Recovering Dining Table Chairs/Staples for Days

Monday, June 30, 2014

Our kitchen chairs came with an ivory textured fabric.  They got dirty.  We've had them for 7 years, and they held up alright for probably the first 5...until Max started eating at the kitchen table instead of his high chair.  While I'd like to put all the blame on him for the dirty cushions, I must admit I also played a tiny part when I spilled a can of red cream soda on one of them...insert wide-eyed-blushing emoticon here.

white cushion kitchen chair

I don't know how long it'll be until we get a different dining room set, so I decided to prevent future staining by going total grandma and putting a clear vinyl over my fabric.  I'd like to see red cream soda/otter pop/farm dirt get through that.

What you need:
  • 1 yard of upholstery fabric per chair*
  • 1 yard of clear vinyl per chair**
  • Staple gun
  • Staples
  • Pliers 
  • Screw driver
  • Hammer
  • Hair dryer
  • A sister (helpful, but not required)

* Please measure. A yard should be more than enough, but in my experience it's better to have too much than not enough, in my experience.  I found mine at Joann Fabric and used a 50% off coupon.

**I got the thinnest vinyl available.  I knew there would be plenty extra fabric I'd be trying to staple down and I didn't want to be fighting a thick vinyl on top of that.

Step 1: Covering with fabric

  1. Remove staples.
  2. Roughly trim fabric, staple sides. 
  3. Gather and staple corners.
  4. Pound staples in with hammer.
  5. Trim as neatly as possible to remove excess fabric.

First, I had to pull out the staples holding the finishing piece of fabric on.  It took a screwdriver/swear words/plier combination to accomplish.  

Staples for days.

Next, I cut the fabric leaving a generous allowance on all sides.  A little too generous actually, and if I were to do it again, I'd leave maybe a 3-4 inch allowance to make it less bulky.  I had to go back and trim down the fabric after I stapled it down. The plus side: I had plenty of fabric to hold on to as I stretched it tight across the seat.  So, up to you.  You can see here that I started by stapling along the sides, leaving the corners for last (mostly because I wasn't sure how I was going to tackle them).  

Staple one side and then the opposite side, making sure it's pulled tight with no wrinkles before moving on to the adjacent side.  

I hemmed and hawed over the corners for maybe 10 minutes, checking tutorials online and weighing my options.  At this point Kelli (my sister) tells me to just go for it.  So we grabbed the fabric, gathered it the best we could, and stapled the heck out of it.  I knew that I was going to be covering it in vinyl, so I knew I didn't need to stress about the corners looking perfect because they'd be difficult to see.  

After stapling the corners, we had to go back with a hammer to pound them in a little more because the fabric prevented the staple from sinking all the way into the wood.  A pneumatic staple gun would've been fantastic here.

Step 2: Covering with vinyl
  1. Roughly trim vinyl, staple sides down. 
  2. Use hair dryer on one corner at a time to make the vinyl softer and more moldable.  Gather and staple.  Repeat til each corner is complete.  Really truly, don't forget this step.  The hair dryer helped a ton.
  3. Pound staples in with hammer.
  4. Trim as neatly as possible to remove excess vinyl. 
  5. Staple finishing fabric on to the bottom of the chair.

I wish I would've stapled closer together on the finishing fabric.  Now that the seats are back on my chairs, it kind of gaps, and it bothers me a little.  Also, watch out for fingers when you're hammering staples back in or else...swear words.

Paul kindly re-attached the cushions to the chairs, with a little help from Max. Boom.  Done and done.

Nice grandma rockers in the back, yes?

Huge thanks to Kelli.  We did this during a week long visit to her home in Nevada, and without her, I probably wouldn't have gotten them done.

Her amazing blue and white duvet is from West Elm, in case you were wondering.



Mandy's Stream of Consciousness

Sunday, June 29, 2014

(graphic representation of what a split second inside my head looks like)

Gah.  The dishes.  I’ll start emptying the dishwasher, and maybe I can get it emptied before Sam decides he wants to help.  Oh.  I was looking for this water bottle.  I better wash it out...and bleach it.  Crap.  The dishwasher.  And here comes Sam. 

I wonder what its like at Alt Summit.  I bet its just magic all the time and Cricuts are getting handed out like Oprah is in charge.  You get a Cricut!  And you get a Cricut!  And YOU get a Cricut!  Gah! Sam, not the diaper cream!  Ooooo, email.  An email from RunKeeper? That’s hilarious.  Today is not the day to track a 5k.  I haven’t run in a month.  Maybe I should get some new workout clothes…except I got some three weeks ago and they still have the tags on, so that was an ineffective motivator.  Maybe I just won’t worry about it.  Salted nut rolls for dinner, bagel and cream cheese for lunch…crap.  I need to start cooking again.  But I need to empty the dishwasher first so I can get rid of the mountain of dishes in the sink.

Max is still watching Netflix.  Shoot.  Does he watch too much tv?  He watches too much tv.  I swear he’s crankier when he watches tv.  I still can’t believe he was dry through the night.  Maybe he's almost fully potty trained??  Come to think of it they both slept through the night last night.  What would it be like to sleep in?  I don’t think I could sleep in even if I was given the opportunity.  Paul and I need to go on a little getaway.  Maybe then we could sleep in.  Like til 8.  Sigh.  That’d be nice.  Maybe San Francisco.  Ride a trolley, cross the Golden Gate Bridge on bikes...I could dig it.  I wonder if Paul would like it.  

Shoot.  Swimming lessons.  I wonder if we can still get in.  Max would be disappointed if he didn't go this year.  Or would he?  Maybe he wouldn't even notice.  I saw some cute swim suits at Costco the other day.  I don't need more swimming suits, who am I kidding.  I really need to get to work on my sewing desk.  Then maybe I can get the sewing machine off the counter and away from Max's play dough.  But then I have to find a spot for it in my room.  Which means I need to clean my room.  How do we go through this many clothes?  Why do we even HAVE this many clothes?  And yet I still feel like I still don't have anything to wear.  Maybe I should check out the Target clearance online again.  Gah.  Nope.  Dishwasher.  Let's empty the dishwasher.   

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie (But Really)

Friday, June 20, 2014

Let me tell you a story about cookies. Cookies made by my mother in law, Diane. Oatmeal chocolate chip to be exact.  When my husband was growing up, Diane made several batches of these cookies every week. EVERY week, you guys. It was THE after school snack. Friends came over for these cookies. Adults came over for these cookies. And, guess what? These friends from 20 years ago still ask about and stop by for these cookies. My husband and his siblings continue to get together at the table with large glasses of milk and eat these cookies. It has been said, that if cut open, these siblings would bleed cookies and milk.

But, sadly, I cannot share the recipe for these infamous cookies.

Why you ask?

Because in 10 years of marriage and eating these cookies regularly, I have never been able to make them. They never turn out the same. Not once. My husband will eat them, I mean, it's a cookie. But *sigh* it's just not the same. And it needs to be the same, if you've had the original. So I don't want to set you up for baking failure.

However, on the bright side of things, Diane also makes these OTTHHEERR cookies. Cookies I can make. Cookies that I think are the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever had. Thick, soft and chewy, I make these cookies at least once a week...and for special occasions. Like Bunco and BBQs.

You should try them. I promise you won't regret it.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cream together:
1 cup softened butter
1 stick Crisco- NOT butter flavor
1 1/2 c. white sugar
1 1/2 c. brown sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
Sift together then add to the wet ingredients:
6-7 cups flour
2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoon salt
Stir in: 
1 package chocolate chips (I prefer milk chocolate, just sayin', but use your favorite).

Shape and bake at 375 for 9-10 minutes.

Yield: 2 1/2 dozen

Here are a few tips: 

This is the scoop I use. It scoops about 2 tablespoons. 

When you shape each ball of dough, scoop it, roll it smooth in your hands and then smoosh it a bit. 
It helps these particular cookies to flatten and be the perfect shape after baking. 

Please do not over bake. Err on the side of underdone. 
I always bake mine at 9 minutes but test your first batch and decide from there. 
I leave my cookies on the sheet for a few minutes when I get them out of the oven. 
Then transfer them to the rack to cool. 

These cookies will come out thick, chewy and delicious. 

They also make the perfect homemade ice cream sandwiches.

Try them and let me know what you think! I hope you love them.



1. I am NOT a food blogger. When your husband asks you why you are taking a picture of two cookies with pudding in between, you realize that using the AlmondDream Frozen Dessert because the ice cream was all gone probably makes you look less credible.
2. Mel from MelsKitchenCafe is a food blogger. My favorite to tell the truth. She has cookies down to a science, so if that kind of thing floats your boat, then click here to read all about it.

If you are dying to try the Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookie of my husband's youth, shoot me an email and I'll send you the recipe. Maybe you will have better luck.  I'll cross my fingers for you!

Denim Chevron Quilt: Father's Day 2014

Monday, June 16, 2014

Hi.  I'm Mandy and I'm a procrastinator.

I tend to save things for the last minute.  Always have, always will.  My husband Paul requested a denim quilt for camping awhile ago.  We have a ridiculous number of sleeping bags, but none of them allow him to sprawl like he prefers.  It was a week before Father's Day and I thought to myself "Hey! Now's a great time to start a huge quilt".  I'm not sure why I'd think this, because I'm not a quilter.  My mother in law Karen, however, is the quilt ninja.  She's amazing.  She's also a good sport because when I came to her with my idea, she helped me get it done.

I had it narrowed down to three patterns. One was an ombré quilt with long strips of denim. Another was a bunch of different sizes of squares pieced together that looked kind of amazing, but would take a little more work. The third was a braided/chevron design that worked well with different colors of jeans and it looked pretty simple to put together.  We decided on the chevron one (click here for more detailed directions).

Karen cut about a bajillion 3 in x 10 in strips out of jeans. I sewed them together like this: 

I made 7 columns and built them up simultaneously, adding 6 strips of fabric to one column (3 on each side) before moving on to the next.  Also, let me introduce Sam.  He's my very helpful baby.

After lots of hours and about 4 bobbins of thread, it looked like this:

Then, Karen trimmed each column to be 10 inches wide and 76 inches tall. Because she's the nicest. 

Then I stitched the 7 columns all together.  Ta da!

When that was completed, I stitched around the entire quilt (1/4 inch) to prevent it from stretching, since the edges were now made of biased ends. Biased fabric? I'm not even sure what you call it. Basically the ends are stretchy. Sewing around the whole quilt helps to minimize the stretching that might occur when quilting it. 

Then we got it on the quilting machine. And by we, I mean Karen. 

We decided to do a wiggle. Pretty sure that's the technical term.  Straight lines on a diagonal are difficult to quilt, so my plan of two straight lines across each piece went out the window in favor of something easy.

This was Saturday night at 10:30. By this point I'm almost done with the quilting, and I'm pretty happy about it. We unpinned it from the quilting machine, trimmed it, and decided to bind it later.

I'll post the finishing touches once I get it bound! 



Birthday Candy Bouquet

Friday, June 13, 2014

It seems that summer is birthday party season. My oldest was off to a birthday party this week for a candy loving friend. We decided to get her just that.  Let me introduce you to the birthday candy bouquet.

For this candy bouquet you will need the following: 

  • 1 can of soda
  • styrofoam ball ( I used a 3")
  • toothpicks
  • hot glue gun
  • wrapped candy
  • ribbon to decorate

First, glue the styrofoam ball to the bottom end of the can. 
This way, hot glue and styrofoam won't be a 
problem when opening the can for a drink. 

This bouquet is totally customizable. 

Have money to spend? Fill the entire ball with chocolate bars! 

On a budget? Bubblegum. 

For this present, I used a mix of both. 

Start by spacing the bigger candy evenly around the ball.  For each candy bar, push a toothpick half way in, then push the candy bar onto the toothpick. For the suckers, I trimmed about half an inch off each stick so they wouldn't stick out too far. 

Next, fill in the extra space with your filler candy. 
I used bubble gum. And some Hi-Chew. 
Dang those things are tasty. 
Dare I say, best candy ever?  

Once all the gaps are filled, finish up with some ribbon.

 The birthday attendee at my house wasn't loving the "Happy Birthday" ribbon, 
so we finished with something more simple and a card. 

birthday candy bouquet with card

I loved that my child got to help make this present for a friend, but also that
it wasn't the standard birthday present. 

Probably the most perfect gift for the candy lover in your life.   

Tasty 10 Minute Pizza

Monday, June 9, 2014

tasty ten minute pizza

So easy, so fast, and everyone in my house will eat it.  That's my kind of dinner.  Pair it with a freshly tossed green salad and you have yourself a meal.  Or don't.  I won't judge if you'd rather chase your pizza down with a root beer float.  Goodness knows you've earned it.

Here's what you'll need: 

  • Pita Bread
  • Tomato Sauce
  • Grated Parmesan Cheese
  • Black Pepper
  • Seasoning Salt
  • Garlic Powder
  • Mozzarella Cheese 
  • Pepperoni Minis (or your choice of toppings)
I have to credit my cute friend Trisha for turning me on to these bad boys.

I start with a piece of pita bread and spread a teaspoon or two of tomato sauce on it.  I sprinkle it with some parmesan cheese followed by some black pepper, seasoning salt, and garlic powder.  Grate an ounce of mozzarella cheese over the tomato sauce and then top with a handful of pepperoni minis.  Place on a cookie sheet, then move the oven rack close to the top and broil for 5 - 7 minutes until the cheese is bubbly.  Let cool for a few minutes, and enjoy.  

I love how easy the pepperoni minis are to eat as opposed to regular sized pepperonis.  I seem to always bite a regular size pepperoni in half, but never cleanly...which results in sauce all over my face.  

Serving Size: 1 Pizza

Nutrition Facts
Calories: 338
Fat:  12 g
Sodium:  879 mg
Potassium:  30 mg
Total Carbohydrates:  40 g
Dietary Fiber:  4 g
Sugars:  3 g
Protein:  18 g



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