Archive | December 2012

Refinishing a Thrift Store Table

Over the last 30+ years or so I’ve refinished a table here and there, but haven’t ever bothered to learn all the intricacies of refinishing furniture properly. I’ve always thought it was something I’d like to do a lot of, maybe even do it on a consignment basis. BUT, after working on a small project over the last couple weeks I learned (1) that it’s very fullfilling, but (2) I’m not really very good at it!

My daughter is moving into an apartment, and of course as all moms do, I tried to think of anything I could do to help her out. Buying old furniture and redoing it seemed like a great idea. The old light bulb was just clicking away at the possibilities!

She and I have very different tastes – I like mission style furniture (simple lines), and she tends to like ‘old world’ looking furniture. We found a perfect ‘first piece’ at the Community Thrift Shop in San Antonio – a pretty-beat-up end table or bedside table. Heavy dark wood with an ‘old world’ look to it. The piece was priced to sell at about $11.50 with a senior discount!

Thrift Store end tableBack of cabinet

So far so good! We got the piece, now for the supplies!Daughter chose her colors. She is by no means a traditionalist when it comes to color!  She loves color so she chose three colors for the small chest of drawers. A dark purple (Glidden ‘Black Tulip’) for the table top and sides, a lighter purple (Glidden “Fresh Grape Juice’) for the drawer fronts, and dark gray (Glidden ‘Stormy Night’) for the accent around each drawer.

I started with what seemed like a heavy sanding, using husband’s power sander. I had to change out the sand paper several times, but seemed like I really got it smooth.

IMG_4806 IMG_4813 IMG_4804

After wiping off the dust, I primed it with Glidden white primer, waited for it to dry, and then started on the base coat. It took three coats to get a good finish on it.

with the primer

with the primer

Base coat (dark purple)

Base coat (dark purple)

As soon as I got all that finished I started on the drawers. I painted those the lighter purple, three coats each. Although I didn’t avoid the inset accent area, I did try to keep as much paint off it as possible After the drawers dried completely (more than 24 hours) – I taped off around the accent area in order to paint that dark gray


I know that television ads show the painting tape coming off perfectly – no paint leakage underneath, no marks, etc. Well, not so much for me! So, I took a little extra time with a fine-tipped brush and some paint and cleaned up the edges.

I let the entire table dry another full day before I applied three coats of Min-Wax over the entire painted area, letting it dry well between each coat. I also used some steel wool to smooth out bumps inbetween coats.

Next, we went to Hobby Lobby and purchased a handle and two knobs for the little chest of drawers. Hobby Lobby has a great selection of unusual and unique hardware, so it was fun to peruse for awhile. And, it’s always 50% off!.  And yes, we noticed after we put the hardware in that it looks suspiciously like a happy face!  A really cute one!

Hobby Lobby Hardware

Hobby Lobby Hardware

All in all the project went well, but there are definitely some things I will do differently next time –

Gouges in wood  1.  I’ll take a lot more time in the preparation stage, sanding splintery edges, etc. I’ll also try to fill in with wood glue any gouges in the MinWax coverage wood. I really thought the sanding I did was sufficient, but as you’ll see from my pictures, I should have prepped more!  (See picture at right.)

2.  I’ll take a lot more care with the clear finish coat. I noticed after the third coat that there was a build up around the edges of the table. I’ll need to research how to spread it evenly – if you have any suggestions I’d really appreciate it? Do you use special brushes? How do you keep it from streaking?  (See picture at left.)

Here’s the finished project – our daughter loves it, and I enjoyed making it for her!




Jan Hagel Cookies (Bumpy Cookies) – a Dutch treat!

When I was a kid (way too many years ago) my grandma made Christmas cookies from her German and my grandpa’s Dutch family recipes.  Some of our favorites were fruit cake (made with gum drops instead of candied fruit) stored in a rum-soaked rag, Pfeffernusse Cookies, and Jan Hagel, which we called ‘Bumpy Cookies”.

I’ve seen recipes for other people’s Jan Hagel, and I think that my Grandma may have adjusted it somewhat – I think the recipe we use is more a combination of both Pfeffernusse cookies and Jan Hagel together.  Whatever, they are yummy, and they scream “Christmas is Here” in our house!

Today I had help with the baking.  Our youngest grandson (almost 4) is spending the day with us, and he loves to help bake.  So, we got started (after a quick trip to the store to get ingredients I thought I had but didn’t).

As you can see, we started with a bit of a mishap when I tried to pour the flour too quickly.  Don’t you just hate it when that happens????


Here’s the recipe that we use (passed down from my grandma):

  •    4 cups flour
  •    2-2/3 cups brown sugar
  •    2 eggs
  •    1/2 cup butter/margarine (softened)
  •    4 tsp Baking Powder
  •    2 tsp Cinnamon
  •    1 tsp Nutmeg
  •    1/2 tsp Cloves
  •    1/2 tsp Ginger
  •    2 tsp Almond Extract

Mix all ingredients together until you are able to form small balls with the dough.  If it is too dry add some liquid such as orange or apple juice.  If too wet, add some more flour.  Roll into balls the size of filberts (I made mine a lot larger though) and place on Pam-sprayed pan close together.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 20 minutes (mine took 25 because the balls were the size of walnuts)


Although not necessary, after the cookies cooled I added a powdered sugar glaze over the top.

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 4 tbsp milk
  • 1/2 tsp Almond Extract

Mix the powdered sugar, milk and Vanilla together.  If too dry add milk as needed (be careful because it will only need a few drops at a time)



Serve with a glass of cold milk. They also taste great with a cup of coffee in the morning.

They taste just like I remember them – the memories came flooding back!  Now if I could remember how my grandma and mom managed to keep Christmas cookies safe from us – they don’t seem to last like they used to!

What special Christmas cookies do you remember?  I’d love to hear about them and the memories they evoke!

Merry Christmas to you and all your family!   I hope that you are blessed with happiness and health in the new year!