DI Why?

Do you ever get super excited about a DIY project only to realize you may have taken on too much? I’m thinking I’ve done that to myself. And I haven’t even started yet.

My (nearly 30 year old) oak dining table is in dire need of refinishing. Just four of the original six Windsor chairs are left and those are missing sections of rungs chewed off by my dog.

The set’s American country design doesn’t quite fit in with the interior of our home (sort of a cottage European farmhouse vibe) and I’ve thought fleetingly about just replacing it.  But it’s handcrafted, solid oak, and where my children completed homework, carved pumpkins, dyed eggs, celebrated birthdays, and ate family dinners with us. It’s been the heart of our home for as long as I can remember. And as change swirls around us, I want that one element to remain.

So, instead of replacing, I’m refinishing. My total experience with such projects includes four chairs, two lamp bases, and one small bookcase.

I plan to gel stain the table top (Did I mention it also has four leaves?) and chalk paint the base. I’m chucking the chairs. They’ll be replaced with ladderback chairs, painted to match the table base. I’m still deciding if I should stain the seats. I’m envisioning the completed set beautifully tying together the three main areas of our home. As long as I don’t screw it up.

I’ve been watching YouTube videos, speaking to professionals, making lists, and stressing a bit. The two reasons I’m not having someone else do all this for me: cost and time. I need to complete the whole project before June 1. My parents are coming to visit and I start a huge three-month editing project just a few days later.

Now, I wait for a few warm dry days. And I pray I have the grit and the patience to see this through.



Does any of this sound familiar? Tell me about your DIY story. Disaster or success.





Irish all weekend


Even though St. Patrick’s Day is really more of an American tradition, I’m happy it allows me the annual opportunity to acknowledge my ancestry (at least one aspect).  To celebrate, I hit Spotify to find Irish music, pore over recipes I can prepare, and reminisce about driving around the Emerald Isle years ago with my mother. I even search the Internet for limericks, poetry, and trivia I can drop into dinner conversation with my husband and daughter.

This weekend though I must space out the Irish food and frivolity, as tomorrow night is my niece’s birthday party (and of course I wouldn’t want to miss it). My husband is Filipino and much of his family lives nearby. Birthdays, death anniversaries, religious holidays, and impromptu gatherings (food, fun, and karaoke) happen often. And attendance generally exceeds 40.

At first, I was bummed that yet another Filipino gathering was interfering with my plans for tomorrow, but now I’m thankful. Instead of one night, I have the entire weekend to showcase Ireland. And potentially drive my husband and daughter crazy. Tonight, it’s The Dubliners and salmon and colcannon (a side dish of mashed potatoes and kale topped with Irish butter); tomorrow morning, corned beef hash and traditional Celtic instrumentals; and Sunday, a musical mix of modern and classics from Paddy O’Reilly to Flogging Molly, with my beef and Guinness stew, traditional brown bread, and Irish bread pudding with caramel-whiskey sauce.

I’m not sure they will be as excited as I am. But, hey, I figure they owe me.


A wonderful bird is the pelican;
His beak can hold more than his belican.
He can hold in his beak
Enough food for a week,
Though I’m damned if I know how the helican!
—Dixon Lanier Merritt (often incorrectly ascribed to Ogden Nash)