DIY | Refinishing our dining table

Our dining room table was not a pretty guy and was really letting down the overall ambience of the dining room. I joke!  I would never use the word ambience and mean it, I promise.

Our table was a hand-me-down from Mum and Dad and was still in awesomely solid condition, but the original varnish on the top was thin and the finish had suffered over the years (standard nail polish remover accidents etc).  My initial inclination was to just go out and buy a brand new table, but dang, those suckers are expensive!  It was decided that we would refinish our dining room table ourselves.

Dining Table Refinish DIY NZ BlogI knew I wanted the top finished in bright, high gloss, hard wearing white enamel.  The opposite of the dipped leg that is trending right now but I had Dave had exactly zero interest in sanding down all of those fiddly little side bits!  And so we began;

Step 1.  Strip the existing finish.  Dave used a 30 grit disk on an orbital sander.  This took him probably 5 minutes!  Absolutely no indicator of how long and arduous this project was to become!  (I have neglected to mention that we undertook this project in the middle of one of the hottest summers I can ever remember – the worst possible time for oil based enamel paint to harden). 

Step 2.  Buy premium rollers.  I began with cheap ones and paid the price of having to apply more coats than I otherwise would have.

Step 3.  Apply two coats of Dulux Prepcoat Oil Based Primer with a light sand using 220 grit in between.  I didn’t listen to Dave and only applied one coat!  You will probably have to hand sand the edges and sides as it is easy to strip these right back to the wood – over and over again.  Sigh.

Step 4.  Take careful note of drying times and stick to these religiously.    After a light sand begin top coats.  I used Dulux Super Enamel Oil Based High Gloss in white.  Paint the small edges first and roll longways down the table.  Light sand between each coat.  With proper prep and good rollers you should only need 3 coats max.  I did SEVEN.  fml.

Step 5.  Do not listen to your neighbor when he suggests you top coat your hours of work with polyurethane.  At any cost.  

Step 6.  You will hate your table by this point, but now you must wait for the enamel to harden.  Give it at least two days before returning it to use.  It will probably take weeks to harden, especially if you have applied seven coats of oil based paint!

Dining Table Refinish DIY NZ BlogHowever painful the process was, I swoon over the new finish every time I sit at the table.  It is so, so glossy and hard wearing.  Nixie’s crayon scrawls come right off and cleaning up after mealtimes is bliss compared to the previously worn varnish.  A labour of love that has given this fab table many more years to endure the abuse of my children!

Dining Table Refinish DIY NZ Blog Dining Table Refinish DIY NZ Blog Dining Table Refinish DIY NZ Blog

Dining chairs, wall art and copper basket from Freedom Furniture

Sandpit Rage

So one day toward the end of winter last year, I had this freaking genius idea to turn a corner garden surrounded on two sides by concrete into an in-ground sandpit.  Bordered by railway sleepers, complete with driftwood and spendy, smooth river rocks, over-flowing with just the BEST sandpit toys {or whatever dregs I found in the tupperware drawer}…….are you picturing this?  It will only take an hour or so I told Dave.

Two weekends later……

Hours of fun for Nixon we thought.  Made even better by the child’s obsession with diggers and dump trucks – oh snap we have a large fleet of those!  Into the sandpit they went.  

And it is awesome.

And we do love it, plus I think Nix thinks it’s ok.

There is a dark side to amazing sandpits though, something no-one talks about.  It’s kept under wraps, bringing shame upon the family because society just hasn’t come to grips with it yet.  Let’s just say if Nixon were a foreign tourist, strangers would be taking the keys to his sandpit off of him.

Nixon suffers from Sandpit Rage.

What begins as a fun game of diggers and dump trucks ends in fists raised to the sky, little muscles bulging, curses and expletives disguised as toddler-babble ringing around the neighborhood at max volume and me carrying Nixon under my arm kicking and screaming back into the house where we can hide our Sandpit Rage behind closed doors.

You see, the diggers don’t always dig in just the ‘right’ way.  The dump trucks sometimes miss their mark and aren’t parked in the optimal spot for sand loading to commence and shit, sometimes everything is just way too yellow or sandy……….and the rage ensues.

When I was pregnant with Nix, Dave and I would laugh and say “there’s no way #2 could be worse than #1” and by worse we meant more intense, more stubborn and with a stronger will.  “There’s no way that could happen right?” laugh, laugh, laugh.  Oh yes way.  It happened and it happened good.

So now, instead of the lazy afternoons we imagined, spent outside, playing calmly and quietly in the sandpit, we now count the minutes of relative peace until it all turns to custard and Nix throws his toys.  Just a phase?  Fingers crossed.

So, who’s up for a play date at our house?  Sounds fun right?

 Toddler in Sandpit Tantrum New Zealand Mummy Blog

Show and Tell | Vintage Deck Chair Revival

Vintage Deck Chair

Aren’t these chairs simply the poster child of summers past? My Poppa is in full spring clean mode and de-cluttering everything so I was super stoked to find two of these classic deck chairs in his garage just waiting for another summer with our family. I LOVED the original canvas but 35+ years of New Zealand sun had well and truly finished these beauties off. Pop purchased these from the original Farmers Department Store on Hobson St – I have such great memories of that building and our family shopping trips there.
I had really good intentions about buying UV stable canvas as recommended by my Aunty but…….I saw this Mexican woven cotton canvas in Spotlight and knew it was a deal-breaker. It was cheap and perfect for me so if I have to replace it in a few years so be it, the chair frames may not even last that long anyway.
So, to make the seats a little bit stronger I folded the length of fabric in half, whizzed a quick seam down the side and then used small nails at close intervals to attach the fabric to the frame.
And, it worked!
These are the most comfortable chairs ever, very happy to have finished this wee project off before summer hits (I’ve had the fabric stashed for maybe 6 months or so!).

Vintage Deck Chairs
Joining in with lovely Leonie at Sunshine x 3

Show & Tell | Bunny Stitching


My lovely sister-in-law is totally cray-zy about rabbits and will be celebrating her birthday at the end of the month.  As she and my bro will be on vacation in the states at the time, we had a little early birthday dinner for Joanna last night.  Luckily I had planned this gift ages ago so I had given myself plenty of time to get it finished. So sweet right?  I love the whimsy of it and I’m SO glad I did it on grey fabric.  One more hoop gift to make then I need to get the needles clacking – I’m going to attempt a jersey for Nixon!  Bit scared actually.

Show & Tell | Sugar Skull Embroidery

Well, I bet some of you thought I’d never finish this one?

And, maybe I thought that too, but HA, proved us both wrong.

I really enjoyed this wee stitching project, I found it really cathartic punching holes in something over and over again {?}.  I’m not sure if the end result is pretty per se, but it’s definitely me.  I have it hanging above my computer as a little reminder to finish what I start, because finishing ‘stuff’ is something I’m finding very tricky these days! :::::pointing & whistling at you Nixon:::::

Next project already a-go-go, on a roll craft-nerds, I’m chasing ya x

{FYI, the metallic gold thread that I used for the crown was a major PIA and I will never use it again.  It was super rough and scratchy and didn’t like to be pulled through the fabric, plus it started losing it’s bling after being pulled through a few times – avoid at all costs}.



Show and Tell | Christmas Advent Calendar Bunting

Phew!  Five days before Christmas and I finally managed to get all of the numbers on the advent calendar.  There have been many projects {2} throughout my illustrious sewing career, however this advent calendar would have to be my favourite to date.  I loved every little pain-in-the-ass step, the fun of bias binding, the huge amount of cutting and tucking and poking out corners ….. and  thanks to the Christmas miracle of Vliesofix I never had to learn what applique meant and was able to iron on my numbers, hurray!

But I really did enjoy making this, I feel like it’s something that will hang in our family home for years to come and will be filled with many treats, toys and surprises as Nix and Ethan grow each Christmas.  Ethan’s big advent surprise for this year, tucked into a pocket, was tickets to The Hobbit II with Dave and I.  We had a lovely night out and some quality time with our big boy who has been really deserving of a special treat lately.

There are many tutorials online for these but if you don’t feel like making your own, lovely Vanessa at Bubbalino sells these each holiday season so shoot her an email if you would like to order one.

PS. Don’t forget to enter my Christmas Giveaway!


Advent_calendar_bunting  Show_and_tell

Show & Tell | Christmas Bunting

I have been channelling my domestic goddess even more than normal lately and, I have been S E W I N G.  I know, it IS a big deal.  Prior to recent adventures in Spotlight I had not sewed since Home Economics in Form 2.  Think how along that must have been for it to have been called Form Two!

Luckily my Mum had not upgraded her sewing machine since then so I remembered how to use it fairly quickly – sewing machine is just about as old as me and pretty much brand new!  I think she got over her domestic goddess phase pretty quickly lol.  I have since made bandanna bibs, an advent calendar {which I will show you as soon as I learn what applique means and fix the numbers on} and this – behold my beauteous Christmas bunting!


I’m pretty sure this is the peak of my ability here, I mean those flags have a backing, I sewed them, inside-outed them, PUT BIAS BINDING ON THEM {thank you Jesus and YouTube}, I sewed loops on the end of the bias binding………oh, and  top stitching……phew.

Yes, I am quite proud of my first length of Christmas Bunting.  Mum said she wanted to buy some for the house up north and I said “whoa there, I have fabric in my stash of one-project-so-far-leftovers, let me make you some bunting!”.  And so I did.

The end.


Ah well, I guess you can see my advent calendar sans advent numbers, I will finish this next week!

I Made It | Acrylic on Canvas Geometric Art

I sucked at art when I was younger, but, I have School Cert Graphic Design {that is a wee giveaway as to how old I am!} so I figured if my very first painting had heaps of lines on it I might actually be able to complete it to an acceptable standard!
I wanted a bright canvas for the top of our TV buffet in the family room and I had a feeling I could replicate a geometric print I saw online  – enter my Pinterest rip off!


I ruled the pattern onto the canvas using pencil then simply painted between the lines, mixing colours as I went.  I purchased a very basic set of acrylic paints from Spotlight for $20 so had to get creative in expanding my limited palette.  I wasn’t quite sure that I had pulled it off until I busted out the extra-fine Sharpie and ruled the black lines over the paint.
I don’t know where these post-natal creative tendencies have come from {I suspect boredom?} but I’m enjoying being brave enough to try my hand at new things. Next up is sewing!


 Show & Tell Thursday's

Show & Tell | Crochet Baby Blanket

This wasn’t a well planned out project, I didn’t have a pattern and I didn’t buy wool especially for it.  I kind of wish I had put more thought into it considering how attached I feel to it – I worked hard on this while I was preggo with Nixie and I have just finished the border and steam blocking it – at least it’s all done before he hits 12 weeks.  But it could have been prettier.  

Instead, I present to you, The Craft Mavens, my very earth toned, eco-looking, make it up as I go along, use all the scraps of wool, baby blanket.



Show & Tell Thursday's

Op-Shop DIY | My first foray into refinishing furniture!

A project, started and completed within a week!  That deserves some more chocolate.

I spotted this desk at Junk & Disorderly whilst on a scouting mission for a little cabinet to sit at the end of our kitchen.  We had a vacancy for a small piece of furniture that did not need to do anything nor hold anything, a corner that just needed to be filled.  I couldn’t find anything to meet such lowly requirements.  But I thought about this old desk for a week.  I thought maybe it would work, maybe I could be handy enough to re-finish it and at just $25 I wouldn’t be investing a whole lot of money in it if I didn’t love it.  We went back the next Saturday and it was still there, hidden under a pile of old typewriters.  It wasn’t pretty.

New Zealand Mummy Blog

A light sanding, two coats of primer and two coats of paint applied with a roller and the old boy looks a lot better.  I had some gunmetal coloured spray paint in the garage so gave the old brown legs two coats, I loved this step, it was quick-dry paint so all done and dusted super-quick.

It works, and I know that if I don’t love it forever I will easily be able to double my money by on-selling.  I just need to finish the corner off with a brightly coloured little stool and then E will have a little nook to do his homework while we are working in the kitchen.

New Zealand Mummy Blogger