I got tired of looking at an ugly thing so I made it pretty

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Sometimes you just need to find a free, easy project for a Saturday afternoon, y’know?

Oh. You don’t know. Well then never mind! Guess it’s just me.

A few years and a few moves ago some friends gifted us an old wooden kitchen bar cart that they didn’t have room for anymore. It’s been very useful over the years (and the moves), but it’s, uh… kind of ugly. Here’s the piece of furniture in question:

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Pot rack, knife rack, bar cart, accent wall… no big deal!

Yes, it’s that thing sitting under our gorgeous hanging pot rack and next to our gorgeous butcher block in front of our gorgeous kitchen accent wall. It’s certainly very useful–the wine rack in particular! But it doesn’t quite fit the space and it’s more of a temporary solution until we can remodel the kitchen to add more counter space that wraps around that corner. (Surprise, honey! I’ve decided we’re doing major construction in the kitchen some time in the future!) Plus it was pretty banged up from all the moves, see?

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Since a kitchen remodel isn’t happening any time soon (it’s pretty far down the list under things like finishing the basement, landscaping the front yard, growing old together, and dying) we’re stuck with an ugly bar cart. Sure, I could go buy a newer, prettier bar cart. But where’s the fun in that?

So today I raided the Garage of Wonders for everything I’d need to prettify this fugly bar cart. I found everything I needed leftover from other projects. Armed with an orbital sander, a ratchet set, a phillips-head screwdriver, some Behr paint in Frost white leftover from painting the trim, some Minwax wood stain in Jacobean I used to make the bottle opener, and various and sundry rags, brushes, and painter’s tape, I set about giving this baby a new life.

Here is the result:

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Right?! So much better. Honestly, the hardest part was getting it outside because of our weirdly cramped back stairwell. The orbital sander vastly improved the surface of the wood, but it still looks nicely old-timey and vintage. Using normal latex interior house paint wasn’t the ideal choice for painting wooden furniture, but I literally didn’t want to spend a cent fixing this free piece of furniture so I used what I had. If I ever decide to paint something I care about, I’ll choose my paint more carefully. And tightening up all the nuts and bolts holding this thing together made it stop creaking, so I call that a win!

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Not bad for an afternoon of work on a budget of $0.

 

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Seeds in the ground!

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Here in Colorado, May 15th is generally considered the beginning of the safe planting season (in the Front Range, anyway). After that date, there’s little risk of frost, so little seeds and seedlings won’t die of the cold. Plant before that date and you’ll inevitably be foiled by the annual Mother’s Day snow storm. Or spring hail. Wevs.

This year we spent May 15th meeting our new nephew in San Diego, so planting was delayed a few days (WORTH IT). The garden was all prepped, tilled, and composted when we left so by the time we returned it was ready to go! A week ago on Friday I sowed my seeds and planted my plants. Now all five garden beds are packed full of little germinating food-providers, and in another few weeks some of them will be providing said food!

Surprisingly, arranging the garden was the hardest part (not to minimize the back-breaking labor of hauling compost). I have a lot of varieties to work with this year, and they all have slightly different needs to grow successfully. So I went through several pieces of scratch paper while I tried to carefully arrange all the shade-lovers together, all the water-lovers, and find room for the damn kale. In the end, my garden plan looked like this:

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In closer detail, here’s how the five 4’x8′ beds shake out:

Bed 1, “Tuber Territory”: radishes, turnips, scallions, red onions, carrots

Bed 2, “Lettuce Land”: mixed lettuces, spinach, basil, parsley, cilantro, oregano, thyme, rosemary

Bed 3, “Corn Kingdom”: it’s all corn as far as the eye can see… and kale, ‘cuz that’s where it fit

Bed 4, “A Transubstantiation of Tomatoes”: Early Girl and Better Boy (the sauce tomatoes), Cherry Red, Big Beefsteak, and this year’s mystery tomato… The Black Prince

Bed 5 “… And the Kitchen Sink”: zucchini, a volunteer red cabbage, green bell peppers, yellow bell peppers, jalapeños, cucumbers

Yes, I absolutely chose my mystery tomato this year based on the name. Because I am a nerd. A history nerd.

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Bed 5 was filled with volunteer zucchini and a red cabbage when I went to plant. So I’ve learned a very valuable lesson about letting one’s compost mature and not rushing it into the garden bed before it has a chance to full decompose. I ripped out the zucchini after shrieking horror-movie style at the thought of that much zucchini, but I let the red cabbage stay, because YOLO, amirite?

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Sharp-eyed readers (sup Andrea) will note that there are indeed tiny dinosaurs living in the garden. To which I say: where else would tiny dinosaurs live?

Also worth noting is that our cherry and peach trees are bearing fruit! LOTS of fruit. I’m so proud of these hardy little trees for surviving the winter. Let’s give them both a hand.

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All the beds are safely ensconced under the sun shade fabric to protect the young plants against the sun and any last hail or snow we might get this year. The radishes popped up yesterday, shortly followed by the lettuce. Thanks to Mr. Fickbonne for building the new beds this year, and thanks in advance to all the friends and coworkers on whom I will be foisting zucchini in August.

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The Bill J. Dunn Memorial Garden and Emporium is open for the season!

A place to lay my head, at long last

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Being the bohemian millennials that we are, Mr. Fickbonne and I have never actually owned a “bed,” per se. Ever since we’ve lived together, we’ve always just slept on a queen size mattress and box springs on the bare floor. And that particular mattress was off-brand and purchased during college and probably a little the worse for wear after, oh…. thirty-seven moves or so. Plus that time our dog peed on it. Three times. Yeah.

But as dedicated Casa Fickbonne readers (hi mom and dad!) will know, we recently used our tax return to buy ourselves a king size mattress and box springs! Glory be halleluja, we can sleep like normal adult people instead of like puppies in a pile (on account of my heat-seeking tendencies… not Mr. Fickbonne’s enormous size).

The king size mattress sat on the floor for several weeks because old habits die hard. But then I left town for a conference in Orlando (#happiestplaceonearth #mousetatorship #killme). And when I returned…

MR. FICKBONNE BUILT A BED!

While I was off breakfasting with giant cartoon dogs and listening to the song from “Frozen” on repeat in every public place I entered, Ben and Craig (of bathroom wainscoting fame) were busily building a king size bed frame and headboard. And I came home to this gorgeous work of art in my very own bedroom! Look at it!

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The pictures don’t do it justice. This thing is sturdy af. I’m fairly certain it could withstand a nuclear explosion if it came to that. It’s a platform bed, since naturally we couldn’t have a footboard. Not only can Ben not fit in a bed with a footboard, but I don’t think he’d even be comfortable sleeping without his feet hanging off the mattress at this point. The headboard is mounted directly on the wall and looks very nice under our little bedroom windows.

And best of all? My husband was smart enough to measure the Roomba before building the bed so it is exactly high enough that the Roomba can move freely underneath it SO I NEVER HAVE TO MOVE THIS THING FOR CLEANING PURPOSES! 

I married me a smart man.

We got the plans from the exceedingly brilliant Ana White. If you haven’t checked out her carpentry blog yet, you’re wasting your life. She has project plans for every possible skill level, and they’re simple and easy to follow. Oh yes, and they result in gorgeous beds like ours!

Just look at that craftsmanship:

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Ben distressed the wood before staining it. And by “distressed” I mean “beat the ever loving bejeezus out of it with a sack of nails” to give it that rustic, old-timey look. Then he used Minwax stain Dark Roast to stain the boards. He rubbed water into some of the boards before applying the stain so that they’d be slightly lighter than the boards that only got stain. The theory there is that wood can only absorb so much liquid, so if you rub water into a board it won’t be able to absorb as much of the stain. The result was faux-aged boards of varying shades of the same gorgeous dark stain. You can really see the differences in this shot of the headboard, pre-installation:

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Ahem. Pay no attention to the cluttered garage workshop surrounding the beautiful headboard. Also pay no attention to the fact that the top board pictured above is missing from the pictures post-installation. This is because of a minor miscalculation wherein we tried to hang the headboard from this top piece and it popped right off, nails and all. After that we realized hanging a headboard by its least sturdy piece was a terrible idea. But we still haven’t gotten around to nail-gunning the thing back on and I got impatient to write this blog post so HERE WE ARE, WORLD.

Because platform beds make box springs obsolete, we got to return the box springs to the store for a refund. That refund covered about half the cost of building the bed, which was about one fifth the cost of every king size bed frame we’d seem in stores. Moral of this story being: if you have the carpentry know-how to build your own bed, it is significantly cheaper than buying one.

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Next up: matching nightstands and wall sconces! Our bedroom’s going to look pretty sweet by the time we’re done with it.