Archive for June, 2010

the mad kitchen

Sunday, June 20th, 2010

This weekend mad took a break from scraping, painting, staining, sanding, and the like. Instead, we put our energies into the fun enterprise of making Fathers’ Day cupcakes for my dad. While I have fully embraced the DIY attitude of my generation with plenty of crafty hobbies (that would include knitting, making jewelry, cooking, and of course, home improvement), my dad does not have a lot of hobbies. He doesn’t make models, golf, sail boats, or play chess. He also doesn’t have a strong hankering for geeky toys like I do. mad was challenged, therefore, to find an appropriate Fathers’ day gift that he would use and appreciate. He does  occasionally like a snack, with a sweet tooth that leans more to the carrot cake and key lime pie end of the spectrum. However, he’s also been on a bit of a health kick for the last few years, eschewing refined sugar, flour, and excessive starch. I decided, therefore, to use our very functional (though still less than attractive) kitchen to make him carrot cake cupcakes that would jive with his clean living attitude. The cupcakes are sugar free, reduced fat, and contain organic whole wheat flour and organic shredded carrots. Despite my DIY nature, I’ve never been a baker, so I baked test batches of a few different carrot cupcake recipes. My brother came over last week to help beta test the batches (as well as help Mike carry our newly refinished furniture up to the dining room). We all unanimously picked the recipe that I used for tomorrow. Mike provided critical sous-baking and cleanup skills to the endeavor. I’m hopeful that my dad will enjoy and appreciate the surprise. Interestingly, he isn’t a faithful reader of mad maison (he delegates that to my mom), so this blog post shouldn’t spoil the surprise for him. You’ll also notice we’ve created a new category (the mad kitchen) for us to share future culinary hi-jinks with you.

Fathers' Day cupcakes

mad's Fathers' Day Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Old piece, new life

Saturday, June 12th, 2010

As I mentioned last week, mad has a couple of final touches for the dining room, including the refinishing of my grandmother’s buffet cabinet and dining room chairs. This week, we decided to tackle refinishing the dining room cabinet, and we’re quite pleased with the results.

Dining Room Before

a reminder of what the buffet looked like before

I have to give credit to a blog I read regularly, young house love. John and Sherry at yhl wrote about their experience refinishing a mid 20th century dresser for their new daughter’s room. I was shocked to learn that it is possible to refinish a veneered piece of furniture, as long as the piece is well constructed. I knew the overall look of my grandmother’s piece would work well with our style, but I assumed I was stuck with the color, which honestly doesn’t quite go with the rest of our dark wood pieces. After sanding a discreet test area, I knew we were in business. The hardest part of the sanding process was working through the veneer and sanding the doors, which have plenty of nooks and crannies. We gave up our garage parking spot for the week and used one of minwax’s stain/poly products. We completed three full coats of stain to get a color that would work for us.

buffet after

the cabinet after the mad treatment, with Max's approving gaze

It’s the very first time we’ve refinished any piece of wood, and overall, we’re very pleased with the results. You’ll see the color works pretty well with our dining room table. We’re also happy with the new hardware we used that matches the pulls and knobs on the built-in dish cabinet. I often read about fellow bloggers who buy flea market and cragislist pieces and breathe new life into them. I now understand how they feel–amplified by the fact that it’s my grandmother’s piece (so it has a personal history and no cost). The final cherry on top is that we have a little more room in the garage. Of course, it also means its really time to move on to Mike’s office.