Random musings from a Wife, Mom, Homeschooler, Student, and Friend

Lesson Planning

I don’t know what it is about the last few cold weeks of winter, but they make me want to do lesson planning…for schooling we will do six months from now. I know. I have an illness. Maybe it was because I had to go to Staples for printer ink today. Just the smell of office supplies is intoxicating. A mix of ball-point ink, rubber bands, paper, and electronics. (Yes, electronics have a smell. They smell like static. Yes, static has a smell. It smells like electricity.) After a few deep nose-to-toes breaths of that heady aroma, I caught the bug. A lesson planning bug. (And probably a cold. The clerk who rang up my ink sounded like she had swallowed a cat and had just wiped her nose with her hand. Thank the Lord for hand sanitizer!) I spent the rest of the day surfing curriculum websites and loading (then emptying) my cart on Amazon.

We’ve spent three years away from Sonlight, but we are heading back to them. We never really left them anyway–I filtered all of our reading lists through the lists on Sonlight’s website. The girls and I have had a great time using Trail Guide to Learning: Paths of  Exploration and Paths of Settlement, but we are not going to finish the series. The Boy has enjoyed his year with Notgrass’ Uncle Sam and You, while getting his civics and government requirement taken care of, and I feel that all three are ready to dive into Sonlight again. I’ve missed the breadth and depth of the books that Sonlight uses. Sonlight also doesn’t shy away from the grittier stories in the way other curricula do, and for my older two children, I feel they are ready. The Boy and Beanie are going to use Core F: Eastern Hemisphere Explorer, and Lemony is going to use Core B+C: World History, One Year. I’m already rearranging the shelves to make room for all the lovely books!

The scariest part is that I am starting to plan The Boy’s high school path. Core F, Core 100, Core 200, Core 300, then Core 400. High School.

Wasn’t it just yesterday that he was this cute ‘lil stump-climbing boy?

The Boy on stump




One of my favorite sappy movies is the 1991 “Father of the Bride.” A one point the Franck and Howard, the wedding coordinators, are talking to Annie about the flavors for her wedding cake. They gush about one in particular that is “so subtle you can’t even taste it.” That’s how I feel about the color of the buffet I just finished. Subtle. Almost the same color. But not quite. I know I didn’t spend all this time painting this buffet the same color it was originally because my sister told me it’s a different color. It’s not the same color. It’s not. Reagan, back me up!


After I finished scraping off my first attempt, I gave the buffet a thinned-down coat of CeCe Caldwell’s Mesa Sunset, recommended by Kathy from The Vintage Dames.

I followed that with a full-strength coat of  CeCe’s Johnston Daffodil mixed with a dollup of Young Kansas Wheat and a few drops of Mesa Sunset:


After wet distressing, just a hint of the Mesa Sunset peeks through. I took the hardware off and painted all the pieces on a piece of foam board, reattached them to the buffet, and hit them with some clear wax.

Then came the fun part–playing with the new metallic waxes!

First, I smeared on the El Dorado Gold wax with my finger. Here’s what it looks like unbuffed over the Johnston Daffodil mixture:


Then I layered on Sierra Silver wax. Here it is unbuffed:


The real magic happens when this wax is buffed! Here it is in all its pearlescent glory!



This is my second major project using CeCe Caldwell’s paints, and I am even more in love with them! The only problem with this buffet now is that it is almost too “pretty.” What’s a girl to do? ;)


A few years ago, I picked up this buffet at a consignment store near Detroit, MI. Looks pretty good, huh?



Well, looks are deceiving, especially in photographs. The actual finish had yellowed with age, and our last move scratched up the top to the point that the finish was ruined:



Still, it is a well-built, solid wood piece that we use constantly as a mini-entertainment center for the kids (including a drawer full of Legos) and a landing zone for The Hubs’ keys and such. So after weeks (probably months) of should I? or shouldn’t I? I decided to paint it navy blue like the chairs in my breakfast room. I decided to try yet another new-to-me paint from Caromal Colours’ Country Living Textured Basecoat line in Blueberry because I had used and liked their REclaim line of paint. I opened the jar and tried to get some paint on my brush. It is the consistency of thick peanut butter, and I could barely spread it on the buffet. I called the company for help, and they told me to slap it on there and then smooth it out with a fluffy roller. What I really should have done was read the can–it says right there in plain English: textured basecoat. Oops. At this point I could still see the beautiful grain of the wood, but I couldn’t feel it anymore. I also couldn’t get the paint to spread evenly:



So what did I do after messing up that side? I painted the top and other side, of course. I did thin the paint, but the results were even worse:



In a panic, I reached for my can of CeCe Caldwell’s paint, and slapped on a coat of Young Kansas Wheat. It glided on, and I think I heard angels singing! The real fun with CeCe’s paints happens when you start distressing your piece. First–wet distressing! With a cloth! No dust! Awesome! Second, see the layers of color coming through? How cool is that? No sandpaper–just the damp cloth!

I loved the top…



…But the first side I painted had all that texture–totally not the look I was going for. As I was wet-distressing, I noticed in several spots that I was going down to the original finish. And better yet, that blue was coming off with water! I got a lot of the paint off with an old sock and warm water, but I needed more immediate results. So, I did what any other unabashedly inept and hopelessly naive person would do: I grabbed my Princess House spatula and started scraping:



As a side note, I love my spatula. We’ve been through a lot together–flipping burgers, stirring pitchers of ice tea, and scraping gunk off the stove, and you know, all that other normal domestic use that spatulas get. I feel a little bad because I think I finally voided my Princess House warranty. I doubt that using my spatula as a paint scraper counts as “normal domestic household use,” but I’m pretty sure that it does count as “damage caused by accident, misuse, or abuse.” Spatula, or Spatty as she likes to be called, may have a few more scratches and nicks, but to me she is just as shiny and beautiful as she always was. Warranty or no warranty, she is mine and I am hers. I did let The Hubs handle her when we started scraping the top. He did okay, but he just doesn’t know Spatty like I do. I took over after a while and gave him the old sock.



Pretty amazing, huh? So if you ever want to know how to remove Caromal Colours’ Textured Basecoat, just grab some water, an old sock, and your favorite spatula. It is possible to remove it with water and moderate pressure, if the conditions are right. I even got most of it out of the grain! The two conditions that probably saved this piece are that the basecoat wasn’t fully dry and that I did not sand the buffet prior to painting it. I just tested a piece that I painted with REclaim several months ago (also without sanding it), and I could not remove any of the paint even when I scrubbed it very hard with a wet cloth.

What’s next for the buffet? Well, I’m over navy. I’m going with a base of CeCe’s Mesa Sunset, a top layer of Johnston Daffodil, and a hint of Metallic Wax in Eldorado Gold. Can’t wait to see what it will look like!

I was browsing through the latest Ballard Designs catalog when I came across this pretty table:


A few weeks ago, I would have been looking at that table, sighing with longing. But not yesterday! With a grin I showed it to The Hubs and pointed to the breakfast room at my table.

Thanks to this…


…my ugly orange veneered table looks beautiful!

I loved this table the minute I saw it, orange tint and all, because I saw its potential to be the table I’ve been searching for. A couple of coats of CeCe Caldwell’s Young Kansas Wheat color transformed it into the table! It’s narrower than most dining tables, which works beautifully in our space, but it can still seat 8 with both leaves in. I distressed it slightly and left all the brush marks visible. All the brush strokes go the same direction, and it gives the table a weathered wood look. I hit it with a couple of coats of polycrylic for wash-and-durability.

A hint of the old finish peeks through for some character:


I found this pair of painted blue chairs at the same antique market where I got the paint–love them with this table!


Loving the mix of chairs and colors. (Here’s the post about the recovered shield-back chairs)



UPDATE: I had a chance to speak with Kathy Cook of The Vintage Dames at her booth in the Antique Marketplace in Lemoyne, PA today. This is where I buy all of the great CeCe Caldwell products that I have and will be using. Kathy is fantastic! She not only loves the CeCe Caldwell products, but she also is passionate about sharing tips and ideas with her customers. She is so fun to talk to!  I can’t wait to show off my next project–a rescued buffet–when it is all finished. For now, I’ll just tease y’all by saying that I will be using CeCe’s new metallic wax!!!

I’ve been trying to cram a 6 week unit study into 3 weeks, and the cracks are starting to show. This morning, I let the kids go about their morning uninterrupted, and the most amazing thing happened.

First, The Boy took a shower. On his own. Amazing!

Second, the girls are sitting at the kitchen table playing with their stuffed animals. The dialog I am hearing is just wonderful: “You have poison on your paws!” “Oh no! I have to get it off. I’ll just roll in this water. Nooooooooooo! Anything but piranhas!” followed by “Uh oh, she smells like wolf…no like shark.” “There are no sharks. She’s not poisoned.” “Those aren’t sharks, they’re PYTHONS!!!”

Wouldn’t you love to crawl into their imaginations and “see” all that they are seeing right now?

Soon, I’ll have to interrupt and get on with our day, but for now, I’ll just sit here and pretend that I am not listening to them play. This is bliss.


I’ve loved the look of West Elm’s chevron style curtains for a while. A few months ago, I found stacks of them at the Pottery Barn Outlet, and I grabbed six of them for next to nothing. I (meaning The Hubs) hung them in our living area (family room/breakfast room combo), and I liked them. Mostly. Two of the panels were slightly wonky, and looking at them made me queasy. So, I (meaning The Hubs) took them down, and they sat folded in my closet. (I did the folding all by myself.) Finally, I decided to try using one of the panels to recover the seats of my vintage shield-back chairs.


The seats were covered in a fairly hideous silky print:


Ta da! I love them!

20140104-162021.jpgAnd yes, the table you see is the same pine table I posted about in November–doesn’t it look better in “Young Kansas Wheat” by CeCe Caldwell’s Paints? More about that soon!

Poor Hubs. Yesterday we started to refinish a vintage drop leaf table. Mid-way through sanding, we found out that it was veneer, not solid wood. Lesson learned, but now we have another furniture corpse to throw on the “paint or trash” pile. I don’t feel too bad for him because he said, and I quote, “I didn’t think it would work anyway.” Them’s fightin’ words. Or rather, them’s shoppin’ words. Hubs and The Boy had no sooner stashed the evidence in the basement before we were off in search of a new kitchen table. Our favorite consignment shop was about to close for the night when we saw it…a pine harvest table with eight chairs. Eight. Yep, I have a thing for chairs like most girls have for handbags or shoes or men. Ahem. Before these eight chairs joined our family, I had twenty dining chairs. Actually, twenty-three including the two on the back porch and the one on the front porch. Thirty-one chairs is excessive even for me. Anyhoo, eight new-to-me chairs and a country pine harvest table for them to encircle. Well, more like enrectangle, but whatever.

The search for the perfect table has been on-going for about three years. We picked up a beautiful antique gate-leg table which we have been using for homeschooling, but it wasn’t quite the family table I needed. For one thing, we found out the hard way that you shouldn’t put a hot pizza box on an antique table. It leaves big white marks. (Refinishing that will be another project for another day.) Also, the way the legs attached made it difficult to seat more than six people, even though the table was technically long enough. What I wanted was a long, narrow harvest table with legs at the corner and room to cram in bunches of people for casual dinners that we never host. (Hoping that is about to change, thanks to advice from The Reluctant Entertainer.) I think this one is the table!

We are getting closer to making this place feel more like a home than a temporary stop in our journey to a forever home. Part of that transformation had to start with the lighting in this place. Shiny, tacky brass. Ick. I love vintage, distressed brass, but the only thing distressed about this lighting was me. I hope the owners thank me for this one. I think they will.

Here is the hideous light in our breakfast room before The Hubs kindly changed it out for me:




Trust me, the before picture doesn’t even come close to showing the ugliness of that first fixture. The glass was…ribbed. <shudder> But as I stared lovingly at the new table under the new light, I knew something was wrong. That light didn’t show the table to its greatest advantage. That light had to go. (Into the dining room anyway.) My ever-patient and beloved Hubs moved the light for me and installed this one:


Be still my heart! I have been wanting a lantern style fixture forever! And to get that and my beloved harvest table all in the same weekend? Swoon.


Looks better with the light off, doesn’t it? We still need to figure out what type of bulbs to use so that we aren’t blinded. We started out with frosted 60w, went to these which are 40w…still way too bright. Anyone out there have a good way to keep from getting blinded by this type of fixture? Are there special anti-glare bulbs?

It seems it is feast or famine right now in the lighting department at our house, because now the dining room/schoolroom light is way too dim.  The wall color and the complete lack of natural light in this room isn’t helping either. Back to the Home Depot we go!



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