to fix it up. I was left with the vast majority of the Murphy Oil Soap, Watco oil, and the wax, plus three cork boards. I’m going to call this about a $4 project. Not bad!

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Did you know that my first novel, a young-adult dystopian story called Viral Nation, is scheduled for release by Penguin Books on July 2, 2013? Click here to like my author Facebook page. Thank you so much for your support!

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Shared here: Check Me Out Saturday, Show and Tell Saturday, Saturday Nite Special, Saturday Spotlight, Think Pink Sunday, Nifty Thrifty Sunday, Not Bad Sunday, Coastal Charm,


DIY: Changing a Lamp Switch

A few weeks ago, I bought two vintage lamps at the Goodwill Bins store for $3.

DSC_0130When I got them home, one worked like a charm and one wouldn’t turn on. (Goodwill had a testing station, but no light bulbs. What?) I was upset, because I love the art deco shape, the cool peach color, and the smoothness of the paint under the glass of these lamps. I wanted both!

Turns out, I didn’t need to worry. Lamps have very simple electronics. When you take one apart, what you basically have is the cord running up a tube from the base to the top, attached to a simple switch that the light bulb screws into. The switch is in a case that pops open to give you access. That’s it.

DSC_0157The cord has two parts. Each part wraps around a screw on the switch, which is then tightened down. Think about battery cables, only without polarity so it doesn’t matter which side of the cord wraps around which screw.

DSC_0158If you take apart the familiar switch casing (right), you’ll be able to take out the actual switch (left.) The screw you see facing you on the switch is where one side of the cord goes. The only tool you need is a flat head screwdriver.

DSC_0160 A new lamp switch cost about $3 at Home Depot. It never occurred to me before, but lamp switches come in standard sizes–because light bulbs come in standard sizes. In the picture above, you can see Kevin tightening the screw on the wire. We wanted to make sure it was the switch that was the problem, and not the wire. If it had been a wire, Kevin would have cut the receiving end off a simple extension cord and striped the wires to replace the existing lamp cord.

DSC_0162No need! The new switch did the job.

DSC_0165The bottom of the switch case goes in first, then the switch is wired and put in place, followed by the top of the switch case, and voila!

DSC_0166All fixed, and for less than five bucks, including the lamp, plus about fifteen minutes of work. I’ll never worry about whether or not a cute thrifted lamp works again.

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I shared this here: Coastal Charm, Tuesday’s Treasures, Take a Look Tuesday, Homemade Tuesdays, Anti-Procrastination Tuesday, Tutorial Tuesday, One Project at a Time, Make it Work Wednesday, Hooking up with HOH, Weekend Wander, Simply Creations, Frugalicious Friday, Weekend Show Off,

DIY: Mason Jar Canisters

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t own canisters. I mostly store dry goods in plastic bags. For the first time in what feels like forever, I have a kitchen with enough space to store things in a more attractive, more efficient way. I’ve been searching for canisters that I can fall in love with.

I love old-school Tupperware sets like this:

But, I’ve never found them in my thrifting adventures and they’re too rich for my blood on Etsy or eBay. Also, I struggle with buying used Tupperware without getting my hands . . . or rather my nose . . . on them, because sometimes it has that weird old Tupperware smell that you can’t get rid of.

I also love these:

Atomic Kitchen Canisters // 50s Turquoise Coffee Containers // Vintage Lincoln BeautyWare Canisters

And these:

Really, there are any number of mod, mid-century canister sets that I’d be happy with. I just need to keep looking. I’m confident it will come to me. Meanwhile, I made these this weekend:

It was super easy. I bought a 12 pack of quart-sized, wide-mouthed mason jars for about $8 and a can of spray chalkboard paint for $6. It took roughly two minutes to give the inner lids a two coats. It takes 24 hours for the paint to cure completely.


Then the next day I used the side of a piece of chalk to color all over the lid, then wiped them clean. This primes the chalkboard. I think if you don’t do this, it’s harder to erase the words you write in chalk later. I’m not too, too worried, because whatever I put in the jars is stuff I always need to store. I don’t think I’ll be changing the names too often.

I had to break a piece of chalk in half for this part, and the sharp edges took off some of the paint. I recommend blunting the edges by rubbing the chalk on a piece of cardboard.


All that was left was to fill them up and write the contents on the lids.


Don’t they look lovely on my bar? I think they do, but I will probably end up putting them somewhere else. I’m worried about steam from the sink and the dishwasher (just next to the sink) doing damage to my dry goods. But, for now I can enjoy these while I wait (mostly) patiently for that perfect set of mid-century canisters to come into my life.


Total cost was $14, plus I have most of a can of paint left. A box of chalk set me back 50 cents. This project works best if you buy your dry goods in bulk and can control how much you get. My popcorn, for instance, was bought in a bag that held just a little more than a quart, so I’m stuck storing most in the jar and a tiny bit in a bag anyway.

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Shared at Project Inspire, Sew Many Ways, Think Pink, Mod Mix Monday, Works for me Wednesday, Wow Us Wednesday,