Saturday, November 08, 2014

Thanksgiving Dinner 2014 | Still usin' what we got...

I am popping in with a photo dump of our Thanksgiving Dinner (albeit crappy iPhone photos, but meh). I've talked about what we do for our spread here, and how we set up our garage dinner here. Since we didn't change many things this year, no explanations required! EXCEPT... you will not see any pictures of a big, beautifully cooked turkey, because we didn't do it this year. Instead of buying a turkey and dealing with a couple days of prep, mess, etc., we decided to buy turkey breasts (lots of them)... we still brined it and then barbecued it. Best.decision.ever. Cooking time was only 20-30 minutes max, no big roasting pans and it was so flavourful and delicious. Gravy was experimental without any drippings! I used this recipe from Bon Appetit and used GF flour for the roux and turkey stock. I think I'll try cornstarch in future and experiment a bit more to work on the texture. You'll see that just about everything we made was gluten free this year, as I have family with Celiac Disease. It really didn't affect our usual menu that much.

Without further ado, here's the prep process:

Bought my flowers from Westcoast Gardens again this year...
 Orange Bourbon Cranberry Sauce - this smelt incredible while cooking! So yum.
 Turkey brine....
The fleurs are my very favourite thing to do... this year I picked up:
  • Feather Eucalyptus
  • Seeded Eucalyptus
  • Skimmia (those gray berry looking things)
  • Silver Bell Eucalyptus Pods
  • Capiscum Black Peppers
  • Brunia
  • Hydrangea
  • Dahlias
  • Spray Roses
  • Kale
  • Wax Flowers
  • Magnolia leaves
As usual, I went overboard. Ooops.
Super simple appies (and all gluten free) - carrot and celery sticks, vegetable chips and rice crackers, red pepper hummus and chipotle cheese dip. We try not to serve anything heavy because dinner is a feast!
Regular stuffing and gluten free stuffing as per my usual recipe (bread crumbs, celery, onions, craisins, apples, broth, white wine, fresh sage, thyme, rosemary, salt and pepper)...
 Front door and entry...

And now for dinner in the garage (pardon our garbage cans still being in the first pic... must have been early in the day still)! We expanded our rentals this year and decided to rent all white matching chairs just to make it a bit more cohesive (and reduce our stress from having to borrow, pick up and drop off).
We've expanded Kris' gallery wall since last year, and we still have more to add! You can also see the raw pine builtins that Kris built this summer (his real motivation was so he didn't have to vie for the TV during World Cup). It's also a perfect spot for all his beer paraphernalia. That guy loves his craft beer, and loves to brew it too. For dinner, it was the perfect place to put the wine and coffee mugs.
 Dinner Time!
Dessert Time! We had less people than expected due to some illnesses so we actually set dessert up at the end of the table. That way, none of the dinner food had to be moved upstairs, everyone dished up their leftovers and put it in the garage fridge (which is a massive lifesaver if you are serving dinner in your garage, just sayin'). We also have a bucket under the food table where we put all the dishes. That way, we aren't worried about getting everything out of the way - we can sit, relax and enjoy each other's company!
 After dinner, we took down part of the table and pulled out the giant jenga... many laughs ensued (I think Kris was doing some ninja moves to challenge J lol)
That's it people! If I have missed anything, shoot me questions in the comments :)

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Kitchen Table & Chairs 2.0

It's been a few months since we completed this, thought I'd pop in to share! Remember back here when I talked about wanting to upholster my kitchen chairs? Well, I wasn’t brave enough to take that on myself when I have no idea what I’m doing... and I got a quote from an upholsterer - $250 per chair. Ummm... I wish, but no. Might as well buy new chairs! I looked around for chair covers but I knew that they would never look the way I wanted them to (professionally upholstered, obviously). My plans kinda died there.
So, I had been mulling an idea over in my head for the kitchen table too. I never liked the colour or style of the table (Proof: Exhibit A) but it is sentimental to me because it was my grandma’s. I got to thinking... what about a table facade?? Still with me? Basically, build a new table top that fits right over the old one. That way, I don’t have to change the one we have but I could achieve a different look, plus a little more surface area. Well, let me tell you... I searched and searched and searched the world wide web. You’d think someone would have done this before, no? Apparently... no. Therefore, I’d wing it. Plans are for sissies.

My basic idea was to get lengths of 1x8” pine and attach them to strapping on the underside, and then build and attach an apron that would cover the existing table apron. So I bought the pine, cut it to size, sanded it and beat it up. My tools of choice for distressing are a hammer and a bunch of screws and nails wrapped in a towel. That racket was probably really irritating for the neighbours... sorry neighbours. I decided what order I wanted the boards to be laid in (I like to mix up the grains). At this point, we constructed everything - attached the boards to strapping, made the apron and attached that. Because we were working with an existing table that this had to fit over, measurements were really important. We dry fitted the table a couple times and in the end, it was a perfect fit. Like, couldn't be more perfect. So perfect that we don't have to attach it to the table in any way because it's perfectly snug and isn't going anywhere. That never happens!

After that, I gave it a light sand and wiped it down. I applied Minwax Wood Conditioner (always, always use this when working with stain - makes your application so much nicer) and then started staining with Varathane Sun Bleached. Once I got to a colour that I was happy with, I let it dry and then started with Poly. I brushed on 3 coats (lightly sanding between each coat). And that was that!

While this was happening, I also painted the table legs and the chairs. This was nearly an EPIC disaster (something always has to go wrong, right?!).I decided this would be a good project to try out a paint sprayer and I'd been reading lots of great reviews about the Flexio sprayers. I picked one up from Home Depot and (very nervously) started with the primer - I'm just going to say right now, don't ever use oil based paints in a sprayer. In fact, why I decided to use oil based primer (Cover Stain) baffles me in the first place. What a cleanup NIGHTMARE that is. When I started, it was going okay but quickly it started spraying out in horrible globs. All over my chairs. I stopped, took the whole thing apart and cleaned it out, which was insane on it's own. Have you ever tried to spray paint thinner into a bucket. Ya, it doesn't happen quite like the instructions - it might end up all over your face, hair, garage floor and so on. Anyway. It was then that I noticed the nozzle had tiny hairline cracks all around it. Fantastic. I have never returned something to the store so fast, I practically threw it at the customer service girl. Sorry customer service girl. Unfortunately, the damage was done on the chairs. Horrible mottled paint finish. I didn't have it in me to sand it way down so I just started over with a brush. It was super tedious because of all those spindles and chairs have an insane number of surfaces!! I did 2-3 coats of primer and then 2-3 coats of Benjamin Moore Advance in White Dove. I like working with the Advance paint (I've talked about it before when I used it on my hutch), you just have to make sure you follow the drying time instructions and then allow at least 2 weeks of curing time. You will be sorry if you don't let it cure. Like I was after their first use. I had some repair work to do.

I also recovered the chair pads with this cute white ticking stripe. Recovering chairs is super easy and a great way to refresh their look. This is actually the second time I've recovered them. It's a cheap makeover! So, finally, here we are. Funny enough, when I was looking at these photos, I realized I've completely changed what's on the tabletop. There's a couple current photos at the end!
I've cleaned up all that crap in the corner. Embarrassing.
Haha... you are welcome for my finger photobomb! ^^^
I will be back soon to post about Thanksgiving Dinner in the garage (again) this year. I swear.