Refinishing and Reupholstering the Dining Table

After a months-long break, we’re back. We’ve done a few things since our last post: we removed the world’s strongest clotheslines from our backyard, did some major spring cleaning in our backyard, and (somewhat) planned the entire future layout of our house. In between, we trained and ran our first marathon, so no blog posts for you, our few devoted readers. ūüėȬ†Now that our days of endless running are over (for now), we decided to refinish and reupholster our dining room table.

Before we get started, I’ll just be frank: this project took a long time. We had a much different design idea in place when we started. (I’ll share more below). But, part way through we realized how terrible that idea would’ve turned out. To be totally honest, if I had to do it all over again I’d probably do the chairs differently (maybe teal-ish/aqua paint and a brown textured fabric?). Although we worked with what we had, and we learned something from this.¬†(America’s Next Top Model Tyra Banks throwback anyone?)

What we used:

100-, 150- and 200- grit sandpaper
Orbital and detail sander
Behr Marquee Painter’s White
Behr Marquee Off Broadway
Polycrylic, clear satin finish
Nate Berkus Cobi Paramount Sarhara Fabric
Staple gun and staples

Total hours: Approx. 75


Brian received this table for free from a friend of ours a few years ago when she was remodeling her home. A new table would obviously be preferred, but this was a much more affordable route. (Yeah, these photos are terrible. But ¬†before photos are supposed to be bad, right?). Then again, I’ve mentioned the terrible lighting in our house, so the after probably aren’t much better. I guess that’s just another project! Or I need to get better at Photoshop…

Refinish and Repaint

So to start things off, we started by sanding everything down. This is where things got hung up. We initially planned to paint the table black with Behr Off Broadway paint, stain the chairs with a lighter stain, and reupholster them with a blue fabric. However, halfway through sanding we realized that’d be fugly.

Both the chairs and the table have the designs pictured above etched in them. If we’d stained the chairs these areas would have remained dark and the chairs would’ve been a weird modern, rustic combination. There was no way we were going to sand all that detail either. Bad planning. We changed our plan about four times after this realization. (It didn’t help that we had already purchased a gallon of Off Broadway paint and couldn’t return it.)

After a lot of back-and-forth, we finally decided on our final plan, which involved several returns – just not the Off Broadway paint. If we were just painting, we didn’t need to sand everything to the grain. Oh well – here are pictures to prove we did . (If you ever want to refinish furniture with paint, you only need to scratch it up with 100-grit paper, enough to remove the finish, so paint will stick.)

The next stage was much easier. We purchased Behr Marquee paint because it contained paint and primer. We had a lot of the Off Broadway paint already, so we threw that on the chairs and chose the Painter’s White to give the table a lot of contrast.

After painting the table and chairs twice, we sealed the chairs twice with Polycrylic and the table four times.


The least time consuming portion of the project was the reupholstering. We removed the staples from the cushions with a flathead screwdriver. Then we just used the old fabric as a pattern to cut out fabric for the new cushion.

(Total side note, regarding the fabric we/I chose, Brian gave me the most epic eye roll ¬†when he saw it was from the Nate Berkus line at Joann. “Of course that’s where it’s from!” He made fun of me for binge watching¬†Nate and Jeremiah By¬†Design¬†on TLC earlier this year. The first season is over, but you can catch it On Demand and defend my honor!)

Putting the fabric on the chairs was relatively easy too. We basically wrapped them like Christmas gifts and made sure to pull the edges tight and even and they turned out a-okay.


Throwing Our Annual Oscar Party

Our Oscar Party has become a tradition. We love movies. They’re our thing. Well, at least one of them. Since we see a lot of movies our Oscar party is a natural extension of things we love – our friends and movies.

Our party includes Oscar bingo and a¬†prediction contest, of course. (Shout out to my coworker, Brian, who beat me at in our party’s predication contest. That’s actually the first time that’s happened! Maybe I should blame the Oscar producers…)

We enjoy¬†theming the party food each year. So I thought I’d share our what we did this year.

Maybe next year I’ll share our ideas in advance should anyone want to try them for their own festivities.

Anyway, in alphabetical order, here’s what we made:

Arrival: Pod Cookies

THESE COOKIES WERE AMAZING! Seriously the best sugar cookies ever. The spaceships are based off the alien ship in¬†Arrival and the design is the SPOILER ALERT¬†Heptapod language from the film. If you haven’t seen¬†Arrival, you probably don’t know what that means, but if you haven’t and you’ve read this far, I’m sorry that you’ve been spoiled because¬†Arrival¬†is a great movie.

Cookie recipe (Found at: Katrina’s Kitchen)


  • 1 Cup unsalted butter
  • 1 Cup granulated white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3 cups all purpose flour


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. In the bowl of your mixer cream butter and sugar until smooth.
  3. Beat in extracts and eggs.
  4. In a separate bowl combine baking powder with flour and add a little at a time to the wet ingredients. The dough will be very stiff. If it becomes too stiff for your mixer turn out the dough onto a countertop surface. Wet your hands and finish off kneading the dough by hand.
  5. DO NOT CHILL THE DOUGH. Divide into workable batches, roll out onto a floured surface and cut. You want these cookies to be on the thicker side (closer to 1/4 inch rather than 1/8).
  6. Bake at 350 for 6-8 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheet until firm enough to transfer to a cooling rack.

Frosting (Also found at Katrina’s Kitchen)

  • 2 Cups shortening
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract¬†
  • 8 Cups powdered sugar
  • 1/8 Cup heavy cream (more or less to desired consistency)
  • food coloring, if desired

For the Frosting:

  1. In the bowl of your mixer beat shortening until smooth and creamy.
  2. Mix in vanilla (and almond extract if using).
  3. Add powdered sugar (1 cup at a time) until combined, then add  cream & mix until smooth and spreading consistency. Adjust cream to desired frosting thickness
  4. Add a few drops of color, if desired. We obviously added coloring to make gray, and used a black icing pen to make the Heptapod language.

Fences: Rose’s Ham Sandwiches

Throughout¬†Fences, Rose (Viola Davis) is often in the kitchen and she makes a few ham sandwiches throughout the film. And no, this isn’t¬†why Viola¬†was SO deserving of her (overdue) Oscar. It was all the ugly crying. ūüėČ No recipe necessary here.

Hacksaw Ridge: Guts Fruit Salad

First, excuse the typo on the food sign. I made them very, very quickly this year. I’ll do better next time. As a war movie,¬†Hacksaw Ridge is a bit bloody. Although it doesn’t quite look like guts, this salad is as creative as we could get.

Red Fruit Salad Recipe (found at Pip and Ebby)


  • 2 Cups cherries
  • 2 16 oz. containers strawberries
  • 3 6 oz. containers raspberries
  • 1 lemon
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh¬†chopped basil


  1. Chop and combine cherries and strawberries in bowl.
  2. Add raspberries.
  3. In a small bowl, combine: Juice from 1 lemon, 2 tablespoons sugar, and basil

  4. Mix well and drizzle over the fruit. Gently stir with a large spoon until the fruit is coated thoroughly. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Hell or High Water: Steak Fries

There’s a funny scene in¬†Hell or High Water where Jeff Bridges’ character enters a diner and the waitress informs him that he can only order two things: a baked potato or steak. So we combined the two into one: steak fries. A lot easier to make for big group of people. Call us lazy.

Hidden Figures: Lemonade

Food doesn’t really play a big role in¬†Hidden Figures. However, the bathroom does. One of the film’s most iconic lines is: “We all pee the same color.” Thus, lemonade. You get the idea. Brian even made it fresh too! Not from powder!

La La Land: Tapas

Poor¬†La La Land.¬†Many of the pundits were saying the film didn’t deserve to win Best Picture. They got their¬†wish. (And if you’re asking me,¬†Moonlight¬†was the better movie of the two). Anyway, tapas play a pivotal role in the film and we went with a really easy recipe: bacon wrapped dates. Literally, just dates wrapped in bacon, but they were delicious. I’m not sure Sebastion (Ryan Gosling) would approve, but we’ll never know.

Lion: Jalebis

Every year, there’s always a¬†film or two with a very¬†obvious menu item. This year¬†Lion¬†was one. Jalebis mark a turning point in the film. They really were fairly easy to make too. And for all of you Americans reading this – they taste a lot like donuts.

Jalebi Recipe (Found at


  • 1¬†cup¬†¬†all-purpose flour¬†(known as ‘maida’ in Hindi)
  • 2¬†teaspoons¬†¬†gram flour¬†(known as ‘besan’ in Hindi)
  • 1‚ĀĄ2cup¬†¬†plain yogurt, beaten (known as ‘dahi’ in Hindi)
  • 1‚ĀĄ2cup¬†¬†water
  • 1¬†pinch¬†¬†baking soda
  • 500¬†ml¬†¬†ghee¬†or 500 ml oil
  • 500¬†ml sugar syrup


  1. Put flour in a mixing bowl.
  2. Add gramflour.
  3. Mix well.
  4. Add yogurt and water.
  5. Mix well, using a spoon, ensuring that no lumps remain.
  6. Mix to obtain what is technically called,”ribbon consistency”.
  7. (Ribbon consistency simply requires you to mix for about 5-7 minutes, really well, so that when the mixture is dropped from the mixing spoon into the mixing bowl, it should fall like a ribbon. Don’t let the term scare you, it’s pretty easy, you just got to).
  8. Add a pinch of baking soda.
  9. At this point, this mixture (batter) can be refrigerated if you are planning on making the jalebis later.
  10. If you plan to make the jalebis instantly, put the mixture in a jalebi bottle (you get these bottles to make jalebis in the market).
  11. If you dont have a jalebi bottle, you can use an empty well-washed and thoroughly clean, tomato ketchup bottle.
  12. Heat oil on low-medium flame in a frying pan.
  13. Meanwhile, spoon the above prepared batter in the icing bag fitted with the star nozzle/jalebi bottle/ tomato ketchup bottle.
  14. Drop the batter by squeezing the bottle/icing bag, into the hot oil, in concentric circular motion to make the jalebis.
  15. Lightly brown on either side.
  16. Repeat until all the batter is used up.
  17. On low flame heat the pre-prepared sugar-water syrup (known in Hindi as”chashni”).
  18. Add few threads of saffron to the syrup- these look really pretty on the jalebis later when you dip the latter into them.
  19. Now, drain the excess oil from the jalebis.
  20. Drop into the sugar-water syrup.
  21. Dip well, toss well, to coat the jalebis in the syrup.
  22. Drain excess syrup from the jalebis.

Manchester By The Sea Salt Water Taffy

This one was a stretch, but a fun play on words, right? Plus it was so much easier than making something like lobster (since characters in the film are lobster fishermen) or sea salt caramels.

Moonlight: Arroz Con Pollo

Like¬†Lion,¬†Moonlight¬†was the other obvious food connection. Arroz Con Pollo is vital to the film’s third act. It’s really good too. You should try this! Also, how great is it that¬†Moonlight¬†won Best Picture?!

Crockpot Arroz Con Pollo (Found at



  1. Combine all ingredients in the cooking vessel. Stir well. Cover and cook: Low-8 hrs (or) High-5 hours.

And that was our Oscar menu! Until next year, happy film going!

Rehabbing Our DIY Dog Gates

Before I start, let me just say that all that mouse poop I found in the ceiling a couple weeks ago¬†had me slightly worried for a hot second this week. For a minute, I thought those jerks may have given me hantavirus. But good news, I’m alive and well and dragging Brian into doing more projects. ūüôā

President’s Day weekend was the perfect time for another project! Up this time, updating the DIY dog and/or baby gates that the previous homeowners left with the house.

Frodo and Ellie are relatively well behaved, but the gates are nice especially when we want to keep the dogs out of the basement or confined to the family room. They also are handy when friends who have kids come over: just shut the gates and let the kids have free reign!

However, the¬†previous owners never painted the gates, so they looked unfinished and the house isn’t industrial enough to pull that look¬†off.




Because I’m basically a commercial for the product, I used Zinsser Bin Primer¬†before painting. I promise I don’t have an unnatural affinity for this product. We’ve needed to get rid of so much wood grain in this house¬†and Zinsser has done¬†a decent job of hiding it.


We chose to paint the gates with Behr’s Iron Mountain¬†to keep with the gate’s looking modern¬†while staying in theme with our gray walls. (BTW, gray is totally the new beige and I’m going to hate it in 10 years, right? ;)). Anyway, here’s what they look like now. I’m happy with them. And seriously, I’m so glad we have them. They’re so functional. For anyone with dogs and/or toddlers or babies¬†I’d highly recommend DIY-ing something like this for your home.

And here’s Ellie sneaking a peak through one of the freshly-painted gates.

How We Threw Our Housewarming Party

Housewarming Welcome Sign


Now that we’ve been in our house a little over a month (and painted almost every room) it was time for our housewarming!

It was nice to finally have our friends over. Plus, I know Brian was thankful to not have to work on house projects for a weekend!

Housewarming Welcome Sign

I made the DIY welcome banner above from paint chips from Home Depot. Simple and super easy.

We gave house tours of the new digs and served a bunch of food. We made away too much ‚ÄĒ as is typical for a Brian & Jason party.

Here’s a sample of a few of the things that we stole from Pinterest and made on our own (aka¬†the ridiculous amount of pizza purchased isn’t pictured).

Fruity Pebble Rice Krispy Treats

Ingredients (recipe found at madeitwithhappy)

  • 1 bag mini marshmallows
  • 5 cups Fruity Pebbles (or you know, Dino Bytes from Malt O Meal, if you’re cheap like us)
  • 5 tablespoons butter


  1. Line the bottom of an 8×8 pan with foil.
  2. Spray with cooking spray and set to the side.
  3. Over medium heat, melt butter and marshmallows together.
  4. Once completely melted, remove from heat and fold in cereal.
  5. After all cereal is fully coated, mix in the remaining cup of marshmallows.
  6. Transfer to the pan and even out.
  7. Cool and serve.

Oreo Truffles

Ingredients (recipe found at popsugar)

  • 1 package Double Stuf Oreos
  • 4 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup white candy melts or chocolate chips


  1. In a food processor, chop up Oreos, including the frosting, until a fine crumb is reached. Save 1/4 cup of Oreos for garnish.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together remaining Oreos with cream cheese. Once combined, roll the dough into 1-inch balls and place on a piece of wax paper. Place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  3. While the Oreo balls are in the freezer, melt chocolate until smooth (we did this in the microwave). Pull the Oreo truffles out of the freezer, and dip into the chocolate. Place on a new wax-paper-lined baking sheet, and garnish with a sprinkle of the remaining Oreo crumbles.
  4. Place truffles in the refrigerator to set the chocolate

Brownie Batter Dip

Ingredients (recipe found at ohsweetbasil)

  • ¬†(8 Ounce) Package Cream Cheese, softened
  • 8 Ounces Cool Whip
  • 1 (18 ounce) Box Brownie Mix, dry
  • 2 Tablespoons Milk
  • 1 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips

For Dipping: we used graham crackers, pretzels and fruit (strawberries, grapes and melons)

  1. In a large bowl, using a handheld mixer, beat cream cheese until smooth. Mix in cool whip until smooth. Add in brownie mix and milk. Mix until smooth and fold in chocolate chips, reserving a few for garnish.
  2. Serve immediately or wrap the bowl in saran wrap and store in the fridge up to one day ahead.

Cowboy Caviar

Modified Ingredients (we didn’t include cilantro because that stuff is NASTY) (original recipe found at Culinary Hill)

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup sugar (see notes)
  • 1/3 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (15 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 (11 ounce) can super sweet corn, drained (see notes)
  • 1 red onion, diced
  • 1/2 cup diced green bell pepper
  • 1/2 cup diced red bell pepper


  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the olive oil, sugar, white wine vinegar, chili powder, and salt. Add tomatoes, black-eyed peas, beans, corn, red onion, and bell peppers. Stir.
  2. Cover and chill at least 1 hour to blend flavors. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

All of the above were easy and tasty! Although with the Super Bowl today too, we may gain 10 lbs this weekend. Oh well, back to healthy eating on Monday.


From Mid-Century “Blah-dern” to Funky Fresh

Like most new homeowners one of the first things we’ve done¬†since moving¬†in to our new home is paint.

One of our first projects was our upstairs bathroom. Boy, did it need work. Here are some before pictures.

I actually don’t mind all the green tile (while it would never be my first choice, I promise, it’s better in person). I do like what the previous homeowners did with the shower stall to try and modernize the space. However, the¬†paint color they chose had us gagging. And although the shower stall and faucet were attempting to modernize the bathroom, the honey oak sure was dating it.

With everything that needs to be done in the house, and other financial commitments, we don’t really have the funds for a major bathroom remodel. In order to modernize the space, we decided to continue the work of the previous homeowners and bring out the colors from the shower tiles in the rest of the space. Paint was going to have to do most of the work.

We started with the honey oak. That had to go. To get rid of the wood grain, we used Zinsser Bin Advanced Synthetic Shellac Primer. After two coats on the cabinetry it did a good job of hiding most of the oak grain. However, to get rid of all the wood grain, it would’ve been best to sand the cabinets and then use the Zinsser¬†Bin. But with a project this small that effort wasn’t quite worth it yet (call us lazy DIYers).

To tie in the shower tiles with the rest of the bathroom, we pained the cabinets Very Navy from Behr. The color is close match to some square tiles in the shower stall. We finished them off with simple, modern cabinet pulls.

Realizing that blue cabinetry and green bathroom tiles are a bit¬†crazy town, we put a very, very light grey on the walls (Behr’s Silver Polish) that actually appears white in the bathroom.

Finally, again¬†to bring out the colors in the shower tiles, we paired the paint with¬†orange towels and a bathroom mat (which aren’t the easiest things to find mind you – especially when you’re trying to coordinate with a shower tile).

Here’s the finished product. A bit out there, I know.

Note to self: No more wrinkly shower curtains next time you take pictures

Now, I’m excited to, one day, design my own bathroom. No more fixing other people’s mistakes.

How A Machete Got Us Blogging

A machete. That’s why we’re blogging, really.

It was October 28 at 5 a.m. and Ellie our affable, friendly goldendoodle woke me (Jason) up. She was pacing in our bedroom and barking out the window that looked out into our backyard. She was concerned.

I got out of bed to see what was bothering her. The motion light in our backyard was on, like it always was (due to animals, birds, wind), but nothing was out of the ordinary. I went to the bathroom and got back in bed. Ellie was still concerned.

Then the¬†backyard gate slammed. I looked out the window and still saw nothing. I thought, “someone must’ve been in the backyard and left” and went back to bed. Brian, and our miniature schnauzer, Frodo, were still fast asleep. Ellie was still concerned.

Around 6 a.m. we all woke up and I told Brian that I suspected someone may have visited the backyard overnight. We ended up venturing into the backyard together. Frodo and Ellie stayed inside.

It was still dark out, the motion light was still on and when we reached the backyard it was a bit chaotic. Things from our shed were strewn about. The backyard shed was propped open with a drill case.

We approached the shed¬†and¬†opened the door. Bags of things from the shed were stockpiled about four feet high in the entryway. No other sign of the perpetrator. “We must’ve scared them off,” we thought. Or maybe Ellie did.

Brian began putting everything away in the shed. The thief tried to take a lot, and after about 15 minutes we headed back toward the house. Brian locked the shed and did one last check of the backyard. That’s when we realized we weren’t alone.

In the darkest corner of the backyard, Brian saw what looked like a duffle bag and signaled me over. About that¬†same time, Brian realized the “duffle bag” had hands.

“Don’t move. I’m calling the police,” Brian said, in his sternest, I-might-beat-you-up voice.

As soon as he hit send on the 911 call, the man, who was very thin and wearing baggy, ratted jeans and an oversized black windbreaker with bright orange pocket lining stood up very slowly. He had something in his hand that I couldn’t quite see in the darkness.

“We need to run,” Brian said.

“That’s right you do,” grumbled the creep.

We ran faster than we have before. Much faster than the man who was likely high on meth. (Crossfit and those Ragnar races have came in handy at that moment.)¬†He chased me halfway through our front yard before we both stopped. I was about 20 feet in front of him. I looked back. He stopped. That’s when I noticed his weapon: a machete. We were chased out of our backyard by a man with a machete! (Note: It was Brian’s stepdad’s machete from Vietnam that the man had stolen for this very occasion). Then the man fled.

The police never found the machete man.

Shortly after, we called our realtor and had multiple offers on our house.

That’s why we’re here. The machete. Now that we’re in a newer, better home (but one that will also require a bit more DIY and renovation), but I am disappointed we never chronicled our two¬†years of improvements on Downington Avenue.

So we’re going to share our adventures in fixing up our new forever home. We hope you’ll enjoy the adventure with us.

And because I’m so disappointed we don’t have more before and after pictures of our other home. Here are a few photos I stole from our real estate listing for posterity.